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Sunday, April 27, 2003  

People are saying

•WHO reticent about SARS

WHO is saying people are overreacting to SARS, which appears to be an epidemic in the making. About 300 people, mainly in Asia, are known to have died from SARS so far. The international health monitor acknowledges that, but paints a brighter picture.

Asked on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme whether Sars was the "first global epidemic of the 21st Century", the WHO director-general [Gro Harlem Brundtland] replied: "Yes, this is correct. It will historically be seen that way."

She said the world still had a "window of opportunity to avoid the virus becoming endemic, such as flu and HIV... to contain it - lessen it where it is, and stop it spreading".

One hundred and sixty one new cases have been reported, mainly in China.

I can't help but wonder if WHO is trying to avoid inciting panic by saying the disease is still containable.

Meanwhile, the blogger at All That Jazz has come up with another meaning for the acronym SARS.

. . .SARS reminds us that we are a globally mixing community and what happens in one corner influences us all. If only we would apply the same sentiment to more than just infectious disease.

The real sickness sweeping through mankind -- Selfish Arrogant Retribution Syndrome.

And, it is deeper than any of our physical illnesses.

A tall, skinny cappuccino for John Paul

Living in Latteland, I'm always interested in news about the beatific bean. At least a quarter of the blog entries you read here are being posted via WiFI from one Starbucks location or another. I don't know whether there is a Starbucks in the Vatican yet, but the Pope is hip to the vibe.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul (news - web sites) has beatified a 17th-century friar credited with halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process discovering the frothy coffee drink cappuccino.

. . .History books also show that with a vast Ottoman Turk army beating a path to Vienna in 1683, d'Aviano was sent by the then-pope to unite the outnumbered Christian troops, spurring them to victory.

As the Turks fled, legend has it they left behind sacks of coffee which the Christians found too bitter, so they sweetened it with honey and milk.

Cappuccinco was named after d'Aviano's order, the Capuchins.

You may have noticed there is a wealth of good bloggers from the Pacific Northwest, including Barry of Alas, A Blog, Emma of The Oregon Blog, Dave Niewert of Orcinus and Fred at Rantavation. Maybe that's caused by all the caffeine in the air.

•Georgia pols reject Confederate battle flag

Georgia neo-Confederates are unhappy. Well, neo-Confederates are chronically offended, but this time they have a new excuse. The return to the 1956 state flag, which was designed to show opposition to racial integration, they elected a governor to achieve will not occur. Instead, a compromise flag that does not feature the stars and bars will fly over Georgia. Of equal importance, there is no escape clause for Gov. Sonny Perdue. Neo-Confederates will not get a chance to vote the 1956 flag back to life as he promised them.

With the bill that passed not long before midnight Friday night, lawmakers also removed any chance that the Confederate battle emblem will be restored to the state banner.

Black legislators in particular called the Confederate cross a symbol of oppression. If the measure is approved by Governor Perdue, Georgia voters will choose next March between the temporary flag and the current flag.

But there will be no vote on the old state flag and its Confederate battle cross.

The current Georgia flag was also intended as a compromise between the neo-Confederates and progressives.

The Confederate battle flag has been one of the most divisive issues in Dixie for several years now as Southerners struggle to find the rightful place for a painful piece of history . . . The state flags of Georgia and Mississippi are the last two featuring the controversial Rebel cross. The design of the new Georgia flag is a compromise that is intended to placate civil rights groups without alienating Southern heritage buffs bent on preserving the most enduring symbol of the Confederacy.

Perdue is more wiggly than a can of worms, but I don't believe he is going to be able to wiggle out of this.

•Some weighty topics

It has happened again. A man has gone postal and tried to kill his wife and himself with their children looking on. This time, the fellow, who injured his wife and killed himself was the police chief of Tacoma, Washington.

Weight is always a controversial issue, especially when it comes to women. Read two entries about the topic at Silver Rights. One was written in response to a claim SR does not understand the fat liberation movement.

Speaking of weight, have you ever wondered what the lyrics to the song "The Weight" mean? Find out here.

3:10 PM