Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Short Takes

President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House.

China’s economy is “settling down.”

Iran is going to re-try an American convicted of spying.

Bomb bomb bomb — First it was Iran; now John McCain wants to bomb Syria.

It’s Super Tuesday.

Disaster relief is overwhelming some agencies in the Midwest and South.

Spring training — Justin Verlander pitched and the Tigers beat the Jays 4-2.

Brent Diaz, a fifteen-year-old slugger from Christopher Columbus High School, hit the first home run ever in the new Miami Marlins Park.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Short Takes

The head of the European Central Bank hinted at stepping up support of the euro.

Egypt — Islamists claimed victory in parliamentary elections.

The U.S. will ease some sanctions on Burma.

On World AIDS Day, President Obama announced more funds for fighting AIDS.

November was a great month for some auto companies, especially Chrysler.

High winds cause serious damage in California.

Four FAMU students dismissed over hazing death.

Subaru stops selling three vehicles.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day

In August 1994, when I was living and working in Petoskey, Michigan, I received a phone call from Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood, asking me if I would write a short play for their Troupe Teen Theatre group for World AIDS Day 1994. The troupe, made up of local high school students, would perform the play on World AIDS Day and then take it on the road to high schools around northern Michigan. The theme was AIDS education and awareness. I replied, “Sure,” and promptly forgot about it.

At the end of October, I received another phone call from the troupe’s director, telling me that the first rehearsal would be the next afternoon and that the troupe was really looking forward to reading the play. I gulped, got the time of the rehearsal, and booted up my reliable old Apple IIc. Within an hour I batted out a twenty-page manuscript, proofed it, and ran to the copy center next door.

I have a reputation in my writing – deserved or otherwise – for being able to get it right the first time. I got through college and both grad schools turning in first drafts, and the only research paper I remember doing in more than one draft was my doctoral thesis. This play, which I titled Here’s Hoping, was the same. The kids read it the next day and loved it, and other than some minor changes for scientific accuracy, the play went on pretty much as I wrote it that October afternoon.

It’s the story of an AIDS support group meeting in a church basement, not unlike an Al-Anon meeting (with which I had recent experience at the time). All of the participants are supporting AIDS victims, including a college student with an HIV-positive boyfriend, a young couple with a child infected by a blood transfusion, and a widow of AIDS. Into this mix comes a straight-laced couple pushed into the group by the illness of a son they cast out several years ago. The group meets their challenge and their needs.

All of the people in the group are based on people I knew – and still know. Some are gone, but most are still with us. The play is dedicated to them and their memories.

The play was well-received, and, as far as I know, the Troupe Teen Theatre is still using it. I gave them permission to use the play for as long as they want to without paying royalties. Ironically, it’s the only play of mine that is in regular production, but it’s the least I could do.

Today I remember the friends who I’ve lost to this scourge: childhood friends like Mark, colleagues like Stephen, Matt, David, and Scott, and those who keep fighting, growing ever stronger in their resolve to win.

*

If you would like a free copy of Here’s Hoping in PDF format, drop me a note via e-mail. If you would like to use it for a production, I will waive royalties as long as the performance is conducted under standard contract terms of The Dramatists Guild and as long as the proceeds go to your local AIDS charity.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nothing Survives

Steve Benen noted a column by Michael Gerson, who used to work for the Bush administration, and how one program that Mr. Bush started — President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR — really worked: his effort to stop AIDS in Africa.

The Biblical story of Lazarus is happening again in Africa. At least it looks that way.

One moment, men, women and children suffering from AIDS are lying at death’s door, barely able to move, open their eyes, or speak. Then a few days or weeks later, they are walking, talking, laughing; truly appearing to have come back from the dead.

This astonishing transformation has been repeated all over the continent thousands of times over the past decade. And, since 2003, America has been helping to pay for it.

And, of course, it’s now on the chopping block by the House. After all, if they won’t send aid to Joplin’s tornado victims without some way for paying for it, why should they care at all about saving people in Africa?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shout Out to First Draft

The good folks over at First Draft are holding their annual fund-raiser. They were one of the first blogs to show up here to welcome me to the blogosphere nearly seven years ago and they’re still going strong, so if you can, stop by and drop some coin. Good work over there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Short Takes

Flood recovery in Pakistan is a long way off.

Stem cell research is on hold while a federal judge looks at the rules established by the Obama administration.

It’s primary day here in Florida.

Former President Jimmy Carter is going to North Korea to win the release of an American held prisoner there.

It could be a long time before the miners trapped in Chile are rescued.

Try, try again:
Diana Nyad will attempt to make the Cuba-Keys swim again, 32 years after the first attempt failed.

Tropical Update: It’s now Hurricane Danielle, but it’s way out to sea; meanwhile, there’s another disturbance following.

The Tigers beat KC 12-3; Johnny Damon is placed on waivers and picked up by the Red Sox.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Short Takes

The health crisis in Haiti is getting worse.

Pakistan offers to help fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

China has a big problem with water pollution.

Now it’s Honda’s turn for a big recall.

More snow for the East Coast.

Some Los Angeles suburbs in the foothills brace for mudslides.

South Florida will have a brief cold snap this week with temperatures heading down to the 30’s.

Broward County schools may lay off teachers and cut back classes because of their budget crunch.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Short Takes

It’s really snowing hard in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore today.

North Korea has released the American missionary.

Unemployment dipped below 10% in January.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) blocks every Obama nominee over pork.

Bill Clinton
popped in at a benefit concert for Haiti in Miami.

The president honored the seven CIA employees killed in Afghanistan.

Gearing up for the winding down of the space shuttle missions.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Short Takes

Haiti is slowly getting food out to the people.

There was a deadly bombing near a girls’ school in Pakistan.

Twofer: President Obama pushes jobs and healthcare in New Hampshire.

There was a primary yesterday in Illinois for President Obama’s old Senate seat.

A lot of people are just walking away from their mortgages.

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is in intensive care after complications from surgery.

An audit has found that there was a lot of interesting spending by City of Miami employees.

“But, Officer….” Hundreds of people in Florida got fraudulent traffic tickets

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hope For Haiti Now

If you’re trying to watch TV tonight, just about every channel — including The Weather Channel — is carrying the Hope for Haiti Now telethon. If you’re so inclined, go to the site or call 1-877-99-HAITI (994-8484).

Notably, Fox News is not carrying it. Gee, I wonder why.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Short Takes

Logistics: It’s hard to get aid to Haiti when the infrastructure is broken.

President Obama enlists his immediate predecessors to help with Haiti.

Vice President Biden talks to families in Little Haiti here in Miami.

Drone attacks
in Pakistan kill 12.

Someone tried to avoid security at JFK and shut down a terminal in the process.

President Obama is going to Massachusetts to campaign for Martha Coakley.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Short Takes

The situation in Haiti: Freed from the rubble is just the beginning; desperation is growing as relief workers struggle to keep up.

How you can help in Haiti.

Six college students from South Florida are still missing in Haiti.

There’s always a political angle to a tragedy.

The last dash for votes in Massachusetts as polls tighten between Democrat Coakley and Republican Brown. (PS: Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Missed signals: An inquiry shows that officers discounted the behavior of the alleged Fort Hood shooter.

In my backyard — A deal to preserve a local wetlands area is on an endless loop.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help for Haiti — Updated

The Miami Herald has an updated list of relief agencies that are assisting with the efforts in Haiti.

This is just a partial list; a lot of other groups, sites, and governments are pitching in. If you know of one that is not listed here, drop a link in the comments.

Short Takes

The devastation in Haiti is beyond horrific.

If you wish to help the people of Haiti, here is a list of agencies who are accepting donations.

The large Haitian community in South Florida waits and worries about friends and family.

President Obama orders quick relief action.

Wall Street CEO’s to Congress: “We’re sorry, but not much.”

Negotiations continue on the healthcare bill between the House and the Senate.

The tea party people keep on fighting amongst themselves.

The Supreme Court will not permit the Prop 8 trial to be televised.

R.I.P. Teddy Pendergrass.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day

I posted this five years ago, and I thought it would serve just as well today.

In August 1994, when I was living and working in Petoskey, Michigan, I received a phone call from Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood, asking me if I would write a short play for their Troupe Teen Theatre group for World AIDS Day 1994. The troupe, made up of local high school students, would perform the play on World AIDS Day and then take it on the road to high schools around northern Michigan. The theme was AIDS education and awareness. I replied, “Sure,” and promptly forgot about it.

At the end of October, I received another phone call from the troupe’s director, telling me that the first rehearsal would be the next afternoon and that the troupe was really looking forward to reading the play. I gulped, got the time of the rehearsal, and booted up my reliable old Apple IIc. Within an hour I batted out a twenty-page manuscript, proofed it, and ran to the copy center next door.

I have a reputation in my writing – deserved or otherwise – for being able to get it right the first time. I got through college and both grad schools turning in first drafts, and the only research paper I remember doing in more than one draft was my doctoral thesis. This play, which I titled Here’s Hoping, was the same. The kids read it the next day and loved it, and other than some minor changes for scientific accuracy, the play went on pretty much as I wrote it that October afternoon.

It’s the story of an AIDS support group meeting in a church basement, not unlike an Al-Anon meeting (with which I had recent experience at the time). All of the participants are supporting AIDS victims, including a college student with an HIV-positive boyfriend, a young couple with a child infected by a blood transfusion, and a widow of AIDS. Into this mix comes a straight-laced couple pushed into the group by the illness of a son they cast out several years ago. The group meets their challenge and their needs.

All of the people in the group are based on people I knew – and still know. Some are gone, but most are still with us. The play is dedicated to them and their memories.

The play was well-received, and, as far as I know, the Troupe Teen Theatre is still using it. I gave them permission to use the play for as long as they want to without paying royalties. Ironically, it’s the only play of mine that is in regular production, but it’s the least I could do.

If you would like a free copy of Here’s Hoping in PDF format, drop me a note via e-mail. If you would like to use it for a production, I will waive royalties as long as the performance is conducted under standard contract terms of The Dramatists Guild and as long as the proceeds go to your local AIDS charity.

Today I remember the friends who I’ve lost to this scourge: childhood friends like Mark, colleagues like Stephen, Matt, David, and Scott, and those who keep fighting, growing ever stronger in their resolve to win.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

World AIDS Day

The number of people who have been touched by this plague, and the number of friends and colleagues I know who have been infected and whom the world has lost is beyond count. The pace of the disease has been slowed in the last ten years, but one death one is one too many.

Josh Ruxin is a Columbia University expert on public health who has spent the last couple of years living in Rwanda. He’s an unusual mix of academic expert and mud-between-the-toes aid worker. He tells us what’s left to to.

A slew of reports will be released this Saturday; though little of the news will be good, there is some progress worth celebrating. After six years of activists begging for 10 billion dollars per year in funding, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) might actually reach 40 percent of that goal in 2008. Across the world more and more people are being tested for HIV and put on treatment, the cost of which is at levels unimaginable just a few years ago.

So why aren’t we having a big celebration on this World AIDS Day? Because overall — and certainly in consideration of our abilities — we’re not doing nearly enough to address the disease.

[…]

Here are the facts: the data has changed because there are more programs reaching more villagers and more of the poor than ever before. And since AIDS is principally an urban phenomenon, as testing gets out in the countryside, fewer people are being identified as HIV positive.

Good news right? Yes, except that out of the 33 million, 27 million are in Africa, and only about one million are receiving treatment. That means that nearly 2 million Africans will die of AIDS this year and roughly that number will be infected. The seeds of our future public health battles are being sown before our eyes.

[…]

On this World AIDS Day, it may be time to finally recognize AIDS for what it is: another symptom of poverty. The startling statistic that 5 percent of adults in our nation’s capital (roughly the same prevalence rate as in Rwanda, where I live) are HIV positive drives the point home. The fight against AIDS cannot and should not be fought in a vacuum. Policy-makers must cease making zero-sum choices between fighting maternal mortality (which has had relatively flat budgets for the past decade) or child health (which also has flat budgets) or neglected tropical diseases (which have been grossly neglected) and start owning up to the fact that only comprehensive, holistic approaches will work.

That means investments not only in the spectrum of health challenges facing Africa, but investments in growth — from agricultural productivity to entrepreneurship. AIDS cannot simply be fought with a pill, a testing kit, a condom or a circumcision. Though all are good approaches, AIDS must be fought with serious investments in the lives of the poor.

Thursday, October 25, 2007