Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Exodus as floods threaten more Pakistan towns

by Hasan Mansoor and Emmanuel Duparcq, AFP

2 hrs 48 mins ago

THATTA, Pakistan (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing areas of southern Pakistan on Saturday as rising floodwaters breached more defences and inundated towns.

For nearly a month torrential monsoon rains have triggered massive floods, moving steadily from north to south in Pakistan, affecting a fifth of the volatile country and 17 million of its 167 million people.

Southern Sindh is the worst-affected province. Out of its 23 districts, 19 have so far been ravaged by floods, a statement by the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Friday.

2 Taliban attack NATO bases in Afghanistan

by Sardar Ahmad, AFP

2 hrs 53 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – About two dozen Taliban militants — at least some dressed in US military uniforms — were killed Saturday in a failed attempt to storm two US-run bases in a city in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said.

The attackers targeted US-run Forward Operating Bases (FOB) Salerno and Chapman, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

Amid a spike in military deaths, the brazen attacks underscored the threats faced by foreign forces in Afghanistan as the insurgency drags towards its tenth year.

3 Iran says no final decision on woman’s stoning

by Siavosh Ghazi, AFP

Sat Aug 28, 11:52 am ET

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said on Saturday that it has yet to take a final decision on the stoning of a woman convicted of adultery and complicity in her husband’s murder in a case that has sparked an international outcry.

As human rights groups demonstrated in Paris and France called on the European Union to threaten new sanctions, the foreign ministry said that the carrying out of the sentence has been stayed pending a judicial review.

“In this case, implementation of the sentence has been stayed and is under review by the judiciary,” ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told AFP.

4 US conservatives rally to ‘restore America’

by Lucile Malandain, AFP

1 hr 20 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Tens of thousands of people gathered in the US capital Saturday to hear right-wing icons, including talk show host Glenn Beck and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, call on them to “restore America.”

In wide-ranging and often religious terms, Beck told Americans that their country was “at a crossroads.”

“Today we must decide, who are we? What is it we believe? We must advance or perish. I choose advance,” he said to the cheers of a crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

5 Japan complains to China about business environment

by Dan Martin, AFP

50 mins ago

BEIJING (AFP) – Japan pressed China to improve its climate for foreign businesses during talks Saturday between the world’s number two and three economies that also touched on the issue of North Korean disarmament.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada led a delegation to Beijing for talks with a Chinese side led by Vice Premier Wang Qishan in which both urged even greater cooperation between their two increasingly inter-connected economies.

“The economies of both countries highly rely on each other,” Wang told the Japanese delegation, later saying after the third Japan-China High-level Economic Dialogue that the talks were “fruitful.”

6 US Fed chief vows aggressive steps as recovery slows

by P. Parameswaran, AFP

Sat Aug 28, 4:29 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Federal Reserve chief has vowed to take aggressive steps to boost the US economy as the world’s largest economy’s pace of growth slowed rapidly in the second quarter.

But Ben Bernanke, the central bank chairman, said Friday prospects for a pick up in economic expansion in 2011 appeared to remain despite the sharp government cutback Friday in economic growth to 1.6 percent in the April-June period.

The growth revision by more than half from the 3.7 percent in the first quarter came on the heels of a massive trade deficit and weak private inventory investment, signaling a more pronounced slowdown in recovery from recession.

7 Some Chile miners despondent as drilling rescue gets ready

by Moises Avila Roldan, AFP

Sat Aug 28, 3:10 am ET

COPIAPO, Chile (AFP) – An Australian-made hydraulic bore was being assembled Saturday for the months-long drilling of a shaft big enough to rescue 33 trapped miners, some of whom were showing signs of depression.

“We’ve finished building the machine’s platform… we hope between Sunday and Monday to begin drilling the shaft,” the operation’s chief engineer, Andre Sougarret, told reporters.

The bore, an Australian-made Strata 950, drills at a maximum rate of 20 meters (66 feet) per day. The initial narrow shaft it will dig will have to be doubled in diameter to permit a man to pass through, he explained.

8 Local journalists told Katrina horror to world

by Lucile Malandain, AFP

Sat Aug 28, 1:41 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – As Hurricane Katrina unleashed its furor on the southeastern United States five years ago, two local newspapers relentlessly kept publishing, bringing national and global attention to the disaster.

“Help Us, Please,” “Under Water,” “Ground Zero,” “Our Tsunami,” The Times-Picayune and the Sun Herald cried out in the heady days that followed the hurricane.

The headlines were a desperate cry for help for the authorities to finally come rescue many of the region’s poor who were left abandoned for weeks on end amid the watery wreckage and the stench of death everywhere around them.

9 Contador absence leaves Tour of Spain wide open

by Denholm Barnetson, AFP

Fri Aug 27, 11:16 pm ET

MADRID (AFP) – The third and final Grand Tour of the season is set to begin in Spain, with several leading riders eyeing their chances amid the absence of the world’s top road racer Alberto Contador.

Three-time Tour de France winner Contador is skipping his home Tour, which he won in 2008, after a hard-fought victory in France in July.

He joins two of his Spanish countrymen — last year’s winner Alejandro Valverde, who is serving a suspension for doping, and Samuel Sanchez, who was injured in a crash in the final mountain stage of the Tour de France — on the absentee list.

10 NATO forces fight off Taliban attacks on Afghan bases

By Elyas Wahdat, Reuters

Sat Aug 28, 11:29 am ET

KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Foreign and Afghan troops killed 24 insurgents as they fought off pre-dawn attacks on two bases in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, with the Taliban saying suicide bombers the fighters.

The attacks targeted the U.S. military’s Forward Operating Base Chapman and nearby Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province near the eastern border with Pakistan, where U.S. and other foreign forces have been stepping up operations against a resurgent Taliban.

Seven Central Intelligence Agency officers were killed by a suicide bomber inside Chapman last December, the second-most deadly attack in CIA history.

11 U.N. fears for children as Pakistan floods threaten town

By Faisal Aziz, Reuters

Sat Aug 28, 8:07 am ET

KARACHI (Reuters) – Flood waters threatened to engulf two towns in southern Pakistan on Saturday, a month after the disaster began, as the United Nations warned that tens of thousands of children risked death from malnutrition.

The floods are Pakistan’s worst-ever natural disaster in terms of the amount of damage and the number of people affected, with more than six million people forced from their homes, about a million of them in the last few days as the water flows south.

The disaster has killed about 1,600 people, inflicted billions of dollars of damage to homes, infrastructure and the vital agriculture sector and stirred anger against the U.S.-backed government which has struggled to cope.

12 Bernanke says Fed to act if needed

By Mark Felsenthal and Pedro da Costa, Reuters

Fri Aug 27, 11:12 pm ET

JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Friday the economic recovery has weakened more than expected and the Fed stands ready to act if needed to spur slowing growth.

Bernanke downplayed concerns that the economy might slip back into recession, predicting a modest expansion in the second half of this year, with the pace picking up in 2011.

If that forecast proves overly optimistic, however, he said the Fed has sufficient ammunition left and could support growth by purchasing more government debt or by promising to keep rates exceptionally low for a longer period than currently priced in by financial markets.

13 Beck: Help us restore traditional American values

By PHILIP ELLIOTT and NAFEESA SYEED, Associated Press Writers

36 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Conservative commentator Glenn Beck and tea party champion Sarah Palin appealed Saturday to a vast, predominantly white crowd on the National Mall to help restore traditional American values and honor Martin Luther King’s message. Civil rights leaders who accused the group of hijacking King’s legacy held their own rally and march.

While Beck billed his event as nonpolitical, activists from around the nation said their show of strength was a clear sign that they can make a difference in the country’s future and that they want a government that will listen and unite.

Palin told the tens of thousands who stretched from the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the grass of the Washington Monument that calls to transform the country weren’t enough. “We must restore America and restore her honor,” said the former Alaska governor, echoing the name of the rally, “Restoring Honor.”

14 Afghan militants in US uniforms storm 2 NATO bases

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

40 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. and Afghan troops repelled attackers wearing American uniforms and suicide vests in a pair of simultaneous assaults before dawn Saturday on NATO bases near the Pakistani border, including one where seven CIA employees died in a suicide attack last year.

The raids appear part of an insurgent strategy to step up attacks in widely scattered parts of the country as the U.S. focuses its resources on the battle around the Taliban’s southern birthplace of Kandahar.

Also Saturday, three more American service members were killed – two in a bombing in the south and the third in fighting in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. command said. That brought to 38 the number of U.S. troops killed this month – well below last month’s figure of 66.

15 Iraq on highest alert for terror attacks

By LARA JAKES, Associated Press Writer

41 mins ago

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister put his nation on its highest level of alert for terror attacks, warning of plots to sow fear and chaos as the U.S. combat mission in the country formally ends on Tuesday.

The Iraqi security forces who will be left in charge have been hammered by bomb attacks, prompting fears of a new insurgent offensive and criticism of the government’s preparedness to protect its people. Still, President Barack Obama left no doubt Saturday in his weekly radio address that the U.S. is sticking to its promise to pull out of Iraq despite the uptick in violence.

In a statement to state-run television, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraqi intelligence indicated an al-Qaida front group and members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath party are collaborating to launch attacks “to create fear and chaos and kill more innocents.”

16 Imam behind NYC mosque faces divisions over center

By CRISTIAN SALAZAR, Associated Press Writer

43 mins ago

NEW YORK – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has long worked to bridge divisions, be they fissures between interfaith husbands and wives or political chasms separating the United States and the Muslim world. The 61-year-old clergyman is now in the midst of a polarizing political, religious and cultural debate over plans for a multistory Islamic center that will feature a mosque, health club and theater about two blocks north of ground zero.

He is one of the leaders of the Park51 project, but has largely been absent from the national debate over the implications of building a Muslim house of worship so close to where terrorists killed more than 2,700 people.

Though Rauf has said the center, which could cost more than $100 million, would serve as a space for interfaith dialogue, moderate Muslim practice and peaceful prayer, critics say it will create a base for radical, anti-American Islam. Some critics have also asked where the funding for the center might originate and whether it may come from sources linked to Muslim extremists.

17 Admin. official: FDA to inspect large egg farms

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 28, 1:40 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration is planning to inspect all of the country’s largest egg farms before the end of next year following the massive recall of tainted eggs linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened as many as 1,500 people.

An Obama administration official says inspectors will visit about 600 large egg farms that produce 80 percent of the nation’s eggs. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not yet been announced. This will be the first government effort to inspect large egg farms, as most of them have gone largely uninspected for decades.

The FDA’s plan for heightened inspections came after more than half a billion eggs linked to cases of salmonella poisoning were recalled from two Iowa farms this month. The inspections will be conducted as part of new FDA rules put in place this July to prevent salmonella in shell eggs.

18 Federal contractor charged with leaking secrets

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 28, 1:41 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Friday accused an analyst who worked at the State Department of leaking top secret information about North Korea to a reporter.

Steven Kim, who worked at State as an employee of a contractor, maintains his innocence.

He was named in a federal indictment unsealed Friday and charged with illegally disclosing national defense information, which carries a top penalty of 10 years in prison, and with making false statements to the FBI, which has a maximum five-year sentence.

19 Older activists, younger crowd team to fight nukes

By MELANIE S. WELTE, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 28, 1:21 pm ET

DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s been 33 years since Raye Fleming’s arrest outside Southern California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, near the height of the anti-nuclear power furor.

That was the first arrest of many and, Fleming believed, such actions paid off as a generation of Americans turned against nuclear power.

“It was just the correct, moral thing to do,” said 66-year-old Fleming.

20 Co-founder of Islamic charity goes on trial

By JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 28, 1:00 pm ET

ASHLAND, Ore. – The gates are rusted and the American flags are gone from the house on the outskirts of this small tourist town that once served as U.S. headquarters for an Islamic charity that was declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

But despite six years of trying, federal investigators have not brought terrorism charges against the Iranian-born tree trimmer and naturalized American citizen who co-founded the American branch of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc., or his fellow foundation officer living in Saudi Arabia.

The government will instead put Pete Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, on trial Monday in U.S. District Court in Eugene on charges of conspiracy, tax fraud and failing to report taking $150,000 out of the country.

21 Huge verdict shakes up nursing home industry

By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 28, 12:30 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – During Cindy Cool’s almost daily visits to the nursing home, she would routinely find her Alzheimer’s-suffering father wearing urine-soaked clothes.

The Blue Lake, Calif. resident said it would take upwards of 20 minutes for the apparently short-handed staff of Eureka Healthcare and Rehabilitation to respond and help Cool clean her father. Other patients fared worse, she said.

“A lot of times I walked out of there crying because of the things I saw,” Cool said an interview.

22 Priest among missing 5 years after Katrina

By CAIN BURDEAU and ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writers

Sat Aug 28, 12:16 pm ET

LAKE CATHERINE, La. – The night sky heaved like a living thing as Fire Chief Joe Perez took another slow cruise in the rescue truck down the two-lane road snaking across this town in the last patch of marsh standing between New Orleans and an angry Gulf of Mexico.

It was his final check before he, too, holed up in a safe haven just ahead of Hurricane Katrina.

On his dashboard, the radio was silent. His firefighters had left after a frantic weekend of tying down skiffs, helping folks pack up before the gusts and water arrived, getting fire trucks and equipment out of harm’s way.

23 Obama: Iraq war is ending, Baghdad to chart future

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 28, 10:25 am ET

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. – President Barack Obama said the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq means “the war is ending” and Baghdad is in position “to chart its own course.”

Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to highlight Tuesday’s formal end to U.S. combat missions in Iraq and remind people that he’s keeping a promise he made as a candidate in the 2008 election.

Remaining troops will assume a backup and training role, a shift Obama will underscore with a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, on Tuesday and then a prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office. The events come on Aug. 31, the date he set last year for the change in focus in the war.

24 Guard troops to deploy to Arizona border on Monday

By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 27, 10:58 pm ET

PHOENIX – The first of 532 National Guard troops are set to begin their mission in the southern Arizona desert on Monday under President Barack Obama’s plan to beef up U.S.-Mexico border security, although they won’t have any law enforcement authority.

About 30 troops will start their jobs on the border Monday, and waves of more troops will be deploying every Monday until all 532 are expected to be on the Arizona border by the end of September. In May, Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to boost security along the border.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said the first of 224 National Guard troops allocated for his state have finished their training and are expected to be deployed to the state’s border on Wednesday.

25 Marquee homes languish on Calif. housing market

By JACOB ADELMAN, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 27, 10:28 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – Southern California’s home-sale listings are beginning to resemble an index to the country’s most famous mid-20th-century architects, with more marquee properties languishing on the market as the well-heeled become increasingly reluctant to buy.

Homes by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler that once sold briskly to architectural aficionados for stratospheric prices are now selling at a loss – if at all.

“Those days of easy money and money-is-no-object artwork kinds of prices are gone,” said architect and real estate agent Brian Linder, who has a listing for a 1937 condo unit by Austrian emigre designer Richard Neutra that’s had its price cut to $675,000 after hitting the market in May for $815,000.

26 Dem. runner-up wants recount in Vt. gov. primary

By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 27, 6:31 pm ET

RICHMOND, Vt. – First, it was too close to call. Then it was called. Now, the second-place finisher is second-guessing the call.

Vermont’s unsettled Democratic gubernatorial primary got even less settled Friday, with an official vote tally confirming state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin’s victory and also-ran Doug Racine responding by announcing he’ll seek a recount.

“We want to know for sure,” said Racine, a 57-year-old state senator. “I want to know for sure. He does as well.”

27 Obama to commemorate Katrina on 5th anniversary

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 27, 5:34 pm ET

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. – President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration’s response to the BP oil spill.

Obama ends his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80 percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people. Then-President George W. Bush was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.

The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama’s responsibility now. On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them – both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill.

28 Corps: New Orleans levee upgrades nearly ready

By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 27, 1:18 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS – Five years after Hurricane Katrina flooded more than 80 percent of this city, the Army Corps of Engineers says billions of dollars of work has made the city much safer and many of its defenses could withstand a storm as strong as the deadly 2005 hurricane.

Surprisingly, many locals – even the vocal critics of the Army Corps – say its assessment of work done on the levee system is not far off the mark.

Since Katrina flooded New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, and killed more than 1,800 people, New Orleans has become a round-the-clock construction site and Congress gave the Army Corps more than $14 billion to fix and upgrade the levees and other defenses. Numerous breaches in the hurricane protection system led to the flooding that devastated the New Orleans area. The corps says about half of the work is complete, and the rest should be finished by next summer.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

Tomatoes Pack a Nutritional Punch


Tomatoes  receive a lot of attention from nutritionists largely because of a phytonutrient called lycopene. Studies have long suggested that lycopene, which is contained in the red pigment, has antioxidant properties. Now growers are raising and marketing “high-lycopene” tomatoes. Indeed, a company based in Israel has developed a dried cherry tomato, which it is calling a “raisin tomato,” that contains almost 100 times the amount of lycopene in a regular cherry tomato.

I love this suggestion on preparing tomatoes for cooking from the author, Martha Rose Shulman

In many of this week’s recipes I’m using a technique that may be new to some of you. Rather than peeling, seeding and dicing the tomatoes, I grate them on the large holes of a box grater. This is a technique I learned in Greece; it’s used throughout the Mediterranean. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze out the seeds if instructed to do so, and rub the cut side against the grater. Don’t worry: the skin is tough and you won’t scrape your hands. When you feel the holes of the grater against the inside of the tomato skin, you’re done. It goes quickly, and it’s a nifty time-saver.

Pasta With Salsa Crudo and Green Beans

Tomato Frittata With Fresh Marjoram or Thyme

Blender Tomato Soup

Bruschetta With Tomato Topping

Cooked Grains Salad With Tomato Vinaigrette

General Medicine/Family Medical

Gaining on death, cooling therapy catches on slowly

(Reuters Health) – It was a cold, drizzly March morning this year when Ed Sproull’s heart stopped beating.

At 58, he had arrived at work feeling fit and healthy. As he stepped into the elevator at De Lage Landen Financial Services in Wayne, Pennsylvania, he had no reason to suspect he would end up in a limbo between life and death.

He collapsed without a sound. He didn’t grab his chest, he didn’t indicate any pain or discomfort, he just closed his eyes and slumped down, coffee in hand. Unbeknownst to the colleague with him in the elevator, Sproull’s heart had entered a state of electric anarchy, no longer pumping out blood.

Responding to the 911 call from De Lage Landen, EMS Captain Chris Griesser of Berwyn Fire Company arrived less than 15 minutes later. He had to cut through a crowd to get to Sproull.

“We shocked him with the AED and we think we have a pulse,” one woman kneeling next to the body told Griesser. Sproull’s shirt had been ripped open, and electrodes from a so-called automated external defibrillator (AED) were glued to his chest. Within a few minutes of the cardiac arrest, a company employee trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) had jolted Sproull’s heart back to its normal rhythm.

Still, it was far from clear that Sproull would survive. He was in a deep coma and barely breathing. If he made it to the hospital alive, chances were his brain would be so profoundly damaged that he would never be able to live a normal life again.

In fact, the vast majority of the 300,000 Americans who suffer cardiac arrest every year die. Despite massive investments in research and technology, fewer than eight in 100 leave the hospital alive, a rate that has remained stagnant for almost 30 years. Even if the heart is restarted, only a minority make it. And of those who do, many end up in nursing homes with crippling brain injury.

Doctors say those statistics could change, however, if more people had access to a procedure called therapeutic hypothermia – cooling the body. As medical procedures go, it’s among the simplest: Chill the patient about six degrees Fahrenheit — using cold intravenous saline, cooling blankets or ice packs — and wait 24 hours; then re-warm the patient slowly and cross your fingers.

FACTBOX: How does cooling therapy work?

(Reuters Health) – How cooling works:

Cooling machines can be used to chill patients after cardiac arrest, and some doctors have also tested them on stroke and heart attack patients. None of these uses has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some devices cool the body from the outside, via pads that circulate ice water; others use cold intravenous saline to chill the patient from within. To date, there is no consensus about the best cooling method.

Quitting smoking helps after serious heart attack damage

(Reuters Health) – It’s never too late for smokers to do their hearts good by kicking the habit — even after a heart attack has left them with significant damage to the organ’s main pumping chamber, a new study suggests.

Past studies have found that smokers who kick the habit after suffering a heart attack have a lower rate of repeat heart attacks and live longer than their counterparts who continue to smoke.

But little has been known about the benefits of quitting among heart attack patients left with a complication called left ventricular (LV) dysfunction — where damage to the heart’s main pumping chamber significantly reduces its blood-pumping efficiency.

So it has been unclear whether that dysfunction might “drown out” the heart benefits of smoking cessation, said Dr. Amil M. Shah, the lead researcher on the new study and a staff cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

New Drug May Treat Advanced Melanoma

No Cure, but Study Shows New Melanoma Drug Far Better Than Standard Treatment

Aug. 25, 2010 — It’s no cure, and it works only for about half of melanoma patients, but a new drug extends progression-free survival in patients dying of advanced melanoma.

The vast majority of patients with advanced, metastatic melanoma gain only a few months extra survival from standard treatment. But early tests show that an experimental drug, dubbed PLX4032 by Plexxikon and Roche Pharmaceuticals, offers far greater benefits.

The findings are particularly amazing as they come from a very early, phase I clinical trial. Study leader Keith T. Flaherty, MD, is director of developmental therapeutics at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Are allergies associated with heart disease?

(Reuters Health) – Common allergies that bring on wheezing, sneezing and watery eyes could be next to join the list of factors linked to heart disease, suggests a large new study.

However, the researchers stress that the findings do not prove that allergies actually cause heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

To look for ties between common allergic symptoms and heart disease, Dr. Jongoh Kim of Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and colleagues analyzed data on more than 8,600 adults aged 20 or older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 1988 and 1994.

First Biosynthetic Corneas Implanted

Nerve, Cell Regeneration Occurred in Nine of 10 Patients

Aug. 25, 2010 — Corneas made in the lab using genetically engineered human collagen could restore sight to millions of visually impaired people waiting for transplants from human donors, researchers say.

In a newly released study, investigators from Canada and Sweden reported results from the first 10 people in the world treated with the biosynthetic corneas.

Two years after having the corneas implanted, six of the 10 patients had improved vision. Nine of the 10 experienced cell and nerve regeneration, meaning that corneal cells and nerves grew into the implant.

Avandia: Less Risky in Younger, Healthier Patients?

Study Finds Avandia No Riskier Than Actos, Unlike 4 Other Studies

Aug. 24, 2010 — A study of patients enrolled in a large HMO finds no evidence that the diabetes drug Avandia is riskier than Actos, a similar medication.

The findings are in striking contrast to four other large studies with similar designs. Data from those studies suggest that Avandia increases risk of heart attack in younger patients and risk of death in older patients.

The new study isn’t entirely new. It’s an “enhanced version” of data presented to an FDA advisory committee in 2007. Like the earlier version, it finds Avandia is no riskier than Actos, says study author Debra A. Wertz, PharmD, of HealthCore Inc.

Migraines With Aura May Raise Stroke Risk

Study Shows Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke for Migraines With Aura

Aug. 24, 2010 — Evidence is accumulating that migraines with aura — a transient visual or sensory disturbance, such as light flashes or zigzag patterns– may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Researchers have also found that migraine with aura seems to boost the risk of earlier death from any cause, including cardiovascular disease, compared to those who don’t have the condition, and that women with migraine with aura may be at increased risk for an additional type of stroke called hemorrhagic stroke.

The two new studies, both published in BMJ, add to the evidence of a suspected migraine-disease link. But both research teams say the findings should not alarm those who suffer migraine with aura because the risk is still low.

Poll: Patients Unhappy With Rx Drugs

Consumer Reports Survey Shows People Frustrated by Drug Costs and Worry About Safety

Aug. 24, 2010 — Nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug on a regular basis, and they have concerns ranging from economics to safety to whether the doctor prescribing the drug is unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies, according to a new poll.

Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted the poll, in which 2,022 adults aged 18 and older were surveyed by phone in May 2010.

”Consumers are not finding out about the safety issues of drugs,” says researcher John Santa, MD, MPH, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. The poll results also suggest people are concerned about the expense of drugs, and as a result, are sometimes not taking them as prescribed.

Since 2004, Santa tells WebMD, Consumer Reports has been following the prescription drug market from a consumer’s point of view, conducting surveys about prescribing practices and other factors.

Rectal Cancer on the Rise in Young People

Researchers Not Sure Why Rectal Cancer Incidence Is Increasing While Colon Cancer Rates Remain Steady

Aug. 23, 2010 — The incidence of rectal cancer increased 3.8% per year between 1984 and 2005 among people 40 and younger, according to a new study. The incidence of colon cancer remained unchanged.

Researchers led by Joshua Meyer, MD, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registry to compare rectal cancer and colon cancer trends. Their findings were released online today and will appear in the Sept. 15 issue of Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Autoimmune Diseases

Study Also Shows Lack of Vitamin D May Also Be Linked to Some Cancers

Aug. 23, 2010 — There is now biologic evidence to back up the belief that vitamin D may protect against autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.

A new genetic analysis lends support to the idea that the vitamin interacts with genes specific for colorectal cancer, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and other diseases, says Oxford University genetic researcher Sreeram Ramagopalan.

The study is published in Genome Research.

Antihistamine use linked to extra pounds

(Reuters Health) – People who use prescription antihistamines to relieve allergy symptoms may be more likely than non-users to carry excess pounds, a new study suggests, although the significance of the connection is not yet clear.

In a study of 867 U.S. adults, researchers at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, found that prescription antihistamine users were more likely to be overweight or obese than non-users were.

Cranberry Juice Fights Urinary Tract Infections Quickly

Study Shows Cranberry Juice Works Against Bacteria Within 8 Hours

Aug. 23, 2010 — Scientists report that within eight hours of drinking cranberry juice, the juice could help prevent bacteria from developing into an infection in the urinary tract.

Previous studies have suggested that the active compounds in cranberry juice are not destroyed by the digestive system after people drink them, but instead work to fight against bacteria, including E. coli. This latest study, presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, affirms that and provides evidence of the medicinal value of cranberries.

The new research suggests that the beneficial substances in cranberry juice could reach the urinary tract and prevent bacterial adhesion within eight hours.


Egg Recall: FDA Finds Salmonella on Suspect Farms

Salmonella ID’d in Chicken Manure, Pullet Feed at Source of Recalled Eggs

Aug. 26, 2010 — The farms implicated in the nationwide egg recall are indeed contaminated with salmonella, FDA investigators find.

Fortunately, the FDA earlier this month pressured Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms — two Iowa facilities that are part of the same company — into voluntarily recalling over a half billion eggs. It’s by far the largest U.S. egg recall on record.

Now, for the first time, the FDA says its investigators have found salmonella in four samples from the suspect facilities:

   * a sample from chicken manure

   * a manure sample found on a barn walkway

   * a sample from chicken feed made at a pullet-raising facility that supplies hens to the two egg farms

   * a sample from a feed ingredient

FDA investigators are still testing hundreds of other samples. In a few days, they will file a full report on the extent of salmonella contamination at the facilities, Jeff Farrar, DVM, PhD, MPH, FDA associate commissioner for food protection, said at a news teleconference.

Recall of Deli Meat Sold at Walmart Stores

Products May Contain Bacteria That Cause Listeriosis

Aug. 24, 2010 — Zemco Industries of Buffalo, N.Y., has voluntarily recalled about 380,000 pounds of deli meat products distributed nationwide to Walmart stores because of possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Such bacteria can cause listeriosis, a rare but potentially deadly disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) made the announcement today.

The meat was distributed to Walmart stores across the country, where it is used to make Marketside Grab and Go deli sandwiches.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

New York most bedbug infested U.S. city: survey

(Reuters Life!) – New York has more unwanted nocturnal guests than other urban areas and has been named the most bedbug infested city in the United States.

It surpassed Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago, which rounded out the top five cities, according to extermination company Terminix, which compiled the list based on call volume to its offices around the country so far this year.

“In the past, offices might get a couple of calls a month for bedbug eradication,” said spokesman Clint Briscoe. “Now, some of them are getting several dozen a week.”

CDC backs away from decades-old flu death estimate

(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is backing away from its decades-old estimate of the number of people who die annually from seasonal flu, instead saying deaths vary widely from year to year.

Instead of the estimated 36,000 annual flu deaths in the United States — a figure often cited to encourage people to get flu shots — the actual number in the past 30 years has ranged from a low of about 3,300 deaths to a high of nearly 49,000, the CDC said on Thursday.

warns of nationwide cholera risk as 352 die

(Reuters) – Nigerian health authorities have warned of a nationwide cholera risk after the death toll from an outbreak concentrated largely in the north of Africa’s most populous nation rose to 352.

The health ministry said 6,437 cases had been reported across 11 of the country’s 36 states since June. It said heavy rains and flooding in rural areas where safe drinking water and sanitary facilities are scarce had fueled the outbreak.

“Although most of the outbreaks occurred in the northwest and northeast zones, epidemiological evidence indicates that the entire country is at risk,” the ministry said late on Wednesday in its latest update.

Women’s Health

Weight loss cuts risk of pregnancy complication

(Reuters Health) – Losing the weight gained during pregnancy is a real struggle for many new mothers. But dropping just 10 pounds between pregnancies may help many women diagnosed with a dangerous complication during the first pregnancy to avoid a recurrence the second time around.

Preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling, occurs in about 5 percent of American pregnancies every year.

“It can be more systemic than just high blood pressure. It can affect the liver, kidneys and the body’s blood clotting system,” Dr. Dorothea Mostello told Reuters Health. It’s one of the leading causes of maternal death in childbirth in the developed world, she added.

Mostello, based at the St. Louis School of Medicine, is lead author of a new study in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Herpes Drugs May Be Safe in Early Pregnancy

Certain Antivirals in the First Trimester Do Not Appear to Increase Risk of Birth Defects, Study Finds

Aug. 24, 2010 — Taking certain antiviral medications for herpes infections during the first three months of pregnancy does not increase a child’s risk of major birth defects, researchers report in this week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The antiviral drugs acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are often prescribed to treat herpes viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV). More than one in five pregnant women have antibodies in their blood to HSV, indicating a past or present infection.

Herpes antiviral medications are also used to treat herpes zoster infections, commonly known as shingles.

Stress May Raise Risk of Premenstrual Syndrome

Study Shows PMS Symptoms Could Be More Severe if Women Are Stressed Before Menstruation

Aug. 24, 2010 — Feeling stressed out in the weeks preceding your menstrual cycle may raise your risk for experiencing more severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, a study shows.

Women who reported high levels of stress in the two weeks before they got their period were two to three times more likely to experience depression, sadness, and crying spells as well as physical PMS symptoms such as body aches, bloating, low back pain, cramps, and headache, compared to women who did not feel stressed early on in their cycles.

The study appears in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Men’s Health

Oesophageal cancer rates rise steeply in men

(Reuters) – Rates of oesophageal cancer in men have risen by 50 percent in Britain in a generation, an increase that is probably being driven in part by growing rates of obesity and poor diet, scientists said on Saturday.

As the “fat man of Europe,” Britain is seeing far higher rates of a type of oesophageal cancer called adenocarcinoma, which is related to obesity and eating a high saturated fat diet, researchers with the charity Cancer Research UK said.

Diabetes Has an Impact on Sex Life

Study Shows Diabetes Is Linked to Loss of Libido and Erectile Dysfunction

Aug. 27, 2010 — Middle aged and older adults are interested in sexual activity, but diabetes impairs libido and can result in erectile dysfunction, a new study shows.

Researchers in Chicago say men diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to express a lack of interest in sex, but also to experience erectile dysfunction.

Scientists at the University of Chicago Medical Center conducted a study of nearly 2,000 people between the ages of 57 and 85.

The study found that about 70% of men and 62% of women with diabetes and sexual partners were found to engage in sexual activity two or three times a month — comparable to people without diabetes.

Study: BPA Linked to Higher Testosterone Levels

Small Increase in Testosterone Levels in Men’s Blood After Exposure to Plastic Chemical

Aug. 26, 2010 — Men who are exposed to high levels of the controversial plastic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) may show a small, but significant increase in blood levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, a study shows. These testosterone levels still remained within the normal range.

The study is published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Some preliminary research has linked elevated testosterone to an increased risk for heart disease and certain cancers, but whether BPA significantly affects testosterone and whether this has any effect on health remains unproven.

Older men’s testosterone varies by country, race

(Reuters Health) – New research shows older men’s sex hormone levels depend on both race and geographical location, casting further doubt on the criteria for “male menopause.”

More than a million testosterone prescriptions are being written in the U.S. every year, experts say, and many go to middle-aged and older men with stunted libido and depressed mood presumably caused by low levels of the male sex hormone.

Pediatric Health

Friendly bacteria help calm colicky babies

(Reuters Health) – Italian researchers offer some hopeful news for parents of colicky babies: a daily dose of “good” bacteria may help their child to cry less.

After three weeks of treatment with probiotic bacteria, babies cried for an average of about a half-hour a day, while infants who received a placebo were still crying for an hour and a half daily. At the study’s outset, babies in both groups were crying for five to six hours a day.

The cause of colic, traditionally defined as inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day, on at least three days in a week and lasting for at least three weeks, isn’t clear. It affects up to 28 percent of babies under three months of age, according to lead author Dr. Francisco Savino of Regina Margherita Children Hospital in Turin, Italy.

Sledding Accidents Land Thousands of Kids in ER

Study: More Than 20,000 Children Annually Treated in Hospital ER for Sledding Injuries

ug. 23, 2010 — Sledding is popular for only a portion of the year, yet it lands about 20,000 children in the emergency room each year, new research shows.

Researchers analyzed data for 1997-2007 from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. They found an estimated 229,023 injuries serious enough for ER treatment in that time period among children under 19.

Kids’ concussions need follow-up after ER visit

(Reuters Health) – More than 100,000 U.S. children visit the emergency room for a concussion each year, with many discharged without instructions to get needed follow-up care, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, appear to be the first estimate of how many children are treated for concussions in U.S. ERs annually.

They also point to an important shortcoming in care: many parents may take their children home from the hospital without knowing they should follow-up with a visit to their pediatrician.

Youth Tobacco Use: Downward Trend Is Slowing

CDC Report Shows Current Cigarette Smoking by High School Students Is About 17%

Aug. 26, 2010 — Current tobacco use by middle and high school students has declined over the past decade, but this trend has slowed in recent years and more work is needed to combat the problem, the CDC says.

The CDC, reporting in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says comprehensive anti-tobacco programs need more funding and that the federal government should enforce legislation that requires larger, graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and in advertisements.

Further, broader tobacco-free policies, tobacco tax increases, and advertisement restrictions would help further reduce both youth and adult tobacco use, the report says.

The analysis was based on data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, a school-based study that collects information on tobacco use and related behaviors. In this study, 22,679 young people participated; they were asked to complete self-administered questionnaires each year from 2000 to 2009.


Type 2 Diabetes May Have Link to Alzheimer’s

Study Shows Insulin Resistance May Raise Risk of Brain Plaques Associated With Alzheimer’s

Aug. 25, 2010 — People with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes may be at increased risk for developing telltale brain plaques that are closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease, a study shows.

The new findings, which appear in the Aug. 25 issue of Neurology, may give more evidence of the connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

In insulin resistance, the hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, becomes less effective in lowering blood sugar.  People with insulin resistance are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Berries May Slow Mental Decline From Aging

Study Shows Blueberries, Strawberries, and Acai Berries Are Good for Your Brain’s Health

Aug. 23, 2010 — Compounds found in various berries and possibly in walnuts may slow down natural aging processes in the brain, new research indicates.

What’s more, blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help the aging brain in a crucial but previously unrecognized way, according to a study presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

Scientists say they have found evidence that compounds in the berries and maybe walnuts activate the brain’s natural “housekeeper” mechanism that cleans up and recycles toxic proteins, which have been linked to age-related mental decline and memory loss.

“The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline,” Shibu Poulose, PhD, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, says in a news release.

Do Spouses Grow Alike as Time Passes?

Study Contradicts Popular Belief That Married Couples Develop Similar Traits as They Age

Aug. 27, 2010 — It just seems so, but it isn’t: Husbands and wives don’t become more alike over time.

That’s according to a study published in the August issue of the Personality and Individual Differences.

Rather than becoming more alike over time, people simply tend to pick mates based on shared personality traits, study researcher Mikhila N. Humbad of MSU tells WebMD.

Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed data from the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research on husbands and wives in 1,296 married couples. They wanted to determine whether men and women become more similar as time passes after the initial honeymoon glow grows dim.

Mental Health

Talk Therapy May Help Adults With ADHD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Be Better Than Medicine Alone in Treating Adult ADHD, Study Says

ug. 24, 2010 — Adults who take medicine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from adding cognitive behavioral therapy, a new study says. Doing so may yield better results than using medication alone.

Cognitive behavioral therapy appears to significantly reduce symptoms associated with ADHD, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, the researchers say.

They report that there is a need for alternative ways to treat ADHD because many adults either cannot or will not take medication or show a poor medication response.


Water May Be Secret Weapon in Weight Loss

Study Shows Drinking Water Helps People Lose Weight and Keep the Pounds Off

Aug. 23, 2010 — Drinking water before each meal has been shown to help promote weight loss, according to a new study.

Brenda Davy, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech and senior author of a new study, says that drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helps people melt pounds away.

The study is being presented at the 2010 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

“We are presenting results of the first randomized controlled intervention trial demonstrating that increased water consumption is an effective weight loss strategy,” Davy says in a news release. “We found in earlier studies that middle aged and older people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories during the meal.”

Bottled Tea: Health or Hype?

Bottled Tea, Unlike Home-Brewed, Skimps on Polyphenols, Researchers Say

Aug. 23, 2010 — Bottled tea may be all the rage among health-conscious people, but it may not have as many health benefits as you think.

Bottled tea is billed as being healthful because it contains polyphenols, antioxidants that may help ward off a range of diseases, including cancer.

But scientists say they’ve found that many of the popular bottled tea drinks contain fewer polyphenols than a single cup of home-brewed green or black tea.

And some contain such small amounts that a person would have to drink 20 bottles to get the same polyphenol benefit in a single cup of tea.

For Some, Moderate Drinking May Prolong Life

Moderate Drinking Helps Middle-Aged and Older People Live Longer, Study Finds

Aug. 24, 2010 — Middle-aged and older adults who drink a moderate amount of alcohol daily may live longer than people who abstain or drink heavily, according to a new study.

Moderate drinking is defined as one to less than three alcoholic drinks per day. Such behavior has been shown to decrease total mortality in middle-aged and older adults, but some say the health benefits have been a bit exaggerated.

Black Rice Is Cheap Way to Get Antioxidants

Study Shows Black Rice Is Good Source of Healthy Antioxidants and Vitamin E

Aug. 26, 2010 — Inexpensive black rice contains health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants, similar to those found in blackberries and blueberries, new research from Louisiana State University indicates.

“Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful or blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants,” Zhimin Xu, PhD, of Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, says in a news release. “If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?”

Short-Term Overeating Has Lasting Impact

Study Shows Long-Term Weight Gain Can Result From Just 1 Month of Overeating

Aug. 25, 2010 — Overeating even for short periods of time appears to have long-term effects, according to a new study that lends some scientific oomph to the old saying about “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips.”

”Our study suggests that a short period of hyper-alimentation [overeating] can have later long-term effects by increasing body weight and fat mass in normal-weight individuals,” says researcher Asa Ernersson, a PhD student at Linkoping University in Sweden.

The study results aren’t surprising, according to two experts who reviewed the findings for WebMD, and lend credibility to long-standing messages about moderation.

The study is published in Nutrition & Metabolism.

Broccoli, Plantains May Stop Crohn’s Disease Relapse

Broccoli and Plantain Fibers Prevented E. Coli Movement by 45% to 82% in Study

Aug. 25, 2010 — Fibers from broccoli and plantain plants may block a key stage in the development of Crohn’s disease, a new study finds.

Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disorder that affects about seven of every 100,000 people in North America.

Researchers in Europe tested soluble fibers from broccoli, plantains, leeks, apples, and the food processing additives polysorbate 60 and 80. They wanted to see if the fibers could reduce the movement of  E. coli  bacteria across cells lining the bowel, perhaps protecting against Crohn’s disease.

They found that broccoli and plantain fibers prevented E. coli movement by between 45% and 82%; leek and apple fibers showed no impact. The food additive polysorbate 80, however, substantially increased E. coli movement.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: Ms. Amanpour will take a look at Education in the classroom and lunchroom. Her guests will include: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers; and Bringing a Food Revolution to America’s Schools with Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: This week Mr. Schieffer’s will have a exclusive with Joe Miller, Candidate for Senate in Alaska. His other guests will include Rep. Kendrick Meek, Florida Democratic Senate Nominee, Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour, Chairman, Republican Governors Association and Fla. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Vice Chair.

The Chris Matthews Show: Heading up discussion with Mr. Matthews will be Joe Klein, TIME Columnist, Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent, Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent and Reihan Salam, The Atlantic Associate Editor. The questions that will be discussed are Who Gains from the Divisions in the Country? and Will The Right Stuff For The GOP This Year Actually Help Obama in 2012?.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: In a special live edition from New Orleans on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Meet the Press will be hosted by Brian Wiliams, NBC’s anchor for Nightly News. He will speak with Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He will also interview actor Brad Pitt, founder of the Make It Right Foundation and the effort to build 150 green, affordable, high-quality design homes in the neighborhood closest to the levee breach, the Lower 9th Ward. Mr. Williams will host a discussion with New Orleans native, a star of HBO’s “Treme”, President of the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation, Wendell Pierce, Long-time New Orleans journalist and Host of WWL-Radio’s “Think Tank”, Garland Robinette and historian, former Professor at Tulane University and author of “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast”, Douglas Brinkley.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: The housing crisis is the topic with guest host Ed Henry talks with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan about the state of the anemic housing market and the struggling economy.

Then how are states coping at a local level, we’ll look at Florida, one of the hardest hit states, with two Florida Senate candidates Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D).

Finally, what does this all mean? CNN’s Ali Velshi joins us to break it all down.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS:

Are China and the U.S. on a collision course? Is a confrontation inevitable? No, we’re not talking about economies here. This is about militaries. China is busy beefing up its navy, buying new ships and weapons. What does it all mean for the world’s biggest superpower – the U.S.? Geo-strategist Robert Kaplan tells us the answer and explains why the South China Sea will soon be the most important place on earth.

Then, What in the World? Do you know the significance of the number 311? It’s not just a phone number any more. It might be a key number for reducing America’s nuclear arsenal.

And is the Internet really dead as Wired Magazine claims? Is it really making us dumber? Internet guru Clay Shirky on the state of technology in our culture today…and what the future will bring.

Then, is there a bright side to the recession? Author and economist Richard Florida on the change that always comes with economic crisis…and the good things that he thinks will come out of this one.

And finally, the Last Look: the next big idea in military fashion.

Queen Noor of Jordan: Ramadan Lessons for All of Humanity


True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west — but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance — however much he himself may cherish — it — upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God. (2:177 [Asad])

In a sense this beautiful verse is its own commentary, and for a Muslim these exhortations are among the most familiar commandments in their religious life. It is one of those verses where several strands of the Quran’s teachings interlace. Each phrase, taken alone, repeats an idea that is found throughout Islam’s sacred text, and taken together they form a kind of summary of the teachings of Islam.

It is from passages such as this one that Muslims find their main articles of faith: belief in the one God, the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter, the existence of the angels, revelation in the form of sacred books, and the messengers and prophets who have borne that revelation to humanity from Adam until the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon them all.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic year. We observe it this year against a backdrop of intensifying global human suffering, caused by economic hardship, human rights abuses, military conflict and terrorism, and the rapidly multiplying disastrous consequences of climate change. Muslims have an opportunity to use the days of this month as God intended: to reflect on our own humanity and our collective duty towards our fellow human beings. True religion isn’t built of the manifestations of piety through prayer — turning faces towards the east or west — but requires good deeds and action that manifest and express the essential values of our faith.

Janet Napolitano: Improving America’s Disaster Response

As we approach the fifth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it’s important to note how far our nation has come in improving our ability to respond to and recover from disasters and the progress we’ve made in helping our Gulf Coast recover from one of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has made Gulf Coast rebuilding a top priority. Over the past 20 months, we’ve obligated more than $2.5 billion in funding for new schools and universities, fire houses, police stations, and critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, hospitals and public health assets across the Gulf.

Kathleen Sebelius: Strengthening the Gulf’s Health-Care Infrastructure for Generations to Come

We can’t look back on the five years since Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama’s Gulf Coast communities without recognizing the extraordinary determination of the people who live there. When the wind subsided and the clouds cleared, more than 1,800 people had lost their lives, and property damage was as high as $75 billion. But folks rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

Our job at the Department of Health and Human Services was to make sure the health system was there for them. There are families who have called the Gulf region home for generations, and they aim to call it home for generations to come. That’s why this Department worked quickly in the immediate aftermath of the storm to provide emergency services and supplies to the region, and it’s why we have set out to rebuild the health-care infrastructure to meet Gulf communities’ long-term medical needs.

Earlier this week, we announced an additional $25 million in newly-approved funding for rebuilding projects in Louisiana and Mississippi, the latest in a series of Gulf Coast recovery projects. These resources are helping revitalize communities, cut through red tape, and get long-delayed construction projects off the ground.

Glenn Greenwald: Racial and ethnic exploitation of economic insecurity

Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, today:


Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities — often lopsided majorities — oppose President Obama’s social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.

Yahoo! News, August 12, 2010:


A new CNN poll has found that most Americans think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married. . . . As polling-statistics blogger Nate Silver points out, the margin of error [as well as the poll’s status as the first to find majority approval] means we can’t assume that a majority of Americans support gay marriage, but it is “no longer safe to say that opposition to same-sex marriage is the majority position . . . . “

That particular factual inaccuracy, which I am 100% certain will never be corrected by the Post, is the least of the problems with Krauthammer’s column today.  Above all else, he seeks to delegitimize concerns over the Right’s intensifying use of racially and ethnically divisive tactics as nothing more than the last refuge of a Democratic Party which, he argues, espouses unpopular policies and thus has no means of winning an election other than by falsely accusing its opponents of bigotry.

Joe Conanson: Our new welfare queens, the undeserving unemployed

Economic punditry on the right offers an insidious meme: The jobless are scamming, so why extend benefits?

Neither party has advanced a sufficiently ambitious plan to stimulate the economy and put Americans back to work, but only the Republicans have argued against extending federal assistance to the unemployed. Loud voices among them — notably those of Sharron Angle and Rand Paul — think the jobless are “spoiled” and that there are plenty of jobs for those who are willing to work.

Such ideas are akin to the view that dinosaurs coexisted with humans or that global warming will prove beneficial. But the urge to demonize the unemployed is so powerful on the right that even conservatives who understand the grim realities perfectly well cannot resist it.

More Than One Truth

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Glen Ford writing at Black Agenda Report said on Wednesday “We Are Cornered: There’s No Way Out Without A Fight”: “Obama and his Democratic legislative allies have successfully shielded their Wall Street masters from anything worthy of the name financial reform.”, and “The pace of finance capital deterioration quickens, accelerating the timetable of the Right’s offensive. As the hunger grows, Wall Street’s servants become more aggressive and demanding, and there is nothing in the Democratic Party, as presently constituted, to stop them.”

Ford closed his essay with: “One truth remains: only a massed people can defeat massed capital. If the American Left is capable of bearing that in mind in the critical times ahead, it might just escape the cul-de-sac and make some modest contribution to the world.”

Robert Scheer noted on Tuesday:

It is Obama’s continued deference to the sensibilities of the financiers and his relative indifference to the suffering of ordinary people that threaten his legacy, not to mention the nation’s economic well-being. There have been more than 300,000 foreclosure filings every single month that Obama has been president, and as The New York Times editorialized, “Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the Obama administration’s efforts to address the foreclosure problem will make an appreciable dent.”

The ugly reality that only 398,198 mortgages have been modified to make the payments more reasonable can be traced to the program being based on the hope that the banks would do the right thing. While Obama continued the Bush practice of showering the banks with bailout money, he did not demand a moratorium on foreclosures or call for increasing the power of bankruptcy courts to force the banks, which created the problem, to now help distressed homeowners.

…foreclosures are behind Tuesday’s news that U.S. home sales reached their lowest point in 15 years and that there is unlikely to be an economic recovery without a dramatic turnabout in the housing market. The stock market tanked Tuesday on reports that U.S. home sales had dropped 25.5 percent below the year-ago level.


Ford is right about many things, but Ford is wrong about one thing.

There is more than one truth.

Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the Earth

— Archimedes

There is a enormous and powerful difference between millions of people not voting for a particular party, and millions of people saying loud and clear to that party: “we guarantee will give you millions of votes, more than enough to tip the scale…… once you have done a or b or c or d or any combination of those things, and as soon as we see that you’ve done that you can relax in the confidence that you have won even before election day arrives, otherwise you’ve already lost and you might as well tell your corporate donors now that their money has been pissed away for absolutely nothing and that you were an utter and pathetic waste of their time, and quit campaigning”.

It takes planning, and it takes a determination to make decisions not out of fear but out of the power and leverage you know you have, but have only if you use it.

The best that can happen with this approach is beyond your wildest dreams, and the worst that can happen with this is that if nobody else does it while you do you won’t be defending yourself after the fact for having voted for people who could have done their jobs but wouldn’t.

The majority of responses that message draws from Democrats boil down to “but… but… republicans!!!”

Much of the remainder of the responses it draws are some attempt to justify “give them more time”, to justify waiting on a supposedly incrementally arrived at ultimate reward at some undefined future date that continually recedes, like heaven, after death.

The Democrats won the 2006 midterms effectively by running on an end the Iraq war platform. The first major thing they did afterwards was to betray the voters with the first emergency supplemental war funding passed by a democratic congress after eight years of Repblican congressional control. The result was a folding of hands by the fake democratic antiwar movement who showed themselves to be really only interested in democratic wins, but not in progressive results.

The incrementalists have already lost all the ground they were afraid of losing while the Democrats have had years to “incrementalize” their way into producing good progressive results. They haven’t done so, and the result is now an effectively Republican and corporatist congress and president who are Democrats in name only.

That Democrats are politicians, and being politicians will do whatever it takes to win the votes they need means that the fear of republicans or the fear of losing ground is a phantom fear if enough people threaten all Democrats with extreme loss of votes unless and until they all realize that they will all face political oblivion unless they all band together and do something useful to win those votes back, which they will do because they are politicians and they need those votes to survive politically.

It’s an eyeball to eyeball poker game right down to election day, and it cannot be a bluff from the voters.

People have to be strong enough to say to the Democrats, “Look, if you’re going to ACT like republicans then we’re going to let republicans have your jobs you fools – now get busy and PRODUCE some useful progressive legislation or you’re history. Come back when you’ve produced, and I guarantee you my vote” – and mean it.

All Democrats, being politicians, will do it for the votes they need, and if on the off chance they’re too stupid to do it then they aren’t worth your vote anyway.

It’s called voting for results instead of promises.

In the face of a movement of millions of poeple, more than enough to tip the electoral balance, Obama and the Democrats will finally wake up and realize they need the independent and liberal votes they’ve thrown away since inauguration day last year, and that all the corporate donations in the world aren’t going to save them without those votes, and start producing some useful progressive legislation and pass it in time for the midterms.

They could have independents and liberals all across the country rewarding them for results instead of turning their backs on empty promises and the largest landslides in history this November with just a few simple moves.

Creating and passing an actual, real, universal single payer health care bill and rolling back the bailout of the insurance industry for example might do it all by itself, for example.

Although they could probably sew it right up it for themselves by also starting torture and war crimes trials for Bush and Cheney, while withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and breaking up the big Wall Street investment banks and doing Ken Lay numbers on Goldman Sachs‘ Lloyd Blankfein and Magnetar‘s Alec Litowitz, while firing Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and Rahm Emanuel, and Robert Gibbs too.

They’ve got two whole months, after all.

Democrats are smart people. They should be at least half as smart as all those independent and progressives who won’t vote for them unless they begin to do those things.

After all, Obama and the Democrats can’t possibly be stupid enough to actually believe that independents and liberals are stupid enough to to vote to continue being screwed by them, can they?

And really, all they really need to do is start just one of those things and the republicans would be history in November.

This is not a sport we’re talking about. It is, however, the future of America, and a choice of who rules it. Bought and paid for politicians. Or voters.

The Democrats would hate you for saving their asses this fall.

Let them hate, so long as they fear.

— Lucius Accius

There is an election coming up…

“My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse… Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains, or his signature would be on the contract”.

On This Day in History: August 28

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

August 28 is the 240th day of the year (241st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 125 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King addressed the crowds assembled on the Washington Mall from the steps at the Lincoln Memorial. His speech, “I have a Dream”, is forever embedded in history and our memories as one of the great moments in the fight for civil rights. But there were many other speakers, and in particular one great performance by the “Queen of Gospel”, Mahalia Jackson. Right before Dr. King spoke, Ms. Jackson performed “How I Got Over”.

Indeed, if Martin Luther King, Jr., had a favorite opening act, it was Mahalia Jackson, who performed by his side many times. On August 28, 1963, as she took to the podium before an audience of 250,000 to give the last musical performance before Dr. King’s speech, Dr. King himself requested that she sing the gospel classic “I’ve Been ‘Buked, and I’ve Been Scorned.” Jackson was just as familiar with Dr. King’s repertoire as he was with hers, and just as King felt comfortable telling her what to sing as the lead-in to what would prove to be the most famous speech of his life, Jackson felt comfortable telling him in what direction to take that speech.

The story that has been told since that day has Mahalia Jackson intervening at a critical junction when she decided King’s speech needed a course-correction. Recalling a theme she had heard him use in earlier speeches, Jackson said out loud to Martin Luther King, Jr., from behind the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” And at that moment, as can be seen in films of the speech, Dr. King leaves his prepared notes behind to improvise the entire next section of his speech-the historic section that famously begins “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream….”

There is no embeddable video of Ms Jackson from that day but here is the inspirational song she performed that day.

 475 – The Roman general Orestes forces western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos to flee his capital city, Ravenna.

489 – Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.

1189 – Third Crusade: the Crusaders begin the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan

1349 – 6,000 Jews are killed in Mainz, accused of being the cause of the plague.

1511 – The Portuguese conquer Malacca.

1521 – The Ottoman Turks occupy Belgrade.

1542 – Turkish-Portuguese War (1538-1557) – Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese are scattered, their leader Christovao da Gama is captured and later executed.

1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Delaware Bay.

1619 – Ferdinand II is elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

1640 – Second Bishop’s War: King Charles I’s English army loses to a Scottish Covenanter force at the Battle of Newburn.

1789 – William Herschel discovers a new moon of Saturn.

1810 – Battle of Grand Port – the French accept the surrender of a British Navy fleet.

1830 – The Tom Thumb presages the first railway service in the United States.

1845 – The first issue of Scientific American magazine is published.

1849 – After a month-long siege, Venice, which had declared itself independent, surrenders to Austria.

1859 – A geomagnetic storm causes the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly that it is seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe, and even as far away as Japan.

1862 – American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Battle of Second Manassas.

1867 – The United States takes possession of the, at this point unoccupied, Midway Atoll.

1879 – Cetshwayo, last king of the Zulus, is captured by the British.

1898 – Caleb Bradham renames his carbonated soft drink “Pepsi-Cola”.

1913 – Queen Wilhelmina opens the Peace Palace in The Hague.

1914 – World War I: the Royal Navy defeats the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

1914 – World War I: German troops conquer Namur.

1916 – World War I: Germany declares war on Romania.

1916 – World War I: Italy declares war on Germany.

1917 – Ten Suffragettes are arrested while picketing the White House.

1937 – Toyota Motors becomes an independent company.

1943 – World War II: in Denmark, a general strike against the Nazi occupation is started.

1944 – World War II: Marseille and Toulon are liberated.

1953 – Nippon Television broadcasts Japan’s first television show, including its first TV advertisement.

1955 – Black teenager Emmett Till is murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent American Civil Rights Movement.

1963 – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his I Have a Dream speech

1963 – Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie are murdered in their Manhattan flat, prompting the events that would lead to the passing of the Miranda Rights.

1964 – The Philadelphia race riot begins.

1968 – Riots in Chicago, Illinois, during the Democratic National Convention.

1979 – An IRA bomb explodes on the Grand Place in Brussels.

1981 – The National Centers for Disease Control announce a high incidence of pneumocystis and Kaposi’s sarcoma in gay men. These will soon be recognized as symptoms of an immune disorder, which will be called AIDS.

1986 – United States Navy officer Jerry A. Whitworth is sentenced to 365 years imprisonment for espionage for the Soviet Union.

1988 – Ramstein airshow disaster: three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. 75 are killed and 346 seriously injured.

1990 – Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.

1990 – The Plainfield Tornado: an F5 tornado hits in Plainfield, Illinois, and Joliet, Illinois, killing 28 people.

1991 – Ukraine declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

1991 – Collapse of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

1996 – Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales divorce.

1998 – Pakistan’s National Assembly passes a constitutional amendment to make the “Qur’an and Sunnah” the “supreme law” but the bill is defeated in the Senate.

2003 – An electricity blackout cuts off power to around 500,000 people living in south east England and brings 60% of London’s underground rail network to a halt.

F1: Spa Qualifying

Well, if you’re a Ferrari fan (and there are lots of them) you’ll be encouraged by the podium finish of Alonso at the Hungaroring.  Alas the drivers and constructors standings don’t justify much optimism as this year looks like a fight between Red Bull and McLaren with the advantage currently to Red Bull.

It’s been 3 weeks and the floppy Front Wing has been studied (though technically you’re not supposed to do any work on vacation) and many teams are sporting new aero bits where the rules allow them.

The efficacy of which remains to be seen.  Spa is notorious for its rain and much of the running in practice has been on Intermediates and Wets and the strategic question for the teams has been how much to ruin them because like the Primes and the Softs you get just so many sets but unlike them you can’t replace them between Practice and Race Day (they issue a full compliment of Softs and Primes today for Qualifying) and running used up Intermediates when it really is damp is a good way to end up in a wall.

As always your participation is welcome and desired, but you’ll have to tolerate my rambling regardless as I need to take notes to prove to Richard I’m paying attention.  I’ll attempt to highlight any surprises like Hamilton washing out in Q2.  This Qualifying is repeated on Speed at 2:30 am.  Tomorrow’s pre-race starts at 7:30 am preceded by GP2 on the same track at 6 am.

Need.  More.  Coffee.

Morning Shinbun Saturday August 28

Saturday’s Headlines:

Why are so many Americans hostile to Islam?

BBC’s Mark Thompson takes aim at Murdoch empire in MacTaggart lecture


Dangers of war persist for soldiers left in Iraq

U.S. wary over example of first military tribunal case


UN tells France to stop forced expulsion of Roma

ECB chief Trichet warns failure to tackle high debts risks a ‘lost decade’

Middle East

The great chess game of the Middle East

Iraq put on high alert ahead of expected bombing campaign


‘We want to talk to the Taliban. But they would rather kill themselves’

The Dear Leader has left the building

Latin America

Fresh violence hits Mexico

Why are so many Americans hostile to Islam?

By Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Nearly a decade after 9/11, less than a third of the country feels favorably toward Islam. Most Americans reflexively oppose an Islamic cultural center near ground zero, and the lower the Christian president’s approval ratings, the higher the percentage of people who think he’s Muslim.


Beyond the simplistic debate – are we patriots or bigots? – pollsters, historians and other experts say that the nation’s collective instincts toward Islam have been shaped over decades by a patchwork of factors. These include demographic trends, psychology, terrorism events, U.S. foreign policy, domestic politics, media coverage and the Internet.

BBC’s Mark Thompson takes aim at Murdoch empire in MacTaggart lecture

BBC director general Mark Thompson says Sky is becoming ‘dominant force’ in British TV – but isn’t investing enough

James Robinson


Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, launched a scathing attack on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire tonight, warning that BSkyB is too powerful and threatens to “dwarf” the BBC and its competitors.

Delivering the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Mediaguardian Edinburgh television festival, Thompson rounded on Sky’s chairman, James Murdoch, who used the same speech last year to attack the corporation.

“A year ago, James Murdoch fretted aloud about the lamentable dominance of the BBC,” he said. “He was able to do that only by leaving Sky out of the equation.”


Dangers of war persist for soldiers left in Iraq

By Leila Fadel

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, August 28, 2010; 12:13 AM

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, IRAQ – Col. Malcolm Frost knew there would be questions. The official end to the U.S. combat mission in Iraq was approaching, but his soldiers, operating in two of Iraq’s most dangerous provinces, would still be here.

He sat down and penned a letter to the soldiers’ families. “01 Sept. 2010 does not mean a light switched on or off in Iraq,” the brigade commander wrote. “. . . The weight of responsibility upon our shoulders is great, because we must follow through to the very finish.”

U.S. wary over example of first military tribunal case

Administration has been trying to repair the system’s reputation


WASHINGTON – After working for a year to redeem the international reputation of military commissions, Obama administration officials are alarmed by the first case to go to trial under revamped rules: the prosecution of a former child soldier whom an American interrogator implicitly threatened with gang rape.

The defendant, Omar Khadr, was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier. Senior officials say his trial is undermining their broader effort to showcase reforms that they say have made military commissions fair and just.


UN tells France to stop forced expulsion of Roma

By Jenny Barchfield in Paris, AP Saturday, 28 August 2010

France has come under increasing pressure to stop its mass expulsions of Roma when a United Nations human rights panel added its voice to the chorus of condemnation.

In recent weeks, French officials have dismantled more than 100 illegal camps and sent hundreds of Roma back to their homes in eastern Europe.

A report released yesterday by a UN anti-racism panel urged France to avoid its “collective repatriations” and expressed concern that members of the Roma community weren’t receiving full voting, education and housing rights in France.

ECB chief Trichet warns failure to tackle high debts risks a ‘lost decade’

Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank President, said governments risk causing a “lost decade” of weak economic growth if they delay reversing the surge in public debt triggered by the financial crisis.  

Published: 11:29PM BST 27 Aug 2010

“The lesson from past history is that dealing with the legacy of accumulated imbalances is not simply a duty to be fulfilled after the economic recovery, but rather an important precondition for sustaining a durable recovery,” he said in a speech at the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s annual monetary symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“The primary macroeconomic challenge for the next 10 years is to ensure that they do not turn into another ‘lost decade.'”

Middle East

The great chess game of the Middle East

By Victor Kotsev  

Nerves are frayed to the point of breaking over the Middle East escalation. One can tell this is so when even respectable think-tanks start looking for ulterior motives behind seemingly minor events, without offering any specific evidence or well-developed leads.

Take, for example, Thursday’s emergency landings of two Iranian civilian airliners over Turkey. Absolutely nothing unusual was reported, except that both aircraft malfunctioned, both over Turkey, and both coming from Tehran. Still, the event warranted a front-page report by Stratfor. The (anti-climactic) conclusion: “These incidents may simply be representative of Iran’s inability to maintain its commercial aircraft under the weight of sanctions and financial restrictions, but given Iran’s ongoing confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, ulterior motives for the landings cannot be ruled out.”

Iraq put on high alert ahead of expected bombing campaign

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN  August 28, 2010

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned Friday of likely attacks across the country and put all local governments and security forces on high alert.

In a statement read on state television, al-Maliki — commander-in-chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces — said there were indications that “al Qaeda and remnants of the Baath party with foreign backing are planning to carry out a series of bombings in Baghdad and the other provinces.”

The statement, which came shortly before midnight in Iraq, said the attacks would strike across the country, targeting government institutions in particular.


‘We want to talk to the Taliban. But they would rather kill themselves’

Control of Kandahar is key to withdrawal from Afghanistan. But the coming US offensive there will be a bloody one, writes Kim Sengupta

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The first sign of the attack was somewhat mystifying: a tractor suddenly going up in flames on farmland beyond the base.

But there no ambiguity about what followed. A group of men charged, the first blowing himself up as he reached the fence, the others behind opening up with rifle fire. At the same moment, the first of a salvo of rockets launched from a distance landed inside Kandahar airfield.

It lasted no more than a few minutes. Once the tractor packed with explosives had prematurely detonated there was little chance of the Taliban fighters getting through, their suicide vests exploding as the Western troops cut them down.

The Dear Leader has left the building

By Sunny Lee

BEIJING – The South Korean government is keen to see whether Kim Jong-un, the heir-apparent of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, is accompanying the father on a secretive trip to China amid reports that the young heir will finally make his official debut next month.

Analysts are scratching their heads over the Dear Leader’s visit to China, the second this year. It all started when a senior aide of South Korea’s Presidential Office told reporters on Thursday that Kim had embarked on a secretive visit to China during the wee hours of that day.

Neither Beijing nor Pyongyang confirmed the report. But South Korean media said Kim Jong-il spent his first day in China in the northeastern city of Jilin that borders North Korea.

Latin America

Fresh violence hits Mexico


A car bomb has exploded outside the local affiliate of Televisa TV network in the northeastern city of Ciudad Victoria, in Tamaulipas state.

Friday’s blast damaged equipment and the station was unable to broadcast locally, AFP news agency reported.

“Fortunately none of our colleagues were wounded,” Carlos Loret de Mola, the host of the Televisa morning news show, said.

Ignoring Asia A Blog

Post Racial

I reported this yesterday (#44) but the AP account didn’t make it clear to me that this was not some “white’s rights” reverse discrimination subtle racism.

Nope.  This is in your face ‘colored people’s water fountain’ racism

A school memo, obtained by MixedandHappy and The Smoking Gun, was passed out to every 6th, 7th, and 8th grader to inform them of the breakdown. The upcoming elections are divided between offices delineated for black and white students. Of the 12 offices for which students can compete, “eight are earmarked for white students, while four are termed ‘black seats.” The presidency is reserved for white students across each grade, but a black student is permitted to be the 8th grade vice-president or reporter, the 7th grade treasurer, or the 6th grade reporter. So, along with a “B” average and “a good disciplinary status and moral character,” a child hoping to represent his or her class must be the right race:

You see, I suppose that the sensitivity to minority African-American representation

Programs » Counseling Department » Media Statement

Media Statement

After being notified of a grievance regarding upcoming student elections at Nettleton Middle School, research was conducted that evidenced that the current practices and procedures for student elections have existed for over 30 years. It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body. It is felt the intent of these election procedures was to ensure African-American representation in each student office category through an annual rotation basis.

It is our hope and desire that these practices and procedures are no longer needed to help ensure minority representation and involvement. Furthermore, the Nettleton School District acknowledges and embraces the fact that we are growing in ethnic diversity and that the classifications of Caucasian and African-American no longer reflect our entire student body.

Therefore, beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office. Future student elections will be monitored to help ensure that this change in process and procedure does not adversely affect minority representation in student elections.

Thank you


Russell Taylor

is that they called these children “Black” and not “African-American” or “Negro” or that terrible Dr. Laura word.

Emphasis mine.

Popular Culture 20100827: Blue Laws

Blue Laws are (well, actually mostly now) were laws that restricted what products and services could be legally traded on Sundays over much of the United States.  They varied from region to region, with some places pretty much shutting down everything except emergency medical treatment, to other places where there was little difference from other days.

In most of the United States, Blue Laws no longer exist for the most, except for the sale of alcohol, and they are vestigial remnants in that area.  When I was a child (only months after the last mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs, LOL!), Blue Laws were common in west central Arkansas, and applied to lots more than alcohol.

Since the Blue Laws were even more strict before I was born, I can only repeat items that my Western Civilization instructor in junior college told us.  She lived that era, and had no reason to be deceptive.  When she was a girl, in the 1920s and 1930s, it was illegal for a motion picture to be screened on Sundays.  For a while the theatre operators kept with the law, but finally realized that the fine was much less than the revenue that they could take in on Sundays, since most folks were off of work on that day, because of the Blue Laws!  This is information specific to Fort Smith, Arkansas during that time period.  The theatre operators finally just showed the movies, paid the fines, and made money.  Obviously there was not much criminal sanction other then the fine, because going to jail would have been more discouraging to the operators.  Finally, the law was changed to allow theatres to screen movies on Sundays, since it was decided that they would show them anyway and to criminalize a large part of the population was not a good idea.

Speaking of the word “Sunday”, the ice cream treat called the Sundae is reputed to be a direct outgrowth of Blue Laws.  During the Prohibition era, sodas, make with ice cream, other ingredients, and seltzer water were very popular.  Some blue noses thought that seltzer was too identified with alcohol, so they prohibited them from being served on Sunday.  Some enterprising person modified the recipe to leave out the seltzer water, and sold the more solid treat on Sundays.  This may me apocryphal, and anyone with a better origin for the term Sundae is welcomed to comment.

In my experience, the Blue Laws worked this way:  arbitrarily.  For example, newspapers were OK to sell, but not books nor magazines.  This carried on until I was around 10 years old or so, as I recall.  That would be around 1967.  Then the line got blurred, and books and magazines were OK to sell, if you could find anyone open to sell them.  By the way, the Post Office (not yet the Postal Service) still stocked post office boxes with mail on Sundays, and you could mail letters on Sundays if you went to a major Post Office.  I remember my father driving to Fort Smith (we lived in Hackett, nine miles south over the very treacherous and curvy state highway 45) on Sunday afternoons to mail his sales reports before the deadline.  He, like I, was a procrastinator.

It was OK to sell food on Sundays, but even it the store were open, you could not buy, for example, shaving cream, deodorant, or razors.  Razor blades were OK, since they were not tools.  Nails were OK, if the store were open, but not a hammer.

Clothing was right out for sale on Sundays.  This put women in the queer position of being able to buy sanitary napkins on Sunday, but not the little harness that held them in place at the time.  Females from that era, please explain about the harness.  They are almost unknown now, and I was too little to know that much about them, since I was only around nine years old or so, thus this information has been told to me from female family members years later.

This started to wane in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Part of it had to do with the advent of the mall.  Because of pressure to pay high rents, mall merchants wanted to sell more of time.  That did not wipe out the Blue Laws, but weakened them.  Authorities looking the other way did more to lead to the demise of the Blue Laws than anything else.  However, as late at 1979 is was almost impossible to find things like plumbing supplies, building supplies, and the like on Sundays.  Most of the stores that sold “legal” items on Sundays had a much larger “illegal” inventory, so it was not worth their time to be open.

When the former Mrs. Translator and I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1978 we were in need one Sunday of several home (well, trailer) improvement items, like faucet washers, screws, and other common items.  In those days there was nothing like Home Depot or Lowe’s, at least stores like that open on Sundays.  But there was a grocery store to our west that just “happened” to have a Coast to Coast hardware store franchise inside it.

Let that sink in for a minute.  We had gone to the MOON and back nine years earlier, and yet it was still illegal to sell a darned HAMMER on Sunday!  But that brave little IGA grocery store sold them anyway!  By the way, IGA stands for Independent Grocers’ Association, a network of small, locally owned grocers who use their combined purchasing power to get price breaks.  There are still a few of them, but big box stores are making them obsolete rapidly.

We were able to get the washers that we needed to make the faucets stop dripping, and the screws that we needed to tighten up a few things.  Now, those were legal to sell, but no hardware store was open on Sundays, and if we had needed a screwdriver or wrench (illegal tools) they would have sold them to us as well.  I saw folks buying such contraband.

Folks, this was in the United States in 1978!  Think about it:  it was ILLEGAL to sell a hammer or a sanitary pad harness on Sunday!

Over time, the Blue Laws were either found to be unconstitutional, ignored, or repealed.  That is, except for the laws governing alcohol sales.  Those are still with us in many places.  It turns out that the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution allowed the Congress and the States to regulate the sale of alcohol pretty much as they chose.

This had led to a plethora of different laws and regulations between different states, and also within individual states.  In 2010, no state completely prohibits the sale of alcohol, but some severely limit it.  Some states, like Alabama, allow only state-owned stores to sell alcohol, although beer is sometimes not included.  Other states, like Oklahoma, allow the sale of weak (the so called 3.2% beer) beer at grocery stores and the like, but only licensed liquor stores can sell beer of higher alcohol content, and not only limited to Sundays.  Oklahoma had a very bizarre law for a few years that allowed the legal drinking age for males to be 21 years, but for females it was 18, for weak beer.  Lots of boyfriends drove their girlfriends over the border in those days to get beer, despite the risk of a $50 PER bottle or can fine if out of state beer was brought in from Oklahoma.

Many states do not allow the package sale of ANY kind of alcohol on Sundays, including Arkansas and Kentucky.  However, parts of these states have the local option of allowing the serving individual drinks at eating establishments on Sundays.  Then there is the concept of the dry county.

A dry county does not allow the sale of any alcoholic beverage, at least in concept.  Many localities have wormed around this by introducing the concept of the private club, in which members can buy liquor legally.  Put forth first by wealthy individuals who liked to congregate and drink without wanting to be bothered by bringing their own liquor, they pushed the concept through in Arkansas, and several other states as well.

Originally, that exception only worked for very exclusive clubs wherein the members could pony up lots and lots of money to bribe the alcohol regulators in their areas.  In Arkansas, private clubs were even approved in dry counties, if the members had enough collective power to make it so.  It did not hurt the effort when one realizes that many of the folks in those clubs were also the folks who dictated laws and regulations.

It was, and still is, a corrupt mess, but folks make money at it, especially in dry counties.  It finally got to the point that one could “join” a private club for one night, usually with a $5 temporary member fee, with a complimentary drink for joining for the night.  This is just corruption on a massive level.

Even in 2010, there are STILL votes on the wet or dry issue.  Most often, the fundamentalist members of society, usually evangelical Christian ministers, lobby for dry.  They rail about how “al-kee-haul” will ruin the character of the community, when all the while the folks who want it are buying it out of region or from bootleggers.  Yes, bootlegging is still an extremely important part of the grey market.

Bootlegging is a term from the old days when illegal alcohol in flat (hip flask) bottles were stuffed into high riding boots and delivered to customers that way.  Often obtained in legally “wet” areas, it was taken to dry areas and sold at quite a profit.  Bootlegging is not the same as moonshining, and I shall discuss moonshining in another installment.  I actually knew a woman who literally bootlegged in her younger days (at least according to my grandmum, who was pretty astute).

In summary, the Blue Laws were the reaction of the established, extremely religious, elements of society to impart their “moral” beliefs onto others.  However, there was a more sinister aspect to it, at least in the south and associated with alcohol.  White people were terrified of black people getting intoxicated and “coming after” them.  My comment on the morality of that school of thought is just one of contempt.  The white folks had all of the liquor that they wanted.  They just wanted to keep it away from the black folks.  Like it or not, that is the historical truth.  People that have not grown up in the south do not realize how deeply racial bigotry still exists.  I have said many times that I am a recovering racist, because it was drilled into my mind from the time that I comprehended the English language that black folks are not only inferior, but inherently evil.

I think that my recovery has gone fairly well, because I voted for our current President, and am still fairly well pleased with he is trying to do.  It is interesting that as much as his agenda has been made so, even with the extreme resistance from the opposition party.  But this is not supposed to be a political post, so I will dissist from this avenue of dissertation.  If anyone would care to talk about it further, the comment section awaits.

My thesis is that the Blue Laws were conceived, written, carried out, and enforced by religious bigots who wanted control.  I focused on alcohol because it the last vestige of Blue Laws, and sort of kind of Constitutionally supported.  That still does not make Blue Laws right, but I hope that this has put them into some historical perspective.

This is a little different from many of my Popular Culture installments, because it is not about personal tastes in one or another form of art.  However, if one lives in a particular culture every day, by definition that is popular culture.

As always, your thoughts are encouraged in the comments.  If you agree, please tell me why.  If you disagree, please tell me why.  If you have other ideas, please express them.  Remember, my posts are always just the beginning of a much better discussion in the comment section.  If you are aware of any blue laws other than those regarding alcohol sales in your area, please post a comment.

Warmest regards,


Crossposted at Docudharma and at Dailykos.com

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Prime Time

What?  You say you don’t want to watch documentaries about prisons and sexual predators?  That you’d rather gouge your eyes out like Gloucester?  There, there, Uncle ek will see what he can scare up on the Hypnotoad tonight.


Alton does guacamole and chicken-liver mousse.  Perchance to Dean, a good episode if you like progressive rock.  Look Around You is the next to last episode, Computers.

Wikipedia notes that Olivia de Haviland is still alive (born in 1916) and is one of the last surviving actresses of her generation.  She has a famous feud with her sister, Joan Fontaine (also still alive).

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

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