April 30, 2010

"Dehydrating a patient to death is known as The Third Way"

Quiet euthanasia by Matt C. Abbott

"Hundreds of thousands of patients are killed in the world each year in this manner, and no police or district attorney will act to investigate or prosecute."

These are the alarming words of Ron Panzer, founder and executive director of Hospice Patients Alliance, an organization dedicated to preserving the original mission of hospice care and exposing the pervasive problem of "quiet euthanasia" in the hospice industry.
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"Dehydrating a patient to death is known as The Third Way, says Panzer. "It's a way of side-stepping the laws against medical killing but assuring just as sure a result: death. It's extremely common."
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Regarding sedation, Panzer warns that "a natural death includes total sedation only if the patient is 'terminally agitated' uncontrollably, dangerously psychotic or delusional, or in severe pain where strong pain medications alone do not adequately manage that pain. To sedate without real agitation is a choice to kill. To dehydrate before the patient cannot take fluids is a choice to kill."

Panzer says that death through The Third Way is "the most censored story in the United States and perhaps the entire world."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

Dorothy Height, R.I.P.

 Dorothyireneheight

The President gave a lovely eulogy to civil rights leader Dorothy Height

We are gathered here today to celebrate the life, and mourn the passing, of Dr. Dorothy Height. It is fitting that we do so here, in our National Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Here, in a place of great honor. Here, in the House of God. Surrounded by the love of family and of friends. The love in this sanctuary is a testament to a life lived righteously; a life that lifted other lives; a life that changed this country for the better over the course of nearly one century here on Earth.
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But we remember her not solely for all she did during the civil rights movement. We remember her for all she did over a lifetime, behind the scenes, to broaden the movement's reach. To shine a light on stable families and tight-knit communities. To make us see the drive for civil rights and women's rights not as a separate struggle, but as part of a larger movement to secure the rights of all humanity, regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity.

It's an unambiguous record of righteous work, worthy of remembrance, worthy of recognition. And yet, one of the ironies is, is that year after year, decade in, decade out, Dr. Height went about her work quietly, without fanfare, without self-promotion. She never cared about who got the credit. She didn't need to see her picture in the papers. She understood that the movement gathered strength from the bottom up, those unheralded men and women who don't always make it into the history books but who steadily insisted on their dignity, on their manhood and womanhood. (Applause.) She wasn't interested in credit. What she cared about was the cause. The cause of justice. The cause of equality. The cause of opportunity. Freedom's cause.

And that willingness to subsume herself, that humility and that grace, is why we honor Dr. Dorothy Height.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:01 AM | Permalink

You Don't Know Jack "An exercise in moral botox"

I've always thought of Jack Kevorkian as a moral creep and a murderer so I wasn't planning on watching the HBO show even if Al Pacino plays him in You Don't Know Jack.      Mary Eberstadt calls it "an exercise in moral botox".

Finally, a Hollywood offering that even the most cynical critic could not possibly have made up: a multimillion dollar commercial catapult aimed at hurling into the progressive pantheon one of its most macabre demigods ever -- a convicted murderer and "assistant" to the deaths of more than 100 people, whose early enthusiasms included siphoning blood from corpses into living humans and experimenting with the eyeballs of the dying and dead; whose public statements about the uselessness of the sick amount to Goebbels Lite; and whose artistic offerings include subjects like decapitation and a child eating the flesh off a decomposing corpse. Did we mention that Kevorkian sometimes painted with his own blood?

Yes, that is just part of the record now being scrubbed clean by "You Don't Know Jack," a gorgeously shot HBO movie about Doctor Death directed by the exquisitely acute Barry Levinson, written by the able Adam Mazer, and featuring the incomparable Al Pacino with an all-star backup -- virtually every member of which is a Hollywood progressive in fine standing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink

April 29, 2010

'I've kicked the bucket"

There may be an organization that does more crass and tawdry ads than PETA, but I don't know of any.

PETA is buying ads on cremation urns.

 Peta-Urn-Cropped

Ad on urn: 'I've kicked the bucket - have you?'

A Springfield man has sold out ad space he is selling on his own urn.

Aaron Jamison has terminal cancer and was given only months to live by his doctors. Knowing his fate is all but sealed, he decided to sell ads on his own urn so his wife Kristin won’t have to worry about cremation costs when he dies.

Now, the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has snapped up two of the ads.

For $200.

The second ad encourages people to adopt homeless animals. It reads “People who buy purebred dogs really burn me up. Always adopt.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 PM | Permalink

April 28, 2010

Rogue Wave Thwarts Man's Suicide Attempt

 The-Gap-Watson's Bay-Nsw
The Gap at Watson's Bay

Freak Wave Thwarts Man's Suicide Attempt

Sydney, Australia (AHN) - A freak wave in Australia prevented a suicidal man from carrying out his plans to leap to his death from a cliff.

The 45-year old man jumped from a cliff commonly used by people wanting to kill themselves, known as the Gap at Watson Bay.

But when he plummeted more than 650 feet, the wave broke his fall and washed him safely to shore.

I'd like to know what this man says in five years' time.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

The Monster State

Wesley Smith calls China a "monster state" after More Evidence That China Killing Dissidents and Selling Their Organs

Now, new charges have been leveled that not only are Falun Gong still being preyed upon and their organs sold, but so too are Tibetans and other dissidents.
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In a news conference on Capitol Hill, several speakers, including attorney David Matas of B’nai Brith Canada and Ethan Gutmann of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said their investigations have unearthed a grisly trade in which an estimated 9,000 members of Falun Gong have been executed for their corneas, lungs, livers, kidneys and skins.

They likened the practice to the Nazi treatment of Jewish prisoners in World War II concentration camps, which included using them for sadistic medical experiments and taking the gold fillings from the teeth of corpses.
The newest wrinkle, they said, is that organs from other religious prisoners — specifically dissidents from China’s Christian, Muslim and Tibetan Buddhist communities — are also being harvested to satisfy an insatiable global demand. “These groups are useless to the state,” Mr. Gutmann said. “They are toxic, so you can’t release them. But they’re worth a great deal of money in terms of their organs.” Organs from just one person can fetch a total of $100,000 on the worldwide market, he added.”…

Doesn't it horrify you that China, willing to kill people for their organs and engage in female genocide through the  abortion of 500,000 and 750,000 unborn Chinese girls  every year after sex screening just because they are female, will not be the subject of any international investigation nor any outrage by U.S. officials who do not want to offend the country that holds so much of our debt.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink

“It is like throwing out rubbish”

Urns In The Lake Of Zurich

Dozens of cremation urns from the Swiss clinic of intentional death were found at the bottom of Lake Zurich.

The controversial Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas is likely to come under fresh scrutiny after divers discovered dozens of cremation urns on the bed of Lake Zurich.

“After 50, we stopped counting,” Roman Ruetz, a police diver, said. “They lay there in a big heap.” On being brought to the surface the urns were found to contain ashes.

There is little that directly connects Dignitas, which operates near by, with the urns, apart from the fact that they carried the logo of the Nordheim crematorium used by the suicide clinic.

One former employee and long-standing Dignitas critic, Soraya Wernli, told The Times 18 months ago that the clinic had dropped at least 300 urns in the lake.

Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, refused to comment yesterday.
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“If water burials are being conducted on a commercial basis and any promised ceremonies are not being performed, then that is unacceptable,” Nicolas Mori, a spokesman for the Zurich church council, said. “It is like throwing out rubbish.”

The grisly find has prompted authorities to investigate whether the disposal of the ashes contravenes environmental protection laws or violates the dignity of the dead and the contract between cremator and bereaved family.

Wolfgang Bollack, a spokesman for the local construction and environmental agency, said: “We have filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons for disturbance of the dead.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

April 22, 2010

"Too fast to live, too young to die"

"Too fast to live, too young to die" was the slogan on Malcolm McLaren's coffin as he was laid to rest to the strains of Sid Vicious singing My Way.

Malcolm McLaren's Funeral

The Sex Pistols manager hailed as the "godfather of punk" had a typically flamboyant send-off at a funeral attended by Dame Vivienne Westwood, Adam Ant, Tracey Emin and Sir Bob Geldof.

His coffin arrived at the deconsecrated One Marylebone Church, central London in a horse-drawn carriage. The mourners were transported in a green double decker bus emblazoned with the words: "Malcolm was here".

Inside the church, a blue and white floral tribute spelled out "cash from chaos", one of McLaren's slogans.
Dame Vivienne, McLaren's former partner and the mother of his son, Joe Corre, wore a headband that said "Chaos".

Adam Ant reminded onlookers of his 1980s heyday by tucking old photographs of himself into his hat. Other guests in cluded designer Pam Hogg, artist Dinos Chapman and Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

There was dancing in the aisles as McLaren's version of the Max Bygraves hit You Need Hands was played in the church.

McLaren died of cancer earlier this month, aged 64.
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His family had called on fans to stage a "minute of mayhem" rather than the traditional minute's silence, and a handful of punks were among the crowds lining the route as the funeral cortege made its way through the streets of Camden.

At least the church was deconsecrated.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

Standing at the Funeral

"Count no man’s life wasted if there is a beautiful, mysterious woman weeping at his funeral," Tom Holt via Joseph Bottum

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2010

Psychedelic drugs for the dying

ABC News Stairway to Heaven: Psychedelics Soothe Dying

NYU Researchers Study Use of Psilocybin or 'Magic Mushrooms' to Help the Terminally Ill.

-Psychedelic

Researchers at New York University say that in a controlled setting, hallucinogens, which alter perception and cognition, can help patients reduce the anxiety, personal isolation and fear of death.
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The three-year study, "Effects of Psilocybin on Anxiety and Psychosocial Distress in Advanced Cancer Patients," is being privately funded by the Zurich-based Heffter Research Institute , which promotes the use of psychedelics for the alleviation of suffering. Fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it adheres to rigorous safety guidelines and protocols.
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"It's daunting working with people in the midst of death," said principal investigator Dr. Stephen Ross, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction. "To help people to have a good death, and not more chemotherapy, to prepare for the final part of life and to die with dignity and do it in a way that they are not frightened, that is one of the most important endeavors as a physician."
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Patients are screened carefully -- those with psychotic spectrum disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression cannot participate.

"Mysticism is really the cornerstone of all major religions going back millennia," said co-principal investigator Anthony Bossis , professor of psychiatry and anesthesiology at the NYU School of Medicine.

"It is characterized by a sense of unity, transcendence, connecting to the broader universe and a sense of life and the promotion of personal spirituality," he said. "It recalibrates how we see our life and gives a sense of sacredness and reshapes how we view death."

A mystical experience can help root patients like Nicky more in the present, according to Bossis.

More than five years ago I reported that Harvard researchers, with the approval of the FDA were planning on treating Anxiety at the End of Life with MDMA, the active ingredient in the club drug known as ecstasy.

''We're trying to avoid sedating people, to allow them to maintain a good quality of life so they can enjoy the time they have with family and friends," said Shuster, who will select patients from Lahey for the experiment.

Typically, dying patients are given drugs such as valium, which can cloud their minds, or antipsychotics that leave them edgy. In any of these states, said cancer specialists, it becomes difficult to resolve family issues, arrange financial matters, or approach death with a sense of peace and understanding.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:46 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2010

Near-death experience at 3

Only 3, Paul Eicke is the youngest person I have ever heard of who survived to tell of his near death experience.

 3-Year-Old Nde

Boy, 3, tells how he 'saw grandmother in Heaven' before being brought back from the dead after falling into pond


A boy of three claims he saw his great grandmother in heaven while he was clinically dead after falling into a pond.
Paul Eicke came back to life more than three hours after his heart stopped beating.


It is believed he was in the pond at his grandparents' house for several minutes before his grandfather saw him and pulled him out.


His father gave him heart massage and mouth-to-mouth during the ten minutes it took a helicopter to arrive.


Paramedics then took over and Paul was taken the ten-minute journey to hospital. Doctors tried to resuscitate him for hours. They had just given up when, three hours and 18 minutes after he was brought in, Paul's heart started beating independently.


Professor Lothar Schweigerer, director of the Helios Clinic where Paul was taken, said: 'I have never experienced anything like it.  'When children have been underwater for a few minutes they mostly don't make it. This is a most extraordinary case.'


The boy said that while unconscious he saw his great grandmother Emmi, who had turned him back from a gate and urged him to go back to his parents.


Paul said: 'There was a lot of light and I was floating. I came to a gate and I saw Grandma Emmi on the other side.


'She said to me, "What are you doing here Paul? You must go back to mummy and daddy. I will wait for you here."


'I knew I was in heaven. But grandma said I had to come home. She said that I should go back very quickly.
'Heaven looked nice. But I am glad I am back with mummy and daddy now.'


Paul is now back at home in Lychen, north of Berlin in Germany, and there appears to be no sign of brain damage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2010

Beautiful Mourning

From the WSJ, Beautiful Mourning by Tom Freudheim, a review of "The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures From the Court of Burgundy" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mourner 1

A group of modestly sized (c. 15-inch-high) alabaster figures ripped from their context—the tomb of John the Fearless (reigned 1404-19)—seems barely enough to constitute a major exhibition. Yet this grouping casts a magic spell that is as sublime and compelling as anything you are likely to encounter in any museum this season.
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Mourner 2

As displayed in the Dijon museum, the mourning figures are in their original position—delicately carved gothic niches, which support the effigy of John the Fearless lying above. With only the figures to display, the Met has created an incredibly moving funeral procession that suggests the universality of the mourning mode. The small alabaster figures here attain a stunning monumentality and convey a variety of emotions that force us to contemplate the meanings in their various attitudes.
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Mourner 3

The power of the installation, set in the midst of the Met's majestic medieval courtyard, makes it hard not to get drawn into the sadness, even if we're totally disconnected from the actual subject of this mourning—that is, the death of John the Fearless.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

April 15, 2010

Anthony Flew, R. I.P.

He was the famous British professor of philosophy who argued for atheism most of his life until he dramatically changed his mind.

Times of London obituary

Anthony Flew was one of the best-known atheists of his generation but he finally repudiated the label. As an academic philosopher he subjected the question of God’s existence to careful, non-polemical analysis. When he declared himself a theist in his old age he annoyed many of his admirers — which might have been the intention.
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In the 1960s he became well known for his atheism, speaking in public debates with energy, clarity, and courtesy. In God and Philosophy (1966) he argued that one should presuppose atheism until evidence of a God surfaces. He developed this evidentialist approach in The Presumption of Atheism (1984). His atheist image is somewhat surprising, for by the standards of today’s public atheists he was far from zealous: he showed real interest in the arguments of believers, and respect for the cultural effects of religion. In 1987 he debated the resurrection of Jesus with the US theologian Gary Habermas, declaring that the evidence for the resurrection was much better than that for other Christian miracles but still did not convince him. He enjoyed religious discussions, not because he enjoyed rubbishing belief but because he thought it important that Christian tradition was carefully reflected on.
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Flew returned to public attention in 2004 when he announced that he had moved from atheism to the form of theism known as deism. It holds that God exists but is more like the distant designer of the universe than an active, personal agent.

“It now seems to me that the findings of more than 50 years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design,” he said. “It seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before.”

Telegraph obituary

 Antony-Flew


When Flew revealed that he had come to the conclusion that there might be a God after all, it came as a shock to his fellow atheists, who had long regarded him as one of their foremost champions. Worse, he seemed to have deserted Plato for Aristotle, since it was two of Aquinas's famous five proofs for the existence of God – the arguments from design and for a prime mover – that had apparently clinched the matter.

After months of soul-searching, Flew concluded that research into DNA had "shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved". Moreover, though he accepted Darwinian evolution, he felt that it could not explain the beginnings of life. "I have been persuaded that it is simply out of the question that the first living matter evolved out of dead matter and then developed into an extraordinarily complicated creature," he said.

Flew went on to make a video of his conversion entitled Has Science Discovered God? and seemed to want to atone for past errors: "As people have certainly been influenced by me, I want to try and correct the enormous damage I may have done," he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Graceful Dying

Cheryl Dickow writes about the death of her sister-in-law Yvonne whose Graceful Dying was a gift to those who loved her.

Graceful Dying: The Gift of Allowing Others to Care for You

For instance, the secular world seems to truly embrace the idea that there is a “dignified” way to die and that being at the mercy and care of others for every need is not “noble.”  After all, who among us wishes to rely on another for our personal hygiene or to help us with our normal bodily functions?  There is no apparent or imagined dignity in becoming completely, totally, and utterly reliant on another human being.  It is almost degrading — and it is certainly embarrassing, at least at the outset.

So when a person allows him or herself to become that “weak link” in the chain of life, he or she is actually becoming a conduit between heaven and earth.  This person is saying, “This is incredibly difficult for me to rely on you, but I will trust that you have my best interests at heart and that you will not think ill of me.”  In that way, the person in need of care is allowing the potential caregiver(s) to become mercy and love to another human being.

That is an incredible gift!

We may amass great wealth and thousand of friends but, in the end, we are going to be judged on how we cared for one another.

 Calla-Lilies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2010

Standing ovation at funeral service

Bravo! From the Redgrave dynasty, a rousing last ovation for Corin

 Vanessa-Redgrave Clapping

It was the day a theatre dynasty gathered to say farewell to one of their own.

And as Corin Redgrave's wicker coffin was driven away yesterday, they brought the curtain down on his life in fitting style.

Cries of 'bravo' rang out as the mourners, including his sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave, gave the actor and political activist a final standing ovation at his funeral service.
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Redgrave, who died last week aged 70, was the son of matinee idol Sir Michael Redgrave and his actress wife Rachel Kempson.

He became a fine character actor on stage and in films from A Man for All Seasons to Four Weddings and a Funeral, but was also known for his political activism and Marxist views.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:31 PM | Permalink

'The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

The Polish people have suffered so many tragedies in their long history, it hurts to see them suffer another unimaginable loss.

Jules Crittenden calls it Tragedy Upon Tragedy

Everything appears to point to poor judgment in poor weather in the plane crash that killed Poland’s largely symbolic president and much of the NATO nation’s military leadership enroute to a commemoration of the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish POWs by the NKVD in 1940. Apparently this will not effect the running of government though the military has taken a severe blow, as has the psyche of the Polish nation, especially with the association to a massive historic war crime.

The entire nation is enveloped in mourning

 Polandmourns  Doomsday

Polish television carried black-and-white montages of those killed in the crash and devoted nonstop coverage to the crash, including lingering looks at Kaczynski and his wife, Maria Kaczynska.

Besides Kaczynski, aboard the plane were the national bank president, the deputy foreign minister, the army chaplain, the head of the National Security Office, the deputy parliament speaker, the Olympic Committee head, the civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers.
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That the crash occurred near Katyn served as a stark reminder to Poland of the horrors of that place.

"‘The flower of our nation has . . . perished’

A plane carrying the Polish president and dozens of the country’s top political and military leaders to the site of the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in World War II crashed in western Russia yesterday, killing everyone on board.

President Lech Kaczynski’s plane tried to land in a thick fog, missing the runway and snagging treetops about half a mile from the airport in Smolensk, scattering chunks of flaming fuselage across a bare forest.

The crash came as a stunning blow to Poland, wiping out a large portion of the country’s leadership in one fiery explosion. And in a bizarre twist, it happened at the moment that Russia and Poland were beginning to come to terms with the killing of more than 20,000 members of Poland’s elite officer corps in the same place 70 years ago.

“It is a damned place,’’ former president Aleksander Kwasniewski told TVN24. “It sends shivers down my spine.’’
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Russian emergency officials said 97 people were killed, including 88 in the Polish state delegation. Poland’s Foreign Ministry said there were 89 people on the passenger list but one had not shown up for the roughly 1 1/2-hour flight from Warsaw’s main airport.

Poles united in grief in a way that recalled the death of the Polish pope, John Paul II, five years ago. Thousands massed outside the Presidential Palace, laying flowers and lighting candles.
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Former President Lech Walesa, who presided over Poland’s transition from Communism, called the crash “the second disaster after Katyn.’’

“They wanted to cut off our head there, and here the flower of our nation has also perished,’’ he said.

Poland Feels Shock at the Size of Its Loss

 Warsaw-Mourns

The people were of all ages and political persuasions, families and groups of boys and girls in scouting uniforms. If there were no answers to be found Saturday night as to why the country had been robbed of many of its brightest minds and most dedicated public servants, Poles could at least find reassurance in the presence of so many others in the same searching state of shock.
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“I felt I had to be here,” said Tomasz Kielar, 40, a civil servant. He said he knew Wladyslaw Stasiak, head of the president’s chancellery, who was one of those killed in the crash of a plane taking Polish officials to Russia to commemorate the Katyn massacre.

“Katyn was a page in history in the 20th century,” he said. “Now it’s going to be a page in history in the 21st century.”

Almost everyone interviewed knew someone who died that morning in the thick fog of western Russia, not only the famous politicians and commanding generals, but also the Russian-Polish interpreter, the president’s doctor, the eight members of the presidential security detail.

Under the The Shadow of Katyn

The issue in Soviet-Polish relations, however, is not a settling of scores. It is the justified Polish desire for an unambiguous Russian apology for Katyn (which the Russians refuse to give) and, equally important, the refusal of the Russians to release most of the results of their own 14-year investigation into the Katyn massacre. Of 183 volumes of collected material, 116 are classified as state secrets — even though, according to the Russian law on state secrets, information about the violation of rights cannot be classified.

In the Woods of Smolensk

In true Bolshevik style, there was a cover story: the Soviets claimed the Nazis did it. But although the Nazis were guilty of many other crimes, Katyn was not one of them. “In April 1943, when the Polish government-in-exile insisted on bringing the matter to the negotiation table with the Soviets and on an investigation by the International Red Cross, Stalin accused the Polish government in exile of collaborating with Nazi Germany, broke diplomatic relations with it, and started a campaign to get the Western Allies to recognize the alternative Polish pro-Soviet government in Moscow led by Wanda Wasilewska.”  That government in exile continued until the end of Communist rule in Poland in 1990. In one of the crash’s cruel ironies of the accident, the last Polish President in Exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, was onboard the doomed aircraft.

Two days ago, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became the first “became the first Russian leader to ever commemorate the Katyn massacres with a Polish leader [Prime Minister Donald Tusk]“.  But Putin stopped short of opening the archives on the subject, which are still sealed.

The Fog over Katyn Forest remains

'The struggle of people against power," Milan Kundera famously observed, "is the struggle of memory against forgetting." Is there any place that better captures that truth than the Katyn Forest, or any metaphor more apt for Katyn's place in our historical memory than fog?
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one can be forgiven for wondering whether the physical and metaphysical worlds didn't conspire in this latest cycle of Polish tragedy. Fog makes the known world unseen; cutting through it is what Poland's long quest for freedom—itself so often dashed to pieces—has always been about.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2010

Tax Returns of the Living Dead

In some counties, dead people vote; in New York they filed for tax refunds

Operation Brass Tax

26 tax preparers charged with ID theft and other scams

Dead people were claiming tax refunds and the children of strangers were listed as dependents.

Those were among the bold scams that 26 Bronx and Manhattan tax preparers were allegedly using to claim the bulk of about $95 million in refunds since 2001, prosecutors said Thursday.

Besides seeing dead people, investigators also spotted deductions for businesses that don't exist, inflated commissions and identity theft of people living in Puerto Rico, frequent victims of such scams because they have social security numbers but don't have to file federal tax returns, prosecutors said.

Exactly a week before the April 15th tax filing deadline, authorities on Thursday announced "the largest coordinated takedown of tax preparers in history" calling it, what else, "Operation Brass Tax."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:32 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2010

Strange deaths in England

You've heard about the two women trying to smuggle a dead man onto a airline flight to Germany.

Two women 'caught trying to smuggle dead relative on to  passenger jet at Liverpool airport'

'When the family pulled-up in a minibus-style taxi, the older lady told me assistance was needed for her elderly father, who was sat in the front seat of the cab.
'She told me that he was elderly and frail, and also very tired, so I would have to lift him out of the taxi and into the wheelchair.
'I immediately felt unsure about the situation, but I did my best to help by carefully lifting the man from his seat. To my horror his face fell sideways against mine, it was ice cold.
'I knew straight away that the man was dead, but they reassured me that he "always sleeps like that".
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Police suspect that the women tried to get him on the flight to Berlin Schoenfeld in a bid to avoid the costs of around £3,000 connected with repatriating his body.


But there are more strange deaths this week in England

Off-duty soldier dies after falling out of pedicab while on Easter leave from Afghanistan

His aunt, Georgina Naylor, said the soldier had joined the army at the age of 16 and served with the Royal Scots based at Dreghorn barracks in Edinburgh before transferring to Southampton.
She added: 'For him to have gone to Afghanistan and Iraq and miss bullets, mines and bombs, then have his head smashed in by a pavement in a fall is beyond us.
'He had been out celebrating his birthday with his friends and he was very happy.'
He was travelling in a Chariot Cabs pedicab when the incident happened. It is thought he jumped from a moving cab.


Muslim woman strangled by her burkha in freak go-kart accident

The 24-year-old woman, who has not yet been named, died a terrifying death today when a fluttering part of her burkha became caught in the wheels of a go-kart she was driving near the town of  Port Stephens, north of Sydney.
The Muslim clothing the woman was wearing flew back as she sped around the track and part of it became entangled in the go-kart's wheels.
She was strangled in a second and crashed the vehicle.


Father dies after swigging liquid cocaine from smuggled bottle of rum given to him as gift

A father-of-two died of a heart attack after drinking from a bottle of rum, unaware that it contained pure liquid cocaine.
The alcohol was used to smuggle the drug into Britain from St Lucia but, in a bizarre chain of events, one bottle was handed to cab driver Lascell Malcolm, 63, as a gift.

The bottle was intended to be handed over to drug baron Martin Newman, 49. He had asked unsuspecting flyer Martin Lawrence to carry two bottles of rum in his luggage, claiming his own bags were over weight.

But after landing, Newman was delayed in customs. Mr Lawrence had to catch a connecting flight to Switzerland and could not wait, so gave one of the bottles to his friend Antoinette Corlis.

She was picked up by her friend Mr Malcolm. He refused payment so she handed him the bottle of rum instead.
The father-of-two, from Haringey, London, drank a shot of rum that night and died the following day in front of his terrified son
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Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

April 6, 2010

Images of the Afterlife

Some interesting images that patients drew their near-death experiences appear in Newsweek, entitled Crossing Over.

The-Ascent-Of-The-Blessed H.Bosch
Hieronymus Bosch, "The Ascent of the Blessed"


The drawings and others like them are newly published in P.M.H. Atwater's "The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 AM | Permalink

"It was as if I were a Martian seeing humans for the first time and being enormously moved"

Susan Tifft, the journalist who wrote a blog about her cancer which she joked was Oncology for Dummies.

“In the first fraught days after my diagnosis, something miraculous happened. I got X-ray vision,’’ Ms. Tifft wrote on Sept. 5, 2007, less than a month after learning she had cancer. “I know that sounds weird, but that is precisely how it felt.’’

“I would walk down the street or look out the window of our apartment onto Cambridge Common and the love and kindness I saw in everyday life practically made me weep. It might be something as simple as someone helping an elderly person into a wheelchair or a father hoisting his daughter on his shoulders or two friends hugging each other. It was as if I were a Martian seeing humans for the first time and being enormously moved by how compassionate and caring we are toward each other, for no obvious reward. It’s truly spectacular, and somehow, in my former busy-ness, I never really noticed.’’
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And it was friends that Ms. Tifft thanked in her last blog entry, on March 24, when illness made typing painful.

“My oncologist on Monday advised me to think about what I want my legacy to be,’’ she wrote. “My conclusion? I want my legacy to be all of you — my friends, loved ones, former students — a human chain of those who have guided and influenced me, and whom I touched and influenced. Final advice? Always do the right thing. It will gratify your friends and enrage your enemies.’’

Susan died at 59 in her Cambridge home.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink