Thursday Reads: Pandemic Good News and Bad News

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Good Morning!!

There’s good news and bad news on the pandemic front. We may be “turning the corner” in the U.S., but the situation in India is out of control and getting worse.

First the good news.

After weeks of coronavirus patients flooding emergency rooms in Michigan, the worst Covid-19 hot spot in the nation, hospitalizations are finally falling.

On some recent days, entire states, including Wisconsin and West Virginia, have reported zero new coronavirus deaths — a brief but promising respite from the onslaught of the past year.

And in New York and Chicago, officials encouraged by the recent progress have confidently vowed to fully reopen in the coming weeks, conjuring images of a vibrant summer of concerts, sporting events and packed restaurants revving cities back to life.

Americans have entered a new, hopeful phase of the pandemic. Buoyed by a sense that the coronavirus is waning, in part because of vaccinations, more people are shrugging off masks, venturing into restaurants and returning to their prepandemic routines. Mayors, governors and other local officials — once the bearers of grim news about the virus’s toll and strict rules for businesses — have joined in the newfound optimism, rapidly loosening restrictions.

QCA2POEDYNEP5DIQ3CPLGCEHNMPublic health experts remain cautious, but said that while they still expect significant local and regional surges in the coming weeks, they do not think they will be as widespread or reach past peaks.

“We’re clearly turning the corner,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Across the country, the outlook for the pandemic has indeed improved, putting the United States in its best position against the virus yet. The nation is recording about 49,000 new cases a day, the lowest number since early October, and hospitalizations have plateaued at around 40,000, a similar level as the early fall. Nationwide, deaths are hovering around 700 a day, down from a peak of more than 3,000 in January.

The Washington Post: CDC says coronavirus could be under control this summer in U.S. if people get vaccinated and are careful.

Coronavirus infections could be driven to low levels and the pandemic at least temporarily throttled in the United States by July if the vast majority of people get vaccinated and continue with precautions against viral transmission, according to a strikingly optimistic paper released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report comes as administration officials and leaders in many states are sounding more confident that the country can return to a degree of normalcy relatively soon. President Biden on Tuesday announced a new vaccination goal, saying he wants 70 percent of adults to have had at least one dose by July 4.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday the modeling results give Americans a road map out of the pandemic — so long as they continue to get vaccinated and maintain certain mitigation strategies until a “critical mass of people” get the shots.

“The results remind us that we have the path out of this, and models, once projecting really grim news, now offer reasons to be quite hopeful for what the summer may bring,” she said.

The CDC report is not a prediction or forecast. Rather, it is a set of four scenarios based on modeling of the pandemic, using different assumptions about vaccination rates, vaccine efficacy and precautions against transmission.

Read about the possible scenarios at the WaPo.

Interesting proposal by the Biden administration

Now the bad news. 

The Washington Post: India breaks its own records again with 412,000 new cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in 24 hours

India’s devastating coronavirus crisis deepened on Thursday, as the country reported 412,000 infections and nearly 4,000 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Epidemiologists believe that India’s surge could hit 500,000 cases a day in the coming weeks before retreating. That would represent a ruinous burden for a health-care system reeling from too many patients and a shortage of crucial supplies such as oxygen.

Last month, the United States advised its citizens to leave India, and the State Department on Thursday authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel.

Associated Press: India hits another grim virus record as oxygen demand jumps.

Infections in India hit another grim daily record on Thursday as demand for medical oxygen jumped sevenfold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad.

The number of new confirmed cases breached 400,000 for the second time since the devastating surge began last month. The 412,262 new cases pushed India’s official tally to more than 21 million. The Health Ministry also reported 3,980 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 230,168. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.

Eleven COVID-19 patients died when pressure in an oxygen line dropped suddenly in a government medical college hospital in Chengalpet in southern India on Wednesday night, possibly because of a faulty valve, The Times of India newspaper reported.

Hospital authorities said they repaired the pipeline last week, but the consumption of oxygen had doubled since then, the newspaper said.

Read more details at the AP.

Reuters: COVID-19 spreads to rural India, villages ill-equipped to fight it.

Hopes that India’s rampaging second wave of COVID-19 is peaking were set back on Thursday as record daily infections and deaths were reported and as the virus spread from cities to villages that were poorly equipped to cope.

Government modelling had forecast a peak by Wednesday in infections that have overwhelmed the healthcare system, with hospitals running out of beds and medical oxygen….

“This temporarily halts speculations of a peak,” Rijo M John, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in the southern state of Kerala, said on Twitter.

While the capital New Delhi and several other cities have been hardest hit so far, limited public healthcare, including a dearth of testing facilities, means the threat is grave in rural areas that are home to nearly 70% of the 1.3 billion population.

In the town of Susner in Madhya Pradesh state, patients were being treated outdoors under trees, on blankets on the ground.

CBS News: India’s packed hospitals forced to turn COVID patients away.

Delhi — People are dying in record numbers amid the surge in coronavirus infections in India. CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay found that even the capital city’s hospitals are desperately short on beds, forcing them to turn away people battling symptoms of COVID-19. 

The constellation of forces that led to India’s coronavirus crisis is not unique; it’s the default in most of the world.Photograph by Rebecca Conway Getty

The constellation of forces that led to India’s coronavirus crisis is not unique; it’s the default in most of the world. Photograph by Rebecca Conway, Getty

CBS News watched as one woman showed up breathless at the Moolchand Hospital in Delhi, desperate for oxygen and a bed. The facility has some of the best resources in New Delhi, but there was no space left, so they sent her away. 

Dr. Nabeel Rahman runs the emergency room at Moolchand, which has been converted into extra space for an ICU that, still, is absolutely crushed with patients. He told CBS News that his team had resorted to purchasing its own oxygen supplies privately, at massively inflated prices, amid a desperate national shortage. 

The patients in the expanded ICU are extremely sick, but they’re also extremely lucky: In a country that’s losing the battle against COVID-19, they’re lucky to have oxygen, lucky to have access to doctors and lucky to have beds in a hospital that’s well over capacity. 

Someone tell the Supreme Court about this:

Many of India’s coronavirus victims caught the disease during huge religious gatherings, which were promoted by the Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it campaigned for recent state elections.  

There’s much more at the link.

Ankita Rao at The Guardian: India is hiding its Covid crisis – and the whole world will suffer for it.

A few years ago, as Narendra Modi came into power, I worked on an investigative report about India hiding its malaria deaths. In traveling from tribal Odisha to the Indian national health ministry in New Delhi, my colleague and I watched thousands of cases disappear: some malaria deaths, first noted in handwritten local health ledgers, never appeared in central government reports; other malaria deaths were magically transformed into deaths of heart attack or fever. The discrepancy was massive: India reported 561 malaria deaths that year. Experts predicted the actual number was as high as 200,000.

Now, with Covid ravaging the country, desperate Indians have taken to Twitter to ask for oxygen cylinders or beg hospitals for an open bed. The crisis has been exacerbated by the government’s concealment of critical information. Between India’s long history of hiding and undercounting illness deaths and its much more recent history of restraining and suppressing the press, Modi’s administration has made it impossible to find accurate information about the virus’s hold in the country. Blocking that information will only hurt millions within the country. It will also stymie global efforts to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, and new variants of the virus, at India’s border.

Narenda Modi and Trump hugging

Narenda Modi and Trump hugging

Epidemiologists in India and abroad currently estimate that the country’s official reported Covid-19 death toll – around 222,000 at time of publication – only accounts for a fraction of the real number. The director of the US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that India is only detecting three to four percent of actual cases. Other experts point to total excess deaths in cities such as Mumbai as proof that there could be 60% to 70% more deaths from Covid-19 than the government is admitting to.

There are various reasons India could be cooking the books on Covid deaths. For one, the utter failure of the public health system makes it difficult to account for the millions of bodies passing through hospitals, clinics and those dying in their own home. Despite having become one of the largest economies in the world, India has always spent a dismal portion of its GDP on healthcare, with an investment somewhere around 3%, compared to Brazil (9%) or the US (17%).

But systemic failure is only one part of the puzzle. The reigning party of the Indian government touted its success in curbing the virus very early in the pandemic, and has never let go of that narrative. As bodies burned in funeral pyres across Uttar Pradesh in April, Yogi Adityanath – the state’s chief minister and a key Modi lackey – claimed that everything was under control and repeatedly refused to announce new lockdown measures, even as he himself contracted Covid-19.

That sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t it?

More stories to check out today:

The Washington Post: Opinion: Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.

The Washington Post: D.C. police officer who fought Capitol rioters pens letter to officials: ‘The time to fully recognize these Officers actions is NOW!’

The New York Times: Daylight Attack on 2 Asian Women in San Francisco Increases Fears.

AZ Central: Department of Justice asks Arizona Senate to respond to concerns about election audit.

The Washington Post: Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in Arizona recount, according to secretary of state.

Jennifer Taub at Washington Monthly: Starting with Trump, It’s Time for a White Collar Crime Crackdown.

Zachary B. Wolf at CNN: The big lie. The Covid misinformation. It all comes back to Russia.

The Daily Beast: Inside the Hunt for the Washington Post’s Next Top Editor.

What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Nepal Earthquake Relief and more…Death Toll Over 2400

Residents cry as they walk past damaged houses to safer areas, after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, in Gyirong county of Xigaze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, April 25, 2015. Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 1,900, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China's state news agency, Xinhua. Picture taken April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Residents cry as they walk past damaged houses to safer areas, after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, in Gyirong county of Xigaze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, April 25, 2015. Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 1,900*, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China’s state news agency, Xinhua. Picture taken April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Good Afternoon

*As of the posting of this thread the death toll is at over 2400.

Toll Mounts as Nepal Searches for Quake Survivors | Al Jazeera America

More than 2,400 people confirmed dead in 7.8-magnitude earthquake that has devastated the Himalayan nation

 

I am going to give you links on this post updating you on the Nepal Earthquake, I will do a later post with other stories because I think the efforts in Nepal deserve our singular attention.

Starting with relief programs:

How to Help the Relief Effort in Nepal – NYTimes.com

In the aftermath of the earthquake, aid workers were already on the ground on Saturday providing much-needed relief to the survivors.

Here is a list of some of the groups soliciting donations to support their efforts in Nepal:

Oxfam
Oxfam is an international coalition of charities dedicated to fighting poverty. Aid workers from the group are on the ground, preparing to hand out food and water. @Oxfam on Twitter.

World Vision
“We are initiating a response to meet basic, urgent needs with temporary shelter, food, water, emergency health interventions, and other vital aid.”
@WorldVision on Twitter.

Red Cross
Volunteers from the Nepal arm of the Red Cross are helping in the search for survivors. @ICRC on Twitter.

United Nations World Food Programme
The United Nations agency is providing food and other aid to survivors.
@WFP on Twitter.

Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization providing food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance to earthquake survivors. @SamaritansPurse on Twitter.

CARE
CARE is asking for donations for critical relief. The group said its humanitarian workers were currently on the ground assessing the situation in Nepal and determining the most immediate needs. @CARE on Twitter.

Save the Children
Donations to Save the Children, an organization with extensive reach in Nepal, will go toward efforts to provide protection for children and relief to their families.
@SC_Nepal on Twitter.

HuffPo has an article here: Aid Agencies Rally To Help Victims Of Nepal’s Earthquake

From The Independent: Nepal earthquake: How you can help victims of the Kathmandu disaster – World – News – The Independent

And a suggestion from a reader reelcarina: Sad Coincidence: Tragedy in Nepal on Richter Scale Day | stepabout

Accordingly, Nepal’s government has declared a state of emergency, asking the international community for help. We ARE the international community! So how can we help? Of course, I can’t just sit here on my sunny balcony in the ‘happiest country in the world’ (Switzerland was recently found to be that by UNO) and simply do nothing. However, I can’t drive out to the airport, catch the next plane to Kathmandu and help the population there myself. So, the possibility that remains is donating. I’m a student, so I don’t really have many financial means, but to those affected people in Nepal, even 40 or 50 Swiss Francs will be of great help! If you, dear readers, donate as well, it’s gonna be even better! As for today, my blog’s got 43 followers (Thank you so much for that, by the way!). If every one of you donates 25 Francs/Euros or whatever other currency, we’ll have contributed over 1000 Euros already! Now imagine, if other bloggers join in, our lovely internet community will unravel its full strength and  actually make a difference in Nepal 🙂

Pooling money together does add up…

Now here are some links to catch you up:

*This link gives some numbers: Foreign Governments Tally Citizens in Nepal

April 26, 2015 10:16 AM

The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country’s trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, several hundred of those on Mount Everest.

Countries are listed in alphabetical order.

Austria: Foreign ministry says around 250 Austrians in Nepal, no reports so far on any casualties.

Bangladesh: Foreign ministry says no nationals in Nepal have been reported injured or killed. But four reported killed inside Bangladesh.

Britain: No details released yet.

Belgium: Foreign ministry says not aware of any victims.

China: Xinhua news agency, quoting the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, reports four people confirmed dead and 10 seriously injured.

France: Foreign ministry says around 500 French nationals have been located and are safe, and has no information on any victims.

Germany: No details released yet.

India: Nearly 800 Indians have been evacuated from Nepal with more on the way home, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. No Indian casualties yet reported in Nepal, but 49 reported killed in India.

Indonesia: Foreign ministry says has 34 nationals in Nepal. Eighteen are living in Nepal and 16 are visiting. Says still trying to contact 18 of those nationals.

Israel: Foreign ministry says it estimates around 600 Israelis are in Nepal, and has secured contact with 400, most of them sheltering at the embassy in Kathmandu. These include 25 couples in Nepal to bring home babies born to surrogates.

Italy: No details released yet.

Japan: Foreign ministry says has no reports of Japanese killed or injured in the quake, but is still checking whereabouts of citizens. Some 1,100 Japanese living in Nepal are registered with the embassy, but no information on number of nationals travelling through.

Latvia: Local news agencies report around 41 people from Latvia in Nepal at the moment. Four are missing.

Lithuania: Foreign ministry says 25 Lithuanian nationals registered in Nepal are safe, but does not know yet of any unregistered travellers.

Malaysia: Foreign ministry says all citizens in Nepal are accounted for and safe. A team of Malaysian Everest climbers are safe at base camp.

Philippines: Two Filipino climbers are reported safe.

Poland: No news on any Poles affected.

Romania: Nineteen Romanians in Nepal, including mountaineer Alex Gavan and three others, all reported to be safe.

Russia: Tass news agency, citing emergencies ministry, says no casualties among Russians.

Sweden: Foreign ministry is aware of around 40 Swedes in Nepal but has no information about dead, hurt or missing nationals.

South Korea: Foreign ministry says three nationals injured in the earthquake. It estimates 650 residents and as many as 1,000 travelers were in Nepal at the time.

Nepal hospitals overflowing, rural towns cut off, aid groups say – The Times of India

HONG KONG: Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts Sunday to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country.

As the death toll in the Himalayan nation surpassed 2,300, the US together with European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in cut-off rural areas.

“Tragically, more bodies are being pulled from collapsed buildings every hour,” the Australian Red Cross said in a statement.

“Communication is down in many areas. Widespread destruction, rubble and landslides are preventing access to provide aid in many villages.”

6.6 million people affected in Nepal quake: UN – bdnews24.com

Magnitude 6.7 quake aftershock hits Nepal and India | eNCA

Extent of the Damage From the Nepal Earthquake – NYTimes.com

The earthquake’s epicenter was not far from the capital, Katmandu. The United States Geological Survey had counted 12 aftershocks by midafternoon, one of which measured at a magnitude of 6.6. Deaths were reported as far away as northern India and on Mount Everest. | Related Article »

The Guardian has excellent live updates and coverage:

Nepal earthquake: rescue continues as death toll exceeds 2,000 – live updates | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: more than 200 Australians confirmed safe | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: Rescue effort intensifies – BBC News

US, Canada, Russia to assist in rescue | Top Stories

KATHMANDU, APR 26 –

United States Secretary John Kerry has issued a press statement on Saturday on behalf of the US government to express condolences to all of those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, including the families of those who died in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

Kerry, in his statement, said that they are working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support at this time of crisis.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Bodde has issued a disaster declaration in order to immediately release an initial $1 million for humanitarian assistance.

USAID is preparing to deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team and is activating an Urban Search and Rescue Team to accompany disaster experts and assist with assessments of the situation.

Likewise, Russia and China are also sending teams to assist in the rescue operation. Chinese team is arriving with six specially-trained dogs and head to Gorkha district with medicines and food to carry out the rescue operation.

Nepal Earthquake – The Numbers – WSJ

The massive earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday has so far claimed the lives of at least 1,900 people.

The quake, which struck shortly before noon, local time, spread devastation across a broad swath of territory, severely damaging parts of the capital’s historic center, flattening remote villages and triggering a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

Here’s a look at the earthquake by the numbers.

Nepal’s Landmarks, Before and After the Earthquake – NYTimes.com

Dharahara Tower

This nine-story structure was built in 1832 on orders from the queen. It was made of bricks about a foot and a half thick, and had recently been reopened to the public. Sightseers could ascend a narrow spiral staircase to a viewing platform around 200 feet above the city.

July 15, 2013

Before: Dharahara Tower

Bal Krishna Thapa Chhetri
April 25, 2015

Before: Dharahara Tower

Narendra Shrestha/European Pressphoto Agency

More pictures at that link.

Nepal Earthquake: Incredible Pictures From Everest Base Camp – India Real Time – WSJ

Nepal earthquake in pictures: Images show devastating effects of quake that tore a country apart – Asia – World – The Independent

nepal earthquake – Google Search you can see more pictures at that link as well….

Some reports out of Everest:

Mount Everest: New avalanches from aftershocks in Nepal – CNN.com

Nepal earthquake: Everest survivors describe ordeal – BBC News

Climbers above Everest base camp all safe | Reuters

217 missing in Everest | National- ekantipur.com

Video of the Everest avalanche are hitting Youtube but the ones I found are the same as some posted from 2009:

▶ Massive Mount Everest Avalanche Caught on Camera – YouTube

Posted Apr 25th….

Published on Apr 25, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Triggers Everest Avalanche, 18 Killed at Base Camp

At least 13 people were killed on Everest on Saturday as a massive avalanche – triggered by an earthquake near the Nepalese capital Kathmandu – swept through base camp.

The avalanche trapped other climbers higher on the mountain as those in base camp ran for their lives to escape falling ice and rock.

Videos from Everest south-side base camp showed flattened tents and blocks of rock scattered around a site dusted deep in snow. The avalanche appeared to have swept through the mid section of the strung-out base camp.

This is the same video as this: ▶ 5/3/09 – Mt. Everest Avalanche caught on tape – YouTube

Uploaded on May 6, 2009

In a series of Skype video chats, Miles O’Brien has been talking with Astronaut Scott Parazynski, who is at Mt. Everest prepping for a summit bid. While at Everest Base Camp, Scott and his partner Keith Cowing captured an avalanche on tape.

This next link is interesting, about how poverty will affect the aid relief.

Devastating Earthquake in Nepal: Humanitarian Relief and Tackling Poverty | Winnie Byanyima

Yesterday a terrible earthquake shook Nepal near the capital, Katmandu. Oxfam teams are on ground in Nepal with more staff and relief supplies flying in. I’d like to share this post which was shared with us in response, by Shaheen Chughtai, Oxfam’s Deputy Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns.

Kathmandu was ever a disaster-in-waiting. The densely populated capital of one of the world’s poorest countries clings to the slopes of the seismically unstable Himalayas. The city was near-leveled and 8,500 killed in its last great earthquake 81 years before. It had history. On Saturday, the long-feared calamity struck.

And these articles explains why the earthquake happened:

Ancient Collision Made Nepal Earthquake Inevitable – NYTimes.com

More than 25 million years ago, India, once a separate island on a quickly sliding piece of the Earth’s crust, crashed into Asia. The two land masses are still colliding, pushed together at a speed of 1.5 to 2 inches a year. The forces have pushed up the highest mountains in the world, in the Himalayas, and have set off devastating earthquakes.

Experts had warned of the danger to the people of Katmandu for decades. The death toll in Nepal on Saturday was practically inevitable given the tectonics, the local geology that made the shaking worse and the lax construction of buildings that could not withstand the shaking.

Nepal earthquake: The history and why quakes happen in the Himalayas – Asia – World – The Independent

Nepal quake ‘followed historic pattern’ – BBC News

What caused the Nepal earthquake? – Al Jazeera English

Video at the link.

(Well, that sucks. The video will not work in the US, but it may work in other countries. )

I will update this post with links in the comments below.

The other Sunday thread will be up later this evening.


Human Rights Violators should NOT be rewarded with Money or Prestige!

This picture was sent to me earlier this year by a friend that is a Buddhist monk.  We are both of the faith typically called “Tibetan”  Buddhism.  As such, we’re pretty much automatically labelled enemies of the Chinese People.  I wanted to share this picture with you because of several things going on right now concerning His Holiness the Dali Lama, the candidates for President, and the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

This picture demonstrates the real force being the so-called rioting monks and the violence last April in Tibet.  It was posed so China could justify the disappearance of over 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. You are seeing this correctly.  It is a group of Chinese soldiers holding monk garb.  This was taken by a friend of ours right after some of the riots. I think you can figure out the rest for yourself.

I decided to re-open this issue  since I was also speaking to my Lama today. A lama is a spiritual teacher along the lines of a Rabbi in Judaism.  His wife, Ang Dawa,  is an activist for the Sherpa peoples.  They both are from Nepal but were born in a section where the line between Nepal and China is more relevant to countries than native peoples.  The Sherpas are indigenous people living in the Himalaya Mountains and you all probably know them best for their incredible mountaineering skills.  Ang Dawa has just been elected to the new Nepali parliament and has been an activist/journalist for the UN for many years for Human and Women’s Rights.  She just wrote an article in the local newspaper stating that there are basic human rights and they include being able to practice religion as you see fit, including becoming monks and nuns. It was a very generic article on human rights and mentioned no countries by name.  However, there are over 10,000 tibetan buddhist monks and nun–many of which are Sherpa–unaccounted for after the april/may so-called uprisings. This includes some of the senior most and most respected rinpoches.  They have simply disappeared.

While I am not surprised the President George W. Bush has decided to attend the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, I had held out some hope.  This week there have been several headlines out there concerning both the Olympics and the struggles of the Tibetan people to maintain their cultural identity and practice their religion. There have also been some activities on the parts of presidential candidates.  I argue, both activities are essential windows into their approaches to Human Rights.

The first was this picture of John McCain and his Holiness the Dali Lama.  The New York Times in its story stated this:

“But other Republicans — the so-called foreign policy pragmatists, many of whom have come to view the Iraq war as a mistake — say the administration’s policy shifts highlight the more confrontational nature of Mr. McCain’s foreign policy, particularly in his approach toward Russia and his embrace on Friday of the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese regard as the fomenter of a rebellion in Tibet. They say the meeting will only antagonize China before the Summer Olympics, and at a moment when the United States is seeking its cooperation on economic issues and negotiations with North Korea.”

source:   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/26/us/26policy.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

At the same time, we see this move from the Obama Campaign.

As reported by Advertising Age, it appears that the Obama campaign is going to be a major TV sponsor of the Beijing Olympics.

“It’s official. Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal’s Olympics coverage. In the first significant network-TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads. According to NBC’s political file, the campaign had initially requested information about 500,000, $2 million and $4 million package of Olympics spots. The network also offered the candidate a $10 million package.”

So, let me ask you a question.  Aren’t the progressives supposed to be the ones concerned with Human Rights and standing up for them regardless of the economic consequences?  Is it way too cynical of me to see this move by the Obama campaign as finding a way to profit and gain votes from an event that highlights a country that mistreats its peoples?  This is Communist China folks!  Monks and Nuns disappear there.  Google and MIcrosoft have had to build limits into their software to suppress free speech in this country.

Oh, btw, after the Chinese government protested the publication of Ang Dawa’s statement of basic human rights, there were threats issued to the publisher of that paper in Nepal.  The paper has been been barred from further publication.

Is this the type of thing the Obama campaign should be sponsoring with campaign dollars?