Friday, December 30, 2005

Mariah Carey: Diva???

This picture is from the UK Guardian December 17th 2005. The columnist said, "Even Nero held up his own cup."

To read the full story, go to the blog of Molara Wood. Molara is a London based, writer, freelance journalist, and a poet. I recommend linking to her blog, and returning, to read her cultural observations.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bolivarian Dreams: Venezuela the Numbers.

Let us see what the numbers say about Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan economy shrank in 2002 by 8.9%, because of the strike, and 2003 by 7.7%, but in 2004, the economy grew by 17.3% in gross domestic product, 17.8% in the non-oil sector, 18.6% in the private sector, and 11% public sector growth.

42% in 1999
47% in 2004
38.5% in the first half of 2005
Extreme poverty went from 18% in 2004, to 10% in the first part of 2005.

Education and Health Care
1998 3% of GDP invested in education.
2005 7% of GDP invested in education.
1998 57% of children enrolled in schools.
2005 70% of children enrolled in schools, now offer free lunches,all day classes,
and uniforms.
20,000 Cuban doctors and dentists, staff free clinics.
25% discount for groceries, at state run stores.
See: Resource Center of the Americas in Minneapolis, MN

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Osama's Niece.

Wafah Dufour the former Wahfah Bin Laden, is a 26 year old aspiring model and musician. Her father was one of Osama's 50 half brothers. She is scheduled to be presented in a glamour layout in GQ Magazine.

Wafah was born in US, and lived in Saudi Arabia, until she was ten years old. She lived most of her life in USA. Pressures from after 9/11, made her to drop her last name.

Needless to say, she doesn't see her father or extended family. Osama has 400 relatives, who live in Saudi Arabia.

For more info see: BBC News.

This post is a contribution, to the war against clerical fascism.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Texas To Execute Retarded Man Due To Legal Technicality.

Marvin Lee Wilson an inmate with an IQ in the low 60s, faces execution, despite it being illegal to execute a mentally retarded inmate. In Texas it's against the law for a death row inmate to file an appeal in state and federal court at the same time. His lawyer filed an appeal to federal court, at the last day it was in state court, missing a dead line. Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans refused to hear Wilson's appeal because his attorney missed a filing deadline. Here is what the court said in its ruling by a three-judge panel:

"However harsh the result may be — particularly in a death penalty case involving a petitioner who has made a prima facie showing of mental retardation — Congress acted deliberately in enacting a strict limitations period." This is a disturbing ruling that perverts the legal system by elevating deadlines over justice, process over fairness. The Supreme Court has ruled that executing mentally retarded people is unconstitutional. That should not be trumped by a procedural rule. Basically, Wilson's case became entangled in a catch-22 contained in the complicated legal process that governs the filing of death penalty appeals in state and federal court.

The bottom line is he faces execution, due to his lawyers errors. To read the whole story see: Texas Execution.

Public confidence in the Texas justice has been shaken with the recent revelations that the state apparently executed the wrong man in 1993. Clearly there was a rush to convict and execute San Antonio resident Ruben Cantu. Carrying out another wrongful execution further erodes trust in the system.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


God rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there’s no evidence
There was a Christmas Day;

When Christ was born is just not known,
No matter what they say,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Our current Christmas customs come
From Persia and from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East.

This whole darn Christmas spiel is just
Another pagan feast,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

There was no star of Bethlehem,
There was no angels’ song;
There couldn’t have been wise men
For the trip would take too long.

The stories in the Bible are historically wrong,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Tune: God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen
Words: Hymns for the Cerebration of Strife
Copyright 1990 by Christopher Raible

Thank you Thoughts That Get Stuck In My Head and Beancounters

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bolivia elects Evo Morales, an Indigenous Coca Farmer.

Evo Morales, 46, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer who also promises to roll back American-prescribed economic changes, had garnered up to 51 percent of the vote, according to televised quick-count polls, which tally a sample of votes at polling places and are considered highly accurate. He said he is against cocaine, but for coca.

At 9 p.m., his leading challenger, Jorge Quiroga, 45, an American-educated former president who was trailing by as much as 20 percentage points, admitted defeat in a nationally televised speech.

Bolivia has had an upsurge on political action in the last five years, starting with the April 2,000 struggle in Cochabamba, over privatization of water.

In May-June 2005, a country wide strike took place, centering in La Paz, shut down roads, held meetings and rallies, calling for the nationalization of gas. The rank and file of Evo Morales's party MAS (Movement Toward Socialism), joined in. It was a situation of dual power. On one hand was the mass movement of workers and peasants, and on the other side was the oligarchy, and sections of the army. The army was politically split. There was talk in the oligarchy of splitting up the country. It was a revolutionary situation. The masses were realizing there demands were not going to be met by parlimentary means.

There was no leadership who knew how to take power. In the last minute, a deal was reached, calling for early elections.

Evo Morales always believed in the electoral path. Morales has gone out of his way to reassure the ruling class and imperialism, even having meetings in Europe with Repsol and other multinationals with interests in Bolivia, meeting the ambassadors of EU countries and even having a secret meeting with the US embassy. His vice-presidential candidate, former guerrilla ideologist Garcia Linera, made it clear from the beginning that he thinks socialism is off the agenda in Bolivia and that he favours the development of some sort of “Andean capitalism”. Nevertheless, the imperialists and their Bolivian agents feel extremely uneasy about the likely victory of Evo Morales in Sunday’s elections. They are not so concerned about Morales himself, but they are terrified of the forces that stand behind Morales.

I believe Morales should be supported, not as a savior, but as a leader, who may be pushed by the expectations of the mass movement.

In a very significant move the US took some 30 surface-to-air HN-5A missiles from the Bolivian army. These are highly portable and easy to use missiles of the same kind used by the Iraqi resistance.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christopher Hitchens to Debate Scott Ritter 12/20/05 in Tarrytown, NY.

The hot ticket is for the Tarrytown Music Hall debate between Christopher Hitchens, the most articulate defender of the Iraqi invasion, against Scott Ritter, the renegade former WMD inspector. See: DEBATE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

BBC Announces Poll of Iraqi attitudes.

BBC announced results of a poll , sponsored by BBC, ABC and international news agencies, carried out by Oxford Research International. It was released 12/10/05. In all,1,711 Iraqis were interviewed throughout the country in October and November 2005.

The news has ammunition for both sides of the Iraqi occupation debate.

The poll found regional variations. The North and South of the country, had more optimism, than the center of the country.

71% Life quite better.
29% Quite worse.

Will life be better in the coming year.
64% Yes.
12% No.

Overall situation in your country.
55% Bad.
44% Good.

Priority for new government.
57% Security.
10% Infrastructure.
10% Invader withdrawal.

50% New strong leader important.
28% Democracy important.

Five years from now, what is important?
45% Democracy important
31% Strong leader.

67% Trust in religious and military leaders.
25% Politicians.

Not mentioned in this poll, earlier polls showed support for Coalition withdrawal. They also support a strong central government, despite a loophole filled constitution.

I'm presenting the complexity of the situation.

See BBC News

Monday, December 12, 2005

Flight 924: Another Take On Miami Shooting Last week.

Rigoberto Alpizar, a naturalized American citizen, from Costa Rica, did not even want to get on Flight 924, between Miami and Orlando. Witnesses saw him arguing with his wife, who literally dragged him on the plane. He was returning from a missionary trip in Quito, Ecuador. Rigoberto was a bipolar person, non-compliant with taking medication.

He started yelling, "I have to get out of this place." He carried his backpack, down the aisle, trying to get to the runway. Despite his wife's pleas, that he sick, he was gunned down by an air marshall. The air marshall said he was yelling, he had a bomb. This account is disputed by several passengers. The air marshall's position is that the wife's warnings, could have been a diversion.

I'm writing about this subject from another view. I have met supporters of a Minneapolis based organization, called The Barbara Schneider Foundation. To have your name attached to a foundation, usually you just give $$$. Barbara gave her life. She was an untreated mentally ill person, killed by police. The Barbara Schneider Foundation teaches first responders, how to react to a mentally ill person in crises, so violence is averted. If BSF gave the air marshalls proper training, the shooting could have been averted.

This involved the second Latin person gunned down in the war against terror. The first was Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian, killed by British police four months earlier, after the London subway bombing. Police officials are blocking an independant inquiry, since video footage, negates the police account.

The quick response, shoot first, ask questions later, needs to be more closely examined, or more innocent people will die.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Play The Dinner Party Game

You are allowed to invite to a dinner party; any four people, from any time in history, living or dead.

I'll start with my list.

Leon Trotsky

Kiera Knightly

Pablo Picasso

Carl Sagan

Who gets your invitation??????

Monday, December 05, 2005

Free The Peacemaker Hostages.

Four antiwar activists from the Christian Peacemaker Teams, who came to Iraq, to oppose the war, but stayed after the occupation, in solidarity with the Iraqi people, were taken hostage in Baghdad, on November 26th. On November 30th, a released hostage video, accuses them of being spies. The hostages are two Canadians, one American, and one British. The group that took them are called the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, a previously unknown group.

The four are people of faith, but not missionaries. They have deep respect for Islam.

The group holding them is giving the USA to December 08th to withdraw, or hostages will be killed.


The member of a Christian pacifist organization, Harmeet Singh Sooden studied literature at the University of Auckland in New Zealand before traveling to Iraq.

The 32-year-old Canadian, an electrical engineer, previously studied at McGill University in Montreal.

A friend in New Zealand expressed shock at the kidnapping but added that his humanitarian efforts seemed natural.

"That would not surprise me that he went to help somebody," said Allison Reay, manager of his school residence in Auckland.


When Tom Fox would return from his efforts with the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, friends say he always made time for the children at a Quaker center.

Whether it was teaching kids about opposing violence or leading hiking excursions through the Shenandoah Valley during youth summer camp, Fox, 54, was an influential and loved role model, said Anne Bacon, the Quaker meeting clerk.

Bacon said Fox and other CPT members knew the danger of working in Iraq, "but their goals are still very clear — peace belongs to all."


When Norman Kember was 18, he chose to work in a hospital rather than serve in the the military. Now 74, Kember remained a pacifist, his family said.

"He feels very strongly that the occupation in Iraq is a mistake," the family said in a statement released before Al-Jazeera broadcast a video Tuesday of Kember and three other Western hostages in Iraq.

Kember, of northwest London, was a professor of medical physics at St. Bartholomew's Hospital until retiring 13 years ago.

Asked if visiting Iraq could be dangerous, he replied: "It could be."


James Loney spent many years working with Toronto's homeless before joining Christian Peacemaker Teams, friends say.

The 41-year-old Toronto community worker had been leading the group in Iraq before he was abducted.

"He's a deeply compassionate person. He's got a real sense of how important it is to be in solidarity and support of everybody who is in need or is marginalized," said Sarah Shepherd, a friend for 10 years.

Loney was arrested in 1991 outside the U.S. consulate in Toronto for protesting the Persian Gulf War.


Susanne Osthoff, a 43-year-old German archaeologist who is fluent in Arabic, helped distribute medical supplies in Iraq.

Relatives in Germany said that in recent years Osthoff had broken almost all ties with her family — including her 11-year-old daughter. During that time, she had been in and out of Iraq.

The German newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung reported that Osthoff received a kidnap threat last summer from extremists linked to al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and that U.S. soldiers brought her from Mosul to Baghdad for her own safety.

There is a petition signed by people as Cindy Sheehan, Tariq Ali, Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn asking for their release. You can sign it at: PETITION

A German archaeologist, Susanne Osthoff, 43, also disappeared recently. On a video made public Nov. 29, kidnappers threatened to kill her unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Corporate Donations: Creationism Si, Darwinism No!

The American Museum of Natural History in New York, has curated an exciting exhibit, honoring the life of Charles Darwin. It cost $3,000,000 to organize and setup. The money has come totally from private individuals and non profits. Corporations gave 0, due to fear of attack from fundamentalist Yahoos.

At the same time in Cincinatti, Oh, the Creationist Museum, received $7,000,000 dollars in corporate donations.

The fundamentalists are louder, than their actual numbers. The majority of people want religion inside the church, not in the science classroom, or at the scientific exhibition.

See: James Randi

Friday, November 25, 2005

Time for Authentic Iraq Debate.

Christopher Hitchens has a brilliant analysis of the Iraqi invasion debate. Both liberals and conservatives, are running away from the issue, not only facing USA, but the world.

The debate is shrill. Democrats are harping about what led up to the war, rather than what are they going to do about the threat of Islamic. Should Iraq split, or have a federalists central government? Secular Kurdish and Iraqi face violence from Baathists and Bin Ladenists, as well violence within different Shiite sects. Can we stop it? Republicans resort to equating war hero Rep. Murtha put in the same sentence as Michael Moore. There never was a threat of a mushroom cloud from Iraq. Our soldiers are adult and intelligent, they are not demoralized by debating the war.

The debate has never been honest. I strongly recommend you read Hitchens's 11/22/05 Slate article Nowhere To Go

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cambodia: The Euthanasia Tourist Paradise.

The Cambodian government is debating, about what to do about websites, telling people who want to commit euthanasia, to go to Kampot, about 180 km, from the capital. See: Euthanasia Tourism

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iran: Four Youths Hanged in Public for Crime of Being Gay.

This is from Human Rights Watch November 21, 2005.
Iran: Two More Executions for Homosexual Conduct
21 Nov 2005 23:55:14 GMTSource: Human Rights Watch(New York, November 22, 2005) – Iran's execution of two men last week for homosexual conduct highlights a pattern of persecution of gay men that stands in stark violation of the rights to life and privacy, Human Rights Watch said today. On Sunday, November 13, the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the Iranian government publicly hung two men, Mokhtar N. (24 years old) and Ali A. (25 years old), in the Shahid Bahonar Square of the northern town of Gorgan.
The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." Iran's shari'a-based penal code defines lavat as penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts between men. Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. Non-penetrative sexual acts between men are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are punished with death. Sexual acts between women, which are defined differently, are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are also punished with death.
"The execution of two men for consensual sexual activity is an outrage," said Jessica Stern, researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "The Iranian government's persecution of gay men flouts international human rights standards."
In addition to the two executions last week, there have been other cases of persecution and execution of gay men in Iran in recent years.
• In September 2003, police arrested a group of men at a private gathering in one of their homes in Shiraz and held them in detention for several days. According to Amir, one of the men arrested, police tortured the men to obtain confessions. The judiciary charged five of the defendants with "participation in a corrupt gathering" and fined them.
• In June 2004, undercover police agents in Shiraz arranged meetings with men through Internet chatrooms and then arrested them. Police held Amir, a 21-year-old, in detention for a week, during which time they repeatedly tortured him. The judicial authorities in Shiraz sentenced him to 175 lashes, 100 of which were administered immediately. Following his arrest, security officials subjected Amir to regular surveillance and periodic arrests. From July 2005 until he fled the country later in the year, police threatened Amir with imminent execution.
• On March 15, 2005, the daily newspaper Etemaad reported that the Tehran Criminal Court sentenced two men to death following the discovery of a video showing them engaged in homosexual acts. According to the paper, one of the men confessed that he had shot the video as a precaution in case his partner withdrew the financial support he had been providing in return for sex. In response to the man's confession, his partner was summoned to the authorities and both men were sentenced to death. As the death penalty was pronounced against both men, it appears to have been based on their sexual activity. "These abuses have created an atmosphere of terror for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people throughout Iran," said Stern. "But arrest, torture and execution are not limited to gays and lesbians. Any group of people deemed 'immoral' becomes subject to state-sanctioned persecution and even murder."
In Iran, executions and lashings are regular means of punishment for a broad range of crimes, not merely same-sex acts. Judges often accept coerced confessions, and security officials routinely deny defendants access to counsel. Late last year, the Iranian judiciary, which has been at the center of many reported human rights violations, formed the Special Protection Division, a new institution that empowers volunteers to police moral crimes in neighborhoods, mosques, offices and any place where people gather. The Special Protection Division is an intrusive mechanism of surveillance that promotes prosecution of citizens for behavior in their private domain.
Human Rights Watch called upon the Iranian government to decriminalize homosexuality and reminded Iran of its obligations under Toonen v. Australia (1994), the Human Rights Committee's authoritative interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party. Toonen v. Australia extends recognition of the right to privacy and the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation throughout human rights law.
Furthermore, Human Rights Watch urged Iran to reform its judiciary in accordance with principles for fair trials enshrined in both the Iranian constitution and international human rights law. Finally, Human Rights Watch called upon Iran to cease implementation of capital punishment in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty, irreversibility, and potential for discriminatory applications.

See also:National Council of Resistance on Iran

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hillary Clinton Endorses the Wall Against Palestine.

Hillary and Bill Clinton visited Israel this past weekend to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Hillary took time out of the events honoring Rabin, to confer with Ariel Sharon, about security issues. She also made her way, to the 2/3 finished, 400 mile wall, between the West Bank and Israel. The wall is hated by the Palestinians, for cutting them off from jobs, schools, and farmland. This barrier has been internationally denounced, including by the UN.

The "lesser evil" Hillary Clinton proclaimed, "This is not against the Palestinian people," Clinton said as she gazed over the massive wall. "This is against the terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help to prevent terrorism. They have to change the attitudes about terrorism."

The Clintons then were off to Jordan. I wonder why they didn't visit Palestine??

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Paradise Now

"Paradise Now" is the latest movie, from Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad. It was filmed in the West Bank town of Nablus, where the director grew up. The production crew was Palestinian, Israeli and Western. The film follows the story of the main characters, Said and Khaled, two junk yard auto mechanics, who agree to be suicide bombers, having explosives attached to their bodies. The plot focuses on the last 27 hours, before zero hour, when the bombing inside Israel, will occur.

The movie is an objective view of the circumstances. It is a movie, so there is excitement, and subplots. Don't be turned off by the subject. It is a movie, not a college term paper.

See: Blogger Umkahlil's Review RENEGADE EYE

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hitchens On Darfur.

Read Christopher Hitchens powerful essay in Slate Magazine 11/07/05 about the Darfur crisis. The Sudan situation is the quiet crisis. Another case of the United States and other world powers, ignoring, or being on the wrong side in Africa. SEE: HITCHENS ON THE DARFUR TRADGEDY

I also recommend this blog, as a resource on Sudan: SUDAN WATCH RENEGADE EYE

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Indonesian School Girl Beheadings. Search For Killers Expanding.

I'm writing on this subject as therapy. I was reading a blog about the beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia. I follow news about clerical fascists. The blog had a link with a warning about graphic pictures. I have worked as a medical professional earlier in my life and been around death, I don't get scared in horror movies, I consider myself thick skinned. I opened the link without thinking. The pictures from the murder scene haunt me. That's why I'm writing this.

In Central Indonesia between the year 2000 and 2001, over 1,000 people died, in fighting between Christians and Muslims. Skirmishes still occur even after a settlement was negotiated.

A few weeks ago, three teenage Christian girls were beheaded by masked assailants in the Poso area of Indonesia after Ramadan. The Indonesian government is sending 200 police, and 600 soldiers, to find the murderers. Pope Benedict sent condolences to the three girls families. The main suspects are Islamist clerical fascists.

Readers of this blog, are 99.999% against clerical fascism. This entry is not written to convince anybody of anything. I'm haunted by these images, and wanted to say something. WARNING: EXTREME GRAPHIC CONTENT. The Worst of Humanity

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"Katrina Cough" hacks New Orleans.

Several people returning, exposed to the residual dust and muck of Katrina, in Louisiana and Mississippi, have been presenting respiratory symptoms.

Health officials say the symptoms include sinus headaches, sore throat, cough etc. For healthy people the symptoms pose no serious threat, others are in danger.

The Enviromental Protection Agency announced it is safe to be there. They are the same ones who said the air was safe to breath, following the New York City September 11th incident. There has been accusations that the EPA, used faulty testing methods in New York, so Wall Street would open early.

See the story about Katrina Cough in the LA Times LA TIMES KATRINA STORY.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Robots To Replace Slaves As Camel Jockeys.

Camel jockeying is a popular sport in Qatar, and other parts of the United Arab Emerites. The jockeys have been four year old boys, kidnapped, and sold into slavery. They are kept malnourished to keep their weight for the races. Hungry boys are better for speed than well fed. Races occur in about 112-degree, with a speed of 25 mph.

Enter the The Ansar Burney Welfare Trust, which started a worldwide campaign, to stop the use of child slaves in camel races.

Enter another character,Alexandre Colot, project and services manager for K-Team, a swiss company, that builds robots. The children are now replaced by robots, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Not quite. See Wired. It didn't end happily for the children. They were sent to Sudan, and not heard from.

Bird Flu


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Judy Plame Meet Phillip Agee.

Judy Plame Not Joan of Arc.

Phillip Agee, a retired CIA agent, developed a conscience. It was after the reality of the CIA's half-century-plus run through our world has been quite another matter though: the formation and funding of secret armies and death squads from Laos and El Salvador to Afghanistan; the corruption of democratic political parties; the assassination, or attempted assassination, of leaders of other countries; the investment of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in torture research, and then the teaching of new methods of torture (as well as time-tested ones) to allied police and military forces globally; the running of torture centers and secret prisons abroad; and the overthrow of democratically-elected governments from Guatemala and Chile to Iran. Through all these years, CIA agents have acted with impunity. The intricate tale of CIA "covert" operations is quite a grim little history, drenched in blood and pain -- and a history that finally blew back on Americans.

In 1975 Phillip Agee wrote the book "Inside the Company:CIA Diary". It revealed what the CIA was doing, particularly in Latin America. The book named all the spooks Agee knew. Agee was in the company for 12 years. He started as an idealist, and later became angry about covert activities, against justice. Welch was not mentioned in the book. His former comrades were angry, and felt betrayed.

In 1982 the congress under former CIA George Bush41 and Ronald Reagan, passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. That law was written in response to the 1975 killing of Greek division head Richard Welch. It was the anti-Philip Agee law. He was blamed for outing Welch, even though he didn't.

Now the phony leftists are singing the praises of Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Some even want to strengthen it. The law was written against the left. Now all of a sudden, the CIA is your friend. Progressives have to stop the CIA and people like Valerie Plame; blowing the cover of her fellow agents when they are found engaging in kidnappings, torture, or attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments.

Don't rejoice about seeing Libby or Rove against the wall. Granted Rove in particular, will use any tactic; be careful of who you think your friends are.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Wal-Mart Exec. Sought to Cut Benefits, Discourage Disabled Labor

by Brendan Coyne From The New Standard

Oct 27 - Just one day after news outlets across the country reported that Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, was planning to implement a new health-insurance policy to dramatically lower employee costs and expand the pool of workers buying into the company health plan, a labor-union project group revealed an internal company memo suggesting the opposite.

The leaked memo says Wal-Mart could lower overhead by cutting employee benefits, taking on more part-time workers and discouraging elderly, disabled and unhealthy people from working for the company.

The memo outlines several steps that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company could undertake to cut employee-benefit costs.

In a statement, campaign director Paul Blank said the very existence of the memo "robs Wal-Mart workers of their human dignity and instead treats them like products in their stores."

Wal-Mart Watch, which reportedly first obtained the memo, said it "shattered the myth that America’s largest corporation has a unique culture that prizes its Associates and cares for them." The group has outlined a series of statements by company officials that appear in direct opposition to the contents of the memo.

Crafted by M. Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for benefits, the document represents the work of a fifteen-member team convened to assess ways the company could address rising benefit costs. The Chambers committee made its recommendations using three factors: cost trends, public relations and employee satisfaction, according to the document.

Among the suggestions offered are raising obstacles to family health coverage eligibility and lowering company contributions toward spousal coverage, cutting life-insurance payouts, hiring more part-time workers and increasing individual employee hours, restructuring retirement offerings, and offering a variety of benefits packages, some of which would end up costing Wal-Mart less than current plans.

The memo also suggests that some employees "would happily give up some paid time off in exchange for a more generous discount card."

In addition, Chambers wrote, the company should attempt to educate workers on healthy lifestyles and set up in-store health clinics to ensure the workforce is healthy, "design all jobs to include some physical activity," and offer discounts and benefits that "appeal to healthy associates."

The memo reads: "It will be far easier to attract and retain a healthier workforce than it will be to change behavior in an existing one. These moves would also dissuade unhealthy people from coming to work at Wal-Mart."

The Chambers group also focused on the costs associated with long-time employees, noting that though benefits and pay increase with the length of time an employee stays with the company, increases in productivity are not assured. Additionally, the benefits manager found, granting better pay to reliable employees may actually prevent them from leaving the company.

"Because we pay an associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases, we are pricing that Associate out of the labor market, increasing the likelihood that he or she will stay with Wal-Mart," Chambers wrote.

In a surprising admission about critiques of Wal-Mart’s healthcare offerings, Chambers admits in the memo: "Our critics are correct in some of their observations. Specifically, our coverage is expensive for low-income families, and Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance."

In an interview with the New York Times, Chambers denied the suggestions were aimed at cost-cutting measures, stating: "We are investing in our benefits that will take even better care of our associates. Our benefit plan is known today as being generous."

Earlier this week, the company announced plans to expand healthcare coverage by lowering monthly premiums, some to as low as $11. The plan includes a $1,000 deductible that goes into effect after several doctors’ visits, a first-year $25,000 cap and a range of out-of-pocket payments for hospital stays and prescriptions.

Wal-Mart’s critics quickly attacked the plan as a repackaged version of the existing one that serves fewer than half of the company’s employees. In a side-by-side comparison, maintains that the deductibles under the new proposal are actually higher than those under the company’s two current plans.

According to the Times, the plan also includes individual health-savings accounts, one of the many proposals put forth in the Chambers proposal.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The New Face of Racist Terror.


The picture above is not Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen at thirteen years old. The picture is of Lynx and Lamb Gaede. They're sweet. They're pretty. They're multitalented instrumentalists and singers. They are collectively known as Prussian Blue.

They are the daughters of Bakersfield CA activist and writer for National Vanguard April Gaede. She is also their manager, and home school teacher. They sing songs of white supremacy and pride.

When the girls were asked, what they believe is the number one problem facing the white race, and if they have songs to address it? They replied; "Not having enough white babies born to replace ourselves and generally not having good-quality white people being born. It seems like smart white girls who have good eugenics are more interested in making money in a career or partying than getting married and having a family. And yes, we are working on some new songs about this issue".

In times of turmoil, as now, with high unemployment, jobs outsourced, and war; maggots like this family show their face. Defeat them with mass antiracist action. Send them underground.

This is legal child abuse, teaching hate and ignorance, in the isolation of home schooling.

Renegade Eye

10/25/05 ADDENDUM.
My writing incorrectly implied a single parent situation. I only mentioned the mother, because she is more prominent in the white supremacist movement.

I take back child abuse talk. Its not child abuse, just parenting I have disagreements with. I don't have the answer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Presenting Uruguayan Artist Carlos Paez Vilaro.

Abstraction by Carlos Paez Vilaro 1970

Africa Period 2000 Repique.

The home of Carlos Paez Vilaro.

Carlos Paez Vilaro Renaissance Man from Uruguay.

Architecture by Carlos Paez Vilaro

I'm writing this entry to present the work of the great Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro. His work encompasses architecture, wall paintings, murals, sculptures, books, and music (Candombe Afro-Uruguayan music).

His architecture are tourist sites now. He bought land at the price of a carton of cigarettes, per square foot. He never uses drafts to build. His architecture would be what I would desire as a dream home.

His son was one of the rugby players involved with the cannabalism episode in the Andies.

His website is at: Carlos Paez Vilaro

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hitchens On Tribal Differences in Iraq and the Syria Question.

Hitchens talks about tribal differences, the media and Syria.

From Slate Magazine 10/17/05.

Tribal Ignorance
What you think you know about Iraq's factions is all wrong.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Oct. 17, 2005, at 9:03 AM PT

Ever wonder how to piss off an Iraqi? It's relatively simple. Just ask one, no sooner than you have been introduced: "So you're an Iraqi? How absolutely fascinating. Do tell: Are you a Kurd or a Sunni or a Shiite?" This will work every time, just as it's always so polite and so useful to ask a brown-skinned American if he or she is Chicano or, you know … Latina.

If you fall into conversation with an Iraqi, you will soon enough find out what you want to know. Kurds are not shy about mentioning their nationhood, and followers of the Shiite confession are not inclined to make a secret of the fact. So don't force the question. But you will have to know a lot of Iraqis before you meet one who cannot introduce you, usually with pride, to his or her Sunni cousin, or Kurdish auntie, or Shiite brother-in-law, as the case may be. And as for ethnicity and religion beyond our customary categories, you had better be prepared to meet Turkish and Assyrian Iraqis, as well as to bear in mind that in 1947 there were more Jews in Baghdad than in Jerusalem (many of the former of whom had been there longer), that many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are Christian from more than one denomination—Islamic fanatics murdered the head of their Anglican congregation just the other day—and that the spiritual leader of the Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, is an ethnic Persian.

When it comes to Iraq, one of the most boring and philistine habits of our media is the insistence on using partitionist and segregationist language that most journalists would (I hope) scorn to employ if they were discussing a society they actually knew. It is the same mistake that disfigured the coverage of the Bosnian war, where every consumer of news was made to understand that there was fighting between Serbs, Croats, and "Muslims." There are two apples and one orange in that basket, as any fool should be able to see. Serbian and Croatian are national differences, which track very closely with the distinction between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic beliefs. Many Muslims are Bosnian, but not all Bosnians are Muslim. And in fact, the Bosnian forces in the late war were those which most repudiated any confessional definition. (And when did you ever hear the media saying that, "Today the Orthodox shelled Sarajevo," or, "Yesterday the Catholics bombarded Mostar"?)

In Iraq there are also two apples and one orange in the media-coverage basket (as well as many important fruits that, as I mentioned above, are never specified). To be a Sunni or a Shiite is to follow one or another Muslim obedience, but to be a Kurd is to be a member of a large non-Arab ethnicity as well as to be, in the vast majority of cases, a Sunni. Thus, by any measure of accuracy, the "Sunni" turnout in the weekend's referendum on the constitution was impressively large, very well-organized, and quite strongly in favor of a "yes" vote. Is that the way you remember it being reported? I thought not. Well, then, learn to think for yourself.

This same tribal habit of mind—tribal on our part, I mean, not on the part of the Iraqis—allows some people to make the lazy assumption that the liberation of Iraq has created these differences, or intensified them, rather than sought to compose and heal them. The Saddam Hussein regime was based on a minority of a minority—a Mafia clique based in and around the city of Tikrit—and it stayed in power not by being "secular" or multiethnic but by being sectarian and by playing the card of divide and rule. It treated all the inhabitants of the country as its personal property, and it made lifelong enemies among all communities and all confessional groups. The differences between these groups are now specified in a constitution, perhaps a bit more than I would like, but are at least specified in order that no group is to be left out, or classified as second-class.

Since Iraq has no choice but to be a plural and various country, these diversities can be handled in only one of three ways: by a fascistic dictatorship of one faction over all others, by civil war leading to partition, or by federal democracy. The first option has now, I think, been demolished for all time. The second two options need not be mutually exclusive or incompatible, since one is still possible and the other is still hard, and since a great deal of damage was done to intercommunal relations (to phrase it mildly) during the decades of the fascistic expedient, and since there are neighboring countries that have an interest in supporting their own religious or ethnic clienteles within Iraq. But these are long-standing material realities, and not in any way the product of the intervention. It would make as much sense to say that the murderous terrorism of the religious sectarians is the product of the intervention.

Ah, but that is exactly what the moral cretins do say about Zarqawi and his death squads. There may be an argument about the authenticity of the newly released Zawahiri/Zarqawi correspondence, and I myself make no pronouncement. But as it happens, we know from many open sources that there is a debate among the jihadists as to the wisdom and even the propriety of killing civilians without discrimination, or of slaughtering the Shiites as if they were all heretics or apostates. One of Zarqawi's mentors has even weighed in, on a Muslim Web site, questioning the excessive zeal of his disciple. So even the most stone-cold killers and dogmatists have to wonder, and to worry, about the balance of forces in Iraq. I take this as a sign of encouragement. Perhaps, since they, too, are human, they will have to worry about the enormous casualties they are taking, as well as inflicting.

There will soon be a comparative experiment to run. The Syrian Baathist dictatorship of Bashar Assad, which is also based on a tiny confessional minority—the Alawites—is currently entering its moribund stage. Its despotism and corruption to one side, it has made the vast additional mistake of supporting death squads in Lebanon as well as in Iraq. When Syrian Baathism implodes, and when the many Arab and Kurdish Muslims it has oppressed take revenge, and when its killers prowl the streets of Beirut as well as Damascus and Aleppo in the hope of saving what they can, will we hear again that this chaos and misery would never have happened if it were not for American imperialism?

Actually, we are already hearing rehearsals of this stupidity. Discussing the possibility of cross-border tussles to deal with Syria's wretched, spiteful sabotage of the new Iraq, the New York Times kept tight hold of its only historical analogy and announced—in a news story, not a sidebar—that this was Cambodia all over again. And so it might just possibly be, if we were fighting the Vietcong in Iraq and if Assad were the cynical but neutralist Prince Sihanouk. As it is, our foes in Iraq are much more like the Khmer Rouge, and Assad's regime is more like the aggressive and corrupt minority rulers of South Vietnam, so the analogy is at the expense of those who repeat it parrot-fashion, and who mostly cannot tell Sunni from Shinola.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Iraq Constitution Vote.

From Iraq The Model

"I am so excited but a flashback from Saddam’s referendum three years ago still hurts; he wanted a 100% as the 99.96% of the previous one shocked the dictator. I was depressed that way and I decided not to go to the voting office and so did the rest of the family but my father was afraid that not going could be dangerous.
He said that maybe one member of the family could go alone and cast votes for the rest of us. We looked at each other thinking who’s going to volunteer to do this ugly job to protect the family. At that moment my father said “it was my generation that caused the misery we’re living in so I’m the one who should do this”.
I couldn’t stop him and I couldn’t utter a word but I felt sad for him; his sacrifice was big and I had teary eyes when I watched him taking our papers and heading out.

It is different this time father, no more 100% and a ‘no’ would make me happy just like a ’yes’ would do and no one ever will force us to do something against our will anymore.
Tomorrow will be another day for Iraqi bravery. May God protect you my people…you have suffered so much and you will still be suffering for some time but I am sure the future will be bright.
God bless you my people and all the freedom lovers who keep sacrificing to make this world a better place".



Vanity Fair Magazine Presents Beyonce's New Look.

Beyonce' Knowles in the November 2005 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, is the first Afro-American, to appear on the cover since the late 90s. Afro-American performers complain that they are rarely are on the covers of mainstream magazines.

Word within the magazine industry is that the cover of VF was digitally altered to make Beyonce's skin lighter, to a Jennifer Lopez bronze. Another claim is that the inside pictures make Beyonce' look so light next to her boy friend Jay-Z, he looks like he is from Sudan. All this is possibly related to VF's sales drop, if the cover is serious. Serious translates to dark at Conde' Naste.

VF's response is angry. Asked about the charge, the magazine’s spokeswoman, Beth Kseniak, insisted that the singer’s portraits were “absolutely not” manipulated and said that any change in her skin tone was a result of lighting and makeup. Furthermore, she claimed that inside shots of the couple were pick-up photos acquired at the last minute that ran unaltered.

UPDATE: Reached for comment this morning, Yvette Noel-Schure, Beyoncé’s personal publicist who set up the photo shoot, said that while she had no knowledge of procedures at Vanity Fair and could not speak for the magazine, she didn’t think VF had lightened her client’s skin tone. “There are very fair-skinned black people in this world, and Beyoncé is one of them,” she said.

I have a sub to VF. I can assure you, I will be studying the pictures of Beyonce'.

Monday, October 10, 2005

School Girl Deaths in Garhi Habibullah.

Quake deaths feared to reach 40,000

Atleast 25,000 people are dead, after the earthquake Saturday, that shattered Pakistan and parts of India and Kashmir. The United Nations through UNICEF, expects the toll to be 40,000 dead. Atleast a million people are homeless.

Building contracts in Pakistan are acquired, it is not necessarily for construction. Shoddy work is the order of the day. They skimp on concrete and bars, while paying off politicians. Villagers in Garhi Habibullah, where 200 girls and women were killed, when the girls school once 29 feet tall, collapsed to become 5 feet tall during the quake. It was the death of the village's whole generation of girls and women. At the same time, the private schools of the elite stand intact nearby.

The radios blared about the mobilization of the government to relieve suffering. Nobody came to that village.

Maqsood Rehman, a social worker who heads the charity committee at the main village mosque, sat dirty and bloody-knuckled from the 11 graves he had dug by mid-afternoon.

"This is a natural disaster," he said, "but also one made by our government."

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gretchen Wilson and Populism.

Gretchen Wilson's Politically Uncorrect Song.

Gretchen Wilson is the top new star of country music. She was born of a mother yoo young, into poverty. She lived alone as a teen. Before music she worked in a back road bar.

Her latest album "All Jacked Up", contains a duet with Merle Haggard AKA "The Okie from Muskogee", in a song called "Politically Incorrect." Here are the lyrics:

Im for the low man on the totem pole
And I'm for the underdog God bless his soul
And I'm for the guys still pulling third shift
And the single mom raisin' her kids
I'm for the preachers who stay on their knees
And I'm for the sinner who finally believes
And I'm for the farmer with dirt on his hands
And the soldiers who fight for this land


And I'm for the Bible and I'm for the flag
And I'm for the working man, me and ol' Hag
I'm just one of many
Who can't get no respect
Politically uncorrect

I guess my opinion is all out of style
Aw, but don't get me started cause I can get riled
And I'll make a fight for the forefathers plan
And the world already knows where I stand

Nothing wrong with the Bible, nothing wrong with the flag
Nothing wrong with the working man me & ol' Hag
We're just some of many who can't get no respect
Politically uncorrect
Politically uncorrect

Why is that song reactionary? I'm not an addvocate of socialist realism. I believe in agit-prop art, as part of art for its own sake. I'm ok with Gretchen not expressing support in her music, with Hugo Chavez and antiimperialism. My gripe is with populism. It is associated with Paul Wellstone, Jesse Ventura, Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanon, David Dukes of KKK, Ross Perot, and a host of others. It's antielitist and anticorporate. It is not left, right or center particularly. It can be used by dictators as Juan Peron in Argentina. It appeals to a vague concept of "the people". Populists are soft historically on racism. It appeals to class, but fears class struggle. When I think of a populist, I think two things; racism and political unpredictability.

Dear Gretchen, you should know I believe in Darwin and Marx.

Thank you to the blog
  • "Harry's Place
  • for starting this conversation.

    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    How the Free Market Killed New Orleans By Michael Parenti

    The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Forewarned that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.

    They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries.

    It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. Thus does the invisible hand work its wonders in mysterious ways.

    In New Orleans there would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island in 2004, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.5 million people, more than 10 percent of the country’s population. The Cubans lost 20,000 homes to that hurricane---but not a single life was lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the U.S. press.

    On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans had perished in New Orleans. Many people had “refused” to evacuate, media reporters explained, because they were just plain “stubborn.”

    It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not work so well for them.

    Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had jobs before Katrina’s lethal visit. That’s what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they’re lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.

    The free market played a role in other ways. Bush’s agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of pumping out water had to be shelved.

    Army Corps of Engineer personnel had started work to build new levees several years ago but many of them were taken off such projects and sent to Iraq. In addition, the president cut $30 million in flood control appropriations.

    Bush took to the airways (“Good Morning America” 1 September 2005) and said “I don’t think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.” Just another untruth tumbling from his lips. The catastrophic flooding of New Orleans had been foreseen by storm experts, engineers, Louisiana journalists and state officials, and even some federal agencies. All sorts of people had been predicting disaster for years, pointing to the danger of rising water levels and the need to strengthen the levees and pumps, and fortify the entire coastland.

    In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands. Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise outcomes that would benefit us all.

    But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the Gulf‘ coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the White House.

    As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that “private charity can do the job.” And for the first few days that indeed seemed to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.

    The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into action. Its message: “Don’t send food or blankets; send money.” The Salvation Army also began to muster up its aging troops. Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network---taking a moment off from God’s work of pushing John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court---called for donations and announced “Operation Blessing” which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment of canned goods and bibles.

    By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than with rescuing people, more concerned with “crowd control,” which consisted of corralling thousands into barren open lots devoid of decent shelter, and not allowing them to leave.

    Questions arose that the free market seem incapable of answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it take helicopters five hours to lift six people out of one hospital? When would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water?

    And where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the $33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? By Day Four, almost all the major media were reporting that the federal government’s response was “a national disgrace.” Meanwhile George Bush finally made his photo-op appearance in a few well-chosen disaster areas---before romping off to play golf.

    In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany, Venezuela, and several other nations. Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for the victims. Cuba--which has a record of sending doctors to dozens of countries, including a thankful Sri Lanka during the tsunami disaster---offered 1,100 doctors. Predictably, all these proposals were sharply declined by the U.S. State Department.

    America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose? Were the Cubans up to their old subversive tricks?

    Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the truth---that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most extreme straits.

    I recently heard someone complain, “Bush is trying to save the world when he can’t even take care of his own people here at home.” Not quite true. He certainly does take very good care of his own people, that tiny fraction of one percent, the superrich. It’s just that the working people of New Orleans do not number among them.
    ------- Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in paperback. His forthcoming The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press) will be published in the fall. For more information visit:

    Saturday, October 01, 2005


    Just days before the three year anniversary of the first Bali bombing in 2002, a coordianted set of three bombs killed atleast 25 people, and wounded over 100 people. It's unknown if suicide bombers were involved. Among the wounded were 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, 6 Koreans, 3 Japanese and 2 Americans, according to officials at Sanglah Hospital near Denpasar, the capital of Bali.

    Among the places hit were a crowded restaurant outside the Four Seasons hotel at Jimbaran beach, and a shopping square in Kuta, not far from the terrorist bombing that killed 202 people in October 2002. The bombings occured within three miles of each other during suppertime Saturday.

    This occured as the tourism business, was starting to pickup, after the last bombing and SARS scare.

    The authorities would not speculate about who was behind the attacks, but immediate suspicion fell on Jemaah Islamiyah, a radical Islamic terrorist group in Indonesia that has been behind other major attacks, including the 2002 bombings. Indonesia has the largest Islamic population in the world. It is a country where the majority of people are secular minded.

    This attack needs condemnation, not rationalization. Islam is in a civil war of clerical fascists against secular forces.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Paul Krassner's Disneyland.

    Paul Krassner drew this picture in the days when he was in the social group with Lenny Bruce. He continued Lenny's socially significant wit, in his zine called The Realist. You can read Krassner in The Huffington Post.M-O-U-S-E!!

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Venezuelan Leader Wins Cheers With Rant Against U.S.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stirred up the United Nations this week, at the World Leaders Conference. He denounced the US government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina, the American governments refusal to prosecute Rev. Pat Robertson, for his call for the assasination of the Venezuelan president, and exclusion from the decision process related to documents about terrorism and poverty. He got loud applause for his remarks.

    Chavez is a democratically elected leader moving in a socialist direction. He survived a US initiated recall campaign last year, and is stronger than ever. Chavez has interesting, creative ideas about socialism.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    The Spanish Prisoner (419 Version).

    I've been getting e-mails from a lad from Nigeria about; money transfers, his father who died in Sierre Leone and left a big treasure, and needing a foreign bank account to transfer the money to. It feels good to do a good deed (kidding).

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    London Terror and The Left.

    The London bombings are easy to take personally. Every tourist who comes, has to ride in the famous subway. The subway stations are also where Londoners used as shelters during Nazi bombings.

    Most Londoners are against the war in Iraq. London has been the scene of great anti-war demonstrations, from the time, the first soldier left. London is multi-racial, and diverse in religions.

    The bombings took place while the G-8 was meeting. I agree with what Bill Onasch wrote in
  • KCLabor
  • "Such crimes are not only morally repugnant; they also are a political disservice to those fighting the injustices emanating from Ten Downing and the White House. 9/11 has been used to justify war and attacks on human rights. This is fresh ammunition for our class enemy."

    The teorror is not about Iraq, or injustice. As Christopher Hitchens said in The Mirror (UK) on July 08th 2005, " The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way."

    I checked out the blogs of various friends on the left. No mention of London. Hatred of Bush is blinding you about your other fight.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Schiavo Autopsy: Science Trumps Clerical Yahoos.

    Today's release of the autopsy report, is news only to the most backward of society. If your education is up to atleast eighteenth century standards, the conclusions, are of no surprise.

    No signs of abuse.
    She was in a persistent vegetative state.
    She didn't die of starvation.
    Unable to be re-educated.
    No history of eating disorder.
    Cause of initial collapse undetermined.
    No morphine traces at time of death.
    Brain size half of normal brain.
    Unable to swallow, unless intubated.

    The autopsy included review of 274 images, and reviews of medical, social work and police records.

    This is a refutation of The Bushes, Dr. Frist and Dr. Hannity on the right, and fake leftists Jesse Jackson and Ralph Nader. It is a victory for those who relish science and logic.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Terrorism in the Grip of Justice

    On the Iraqi state-run television station Al Iraqiya, is a new "reality show", more interesting than Fear Factor or American Idol, called Terrorism in the Grip of Justice. It shows captured so called insurgents confessing to their crimes. Many videotape their acts as beheadings, so we get to see the home videos. They talk of practice by beheading animals. The thugs are also confronted by the victim's family members. It demystifies the so-called insurgency, and exposes them as small, snivelling, crooked, or amoral.

    It is only possible because of the Provisional Govt. These are non-uniformed, often locals based often in Mosul, and not subject to Geneva Accords.

    Demystifying the insurgents is a necessary evil. The show's brutality, doesn't equal, the crimes of the clerical fascists and their thug friends.

    The Neilsen ratings are not out yet.

    Sunday, June 05, 2005

    Aliens of the Deep VS. Aliens of the Right.

    This Blog Allows Evolution To Be Taught.

    On March 19th, the New York Times science editor, Cornelia Dean, reported several Imax theaters in the south refused to show Titanic director James Cameron's Volcanoes of the Deep, due to it being pro "Big Bang" theory. Imax theaters are science theaters. The theaters refused to play that movie, fearing protests from creationists. This happened in about a dozen theaters. The movie is about life under sea, in a volcanic area, filmed from a submarine.

    This is a sympton of the overall culture war, between the realty based community, and the faith based. This war is going on, not only in USA, but around the world, as examplified by the civil war in Islam, where visions of the Ottoman Empire, are fought against daily.

    One way to fight the Yahoos, is to get colleges, to deny accreditation to schools, that don't teach evolution. The students should be required to take remedial science, or not get into college.

    Later I will talk about pharmacists, who refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception.

    Thank you C.J.

    Saturday, May 28, 2005

    Zarqawi Dead??

    Rumors are floating in Iraq, that Fadhel Nazal Al-Khalayla (Zarqawi), the Jordanian butcher, has died from a septic infection related to wounds, causing kidney and liver failure. He was 38 yrs. old.

    Not one word of this is on Google. I hope Sam from Iraq has the scoop.

    I'm not certain in what tense to talk of Zarqawi. He was a hands on butcher, as we saw on the beheading videos. Not an insurgent leader, just a criminal, wrapped in Islamist cloaks.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Paris Hilton Earns $150,000 to $200,000 for 20 Minute Appearances at Openings.

    Paris Hilton, a cast member in the new horror film "House of Wax," looks out the door of her limousine as she arrives for the premiere of the film in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 26, 2005. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) HOUSE OF WAX PREMIERE

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    Popefest Ends.

    Popestock is over.

    The tremendously large crowds at the Vatican are gone. The world awaits smoke signals from the cabal, assigning a new pope.

    I don't expect the successor to the pope, will represent a substantial change:
    • He will not support abortion rights.
    • He will not support gay rights.
    • He will support nonatheistic tyrants.
    • He will oppose condom distribution.

    Don't expect an apology from the Catholic church, to women, gays etc.

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    Clint Eastwood: Make My Day.

    Clint Eastwood: Best Artist of the Half Decade.

    During the 2000 millennium, various publications published lists as, "Best Musician of the Century." I have to crown Clint Eastwood, the best artist of this half decade. His career started in movies, as early as 1955, playing in a Francis the Talking Mule movie. From 1959 to 1966, he was Rowdy Yates, on the television western Rawhide. He went on to spaghetti westerns and Dirty Harry. We watched him evolve as an artist and a person. He is not a gunslinger anymore.

    The Man with No Name, is a renaissance man. He is an actor, writer, producer, composer, photographer, consultant, restaurateur, etc. An overall unmatched record, wearing so many hats.

    Politically he is a libertarian Republican. That is a rare breed in the GOP these days. A position close to anarchist brethren. He believes, live and let live. I never thought he would be the target of rightist Yahoos. He was sharply criticized for the right to die scene in Million Dollar Baby. It was a preview for what was coming later, in the Schiavo situation.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Mel Gibson: Scary guy. I'm passionate about that. Posted by Hello

    Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Terri Schiavo RIP

    Thirteen days after the feeding tube is removed, Terri Schiavo dies in a Pinellas Park, Fla., hospice. Terri had been connected to a feeding tube for 15 years, status post brain damage related to a fall. Terri was bulimic at the time of the fall. I hope the families can peacefully go on with their lives, and the oppurtunist politicians go on to other ways of ruining our lives.

    I wanted to like the Schindler family. They are as addicted to media attention as Randall Terry and Jesse Jackson. Shamelessly aligned themselves with rightist thugs, they did all they could possibly do to terrorize Michael Schiavo.

    What is the culture of life? The people who talk about "the culture of life," always dwell on fetuses or people in vegetative states. Don't ever argue with them about when life starts. The real issue is simply to take reproductive and end of life decisions, from women.

    Michael Schiavo: I worry for his life. He has a fine attorney, who I hope sues every yahoo who threatened Michael's life.

    Child protesters: What would the media say if the demonstrators were red diaper babies, fighting for universal healthcare and workers rights??

    The Report from neurologist Dr. Cranford.

    Dr. Cranford's Complete Terri Schiavo Report
    It is Lengthy, but full of details on the long case, and in my estimation further explaining that the case has been fairly handled....and should be ended.....Read on: (If you don't have the time, just slide down to the section titled "Concluding Comments" where you'll find a summary."Facts, Lies, and Videotapes: The Permanent Vegetative State and The Sad Case of Terri Schiavo Introduction Right to die legal cases in the United States have evolved over the last 25 years, beginning with Quinlan in 1975. Different substantive and procedural issues have been raised in these cases, and society’s thinking has changed, with far more complex legal issues appearing today rather than the simplistic views raised in the landmark early cases. Many of the early cases involved patients in a vegetative state, but more recently patients who were in a minimally conscious state have been the center of attention. Early cases involved the withdrawal of respirators and other sophisticated technology, but later cases centered on the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration, and even whether it was permissible for competent patients to stop eating and drinking in a normal manner. Early cases pitted families who argued for withdrawal of treatment usually against the attending physicians and hospitals, and/or the state or federal government, who argued for continuation of treatment. In a few more recent cases, strong disagreement among members of the immediate family has arisen, with spouses advocating non-treatment and other family members, usually parents, opposed to stopping treatment. (1-4) The Terri Schiavo case in Florida is similar in many major respects to other major landmark legal cases as it involves the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration from a patient in a permanent vegetative state. (5-7) Also, similar to more recent cases (Martin in Michigan and Wendland in California) the spouse requests cessation of treatment, while other family members of the patient are strongly opposed, resulting in extensive litigation over protracted period of time. (8-9) However, Schiavo has a few characteristics distinguishing it from all other previous cases: 1: the extreme animosity between the husband, Michael Schiavo, and the patient’s family, the Schindlers, with prolonged legal battles (and a war waged in the media and over the internet) resulting in a never ending series of motions, decisions, appeals, and trials over a eight year period; 2: the extensive and heated debate over the neurological condition of the patient, including flagrantly unbelievable testimony by two physicians at the evidentiary hearing (as well as numerous sets of affidavits submitted to the Florida courts) on the neurological condition and the proposed use of controversial medical treatments of no proven value; and 3: use of videotaping by the neurological experts at the evidentiary hearing to demonstrate and explain the patient’s neurological condition to the court; 4: the extensive use of videotapes by the Schindler family to falsely demonstrate to the media and the public the patient’s “cognitive” functions; and 5: recent actions by the governor of Florida and the legislature unprecedented in American law. For this article and background memo, I will primarily focus on the medical and neurological facts of the case.In almost every vegetative case before the courts, there almost always has been medical testimony attempting to refute the diagnosis of the vegetative state, with doctors and others arguing that the patients had some features outside of the vegetative state (e.g., Nancy Cruzan “eating bananas,” and Joelle Rosebush covering her private parts with a gown when she was not only in a permanent vegetative state but also quadriplegic). This kind of conflicting testimony first appeared in a major right to die dispute in the case of Paul Brophy, a Massachusetts fireman in a permanent vegetative state (1985), long before the minimally conscious state was established in the medical literature. (10) These medical opinions have ranged from the plausibly persuasive to the absurd, but ultimately none of them has been successful in confusing the courts. Usually trial court judges have easily recognized the deficiencies of these highly questionable medical opinions and have had little difficulty in determining the correct neurological diagnosis.One of the notable examples of a trial court judge favoring one set of experts in neurology over another experts occurred in the Nancy Jobes case in the state of New Jersey, the second major vegetative state case in the nation (after Brophy in Massachusetts) dealing specifically with the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration (the Karen Quinlan case centered on the withdrawal of the respirator, not the feeding tube). Four nationally prominent neurologists testified, two saying Ms. Jobes was in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery, while the other two testified she was not in a vegetative state. Without involving himself in the exact neurological nuances and disagreements of her clinical condition among these creditable experts, the trial court judge simply discounted the medical opinions of the latter neurologists by expressing the following opinion: “It must be noted that all of the witnesses who claimed to elicit command responses from Ms. Jobes-certain nursing home staff members as well as Dr. Ropper and Dr. Victor- believe that it is a violation of professional ethics and personal morality to withhold or withdraw nutrition and hydration from any patient, whatever that patient’s state of health and regardless of that patient’s previously expressed wishes. … I conclude that she has no cognitive function and remains permanently fixed in a vegetative state. … These witnesses who stated that Ms. Jobes was able to respond to requests or commands were not giving false testimony under oath. Their sincere opposition to the withholding of nutrition in any patient … have (sic) caused them to see signs of intelligence where no such intelligence exists. (Emphasis added; unless specifically noted otherwise, all emphases in this document will be assumed to be emphasis added by the author and not in the original) (11) In the Matter of Nancy Ellen Jobes,Superior Court of New Jersey Chancery Division-Morris County Docket No. C-4971-85E, Judge A. Stein, April 23, 1986, pp. 8-9.No trial court judge before and since has ever been this forthright in his or her judicial opinion on the correlation between the credibility of the experts’ medical opinions and their own personal morality, and almost every trial court judge has bent over backwards to be as fair as possible to a variety of neurological opinions on the condition of the patient.Chronology of events Terri Schiavo, 25, was found unconscious and gasping for air at home by husband on the early morning of February 25, 1990. She had suffered a full cardiac arrest. Defibrillation was performed seven times during initial resuscitative efforts with eventual restoration of a normal cardiac rhythm. The initial serum potassium level was 2.0, undoubtedly the cause of her cardiac arrest. Terri had a history of erratic eating habits, including probable bulimia, with a major weight loss several years before this event. In high school it has been reported that Terri went from over 200 pounds down to 110. In November 1992 Michael Schiavo won a malpractice suit against Terri’s physicians for failing to diagnose her health problems leading up to the cardiac arrest resulting directly from her eating disorder. (12-13) Terri was in a coma for approximately one month, and then evolved into a vegetative state. Four board-certified neurologists in Florida consulting on her care (James H. Barnhill, Garcia J. Desousa, Thomas H. Harrison, and Jeffrey M. Karp) had repeatedly made a diagnosis of PVS over the years. The initial CT scan on the day of admission, February 25, 1990, was normal but further CT scans documented a progression of widespread cerebral hemisphere atrophy, eventually resulting in CT scans of 1996 and 2002 showing extreme atrophy (CT scans-1996, 2002: “diffuse encephalomalacia and infarction consistent with anoxia, hydrocephalus ex vacuo, neural stimulator present); prior to these most recent two CT scans, CT scans had been performed on February 25, 1990, February 27, 1990, and March 30, 1990, with an MRI scan on July 24, 1990.The two most recent EEG’s have demonstrated no electrical activity-on July 8, 2002: “no evidence of cerebral activity;” and October 4, 2002-“does not have any definite brain activity. However, most of the tracing is obscured by artifact from muscle and eye movement.” The clinical exams over the years were entirely consistent with diagnosis of permanent vegetative state secondary to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. From the initial hospitalization in February, 1990, until the present time, there have been no significant changes in Terri’s neurological findings, and nothing in the medical records to suggest any disagreement whatsoever among Terri’s attending and consulting physicians about the underlying diagnosis and prognosis for recovery. A deep brain stimulator was placed in Terri’s brain on December 12, 1990 at request of the husband who flew with his wife to San Francisco for the procedure. This highly experimental form of medical treatment did not result in any clinical improvement in Terri’s condition. (14)History of disagreement between Michael Schiavo and Schindler family With respect of the history and evolution of the major disagreements between Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, and the Schindlers, her parents as well as her siblings, it may be worthwhile to quote from a presumptively disinterested source, Judge George Greer. In an order he filed on February 11, 2000 (In re: The Guardianship of Theresa Marie Schiavo, In the Circuit Court for Pinellas County, Florida, Probate Division File No. 90-2908GD-003), Judge Greer states: “During the period of time following the incident of February 25, 1990, the parties worked together in an attempt to provide the best care available for Terri Schiavo. On February 14, 1993, this amicable relationship between the parties was severed. … The parties have not spoken since that date.” (p. 2). The judge further noted that, “By all accounts, Mr. Schiavo has been was [sic] very motivated in pursuing the best medical care for his wife…It is undisputed that he was very aggressive with nursing home personnel to make certain she received the finest of care.” (15)On Valentine’s day, 1993, three years after Terri had been in a permanent vegetative state, both the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo agree that Michael and his father-in-law had an ugly fight over what kind of treatment the money received from the malpractice suit would go toward, with the Schindlers advocating rigorous therapy and Michael wanting only basic care in view of her hopeless prognosis for neurological recovery, the medical opinion that Michael had received from Terri’s doctors in the first few years of her hospitalization. (16) (“With His Wife in Limbo, Husband Can’t Move On,” New York Times, p. 14, November 2, 2003, by Abby Goodnough)Judge Greer further noted that, in 1994, when Mr. Schiavo attempted to refuse medical treatment for an infection being experienced by his wife, the Schindlers filed an action to have him removed as guardian based upon numerous allegations, including abuse. Apparently this was the first legal action filed in this case by either side, so the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo have been involved in a legal battle over the appropriate treatment for Terri for over 10 years, far longer than any other right to die case in American law. Even the Nancy Cruzan case, from the initial legal proceedings in October 1987, to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 25, 1990, and her subsequent death on December 26, 1990, lasted only slightly longer than 3 years (17-18) (see Long Goodbye, The Deaths of Nancy Cruzan, by William H. Colby, Hay House Inc., Carlsbad, California, 2002). When Michael Schiavo went to court in 1998 for permission to have his wife’s feeding tube removed, the Schindlers immediately challenged him. In Judge Greer’s order of February, 2000, he ruled that Terri Schiavo’s previous oral declarations, including “I don’t want to be kept alive on a machine,” were “reliable,” “credible,” and rose to “the level of clear and convincing evidence,” consistent with the substituted judgment standard adopted by the Florida supreme court in two separate decisions, John F Kennedy Memorial Hospital v Bludworth in 1984 and Browning in 1990. (19)Additionally, Judge Greer found that, “beyond all doubt,” based on “overwhelming credible evidence” from the testimony of Dr. Vincent Gambone, Terri’s treating physician, and Dr. James Barnhill, a consulting neurologist, Terri was in a persistent vegetative state as defined by Florida statues Section 765.101. (20)Evidentiary trial, October 2002 After Judge Greer made this ruling stating unequivocally that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state and found clear and convincing evidence of Terri’s wishes in this situation, the Schindlers appealed to the Florida court of appeals. As part of their appeal, the Schindler family submitted a 113-second videotape, accompanied by multiple affidavits from various health care professionals saying patient was not in a vegetative state. Because of these videotapes, and notwithstanding the previous definitive ruling by the trial court judge on Terri’s neurological condition and chances for recovery, the court of appeals ordered the trial court to conduct an extremely thorough evidentiary hearing, the most complex evidentiary process in over three decades of landmark right to die court cases. Many of these affidavits contain the completely erroneous assertion that Terri’s ability to handle her own secretions was incompatible with the vegetative state. None of these medical professionals (including internists, rehabilitationists, speech pathologists, and others) who submitted these multiple sets of affidavits over the years at the behest of the Schindlers, had ever personally examined the patient, reviewed the medical records in any detail, considered the medical opinions of the consulting neurologists, nor looked at the CT scans or EEG’s. They instead relied on the brief videotapes showing Terri apparently interacting with her parents and noting that Terri could handle her own secretions. A few of these medical professionals did go to the bedside with the Schindler family to make observations about Terri’s apparent interactions with her family but none performed a complete neurological examination. All the videotapes released by the Schindlers to the media that I have seen are not only entirely consistent with the vegetative state but also, to the trained eye of any doctor experienced in the diagnosis of the vegetative state and related conditions, are completely compatible with the fact that Terri is in a vegetative state. For example, if one looks at Terri’s eyes closely during these videotapes, it is reasonably evident that she does not sustained visual pursuit, nor visual fixation, even when the mother is directly in front of the patient and Terri apparently “smiling” at her mother. Sustained visual pursuit (visual tracking) is almost always the cardinal feature distinguishing patients in a vegetative state from those with any degree of cognitive functioning. And the first sign of evolving from the vegetative state to a higher level of cognitive functioning, e.g. the minimally conscious state, is almost invariably the presence of sustained visual pursuit on a consistent, sustained, and reproducible basis, a physical finding that Terri Schiavo has never demonstrated.In this evidentiary hearing that took place over six days in October, 2002, six physicians testified about the neurological condition of Terri Schiavo: Victor Gambone, the primary attending physician caring for Terri Schiavo for many years; William Maxfield, a radiologist, and William M. Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist, representing the Schindler family; Melvin Greer and Ronald Cranford, neurologists, representing Michael Schiavo, and the expert appointed by the court, Peter Bambakidis, from Cleveland, Ohio.It is important to fully understand and appreciate two separate and distinguishable medical facts- 1) the current diagnosis (vegetative state, minimally conscious, locked-in, brain dead), and 2) the potential for neurological recovery and potential response to treatment or rehabilitation. In previous cases medical professionals have disagreed as to whether the patient was vegetative, or minimally conscious, or locked in, depending on their interpretations of the clinical findings on examination. However, in none of these other landmark cases, until Schiavo, has any medical expert seriously argued that these patients had any meaningful chance for recovery or had a reasonable chance of responding to various treatments. At this evidentiary hearing, the trial court heard testimony from the radiologist and neurologist testifying at the behest of the parents that, not only was Terri Schiavo not in a vegetative state, but also that she had a good chance of further recovery with treatments (hyperbaric oxygen and vasodilator therapy) recommended by these physicians. The following is a sample of the completely fallacious opinions rendered about Terri’s medical condition by Drs. Maxfield and Hammesfahr. Twelve years after an hypoxic-ischemic insult, and serial CT scans showing extremely severe atrophy of the cerebral hemispheres, both doctors said there was a “chance for recovery,” with the potential for response to treatment. Dr. Maxfield testified that “abnormal brain dissolves, so what’s left [as seen in the CT scans] is “normal, functioning brain.” He further stated that the most recent CT scan shows “improvement.” They gave no published data to support their opinions on their proposed treatments of HBO and vasodilator therapy but instead presented an infomercial style approach of anecdotal cases of dramatic responses to their therapies. There are no credible articles in the peer-reviewed medical literature on HBO or vasodilator therapies as effective treatment for patients with chronic brain damage. The articles on the internet on vasodilator therapy, including those by Dr. Hammesfahr, are extremely poorly written, and only a cursory examination of these articles would tell any medical professional that they could not have possibly been peer-reviewed. (21) At this evidentiary hearing, the doctors were not allowed to comment on the testimony of the other five physicians, However, at one point, the attorney representing the parents of Terri Schiavo, Patricia Anderson, asked for my opinion after hearing some of Dr. Hammesfahr’s views. My reply was, “It makes me ashamed of the medical profession.” After Ms. Anderson strenuously objected to my answer as “non-responsive,” the judge replied, “Well, it seems, Ms. Anderson, you asked Dr. Cranford a question, and he answered it.” (22)Judge George Greer’s decision from evidentiary hearing in October 2002 After these six days of testimony at this evidentiary hearing, allowing one day for each of the five experts and Terri’s attending physician, Judge Greer rendered his findings of fact on the neurological condition of Terri Schiavo, the possible beneficial effects of specific medical treatments for the patient, and the potential for rehabilitation Of the 8 neurologists either consulting directly on the care of Terri Schiavo (4), or testifying at this hearing in October 2002 (4), only one, Dr. William Hammesfahr, is not a member of the American Academy of Neurology according to 2003-2004 membership directory.Here are some representative quotes from the trial court judge (George W. Greer, Circuit Court, Pinellas County, Florida, File No. 90-2908-GD-003) “The court also received into evidence numerous exhibits including copies of published medical articles, copies of summaries of published medical articles, CT scans and videos of medical examinations” (p. 2)… “The court also had the opportunity to observe the witnesses when they testified, to note body language, pauses, inflections and other non-verbal factors utilized in determining credibility which would not appear in a transcript of these proceedings.” (p. 2) (all emphases added) (23)“These two sets of opinion had little in common.” (p. 4) “Those who felt that she was in a persistent vegetative state felt that her actions were neither consistent nor reproducible but rather random reflexes in response to stimuli.” (a central point and quoting directly from Multi-society PVS Task Force report, a very encouraging indication, and a rejection of the blown-up picture of Terri smiling, but not looking, at her mother-characterized by myself in court as “cheap sensationalism) (p. 4)With respect to the judge’s opinion of the credibility of the medical experts designated by the Schindler family, he said: “Dr. Hammesfahr testified … he gave 105 commands … Mrs. Schindler gave an additional 6 commands … he asked her 61 questions and Mrs. Schindler, at his direction, asked her an additional 11 questions. [total 183]. The court saw few actions that could be considered responsive to either these commands or those questions. While Dr. Hammesfahr testified that she squeezed his finger on command, the video would not appear to support that and his reaction on the video likewise would not appear to support that testimony.” (p. 5) (24) “…It is clear that this therapy (vasodilatation therapy) is not recognized in the medical community. …What undermines his [Hammesfahr] credibility is that he does not present to this court any evidence… he offered no names, no case studies, no videos, and no tests (sic) results to support his claim that he had success in all but one of them. If his therapy is as effective as he would lead this court to believe, it is inconceivable that he would not produce clinical results of these patients that he has treated. And surely the medical literature would be replete with this new, now patented, procedure. Yet, he has only published one article and that was in 1995 involving some 63 patients, 60% of whom were suffering from whiplash (p. 7). (For a review of Dr. Hammesfahr’s use of transcranial Doppler testing and vasodilator therapy, see the comments by Dr. Steven Novella on, most recent revision February 14, 2000). (25-26)“It is clear from the evidence that these therapies [hyperbaric oxygen and vasodilatation] are experimental insofar as the medical community is concerned with regard to patients like Terry (sic) Schiavo which is borne out by the total absence of supporting case studies or medical literature. … The other doctors, by contrast, all testified there was no treatment available to improve her quality of life. They were also able to credibly testify that neither hyperbaric therapy nor vasodilatation therapy was an effective treatment for this sort of injury.” (p. 8) (27)…The court finds that the credible evidence overwhelmingly supports the view that Terry (sic) Schiavo remains in a vegetative state.” (p. 6). (28)In my own personal experience in fifteen landmark right to die courtroom cases in the United States over a span of three decades, there has never been such unbelievably false and misleading medical testimony as in Schiavo, including the retired radiologist, Dr. Maxfield, whose specialty is the use of hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and the Florida neurologist, Dr. Hammesfahr, whose specialty is the use of vasodilator therapy in a wide variety of neurological diseases. Fortunately, the videotapes of these examinations shown at trial completely undermined these two experts’ opinions.The Schindler family, Pat Anderson, the Schindler lawyer, various vitalist groups, and the two physicians testifying at trial on behalf of the Schindlers, as well as numerous health care professionals signing affidavits who never examined Terri but instead relied on the short videotapes, have consistently maintained the following facts-Terri Schiavo is aware, responsive, follows commands, smiles in response to the family, and has emotions; the videotapes are important because they show that “Terri is a person,” and that she can respond, follow commands, smile in response to her mother, and visually track objects placed in front of her; she will improve with appropriate treatment and rehabilitation; she has the ability to swallow; the reason she can’t swallow well now is because she has been denied appropriate medical treatment for years. However, the trial court judge and the appeals court justices have stated that Terri Schiavo is in a permanent vegetative state and that no treatment is available to restore her neurological functioning, consistent with the opinions of four neurologists directly involved in the care of Terri Schiavo over 15 years, and the three neurologists testifying at trial (two selected by Michael Schiavo, and the other selected by the trial court judge when Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers were unable to agree on a neutral court-appointed medical expert). These presumed neurological facts and assertions by the Schindler family, their lawyer, Pat Anderson, and others about Terri’s neurological condition are all completely and categorically false, with one exception. Patients in a vegetative state usually retain an intact swallowing reflex and thus can swallow to some degree in an involuntary, reflex fashion. Swallowing tests performed on Terri Schiavo in 1990, 1991, and 1992 all showed severe oropharyngeal dysphagia, compatible with the vegetative state. No further swallowing tests were ever performed again in her subsequent clinical course, since Terri Schiavo never improved, and there was no valid reason for believing these swallowing tests would be any different today than they were over 10 years ago. Thus, Terri Schiavo does have the ability to swallow, like most other patients in a vegetative state, but only in a reflex fashion. The majority of adult patients in a permanent vegetative state, like Terri Schiavo, are given nutrition and hydration by a PEG tube placed in the stomach through the abdominal wall. This form of medical treatment is the safest and most effective way of supplying long term nutrition and hydration to an unconscious patient. (29) It is possible (but highly unlikely) that, with a great deal of attention and care, and an understanding of how to optimize swallowing by using the involuntary swallowing reflex, Terri’s nutritional and hydration needs could be maintained by the oral route (as is the case in many children in a permanent vegetative state, where parents and health care professionals spend many hours at the bedside feeding these children by mouth by utilizing the involuntary swallowing reflex). But such an undertaking is medically inadvisable, as it would greatly increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia and death.The overwhelming fact is that, whether Terri is fed via a PEG tube or fed orally, she is still in a permanent vegetative state, and the manner of feeding her will not result in any change in her clinical condition, except she would probably die much sooner were attempts made to feed her orally. So further swallowing tests would be totally meaningless in terms of the ultimate outcome of Terri’s neurological condition and state of consciousness. Florida court of appeals decision In its ruling in June 6, 2003, the Florida court of appeals concluded (in Schiavo IV, because this court had already addressed this case on three previous occasions) that the trial court had complied with the instructions of the higher court in terms of the elaborate evidentiary process to be followed. Part of the reason why the court of appeals ordered a detailed evidentiary hearing on the medical facts of the case was the affidavits presented to the higher court by the Schindler family of doctors and other health care professionals stating under oath that new treatments could possibly improve Terri’s level of functioning. As the appeals court noted, “…Although we have expressed some lay skepticism about the new affidavits, the Schindlers now have presented some evidence, in the form of the affidavit of Dr. [Fred] Webber, of such a potential new treatment.” Later, the court “anticipated but did not require that Dr. Webber, who had claimed in his affidavit that he might be able to restore Mrs. Schiavo’s speech and some of her cognitive functioning, would testify for the parents and provide scientific support for his claim. However, Dr. Webber, who was so critical in this court’s decision to remand the case, made no further appearance in these proceedings.” (30) This type of unprofessional affidavits and court testimony by the physicians and medical professionals is typical of the vast majority of medical experts and their opinions retained by the Schindler family, e.g. the opinions expressed by Judge Greer on the credibility of Dr. Maxfield and especially Dr. Hammesfahr. (See affidavits from Dr. Fred Webber, June 1, 2001; Dr. Jacob Green, May 30, 2001; Dr. William Scott Russell, May 30, 2002; and psychologist Alexander T. Gimon, May 29, 2001, as well as numerous other affidavits signed by doctors and other health care professionals in Florida and around the United States). Reflecting back on Judge George Greer’s original ruling in February 2000 that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state “beyond all doubt,” it seems readily apparent that the Florida court of appeals was substantially, but fortunately only temporarily, misled by these affidavits based on the videotapes. Even though the court of appeals could have affirmed the trial court opinion on procedural grounds (ensuring that the guidelines for the evidentiary hearing were properly executed) and gone no further, the court did go further and ruled on the factual issues as well. “Despite our decision that the appropriate standard of review is abuse of discretion [by Judge Greer], this court has closely examined all of the evidence in this record. We have repeatedly examined the videotapes, not merely watching short segments but carefully observing the tapes in their entirety. We have examined the brain scans with the eyes of educated laypersons and considered the explanations provided by the doctors in transcripts. We have concluded that, if we were called upon to review the guardianship’s decision de novo, we would still affirm it.” (31)Why have the three judges on the court of appeals bent over backwards to listen carefully to the concerns of the Schindlers over these many years, including ordering a full scale evidentiary hearing on Terri’s medical condition after all the other legal issues had been fully litigated, and the trial court judge had ruled in February 2000 that Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state “beyond all doubt”? Besides the obvious and to some extent understandable motivations of judges being afraid of making mistakes (especially on the medical diagnosis), their natural tendency to err on the side of life (rather than erring on the side of privacy), and their appropriate concern about due process in cases of a highly controversial nature, a partial answer to this question has been supplied very directly by the judges themselves. By revealing a human side of their decision making process (something that many judges are not usually willing to admit), they explicitly reflect their great sympathy and empathy toward the parents of Terri Schiavo, “The judges on this panel are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law. Each of us, however, has our own family, our own loved ones, our own children. From our review of the videotapes of Mrs. Schiavo, despite the irrefutable evidence that her cerebral cortex has sustained the most severe of irreparable injuries, we understand why a parent who has raised and nurtured a child since conception would hold out hope that some level of cognitive function remained. If Mrs. Schiavo were our own daughter, we could not but hold to such faith.” (p. 10). In other words, the judges, while clearly sympathetic to the feelings and concerns of the Schindlers, nevertheless based their decisions on the facts and the law. (32)The irony of this case is that videotapes have been used for entirely two purposes, and both have been highly successful. The first use, by the medical experts examining Terri, showing the trial court (and even the court of appeals) the validity of their observations and conclusions about Terri’s condition, worked extremely well. The videotapes, when properly explained to the trial court and used by these experts as a highly effective means of educating the judge on the complexities of the diagnosis of the vegetative state, strongly confirmed the validity of the observations and conclusions of the experts testifying the Terri was indeed in a permanent vegetative state with no meaningful interactions with others or the environment. At the same time, the tapes made by Dr. Maxfield and Hammesfahr led to Judge Greer’s completely discrediting the observations of these experts opining that Terri was demonstrating cognitive functioning to some extent, e.g. Judge Greer, by his own count, disagreeing explicitly with the observations of Dr. Hammesfahr on 183 occasions.The second use of the videotapes (released by the Schindler family and the vitalists) was to mislead much of the media and public into believing that Terri could meaningfully and cognitively interact with her parents and thus was not in a vegetative state. For those members of the unsophisticated and uneducated public and media who have never seen a patient like this and thus had no way of recognizing the typical features of someone in a vegetative state, this strategy of misinformation has also apparently been highly successful.Further proceedings and current state of case In late August, 2003, the family had brought forward evidence after yet another review of the medical records indicating that patient may have been strangled by the husband, thus requesting appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent patient during further judicial proceedings. The court denied this motion. The governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, after receiving 27,000 e-mails (characterized by some observers as a “high tech lynch mob”), wrote a letter to Judge George Greer requesting further judicial proceedings to safeguard the rights of Terri Schiavo. The Schindler family brought forward yet another set of affidavits from various health care professionals expressing their views that Terri Schiavo should be administered a new round of swallowing studies to determine if she has the ability to take fluids and nutrition by mouth.Six days after Terri’s feeding tube was removed, the Florida legislature passed a law and immediately signed by the governor all in one day, which had 4 components-for a person in a persistent vegetative state who has no living will, whose feeding tube has already been removed, and where a family member objects, the feeding tube will be restarted (note: this is not the exact wording of the law but my interpretation of the essence of the law). (33) On that same evening, Terri Schiavo was removed from her current facility and transferred under police escort to a Clearwater hospital where a feeding tube was reinserted, and artificial means of nutrition and hydration restarted.In late October 2003 Michael Schiavo through his attorney challenged the actions of the governor and legislature on the constitutionality of the new law. The new law essentially overrules all the decisions of the Florida courts where every major legal source of dispute had been fully litigated, and the courts had previously rendered definitive decisions in favor of Michael Schiavo in terms of the appropriate surrogate decision maker, the wishes of Terri Schiavo according to a clear and convincing evidence standard, and the medical condition of the patient. In 2004 the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Florida law enacted by the legislature and governor was unconstitutional. (34) Concluding comments In any case of a severely brain damaged patient involving extensive, prolonged, and heated litigation, especially when the major disputants are the immediate family, the question always arises, who really suffers the most? Not the patient in the vegetative state, who is unconscious and thus incapable of any suffering. Perhaps the husband whose wishes are being seriously undermined and who almost certainly does know what his wife would want, or what most of us would want for ourselves, in this situation. But, even though I disagree with their views, a strong case can be made that the ones suffering the most are Terri’s parents and other family members. Outside doctors and medical advisors have cruelly deceived them into believing that Terri will improve, or has a chance for improvement with various treatments advocated by these individual doctors. So this family, cruelly misled by blatant distortions of fact and thoroughly unprofessional advice, believes that letting Terri die now takes away any opportunity, any slim chance, that she will receive “appropriate” treatment in order to recover. They feel like they are the last chance that Terri will ever have, and they are acting according to these strong (but unfortunately terribly mistaken and ill informed) beliefs.The Schiavo case provides powerful and compelling evidence of the importance of videotaping of the neurological examination. In future landmark right to die cases, especially when there is a serious dispute about the actual neurological condition, videotaped neurological examinations should be considered an essential element of expert medical testimony at trial. The judge’s assessment of the conflict between the trial testimony of medical experts retained by the Schindlers, and the actions seen on the tape itself, should serve as a compelling example of the value of videotaping. Also the probative weight of the brief video of Terri “interacting” with her parents, the accompanying affidavits of numerous physicians, and the still photos of the daughter apparently “smiling” at her mother, should stand in contrast to the videos of the examinations performed by the neurological experts which were shown at trial. The neurological examinations performed by Drs. Bambakidis, Greer (Dr. Greer did not have his examination videotaped), and Cranford each lasted between 25 minutes and 1 hour. The neurological examination by Dr. Hammesfahr lasted over 3 hours, but, when Judge Greer compared the videotape of his neurological examination with his testimony and explanations in court, the judge found no credibility in Dr. Hammesfahr’s neurological assessment of Terri Schiavo’s condition. A “neurological examination” by Dr. Maxfield, the radiologist, essentially never occurred. What are the lessons to be learned from the Schiavo case? 1) When there is extreme disagreement and bitter acrimony between family and husband, it is extremely difficult to resolve disputes in a highly adversarial atmosphere, rather than consensual attempts to resolve disputes advocated by hospital ethics committees. Every possible effort should be made to resolve disputes among immediate family outside of a courtroom setting. 2) Prolonged legal maneuvers and unusual, desperate legal strategies by the Schindlers and their supporters, have caused the Florida court system to deteriorate into a state of inaction and impotence; 3) This case illustrates the crucial significance of the correct medical diagnosis and also exemplifies the critical importance of differentiating between diagnosis of the neurological condition (vegetative state) versus the prognosis for recovery and potential response to new treatments; 4) This case demonstrates convincingly the value of videotaping to accurately explain to the court the neurological condition, as well as the unfortunate success of misleading the media and public on the same condition; 5) The credibility of experts and their testimony can usually be determined by a trial court judge; credibility is not usually based on testimony of experts who insult the intelligence of the court, e.g. judge appreciated sincerity of the court appointed expert who “agonized” over his diagnosis. Despite strong views of medical experts testifying for the Schindler family, the trial court judge simply did not see what these experts said was there; 6) The hastily passed and blatantly unconstitutional law approved by the governor and state legislature completely usurped the role of the judicial system in Florida, an action unprecedented in the history of American law and a complete disregard for the principle of separation of powers of the three branches of government".