For many years now, the internet has been giving celebrity vaccine deniers like Jenny McCarthy a lot of grief, on account of all the, you know, children killed due to vaccine refusals. Apparently some of that finally got through, because over the weekend McCarthy published an aggrieved op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times claiming she's been misrepresented:
I am not "anti-vaccine." This is not a change in my stance nor is it a new position that I have recently adopted. For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, "pro-vaccine" and for years I have been wrongly branded as "anti-vaccine." [Chicago Sun-Times]
Nope! As detailed here and here, McCarthy has, for years, loudly and angrily asserted scientifically false things about vaccines: most prominently, that they're filled with toxins, and that they cause autism. No, this is a tactical retreat to a less outrageous anti-vaccine position, motivated by the total scientific and ethical collapse of the purported vaccine-autism link. Because despite her attempted whitewash of history, McCarthy is still effectively scaremongering about vaccines:
I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I've never told anyone to not vaccinate. Should a child with the flu receive six vaccines in one doctor visit? Should a child with a compromised immune system be treated the same way as a robust, healthy child? Shouldn't a child with a family history of vaccine reactions have a different plan? Or at least the right to ask questions? [Chicago Sun-Times]
As Aaron Carroll points out, these less alarming "questions" about vaccines are either strawmen or scientifically bogus:
She asks that we consider the "gray zone." But in many areas, there is no gray zone. Do vaccines cause autism? No... Do they overwhelm the immune system? No... She's conflating totally different things here... She asks if a sick kid should get vaccines. If they're not more than mildly ill, yes. Maybe if they'd gotten the flu vaccine they wouldn't have the flu. She brings up immunocompromised kids, but they absolutely do get considered differently already. No decent physician would not consider a child's individual medical history. Same with those kids with a history of adverse reactions. We consent people for vaccines, and ask if they've had bad reactions before.
And no one, absolutely no physician I know, refuses to answer the questions of parents. [The Incidental Economist]
Yet again, she's been sowing scientific controversy where there is none. Sorry we hurt your feelings, Jenny, but lives are literally at stake here. Ryan Cooper
The U.S. Treasury's Terror Financing unit has launched an inquiry into how the Islamic State is obtaining large numbers of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs.
— Autoblog.com (@therealautoblog) October 6, 2015
The world's second largest automaker said it is "supporting" the investigation, with Ed Lewis, Toyota's director of public policy and communications in Washington, telling ABC News the company has briefed the Treasury on supply chains in the Middle East and procedures in place to safeguard supply chain integrity. Toyota, he said, has a "strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities."
ISIS propaganda videos filmed in Iraq, Syria, and Libya show numerous Hilux and Land Cruiser vehicles marked with ISIS seals, including one video ABC News says was shot in Raqqa, Syria, featuring an ISIS parade where more than two-thirds of the vehicles were Toyotas. "Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand," Mark Wallace, CEO of the Counter Extremism Project and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said. "ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like. But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet — a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that's very concerning to us."
Lewis said most of the Toyotas appearing in the videos are not new models, and the company cannot track down stolen vehicles or ones that have been bought and re-sold by middlemen. An Iraqi military spokesman told ABC News he thinks trucks are being smuggled into Iraq by outside middlemen, and Toyota distributors in the region said they are unsure how the trucks are getting to ISIS. Wallace said he doesn't think Toyota is "trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now and they should do more." Catherine Garcia
It seems that, like the rest of us, the White House has been reading some hysterical articles about how sitting all day will kill you. And it also appears that, like the rest of us, the Executive Office of the President is now wondering if it's time to ditch chairs and exercise balls in favor of standing desks.
National Journal reports that, according to a recent public solicitation, the Executive Office of the President is seeking up to $700,000 worth of standing desks over a five-year period — though the remaining four years after the end of the Obama administration are optional. The government even has a brand preference for the desks, specifying that they must be "Varidesk brand name or equal." Large Varidesks cost in the $400-$500 range.
It took 11 months for an anti-abortion group to edit the secretly recorded Planned Parenthood videos
A man named Ryan Gonzalez reportedly spent 11 months editing the secretly recorded Planned Parenthood video footage that was released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, a source close to Gonzalez told The Huffington Post. The videos, which appear to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the disposal of fetal tissue and whose content rallied Republicans to threaten to shut down the government, have since been found to have used actors and contain heavy edits that make them entirely unreliable.
The Huffington Post's source said that Gonzalez worked with his friend, David Daleiden, who started the Center for Medical Progress, in an apartment in Orange County, California. The pair began by meeting to edit the videos once or twice a week, then ramped up the frequency in May 2015 until it became a full-time effort. In July, Gonzalez promoted the videos on his personal Facebook page: "This is the first part of a project I've been editing since last August and haven't been able to talk about until now. It was just released today and the news is tracking well so far." The pair later made fun of allegations that the footage was manipulated on their Facebook pages.
The Center for Medical Progress blames the unexplained edits on "bathroom breaks or waiting time between meetings [that] were removed to protect the investigators." Daleiden added in an email to The Huffington Post that "the Center for Medical Progress works with a variety of contractors for technically skilled tasks like acting, legal research, and video editing, but as a general rule we do not publicly comment on or identify these individuals because of serious personal security concerns." He maintains that the authenticity of the videos has been verified. Jeva Lange
When Whoopi Goldberg asked Ben Carson about his recent remark that Hitler "could happen here" in a Tuesday interview on The View, the retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate didn't try to explain the remark away — he doubled down on it. First off, he clarified, he knew exactly what he was doing when made the comment. "I purposely said that because I knew the left wing would go crazy: 'He said Hitler!'" Carson said.
He then went on to explain that his invocation of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany was really just a way to remind people of what can happen if people don't stand up for what they believe in. "So what I said is most people in Nazi Germany did not believe in what Hitler was doing. But did they speak up? No. They kept their mouths shut," Carson said. "And when you do that, you are compromising your freedom and the freedom of people who come behind you. You have to be willing to stand up for what you believe in. I want people in America to stand up for what we believe in."
But no matter what Carson was trying to say, even his campaign manager thinks it's about time he finds a new example to illustrate his point. "It's an example [Carson] has been using for years," Carson's campaign manager Barry Bennett told ABC News, "and, to be honest with you, he needs to find a better example because the problem is as soon as you say Hitler, nobody hears anything else you say."
Watch Carson's interview below. Becca Stanek
With prisons overcrowded and drug offenders facing long sentences, the Justice Department is now set to release 6,000 inmates early from prison, The Washington Post reports. The move, which marks the largest ever one-time release of federal prisoners, follows a decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission last year that reduced the punishment for drug offenders both in the future and retroactively. While President Obama has made headlines for granting clemency to large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders, the Justice Department's mass release is a separate initiative.
Approximately 100,000 drug offenders are serving time in prisons across the United States; sentencing guidelines could result in the early release of 46,000 of that number. While the first wave of 6,000 will be released between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 — primarily into halfway houses or home confinement — another 8,550 will be eligible between November 2015 and 2016, The Washington Post reports. The program eases sentences by an average of two years; the average sentence is 10.5 years. Jeva Lange
Rihanna calls Rachel Dolezal 'a hero': 'Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black?'
Rihanna doesn't think that Rachel Dolezal, the white N.A.A.C.P. chapter president who identifies as black, is as bad as everyone is making her out to be. While Dolezal was largely scorned after her estranged parents revealed this summer that their daughter was actually white, Rihanna seems to be taking Dolezal's side.
"I think she was a bit of a hero, because she kind of flipped on society a little bit," Rihanna told Vanity Fair in an interview for the magazine's November cover story. "Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black? Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people's perspective a bit and woke people up."
While some criticized Dolezal for appropriating black culture, Dolezal maintains that she is "transracial" and that, for her, being black is "not a costume." Read Rihanna's full interview at Vanity Fair. Becca Stanek
In a week, Hillary Clinton will take the stage alongside Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee to duke it out in the first Democratic debate, hosted by CNN in Las Vegas. While the Republicans have had their share of verbal elbowing and name-calling on live TV, Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, has much more to lose if her takedowns backfire — especially if her criticism is leveled at her primary competition in the field, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
"I've seen every attack people have thrown at him, and none of them have worked," former Vermont governor and Clinton supporter Howard Dean told The New York Times, adding that condescending to Sanders' character or political alignments will "only make him stronger, especially with his base — and we need his base." Clinton herself has said that she "knows Bernie" and respects his "enthusiastic and intense advocacy of his ideas." What's left, then, is for Clinton to prove her worth against Sanders using his wobbly record with gun control against him — as well as the flaws in his proposals:
Mrs. Clinton is unlikely to belittle Mr. Sanders. But her debate preparations have touched on, among other things, how Mr. Sanders would accomplish some of his ambitious proposals if he were elected president, according to three people briefed on the private discussions. (Mr. Sanders's spending plans — free public college tuition, a $1 trillion infrastructure program and a single-payer health care system — would be financed with a variety of tax increases; both would be nonstarters under a Republican-controlled Congress.) [The New York Times]
Sanders, however, will likely share none of the same reservations about taking swings at Clinton. "If you think establishment politics and establishment economics is the answer to our problems, fine," he told David Axelrod in a podcast. "There are good candidates out there." Jeva Lange