Posts Tagged ‘poverty & hunger’


It is difficult to learn to live the downward mobility of the gospel in this age of wealth. For the most part, those of us who are rich never meet those of us who are poor. Instead, nonprofit organizations serve as brokers between the two in a booming business of poverty management.
I believe that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor, but that they do not know the poor. Yet if we are called to live the new community for which Christ was crucified, we cannot remain strangers to one another. Jesus demands that we live in a very different way. I recently surveyed people who said they were “strong followers of Jesus.” Over 80 percent agreed with the statement, “Jesus spent much time with the poor.” Yet only 1 percent said that they themselves spent time with the poor. We believe we are following the God of the poor — yet we never truly encounter the poor.

—- Shane Claiborne
****Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution and Jesus for President, is a founder of The Simple Way, a community in inner-city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. Www.thesimpleway.org

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Paul Farmer & a young patient

Paul Farmer & a young patient

August has been Dr. Paul Farmer Appreciation Month at Jitterbuggingforjesus.com. Jitterbuggers know by now how highly I regard this remarkable healer whose life and mission in life is detailed in Tracy Kidder’s Pulitzer-winning book “Mountains Beyond Mountains.”
Here’s the transcript of Farmer’s brief audio essay that was broadcast on NPR’s “This I Believe” series in 2008:

December 21, 2008
I believe in health care as a human right. I’ve worked as a doctor in many places, and I’ve seen where to be poor means to be bereft of rights.
I saw early on, still just a medical student, the panicky dead-end faced by so many of the destitute sick: a young woman dying in childbirth; a child writhing in the spasms of a terrible disease for which a vaccine has existed — for more than a century; a friend whose guts were irreparably shredded by bacteria from impure water; an 8 year old caught in cross-fire. “What a stupid death,” goes one Haitian response.
Fighting such “stupid deaths” is never the work of one, or even of a small group. I’ve had the privilege of joining many others providing medical care to people who would otherwise not be able to get it. The number of those eager to serve is impressive, and so is the amount that can be accomplished. I believe that stupid deaths can be averted; we’ve done it again and again. But this hard and painful work has never yet been an urgent global priority.
The fight for health as a human right, a fight with real promise, has so far been plagued by failures. Failure because we are chronically short of resources. Failure because we are too often at the mercy of those with the power and money to decide the fates of hundreds of millions. Failure because ill health, as we have learned again and again, is more often than not a symptom of poverty and violence and inequality — and we do little to fight those when we provide just vaccines, or only treatment for one disease or another. Every premature death, and there are millions of these each year, should be considered a rebuke.
I know it’s not enough to attend only to the immediate needs of the patient in front of me. We must also call attention to the failures and inadequacy of our own best efforts. The goal of preventing human suffering must be linked to the task of bringing others, many others, into a movement for basic rights.
The most vulnerable — those whose rights are trampled, those rarely invited to summarize their convictions for a radio audience — still believe in human rights, in spite of — or perhaps because of — their own troubles. Seeing this in Haiti and elsewhere has moved me deeply and taught me a great deal.
I move uneasily between the obligation to intervene and the troubling knowledge that much of the work we do, praised as “humanitarian” or “charitable,” does not always lead us closer to our goal. That goal is nothing less than the refashioning of our world into one in which no one starves, drinks impure water, lives in fear of the powerful and violent, or dies ill and unattended.
Of course such a world is a utopia, and most of us know that we live in a dystopia. But all of us carry somewhere within us the belief that moving away from dystopia moves us towards something better and more humane. I still believe this.
Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.

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*** IN THE PHOTO: The Rev. Stan Cardwell and his wife, Michelle, followed God’s call to Uganda where they met with youth who were victims of the country’s civil war. The Cardwells hope to become the legal guardian of one former child soldier. UMNS photos courtesy of the Rev. Stan and Michelle Cardwell.
From the United Methodist News Service, a “love story” from Uganda:

By Melissa Lauber*
August 25, 2009 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
They’re called “the invisible children” – a generation of young boys and girls in Uganda who were torn from their villages, brainwashed and used as pack animals and bullet fodder for the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony.
A teen named Lazarus, who also calls himself Joe, lived amid these atrocities, and then on the streets, eating out of garbage pits, after escaping Kony’s terrorist army.
Only about a year ago did he let himself smile.
This fall, if all goes according to plan, Joe will join the Rev. Stan Cardwell, his wife, Michelle, and their three children in Bel Air, Md., welcomed as a blessing from God.
Talk about a divine plan. Less than four months ago, the couple knew next to nothing about the civil war that had ravaged the east-African nation for 23 years. They had never heard of Joseph Kony.
The whole whirlwind journey to become the legal guardian of a former child soldier is overwhelming and risky, said the associate pastor of Bel Air United Methodist Church.
“But God doesn’t call us to love abstractly,” he said. “God calls us simply to love, and love is messy.”

Saving one life
The journey began in May, when Caldwell and his wife joined friends from a house church called Burning Hearts on a mission trip to Uganda.
With the assistance of the ministry Active Blessing, they met with victims of Kony’s campaign to establish a theocratic government in Uganda. The United Nations estimates that his rebellion as leader of the Lord’s Army from 1987 to 2006 involved the abduction of an estimated 30,000 children, who made up 90 percent of the army, and the displacement of more than 1.7 million Ugandans.
In Mbale and Kitgum, the Cardwells spoke with the former child soldiers and discovered many of them had moved past sheer survival instincts and were now searching for some kind of love, trust and purpose.
They walked with the boys to church and worshipped with them.
“They would teach us their music and some songs and dance and we would teach them ours,” Michelle Cardwell said. “Our team would teach them from the Bible about love and the Father’s forgiveness, because a lot of them have a lot of guilt about what they were forced to do in the war, and they all still have nightmares every night.”
One day, Simon Peter, 17, approached Cardwell carrying a King James Version of the Bible. “I don’t understand this passage,” he told him. Cardwell, who had an easier to understand Today’s New International Version, suggested they trade Bibles.
The passage Simon Peter was having trouble with also stirred Cardwell’s heart – Psalm 68, which reads, in part, “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy habitation. God sets the lonely, the solitary, in families.”

Considering adoption
Both Stan and Michelle Cardwell had, over the years, toyed with the idea of adopting a child.
Michelle Cardwell says many young Ugandans are searching for trust, love and purpose.
But, on this trip, the idea of God creating families spoke to them both, and each also knew the person to whom God had led them.
Joe had taken Michelle Caldwell into town to buy souvenirs. On the second night of their visit, he told them his story. Several of the details were vague. “He said just enough, making sure to not displease us,” she said.
The teen gradually let his story unfold, an act of trust the Cardwells hold as sacred.
They don’t see a victim when they look at Joe. They see a child of God – someone God has placed in their path to love.
“We hope to give him back a family,” Stan Cardwell said. “We will love him as a father and a mother and help him grow fully into the person God created him to be.”

Sacrifice for love
It will not be easy.
The Cardwells are aware that someone who lived as a rebel soldier at the age of 5 is bound to have post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma-related issues. They will be dipping into their college savings to bring Joe to their home.
“It’s a level of trust with God that we’ve never had,” Stan Cardwell said. “It’s one more step in the journey.”
Their act of self-sacrificial love is already bringing blessings.
On Father’s Day, 14 families from Bel Air United Methodist Church sponsored young men from Uganda through Active Blessing after Stan preached, sharing their story.
The Cardwells’ children, ages 14, 15 and 17, also share their excitement. Daniel, their son, volunteered to share his room with Joe. They wonder about this new member of their family, who may arrive as early as November.
“I wonder if he’s a picky eater and how he’s going to do at night. He might have nightmares, I could comfort him,” said Daniel, who is looking forward to teaching Joe something about American sports and American girls.
They exchange e-mails now. “He’s a cool guy,” Daniel says.
The Cardwells no longer love Africa abstractly. They cannot ease all the suffering there, but they can make a difference in one youngster’s life.
“God doesn’t call us to love the whole world, that’s his job. But God does call us to love a slice of the world,” Stan Cardwell said. “Uganda is our slice.”
* Lauber is the editor of UMConnection, the newspaper of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

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352_090726_468Please read this article about those old crazy, idealistic Methodists thinking they can eliminate poverty in Appalachia.
People, including Christians–especially Christians, perhaps– read these kinds of stories and receive them with all that old stale cynicism: Do you really think you can eliminate poverty? Don’t you know that these people are lazy and don’t want to help themselves? Don’t you know they can just pick up and leave and make a better life?
Such questions beg the question: Have you ever been on a mission trip and spent even one day and night with the poorest of the poor? Have you seen the dynamics of poverty up and close and personal, for yourself?
Mission and outreach aren’t so much about helping the other as it is about listening to the story of the other.
Hearing the other’s story changes everything, including you, the listener.
Have you ever asked someone stuck in the rut of poverty why they don’t, say . . . just “pick yourself up by the bootstraps?”
Martin Luther King famously said that it’s a cruel thing to tell someone to pick himself or herself up by the bootstraps when they have no boots.
And anyway, Jesus commands us who proclaim ourselves as Christians simply to be good Samaritans, not to question the one in need before we lift him or her up and do what we can to get him or her fed and clothed and rested and healed and made whole. For all we know, the beating victim that the Good Samaritan aided (see Luke 10:25-37) was rotten, mean, lazy and no-count to the core–and went right back to being so shortly after he was helped and healed thanks to the Samaritan.
The flip side is that the victim may have been all that before the Samaritan helped him, and became a Good Person as a result of the help he or she received from the Samaritan, who simply loved him and showed him uncondition mercy and unconditional love and unconditional compassion.
Christians are about giving and showing and witnessing to the unconditional love and grace and mercy and compassion of Christ our Lord, and showing it to all people–including the poorest of the poor no matter what their reasons for being the poorest of the poor.
The point of the parable is, just lift someone up and show them mercy and compassion–and I would suggest that you then ask them to relate their story. They may tell you what you don’t really want to know or hear about poverty and opportunity.

By Kathy L. Gilbert*
August 21, 2009 | KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UMNS)

Rev. Clark Jenkins wants United Methodists to remember they have a long-standing commitment to the poor living in Appalachia.
The commitment to the Appalachian region was established at the 1972 United Methodist General Conference and renewed during the 2008 gathering of the denomination’s top policy-making body. The 2008 General Conference also adopted poverty as one of four areas of focus for the church to direct its resources and ministries.
Fulfilling the church’s mission inspired Jenkins to organize the first regional conference on “Abolishing Poverty in Appalachia.” The conference, to be held at First Broad Street United Methodist Church Sept. 11-12, will train pastors and laity to address poverty and its underlying causes.
Te Appalachian region includes 13 states and 23 United Methodist annual (regional) conferences. Forty-two percent of the 24.8 million population is rural, compared to 20 percent of the U.S. population.
Addressing rural poverty has been a mandate for the church for a long time, but hasn’t gotten as much attention as global poverty, said Jenkins, pastor at First Broad Street. We want to bring people into the heart of Appalachia to interface with the church here.”
Methodism founder John Wesley ministered to the marginalized in Bristol, England. “Wesley served the poor in a variety of ways as a response to God’s grace through clinics, schools, soup kitchens and other services,” Jenkins added.
First Broad Street feeds more than 100 people each week at its Friendship Diner. The church also chops wood, repairs homes and provides housing and access to health care for the community among other ministries.
Bishops Hope Morgan Ward, Mississippi Annual Conference, and James Swanson, Holston Conference, will be two of the keynote speakers. John Hill, economic and environmental justice director for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, will lead the discussion on policy changes that effect poverty.
The poor listened to Wesley because he cared about them, Jenkins said. “They will also listen to us if we show the same kind of compassion.”
Co-sponsors of the conference are the Appalachian Ministry Network and the Holston Conference’s Peace with Justice board. The cost for the event is $18 before Aug. 31 and $20 after that date. More information and registration information is available at http://www.abolishingpoverty.org.

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Dr. Paul Farmer

Dr. Paul Farmer

What follows is Amy Goodman’s interview, last year, with Dr. Paul Farmer, the Appreciated One this month at jitterbuggingforjesus.com, in which the Appreciated One speaks, among other things, about his unconventional upbringing in a bus and then in a boat–a boat that Farmer’s father tricked the family into living on:
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Farmer, I want to ask you about Rwanda, where you live now with your wife, who’s Haitian, and your kids, and the clinic. But first, I want to go back to your own personal history, where you grew up and, well, your rather unusual abodes, where you lived with your family. How many brothers and sisters do you have?

DR. PAUL FARMER: I am one of six children, the runt of the litter, and I’m not that small. I’m six feet tall. But I only say that because for many years we lived in a bus.

AMY GOODMAN: In a bus.

DR. PAUL FARMER: In a bus. And it was—my favorite part about it, in retrospect, is that it was one of those buses that was used in American cities to do mobile tuberculosis screening. So it had an area where there was a space for an x-ray machine.

AMY GOODMAN: Were your parents involved in healthcare?

DR. PAUL FARMER: No, my parents were involved in looking for a way to take eight people on a vacation that didn’t involve a plane, because they couldn’t afford airfare. So—

AMY GOODMAN: And this would take care of rent, too?

DR. PAUL FARMER: And this would take care of rent. Well, my father pulled that off on us later. He didn’t tell us, “Oh, this is not just a vacation; it’s home.” He tricked us. But—

AMY GOODMAN: In what state did you [inaudible]?

DR. PAUL FARMER: Well, this—he bought it in Alabama, and we lived in Florida. And so, I grew up in Florida mostly. And after the bus came the boat, another one of my dad’s experiments.

AMY GOODMAN: You lived on a boat?

DR. PAUL FARMER: I lived on a boat, I did.

AMY GOODMAN: And where did he get the boat?

DR. PAUL FARMER: He got it in a sealed bid from the US government. It had been a boat called a “liberty launch” from the USS Saratoga that took people to shore. It’s fifty feet long. So all it was, it looked like a giant rowboat. And my father bought it. He was the lowest bidder. And then, suddenly, he announced, as was his wont, “We’re going to live on a boat.” He actually said he was going to be a fisherman, and we rolled our eyes and said, “Yeah, right, Dad.”

AMY GOODMAN: Is this why you’re always traveling, because you feel like the journey itself is home?

DR. PAUL FARMER: I don’t think so. I’ve been asked that before. But I think I’m traveling because we get drawn into hotspots of disease where we have expertise. So that’s how we ended up in Peru and Russia, is because we already knew a lot about tuberculosis, and it wasn’t from the tuberculosis bus. It was from medical school and taking care of lots of patients. And that led us to Peru, where there was an outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis. And we have an incredible Peruvian team. They’ve helped us in Africa now, and just as the Haitians have helped us in Africa. Our Haitian team is, you know, helping to run these projects in Africa. But in any case, that led us to Russia.

AMY GOODMAN: Your wife is also in medical anthropology?

DR. PAUL FARMER: She is, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And she lives in Rwanda now with your children?

DR. PAUL FARMER: She is the director of community health for our efforts there.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you did in Rwanda.

DR. PAUL FARMER: Well, Rwanda has been, in many cases, the best experience we’ve had in our twenty-five years, because things that you need that I didn’t understand twenty years ago, you know, to make—to bring good comprehensive system to scale. What I mean by “comprehensive” is, I’m not talking about an AIDS program or a TB program or a maternal mortality program, I’m talking about comprehensive healthcare for poor people. And to bring that together, you need a lot of political will. You need farsighted people at the top. And so, at the same time that the Clinton Foundation asked us to go to Rwanda, the government of Rwanda, the Ministry of Health of Rwanda, asked us to come and try and do this rural model that we developed so extensively in Haiti in rural Rwanda. And so, we were sent to two districts where there was no functioning district hospital, and that was in 2005.

AMY GOODMAN: Or more specifically, just in researching what you did there, you were brought to an area where you said, “No, no, no, this is not poor enough.”

DR. PAUL FARMER: That time, it is true. We went to a town in northern Rwanda, and we went to a hospital that was clean, and it had an x-ray machine, and it had three physicians, a big hospital. It needed more than three physicians. But we went back to the city and said to the minister, you know, you could send us somewhere more difficult. And so we ended up in an abandoned hospital, abandoned since the war and genocide. And, you know, it was—

AMY GOODMAN: Since 1994, that killed almost a million people in ten days?

DR. PAUL FARMER: Exactly. And in addition, about 60 percent of the people living in this region were resettled refugees or internally displaced people. So it was a real mess socially, but we had some things going for us that we did not have in Haiti. I mentioned already we had great leadership at the top in Rwanda, a lot of support locally, because these people had been without medical care. There was no doctor. It was, you know, probably 400,000 people in those two districts, zero doctors. And then we also had the Haitians. You know, we had been working with our Haitian colleagues for sometimes fifteen, twenty years, and they came over with us to help set up the program. And they did that in Lesotho, too. So, you know, people talk about solidarity, which is fine, but until it’s linked to actual pragmatic solidarity that is actually doing something, well, that’s just less fine. So this, I think, was a really good thing.

AMY GOODMAN: In Russia, you’ve worked with TB resistance in the prisons?

DR. PAUL FARMER: Yeah, yeah. We worked with—that actually was another really very good experience. And people said, “What?” You know, “Working in Siberia has been a pleasant experience?” But I’ll tell you, it’s not what I expected. And we found in the prison where we worked, which is in a place called Tomsk, which is in western Siberia—and it’s a vast place, it’s the size of Germany or Poland, and there’s only a million people living there. So there’s a lot of logistic challenges to working—I hate to say this—but working outside the prison.

But inside the prison, we found there to be, you know, good, humane medical personnel. And I talked to one of the doctors when I first went there, and she said to me, “You know, we know what to do to take care of these patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis. What we don’t have are certain medications.” So it was very different from working in Haiti or some of the other places we’ve worked. They did know what to do in many ways. And so, one of the things that we did was to say, OK, we’re going to help rehab the lab, set up the drug procurement.

And just to give you one figure that comes from this one prison, the case fatality rate, the number of people diagnosed—these are mostly young men—diagnosed with TB who died was 24 percent, which is terrible. I mean, that’s far worse than Africa with treatment, or Haiti; we were getting down to two percent in our area. And so, we knew it was something other than noncompliance or the usual patient-blaming kind of explanations. It was drug-resistant TB. And when we introduced the right labs and the right drugs, the mortality fell to almost zero, and very quickly, in the space of two years.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we get to the end of the broadcast, I want to come back here, because your analysis is not just a medical diagnosis, but it is an analysis of the healthcare system, and that’s ultimately what you’re challenging. So we’re in a presidential year. Healthcare is a critical issue, as long as you’re not watching the media, where you hardly see it discussed. But what do you think of the healthcare system in this country? What has to be done? How do you think—what do you think of the candidates and what they’re representing?

DR. PAUL FARMER: Well, my diagnosis of our healthcare system’s problems is that it’s very expensive to give bad medical care to poor people in a rich country, very expensive to give bad medical care to poor people in a rich country. And I can give example after example from my own clinical experience working in, you know, the best hospitals I’ve ever seen in the world. And like I said, when they’re in the hospital, things go OK. But we do not have a good safety net. We don’t have a good primary healthcare system.

And to get into the hospital, the uninsured—47 million people, maybe 50—they have to pass through an emergency room, waste time, and things happen to them there that probably shouldn’t, because they’re primary healthcare problems, they’re in an emergency room. And then again, on top of that 47 million, probably just as many Americans are poorly insured and can be thrown into destitution by serious illness. So, you know, there’s 100 million Americans who are in—are not—they don’t have health security. They don’t know that a devastating illness could not wipe out their savings or make them lose their home. They may know that. I hope they do.

AMY GOODMAN: What does the term single-payer mean to you?

DR. PAUL FARMER: I think it’s a good idea. I mean, again—

AMY GOODMAN: If someone doesn’t understand it, in a sixty-second quote…

DR. PAUL FARMER: Single-payer means, to me, that there’s a national health insurance program that is not divvied up, you know, state-by-state. You know, I was reading about Oregon yesterday on the plane on the way up here, and they’re talking about a lottery to see who’s going to get health insurance. Of the people who applied, it’s going to be some tiny little fraction. Using a lottery to allocate health insurance doesn’t seem to me like a great idea. In Massachusetts, where much has been made of universal access, what’s really happened is that medical insurance is made mandatory, which is different from a national health insurance program or a social safety net. And, you know, I don’t mean to be ideological about this. I’m not. I’m just saying we live in a country that is putting out 16 to 17 percent of our GDP for healthcare and not getting the returns that we need. And from the analyses that I read, having a national health program would cut out some of these unnecessary expenses. I think that’s a sound analysis.

AMY GOODMAN: And you’re

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Ken Bacon, showing his living quarters in Darfur

Ken Bacon, showing his living quarters in Darfur

Ken Bacon, a longtime Wall Street Journal reporter and Pentagon spokesman in the Clinton Administration, has died of melanoma.
Bacon in recent years served as the president of Refugees International, an advocacy agency for the millions of people displaced or rendered homeless by wars and conflicts and natural disasters. Bacon was a humanitarian who worked tirelessly and passionately for refugees through Refugees International, whose website is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in what’s happening in places like Darfur and Iraq and Afghanistan to the innocent and always neglected men, women and children who suffer from conflicts.
Here’s Bacon’s obit from the Washington Post.
Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Kenneth H. Bacon, 64, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was top spokesman at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration and later became a prominent advocate on behalf of international refugees, died Aug. 15 of melanoma at his vacation home on Block Island, R.I. His primary residence was in Washington.
Mr. Bacon had spent 25 years at the Journal’s Washington bureau before becoming the chief spokesman at the Pentagon in 1994, working under then-Defense Secretary William J. Perry. He held the position of assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and stayed in his post when William S. Cohen was named defense secretary in December 1996.
In daily briefings, Mr. Bacon kept reporters informed of developments in civil wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 and other military matters. He was known for his bow ties and his cultivated, straight-arrow manner.
On a visit to the Balkans in 1999, Mr. Bacon saw firsthand the human toll of warfare, as hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes with no place to turn.
“I had never seen refugees before, never fully appreciated the sheer magnitude of one million people leaving their homes and needing food, shelter and medical care,” he told the New York Times in 2001.
After leaving the Pentagon in 2001, Mr. Bacon became president of the D.C.-based advocacy group Refugees International and emerged as one of the strongest voices for the dispossessed around the globe. His organization, which accepts no funding from governments or the United Nations, estimates that there are 12 million international refugees.
Mr. Bacon was among the first to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, and he helped bring to light the problems facing millions of refugees from the war in Iraq. He was instrumental in finding sanctuary for displaced Iraqis in Middle East countries and lobbied for greater numbers of Iraqi refugees to be admitted to the United States. Between 2006 and 2008, the State Department increased funding for Iraqi refugees from $43 million to $398 million.
“The U.S. cannot afford to win the military battle and lose the humanitarian campaign,” Bacon said.
He visited refugee camps in Afghanistan, Somalia, Colombia and Cambodia, among others, and often wrote articles or appeared on television to discuss humanitarian concerns. In the final weeks of his life, he provided seed money to establish a center at Refugees International to assist people displaced by global climate change.
“I’ve seen him in action in Sudan,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote in his blog last week, “and he combines passion with intricate knowledge of policy to make a difference.”
Kenneth Hogate Bacon was born Nov. 21, 1944, in Bronxville, N.Y., and was a graduate of the private Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. His father was an administrator at Amherst College in Massachusetts, from which Mr. Bacon graduated in 1966. He received dual master’s degrees, in business administration and journalism, from Columbia University in 1968.
After working as a legislative assistant to Sen. Thomas J. McIntyre (D-N.H.), Mr. Bacon joined the Washington bureau of the Wall Street Journal in 1969. He covered banking, economics, education and international finance and was the paper’s Pentagon correspondent from 1976 to 1980.
“He was amazingly insightful and was seen as such by both sources and colleagues,” said Gerald F. Seib, the Journal’s executive Washington editor.
The one blemish in Mr. Bacon’s career came in 1998, when he was briefly embroiled in the scandal surrounding President Bill Clinton and onetime White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In 1996 and 1997, Lewinsky was an assistant in Mr. Bacon’s office at the Pentagon. One of her friends was an employee in the department, Linda Tripp, who had tape-recorded telephone conversations in which Lewinsky said she was having an affair with Clinton.
In March 1998, Mr. Bacon authorized a deputy to release parts of Tripp’s personnel record to a reporter from the New Yorker magazine, revealing that Tripp had not disclosed on an employment application that she had been arrested for theft when she was 19. The charge was reduced to loitering.
The episode touched off a firestorm in conservative circles, as critics accused Mr. Bacon of breaking federal privacy laws to damage Tripp’s reputation. He quickly admitted he had handled the situation poorly, and a Pentagon inspector general concluded in 2000 that Mr. Bacon had not followed Defense Department procedures. Then-Defense Secretary Cohen sent Mr. Bacon a letter expressing “disappointment” over his “hasty and ill-conceived” actions.
Despite that incident, Cohen said in an interview with The Washington Post last week, Mr. Bacon “was always extraordinarily well prepared.”
“He was a special guy,” Cohen added. “But for that Linda Tripp issue, I have nothing but accolades.”
Mr. Bacon was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies and was chairman of the board of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.
Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Darcy Wheeler Bacon of Washington and Block Island; two daughters, Katharine Bacon of Brookline, Mass., and Sarah Bacon of Brooklyn, N.Y.; his father, Theodore S. Bacon of Peterborough, N.H.; a brother; and two grandchildren.
After struggling with metastatic melanoma, Mr. Bacon wrote about his illness and his problems with insurance coverage in an essay published by The Post on July 21.
“My oncologist has spent hours filling out forms and arguing with the insurance company to arrange coverage for my chemotherapy,” he wrote. “Now my wife and I are waging our own fight with the provider to arrange payment for my daily brain radiation, which has been rejected as ‘not medically necessary’ even though the cancer in my brain is growing rapidly.”
“For me and other Americans suffering from advanced cancer,” he concluded, “the health-care debate this summer is no abstraction. It is a matter of life or death.”
© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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It’s Dr. Paul Farmer Appreciation Month at JFJ

paul farmerAnd Dr. Farmer, who never sleeps, got yet another new job just yesterday as this news blurb tells:

Dr. Paul Farmer, a pioneering Boston epidemiologist regarded as a miracle worker in many of the world’s most desperate corners, is taking on a new role: U.N. Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti under former President Bill Clinton.
“His credibility, both among the people of Haiti and in the international community, will be a tremendous asset to our efforts as we work with the government and people of Haiti to improve health care, strengthen education, and create economic opportunity,” Clinton said.
Farmer, 49, founded a groundbreaking free health clinic in Haiti while he was a Harvard Medical School student.
His commitment to fighting infectious diseases in the poorest regions of the earth grew into Partners in Health, a multimillion-dollar nonprofit that treats the world’s poor and sick, from Boston to Africa.
Farmer is also a Harvard professor of social medicine, chief of the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a 1993 MacArthur “Genius” award recipient.

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