Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Reprobates and Cowards

On the 7th of February, 2006, Coretta Scott King was memorialized at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, eight days after her death from complications of a stroke at the age of 78. Among the thousands of people in attendance were President George W. Bush and his First Lady, Laura. Former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton were also there, as well as former First Ladies Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter.


President Bush was the first of the VIPs to speak, saying "We gather in God's house, in God's presence, to honor God's servant, Coretta Scott King. Her journey was long, and only briefly with a hand to hold. But now she leans on everlasting arms."


He went on to talk about the good work she and her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., had done with regard to the advancement of civil rights in America, how she bravely confronted racial hatred with grace and dignity, and what a kind-hearted woman she'd been. The allusions he made to political or social events of the past were largely general in nature, and only used for the sake of defining her good character and noble spirit. All in all, his remarks were very respectful, and the sentiments he imparted were both uplifting and well-intentioned.


Unfortunately, this cannot be said about the words of two other individuals who spoke at the funeral, namely the Reverend Joseph Lowery, and former President Carter. Lowery was the first of the two to address the crowd, saying "She [Mrs. King] deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there, but Coretta knew, and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here." He then nodded his head in the direction of the President, adding "Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor!"


Some time later, Mr. Carter took to the pulpit, exclaiming "It was difficult for them [Mr. and Mrs. King] then personally, with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps." With these remarks, Carter was clearly taking a political cheap shot at the President over the NSA's current signals intelligence program, which he strongly opposes.


He then stated that "This commemorative ceremony this morning, this afternoon, is not only to acknowledge the great contributions of Coretta and Martin, but to remind us that the struggle for equal rights is not over. We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi... Those who were most devastated by Katrina know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans."


As was true of Reverend Lowery's remarks, Carter's were gratuitously political and insulting, designed to shame President Bush at a time when he had no other choice but to sit quietly and take it. In my view, the behavior of these two liberal activists was both grossly inappropriate and cowardly, and those who attempt to defend them are no less detestable.


Like most folks, I have been to a lot of funerals over the years, including those of my brother, my parents, my grandparents, and most of my aunts and uncles. Just recently I attended the funeral of my uncle Fred at a small Catholic church in a town not far from where I live. Like most memorial services, his was conducted in a solemn yet dignified manner, and the individuals who spoke before the assemblage kept their remarks simple and respectful, praising my beloved uncle for a life well lived, and comforting the grieving friends and family members in attendance.


Knowing uncle Fred as I did, I feel confident that the proceedings would have met with his approval, and I doubt that anyone left the church that day harboring ill feelings about anyone else who had come to pay their respects.


Simply put, no one used the occasion to preach hatred for anyone or anything, or to vent their frustrations over the current state of the world beyond the church's doors. Had some egocentric pinhead showed up with the intention of turning my uncle's funeral into a political rally, I would have been compelled to hunt him down after a day or two and beat some respect into him.


There's a time and a place for everything, and even a child knows that a funeral is a time for remembering the dearly departed, not for advancing one's personal agenda, be it political, social, or other. Those who refuse to abide by the unwritten rules of common decency and respect which pertain to such events are contemptuous, deserving of ridicule in my opinion and, at least in cases where the honor of the Daley clan is at stake, a sound thrashing as well.


http://www.times-post.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

VP Chenney has a blood cot

Doctors discovered a blood cot in Vice President Dick Chenney’s leg that could be fatal if not treated.  Apparently he had pain in his calf, visited a doctor and discovered  a deep venous thrombosis.  Perhas as the result of his recent extensive traveling?  Doctors will likely it with anticoagulant medicine such as heparin. 


 

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Drug Giant Stops HPV Vaccination Lobbying

Merck and Co. has dropped its ridiculous campaign to lobby for state mandated vaccinations against human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer.

Incredibly, Merck's efforts came to light in January when Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring vaccinations of all 11- and 12-year-old girls.

Kelly Shackelford, president of the Freemarket Foundation of Texas, said Perry's order angered parents who responded with thousands of angry calls, e-mails and faxes over the issue -- a fact that had to have influenced Merck, if only indirectly.

Perry's order "was a pretty heavy-handed action with no debate, and parents reacted with a firestorm." he said. "This has been in all the newspapers every day for three weeks. It's rare any issue gets coverage like that. And it's not slowing down."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Good News for Darfur

The Save Darfur Coalition welcomes the agreement reached today by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir that his government and rebel groups will cease hostilities for a period of 60 days while they work towards a lasting peace.

The cease-fire was one of several issues agreed to in talks between Governor Richardson and President al-Bashir in Khartoum on Wednesday. Governor Richardson traveled to Sudan at the invitation of the Save Darfur Coalition, and was accompanied by Save Darfur Senior International Coordinator Ambassador (ret.) Lawrence Rossin, Refugees International Executive Director Kenneth Bacon, and Public and International Law and Policy Group senior attorney Amjad Atallah.

“There was positive movement on a number of issues, most notably the agreement to a cease-fire between the government and rebel groups that will immediately save lives. The agreement also creates an improved environment for a political settlement, based on the Darfur Peace Agreement, to move forward. There has been a deteriorating situation on the ground in recent weeks, clearly demonstrating an urgent need for increased international diplomacy and action,” said Ambassador Rossin.

The Save Darfur Coalition said the cease-fire agreement, which also included a number of concessions to improve humanitarian aid and media access to Darfur, must be accompanied by a new round of diplomacy involving Sudan, rebel leaders, the African Union, United Nations and other countries. “We must work to ensure that President al-Bashir and rebel leaders keep the commitments they have agreed to, and that the international community does not miss this important opportunity to press for a permanent, peaceful solution to the tragedy in Darfur,” said David Rubenstein, Executive Director, Save Darfur Coalition.

The Save Darfur Coalition will continue to press Khartoum as well, in part through active engagement in the agreed-upon “ongoing dialogue” with the Sudanese Government aimed at ending the violence in Darfur and achieving a political solution to the crises.

The two parties issued the following statement at the conclusion of their talks:

Joint Press Statement on the conclusion of the visit
by Governor Bill Richardson to the Sudan
7th - 10th January 2006

H.E Bill Richardson Governor of New Mexico accompanied by a delegation sponsored by and including members of the Save Darfur Coalition, the leading United States-based Darfur peace advocacy organization, conducted a visit to Sudan to discuss ways to secure peace in the Darfur region of Sudan and the protection of all civilians and other non-combatants. The Governor and the delegation visited EI Fasher and Nayala in Darfur, for meetings with internally displaced persons in Darfur, rebel groups that are signatories to the (DPA) as well as those which are not as of yet, international agencies, the United Nations, and humanitarian aid as well as the Wali of North Darfur and the Deputy Wali of Southern Darfur States and held meetings in Khartoum with H.E President Omer Hassan Al Bashir,Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Ahmed Karti and a number of high ranking Sudanese officials.

Both sides agreed that ending the conflict in Darfur is Sudan's and the international communities highest priority. Peace, they agreed, can only come through a political settlement that is joined in by and addresses the needs of all parties, on the basis of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) of 5 May 2006 reiterating their support for preserving Sudan's territorial integrity and the importance of respect for Sudan's sovereignty.

Both sides agreed that there was a compelling need for a comprehensive cease-fire to launch a political process based on the DPA that would lead to a durable end to the conflict as soon as possible. Both agreed to a 60-day cessation of hostilities by all parties within the framework of the DPA, accompanied by a start in African Union/United Nations diplomatic efforts, within the framework of the DPA, to begin narrowing the gaps between the non-signatories, including government approval of a field commanders' conference attended by the African Union and United Nations. This would be followed at the appropriate moment by an African Union/United Nations - sponsored peace summit, again in the framework of the DPA, no later than 15 March 2007. Simultaneously, both agreed that the UN needed to expedite as quickly as possible the provision of UN personnel agreed in Addis Ababa and further specified in Abuja in November 2006. President Bashir re-affirmed his commitment to continue to facilitate the deployment of UN personnel and equipment consistent with his agreement with the Secretary General of the UN on Phases II and III, including the eventual conclusions of the Tripartite Committee as stipulated in the DPA.

The two sides noted that Governor Richardson had secured a commitment from commanders of the Justice and Equality Movement and of the Non-Signatory Front to participate in a process including a 60-day cease fire agreement within the framework of the DPA. Governor Richardson and Save Darfur Coalition expressed their grave concern to all parties with whom they met about continuing and increasing attacks on civilians and other non-combatants.

They reiterated that gender-based violence and such crimes must be condemned and prosecuted regardless of which party or organization was responsible, noting that Governor Richardson and the Save Darfur Coalition emphasized the need in all their meetings for implementing mechanisms to ensure that "zero tolerance" policies towards gender-based violence be applied in practice, quickly and robustly. Governor Richardson noted with appreciation President Bashir's commitment to welcome a significant contribution of female members to the AU/UN hybrid operations. Both sides expressed their grave concern at allegations of gender -based violence by United Nations personnel in South Sudan.

Governor Richardson and the delegation also met with the Under-Secretary of Justice, the Rapporteur of the Advisory Council for Human Rights and Dr. Attigatt who presented a briefing on Sudanese Government efforts to institutionalize protections for women. The Governor and the delegation accepted the offer to work with the Ministry to analyze and extend existing
efforts to support Sudanese women against all gender-based violence.

President Bashir and Governor Richardson also agreed that more light needs to be shed on the full situation in Darfur. President Bashir agreed to allow and facilitate travel by journalists from all over the world to Darfur.

The two sides underscored the need to disarm all armed groups, including the Janjaweed, pursuant to the provision of the DPA, and further agreed not to have the National military aircraft painted in white markings normally reserved for international organizations.

President Bashir agreed that government forces would attempt to improve security conditions in all areas of Darfur with special emphasis on El Geneina, and would provide protection to food and other humanitarian convoys. They also agreed that humanitarian aid agencies have greatly assisted the Government and people of Sudan by providing much needed emergency and development aid in Darfur and other parts of Sudan. President Bashir agreed to expedite procedures for entry visas for all humanitarian aid workers as well as goods. He also agreed to terminate the requirement of exit visas for humanitarian aid workers. President Bashir noted with satisfaction the strong statements by the Save Darfur Coalition to rebel commanders condemning attacks by their members on humanitarian aid operations and agreed to initiate an ongoing dialogue with the Save Darfur Coalition aimed at ending the violence in Darfur and on achieving a political solution to the crises.

The two sides agreed to apprise African Union Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim and United Nations Special Envoy Jan Eliasson of these developments, so that the African Union and United Nations will facilitate the commanders meeting and launch the political discussion and to maintain regular communication assessing progress on these important initiatives to identify areas of difficulty on which further engagement may be necessary to ensure rapid progress and durable outcomes.

Both sides agreed that an improvement of relations is in the mutual interest of both countries.

###

About Ambassador (ret.) Lawrence Rossin – Amb. (ret.) Lawrence Rossin, Senior International Coordinator at the Save Darfur Coalition, is responsible for designing and leading implementation of the Coalition’s outreach to foreign governments and non-governmental organizations to advocate on behalf of the people of Darfur. Rossin joined the Coalition after serving as Assistant Secretary General and Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, and as part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo. He has also served in a number of diplomatic positions in the U.S. Department of State.

About Kenneth Bacon – Kenneth Bacon has served as the president of Refugees International since 2001. An expert in international affairs and security issues, Mr. Bacon has concentrated on expanding Refugees International’s capacity to promote more effective ways for the international community to meet the needs of refugees and displaced people. From 1994-2001, he was Assistant Secretary, Public Affairs, at the U.S. Department of Defense and served as Pentagon spokesman. From 1969 – 1994, he was a reporter, editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal based in Washington, DC. Bacon is also the co-chairman of the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping.

About Amjad Atallah – Amjad Atallah is founder and President of Strategic Assessments, a not-for-profit organization committed to providing legal and policy assistance to parties involved in negotiations in conflict and post-conflict situations, as well as a Senior Attorney with the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG). Prior to founding Strategic Assessments, Mr. Atallah advised the Palestinian negotiating team, and later Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas’ office, in peace negotiations with Israel on the issues of international borders, security, and constitutional issues. He was also responsible for liaising with US government officials in Washington, D.C. on these issues. Mr. Atallah is also co-founder and a member of the Board of Directors of Women for Women International (www.womenforwomen.org).

About David Rubenstein – David Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Save Darfur Coalition, helped organize the Coalition in 2004 and has worked since then to raise awareness about the crisis and to advocate for the protection for the people of Darfur. Rubenstein has met with world leaders, noted global advocates, refugees, and hundreds of allied organizations to discuss the crisis and how to spur the world community to action. He recently returned with from refugee camps in the eastern regions of Chad directly affected by the crisis in Darfur.

About the Save Darfur Coalition – The Save Darfur Coalition raises public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of people throughout the Darfur region. It is an alliance of more than 175 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. The Coalition’s member organizations represent 130 million people of all ages, races, religions and political affiliations united together to help the people of Darfur. For more information on the Coalition, please visit www.SaveDarfur.org.