This should not be a surprise

The Hill reports with surprise something that could have been easily predicted. Under the headline “Obama veers left after red wave”, it says:

President Obama has taken significant steps to the left since his party’s devastating losses in the midterm elections.

In a surprise, he announced a major deal on climate change with China during a trip to Beijing Tuesday. That followed another unanticipated move — a Monday statement pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new net neutrality rules for the Internet.

The moves are helping to rally a dispirited Democratic base while re-establishing Obama’s political leadership after he was sidelined during the midterms.

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The next big scare?

So the great freak-out about Ebola in the US has now subsided with the last person who had the disease, the doctor in New York, being cleared and released from hospital. There are a few encouraging signs that the rate of spread of the infection in West Africa, at least in Liberia, is slowing down and that containment of this deadly disease may be on the horizon though it must be emphasized that the dangers are still very real and Sierra Leone in particular still faces major problems.
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Things that the torture report might contain

The likelihood of the report on torture being released by the US Senate, even in a limited and highly redacted form, is becoming increasingly unlikely. The main (but small) hope for transparency and accountability advocates is that outgoing senator Mark Udall uses his immunity as a member of Congress to put it into the Congressional record.
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Democrats are free at last! (To sell out their supporters)

The Associated Press reports that president Obama feels ‘liberated’ by losing the senate to the Republicans.

White House officials say Obama’s optimism reflects a president who feels liberated by even the limited prospects for striking deals with a Republican Congress and relieved about shedding the narrow Democratic majority that would have guaranteed Washington stayed locked in a stalemate.
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Buying absolution for drone murders

It used to be that in the Catholic Church, one could buy indulgences to provide absolution for one’s sins, giving an advantage to rich people trying to get to heaven. Although the church has discontinued that deplorable practice, the US government still seems to believe in it. Cora Currier writes that the US government makes secret payments to the relatives of civilian victims of its drone strikes while publicly maintaining that the dead are militants.
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Will Udall go out with glory?

Last Tuesday, senator Mark Udall of Colorado lost his bid for re-election. He now faces a choice. He can fade away into the political sunset or make a significant contribution. How? By going on the Senate floor during the lame duck session from now until the end of the year when he formally leaves and reading into the congressional record the CIA torture report that has been kept concealed up until now.
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Film review: A Most Wanted Man (2014)

I saw this film over the weekend. It is one of the final ones by Philip Seymour Hoffman and he gives a typically fine performance as the head of a small German counter-terrorism unit based in Hamburg that is keeping track of potential Islamic terror networks who might be using that city as a stage to launch operations. Hamburg is where Mohammed Atta plotted the 9/11 attacks and none of the German authorities want a similar plot to go undetected.
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