1) First let me note that CommentThis is acting gimpy; will check/respond to comments as soon as I can get back into the darn things. If anyone has any adminihints or tricks that I may be able to fix on my end, please email me at jen at runne dot com and let me know....
2) Gilly says that he WILL be taking at least a week of rehab and nutritional training--everyone, keep cheering for him! ETA for homecoming is around 2-21.
3) To his friends: You need to call HIM at the hospital as he cannot call OUT.
4) For everyone who sent him stuff at the hospital early on before the "no sending stuff to the hospital" note came out--his folks got the flowers, cards, boxes, etc. OK, and it's all waiting for him back at his folk's place. Again, his gratitude is deep and genuine.
5) Okay, here's the specific request from Steve. He knows that many, many people have offered to help him out with copays, etc...and...well, he wants to at least alleviate the financial hardships for out-of-pockets that his FOLKS have paid. Over the month, his parents have paid quite a bit for things NOT covered by insurance, such as his phone and TV fees. So, Gilly is requesting that people who are so inclined please send him checks to his home addy--you can get that from me at jen at runne dot com if you don't already have it. So far, the tab it up to $300 and rising. Both of his folks are retired, in their 70's, and on limited incomes. He wants to surprise them with a check for the full amount when he's out. So, please, if you can and want to help, any amount would be very very appreciated.
Wow, you guys and gals are FANTASTIC....I just checked both of Steve's Wish Lists (scroll down further to earlier posts) and MAN, they are almost all sold out of stuff that's in stock!
So, if anyone wants to send him an Amazon Gift Certificate, you CAN send them to:
sgilliard at yahoo dot com
and I'll make sure that they don't get deleted from his inbox!
Also, much to my own astonishment, many, many folks have asked me for MY Amazon wishlist URL! I am totally amazed, awed, and thankful...not sure what I did to deserve anything, but here's the URL for curious parties:
Thank you so much again--Steve is gonna be so surprised when he gets home! Oh, and yeah, to whomever sent him something at the hospital early on--his family picked it up OK, so all is well! In the meantime, of course, anything on his wishlist gets sent to his home addy automatically.
And, once again, please feel free to email me at jen at runne dot com if you want his home addy.
Hopefully, I'll be able to get Gilly on the phone later today, and/or touch base with his family. In the meantime, his football buddies are planning visits now that he's not so much in Borg mode anymore, which should also lift his spirits.
Okay, gonna type in pre-dictated statements after this, but I have him on the phone NOW:
Thank you so much my family, Jen and I really appreciate your efforts and support...I plan on replying to each and every one of you at some point, it may take some time, because I'm lazy [ed note--bullshit he's still in Isolation] but your acts of kindness and support can't go unnoticed.
MAKE SURE TO VOTE wherever you are if you can, keep reading the other sites and keep participating, and keep the comments and other sites going, and keep the exchange of ideas going. I am going to get better, the prognosis is good, and I'll keep on writing things people don't like. So, let's keep exchanging ideas. As my father says, it's time for Bush to go back to the Pig Farm (my Dad is a lifelong Republican).
So says Steve, live from the cardio ward!!
---and some comments from over the phone, earlier....----
First of all, he got moved, and he has a TV now! Believe it or not, they actually wheeled a TV in front of his glass for the Superbowl!
So now he's in semi-isolation--still can't have extra stuff in his room, but he's at least hooked up to less shit....and he's learning to walk again. He should be home in about 12 days or so. He still needs an external pacemaker for a few days, and has a few tubes left in him, but ht'e improving VERY rapidly.
And, he's on solid hospital food, "if you can call hosptial food that." "All I want when I get home is a SANDWICH" says Gilly...."With mayo." [Gilly goes on to regale me with tales of today's fish lunch, which was "too dry to eat."]
"These guys are good" says Gilly of is surgeons...
And note, I was mistaken--Gilly has had insurance for a few YEARS, not a few months...AND all of his copayments are taken care of with Family Health Plus. So, that's nailed down. He's "lucky enough to have it all covered, medicine and all." His copays WOULD have been $5K on what is turning out to be around a $200K tab.
He goes on...he doesn't need help with his copays, but one day, he wants to do a charity event for his pal who has a Down's Syndrome kid--"and for everyone who was generous now, please be just as generous then." He said this with empathy and enthusiasm. He's rather raise money for his pal than for any political candidate.
"Kerry looks like a president--America wants someone who looks and acts like a president, and Kerry fits the bill...Kerry and Edwards look like John and Bobby Kennedy...."
"Kerry looks like a better person than Bush.." [went on to mention his Vietnam record, etc.]
Oh, and he was AWARE the whole time he was in isolation, and yes, bored to shit...
"Hospital time is like jail time--every second of it. People assume you're in a coma or senile or drugged, and it just ain't so." He was even bored on morphine, which he was on for a few days...
At this point he's learning how to walk and sit up again. He'll be walking by the time he's out, and getting Visting Nurse Service for 6 weeks. That includes IV drug treatment and other fun--but in the comfort of your own home.
His family came down to prep his room.
So, he's on his way...
And very, very grateful for everything and to everyone....
Okay, it's update time...sorry I didn't get this out sooner; dealing with apartment sitch (no heat or hot water) all weekend...
I saw Gilly at the hosptial on Saturday evening...and it was a surreal experience.
Before I launch into the details, here's good news...he should be out of there in two weeks!
Until then, though, visiting is limited--he really IS in a sterile glass box full of equipment, and he still really can't move.
I had to go in in special duds--I had to disinfect my hands and then get into: a gown, hair cover, rubber gloves, and full face mask. I got ten minutes total. At this point in the game, even a common cold could kill him, and I NEVER would dream of visiting him if I wasn't 100% healthy.
Gilly is in this little glass room , with full-time staff on the other side of the partition. No TV, no extra light, no table---just all of these machines that he's hooked up to, and disposable sterile contact point covers on everything. When I was led into the antechamber to drop off my coat and bag before getting into the sterile gear, I looked to my left--and behind a partition was Gilly.
He was semi-propped up in a huge almost throne-or-podium-like bed. He was covered to just under his breastbone. Tubes and wires bristled out of everywhere--three out of his mouth alone.
However, when I was finally let into the clean room, his eyes showed response. He can't talk, and even squeezing my hand was an effort. His scar was in plain sight--a Y-shaped incision the size of a smaller frisbee on one side. The very first thing I told him was that it was great to see him alive. I then told him about all the support and good thoughts that the blog was sending him--his eyes lit up. He obviously coulnd't believe just how many folks from so many different places were pulling for him.
For amusement value, I also told him about the BBC crisis and Kerry's pull ahead. I did NOT tell him about that horrible stupid troll rumor--let him find that BS out when he gets home. I also told him that good wishes weren't all we were sending him; he'll have plenty to read at home. This also got an eye-change response.
He's obviously still sedated, and when he went to rotate his wrist to give a thumbs-up, he could barely get his arm off of the bed. But he'll make it. I also told him that we all collectivley demand that he take advantage of any rebab, physical therapy, and nutritional help that the hospital can give him--we don't want to see him back in the cardio recovery ward--and that got a faint nod and another thumbs up.
On top of the sheer horror of just seeing anyone linked up like a Beta Borg to all of that stuff...I can only imgine the BOREDOM. His only view, 24/7, is through the glass partition in front of his (curtainable off for particularly painful/humiliating procuedures it seems) is the goings and comings of the nurse in the front half of the ward-room and the unfortunate fellow in less critical condition, also in a bed alongside the nurse's station. Everything in his little cube is sterile and necessary--nothing spare is allowed, nothing that may trip or upset some of his wires and tubes. I mean, he had stuff hooked up to ever visible locus--through the veins on the backs of the hands, neck, chest, mouth, and who knows what the hell else he had doing out of sight under the glare white sheets....I wouldn't wish any of that on my worst enemy, nevermind one of my best friends, and I genuinley hope that his two-week prediction is correct (I asked him when he was getting out, and he squeezed my hand twice, and I asked if that was two weeks, and he eyeball-nodded yes).
After that I talked to his Mom on the phone for a bit. She's also grateful for everyone's support and understanding.
So, his condition is officially "critical stable" which is apparently S.O.P. after heart surgery.
I shall keep everyone posted as I find out more. Keep up the good-karma blasts, prayers, and wishes--it seems to be working!
Hey, all--finally got thru to Gilly's Mom--here's the haps--please read.
1) do NOT ATTEMPT to visit him at the hospital! A few guys from the bar did and were turned away. He's heavilly drugged, hooked up to a halftime show's-worth of instruments, and only immediate family can visit him--when wearing a full gown, face mask, and gloves. She couldn't emphasize this enough--I promise to let everyone know when he can take visitors, phone calls, and the like...
2) Don't send stuff to him via the hospital! They keep moving him and stuff is at risk for getting lost. Some dear people already sent flowers and cards, which alas, can't go in his current isolation-type room--it's a "constant clean" environment, and as noted, they keep moving him as his equipment needs change. Rather, send stuff to his home addy--his Mom said that in a lucid moment, Gilly said that that way he'd have what to do (and read) once he gets home...
3) In the end, he didn't need a valve replaced--they were able to repair the valve, and this is already having a positive effect on his kidneys.
4) Both he (in his two seconds of lucidity since the zipper went in) and his Mom are overwhelmed and very grateful by the outpouring of concern and generosity from everyone...
For his home addy, please email me at jen at runne dot com
His Mom can bring him stuff as he's ready for it...
You know where to find me, guys! I'll keep ya posted. Thank you so much again for your kind words of support for Gilly, his family, and to me...
Okay...still trying to get thru to Gilly's Mom (pronounced with a hard G for all who asked :) ) but she left a note on my machine late last night. Apparently she may get to talk to him today---he was pretty well out after the surgery. Still don't know if they gave him a pig valve or a plastic one; we'll find out....
ALSO--looks like our wily Gilliard has two different wishlists--one is actually more recent; I gave the URL for one that I've had in my Amazon info for ages.
So, it looks like he uses the following email for his Amazon stuff...
sgilliard at yahoo dot com
And this is the URL for a fresher Wishlist--but feel free to deplete the old one also!
Keep the good thoughts coming...gonna go check his inbox now...again, while I'm sure he's love a gift cert, please try to work the wishlist instead--while I'm doing all I can to keep up with his Yahoo account, it's 95% full of business stuff that doesn't look safe for me to delete!
Bill Lessard got to speak with him; I missed him two nanoseconds after he got whisked away for yet more dialysis and pre-surgical nasties.
Also spoke to his Mom...and I told her to tell him about the many well wishers here...
He goes into surgery tomorrow AM. His Mom can't even see him until 1 PM or so.
As of this afternoon, he was too weak to feed himself when he was finally allowed to eat...all he wanted was water. "Picking up magazine feels like a barbell" he said.
Hopefully, Gilly will pull through the surgery with flying colors. I'll let everyone know as soon as I have more to say.
In the meantime, please keep the good karma blasts and prayers coming, both he and his parents need them, real badly...I truly feel for his Mom, whom I've spoken at legnth to. Needless to say, she's freaking out, and once the surgery is over, there's a lot of unanswered questions...like how did this happen when he was being pumped full of antibiotics, and so on.
Okay....just talked to Gilly's Mom....update, and a mailing addy for get-well cards and the like...
Looks like our Gilly got himself a nasty infection in his heart valve--they're still trying to figure out how it got there. This has meant a living hell of tests and procedures, including a full transfusion and dialysis.
Surgery is scheduled for either Tuesday or Wednesday as doctors, space, etc. become available.
In the meantime, this is how you can send him a card:
c/o Lenox Hill Hospital
100 E. 77th Street
Room 1110 <---note new room post-op! New York, NY 10021
If they move him, they should move around his mail also until he's discharged. Naturally, no visitors for quite some time.
Let's all keep the good vibes pouring out to him....this is starting to get scary.
Still no update on Steve, still trying to get in touch with his Mom.
THANK YOU to everyone who sent me the URL for the radio spot--I need to catch up on that. Also, as soon as I get an address, I will tag up a snail mail addy for sending cards, well-wishes, the heads of prominent Republicans, and so on to our beloved Gilly! :)
Thank you again to everyone....will post stuff as I find it out...I'm sorry I can't maintain the board the way Steve can; I am HYPER busy and doing my best to do what I can, please be understanding...
On the phone right now with Steve's Mom...he went back to the hospital at 1 AM Tuesday night. He felt like hell and had trouble breathing--turns out he has a bum heart valve. Surgery may take place some time next week.
Pray for our beloved Gilly, folks. This time, he's in ICU and I don't have a number for him even..I'm glad that I thought to call home when he hadn't posted, called, or emailed....
As I recover from my hospital stay, I have to admit, I'm not doing much more than sleeping, drinking juice and regaining my strength. But this SOTU was unreal.
First, there was a series of fictions about Iraq and the fact that he dragged Chalabi to the speech is truly scary. But that isn't what stood out for me. It was his call for abstinance and preventing STD's. Then he goes off on gay marriage.
Excuse me, we have other issues to work out here. Like jobs and a war in Iraq. I was just stunned by the content of the speech ans it's weirdness.
Tens of thousands of Shia Muslims have marched against coalition proposals for a transfer of power, just hours before the US sought UN backing for the plan.
US administrator Paul Bremer is having talks with UN chief Kofi Annan to try to elicit his support for its plan for an interim selected authority.
He was also seeking the return of UN staff to Iraq, after their withdrawal following bomb attacks last year.
Iraq's Shias majority want direct elections to a transitional government.
The rally in Baghdad came four days after a peaceful protest in Basra demanding direct elections.
Any sustained opposition by Iraq's Shias would cause serious problems for the US, correspondents say.
Monday's protest saw thousands upon thousands of Iraqis marching through the capital, many clasping each other's hands above their heads.
The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says the Shias - who were repressed for decades by Saddam Hussein - fear they will be marginalised again under the US plan, which allows regional bodies created by the Americans to select a transitional parliament.
"Yes, yes to elections; no, no to selection," was one of the main rallying cries.
It doesn't matter who wins the early primaries in the US because it seems the Iraqi primaries are going to be the ones which matter. Ten miles of Shias and Sunnis marching in Baghdad. I think that's going to be a problem for Bush.
GCHQ worker Katharine Gun faces jail for exposing American corruption in the run-up to war on Saddam. Now her celebrity supporters insist it is Bush and Blair who should be in the dock. Martin Bright reports
Sunday January 18, 2004
She was an anonymous junior official toiling away with 4,500 other mathematicians, code-breakers and linguists at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham.
But now Katharine Gun, an unassuming 29-year-old translator, is set to become a transatlantic cause célèbre as the focus of a star-studded solidarity drive that brings together Hollywood actor-director Sean Penn and senior figures from the US media and civil rights movement, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Gun appears in court tomorrow accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act by allegedly leaking details of a secret US 'dirty tricks' operation to spy on UN Security Council members in the run-up to war in Iraq last year. If found guilty, she faces two years in prison. She is an unlikely heroine and those who have met her say she would have been happy to remain in the shadows, had she not seen evidence in black and white that her Government was being asked to co-operate in an illegal operation.
The leak has been described as 'more timely and potentially more important than The Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, the celebrated whistleblower who leaked papers containing devastating details of the US involvement in Vietnam, in 1971. Ellsberg has been vocal in support of Gun. She was arrested last March, days after The Observer first published evidence of an intelligence 'surge' on UN delegations, ordered by the GCHQ's partner organisation, the National Security Agency
I have to say that you never realize how important it is to have friends until you need them. I have to thnk Jen Runne for not only keeping my spirits up, but keeping the site up and breathing while I was getiing treatment. I also have to thank Dave and Bill for their concern. As well as my parents, who despite the crappy weather and their age, visited me every day and my sister calling me from Boston. I sometimes wonder why I have been so blessed with such wonderful people in my life.
And I want to thank all the readers for their concern and support while I was flat on my back. There is no reason to read a blog from a guy who isn't writing and your collective loyalty is touching.
With that said, I want to make a larger point here.
I watched a lot of CNN and CSPAN while sick. I saw a profile on Dick Gephardt. You could not want to have a better neighbor. He is a man who's decency is manifest. I have to say I respect him now more than ever. Yet, there is no way he can beat George Bush. He is a decent man and Bush is manifestly not. Dick Gephardt is the past, a past of unions and blue collar work and sunday pot luck dinners where a decent job can send a working class kid like him to Northwestern and on to law school. But that isn't America today. And his vision of America doesn't appeal to enough people to win.
Bush would beat him like a whipped puppy. Same with John Edwards, who throws off a creepy vibe of self-actualization. He's about John Edwards and Bush would womp him as well.
John Kerry is probably the most experienced candidate running, but there is no there there. There is Kerry's manifest belief in himself and that's about it.Would he be a good president? Sure. He just wants the job too much to get it.
All these men would be better presidents than Bush, so would Jon Stewart or Chris Rock. But they have to win.
In the end you need someone who wants to fight and you've got Dean and Clark. Dean has more domestic experience, Clark is vastly more liberal.
I think Iowa works for Dean and works well for him. Because his supporters can explain why he should be the next president of the US in the open, and if Dean has anything, it's his people. They have a message and the means to deliver it convincingly. Neighbors can talk to neighbors and that is an edge for Dean, who pulls in people who wouldn't ordinarily vote Democratic or vote at all.
In other news, I was pleasantly surprised to see Juan Cole on the Newshour last week and his statements about Sistani came out clear. On TV, he comes off calm, but make no mistake, he was stating the obvious, Sistani is about to play his hand and the US is going to be quite unhappy about it. It's a far more serious situation than people admitted and that little test run protest in Basra last week was a hint of things to come.
Sistani knows who helped filled those graves with dead Shia and his name is George Bush. He has no incentive to help the son out of a jam.
Watching Ted Koeppel in Iraq was frustrating. On one hand, he saw the utter anacrchy enveloping the country and what an assclown Bremer and the Young Republicans Abroad are, yet feels that the US must stay to "protect" Iraq for years to come. Uh, no. You have real elections, US troops are gone or there's open warfare. This won't be a quisling government making these choices. It was as if he couldn't imagine we were going to lose and that Iraqis had to want us around. Reality dawns slowly for some people,
I'm back from the hospital, after a week of bad food and having blood drawn daily.
A bad drug interaction on top of a viral infection. Let's just say me and penicillin will never mix again. My face is sunburned, I had to shave off all my facial hair and my lips are now bee-stung. It ain't pretty.
But, I am back online and ready to kick ass and take names.
First, let me pass on some hospital survival tips:
One, always have someone visit you. The hospital staff notices those people with relatives vs. those without.
Two, hospitals are worlds of women. From the doctor to the orderly, you will deal with a lot of women. If you like little brunettes, go to a hospital. It makes my brain hurt to think of the possibilities.
Three, be nice. Be nice to the staff because if they hate you, your life there will suck, Hospital work is hard. Let someone else cause the problems.
Four, the food may suck, but grin and bear it.
Here's my question for the week: Is Paul O'Neill going to be proven right?
I think the pundits are wrong about Iowa. Dean will do well because his people wil make their case,Gephardt is the past.
Jen here--just got off the phone with Gilly. While he had no fever when he entered the hospital, he seems to have one now--apparently there was a kid with a cold running all over the place--and it's back to 8 zillion tests at the crack of dawn, etc.
At this rate, he expects to be out hopefully by the end of the week. Keep all the good thoughts/comments coming...
Everyone: Typing this up for Steve over the phone. In since Friday. While blogs are wonderful, hospitals are funny about letting you use laptops. He caught some kind of viral infection during the holidays, which resulted in dehydration. He's in the hospital getting rehydrated and carefully restored to health. It gives him lots of time to watch CNN, shake his head at the news, and plan on a bunch of wonderful things to say upon his return.
While normally he doesn't like open threads, please use this site as an open space until his return (which should be at some point near the end of the week).
Don't send e-cards or other stuff to his mailbox, because it'll just clog it up--he won't be gone that long, and I'm sure he'll want to recieve good wishes in person.
Thanks for your support and concern,
--SG. dictated to Jen
PS--buy t-shirts! :D Just because he's sick doesn't mean he's still not a capitalist!
Noah Schactman of Defensetech.org points out this happy little story about the lack of intelligence regarding a dirty bomb threat. Hell, if you think barely literate ex-con Jose Padilla could make one, you'll believe damn near anything.
Homeland Security officials were terrified of a potential "dirty" bomb attack over the New Year's holiday -- even though they had no intelligence suggesting such an attack.
According to the Washington Post, "the U.S. government last month dispatched scores of casually dressed nuclear scientists with sophisticated radiation detection equipment hidden in briefcases and golf bags to scour five major U.S. cities for radiological, or 'dirty,' bombs."
The attention to a potential dirty bomb, for example, resulted not from specific recent information indicating such an attack but from the belief among officials that al Qaeda is sparing no effort to try to detonate one.
The terrorism crisis began late on Dec. 19, when analysts assembled what they described as extremely specific intelligence, including electronic intercepts of al Qaeda operatives' telephone calls or e-mails. One fear was that al Qaeda would hijack and crash an overseas flight into a U.S. city or the ocean. Another was that terrorists would shoot down an airliner with a shoulder-fired missile.
U.S. officials also became concerned that a large, open-air New Year's Eve celebration might be targeted. While the perimeters of football stadiums can generally be secured, outdoor celebrations are much more vulnerable, they said.
One of the U.S. officials' main fears was of a dirty bomb, in which a conventional bomb is detonated and spews radioactive material and radiation across a small area. Security specialists say such a weapon is unlikely to cause mass casualties but could cause panic and devastate a local economy.
On the same day that Ridge raised the national threat level to orange ("high") from yellow ("elevated"), the Homeland Security Department sent out large fixed radiation detectors and hundreds of pager-size radiation monitors for use by police in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Detroit. (emphasis mine)
A mother's enquiry about buying Microsoft Flight Simulator for her ten-year-old son prompted a night-time visit to her home from a state trooper.
Julie Olearcek, a USAF Reserve pilot made the enquiry at a Staples store in Massachusetts, home to an earlier bout of hysteria, during the Salem witch trials.
So alarmed was the Staples clerk at the prospect of the ten year old learning to fly, that he informed the police, the Greenfield Recorder reports. The authorities moved into action, leaving nothing to chance. A few days later, Olearcek was alarmed to discover a state trooper flashing a torch into to her home through a sliding glass door at 8:30 pm on a rainy night.
Atrios points out this particular bit of stupidity, but I was so stunned that I had to comment.
FS is used as a basic flight trainer in commercial flight schools and by military pilots to keep their skills up. They've had to make some alterations in the program as a result of 9/11-no more crashing into the World Trade Center-but why in God's name would the Massachusetts state police investigate the sale of a copy of FS?
It is probably the best product that Microsoft has ever produced and has grown in sophistication and quality each year. The idea that some idiot clerk could call the police on someone buying ANYTHING in freaking Staples is amazing. Violation of privacy, waste of resources, and of course, the irony that the woman is a reserve pilot woith a security clearance. Some days, you just have to wonder about people.
The only issue is if FS is too sophisticated for him, not any nepharious plot to attack America.
This is the first in a series of stories on the Bush domestic agenda. From No Child Left Behind to Medicare reform, much of Bush's domestic agenda gets a bare glance. However, not one of these programs could be called an unqualifed success, and they could be regarded as a failure.
This story ran on 60 Minutes II last night. The Houston program served as the underpinnings of No Child Left Behind. However, the program was filled with deception and fradulent numbers designed to make Bush and his political allies look good. Instead of success, you had poor, underprivledged, immigrant kids forced out of the system to make the numbers improve.
It was called the “Texas Miracle,” and you may remember it because President Bush wanted everyone to know about it during his presidential campaign.
It was about an approach to education that was showing amazing results, particularly in Houston, where dropout rates plunged and test scores soared.
Houston School Superintendent Rod Paige was given credit for the school success, by making principals and administrators accountable for how well their students did.
Once he was elected president, Mr. Bush named Paige as secretary of education. And Houston became the model for the president’s “No Child Left Behind” education reform act.
Now, as Correspondent Dan Rather reports, it turns out that some of those miraculous claims which Houston made were wrong. And it all came to light when one assistant principal took a close look at his school’s phenomenally low dropout rates – and found that they were just too good to be true.
“I was shocked. I said, ‘How can that be,’” says Robert Kimball, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, on Houston’s West side. His own school claimed that no students – not a single one – had dropped out in 2001-2002.
But that’s not what Kimball saw: “I had been at the high school for three years, and I had seen many, many students, several hundred a year, go out the door. And I knew that they were quitting. They told me they were quitting.”
Most of the 1,700 students at Sharpstown High are under-privileged immigrants -- prime candidates for dropping out.
One student was Jennys Franco Gomez. She dropped out of Sharpstown in 2001 for all-too-familiar reasons: she had a baby. “My baby got sick, and I don’t have nobody to take care of my baby and take it to the doctor,” she says.
The high school reported that Jennys left to get a GED, or equivalency diploma, which doesn’t count as a dropout. But Jennys says she never told school officials anything of the sort.
All in all, 463 kids left Sharpstown High School that year – for a variety of reasons. The school reported zero dropouts, but dozens of the students did just that. School officials hid that fact by classifying, or coding them as leaving for acceptable reasons: transferring to another school, or returning to their native country.
Several hundred relatives of Iraqi prisoners gathered outside Abu Ghraib prison - about 35 kilometres west of Baghdad - early in the morning to wait for their release.
Relatives waited for hours outside Abu Ghraib prison
Translators using loudspeakers told the crowd to go to a nearby town where the prisoners were to be taken by bus upon release.
Only some of the relatives believed them, says the BBC's Chris Hogg in Baghdad, while others preferred to remain within sight of the gates.
As the army trucks with up to 80 inmates left the prison at about 1600 local time (1200 GMT), scores of Iraqis jumped into waiting vehicles to follow the convoy.
A short while later, the prisoners were dropped off to be greeted and embraced by relatives.
The coalition spokesman, Dan Senor, refused either to confirm or deny that the freed inmates were the first batch out of 506 the US had said would be released in coming weeks.
"The process for releasing prisoners is under way. Approximately 100 would be ready to be released today," Mr Senor said.
"They (prisoners) are ready, but that is conditional on the guarantors - the tribal and community leaders - we are in the process of contacting them and waiting for them to step forward," the spokesman added.
This is insane. There are no lists of prisoners, no formal release of information, yet, they express shock that the families were pissed that their relatives weren't released. In many cases, the arrests were for reason known only to the soldiers who did it.
Iraq's Arsenal Was Only on Paper Since Gulf War, Nonconventional Weapons Never Got Past the Planning Stage
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 7, 2004; Page A01
BAGHDAD -- Of all Iraq's rocket scientists, none drew warier scrutiny abroad than Modher Sadeq-Saba Tamimi.
An engineering PhD known for outsized energy and gifts, Tamimi, 47, designed and built a new short-range missile during Iraq's four-year hiatus from United Nations arms inspections. Inspectors who returned in late 2002, enforcing Security Council limits, ruled that the Al Samoud missile's range was not quite short enough. The U.N. team crushed the missiles, bulldozed them into a pit and entombed the wreckage in concrete. In one of three interviews last month, Tamimi said "it was as if they were killing my sons."
But Tamimi had other brainchildren, and these stayed secret. Concealed at some remove from his Karama Co. factory here were concept drawings and computations for a family of much more capable missiles, designed to share parts and features with the openly declared Al Samoud. The largest was meant to fly six times as far.
"This was hidden during the UNMOVIC visits," Tamimi said, referring to inspectors from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Over a leisurely meal of lamb and sweet tea, he sketched diagrams. "It was forbidden for us to reveal this information," he said.
Tamimi's covert work, which he recounted publicly for the first time in five hours of interviews, offers fresh perspective on the question that led the nation to war. Iraq flouted a legal duty to report the designs. The weapons they depicted, however, did not exist. After years of development -- against significant obstacles -- they might have taken form as nine-ton missiles. In March they fit in Tamimi's pocket, on two digital compact discs
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Two Democratic senators asked the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq (news - web sites) on Wednesday to explain its intended purchase of up to 50,000 AK-47 assault rifles for Iraq security forces, when they said the country is filled with such weapons.
The September solicitation to contractors sought prices for up to 50,000 "brand new, never fired, fixed stock" weapons made in 1987 or later.
"We question whether this is an efficient use of U.S. taxpayer dollars in a country already awash with AK-47s, many of which have been confiscated by coalition forces and are sitting in stockpiles," Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote L. Paul Bremer III, head of the U.S. governing authority.
The senators cited news reports that the captured weapons are in excellent condition, and said there would be little cost involved to distribute them to security forces
There are 5 million AK's alone in Iraq. They no more need to buy weapons than they need to import sand. This is just another example of the incompetance of the Young Republicans Abroad.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — President Bush offered a plan today that he said would help millions of illegal immigrants working in the United States while also making the country more secure and prosperous and living up to its finest ideals.
"By tradition and conviction, our country is a welcoming society," Mr. Bush said at a special ceremony in the White House. "We welcome the talent, the character and the patriotism of immigrant families."
While Mr. Bush said again that he opposed amnesty, which he said would only encourage lawbreaking and perpetuate illegal immigration, his proposals would nonetheless effectively grant a measure of amnesty to illegal immigrants with jobs.
What Mr. Bush called "a temporary worker program" would allow foreign workers to come to United States for specific jobs with specific employers, provided that no American workers could be found to fill the jobs. It would also require the return of these temporary workers to their home countries after their work period was over.
The legal status granted by the program would last three years, and would be renewable — but it would not be permanent, Mr. Bush said.
"Participants who do not remain employed, who do not follow the rules of the program or who break the law will not be eligible for continued participation and be required to return to their home," the President said.
Bush is betting that this plan will not blow up in his face. He thinks if he can get this through Congress, by dealing with the realities of American immigration, and seem compassionate. The problem is that at a time with job and wage stagnation, this is going to play poorly with many, many voters.
And given American racism, this might well blow up on Bush.
While it's a good idea, it's going to meet a ton of resistance from a wide variety of people.
Far from not being able to "compete" with Bush, Dean is the one viable Democrat who isn't trying to compete on the playing field that Bush and Karl Rove have laid out.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Arianna Huffington
Jan. 7, 2004 | I swear, if I hear one more Democratic honcho say that Howard Dean is not electable, I'm going to do something crazy (maybe that's what happened to Britney in Vegas this weekend).
The contention is nothing short of idiotic.
Consider the source: the folks besmirching the Good Doctor's Election Day viability are the very people who have driven the Democratic Party into irrelevance. Who spearheaded the party's resounding 2002 midterm defeats. Who kinda, sorta, but not really disagreed with President Bush as he led us down the path of preemptive war with Iraq, irresponsible tax cuts, and an unprecedented deficit.
Dean is electable precisely because he's making a decisive break with the spinelessness and pussyfooting that have become the hallmark of the Democratic Party.
So, please, no more hand-wringing about Dean being "another Dukakis." And no more weepy flashbacks about having had your heart broken by George McGovern, whose 1972 annihilation haunts the 2004 Democratic primaries like a political Jacob Marley, shaking his chains and warning about the ghosts of landslides past.
There is a historical parallel to Dean's candidacy. But it's not McGovern in 1972, as the DLC paranoiacs would like us to believe -- it's Bobby Kennedy in 1968.
Like Kennedy's, Dean's campaign was initially fueled by his antiwar outrage. Like Kennedy, Dean has found himself fighting not just to represent the Democratic Party but to remake it. Like Kennedy, Dean is offering an alternative moral vision for America, not just an alternative political platform.
And like Kennedy, Dean has come under withering attack from his critics for the very attributes that his supporters find most attractive.
"He could be intemperate and impulsive ... the image of wrath -- his forefinger pointing, his fist pounding his palm, his eyes ablaze." Sean Hannity on Howard Dean? No, Theodore White on Bobby Kennedy in "The Making of the President 1968."
It's the same ludicrous charge of being "too angry" that's being constantly leveled at Dean. Have his Democratic opponents -- and the notoriously decorous Washington press corps -- suddenly morphed into Miss Manners? Personally, I could never trust a man who does not occasionally get hot under the collar.
U.S. and Iraqi officials say they now doubt that Saddam had a significant role in directing guerrilla attacks. They say that while his interrogation has led to some arrests, basic information is still lacking about the guerrilla cells that are attacking U.S. and allied troops with sophisticated tactics.
``We don't think, as some have speculated, that he was the central figure managing the entire anti-coalition operation,'' said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for operations in Baghdad. Still, officials believe that the former leader played some role. ``Do we fully understand where Saddam fits in? We're putting that puzzle together.''
U.S intelligence officials in Washington said Saddam has begun cooperating with U.S. interrogators, but they said he claims he was not involved in directing the resistance and denies he had links to Al-Qaida or other international terrorist groups who now appear to be joining the guerrillas.
The pace of attacks on U.S. troops weeks after Saddam's capture has shaken U.S. officials' confidence that they know who the insurgents are and has made targeting the insurgents difficult at best. Some people working with U.S. forces say many detained in the crackdown against anti-U.S. forces know little about the organization or seem to be uninvolved in the insurgency.
Even something as basic as the number of anti-U.S. fighters in Iraq is a mystery. ``We've seen varied assessments that range from 500 to 5,000 or even higher,'' Kimmitt said. ``I don't think we really have a good fix on that number.''
As for how the various cells might relate to one another, officials admit they are working on hunches as much as anything.
They still have no idea of the shape, size or organization of the enemy that they're facing. This is going to lead to some kind of disaster because only one side is fighting in the dark. And none of this has to do with the growing political split with the Kurds and the Shia, who have very different ideas on who and how Iraq should be run.
As I recover from my sinus infection and pound water, I realized exactly how flawed the now infamous Club for Growth ad truly was, and only someone who is either from New England or lived there for a while would get it.
Coffee, as a rule, is insanely popular in New England. Not in the New York, blue cup with lid kind of way, but is firmly implanted in the culture. If you drive around any New England town, you will notice one institution which must exist. One institution which even the smallest child able to speak would recognize, like McDonald's or Chuck E. Cheese.
People may not realize it now, in an era of mass marketing and corporate buyouts, but most of the "fast food" places we eat at were regional chains. Taco Bell, California, White Castle, the midwest, Sonic, the South. We don't think much about it now, but the Americanization of fast food is really the story of spreading regional tastes adapted for wider palates.
Now, this error, which you'll recognize, didn't really hit me at first. Sure, you can mock people for eating at Starbucks because the coffee is mediocre, at least to me, and while some genius in Washington may think that you can knock down Howard Dean a peg or two by depicting him as some kind of out of touch liberal. But there's a problem with that, especially in the context of New England. And why you would be very careful in using images to depict class differences.
Howard Dean, like every other New Englander, drinks his coffee from Dunkin Donuts.
There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of Howard Dean with one of those infamous pink, orange and white cups clasped in his hand. Sure, he might have had a cup of Starbucks now and then, but at every road project, opening, school meeting, football game, tournament, and damn near anything else held between the Hudson and the Atlantic, Howard Dean's coffee of choice is Dunkin Donuts. Unless he's a coffee fiend, I bet he's got a bag or two on his kitchen counter.
There is no public event in New England, unless it's catered, where Dunkin Donuts does not lurk. If there's a bake sale, an orange and pink box is lurking.
This may seem like a minor detail, until you realize the gaffe. The CFG wants to depict Dean as Dukakis II, yet, no one in the ad company which made the ad realized why you wouldn't jump on him for drinking Starbucks. Because he's got the evidence to show him doing otherwise, in every setting imaginable. The Bush I people never tried to depict Clinton, who had a better education than Dean, in such a way because of the visual evidence against it. Gore was such a creature of Washington that they didn't need to do such a thing.
But here, this kind of ad is so easy to refute, so easy to explain away, you have to wonder if these people actually thought about it. You can believe too much of your own propaganda.
Owen Bowcott and Brian Whitaker
Tuesday January 6, 2004
Kurdish political leaders have been reassured that their region's semi-autonomous status will be allowed to continue after the handover to Iraqi self-rule on June 30.
The decision, which will infuriate neighbouring states and antagonise other Iraqis, is likely to have far-reaching consequences for any future constitutional settlement.
There have already been armed clashes in Kirkuk - with Arabs and Turkomans against Kurds - over control of the disputed, oil-rich city. Last week six people were killed.
The deal on preserving regional autonomy was reached at the weekend at a meeting in the Kurdish city of Irbil, when the American administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, and his British deputy, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, met Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP). The latter group is determined to extend its control beyond what were once the "safe havens" to the whole of the predominantly Kurdish north, including Kirkuk.
Allowing the Kurds to retain regional government is tacit recognition that the coalition has neither the time nor resources to dismantle the existing Kurdish parliament and administrations if they are to meet the June deadline. Those bodies date back to the end of the 1991 Gulf war, surviving outside of Saddam Hussein's rule under allied protection.
The British and Americans formally maintain that whether or not Iraq becomes a federal state, with semi-autonomous regions or simply local governorates, is up to the Iraqis
The Kurds are not being shy about forcing their hand with weapons. Every Iraqi government since the British victory in 1918 has had problems with the Kurds and their demand for territorial independence. The two major Kurdish parties want a Scotland-type set up with a Northern Ireland-type population.
The Turkomen feel that they have a right to control the region as well as the Kurds, while the Kurds want to kick out the Arabs. All of this, independent of the current insurrection in Central Iraq.
If the Kurds get what they want, the Turks may well invade because they fear an independent Kurdistan. If they don't, they may well wage an ethnic war. None of this is going to bode well for an already overstretched US military in Iraq.
Jewish advocacy groups led an avalanche of sharp criticism yesterday against two potential television ads that compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler and were posted on a Web site run by MoveOn.org.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress said the ads were beyond the pale of political discussion. Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, called them "hate-mongering."
"Certainly myself, as an American and as a Jew, I'm disgusted by the casual use of Hitler by liberal Democrats and groups such as MoveOn.org," said Mr. Cantor, the House chief deputy majority whip.
"To compare any American president, much less George W. Bush, to Adolf Hitler, cheapens the sacrifice of millions of lives that have been lost by this country over its history and really denigrates the efforts by the American military," Mr. Cantor said.
The two 30-second ads were submitted as part of a contest MoveOn.org sponsored. The organization invited submissions of spots criticizing Mr. Bush's record. Two of the submissions compared Mr. Bush to the Nazi dictator of Germany, whose regime killed 6 million Jews during World War II.
One ad used computer effects to morph a picture of Hitler into one of Mr. Bush.
Now, if RNC Chair Ed Gillespie wants to waste time critizing Move On, that's his right, but he should know they lose nothing if they target him back.
It's obviously idiotic to compare Bush to Hitler, much less in political advertising. I'd say he's closer to Stalin myself, but either one is way over the top. However, how politically effective is it to make a stink about a well-funded but small group of people who are not a part of the Democratic Party or it's organs? If they can get a rise from ads, they are going to drive the RNC nuts this year.
And the campaigns and the party can just say, "we don't control them and we don't agree with that statement. Complain to them."
By Ralph Z. Hallow
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A conservative advocacy group will begin running a TV ad in Iowa against Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, in a move questioned by some of President Bush's supporters.
The Club for Growth Political Action Committee said the 30-second spot against the former Vermont governor will begin running in Des Moines today — two weeks before the Iowa Democratic caucuses.
In the ad, a farmer says he thinks that "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."
The anti-Dean ads puzzled some of Mr. Bush's strategists and supporters, who see Mr. Dean as the most beatable of the major Democratic hopefuls.
"The prevailing wisdom is that Bush can beat Dean hands down," said longtime Republican consultant Rod Smith. "So why would the Club for Growth or anyone else on our side be attacking him now? That doesn't make any sense to me at all."
First of all, this is a just a dumb fucking ad, as Kos so kindly points out. Because Howard Dean made his living treating uh, farmers and their families, for a couple of decades. These so misunderstand Vermont it's insane. But the conventional wisdom in DC ain't much better.
I hope that the GOP thinks Bush can beat Dean hands down. I really do. These are the same people who thought Iraq would want Ahmed Chalabi in charge after Saddam Husssein.
OK, the postings here have been less than energetic lately because I managed to get a sinus infection while visiting family. Let's just say I'm really happy the holidays were over. Some people's holidays are It's a Wonderful Life, some get Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I got the Battle of the Bulge. Cold, sick and not much fun.
Anyway, I normally don't complain about my minor illnesses online because we all have them. But a sinus infection really sucks because it's like a cold in that you can't sleep, but not like a cold because you can function. You just feel like shit. after all, going to a doctor's office on a Monday in January means you feel bad enough to share space with wheezing sickos worse off than you. As I grow older, I have learned the wisdom of seeing the doctor when I feel like crap for more than a few days. My doctor's diagnosis: sinusitis, take antibiotics and Claritin and come back in a week. I also haven't had a decent meal since Christmas, so I dropped like 15 pounds in a few weeks. And by decent, I mean with all four food groups. Last night's dinner was an orange and some cookies and I was full.
In being prompted by my friend to actually see someone with a medical degree, we got around to the topic of pea soup. Now, I love pea soup, more than most things. I mean, the stuff in the can is ok, but there's a coffee shop in New York called Cozy's Soup & Burger. Anyone who's worked around 8th and Astor Place or attended NYU or Cooper Union knows the place well. It's hardly gourmet food, but they make split pea soup with croutons.
This is the best split pea soup I've had in public.
I first tried it 20 years ago, prompted by a college newspaper buddy friend of mine. Shit, the only time previously that I had had split pea, it was in a can and it looked like vomit.
Well, the look was the same, but the taste was divine. It was an otherworldly taste of peas, pork and savory flavors. We would then eat this stuff all the time.
Every so often, like the swallows to Capistrano, I'll get a hankering for Cozy Split Pea soup.
The power of this soup is amazing. Every year, some drunken frat boys or hungry student trips over split pea and becomes a convert.
Only one time have I been disuaded from the split pea soup. One time in 20 years.
Well, the person who managed that feat has made up for that gross breach of personal habit by making her own split pea soup. I can only await the day I actually have this split pea soup. She has a recipe of course and of all the things anyone could make for me, or with me, this ranks as close to perfection as I can imagine.
Yes, I know people make freaking split pea soup, but to have it at hand....this could be very good. This could be like having your very own single malt distillery, right next to your own brewery.
And since she lives very close to a couple of bakeries, I can make my own croutons.
You have no idea how that appeals to me. Croutons, maybe a nice grilled cheese sandwich and split pea soup in the dead of winter. Hell, it doesn't get much better than that.