Sunday, December 12, 2004

Brazil, Afghanistan, Bush Packs on the Pounds and more

Sunday's edition of The New York Times has already resulted in some e-mails. But if you have time please check out this front page story by Douglas Jehl (

This should be dealt with in a later post today.

Marcia: "Front page, top of the left section they're talkinga bout the hoemless and in the bottom right corner they give us a story on luxury shoppers!"

It is a acontrast to go from N.R. Klenifield's "Bowed by Age, Battered by an Addicted Nephew And Forced Into Begging and Despair" (
to Tracie Rozhon's "Even if Just a Bauble, Luxury Counts for Holidays" where we read of a woman on her cellphone saying, "I've finished shopping -- almost. No, not a van. I think a Town Car will be quite big enough, thank you." I'm not sure I would have picked it for the front page, but it is a story and the contrast from one corner of the front page to the other does make you notice it. That might have been the intention. (Or maybe not.)

One of the last places on earth where large tracts are still available for agriculture, the region, led by Brazil, has had an explosion of farm exports over the past decade. The growth has been fueled by a combination of market-friendly economic policies and advances in agronomy that have brought formerly unusable tropical lands into production and increased productivity levels beyond those in the United States and Europe, challenging their traditional dominance of the global farm trade.

The above statements are from Larry Rohter's "South America Seeks to Fill the World's Table" ( which is worth reading.

Also recommended is Elisabeth Rosenthal's "Liberal Leader From Ukraine Was Poisoned" ( which is about the poisoning of Viktor A. Yushchenko with dixon:

But Mr. Yushchenko has always remained vague on the topic of who tried to poison him. He fell ill after having dinner on Sept. 5 with the head of Ukraine's successor to the K.G.B., Gen. Ihor P. Smeshko.
General Smeshko has acknowledged meeting Mr. Yushchenko but dismissed the notion that he might have been involved in poisoning him, as many of Mr. Yushchenko's supporters say they suspect. Mr. Yushchenko's wife, a Ukrainian-American, said this week that when she kissed him after he returned from the dinner, she smelled some kind of medicine on this breath, which she now believed to be the poison.
In the earlier years of the cold war, the K.G.B. and the Eastern European intelligence services used poison against some political enemies.
In a famous case, a Bulgarian dissident, Georgi I. Markov, was killed with poison in 1978 by the Bulgarian secret service, apparently to silence his broadcasts on the British Broadcasting Corporation. At a London bus stop, an agent using a spring-loaded umbrella injected into Mr. Markov's leg a platinum pellet that contained a dose of ricin. He died after three days of intense fever and vomiting.

Carl e-mailed, "Yeah, old news, thanks NYT. We learned about this on Democracy Now! weeks ago!"

I know Amy Goodman raised the issue of poisoning sometime ago. I believe it popped up for the first time in the Times late last week. Rosenthal's entry point for this story is that "Tests done at a hospital in Vienna confirmed that . . ." If it was raised by the paper prior, I believe it was as an aside. If it was raised.

Here's one example from the November 29th broadcast of Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: What happened to Yushchenko's face? We have been seeing these before and after pictures just a few months ago. A very young-looking, smooth-skinned Yushchenko and then this summer something happened and the pictures now are a very mottled face. What happened to him?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA: I don't really know. It has been not reported much. What was reported a lot, and that's what I was actually witnessing, not first hand, but when I was in Kiev, there was a lot of talk about that this summer and this fall when then Yushchenko was meeting with various, you know, pro- Yanukovych officials and I think the KGB, whatever the name of the KGB today in Ukraine is, and apparently he was poisoned and he was flown into Vienna to the hospital and then there was a lot of debate whether he, indeed was poisoned by the Russian supporters of Yanukovych or he was just -- just got food poisoning altogether. So it's still very unclear and it could be that it was the result of this poisoning and, you know, the last three months or four months. But I cannot really comment more on that.

Nina Khrushcheva is "professor of International Affairs at New School University. She is the granddaughter of former Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev." There's a transcript of the story and you can also listen to the segment or watch it (

Inside the paper, Carlotta Gall informs about the seven-year drought in Afghanistan (

Afghanistan remains in the grip of the most debilitating drought in living memory, now in its seventh year. Government and foreign aid officials warn that despite the outside help and a good harvest last year, the country is living on the brink, with nearly 40 percent of the population below subsistence levels.

Elisabeth Bumiller informs us of the obvious yet again, Bush is packing on the pounds. That was obvious to anyone looking at the photos during the campaign. "The president's recent weight gain changes his B.M.I> to 27.1 up from 26.3 A B.M.I. of 25 or above is officially overweight for both sexes, but doctors say it is only one marker of a person's health . . . ("

The doctors also reported that Mr. Bush smoked an occasional cigar, did not use alcohol, drank diet sodas and coffee, and had not missed work because of illness since his last exam.
During the exam, Mr. Bush had a seborrheic keratosis removed with liquid nitrogen from his left shoulder. Seborrheic keratoses are benign, wart-like growths common in people as they age. The doctors also found some actinic keratoses, which are skin lesions that result from chronic sun exposure, and recommended that they be removed with liquid nitrogen during the holidays.

This is from the annual physical that he postponed taking during the campaign. Bumiller doesn't address that.

Billie writes: "I read [Adam] Nagourney's 'Democrats Hear From 8 Who Want to Lead Party' and couldn't believe [Martin] Frost!"

The story ( focuses on Howard Dean mainly but Billie feels it "cheerleads" for Ron Kirk. Frost is quoted as saying, "The next chair of this party needs to be a fighter. I chose to fight in that district." Referring to his decision to run against Republican incumbent Pete Sessions when redistricting landed the two incumbents in the same district.

Billie: "Poppy cock! He hid the fact that he was a Democrat as best he could. My sixty two year old aunt in Oak Cliff voted for Pete Sessions. I said, 'Aunt Ethyl, why?' She said if Frost isn't able to campaign as a Democrat she'd rather vote for someone who's proud of himself. My aunt has never voted Republican before. So when Frost says that he's a fighter, well how does a fighter lose the vote of sixty two year old black woman who's voted Democrat all her life? That's not a fighter."

[Oak Cliff is a section of Dallas. According to Billie it is predominately Hispanic and African-American. Some or all of it were merged with sections of Session's district in the redisctricting.]

Martha was impressed with Donnie Fowler's comments in yesterday's paper and again today.

"We've got to quit conceding to Republicans what rightfully belongs to us. We are a party that has become afraid to talk about our heart and soul," Folwer is quoted as saying.

What is he getting at? That's all Nagourney provides us with. Nagourney reports that Ron Kirk "gave what was probably the best-received speech."

Billie says: "I had Kirk for a mayor. He's good at saying the right thing, there's just no follow up. Here, he's [Nagourney] praising Kirk for lip service. Kirk saying that he looks around and wonders why there's no woman running for the post. If it's not just lip service, you say, 'I want to remove my name from the list and recommend instead Donna Brazile.' Otherwise you are just saying something you know will win applause but you aren't doing a thing about it which is Kirk's pattern."

Ralph Blumenthal writes ("In the Age of the Wireless Phone, a Louisian Town Awaits the Real Thing") of how Mink, Louisiana doesn't have land lines:

Alexander Graham Bell's invention of 1876 never reached Mink . . . The telephone also
never reached the hundred families of Shaw and Black Hawk . . . Yes, the telephone is
not everywhere. In fact, televisions are more common in American homes today.

There should be two more post today.