Iraq’s Kurds, Turkish Officials Meet in Baghdad

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that a delegation of Iraq’s Kurdish leadership and Turkish government officials met with each other in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, earlier that day. The Turks pressed Mahmoud Barzani, the president of the three-province semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, to crack down on the PKK in the region he is supposed to be in control of. Incidentally, the meeting was held shortly after Turkish media reported that another five Turkish soldiers were killed by PKK terrorists. Remarkably, whenever the Turks tell Iraq’s Kurds to crack down on the PKK, Kurdish authorities say there is not much they can do. At the same time, however, Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’ is the most stable region of Iraq because, thus … Continue reading

UNICEF to Launch World Hand-Washing Day

Although many will undoubtedly make fun of UNICEF’s decision to launch a ‘hand-washing day,’ those with a bit of knowledge about the benefits of having people wash their hands regularly are likely to applaud the effort. You see, if people would just wash their hands several times per day, thousands of lives would be saved every single day. An estimated 5,000 children die daily from diarrhea, AFP reported, but ‘half of those deaths could be prevented if they washed their hands with soap before meals and after going to the toilet,’ according to AFP spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told AFP. Especially children and adults in Asia and Africa could be saved if people would only wash their hands regularly, but the … Continue reading

Kerry Measure To End Wartime Propaganda Becomes Law

I’m winding down to my last few days before my big cross country move. It’s bad timing given the election, but it’s something I must do. Needlessto say I’m overwhelmed with packing and organizing and finalizing details, so finding time to post is difficult. That said, this arrived a short time ago in my email box and it’s a significant piece of news not relating to the election. Via a press release from Senator Kerry’s office: Sen. John Kerry today announced that President Bush signed into law Kerry’s legislation to prohibit the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) from funding propaganda. The measure was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2009. “With confidence in Washington at an all-time low, the American … Continue reading

Mental Health Parity Hidden in Bailout

Congress’s $700 billion bailout package unbeknownst to seemingly everyone, or at least me, also contained within it a valuable piece of legislation regarding mental health services that advocates have been fighting for years to pass. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was passed into law as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (HR 1424). NPR’s All Things Considered brought this story to my attention. The law addresses the concept of mental health parity–that mental health issues are insured to the same degree as is what is traditionally considered to be more physical medical problems (we all know that mental health issues are physical illnesses of course). In 1996 Sen. Pete Domenici and Sen. Paul Wellstone … Continue reading

Are We Gearing Up For An Obama Landslide?

I’ve spent the entire weekend packing for my move back east next week. I leave Los Angeles on the 19th and there is so much to do. I’ve barely had a chance to read the news, but this caught my eye during my late night browse: Barring a dramatic change in the political landscape over the next three weeks, Democrats appear headed toward a decisive victory on Election Day that would give them broad power over the federal government. The victory would send Barack Obama to the White House and give him larger Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate — and perhaps a filibuster-proof margin there. That could mark a historic realignment of the country’s … Continue reading

Conservatives Are Right: Free Speech Isn’t a Political Issue

by Walter Brasch The Sunbird Conservatives, a student group, put out some pro-McCain literature at a recruiting table at Fresno Pacific University a week ago. Seemed innocent enough. The conservatives weren’t harassing anyone, nor were they blocking any sidewalks. But, administrators at this Christian-based college didn’t like it. A dean told the students to either remove the McCain literature or to agree to what he said was university policy to present both sides. The dean correctly noted that the First Amendment applies only to government intrusion. A private university, unlike a public university, may curtail any free speech it wants. The students still argued “free speech rights.” Enter the provost, head of all academic affairs at the university. She reaffirmed … Continue reading

Will Health Care Be the Next Banking Collapse?

Last week two health care experts sounded the alarm that health care may be the next national meltdown on the same scale as the banking industry.  Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Kenneth Thorpe, PhD of the executive director of the Emory Institute for Advanced Policy Solutions and former deputy assistant of policy at HHS under Clinton, met with reporters via teleconference warning that the crisis in banking may be what looms ahead for health care.  “We have got to find ways … to slow the growth in both Medicare and Medicaid,” Thorpe said. “We’ve got to find ways in the private sector to make health care more affordable for working families and for businesses. Otherwise, despite the talk about universal coverage, nobody will … Continue reading

Wrong Track

The latest NEWSWEEK poll shows Obama opening up a double digit lead over John McCain and “An astounding 86 percent of voters now say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, while a mere 10 percent say they are satisfied.” That’s the highest wrong track/right track ratio ever recorded in the NEWSWEEK poll. The “historic boiling over of dissatisfaction with the status quo” is the cause of the “surge in support” for Obama. It’s a “GOP trainwreck waiting to happen“…. Putting it into context in terms of “just how toxic these numbers could be for the Republic party, consider that in October, 2006, weeks before the Democrats swept control of both houses of Congress, only … Continue reading