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31 December 2010

high spike in birth defects associated with 2004 US military battle in Fallujah, Iraq / Depleted Uranium early suspect


This scientific study is so early in its infancy as to beg criticism, controversy and dismissal. This is The Guardian's article about it; I listened to the BBC World Service's version of the story, with an interview by the lead researcher, a few hours ago.
Notice that the image accompanying The Guardian story is of a 2004 white phosphorous attack, though the study's primary suspect is Depleted Uranium / DU. As a former newspaper editor, I suspect the most trivial reason for the white phosphorous photo: A white phosphorous attack is highly colorful, while  DU armaments are less photogenic, in visible light comparatively invisible.
In any case, the researchers are reticent to blame any particular chemical or armament for the documented rise in birth defects among families in Falluja (also commonly transliterated Fallujah).
I predict DU will be the next generation's Agent Orange. For decades we can expect American and international NGO advocates both for US military veterans, and for native people -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans -- who live in former battlefields that were saturated with pulverized DU armaments.
Of particular interest, however, will be the response of the US Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans' claims of health problems blamed on DU contamination. Will the Agent Orange response be repeated? Will it become the model for our postwar government response to scientific research into and medical treatment for exposure to these substances?
In any case, expect much more media and scientific journal coverage of this issue. The scientific and medical truth -- if it ever emerges clearly -- is one thing. The political controversy surrounding the widespread military use of DU is quite another thing.
===================== home
The Guardian
(UK broadsheet daily newspaper)
Thursday 30 December 2010
Research links rise
in Falluja birth defects
and cancers to US assault
• Defects in newborns 11 times higher than normal
• 'War contaminants' from 2004 attack could be cause
by Martin Chulov
US Marines prepare for Fallujah offensive White phosphorous smoke screens are fired by the US Army as part of an early morning patrol in November 2004 on the outskirts of Falluja, Iraq, in preparation for an offensive against insurgents. Photograph: Scott Nelson/Getty Images
A study examining the causes of a dramatic spike in birth defects in the Iraqi city of Falluja has for the first time concluded that genetic damage could have been caused by weaponry used in US assaults that took place six years ago.
The research, which will be published next week, confirms earlier estimates revealed by the Guardian of a major, unexplained rise in cancers and chronic neural-tube, cardiac and skeletal defects in newborns. The authors found that malformations are close to 11 times higher than normal rates, and rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of this year -- a period that had not been surveyed in earlier reports.
The findings, which will be published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, come prior to a much-anticipated World Health Organisation study of Falluja's genetic health. They follow two alarming earlier studies, one of which found a distortion in the sex ratio of newborns since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- a 15% drop in births of boys.
"We suspect that the population is chronically exposed to an environmental agent," said one of the report's authors, environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani. "We don't know what that environmental factor is, but we are doing more tests to find out."
The report identifies metals as potential contaminating agents afflicting the city -- especially among pregnant mothers. "Metals are involved in regulating genome stability," it says. "As environmental effectors, metals are potentially good candidates to cause birth defects."
The findings are likely to prompt further speculation that the defects were caused by depleted uranium rounds, which were heavily used in two large battles in the city in April and November 2004. The rounds, which contain ionising radiation, are a core component of the armouries of numerous militaries and militias.
Their effects have long been called into question, with some scientists claiming they leave behind a toxic residue, caused when the round -- either from an assault rifle or artillery piece -- bursts through its target.
However, no evidence has yet been established that proves this, and some researchers instead claim that depleted uranium has been demonstrably proven not to be a contaminant.
The report acknowledges that other battlefield residues may also be responsible for the defects. "Many known war contaminants have the potential to interfere with normal embryonic and foetal development," the report says. "The devastating effect of dioxins on the reproductive health of the Vietnamese people is well-known."
The latest Falluja study surveyed 55 families with seriously deformed newborns between May and August. It was conducted by Dr Samira Abdul Ghani, a paediatrician at Falluja general hospital. In May, 15% of the 547 babies born had serious birth defects. In the same period, 11% of babies were born at less than 30 weeks and 14% of foetuses spontaneously aborted.
The researchers believe that the figures understate what they describe as an epidemic of abnormalities, because a large number of babies in Falluja are born at home with parents reluctant to seek help from authorities.
One case documented in the report is of a mother and her daughter who after the 2004 battles both gave birth to babies with severe malformations. The second wife of one of the fathers also had a severely deformed baby in 2009.
"It is important to understand that under normal conditions, the chances of such occurrences is virtually zero," said Savabieasfahani.
Iraq's government has built a new hospital in Fallujah, but the city's obstetricians have complained that they are still overwhelmed by the sheer number of serious defects. The US military has long denied that it is responsible for any contaminant left behind in the city, or elsewhere in Iraq, as it continues its steady departure from the country it has occupied for almost eight years.
It has said that Iraqis who want to file a complaint are welcome to do so. Several families interviewed by the Guardian in November 2009 said they had filed complaints but had not received replies.
The World Health Organisation is due to begin its research sometime next year. However, there are fears that an extensive survey may not be possible in the still volatile city that still experiences assassinations and bombings most weeks.
"An epidemic of birth defects is unfolding in Fallujah, Iraq," said Savabieasfahani. "This is a serious public health crisis that needs global attention. We need independent and unbiased research into the possible causes of this epidemic.
"We invite scientists and organisations to get in touch with us so that we may gain the strength to address this large global public health issue."

City's spike in deformity rates
Birth-defect rates in Falluja have become increasingly alarming over the past two years. In the first half of 2010, the number of monthly cases of serious abnormalities rose to unprecedented levels. In Falluja general hospital, 15% of the 547 babies born in May had a chronic deformity, such as a neural tune defect -- which affects the brain and lower limbs -- cardiac, or skeletal abnormalities, or cancers.
No other city in Iraq has anywhere near the same levels of reported abnormalities. Falluja sees at least 11 times as many major defects in newborns than world averages, the research has shown.
The latest report, which will be published next week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, says Falluja has been infected by a chronic environmental contaminant. It focuses on depleted uranium, used in weaponry during two US assaults in 2004 as a possible cause of the contaminant. Scientific studies have so far established no link between the rounds, which contain ionising radiation to burst through armour and are commonly used on the battlefield.
The study focuses on metals as a potential conduit for the contaminant. It suggests a bodily accumulation of toxins is causing serious and potentially irreversible damage to the city's population base, and calls for an urgent examination of metals in Falluja as well as a comprehensive examination of the city's recent reproductive history.
- 30 -
31 July 1999: Uranium shells warning for Kosovo alternative maybe: [UK Ministry of Defense] accused of hiding truth
17 May 2004: 'Dirty dozen' toxins are banned by UN pact
22 January 2010: Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds

27 December 2010

Earth continues to struggle to defeat Sin & Evil / but a few places surrender to Satan & Sanity

The Associated Press (US newswire)
Monday 27 December 2010

News from planets that 
don't shoot themselves 
in the foot anymore

In this Nov. 10, 2010 picture, a drug addict who identified himself as "Joao," holds used needles to exchange for new ones in Lisbon's Casal Ventoso

by Barry Hatton And Martha Mendoza, Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal -- These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community — mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street.

Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a "drug supermarket" where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneaked into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. In dark, stinking corners, addicts — some with maggots squirming under track marks — staggered between the occasional corpse, scavenging used, bloody needles.

At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people — an astonishing 1 percent of the population — were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap: They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000.


EDITOR'S NOTE — This is part of an occasional series by The Associated Press examining the U.S. struggles in its war on drugs after four decades and $1 trillion.


Now, the United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal in September to learn about its drug reforms, and other countries — including Norway, Denmark, Australia and Peru — have taken interest, too.

"The disasters that were predicted by critics didn't happen," said University of Kent professor Alex Stevens, who has studied Portugal's program. "The answer was simple: Provide treatment."


Drugs in Portugal are still illegal. But here's what Portugal did: It changed the law so that users are sent to counseling and sometimes treatment instead of criminal courts and prison. The switch from drugs as a criminal issue to a public health one was aimed at preventing users from going underground.

Other European countries treat drugs as a public health problem, too, but Portugal stands out as the only one that has written that approach into law. The result: More people tried drugs, but fewer ended up addicted.

Here's what happened between 2000 and 2008:

• There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.

• Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.

• Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.

• The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.

• The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, one of the chief architects of Portugal's new drug strategy, says he was inspired partly by his own experience of helping his brother beat addiction.

"It was a very hard change to make at the time because the drug issue involves lots of prejudices," he said. "You just need to rid yourselves of prejudice and take an intelligent approach."

Officials have not yet worked out the cost of the program, but they expect no increase in spending, since most of the money was diverted from the justice system to the public health service.

In Portugal today, outreach health workers provide addicts with fresh needles, swabs, little dishes to cook up the injectable mixture, disinfectant and condoms. But anyone caught with even a small amount of drugs is automatically sent to what is known as a Dissuasion Committee for counseling. The committees include legal experts, psychologists and social workers.

Failure to turn up can result in fines, mandatory treatment or other sanctions. In serious cases, the panel recommends the user be sent to a treatment center.

Health works shepherd some addicts off the streets directly into treatment. That's what happened to 33-year-old Tiago, who is struggling to kick heroin at a Lisbon rehab facility.

Tiago, who requested his first name only be used to protect his privacy, started taking heroin when he was 20. He shot up four or five times a day, sleeping for years in an abandoned car where, with his addicted girlfriend, he fathered a child he has never seen.

At the airy Lisbon treatment center where he now lives, Tiago plays table tennis, surfs the Internet and watches TV. He helps with cleaning and other odd jobs. And he's back to his normal weight after dropping to 50 kilograms (110 pounds) during his addiction.

After almost six months on methadone, each day trimming his intake, he brims with hope about his upcoming move to a home run by the Catholic church where recovered addicts are offered a fresh start.

"I just ask God that it'll be the first and last time — the first time I go to a home and the last time I go through detox," he said.

Portugal's program is widely seen as effective, but some say it has shortcomings.

Antonio Lourenco Martins, a former Portuguese Supreme Court judge who sat on a 1998 commission that drafted the new drug strategy and was one of two on the nine-member panel who voted against decriminalization, admits the law has done some good, but complains that its approach is too soft.

Francisco Chaves, who runs a Lisbon treatment center, also recognizes that addicts might exploit good will.

"We know that (when there is) a lack of pressure, none of us change or are willing to change," Chaves said.


Worldwide, a record 93 countries offered alternatives to jail time for drug abuse in 2010, according to the International Harm Reduction Association. They range from needle exchanges in Cambodia to methadone treatment in Poland.

Vancouver, Canada, has North America's first legal drug consumption room — dubbed as "a safe, health-focused place where people inject drugs and connect to health care services." Brazil and Uruguay have eliminated jail time for people carrying small amounts of drugs for personal use.

Whether the alternative approaches work seems to depend on how they are carried out. In the Netherlands, where police ignore the peaceful consumption of illegal drugs, drug use and dealing are rising, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Five Dutch cities are implementing new restrictions on marijuana cafes after a wave of drug-related gang violence.

However, in Switzerland, where addicts are supervised as they inject heroin, addiction has steadily declined. No one has died from an overdose since the program began in 1994, according to medical studies. The program is credited with reducing crime and improving addicts' health.

The Obama administration firmly opposes the legalization of drugs, saying that it would increase access and promote acceptance, according to drug czar Kerlikowske. The U.S. is spending $74 billion this year on criminal and court proceedings for drug offenders, compared with $3.6 billion for treatment.

But even the U.S. has taken small steps toward Portugal's approach of more intervention and treatment programs. And Kerlikowske has called for an end to the "War on Drugs" rhetoric.

"Calling it a war really limits your resources," he said. "Looking at this as both a public safety problem and a public health problem seems to make a lot more sense."

There is no guarantee that Portugal's approach would work in the U.S. For one, the U.S. population is 29 times larger than Portugal's 10.6 million.

Still, an increasing number of American cities are offering nonviolent drug offenders a chance to choose treatment over jail, and the approach appears to be working.

In San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin neighborhood, Tyrone Cooper, a 52-year-old lifelong drug addict, can't stop laughing at how a system that has put him in jail a dozen times now has him on the road to recovery.

"Instead of going to smoke crack, I went to a rehab meeting," he said. "Can you believe it? Me! A meeting! I mean, there were my boys, right there smoking crack, and Tyrone walked right past them. 'Sorry,' I told them, 'I gotta get to this meeting.'"

Cooper is one of hundreds of San Franciscans who landed in a court program this year where judges offered them a chance to go to rehab, get jobs, move into houses, find primary care physicians, even remove their tattoos. There is enough data now to show that these alternative courts reduce recidivism and save money.

Nationally, between 4 and 29 percent of drug court participants will get caught using drugs again, compared with 48 percent of those who go through traditional courts.

San Francisco's drug court saves the city $14,297 per offender, officials said. Expanding drug courts to all 1.5 million drug offenders in the U.S. would cost more than $13 billion annually, but would return more than $40 billion, according to a study by John Roman, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center.

The first drug court opened in the U.S. 21 years ago. By 1999, there were 472; by 2005, 1,250.

This year, new drug courts opened every week around the U.S., as states faced budget crises exarcebated by the high rate of incarceration on drug offenses. There are now drug courts in every state, more than 2,400 serving 120,000 people.

Last year, New York lawmakers followed counterparts across the U.S. who have tossed out tough, 40-year-old drug laws and mandatory sentences, giving judges unprecedented sentencing options. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services is training doctors to screen patients for potential addiction, and reimbursing Medicare and Medicaid providers who do so.

Arizona recently became the 15th state in the nation to approve medical use of marijuana, following California's 2006 legislation.


In Portugal, the blight that once destroyed the Casal Ventoso neighborhood is a distant memory.

Americo Nave, a 39-year-old psychologist, remembers the chilling stories his colleagues brought back after Portuguese authorities sent a first team of health workers into the Casal Ventoso neighborhood in the late 1990s. Some addicts had gangrene, and their arms had to be amputated.

Those days are past, though there are vestiges. About a dozen frail, mostly unkempt men recently gathered next to a bus stop to get new needles and swabs in small green plastic bags from health workers, as part of a twice-weekly program. Some ducked out of sight behind walls to shoot up, and one crouched behind trash cans, trying to shield his lighter flame from the wind.

A 37-year-old man who would only identify himself as Joao said he's been using heroin for 22 years. He has contracted Hepatitis C, and recalls picking up used, bloody needles from the sidewalk. Now he comes regularly to the needle exchange.

"These teams ... have helped a lot of people," he said, struggling to concentrate as he draws on a cigarette.

The decayed housing that once hid addicts has long since been bulldozed. And this year, Lisbon's city council planted 600 trees and 16,500 bushes on the hillside.

This spring they're expected to bloom.

- 30 -


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      RobertG 5 minutes ago Report Abuse

          This solution is too sensible and too humane in the US. Any solution other than criminalization, arrest and imprisonment is not to be considered. The government must find ways to fill those prisons they are building. "The Economic Elite v. the People of the United States" reports that (paraphrasing) "our prison population is 2.3 million people, more people incarcerated than any other nation in the world. This is about 700 per 100,000 citizens. China has 110 per 100,000, France has 80 per 100,000, Saudi Arabia has 45 per 100,000. The prison industry is thriving and expecting major growth over the next few years. A recent report from the Hartford Advocate titled “Incarceration Nation” revealed that “a new prison opens every week somewhere in America. Many of these are for drug offenses, mostly marijuana use or possession. By the way, it is sickening when the US must go to countries like Portugal and Peru to learn how to humanely treat and deal with a human problem.

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      Stephen 46 minutes ago Report Abuse

          Decriminalizing use makes sense - but only if you continue hard time for those who sell. Get people into treatment, not a prison cell.

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      Cusanus 50 minutes ago Report Abuse

          The only drugs I've ever seen being used or sold were by a bunch of punks running a so called research company next to the DOJ, really just a telemarketing sweat shop. The DEA ignored my story, and it was a weird one for sure. How do you work five years as a supervisor when you have to work five years to get to be a supervisor, and how do you manage to buy a ritzy pickup and a farm on $7/hr? Ok, cover blown, these are rookie FBI retards trying to set up a reverse sting. Smart move, Einstein, I don't do drugs, but how about all the kids working at that place? Have you managed to get them hooked? I doubt any of them are stupid enough to be taken in. Sad, USA, really really sad.

      Dan L
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      Dan L 59 minutes ago Report Abuse

          Something peculiar happens to drug addicts that causes them to be so hopelessly addicted to drugs, the same with the alcoholic. Psychiatry has classified it as a mental disorder for decades now, and its time society gets educated as well.

          Harsh penalties are of no avail, because essentially the addict no longer has a choice to use or not. for the addict, whether or not to use is not an issue. For the addict it becomes a question of getting, using, and the means to get and use more.

          This is where the public health approach comes in. We need treatment and rehabilitation, not criminal penalties. Do we put people in jail for other psychoses? No. Its clearly a matter of getting correct information out that is key to changing policy.

      JG in Canada
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      JG in Canada 1 hour ago Report Abuse

          It is good to experiment elsewhere. I did notice that there was no mention of any rise in "driving under the influence", something that is scary and could lead to more death. I spent some time in places that have benevolent attitudes about drug addiction and I know that in the morning the gutter near my hotel was filled with discarded needles. I am very suspicious of "success" stories, and programs need to be judged on times scales of 10 or more years.

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      Me 1 hour ago Report Abuse

          In the US they give a slap on the wrist. Maybe if they gave life behind bars for using and the dealth penalty for selling it would change things. Death at least for selling to minors.

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      almostnuts 1 hour ago Report Abuse

          no way. judges will miss their bribes, equipment mfging will suffer. the intelligence groups will not have an excuse to develop xray, listening, restraining, disabling devices, comm companies will suffer with their subsidies for being good citizens, confiscation of land and other assets would halt causing financial hardship for counties and the rigged bidding system, helicopter sales would plummet, and the sociopaths masquerading as concerned citizens would be out of work. lets keep building those private prisons and filling them up. we should be number one at something, and if we run out of criminals we just need to make some new laws, we can't let something like that pesky constitution and bill of rights keep us from being free. the war on drugs, one hundred dollar bills stuffed into a boxcar till full, make a train eleven miles long, and thats how much money we have spent losing this war. america has gone from being the home of the free and land of the brave to the home of the fee and land of the knave. support your local militia, or read the gulag and see your future america. matter of fact read all the oppressors from the last seventy five years, a club and a jail cell would have saved millions of lives with the simple act of clubbing a lunatic when they first took power. read mila 18 in the warsaw ghetto, there was twelve, or some ugandans that were invited to dinner as the main course, the list is endless and unless we wake up we are going to see acts you thought unbelievable in this country by your own people. stalin starved over twenty million people in relocation camps, but fdr thought stalin was a great man, go figure. wake up, wake up, god almighty please wake up america. you can't be first but you can be next.

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      Adolf Hitler
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      Adolf Hitler 1 hour ago Report Abuse

          Legalize gambling, prostitution, heroin, marijuana, crack,cocaine,meth and other drugs. Then everyone will be happy.

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      gracie 2 hours ago Report Abuse

          "You just need to rid yourself of prejudice and take an intelligent approach."
          If that is what is required, then this policy has no chance of working in the US.

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      ZZZ 2 hours ago Report Abuse

          This article has a misleading beginning. If you read through it, there is nothing new. The article makes it sounds like Portugal has legalized drugs. All they are doing is decriminalizing drug users.
          California has done the same thing. There is no need to go to Portugal to learn anything "new". If you look at California, the success is questionable at best. So Lindsay Lohan got caught using drugs and go to rehab. I am not sure what kind of message we are trying to teach our kids. You be the judge.

          Here this is the most important quote buried inside the article.
          "Drugs in Portugal are still illegal. But here's what Portugal did: It changed the law so that users are sent to counseling and sometimes treatment instead of criminal courts and prison."

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

21 December 2010

Bob's Health Woes / Death drops by for a cup of coffee, leaves without doing the dishes / masked men and women will stick tubes up my wazoo / am I scared? You bet I'm fucking scared!

Click on image, it will 
get bigger and clearer. 
The Tree of Life is a series 
of nine Armenian ceramic tiles. 

First Day Issue: Tierra de los SueƱos
First (or maybe Last) Day Issue:
Bob's Really Big Surgery

I hate the early morning. Notice the ghastly time stamp for this post, but it couldn't be helped.

In an hour S.W.M.B.O. bundles me into the car and drives me to a hospital in Springfield (guess which Springfield, every state in the USA has a city called Springfield), where masked men and women are going to give me local anesthesia -- in other words, I'll be awake -- and then perform an angiogram on me, snaking a tube and, I think, a camera up my arm and into my heart. 

My left ventrical isn't pumping enough blood, something's blocking the blood flow. If the blockage is easy to find, they might open the blockage with a balloon, or install a stent, a plastic or metal cylinder to force open the blockage.

If my troubles are more complicated than that, I'll go home, recover for a week or two, and then undergo a more complicated procedure, a bypass. That's all I understand about this scary business. I'm sure I've made at least six significant mistakes, but this is what I understand from what the doctors have explained to me.

What I'm hoping for the most is that, whatever happens today, I'll be allowed to return home this evening and won't have to spend more time in the hospital. I just spent a week or two in this hospital, and it was a total Toby Hooper Texas Chainsaw Massacre Nightmare. I've had enough of hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities, for awhile. Home is where I want to be.

My first surgery was on my right leg, and it's healing excellently, but until it's completely healed, and the pain disappears from my right foot, I can't drive; poor S.W.M.B.O. is my chaufeusse, and poor Bob can't go anywhere (like the Whately Ballet) that S.W.M.B.O. doesn't agree to drive me to. This coming month is going to be a stone drag.

As the foot and leg heals, I'm all doped up on synthetic opiates. They work. They're not fun, they're not much as Party Drugs, but they banish the pain, for which I'm enormously grateful.

If you pray, pray for me. If you don't, then just wish me well. If all this works out as planned, I've been promised another ten years of Life, and a return of my walking and physical stamina -- terribly important to me, because I live to travel, and I'm terrified of slowing down and missing a train or plane or ferry, of not being able to get to really strange places. My motto for the last decade has been:


Meanwhile I'm starving to death -- no food or drink from now until the angio. When it's over, I'll be strongly tempted to eat a nurse. (I hope it's a female nurse, I suspect male nurses don't taste too good.)

My health troubles are reminiscent of the old cowboy who told the doctor: 

"I would have taken much better
care of my health if I'd known
I was going to live this long." 

From age 18 I was a newspaperman, and to show me how much they appreciated me at the newspaper (The Washington DC Daily News, a Scripps-Howard tabloid rag so that Republicans could have something to read at lunchtime, long extinct) my older colleagues would take me to the bar across the street and teach me to drink alcoholic beverages. At parties at night we strictly obeyed The Newspaperman's Creed: A reporter can get as drunk as he or she wants -- but you MUST report to work the next day. (In those days, the legal drinking age in DC was 18.)

Okay, that's all for now. If there are no more posts from VleeptronZ, it means something went wrong in the surgery and I'm dead. Please try to keep all my books together, give them to any library or school which promises to keep all my books together. I don't want them orphaned and scattered in hundreds of different directions. My books have been together for many decades, and they're used to being together. I can't bear to think they've been scattered.

But my doctors tell me I'll almost certainly live through this procedure, and even emerge from it with much better health. I've finally stopped smoking, which got me into most of this trouble to begin with. What next? A vow of poverty and chastity? Cleanliness? Beatification? Sainthood?

09 December 2010

what u gonna do when you get out if jail? / i'm gonna have some fun / what do you consider fun? / Fun, natural fun!

Tom Tom Club will be celebrating thirty years as a band in 2011.  They will be launching their anniversary year by taking it back to where it all began: New York City.  Along with a performance on Jimmy Fallon Live on January 11th, they will also be headlining a show at Irving Plaza in New York City on January 12th.


Join the Facebook event page here!

This concert will be a homecoming show of sorts for Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth as Talking Heads were the first rock band to play Irving Plaza back in 1978!

“At that time, our manager was looking for the right place for us to play, somewhere in size between CBGBs and the Beacon Theater,” Chris explains. “He took us to see Irving Plaza and we agreed that it was perfect. It had been an Eastern European social hall and included all the right ingredients for some great shows. So, our manager promoted the show himself and it was a huge success. The next band to play there were our friends The B52s. It became THE place to play when you had graduated from CBGBs. It will be a blast to return there with Tom Tom Club.”

This past fall, Tom Tom Club rocked their first U.S. tour in 10 years and released their new album ‘Genius of Love.’ The album features select tracks from classic album ‘Live At The Club House’ as well as a  remix tribute to the smash hit, “Genius Of Love.”

Get the double CD for only $9.99 at the new Nacional Records store HERE

Or buy the digital version on iTunes for only $7.99 HERE
European fans:  iTunes UK, iTunes France

Stay tuned for more 30th anniversary events happening in 2011 including more tour dates in the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world!

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31 October 2010

Postalo Vleeptron / 1st Day Issue: Anosognosia / it stings like hell, but I'm invisible! / she says she's my wife, she probably is

Click image for larger.

Postalo Vleeptron
First Day Issue


Have I posted a version of this stamp or anything about anosognosia before?

I had a hospital procedure the other day, and I'm so hopped up on dope that I can't remember. Also they used that Forget Drug -- I think it's called Versed -- in the anesthesia. 

I'm pretty sure the woman who drove me home was my wife; she said she was my wife, anyway.

But things have been pretty fuzzy on Planet Vleeptron this week.

~ ~ ~

The two armed bank robberies were low-rent and ordinary. But with a difference: The robber wore no mask, no motorcycle helmet. He made no effort to disguise his face.

So the Pittsburgh police began their investigation with perfectly clear security camera video of the robber's face. A very short time later, they had their suspect in handcuffs. He seemed upset and confused.

"But I wore the juice!" he told the cops.

"What juice?" the detectives asked.

"Lemon juice! I rubbed it all over my face! It really stings, but it makes you invisible to the bank cameras!"

Of course he was too smart just to swallow a street rumor like the power of lemon juice to render the wearer invisible to cameras. He needed proof. So he tested it. He rubbed lemon juice all over his face, took a Polaroid snapshot of himself, and claimed that his face didn't show up on the test photo.

That was good enough for him. He was ready for bank heists.

David Dunning, a professor of social psychology at Cornell, was fascinated by the Tale of the Invisible Bank Robber, and, with graduate student Justin Kruger, published (in 1999) a research paper about an apparently common, but previously unreported disorder:

Unskilled and Unaware of It:
How Difficulties of Recognizing
One’s Own Incompetence
Lead to Inflated Self-assessments

and termed the disorder they described


Deconstructing from its Greek roots, it means, roughly:

I'm so stupid
that I don't realize 
I'm really stupid.

Anosognosia seems to be both widespread and incurable.

But as a theory of intellectual disorder, it explains a great deal of human behavior that was previously mysterious and inexplicable.

Now, for the first time, it all makes sense.

The documentary filmmaker Errol Morris wrote about anosognosia in The New York Times. His remarkable essay begins HERE.

26 October 2010

the Ring Of Fire's Hot Spot: Mount MERAPI volcano, central Java, Indonesia, is smokin', tremblin' & boomin', expected to erupt, but only Merapi knows when and how big / BBC video

click HERE for BBC video report

Officials had issued a red alert, warning that an eruption was imminent

Indonesia's most volatile volcano is erupting, spewing plumes of hot ash and hurling rocks into the air.

Officials say Mount Merapi, in central Java, began erupting just before dusk on Tuesday.

Scientists warn the pressure building up beneath its lava dome could lead to one of the most powerful blasts in years.

Thousands of residents living on the volcano's slopes have been evacuated.

However, a further 13,000 people need to be evacuated from within a 10-mile (16km) radius of the volcano, officials say.
Burn injuries

Television footage showed thousands of people fleeing the area, some covered in the volcano's white ash which rained from the sky.

[image] People evacuated by boat from Mount Merapi Many thousands of people have yet to be evacuated
It is thought that 5,000 people live on or near the volcano.

The head of one village near the volcano said that many residents were stranded. He said rain loaded with volcanic ash had reduced visibility to just 5m (16ft).

"We are evacuating to the village square, around 14km from Mount Merapi slope. Some of the villagers are still stranded but we received text messages from them, saying that they are OK," Heri Suprapto told the BBC.

A doctor at a nearby hospital said at least six people had been badly burnt by the hot air rushing from the volcano, Reuters reports. One eyewitness said he saw people with bad burns being taken away on stretchers, the agency reports.

There were also reports that a three-month-old baby had died from breathing difficulties after inhaling volcanic material.

On Monday, officials monitoring the volcano raised the alert for Mount Merapi to the highest possible level.

Since then, more than 600 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded around the mountain.

"We heard three explosions around 1800 (1100 GMT) spewing volcanic material as high as 1.5km (one mile) and sending heat clouds down the slopes," government volcanologist Surono, who goes by one name, told AFP.

He warned that pressure was building up behind a lava dome near the crater.

"We hope it will release slowly," he said. "Otherwise, we're looking at a potentially huge eruption, bigger than anything we've seen in years."

He said this eruption was more powerful than the volcano's last blast, in 2006, which killed two people.

In 1930 another powerful eruption wiped out 13 villages, killing more than 1,000 people.
Sacred site

Thousands of people living near the volcano have been ordered to move to safer ground, but many are still refusing to leave.

Some are refusing to heed the warnings because they do not want to leave their livestock and properties behind.

Ponco Sumarto, 65, who arrived at a makeshift camp with her two grandchildren, said her children had stayed behind to look after their crops.

A woman flees the volcano in Kaliurang village, Indonesia

"I just have to follow orders to take shelter here for safety, even though I'd rather like to stay at home," the Associated Press news agency quoted her as saying.

BBC Indonesia correspondent Karishma Vaswani says that for many Javanese, Mt Merapi is a sacred site.

Officials say some of the villagers are waiting for the local "gatekeeper" of the volcano to tell them that the increased activity at Mt Merapi is dangerous.

Described as a medicine man, he is believed by many villagers to have a spiritual connection to the volcano.

He has reportedly said he will not leave yet, but is urging villagers to make their way to government shelters, our correspondent says.
- 30 -

Are you the area? Have you been affected? Send us your comments using the form below:

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. In most cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location unless you state otherwise. But your contact details will never be published.

25 October 2010

Afghanistan's Karzai seeks treatment for addiction to big bags stuffed with cash

Agence-Vleeptron Presse / A-VP
(newswire, Planet Vleeptron, Earth)
Monday/Bangerday 25 October 2010


Karzai checks into 
rehab for 
cash addiction

KABUL (A-VP) -- The office of the president of Afghanistan announced today that President Hamid Karzai had checked himself into a rehabilitation facility for treatment of an increasingly serious long-standing disorder, his addiction to accepting bags and suitcases stuffed with cash.

To assure Karzai's privacy during treatment, which is expected to last several weeks, the identity or location of the rehabilitation facility will not be disclosed, the presidential spokesman said.

"The problem began more than a decade ago when Mister Karzai assumed the top leadership role in the Northern Alliance," the spokesman explained. "Around that time, agents from several nearby, European and North American governments seeking to topple the Taliban regime began bringing housewarming gifts, usually trashbags stuffed with Euros or US dollars, and Karzai began experiencing growing difficulty refusing the gifts. 

"Mister Karzai thought it would be rude, and the bearers of the cash gifts might be offended or misunderstand his unwillingness to accept large amounts of cash.

"From those small, simple beginnings, President Karzai's addiction to large bags of cash just grew worse and worse," the spokesman explained. "He was surrounded by enablers, and sometimes was offered three or more bags stuffed with cash a day. Things just spiralled out of control. Now he's seeking help with the problem."

An expert in the treatment of Cash Acquisition Syndrome Habituation (CASH) said treatment typically involves sessions with play money or Monopoly money, and the addict is slowly taught how to refuse to accept the cash substitutes. 

Later, the addict progresses to accepting modest amounts of cash, with no strings attached, counting the cash, writing signed and dated receipts, and then giving the money to authorized relief agencies and bona-fide government projects.

- 30 -

PIZZAQ! the gorgeous new statue of Admiral Znrdzooq, hero of the 2nd Garlic War ... or uhhh maybe not. Who is it, where is it, who made it?

Click on statue, gets bigger maybe.

The Zeta Beam is on the frizz again, but I've left Lenny and Spike, the intergalactic hitchiking high school dropout weasels, in charge of Agence-Vleeptron Presse, and told them to publish photos of famous tourist spots on Planet Vleeptron.

So they sent me this. They say it's the new statue of Admiral Znrdzooq, the hero of the 2nd Garlic War, in the vest-pocket park across the street from the Shoe Mirrors Underway station in Ciudad Vleeptron.

The trouble, of course, is that Lenny and Spike are probably drunk or stoned or something. They aren't exactly the most reliable temporary editors at A-VP.

So maybe this ISN'T Admiral Znrdzooq. And maybe it's not in Ciudad Vleeptron.

So who is it? And where is it? And who was the sculptor?

6 pizza slices with anchovies and shallots.

HINT: There's a rumor that you better enjoy this fine statue while you can, the statue might not be around for much longer.

22 October 2010

He broke NPR's ethics code: Be bland, boring, mediocre, have nice manners and good grammar..

Comments on:

NPR's Firing of Juan Williams Was Poorly Handled

Juan Williams isn't very bright; he's a mediocre, bland, inoffensive "thinker," and thus fit in perfectly at NPR. Under ordinary circumstances, he could have proudly bored NPR's listeners for decades.

And that's NPR's problem: It's always been constitutionally terrified of authentic originality, authentic talent, or authentic controversy. Good grammar and nice manners suffice at NPR.

Williams cluelessly failed to understand the difference between NPR and Fox. He skipped back and forth between them as if they were somehow equivalent news agencies with equivalent aims.

He's scared to fly if Muslims are aboard. He's dumb, bland, easily frightened, and easily manipulated by O'Reilly.

This Report from the Ombudsman -- why is it even here? You have no authority to rehire Williams. All you can do, and all you have done, is regretfully sugarcoat a fait accompli, and try to rationalize why Williams failed to live up to NPR's charter of inoffensive boredom. Your part of this tempest in a Foxpot does NPR no credit.
Friday, October 22, 2010 5:16:59 AM


Juan Williams
Stephen Voss/NPR Juan Williams

Juan Williams once again got himself into trouble with NPR for comments he made at his other job, at Fox News. And NPR's reaction has unleashed an unprecedented firestorm of criticism directed not at Williams – but at NPR.

NPR fired Williams Wednesday night after 10 years with the network for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News.

Thursday was a day like none I’ve experienced since coming to NPR in October 2007. Office phone lines rang non-stop like an alarm bell with no off button. We’ve received more than 8,000 emails, a record with nothing a close second.

NPR’s initial story garnered more than 6,800 comments, many supporting Williams and others asking why it took so long to fire him. Here's Thursday's story.

At noon, the deluge of email crashed NPR’s “Contact Us” form on the web site.

The overwhelming majority are angry, furious, outraged. They want NPR to hire him back immediately. If NPR doesn't, they want all public funding of public radio to stop. They promise to never donate again. They are as mad as hell, and want everyone to know it.  It was daunting to answer the phone and hear so much unrestrained anger.
  The latest, and final, episode involving Williams took place Monday on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor. He and host Bill O'Reilly discussed whether America had a "Muslim dilemma."

In response to a provocative question from O'Reilly about Muslims, Williams said:
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Later in that segment, Williams did challenge O'Reilly's apparent contention that every Muslim on the planet is an extremist bent on attacking America.

It took a day for Williams' remarks to bleed into the blogosphere. But then, it was like opening a fire hydrant.  Hundreds wrote or called demanding that NPR fire Williams or at least discipline him.

Many have been troubled over the years by the dual role that Williams has played: balanced news analyst on NPR; more opinionated pundit on Fox.

"On the Radio, Williams is somewhat of a thoughtful though superficial moderate while on FOX he shows his politically correct submissive Pro Fox bigotry for a few dollars more," wrote Mohamed Khodr, a doctor from Winchester, VA, who was among scores who contacted me Wednesday.

"NPR must and should take a stand against this bigotry and tell Williams' he must choose NPR's code of ethics or be let go to join the racist bigoted fearmongerers of FOX,” continued Khodr. “NPR can't have it both ways."

NPR's management acted. In a statement released at 12:27 a.m. Thursday, NPR said Williams' remarks “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

This was far from an isolated incident.

Williams’ appearances on Fox News, especially O’Reilly’s show, have caused heartburn repeatedly for NPR over the last few years. Management said he’s been warned several times that O’Reilly is a professional provocateur and to be careful.
In early 2009, Williams said on O'Reilly of Michelle Obama: "She's got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking . . . her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross."

After other inflammatory comments on Fox, in April 2008 NPR changed Williams' role from news correspondent (a reporting job) to news analyst. In this contract position, he was expected to report, think quickly and give his own analysis – while carefully choosing his words on any given subject.

One reason he was fired, according to Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, is that the company felt he wasn’t performing the role of a news analyst:

“News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation,” said Schiller in an email to NPR member stations, some of which are upset about Williams' firing.

“As you all well know," she continued, "we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview – not our reporters and analysts.”

In 2008, I received 378 emails complaining about remarks Williams made on Fox – but I heard very little about his comments on NPR. My February 2009 blog post on the Stokely Carmichael incident drew 216 comments – many asking why NPR put up with Williams' dual role.

In fact, since I became Ombudsman in October 2007, no other NPR employee has generated as much controversy as Williams.

That said, Williams provided a valuable voice on NPR.  His long experience as a journalist and background as an authority on the Civil Rights movement enabled him to offer insights that often enriched the network's reporting.

Ultimately, however, it seems management felt he had become more of a liability than an asset. Unfortunately, I agree.

It can’t be overlooked that this episode is occurring in a toxic political environment where people are quick to take sides and look for hidden motives. I fear some will look for racial motivations in NPR's decision to fire Williams, who is African-American and one of the few black male NPR voices.

It's not about race. It's also not about free speech, as some have charged. Nor is it about an alleged attempt by NPR to stifle conservative views. NPR offers a broad range of viewpoints on its radio shows and web site.

Instead, this latest incident with Williams centers around a collision of values: NPR's values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus the tendency in some parts of the news media, notably Fox News, to promote only one side of the ideological spectrum.

The issue also is whether someone on NPR's payroll should be allowed to say something in one venue that NPR would not allow on its air. NPR’s ethics code says they cannot.

Many emails asked for an explanation of how these latest comments were specifically outside NPR's rules and expectations – especially since Williams was being honest about his prejudices and fears.

(Williams also said, on a Fox News segment that aired Thursday, that he asked for, but was not given, a specific explanation of how his remarks crossed the line.)

NPR, like any mainstream news outlet, expects its journalists to be thoughtful and measured in everything they say. What Williams said was deeply offensive to Muslims and inflamed, rather than contributing positively, to an important debate about the role of Muslims in America.

Williams was doing the kind of stereotyping in a public platform that is dangerous to a democracy.  It puts people in categories, as types – not as individuals with much in common despite their differences.

I can only imagine how Williams, who has chronicled and championed the Civil Rights movement, would have reacted if another prominent journalist had said:

"But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see an African American male in Dashiki with a big Afro, I get worried. I get nervous."

In an appearance on Fox News today, Williams defended his controversial remarks, saying he simply had intended to convey his "honest experience" of anxiety.  He also said he was told his contract was terminated without an opportunity to come into NPR and discuss the firing.

If he is correct, that’s too bad. I think NPR owed him a chance to explain himself.
I’m not privy to the why this announcement was so hastily made. NPR could have waited until his contract ran out, or possibly suspended him pending a review. Either way, a more deliberative approach might have enabled NPR to avoid what has turned into a public relations nightmare.

Even though NPR handled this situation badly, the fact remains that NPR must uphold its journalistic standards, which, after all, provide the basis that earned public radio's reputation for quality.

18 October 2010

The Islamic Center 2 blocks away and around the corner from Ground Zero / Whoopi Goldberg & Joy Behar tell Bill O'Reilly to shove his nazi hate mouth up his ass / God Bless 30 Percent of America

Yeah, click on the flag postcard,
maybe gets larger.

"The View" is a Monday-through-Friday daytime TV show with a bunch of women sitting around on living-room furniture talking about the things that a bunch of women sitting around on living-room furniture talk about. It's been on American TV forever and is wildly popular. I've watched it maybe 3 times, I like the episodes where some of the women get up and try to punch Elizabeth Hassendorfer in the tits, and then she starts to cry.

Most of the time it's a really nice tea party with linen napkins and beverage coasters, and nice people talking about nice things, and usually trying not to say vulgar or barnyard things, but every once in a while Elizabeth Hassenpfeffer says something so stupid, ignorant and offensive that some of the other women start to punch her in the tits, but so far the production staff has prevented any actual punching or kicking. Elizabeth Klaggenzupper was a college softball player and married a professional (USA) football player, and I think she was dropped on her head from a big height when she was a baby.

(Okay, her name is really Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and she got famous on that stupid reality show "Survivor." She's on "The View" because they had to find one woman in the USA who could say nice things about George W. Bush, the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, banning abortion, and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They found Elizabeth Hasselbeck.)

If Joy Behar jumped out of an alley and tore out my gall bladder, I wouldn't know who she was or why she was famous or was one of the women sitting around on living-room furniture on "The View." There are some real smart, witty women on "The View," but as a general rule it's pretty light on Nobel Economics Prizewinners and quantum physicists. They talk about shoes and cosmetics and hair a lot, and sometimes a guest cooks them a new recipe.

If a famous man -- politician -- gets caught cheating on his decent, devoted wife, and it's a really icky extramarital scandal, and the guy really did many absolutely despicable things, and "the other woman" was 26 years younger than the wife and mother of his (legitimate) children, "The View" will devote the entire month of April to what this guy did and how smarmy it was, and what, in a just and decent world, ought to happen to this guy, and what ought to happen to his young hottie Kikki La Bamboom. The words "castration" and "gelding" have come up more than once. "The View" has very serious and consistent feelings about Holy Matrimony, and about noisy public deviations from this valuable social convention.

The Big Brain on "The View" is actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg. It's a dream job. Imagine getting paid Big Bucks just to shoot off your mouth about anything or anybody. In most real human experience, that's the express train to getting fired or divorced or arrested, or declared Persona Non Grata.

A few days ago, the guest on "The View" was Bill O'Reilly from Murdoch's Fox News Channel.

O'Reilly usually doesn't make guest appearances on other programs. He's most comfortable barfing out his belief system on his own Fox show "The O'Reilly Factor," because nobody interrupts him or calls him a liar or an idiot.

O'Reilly chose to tell the ladies on "The View" why America shouldn't allow New York City's Muslims to build an Islamic Center/Mosque about two blocks from "Ground Zero" -- the site of the former World Trade Center.

He blamed the terror attack of 9/11/01 on Muslims. Hating all the world's Muslims works really well on "The O'Reilly Factor," so he thought he could have a Hate-All-Muslims party on "The View."

Things got heated, and although O'Reilly tried to use his copyrighted debate style -- he's famous for screaming "Shut up!" to guests -- Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg most assuredly did not shut up, and finally they just walked off the set, after making it abundantly clear that they thought O'Reilly was a sick fuck and right-wing moron.

The Goldberg-Behar walk-off became a huge cause celebre. It almost seemed, for a moment, that something important had actually happened on "The View."

We now return you to a recipe for chicken pepper casserole, and new makeup that's environmentally safe and friendly.

I like Whoopi Goldberg a lot. (Almost enough to make me want to watch "The View" again.")

I think Bill O'Reilly should be shoved in a rocket and sent to be the permanent USA Ambassador to Pluto.


Stop me before I leave a comment on "The View's" message board again. I'm ...


Submitted by jameskpolka 17/10/2010 11:53 am PDT 


O'Reilly said 70 percent of the American people don't want the Islamic Center built.

Freedom of religion is in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- the Bill of Rights -- to remove it once and forever from the momentary whims of a religion Popularity Contest.

If Fox News Channel's on-line Question of the Day asks:
Do you think the Islamic Center 
should be built? [NO] [YES]

... and 99 percent of the mice click [NO], the First Amendment guarantees that the Fox Digital Lynch
Mob's results have no bearing or influence on the right of NYC's Muslims to build their Islamic Center.

And, thanks chiefly to George Mason and James Madison, the First Amendment will also guarantee the right of Jews to build a synagogue where they wish, the right of Mormons to build a Temple, the right of atheists to build an Atheism Center, regardless of where Fox's Hate-o-Meter needle points next week.

For Fox and O'Reilly, it's all about the hemmorhoid cream ads on their most popular Hate segments. At Fox News Channel, Muslims are tied with immigrants from Mexico and Central America, if hating them ratchets up ratings.

70 percent don't want it built? Fine. I'm going to wear a red-white-and-blue t-shirt that proudly says:

That's 93,000,000 Americans. I shouldn't feel too lonely. And they're probably a very nice, mellow bunch.