All posts by Ben Tan

Emerson College alum. Musician and member of Moon Tower (facebook.com/moontowersband). Co-creator of KLYAM.com. Former WERS news director and host. Advanced video editor and media producer.

US May Discard Unused H1N1 Vaccine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government may end up throwing away unused doses of swine flu vaccine if people cannot get it soon enough, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

Wait. Isn’t there a shortage?

Members of Congress questioned whether federal officials were too rosy in their estimates of how much vaccine would be available and when, and companies said they were still struggling to produce immunizations against H1N1.

Afghan President Agrees To Run-Off Election

Hamid Karzai has agreed to take part in an election run-off in Afghanistan, triggering a scramble to hold a second round of voting in just over two weeks.

After days of intense international pressure, he finally accepted a report which found hundreds of thousands of his votes were fake and agreed to face his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, in a two-man contest on Nov 7.

The international community and Afghan officials now have a fortnight to organise the new ballot as winter approaches and large swathes of the country remain under Taliban control. British troops will again be asked to provide security for voters in Helmand province.

Looking tired after days of intense diplomatic wrangling, Mr Karzai said: “We believe that this decision of the Independent Election Commission is legitimate, legal and constitutional and that it strengthens the path towards democracy.”

Western backers desperately lobbied Mr Karzai to accept the results of the fraud inquiry after he threatened to reject a decision he claimed was a foreign plot to weaken him.

Gordon Brown is understood to have spoken Karzai three times in the last 48 hours and warned him he risked losing international support if he refused to take part in a second round.

The prime minister described Mr Karzai’s decision as “statesmanlike”, while Barack Obama said it was “in the best interests of the Afghan people”.

However, diplomats privately fear the second round will be as riddled with fraud and as violent as the August 20 poll.

In related news, my man Ban learned some lessons from this madness.

The U.N. secretary-general says having learned “valuable and painful” lessons from the widespread fraud that plagued the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential elections, the United Nations would do its best to assist the Afghan people in having a credible and free second round.

WERSNews.com Round Up: Oct. 19, 2009

Obama Eases Federal Medical Marijuana Prosecution
Burr Ends Run For Kennedy’s Seat
Minority Police: No Confidence In Menino
Philip Morris Might Fund Chest Scans
More Than 17,000 Qualify For Scholarship
Iran Threatens To Reject Nuclear Agreement
Stimulus Created, Saved 250,000 Education Jobs
UN Audit Forces Afghan Runoff Election
Obama Reveals Sudan Strategy, Sanctions, Incentives

U.N. To Release Afghan Election Investigation

The U.N.-backed commission investigating reports of fraud in Afghanistan’s controversial presidential election is expected to release its highly-anticipated findings Monday.

We just might have a runoff.

Preliminary results indicate President Hamid Karzai leads with 54 percent of the total. But the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) could throw out enough fraudulent ballots so that Mr. Karzai’s total dips below 50 percent, most likely forcing a runoff with top challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

Newspaper Company McClatchy Struggles This Quarter

Things aren’t looking up for newspapers.

Amid the secular and cyclical slowdown in print advertising, McClatchy Company (MNI, the third largest newspaper company in the U.S. and the publisher of 30 daily newspapers including the Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, reported third-quarter 2009 results.

McClatchy is facing the same dramatic decline in advertising revenue, as the rest of the newspaper industry. Total advertising revenue fell 28.1% year-on-year to $266.1 million. However, circulation revenue stabilized, up 6.7% to $69 million due to increase in circulation prices. As a result, total revenue slipped 23.1% to $347.4 million.

To combat the downturn, management undertook cost-cutting initiatives, focused on building Internet operations and reduced debt load. McClatchy had lowered its headcounts, and cut executive pay. The company was able to lower its cash expenses by 29.4% and total operating expenses by 30.2%.

UN: Cooperation With Sudanese Government Important

KHARTOUM, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) — The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Thursday affirmed importance of cooperation with the Sudanese government to find lasting solutions to the conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees in the country, namely in Darfur, eastern Sudan and southern Sudan.

The UN’s probably right. Too bad the Sudanese government couldn’t care less about refugees.

Public Option To Arrive By Christmas?

So says at least one senator…

Health care reform legislation will be on President Barack Obama’s desk by Christmas, Americans will be mandated to buy insurance and those who can’t afford coverage will have a public option — or maybe they won’t, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told reporters from around the country today.

Four of the five committees that have approved legislation “will have a public option,” as an alternative for people who can’t afford private coverage, he said during a teleconference organized by Families USA, a health consumers advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.