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Friday, Sep 30th

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Alex Baer: Survivor's Gilt

survivor's giltIt's a wonderful thing, when stuff normally taken for granted goes missing for a bit, then pops back up, reasserts itself, and gets appreciation flowing in your veins again.

Like gravity.

Toward the end of the end of my month-long experimentation with colds, flus, and pneumonia-wannabes, I was thrilled when all those sumpy pockets and pools of rippling gravity faded from the swooping and swerving, eerily unfamiliarly, looking-through-binoculars-backwards, miles-long hallway between bed and bath -- into the Great Beyond, where all the cold and flu products danced in a long conga line, like a 1950s theater intermission moment, when all the popcorn, drinks, and candy bars danced themselves out into the lobby for your happy, refreshing treat.

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Alex Baer: The Flue Flu: Two Dox to Open

Flue fluDespite my flu shot, I've gotten the flu anyway.  The irony is not lost on me, but it's a complex vintage, and one not easily achieved or savored.  For example, part of me wants to feel I have finally gotten my money's worth in a modern-day transaction.

So much for theory, where the shot is supposed to give you the flu -- sort of -- in order to build up some immunity to the flu.  Well, sure.  Got it.

But,  I'm feeling on the wrong end of an old punchline, where this guy in a joke walks in to a drug store and asks, "Have you got anything for a headache?" and the pharmacist whacks him on the head with an SUV-sized wooden mallet.

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Inside The Tiny Police State With Seven Armies

Tiny police stateForces from America, Japan, France, Germany, Italy—and soon, even China—are crammed into the dirt-poor Djibouti. Good luck asking the locals if they like all the attention.

There’s a smell of sewage out on the beaches outside, juxtaposed with tangerine, sunset views glimmering atop the murky waves. Looking southward across the warm waters of the Gulf of Aden, whale sharks congregate en masse to feed in the fall and winter.

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NY Times: End the Gun Epidemic in America

assault weaponsAll decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

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Bob Alexander: Bad Horror Movie

Bob Alexander: Bad Horror MovieA bunch of teens decide to go up to The Old Dark House on the night of the full moon. As they mount the creaking stairs up to the front porch the nerdy guy of the group says, “I don't think this is a very good idea guys.”

Of course it's not.

What the teens don't know … but what everybody in the theater audience knows … is that somewhere in The Old Dark House is:

An escaped lunatic from a nearby insane asylum who has returned to the house where he committed terrible unspeakable murders. It was, in fact, This Very Night 20 years ago when he took an axe and chopped up his entire family.

Or …

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The Road To The Paris Attacks Runs Through The Iraq War

Bush and Cheney, architects of warOne Middle East catastrophe apparently wasn't enough for some supporters of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. So they've continued to try to shape policy relating to the region, offering punditry in the wake of each fresh crisis.

It wasn't a surprise, then, that they seized on last week's tragic attacks in Paris to argue that the Islamic State group could only be eliminated by their preferred mode of U.S. intervention: large-scale troop deployment.

"If it takes 50,000 troops going in there and cleaning out Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State, do it," Bill Kristol said on ABC two days after the attack.

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Paris attacks: The West’s fatal misunderstanding of Islamic State

What the West does not understand about ISILThe horrendous attacks on Paris have an eerie resemblance to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in that they seem to have caught everyone off guard.

Until perhaps Friday, the main perception among Western intelligence agencies and Washington policymakers has been that Islamic State poses “no immediate threat” to the United States or the West.

“Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS is more interested in establishing a Caliphate and not so interested in attacking the West,” a retired CIA officer explained during a closed meeting at one of Washington’s think tanks. He was echoing a common sentiment, and insisted that “Al Qaeda remains the main threat.” Even U.S. President Barack Obama recently said with confidence that Islamic State was being “contained.”

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