March 27, 2010 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pope under pressure over child abuse scandal

by Michele Leridon, AFP

2 hrs 6 mins ago

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – The child abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church homed in Saturday on Pope Benedict XVI, labelled the “biggest sinner” in one newspaper as the Vatican said his handling of the crisis would only strengthen his authority.

As allegations piled up of sexual molestation by priests in the scandal that has swept the United States and Europe, the media expressed shock and bewilderment in comments and editorials.

“How could the Catholics do such a thing?” asked Britain’s The Independent newspaper.

Still No Dawn Johnsen In Recess Appointments

President Obama is going to make 15 recess appointments during Easter break, but one name is still missing:…

Dawn E. Johnsen, the current nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel in the United States Dept. of Justice.

While President – elect, Obama said he intended to nominate Johnson, currently a law professor and a former ACLU attorney, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General from ’93 to ’96 under President Clinton, and former Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Council from ’97 to ’98.

This Week in Health and Fitness

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

Tuberculosis: Drug-Resistant Strains Still Spreading at Deadly Rates, W.H.O. Report Says

Drug-resistant tuberculosis killed about 150,000 people in 2008, and half of all the world’s cases are thought in be in China and India, the World Health Organization said in a report last week.

No one knows the exact number of cases of the two types of drug-resistant TB, called MDR and XDR for multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant.

A few places, like Peru and Hong Kong, have fought the disease effectively, as New York City did in the early 1990s. Progress has been made in parts of Siberia, but in another region of Russia, more than a quarter of all cases are drug-resistant. And in Africa, a vast majority of cases have probably not even been diagnosed, the report said.

Even standard tuberculosis takes six months to cure with a four antibiotic cocktail. But the drugs cost only $20 and are relatively easy to take. Drug-resistant forms can take two years and require dangerously toxic drugs that cost $5,000 or more per person; they usually emerge when public health officials fail to ensure that patients with regular TB take their drugs daily.

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. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

Social Security Isn’t in “Crisis” – But, Older Women Are.

By Stacy Sanders, the Director of the Elder Economic Security Initiative, WOW

This week, with health care reform passed, the New York Times speculated that Social Security, “the other big entitlement program,” would be the next big program to “tackle,” specifically within the context of reducing the nation’s debt. Reports followed that suggest the program is in crisis, despite the fact that predictions show Social Security can pay benefits in full until 2037.

With thirty years to attend to the program’s ability to pay benefits, there’s little evidence to suggest that Social Security is in trouble. On the contrary, there is real data that shows its beneficiaries, particularly older women, are in crisis. Though never intended to be the only source of income in retirement, many find themselves solely reliant upon Social Security as they age. In fact, Social Security provides more than 90 percent of income to three out of ten retired elders. And, due to time spent out of the workforce for caregiving and lower lifetime wages, women are even more dependent on Social Security.

Last year, the average annual Social Security payment was only $11,316 for an older woman. According to the Elder Economic Security Standardâ„¢ Index (Elder Index), a new measure of what it costs to age in place, a single elder who rents needs $20,248 to make ends meet, almost twice the average annual Social Security payment for women. Developed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) and the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Elder Index is a bare-bones measure of basic needs in retirement.

The data shows that, for older women, Social Security provides a life line. It offers a secure, reliable and necessary income base in retirement. But, those who rely only on Social Security must make difficult sacrifices – such as choosing between groceries and essential medications or going without heat.

As Congress and the Administration take up the nation’s deficit, they ought to consider the real, day-to-day crisis of our nation’s older women. Doing so means making responsible choices to safeguard and strengthen Social Security benefits while addressing its long-term stability.

Cross posted from the National Elder Economic Security Initiative

The 1850’s and the Path Ahead

Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Populism

Now that the Republican Health Care Reform legislation of the early 90’s has been passed with no Republican votes, I’ve been musing on the Path Ahead.

The path ahead for health insurance reform seems straightforward, at least for as long as the Republicans remain trapped in a strict “Repeal” stance by the angry and noisy opposition to health insurance reform that corporations have stirred up in their base.

It has always been a misnomer to call the current legislation “health care reform” when it has always been primarily health insurance reform. Yet there is a necessary-through-not-sufficient relationship that applies here. Just as arriving at a less broken health insurance system was necessary to even apply bandaids to the health care system, a not-at-all broken publicly administered, not-for-profit health insurance system will allow actual reform of the health care system to proceed.

But then, thinking about how to organize to work for progress on Health Insurance Reform leads to thinking more broadly about achieving progressive social change in the face of our thoroughly corrupted political establishment

Obama Destroys Afghanistan To Save It

Peter Arnett’s report from the town of Ben Tre in Vietnam ran under the innocuous headline “Major Describes Move” in the New York Times on February 8, 1968.

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.

40 years later, in August 2008, the Third Armored Cavalry burned down a village near Balad Ruz, in Diyala, Iraq, “in order to deny safe haven to possible terrorists.”


In March, 2010, the beneficent US Occupation of Afghanistan likewise “saved” the town of  Marjah.


And now Barack Obama and Stanley McChrystal are planning the same kind of party for Kandahar!

Kandahar Becomes Battlefield Before a U.S. Offensive

“The first thing Afghans fear is the coming of more foreign troops, and the second thing they fear is the empowering of the current leadership and administration,” said Shahabuddin Akhunzada, a tribal elder from Kandahar city.

“The Americans, the international community, all the military forces have lost the people’s trust,” he added.

But for the next few weeks or months, until the Americans arrive…


Kandahar is still a living city.


Open Wonderment


Ruh-oh! Tough Time for Iraqi Incumbents as Allawi Wins Election

Saturday, 3/27/2010 Allawi’s Side Wins Iraq Elections

Ruh roh!  Tough time for incumbents….. everywhere.  Current PM Nouri al Maliki comes in 2nd in Iraq, and

….  he’s not happy.…

Iraq election results, out of 325 seats, 163 needed to form a government:


Ayad Allawi’s Iraquiya coalition – 91 seats

Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Alliance – 89 seats

(Shia) Iraqi National Alliance – 70 seats

Kurdistania (K. Democratic Party, Patriotic Union of K.) – 43 seats


(ARC note: clever readers notice this doesn’t add up. Some small minority factions are awarded reserved seats.)

#2 Test to find fvcking bug in fvcking javascript error


hopefully DD will now recognize this as a separate entry

it’s not updating the tag deletions. weird.  

#3 Test to find fvcking bug in fvcking javascript error

The diary will be updated by segments until I find the little son of a ******* mistake which is preventing it from publishing.  Please stand by.  If you don’t like profanity, go fly a kite.

The preview looks ok.  Now what.


Saturday, 3/27/2010 Allawi’s Side Wins Iraq Elections

Ruh roh!  Tough time for incumbents….. everywhere.  Current PM Nouri al Maliki comes in 2nd in Iraq, and

….  he’s not happy.…

Iraq election results, out of 325 seats, 163 needed to form a government:


Ayad Allawi’s Iraquiya coalition – 91 seats

Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Alliance – 89 seats

(Shia) Iraqi National Alliance – 70 seats

Kurdistania (K. Democratic Party, Patriotic Union of K.) – 43 seats


(ARC note: clever readers notice this doesn’t add up. Some small minority factions are awarded reserved seats.)

Following the results announcement, Allawi pledged to “work with all sides” to form a coalition government.

However, in a press conference carried by Iraqi networks, al-Maliki said that the election results announced were “not final” and rejected the outcome.

“We still insist for a manual recount of votes … We cannot accept these results while we suspect them,” al-Maliki said.

“We want to build our country on a clear and transparent elections therefore the electoral commission must seriously respond to our demand.”

The spokesperson for the U.S. Dept of State congratulated the the country for carrying out a successful election, and noted that international and domestic observers were not reporting signs of any widespread or serious fraud.  The U.S. embassy in Iraq also issued a statement along the same lines, calling for all parties to work together.

This ought to be interesting, as everybody in the 2 larger parties tries to court Kurdistan in the northern part of the country. The Kurds do not like the south.  Who did the semi autonomous region of norther Iraq, Kurdistan, hire to do their Public Relations work, again ?  The Tea Party Bus Express, Our Country Deserves Better PAC, Sacramento based swiftboating Republican PR firm of Russo Marsh & Rogers and Move America Forward. What’s MAF up to ? Sending Easter gift boxes to the troops. What’s RMR and the Tea Party up to ?  Oh, they’re picketing Harry Reid’s house today in Nevada with Sarah Palin.… Notice how this MSM article does not mention Wierzbicki works for RMR and that the “Tea Party Movement” is Republican astroturf.

PART 2 ADDED: Credibility: Helen Thomas on her question for Obama, & media and political integrity

Part 2 added below the fold March 28, 2:50 PM PST

In part one of his interview with Helen Thomas, longest-serving member of the White House Press Corps, The Real New Network’s Paul Jay asks her about her first question for President Obama.

The question, asking President Obama to name all the countries in the Middle-East that have nuclear weapons, was avoided by the President, who claimed to not want to “speculate”.

Thomas claims that knowledge of Israeli nukes is very public in DC and Obama’s answer shows a lack of credibility. She explains the importance of this question for U.S. policy in the region.

Finally, she confides that she has not been called on by the President since that day, but that if she does, she will ask him whether or not he has found any more information about nukes in the Middle-East since their last encounter.

Real News Network – March 27, 2010

Gaming competing ‘FireDogLake Voting Blocs’ scenarios – getting Unity out of Diversity

I participated in a thread called Another call to publicly disown the “firedogs” My answer was so long, and because it threw light on what, I hope, will be a systematized and rational way of dealing with honest differences of opinions, that I’ve decided to post it as a separate diary on FDL, OpenLeft, and DocuDharma.

Somebody had suggested an “FDL Party”, but I said that an “FDL Voting Bloc” would be smarter.  Turns out, that was too simple a statement, as was made clear by PaulaT’s post:

Back when they had the Mass special election to fill Kennedy’s seat, there were threads on here with comments in the hundreds about what should be done. Some were in the camp of vote for Coakley because she’s progressive, though those were the minority. Some were saying to vote for Coakley because even an establishment Dem was better than a Republican. Others were saying to vote for Brown to send a message about how bad the Senate bill was before the House also passed it and they ended up with a crappy bill (not that it stopped them, after all, but at least there was some hope it might). After all the discussion and some really good arguments from all involved (plus some really bad ones from some), there was no consensus on what should be done. I don’t think there would be on future races. There would be those in the any Dem is better camp and those in the anything but an incumbent who has betrayed us to teach a lesson camp, and probably a few other camps as well depending on the particulars of the race. There are those who would like to see Kucinich gone and those who are mad about health care but say he’s been good on other things or they think the pressure was so great that they are inclined to forgive him or he’s the most progressive one we’ve got even if he’s spineless, or whatever, but want to keep him. When we had Romanoff on here the other day, every other question was about why anyone should trust him even though we know from very recent experience we can’t trust Bennett, who he’s running against. You’d think people would be okay with jumping in on that lesser of evils, but some would still rather go third party or maybe not vote at all, but something other than just trust him from what they were asking.

So how do you get this particular community to vote as a bloc?

My reply follows

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