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#EndorseThis: Lincoln Project's Inner Idealism Makes 'America' Glow

Just the other day, those irrepressible scamps at the Lincoln Project tweeted out a teasing message, aimed at the fans of Michelle Obama: "We go low so you don't have to." And it's true that many of their ads and tweets are pretty harsh, which is exactly what their targets deserve.

But the Lincoln Project gang somehow retains an inner core of idealism. That's why they've abandoned their lifelong allegiance to the Republican Party and risen to the defense of democracy and liberty.

That inner idealism -- about our country and our people – is on full display in this inspiring ad, titled simply "America," that well matches the mood of their new (if perhaps temporary) comrades as the Democratic Party convenes this week.

Did we mention that the Lincoln ad makers are highly skilled at their craft? The images are compelling and the music is powerful too. You may find yourself viewing this video more than once. Enjoy!

Now It's America That Needs To Be Saved

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

Remember the song "Over There"?
"Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming everywhere..."

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Putin As America’s Frenemy

Chicago Tribune (TNS)

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, Nov. 18:

How much do we trust Vladimir Putin? Not at all, even when he does the right thing.

Russia on Tuesday launched cruise missiles toward Syria from the Mediterranean, but it seemed a good idea to double-check reports that the target was an Islamic State stronghold. The missiles easily could have been meant for U.S.-supported militias on the ground, since Putin’s hit them as well.

The reports were true, though. Russia went after numerous Islamic State positions, as did French warplanes. The U.S. Defense Department said the Russians even followed safety procedures by giving notice before launching the missiles, as they had promised. Putin also ordered a missile cruiser to cooperate with the French “as allies” on Syria operations.

Vive les frenemies!

The teamwork, however long it lasts, is a direct response to terror. The French are bombing Islamic State territory in retaliation for the Paris attacks. On Tuesday, Russian officials confirmed that an explosive hidden on board took down a Russian jetliner over Egypt on Oct. 31, killing all 224 passengers and crew. Islamic State’s Egypt branch had claimed responsibility. Russia did not name Islamic State as the culprit, but within hours Russia was firing missiles toward its headquarters in Raqqa.

“We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,” Putin said of the perpetrators. “We will find them at any point on the planet and punish them.”

If the U.S., France and other allies end up fighting alongside the Russians to take down Islamic State — in partnership again as in World War II — that would be gratifying and logical. It also would be … weird. Out of character, at least, given Putin’s rogue ambitions.

In Europe, let’s not forget, the U.S. and its NATO allies are trying to figure out how best to contain Russia in the wake of its seizure of Crimea and adventurism in Ukraine. In Syria, the Russians quietly took over an airfield in territory controlled by the besieged madman President Bashar Assad. Putin indicated his forces would support Assad, an ally, by targeting Islamic State. Soon it became clear Islamic State was an afterthought: Mainly the Russians have been firing at areas held by anti-government rebels — our friends.

Putin’s main reason for being in Syria is to protect Assad and project Russian power. Russia is still at odds with President Barack Obama because the U.S. wants Assad out. Assad’s a brutal dictator who slaughters his own people. We saw the first slight signs of a shift on this point at Syrian peace talks in Vienna, where the U.S. signaled some patience on the subject of Assad’s future. Putin, with his forces in the air and on the ground, forced the point.

No one envisions the Vienna talks going anywhere quickly, but Islamic State’s horrible deeds have retribution on the minds of friends and frenemies alike. Russia is an American adversary but also a victim of terrorism. At the G-20 summit in Turkey over the weekend, Obama and Putin spent 30 minutes in conversation. That doesn’t happen very often.

My enemy’s enemy is … in this case, my enemy. You go, Vlad.

©2015 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: President Obama chats with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin prior to a working session at the Group of 20 leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer/Pool

Teen Birth Rate Falls In U.S.

Miami (AFP) – The birth rate among US teenagers has continued to decline, but health authorities said Tuesday that even greater strides could be made if more teens used long-acting forms of contraception. More than 273,000 babies were born to mothers aged 15 to 19 in 2013, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The teen birth rate in 2013, the most recent year in which data is available, was 26.5 births per 1,000 teenagers. This was more than double that in 1991, when the birth rate was 61.8 births per 1,000 teens.

“Improved contraceptive use has contributed substantially to this decline,” said the CDC Vital Signs report. A key strategy for further reducing teen pregnancy is increasing awareness, access, and availability of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), specifically intrauterine devices.”

Nearly 90 percent of sexually active teens surveyed said they used birth control the last time they had sex. The most common forms of contraception were condoms and birth control pills.

However, relatively few teens are opting for implants and intrauterine devices, which are the most effective kinds of birth control. Long-acting reversible contraception use among teens was 0.4 percent in 2005 to but rose to 7.1 percent in 2013. Of the 616,148 female teens the CDC studied in 2013, 17,349 (2.8 percent) used IUDs, and 26,347 (4.3 percent) used implants.

“LARC is safe to use, does not require taking a pill every day or doing something every time before having sex, and, depending on the method, can be used to prevent pregnancy for three to ten years,” said the CDC report. Less than one percent of LARC users become pregnant during the first year of use.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have endorsed LARC as a first-line contraceptive choice for teens, the report added. However, the CDC stressed that LARC does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

“The good news is that teens are taking responsibility for their reproductive health needs,” said Lisa Romero, a health scientist in CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health. We also know that teens using birth control do not often choose intrauterine devices and implants –- the most effective types of birth control. Parents and teens are encouraged to talk with their health care professional to learn about the various types of birth control, including long-acting reversible contraception.”

Photo: Loic Venance via