Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Case for Treating PTSD in Veterans With Medical Marijuana

Researchers are one bureaucratic hurdle away from gaining approval for the first clinical examination on the benefits of marijuana for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD).

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), working under the auspices of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, are preparing a three-month study of combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plan is on hold until the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Public Health Service (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) agrees to sell researchers the marijuana needed for research -- or until the marijuana can be legally imported. Social and political intrigue surrounding this research is far reaching, attracting opposing factions who must cede biases for the greater good and well-being of servicemen and servicewomen.

The University-controlled study Sisley advocates calls for a triple-blind and placebo-controlled environment. A meticulously prepared proposal recommends a sample base of 50 veterans, whosePTSD symptoms have not improved under current standard medical practices. All participants must agree to abstain from marijuana use for 30 days prior to participation. In two ensuing 60-day periods, the veterans are asked to either smoke or vaporize a maximum of 1.8 grams of marijuana a day (the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes). The test group will be furnished a weekly supply of various strains of marijuana, with THC levels ranging from 0 percent to 12 percent. Sisley's study objectives are twofold. "With this research, we can actually figure out which symptoms it might help with, and what an optimal dosing strategy might look like." She is also mindful of public opinion regarding medical marijuana. "If we get a chance to do this, we're not taking liberties. This is a carefully controlled, rigorous scientific study. We're not sitting around trying to get these vets high."

If anecdotal evidence were the standard, acceptance of marijuana's calming properties among psychologically scarred soldiers would be a topic relegated to the past. Statistical evidence to support that hypothesis could be petitioned from the state of New Mexico, where medical marijuana is legally prescribed for PTSD. The state's number one diagnosis for a medical marijuana license, a noteworthy 27 percent of the total, lists PTSD as the qualifying criteria for issuance. That statistic comes as no surprise to Sisley, but she stresses circumstantial evidence is not enough to sway the wide range of government agencies she deals with. "We really believe science should supersede politics," she said. "This illness needs to be treated in a multidisciplinary way. Drugs likeZoloft and Paxil have proven entirely inadequate."

In neighboring Colorado, the state's legislature failed to pass a proposal mirroring New Mexico's. It effectively forbade Colorado's large veteran population from citing PTSD on medical marijuana applications. Brian Vicente, of the Sensible Colorado organization, became an advocate for veterans after the legislative rejection. Vicente has watched the government fight itself over this issue. "The federal government is, in some ways, divided," Vicente said. "Agencies like theVeterans Administration have taken some fairly decent stances of medical marijuana." Quickly, he adds a qualifier: "But, then you have the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] and NIDA [the National Institute on Drug Abuse] and organizations like them blocking research that other parts of the government are authorizing. It's another example of the federal government being schizophrenic and flat-out wrong on marijuana as medicine." This is a frustrating scenario Sisley has encountered first-hand. "I can't help but think they simply don't want to move forward," she said. "Maybe they figure if they stall long enough, we'll give up and go away."

As arguments among American government agencies continue, other nations are taking the lead generating medical arguments that advance Sisley's theory. A study at Israel's University of Haifashowed that marijuana administered to rats within 24 hours of suffering psychological trauma effectively blocked the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Irit Akirav's study even concludes there is a time-frame that has to be taken into consideration. "There is a critical window of time after trauma, during which synthetic marijuana can help prevent symptoms similar to PTSD in rats," Akirav stated at the time. "It does not erase the experience, but can help prevent the development of PTSD symptoms." In Germany, Switzerland, and Spain there are currently programs, some government funded, utilizing MDMA (from which the "ecstasy" drug is derived) as a possible inhibitor of PTSD symptoms.

A governmental lack of decisiveness has created unintended consequences and casualties in the medical field. One is Dr. Phil Leveque, a World War II veteran who had his medical license revoked based on the large number of medical marijuana permits he issued for PTSD in Oregon. Leveque estimates he signed 1,000 permits for PTSD, and said he did so with a clear conscience. "Whether they were World War II, Korea, Vietnam or vets from the current conflicts, 100 percent of my patients said it was better than any drug they were prescribed for PTSD," he said. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia currently have laws permitting marijuana for medical use. However, Veterans Affairs physicians are expressly prohibited from recommending patients for enrollment in any state's medical marijuana program. This, again, highlights contradictions at different levels of government agencies.

Veterans Affairs data disclosed that from 2002 to 2009 one million troops left active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan and became eligible for VA care. That's a number that will rise annually, revealing a need for effective treatment of PTSD that cannot be overstated. PTSD remains an enormous consideration with combat troops still serving in Afghanistan, where an estimated six to 11 percent are currently suffering symptoms of PTSD. Statistics among Iraq War veterans are more disturbing, with between 12 to 20 percent of returning vets suffering PTSD-related anxieties. Those are government statistics, and some non-governmental studies suggest that as many as one in every five military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could suffer various forms of PTSD. Veteran Affairs recognizes these facts, and to its credit funds unconventional studies of PTSD, employing therapy dogs and yoga.

Sisley has found an ally in Rick Doblin, executive director of the leading psychedelic studies group. Doblin has the unenviable job of lobbying Congress under the umbrella of the non-profit MAPS. The pair share a common frustration dealing with the multitude of government agencies, some of whose interests are diametrically opposed. Doblin addresses apprehensions from the administrative standpoint: "We're asking for marijuana from an agency [National Institute on Drug Abuse] designed to prevent people from using marijuana. There's something fundamental that just doesn't work here," he said. Sisley's concerns revolve around medical studies in the field, which often fail to gain approval because of political motives instead of science. "The doctors I know think this war on marijuana is awful, and they're tired of being in the middle of it," she said. "They just want to do real research, or read real research, and not operate around all of these agendas."

Veterans endure a framework of care for PTSD that has not changed since 1980, when PTSD was added to American Psychiatric Association's dictionary of maladies. Federal agencies are clearly confused, unable to reconcile the illegality of marijuana with the benefits it could have on the lives of soldiers and their extended families. These issues are not being addressed in an open forum; instead, they remain hidden behind committee doors or special panels of anonymous voices with unknown prejudices. Medical marijuana remains one of the nation's biggest political hot potatoes, and when combined with our veterans' health creates a unique conundrum for politicians. Disturbingly, the people caught in this crossfire of self-interest are veterans who risked their lives for the system that may be stifling their medical options now. (Source)

‘Gag me with a spoon!’ Even Nurses Have Their Moments and Hurl

         Good Day World!

My wife calls me a big “wuss” when it comes to my dealing with certain smells. Since I tried changing our first son’s diaper and upchucked on him and everything nearby she has had to assume the smellier details of our lives.

Every time I tried to help clean up the dog poo, I made more of a mess! It wasn’t pretty, and the reason I gave up trying to help her.

If the garbage really stinks – like rotting fish for example – I have to take a deep breath, pinch my nose with one hand and run outside swinging the plastic trash bag at my side until I can toss it into the steel outdoor trash can. If the weather’s bad, this is really a sight to behold – especially if I slip and have to clean up the mess! (Yes, it’s happened)

I shouldn’t feel so bad however. Even nurses can’t take certain sights and smells without vomiting like dogs! Or me. We all have our trigger point it seems (okay I have a half dozen!) when it comes to things that induce us to hurl the contents of our guts.

“The triggers span green, brown and all the vibrant colors of the digestive rainbow. Sudden squeamishness is prompted, for some, by fountains of phlegm and, for others, by certain fragrant excretions.

In the profession, it’s often just called “the one thing” -- that single human function or unappealing appendage that can instantly disgust and distress seasoned medical professionals who otherwise handle all sorts of discharges, emissions and oozing with barely a wince.

“Even though very little in the way of bodily fluids bother me, I do have one thing that sparks the heebie-jeebies,” said Barb Dehn, a women’s health nurse practitioner who has often lectured at Stanford University.

“Despite years of attending births with gushing amniotic fluid, blood and other slimy secretions, doing gynecologic exams on sex workers, and changing dressings for people with gangrene, the one thing that makes me gag is … wait for it … the sight of dentures in a glass. No kidding, I can't stand it and begin to retch every time,” said Dehn, who works at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif.

“When I was caring for some elderly relatives, I could do everything else: change diapers, change oozing dressings, give enemas. But brushing their dentures was just too much for me. Go figure.”

Ask 10 nurses the same question – what is your “one thing?” – and you may hear 10 different answers.

Warning for the easily grossed out: This is stomach-turning stuff.

For Terry Ann Black, who spent 46 years nursing in Vermont and Maryland, it’s “anything having to do with the eyes,” including punctures and foreign bodies.

“Why do eyes bother me? Not really sure, but I think I am afraid that something will gush out of them,” said Black, author of a “Caring is Not Enough,” an end-of-life planning workbook. “I also had a recurring patient who had a fake eye and he would pop it out just to get a reaction. I accommodated him.”

For Sandy Navalta, a certified in San Francisco, the problem is way at the other end.

"The one thing that absolutely grosses me out are situations where a patient has been constipated for days. When the patient is given a stool softener, what comes out is three days of hard stool followed by projectile diarrhea,” Navalta said. “And that diarrhea flows down the leg and into the cast, if the patient is wearing one – and, yes, that has happened to me. I've had to clean it up.”

And for Deonne Brown Benedict, a family nurse practitioner and owner of Charis Family Clinic in Edmonds, Wash., the human juice that makes her woozy her is something with which many of us also struggle.

Her impetus is vomitus.

“I almost didn't become a nurse because I figured I might come in contact with vomit more than once in my career. Thankfully, it hasn't been as frequent as I had envisioned,” said Benedict, who has invested 17 years in the medical profession.

She vividly recalls an early, nursing-student moment when one of her first patients began to hurl. As the woman upchucked, Benedict tossed her an emesis basin, “and went running out of the room so that I wouldn't be the next person to lose it,” she said.

“I happened to see a group of eager medical students looking for a good ‘case study,’ so I pointed them right to my patient. They went right in, probably wondering what had happened to the nurse on duty.” Benedict “recovered,” she said, from her guilt and her own wave of nausea and forced herself to “toughen up in this area.”

At least in terms of cookie tossings, some people gag when they see others vomit because it’s believed that mirror neurons in their brains make them more empathetic and cause their bodies to emulate what they see. Like forming tears when you see someone crying, experts say.

Following similar logic, Stanford lecturer Dehn theorizes that many nurses have varied causes for their on-the-job cases of the cold sweats because they all are wired differently, and have had distinct life experiences that they can't check at the examination-room door.

She points to the brain’s limbic system, which help control the body’s reactions to and actions during perceived moments of self-preservation.

“In my own opinion, it must derive from an imprinting that occurs early on in life, and that there are neural pathways that get laid down early and maybe get reinforced throughout life,” Dehn said.

This may explain why Becki Hawkins, a nurse who worked for 30 years in oncology and hospice in the Tulsa area, sites just one aversion when it comes to hands-on human care.

“Not the blood, not the open wounds, not the poo, not the body odor, nor the feet,” Hawkins said.

“The only thing that would really make me scoot out of a room real quick was,” she added, “when a tracheotomy patient would cough up a huge, green ball of phlegm into my face – accidentally and without warning.”

Let's be honest, though, that's going to make pretty much anyone scoot.” (Source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gotcha! Powerball prize-sharing joke hits 1M shares on Facebook

PowerballSome people have to feel real stupid tonight. Or, maybe not. Anything is worth a shot right?

A joke Facebook post by a man claiming to have a winning Powerball lottery ticket has been shared 1 million times just in the 24 hours since it was posted.

Nolan Daniels posted an image of himself on the social network holding a Powerball ticket Thursday evening. He claimed it was a winning ticket and that if his friends shared the photo, he would give a million dollars to one of them at random. As the post was made public (and remains so as of this writing), it went viral, spreading from Facebook to blogs and various websites.

Even a cursory examination of the photo shows it to be the crudest of manipulations, with the telltale signs of simple copying and pasting to make the numbers appear to be a winning permutation. And those familiar with the rules may also have noticed that the numbers are not printed in numerical order, as they would be on a real ticket.

Despite the ruse being glaringly obvious, the photo — and some folks' hopes for a cut of the dough — has spread like wildfire. NBC News has contacted Daniels for comment, and will update this post if we hear back from him. (Source)

From the Marijuana Files: Why Are We Testing Newborns for Pot?

       Good Day World!

It seems I don’t have to look far nowadays to find a story dealing with marijuana. Some are strange. Some are ridiculous. Some are funny. Some are shocking. Some leave you shaking your head in dull wonder. I’ll leave it to you to decide which the following story about marijuana is:

  “The science is alarmingly inconclusive, but the punishment for mothers is severe. Employees at US hospitals are testing more and more newborns for cannabis exposure. And, with alarming frequency, they are getting the wrong results. So say a pair of recent studies documenting the unreliability of infant drug testing.

  In the most recent trial, published in the September edition of the Journal of Clinical Chemistry , investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine evaluated the rate of unconfirmed "positive" immunoassay test results in infant and non-infant urine samples over a 52-week period.

  Shockingly, authors found that positive tests for carboxy THC, a byproduct of THC screened for in immunoassay urine tests, were 59 times less likely to be confirmed in infant urine specimens as compared to non-infant urine samples.       Overall, 47 percent of the infant positive immunoassay urine samples evaluated did not test for the presence of carboxy THC when confirmatory assay measures were later performed.

  “No child-health expert would characterize recreational drug use during pregnancy as a good idea,” writes columnist Maia Szalavitz. “But it’s not at all clear that the benefits, if any, of newborn marijuana screening – particularly given how selectively the tests are administered – justify the potential harm it can cause to families.”
Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform agrees, telling that the emotional damage caused by removing an infant child from their mothers, as well as the risk of abuse inherent to foster care, far outweigh any risks to the child that may be caused by maternal marijuana use during pregnancy.

   In fact, the potential health effects of maternal marijuana use on infant birth weight and early development have been subject to scientific scrutiny for several decades. One of the earliest and most often cited studies on the topic comes from Dr. Melanie Dreher and colleagues, who assessed neonatal outcomes in Jamaica, where it is customary for many women to ingest cannabis, often in tea, during pregnancy to combat symptoms of morning sickness.

Writing in the journal  Pediatrics in 1994, Dreher and colleagues reported no significant physical or psychological differences in newborns of heavy marijuana-using mothers at three days old, and found that exposed children performed better on a variety of physiological and autonomic tests than non-exposed children at 30 days. (This latter trend was suggested to have been a result of the socio-economic status of the mothers rather than a result of pre-natal pot exposure.) (Source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scientist warn public: Grapefruit juice can interact badly with your medication

               Good Day World!
If you kick-start your day with a glass of grapefruit juice, be careful.
Canadian scientists say the number of common drugs that can interact badly with the tart citrus is climbing, with the potential for dangerous, even deadly, results.
Twenty-six new drugs that can cause serious harm when mixed with grapefruit have been introduced in the past four years alone, bringing the total to 43, said Dr. David Bailey, a clinical pharmacologist at the Lawson Health Institute Research Center in London, Ontario. That’s an average of more than six new drugs a year.
“What I’ve seen has been disturbing,” said Bailey, lead author on a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “It’s hard to avoid putting a drug out on the market that is not affected by grapefruit juice.”

More than 85 drugs that interact with whole grapefruit, grapefruit concentrate or fresh grapefruit juice have been identified, though not all have serious consequences. Those that do, however, can cause problems that include acute kidney failure, respiratory failure, gastric bleeding -- and worse.
“When I say sudden death, I’m not being sensational,” said Bailey, who said 13 drugs may be lethal when mixed with grapefruit.
The heart drug dronedarone, or Multaq, for instance, has a very high risk of interaction when taken with grapefruit, which may cause a rare form of ventricular tachycardia or rapid heart rhythm, the researchers found.
the prescription painkiller oxycodone with grapefruit can cause serious breathing problems, and adding the fruit to a dose of the popular statin simvastatin, or Zocor, can lead to rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle fibers that can lead to kidney damage.
To see a complete list of drugs that interact with grapefruit, click here.
The trouble with grapefruit has been known for two decades, ever since Bailey and his colleagues first discovered that ingestion of the fruit with certain prescription drugs can concentrate the medication in a patient’s bloodstream.
Drinking less than a cup of grapefruit juice once a day for three days, for instance, can lead to a 330 percent concentration of simvastatin, the researchers reported.
“I’ve seen a 10-fold increase in some patients,” Bailey said. And it doesn’t matter whether the grapefruit is consumed hours before the pills, the researchers found.
The problem is caused by an active ingredient in some citrus fruits, including grapefruit, limes and pomelos. Even the Seville oranges used in marmalades can trigger it. The fruits produce organic chemical compounds called furanocoumarins, which interfere with a human digestive enzyme.
That enzyme, called CYP3A4, helps metabolize toxic substances to keep them from getting into the bloodstream. Typically, that means the enzyme inactivates the effects of about 50 percent of all medications. Doctors adjust for that when prescribing drugs.

However, when the furanocoumarins in citrus inhibit that enzyme, the drugs can become concentrated in a patient’s system. In some cases, it can be like getting a triple or quadruple dose of medication, Bailey said.
Drugs known to interact with grapefruit do carry warnings, but Bailey said he believes that neither doctors nor patients may take the threat seriously enough.
“Basically, most people are sort of aware of grapefruit juice drug interactions, but I don’t think it’s in the forefront of their mind on a regular basis,” he said.
It’s not clear how many people actually are harmed by grapefruit interactions, mostly because the side effects are often not recognized as being related to the citrus, said Bailey, who included eight case reports in his study. “For every case report, there are at least 100 that have never been reported,” he said.
Part of the concern lies in the fact that people older than 45 are most likely to consume grapefruit juice -- and to take prescription drugs. Seniors older than 70 have the most trouble tolerating excessively high levels of drugs, Bailey noted.

“These are the individuals with the greatest chance of exposure," he said.
Patients worried about the interaction of grapefruit with their medications should talk with their doctors, Bailey said. And doctors should make sure to ask about grapefruit consumption when prescribing drugs.
Some grapefruit lovers may have cut back already because of the risk of drug interaction. Consumption of grapefruit juice has dropped in the past decade, falling from .44 gallons of juice per person per year in 2000 to .15 gallons per person in 2011, according to figures from the Florida Department of Citrus.
Officials there say that although some drugs do interact with grapefruit, most do not. In most cases, doctors can prescribe drugs in the same class that don’t interact, noted Karen Mathis, a department spokeswoman.
“These medications often can provide the same therapeutic effect with no need to avoid grapefruit juice,” she said in a statement. And not all citrus poses a problem, Bailey noted. Sweet oranges, such as navel and Valencia varieties, don’t contain the damaging compound.
“You have an alternative there,” he suggested. “If you want to take your medications with orange juice, you’re home free.” (Source)
Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Court Calls for Corrective Ads: Tobacco Firms Ordered to Say They Lied about Smoking Dangers

            Good Day World!

I can still remember how grouchy I was that first week of January 2000. I quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey after nearly 30 years of the bad habit. I was eating Altoids (curiously strong mints) by the handful. But as the days turned into months I saw the positive results…and was impressed.

I got my sense of smell and taste back (although it took nearly a year for my taste buds to fully recoup). I was taking deep breaths and not hacking like a chimney sweep. It felt good not hear my lungs rattle as I talked. Most of my clothes were so sodden with nicotine that I had to throw them out and start over.

Once I broke that terrible addiction, I looked into the lies the tobacco industry was telling the public with the refreshed eyes of a new found anti-tobacco zealot. It’s been a slow process getting the tobacco industry to this point but now it’s really time for them to eat crow:

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements that say they lied about the dangers of smoking and that disclose smoking's health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler previously had said she wanted the industry to pay for corrective statements in various types of advertisements. But Tuesday's ruling is the first time she's laid out what the statements will say.

Each corrective ad is to be prefaced by a statement that a federal court has concluded that the defendant tobacco companies "deliberately deceived the American public about the ."

Among the required statements are that more people than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined, and that "secondhand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans a year."

The corrective statements are part of a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. Kessler ruled in that case in 2006 that the nation's largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades, and said she wanted the industry to pay for "corrective statements" in various types of ads, both broadcast and print. The Justice Department proposed corrective statements, which Kessler used as the basis for some of the ones she ordered Tuesday.

Tobacco companies had urged Kessler to reject the government's proposed industry-financed corrective statements; the companies called them "forced public confessions." They also said the statements were designed to "shame and humiliate" them. They had argued for statements that include the health effects and addictive qualities of smoking.

Kessler wrote that all of the corrective statements are based on specific findings of fact made by the court.

"This court made a number of explicit findings that the tobacco companies perpetuated fraud and deceived the public regarding the addictiveness of cigarettes and nicotine," she said.

A spokesman for Altria Group Inc., owner of the nation's biggest tobacco company, Philip Morris USA, said the company was studying the court's decision and did not provide any further comment. A spokesman for Reynolds American Inc., parent company of No. 2 cigarette maker, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., said the company was reviewing the ruling and considering its next steps.

The statements Kessler chose included five categories: adverse health effects of smoking; addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; lack of significant health benefit from smoking cigarettesmarked as "low tar," "light," etc.; manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Among the statements within those categories:

  • "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day." 
  • "Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive." 
  • "When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain — that's why quitting is so hard." 
  • "All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks and premature death — lights, low tar, ultra lights and naturals. There is no safe cigarette." 
  • "Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke." "Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma and reduced lung function." 
  • "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."

    Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the department was pleased with the order.

    Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called it an important ruling.

    "The most critical part of the ruling is that it requires the tobacco companies to state clearly that the court found that they deceived the American public and that they are telling the truth now only because the court is ordering them to do so," Myers said in an interview. "This isn't the last word, but this is a vitally important step because this should resolve exactly what the tobacco companies are required to say."

    In July, a federal appeals court rejected efforts by the tobacco companies to overrule Kessler's ruling requiring corrective statements. The companies had argued that a 2009 law that gave the Food and Drug Administration authority over the industry eliminated "any reasonable likelihood" that they would commit future RICO violations.

    In her ruling Tuesday, Kessler ordered the tobacco companies and Justice Department to meet beginning next month to address how to implement the corrective statements, including whether they will be put in inserts with cigarette packs and on websites, TV and newspaper ads. Those discussions are to conclude by March. (source)

    Time for me to walk on down the road….and not tobacco road either!

    Time for me to walk on down

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three family members drown attempting to save their dog at Big Lagoon Beach

        Good Day World!

I can’t get the image out of my mind.

A family’s pet dog runs out into the breakers at Big Lagoon Beach (a mere 15 miles or so from where I live) and get’s swept out to sea by 10-foot swells. The family, a man, woman, and teenage son – all standing nearby - jumped in…one by-one…the first to save the pet then the others followed for whatever reason.

Big Lagoon is located about 32 miles north of Eureka in Humboldt County.

It ends badly. Like it has for so many others who fell victim to our deadly north coast surf. It wasn’t a sneaker wave this time, something we’re also known for. No. I’m not sure what to call this tragedy. The waves were just to big and strong. The water too cold. They loved their pet too much? Is that possible? Love is a mighty motivator. A rescue that turned into a rescue?

The local authorities found the body of the man and the woman yesterday.They’re still looking for the teenage son as I write this. The U.S. Coast Guard reported the daughter of the couple called for help. Did she witness this terrible turn of events? It appears she did. My heart goes out to her. The final irony here; the dog managed to make it to safety.

I’m looking down into the eyes of my eight-year old pug Millie and wondering just how far I’d go to save her life? I hope I never have to find out.

Time for me to walk on down the road… sadly

Monday, November 26, 2012

Game Over! Walmart workers kill shoplifter who lifted 2 DVD players

       Good Day World!

I hope the individuals who ran down the shoplifter at Walmart feel it was worth it to kill for that stolen merchandise. When he was gagging for air under the weight of all three of them (one had a chokehold on him too) I wonder if they thought their actions were going to get them declared heroes? Maybe they thought they’d get a holiday bonus for saving Walmart’s bottom line.

More than likely though, the knuckleheads didn’t think at all. They over-reacted. They stepped over the line and death was the result. I will never condone stealing from stores, but no product is worth a person’s life. Logic was left at the curb with the two DVD players.


The Black Friday shopping weekend apparently took a tragic turn early Sunday morning when an alleged shoplifter died while being apprehended by employees and a contract security officer outside a Lithonia Walmart.

Two associates who helped catch and subdue the suspect before police arrived have been placed on leave; the security officer who police say may have placed the suspected thief in a choke hold, is no longer working for Walmart.

“No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life,” Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee said Sunday in a statement that emphasized that it was early in the investigation into the incident and all the facts were not known yet. “Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk.”

DeKalb police say that the unidentified man took two DVD players from the Walmart at 5401 Fairington Road around 1:30 a.m. The man, who appeared to be middle aged, exited through the front door, but was caught by the trio in the parking lot where a “physical altercation” took place, according to the police report.

When police arrived, they found the trio on top of the man. An officer who handcuffed the suspected shoplifter detected no resistance from him and ordered the employees off. Police found the man to be unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and mouth. Emergency units responded and transported him to DMC-Hillandale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“This is truly a sad situation,” Gee said. “We don’t know all of the facts right now. We’re in the process of working with law enforcement to deterimine all of the facts and cooperating and providing any information we have to assist in the investigation.

The preliminary investigation indicates the victim was placed in a choke hold by the security officer. The cause and manner of death is to be determined by the DeKalb Medical Examiner’s office. A spokesman said no information on the victim would be released until Monday.The two Walmart associates involved in the incident have been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Gee said, adding that, “The security officer involved will no longer be providing services to us.”

Time for me to walk on down the road…disgusted

Sunday, November 25, 2012

As It Stands: Congress: A rest home for old politicians

 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
I’ve got an idea that could break the gridlock in Congress. Not immediately, but by the time the next elections roll around. We’re stuck with the current crew of ideology-driven drones and party-first clowns for now.
It’s never too soon to work on changing things however. The idea? Simple. Term limits. We’ve already settled that issue in regards to the presidency with the ratification of the 22nd amendment in February of 1951.        
Several attempts have been made to limit the number of terms Senators and Congressmen can hold office. Most attempts seek to limit the time in office to 12 years, which would limit Senators to 2 terms and House members to 6 terms.

As part of the Contract with America in 1994, House Republicans attempted to established 12-year terms limits for Congress. However, they failed to achieve the 2/3 majority required to pass such an amendment.
Whatever the role of the Contract, Republicans were elected to a majority of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1953, and several parts of the Contract were enacted. Some elements did not pass in Congress, while others were vetoed by, or substantially altered in negotiations with President Bill Clinton, who would later sarcastically refer to it as the "Contract on America.”
  I’ve always contended that having life-long members in Congress is detrimental to our system of government.
As of November 24, 2012, 66 of the current 100 members range in age from their early 60’s to their late 80s. Four senators are in their 80s, 24 are in their 70s,  and 38 are in their 60s.
Let’s face it, that’s a little “long in the teeth” to be actively introducing and voting on legislation. There’s no way they are as alert as a 50-year old member. I don’t care what anyone says. Talk about being rigid. Many of those old coots are mentally living in the 50s and don’t truly represent what Americans feel today.

In February of this year the senate soundly rejected the idea of term limits with a 24-75 vote. Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) amendment would have expressed the non-binding sense of the Senate that the Constitution to place limits on how long members of Congress can serve.
I’m not surprised. The members of Congress have a good deal and don’t want anything to change. The perks they get are seldom found outside of government. So it seems we’re stuck. Or, maybe not.
People have been going on about this term limit thing for decades with no progress. But the times, they are changing. We have the internet and social media like FaceBook and Twitter that can galvanize movements and generate change.

Up to now the American people have had their hands tied as the members of Congress protected themselves and made sure no one rocked the boat. The subject would come up, and they’d act like they were really considering it, but lo and behold, nothing was ever passed.
We’ve all heard about the Arab Spring, Occupy, and other social movements by people demanding change from their governments.

Social media has been a key in those changes. There’s no reason a groundswell movement involving millions of Americans couldn’t put these insulated lawmakers on notice.
We know they’re never going to fix the problem. They don’t see it as a problem. Dying on the job is what they all hope to do.
I would be remiss in not noting that these geezers keep getting re-elected. 
That’s the part I don’t get. How do people expect change to happen when the status quo in Congress is maintained? Don’t expect the mainstream media to take up this issue, as most of it is owned by one of the two ruling political parties.
Twelve years in office should be more than enough. I don’t have anything against a person’s age, but at some point in our lives we all need to retire and let young blood and fresh ideas take over.
   As It Stands, when you have a group of old timer’s hobbling down the halls of Congress it’s time to call it a rest home for politicians!

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...