February 20, 2010 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Haitians return to find family as commercial flights restart

by M.J. Smith, AFP

Fri Feb 19, 4:00 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haitians arrived Friday on the first commercial flight into their country since last month’s earthquake, desperately hoping to find family members alive and their homes still standing.

“I want to see my wife,” said Jean Felix as he waited to board the plane before takeoff in Miami.

“She’s living in the street and she’s told me by phone that we lost everything… I’m going there with my heart broken.”

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

I am back in NYC, sleeping in my own bed and trying to get back to “normal” which will take a few days, especially the cold. It was cool in New Orleans but not like NYC and, ugh, snow. I stopped in at my local Duncan Donuts yesterday and was warmly welcomed home. My daughter had told the staff where I was, so there were lots of hugs and free donuts for Dr. TMC who is addicted to the chocolate ones.

I’ll be making the Greek Zucchini Fritters tonight with Blackened Cat Fish and a Sauvgnon Blanc. Thank you all again for your support of the Haitian people. Please do not forget them, this is far from over.

Haiti: “We are not out of the emergency phase yet”

Dr. Marie-Pierre Allié, president of Médecins Sans Frontières-France, who recently returned from a field visit to Haiti, analyses the situation there one month after the disaster. At present, areas of concern include the vacuum caused by the withdrawal of some of the international medical teams who rushed to scene after the earthquake, the ongoing lack of shelter, and the slow pace of aid distribution.

One month after the earthquake, what is the situation in Haiti?

(emphasis mine)

Poor Sanitation in Haiti’s Camps Adds Disease Risk

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – As hundreds of thousands of people displaced by last month’s earthquake put down stakes in the squalid tent camps of this wrecked city, the authorities are struggling to address the worsening problem of human waste. Public health officials warn that waste accumulation is creating conditions for major disease outbreaks, including cholera, which could further stress the ravaged health system.

Some American and Haitian public health specialists here consider the diseases stemming from the buildup of human waste in the camps as possibly the most pressing health threat in the city. Doctors are already seeing a spike in illnesses like typhoid and shigellosis, which arise from contaminated food or water.

“We’re witnessing the setup for the spread of severe diarrheal illnesses in a place where the health system has collapsed and without a functioning sewage system to begin with,” said Ian Greenwald, chief medical officer for a Duke University team of doctors working here this month. Some American and Haitian public health specialists here consider the diseases stemming from the buildup of human waste in the camps as possibly the most pressing health threat in the city. Doctors are already seeing a spike in illnesses like typhoid  and shigellosis, which arise from contaminated food or water.

“We’re witnessing the setup for the spread of severe diarrheal illnesses in a place where the health system has collapsed and without a functioning sewage system to begin with,” said Ian Greenwald, chief medical officer for a Duke

University team of doctors working here this month.

The problem has become impossible to overlook in many districts of Port-au-Prince, with the stench of decomposing bodies replaced by that of excrement. Children in some camps that are still lacking latrines and portable toilets play in open areas scattered with the waste. The light rains here this week caused some donated latrines in the camps to overflow, illustrating how the problem would grow more acute as the rainy season intensified in the months ahead.

Tarps, toilets are priorities for quake-hit Haiti: U.N.

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti urgently needs tarpaulins, tents and 25,000 toilets one month after a magnitude 7 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people, the United Nation’s top aid official said on Friday.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the emergency medical care phase of dealing with earthquake trauma patients is “mostly over.” He added that one month after the disaster the two top priorities for impoverished Haiti are shelter and sanitation.

“It is urgent to get everybody with some kind of reasonably waterproof covering over their heads,” Holmes told reporters after a tour of earthquake recovery sites in Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns.

AOBTD: Dutch Govt. Flops over Afghanistan

Another One Bites the Dust: The Dutch Government (Parliament Coalition) Collapses over the issue of staying in Afghanistan Saturday morning.  

The Dutch had been scheduled to end their participation in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan in August of 2010, with their troops to be out by December, but had been asked to stay longer.  Concerns over the Dutch budget deficit, which meant that either tax hikes or spending cuts were looming, doomed the coalition led by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s government.

“I unfortunately note that there is no longer a fruitful path for the Christian Democrats, Labor Party and Christian Union to go forward,” Balkenende, who leads the center-right Christian Democrats, told reporters.

Balkenende wanted to extend the Dutch troop deployment in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan past an August deadline, but Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos’s Labor Party opposed any extension.


Parliamentary elections to form a new government could be held by the summer, but establishing a functional coalition between 4 or 5 parties to get a majority may take some finangling.

The Dutch have been participating in NATO’s Afghanistan occupation since 2006, and have lost 21 troops out of about 2000 deployed.


Election Heads Up — It’s a Plan

A few days ago, I ran across a fascinating post on FireDogLake by scrowder, called A failure to plan is a plan to fail – a challenge to the FDL website.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. So said a poster here on a different diary today and it got me to thinking. What is the progressive plan for dealing with the Conservadems in Congress who’ve sold us out time and again since the Reagan years?

(crickets)  Yeah, that’s the problem. The debate always comes down to this: Vote Dem or let the Repugs rule. And that’s what happens. Dems lose their base in disgust and Repugs take over. I’m just as guilty. I’ve voted Nader every election until the chance to elect a black man president outweighed the knowledge that this guy was being foisted on us by the corporatocracy.

Instead of worrying about polls, or what the Dems should be doing or what Obama isn’t doing, we should be wholly focused on getting progressives past their primary challenges and replacing Conservadems on the ballot. But we aren’t.

The point — to underline scrowder — is on what WE are doing, not on what THEY aren’t doing for us.

Bob Barr booed at CPAC for saying ‘waterboarding is torture’

Yesterday afternoon, former Republican Congressman and 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr had the audacity to say, “Waterboarding is torture.”  The reason it took audacity is that he was at CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.  He was promptly booed.

Instead of adhering to the Constitution or the Geneva Conventions, conservative ideological leaders and Republican leaders have decided to shoot for political expediency, stubbornness, and sadism.

Olympic Alternatives V

You thought I was not serious?

I’m dead serious.  The only way to effect change is through sacrifice (changing your habits) and protest (telling people what you think, publicly).

Plenty of other stuff out on the Hypnotoad.  Just look-

The Hypnotoad.

"Television is a vast wasteland"

Mid-afternoon update.

Early evening update.

Late evening update.

Late night update.

Food Stamp Profiling Contributes to the Stigma

The Food Stamp program has always been a contentious, heavily partisan issue.  A recent New York Times article highlights the back-and-forth that has characterized the highs and lows of the program, and where it seems to be headed.  Today I’ve chosen to write about this controversial subject to, in part, document of my own direct personal experience.  Though food stamp usage might have been more stigmatized in an earlier year, there is unfortunately still much bias and prejudice directed towards those who take advantage of its existence.  Until this is eliminated, others will refuse to apply and find their poverty and need considerably worsened.  If this be Welfare, it is one of the most essential safety nets ever devised and my fear is that a resurgent GOP presence will eliminate it altogether, or prune it back considerably.  

Open Lies

Open Thread. OPR Report released last night.


Valtin has a good rundown here. And of course OCD emptywheel here.

FDL DDayden here.

This is essentially getting away with murder, or if you like, torture. Margolis has saved Yoo and Bybee from any disciplinary action, relying on Yoo and Bybee’s own responses to the charges and what amounts to a generous reading of the law. Margolis basically took Yoo and Bybee’s side, that OPR did not apply the necessary framework, over OPR. It amounts to “we cannot know what was in the heads of Yoo and Bybee.”

That’s how it reads to me, anyway, maybe others will disagree. They can decide for themselves. But basically, another, and perhaps the last, opportunity for accountability and justice for the Bush torture regime, at least from inside the US government, has been squandered.

Olbermann video with Turley here. THANKS to TheMomCat who embedded this video below in comments.

UPDATE: h/t Turkana has a diary at GOS with a heads up on Leahy’s press release.

Leahy Announces Hearing On OPR Report

February 19, 2010  WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to examine the Office of Professional Responsibility Report on the Office of Legal Counsel, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today.  The report was released to Congress today.

The hearing will be held Friday, February 26, at 10:00 a.m.  Witnesses will be announced in the coming days, and the hearing will be webcast live online.

CPAC generates some New Talking Points — Will Dems respond in kind?

You got to give the Conversatives credit.

They know how to make the most of an Opportunity. They know how to rally their members.

AND Conservatives know how to boil down their Ideas into simple Talking Points, that they can easily repeat, and easily pawn off on their Independent friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

Short, sweet, and to the point.  Agree, or Disagree, one thing about Conservatives — you always know where they stand. And you usually know Why, too.

As this year’s Conservative Rally CPAC, winds to a close, some New Talking Points have emerged.

Question is, Will Dems sit idlely by, saying “Oh that’s nice. Good for them,” or will Dems take note, and respond forcefully, factually, and with good humor, to the “War for Hearts and Minds” that is about to take place?

new medical studies

h/t mrD


Medical studies show cannabis effective for treating pain, spasms

With the results of a medical study summarized by a new report delivered to the California state legislature, the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) claims it has established scientific proof that inhaled cannabis holds medical value at or above the level of conventional prescription medicines used for a variety of ailments.

“As a result of the vision and foresight of the California State Legislature Medical Marijuana Research Act

(SB847), the CMCR has successfully conducted the first clinical trials of smoked cannabis in the United

States in more than 20 years,” the group said in the study’s conclusion summary. “As a result of this program of systematic research, we now have reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

Docudharma Times Saturday February 20

Saturday’s Headlines:

US school district spied on students through webcams, court told

A baby changes everything: The true cost of teen pregnancy’s uptick


Controversial Diabetes Drug Harms Heart, U.S. Concludes

Consumers who buy individual health policies feel trapped


Tales of a riverbank revolution

Russia honours one of its heroes – American paratrooper Joe Beyrle

Middle East

Soul-searching within Israel at ‘amateurish’ operation

Russia hints it will back Iran sanctions calls


Dutch cabinet collapses in dispute over Afghanistan

In Aceh Indonesia, Islamic police take to the streets


Ex-U.N. official ElBaradei eyes run for Egypt’s top job

Latin America

Poor Sanitation in Haiti’s Tent Camps Adds to Risk of Disease

Alexander Haig, former secretary of state, dies

Washington Post

South OR-2, Pick This Winner Veterans

The rest of the Country, here’s one candidate to get behind and give her a good start as well as growing support through the campaign.

Political newcomer readies effort to challenge Walden

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