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Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

I just ran across an article that said hurricane Sandy reminds us how much we rely on governments to protect us. It even used the storm to say arguments criticizing the nanny state are wrong-headed. Geez. One doesn’t know where to start with statements like that. The government doesn’t protect us: we protect us. We establish various public institutions to carry out numerous cooperative activities, just as we form private institutions to carry out other cooperative activities. We don’t say that business corporations protect us, as if they have some sort of life apart from us. Neither should we ever regard government as some kind of abstract, protective entity that exists apart from us.

Yet we seem to have an in-built instinct to regard government as a replacement parent. When we leave home, who will take care of us? When we’re on our own, don’t we need someone to watch over us and help us out when trouble comes? The world is dangerous, and we don’t want to be alone.

If you’ve read The Jeffersonian long enough, you know this way of thinking is dangerous in the extreme. The state as it has developed is not your friend. Of all the threats you will face in your life – from nature, from criminals, from financial uncertainty, from people who act like your friend but turn out to be otherwise – an over-powerful, out of control state is the biggest threat of all. Little Red Riding Hood, acting by herself, could not escape the wolf – no matter how the wolf dressed up.

Consider other stories to see how deeply we crave and appreciate protection, both as children and as adults. Hansel and Gretel is a particularly scary tale, as an evil stepmother conspires to force the poor woodcutter to take his children out into the woods to abandon them there. Only the children’s ingenuity, courage, and perseverance save them: no one else will do it. Children love this story, frightening as it is, because brother and sister defeat the wicked witch on their own. They stick together and find a way out.

Hansel and Gretel had no guardian angel – not even their father would protect them under pressure. Cinderella was equally miserable, except her stepmother kept her close by. As Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters exploited her, abused her and ostracized her, she kept a cheerful outlook and hoped for better times to come. Her fairy godmother, equipped with all kinds of supernatural powers, arranged for her to meet the prince, so that one day she should be queen. Cinderella did have someone to look after her, and her guardian spirit came through.

The more we look for this theme of protection from harm, the more we find it in our stories. Lassie was so popular with children and families because its theme so consistently told this story. The heroic collie would brave anything to protect Timmy. Lassie rescued the vulnerable little boy from fire, flash floods, kidnappers, or whatever else might bring ruin. The dog looked out for Timmy and brought him through every danger.

One of the most compelling stories for young people in American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird, relies on this theme. “Hey Boo,” says Scout as she recognizes Boo Radley standing in the corner. He has just rescued Scout and her brother Jem from Bob Ewell, who aimed to kill them as they walked home from a Halloween party. “Heck, someone’s been after my children,” says Atticus when he calls the sheriff. Shortly afterward, Atticus thanks Boo: “Thank you for my children.” Mr. Radley – the amazing guardian angel, the mysterious neighbor who stayed inside until he heard the children cry for help – responds in silence.

Dumbledore and Harry’s parents through all seven Harry Potter books, Odysseus when he returns home to Penelope in the Odyssey, Moses’ leadership of his people in Exodus: we can find this theme of protection and bravery everywhere. Our favorite stories show the theme’s power to compel our hearts and our attention.

Let’s return to government and the kind of protection it offers. You won’t find stories on that theme in our literature. I recently completed Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror, a book that – like her others – has a lot of wisdom in it. By her account, the French serfs in the fourteenth century wanted so much to see their king as their protector. They knew the king and his nobles exploited them. Taxes, warfare, robbery, all kinds of injustice flowed from society’s top ranks down upon the poor. The underclass resisted and revolted, several times. Even so, they hoped the king would come through to protect them. The king even dramatized his protective role at public festivals. Despite all contrary evidence, the people perceived the king, ordained by God, as the sovereign power who could redeem them from apparently inescapable misery.

Here’s the last instance I want to mention, a story filled with so much horror for grown-ups they cannot stand to face it. Some months ago I watched a film titled Explosive Evidence, which investigates why two steel framed skyscrapers in the World Trade Center exploded on September 11, 2001, and why one skyscraper imploded. A segment toward the film’s end explores why people resist the conclusion that gravity did not bring these buildings down. “It can’t be true,” they say. One woman, when she realized how the buildings fell, took a long walk outside her office building. She said she could not stop sobbing as she walked block after block.

She became so upset because until then, she had thought of government as her protector. The idea that it could be anything else wrenched her world view, forced her to see that it did not necessarily act as a replacement parent. She felt as Hansel and Gretel felt when they overheard their stepmother persuade their father to take them into the wilderness to let them starve. But for that bit of eavesdropping Hansel would not have brought bread crumbs with him. From beginning to end, Hansel and Gretel managed to save themselves because they learned the truth, about their own home and about the witch’s home. Like the woman in Explosive Evidence, we must recognize the truth about where we live, and use our wits to save ourselves.

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One year, five months and three days from today we’ll observe the fiftieth anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s death. He died in a Lincoln Continental on Elm Street in Dallas. The time was 12:30 pm on November 22, 1963. An assassin blew his brains out.

Let’s be accurate: clinically speaking, JFK died in Parkland hospital about half an hour after he was shot. For practical purposes, he died in the car. The body takes a little while to shut down. He arrived at the hospital in time for the doctors at Parkland to pronounce him dead after he arrived.

It’ll be interesting to see what books about the assassination come out during the next year and a half. We have already seen a lot of good research published during the last ten years. We all hope the quality of upcoming books is equally good.

A recent book I’ve been reading on my Kindle is titled The Girl on the Stairs: My Search for A Missing Witness To The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by Barry Ernest. This book deserves a review of its own, but I want to mention it here to introduce something else I’ve been thinking about.

If you pick up The Girl on the Stairs, you’ll see quickly how much time Ernest spends evaluating the Warren report, both in his research and in his writing. He cares about his subject, and his treatment of the Warren report is as careful as any I’ve seen. He wants to understand why the Warren Commission wrote it the way it did, rather than some other way. The missing witness, Victoria Adams, is central to Ernest’s story, but the Commission’s report dominates his analysis even more.

If you pick up a couple of other books published during the last several years, Brothers by David Talbot and JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass, you’ll find references to the Warren report much more sparse. These authors take up the assassination in a different way. They are not as concerned with forensic evidence as is Barry Ernest.

The forensic evidence, so poorly analyzed by the Warren Commission, is an important part of the assassination story, but it isn’t the only part. It’s also not the most important. The most important evidence and the most important analysis, in any criminal case, is to tell a story that establishes motives for the murder. Douglass in particular takes care to do that. Forensic evidence can tell you what happened. It cannot tell you why it happened.

So what have I been thinking about? I’ve been thinking about motives for the 9/11 attacks. As we evaluate the evidence related to that crime, we want to analyze it so as to tell a story about why it happened. We want to know why all the people involved with the crime carried it out. Based on evidentiary analysis we have to date, we don’t know that.

I hope we can take a longer look at this problem in future posts.

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I found this very disturbing local story while looking for updates on the cop who hit and killed a pedestrian, dragged his body under the police cruiser for over half a mile, then claimed he didn’t know he had hit anyone.

Soldiers dying in their sleepApparently a lot of young soldiers are making it through the war, and coming home only to die in their sleep unexpectedly. Even more strangely, this has happened three times within a three-week period, to three families in West Virginia who live within an hour of one another.

Is the Veterans Administration giving returning soldiers a fatal cocktail of medication for post-traumatic stress disorder? It certainly seems that way, since all three of these young men were taking the same drug cocktail. Healthy young men don’t just die in their sleep. Something stopped their respiration while they were sleeping, and I’d guess it was the drugs they were prescribed combined with their disturbed sleep patterns.

I haven’t heard anything about this in the national media. Is this a national epidemic? It’s possible that it is, and journalists just haven’t put the pieces together to realize that.

Clearly, anyone reading this who is taking that combination of drugs (or knows someone else who is taking it) needs to contact their doctor immediately.

“He would normally stay up watching TV at night because it was hard for him to sleep and I went ahead and went to bed. The next morning when I got up, I found him on the couch, he was in the same position he was in when he went to sleep and he was already gone,” Layne said.

A soldier from Kanawha City, Eric Layne left behind an 18-month old son and a baby girl on the way.

Meanwhile, Logan County resident Cheryl Endicott’s son Nicholas died January 29th while being treated at a military hospital in Bethesda.

He too reportedly went to bed and never woke up.

“They told me that at 10:55, they entered his room, he was non-responsive, had no pulse so they deceased him right then and there,” said Endicott.

Finally, on February 12th Stan and Shirley White lost their son Andrew, another Kanawha County service member who stopped breathing in his sleep. For the Whites, it was the second son they said goodbye too. Robert White died while serving in Afghanistan.

“You’re always expecting and fearing when your children are at war that they’re not going to make it back. They don’t come back and lie in their bed, go to sleep and die. That doesn’t happen. That’s not supposed to happen,” Stan White said.

Each family heard about the others’ tragedies and eventually compared stories.

All three men were in their 20s, served in Iraq and died in their sleep within a three-week period, but that’s only the beginning of the similarities.

Each military man was being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had started exhibiting the same strange behavior and symptoms.

“Excessive weight gain, anger management disturbed sleep patterns, tremors,” White said.

The young men were each taking a number of prescription drugs before they died, but the combination they all had in common includes Paxil, Klonopin and Seroquel.

You can read the rest of this extremely disturbing article here.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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Once again, President Bush proves that he has absolutely no idea about … well, anything. Here, he claims that the economy is not being harmed by the war, and the extraordinary amount of money being spent on the war. Instead, he thinks the war is helping the economy.

Um, yeah. That may be true if you’re one of his fat-cat friends who own companies which supply equipment and necessary (and sometimes unnecessary) items to feed the war machine. Otherwise, it’s not helping you (or me) economically at all.

By the way, since he mentions the rebate, just where exactly where is the government supposed to get the money to do that?  It’s just more debt, and more interest on debt.  It’s just the Republicans trying to look better before the presidential election in November, pure and simple.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Opiate effect on brainRichard Knox, NPR “All Things Considered” 02 January 08:

Every year, overdoses of heroin and opiates, such as Oxycontin, kill more drug users than AIDS, hepatitis or homicide.

And the number of overdoses has gone up dramatically over the past decade.

But now, public health workers from New York to Los Angeles, North Carolina to New Mexico, are preventing thousands of deaths by giving $9.50 rescue kits to drug users. The kits turn drug users into first responders by giving them the tools to save a life.

One of the new rescue operations is located off a side street behind St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Mass. Clients enter through an innocuous-looking door and climb a flight of wooden stairs to the Cambridge Cares About AIDS program for harm reduction.

The group says its mission is to provide prevention, education, advocacy and support services to the economically and socially disadvantaged.

At CCAA, drug users can obtain condoms, sterile needles, syringes and other resources to reduce their vulnerability to disease and death. Health educators also cajole their clients to undergo HIV and hepatitis testing, urge them not to share needles, and find them slots in detoxification programs and methadone treatment.

Drug Used as a Nasal Spray

On one recent wintry morning, health educator Eliza Wheeler teaches a 34-year-old client named Elissa how to rescue her friends from a fatal overdose.

“All right, Elissa,” Wheeler says in a getting-down-to-business manner. “The first thing I’m going to do is ask a series of questions about your current drug use. So, we’re going to talk about just the last 30 days.”

Elissa has been on methadone for six years, but she confesses that she used heroin a couple of days in the previous month because she was under a lot of stress.

Like most long-term heroin users, Elissa has had scary experiences with overdoses – her own and others’. Once, her partner became unresponsive after taking a mixture of heroin, benzodiazepine pills and alcohol, she says.

“He was not breathing, which is why I called the ambulance,” she says. “But I managed to wake him up before they came, and they didn’t take him away. He went out and convinced them he was OK.”

Many times, drug users and their friends don’t call 911, which is why overdoses are so often fatal. They’re afraid the police might come, and they could get arrested — or lose their housing or custody of their children.

Signs of Overdose

Wheeler runs through the signs of heroin overdose for Elissa.

“There are some clear signs, like people turning blue,” Wheeler says. “Sometimes, there’s like a gurgling sound and nonresponsiveness, of course. And there are some less clear signs, like people being in kind of a heavy nod — kind of being really sedated — not breathing very often. We usually say 12 breaths a minute is key. So, if people are breathing less than that, it’s time to really be concerned.”

Wheeler says stimulation — rubbing hard on the breastbone or the upper lip — can sometimes bring an overdose victim back to consciousness. If that doesn’t work, call 911 and start blowing air into the person’s lungs, a modified form of CPR called “rescue breathing.”

That’s when it’s time to open up the overdose rescue kit, Wheeler says, ripping open a plastic bag and taking out a small box containing a vial of medicine.

“This is what the box looks like,” she says. “Attached to the box is a little apparatus that makes it into a spray. It’s just a nasal spray. There’s no injection.”

“That’s so wonderful!” Elissa says, looking visibly relieved. “I had thought it was a shot.”

The nasal spray is a drug called naloxone, or Narcan. It blocks the brain receptors that heroin activates, instantly reversing an overdose.

Doctors and emergency medical technicians have used Narcan for years in hospitals and ambulances. But it doesn’t require much training because it’s impossible to overdose on Narcan.

The Cambridge program began putting Narcan kits into drug users’ hands in August. Since then, the kits have been used to reverse seven overdoses.

New data compiled for NPR by researcher Alex Kral of the consulting firm RTI International show that more than 2,600 overdoses have been reversed in 16 programs operating across the nation.

Kral estimates that is at least 75 percent of all the reversals that have occurred so far among several dozen U.S. programs, many of which are new.

John Gatto, executive director of the Cambridge program, says such dramatic results are unusual in the world of substance abuse treatment and prevention.

“In the work that we do, oftentimes the results are very intangible,” Gatto says. “This is amazing to be involved in something that literally can save people’s lives. Why wouldn’t we do it?”

Program Has Critics

But Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs.

“First of all, I don’t agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. That’s No. 1,” she says. “I just don’t think that’s good public health policy.”

Madras says drug users aren’t likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. More importantly, she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isn’t as likely.

Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug user’s motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.

“Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services,” Madras says.

Study Confirms Benefits

There is not much research on the effect of Narcan kits on drug abusers’ behavior, but one small study suggests that overdose-rescue programs reduce heroin use and get some people into treatment.

Karen Seal, an author of the study, says the study showed rescue programs have a tremendous impact.

“It was one of those great studies where we just all walked away and said, ‘Whoa! This is terrific!’” says Seal, of the University of California, San Francisco. “I mean, by our sheer interaction with these folks around these life-saving behaviors, we’re actually creating some real positive change here.”

And health educator Wheeler says putting overdose-rescue kits in the hands of drug users sends them a positive message.

“There is a real potential culture change among drug users because of Narcan,” she says. “Because, from my experience, I feel like drug users internalize a lot of stigma that’s out in the world about them. They come to believe that dying is just part of this life that they’ve chosen.”

Wheeler says it doesn’t have to be that way.

Despite the rescue program’s critics, it has not generated the kind of controversy that surrounded needle-exchange programs. Those programs seek to prevent drug users from getting HIV or hepatitis by sharing dirty needles and syringes.

So far, Narcan rescue programs have sprung up in big cities and rural areas around the country with little or no opposition.

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