Whatchoo Talkin' 'Bout?

Headlines and Commentary for 08.25.05

Walter Reed Medical Center to Be Closed – A federal commission voted Thursday to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center — the crown jewel of U.S. military hospitals — as part of the Pentagon’s sweeping proposal to restructure bases across the country. Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, the century-old hospital has treated presidents and foreign leaders as well as veterans and soldiers, including those returning from the Iraq war.

I’m actually pretty shocked by this announcement. I guess it’s just because the place has so much history, one assumes that it’s a ‘key’ facility. But, given its age and all (over 100 years), it’s probably time. I understand that a new, more modern hospital will replace the old building, and it will assume the name ‘Walter Reed’. That’s cool.

Katrina Strengthens, Heads to Florida – Tropical Storm Katrina strengthened Thursday as it trudged toward Florida’s heavily populated southeastern coast, and forecasters expected it to become a weak hurricane before making landfall overnight.

I wonder what property insurance premiums are like in Florida? They’ve got to be killer.

Iraq Leaders Seek Constitution Consensus – Iraqi factional leaders struggled again to reach a consensus on a new constitution before a self-imposed target of midnight Thursday, but parliament did not meet and some officials said there was no plan for a future session on the charter. The negotiators tried to reach an agreement on a draft by the close of a 72-hour extension announced Monday night by the parliament speaker after Sunni Arabs refused to accept a charter approved by Shiites and Kurds.

There’s really no way to speed this process up. In fact, no one should try. This stuff takes time, and it has got to be done right. After all, the U.S. Constitution took a year to complete and another two years to reflect the government it prescribed. If any form of democracy is to last in Iraq, the details of the new government must be as clear as possible.

Deadly Tsunami Reached Around the Globe – Last year’s Sumatra tsunami focused its death and destruction on the lands around the Indian Ocean, but the great wave traveled around the world and was recorded as far away as Peru and northeastern Canada. The wave rose a massive 30 feet as it destroyed communities around the Indian Ocean.

The power of God cannot be reconned with. Hopefully, new early warning systems will be fully operational around the globe before the next killer wave hits.

Militants Threaten to Renew Israel Attacks – Militants said Thursday they will renew attacks on Israel, despite a six-month cease-fire, after Israeli soldiers killed five Palestinians, at least three of them armed, in a West Bank arrest raid. The killings and the threat of revenge ended a lull that accompanied Israel’s just-completed withdrawal from 25 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

If anyone thought Israel’s most recent exodus was the key to stopping the ongoing war, they were wrong. I don’t think one or two acts, or a negotiation on territory, or anything else can be the silver bullet that permanently changes things in this area. The disagreements go back centuries, and when children of one side are raised to hate the children of the other, no ‘roadmap’ of agreements will help.

Miss America Wants Out of Atlantic City –  In a surprise announcement, the organizers of the Miss America pageant said Thursday they want to move the 84-year-old contest from the only home it has ever known.

Bert Parks is turning over in his grave.

Post Office Renamed to Honor Ray Charles – The warm voice of Ray Charles filled the neighborhood near his recording studio during a ceremony christening a post office in his name. As Charles’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” rang out over speakers, family, friends and associates watched Wednesday as workers unveiled the new Ray Charles Station post office sign.

Yeah, O.K. Ray sang some memorable songs, but why do we always try to deify these people? By the way, Ray could be quite a jerk, and he certainly didn’t like to take song requests.

Tickets to JLO Boutique Opening on Auction – Jennifer Lopez is going on the auction block — for charity. Starting Thursday, fans of singer-actress-designer Jennifer Lopez can bid on two VIP tickets to the opening of her first U.S. boutique in Chicago. Her boutique at Marshall Field’s on State Street will open Sept. 22. The first JLO boutique opened in Moscow last year.

Thanks, but no thanks.

And finally…

Politicians slum it on “Vile Brother” – Four Mexican politicians completed a three-night stay in a spider- and scorpion-infested shack on Wednesday as part of a campaign to raise awareness about poverty dubbed “Vile Brother.” In contrast to the typical house on the reality television show “Big Brother,” the shack was made of sticks, tin and plastic sacks, lacked a sewage system and had a dirt floor. The group tore down the shack as they left, after buying a new concrete house for the seven-member family that had lived there, Mexican television news reported.

OK, here’s my list. I want to see Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer, Bill Frist, and Sam Brownback camping out together in conditions just like this.