After 29 years of aiding leprosy patients nun forced to leave India

Residents of the rehab Centre come to say goodbye

A Catholic nun from Britain who has spent 29 years caring for leprosy patients in Bengaluru, India, is being forced to give up her work and leave the country after Delhi refused to renew her residency permit.

London-born Jacqueline Jean McEwan, now known as Sister Jean, or the Mother Teresa of Sumanahalli, runs a mobile clinic for leprosy patients. She has been ordered to leave without explanation by the union home ministry and if her appeal for permission to stay goes unanswered by 2pm on Monday she will have to board an evening flight bound for London…

“I work with leprosy patients in two city slums and a nearby village. They’re old and neurologically damaged, and suffer from ailments such as cancer. I’ve spent a long time with my people in Bengaluru, but wherever God wants me to be I won’t remain idle,” she said.

As the Guardian reported in March, leprosy has officially been eliminated in India, yet 130,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Funds for both leprosy charities and government leprosy programmes have reduced, and some projects have shut down.

But the Sumanahalli Society, on the outskirts of Bengaluru in Karnataka state, has been doing extraordinary work in the treatment, vocational training and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, winning national and other awards. The mission was set up in the late 70s after a request by Karnataka’s chief minister to the archbishop of Bengaluru. Today, Sumanahalli leather goods, garments and other products are marketed in the UK by the Leprosy Mission, an international development organisation.

“But we don’t have anybody to take care of our clinics who is as trained and committed as Sister Jean,” said the director of the society, Father George Kannanthanam. “She’s wonderful – she knows every leprosy patient by name…If Sister Jean has to leave, the main loss will be for the patients,” he added. “They call her ‘Amma’ – she’s like a mother to them. It’s as if Sumanahalli’s heart is being ripped out.”

I know, I know, just some bureaucratic mistake. Still – it shouldn’t take an international brouhaha to rectify the simplest issue in medicine – continuing care. No doubt there’s some ego-damaged politician somewhere in the loop who feared their little fiefdom was threatened.

Uruguay sets new standard in Copa America history

Diego Forlan grabbed two goals as Uruguay thrashed Paraguay 3-0 in Buenos Aires to secure a record 15th Copa America title.

The striker, who plays for Spanish club Atletico Madrid, struck in each half to become Uruguay’s joint highest scorer in history after Liverpool forward Luis Suarez had broken the deadlock after only 11 minutes.

It marked Uruguay’s first Copa America triumph since 1995 and they can now boast one more title than hosts Argentina, who they beat in the quarterfinal…

Eleven minutes into the match Luis Suarez found the net and edged past Argentina striker Sergio Aguero as the tournament’s top scorer with four goals.

Four minutes before halftime, Egidio Arevalo Rios robbed Nestor Ortigoza of possession and teed up Diego Forlan who made no mistake with a powerful drive.

Paraguay tried to force the pace in the second half and hit the crossbar after Nelson Valdez’s shot was tipped onto the woodwork by Uruguay goalkeeper Nestor Muslera.

But Paraguay’s threat faded after that and they were thankful to another fine save from Villar to prevent Sebastian Eguren putting the game beyond doubt.

That feat was left to Forlan who completed a fine breakaway move in the dying seconds as he finished smartly following Suarez’s precise header and pulled level with Hector Scarone as Uruguay’s all time leading goalscorer on 31.

Now, Uruguay has broken their tie with Argentina for the most victories in this hemispheric competition. Forlan’s final goal was the icing on the cake – pretty much expected with Paraguay throwing players forward in an attempt to get a minimum face-saving goal. But, still an admirable, controlled and skillful goal.

View from outside the United States? America’s rightwing nutters are the biggest threat to the world economy!

Vince Cable never has learned to be polite to idiots

Vince Cable has launched an extraordinary attack on “rightwing nutters” in America who are trying to block the raising of the US government’s debt ceiling and who are, he said, a bigger threat to the world economy than problems in the eurozone…

He said: “The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few rightwing nutters in the American Congress rather than the eurozone.”

Negotiations on raising the US government’s debt limit above its current level of $14.3 trillion collapsed in acrimony late on Friday over details of a package of spending cuts and tax rises that would help to pay for such a move…

A visibly angry Barack Obama attacked the Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner, for refusing to return his phone calls and said he had been “left at the altar” in trying to reach an agreement. Most experts agree that if the US were to default on its debt payments, stock and bond markets worldwide would plunge, threatening a new great recession. The deadline for agreement is just over a week away, on 2 August.

On the crisis in the eurozone, Cable said the coalition government wanted to see the euro succeed, even though Britain was not a part of it.

With GDP figures this week expected to suggest that growth has stalled, the senior Liberal Democrat conceded that the state of the economy was “not great”.

“It is not surprising that it isn’t great because of the problems we inherited,” he said, while dismissing the idea of easing the coalition’s austerity measures. The UK was in a “German rather than Greek” position because there was confidence in the country’s finances, he said…

The same fools who think the United States operates in a vacuum are twins to those who think nothing should change in how the American economy functions, e.g., they want dependence on consumer spending, ballooning housing prices, reliance on credit spending to continue to rule the way our nation lives.

That many people have begun to increase savings is a sin. That many of us realize that actually being able to qualify to buy a house benefits the economy and the home-building trade. That many have learned to pay down their credit cards balances to zero ASAP is not only good for your credit rating – it leaves you in control of your finances. That bigger isn’t better by any sensible definition – whether you’re buying a car or a home. And that home is something you and your family intend to live in for the foreseeable future – not something to be flipped as a business investment.

Just us folks, that’s all. No Wall Street analysts or Congressional/White House campaign organizers. Not anymore.

Growing your own

Several varieties of lettuce

Our inevitable onion patch

Doing some grillin’ and chillin’ today – some of the Italian sausage I talk the butchers at Whole Foods into making for me – ready in a few minutes to toss with home-made basil pesto and rigatoni. And I noticed the garden is getting to just about peak productivity and took a few photos to send on to family members who aren’t visiting, right now. To let them know what they’re missing.


5 ways that Congress will whack your retirement

If Washington strikes a big deal on deficit reduction to avoid debt default, it’s going to be bad news all around for older Americans.

The debt crisis negotiations may yield no more than a short-term Band-aid and sidestep long-term changes in spending policy. But it’s clear that the Obama Administration and some lawmakers are reaching for a big deal patterned on ideas developed by politicians positioning themselves as bipartisan budget peacemakers.

So, while average Americans worry about the ongoing jobs crisis and vanishing retirement security, lawmakers and the President make plans for deficit reduction that will whack vulnerable older Americans.

Many of the spending cut ideas come from the final non-report of the President’s own deficit commission. (I call this a non-report because co-chairmen Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles couldn’t muster the votes needed from commission members under their own rules to report out a final document, yet Washington accepts what the co-chairs issued as an official document). Other key ideas are embodied in the bipartisan plan du jour presented by the on-again, off-again Gang of Six.

Watch out for these possible blows to retirement security as the debt default deadline approaches:

Continue reading

Metal Storm/TASER develop less-than-lethal ammunition

Metal Storm and TASER are developing less-than-lethal ammunition for the aptly-named MAUL rapid-fire 12-gauge launcher. The tiny 800 gram MAUL fits on an assault rifle, and shoots five bullets which incapacitate those it hits with the same Neuro Muscular effect of a handheld TASER.

Until very recently, the basic concept of the gun had changed little since the advent of gunpowder, and nearly all guns still run on the same principles. A decade ago, Metal Storm developed a new type of digital gun that is more closely related to the inkjet printer than traditional ordnance.

Its ammunition is stacked, fired electronically and ammunition types can be mixed, enabling the same gun to perform multiple roles.

Meanwhile, the dumb lumps of metal which guns initially fired evolved into intelligent projectiles capable of delivering a range of payloads for everything from door-breaching, grenade launching, and now non-lethal…it says here

A five round reload takes two seconds and each bullet incapacitates those it hits with the same Neuro Muscular effect of a handheld TASER.

Buck Rogers military geeks are wetting their pants over this one. But, probably not as much as a very few cops who would rather be storm troopers, judge, jury – all rolled into one.

I like the part about the “tiny 800 gram MAUL”. Ever been hit by anything weighing “just” 800 grams fired from a shotgun? It’s gonna make a hole THIS BIG!!

U.S. wasted $34 billion on contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq

The Temple of Doom under construction in Baghdad – US Embassy

The United States has wasted some $34 billion on service contracts with the private sector in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a study being finalized for Congress…

The analysis by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, details of which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, offers the most complete look so far at the misuse of U.S. contracting funds in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than $200 billion has been doled out in the contracts and grants over nearly a decade.

It also gives the most complete picture of the magnitude of the U.S. contracting workforce in the two countries.

The source, who declined to be named, said more than 200,000 contractors have been on the U.S. payroll at times in Iraq and Afghanistan — outstripping the number of U.S. troops currently on the ground in those countries…

The tally of private sector contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan can be surprisingly difficult to obtain since many U.S. contractors are outsourced to subcontractors who depend on temporary labor, the source said.

The report blames a lack of oversight by federal agencies for misuse of funds and warns of further waste when the programs are transferred to Iraqi or Afghan control as the United States withdraws its troops.

The report should also blame the corrupt fracking Congress that authorized the payments – for the whole war for that matter. And then throw in the sillyass voters who trundled most of the same boom-bedazzled chickenhawks back into office for George W’s second term.

If it wasn’t a secret ballot [I know, except Floriduh and Ohio] I’d fight for a law that requires everyone who voted for Bush the second time around to fork over double income taxes until the war is paid for.