December 31, 2010

Organ trafficking in Kosovo

The newly re-elected prime minister of Kosovo headed an organized crime racket that trafficked in human organs, a two-year inquiry prepared for the Council on Europe found.

The trafficking, according to the report, evolved over time and consisted of detention centers spread through Albania that were controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army. The military detention facilities changed in character to private residences, including Albanian farmhouses and storage barns and ultimately a makeshift operating clinic where organs were shipped out of Albania and sold to private overseas clinics.----

Captives, according to the report, were then killed — usually by a gunshot to the head — before their organs were removed. “When the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a K.L.A. gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Kosovo physicians accused of organ trafficking racket

A gang of Kosovan organ traffickers operated an elaborate international network that traded in the organs of people living in extreme poverty, a court heard.

The men, including a former senior Kosovan Health Ministry official, promised poor people from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey up to €14,500 (£12,300) for their organs.

Those who received the organs – including patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel – paid between €80,000 and €100,000 for them, Ratel said. The victims, however, were never paid, the European Union prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told Pristina District Court.

Jihad Watch reports news from Serbianna that organ profits deposited in Islamic charities.

Serbian war crimes prosecutor says that the Kosovo Albanian criminal boss, Hashim Thaci, used bank accounts designated as Islamic charity to deposit profits he earned by selling organs he extracted from captured Serbs....

Names of some of those accounts are Help For Kosovo, Medicare, Caravan, Al- Haramajin, Taibah International. etc.

Serbian prosecution says that the FBI has also uncovered these accounts after the 9/11 attacks but it is not specified why the FBI withheld the information about Thaci. […]

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2010

The role of religion

Umberto Eco on God isn't big enough for some people

Money can do a lot of things - but it cannot help reconcile you to your own death.

And if you believe in money alone, then sooner or later, you discover money's great limitation: it is unable to justify the fact that you are a mortal animal. Indeed, the more you try escape that fact, the more you are forced to realise that your possessions can't make sense of your death.

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death.


I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We'll construct it together - as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions - which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.

I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 PM | Permalink

When efforts to cure should be scaled back while efforts at caring scaled up

Facing Terminal Illnesses Realistically

Trying every option in the face of terminal illness, pursuing all medical possibilities no matter how unlikely to succeed, and raging against death can easily become the default position in a culture that hesitates to acknowledge or discuss death openly. Yet approaching our own mortality with a greater dose of realism helps us make better decisions about when to roll back the medical interventions and focus our energies on preparing for death. Hospice and palliative care can be important and helpful adjuncts in this process. When done well, these approaches allow us to focus on improving the remaining time for those with a terminal illness. Pain management, comfort care, acknowledgement of the coming death, family support and an opportunity for spiritual reconciliation are essential elements in these approaches. Far from abandoning the needs of patients, hospice and palliative care seek to properly acknowledge that in some cases, efforts at curing should be scaled back while efforts at caring for the patient should be scaled up.


Terminally ill patients who choose to discuss end of life treatments with their families and doctors more often opt for palliative care or hospice care, leading to more appropriate medical care near death, and better overall outcomes and satisfaction. They also tend to spend less money and do not die significantly earlier. Rather they often die more peacefully than those receiving aggressive interventions, which tend to be associated with a poorer standard of life and a worse bereavement adjustment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:10 PM | Permalink

Doctor killed by neck massager

Electronic neck massager may have caused strangulation of Parkland woman

Her neck aching after a night of wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve, Dr. Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson used an electronic massager to relieve the pain.

What happened next is unclear, but Broward Sheriff's Office detectives and the Medical Examiner suspect the electronic massager became ensnared with a necklace Ferrari-Gegerson was wearing, and strangled her.

Ferrari-Gegerson, a Jackson Memorial Hospital radiologist, was discovered unconscious on the bedroom floor of her Parkland home about 9 p.m. Friday by her husband, Dr. Kenneth Gegerson, 43, a dentist.


Ferrari-Gegerson worked as a radiologist in the emergency room, Deppman said, and also served as the quality improvement and patient safety physician for radiology.

She had worked at the hospital since 2001, and developed a reputation as a generous friend.

"Last week, she was here and she brought baked goods for various employees," Deppman recalled. "That's what type of person she was. Out of the blue, she would just give people food vouchers and take them out to lunch."

Deppman said Ferrari-Gegerson had been married about 10 years and was the mother of a 1-year-old child.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

Anorexia kills


Anorexic model who appeared in shock fashion campaign dies at 28

Isabelle Caro, a French actress and model whose anorexic image appeared in a shock Italian ad campaign, has died at the age of 28.

____Caro featured in an ad campaign by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani in 2007 for an Italian fashion house.

Under the headline 'No Anorexia,' images across newspapers and billboards showed Caro naked, vertebrae and facial bones protruding.

At 5ft 4in, she is reported to have weighed just 4st 8lb (68lbs) at the time.

___At the time of the campaign, she wrote: 'I've hidden myself and covered myself for too long. Now I want to show myself fearlessly, even though I know my body arouses repugnance.

'I want to recover because I love life and the riches of the universe. I want to show young people how dangerous this illness is.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

Stealing from a casket

He was only 17 when the SUV he was driving skidded on a snowy road on Christmas Day. Bradley McCombs was killed when he slammed into a utility pole.

In a misbegotten gesture of love, a Nintendo Game Boy and three games were put into his casket before the pubic visitation at the funeral home. Maybe they were his Christmas gifts.

A 37-year-old man, in front of the family, stole them all from the casket.

Who would stoop so low?   

A drug addict named Jody Lynn Bennett says his mother .

Police: Pa. man stole video game from boy's casket

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2010

Denis Dutton RIP

I was sad to learn that the founder of one of my favorite web sites died. Arts & Letters Daily was one of the first aggregator sites with links to commentary on arts, literature and events and hailed as the best website in the world in 1999 by the Guardian newspaper. He leaves behind a great digital legacy.

Charlotte Hays calls it 'the most literate site on the web".


Denis Dutton, Founder of ‘Arts & Letters Daily,’ Dies December 28, 2010,

Denis Dutton, founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily and a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, has died. Born in California, Mr. Dutton received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He created Arts & Letters Daily in 1998. The Chronicle of Higher Education purchased the widely praised site in 2002.

“Denis was the creative force behind Arts & Letters Daily and wrote all the items on the page himself, even when he was on vacation,” said Phil Semas, president and editor in chief of The Chronicle. “He is nearly irreplaceable. Even so, we intend to continue Arts & Letters Daily in the spirit in which Denis created and nurtured it.”

Adam Kelper writes

AL Daily, which Dutton founded in 1998 and edited ever since, is a catalogue of essays, articles, and reviews from around the web. Dutton’s nose for interesting essays and his ear for clear writing kept AL Daily highbrow without ever being hifalutin. The site surely owes much of its enormous popularity to its simplicity — just a few links every day, each with a pithy and enticing blurb. Dutton understood that in an age of overabundant information, less can be more. (He used a similarly spare approach for another site he co-founded, Climate Debate Daily.) Through AL Daily, Dutton forwarded the careers of many dozens of young writers without ever knowing them, since a link from the site can lead an essay to be debated in the blogosphere, noticed by editors, and picked up by book publishers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

December 28, 2010

The Lives They Lived

As the year draws to end, The New York Times gives us its idiosyncratic collage of The Lives They Lived, a "collection of narratives that celebrate lives",

From Benoit Mandelbrot

He turns out to have belonged to the select handful of 20th-century scientists who upended, as if by flipping a switch, the way we see the world we live in.

He was the one who let us appreciate chaos in all its glory, the noisy, the wayward and the freakish, from the very small to the very large. He gave the new field of study he invented a fittingly recondite name: “fractal geometry.”

to Philippa Foot, a philosopher who reached back to St. Thomas Acquinas to find

If you focus on traditional virtues and vices like temperance and avarice instead of abstract concepts like goodness and duty, you can see the concrete connections between the conditions of human life and the objective reasons for acting morally. (Why is cowardliness a vice? Because courage is needed to face the world’s challenges.) In the ’80s, after considering how we evaluate what is “good” for plants and animals, she developed the argument, presented in “Natural Goodness,” that vice is a defect in humans in the same way that poor roots are a defect in an oak tree or poor vision a defect in an owl: the latter two assessments have clear normative implications (“oughts”), yet are entirely factual. Even from a secular scientific vantage point, you could locate good and evil in the fabric of the world.

“I’m a dreadfully slow thinker, really,” she said. “But I do have a good nose for what is important.”

and Talitha and Emmanuella Termilus

Termilus had a wife, two daughters and a son. That morning, his daughters — Talitha and Emmanuella, who were 12 and 11, and whose preternatural intelligence had caused their teachers to promote them to the eighth and seventh grades — dressed their 3-year-old brother, Benedict, each slipping a shoe on a foot and tying it for him. They shared everything like this. They were the kind of girls, pigtailed and smiling and outgoing, for whom an excursion to the beach, or for ice cream, often meant packing the car with friends; Frantz at the wheel often marveled at the sweet jabber of children.


Grief is a walk to the ending you already know, and during the seventh and eighth miles, a feeling overtook Termilus, a wish for only one thing: that he might stumble upon someone he knew in the streets — anyone — just to grab hold of the living and tell them the truth: that he loved them. Why hadn’t he ever said so before?

When he came to the school, there was no school. All four stories had come down. And everything all at once left his body — all the hope and energy he’d mustered to match the horror — and even now he couldn’t say how long he stood there, gazing upon the gravestone of that school. In his mind, he still stands there.


There was no phone service, but it wasn’t hard to know that the city was bedlam. Word of mouth traveled: hospitals had been destroyed. There were no services, no potable water. The prison had broken open — and now 5,000 inmates were loose, including all the kidnappers. There were caches of weapons that needed to be secured. And there were more children, trapped, orphaned, injured. He was on the verge of being consumed by memory, but instead of mourning before that pile of rocks, he dusted off his shirt — his badge, the epaulets. He straightened his uniform and went to work.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 PM | Permalink

Shootout in the snow

Woburn cop slay like 'Wild West'

When a career cop on the verge of retirement crossed paths with a paroled thug aiming to restart his criminal career at Kohl’s jewelry counter Sunday night in Woburn, it ended with splatters of blood, scattered diamonds and two men dead in the wind-driven snow.

It was the first and last time in 34 years of public service that Woburn police officer John “Jack” Maguire, 60, a married father, had fired his gun on the job. He planned to retire in October.

“It was like the Wild West,” Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney said, his voice cracking as he fought to maintain his composure. “We do not have shootings in Woburn. We do not have that kind of community. Officer Maguire lost his life defending it.”


Condolences to his wife and his two children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink

December 22, 2010

Heather must remarry

Get Religion is where I go to see how the mainstream press handles stories that have a religious angle. Often I find well-written juicy stories from the heartland that otherwise I would never come across. Like this one. Mother of 5, widowed at 31.

The featured story is Eric's last wishes in the Des Moines Register.

In bed beside him lay his wife, Heather, three months pregnant and barely starting to show. It wasn’t yet 5 a.m., and Heather was fast asleep. So were their four boys, ages 1 through 6.

Eric was scared, confused. He’d just had a terrible dream: That he died too young. That he left behind a wife and five children, and so many unfinished things. And that he needed to do something about it before it was too late.

He got out of bed. He crept past the boys’ bedrooms, down both sets of stairs of their split-level home in Ankeny, and into the basement toy room. He was surrounded by Legos, board games, cars, trucks, a plastic kitchen. His blond hair, or what was left of it after 31 years, was askew. Then Eric Jacobs — a father who devoted every Sunday to family day, an evangelist who’d handed over his soul to Jesus Christ, a man whose life was filled with joy and promise — turned on the lights, sat on the floor next to the furnace closet, looked into a camera mounted on a Dell laptop, and clicked record.

The link above is part 1.

Part 2 'Pray and pray often'

Four months after that dream, on a chilly evening in November, Eric had been a passenger on a small plane that tumbled out of the sky and into an Indiana cornfield.

That was two days ago. Yesterday, she’d told their four boys, ages 1 through 7, that their father had died. Heather was seven months pregnant. She felt dazed, sick to her stomach, unable to sleep. And now this.


  Eric Jacobs takes a deep breath. He centers the camera on his face. “Hello, everybody,” he says calmly. “If you’re watching this, something bad’s probably happened to me. I had this dream last night, or, this morning, only a few minutes ago, that I died early. And I don’t know what to take of it.” The family watched in silence, one floor above where Eric had made this video months before. It felt like Eric was in the room with them; it felt like he was beamed in from heaven. “I don’t know if this is God’s way of saying, 'Record this,’ and it was divinely inspired, or if I’m just paranoid,” Eric says. “So I wanted to record my thoughts while I had them. And then if it was divinely inspired, then this is God’s way of showing that he truly does work through people’s lives. And I want you to show this to people to witness to them. Because my life was cut short.”


“OK, Heather, this is tough,” he says. “But I need to tell you that I don’t expect you and I don’t want you to be single. Raising these boys is way too tough. Your job — if you choose to accept it — no, you don’t get to choose, you have to accept this: I need you, I want you to remarry.” He’s crying. “I’m not crying out of jealousy. I’m crying because I’m thinking of being gone from you.” A dozen times, he says this: That Heather must remarry. That she must find a good Christian man to be a spiritual leader for their boys. That if he’s not a Christian, she should keep looking. At one point, he brings his nose to the camera for emphasis. At another point, he closes his eyes to pray for her future husband.

Part 3 'I cannot imagine a day of my life without you'

Eric was always with her, but as time went on, Heather realized she needed to tuck those memories away. She’d packed his clothes in boxes in the basement; she’d removed her wedding band and put it in her jewelry box.

Still, she didn’t want to dive right in. She needed to do her homework about this guy, learn more than just the basics: that he was 42, had five kids and worked at a Des Moines veterinary supply company. The baseball coach was Dan’s boss, so Heather asked the boss’s wife about Dan. He’s a great guy, she said, a hard worker, a solid Christian. But then she mentioned a huge roadblock: Dan was divorced. Three times.

What struck me about the story was how helpful that video was in helping the entire family to cope with the sudden loss of Eric and how to grow beyond that to get on with their lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 AM | Permalink

Drunk dispute over God

Drunk dispute over God leaves two dead

A dispute over the existence of God between four Russians, drunk on a litre of pure alcohol, resulted in two of them being killed, news agencies reported.

The disagreement began over the weekend when the female house owner, her son, a male roommate and undisclosed male relative drank the litre of pure alcohol, "which they downed with snow," a police investigator told RIA Novosti.

"Soon after the drinking session, the suspect [the son] and the two other men got into a fight about the existence of God," the police official in the western Siberia region of Tomsk reported.

The son ended up attacking both men with a knife, killing them both, the report said.

via Eve Tushnet who calls it The Most Russian Headline Ever.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 AM | Permalink

December 19, 2010

"Enough, Enough, Enough", three-year-old confronts Islamic terrorists

More than a month since the horrific and ferocious murder of 52 Catholics at Mass inside Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad by militant Islamic terrorists of Al Qaeda. The Cloud of Witnesses.

Now stories are being told by the survivors. What a story! What a heartbreak! What a brave boy!

“Enough, Enough, Enough”: 3-Year-Old Catholic Confronts Islamic Terrorists as His Parents Lay Dead


Among the victims of this senseless tragedy was a little boy named Adam. Three-year-old Adam witnessed the horror of dozens of deaths, including that of his own parents. He wandered among the corpses and the blood, following the terrorists around and admonishing them, ‘enough, enough, enough.’ According to witnesses, this continued for two hours until Adam was himself murdered.” As bishops, as Americans, we cannot turn from this scene or allow the world to overlook it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 PM | Permalink

December 16, 2010

She died saving her son

_Christmas, Monique_Nelson.jpg

Minutes after posing for this portrait while Christmas shopping, Monique Nelson strapped her 2-year-old son in his car seat when suddenly she was shot in the chest. She used her body to cover her son and protect him from the crossfire of a gunfight.

Miraculously unscathed: Toddler pulled from car alive after mother died protecting him from gun battle crossfire

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:01 PM | Permalink

Remains of Amelia Earhart Found?

A lingering death on a tiny island and then eaten by crabs: Will bone fragment finally solve mystery of what happened to aviator Amelia Earhart?


A tiny bone found on a tropical island could finally solve the riddle of what happened to aviator Amelia Earhart.

Researchers found the fragment - which is believed to come from a finger - alongside pieces of a pocket knife, pre-war American bottles and makeup from a woman's compact.

The remains of small fires as well as bird and fish bones and empty oyster shells laid in rows as if to catch water were also recovered.

The discovery raises the possibility that Earhart died a lingering death as a castaway on the island before her remains were eaten by crabs.

Earhart, 41, the most famous female aviator of all time, disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly round the world. She was last heard from while heading towards tiny Howland island in the south Pacific when her twin-engine Lockheed Electra crashed in the ocean after running out of fuel on July 2, 1937.

The tiny bone fragment, believed to be from a human finger, was found on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the southwest Pacific.

Investigators also recovered two other bones, one believed to be from the neck. Members of Earhart's family have provided DNA to be tested against the remains.

The claims about Earhart's final resting place were made in a documentary on the Discovery Channel that was screened over the weekend.

'After 22 years of rigorous research and 10 gruelling expeditions, we can say that all of the evidence we have found on Nikumaroro is consistent with the hypothesis that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed and eventually died there as castaways,' said Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

December 15, 2010

Their names were Andrew and Nicholas UPDATED

Two babies, both stillborn and abandoned in hospital, are given dignified burials

To children abandoned, lives unlived, a farewell tribute with dignity

And at the center sat two tiny caskets covered with one white cloth, each topped with a spray of fresh flowers and a small stuffed bear that had never been touched by a child’s hand.

Their names were Andrew and Nicholas. There were no headlines when they died, no press releases, no investigations — really no public awareness at all. They were each stillborn in Boston hospitals, one in October, the other in November, then abandoned by families who either wouldn’t or couldn’t send them from this world in a dignified way.


Which is why they were here, because the Franciscan friars of St. Anthony Shrine see it as a key part of their mission to provide dignity in death — dignity to abandoned infants, dignity to loners whose bodies go unclaimed, dignity to homeless people with no one to celebrate their lives and see them to their graves.   

-----As they talked, though, a striking humanity began to emerge, by no means an explanation for these deaths, but an indication of the goodness that followed them. The friars bury, by their account, about six abandoned infants a year, and another dozen or more homeless men and women, part of a mission they may have to pare back unless their Franciscan Campaign picks up in the last couple of weeks of 2010.


As part of the mission, volunteers sew tiny white burial garments. Others donate the simple flowers for each service, and the graves. An extraordinary young funeral director, Jed Dolan, provides services from his two family funeral homes in Dorchester and Milton, collecting just a small stipend from the state. He personally attends every service and stands by each grave.

“It brings everything home,’’ he said.

It also brings back Convertino’s overriding point. There may not be answers, but there is a response. “There is no reason not to be buried with all the dignity a community can give them,’’ he said.


In the face of anguish, there is goodness, a reason for the friars and so many others to hold tight to their faith.

UPDATE: Apparently, the babies didn't even have names until given ones by the Franciscans. The Boston Herald has more on these poor babes, part of the "unwanted dead" along with a heartbreaking slideshow.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

December 14, 2010

Have a rest on the Bests


Tom McMahon came across this marvellously useful tombstone bench.

You can tell from the photo that Carol died this past summer while Ralph is still alive.

Hats off Ralph Best for the best and funniest tribute I've seen in a while.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:22 PM | Permalink

December 13, 2010

The irony was not lost on him

Professor Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel prize-winning geneticist whose life's work has been to understand the role played by DNA, has become the new president of the Royal Society, a fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists.

A man of extraordinary accomplishments, only by chance did this Nobel prize-winning geneticist discover that his sister was really his mother.

the irony was not lost on him.

‘I’ve always been interested in my own genetic make-up because I was always the odd one out in my family. But even though I’m an expert my family managed to keep my genetic origins secret from me for over half a century,’ he says, smiling wryly. ‘The people I thought were my parents weren’t my parents at all.’

The revelation came when Sir Paul, now 61, applied to the US Department of Homeland Security for a green card which would allow him permanent residence in the US. At the time he had been living in America for three years and was president of New York’s Rockefeller University, so when his application was turned down he was surprised. He was told there was a problem with the short-form version of his birth certificate, which did not contain the names of his parents, so he applied for a fuller version.

‘When it arrived my secretary asked me if I’d made a mistake with my mother’s name. I said, “Of course not.” She handed it to me and for the next few seconds I was totally dumbstruck.

‘I saw that next to the word “mother” was my sister Miriam’s name, and next to “father” was just a dash. I didn’t believe it at first: I assumed it was a bureaucratic mix-up.’

He did not immediately grasp the implications until his wife, Anne, suggested that perhaps his parents were really his grandparents.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 AM | Permalink

"The feelings of the dead"

A new generation of Jewish volunteers is learning how to prepare a body for burial using techniques that attend to “the feelings of the dead.”

Reviving a Ritual of Tending to the Dead.

The volunteers are taught to begin at the head, washing the face before proceeding to the neck and right shoulder. The right side is to be washed before the left side, the front before the back. There are prayers to say. Small talk is forbidden.


Now, a movement to restore lost tradition has motivated a new generation of Jewish volunteers to learn a set of skills that was common knowledge for many of their great-grandparents: the rituals of bathing, dressing and watching over the bodies of neighbors and friends who have died.

It is a nationwide revival propelled in almost equal parts, experts say, by an emerging sense of mortality among baby boomers, a reaction against the corporate character of the funeral home industry and a growing cultural receptivity to past spiritual practices, even some that make many people squeamish.


Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, the founder and director of Vaad Harabonim of Queens, a national association of rabbis who promote traditional burial, has crisscrossed the country in recent years teaching the philosophy and technique. He described the approach as attending not just to the bodies, but also to “the feelings of the dead.”

“We don’t think of this being we are preparing for burial as a ‘body,’ ” said Rabbi Zohn, an Orthodox Jew whose knowledge of burial tradition is mainly sought after by the non-Orthodox. “It’s a person; and that person in our view is still alive in a parallel world, very much aware of what’s happening.”

People who can approach a deceased person in that spirit, he said, are potential members of a “chevra kadisha,” translated variously as a burial or sacred society.

In the New York region and on Long Island, where he has concentrated his efforts, Rabbi Zohn estimates that 25 percent of Jewish burials today incorporate the burial rituals, compared with about 2 or 3 percent 15 years ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 AM | Permalink

"The crocs are having a bake and might fancy you for lunch"

In Uganda, there is a temporary halt to kayaking after American tourists watch in horror as their Congo River guide is pulled from kayak by crocodile .

The two tourists were able to paddle to safety while the guide Henrick Coetzee, 35, is presumed dead.

South African-born Coetzee, who was living in Uganda, was leading the group of experienced kayakers as part of a mission to document unexplored whitewater and development projects in the region, a trip sponsored by Eddie Bauer.

Documenting his journey through his blog Coetzee wrote of a sense of foreboding in his last entry dated November 26.

He wrote: ‘As I licked my dry lips and carefully checked that my spray deck was on properly, I had the feeling I might be doing something I should not. I pushed through the doubt and when I finally shot out the bottom of the rapid I was happy I did. It was just paranoia after all.’ Dangerous: The area the group were kayaking in is notoriously dangerous for its whitewater and because of its high density of crocodiles.

One of the Americans documented Coetzee’s instructions referring to him as Hendri. He warned: ‘Stay off the banks because the crocs are having a bake and might fancy you for lunch. Basically, stay close behind me and follow my lead. Any questions?’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:35 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2010

Death by Whopper

During an altercation, a 20-year-old Burger King employee in Detroit punched the 67-year-old customer in the face. The customer fell to the floor and choking on his dentures, died.

Man Dies After Altercation With Burger King Employee

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink

December 8, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards, R.I.P.

Elizabeth Edwards had a rich and difficult life and she died too young at 61.


New York Times obituary by Robert McFadden, A Political Life Filled with Cruel Reversals

Elizabeth Edwards, who as the wife of former Senator John Edwards gave America an intimate look at a candidate’s marriage by sharing his quest for the 2008 presidential nomination as she struggled with incurable cancer and, secretly, with his infidelity, died Tuesday morning at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C. She was 61.

They separated this year after he admitted to fathering a child in an extramarital affair. Her family confirmed the death, saying Mrs. Edwards was surrounded by relatives when she died. A family friend said Mr. Edwards was present. On Monday, two family friends said that Mrs. Edwards’s cancer had spread to her liver and that doctors had advised against further medical treatment.

Mrs. Edwards posted a Facebook message to friends on Monday, saying, “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope.” She added: “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that.”

In a life of idyllic successes and crushing reverses, Mrs. Edwards was an accomplished lawyer, the mother of four children and the wife of a wealthy, handsome senator with sights on the White House. But their 16-year-old son was killed in a car crash, cancer struck her at age 55, the political dreams died and, within months, her husband admitted to having had an extramarital affair with a campaign videographer.

In the Daily Mail Elizabeth Edwards dies surrounded by family as she loses her cancer battle

Yesterday doctors sent Mrs Edwards home to be with her family after telling her any further cancer treatment would be 'unproductive'.

She was said to have prepared their three children for when she is gone and has written heartfelt letters to them.

Mrs Edwards was surrounded by her siblings, nieces and nephews and close friends. They spent her last hours talking and looking at old photographs.

-- A friend of the family said in a statement yesterday that Mrs Edwards was in good spirits, and was not in pain.

-- President Barack Obama said he spoke to John Edwards and the Edwardses' daughter, Cate, on Tuesday afternoon to offer condolences.

'In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain,' Mr Obama said in a statement.

'Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:53 PM | Permalink

A.N.D. Allow Natural Death

Will a change in language make a difference for those making painful end-of-life decisions?

D.N.R. by Another Name

The key question: Should your parent have a D.N.R. order, meaning “do not resuscitate”?

Before you answer, another key question: Would that decision be any clearer, easier or less painful if the order was instead called A.N.D., for “allow natural death”?

Some health care professionals think it might be. Even if the staff’s subsequent actions were exactly the same, if in either case a patient would receive comfort care to relieve pain but wouldn’t undergo cardiopulmonary resuscitation, nomenclature might make a difference.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

He couldn't identify his wife of ten years, mother of his five children

When his wife was killed in a road crash, Mufleh Mohammed was called to the morgue to make a positive identification. Despite ten years of marriage and five children, he did not recognize his own wife.

He had never seen his wife's face.   

“I could not identify my wife after she was killed in a road accidents…I asked security women to put the veil back on her face…after they did so, I recognized her and indentified the dead person as my wife,” he said.

News report from the Emirates, Saudi women's veil versus modernity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:25 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2010

Death in a balloon

Two American balloonists Richard Abruzzo, 47, of Albuquerque, and Carol Rymer Davis, 65, of Denver, took off from Bristol in their hot air balloon, part of the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Ballon Race.

Nine weeks after going missing... U.S. balloonists' bodies are found in gondola floating in the Adriatic

An Italian fishing boat pulled the remains of two American balloonists from the Adriatic Sea this morning, ending a two-month hunt for the pair's bodies in one of ballooning's darkest chapters.

The boat hauled in the balloon gondola with the bodies of the Americans still inside while fishing 11 miles north of Vieste before dawn, said Commander Guido Limongelli of the Vieste port.

Condolences to their families.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2010

Raising the Dead

This will unsettle some of the unexamined assumptions that form the furniture of our minds

Famed heart doctor tells the dramatic story of how a patient of his was 'raised from the dead' after prayer.

The audience of 120 doctors from 50 countries sat in stunned silence as a renowned heart doctor produced evidence of how, after he had prayed for a patient who had died and was being prepared for the morgue, was brought back to life after prayer.

Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall IV, who serves at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida tells the story of what happened a year ago.

“We had a fifty-three year old man who came to the emergency room with a massive heart attack and actually his heart had stopped,” he said. “The medical people had worked on him for over forty minutes in the emergency room and then declared him dead.

“They called me in to evaluate the patient towards the end of his treatment where they had unsuccessfully tried to revive him. The nurse was preparing his body to be taken down to the morgue when the Holy Spirit told me to ‘turn around and pray for that man.’

"Raising the Dead: A Doctor Encounters the Miraculous" (Chauncey W. Crandall)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

December 2, 2010

"Open up. We are the organ collectors"

Can you imagine, you’re grieving the news from the ER team that your young husband–who 20 minutes ago keeled while over eating breakfast cereal–is dead. And then a knock on the door and uninvited strangers come in telling you they want his body to harvest the organs? Good grief. Moreover, one may suspect a cardiac arrest, but only an autopsy can tell for sure.

Wesley Smith in Open up. We are the organ collectors

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

December 1, 2010

Killed outside funeral home during service for murder victim

Two people dead, two critical in shooting outside funeral home during service for murder victim

Police say a gang related shooting outside a funeral home in Missouri today has left two people dead, one critically injured and another still missing.

The shooting happened outside Reliable Funeral Home in St. Louis during the funeral service of a murder victim. The fourth victim reportedly shot in the leg during the gun rampage has not yet been found by authorities and has not shown up at any local hospitals.

A witness, who declined to give her name, said she was attending the funeral when she heard loud gunshots.

'Everybody started running,' she said, adding that she heard about eight shots outside the funeral home.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink