February 13, 2010 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Now with 36 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Emotional gatherings mark one month since Haiti quake

by Andrew Beatty and M.J. Smith, AFP

Fri Feb 12, 10:23 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haitians gathered at tearful ceremonies in sprawling homeless camps, churches and alleyways to mark one month since a huge quake shattered their country and killed more than 200,000 people.

President Rene Preval, who has rarely appeared in public since the January 12 disaster, spoke emotionally in memory of the victims on Friday, declaring Haiti “will not die” and acknowledging he could not find words to express his pain.

Throughout Port-au-Prince and beyond, Haitians dressed in white or their Sunday best raised their hands in prayer at countless ceremonies, many in camps where more than a million people now live after losing their homes.

Free The Tigers! Spare The Tigers!


Captive Tigers in China Waiting For Slaughter

A few days ago I was worried that tigers might be becoming extinct, so I wrote an essay about it.  The idea that tigers were becoming extinct was making me ill: it brought on feelings of anger, sadness, despair, grief, longing.  I found myself thinking about it.  Constantly.  

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness.

I will be traveling most of today. As time permits and access allows, I’ll be “popping in”. I leave Haiti reluctantly but in a few months I will return, mostly in an administrative capacity. I’m headed for New Orleans for a short vacation and then back to NYC. I want to thank everyone here for their support for the Haitian people in there time of extreme need. This is going to be a very long road for recovery if they ever do.

Haiti: Steps Toward Recovery

MSF Haiti, 2/09/10

Jerry is seven years old. On January 12, he was seriously injured in the earthquake that devastated his hometown of Port-au-Prince, suffering a severe open fracture to his femur when his house collapsed.

Jerry’s mother, Louismerre, lost two of her five children in the quake. Determined not to see a third child die, she immediately brought Jerry to a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital for emergency medical care.

MSF staff started Jerry on antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection. He was then taken to an operating theater, where an MSF surgeon performed a debridement of the wound, cleaning it out and removing dead tissue. A few days later, the doctors brought Jerry back so they could examine and clean his injury again. They discovered the infection had not abated and they became extremely concerned that it would spread to the rest of his body, putting his life at risk. They were forced to make a difficult choice. “The wound was very near the groin,” said MSF’s Dr. Karin Lind. “If the infection went above it, there would have been very little we could have done to save him. We knew we had to amputate if we wanted to keep him alive.”

Haiti: Working through the disaster (Feb 11, 2010)

Rescuing the Constitutional Framework from the Senate

Rachel Maddow tells us that “filibuster” is a boring word, even if it originally meant private adventurers going off risking life and limb trying to make themselves President of some Central American country.

So I will use the other common English language phrase for it, “Talking a Bill to Death”.

The ability to Talk a Bill to Death was introduced by mistake when Aaron Burr in 1806 argued for removal of the motion to “move the previous question”. This is a motion that can be used to postpone debate, when a measure does not yet have a majority, and can of course also be used to bring a measure to a vote, if it has a majority. Aaron Burr appealed to the fact that it had only passed once in the previous four years – but then again, the Senate did not at that time have a filibuster tradition.

So, restoration of the original rule is one fix to the filibuster problem. However, that is not what I am focusing on today. Rather, I am focusing on the Unconstitutionality of filibustering one type of bill, which was the real flaw in Aaron Burr’s Blunder.


Breaking Free of the Bubble

If we were to be fair with ourselves, we would admit that, compared to most of the rest of the world, we really do have it good.  As I say this, I recognize that statements such as these have been set forth multiple times to scold those who feel no desire to contribute to some worthy cause or endeavor.  I’m not really out to highlight an issue or to request a donation, nor do I seek to appeal to your latent sense of guilt.  Rather, I do ask for your sober contemplation.  What I say now is designed to encourage discussion and discourage argument.  We have enough back-and-forth as it is and we waste so much of our energies and ourselves in the process, passion better spent focused on different avenues.  

All of us live in one bubble or another.  The wealthier and more privileged we are, the greater and more exclusive the bubble.  Growing up in the South, as I did, my parents and the parents of my peers most often had been born into solidly working class families.  It had only been through their hard work and a resulting favorable economic climate that they’d had the ability to achieve social mobility, and in so doing scale one class up the proverbial ladder.  Now that I live in a city where I encounter on a regular basis people my own age who have come from a long line of relative wealth, their views and mine are often as different as our priorities.  I find it quite difficult to not be jealous and envious of, for example, their multiple trips abroad to Germany or their ability to attend an elite institution (or two) of higher learning.  Still, I recognize that compared to many who live in the state of my birth, I had it very easy.    

When we talk about Haiti, Darfur, or the Middle East, all the usual conduits to direct money and financial assistance fall easily in place.  Yet, it is rather telling that it takes a catastrophe before we give even half a second to contemplate what life must be like for those in the Third World.  Whether we admit it or not, a hierarchy of need exists, and the simultaneous blessing and curse of having our  own basic needs met on an almost constant basis is that we can afford to have trivial, tedious arguments of insidious intent.  And what to what overwhelming question does this lead us?  It’s tough to say, really, but whatever it may be is frequently useless and thoroughly counter-productive.  

As for our friends in dire need, their daily thoughts tend to be whether they have enough food to eat, or whether their lives will be in danger tomorrow, or how they’ll manage to raise their children in a harsh, unforgiving environment.  To them, our arguments would seem not just ludicrous but also completely incomprehensible.  Many have talked about this concept before, too, I recognize.  If I believed we had gotten the message before now I wouldn’t bother reintroducing it.  To be sure, I am aware that some do take this matter to heart.  These are the ones who jump at the chance to volunteer to serve the less fortunate in other countries.  I admire and appreciate their devotion.  I do also take to heart the often-conservative criticism that we spend so much time and energy temporarily boosting the stature of devastated foreign countries while simultaneously neglecting our own poor and downtrodden.  We would certainly go far to document the lives of our own needy beyond the occasional human interest story or anecdote.  It’s not so much where we devote our energy as it is a question of our general mindset, which must not just be a single-minded and highly time-limited desire to cross off the phrase “humanitarian effort” from our Socially Conscious™ checklist.    

The problem with bubbles, of course, is that bubbles isolate.  They are impermeable.  They keep information from getting out and in so doing keep necessary strategies and potential means of assistance in the hands of and for the use of a small, fortunate few.  In discussion with those of other nationalities, I note that they have at times expressed no small frustration with us that we in this country seem to believe that nothing happens of much importance unless it happens here, or has some direct relevance to America and Americans.  If our ultimate goal was complete equality, as we say it is, then we’d make a general effort to take into account the unique stories, news, and issues of other regions and countries of the world.  Put this way, these very pertinent topics wouldn’t have to be consolidated into a tab labeled “World News” on one’s browser, or reduced to a niche interest targeted to a niche interest group.

What we deal with primarily is a discrepancy involving money and means.  Here in Northwest DC, for example, some have spent years bickering about the location of a new library and whether it should be granted zoning rights and the ability to finally break ground.  Common sense alone would have dictated that the existing temporary library space is much too small to accommodate the number of patrons who use its services, meaning that the construction of the building can’t get underway soon enough.  Whereas, if I turn my attention towards the Southeast in the direction of Anacostia, I am faced with the blight and decay of dire poverty—with it a lack of basic services.  Here, where I live, there are many restaurants and grocery stories I encounter on even the most modest of walks up and down the main thoroughfare.  There, one is hard pressed to find more than one restaurant, and grocery stores are either severely limited, or nowhere to be found.  This underscores how finding common means of comparison is difficult enough between people of similar interest, but in this way, both residents speak completely different languages.

I fail to take into account that many of us genuinely try to do the right thing.  I’ve seen it for myself, many times.  I’m not stating that one ought to drop everything, give all one has to the poor, and move to an impoverished country.  But what I am saying is that once we leave the bubble, we don’t need the novelty of a country or region in crisis to recognize that until our efforts here on these shores are a success, we simply won’t have the infrastructure and the methodology in place to give better aid and assistance to foreign countries in need.  If that on-going War on Poverty is ever won and won forever, it will start here, then spread to other places, not the other way around.  Speaking American English in all its varieties and variations is tough enough, with so many regional, ethnic, and economic distinctions.  Speaking the native tongue of another place is a daunting, if not completely impossible task until we’ve found our own means of translation.  

Winter Olympics- Day I, Afternoon

No, Opening Ceremonies don’t count even if they have some ski jumping prelims.

Coverage today starts on NBC at 2 pm and on CNBC at 3.

In the main NBC afternoon block from 2 to 6 pm Shani Davis (who thinks Stephen Colbert is a jerk and Chad Hedrick compete in Speed Skating (men’s 5000m).  Plus, Ski Jumping (K-90 individual) and Biathlon (women’s sprint).

Medals will be awarded in all those sports, but medal ceremonies are just as boring as the Opening and Closing unless you’re playing some kind of national anthem trivia game.

K-90 means they will be using the 90 meter hill.

On CNBC we have Women’s Ice Hockey from 3 to 5:30 pm.  The featured match is between Sweden and Switzerland.

We can also see some of the broad outlines of the main NBC late night coverage emerging.

Each night they’ll have a post-primetime show from midnight to 1 am with original coverage, and then a repeat of their primetime broadcast from 1 am to 4:30 am.

You could be watching Adult Swim and if you’ve already watched the Olympic prime time it will probably be more entertaining.  A never before seen episode of Full Metal Alchemist tonight, followed by a Bleach marathon.  Of course the new episode is up against original Olympic coverage, but it looks like they’ll re-run it at 4 am after FLCL, Cowboy Bebop (never much got into that), and Ghost In the Shell.

I’ll be back with a post outlining tonight’s prime time coverage a little before 8 pm if I can manage it.  Depending on how compelling the Olympic action is Weekend News Digest may have to wait for the 6 – 8 pm break to assemble.  TheMomCat has a This Week in Health and Fitness ready for publication at 4 pm anyway so WND would not go up before 5 pm in any event.

Feel free to talk about what you see and happy blogging.

Open Season


Mavericks Surfboarding Contest is On NOW !

Once a year, IF the weather conditions are just right, the best surfers in the world are on 48 hour standby to be called to a spot off the coast just to the south of San Francisco, in the middle of winter.  That area is called Pillar Point, and it’s a nondescript area of cliffs with a little sand beach in Half Moon Bay, CA, which hold a great secret offshore and around the corner- MONSTER waves.    There they will brave the icy cold waters, rocks, and literally the Biggest Surfable Waves in the World, to be towed out into the ocean on jetskis, past the rocks, and try to surf back in on waves up to 25 feet tall, without getting killed.

That’s Mavericks.  

That time is now.


You can try to watch a live stream of the contest online here, it’s cutting in and out on me.


Here’s a link to a photogallery of surfers and the waves, so you can get an idea of how large they are:



Remember, Mother Nature is not nice here in CA.  Respect the ocean.

Hey “folks” – can you help me out – (no money involved)

I’d like to write a diary on my “savvy entitlement” use.  As well – Obama himself tells us “folks” are asking him a pertinent question.  It would be good to hear some critical thinking and interpretation from the “folks” at the Docudharma “Folk Community” to aid the president in framing an answer to this burning query.  

When bush left to pursue further commitments to excellence, too bad he didn’t take the word “folks” with him.  Alas, it is always front and center.  And while “folks” is well “folksy” and denotes a real populist bent – as we know, the people using it are not so much interested in us as “folks” as they are in using the word as much as possible.  And it is possible oh so much.

I would also like to engage the readers here who are entitled – I myself am a Social Security/Medicare queen.  I thought I’d go thru a day wherein I use my “savvy” instincts with my entitlements to live the good life most “folks” deserve.  Would like to hear from some of you how you cope and for instance, what you do with the monies left over from your entitlments (including unemployment insurance, help from the state, etc.) and how you can “tighten your belts” or “make the sacrifices” – “everyone has to make sacrifices” after all.  


Here are some quotes from the quick talk Obama gave to the folks at The Brookings Institute – the Hamilton Project:

“Folks ask me how do I maintain my idealism”?

Never occured to me to ask such a question – but perhaps some of you have some thoughts on the subject.

then, he works the Brookings/Hamilton folks into a smiling lather:  I am a free trade guy and believe in markets.

On its face, not particularly pernicious but to folks on Main Street – not what we really need to hear right now.  Though of course, remember – he is talking to the folks at Brookings.  Then:

“How do we in fact deal with the losers in the global economy”?

These guys are uniquely qualified to understand and answer this question:  they are all winners, so we can learn a lot from them in how to win and rub off this damned “loser” tatoo from our foreheads.  Plus, I get real nervous when the elites start talking about how to “deal” with me.

Then, he goes on to talk about – oh don’t make me say it – okay, training.  Since I know how to clean house and scrub floors – I’m in good shape to find work but can only hope my age won’t interfere with me getting that work, and I feel guilty wresting it away from other younger workers – though my wresting days are behind me.  It’s true I worked for a measly 49 years or so and was good at what I did but believe me, I wouldn’t last a day in a lawfirm today.  So much has changed in the electronic field – and everything there is faster than ever.  Let’s face it, I ain’t that fast anymore – and wisdom is certainly not overrated in the job market.

So –  Any suggestions, thoughts? Any tweaks, framing issues.  Is there a folk song in here somewhere?  

And in closing, folks.  Here is a interesting comment for lefties like us, and he says he considers himself a lefty precisely at this point.

Too many folks have been interested in defending programs the way they were written in 1938.

We need to adopt 21st century solutions for a 21st century economy….

This leftie wouldn’t talk too much about a 21st century economy as something we should hold up but as an entitlement queen, it’s my guess the folks at Brookings and the Hamilton Project consider me and my ilk part of the problem.  

So I open the floor to you – firstly, how can you cut expenses and “make sacrifices” – and secondly, how can we as a community get rid of the neon sign on our foreheads – l.o.s.e.r. – the electric costs alone from it blinking off and on are becoming exhorbitant.

I’d like to thank Corrente (speaking of excellence) for putting this video up – and you guys know I’m not real good at embedding, etc.  you can mosey over there and watch the whole thing.

Haiti: We Are The World 25

Sometimes something happens that is astoundingly right.  This video feels like one of those things.  So I thought I’d put it up.

The question, the eternal question about this is, and remains: how do you take the energy of this performance into the world and keep it going?  How do you make it bloom?  How do you keep it new?  How do you ride it to a better world?

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one


simulposted at The Dream Antilles  

Docudharma Times Saturday February 13

Saturday’s Headlines:

Coalition Begins Major Afghan Offensive

Olympics opening ceremony dedicated to Georgian luger

Eyeing midterms, Democrats to push Republicans to go on record against key bills

Toyota races to fix sticky gas pedals

Berlusconi ally Guido Bertolaso accused of swapping contracts for sex

20 insurgents killed as Jihadist attacks rise in Russia’s Caucasus

Eight Iraqis held over 2003 killing of military police north of Basra<

The new McCarthyism sweeping Israel

How the Taliban pressed bin Laden

China Sees Growth Engine in a Web of Fast Trains

Kenya relocates zebras and wildebeest to feed its hungry lions

Ivory Coast President Gbagbo dissolves government

Haiti marks one month on from the earthquake

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