MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s halting efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak spreading across parts of West Africa quickly turned violent on Wednesday when angry young men hurled rocks and stormed barbed-wire barricades, trying to break out of a neighborhood here that had been cordoned off by the government.
Soldiers repelled the surging crowd with live rounds, driving hundreds of young men back into the neighborhood, a slum of tens of thousands in Monrovia known as West Point.
The clashes marked a dangerous new chapter in West Africa’s five-month fight against the Ebola epidemic, already the deadliest on record. Outbreaks in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea have mostly been concentrated in rural areas, but the disease has spread to a major city, Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
Fighting Ebola in an urban area -– particularly in a place like West Point, an extremely poor and often violent place that still bears deep scars from Liberia’s 14-year-long civil war –- presents challenges that the government and international aid organizations have only started grappling with.
The risks that Ebola will spread quickly, and the difficulties in containing it, are multiplied in a dense urban environment, especially one where residents appear increasingly distrustful of the government’s approach to addressing the crisis, experts say.
Many people in West Point were already seething at the government’s attempt to open an Ebola center at a school in their neighborhood, complaining that suspected Ebola patients from other parts of the city were being brought there as well. Their neighborhood, they feared, was effectively being turned into a dumping ground for the disease.
On Saturday, hundreds of people stormed the school, carrying off supplies and allowing suspected Ebola patients to flee the facility, heightening concerns that the disease would spread through the city.
On Wednesday morning, the residents of West Point awoke to learn that their entire area was under government quarantine. Soldiers and police in riot gear blocked roads in and out of the seaside neighborhood. Coast guard officers stopped residents from setting out aboard canoes from West Point, the neighborhood with the highest number of confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola in the capital.
As residents realized that the entire area had been sealed off from the rest of the capital, frustrations began to mount. In one midmorning attempt to break through the cordon, at an entrance to the neighborhood next to an electrical station, soldiers fired in the air to dispel the protesters. But some of the bullets appear to have hit the crowd as well, intensifying the sense of a neighborhood under siege.
Different species of microbes thrive on different kinds of food. If they can prompt us to eat more of the food they depend on, they can multiply.
Microbial manipulations might fill in some of the puzzling holes in our understandings about food cravings, Dr. Maley said. Scientists have tried to explain food cravings as the body’s way to build up a supply of nutrients after deprivation, or as addictions, much like those for drugs like tobacco and cocaine.
But both explanations fall short. Take chocolate: Many people crave it fiercely, but it isn’t an essential nutrient. And chocolate doesn’t drive people to increase their dose to get the same high. “You don’t need more chocolate at every sitting to enjoy it,” Dr. Maley said.
John F. Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland who was not involved in the new study, suggested that microbes might also manipulate us in ways that benefited both them and us. “It’s probably not a simple parasitic scenario,” he said.
More research is needed and time will tell! But speaking for myself (and drawing on the experiences of others) I will say that sugar cravings are real but do pass with time and restraint. That could tie in to the idea that the intestinal bugs screaming for sugar eventually dwindle in number and influence. But I can't rule out evil sprits or demonic possession.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.
So the prosecutor got one small benefit from the time-tested 'announce insane indictments on Friday' strategy - it took the Times a few days to sound out the experts and check the weathervane before they could chime in on this.
And we thank the editors for maintaining their sense of humor in describing the problem:
Ms. Lehmberg was arrested in April 2013 for driving with a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit, and she verbally abused the officers who found her with an open bottle of vodka. She ranted and raved at the local jail, threatening sheriff’s deputies, and she had to be restrained in a chair with a hood over her head. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. In addition to endangering people’s lives, she instantly lost her credibility as a prosecutor of drunken-driving cases.
Yesterday we finally picked up on the analysis of a video of the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting. With credit to the Conservative Treehouse for listening carefully, we gleaned that an apparent eyewitness, explaining the circumstances to a bystander, said that Michael Brown ran from the police truck and then doubled back.
Right wing media have been on this, but today the NY Times delivers a surprising non-surprise - in a report on the Michael Brown autopsy they include a link to the video in question but utterly overlook the key bit (from 6:30 forward). Here is the Times:
A 10-minute video posted on YouTube appeared to be taken on a cellphone by someone who identified himself as a neighbor. The video, which has collected more than 225,000 views, captures Mr. Brown’s body, the yellow police tape that marked off the crime scene and the residents standing behind it.
“They shot that boy ’cause they wanted to,” said one woman who can be heard on the video.
“They said he had his hands up and everything,” said the man taking the video, speaking to a neighbor.
Here is the key exchange as excerpted by the Conservative Treehouse:
#1 How’d he get from there to there?
#2 Because he ran, the police was still in the truck – cause he was like over the truck
#2 But him and the police was both in the truck, then he ran – the police got out and ran after him
#2 Then the next thing I know he coming back toward him cus - the police had his gun drawn already on him –
#1. Oh, the police got his gun
#2 The police kept dumpin on him, and I’m thinking the police kept missing – he like – be like – but he kept coming toward him...
Let's cut to the Times coverage of the autopsy:
FERGUSON, Mo. — Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a police officer, sparking protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found.
One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.
Mr. Brown, 18, was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired into his front.
The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body. However, that determination could change if it turns out that there is gunshot residue on Mr. Brown’s clothing, to which Dr. Baden did not have access.
Dr. Baden provided a diagram of the entry wounds, and noted that the six shots produced numerous wounds. Some of the bullets entered and exited several times, including one that left at least five different wounds.
“This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” he said, indicating the wound at the very top of Mr. Brown’s head. “It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”
That would be consistent with the statement above, that Michael Brown turned and charged.
Well, now that the Times has listened to the tape and deemed it a useful resource (by running other excerpts) I assume it is only a matter of time until they discover this evidence. It starts around the 6:30 mark with the "he double back/comin' back" just after 6:50. I'm sure they can take it from here!
...the chairman and chief executive of Dragoman Partners. He served as special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq and as senior adviser to three heads of the Central Command from 2003-10.
The piece is "Iraq’s Last Chance" and he recounts the difficulties of turning this divided area into a nation.
I was involved in the formation of all five of Iraq’s governments between 2003 and 2010, and I know that the coming weeks will be decisive, turbulent and violent, as leaders from all factions jockey for both power and money — to help represent their respective communities and to siphon away billions of government dollars through systemic patronage.
After spending more than $1 trillion and losing some 4,500 soldiers’ lives, American politicians cannot dare reveal a dirty little secret: Iraq has since 2003 devolved into a combination of Lebanon and Nigeria — a toxic brew of sectarian politics and oil-fueled kleptocracy. The combination of religious rivalry and endemic corruption has hollowed out the Iraqi government, as evidenced by the country’s ongoing electricity crisis and the collapse of entire Iraqi Army divisions in the face of an advance by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, into Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, even though the Iraqi troops vastly outnumbered the militants.
Over the past century, Iraq has suffered from regional wars, British colonialism, numerous coups, disastrous invasions of its neighbors Iran and Kuwait, international sanctions, an American military occupation and nearly four decades of misrule by Saddam Hussein and Mr. Maliki.
Once the capital of Arab culture, philosophy and commerce, Iraq is today an international pariah and incubator of transnational terrorism, where regional actors are engaged in a bloody proxy war that threatens to spill across borders and destabilize the entire region.
Mr. Abadi has inherited a country on the verge of collapse. Whether Iraq will shatter or be salvaged is not in his hands alone. It will depend on a dizzying number of other leaders, political parties, nonstate actors, and neighboring and global powers.
Worth noting - regardless of Obama's protestations that this is a problem which must be solved by the Iraqis, Iran has and will continue to meddle:
Increasing Iranian influence has only made matters worse. America sat back and watched in 2010 as Mr. Maliki’s cabinet was formed by Iranian generals in Tehran, thereby assuring its strategic defeat in Iraq. ISIS is a direct outgrowth of that defeat. Sensing an American vacuum, both Mr. Maliki and his Iranian patrons sought to consolidate their gains by economically, politically and physically crushing their Sunni and Kurdish rivals. Consequently, today’s “Iraqi security forces” are almost exclusively Shiite, reinforced by militias financed, trained, armed and directed by Iran. Given Mr. Maliki’s blatant sectarianism and his complicity in Bashar al-Assad’s campaign of genocide against Syria’s Sunnis, Sunni radicalization and the spread of ISIS across the region were predictable.
Re-enlisting the Sunnis against ISIS won't be easy:
ISIS will also have to be defeated. The root cause of its rise was Sunni disenfranchisement and disillusionment. If the Sunnis turn on ISIS now, which they’re ready to do, then they risk being obliterated by Shiite militants within a year or two. It won’t be easy to repeat the “Awakening” of roughly 2006-10, when Sunni tribes in western and central Iraq turned against the Al Qaeda fighters who were the forerunners of ISIS.
Baghdad and Washington betrayed their promises to these tribal members in 2010, after the secular Sunni-led Iraqiya coalition won more seats than Mr. Maliki’s coalition, only to be deprived of an opportunity to form a government due to Mr. Maliki’s coercion of the judiciary.Although Iraqiya would have inevitably failed to form a cabinet in the face of Iranian objections, simply allowing it the chance would have respected the intent of the Iraqi Constitution, which America helped draft.
Mr. Maliki’s unjust victory and overt purges of Sunnis only compounded the problem. It will be much harder now to convince them that the same thing won’t happen again given that Iran has displaced the United States as the most influential actor in Iraq.
His conclusion is graphic and grim:
Sunnis can gain real influence in Iraq’s government only if Iran and its Shiite Islamist proxies allow them back to the table in Baghdad. And that would require overcoming deep fears and hatred. To Shiites, it is akin to bringing Hutu génocidaires into the Rwandan cabinet or appointing apartheid apologists as ministers in the South African government.
Iraqis face a simple but defining question: Do they want to live with one another?
Can Shiite Islamists who suffered mightily under Hussein stomach the thought of sitting in a cabinet meeting with neo-Baathist Sunnis? Can those Sunnis stand the concept of sharing power with a currently serving Shiite cabinet minister who was a general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is a death-squad commander behind an ongoing campaign to ethnically cleanse Baghdad of Sunnis by taking power drills to their skulls? Can the Kurds, who suffered decades of oppression at the hands of both Shiite and Sunni Arabs, stomach the idea of remaining part of a dysfunctional country that shares neither their language nor their traditions? This is not a hypothetical scenario but precisely what members of Mr. Maliki’s cabinet were forced to consider for the past eight years. Thus far, the results speak for themselves.
As I’ve told numerous American ambassadors and generals, I believe the answer to all these questions will ultimately be “no.” To date, I’ve seen no indication that there is enough tolerance or willingness among Iraq’s leaders to forgive, forget and move on.
Hmm. That takes us back to Joe Biden's Partition Plan. Well, the Sunni and Kurdish portions would be natural US allies as the Shiite section leapt into remained in Iran's lap. Two out of three ain't bad, but at this point it is hard to see Obama bestirring himself to achive even that.
This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous
They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is.
As if to illustrate his point about conventional news coverage missing the point, the NY Times delivers a long piece which barely touches on the absurd legal foundation of this indictment. Readers are offered this legal background:
The charges set in motion a battle of competing narratives over just what kind of overreach the indictment reflects. Democrats say the charges describe the arrogant overreach of a governor with unchecked power. Republicans took up the argument made by Mr. Perry on Saturday that the excess was in the investigation and indictment themselves, which they described as political in nature and extremely dubious in legality.
So its as simple as Democrats versus Republicans? Maybe they meant to limit themselves to Texas, without wasting the pixels to insert the extra five letters. But Mr. Chait is a reliable lefty, as are luminaries such as David Axelrod and Alan Dershowitz.
The Times also included this gem of an insight:
The indictment’s more fundamental challenge to Mr. Perry is that it could serve as a distraction from his well-choreographed comeback plan. Should he become a threat in the 2016 primaries, his opponents will almost certainly use it against him.
So Republican Presidential candidates will woo engaged (and enraged!) conservatives by backing a drunk Democratic partisan prosecutor?
Uh huh. Just as any Democrat who emerges to challenge Hillary will use Bill Clinton's impeachment against her, because the death wish knows no partisan boundaries. Or something.
PROGRESS: In a follow-up story covering Perry's effort on the Sunday talkies, the Times adds this:
The governor said he had received support from a range of political figures, not just Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, but also, less predictably, from the other end of the political spectrum. He quoted a Twitter post from David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to Mr. Obama, as saying the indictment seemed “pretty sketchy.”
Mr. Axelrod’s full post read: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”
Mr. Perry also cited Alan M. Dershowitz, a retired professor of constitutional and criminal law at Harvard University. Mr. Dershowitz told Newsmax, the conservative news website, that he was a “longtime Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry,” but that the indictment represented an unacceptable “criminalization of party differences.”
The Times needs to be careful not to leave their readers alone on a limb and looking foolish when the rest of the world is in agreement that this indictment is a travesty. On the other hand, bad news like that needs to be unwrapped slowly. Tricky!
Radley Balko has more on the absurd case of Shaneen Allen, a Pennsylvania mom facing three years in a Jersey jail for bringing her Pennsylvania-legal handgun into the Garden State.
But just to elevate the old blood pressure let's hear from Bryan Miller of Heeding God's Call, who apparently thinks that God wants this 27 year old mother of two in prison:
Recent reporting in the Courier-Post and elsewhere has made much of the plight of a South Philadelphia woman, Shaneen Allen, reportedly charged in New Jersey with transporting and concealing a handgun loaded with armor-piercing bullets — three transgressions of long-standing state law.
Heeding God’s Call, the faith-based and grass-roots movement to prevent gun violence headquartered in Philadelphia and operating in New Jersey and other states, applauds the fact of the coverage, if not all of its tone.
The good news is that, by working to promote attention to this case, pro-gun zealots, such as Allen’s lawyer, have inadvertently done an important public education service, as the case’s notoriety may make it less likely Pennsylvanians holding permits to carry concealed and loaded handguns in public will bring them across Delaware River bridges, thereby making themselves and New Jersey safer from gun violence.
Yeah, it's those rampaging moms I worry about when I hit the mean streets of Jersey. And far be it from me to suggest that this guy has no idea what he is talking about, but... every other report I have seen (e.g., here) describes her bullets as "hollow point". Although I would consider myself a very casual observer of the gun scene, (as family members will attest, and they know who they are), I am highly confident that "armor piercing" is essentially the opposite of "hollow point".
Maybe the next time Bryan hears from God he can clear that up.
Pour on the Salt? New Research Suggests More Is OK
BY JUDY SILVERMAN AND LISA TOLIN
New research suggests that healthy people can eat about twice the amount of salt that’s currently recommended — or about as much as most people consume anyway. The controversial findings could potentially undercut widespread public health messages about salt.
An international study of more than 100,000 people published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that while there is a relationship between salt intake and high blood pressure, if you don’t already have high blood pressure and you’re not over 60 or eating way too much salt, salt won’t have much impact on your blood pressure.
In fact, people who consumed 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams per day had a lower risk of death and cardiovascular events than those who had more than 6,000 mg or less than 3,000 mg.
Oh, no - another Big Government dietary fail?!? The WSJ also managed to find the lead. However, dead-enders such as the LA Times and NPR led with the conventional wisdom and only lit the candle of truth late in their coverage. Here is NPR:
Death By Salt? New Study Finds Too Much Sodium Is A Global Killer
by Allison Aubrey
Americans are accustomed to being nagged about salt. We're told we consume too much — particularly from processed foods. And that all this salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
Turns out it's the same story most places around the globe. Worldwide, people consume an average of 3,950 milligrams of sodium a day, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. And though there are regional daily differences, ranging from about 2,000 milligrams to 5,500 milligrams, the global average is nearly double what the World Health Organization recommends.
This salt overload is taking its toll. The study concludes that about 1.65 million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year can be attributed to sodium consumption.
Wait a second! Are these people reporting on the same study? Well, no - three related studies were published simultaneously and diligent readers will learn a lot as they press on. First, where is the "too much salt" belt?
So, where are the global hot spots, when it comes to death by salt? This study finds that (see figure 2 and figure 4) the proportion of deaths from heart attacks and strokes attributable to sodium ranges quite a bit. In Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, about 10 percent of cardiovascular deaths (among people 70 and younger) are linked to high salt intake.
But there's a wide band in the study map, stretching from Eastern Europe all the way across into Central Asia and East Asia. There, the percentage of cardiovascular deaths attributed to sodium consumption jumps up to 20 to 25 percent.
"What seems to be linking those countries [in this band] ... is that this is the Old Silk Road [trade] route, where people traveled many distances and needed salt to preserve their food," says Mozaffarian. Centuries later, this tradition of eating salt-preserved foods remains strong.
So this story is especially topical to their listeners living along the Old Silk Road. So what was NBC going an about with salt being OK here in the US?
Not all researchers are convinced that consuming high levels of sodium is harmful. In fact, the same issue of theNew England Journal of Medicinepublished another study that questions whether recommendations for low sodium consumption are valid for everyone.
The study found the link between sodium and cardiovascular disease is strongest when blood pressure is elevated — and that potassium, a nutrient found in fruits, vegetables and beans, can help lower blood pressure. The study suggests that if you don't have high blood pressure, it might be okay to consumer 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day, as is typical among Americans.
The author of this study, Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Canada, told the AP, that it's better to focus on healthy patterns of eating instead of a single element. "That is something everyone can rally around," Yusuf told the AP.
Oh. So the takeaway is that Mayor Bloomberg ought to be leading Kazakstan. Works for me.
WebMD includes a pictorial of the new Nos, which include salt, saturated fat, solid and trans fat, added sugars, fast food, and refined grains.
What is this, the Dietary Legion of Doom? Instead of a clear message identifying a villain we have this muddled soultion cobbled together by a committee, with so many bad guys that the public won't have any idea who the real dietary villains are.
And to compound the puzzlement, check out this ignorance from the Times reporter:
And given the level of obesity in America, some question if anyone is paying attention.
Yike! The whole point of the Gary Taubes book is that back in the 70's and 80's the medical establishment coalesced behind the idea that dietary fat led to fat in the bloodstream, and from there to heart disease. Here is TIME magazine in 1984 and the NY Times very ownJane Brody in 1987 ranting against cholesterol. (And FatHead has agreat riff on Ms. Brody's own struggle with cholesterol.)
And, per Taubes, people did listen, at least enough to embrace the message that carohydrates are heart-healthy.
And how has that all worked out?
The good news is, the government scarcely has any credibility left to squander.
Militants’ Siege on Mountain in Iraq Is Over, Pentagon Says
WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials said late Wednesday that United States airstrikes and Kurdish fighters had broken the Islamic militants’ siege of Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of the Yazidis trapped there to escape.
An initial report from about a dozen Marines and Special Operations forces who arrived on Tuesday and spent 24 hours on the northern Iraqi mountain said that “the situation is much more manageable,” a senior Defense official said in an interview.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking to reporters Wednesday night at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., said it was “far less likely now” that the United States would undertake a rescue mission because the assessment team reported far fewer Yazidis on the mountain than expected, and that those still there were in relatively good condition.
Despite U.S. Claims, Yazidis Say Crisis Is Not Over
ISTANBUL — Yazidi leaders and emergency relief officials on Thursday strongly disputed American claims that the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq had been broken and that the crisis was effectively over, saying that tens of thousands of Yazidis remained on the mountain in desperate conditions.
Speaking from her hospital bed here, Vian Dakhil, an Iraqi member of Parliament and a Yazidi leader who was injured in the crash of a helicopterdelivering aid to the mountain on Tuesday, said she was aware of the American claims and had discussed them with Yazidi leaders still in the area.
“It’s not true,” she said.
“It’s better now than it had been, but it’s just not true that all of them are safe — they are not,” Ms. Dakhil said. “Especially on the south side of the mountain, the situation is very terrible. There are still people who are not getting any aid.”
She estimated the number of Yazidis trapped on the southern flanks of Mount Sinjar at 70,000 to 80,000.
Ms. Dakhil’s assessment of the seriousness of the Yazidis’ plight was supported by United Nations humanitarian officials, who on Thursday were unequivocal that there remained a major crisis among the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.
“The crisis on Mount Sinjar is by no means over,” said David Swanson, the spokesman for the United Nations coordinator of humanitarian affairs in northern Iraq, interviewed by telephone from Dohuk, in northern Iraq. “Although many people managed to escape from the north side, there are still thousands of others up there, under conditions of extreme heat, dehydration and imminent threat of attack. The situation is far from solved.”
Hmm. I can see why Yazidi and UN officials might want to exaggerate, but I can also see why the Pentagon might feel pressured to declare everything to be hunky-dory. Normally it is CNN news crews that find and promote the next humanitarian crisis, so I guess we need to stay tuned.
EDGARTOWN, Mass. — A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Martha’s Vineyard that President Obama would probably receive recommendations in the next several days about how to mount a rescue operation to help the refugees, who are stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. He said those recommendations could include the use of American ground troops.
But didn't Obama just rule out the use of ground troops in Iraq? Well, yes, this is from Aug 9:
Number one, I’ve been very clear that we’re not going to have U.S. combat troops in Iraq again.
But hey hey! No one else takes his red lines seriously, so why should Obama or his advisers? Let's get back to the spin du jour from Mr. Rhodes:
But he drew a distinction between the use of American forces to help a humanitarian mission and the use of troops in the battle against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, something he said the president had rejected before and continued to oppose.
“What he’s ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq,” Mr. Rhodes said. He added, using an alternative name for the militant group, that the deployment of ground troops to assist a rescue was “different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role to take the fight to ISIL.”
He acknowledged that any ground troops in Iraq would face dangers, even if they were there to help the refugees find a safe way off the mountain. He said that like American forces anywhere, the troops would have the ability to defend themselves if they came under fire.
That is my idea of a Commander-in-Chief! Put some soldiers on a mountain top surrounded by crazed jihadists who behead their adversaries and tell them that while, yes, there is some danger, this is not a combat mission. But they are allowed to shoot back anyway!
Whatever. My Possibly Prescient Prediction is that after outraged screams from the left (and also from the right, but at frequencies Obama cannot hear) Obama will announce that, having responsibly considered all options he is rejecting the use of ground troops for now. Whew! As to whether advisers and observers are "combat troops", well, he can hash that out with Elizabeth Warren.
SINCE YOU ASK: Back in the early days of the Good War US Special Forces embedded with the Northern Alliance to coordinate air strikes against the Taliban. I would think that US Special Forces could team up with the Kurdish peshmerga today, since they seem to be willing and able to fight. But not only does that break the "no ground troops" pledge, it might seem to put the US even more directly behind the Kurdish push for autonomy. I'm sure Barack and Johnny Nuance have this buttoned down.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — How do I begin this story? How can I convince you that the greatest story for Royals fans in 29 years is unfolding before our eyes, and its protagonist lives a hemisphere away, speaks imperfect (but diligent) English and had never set foot in Kauffman Stadium until last Thursday?
I read on, and I was convinced. A nice guy visits a nice town and the result is a great story.