Rand Paul

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness has a deep influence on the mindset of the right

A postage stamp showing an image of Ayn Rand, circa 1999 (catwalker / Shutterstock.com)

A postage stamp showing an image of Ayn Rand, circa 1999 (catwalker / Shutterstock.com)

The Raw Story

Ayn Rand (1904-82) has arisen from the dead. Over the last decade the pop philosopher and propaganda fictionist extraordinaire has moved steadily from the cultish margins to the mainstream of US conservatism.

Her ghost may even haunt the current presidential race with the candidacy of Republican Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian darling who received a set of Ayn Rand books for his 17th birthday.

In her bestselling books and essays, Rand frankly celebrated selfishness and greed – and the underside of this celebration is a scorn toward and demonization of any simple caring about other human beings. Such a stance has become a hidden, yet driving force behind such loaded catchphrases as “spending cuts” and, more grandiosely, “limited government.”

In a larger sense, though, Rand had never died. Sales of her books remained steadily in the six figures in the years following her demise, their underground influence an unacknowledged-if-discomforting fact of American life. A couple of reader surveys carried out in the 1990s by Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress, and by the Modern Library imprint, showed Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead near the top of the polling results, according to author Brian Doherty. And, in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, sales of her works tripled.

Randianism, what she called Objectivism, now exists as a mass phenomenon, a grass-roots presence, a kind of folklore. “Who Is John Galt?”, her recurring slogan from Atlas Shrugged, can be seen on placards at Tea Party rallies, on leaflets casually affixed to telephone poles or on the shopping bags of Lululemon Athletics, the Canadian sports apparel company. The firm’s CEO, Chip Wilson, is an avowed Rand fan. So are the current corporate chiefs at Exxon, Sears, the BB & T Bank in North Carolina and the funky Whole Foods chain.

And of course, there’s Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, who started out in the 1950s as Rand’s star disciple and never in the course of his career was to abjure the special relationship.

Rand and the mindset of the right

Randthought, which I discuss in my book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, serves as a major doctrinal component within the mindset of the libertarian, the latter being the most significant American ideological development of the last 35 years.

The title of a 1971 book by Jerome Tuccille (a libertarian journalist and Libertarian Party candidate for governor of New York State in 1974) says all: It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand. Rand’s fan base has since grown to include Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, who in 2005 openly credited Rand with his having entered government service and who reportedly has had his staffers read the market guru’s books.

Rand did not invent libertarianism. The thinking, sans the name, had been around since at least the 1920s. And her contemporaries, economists such as Milton Friedman and the so-called Austrian School, gave the set of ideas academic standing and respectability. In Rand’s truculent fiction, however, an abstract theory effectively took on flesh via dashing heroes and unabashed hero worship, vivid myths and technological magic, page-turning suspense and torrid, violent sex. For every studious reader of economist Friedrich von Hayek, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of eager devourers of Rand.

Curiously, an aging Rand loathed libertarians, attacked them as “scum,” “hippies of the right” and “a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people.” She hated them in great measure because, in her view, they had adopted her economic principles yet ignored her total “philosophy.” (Rand also disliked any situation over which she couldn’t exercise personal control.)

Her heirs and successors in the so-called Objectivist camp have since waged a kind of sectarian cold war with libertarians. One thinks of the split between Stalinists and Trotskyists or between Social Democrats and Communists.

Meanwhile the libertarians themselves have gone their merry way with their political party (the nation’s third largest) and Tea Parties, and with their myriad think tanks and media organs.

The GOP’s fraught affair with Rand

In the interim, starting with Ronald Reagan, the GOP has absorbed selected aspects of the rhetoric and larger aims of the libertarian purists (much as the New Deal did once pick and choose rhetoric and programs from the socialist left). At the same time, official party conservatism took to cultivating the evangelical Christian sectors, marshaling issues such as abortion and evolution in an aggressive bid to gain favor with fundamentalist voters.

In addition, picking up from the “Southern Strategy” of Republicans in the 1970s who wooed Southern Democrats by catering to racial tensions, candidates and publicists now play on continuing resentment over the Civil War defeat and the Civil Rights struggles. They deflect blame onto “Big Government” for any and all ills, much as libertarians and Randians are wont to do. The result is a marriage of convenience, an uneasy alliance between a pro-market, secular Right and the older, faith-based forces who make common cause against a perceived common enemy.

Rand, ironically, was an outspoken atheist, a fact that eventually led VP candidate Paul Ryan to publicly repudiate her “atheist philosophy,” claiming disingenuously that his once-touted Randianism was merely an “urban legend,” and that, as a Catholic, his thought came rather from St Thomas Aquinas.

Still, whatever these doctrinal differences, Rand’s vision will continue to provide inspiration and intellectual ammunition for the foot soldiers of US conservatism, libertarian or otherwise.

In many respects, America is becoming — in echo of the title of a book by journalist Gary Weiss — an “Ayn Rand Nation.”

The ConversationBy Gene H. Bell-Villada, Williams College

Rand Paul: Hillary Has So Much ‘Baggage’ She Needs An Extra Plane

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AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite

TPM LiveWire

“I’m starting to worry that when Hillary Clinton travels, there’s gonna need to be two planes – one for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage,” Paul said. “I’m concerned that the plane with the baggage is really getting heavy and teetering.”

Paul, who, like Clinton, recently announced his 2016 presidential candidacy, criticized Clinton for using a private email account while she was secretary of State, according to The Hill. The Republican candidate also reportedly took issue with the fact that the Clinton Foundation had accepted monetary contributions from foreign governments.

Paul has recently faced criticism over his comments and behavior toward women, prompting accusations that he’s sexist and forcing his wife to defend him against the claims.

Watch Rand Run: Paul Cuts Off And Flees Live Interview When Questions Get Too Hard

Rand Paul Guardian interview | You Tube Screencap

PoliticusUSA

Sen. Rand Paul had another disastrous interview with a member of the media today. Watch Sen. Paul walk out on an interview with The Guardian just as he was being pressed on his flawed campaign strategy.

Video:

As you can see, in the video above, The Guardian’s Paul Lewis was in the middle of asking Sen. Paul about how he plans on winning the Republican nomination on a platform of criminal justice reform when the vast majority of Republicans believe that the law is being applied fairly to all Americans. Sen. Paul didn’t say goodbye, or excuse himself from the interview. He just walked out.

The media initially reported that Paul campaign staffers turned out the lights on Lewis, but the Paul folks claim that it was a CNN producer who was setting for Paul’s next interview that left the scene in darkness.

Rand Paul is getting a taste of what happens when journalists hold him accountable for his policy inconsistencies. Sen. Paul seems to be running a very entitled campaign for a family that has perpetually run for president and never come remotely close to winning anything of consequence.

Paul has defined himself as the angry lightweight who is going to deflect from his flip-flops by either attacking or running away from the media. If Sen. Paul wants people to vote for him, media engagement is a free way to reach millions of potential voters. So far, Paul has hit the 2016 campaign trail and fallen flat on his face.

Sen. Paul may not have had the time to answer Lewis’s question, but there are more graceful ways of ending an interview than walking out. If Paul had excused himself politely from the interview, there would be no story, but if Rand Paul can’t handle NBC’s Today show and Paul Lewis from The Guardian, voters shouldn’t have any faith that he can handle being president.

Pastor Who Spoke At Rand Launch: We Don’t Yet Know Obama’s ‘Real Religion’

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C-SPAN

I wonder how much he got paid to say that.  I’m sure all speeches go past Rand Paul or his aids first, so one could surmise that Paul espouses this guy’s train of thought…

TPM LiveWire

“In five years we’ll find out what [Obama’s] real religion is,” Rev. Jerry Stephenson told reporters after the event, according to Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins.

Stephenson, a Louisville-based preacher, voiced his discontent with the Democratic Party in 2010 and then embraced the tea party movement, as well as then-Senate candidate Paul. He’d been discussing the issue of religious freedom after Paul’s presidential announcement when a radio interviewer pressed him to explain his belief that Obama wasn’t supporting conservative Christians, according to Coppins’ report.

Asked to expand on the comment about the Obama’s “real religion,” Stephenson explained that he didn’t believe Obama had been friendly toward Christians.

“Once he’s out, he will ‘evolve’ like he did on gay marriage,” the pastor added, according to Coppins. “I just believe that’s what he will do.”

Stephenson declined to say how he believed the President’s faith would evolve.

10 reasons Rand Paul will never set foot in the White House — except on a tour

Rand Paul (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Rand Paul (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

The Raw Story

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is officially running for president, but his White House aspirations are just as clumsily implausible as an Ayn Rand plot.

The son of conservative folk hero Ron Paul, the retired Texas congressman and failed Republican presidential candidate, likes to present himself as a civil libertarian.

But his actual positions on many issues are mean-spirited, religiously tinged claptrap that’s reactionary enough to win a GOP primary, but far too hard-right to win a national election.

For example, Paul thinks six months is plenty of time to pay unemployment benefits to jobless workers – and anything beyond that does them a “disservice” by encouraging them to remain unemployed. “I don’t doubt the president’s motives, but black unemployment in America is double white unemployment — and it hasn’t budged under this president. A lot of African-Americans voted for him, but I don’t think it’s worked.”

Paul is against public assistance on a fundamental level, once suggesting the possibility of cutting government benefits for unwed mothers to discourage them from having more children. “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.’” The small-government conservative admitted that would be unpopular and difficult to implement, but he thinks it’s worth a shot. “It’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money, but we have to figure out how to get that message through.”

The libertarian senator’s views on abortion are right in line with the GOP establishment, and the self-certified ophthalmologist touts his professional bona fides to argue that life begins at conception. “I often say in my speeches that I don’t think a civilization can long endure that doesn’t respect the rights of the unborn,” said Paul, who supports fetal personhood legislation that would outlaw abortion and likely prohibit contraception, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization.

Paul also cites the same ridiculous slippery-slope arguments as any religious conservative against same-sex marriage. “If we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further,” Paul said. “Does it have to be humans?” He later claimed his warning against human-animal marriage was sarcastic and pointed to other arguments he made during the same Glenn Beck radio appearance, saying that he opposed marriage equality on economic grounds. “What is it that is the leading cause of poverty in our country? It’s having kids without marriage. The stability of the marriage unit is enormous and we should not just say, ‘Oh, we’re punting on it, marriage can be anything.’”

Paul agreed with Beck during another radio appearance that Obama’s immigration policies would make most Americans “second-class citizens” compared to undocumented migrants. “I’m thinking about lobbying to become an illegal immigrant so I wouldn’t have to participate in Obamacare,” Paul said.

Speaking of the Affordable Care Act, the senator backed the Republican shutdown of the federal government in an ill-fated attempt to defund the health care law – although Paul publicly said he was willing to compromise. “I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re going to win this, I think,” Paul told then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

He used the death of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by officers while selling untaxed cigarettes, to argue against government regulation. “I think it’s hard not to watch that video of him saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ and not be horrified by it,” Paul said. “But I think there’s something bigger than the individual circumstances. Obviously, the individual circumstances are important. But I think it is also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground so as to not make them so expensive.”

The self-certified physician expressed doubts about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in the midst of a measles outbreak linked to anti-vaxxer families. “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul said, citing evidence that directly contradicts the scientific and medical consensus.

The senator furiously sniffed that he didn’t realize speeches required citations after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow caught him plagiarizing a Wikipedia article on the movie, Gattaca. Additional analysis found that Paul had lifted portions of other speeches without citing his sources, and the senator later scrubbed those remarks from his website. “I will admit sometimes we haven’t footnoted things properly,” he said. “I’ve written scientific papers. I know how to footnote things, but we’ve never footnoted speeches — and if that’s the standard I’m going to be held to, yes, we will change and we will footnote things.”

Paul and Maddow famously tousled before over his controversial remarks on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Paul, during his 2010 Senate run, defended the property rights of restaurant owners who wished to bar blacks. “Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant — or does the government own his restaurant?” he said at the time. “These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion.” Maddow mocked Paul four years later, when the Kentucky senator celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.

Clown Car Watch 2015: Rand Paul Declares His Candidacy

Screenshot: NBC News

Addicting Info

Hooray! Rand Paul, libertarian wonderboy, has announced he is running for president, and the GOP establishment must want to commit suicide right about now:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday, aiming to upset the political order in Washington and disprove those in his own party who doubt that a fiercely libertarian conservative can be a serious contender.

“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” Mr. Paul wrote in a post on his website on Tuesday.

Let’s be honest here: Just like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul is not running for president. Rand Paul is simply continuing his father’s legacy of scamming gullible libertarians into sending him their money. But, unlike Ron, Rand is a darling of the “liberal” media, and will get a ton of airtime. That’s great for him and his bank account, but absolutely terrible for the Republican Party. Rand’s brand of pretend libertarian craziness is the LAST thing the GOP needs on the airwaves.

I say “pretend libertarian craziness” because Rand Paul is not really a libertarian. He’s an opportunist that will flip flop his position depending on who he is talking to. He believes in absolute freedom. Unless you’re gay or want an abortion. Then he’s all about government control. He hates drones. Unless they’re being used to kill a guy robbing a liquor store. He’s against war and military spending. Except when he’s trying to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $190 billion over two years.

By the time Rand is done pandering to all the far right special interest groups that make up the Republican Party’s base, look for a new record in flip-flopping.

Democrats, of course, are going to be over the moon about the whole thing. The Republican primaries leading up to the 2012 election were absolutely brutal. Republicans have become so conditioned to negative campaigning, they spent a year destroying each other in the dirtiest ways imaginable. Even worse, the numerous televised debates gave the country a crystal clear picture of just how sick and hateful the Republican Party had become. Remember, during the debates, the audience cheered the idea of executing innocent people, booed a veteran because he was gay, and really got off on the idea of letting a person die because they couldn’t afford health insurance.

The more fringe candidates that enter the fray, the nastier and crazier the primaries will be. That’s great news for both the Democrats AND the country!

Here’s to Rand Paul running for president for the next 30 years! Go, Rand! Go!

10 things you need to know today: April 7, 2015

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Week

1.Duke wins its fifth NCAA basketball title
The Duke Blue Devils defeated Wisconsin 68-63 Monday night to win the school its fifth national college basketball title, all under coach MikeKrzyzewski. Duke’s four freshmen — Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and, off the bench, Grayson Allen — scored 60 of Duke’s 68 points. Okafor made two straight baskets, sandwiched by two three-pointers by Jones, to help Duke bounce back from a nine-point deficit and take an eight-point lead with just 1:22 remaining.

Source: ESPN, The Washington Post

2.Rand Paul expected to unveil plan for White House run
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is expected to announce Tuesday that he is launching a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Paul said in a video previewing his campaign that he wants to “defeat the Washington machine.” The libertarian Tea Party favorite is expected to unveil his campaign plans at a rally planned Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky. He will simultaneously run to keep his Senate seat. So far, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is the only major candidate from either party to officially declare a White House bid.

Source: Politico, USA Today

3.UVA fraternity vows to pursue legal options againstRolling Stone
The University of Virginia fraternity identified as the site of a gang rape in a now-retracted Rolling Stone story said Monday it would “pursue all available legal action” against the magazine following a scathing independent report on the now discredited article. The Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi said Rolling Stone “admits its staff engaged in reckless behavior” but refuses to punish those involved, apparently referring to publisher Jann Wenner’s statement that the reporter and editors involved would not be fired.

Source: MSNBC

4.Boston Marathon bombing case goes to jury
Attorneys in the Boston Marathon bombing trial made their closing argumentson Monday, sending defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s fate to the jury, which begins deliberating Tuesday. Defense attorneys did not deny that Tsarnaev participated in the attack, but insisted he was manipulated into committing the bombing by his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police. Prosecutors said the brothers deliberately targeted as many civilians as possible to bring Islamist holy war to the U.S.

Source: New York Daily News

5.Israel lists demands for Iran nuclear deal
Israel’s minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, on Mondayissued a list of requirements for an Iran nuclear deal that would be deemed “more reasonable” to Tel Aviv. Israel wants Iran to end all nuclear research and development, ship all its enriched uranium out of the country, lower the number of centrifuges below the 6,104 (out of 19,000 currently) agreed to in the framework deal, disclose all previous nuclear activities, and shutter its underground Fordo facility, which under the current framework could be used for medical purposes. Analysts say that reopening the talks could easily start them unraveling.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times

6.Iraq exhumes mass graves holding ISIS victims in Tikrit
Iraq’s government said Tuesday that forensic teams had begun exhuming bodies from mass graves in the newly liberated city of Tikrit. The graves are believed to hold the bodies of hundreds of soldiers summarily executed by Islamic State fighters after they seized control of the city — Saddam Hussein’s hometown — last June. ISIS captured 1,700 soldiers trying to flee after it overran the town last year, and later posted images online showing gunmen massacring captives.

Source: The New York Times

7.Clandestine group puts bust of Edward Snowden in Brooklyn park
An unidentified group erected a bust of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden at a New York City park early Monday. The work of art in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park was quickly covered up by park officials. The monument reportedly was installed on the site of an existing structure with a bronze eagle. A voice on a video showing the Snowden bust before it was covered said it was mounted so that it could be taken down “without doing permanent damage to the structure.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

8.Kenya says it took out two al-Shabab bases behind cross-border attacks
Kenya’s military said Monday that it had destroyed two al-Shabab camps in neighboring Somalia in the first major response against the Islamist group since it claimed responsibility for the massacre of 148 people at a Kenyan college last week. Military jets targeted the camps of the al-Qaeda-linked group with intense airstrikes on Sunday. “Our aerial images show that the camps were completely destroyed,” Kenya Defense Forces spokesman David Obonyo said.

Source: Reuters

9. Rutgers bans fraternity parties after alcohol incidents
Rutgers University in New Jersey on Monday banned all fraternity and sorority parties on campus for the rest of the semester, due to several recent alcohol-related incidents. Students are calling the ban a form of informal “social probation.” It applies to all 86 of the school’s fraternities and sororities. “Rutgers takes seriously its commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe campus environment,” Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda said.

Source: NJ.com

10.Woman dies after five days as world’s oldest person
Gertrude Weaver died Monday at age 116 just five days after becoming the world’s oldest person. She was aware that she had taken on the status after the death of 117-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan last week. Weaver, who lived at the Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center in Arkansas, fell ill with pneumonia on Saturday. “She was alert and oriented,” the facility’s administrator, Kathy Langley, said. “She knew that she was the oldest person in the world, and she enjoyed that distinction greatly.”

Source: The Washington Post

The limits of personal liberty

(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Given the recent reports on the measles outbreak across the country, the  phrase “Give me liberty or give me death” takes on an ominous meaning these days…

The Week

“I am the master of my own fate — and no one, including the government, can tell me what to do.” That’s libertarianism in a nutshell, and in the abstract, it’s a seductively appealing philosophy. Embrace it, and it leads you to a natural corollary: Parents should not be forced to vaccinate their kids against childhood diseases. “The state doesn’t own your children,” as sometimes-libertarian Sen. Rand Paul explained this week. “Parents own their children, and it is an issue of freedom.” In California and 13 other states caught up in a measles outbreak, we are now seeing a demonstration that one person’s freedom can inflict painful and potentially fatal consequences on an entire community. Childhood diseases that medicine defeated decades ago are making a comeback, thanks to parents who seek “philosophical” exemptions from vaccinating their kids.

Libertarians are absolutely right that personal freedom is important — and easily eroded. Left unchecked, government does indeed presume too much control over our decisions, our money, and our privacy. But in a country of 320 million souls, what we do affects each other — sometimes profoundly. In a libertarian paradise, Americans would still be free to smoke in enclosed offices and restaurants, and 50 percent of the population would still be lighting up — sticking society with their health-care costs. No one would be required to wear a seat belt in the car. And yes, vaccinations would be strictly optional, and the nation’s “herd immunity” would disappear. As an old adage points out, your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another person’s nose. So go ahead, swing your fist — but good luck finding a space that doesn’t have a nose in it.

10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2015

Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

The Week

1.Second snowstorm hits already snow-covered Northeast
Boston authorities postponed a victory celebration for the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl victory, moving it from Tuesday to Wednesday due to a record breaking winter storm. The second blizzard to hit the Northeast in a week dumped another foot of snow on Boston, which was blanketed with two feet of snow last week, the most snow ever to fall on the city in seven days. The storm has been linked to at least 10 deaths, and forced the cancellation of 2,900 flights in Chicago, Newark, Boston, and New York.

Source: Reuters

2.Paul and Christie criticized for vaccine remarks
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, faced criticism from medical experts on Monday after suggesting some child vaccinations should be made voluntary. Paul said some vaccines have caused “profound mental disorders.” Christie said parents need “some measure of choice” although, with a U.S. measles outbreak surpassing 100 cases, a spokesman said Christie believes “there is no question kids should be vaccinated” for measles. CDC director Tom Frieden said not vaccinating endangers other children.

Source: Fox News, The Washington Post

3.Obama sets new rules on NSA data mining
The Obama administration on Tuesday will announce new rules about how U.S. intelligence agencies manage the data they collect. The National Security Agency and other spy agencies will have to delete private information they collect about Americans that has no intelligence value, and do the same for foreigners after five years, The New York Timesreports. Obama will also begin a regular, formal White House assessment of NSA spying on foreign leaders.

Source: The New York Times

4.Obama releases his proposed $4 trillion budget
President Obama on Monday unveiled the specifics of a $4 trillion proposed budget that would roll back blanket spending cuts, raise taxes on wealthy Americans, and extend tax benefits to the middle class. “These proposals will put more money in middle-class pockets, raise wages, and bring more high-paying jobs to America,” Obama said in a statement. The budget covers the 2016 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The blueprint is largely a symbolic statement of the president’s priorities, as Congress will make significant changes to it over the coming months.

Source: The Associated Press

5.Google reportedly is developing an Uber rival
Google invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013, and put more money in the next year, but now the internet search giant reportedly is preparing to compete with Uber by starting its own ride-hailing service, possibly linked to its driverless car project. A person close to Uber’s board said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and an Uber board member, informed fellow Uber board members of the possibility. Uber leaders reportedly have seen a prototype app being used by Google employees.

Source: Bloomberg

6.Cuba publishes first photos of Fidel Castro since August
Cuba on Monday released the first photos of former president Fidel Castro seen since August. With Cuba’s communist government and the Obama administration attempting to renew diplomatic relations cut off in the Cold War, rumors have surfaced that Castro, 88, was dead or near death. Last week, Cuba released a letter attributed to Castro in which he said he didn’t trust the U.S. but advocated a “peaceful resolution to conflicts.” The photos, published in the official Granma newspaper, showed Castro in a meeting with a youth leader.

Source: The Washington Post

7.Bus firebombing kills seven in Bangladesh
Attackers hit a packed bus with gasoline-bombs in Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring 16 others. The local police chief blamed the bombing on opposition activists, but they denied responsibility. At least 53 people have died in political violence, mostly vehicle firebombings, since the opposition launched a nationwide transportation strike in early January in a bid to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign.

Source: The Associated Press

8.Suge Knight charged with murder
Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder on Monday for allegedly running over two men with his truck, killing one and injuring the other. His $2.2 million bail was revoked because authorities considered him a possible flight risk. Police said Knight argued with the men on the set of Straight Outta Compton, a film about the group N.W.A., and later ran them over. Knight’s lawyer said he accidentally ran over the victims while trying to get away from two men trying to attack him.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Charles Manson’s marriage license expires with no wedding
Eighty-year-old mass murderer Charles Manson’s marriage license is set to expire on Thursday without a wedding. Manson and his fiancee, 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, missed their last chance to marry over the weekend — weddings are not performed on weekdays at the California prison where Manson is incarcerated. Burton, who uses the nickname Star, intends to get another 90-day license and proceed with the wedding plan, according to a source in contact with her.

Source: The Associated Press

10.Revenge-porn site creator convicted of extortion
A California court on Monday convicted revenge-porn site founder Kevin Bollaert, 28, on identity theft and extortion charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Bollaert set up one website, YouGotPosted.com, where women’s former husbands and boyfriends posted nude photos of them, and he established another website, ChangeMyReputation.com, where victims could pay up to $350 to get the photos taken down. “This is essentially 21st century blackmail,” Deputy Attorney General Tawnya Austin told jurors last week.

Source: NBC 7 San Diego, The Washington Post

Megyn Kelly Speaks Up For Mandatory Vaccination On Fox: ‘Some Things Do Require Big Brother’

kelly

Credit: AP

It looks like Fox News can tell the truth at times…

Think Progress

A debate on vaccines has infected the nascent 2016 Republican presidential primary. Rand Paul, for example, said that the right of parents to refuse vaccines is “an issue of freedom.” To bolster his point, he claimed that vaccines can give children “profound mental disorders,” and idea that is completely unsupported by medical literature.

Similarly, Chris Christie framed the vaccination issue as a matter of “parental choice.” (Faced with mounting criticism, Christie later backtracked partially, saying only some vaccines should be optional.)

Monday night on Fox News, Megyn Kelly provided the antidote. Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, Kelly spoke out forcefully for mandatory vaccines. (O’Reilly agreed.) Speaking directly into the camera, Kelly said, “I want to say on the record, I have three children under the age of six. I vaccinated all of them. On time. As the doctor prescribed. Nothing was delayed.” She noted that the science showing vaccinations are safe and beneficial for children is “very certain today.”

Kelly predicted the issue would continue to play a role in the Republican presidential primary because it had become about “Big Brother.” “On the other hand, some things do require some involvement of Big Brother,” Kelly said.

Kelly may want to have a conversation with her colleague, Sean Hannity. On his program Monday, Hannity said that “parents should have the choice” on whether to vaccinate their children. Hannity featured commentary from Dr. Eric Braverman who told millions of views that “no one” is giving their children the full course of vaccine shots. According to Braverman there is an “overreliance” on vaccines to prevent disease.

The segment featured more medically accurate commentary from Dr. Marc Siegel, who accused Braverman of perpetrating a “bait and switch.” Even Siegel, however, opposed mandatory vaccinations. Braverman concluded the segment by claiming that vaccines “don’t always work” and attributing the measles outbreak in Disneyland to the combination of heat and junk food.

In 2015, there have been more than 100 cases of measles reported in the U.S. across 14 states. The Center For Disease Control is “very concerned” that the country could be on its way to a major measles outbreak. Already, dozens of babies, too young to get vaccinated, have been forced into isolation.

Although Megyn Kelly has a growing reputation of standing up to some of the worst excesses on Fox News, not everyone is impressed.