Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A word about Michael J. Fox...

Michael J. Fox has emerged as a major voice in the closing days before the mid-term elections. Ironically, Rush Limbough has helped put him in the national spotlight.

I strongly support the right of disabled individuals to speak out in favor of any kind of research that can possibly lead to cures. My older brother suffered most of his adult life because of a spinal injury. In our society too often the disabled are out of sight...and out of mind. I consider the television appearances by Michael J. Fox to be a gift to the American people. Of course people have a right to disagree with him on the morality of stem cell research.

One more thing. When I managed a psychiatric half-way house back in the 1970's I quickly discovered that many residents hated to take the psychotropic drugs that were prescribed. The reason: it resulted in physical symptoms such as shaking that they did not like. Rush Limbough has obviously a lot to learn about the impact of certain drugs on human behavior.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Auerbach, pride of the Celtics, dies

Photo shows Red Auerbach with his famous cigar. He lit up to celebrate Celtic victories. (Boston Globe File Photo).


Arnold "Red" Auerbach, who for more than half a century was the combative, competitive, and occasionally abrasive personification of pro basketball's greatest dynasty, the Boston Celtics, died yesterday in the Washington area. He was 89.

He died of a heart attack, the Associated Press reported, according to an NBA source who did not want to be identified.

In two decades of National Basketball Association coaching, Auerbach won 938 games, a record when he retired in 1966, as well as a record nine NBA championship titles, a number he shares with Phil Jackson. In those 20 years, 16 with the Celtics, Auerbach had only one losing season while winning almost two-thirds of his games.

For those of us in the Boston area Auerbach was a true legend.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trouble publishing with Blogger this morning!

Funeral for a fallen hero...

Photo shows marines carrying the casket of Sgt. Brock Babb into St. Boniface Catholic Church in Evansville, Indiana. Babb and a fellow Marine were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on October 15.

The US military said 96 US troops have died so far in October. The rise in deaths has been a major factor behind rising anti-war sentiment in the United States.

I know that some of my more conservative friends have become disenchanted with this war. This could have a major impact on the upcoming midterm elections.

(Photo: Jason Clark / AP

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Michael J. Fox supports a war hero...

Photo shows Actor Michael J. Fox talking about supporting embryonic stem cell research Tuesday at a campaign rally in Wheaton for Tammy Duckworth, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District.

Ms.Duckworth is a veteran who lost both legs while piloting a helicopter in Iraq. She is one of a significant number of war heroes who are running as candidates for the U.S. Congress this year.

Radio talk show host Russ Limbaugh and some of the other wingnuts are going ballistic because of the involvement of Fox in several political races.

(Photo: Antonio Perez / AP)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq is disintegrating

This morning I was feeling much better as I recover from a very nasty cold. However, I thought I might suffer a relapse after I read this editorial in this morning's New York Times.

The NYT article paints a very bleak picture of the options now available in Iraq. What they had to say reinforces what I heard John Burns of the NYT say in an interview with Charlie Rose a few days ago. The situation is getting out of control. The middle class are heading for the passport offices. The NeoCon theory about creating a stable democracy that would be an example for other countries in the Middle East has turned out to be an illusion.

Was it Colin Powell who said that "if you break it you better be prepared to fix it?" What if you can't figure out a way to fix it?

Monday, October 23, 2006

A journey to hell and back...

During the weeks immediately after Hurricane Katrina I became a regular reader of the online version of the New Orleans Times-Picayune --- NOLA.com. One of the reporters that most eloquently contributed to describing the trauma experienced by the Crescent City was Chris Rose.

Yesterday Chris Rose wrote this article about the impact of his work on his own mental health...his personal trip to hell and back. It's a very touching story. Once again, Chris Rose has brought home to his readers how the worst natural disaster in American history has affected the people of his beloved city. The article is well worth reading.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fall in New England...

Another beautiful sunny weekend here on the North Shore. Looks like we are reaching peak colors for the foliage season. No excuses for not getting out for a long walk.

Going after the Hispanic vote...

Tan Nguyen is challenging Rep. Loretta Sanchez in Orange County where the state attorney general's office is investigating a letter received by some Southern California Hispanics that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote, and tells them they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls next month.

Nguyen claims a staff member sent the letters without his knowledge and has been fired, while the Orange County GOP calls for Nguyen's withdrawal.

It is interesting to note that Tan Nguyen was born in Vietnam and is himself an immigrant. I guess someone convinced him that fear-mongering could work in elections.

(Photo: Ric Francis / AP)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Free-for-all in Faneuil Hall!

The political season is in full swing here in Massachusetts. Last night we had a debate between the four candidates for Governor.The headline on this morning's Boston Globe pretty much describes what happened. I found it very entertaining! Lots of complaining about negative adds. It seemed as if Kerry Healey (Republican) was somewhat on the defensive. Duval Patrick (Democrat) seems to improve with each new debate performance. At least that is my perception.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I recommend...

Read this post by Billmon posted last night. It is his thoughtful response to what Riverbend wrote about the situation in Iraq. Read the piece by Riverbend before reading the Billmon piece.

Murder in New Orleans...

Photo: Bill Barrow / Newhouse News Service

Photo shows Zackery Bowen and Addie Hall sitting on a French Quarter stoop in the immediate days after Katrina. In an apparent murder-suicide, Bowen killed, dismembered, and cooked Hall's body.

This morning the Times-Picayune has this story about how all of this came about. A very sad story.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More bad news from Iraq...

Ten American soldiers were killed in Iraq yesterday bringing Octobers' death toll to 68. If casualties continue to be about four per day this will be one of the worst months of the entire war.

I expect we'll hear renewed calls to bring the troops home after the November election. Too many lives have already been lost all because of a crazy neocon theory. Somebody should be held responsible for the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the United States.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

British journalist was shot dead by US forces in Iraq...

Photo shows Chelsey Lloyd, daughter of reporter Terry Lloyd, leaving Oxford Coroner's Court last Friday to give a statement to the media in Oxford, England.

A veteran reporter for British television network ITN, Terry Lloyd was shot dead by US forces in Iraq in March 2003. A coroner has delivered a verdict of unlawful killing. His interpreter also died and his cameraman, Daniel Demoustier, who survived the attack, is missing.

I assume the shooting of Terry Lloyd was an accident.

Too many stories lately about journalists killed in the line of duty. I guess this is just another example of the negative consequences of war.

(Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hawaii copes with earthquake...

My thoughts this morning are with the people of Hawaii. A 6.6 magnitude earthquake and more than 40 aftershocks rocked the Hawaiian Islands yesterday, collapsing roofs and causing landslides and widespread power outages. I understand that travel out of Honolulu has been suspended.

Photo shows passengers stranded at Honolulu Airport.


A friend who works for Hawaiian Airlines informs me that power has been restored at Honolulu Airport and service will resume today.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Richly deserved prize for banker to the poor...

This may be the most uplifting story of the week!!

On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel committee awarded the $1.4 million prize jointly to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, the lending agency he founded in 1983 to pioneer the concept of microcredit--small loans that have helped lift millions out of poverty."

Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh but also in many other countries," the Nobel committee said in its citation. Yunus is the first Nobel laureate from Bangladesh, a wrenchingly poor South Asia country that usually makes headlines for floods and famines.

This seems to have been a very popular choice, given the reaction around the world. It should give a big boost to the concept of microcredit.

Friday, October 13, 2006

More journalists killed in Iraq...

Photo shows Sunni-Arab Shaabiya satellite television station employees comforting each other in front of the station in Baghdad yesterday.

An unknown number of gunmen pulled up at the station in seven cars, stormed quickly into the offices and opened fire, killing eleven of the station's employees.

This was a group of journalists trying to get a new independent station off the ground. What happened is sad beyond description. When will this madness end?
(Photo: Samir Mizban / AP )

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A courageous journalist executed...

Leading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot to death in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow last Saturday.

Politkovskaya, special correspondent for the independent Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was well known for her investigative reports on human rights abuses by the Russian military in Chechnya. Her seven year long coverage of the second Chechen war repeatedly drew the wrath of Russian authorities.

My guess is that the individual or individuals responsible for her execution will never be identified. Her death could have an intimidating effect on other Russian journalists.

(Photo: BBC)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Blame Game...

John McCain was on all three networks this morning blaming the Clinton Administration for that small nuke that was just exploded in North Korea. That's the same Bill Clinton who, according to Fox News, was responsible for 9/11. The good news is that they are not blaming the former President for the more than half a million who have died in Iraq since the invasion. Actually, they are blaming the researchers who came up with that big number.

I seem to remember someone saying that the Republican Party was the party of responsibility and accountability. George Bush has been President for the past six years.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Update on New Orleans...

With lightning in the distance, a man fishes in Lake Pontchartrain. Sewage and industrial chemicals still float in the lake, which bounds New Orleans' north and is home to 125 species of aquatic life.

The city's population has dropped by nearly 60 percent since Hurricane Katrina, far more sharply than recent optimistic estimates had suggested.

My guess is that many who left the city after Hurricane Katrina will never return. There are still huge bureaucratic problems getting financial support to people who lost their homes. On the positive side, the area seems to have escaped hurricanes this season.

(Photo: Joachim Ladefoged / VII )

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Congratulations to Nola.com...

Photo courtesy Online News Association

Photo shows Sarah Thibodeaux, left, Nola.com's technical manager and Cory Haik, managing editor, accepting the Knight Foundation Award for Public Service Saturday night in Washington D.C. for the site's Katrina coverage.

I have been visiting Nola.com on a regular basis since Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans and I appreciate the great contribution they have made to the community. They deserve all the awards they have received.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Foliage season has arrived in New England...

A friend asked me yesterday if there is a fall foliage season in Ireland. Actually there is a foliage season but it is not nearly as spectacular as what we see here in New England.

As I look out from my 10th Floor apartment on this sunny Saturday morning I can see that the leaves are already changing color. We will have peak foliage here in Massachusetts in another couple of weeks.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home plead innocent...

This photo by Eliot Kamenitz of the Times-Picayune shows St. Rita's Nursing Home owners Mabel and Salvador Mangano who pleaded innocent Wednesday to charges in connection with the deaths of 35 residents.

This is another sad reminder of the terrible destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Some of the residents confined to beds or wheelchairs did not have a chance when the one-story building was flooded to the ceiling. The Magano's say they never expected their facility to be flooded.

There will be no winners in this case.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A lesson in forgiveness...

For the past few days I've been thinking about the extraordinary response of the Amish community to the terrible tragedy in their midst. Five small girls shot to death and five more seriously wounded.

The family of the victims of this tragedy have reached out to the family of the shooter. They are even sharing some of the funds collected with his family.

In a world where the normal response to this kind of tragedy is to seek revenge the response of the Amish community is a lesson in forgiveness. I know I have been very touched by their response.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Feeding frenzy in D.C....

The media, led by the Cable networks, are going crazy over the Foley scandal. They smell blood! This morning the Washington Times is calling for Speaker Hasert to resign.

Maybe this will pass in a couple of days...or maybe the Republicans will have to come up with a new leadership team. Anyway, the unfolding story in DC seems to point towards a Democratic landslide in November. Of course one should not discount Karl Rove in this situation. His people may be able to come up with a Democratic Congressman who has some bad skeletons in his closet.

I used to believe that we could expect an "October surprise"...such as a military strike on Iran. That seems less likely than it did a month ago. But who knows! This is all about holding on to power.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wal-Mart to add more part-timers and wage caps...

According to this story in today's New York Times, Wal-Mart has decided to replace many full-time employees with part-timers. In this way they will not have to pay benefits. The part-timers will be expected to be available 27/7.

The company says the changes are to better serve customers. Workers say the new employment policies reduce already modest incomes and strain employees' personal lives.

I don't shop at Wal-Mart because of the way they exploit employees. It is the underpaid workers who make those "cheap prices" possible.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

More on Congressman Mark Foley...

I've had an opportunity to think a little more about the scandal involving Congressman Mark Foley.

First, I now realize that this is not really a partisan scandal. Foley's behavior is not the result of his conservative politics but of his own flawed personality.

My second comment has to do with how people around Foley responded to his behavior. It seems his tendencies were well known to associates in Congress but nobody intervened. This is reminiscent of what happened in the many cases of clergy abuse that were revealed in recent years. Denial seems to be a typical response to this problem.

What I don't understand is why Congressman Foley would put himself forward as an advocate of protecting children against abuse while he was at the same time trying to cultivate inappropriate relationships with the teenage pages who work in the House of Representatives.


After posting the comments above I realized that a Massachusetts Congressman was censured by the House of Representatives about ten years ago because of an inappropriate relationship with a House page. His name was Garry Studds and he was a Democrat.