Archive for May 2013
Oh, wait: Melvin Purvis had that covered right from the git-go. Greg Mitchell notes in The Nation:
The incident raised questions from the start, but now it is approaching absurdity—maybe parody. Next thing we know the weapon will IDed as Peggy Olson’s makeshift spear.
We refer, of course, to last week’s killing of Ibragim Todashev, an old friend of deceased Boston marathon bomber Tamalan Tsarnaev, in Orlando, Florida. He was being interrogated by an FBI agent and other detectives about what he knew, if anything, about the bombing and also about his possible role in a triple murder, tied to drugs, in Waltham, Massachusetts. Allegedly he had just confessed that he and Tsarnaev committed the murders when he freaked, grabbed a knife and lunged at the agent, who naturally shot him dead.
The story sort of smelled from the start, given that there was one crazed guy and several law enforcement enforcers, not to mention that they were questioning him about a mass bombing and a triple murder and somehow let him get at a weapon. It was a “knife,” although there was mention of a “samurai sword” maybe in the room. But few in the media raised questions.
So now it turns out—as we suspected all along—that he was unarmed when shot and killed by the FBI agent in that infamous incident. Well, that was the report two days ago. Seems that he’d been shot six or seven times. This sparked family members to charge that he was simply “executed” and it also encouraged the Boston bombing conspiracy nuts to get nuttier. Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlanticwith a major take yesterday questioned not just shooting an unarmed man but the FBI unable to get its story straight.
And then, late last night: another official version: The bad guy suddenly had a “pole” that he hit an agent with—and also hit him with a table. Oh, wait, the pole might have been “a broomstick.” And he had to be shot seven times. I guess the other cops in the room were playing Angry Birds.
Read the details of that version and you almost have to laugh. One of the cops texted the FBI agent to tell him the suspect was getting agitated? And it was when the FBI guy was reading the text that all the action started? And the “samurai sword” that became a “pole” that became a “broomstick” had now become the metal part of a broom, perhaps to make it sound more like the original “knife.”
John Miller of CBS, the longtime reporter who later became an FBI hack, recounts the latest here, as usual bending over backwards to accept the official story. You’ll see that like many others he makes no mention of how the agency could claim this was a knife attack for a week before the broomstick appeared. That’s some kind of tough reporting. And here’s Friedersdorf’s update today.Interested in the FBI’s malpractice? Read George Zornick on the impending nomination of James Comey.
Do others sense, as I do, that law enforcement agencies in the US are now out of control? Look at NYPD. Look at Texas. Look at California. Look at the hassling of pilots of small aircraft who have done nothing wrong. And the perpetrators in law enforcement generally go unpunished, protected by the blue wall of silence: exactly the psychology of a group that no longer feels a part of the community, but views the public as “them”, with “us” being law enforcement. That’s common enough, but law enforcement people are authorized by the state to use force, even deadly force.
On a separate forum a guy chastized me for saying, as though it were a known fact, that the FBI routinely breaks the law. Here’s one example (Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001 – 2008), and if you Google “FBI breaking the law” you find many, many more. I do not see the FBI as not having any great respect for the law, but being quite concerned about their individual careers.
Obama makes promises much too easily—probably why he breaks them so readily. Paul Armentano writes at Alternet:
Despite issuing a highly publicized memorandum  in 2009 stating, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration,” it remains clear that federal lawmakers and the White House continue to willfully ignore science in regards to the cannabis plant and the federal policies which condemn it to the same prohibitive legal status as heroin. In fact, in 2011 the Obama administration went so far as to reject an administrative petition that called for hearings to reevaluate  pot’s safety and efficacy, pronouncing in the Federal Register, “Marijuana does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.” (The Administration’s flat-Earth position was upheld  in January by a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.)
Nevertheless, scientific evaluations of cannabis and the health of its consumers have never been more prevalent. Studies are now published almost daily rebuking the federal government’s allegations that the marijuana plant is a highly dangerous substance lacking any therapeutic utility. Yet, virtually all of these studies – and, more importantly, their implications for public policy – continue to be ignored by lawmakers. Here are just a few examples of the latest cannabis science that your federal government doesn’t want you to know about.
Frequent cannabis smokers possess no greater lung cancer risk than do either occasional pot smokers or non-smokers
Subjects who regularly inhale cannabis smoke do not  possess an increased risk of lung cancer compared to those who either consume it occasionally or not at all, according to data presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Academy for Cancer Research.
Investigators from the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed data from six case-control studies, conducted between 1999 and 2012, involving over 5,000 subjects (2,159 cases and 2,985 controls) from around the world.
They reported,  “Our pooled results showed no significant association between the intensity, duration, or cumulative consumption of cannabis smoke and the risk of lung cancer overall or in never smokers.”
Previous case-control studies have also failed to find an association  between cannabis smoking and head and neck cancers or cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract .
Nevertheless, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration continues to maintain , “Marijuana smokers increase their risk of cancer of the head, neck, lungs and respiratory track.”
Consistent use of cannabis associated is associated with reduced risk factors for Type 2 diabetes
Will the pot plant one day play a role in staving the ongoing epidemic of Type 2 diabetes? Emerging science indicates that it just might.
According to trial data  published this month in the American Journal of Medicine, subjects who regularly consume cannabis possess favorable indices related to diabetic control compared to occasional consumers or non-consumers.
Investigators at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, assessed  self-report data from some 5,000 adult onset diabetics patients regarding whether they smoked or had ever smoked marijuana. Researchers reported that those who were current, regular marijuana smokers possessed 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance compared to those who had never used pot. By contrast, non-users possessed larger waistlines and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) cholesterol – both of which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Similar benefits were reported in occasional cannabis consumers, though these changes were less pronounced, “suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use,” researchers reported.
The recent findings are supportive of the findings of 2012 study by a team of UCLA researchers, published in the British Medical Journal, which reported  that adults with a history of marijuana use had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than did those with no history of cannabis consumption, even after researchers adjusted for social variables (ethnicity, level of physical activity, etc.) Concluded the study , “[This] analysis of adults aged 20-59 years … showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of DM (Diabetes Mellitus) and lower odds of DM relative to non-marijuana users.”
Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer.
Inhaling cannabis dramatically mitigates symptoms of Crohn’sdisease
Smoking cannabis twice daily significantly reduces  symptoms of Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disorder that is estimated to impact about half a million Americans. So say the results of the first-ever placebo-controlled trial  assessing the use of cannabis for Crohn’s – published online this month in the scientific journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Researchers at the Meir Medical Center, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Israel assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 21 subjects with Crohn’s disease who were nonresponsive to conventional treatment regimens. Eleven participants smoked standardized cannabis cigarettes containing 23 percent THC and 0.5 percent cannabidiol  – a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid known to possess anti-inflammatory properties — twice daily over a period of eight weeks. The other ten subjects smoked placebo cigarettes containing no active cannabinoids.
Investigators reported, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.” Five of the eleven patients in the study group reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient’s CDAI score by more than 150 points). Participants who smoked marijuana reported decreased pain, improved appetite, and better sleep compared to control subjects. Researchers reported that “no significant side effects” were associated with cannabis inhalation.
The clinical results substantiate decades of anecdotal reports from Crohn’s patients, some one-half of which acknowledge  having used cannabis to mitigate symptoms of the disease.
Marijuana-like substances halt HIV infection in white blood cells . . .
Continue reading. I simply do not understand how the Obama Administration can support:
“Marijuana does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”
That statement is simply false. To stand behind it while rejecting a proposal to reevaluate marijuana shows incredibly bad faith and resistance to evidence and reasoned argument.
All German today: the Mühle silvertip badger brush did a fine job making a truly terrific lather from Tabula Rasa Patchouli shaving cream—and I do like the fragrance.
The Mühle 2013 R41, unlike the 2011 R41, is not bad for me at all. The 2011 model was so harsh that I simply could not use it. Those who like it use a very shallow angle. While this new one, a 2013 model, is not so harsh and provided a smooth shave with no nicks or burn, I still would not call it a comfortable razor, but those who want an open-comb razor that rewards skill with efficiency will probably like it. The razor head is slightly wider so that very little of the blade’s ends are exposed, a nice touch.
The blade today was a Trig, and in 3 passes I had a BBS shave. A good splash of Alt-Innsbruck and the week draws to a close.
Michael Fitzgerald posts at Pacific Standard:
Infant mortality within a three-mile radius around one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals, in Cleveland, Ohio, is worse than that in some third-world countries, Dr. Michele Walsh, neonatology director of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, claimed in a radio interview last week. The hospital anchors the relatively affluent University Circle neighborhood, home to Case Western Reserve University, on the east end of an otherwise pretty impoverished city. (Seventy percent of the infants that enter Walsh’s intensive care unit are on Medicaid.)
Infant mortality rates higher than those of countries like Japan or Sweden are one thing—several reports in recent years found the United States to have a slightly higher rate than many such peers—but Uzbekistan? The Gaza Strip? That would mean communities around the hospital far outstrip the national rate of 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Understandably disturbed by the claim, Politifact Ohio confirmed it using a Case Western regional social and economic research database:
Infant mortality in the University Circle neighborhood … was slightly above 69 deaths per 1,000 live births. That exceeds the rate in countries that include, among others, Bangladesh, Haiti, Burma, Cameroon, Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, and Uganda.
The 69 deaths per 1,000 live births statistic is from 2009 only; taking a three-year average still yields 18.6 deaths, higher than many Caribbean and Eastern European countries. But here’s the real gut-punch: . . .
L. Ron Hubbard did. Joseph Smith did. You can as well—though perhaps for reasons other than those that motivated those. Here is an excerpt from Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book Without Instructions, by Daniele Bolelli:
A writer, university professor and martial artist and the author of 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know: Religion. He is a history professor at Santa Monica College and California State University, Long Beach and is a regular contributor to several magazines both in Italy and in the United States. He lives in Los Angeles.
The whole notion of creating one’s own religion goes against the claim made by many religions that they alone possess the Only Truth revealed to them by the deity of their choosing. In their eyes, religion is to be followed by human beings, but is never created by them. Countless people have been burned at the stake for simply urging others to challenge religious dogma and question beliefs. While this injunction is no longer followed literally, Jewish scriptures sanction the murder of anyone inviting us to change religious outlook. The Inquisition, which lasted over 600 years, fills the history of Christianity with plenty of mass killings of people whose only crime was holding unconventional opinions in matters of religion. Still today, in some Muslim countries, any Muslim who decides to abandon Islam faces the death penalty for apostasy.
Why such venom and brutality? Because many of those claiming to be speaking for God have little patience for people who want to figure out for themselves what life is about. What is so terrible about it? Because you should not search for what is wise and good. You should listen to what we tell you is wise and good.
In light of these attitudes, it should become clear why a call to “create your own religion” is by its very nature quite radical. But it doesn’t have to be that way. OK, since you are a most pleasant reader, I’ll share a secret with you. Lean toward me so that I may whisper it in your ear. . . . Everyone already creates their own religion. Some people just don’t lie about it.
Did I say something offensive or shocking? It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. At the risk of raising the blood pressure of some modern wannabe inquisitors, let’s look at the ugly truth for what it is. Despite their professed devotion to a text or a teacher or a path, even members of established religions don’t observe literally the dictates of their religion of choice. Many believers claim to be strict followers of their traditions, and some actually believe they are. But the reality is that they all are engaged to some degree in a selective reading of their sacred texts, adopting what suits them and rejecting the rest. It’s a simple process, really. Pick up the sacred books of your religion, look for passages supporting your values, and adapt them a little to your liking. Then highlight their importance in the overall balance of the religion, and conveniently forget all those other unsavory passages that either downright contradict your values or support behaviors and attitudes that don’t fit with your inclinations. Rather than having the guts to admit what they are doing and openly defend their right to pick and choose the passages they want to live their lives by, most people prefer hiding under the fable that their particular take on religion is the only correct one. All other people who put the accent on different messages and values contained in the same scriptures, they claim, are heretics who are twisting the essence of the religion. If this strikes you as intellectually dishonest, it’s because it is.
Hey Bolelli, are you really accusing billions of orthodox believers worldwide of being consummate liars? Not necessarily. Some don’t lie consciously. They just happen to be masters at self-delusion, so skilled at lying to themselves that they can do it without ever becoming aware of it. Why would they do this? you may ask. Because it would be too scary to take responsibility for choosing which values, among so many, to live by. It’s much more reassuring to go on pretending that one’s values are the only true eternal ones that enjoy God’s stamp of approval.
Other believers, on the other hand, don’t lie at all—not even subconsciously. What shields them from facing the contradictions that exist in every religious tradition, including their own, is plain old ignorance. . .
If you become seriously ill and unable to eat, you will be fed Corn Syrup, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar (Sucrose), Corn Oil, Sodium & Calcium Caseinates, Soy Protein Isolate and Artificial Flavor, apparently in the belief that this diet works best for people who are ill. It may be, of course, that the fact that it’s very cheap to make and offers high profit margins could also be a factor. April Short reports at AlterNet:
When family nurse practitioner Susan Lavelle learned that a neighbor of hers developed the autoimmune disease systemic sclerosis and couldn’t naturally ingest food last year, she became concerned about the feeding tube formula doctors were recommending. The formula, called Ensure, was full of processed, sugary ingredients.
Ensure is produced by Abbott Nutrition, a company that competes with the multinational conglomerate company, Nestle to produce most of the feeding tube products available.
To give an example of what Ensure is made of, the first six ingredients—i.e. the most highly concentrated ingredients—of 36 items listed in the Ensure “Powder Vanilla” product are, in order:
“Corn Syrup, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar (Sucrose), Corn Oil, Sodium & Calcium Caseinates, Soy Protein Isolate and Artificial Flavor.”
“[Ensure is] a very traditional way the medical system addresses getting calories into people because they can’t swallow or because they need more calories from some disease problem,” says Lavelle, noting that when she worked in hospitals Ensure was the only feeding tube formula she remembers them using.
She continues, “The problem is it’s loaded with sugar. It’s got refined sugar in it, like corn syrup. It’s got the concentrated milk protein casenite. … It’s processed food. Basically, it’s not real food.”
Nestle and Abbott Nutrition produce a majority of feeding tube formulas on the market, and Lavelle says hospitals and care facilities typically recommend Ensure and similar products to feeding tube patients.
Lavelle is an instructor through the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “Food For Life” program, and an advocate of unprocessed, whole foods as a means of promoting health. She says she has found it discouraging that the medical system addresses most issues from a pharmacological or procedural standpoint, with little-to-no emphasis on lifestyle interventions like nutrition.
“When I talk to people [about health], I start with food because I think it makes the biggest difference and gets to the root of the problem,” she says.
So, when Lavelle’s neighbor was told to drink Ensure, she asked around the medical and nutrition communities in search of a feeding tube formula that was made up of whole, non-processed foods.
“Everyone said, ‘We can’t help you,” she says.
It was not until this year that Lavelle discovered the first ever shelf-stable, organic, whole foods feeding tube formula on the market. It is called Liquid Hope.
The Story of Liquid Hope
Robin Gentry McGee, a health and lifestyle coach and chef, faced a dilemma when her father suffered a brain injury and coma in 2005. The feeding tube food her father was consuming consisted of what McGee calls “essentially sugar water.”
McGee says very early on in her father’s treatment she picked up the feeding tube formula can he was using at the doctor’s recommendation, read the ingredients list, and realized it was “garbage.” She calls it, “the can that changed her life,” adding that to this day she has kept the can as a reminder.
That can began McGee’s search for a clean, whole foods-based formula to feed her father. After scouring the Internet, health food stores, supermarkets, and everywhere else she could think to look, she couldn’t find anything of the sort. So, McGee, then a chef with a background in whole foods nutrition, decided to create the formula herself. . .
Chuck Collins writes in The American Prospect:
Two 21-year-old college students sit down in a coffee shop to study for an upcoming test. Behind the counter, a barista whips up their double-shot lattes. In the back kitchen, another young adult washes the dishes and empties the trash.
These four young adults have a lot in common. They are the same age and race, each has two parents, and all grew up in the same metropolitan area. They were all strong students in their respective high schools. But as they enter their third decade, their work futures and life trajectories are radically different—and largely determined at this point.
The culprit is the growing role of inherited advantage, as affluent families make investments that give their children a leg up. Combined with the 2008 economic meltdown and budget cuts in public investments that foster opportunity, we are witnessing accelerating advantages for the wealthy and compounding disadvantages for everyone else.
One of the college students, Miranda, will graduate without any student-loan debt and will have completed three summers of unpaid internships at businesses that will advance her career path. Her parents stand ready to subsidize her lodging with a security deposit and co-signed apartment lease and will give her a no-interest loan to buy a car. They also have a network of family and professional contacts that can help her. While she waits for a job with benefits, she will remain on her parents’ health insurance.
Ten years later, Miranda will have a high-paying job, be engaged to another professional, and will buy a home in a neighborhood with other college-educated professionals, a property that will steadily appreciate over time because of its location. The “parental down-payment assistance program” will subsidize the purchase.
The other collegiate, Marcus, will graduate with more than $55,000 in college debt, a maxed-out credit card, and an extensive résumé of part-time food-service jobs that he has taken to pay for school, both during summers and while in college, reducing the hours he can study. Though he will obtain a degree, he will graduate with almost no work experience in his field of study, lose his health insurance, and begin working two part-time jobs to pay back his student loans and to afford rent in a shared apartment.
Ten years later, Marcus will still be working in low-paying jobs and renting an apartment. He will feel occupationally stuck and frustrated in his attempts to network in the area of his degree. He will take on additional debt—to deal with various health and financial problems—and watch his hope of buying a home slip away, in large part because of a credit history damaged during his early twenties.
Tony, the barista, . . .
Continue reading. This is how entrenched aristocracies get established: a gradually pushing away of those without wealth.