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Colorado House to Consider Controversial Vaccination Law

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Colorado’s House Health Insurance and Environment Committee has passed a bill that would make it more difficult for parents to opt out of the state’s child vaccination requirement. The bill would mandate a state-sponsored education program for parents who don’t want their child vaccinated and would force those parents to “acquire the signature of a health care professional confirming disclosure of possible health risks ‘to the student and the community.’”

Similar measures have passed in three other states, while many other states are considering the question of mandatory vaccinations for school attendance.

The debate in Colorado was passionate.

State Rep. Dan Pabon (D) proposed the bill to ensure that parents are more informed and “that they’re not just opting out simply because of convenience,” according to the Denver Post.

“Vaccine refusal results in higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease,” Pabon said. “This is a public health issue. These are very serious diseases.”

Colorado has the sixth-highest rate of non-vaccinated public school kindergarteners. The bill will also mandate all licensed schools and day care centers to release public records on the percentages of their non-vaccinated children.

“There are kids who can’t get vaccinated because they’re immuno-compromised and are being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases,” Pabon argued on Thursday. “To add on top of that, older populations that have medical conditions are also at risk.”

Although the bill would not eliminate the personal belief exemption, parents opposing the legislation argued that increased education mandates could lead to the erosion of parental rights during Thursday’s testimony before lawmakers.

“Parents have a constitutional right to parent their children,” Susan Lawson, whose daughter developed encephalitis after a routine vaccine when she was a year old, told CBS Denver. “I am not an uneducated woman.”

Anti-vaccination advocacy group National Vaccine Information Center has also attacked the proposal as one that “singles out and discriminates against a minority of parents with sincerely held personal beliefs … by assuming they are uneducated and should be forced into a state approved ‘education’ program.”

When my mother heard of the breakthrough by Jonas Salk in developing a vaccination against polio, she fell to her knees and thanked God for his mercy. We, today, have absolutely no conception of the rank fear that gathered in the breasts of parents prior to the polio vaccine. Every cold in our family would put her on edge. And all of us grew up in an age before vaccines for measles, mumps, and whooping cough. These diseases were — and are — childhood killers. I’m sure the controversy today over vaccines would perplex her to no end.

The odds of a child dying from measles are 50 times greater than the child experiencing any life-threatening side effects from that vaccine. Prior to 1963 before the vaccine was introduced, there were 4 million cases of measles per year in the U.S. with an average of 450 deaths. On the other hand, there are severe reactions to the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) in only 1 of about 2 million doses. What rational parent makes a choice not to vaccinate their children?

The supposed link between autism and vaccinations has been debunked over and over, and yet the belief still persists. The Centers for Disease Control examined the question of autism and the safety of vaccines in general:

Evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in autism frequency does not support such an association between thimerosal and autism. Furthermore, a scientific reviewExternal Web Site Icon by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal–containing vaccines and autism.” CDC supports the IOM conclusion that there is no relationship between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism rates in children.

The IOM also recently conducted a thorough review of the current medical and scientific evidence on vaccines and certain health events that may be observed after vaccination. It released a report in August 2011 on 8 vaccines given to children and adults that found the vaccines to be generally safe and serious adverse events following these vaccinations to be rare.

We are paying a price for our scientific ignorance. Parents who don’t have their children immunized do so largely because they think the diseases are wiped out or there is little chance their children will be infected. But because of falling rates of vaccinations among children, these diseases are making a roaring comeback:

Measles, mumps, whooping cough — all deadly diseases. Until recently, they were virtually eliminated thanks to vaccines that prevent kids from getting sick.

But now doctors see an alarming trend — more and more people are coming down with these diseases.

“Kids die from measles on a regular basis. Kids are in hospitals and can die from whooping cough very commonly. So these kids are at risk,” said Dr. Scott Krugman, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.

Here in Maryland, cases of whooping cough are skyrocketing — tripling from 123 cases in 2011 to nearly 370 last year. Outbreaks of measles and mumps have swept through states across the country.

The explanations made by parents for not vaccinating their kids are pathetic, as you’ll see on the next page.

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Romney: ‘It Couldn’t Be a Surprise’ to Obama that Russia Went on a Land Grab

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Former GOP presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said “there’s no question” that President Obama’s “naivete with regards to Russia and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face.”

“Unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine as well as things that you’re seeing in Syria,” Romney said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“We really need to understand that Russia has very different interests than ours, this is not fantasy land, this is reality, where they are a geopolitical adversary. They’re not our enemy, but they are certainly an adversary on the world stage.”

Romney added “it couldn’t be a surprise to folks that Russia might take the opportunity to grab that territory,” with one clue that the Ukrainian invasion was planned in advance being the uniforms and trucks with Russian military insignia removed.

“I think effective leaders typically are able to see the future to a certain degree and then try and take actions to shape it in some way. And that is of course what this president has failed to do and his secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as well. They thought resetting relations with Russia, handing out gifts to Russia, would somehow make Russia change its objectives,” he continued.

“…Right now you do the kinds of things that are only available to you after something bad has happened, which options are typically far less effective. But you do put in place the sanctions, you do strengthen our relationship with our friends, particularly in Eastern Europe. You welcome those that seek entry into NATO to join NATO. You rebuild our military budget. You don’t shrink our military budget at a time like this. You begin cooperation, military cooperation with nations in Eastern Europe that want that cooperation.”

Romney stressed he’s not thinking about running for president again, but is “thinking about the people who I want to see running for president.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he saw Romney as having a couple of positions. “First, if we’d have shown military force somewhere in the world it might have discouraged Putin. I disagree and so does history. In the midst of the Vietnam War when the United States was deeply involved in that war, Brezhnev invaded Czechoslovakia. In the midst of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Putin invaded the Republic of Georgia,” he said.

“Let’s call it for what it is. Here is Vladimir Putin with a failing Soviet franchise, and when he can’t win the hearts and minds of his neighboring nations he uses energy extortion, masked gunmen and barbed wire,” Durbin added. “Now he is a bully. And we have got to call him for what he is, but this notion that some sanction is going to stop a formal colonel in the KGB from his ambitions of a Russian empire is naive.”

Durbin is among a handful of senators who were targeted with revenge travel bans by the Kremlin after the first sanctions from Washington were ordered.

“Governor Romney is suffering from political amnesia. Does he remember the reaction of the rest of the world to our invasion of Iraq? The fact is that many of our stalwart allies of the past thought it was a terrible decision. What President Obama has done is restore a working relationship,” Durbin said. “Osama bin Laden is gone. The war in Iraq is over. Afghanistan is coming to a close. And this president has worked with many of these nations successfully to put pressure on Iran with the sanctions, bringing them to negotiating table. I’m afraid Governor Romney has forgotten those facts.”

Romney said that, under Obama, “our esteem around the world has fallen.”

“I can’t think of a major country, it’s hard to think of a single country that has greater respect and admiration for America today than it did five years ago when Barack Obama became president,” the governor said. “And that’s a very sad, unfortunate state of affairs.”

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Carter: ‘Unfortunately’ Obama Doesn’t Come Asking for Guidance

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Former President Jimmy Carter said President Obama is “unfortunately” not calling him for advice, even though “previous presidents have call on me and the Carter Center to take action.”

When asked on Meet the Press this morning why Obama doesn’t come asking for his wisdom, Carter replied “that’s a hard question for me to answer, you know, with complete candor.”

“I think the problem was that in dealing with the issue of peace in between Israel and Egypt, the Carter Center has taken a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the Palestinians and Israelis. And I think this was a sensitive area in which the president didn’t want to be involved,” he said.

“When he first came out with his speech in Cairo calling for the end of all settlements and when he later said that the ’67 borders would prevail he and I were looking at it from the same perspective. But I can understand those sensitivities and I don’t have any criticism of him.”

Carter also said he felt that he was personally being snooped on by the NSA or other intelligence agencies.

A program such as the NSA’s collection of metadata “has been extremely liberalized and I think abused by our own intelligence agencies.”

“As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications were probably monitored. And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it,” Carter said. “…Because I believe if I sent an e-mail, it will be monitored.”

On Russia, the former president said “there has to be a concerted international prohibition against Putin going any further than Crimea.”

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Libya’s Chaos More a Threat to US Than Iraq Ever Was

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

It’s a bold statement to make, but after reading this gloomy report from the Associated Press that all but comes out and says that Libya is a failed state, it’s not that difficult to measure the extraordinary danger to the US and our interests from the chaos in Gaddafi’s creation.

The list of direct threats to the United States and our interests is a long one, and includes shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, millions of weapons fueling conflicts around the world, the ascension of Islamist terrorists, the support for terrorism among some militias, and the lack of government control in a strategically positioned country.

Iraq was — and still is — a huge mess. But even at it’s height, the conflict in Iraq was sectarian in nature and religion still fuels the terrorism afflicting the Iraqi people today.

By contrast, the conflict is Libya is being driven by a government widely seen as illegitimate and incapable of protecting anyone. The rise of the militias, which threatens a civil war, has meant that weapons sales to fund militia activities are destabilizing many other countries as well.

Smuggling abroad is also big business. Abdel-Basit Haroun, a former top intelligence official, said tribes and militias that control the eastern, western, and southern borders are engaged in arms smuggling.

A 97-page report released in March by United Nations Panel of Experts said weapons that originated in Libya were found in 14 countries, often reaching militant groups. The report said smuggling is mainly from Libyan militias’ arsenals.

Sophisticated man-portable, ground-to-air missile systems, known as MANPADS, have reached four conflict zones, including Chad and Mali.

“Fears that terrorist groups would acquire these weapons have materialized,” the report said.

A MANPADS that militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula used to shoot down an Egyptian military helicopter this year originated in Libya, it said.

Libyan weapons were also found in Somalia, the Central African Republic and in parts of Nigeria where the militant group Boko Haram operates, it said.

In Niger, weapons used in the country’s first suicide attack — last May — were typical of the Libyan arsenals and appear to have been smuggled in through Mali.

Another major destination for Libya’s weapons is Syria. The report said investigators found that Qatar has been using its air force flights to transport weapons from Libya and eventually to Turkey, from where they are passed to rebels in Syria. The report said Russian-made weapons bought in 2000 by Gadhafi’s regime were found in the hands of Islamic militant rebels in Syria.

“In a very real sense, Libya is exporting its insecurity to surrounding countries,” wrote one of the authors of the report, Brian Katulis, a senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Efforts by Libya to control the weapons traffic have gone nowhere. In a Catch-22, militias say they cannot surrender their weapons until there is a proper military and police force to keep security in the country, yet the regular forces cannot be rebuilt when militias have so much power.

Under the Libyan government’s Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program, some 160,000 militiamen have been registered under the Interior Ministry’s Warriors Affairs Agency. A small portion of them have given up their weapons and demobilized. But most have been assigned various security tasks in an attempt to rope militias under state aegis.

Zuhair al-Ugli, the head of communications for the Warrior Affairs Agency, said there is no mechanism for dealing with the tide of guns.

“The state is paralyzed in collecting the weapons,” he said.

As in Iraq, the US may have won the war but lost the peace. In Iraq, the US was successful to some degree, in training the police and army to protect the government. In Libya, it does not appear that NATO is making any progress at all in that department 3 years after the fall of Gaddafi.

This is not an attempt to minimize the mistakes made in Iraq by US policymakers. But very little has been said about the titanic failure of American policy in post-Gaddafi Libya — a failure that could lead to attacks on the homeland as well as the destabilization of other nations that would complicate our foreign policy.

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Obama Hails Fourth Anniversary of Obamacare, Calls Repeal Efforts ‘Some Outdated Obsession’

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama marked four years since he signed Obamacare into law by declaring “the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health care costs is down, to its slowest rate in fifty years – two of the most promising developments for our middle class and our fiscal future in a long time.”

“More Americans with insurance have gained new benefits and protections – the 100 million Americans who’ve gained the right to free preventive care like mammograms and contraception, the eight million seniors who’ve saved thousands of dollars on their prescription drugs, and the untold number of families who won’t be driven into bankruptcy by out-of-pocket costs, because this law prevents insurers from placing dollar limits on the care you can receive,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

“More Americans without insurance have gained coverage. Over the past four years, over three million young Americans have been able to stay on their family plans. And over the past five and a half months alone, more than five million Americans have signed up to buy private health insurance plans on HealthCare.gov – plans that can no longer discriminate against preexisting conditions or charge you more just because you’re a woman or a cancer survivor – and millions more have enrolled in Medicaid.”

Obama said it’s “these numbers, and the stories behind each one of them, that will ultimately determine the fate of this law.”

“It is the measurable outcomes – in savings for families and businesses, healthier kids with better performance in schools, seniors with more money to spend because they’re paying less for their medicine, and young entrepreneurs who’ll have the freedom to try new jobs or chase that new idea – that will ultimately offer more security and peace of mind to more Americans who work hard to get ahead,” he added.

The president called Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare “some outdated obsession.”

“And that’s why my administration will spend the fifth year of this law and beyond working to implement and improve on it,” he said.

Obama put in a plug for the March 31 signup deadline. “It’s now last call for 2014,” he added.

Obama spend Saturday on the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base. White House pool reporters noted the unusual sight of the president in a golf cart alone without tee time partners Marvin Nicholson, Walter Nicholson and Luke Rosa.

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British Law Society Directs Lawyers to Adopt Sharia Law When Writing Wills for Muslims

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

This is a first even for Islamist-friendly Great Britain. The Law Society has given “guidance” to all lawyers in Great Britain that would allow solicitors to write Sharia-compliant wills. In effect, this guidance creates a two-tier system of law for the nation; one based on secular principles and one on religious principles found in the Koran.

One lawyer called it “astonishing.” Another referred to the “undermining of democratically determined human rights-compliant law in favour of religious law from another era and another culture.” However you want to look at it, it marks the ascension and codification of a body of law inimical to western values and traditions.

The Telegraph explains how:

It opens the way for non-Muslim lawyers in High Street firms to offer Sharia will drafting services. The document sets out crucial differences between Sharia inheritance laws and Western traditions.

It explains how, in Islamic custom, inheritances are divided among a set list of heirs determined by ties of kinship rather than named individuals. It acknowledges the possibility of people having multiple marriages.

“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class,” the guidance says. “Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised.

Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death. This means you should amend or delete some standard will clauses.”

It advises lawyers to draft special exclusions from the Wills Act 1837, which allows gifts to pass to the children of an heir who has died, because this is not recognised in Islamic law.

A couple of things should be pointed out. The guidance only gives lawyers the ability to write Sharia-compliant wills at the request of Muslims who want it. There is nothing in the guidance that forces lawyers to write Sharia wills for non-Muslims.

But there is little doubt that by establishing another legal philosophy at odds with traditional British law, the latter is undermined.

The guidance, quietly published this month and distributed to solicitors in England and Wales, details how wills should be drafted to fit Islamic traditions while being valid under British law.

It suggests deleting or amending standard legal terms and even words such as “children” to ensure that those deemed “illegitimate” are denied any claim over the inheritance.

It recommends that some wills include a declaration of faith in Allah which would be drafted at a local mosque, and hands responsibility for drawing up some papers to Sharia courts.

The guidance goes on to suggest that Sharia principles could potentially overrule British practices in some disputes, giving examples of areas that would need to be tested in English courts.

Currently, Sharia principles are not formally addressed by or included in Britain’s laws.

However, a network of Sharia courts has grown up in Islamic communities to deal with disputes between Muslim families.

A few are officially recognised tribunals, operating under the Arbitration Act.

They have powers to set contracts between parties, mainly in commercial disputes, but also to deal with issues such as domestic violence, family disputes and inheritance battles.

But many more unofficial Sharia courts are also in operation.

Parliament has been told of a significant network of more informal Sharia tribunals and “councils”, often based in mosques, dealing with religious divorces and even child custody matters in line with religious teaching.

They offer “mediation” rather than adjudication, although some hearings are laid out like courts with religious scholars or legal experts sitting in a manner more akin to judges than counsellors.

One study estimated that there were now around 85 Sharia bodies operating in Britain. But the new Law Society guidance represents the first time that an official legal body has recognised the legitimacy of some Sharia principles.

The road to ruin? Perhaps not, but it’s a road that leads to a dead end. Eventually, Brits are going to have to decide just how far they take this bow to diversity and multi-culturalism by allowing one part of their population to develop separate legal and cultural values and institutions. Will Muslims demand being tried for murder in a Sharia court? Or theft, where the punishment is lopping off a hand? The more authorities give, the more the Muslim minority will take.

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