Since the outbreak of the HIV epidemic in the early 1980s, the FDA has banned blood donations from men who have had sexual relations with other men since 1977. Now, that ban may be "relaxed" to a one-year deferral following a vote by a panel from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The current ban in the U.S. applies to any potential male blood donor who has had sex with another man since 1977, the start of the country’s AIDS epidemic. The FDA website states that these men are at an “increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.” The Department of Health and Human Service’s Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability examined data and heard testimony on Thursday from critics of the lifetime ban, who say it is discriminatory and now unnecessary, since technological advances have made the risk infinitesimal in most cases.
The panel then voted 16-2 in support of allowing men who have had sex with other men to give blood after being abstinent for one year, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The FDA is not obliged to follow the panel’s advice but Jennifer Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the agency, said “the meeting provided valuable information and perspectives that will help inform the FDA’s deliberations.”
Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom have all reduced lifetime blood donation bans on men who have had sex with men to a one-to-five year ban from their last sexual encounter. The panel voted in favor of a policy that would permit blood donation following a one-year period of abstinence of same-sex encounters.
Previously, there was a six-month window where HIV was undetectable in blood. Thanks to improvements in technology, this window has been reduced to a mere 11 days.
The American Red Cross also supports the one-year deferral.
I think this is worth looking in to. Technology has improved leaps and bounds in the past 30 years, and policies should adapt as such. It would be interesting to see how things have played out in other countries who have changed their policies regarding blood donations from men who have had sex with men--if their supplies have remained safe, I don't see why the United States' supply would be at risk.
The kill switch to any organization is funding. Stop the money, stop the institution.
Disrupting and dismantling the highly funded Islamic State has been a challenge for the Obama Administration, and the House Committee on Financial Services wants to conduct rigorous oversight of how the president is working to stop the income of money to the terrorist group that currently has $2 billion in assets.
In a congressional hearing Thursday, lawmakers discussed how the United States can combat ISIS' continued income of millions of dollars a week which it collects through hostage ransoms, donations, extorting of locals, and most of all, the sale of black marketed oil.
The terrorist organization's anarchy in Syria and Iraq have enabled them to not only take over oil refineries, but kid nap innocent people and hold them for ransom. It is estimated that ISIS has received over $20 million in ransom payments this year. The barbaric acts of ISIS include raising funds by extorting the people that live in the areas they now control. Donations from supporters is also a major source of income for the terrorist group.
Treasury Under Secretary David S. Cohen was a witness and defended President Obama's work in dismantling ISIS; but the Republicans on the committee, including Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM), were not buying it.
"We cannot be cavalier about security threats such as ISIS," said Rep. Garrett. "[I am] concerned about how our Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has taken this threat."
Rep. Pearce was the most poignant committee member and demanded an answer from Cohen to why the air strikes ordered by President Obama have not single-handedly stopped ISIS from selling oil on the black market by destroying their transport trucks and refineries. When asked to scale President Obama's commitment to stoping the sale of ISIS produced oil from 1-10, Cohen said ten and that President Obama was absolutely committed to stopping oil from being sold by ISIS. Rep. Pearce could not get a solid answer from Cohen on why this hasn't been done even when stating he is in the meetings with the president on how they are working to defund ISIS.
Rep. Pearce said in a statement to Townhall regarding Cohen's receptiveness to his idea of attacking ISIS transportation trucks:
"The ISIS terrorist group's ability to self-finance is unlike anything we have seen before in a terrorist organization. Earning over $1 million a day in oil sales for their fight is unacceptable. We must stop the flow of money, which is achieved by stopping the flow of oil. I believe our military can do this immediately, if given the order.”
Cohen laid out several ways the Treasury Department and the Obama Administration are working to defund and defeat ISIS. This includes sanctioning banks that conduct the international transactions for ISIS. Also, thwarting those who buy the oil on the black market. He stressed to the committee that though ISIS may have "several millions dollars a week" of income, this should not be confused with "financial strength."
"ISIL does not have the income to meet their costs...I do think the strategy we're employing will impale ISIL's access to funding. It will impair their ability to use the funding that they have and we'll see a real impact on ISIS, but it will take a dedicated effort over some period of time," said Cohen.
Air strikes on ISIS have slowed their income from approximately $1-$2 million a day to "several million a week," according to Cohen.
Discussing President Obama’s plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants via executive order, Charles Krauthammer told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Thursday that it is indeed an impeachable offense.
"Look, I believe it is an impeachable offense," he said.
"If the circumstances were different, if we were at the beginning of a presidency, if we hadn't had years when the Congress has been supine and unresponsive at other grabs of their authority by the executive—like Obama unilaterally changing Obamacare after it was passed about 30 times with no response from the Congress—the same as Obama essentially re-writing some of the drug laws.
"This idea of prosecutorial discretion is really a travesty. It is intended for extreme cases. For a case where you want to show mercy for an individual or two where it's unusual incident, unusual circumstances and you say, okay, we're going to give this person a pass. It was never intended to abolish a whole class of people subject to a law and to essentially abolish whole sections of a law. And that's exactly what's happening here."
Of course, debating whether the move is an impeachable offense is one thing, deciding whether conservatives will, or should, pursue it is quite another.
“Obama says he’s a constitutional scholar,” Krauthammer said, “he knows that he shouldn’t be doing this, but I think he’s reached a point in his presidency, he’s not even going to be on the ballot again indirectly, and he doesn’t care, he’s gonna go for it.”
Case in point:Don't forget, he did have two years to do this constitutionally.
Talk to any conservative about whether or not they could support Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a Republican presidential primary and you'll invariably get the same answer: "I just don't trust him on immigration."
And it is true. Rubio squandered his hard won credibility with many conservatives when he teamed up with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to sell the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill.
But while Rubio has since distanced himself from that effort, he still has not regained conservatives' trust.
President Obama's impending executive amnesty could change all that.
Right now the Republican Party is divided between moderates who want to pass a long-term government funding bill, thus allowing Obama to enact his amnesty, and conservatives who want Congress to use their constitutionally provided power of the purse to reign in Obama's unprecedented abuse of executive power.
This fight has the potential to turn ugly for the GOP, especially if the moderates betray their conservative constituents by caving to Obama. The bitter rhetoric that will pour from conservative legislators, and the conservative constituents of moderate Republicans, will be both nasty and a huge boon to Obama and Democrats.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a supporter of Gang go Eight-style immigration reform, isn't always right about everything, but according to The Washington Post, he "has been counseling House Republicans this week about the need to show empathy for undocumented workers as the party rails against the Obama administration... He is concerned that too much vitriol could send the wrong message to Hispanic voters."
This is wise advice. As is The Free Beacon's Matthew Continetti's suggestion that conservatives also point out how Obama's past executive actions already created a humanitarian crisis on the border this past summer.
If Rubio were to come out in favor of a conservative plan to use the appropriations process to limit Obama's abuse of power, and were he to make the same effort selling that plan to conservative media that he made selling the Gang of Eight plan, he could undo much, if not all, of the previous damage that his Gang of Eight support originally caused.
God bless Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), but the conservative wing of the Republican party is in desperate need of a high-wattage officeholder that can lead the effort against Obama's amnesty. Conservatives need a leader that can speak about the plight of undocumented workers with instinctive empathy, a leader that knows the immigration issue backwards and forwards, and a leader who has the credibility among moderates that he will not lead the party off a cliff.
Rubio could be that leader.
But will he take up the cause?
While Michigan gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer traveled to every part of the state ahead of Election Day last week, the Democratic base simply did not show up for him. Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder beat Schauer 51/47.
While turnout was projected to be higher than expected, it actually dropped 2.5 percent from 2010. With these numbers, Schauer’s only saving grace was to reach out to independent voters, who liked Snyder–and who enjoyed greater party base support this time around. Also, while Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters was able to show a very human side to his campaign, which was a stark difference compared to that of his Republican rival, Terri Lynn Land; there wasn’t much of that with Schauer according to political analysts (via AP):
Three in 10 Michigan voters identified themselves as independents or members of other parties and, of those, Snyder prevailed by an almost 2-to-1 margin, according to the results of an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks.
Of the four in 10 who called themselves Democrats, 89 percent went for Schauer and 10 percent with Snyder. Three in 10 said they were Republicans — 94 percent voted for the governor, 6 percent for Schauer.
Ed Sarpolus, a political analyst and pollster, said voters also connected with Peters. He ran a TV ad, “Frugal,” in which his wife and daughters poked fun at their old washing machine and his frayed sweatshirt and ragged shoes. Other ads focused on his military service and Michigan roots.
“How much did you learn about Mark Schauer the man and his family? Nothing. ... There was no humanization of Mark Schauer. It was always attacks,” said Sarpolus, who conducted his own exit polling that found Schauer was largely an unknown quantity compared with the governor.
He said Schauer’s decision to flog Snyder on two major issues — taxing retirement income and cutting education funding — was an effort to persuade 2010 Snyder supporters to switch their vote.
“But he didn’t have issues to drive Democrats,” Sarpolus said, contending that while Peters had a broader agenda for moderates and women, the governor’s election ultimately determines overall voter numbers.
According to the exits, Snyder won:
Schauer won the urban areas 66/32 over Snyder, along with 18-29 year-olds, 30-44 year-olds, and households with union members.
As for the middle class vote, both sides can split it to compliment their narrative. Snyder won Michigan voters $50k-100k, but if you add all Michigan residents making less than $100k (Schauer dominated the under $50k demographic); Schauer beats Snyder slightly by a 51/48 margin. Still, it undercuts the Democratic Party mantra that they’re the party of the middle class– and Schauer’s attacks on Snyder, where he alleged that the governor was presiding over an economic recovery that only benefited the wealthy in Michigan.
Michigan voters who thought the economy was the most important issue facing the country–47 percent of them did–they broke for Snyder 51/48, while those who said they were “very worried” about their economic conditions overwhelmingly voted for Snyder 64/32. If you add the worried and not worried crosstabs together, 76 percent were worried about the state of the economy, while 24 percent were not; unsurprisingly the worried bloc broke for Snyder 55/42.
Snyder also won the votes of Michigan residents who work full-time [49/48] and part-time [50/48].
Lastly while there was a gender gap–Schauer won women 53/45–Snyder kept that deficit within single digits, keeping him competitive with that very powerful, but movable, bloc of voters.
Labor unions also invested heavily to beat the pro-right-to-work Snyder, but to no avail. Unions also tried to knock off Gov. Scott Walker in the neighboring Wisconsin; Walker won. It could be time for Michigan Democrats to find new allies in order to win elections–and recognize that labor unions’ political muscle has atrophied.
As Snyder enters a new term, the State Senate just passed a bill to improve Michigan’s infrastructure by enacting more gas taxes. Snyder said he’s open to having a gas tax pass, but also offering a sales tax hike so that voters can decide. Infrastructure was an issue that both Schauer and Snyder said needs attention.
The House on Friday voted 252 to 161 to approve a bill that would direct the federal government to move forward on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ahead of a vote scheduled for Tuesday in the Senate that could send the measure to President Obama’s desk.
There is little chance that the votes will clear the way to construction of the long-fought, long-delayed pipeline, which would carry petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. In the Senate, where Democrats have a majority until the Republicans take over in January, it is unlikely, though not impossible, that the bill would attract 60 votes, enough to avoid a filibuster. But even if the bill does clear the Senate, Mr. Obama has signaled that he will probably veto it.
In other words, the bill is probably going nowhere -- at least not right now. Today's vote was largely agreed upon by both parties for political reasons. Nevertheless, the Senate will debate and vote on the House-passed legislation next Tuesday. (Republicans reportedly already have “58 of the 60 votes they would need” to assure passage). Will they get there?
Maybe, but it might not matter in the end; the president isn’t ready to act just yet:
At a press conference in Myanmar on Friday, Obama reaffirmed his argument that the Keystone XL decision should be made only after the State Department has completed its review. "I’ve been clear in the past," said Obama, according to The Hill. "My position hasn’t changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed."
Obama said that part of that process will include determining “whether or not [the pipeline] accelerates climate change," and also seemed to express frustration about having to "constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.”
That ruling will be handed down sometime in January, thus the safe bet is that the lame duck Congress will not resolve this issue.
I’ll leave you with this press release. It was issued by Speaker John Boehner’s office after the bill cleared the House:
Thousands more Americans would be working today if President Obama had put their priorities ahead of his political interests and approved the Keystone pipeline. Instead, he continues to block the project, and the new jobs, lower costs, and increased energy security it would provide. The House has voted numerous times to end the Obama administration’s needless delays, only to see those bills blocked by the outgoing Democratic majority in the Senate. The president doesn’t have any more elections to win, and he has no other excuse for standing in the way. It’s time he start listening to the vast majority of Americans who support Keystone and help get more people back to work.”
To summarize the words of incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): some people never learn.
Only hours after being voted in as majority leader by the GOP Senate Thursday, Sen. McConnell stated that he was "very disturbed" by the way President Obama has proceeded in the wake of the election.
Between Obama's intervention on Net Neutrality, his "rather ridiculous agreement with the Chinese under which they basically have to do nothing for the next 16 years," and his threat to take executive action on immigration, he has shown that he is not willing to work with the new party majority, McConnell explained.
"You know president Reagan never had the House in eight years, president Clinton didn’t have the House or the Senate for six of [his] eight years; they understood that the American people had elected divided government.
We’d like for the president to recognize the reality, that he has the government that he has, not one that he wishes he had and work with us to try to find a way to improve our immigration system."
Republicans in both the House and Senate are interested in passing an immigration reform bill, McConnell stated, the president has been repeatedly told not to take action on immigration because his executive orders are not permanent changes.
“I had, maybe naively, hoped that the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us,” McConnell said from inside the Capitol building Thursday, “But the early signs are not good.”
McConnell promised twice that should Obama pass an Executive Order on immigration, Republicans will not shut the government down or threaten to default on the national debt.
As the Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings for new Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch and as outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder continues to allocate Department of Justice resources to the situation in Ferguson, former FBI Assistant Director and Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Ron Hosko has sent a scathing letter to President Obama detailing the damage done to the relationship between law enforcement and DOJ over the past six years.
"The hyper-politicization of justice issues has made it immeasurably more difficult for police officers to simply do their jobs. The growing divide between the police and the people – perhaps best characterized by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., who angrily chanted, “It’s not black or white. It’s blue!” – only benefits of members of a political class seeking to vilify law enforcement for other societal failures. This puts our communities at greater risk, especially the most vulnerable among us," Hosko wrote in the letter exclusively obtained by Townhall. "Your attorney general, Eric Holder, is chief among the antagonists. During his tenure as the head of the Department of Justice, Mr. Holder claims to have investigated twice as many police and police departments as any of his predecessors. Of course, this includes his ill-timed decision to launch a full investigation into the Ferguson Police Department at the height of racial tensions in that community, throwing gasoline on a fire that was already burning. Many officers were disgusted by such a transparent political maneuver at a time when presidential and attorney general leadership could have calmed a truly chaotic situation."
In Ferguson law enforcement officials are bracing for violence and riots ahead of a Grand Jury decision about whether to prosecute Police Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Wilson says he shot Brown in self-defense after Brown went for his gun during a struggle in the police car. According to an official autopsy, Brown was shot at close range and had gun powder residue on his hand, indicating the struggle in the car did in fact happen and that Brown reached for Wilson's gun.
The official county autopsy, which was performed by Dr. Gershom Norfleet, showed Brown was shot in the hand at close range based on the finding of “foreign matter ‘consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm,’” in a wound on Brown’s hand, the Post-Dispatch reports. "[This] guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound,” Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, told the Post-Dispatch.
The official autopsy also “did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. These witness statements would lead protesters to raise their hands in a stance of surrender while facing police during demonstrations, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Brown's being shot in the hand at close range appears to confirm the account Wilson told to investigators—that Wilson and Brown had “struggled for Wilson’s pistol inside a police SUV and that Wilson had fired the gun twice, hitting Brown once in the hand”—a source with knowledge of Wilson’s statements told the Post-Dispatch.
In August, Holder sent Department of Justice officials from the Civil Rights Division and dozens of FBI agents to Ferguson to investigate the case before the official autopsy was conducted and nearly suggested in a statement that Officer Wilson was guilty of a crime before any evidence was produced.
"It won’t be long before the American people turn their attention to other matters. Long after Ferguson is forgotten, police officers across America will still remember the way their senior federal executives turned their back on them with oft-repeated suggestions that race-based policing drives a biased, broken law enforcement agenda," Hosko continued. "As we move forward with the selection and confirmation of a new attorney general, I ask that you personally reengage with the law enforcement community of dedicated and valiant men and women across the country, serving at every level of government. With two years remaining in your presidency, you have an urgent responsibility to correct damage inflicted upon law enforcement and help mend the rift between police and those they protect. The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund will be happy to support any such discussions."
The Grand Jury report and decision from the Michael Brown case in Ferguson is expected to be released any day now.
It should be noted that before becoming President of LELDF, Hosko served as FBI assistant director under Holder until retiring earlier this year.
By now you're aware of the red hot 'federal subsidies' controversy, yes? The star of the show at the moment is one Jonathan Gruber -- a famed economist and top Obamacare architect -- who's been caught repeatedly lying about the law he helped design, while smirking about the "stupidity" of the American people. Gruber's performance has become so harmful to The Cause that Nancy Pelosi is now pretending she doesn't know who he is:
All you can say is…“Ouch.”
With three weeks to go until the runoff election in Louisiana, incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) reelection hopes are becoming dimmer and dimmer. If her failure to get above 50 percent of the vote at last week’s midterms were any indication, even more so is her party’s embarrassing lack of support. Last week, the DSCC pulled ads from the Bayou State, perhaps seeing no point in wasting the funds in what appears to be a lost cause. Now, it’s been revealed that the Senator has not received one dime from outside groups. While an FEC report shows that there were $1 million in independent expenditures in Louisiana from the past week - all of that money benefited the Cassidy campaign.
Landrieu’s GOP opponents Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness received a total of 55 percent of the vote in the midterm election. Now, with Maness out of the running, those votes are expected to go to Cassidy on December 6. A new runoff poll more or less confirms this, showing Cassidy with a commanding lead – he is 16 points above Landrieu.
Well, Senator, looks like it might be time for you to head home – wherever that is.