December 5, 2009 archive

State single payer bill in PA Senate gets a hearing… because of a Republican!

You didn’t misread that title – SB400, the bill in the PA State Senate for statewide single payer health care, is getting some hearings because of Republican State Senator Don White.  Here in Pennsylvania, single payer isn’t a partisan issue.  We’ve got bipartisan bills in the Senate and House with Governor Rendell’s pledge to sign them if they pass.

In the words of HealthCare4AllPA:

The hearing will take place on December 16, from 9:00-10:30 AM in room 8E-A East Wing, located on the lower level of the Capitol building. Those in support of SB400 will have 45 minutes to present their information and arguments, and those opposed will also have 45 minutes.

This is a vitally important step forward, and one of the only times in history that a state-based single payer bill has been granted a senate committee hearing.

Whether you live in Pennsylvania or not, this is great news for progressives.  Follow me below the fold to find out more and see how you can help.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Early Edition.  Now with World and U.S. News.  47 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Philippines imposes martial law in massacre region

by Cecil Morella, AFP

Sat Dec 5, 10:16 am ET

SHARIFF AGUAK, Philippines (AFP) – The Philippines on Saturday announced the imposition of martial law in a southern province to quell a rebellion by a powerful clan accused of being behind the massacre of 57 people.

President Gloria Arroyo placed Maguindanao province under military control late on Friday in an effort to contain heavily-armed militias belonging to the provincial governor and other members of his Muslim clan, authorities said.

“There’s a rebellion in the area,” Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said. “It was practically an overthrow of government.”

Original v. Cover — #2 of a Series

old watch tower Pictures, Images and Photos

Many thanks are extended to those who provided suggested alternative titles for this series last week.  A title that clearly, cleverly and completely explains the purpose of the diary, without being too lengthy, seems to present a daunting challenge. New ideas are still welcome, and perhaps after a few more weekly diaries, a poll of those suggestions will be offered on this site.  Please stay tuned.

As always, this writer is indebted primarily to the wikipedia site for much of the information that follows.

Original v. Cover — #2 of a Series

Many thanks are extended to those who provided suggestions for an alternative title for this series last week.  A title that clearly and cleverly explains the purpose of the diary, without being too lengthy, seems to present a challenge.  New ideas are still being accepted, and perhaps after a few more weekly diaries, a poll of those suggestions will be offered on this site.  Please stay tuned.

As always, this writer is indebted primarily to the wikipedia site for much of the information that follows.

Please note that there are many cover versions of this song to be found on various websites.  Narrowing down the list to four versions was very difficult.  Please feel free to add links to other favorites in the comments section.

The featured song this week was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, by its composer on November 6, 1967, and released on the subsequent album on December 27, 1967.  The genre of the original recording is listed as folk rock.  

The composer of this song had spent the previous year recovering from a motorcycle accident, sustained during the summer of 1966, residing near Woodstock, New York at the time.  Having exited the fast lane associated with touring, this composer became a family man and cultivated a growing interest in the Bible, as reflected in this song’s lyrics, as well as other numbers written around that time.  

No doubt, most readers correctly guessed the identity of this song several paragraphs ago, however, to avoid any further suspense, the featured song this week is Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

Bob Dylan’s original version of this song has been described as a masterpiece of understatement, as described by Andy Gill:

“In Dylan’s version of the song, it’s the barrenness of the scenario which grips, the high haunting harmonica and simple forward motion of the riff carrying understated implications of cataclysm; as subsequently recorded by Jimi Hendrix, … that cataclysm is rendered scarily palpable through the dervish whirls of guitar.”

Locating a copy of the original version of this song, as recorded on the Dylan’s album, John Wesley Harding, seems to be  next to impossible task.  It seems that, after hearing other versions of his song, his performances became attempts to imitate the interpretations of others.  I have included an image of the album cover, along with what I believe to be a link to the original studio recording.  Perhaps someone else might be able to translate the verbiage on the site and/or come up with a better video version of the Dylan original.  Here’s the link.  

John Wesley Harding Pictures, Images and Photos

During a September 2, 1995 interview, Bob Dylan described his reaction upon hearing the Jimi Hendrix version of this song, as published in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel:

“It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”

In a booklet included with his Biograph album, Dylan further commented, regarding Hendrix’ interpretation:

“I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”

Hendrix rendition of this song is undoubtedly the best known of many to follow and was released on September 21, 1968 — its genre listed as psychedelic rock.  The single reached #5 in the British charts, and #20 on the Billboard chart. The song also occupies the #5 spot on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.  Hendrix’ version appears at number 48 on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs ever.  In 2000, the British magazine Total Guitar gave it a #1 ranking among the greatest cover versions of all time.

Without further ado, here is the studio version by Hendrix:

Here’s a very nice live version by Eric Clapton & Lenny Kravitz:

For those who are interested, there are versions available online by other artists/groups, including Dave Mason (who performed with Hendrix during his first recording session), Neil Young/Bruce Springsteen, U2, Dave Matthews Band, Brian Ferry, Pearl Jam, Grateful Dead, Ritchie Havens, and many others.

To conclude, here is the fourth version, an interesting live acoustic version of this song, as performed by Michael Hedges as Wolftrap:

Open Flame


Part 2, Pure Politics Of Obama’s Afghanistan Escalation

In Part 2 of his interview with Paul Jay of The Real News, former chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell Lawrence Wilkerson continues his analysis of Obama’s Afghanistan escalation and of the geopolitical context of the situation, concluding that there is no solely military solution to the situation and that the occupation is simply a money making escapade as well as an attempt at controlling world energy reserves under the banner of a propaganda created fictitous “war on terror”, and that continued US attempts at imperial hegemony in the region will bankrupt America.

This is not a future that we can sustain. We cannot be the new Rome, it is an impossibility in today’s world. We will squander our power, we will squander our resources, we will be a third world nation, we will be bankrupt in a generation if we try.

Real News Network – December 5, 2009

America cannot be the hegemon of Western Asia

Wilkerson Pt2: Diplomacy must lead a regional solution to Afghan war; there is no military solution

Part 1 of this interview is here.

Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled “National Security Decision Making.”

It’s Time To Put Our Penis Back in Our Pants

Back in the 1980s I worked for Greenpeace for a while, and ended up on an action in upstate NY that was targeting toxic waste dumping.  The concept of the action was to get expert climbers to put huge banners up, and at the same time to do a fly-by via a hot air balloon with a similar anti-toxics sign .

The climbing part of it went fine, and the climbers put a huge banner on the New York State Capitol in Albany, NY, which made the national papers and was a great success. But, the part I was involved in, the hot air balloon part, was a mess–damn things aren’t very controllable in direction, and in the capitol action, when we were supposed to be flying over the capitol, we instead went the other way entirely, never making it anywhere near, and were stuck over the Hudson River for a long, long ride, till we finally crashed into a corn field, tearing a huge trench in the corn, and pissing off the farmer, though luckily for us he turned out to be a GP fan.

We had several of these wrong way balloon rides across upstate NY, one in which, while going up, my arm got jerked  in the lurching basket, I completely missed with the burner (you have to aim a long blue flame from basically a flame-thrower up into the hole in the bottom of the balloon) , and quickly burned out three panels from the ballon.  

The GP pilot in charge, named Flip, said, “No, problem, happens all the time.”  So we kept going up, again the wrong way.

On another wrong way trip, we crash landed right on an Air Force base, forget which one now, but it’s one of the major ones up there.  Right on the runway.

To say they sounded royally pissed off on the icom aviation radio would be an understatement.  

Most likely, to teach us a lesson, they launched 4 F-111 fighters

(these things:…

just right a few feet over our heads, as we were standing on the runway, and trying to control yards and yards and yards of unruly balloon, and pack the whole mess up in the wind.

The noise was so bad it took a minute before we could hear anything at all. When we finally could hear a little, Flip turned to me a said:

“I think they’re trying to give me penis envy.”  

And, that always struck me as what the US is essentially doing, every day, in almost every part of the globe–shaking it’s penis, “projecting power”.

Here’s a partial list:…

Honduras: Where’s The Unity Government And The Truth Commission?

An election has been held in Honduras.  The new, conservative, pro-golpista President will be sworn in in January.  Manual Zelaya, the rightfully elected president remains stuck in asylum in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.  His term ends in January.  Roberto Micheletti, the golpista usurper, remains ensconced in the presidency.  The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, two golpe supporting institutions, have to no one’s surprise refused to re-instate Manual Zelaya in his elected presidency.  The US, Costa Rica, and a few other countries have recognized the results of the election.  Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina won’t.  The OAS won’t.

Given these apparently intractable circumstances and the desire to restore democracy in Honduras, The New York Times in an editorial has proposed what I consider to be a reasonable solution, one that both Honduras and the US should adopt.

Please make the jump.

Sam Suburbanite’s Lawnmower

Sammy Suburbanite looked down at his broken lawnmower puzzled.  The pull starter snapped.  Half the yard was covered in leaves but the money saver engineers at MTD had decided to pop rivet the pull starter to the engine casing.  It renders the most likely thing to break unfixable but Sammy was tool savy and drilled the rivets out.  The Sammy’s inner voice began talking.

The Week in Health and Fitness

Welcome to this weeks Health and Fitness.

An ancient disease that has ravaged the world continues into the 21st century, taking its toll in lives. Tuberculosis is once again making headlines killing 1.8 million people as the world’s 7th most deadly disease. The disease is still epidemic in many parts of the world and is common opportunistic disease in HIV and AIDS patients.

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time and in January it will be coming to you from Paris, Fr. for awhile. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.

This is an open thread.

More funds needed for TB tests, drugs, vaccines

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) – Health experts on Thursday called for more research funding to develop better diagnostic tests, vaccines and drugs for tuberculosis, which killed 1.8 million people around the world last year.

While diseases like AIDS and malaria can be diagnosed in minutes by applying a drop of blood to a rapid test kit, confirming active tuberculosis, or TB, is a laborious procedure.

It requires a patient to cough up sputum, which is smeared on a slide, stained and examined under a microscope.

And the 100-year-old test misses up to 70 percent of otherwise positive cases in some places, experts say.

In Africa, where the scourge of TB is most keenly felt, many people delay follow-up testing because of cost.

“A lot of people die before a TB diagnosis is even made,” Dr Jeremiah Chakaya of the Kenya Medical Research Institute told reporters at an international conference on lung health in Cancun, Mexico.

Docudharma Times Saturday December 5

Saturday’s Headlines:

Similarities to Iraq Surge Plan Mask Risks in Afghanistan

China under pressure to play key role at Copenhagen climate summit

In e-mails, science of warming is hot debate

Ex-governors getting back in the running

Silvio Berlusconi linked to mafia in court evidence

90 killed as blast rips through nightclub in Russian city of Perm

Taliban strikes heart of the Pakistani army

Children among 11,000 Tamil ‘fighters’ held in rehabilitation

Neda Agha Soltan’s family accuse Iran of her killing

Israel closes sole oil and gas terminal on Gaza border

From coup to counter-coup? Guinea plunged into chaos

Jacob Zuma’s £5m home project unver fire over government funding

‘I Am Not in the Entertainment Business’

and Other Rules of MacNeil/Lehrer Journalism

As the PBS Newshour once again changes it’s name and enhances it’s News gathering and presentation of using the tools of expanding technology in the 21st century Jim Lehrer closed the friday show off with the following:

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