Daily Archive: 02/08/2011

Feb 08 2011

from firefly-dreaming 8.2.11

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Essays Featured Tuesday, February 8th:

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Feb 08 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 8, 2011-

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Feb 08 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

Bob Herbert A Terrible Divide

The Ronald Reagan crowd loved to talk about morning in America. For millions of individuals and families, perhaps the majority, it’s more like twilight – with nighttime coming on fast.

Look out the window. More and more Americans are being left behind in an economy that is being divided ever more starkly between the haves and the have-nots. Not only are millions of people jobless and millions more underemployed, but more and more of the so-called fringe benefits and public services that help make life livable, or even bearable, in a modern society are being put to the torch.

Dana Milbank: Obama makes corporate America his business

Conservatives seemed as irked by Obama’s trip to the U.S. Chamber as liberals.

“I strolled over from across the street,” the president said of his trek from the White House across Lafayette Square to the Chamber’s H Street palace. “And look, maybe if we had brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off to a better start.”

When the laughter ended, Obama departed from his prepared text to add: “But I’m going to make up for it.”

He sure is – and if the list of goodies he read out Monday is any indication, he would have found it easier to deliver the fruitcake.

Eugene Robinson: The GOP’s selective memory on Ronald Reagan

As we mark the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth, one of our major political parties has become imbued with the Gipper’s political philosophy and governing style. I mean the Democrats, of course.

The Republican Party tries to claim the Reagan mantle but has moved so far to the right that it now inhabits its own parallel universe. On the planet that today’s GOP leaders call home, Reagan would qualify as one of those big-government, tax-and-spend liberals who are trying so hard to destroy the American way of life.

Dennis Kucinich: The Tea Party’s First Test?

The House may vote tomorrow to extend three provisions of the PATRIOT Act and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act that allow the government to conduct domestic surveillance of Americans.

The 112th Congress began with a historic reading of the U.S. Constitution. Will anyone subscribe to the First and Fourth Amendments tomorrow when the PATRIOT Act is up for a vote? I am hopeful that members of the Tea Party who came to Congress to defend the Constitution will join me in challenging the reauthorization.

Feb 08 2011

On This Day in History February 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 8 is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 326 days remaining until the end of the year (327 in leap years).

On this day in 1828, Jules Gabriel Verne is born in Nantes, Brittany in France. He was a French author who pioneered the science-fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated individual author in the world, according to Index Translationum. Some of his books have been made into films. Verne, along with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells, is often popularly referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”.

Literary debut

After completing his studies at the lycée, Verne went to Paris to study for the bar. About 1848, in conjunction with Michel Carré, he began writing libretti for operettas. For some years his attentions were divided between the theatre and work, but some travellers’ stories which he wrote for the Musée des Familles revealed to him his true talent: the telling of delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures to which cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details lent an air of verisimilitude.

When Verne’s father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period, he met Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, pére, who offered him writing advice.

Verne also met Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow with two daughters. They were married on January 10 1857. With her encouragement, he continued to write and actively looked for a publisher.

Verne’s situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important French publishers of the 19th century, who also published Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. They formed an excellent writer-publisher team until Hetzel’s death. Hetzel helped improve Verne’s writings, which until then had been repeatedly rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of Verne’s story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had been rejected by other publishers for being “too scientific”. With Hetzel’s help, Verne rewrote the story, which was published in 1863 in book form as Cinq semaines en balloon (Five_Weeks_in_a_Balloon Five Weeks in a Baloon). Acting on Hetzel’s advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages.

From that point, Hetzel published two or more volumes a year. The most successful of these include: Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. The series is collectively known as “Voyages Extraordinaires” (“extraordinary voyages”). Verne could now live on his writings. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1874) and Michel Strogoff (1876), which he wrote with Adolphe d’Ennery. In 1867 Verne bought a small ship, the Saint-Michel, which he successively replaced with the Saint-Michel II and the Saint-Michel III as his financial situation improved. On board the Saint-Michel III, he sailed around Europe. In 1870, he was appointed as “Chevalier” (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur. After his first novel, most of his stories were first serialised in the Magazine d’Éducation et de Récréation, a Hetzel biweekly publication, before being published in the form of books.

In his last years, Jules Verne wrote a novel called Paris in the 20th Century about a young man who lives in a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network, yet cannot find happiness and comes to a tragic end. Hetzel thought the novel’s pessimism would damage Verne’s then booming career, and suggested he wait 20 years to publish it. Verne put the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994.

In 1905, while ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home, 44 Boulevard Longueville (now Boulevard Jules-Verne).

Feb 08 2011

Six In The Morning

I Am President For Life And Forever  



Can Egypt’s revolution stay the distance?

After thirty unbroken years as President of Egypt, it had seemed as if Hosni Mubarak’s charmed career was finally coming to an end.

But yesterday, Cairo’s famous traffic jams were back. Businesses, shops, and banks were open across the capital. Barack Obama spoke of the “progress” the Egyptian government was making towards reform. And though still in tens of thousands, the numbers at Tahrir Square were probably down on the previous day.

Meanwhile, Mr Mubarak, the great survivor, was using all the guile that has kept him in power for so long to produce a series of sweeteners – including a 15 per cent pay rise for state employees – to widen his public support.  

Feb 08 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Day 15 Up Date: 1900hrs EST

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and Al-Masry Al-Youm: English Edition

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>The Guardian has a Live Blog from their reporters in Egypt that refreshes automatically every minute.

Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 8

As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English.

It was a joyous day in the Tahrir Square with the news of the release of Google executive, Wael Ghoneim, Middle East marketing manager for Google, who was arrested on January 27 by police. Ghoneim oversaw the “Arabization” of Google’s on-line services and has participated in several projects aimed at supporting Arabic Internet content. His disappearance became a cause célèbre as Google and Human Rights organizations demanded that the Egyptian government disclose his location. Sunday the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, announced that Ghoneim would be released.

Life did start to return to some normalcy as banks and shops re-opened and once again the usual traffic jams clogged the streets. Tourism continues to suffer and tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions in the capital.

On sadder note, a symbolic funeral procession was held for journalist, Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot as he filmed the clashes between protesters and riot police from his Cairo office. The UN also reported that nearly 300 people have been killed since the unrest started on January 25th and thousands more injured.

The stand off between the Mubarak regime and the protesters demanding he leave office goes into its fifteenth day with mass demonstrations planned in Cairo.

Up Date: 1900hrs EST Bless these people. They are tenacious and will not stand down. They are not ready to make nice with the Mubarak regime.

11:31pm GMT

Here’s a brief video clip from al-Jazeera of the protesters now occupying the front of Egypt’s parliament building this evening.

Meanwhile, Tahrir Square appears to be covered in tents as a village springs up.

Protests swell at Tahrir Square

Tens of thousands pour into central Cairo seeking president Mubarak’s ouster, despite a slew of government concessions.

Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators have poured into Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square as protests against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, entered their 15th day despite a slew of concessions announced by the government.

Tens of thousands of protesters have also come out on the streets in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.

There were also reports of a protest outside the parliament building in the capital. Witnesses said protesters had pitched a tent in front of the building and are likely to stay there.

According to Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the Egyptian capital, the crowd at Tahrir Square grew rapidly on Tuesday afternoon, with many first-timers joining protesters seeking Mubarak’s immediate ouster.

Freed cyber activist lauds protests

Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.

Egyptian anti-government protesters have welcomed the release of a Google executive who disappeared in Cairo last month after playing a key role in helping demonstrators organise.

Wael Ghonim was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, sparking a fast and explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet.

Ghonim’s release came nearly two weeks after he was reported missing on January 28 during protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

“Freedom is a bless[ing] that deserves fighting for it,” Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account shortly after his release.

Wael Ghonim anointed voice of the revolution by Tahrir Square faithful

Google executive behind protest-supporting Facebook page cheered by crowds in Cairo after being released by police

Egyptians renew appeal for Mubarak to resign now on biggest day of protest

Hundreds of thousands of protesters pack Tahrir Square in Cairo and reject concessions on transfer of power in September

10:45pm GMT

In the most disturbing development in days, during a private meeting today vice president Omar Suleiman warned of a coup “to protect Egypt” – the Associated Press has a piece reporting further details of Suleiman’s hostile comments:

   Vice President Omar Suleiman warned Tuesday that “we can’t put up with” continued protests in Tahrir for a long time, saying the crisis must be ended as soon as possible in a sharply worded sign of increasing regime impatience with 16 days of mass demonstrations.

   Suleiman said there will be “no ending of the regime” and no immediate departure for President Hosni Mubarak, according to the state news agency MENA, reporting on a meeting between the vice president and the heads of state and independent newspapers.

   He told them the regime wants dialogue to resolve protesters’ demands for democratic reform, adding in a veiled warning, “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.”

   At one point in the roundtable meeting, Suleiman warned that the alternative to dialogue “is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities. We don’t want to reach that point, to protect Egypt.”

   Pressed by the editors to explain the comment, he said he did not mean a military coup but that “a force that is unprepared for rule” could overturn state institutions, said Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Shorouk daily, who attended the briefing. “He doesn’t mean it in the classical way.”

   “The presence of the protesters in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work,” he said. We can’t put up with this for a long time, and this crisis must be ended as soon as possible.

   He warned that calls by some protesters for a campaign of civil disobedience are “very dangerous for society and we can’t put up with this at all.”

The comments sound like a worrying development after the calm of recent days. This may be Suleiman’s private face: no surrender. I bet he didn’t mention any of that in his phone chat with Joe Biden earlier today.

Syria to set Facebook status to unbanned in gesture to people

President Bashar al-Assad promises elections and press freedom after seeing groundswell of protest across Arab world

Sounds like someone is getting nervous.

France’s prime minister spent family Christmas break as guest of Mubarak

Admission from François Fillon comes as French ministers’ links with unpopular Middle East regimes come under scrutiny

Another Sarkozy lackie

Feb 08 2011

Reportng the Revolution:

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and Al-Masry Al-Youm: English Edition

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>The Guardian has a Live Blog from their reporters in Egypt that refreshes automatically every minute.

Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 8

As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English.

It was a joyous day in the Tahrir Square with the news of the release of Google executive, Wael Ghoneim, Middle East marketing manager for Google, who was arrested on January 27 by police. Ghoneim oversaw the “Arabization” of Google’s on-line services and has participated in several projects aimed at supporting Arabic Internet content. His disappearance became a cause célèbre as Google and Human Rights organizations demanded that the Egyptian government disclose his location. Sunday the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, announced that Ghoneim would be released.

Life did start to return to some normalcy as banks and shops re-opened and once again the usual traffic jams clogged the streets. Tourism continues to suffer and tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions in the capital.

On sadder note, a symbolic funeral procession was held for journalist, Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot as he filmed the clashes between protesters and riot police from his Cairo office. The UN also reported that nearly 300 people have been killed since the unrest started on January 25th and thousands more injured.

The stand off between the Mubarak regime and the protesters demanding he leave office goes into its fifteenth day with mass demonstrations planned in Cairo.

Related news from various news agencies, live blogs and Twitter.

On Monday night, February 7, Tahrir Square took on a festival atmosphere, with a man playing an acoustic guitar to a crowd of hundreds.

Rumors are also running rampant from a report in Der Speigel, a German newspaper, that Mubarak could be going there for a “medical check-up”. he has been there twice for medical reasons.

In Egypt, U.S. Weighs Push for Change With Stability

Vice President Omar Suleiman of Egypt says he does not think it is time to lift the 30-year-old emergency law that has been used to suppress and imprison opposition leaders. He does not think President Hosni Mubarak needs to resign before his term ends in September. And he does not think his country is yet ready for democracy. . . . .

After two weeks of recalibrated messages and efforts to keep up with a rapidly evolving situation, the Obama administration is still trying to balance support for some of the basic aspirations for change in Egypt with its concern that the pro-democracy movement could be “hijacked,” as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton put it, if change were to come too quickly.

The result has been to feed a perception, on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, that the United States, for now at least, is putting stability ahead of democratic ideals, and leaving hopes of nurturing peaceful, gradual change in large part in the hands of Egyptian officials – starting with Mr. Suleiman – who have every reason to slow the process.

Faced with questions about Mr. Suleiman’s views, expressed in a series of interviews in recent days, the White House on Monday called them unacceptable.

Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun is the country’s oldest and largest Islamic organisation.

Another interesting article from the NYT Magazine from this weekend chronicles the arrest, detention and escape from a prison outside of Cairo of lawyer, Sobhi Saleh, the former secretary general of the Muslim Brother­hood’s parliamentary group, and 33 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt vs Tunisia

We look at the differences between the two uprisings and how these might shape the future of the two countries.

Iran’s Opposition Seeks Rally to Back Egypt and Tunisia

Tehran – With democracy tremors rocking the Arab world, Iran’s opposition has challenged its hard-line leaders to allow a peaceful demonstration – ostensibly in support of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The request to hold a rally on Monday falls short of an open call for supporters of Iran’s “green” movement to return to the streets after more than a year, but it is the closest that Iran’s opposition has come so far to trying to join in the historic events.

Democracy in the Arab world?

We ask if the despots of the region will be able to restore their authority through bribes and belated concessions.

Washington Post Editorial: Did Ben Bernanke cause Egypt’s revolution?

Does Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, deserve the blame – or the credit, depending on your point of view – for Hosni Mubarak’s plight? Some seem to think so. Last August, Mr. Bernanke announced further Fed asset purchases known colloquially as “quantitative easing II,” or “QEII” for short. The goal was to ease monetary conditions in the United States and fuel growth. But cheaper money lowered the costs and raised the rewards of speculating on food and energy, relative to some other investments. The latest rise in commodity prices began around the time of Mr. Bernanke’s announcement; expensive food triggered unrest first in Tunisia and then in Egypt. Ergo, Mr. Bernanke undermined Mr. Mubarak – or so the argument goes.

Mubarak further shortens curfew hours

The curfew will come into effect on Monday from 8 PM running until 6 AM the next day, according to to state-run television

Army installs Tahrir field hospital

US special envoy to Egypt recalled due to ties with Mubarak regime

Frank Wisner, Obama special envoy to Egypt, declared Saturday during a security conference in Munich that “Mubarak must stay in office in order to steer those changes through. This is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward.”

This declaration was received with surprise by pro-democracy demonstrators as it was understood as a reversal of the US diplomatic strategy. The statement was rapidly clarified by US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who said that Wisner was speaking for himself and the White House did not endorse his remarks.

Egyptian Association of Arab Tribes backs ongoing Tahrir Square demos

Egyptian govt to increase salaries and pensions by 15 percent

Feb 08 2011

Neglected Tropical Diseases

Recently I wrote a diary about Dengue Fever, a tropical disease that is caused by a mosquito transmitted virus, I mentioned that it was classed as a “neglected disease” by the World Health Organization. I’d like to talk about some of the other neglected diseases, what causes them, how they are spread and, most importantly, who they affect and how they impact on the rest of the world. In up coming diaries, I will focus on each one as I did with Dengue.

First, why are these diseases neglected? It is mostly because they are diseases of of poverty. Until these diseases impact on the wealthy in some way, treatment and prevention will remain a struggle for the countries and people where they are endemic. The lives of over one billion people are impacted in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Some of these diseases have known preventive measures or acute medical treatments which are available in the developed world but which are not universally available in poorer areas. In some cases, the treatments are relatively inexpensive. For example, the treatment for schistosomiasis is $0.20 per child per year. In the last few years, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Carter Center have brought attention to the diseases caused by flavivirus, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and parasitic worms.

These are the diseases classified as neglected by WHO:

   * Buruli Ulcer

   * Chagas disease(American trypanosomiasis)

   * Cysticercosis

   * Dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever

   * Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)

   * Echinococcosis

   * Fascioliasis

   * Human African trypanosomiasis

   * Leishmaniasis

   * Leprosy

   * Lymphatic filariasis

   * Onchocerciasis

   * Rabies

   * Schistosomiasis

   * Soil transmitted helminthiasis

   * Trachoma

   * Yaws

I’m fairly certain most of you have never heard of most of them and might be a bit surprised by one that is on that list, Rabies, which is a virus spread by wild and domestic animal bites. It is endemic on every continent except Antarctica and is easily treatable and can be controlled and prevented. Yet, here it is on a list of neglected diseases.

I look forward to your comments and questions which I will try to answer as best I can.

The next diary will focus on Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) and its eradication.

Feb 08 2011

Sorry, Ariana and Markos, No More Free Content For You

I know all too much about writing for free.  I do it here all the time. It’s a labor of love.  I’ve been at it for more than 900 blog posts and more than 5 years.  I know about writing without being paid for it.  Despite that, and despite my understanding that when I post at group blogs I know I won’t get paid, I am absolutely furious about the AOL-Huffington Post Deal.  Why?  Because the writers are getting screwed, and they’re not going to get a cent out of the deal. Not a sou.

The news this morning–  I’m sure you haven’t missed it–  was that that beleaguered, dinosaur of dial up AOL has bought Huffington Post and made that doyenne of self promotion and faux progressive politics, Arianna, an AOL executive.  Here’s the essence of the story from the New York Times:

Feb 08 2011

DocuDharma Digest

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