Sunday, September 22, 2013

Morning Links -- September 22

Misguided indeed. It is a small mind that reacts to tough challenges by saying "There oughta be a law against it!"  The most famous illustration, of course, is America's experiment with prohibition which resulted in an alcohol production and distribution infrastructure that rivaled any legal corporate enterprise.  The current "war on drugs" is the same phenomenon writ large, but today's cartels (coupled with America's prison-industrial complex, security-industrial complex, fear-industrial complex and a host of ancillary spinoffs) makes the bootleggers of the prohibition era look like cottage industries. How blind we have become.

And the same dynamic is at work with the global sex industry which has almost as many permutations as the war on drugs. Lord, save us from those who would pass laws to save us from ourselves. Why can't they see that they are only a few orders of magnitude removed from the terrorist enterprises spawned by misguided extremists of another sort.

Campaigners protest against United Nations stance on prostitution
Former prostitutes and anti-sex trafficking groups criticise UN call to decriminalise pimping, brothel-keeping and buying sex

Former prostitutes and groups campaigning against sex trafficking will launch an international protest against UN reports that recommend the decriminalisation of pimping, brothel-keeping and the purchase of sex. 
As global leaders gather in New York for the UN general assembly, the protesters claim that decriminalisation of the sex trade will endanger women.
Addendum -- If  Twitter doesn't intervene by suspending their accounts, al-Shabaab members are live-Tweeting the Kenya Mall assault.
Today, as the bloodshed has unfolded in Nairobi, @HSMPress has been tweeting along in an apparent bid to explain and justify the killers’ actions. The tweets may give some insight into the group’s thinking, but take them with salt: The group’s allegiance to facts is tenuous, and there is a strong chance that its attempts to justify the slaughter of unarmed civilians will make you seethe.


Not particularly newsworthy, but this photo was too good to miss.

 Private donations give edge to Islamists in Syria, officials say
By Joby Warrick
September 21
GAZIANTEP, Turkey — The stream of U.S. weapons heading to moderate rebel groups in Syria is being offset by a fresh torrent of cash for Islamist extremists, much of it from small networks of Arab donors who see the Syrian conflict as a step toward a broader Islamist uprising across the region, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say. 
The private donors, who use Twitter and other social media to collect millions of dollars from sympathetic Muslims, are providing crucial backing for Islamist militias that appear to be gaining ground in northern and eastern Syria, even as fighting stalls elsewhere, the officials said. 
Dollars raised over the Internet are wired between private banking accounts and hand-delivered by courier, often in border towns like this city of 1.4 million, about 20 miles from the Syrian frontier, according to Middle Eastern intelligence officials who monitor the activity. Some fundraising pitches ask for specific pledges to cover the cost of a weapon, for example, or to finance an operation. For $2,400, a donor can pay for the travel, training and arming of a single non-Syrian fighter. 
“You can even get a video afterward showing what it was you paid for,” said one senior intelligence official based in the region. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss his country’s intelligence collection.
Anatomy of Outrage: On the Obamacare Resistance
Zoë Carpenter

The Defund Obamacare movement represents irresponsible governing at its apex, but what’s insidious about the whole show is the way it distracts from the actual threat to healthcare reform: the efforts to cripple the law’s implementation, led by Republican-controlled state governments and a range of right-wing PACs. 
Sixteen states have imposed unnecessary restrictions on “navigators,” a workforce drawn from nonprofit and government agencies to educate consumers about their options and walk them through the new system. Twenty-one states have refused to expand Medicaid, which was intended to cover 17 million uninsured, low-income Americans. Officials in Missouri have been barred from doing anything to implement the law. A handful of other states are refusing to enforce its consumer protections, most critically the provision that bans insurers from rejecting applicants with preexisting conditions. 
At the center of the “Obamacare resistance” is a media campaign to discourage young people from signing up for the exchanges. In order for the economics to work, the costs of adding unhealthy people to the insurance pool must be offset by premiums paid by the healthy. With only six in ten people aware of the exchanges and some 2.7 million young enrollees needed next yearfor the program to work, the administration has committed millions to reach young adults and get them enrolled. Earlier this year conservatives harassed organizations partnering with Health and Human Services on public-awareness campaigns; now they’re targeting young Americans directly. 
Koch-funded Generation Opportunity launched a web series on Thursday as part of a six-figure campaign designed, in the words the nonprofit’s president Even Feinberg, “to communicate, ‘No, you’re actually not required to buy health insurance.’ You might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for you and better for you.” In one video, a leering Uncle Sam pops up between the legs of a young woman who has recently signed up for Obamacare and is reclining on the examining table, waiting for a pap smear. “Don’t let government play doctor,” the text reads, as Uncle Sam ratchets out the forceps, “Opt out of Obamacare.” Tinged with sexual violence, the ad is rich in irony, coming from the party that aggressively “plays doctor” to women across the country and isn’t exactly sure what rape is. 
Generation Opportunity will tour twenty college campuses this fall, dogging nonprofits like Enroll America that are signing up young Americans. A slew of other organizations are working in tandem, including FreedomWorks, which encourages college students to burn Obamacare “draft cards,” and YG Network, which ran an anti-Obamacare ad on Saturday Night Live. Just like the assault on women’s health providers, these attempts to convince young people that being uninsured is “better for you” are dangerous. Young adults are the people least likely to have insurance, and unexpected health emergencies can be financially crippling. Under Obamacare, subsidies will dramatically lower the cost of coverage, to as little as $5 a month for some 21-year-olds in California. Other provisions will give young people access to essential preventative services, with no copay—like the gynecological exam denigrated in the Generation Opportunity ad.
 Telling young people that being uninsured is "better for you" is worse than dangerous. It's morally reprehensible.

Speaking of morality, how about this new Pope?

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