Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Scientific Equipment Blogging

instruments 006

Not an instrument, but probably the most used tool in basic medical research.

News From Julia - Back in Nairobi

"I am working with Don Bosco's street boy program which is really great. The boys are right off the street and go into a three month transition period. Then if they have behaved and done well and everything they get to be admitted to the actual school. Everything is really scheduled out for the boys. There are about 30 of them in the transition period, that we are working with and then 280 at the boys school. The facilities are really nice and the boys are great! The only downer is we have to walk about 1 hour to get to work. Because it is an independent study, we have to do our own transportation and no matutus run in that direction, but exercise is good!"

NOTE: Don Bosco programs are evidently run by the Salesian Order of the Catholic Church. In Africa they specialize in taking care of 'boy soldier' refugees, among other programs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Constitution Vote - Violence in Kenya?


Just heard from Julia who is working at an orphanage in Kisumu. She and two other students will be flown back to Nairobi today due to expected violence over the Constitution vote next Tuesday Nov 21. So what is this all about?

Well, Kenya received it's independence from Great Britain in 1963. And, for the first time since then they are voting on a referendum on a new constitution. The current constitution has been revised several times resulting in a state in which the President has sweeping powers. The new constitution supposedly cuts the powers of the President partly by creating a Prime Minister position.

One of the problems in Kenya is that one third of the adults can't read. So referendum campaigns are organized around symbols, bananas for 'yes' and oranges for 'no'. As usual for Africa, the political situation has resulted in polarization around tribal loyalties. The government is leading a 'yes' campaign while the opposition party wants 'no'. Currently the 'no's' seem to be ahead by about 10%.

There has already been violence in Kenya with fires set and about 8 people killed. However, now there is a rumor that 'yes' party people are being trained by ex-servicemen 'to cause chaos' at the vote.

St. Lawrence is taking no chances and is flying the students in Kisumu back to the compound in Karen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where Does Bush Stand?

From latest Gallop Poll:

Handling Terrorism: 48% approve - 49% disapprove. What? Now you don't feel safer?

Foreign Affairs: 37% approve - 59% disapprove. Damn you France lovers!

Economy: 37% approve (especially oil companies) - 61% disapprove. You got your tax cuts didn't you?

Iraq War: 35% approve - 63% disapprove. But what about 9/11?

Federal Spending: 26% approve - 71% disapprove. So you don't like borrow and spend?

Immigration: 26% approve - 65% disapprove. No one likes immigrants.

This Week's Rants

We need 70 billion dollars worth of 'temporary' cuts in capital gains and dividends. So to fund those cuts we need to cut 12 billion in medicaid, 14 billion in student aid, and 848 million in food stamp aid. Let them eat cake.

We need to reject over-the-counter sale of 'Plan B' (morning after) contraceptive medication because our conservative base doesn't like it. How do we influence the scientists at the Food and Drug Administation to prevent over-the-counter sales? Convince the agency that younger adolescents might engage in unsafe sexual behavior with Plan B available even though this is an age-based criterion never before raised for an over-the-counter contraceptive.

Everyone had access to the same intelligence that Bush used to justify invading Iraq. Does anyone actually believe this? Even President Clinton was convinced that the intelligence indicated Iraq wanted to pursue a nuclear weapons program. Bush was actually working with the same intelligence that Clinton used. Old intelligence! And, Clinton was convinced that pressure and inspections were working to prevent Iraq from proceeding with their nuclear ambitions. Bush thought there was soon going to be a mushroom cloud. Same intelligence, different conclusions. What is really bothersome to me is that Bush convinced a majority of people in this country that Iraq was involved with the 9/11 attacks. He didn't come right out and say so, but he was always sure to talk about Sadam Hussain, the war on terror and 9/11 at the same time, over and over and over. I think a sizable minority of people still think Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

Republicans denied the right of Habeas Corpus in the reconstruction period after the Civil War and they are trying to do the same thing now to persons being held by the USA in our base in Cuba. It was wrong in the 1860's and it is wrong now.

Not much to say here, but I never thought our country would be debating whether torture is legal or not.

I agree with Jimmy Carter. Something is fundamentally wrong with our country right now and we are sitting around like sheep to the slaughter letting it happen.