Wednesday Reads: A Dictator, A Priest and Joe Lieberman walk into a funeral home…

Morning everyone! I hope that you have a big cup of coffee, and a nice donut, cause lets dig into Wednesday’s reads:

You have probably seen this news already, R. Sargent Shriver, Kennedy In-Law and Peace Corps Founding Director, Dies at 95 –

R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, the United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday. He was 95.

Comic relief...picture of fat bulldog with cap.

My brother was very involved in Special Olympics, so to my family, the work that Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy did for Special Olympians was very important to us. It seems that as these last few connections to such a dynamic era are passing away, so is our appreciation of times that were full of conflicts. Think about what was achieved during those years, when Democratic Presidents acted like Democrats.

The baby boomers grew up listening to their parents, talking about living during the Depression and experiencing a World at War. Those who fought for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, dealt with Vietnam and a revolution of sex, drugs and rock and roll, they know how important the fight was. My generation had the benefit of Grandparents and Parents that appreciated the struggle of surviving on onions and mustard, who understood what was gained in terms of human rights, and enjoyed what Presidents like FDR and LBJ did for “the People.” I can’t help but wonder about what my kids generation will appreciate when they get older. Wii games , iPods and Facebook? Ugh…

Well, Joe Lieberman is retiring, and I must say that I wish he had done it sooner. I always have been fond of Lieberman. I even voted for him when I lived in CT. If you want to read about Lieberman’s decision to call it quits, check out Ezra Klein – Joe Lieberman: Democratic hero? If you don’t care about why he called it quits, and how the Dem’s feel about it, then check out who is thinking of running for that seat. 2 in House could seek Lieberman’s seat – Jake Sherman –

Joseph Lieberman’s looming retirement from the Senate has focused Connecticutians’ on the House of Representatives, where both Democratic Reps. Joseph Courtney and Chris Murphy say they’re considering a run for his seat. While both are vowing publicly that they’re undecided, a source close to the third-term Murphy said he is leaning strongly toward running for Lieberman’s seat in 2012, when President Barack Obama will be on the ticket in a state he easily carried in 2008.

At least the “Baby Doc” is in custody, and facing charges for the terrible things he did to the Haitian people. No mercy for a tyrant who showed none – The Globe and Mail

The quick decision to charge Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier for corruption and embezzlement, crimes allegedly committed during his 1971-1986 regime, is a welcome sign of life from a government that has been astonishingly listless since the earthquake.

Haiti’s leadership already faces many challenges: reconstruction, a cholera outbreak, a debilitating political impasse, and an outbreak of sexual violence against women living in the camps. About the last thing it needs is the unexpected arrival of an ex-dictator on its rubble-strewn doorstep.

More than 250 rapes in camps were reported in the 150 days following the earthquake. (Photo Amnesty International)

I am using this article to bring to the discussion here at Sky Dancing something that Boston Boomer mentioned to me last week. In a report by Amnesty International, the sexual abuse of women and girls in Haitian tent cities and camps is yet another crisis that has hit these poor people in a still devastated  country. Post-quake chaos fuels rape in Haiti – survey – AlertNet

Haitian women are more at risk of sexual violence because of the breakdown of law and order and the spread of flimsy camps after last January’s earthquake, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Local women’s groups have documented hundreds of rapes of women and girls since the disaster, but many believe reported cases represent only a fraction of the real number, Amnesty said in a report on survey findings.

Haiti: Sexual violence against women increasing | Amnesty International

One year after the earthquake which killed 230,000 people and injured 300,000, more than one million people still live in appalling conditions in tent cities in the capital Port-au-Prince and in the south of Haiti, where women are at serious risk of sexual attacks. Those responsible are predominately armed men who roam the camps after dark.

More than 250 cases of rape in several camps were reported in the first 150 days after January’s earthquake, according to data cited in the Amnesty International report, Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti’s camps.

To read the entire report click this link here. Rape as a weapon in war, and rape as a result of horrible living conditions…if you could really call existing in those camps “living.” If you would like to help by Donating, Joining or Taking Action, just click on the links to Amnesty International.

Another form of rape that was in the news recently involves children and the Catholic Church. I posted a link to this “letter” yesterday in the comments section. I feel that it is important enough to front page it. The letter, aka smoking gun, details the steps taken by the Vatican to cover up charges of sexual abuse by priests. In 1997 Letter, Vatican Warned Irish Bishops on Abuse Policy –

“The Vatican is at the root of this problem,” said Colm O’Gorman, an outspoken victim of abuse in Ireland who is now director of Amnesty International there. “Any suggestion that they have not deliberately and willfully been instructing bishops not to report priests to appropriate civil authorities is now proven to be ridiculous.”


The document, a two-page letter, was first revealed by the Irish broadcaster RTE and obtained by The Associated Press.

The letter was written just after a first wave of scandal over sexual abuse by priests in Irish Catholic schools and other facilities — a scandal so big it brought down the Irish government in 1994.

By 1996, an advisory committee of Irish bishops had drawn up a new policy that included “mandatory reporting” of suspected abusers to civil authorities. The letter, signed by Archbishop Luciano Storero, then the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio — or chief representative — in Ireland, told the Irish bishops that the Vatican had reservations about mandatory reporting for both “moral and canonical” reasons. Archbishop Storero died in 2000.

The letter said that bishops who failed to follow canon law procedures precisely might find that their decisions to defrock abusive clerics would be overturned on appeal by Vatican courts.

“The results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same diocesan authorities,” the letter said.

The traumatic results to children who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of these pedophile priests would outweigh any embarrassment to the Church…at least you would think so right? I am glad that there is some document out there that proves what I always thought was the Vatican’s policy when it came to pedophilia in the priesthood. (Lets just keep this to ourselves, shall we.)

An update in the Tunisian uprising: Tunisia’s new government in trouble – Africa – Al Jazeera English

The announcement of the new government was also met with anger by some of the Tunisian public.”The new government is a sham. It’s an insult to the revolution that claimed lives and blood,” Ahmed al-Haji, a student, said. Police used tear gas in an attempt to break up several hundred opposition supporters and trade union activists gathered in Tunis.

Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, told Al Jazeera that it’s clear that Ghannouchi made an error in reappointing so many ministers from Ben Ali’s government. “If you see what happened on the Tunisian streets today, the people who came out rejected the idea that the same old faces are going to still run the country,” Hounshell said. “I think it remains to be seen whether this new government will even be able to stand and hold these elections in 60 days, as they’re required to.”

How many “governments” has that been now, four? A new government every day since the shite hit the fan, and Ben Ali and his gold grabbing wife fled the country. I just can’t even comprehend the weight of all that gold.

In the Health section of the NY Times there was a real good article about Metastatic Breast Cancer. This is the same cancer that Elizabeth Edwards was suffering from. Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer, a Race Years Long –

Although great strides have been made in the treatment of breast cancer, recent events, including Elizabeth Edwards’s death last month and the government’s decision to ban the drug Avastin as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer, have drawn attention to the limits of medical progress — and to the nearly 40,000 patients who die of the disease each year.

Of women who are given a diagnosis of breast cancer, only 4 percent to 6 percent are at Stage 4 at the time of diagnosis, meaning the cancer has already metastasized, or spread, to distant sites in the body. But about 25 percent of those with early-stage disease develop metastatic forms, with an estimated 49,000 new diagnoses each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

At least 150,000 Americans are estimated to be living with metastatic breast cancer — including Dr. Hebert, now 45, who got her diagnosis six years ago and now works with the nonprofit Metastatic Breast Cancer Network.

Stage 4 breast cancer can be treated, but it is considered incurable. Depending on the type of tumor, patients may live for many years — working, raising children, starting nonprofit foundations, doing yoga and even running half-marathons.

But theirs are not pink-ribbon lives: They live from scan to scan, in three-month gulps, grappling with pain, fatigue, depression, crippling medical costs and debilitating side effects of treatment, hoping the current therapy will keep the disease at bay until the next breakthrough drug comes along, or at least until the family trip to Disney World.

This is a serious health issue that has touched so many lives. I am sure that some of our readers have experienced this cancer first hand. Actually, I would love to hear your stories, it may help get the discussion going and who knows, it could even give someone the courage to get that lump checked out…

And lastly, Funeral homes find new life by hosting other events –

Across the USA, funeral homes are building and marketing such centers as not just a place to mourn the dead but as sites for events celebrating the living, including weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, holiday parties and proms.

The lure? It is often less expensive; there is greater availability; and the settings — inside and outside — can be nothing short of wedding-picture perfect.

I don’t know about you all… but nothing celebrates a bright and successful future, like holding your wedding or prom at a funeral home.  So, now you may get the joke about the title of this morning’s reads.

Hey, what are you finding in the news today? Let’s get talking!

27 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: A Dictator, A Priest and Joe Lieberman walk into a funeral home…”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Thank for this great roundup, Minx.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    I still have no clear opinion on Wikileaks. Is it a good thing or is it bad? For someone as opinionated as myself, this ambiguity is disturbing.

    But if they are at least able to highight the chicanery involving the banking industry and expose the craveness behind many of the decisions that we are forced to live with, I’m all for it.

    It also disturbs me to have Assange compared to a “serial rapist” when he may be nothing more than just a “selfish jerk” when it comes to his bedmates,frustrating since it takes away from the issue at hand.

    It would be helpful for me at least to be able to arrive at a reasonable opinion but so far I am still up in the air.

  3. Teresa says:

    Maybe shotgun weddings should be held at funeral homes…..then, if the future husband resists and the shotgun has to follow through, the wedding/funeral home combination would be something of a “marriage of convenience” as they say….

    I kid, I kid, I joke. Ah, that was terrible, but notice that I didn’t delete it…

    • Branjor says:

      Like the old time ambulances, which were really converted hearses.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      @ Teresa: Hells Yeah! What is that saying, cut out the middle man?

    • Fredster says:

      And it’s a great time for a sales pitch. “And while you are looking for that first home, you might want to consider another property purchase. We have a special right now on 2 to 6 person family tombs. Just imagine your last name in Gothic letters etched into the freize above the tomb. We can give you a wedding discount of an additional 20% off if you act in the next 10 days.” LOL!

  4. dakinikat says:

    Krugman has a nifty graph up from Menzie Chinn that shows how absolutely under our potential GDP we are. You may remember I posted a graph and said something about using a rule with where things used to be? Chinn did a better graphic of it using some numbers collected from a WSJ survey that shows how badly our economy is under performing.
    output gap

  5. dakinikat says:

    The war on public servants continues:

    Public sector workers are a ‘privileged new class,’ says billionaire

    In the ideological assault being directed today at public sector workers no one has outdone Mortimer Zuckerman — billionaire real estate and publishing mogul, owner of the New York Daily News and chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report — who declared in September that public sector workers are a “privileged new class” dominating U.S. society. Populists, Zuckerman (the 182nd wealthiest American in 2010) pronounced, have long gotten away with their insidious “class warfare speeches” emphasizing “the gulf between the rich and the poor.” The aim has been to divert attention from society’s real ruling class: public sector workers. Forget the corporate rich, forget Wall Street, forget the bank bailouts, corporate bonuses and high-income tax breaks, forget the private jets and mansions. It is the millions of “public servants” with their outrageous five-digit salaries and their galling health insurance and retirement pensions, Zuckerman insisted, who have now become “the public’s masters,” seizing a disproportionate share of society’s rewards and bringing on the failures of the U.S. economy.

    How far does the disconnect from reality have to go here?

  6. Joanelle says:

    Wow, MM, great gathering of info – thanx.

    OT – Perhaps Dak can address this:

    For years, politicians and policymakers have reassured the American public that the Social Security system, which sends monthly checks out to 53 million beneficiaries, is safely solvent — and will be for decades to come. But federal spending and income data from the Treasury Department reveal that the Social Security program is already deep in the red, with outlays exceeding payroll tax revenues by $76 billion in 2010 alone.

    See full article from DailyFinance:

    Dak, I shuddered when I saw that – as a retired couple that depends at least in part on the SS that we paid into for all of our adult years, this is really scary. But then I wondered – what’s the truth??? Honestly, who are we to believe?

    • dakinikat says:

      I have no idea where those numbers are coming from and can’t find them. I’m going to have to look. The numbers aren’t referenced from any source I can find. My gut feel is that this is just more right wing drivel to get people to hand their social security over to Wall Street. But again, there are provided in this article that I can’t substantiate. Until I can find out where the numbers come from, I’d discount it completely.

    • dakinikat says:

      Here’s something from march and the nytimes saying something similar but with some explanations

      Here’s why it’s not a big deal right now.

      In a year like this, the paper gains from the interest earned on the securities will more than cover the difference between what it takes in and pays out.

      That means basically that when people go back to work and start paying into it again, it fills back up.

      Here’s from Allan Greenspan–hardly a liberal–saying something similar too.

      “Even if the trust fund level goes down, there’s no action required, until the level of the trust fund gets to zero,” he said. “At that point, you have to cut benefits, because benefits have to equal receipts.”

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    Wow, this is shocking. Giffords is set to be released from hospital on Friday. I hope they are not pushing it by releasing her to soon. I wonder if the insurance has something to do with it? Ya know those Insurance Companies are always trying to kick you out of the hospital before you are truly ready and healthy enough to leave.

    Gabrielle Giffords to be released from hospital on Friday – Jennifer Epstein –

    • dakinikat says:

      My guess is she’s going to some long term care facility where she doesn’t take up a hospital bed and she can get therapy. That’s what they did with my mom when she had some issues. They save the hospital for intensive care and then switch people to either hospice or intermediate care centers with physical therapy etc close by to the hospital. It turned into to be hospice eventually for my mom, but at the time she was released, they had hoped she would recover from what they thought was just an odd fall and needed nursing care and physical therapy.

    • Fredster says:

      I know I’m going to slip and call you Myrna, as in the book. If I do I apologize ahead of time.

      Frequently the insurance will set a fixed number of days for “acute” care. Even if Giffords has the Fed BC/BS plan it has limits also. What they look at is the patient progress and they may have decided she didn’t need the acute care as badly now and can be stepped-down to a rehab facility of some type. Unless her family is fighting this and the docs are against it, I’d consider it a good move. It would show that she’s making a really good deal of progress in her recovery.

      They did the same thing to my Mom once. She had a very nasty post-surgical infection and they put her back in the hospital. She was there I think for about two weeks and then they transferred her to a rehab facility. She was still getting all of the antibiotics she needed and got help but just not at that acute level they have in most hospitals. Like I say, let’s consider it a good thing unless we find out differently.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Thanks for your reply and explanation Fredster…I just got back from giving a lecture on social protest and the goodly virtues of climax at the Lex Ave “Y.” Now on my way to the Bronx to play some folk music with a few exquisite men from Israel who just got off a kibbutz. Real vital and earthy men.

        (I actually was going to use Myrna Minx as my handle, but there is a blogger in New Mexico somewhere who has made that name popular.)

  8. Joanelle says:

    Yes, I heard that they are moving her to rehab where she’ll get the needed therapies to help her move along.