January 31, 2012

Sex-trafficking, witchcraft and torture in SCOTLAND

Sex trafficking victims reveal horror of witchcraft and torture being used to enslave women in Scotland

VICTIMS of human sex trafficking have told how they were enslaved by witchcraft, torture and death threats in modern-day Scotland.

The harrowing stories of ten women were compiled by campaigners investigating the world’s fastest growing organised crime. Nine came from Africa, one from South America.
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The women tell their stories in research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The main centres for sex trafficking are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, Stirling and Falkirk but it also touches small towns and villages
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:31 PM | Permalink

The Slap in the Face of Catholics

Some argue that if was the Catholic vote that gave Obama his victory in 2008,  If that is true, I am even more surprised at the Administration's decision to battle the Catholic Church.  Politically, it's a dumb-headed move surpassing even the decision against the Keystone pipeline.  In a completely unnecessary battle, Obama has managed to unite the Catholic left against him as William McGurn points out.

In a post for the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters minces few words. Under the headline "J'ACCUSE," he rightly takes the president to the woodshed for the politics of the decision, for the substance, and for how "shamefully" it treats "those Catholics who went out on a limb" for him.

The message Mr. Obama is sending, says Mr. Winters, is "that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us."
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Catholic liberals ...understand that if left to stand, this ruling threatens the religious institutions closest to their hearts—those serving Americans in need, such as hospitals, soup kitchens and immigrant services.

Obama plays his Catholic allies for fools in his radical power grab on health care writes Michael Gerson

Catholic leaders are still trying to process the implications of this ambushThe president had every opportunity to back down from confrontation. In the recent ­Hosanna-Tabor ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad religious autonomy right rooted in the Constitution. Obama could have taken the decision as justification for retreat.

There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.

Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. The religious exemption granted by Obamacare is narrower than anywhere else in federal law — essentially covering the delivery of homilies and the distribution of sacraments. Serving the poor and healing the sick are regarded as secular pursuits — a determination that would have surprised Christianity’s founder.

the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

What the President has started is a culture war.  111 Bishops Speak Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate.  One fiery bishop wrote in a letter read out to all in his archdiocese.

“We cannot and will not comply with this unjust decree. Like the martyrs of old, we must be prepared to accept suffering, which could include heavy fines and imprisonment,”...Our American religious liberty is in grave jeopardy,”...“This means that all of our Catholic schools, hospitals, social-service agencies and the like will be forced to participate in evil,” ...

Another bishop, Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh said

“The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To Hell with you!’” the bishop said in a column posted on his diocesan website. “There is no other way to put it.”
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It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face,”
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Let’s be blunt,” said Bishop Zubik. “This whole process of mandating these guidelines undermines the democratic process itself. In this instance, the mandate declares pregnancy a disease, forces a culture of contraception and abortion on society, all while completely bypassing the legislative process.

“This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone--not only Catholics; not only people of all religion,” said the bishop. “At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens.”

Yuval Levin in Religious Liberty and Civil Society

The particulars of what the Obamacare insurance mandate rule does, and the unwillingness of the administration to exempt religious employers, are just stunning. Religious institutions are basically going to be fined for holding views regarding contraception, sterilization, and abortion that are different from the Obama administration’s views. For instance, Notre Dame University, which employs more than 5,000 people, is going to be given the choice of either expressly violating its religious convictions or paying a $10 million fine to the federal government. It’s bad enough that any employer with a moral objection has to spend his money this way, but it is especially egregious to compel religious institutions to do so.
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what is at issue in the controversy over the administration’s rule is not just the question of religious liberty but the question of non-governmental institutions in a free society.
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Does civil society consist of a set of institutions that help the government achieve its purposes as it defines them when their doing so might be more efficient or convenient than the state’s doing so itself, or does civil society consist of an assortment of efforts by citizens to band together in pursuit of mutual aims and goods as they understand them? Is it an extension of the state or of the community? In this arena, as in a great many others, the administration is clearly determined to see civil society as merely an extension of the state, and to clear out civil society—clearing out the mediating layers between the individual and the state—when it seems to stand in the way of achieving the president’s agenda.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:27 PM | Permalink

'That's the whole reason why I do this job, to help people, it makes me feel awesome.'

'Right place, right time: Policeman rescues two women trapped in sinking car after he spots brake lights while driving past lake

Deputy Keven Rowan was on patrol in Dallas, Texas, in the early hours of Saturday morning when he noticed a pair of car brake lights sticking out of Lake Ray Hubbard.

The 28-year-old officer drove down to the reservoir and pointed his patrol car's headlights across the water.  What he saw shocked him - a vehicle with two young women trapped inside was rapidly sinking.

Video footage of the incident captured by the police dashboard camera shows Deputy Rowan standing at the waterside yelling 'Can you get out of the car?'

He quickly realises that the women are likely to drown, so takes off his utility belt - including his gun - and wades into the water.

While another officer arrives and watches from the shore, Deputy Rowan swims to the car and uses a window-breaking device to shatter the glass.

The patrolman then escorts both women - cousins Ngac Do, 20, and Nhi Tran, 21, neither of whom can swim - to shore.

Just moments after the rescue the car has disappeared from view beneath the water.

Deputy Rowan said: 'I saw the two females in the back seat. They were screaming "Help me, help me." And they were telling me at the same time "I can't swim".'

He added: 'That's the whole reason why I do this job, to help people, it makes me feel awesome.'

Video of the rescue here

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

Milk as a Memory Drug

Drinking just one glass of milk a day could boost your brain power

Milk has long been known to help build healthy bones and provide the body with a vitamin and protein boost.  But now it’s being hailed as a memory aid after a study found those who regularly have milk – and other dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese and even ice cream – do better in key tests to check their brainpower.

 Milk Drinking

Scientists asked 972 men and women to fill in detailed surveys on their diets, including how often they consumed dairy products, even if only having milk in their tea and coffee.  The subjects, aged 23 to 98, then completed a series of eight rigorous tests to check their concentration, memory and learning abilities.

The study, published in the International Dairy Journal, showed adults who consumed dairy products at least five or six times a week did far better in memory tests compared with those who rarely ate or drank them

The researchers said: ‘New and emerging brain health benefits are just one more reason to start each day with low-fat or fat-free milk.

I get my milk in glass bottles from Crescent Ridge Dairy delivered to my front porch each week by my milkman Sean.  It's the most delicious milk I've ever tasted.  Maybe it's the small batch milk that makes the difference.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:06 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2012

"The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants'

"I'm not backing down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution," said President Obama in his state of the union address.

Trace amounts of mercury from coal-fired power-plant emissions affect a small number of Americans, chiefly those who live near the emissions sources. At the same time, however, the Obama administration has been trying to force Americans to accept even greater mercury risks by insisting that traditional incandescent light bulbs be replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants. The associated risks are magnified because the toxic vapors and dust from a broken bulb would be contained in a room or enclosed area. The same EPA that is sounding the alarm about mercury emissions from power plants has written a detailed guide explaining how to respond to a broken CFL. It involves, among other things, evacuating the room in which the breakage occurs, shutting down central heating and air conditioning, airing out the room, carefully collecting bulb fragments and dust with rolled up duct tape, and placing all cleanup materials in airtight bags in a protected area outdoors pending proper disposal. Who knew that dropping a light bulb would instantly turn a home into a HAZMAT zone?

Obama's twisty light-bulb logic

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Her "lack of ego would become the paradoxical secret of her greatness"

The "distinguished royal writer" Robert Lacey describes how the down-to-earth childhood of Queen Elizabeth prepared her for 60 glorious years on the throne.

How a singular lack of ego became the secret of her greatness

The future Elizabeth II was brought up in the deepest of Britain’s many 20th century recessions, and it was thanks to Bobo that she retained some contact with the frugal habits of working and middle-class families as they struggled to survive in the Thirties. She learned how to recycle paper, almost as if she, too, had been born the daughter of an Inverness railwayman.

To this day, the Queen keeps her breakfast cereal in Tupperware boxes, and is eagle-eyed in switching off unnecessary lights in Buckingham Palace.  She was not born in the main line of succession to the throne. For the first ten years of her life, her position in the Royal Family was the same as Princess Beatrice’s today — a daughter of a younger son, destined to flutter on the royal fringes.

Brought up with an almost religious respect for the Crown, there seemed no prospect of her inheriting it. Her young head was never turned by the prospect of grandeur — which is why she would prove so good at her job. Elizabeth II’s lack of ego would become the paradoxical secret of her greatness. 

 Young Princess Elizabeth

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:31 AM | Permalink

January 27, 2012

The Science of Intoxication

This is what your brain on really looks like

The MRIs of your brain on psilocybin, alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes do not look like this.

-This-Is-Your-Brain-On-Drugs

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 PM | Permalink

The "Spanish Conondrum"

Fried food won't kill you - ask any Spanish chef

Now, a new study, published in the British Medical Journal hints at a “Spanish conundrum”. They love a bit of fried food, the Spaniards, and consume so much olive oil that one’s inclined to wonder if they think it’s one of their five-a-day.
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The BMJ study of Spanish adults finds that “the consumption of fried foods was not associated with coronary heart disease or with all cause mortality”. Nor is this some half-hearted piece of research. It's a meaningful sample of 40,000 people.

So what is their secret? Well, to start with, you won’t find deep-fried Mars Bars going down in the tapas bars of Seville and Granada. The study also makes the point that cooking is done in fresh oil.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 PM | Permalink

A mother's love is priceless

Why a mother's love really is priceless: It prevents illness even into middle age

Tender loving care in childhood was found to reduce a person’s risk of conditions including diabetes and heart disease in adulthood, according to researchers at Brandeis University in Boston.

They examined 1,000 people from low-income backgrounds, which has been shown by a wealth of previous research to be related to poorer health in later life and lower life expectancy.

However, they found some people from disadvantaged families managed to buck this trend – and they tended to have had a loving mother.
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Psychology professor Margie Lachman said events in childhood seem to leave a ‘biological residue’ on health during adult life.
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The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 PM | Permalink

When what you know just ain't so

Mark Twain, the American author and humorist once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” 

Myths and misses about Alzheimer's Disease

1. There’s no difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  Dementia is the umbrella which covers all diseases that cause cognitive decline in adulthood, including Alzheimer’s disease which accounts for 60%

2. Alzheimer’s disease occurs only in the elderly.  Sadly no, although it is much more common in the elderly

3. Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed with certainty only at autopsy.  Multiple studies comparing patients’ examinations and behavior with autopsy findings have demonstrated that patients can be diagnosed with accuracy approaching 90% by physicians familiar with the disease.

4. Because there’s no cure, there’s no reason to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early in its course.  This myth may account for the sobering and distressing estimate that only about half of all individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have been diagnosed, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  ...Alzheimer’s patients benefit from early diagnosis in multiple ways,

5. There’s no treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This is perhaps the most pernicious myth.  While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it is not true that there is no treatment.  Drug treatment can slow the inexorable decline of this disease.  But treatment entails more than just drug therapy
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 PM | Permalink

When Stubborn Facts Pummel "Post-Normal" Science

I was so happy to see this in the Wall Street Journal today.  It means the return of real science and the decline of post-normal science

Once there was modern science, which was hard work; now we have postmodern science, where the quest for real, absolute truth is outdated, and "science" is a wax nose that can be twisted in any direction to underpin the latest lying narrative in the pursuit of power.

Sixteen ConcernedScientists say No Need to Panic About Global Warming

There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy.
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The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts. 

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now.
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The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause
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The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth.
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Why is there so much passion about global warming, ... There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet.
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Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of "incontrovertible" evidence.

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris;
J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting;
Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University;
Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society;
Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences;
William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton;
Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.;
William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology;
Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT;
James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University;
Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences;
Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne;
Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator;
Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem;
Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service;
Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 PM | Permalink

Questions my generation never had to ask

About that Egg Donation

A reader of the New York Times’ Ethicist column asks if she needs to inform her fiancé about her egg donation:

A difficult situation (especially if you have no one to turn to for advice other than the Times). I can’t help but think of what she must have been told at the time: post-operation and recovery the donation process should be worry-free. It’s just genetic material. You see the same cavalier attitude in the Times’ response above (though to his credit, the writer does go on to recommend that she tell her fiancé).

Now instead of approaching the altar with a light heart, she struggles with the realization that somewhere there likely are young boys and girls who have her genetic material—who are her children—and who someday may want nothing more than to find out who she is. Tough stuff.

For a variety of reasons, I suspect that sperm donors aren’t as conflicted as egg donors about their unknown offspring. They should be.

Remember Ben Seisler, the Boston attorney who donated sperm that has resulted in 70 children?  The Boston Globe tells the story in Who's your daddy?

Just how he broke it to his fiance became the subject of  a reality TV documentary. 

Seisler’s fiancée is clearly miffed about his situation, especially when he tells her on camera that the number is up to 70. She can barely bring herself to refer to them as “children.’’ (She prefers “offspring.’’)

“What if they all come knocking?’’ she asks Seisler, angrily. “I kind of deem it selfish. Did you think of the consequences that would come out of this?’’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 PM | Permalink

January 25, 2012

Insider tips to surviving a hospital stay

The happy hospitalist gives you some Insider tops to surviving your hospital stay

10. Bring your own pillow. Trust me.

9. Bring a laptop computer or request one from the hospital. Hospitals all have free wireless these days and many will actually provide you with a laptop if you just ask.

8.  Bring an accurate and updated medication list with you. Nothing leaves you more vulnerable to hospital errors than to have your doctor give you medication you haven’t taken in months or for you to miss medications that haven’t been updated by your five outpatient doctors since they bought their worthless EMR three years ago.

7. Write down all your questions early. Your doctor will only come to your room once a day (because they only get paid by Medicare to come once in a day) and any unanswered questions will have to wait until the following day.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2012

Good news about tequila and beer

Tequila Can Be Turned into Diamonds

“We were in doubt over whether the great amount of chemicals present in tequila, other than water and ethanol, would contaminate or obstruct the process, ” the study’s co-author, Lius Miguel Apåtiga, told PhysOrg. “It turned out to be not so. The results were amazing, same as with the ethanol and water compound, we obtained almost spherical shaped diamonds of nanometric size. There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds.”

Now that they know the process works, scientists can use the tequila-made diamond film substance for everything from semiconductors to radiation detectors.

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer

1. Stronger Bones

Beer contains high levels of silicon, which is linked to bone health. In a 2009 study at Tufts University and other centers, older men and women who swigged one or two drinks daily had higher bone density, with the greatest benefits found in those who favored beer or wine. However, downing more than two drinks was linked to increased risk for fractures.

2. A Stronger Heart

A 2011 analysis of 16 earlier studies involving more than 200,000 people, conducted by researchers at Italy’s Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura, found a 31 percent reduced risk of heart disease in those who quaffed about a pint of beer daily, while risk surged in those who guzzled higher amounts of alcohol, whether beer, wine, or spirits.

3. Healthier Kidneys

4. Boosting Brain Health

A beer a day may help keep Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia at bay, researchers say.

5. Reduced Cancer Risk

A Portuguese study found that marinating steak in beer eliminates almost 70 percent of the carcinogens, called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when the meat is pan-fried. Researchers theorize that beer’s sugars help block HCAs from forming.

6. Boosting Vitamin Levels

A Dutch study, performed at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, found that beer-drinking participants had 30 percent higher levels of vitamin B6 levels in their blood than their non-drinking counterparts, and twice as much as wine drinkers. Beer also contains vitamin B12 and folic acid.

7. Guarding Against Stroke

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that moderate amounts of alcohol, including beer, help prevent blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, neck and brain—the clots that cause ischemic stroke, the most common type.

8. Reduced Risk for Diabetes

Drink up: A 2011 Harvard study of about 38,000 middle-aged men found that when those who only drank occasionally raised their alcohol intake to one to two beers or other drinks daily, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes dropped by 25 percent. The researchers found no benefit to quaffing more than two drinks. The researchers found that alcohol increases insulin sensitivity, thus helping protect against diabetes.

9. Lower Blood Pressure

Wine is fine for your heart, but beer may be even better: A Harvard study of 70,000 women ages 25 to 40 found that moderate beer drinkers were less likely to develop high blood pressure—a major risk factor for heart attack—than women who sipped wine or spirits.

10. Longer Life

In a 2005 review of 50 studies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that moderate drinkers live longer. The USDA also estimates that moderate drinking prevents about 26,000 deaths a year, due to lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink

Speaking truth to the powerful and 'Truth-Phobic Press"

The Anchoress on Pro-Lifers and the Truth-Phobic Press  speaks truth to power.

We have reached a remarkable era of photojournalism, as demonstrated by the once-noble Washington Post — one where a half million people can march, the headlines can call it “thousands” and the pictures show you none of it.

Someone asked me on Twitter, “why don’t they just report the truth” and I thought, “because they have given themselves wholly over to a lie, and they fear the truth. Having built up the lie for so long that it’s become their foundation, they know they cannot withstand an assault by the truth.”

So they have become truth-phobics, our mainstream media. They can’t tell you the truth about anything, anymore — they can only do whatever it takes to sustain the narratives they’ve constructed.

That’s why you hear no reports about Fast and Furious, or a member of the DOJ pleading the Fifth about that. It’s why you don’t hear about Solyndra and the “green jobs” myth it’s why you hear no caterwauling from the press about the fact that we are 1000 days into this administration without a budget.

You want the truth? You think you deserve it? The press can’t handle the truth; they can’t bring it to you.

That’s why 250 people camping out in a park gets thousands of stories, while half-a-million marching on Washington does not get reported at all, or if it does, the pictures are cropped; the attendees are caricatured, mis-named and under-represented while their opponents are over-represented.

 Marchforlife 2012

It rained or drizzled all day yesterday, still the estimate of the number of marchers was 500,000.  Half a million people marched for hours in the rain.  That's not a story?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

"Four Britons are dying of dehydration and malnutrition in hospital each day"

Why a government-run health service is so problematic.

Cristina Odone in the Telegraph Visiting a patient in a British hospital? Then take them food and water, just to be safe

While GPs are preparing to go on strike, and consultants and nurses ratchet up their attacks on the Coalition's proposed reforms to the NHS, four Britons are dying of dehydration and malnutrition in hospital each day Few deaths can be as agonising as those caused by lack of liquids and nutrients, yet few deaths are as preventable.
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Critics (and I'm often one) of NHS staff complain usually about their indifference, self-righteousness, and us-against-them mentality. Now there is another charge to add to that list: letting patients die of hunger and thirst. No wonder family members insist on staying by their loved ones' bedsides in the ward: they fear for their lives. The problem is some of the most vulnerable patients have no family visiting them: who then looks after their welfare? The sad answer is no one.

It's a shameful "first" for Britain: the NHS comes first in Europe when it comes to the percentage of hospital patients suffering malnutrition: a whopping 58%, compared to 24% in the Netherlands and just over 30% in Denmark. You have to go to Vietnam to find a similarly horrific number of malnourished hospital patients.

The stories told by the commenters would make you weep.

My father died recently in horrible circumstances at Southampton General. In a ward of 8 or 9 distressed old men it was like a scene from Bedlam. At night a West African nurse frightened the old boys by not displaying one iota of sympathy or care. The noise in the ward was unbelievable . Buzzers and alarms going of constantly for no apparent purpose. Nurses striding around skilfully avoiding eye contact like workers at B&Q.

My mother who had been married to my dad for 60 odd years was constantly harassed for being in the ward to look after him, trying to make him eat and trying to wet his parched mouth. When my sister and I finally found a nurse who would stop and talk to us she explained he was on the 'Liverpool Pathway' hardly a user friendly term of explanation. It certainly went over my mother's head.

I have many posts on the Liverpool pathway.

Perils of the Pathway

“My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death. It really is a subterfuge for legalised euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS. ”

It really does seem that the Liverpool pathway has become a protocol to deal with all elderly patients and thus the reason to give minimum care and so hasten their deaths. 

For the life of me, I can not understand how doctors or hospitals, even under the guise of 'policy' or 'protocol', can deny  anyone who wants food and water no matter how old or sick. 

The "Death Pathway"

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients."

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.
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He said: “I have been practising palliative medicine for more than 20 years and I am getting more concerned about this “death pathway” that is coming in.

“It is supposed to let people die with dignity but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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He said that he had personally taken patients off the pathway who went on to live for “significant” amounts of time and warned that many doctors were not checking the progress of patients enough to notice improvement in their condition.

Death Panels

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 AM | Permalink

January 23, 2012

Denying the Holocaust in Our Midst

Based on facts and truth is  Michael Paulsen's cri de coeur, The Unbearable Wrongness of Roe

Today, thousands of people at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., are commemorating the thirty-ninth anniversary of a legal and moral monstrosity, Roe v. Wade, and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The two cases, in combination, created an essentially unqualified constitutional right of pregnant women to abortion—the right to kill their children, gestating in their wombs, up to the point of birth. After nearly four decades, Roe’s human death toll stands at nearly sixty million human lives, a total exceeding the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, Pol Pot’s killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined. Over the past forty years, one-sixth of the American population has been killed by abortion. One in four African-Americans is killed before birth. Abortion is the leading cause of (unnatural) death in America.
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Start with Roe’s radicalism, a radicalism that we may no longer grasp because it has become so familiar. Roe created a constitutional right to obtain or commit an abortion of a human life—that is, to terminate the life of a human embryo or fetus. It is important to be clear-sighted about this: abortion kills a living human embryo or fetus.
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The right created by the Supreme Court in Roe is a constitutional right of some human beings to kill other human beings.
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This brings us to Roe’s utter indefensibility as a matter of constitutional law. ... it has absolutely no basis in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution. No rule or principle of law fairly traceable to the text, discernible from its structure, or fairly derived from evidence of intention or historical understanding of an authoritative decision of the people, remotely supports the result reached in Roe. In terms of fair principles of constitutional interpretation, Roe is perhaps the least defensible major constitutional decision in the Supreme Court’s history.
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Finally, there is Roe’s immorality—the abortion holocaust it unleashed—and the problem of our response to it. Roe is a radical decision and a legally indefensible one. But what really makes Roe unbearably wrong is its consequences. The result of Roe and Doe has been the legally authorized killing of nearly sixty million Americans since 1973. Roe v. Wade authorized unrestricted private violence against human life on an almost unimaginable scale, and did so, falsely, in the name of the Constitution.
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Here is the problem, undressed: If human embryonic life is morally worthy of protection, we have permitted sixty million murders under our watch. Faced with this prospect, many of us—maybe even most—flee from the factsWe deny that the living human embryo is “truly” or “fully” human life, adopt a view that whether the embryo or fetus is human “depends,” or can be judged in degrees, on a sliding scale over the course of pregnancy; or we proclaim uncertainty about the facts of human biology; or we proclaim moral agnosticism about the propriety of “imposing our views on others”; or we throw up our hands and give up because moral opposition to an entrenched, pervasive social practice is not worth the effort, discomfort, and social costs. The one position not on the table—the one possibility too hard to look at—is that abortion is a grave moral wrong on a par with the greatest human moral atrocities of all time and that we passively, almost willingly, accept it as such.
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The Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade should not be accepted as law, in any sense. It should be resisted by legislatures and it should be refused enforcement by executive officials because it is not the law. It should be resisted by all citizens, with all the resources at their disposal, and perhaps even with resources not (yet) at their disposal. Anything less is holocaust denial.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2012

From a mother of nine.

To the Mother With Only One Child

Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard.  You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone.  For what?  Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left.

When I had only one child, she was so heavy.  Now I can see that children are as light as air.  They float past you, nudging against you like balloons as they ascend.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

"Unconscionable" challenge to religious liberty

The Other Health-Care Mandate: Good Samaritan Turned Upside Down

From the outset, the administration sought to camouflage the mandate’s radical assault on conscience by inserting an exemption for “religious employers” who objected to paying for contraception and abortion. It is a pitifully small fig leaf, however.

An organization cannot qualify if it has a “non-religious” aim (such as caring for the sick or feeding the hungry), or if it hires or serves persons of different faiths. In other words, the administration has managed to legislate a grotesque inversion of the parable of the Good Samaritan: A religious group loses the protection of the law precisely because it reaches across boundaries to help the outsider.

Religious Liberty the Latest Target of Obamacare

The Obamacare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or of dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the employer mandate.

This is an outrage...

here is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function.

The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.

The health-care law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.

This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized control over health-care decisions, must not stand.

" A Foul Ball, By Any Standard" U.S. Bishops vow to fight this edict.

Unconscionable to force citizens to buy contraceptives against their will.

The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.

The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan

“Almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans… Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

"...the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our conscience"

Beginning August 1, 2012 (less than eight months from today), the insurance premiums we pay, including the insurance premiums paid by Catholics for employees of churches and schools -- will be used to cover drugs and procedures that are in direct conflict with the teachings of our Church.

That's right. Our government will now force us to pay for insurance coverage for birth control, sterilization and even some abortion drugs.
---
Abortion-rights groups immediately applauded the decision.

"Birth control is not just basic health care for women, it is an economic concern," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "This common sense decision means that millions of women, who would otherwise pay $15 to $50 a month, will have access to affordable birth control, helping them save hundreds of dollars each year."
--

Was it for this that President Obama cut $500 billion from Medicare?  Why are contraceptives and abortifacients 'privileged' as opposed to every other drug, like statins for instance?

As you might recall, it was primarily orthodox Catholics and conservative Evangelicals who kept saying during the last presidential campaign that then-Sen. Obama's record revealed a man with an unswerving, ideological obsession with making access to contraceptives and abortion available to just about anyone, anytime, anywhere—and on the taxpayers' dime. Yet it is those very folks who are continually painted as the extremists and the rigid zealots, blinded by their religious faith. But, really, who are the extremists and zealots here? How much physical, familial, cultural, social, and spiritual damage must take place before the scales fall from the eyes of those who want a drug for every problem, an excuse for every sin, and the government's heavy hand at every turn in the road of life?

Just last week Pope Benedict XIV  spoke to the American bishops in Rome on their "ad-limina" visit about the alarming state of religious freedom in America.      What the bishops told him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:58 AM | Permalink

"National Insanity"

Robert Samuelson calls President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico 'an act of national insanity"

Now consider how Obama's decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder.

Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the U.S., could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.

Finally, Obama's decision forgoes all the project's jobs. There's some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment.

Apparently, this refers to "job years," meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it's in the thousands and important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.

The big winners are the Chinese.

The Washington Post editorializes Obama’s Keystone pipeline rejection is hard to accept

We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen—with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground—but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude—just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.

The environmental impact of the Keystone pipeline has been studied for three years, yet the President said the Republicans were rushing him  into a decision within 60 days and that wasn't enough time.  Charlotte Hays points out that when it came to showering the politically-connected Solyndra with millions of taxpayer dollars, the Administration couldn't move fast enough.

When it came to TARP and Obamacare, the Administration's urgency was so great, congressmen and senators weren't given time to even read the bills before they were voted on.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 AM | Permalink

January 21, 2012

Last words on Women and Children First

As usual Mark Steyn has the last word,  The Sinking of the West.

I contrast the orderly, dignified, and moving behavior of those on the Titanic (the ship, not the mendacious Hollywood blockbuster) with that manifested in more recent disasters. There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship’s entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.

 Costacondordia

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In my book, I cite First Officer William Murdoch. In real life, he threw deckchairs to passengers drowning in the water to give them something to cling to, and then he went down with the ship — the dull, decent thing, all very British, with no fuss. In Cameron’s movie, Murdoch takes a bribe and murders a third-class passenger. The director subsequently apologized to the First Officer’s hometown in Scotland and offered £5,000 toward a memorial, which converted into Hollywood dollars equals rather less than what Cameron and his family paid for dinner after the Oscars.
--
Today there is no social norm, so it’s every man for himself — operative word “man,” although not many of the chaps on the Titanic would recognize those on the Costa Concordia as “men.” From a grandmother on the latter: “I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls.”

Whenever I write about these subjects, I receive a lot of mail from men along the lines of this correspondent: “The feminists wanted a gender-neutral society. Now they’ve got it. So what are you complaining about?”
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We are beyond social norms these days. A woman can be a soldier. A man can be a woman. A seven-year-old cross-dressing boy can join the Girl Scouts in Colorado because he “identifies” as a girl. It all adds to life’s rich tapestry, no doubt. But I can’t help wondering, when the ship hits the fan, how many of us will still be willing to identify as a man.
--
The Costa Concordia isn’t merely a metaphor for EU collapse but — here it comes down the slipway — the fragility of civilization. Like every ship, the Concordia had its emergency procedures — the lifeboat drills that all crew and passengers are obliged to go through before sailing. As with the security theater at airports, the rituals give the illusion of security — and then, as the ship tips and the lights fail and the icy black water rushes in, we discover we’re on our own: from dancing and dining, showgirls and saunas, to the inky depths in a matter of moments.


Writing at Pajames Media, Neo neocon examines the Origin of Women and Children First

In our current world of feminism and equal rights, it’s become harder and harder to continue to justify the Birkenhead drill, except for the need to protect future generations and those who bear them.

But that’s no small thing. As science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wrote in his novel Time Enough For Love: 

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can — and must — be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. 

That is still true in a larger sense, although it needn’t apply to the passengers on every ship that meets with disaster. But the society that ignores it completely is a society that may ultimately depopulate itself.


That's very close to my understanding that when lives must be saved, more life and potential life is saved if women and children first.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:12 PM | Permalink

What makes a good coach?

He had seen enough coaching to break even their performance down into its components. Good coaches, he said, speak with credibility, make a personal connection, and focus little on themselves. Hobson and Harding “listened more than they talked,” Knight said. “They were one hundred per cent present in the conversation.” They also parcelled out their observations carefully. “It’s not a normal way of communicating—watching what your words are doing,” he said. They had discomfiting information to convey, and they did it directly but respectfully.

Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande?printable=true&currentPage=all#ixzz1k3G1zGEH

Atul Gawande on Coaching a Surgeon: What Makes Top Performers Better in The New Yorker

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2012

More on women and children first

It's been most interesting to read what people have to say about Captain Francesco Schettino, dubbed 'Captain Coward' and 'Chicken of the Sea' as well as about those of his  crew and the men that elbowed aside women and children to get into the lifeboats.

What was surprising is how many commenters blamed feminists for holding men to an unjust double standard. Feminists have been saying for decades that they are just as tough as men, they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and don't need any protection.  Who can forget, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

I believe that The natural duty and responsibility of men is to protect life, especially women and children,  and if necessary give up their lives to do so.    Children have a long life ahead of them; women can create new life.  And that is why they are naturally given preference and rescued first.  More life is rescued if women and children are rescued first.

Whatever happened to women and children first?

It would now seem as though the accident was avoidable, and this makes it all the more horrifying for everyone who lived through what one crew-member called a 36-hour nightmare.

One of the features of the disaster that has provoked a great deal of  comment is the stream of reports from angry survivors of how, in the chaos, men refused to put women and  children first, and instead pushed themselves forward to escape; and how the Italian crew ignored passengers and reportedly shouldered their way past mothers and pregnant women to get into lifeboats.
--
When the Titanic went down in April 1912, the Captain’s orders were: ‘Women and children first!’
Although this legendary edict was never part of maritime law, it was adhered to so strictly on the Titanic that men were actually stopped from boarding lifeboats, many of which went to sea only three-quarters full.
There were only a few exceptions to the unvarying tales of heroism: three men in steerage who disobeyed the rule — Italians, coincidentally — were shot.

The chivalry was reflected in survival rates: 74 per cent of the women were saved; 52 per cent of the children; and just 20 per cent of the men.
--
As the father of three daughters, I do not, with a single fibre of my being, wish to go back to a time when women could not have the vote or get a university degree. Nor do I, surrounded by extremely strong-charactered and intelligent women in my family and among my friends, feel tempted to regard women as the frail sex.

But the fact remains that there is a longing among most men to protect women and children, and chivalry is simply a manifestation of that longing.  And whatever transpires about the reason for the Costa Concordia disaster, the disappearance of a chivalric code is a sorry reflection on society today.

Ed West says  Women and children first is the great marker of civilisation

Before the Victorian era it was normal for men to save themselves rather than to lay down their lives for a woman, a very un-Darwinian act of selflessness; in many cultures still men are given priority during famines. A system where women and children are given preference, in contrast, is one where physical strength gives way. For that reason "women and children first" remains one of the great markers of civilisation.

"Dud, Where's My Lifeboat'

A century ago this spring, as the Titanic entered its death throes and all its lifeboats had been launched, Capt. Edward Smith told his crew: “Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Now it’s every man for himself.” One witness recalled seeing him, probably washed overboard, clutching a child in the water as the Titanic disappeared. A member of the crew always believed it was Captain Smith’s voice he heard from the water after the Titanic was gone, urging him and others on: “Good boys! Good lads!”

“Every man for himself” is a phrase associated with the deadly Costa Concordia disaster, but not as a last-minute expedient. It appears to have been the natural order of things.

Costa Concordia hero Roberto Bosio calls captain Francesco Schettino 'a disgraceful man'.

'Only a disgraceful man would have left all those passengers on board. It was the most horrible experience of my life. A tragedy, a heartache that I will carry with me forever.'

Off-duty Bosio, who captains the Concordia's sister ship the Serena, was only on board the ship by chance as he made his way back home to Savona, near Genoa. Bosio, who is engaged and lives in Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border, was in his cabin resting when disaster struck.

He helped dozens of woman and children into lifeboats, and is understood to have organised the entire rescue effort throughout the night.
--
'Don’t call me a hero. I just did my duty, the duty of a sea captain – actually the duty of a normal man.

'I and the others with me just did our duty. We looked each other in the eyes for a second and then we just got on with it.'

Seafarers outraged that Captain could Jump Ship

"It's a matter of honor that the master is the last to leave. Nothing less will do in this profession," said Jorgen Loren, captain of a passenger ferry operating between Sweden and Denmark and chairman of the Swedish Maritime Officer's Association.
--
Jim Staples, a captain for 20 years, who spoke Wednesday from a 1,000-foot (300-meter) cargo vessel he was captaining near New Orleans, said captains are duty-bound to stay with the ship until the situation is hopeless. When they bail early, everything falls apart.

"I'm totally embarrassed by what he did," he said of Schettino. "He's given the industry a bad name, he's made us all look bad. It's shameful."
--
A more recent example is Robert Royer, the captain of a fishing vessel that sank off Alaska in 2010. As water gushed into the ship and the three other crew members jumped overboard, Royer stayed in the wheelhouse to make a frantic mayday call and give the ship's position to the Coast Guard. The crew said that likely saved their lives, because the ship's emergency beacon didn't work.

On bravery, cowardice, moral evolution and the Costa Concordia

Why are humans cowardly and brave? What inspires suicidal courage or craven self-preservation? -- If Capt Schettino did flee the sinking ship, then he failed his duty as a captain and a leader, regardless of the evolutionary background of our species. But more interesting is that others – tens of millions of others throughout human history – have not; have risked (and lost) their own lives for other people. We often criticise human nature as brutish, selfish or ugly, but it's not – or not always. The callous logic of natural selection has made us brave, moral and loyal as well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 AM | Permalink

January 19, 2012

The European Project like a 'massive, post-Tito Yugoslavia'

In short, the incontinent spending of many European governments, which awarded whole populations unearned benefits at the expense of generations to come, has—along with a megalomaniacal currency union—produced a crisis not merely economic but social, political, and even civilizational. The European Union that was supposed to put an end to war on the continent has resuscitated antagonisms that might end in bellicosity, if not in outright war. And the European Project stands revealed as what any sensible person could have seen it always was: something akin to the construction of a massive, post-Tito Yugoslavia.

Theodore Dalrymple, The European Crack-Up

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 PM | Permalink

The Greek We Speak

10 Words Originating from Greek Mythology

Atlas
Chronological and Chronic
Echo
Erotic
Hypnosis
Morphine
Narcissism
Nemesis
Tantalizing

Enjoy the explanations and images at the link like this painting by the genius Caravaggio representing Narcissus

 Caravaggio Narcissus

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink

Preventing MS

National MS Society Convenes Summit to Explore Vitamin D Trials to Prevent MS

Background: Research is increasingly pointing to a reduced level of vitamin D in the blood as a risk factor for developing MS. Years ago, MS researchers wondered why MS occurs less often in regions of the world where exposure to sunlight is high. Dr. Hayes – a professor of biochemistry and microbiology – and colleagues suggested that vitamin D, which is made by cells in the skin in response to sunlight, may suppress the immune response involved in MS. She and others have since shown that in lab mice, vitamin D can reduce the effects of EAE, an MS-like disease.
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“We are people from all over the world and we have one common purpose – to stop this disease,” noted Dr. Hayes. “The research that has been done by the people in this room and others provides us with strong evidence that vitamin D may help.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2012

Captain Coward

 Capt Francesco Schettino
Francesco Schettino, Captain of the Costa Concordia

Stricken cruise liner captain DID abandon ship 'half an hour before passengers' AND refused to go back when ordered

Francesco Schettino to appear before judge today on charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship.  He ignored orders from the Italian coastguard to return to his ship and the hundreds of passengers he abandoned to fend for themselves.

Officials say that during those chaotic minutes, the bungling skipper had tried to palm them off and minimise the dangerous situation it was facing - and that it was his juniors who realised the impending disaster and ordered passengers and crew to the lifeboats.

From a translation of the phone communications between the coast guard and the captain  

Coast Guard: "Tell me the reason why you are not going back on board."

Schettino: "There is another life boat ... "

Coast Guard: "You go back on board! That is an order! There is nothing else for you to consider. You have sounded the 'abandon ship.' Now I am giving the orders. Go back on board. Is that clear? Don't you hear me?"

The captain did not go back and that is why he is now  the most hated man in Italy and dubbed "Captain Coward"

Facebook anger at skipper of doomed cruise liner who 'abandoned ship hours before passengers'

Thousands have taken to the web to vent their fury at the so-called ‘Captain Coward’, who is now claimed to have ‘skimmed’ past the Tuscan isle of Giglio not just to salute a retired officer but also to impress his head waiter’s family on shore.

Many scorned his decision not to remain with his stricken ship.

Even with the order to abandon ship, many of the crew were also cowardly.  One survivor reported

that men pushed past children who were screaming 'I don't want to die' as the young and elderly were 'abandoned by the crew'.

What others said about  the Cowardly crew on cruise

“No one was giving directions, saying older people and kids should get into the boats first,’’ said Karen Camacho, of Homestead, Fla.

“Instead of letting passengers get into lifeboats, the crew went in first and [was] saying not to let [passengers] in,’’ she told USA Today.

Some compared the wreck to the Titantic, but in that disaster when people realized there were not enough lifeboats, men willingly gave up the chance to save their lives so that women and children could be saved first.  By so doing, they proved themselves to be real men.  The natural duty and responsibility of men is to protect life, especially women and children,  and if necessary give up their lives to do so.    Children have a long life ahead of them; women can create new life.  And that is why they are naturally given preference and rescued first.  More life is rescued if women and children are rescued first. 

I would even say this is true in all cultures and is probably hard-wired into our human nature.  Fathers and mothers naturally would sacrifice themselves to save their children.  Men who flee disaster to save their own skins and abandon women and children are cowards.  They fail to achieve humanness. And for that reason, they are shamed.

Cicero said long ago, Courage is the first virtue enabling all others. 

'My husband gave me his lifejacket as we jumped off sinking cruise ship... I never saw him again,' says French survivor

A Costa Concordia survivor has told how her husband saved her life before drowning - because there was 'nobody there' to save him.

Frenchwoman Nicole Servel, 61, said Francis Servel, 71, gave her his lifejacket before they leapt off the sinking cruise ship.
She said: 'I owe my life to my husband – it’s obvious he saved me.' She managed to swim for shore, while Mr Servel was swept underwater and drowned.'

Captain Coward is in court today

Schettino, who faces up to 12 years in jail for manslaughter, will appear in court today after his company chiefs accused him of an ‘unauthorised and unapproved’ decision to sail so close to the eastern side of the island of Giglio.

The £400million liner, with 4,200 passengers and crew, was sailing just 300 yards from the island’s rocky coast when it should have been at least four miles out to sea. It came to grief on Friday night after sustaining a 160ft gash in the port-side hull.

After swiftly escaping from the listing liner, Schettino – the Concordia’s skipper for six years – was arrested along with first officer Ciro Ambrosio.

The captain was spotted wrapped in a blanket on his way to the shore at around 11.30pm – more than four hours before the evacuation of the vessel was completed - and breaking the maritime tradition of remaining with his ship.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

January 13, 2012

Gutter gardens, tension rods and baby powder

From 25 clever ideas to make life easier

Baby powder gets sand off your skin easily – who knew?!

Microwave your own popcorn in a plain brown paper bag. Much healthier and cheaper than the packet stuff.

Brilliant space-saver: install a tension rod to hang your spray bottles. Genius!

 Tensionrod Undersink

Gutter garden: Create a window-box veggie patch using guttering.

 Guttergarden

Stop cut apples browning in your child’s lunch box by securing with a rubber band.

 Cut Apple Rubber Band
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

We are always part of our mothers

This is so astonishing and beautiful.  We are always part of our mothers.

Our Selves, Other Cells

I’m not talking about emotional bonds, which we can only hope will endure. I mean that for any woman that has ever been pregnant, some of her baby’s cells may circulate in her bloodstream for as long as she lives. Those cells often take residence in her lungs, spinal cord, skin, thyroid gland, liver, intestine, cervix, gallbladder, spleen, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. And, yes, the baby’s cells can also live a lifetime in her heart and mind.
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During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus. A baby’s cells are detectable in his mother’s bloodstream as early as four weeks after conception, and a mother’s cells are detectable in her fetus by week 13. In the first trimester, one out of every fifty thousand cells in her body are from her baby-to-be (this is how some noninvasive prenatal tests check for genetic disorders). In the second and third trimesters, the count is up to one out of every thousand maternal cells. At the end of the pregnancy, up to 6 percent of the DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood plasma comes from the fetus. After birth, the mother’s fetal cell count plummets, but some stick around for the long haul. Those lingerers create their own lineages. Imagine colonies in the motherland.

Moms usually tolerate the invasion. This is why skin, organ, and bone marrow transplants between mother and child have a much higher success rate than between father and child.

 Baby-Foot-Womb

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It turns out that when fetal cells are good, they are very, very good. They may protect mothers from some forms of cancer. Fetal cells show up significantly more often in the breast tissue of women who don’t have breast cancer than in women who do (43 versus 14 percent). Why is this? Fetal cells are foreign to the mother because they contain DNA from the baby’s father. One theory is that this “otherness” stimulates the mother’s immune system just enough to help keep malignant cells in check. The more fetal cells there are in a woman’s body, the less active are autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
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How many people have left their DNA in us? Any baby we’ve ever conceived, even ones we’ve miscarried unknowingly. Sons leave their Y chromosome genes in their mothers. The fetal cells from each pregnancy, flowing in a mother’s bloodstream, can be passed on to her successive kids. If we have an older sibling, that older sibling’s cells may be in us. The baby in a large family may harbor the genes of many brothers and sisters. My mother’s cells are in my body, and so are my daughter’s cells, and half my daughter’s DNA comes from her dad. Some of those cells may be in my brain. This is squirm-worthy.

But there’s something beautiful about this too. Long post postpartum, we mothers continue to carry our children, at least in a sense. Our babies become part of us, just as we are a part of them. The barriers have broken down; the lines are no longer fixed. Moms must be many in one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

Elderly 'Experts' Share Life Advice in Cornell Project

Jane Brody on Advice from Life's Graying Edge on Finishing with No Regrets

Eventually, most of us learn valuable lessons about how to conduct a successful and satisfying life. But for far too many people, the learning comes too late to help them avoid painful mistakes and decades of wasted time and effort.

Enter an invaluable source of help, if anyone is willing to listen while there is still time to take corrective action. It is a new book called “30 Lessons for Living” (Hudson Street Press) that offers practical advice from more than 1,000 older Americans from different economic, educational and occupational strata who were interviewed as part of the ongoing Cornell Legacy Project.

Its author, Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at the College of Human Ecology at Cornell and a gerontologist at the Weill Cornell Medical College, calls his subjects “the experts,” and their advice is based on what they did right and wrong in their long lives. Many of the interviews can be viewed at legacyproject.human.cornell.edu.

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An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”
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ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.”

Most found that old age vastly exceeded their expectations. Even those with serious chronic illnesses enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment.
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ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. And travel more when you’re young rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired.
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ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you.
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Even if their lives were nine decades long, the elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:14 AM | Permalink

Top ten names

Top ten names for baby girls in 2010 as reported by the Social Security Administration

  1. Isabella
  2. Sophia
  3. Emma
  4. Olivia
  5. Ava
  6. Emily
  7. Abigail
  8. Madison
  9. Chloe
  10. Mia

Top ten names for baby boys

  1. Jacob
  2. Ethan
  3. Michael
  4. Jayden
  5. William
  6. Alexander
  7. Noah
  8. Daniel
  9. Aiden
  10. Anthony
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 AM | Permalink

January 12, 2012

What is the color of the Milky Way?

Milky Way is 'pure white, like a snowflake', say astronomers seeking the true colour of our galaxy

Astronomers seeking the true colour of the Milky Way have revealed that our galaxy is so white that it would resemble fresh snow to the human eye.

A team from the University of Pittsburgh has presented research revealing the Milky Way to be 'a very pure white, almost mirroring a fresh spring snowfall.'

The colour of a galaxy is one of its most important properties because it reveals age, and they are usually split into two broad categories.

Red galaxies are older because they rarely form new stars, while blue galaxies are younger as new stars are still being born.

The new measurements place the Milky Way near the division between the two classes.

Just right

 Milkywaygalaxy

Milky Way facts

If the Milky Way were the size of a football field, 100 meters or 110 yards, our entire solar system would be only 1 mm big, like a grain of sand.  The Milky Way galaxy has at least 200 billion stars in it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 PM | Permalink

Government can't even build a solar installation in Death Valley

Leave it to Walter Russell Mead for the best article on why Green Tech Plus Red Tape Yields No Hope

Where better to set up solar panels than California’s Death Valley? The sun’s always shining and from May to September the temperature doesn’t stray much below a whopping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yet even in Death Valley government-funded solar projects are floundering.  The L.A. Times has the story:
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According to the article, the solar panels in Death Valley have been unplugged for at least two-and-a-half years due to the various agencies tripping over one another.

And in the meantime, one has to wonder: if the wrangling, process crazed bureaucrats wrestling with the conflicting, nonsensical regulations and requirements issued by various state, local and federal bureaucracies can’t work out reasonable solutions to the relatively simple question involved in a no-brain solar installation in the desert, what chance is there that these same bureaucracies will redesign the American energy grid and take us to the low carbon utopia that always seems just out of reach?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:09 PM | Permalink

Breast cancer vaccine from the army cuts recurrence in half

The Army Has An Amazing Breast Cancer Vaccination That Cuts Recurrence In Half

Military researchers have developed a cancer vaccine that is cutting recurrence rates in cancer survivors in half, according to American Forces Press Service.

The vaccine, dubbed E-75, targets a protein commonly over-expressed in breast cancer cells called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2/neu.

“The idea is to train the immune system to recognize that protein or piece of protein that’s highly expressed on cancer cells, but not on normal cells,” said Army Colonel George E. Peoples, director and principal investigator for the Cancer Vaccine Development Program at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. “That way the immune system can differentiate what’s abnormal and normal. If the immune system can recognize it, it marks it for death, basically.”

People's team took a unique approach to developing their version of a cancer vaccine by testing its effectiveness on cancer survivors, who are currently disease free but are at risk for recurrence. Most often cancer vaccines are tested on end-stage cancer patients. Peoples pointed out that it's not surprising that the vaccines have not been found helpful in these cases seeing as a vaccine is supposed to stimulate the immune system and a healthy immune system is not found in end-stage patients.

The outcome of the 200-patient trial that started in 2001 is very promising, said Peoples. The cancer survivors, who received an injection once a month for six months, saw a recurrence rate of 10% as compared to 20% recurrence rate in the control group.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

Binge drinking and Drunkorexia

There have always been people who drank too much, but binge drinking seemed to be limited to college frat parties.  Today it seems binge drinking is the only way some people know how to drink.

“It’s not just the usual suspects who are binge drinking,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, who leads the C.D.C.’s alcohol program. “This is not just a problem of high school kids and college students. It’s a problem across the lifespan.”
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Binge drinking accounts for more than half of the alcohol consumed by adults and 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youths.

More than 38 MILLION U.S. adults binge drink on a weekly basis

College-age drinkers average nine drinks when they get drunk, government health officials said Tuesday.

That surprising statistic is part of a new report highlighting the dangers of binge drinking, which usually means four to five drinks at a time.
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Health officials estimate that about half of the beer, wine and liquor consumed in the United States by adults each year is downed during binge drinking.

'I know this sounds astounding, but I think the numbers we're reporting are really an underestimate,' said Dr. Robert Brewer, who leads the alcohol program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report is based on telephone surveys last year of more than 450,000 adults. They were asked about their alcohol drinking in the past month, including the largest number of drinks they had at one time.

 Map Us Binge Drinking

CDC Vital Signs

  • Age group with most binge drinkers: 18-34 years
  • Age group that binge drinks most often: 65+ years
  • Income group with most binge drinkers: more than $75,000
  • Income group that binge drinks the most often and drinks most per binge: less than $25,000
  • Most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics.
  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is while binge drinking.
  • More than 90% of the alcohol youth drink is while binge drinking.

Combining binge drinking with starvation is the next dangerous step .  Drunkorexia is the act of skipping meals to have more calories to binge drink. 

Combining starvation and binge drinking puts young women at risk of developing more serious eating disorders or alcohol abuse problems, as well as in danger of alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behavior and chronic diseases in later life. Women are more vulnerable to liver damage and cirrhosis at lower levels of alcohol consumption than men. Alcohol also increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and the risk rises with the level of alcohol consumed.

Sadly, too many young people are going to be in the position of Matt Maded with cirrhosis of the liver and no liver donors to be found.  He stopped drinking when he was 21, now he's looking at a very early death.

'I started drinking aged 10': Alcoholic, 26, desperately in need of new liver sits by phone waiting for a life-saving call

He was drinking 16 cans and a bottle of spirits as a teenager and was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis when he was 21

He only has a  20 per cent chance of getting the donor liver he needs.

 Mattmaden

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

View inside Iran

The Atlantic publishes a fascinating series of photographs of people going about the business of  their lives.  A View Inside Iran

 View Inside Iran

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

January 7, 2012

Epiphany

Though most people have already tossed their trees and put away their decorations, Christians end Christmastide with Epiphany, the Feast of Light, celebrated this year on Sunday, January 8.

Msgr Charles Pope asks  Have You Ever Really Seen the Stars? Most city dwellers have no idea of the glory the ancient Magi saw

Heather King on The Epiphany Star in the January Magnificat

The Magi appear.  The star hovers in the East.  The star that points both heavenward to God, and earthward, to a family.  The Holy Family.  Mother, father, child.  The family soon to be on the run, hunted by brutal murderers.  The family, perpetually under siege.  The family, our sanctuary and our exile.  The family, fount of all that is good in us, and all that can become so terribly wounded.

Right f rom the beginning, Christianity is "a religion you could not have guessed," as C.S. Lewis observed.  "It has just that queer twist about it that real things have."  The Savior of the universe born wth a bounty on his head.

 Magnificatjan-Cover

Pope Benedict XVI's homily on the Feast of Epiphany

The Epiphany is a feast of light. “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Is 60:1). With these words of the prophet Isaiah, the Church describes the content of the feast. He who is the true light, and by whom we too are made to be light, has indeed come into the world. He gives us the power to become children of God (cf. Jn 1:9,12). The journey of the wise men from the East is, for the liturgy, just the beginning of a great procession that continues throughout history. With the Magi, humanity’s pilgrimage to Jesus Christ begins – to the God who was born in a stable, who died on the Cross and who, having risen from the dead, remains with us always, until the consummation of the world
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The wise men from the East lead the way. They open up the path of the Gentiles to Christ...The experts tell us that they belonged to the great astronomical tradition that had developed in Mesopotamia over the centuries and continued to flourish. But this information of itself is not enough. ...They were, as we might say, men of science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range of knowledge: they wanted something more. They wanted to understand what being human is all about. They had doubtless heard of the prophecy of the Gentile prophet Balaam: “A star shall come forth out of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Num 24:17). They explored this promise. They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied with the superficial and the ordinary. They were men in search of the promise, in search of God. And they were watchful men, capable of reading God’s signs, his soft and penetrating language. But they were also courageous, yet humble; we can imagine them having to endure a certain amount of mockery for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the cost of so much effort.

Sandro Meisel on The Wise Men from the East , who they were and how they fulfilled ancient prophecies.

These foreigners, the first Gentiles to see the Light, recognize what Herod and the Temple priesthood cannot: the newborn Savior. The wealthy, learned, alien Magi of St. Matthew's Gospel complement the poor, ignorant, local shepherds of St Luke's Gospel. Foreshadowing the universality of the Church, these Gentiles and Jews worship God Incarnate to show that salvation is offered to all men.

Walter Russell Mead concludes The Light at the End of the Yule Blog

This is what I have been trying to say all along: Christmas is important to Christians because from their point of view the baby Jesus is the meaning of Christmas, and the meaning of Christmas is the meaning of life. That meaning is the source of our life, the goal of our lives, and the light of all life and of all human beings. It has existed forever and somehow both lives with and is God on high, but it came into our world and into a Jewish family on a special day when Augustus Caesar ruled in Rome and Herod was king in Jerusalem. We had somehow lost touch with the Meaning of it all, but the Meaning hadn’t lost touch with us. It was intent on finding us anyway — and it did. That is what Christians have been celebrating since December 25 and what in many ways we go on celebrating all year.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

"The religion of science can turn an intelligent man into a fool"

The most devastating book review of the year.  Leon Wieseltier in The Answers in The New Republic.

Is there a god? No. What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is. What is the purpose of the universe? There is none. What is the meaning of life? Ditto. Why am I here? Just dumb luck. Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding? Is there free will? Not a chance! What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them. Why should I be moral? Because it makes you feel better than being immoral. Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes. What is love, and how can I find it? Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it. Does history have any meaning or purpose?It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.” I take this cutting-edge wisdom from the worst book of the year, a shallow and supercilious thing called The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, by Alex Rosenberg, a philosopher of science at Duke University. The book is a catechism for people who believe they have emancipated themselves from catechisms. The faith that it dogmatically expounds is scientism. It is a fine example of how the religion of science can turn an intelligent man into a fool.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

January 6, 2012

"An appetite for old age"

Th latest study from Britain reports  the brain starts going downhill at 45: Scientists find mental decline sets in much earlier than they had thought 

• British men and women suffer the same 3.6 per cent loss between the ages of 45-49 
• Whilst older men aged 65-70 fare worse with a 9.6 per cent drop in comparison with the 7.4 for their female counterparts 

Memory and other brain skills begin to decline at the age of 45 – much earlier than previously thought, say researchers.
A major study shows the brain's capacity for memory, reasoning and comprehension starts waning in middle age rather than in the 60s.

The study looked at civil servants aged between 45 and 70 working in London when cognitive testing began in 1997 to 1999.
Cognitive function was measured three times over 10 years to assess memory, vocabulary, hearing and visual comprehension skills.

In the same week, the New York Times reports

Vitamins B, C, D and E and Omega-3 Strengthen Older Brains

Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E are associated with better mental functioning in the elderly, a new study has found.
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After controlling for age, sex, blood pressure, body mass index and other factors, the researchers found that people with the highest blood levels of the four vitamins scored higher on the cognitive tests and had larger brain volume than those with the lowest levels.

Omega-3 levels were linked to better cognitive functioning and to healthier blood vessels in the brain, but not to higher brain volume, which suggests that these beneficial fats may improve cognition by a different means.

Higher blood levels of trans fats, on the other hand, were significantly associated with impaired mental ability and smaller brain volume.

The best antidote to fears of growing older is to read Cicero on Old Age as Joseph Epstein wrote in a book review last year.

"Cicero," Montaigne wrote, "gives one an appetite for old age." And so he does. Of course old age, bringing with it diminished strength and desires, cannot do some of things youth can; of course old age makes one more prone to illness and disease—parts, after all, do wear out; of course old age puts one closer to death. But weighed beside these serious detractions, Cicero contended, are the opportunities old age brings for "the study and practice of decent, enlightened living," accompanied by a calm that youth, and even middle age, do not allow.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 PM | Permalink

"In the freezer with the chips and the chicken"

This story would be impossible at any other time in history

Twins born five years apart

despite the fact the brother and sister were conceived from the same batch of embryos, they were born five years apart to parents Simon and Jody Blake.

Mr Blake, 45, and his 38-year-old wife had been trying to start a family without success and began fertility treatment in 2005.
During the medical process, five embryos were created and two implanted in Mrs Blake, which resulted in the birth of Reuben on December 9 2006.

 Twins-Born 5Years Apart

The remaining three embryos were frozen until the couple, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, decided to try for another child last year.
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Even at his young age Reuben is aware of the special relationship he has with his seven-week-old sister, although his parents said it would be a while before he fully understands.

''He knows that she's been in the freezer – he likes to say she has been in the freezer with the chips and the chicken – so he is sort of aware that she is his twin, but obviously he doesn't really understand how it's all worked really,'' his mother said.


Not a gift from God or brought by the stork, but in the freezer with the chips.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 PM | Permalink

January 5, 2012

The Upcoming Clash

Robert George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton  asks  "What will happen to Catholics and others . . . ?"

One of my superstar former students, writing about his experience at one of our nation's premier law schools, sent me a note after reading my MOJ post on marriage, religious liberty, and the "grand bargain."  Here is the text, with names removed to protect the innocent:

I had a first-hand experience with this reality in law school. One of my constitutional law professors taught the section of our course relating to same-sex marriage under the "inevitability" banner. I met with him in office hours later to talk to him about something else, but I brought up a question that I have been wrestling with: if the SSM advocates are right and opposition to SSM becomes analogous to racism in our society, what will happen to Catholics and others whose views on SSM cannot and will not change? Are they to be excluded from public office, political and judicial appointments, or places of trust and responsibility within private institutions (e.g., law firm partnerships)? I posed the question to him because I was curious to hear his response, since he is generally a kind and reasonable person who seemed open to other viewpoints.

His response was very disappointing, and it shook my confidence in him. He responded to me by saying something along the lines of: "Well,
they [Catholics and others] will either have to change their views or be treated in the same way that white supremacists and the segregationist Senators were treated. They were excluded from the judiciary entirely for decades because of the South's views on race."

He evinced no sympathy for the traditional marriage position or those who hold it. They were to be relegated to the ash heap of history. He said all of this to me knowing full well (because I had foolishly just told him) that I was a Catholic who opposed SSM.


So a law professor at a leading law school is perfectly all right with excluding Catholics from public office and relegating Catholics to the ash heap of history. 

While this professor is described as  "generally a kind and reasonable person who seems open to other viewpoints," with respect to Catholics and the right of conscience, he is a fascist. 

Consider the professor's own words.  He made no effort to hide his goals and intentions.  On the contrary, he made it abundantly clear that Catholics and others who persist in their dissent are to be treated the way we treat white supremacists.  They are to be stigmatized, subjected to discrimination, and denied the right to hold certain offices.

His views are not uncommon in academia and this does not bode well for the country.  Or the Constitution and The Bill of Rights.
What always surprises me is how willing

Another disturbing development that's freaking people out is the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, recently signed by President Obama.  The new act contains amendments proposed by Senator Carl Levin (D) and Senator John McCain (R)  which allows the government to imprison anyone suspected of or even associated with terrorism.

This power is open to wide interpretation and could certainly be abused.

Some Constitutional experts say "pro-life 'terrorists' could be permanently detained without trial under the new law signed by President Obama.

Constitutional experts warn a new law that allows the president to permanently detain U.S. citizens without trial could be used against pro-life activists, who have already been defined as potential terrorists in documents by some government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.
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The NDAA, which President Barack Obama signed on December 31, allows the president to hold enemy combatants in military detention facilities without trial until the end of hostilities, if the person “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” The law allows the president to determine which groups may be considered terrorists without judicial or congressional oversight, although Secretary of Defense is required to “regularly brief” Congress about “covered persons.”--
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However, last August DHS and FBI agents attended a terrorism training seminar hosted by Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the Feminist Majority Foundation that equated free speech and distributing literature with violence. An 84-page resource guide listed three pages of potential extremist websites including Priests for Life, National Right to Life, the American Life League, Concerned Women for America, Human Life International, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

I'm glad that this act is being scorned all around,  Bruce Fein writes God is alive. Due process is dead.

Henry Blodget writes.

On New Year's Eve, President Obama signed into law a bill that eliminates one of the fundamental protections of the U.S. Constitution:  The right for people not to be detained indefinitely by the government without being formally convicted of crimes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:54 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2012

Selling at the peak in the cold, buying at the bottom in the sun

In North Dakota, there is a major housing shortage as people flock to the cold, northern state where jobs are plentiful and well paid.  But the downside of the oil boom is a housing shortage.

But now North Dakota ranks fourth in oil production among all U.S. states and will soon under go its own housing boom. Discovered in the out-skirts on the western fringe of the state, the Bakken oil find is one of the largest oil discoveries ever assessed by the U.S. Geological survey.

Employees working the oil fields travel long distances to work since housing is all but impossible to find in nearby towns like Williston. The community has a desperate need for new home construction and already has plans for a new major apartment complex.

In Stanley, which had a population of just 1,300 until new laborers started arriving to work in the oil fields, the population is bursting. In Williston and a number of other small western communities studies are going on to determine how much new housing is needed. Hundreds of workers are stuck living in temporary quarters in motels, hotels and trailers just to get by in the mean time.

So what are the natives doing?

They are heading to Arizona and Phoenix, 1500 miles away where prices have plunged since the real estate bubble burst.

"A lot of people have struck it rich," he says. "Oil companies are coming in and buying businesses and land. They're selling up there at the peak and buying down here at the bottom."

Some want second homes. Others move outright.

I think this story is delicious.    After all those winters in the cold and the dark, some North Dakotans get a real break.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:17 PM | Permalink

"I kind of stopped breathing for a second."

She gave up her daughter for adoption after she was raped as a teenager, but Minka Disbrow,lived long enough to be reunited with her baby girl 77 years later.

Lee started suffering from heart problems and doctors asked about the family's medical history. She knew nothing about it. Her son, Brian, decided to try to find out more and petitioned the court in South Dakota for his mother's adoption records.

He got a stack of more than 270 pages including a written account of the assault and handwritten letters from a young Disbrow, asking about the tiny baby she had cradled for a month.

He then went online to try to find one of Disbrow's relatives — possibly through an obituary.

"I was looking for somebody I thought was probably not living," said Lee's now-54-year-old son. He typed Disbrow's name into a web directory and was shocked when a phone listing popped up. "I kind of stopped breathing for a second."

 Minka Disbrow Reunited With Daughter After77Years

On the phone with her biological daughter, Disbrow was in disbelief. Her legs began to tremble. She couldn't understand how a naïve dairy farm girl without an education could have such accomplished grandchildren.

A month later, Ruth Lee and Brian Lee flew to California. They arrived at Disbrow's meticulous apartment on a palm tree-lined street armed with a gigantic bouquet of flowers.

Disbrow couldn't get over how Lee's hands were like her mother's. Lee was amazed at the women's similar taste in clothing. They pored over family photo albums and caught up on the years Disbrow had missed.

"It was just like we had never parted," Disbrow said. "Like you were with the family all your life."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

Now What?

In 1981, five days before cancer killed him, the life-loving writer William Saroyan told the Associated Press: "Everybody has to die, but I always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"

There it is: "Now what?"

That is the great question growing all the greater for being asked by the biggest, most self-conscious and possibly most self-deluded generation in American history, the baby boomers.

Raging Against Aging in which Henry Allen takes a scalpel to law professor William Ian Miller's book about old age and who answers the question of "Now what?" with "Losing It"

"LOSING IT—in which an aging professor laments his shrinking BRAIN, which he flatters himself formerly did him Noble Service, a Plaint, tragi-comical, historical, vengeful, sometimes satirical and thankful in six parts, if his Memory does yet serve."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 AM | Permalink

Going Home

A lovely piece by David Brooks on Going Home Again

[Rod] Dreher, one of the country’s most interesting bloggers, captured Ruthie’s illness in real time. “It’s so beautiful to see it’s almost painful,” he wrote the night of the concert, “and so unreal in its generosity that you think it must have been a movie.”

As Ruthie’s illness worsened, Dreher’s grief would be mixed with something else. “The outpouring — an eruption, really — of goodness and charity from the people of our town has been quite simply stunning,” he blogged. “The acts of aid and comfort have been ceaseless, often reducing our parents to tears of shock and awe.”
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During the wake, Dreher and his wife received an e-mail informing them that the deal for a farmhouse they had hoped to rent in Bucks County, Pa., had fallen through. They were surprised as waves of relief swept over them.

Then a thought occurred. Maybe they should leave the Philadelphia area and move back to Louisiana. “Standing in Ruthie’s kitchen the day after she died, laughing with all of Mike’s friends who had surrounded him to hold him up (‘We’re leaning, but we’re leaning on each other,’ Mike later said), I thought, ‘Even with all the sadness, there’s no place else in the world I’d rather be.’ ”

Rod Dreher whose blog at The American Conservative I now read every day responded thus to Brooks' article

Thanks to David’s gift, I heard on Friday from major publishers, inviting a proposal to write a book about Ruthie’s life and the meaning of community in contemporary America. I would give anything never to have written a word about my sister, and to still be living in Philadelphia, if only she were still alive and healthy. But that was not to be. How good, though, that the way she lived, and the way she faced her death, inspired so much compassion from others that, thanks to the media amplifying her story, many more people will get to hear what she, and what her friends and neighbors, did — and perhaps be moved to do the same in their own lives and places.

Today, he writes Lake Wobegon is not Mayberry

so many professional types have it within their power to solve the problems of loneliness and atomization and displacement by moving back home – but the thought of abandoning all the consumer comforts of the big city (Thai restaurants, indie movie houses, etc.) and professional advancement is too frightening. So they slog along, homesick to death, but unable to take the cure.
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let me paraphrase Walker Percy: where would you prefer to be as a writer, stumbling around Greenwich Village, or sitting on your front porch in St. Francisville? There are saints and sinners in both places, and human dramas all around. It’s only a matter of what the writer can see in front of him, and what he can learn to love. Can you, as Auden says we must, learn to “love your crooked neighbor/With your crooked heart”?

It seems to me that we need fewer writers and storytellers who pick out the faults of small towns and small places, and more who can identify and explore the life-giving aspects of these places. But that’s just me. The reasons people leave are still there, and always will be. The reasons people like me come back are there as well. There is also a reason so many city friends, when they learned what I was going to do, said with sometimes-raw emotion that they wish they had a place like this to come back to. Not that they would necessarily do so, but that they wish it were an option. That option had been foreclosed on by the choices their peripatetic parents had made, or that they had made. There’s a story in that. It’s the story of our time, actually.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 AM | Permalink

January 2, 2012

More walking

Why I've resolved to walk more during the new year.

Go forth, open the mind and just walk

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 PM | Permalink

Your appendix may be good for something

Your Appendix Could Save Your Life

You may have heard the appendix is vestigial, a relict of our past like the hind leg bones of a whale. Parker heard that too, he just disagrees. Parker thinks the appendix serves as a nature reserve for beneficial bacteria in our guts. When we get a severe gut infection such as cholera (which happened often during much of our history and happens often in many regions even today), the beneficial bacteria in our gut are depleted. The appendix allows them to be restored.  In essence, Parker sees the appendix as a sanctuary for our tiny mutualist friends, a place where there is always room at the inn. If he is right, the appendix nurtures beneficial bacteria even as our conscious brains and cultures tell us to kill, kill, kill them with wipes and pills.

From the link I learned Scientists Discover That Antimicrobial Wipes and Soaps May Be Making You (and Society) Sick

Most people who use antibiotic soap are no healthier than those who use normal soap. AND those individuals who are chronically sick and use antibiotic soap appear to get SICKER.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 PM | Permalink

I hope it's a good one

 Smileycreatures

For the new year, The Daiiy Mail gives us these smiley creatures and lots more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 PM | Permalink

January 1, 2012

Open your eyes

It's not just another day, not just another year.  It's the gift of a  new year.  May you enjoy it to the full and be grateful for it all.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:45 AM | Permalink