Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Day 141 of Bush's Silence - New York Times

Please read the entire article....
Day 141 of Bush's Silence - New York Times: "Nyala, Sudan
A reader from Eugene, Ore., wrote in with a complaint about my harping on the third world:
'Why should the U.S. care for the rest of the world?' he asked. 'The U.S. should take care of its own. ... It's way past time for liberal twits to stop pushing the U.S. into nonsense or try to make every wrong in the world our responsibility.'

And while that reader wasn't George W. Bush, it could have been. Today marks Day 141 of Mr. Bush's silence on the genocide, for he hasn't let the word Darfur slip past his lips publicly since Jan. 10 (even that was a passing reference with no condemnation).
There are several points I could make to argue that it's in our own interest to help Darfur. Turmoil in Darfur is already destabilizing all of Sudan and neighboring Chad as well, both oil-exporting countries. And failed states nurture terrorists like Osama and diseases like polio, while exporting refugees and hijackers.
But there's an even better argument: Magboula, a woman I met at the Kalma Camp here.
She lived with her husband and five children in the countryside, but then as the Arab janjaweed began to slaughter black African tribes like her own, she and her family fled to the safety of a larger town. In December, the Sudanese Army attacked that town, and they ran off to the bush. Two months ago, the janjaweed militia caught up with them.
First the raiders shot her husband dead, she said, her voice choking, and then they whipped her, taunted her with racial insults against black people and mocked her by asking why her husband was not there to help her." The eight of them gang-raped her...
What killed Magboula's husband and child was, indirectly, the world's moral indifference... When Americans see suffering abroad on their television screens, as they did after the tsunami, they respond. I wish we had the Magboula Channel, showing her daily struggle to forge ahead through humiliation and hunger, struggling above all to keep her remaining children alive. If you multiply Magboula by 2.2 million, you get the reasons why we should care.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

In Sri Lanka, a Hard Lesson On Road of Good Intentions

An interesting account of individuals who went to Sri Lanka on their own to help out post-Tsunami--Moral: it's much easier to work through established aid agencies. But still you have to admire their heart and chutzpah...

In Sri Lanka, a Hard Lesson On Road of Good Intentions: "KOMARI, Sri Lanka -- She was fresh out of college, bright-eyed and ambitious, an earthy, well-read physician's daughter from Missoula, Mont., with an iPod, a loving family and lots of big ideas. The only thing Satya Byock said she lacked was 'a freaking plan.'
The tsunami gave her one."

Friday, May 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saudi uncertainty over sick king

This seems unusual to me and could indicate that the King indeed is quite ill. The King often went to King Faisal Hospital for treatment but there was usually not over security around the entire hospital. (This hospital is about 2 miles away from the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital where I used to work).
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saudi uncertainty over sick king: "There is heavy security around the King Faisal hospital in Riyadh. Saudi security sources said a number of princes from the ruling family have been arriving in the capital."

BBC NEWS | Health | UK 'crippling Africa healthcare'

On the other hand, the African doctors I spoke to on my recent trip to Nigeria would love the opportunity to emigrate...

BBC NEWS | Health | UK 'crippling Africa healthcare': "Although the UK government says it is working to create more home-grown doctors to staff the NHS and bring down waiting times after decades of under-resourcing, it still relies heavily on healthcare professionals from overseas.

Nearly a third of the doctors practising in the UK were trained overseas.

In comparison, only 5% of doctors in Germany and France are not home grown.

Dr Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMA's International Committee, said: 'Shortages of doctors and nurses are having a devastating effect in the developing world.

'Sub-Saharan Africa alone needs around a million more healthcare workers, and unless the situation improves drastically rates of HIV will spiral, disability from childhood disease will rise, and thousands more lives will be lost.

'Industrialised countries like America and Britain must recognise that they have some responsibility for this crisis.

Africans ask: 'Why isn't anyone telling the good news?' | csmonitor.com

Africans ask: 'Why isn't anyone telling the good news?' | csmonitor.com: "JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA � The way most newspapers and TV news tell it, there's little going on in Africa except poverty, famine, disease, and even genocide.
But there's more to Africa than hardship. And there are growing efforts to try to present a fuller, more rounded picture of this continent to the world."...
"Africa is shifting more and more toward becoming a business story," says John Chiahemen, chief Reuters correspondent in Southern Africa and chairman of the board of the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Southern Africa. (This reporter is also a member of that board.) Increasingly, he says, Reuters is focusing on "opportunities in Africa" because the continent " (This is going to be the key to uplifting the lives of Africans...)

CNN.com - EU report�cites concerns on Ethiopian vote counting� - May 25, 2005

CNN.com - EU report�cites concerns on Ethiopian vote counting� - May 25, 2005: "ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Ethiopia's electoral board appears to have lost control of the vote counting for the May 15 legislative polls, European Union election observers said in a report obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday."

Music Store Manager Arrested for Selling Alzheimer's Victim 11 Organs - from TBO.com

Music Store Manager Arrested for Selling Alzheimer's Victim 11 Organs - from TBO.com: "PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) - An Alzheimer's disease victim bought 11 organs in 18 months from a music store manager who convinced the 79-year-old woman she would play better if she had a more expensive instrument, authorities said"

FDA Looking Into Viagra-Blindness Link

FDA Looking Into Viagra-Blindness Link: "The Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports that some men using the impotence drug Viagra have experienced blindness, according to a published report"

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why smart people defend bad ideas - scottberkun.com

But one thing I did learn after years of studying advanced logic theory is that proficiency in argument can easily be used to overpower others, even when you are dead wrong. If you learn a few tricks of logic and debate, you can refute the obvious, and defend the ridiculous. If the people who you’re arguing with aren’t as comfortable in the tactics of argument or aren’t as arrogant as you are, they may even give in and agree with you...Read on...

Why smart people defend bad ideas - scottberkun.com

New Scientist 11 steps to a better brain - Features

New Scientist 11 steps to a better brain - Features: "It doesn't matter how brainy you are or how much education you've had - you can still improve and expand your mind. Boosting your mental faculties doesn't have to mean studying hard or becoming a reclusive book worm. There are lots of tricks, techniques and habits, as well as changes to your lifestyle, diet and behaviour that can help you flex your grey matter and get the best out of your brain cells. And here are 11 of them."

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

An unnamed Kabbalist has granted blessing to famed archeologist Dr. Vendyl Jones to uncover the Holy Ark of the Covenant. Jones plans to excavate the Lost Ark by the Tisha B’Av Fast this summer...

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

Wired News: Computers No Cure for Dumb Docs

Surprise, this study was at a "high tech VA!"

Wired News: Computers No Cure for Dumb Docs: "Harmful medication-related mishaps cropped up in a quarter of all patients at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, one of the most high-tech hospitals in the country, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine"

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Monkey apes temple rituals:- - India News - Webindia123.com

Monkey apes temple rituals:- - India News - Webindia123.com: "Balasore (Orissa), May 25 : Aping Hindu rituals to a T, a monkey appeared at an Orissa temple, prayed for an hour folding its hands in the traditional sign of respect, took prasad, put vermilion on its forehead - and then fled.

Looking at it as a miracle are residents of Junia village in Balasore district, who responded by worshipping it in turn and garlanding the simian before it ran away."

Patients' favorite music during surgery lessens need for sedative

Patients' favorite music during surgery lessens need for sedative: "Patients' favorite music during surgery lessens need for sedative
New Haven, Conn.--Patients listening to their favorite music required much less sedation during surgery than did patients who listened to white noise or operating room noise, according to a Yale School of Medicine study published in May."

NPR : Blind Biologist Finds Clues to Human Societies in Shells

NPR : Blind Biologist Finds Clues to Human Societies in Shells: "California professor Gary Vermeij thinks he's found clues to the power of nations and multinational corporations -- by studying seashells. During his 35-year career, this biologist has overcome significant obstacles to carry out his research. He has been blind since age 3.


NPR : How Is It Possible to Believe in God?

NPR : How Is It Possible to Believe in God?: "'How is it possible to believe in God?' The imperishable answer was, 'I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop.'...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In Trial, Drug Aids Vision of Elderly - New York Times

A little more balance here...
In Trial, Drug Aids Vision of Elderly - New York Times: "Genentech did not announce how much its drug, Lucentis, improved vision, saying such details would be presented at a medical conference in July. So Dr. Haller and other experts were still somewhat cautious.

'Without having the numbers in there, I would be hesitant to say we've had a breakthrough,' said Dr. Joan W. Miller, head of ophthalmology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary."

WSJ.com - Drug Helps to Reverse Vision Loss

A little dramatic, don't ya think Peter...WSJ.com - Drug Helps to Reverse Vision Loss: "'This is going to kill Eyetech, unfortunately,' said Peter Kaiser, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic and unpaid member of Genentech's scientific advisory board, who participated in the Lucentis study."

What Women Want - New York Times

What Women Want - New York Times: "Now that so many employees (and more than half of young college graduates) are women, running a business like a tournament alienates some of the most talented workers and potential executives. It also induces competition in situations where cooperation makes more sense.

The result is not good for the bottom line, as demonstrated by a study from the Catalyst research organization showing that large companies yield better returns to stockholders if they have more women in senior management. A friend of mine, a businessman who buys companies, told me one of the first things he looks at is the gender of the boss.

'The companies run by women are much more likely to survive,' he said. 'The typical guy who starts a company is a competitive, charismatic leader - he's always the firm's top salesman - but if he leaves he takes his loyal followers with him and the company goes downhill. Women C.E.O.'s know how to hire good salespeople and create a healthy culture within the company. Plus they don't spend 20 percent of their time in strip clubs.'"...

Death by a Thousand Blogs - New York Times

Death by a Thousand Blogs - New York Times: "Beijing

The Chinese Communist Party survived a brutal civil war with the Nationalists, battles with American forces in Korea and massive pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. But now it may finally have met its match - the Internet."

The collision between the Internet and Chinese authorities is one of the grand wrestling matches of history, visible in part at www.yuluncn.com.

That's the Web site of a self-appointed journalist named Li Xinde. He made a modest fortune selling Chinese medicine around the country, and now he's started the Chinese Public Opinion Surveillance Net - one of four million blogs in China.

Mr. Li travels around China with an I.B.M. laptop and a digital camera, investigating cases of official wrongdoing. Then he writes about them on his Web site and skips town before the local authorities can arrest him.

Foreign Policy: Arabs in Foreign Lands

Foreign Policy: Arabs in Foreign Lands: "People of Arab descent living in the United States are doing far better than the average American. That is the surprising conclusion drawn from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 and released last March. The census found that U.S. residents who report having Arab ancestors are better educated and wealthier than average Americans.

Whereas 24 percent of Americans hold college degrees, 41 percent of Arab Americans are college graduates. The median income for an Arab family living in the United States is $52,300—4.6 percent higher than other American families—and more than half of all Arab Americans own their home. Forty-two percent of people of Arab descent in the United States work as managers or professionals, while the same is true for only 34 percent of the general U.S. population. For many, this success has come on quickly: Although about 50 percent of Arab Americans were born in the United States, nearly half of those born abroad did not arrive until the 1990s.

That immigrants do better than their compatriots back home is of course no surprise. What is far less common is for immigrants to perform that much better than the average population of their adopted home. This fact should prompt important debates that transcend how Arab immigrants are faring in the United States."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Telegraph | News | Black market organ trade is Baghdad's new growth industry

Telegraph | News | Black market organ trade is Baghdad's new growth industry: "Ali Hameed quit his job as a taxi driver because he no longer felt safe on Baghdad's streets. Increasingly desperate for money to help him get married, he hit on a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity - selling one of his kidneys."

Rifters.com: works in progress

A good satire on bigpharma...
Rifters.com: works in progress

Can You Catch Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? - New York Times

Can You Catch Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? - New York Times: "There are researchers who believe that some of this disturbing cacophony -- specifically a subset found only in children -- is caused by something familiar and common. They call it Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated With Streptococcal Infection, or, because every disease needs an acronym, Pandas. And they are certain it is brought on by strep throat -- or more specifically, by the antibodies created to fight strep throat."...

''If I were to place bets,'' says Judith Rapoport, the child psychiatrist who first brought O.C.D. to public attention with her book ''The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing,'' that bet would be on the side of those who believe in Pandas....

Pandas stands at a familiar, necessary and utterly frustrating moment in medicine -- in the gap between what doctors think and what they know. Practically every byte of scientific knowledge passes through a moment like this, on its way to being accepted as fact or dismissed as falsehood.

It has always been so, but in recent years several things about the process have changed. Science now does its thinking in public, with each incremental advance readily available online. And those waiting for answers are less patient and more involved. They don't ask their doctors; they bring their own suggestions. They don't want to wait for the results of a two-year double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial before they act.

Which means that they often find themselves acting before all the facts are in....

U.N. Forces Using Tougher Tactics to Secure Peace - New York Times

U.N. Forces Using Tougher Tactics to Secure Peace - New York Times: "NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 - The United Nations, burdened by its inability to stave off the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994 and by failed missions in Bosnia and Somalia, is allowing its peacekeepers to mount some of the most aggressive operations in its history."

It is most obvious in Congo, which commands by far the largest deployment of United Nations troops in the world. Peacekeepers in armored personnel carriers, facing enemy sniper attacks as they lumber through rugged dirt paths in the eastern Ituri region, are returning fire. Attack helicopters swoop down over the trees in search of tribal fighters. And peacekeepers are surrounding villages in militia strongholds and searching hut by hut for guns...

"The ghost of Rwanda lies very heavily over how the U.N. and the Security Council have chosen to deal with Ituri," said David Harland, a top official at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York...

The operation in Congo began as a modest observer mission in 1999. It has mushroomed, now commanding 16,500 soldiers - but is still regarded as understaffed by United Nations officials in New York.

After the failed missions of the 1990's, Western countries began contributing significantly fewer troops overseas. In 1998, about 45 percent of peacekeepers came from Western armies. The figure is now less than 10 percent; most now come from the developing world....

The get-tough approach wins praise from those in Bunia who remember when, just two years ago, it was a battlefield between rival Hema and Lendu militias.

As Lendu militias chased Hemas out of Bunia in May 2003, Lea Assamba, 17, was confronted by armed Lendu men and threatened with death. She said she explained to them frantically that she was not a Hema but someone from another tribe, one not involved in Ituri's madness.

The militiamen made her suffer nonetheless. They killed a Hema girl standing by, and her body fell on Lea. They made her balance on her head the decapitated head of a Hema man, she said. The stranger's blood dripped down on her.

Lea escaped but was confronted by more marauding militias down the road. They shot some people standing next to her, and she dropped to the ground as they did. They died. She, covered with blood, was left for dead...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Hypocrisy Most Holy wsj.com

With the revelation that a copy of the Quran may have been desecrated by U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Muslims and their governments -- including that of Saudi Arabia -- reacted angrily. This anger would have been understandable if the U.S. government's adopted policy was to desecrate our Quran. But even before the Newsweek report was discredited, that was never part of the allegations.

As a Muslim, I am able to purchase copies of the Quran in any bookstore in any American city, and study its contents in countless American universities. American museums spend millions to exhibit and celebrate Muslim arts and heritage. On the other hand, my Christian and other non-Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia -- where I come from -- are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books. Indeed, the Saudi government desecrates and burns Bibles that its security forces confiscate at immigration points into the kingdom or during raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately.

Soon after Newsweek published an account, later retracted, of an American soldier flushing a copy of the Quran down the toilet, the Saudi government voiced its strenuous disapproval. More specifically, the Saudi Embassy in Washington expressed "great concern" and urged the U.S. to "conduct a quick investigation."

Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect.

The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department's annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)...

Another way in which religious and cultural issues are becoming more divisive is the Saudi treatment of Americans who are living in that country: Around 30,000 live and work in various parts of Saudi Arabia. These people are not allowed to celebrate their religious or even secular holidays. These include Christmas and Easter, but also Thanksgiving. All other Gulf states allow non-Islamic holidays to be celebrated.

The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies. By contrast, Muslim communities in the West are the first to admit that Western countries -- especially the U.S. -- provide Muslims the strongest freedoms and protections that allow Islam to thrive in the West. Meanwhile Christianity and Judaism, both indigenous to the Middle East, are maligned through systematic hostility by Middle Eastern governments and their religious apparatuses.

The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

Mr. al-Ahmed is director of the Saudi Institute in Washington.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Reason: Straight Shooting on Gun Control: A Reason debate

And now for something completely different...

Reason: Straight Shooting on Gun Control: A Reason debate

BBC NEWS | Health | WHO to discuss smallpox research

BBC NEWS | Health | WHO to discuss smallpox research

JAMA -- Abstract: Acupuncture for Patients With Migraine: A Randomized Controlled Trial, May 4, 2005, Linde et al. 293 (17): 2118

JAMA -- Abstract: Acupuncture for Patients With Migraine: A Randomized Controlled Trial, May 4, 2005, Linde et al. 293 (17): 2118: "Acupuncture was no more effective than sham acupuncture in reducing migraine headaches although both interventions were more effective than a waiting list control."

Funding for impotence drugs riles lawmakers - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - May 17, 2005

Funding for impotence drugs riles lawmakers - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - May 17, 2005: "The federal government will spend nearly $2 billion in the next decade on male impotence drugs under its Medicare program, according to a new cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office that is fueling some lawmakers' efforts to end that spending. "

Too much knowledge can be bad for some types of memory, study finds

Too much knowledge can be bad for some types of memory, study finds: "The results show how some types of memory might be better when people forget what they know and instead approach a subject with a child-like sense of na�vet�.

'Verbatim memory is often a property of being a novice,' said Sloutsky, who is also associate dean of research at the university's College of Human Ecology . 'As people "

ABC News: Using Magnets to Treat Depression

ABC News: Using Magnets to Treat Depression

Allthings2all: The Darfur Collection

An excellent compilation of everything going on in Darfur...

Allthings2all: The Darfur Collection

50 Fun Things To Do With Your iPod (kottke.org)

50 Fun Things To Do With Your iPod (kottke.org)

Gateway Pundit: Ghastly Slaughter Reported in Andijan

Gateway Pundit: Ghastly Slaughter Reported in Andijan: "**Streets turned purple with blood, the world has not witnessed a similar scene of this magnitude since Tiananmen Square in 1989**"

Wired News: Super Water Kills Bugs Dead

Wired News: Super Water Kills Bugs Dead: "A California company has figured out how to use two simple materials -- water and salt -- to create a solution that wipes out single-celled organisms, and which appears to speed healing of burns, wounds and diabetic ulcers. "

USATODAY.com - Camcorders kick it up a notch

USATODAY.com - Camcorders kick it up a notch: "Those vacation videos seem to lack a certain oomph in picture quality. They seem so, well, dull. Solution: Upgrade from a camcorder that uses just one sensor to models from Panasonic, Sony or JVC that offer three. The red, green and blue sensors promise richer, more vibrant colors."

Scotsman.com News - Sci-Tech - Scientists reveal anxiety 'all in genes'

Scotsman.com News - Sci-Tech - Scientists reveal anxiety 'all in genes': "Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Monterotondo, Italy, have found a key gene that can make patients prone to anxiety.
Researchers believe faults in the gene, which helps to produce the so-called �happy hormone� serotonin, leaves sufferers more vulnerable to anxiety disorders.
Scientists now "

Wired News: Paralyzed Rats Walk; Humans Next?

Wired News: Paralyzed Rats Walk; Humans Next?: "Researchers studying embryonic stem cells have published long-awaited data in a peer-reviewed journal, revealing how they enabled rats with crushed spinal cords to walk again. Spinal cord injury patients are hopeful, but they're not all celebrating just yet. "

Sunday, May 15, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Reformists jailed by Saudi court

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Reformists jailed by Saudi court: "A Saudi court has sentenced three reformists to jail terms of between six and nine years for 'stirring up sedition and disobeying the ruler'.

The three activists were arrested in March 2004 after urging the rulers to move towards a constitutional monarchy and speed up reforms.

They refused to defend themselves on the grounds that the trial was taking place behind closed doors.

Human rights representatives were also barred from the courtroom."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

AIDS Now Compels Africa to Challenge Widows' 'Cleansing' - New York Times

For those of you who attended my talk on Africa to Reno Surgical Society last week, you will find this an interesting article that illustrates the fact that a large majority of AIDS patients are victims in one sense or another and that empowering women is probably a good way to break the AIDS cycle in Africa...
AIDS Now Compels Africa to Challenge Widows' 'Cleansing' - New York Times: "Here and in a number of nearby nations including Zambia and Kenya, a husband's funeral has long concluded with a final ritual: sex between the widow and one of her husband's relatives, to break the bond with his spirit and, it is said, save her and the rest of the village from insanity or disease. Widows have long tolerated it, and traditional leaders have endorsed it, as an unchallenged tradition of rural African life.
Now AIDS is changing that. Political and tribal leaders are starting to speak out publicly against so-called sexual cleansing, condemning it as one reason H.I.V. has spread to 25 million sub-Saharan Africans, killing 2.3 million last year alone. They are being prodded by leaders of the region's fledging women's rights movement, who contend that lack of control over their sex lives is a major reason 6 in 10 of those infected in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
But change is coming slowly, village by village, hut by hut. In a region where belief in witchcraft is widespread and many women are taught from childhood not to challenge tribal leaders or the prerogatives of men, the fear of flouting tradition often outweighs even the fear of AIDS. "

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

|| DukeMedNews || Monkeys Adapt Robot Arm as Their Own

|| DukeMedNews || Monkeys Adapt Robot Arm as Their Own: "DURHAM, N.C. -- Monkeys that learn to use their brain signals to control a robotic arm are not just learning to manipulate an external device, Duke University Medical Center neurobiologists have found. Rather, their brain structures are adapting to treat the arm as if it were their own appendage.

The finding has profound implications both for understanding the extraordinary adaptability of the primate brain and for the potential clinical success of brain-operated devices to give the handicapped the ability to control their environment, said the researchers."

Health: Family Matters - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

Health: Family Matters - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com: "We tend to think of health as a private blessing, sickness as a solitary curse, but the truth isn't nearly so simple�either for kids or for adults. 'The myth is that health is all about individual choices and individual treatments,' says Dr. Robert Ferrer of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. 'But we're embedded in families and communities, and they have a big effect on our options.' "...family history is not written in DNA alone. Household income is an equally strong health predictor, and not just because wealth buys more medicine. ...

More wealth means more autonomy, less stress and more opportunities for social participation." No one knows exactly how those factors get translated into lower rates of AIDS, obesity and heart disease, but the effects can be dramatic. Life expectancy is some 20 years greater in suburban Montgomery County, Maryland, than in downtown Washington, D.C.

New Scientist Why don't we just kiss and make up? - Features

New Scientist Why don't we just kiss and make up? - Features: "LOOK at the world's worst trouble spots and you can't fail to notice they have one thing in common: tit-for-tat attacks between warring parties. Escalation of violence is incredibly destructive, yet we humans find it very difficult to break the vicious cycle. It seems we are not good at conflict resolution. Perhaps we could learn a lesson or two from the spotted hyena.
Spotted hyenas are highly sociable. Like other animals that live in close-knit groups, they don't always get along. But spotted hyenas don't hold a grudge. Within about 5 minutes of a fight, the erstwhile combatants can often be seen playing, licking or rubbing one another, or engaging in other friendly acts to dissipate the tension. And they are not the only animals with a penchant for kissing and making up. In their book Natural Conflict Resolution, Filippo Aureli from Liverpool John Moores University, UK, and Frans de Waal from the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, document reconciliation in no less than 27 species of primates. Bottlenose dolphins also do it. Even goats. So why can't we be more forgiving?"

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Better Way to Fight Poverty - New York Times

A Better Way to Fight Poverty - New York Times: "But far from the noise, pollution and public and private crooks of Nairobi, the village of Sauri, practically smack on the equator, is an example of a better way to do things. It is one of two test cases for the United Nations' ambitious program to cut poverty in half by 2015. Sauri's story shows how direct aid can largely bypass governments, getting money and help straight into the hands of the people who not only need it the most, but also know what to do with it."

Fighting al Qaeda by Torturing Christians

Fighting al Qaeda by Torturing Christians: "Apparently they Saudis have been using their new anti-terrorism laws against converts to Christianity. Several Saudi Christians have been detained on suspicion of aiding Al-Qaeda. The conditions under which the Christians are being held are harsh, with beatings and torture routine. This is still better than the official penalty for leaving the Moslem faith, death. Those converts who agree to return to Islam are usually freed. The entire drill is apparently an attempt to appease Islamic conservatives unhappy with the government crack down on pro-al Qaeda Islamic radicals. President Bush is said to have brought this up at his recent meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince."


A very interesting read....
THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: Hidden in Plain Sight: "I know all the likely rebuttals to this deliberately brutal and inflammatory language. None of them explain the Arab genocide in Darfur; the silence of other Arabs about Arab genocide in Darfur; or the Western media's silence about Arabs' silence about Arab genocide in Darfur. Friedman, for example, seems oblivious to the subject. Kristof, who is not, follows the conventional practice of American journalists witnessing something awful. This is to demand that the American government do something about it.
Well, this is fine. We'd all like Washington to put out this particular fire before it burns itself out, and I don't really object to any of the specific steps Kristof recommends in this case. As a practical matter, though, this habitual treatment of every actual or potential disaster around the world as primarily an American problem is a good way to ensure that actual disasters get worse and potential disasters turn into real ones. "...

A Killing Commanded by Tradition

A Killing Commanded by Tradition: "Amina's paternal uncle, Mohammad Azim, said he watched as the villagers forced Amina down a muddy path toward a patch of soft earth along a riverbank surrounded by stones, a few yards from the edge of the village.
It was a beautiful spot, shaded by an enormous tree and offering a charming view of the village clinging to the mountainside.
It was also an ideal place for a stoning.
'They dug a hole in the ground right here,' Azim said, pointing to a spot in the clearing six days later. 'Then they buried Amina up to her waist, with her arms pinned by her side.'
Azim said Amina's hair was covered in a head scarf, and that she was crying in terror as nearly a hundred men gathered in a circle around her and began throwing small rocks at her head."

In Sudan, the Daily Battle to Administer Aid

In Sudan, the Daily Battle to Administer Aid: "Lanya is one of more than 10,000 humanitarian workers operating under the auspices of the United Nations in this region of western Sudan. Their tasks range from monitoring tubes at infant feeding centers to digging sanitation ditches and boreholes for water outside one of the dozens of squalid refugee camps that dot Darfur's war-shattered landscape. Like Lanya, a Kenyan, the vast majority are from the continent -- Africans trying to help fellow African"...

"My entire self is utilized 100 percent of the day," he said. "When I wake up in the morning it's so hard. I just want 10 minutes more of sleep." He had been up all night with the panic-stricken parents of a little girl with diphtheria, a bacterial throat infection. An operation was attempted, but the girl died during the night.

"It was good to stay with the parents," he said, rubbing his eyes. "But I need to plug up my emotions. I learned that emotions aren't helpful. Just finding solutions are."...

Personal Works Index

An amazing website that makes a strong argument for entering the Macintosh environment. Check out the movie on Isfahan.

Personal Works Index: "Next, you can see a series of 3D pictures that I did in my leisure time, just for fun. Almost all of them where conceived from the beginning as static images, but some belong to animation projects."

Chinese Watermelon Art/Sculpture

Chinese Watermelon Art/Sculpture

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The New York Times > Travel > The Oz of the Middle East

This article captures fairly well the flavor of Dubai, one of our favorite vacation spots!
The New York Times > Travel > The Oz of the Middle East: "Dubai is a metropolis of bone-white apartment blocks, green palm trees and amazing, odd juxtapositions"...
I was reminded of the hot, flat sprawl of Tampa or Houston - until I glimpsed a fully veiled woman driving alongside my cab and saw two men in checkered headdresses pulling their Lamborghinis parallel to chat. Glossy financial magazines share rack space with titles like International Falconer...
But overwhelmingly, a trip to Dubai is about sun and sand, food and partying - and above all, shopping.

The merchandise hunt reaches a glittering zenith in the gold souk, a network of streets where 400 storefronts drip with gold necklaces, earrings, watches, brooches, rings and toe rings...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Procedure On Women In Labor Adds Risk

Procedure On Women In Labor Adds Risk: "One of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States -- an incision many pregnant women receive to reduce the risk of tissue tears during delivery -- has no benefits and actually causes more complications, according to the most comprehensive analysis to evaluate the practice."

Contradicting the long-accepted rationale for the procedure, called an episiotomy, the analysis found that it increases the risk of tissue tears, leading to more pain, more stitches and a longer recovery after childbirth. In addition, an episiotomy increases the risk of sexual difficulties later and does not reduce the risk of incontinence, the federally sponsored study found....

Sirna drug helps vision in blindness-risk patients - Yahoo! News

New ARMD Drug...
(Thanks to Freeze for the link)

Sirna drug helps vision in blindness-risk patients - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sirna Therapeutics Inc. on Tuesday said its experimental drug to treat the leading cause of blindness improved vision in almost half of patients in a small, early-stage trial, without causing any drug-related side effects.

The Phase I trial results for the company's lead experimental drug, Sirna-027, are the first human clinical data ever presented for a medicine that employs a technology called RNA interference. Such drugs are designed to prevent disease-causing genes from making their designated proteins."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ivory-billed woodpecker Posted by Hello

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Woodpecker in All of Us

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Woodpecker in All of Us: "The searchers have given us back a magnificent creature. Some 20 inches long, boldly patterned with black and white, the bird is so beautiful that Audubon likened it to a Van Dyck painting."...

Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

An interesting story for birders and non-birders alike...
(Props to Freeze for the link)

Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Cornell Lab of Ornithology: "Long believed to be extinct, a magnificent bird--the Ivory-billed Woodpecker--has been rediscovered in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. More than 60 years after the last confirmed sighting of the species in the United States, a research team announced that at least one male ivory-bill still survives in vast areas of bottomland swamp forest."...

"It is a landmark rediscovery," said Scott Simon, director of The Nature Conservancy's Arkansas chapter. "Finding the ivory-bill in Arkansas validates decades of great conservation work and represents an incredible story of hope for the future."...

The New York Times > Books > Books of The Times | 'Acts of Faith': For Americans in Sudan, Good Deeds Turn Sour

Sounds like an interesting read....
The New York Times > Books > Books of The Times | 'Acts of Faith': For Americans in Sudan, Good Deeds Turn Sour: "Philip Caputo's devastating new novel, 'Acts of Faith,' will be to the era of the Iraq war what Graham Greene's novel 'The Quiet American' became to the Vietnam era: a parable about American excursions abroad and the dangers of missionary zeal, a Conradian tale about idealism run amok, capitalistic greed sold as paternalistic benevolence, ignorance disguised as compassion."...

Set largely in the 1990's at the height of Sudan's civil war, "Acts of Faith" draws upon Mr. Caputo's firsthand knowledge of war (documented in his ferociously observed Vietnam memoir "A Rumor of War") and firsthand reportorial experience of Africa to tell the fictional story of two Americans who have come to Sudan to create new lives for themselves. Their avowed mission is to bring aid to the starving rebels (opposed to the hard-line Islamic government in Khartoum) but their real agenda is more personal and self serving....

The New York Times > International > African Strain of Polio Virus Hits Indonesia

The New York Times > International > African Strain of Polio Virus Hits Indonesia: "A case of polio has been detected in Indonesia, World Health Organization officials said yesterday, indicating that an outbreak spreading from northern Nigeria since 2003 has crossed an ocean and reached the world's fourth most populous country."...

Indonesia's last case was in 1995, and it is now the 16th country to be reinfected by a strain of the virus that broke out in northern Nigeria when vaccinations stopped there, then crossed Africa and the Red Sea...

Resistance to polio vaccine has been high from northern Nigeria to the Pakistan frontier because of persistent rumors that it is a Western plot to render Muslim girls infertile or to spread AIDS. Paradoxically, after several states in Muslim northern Nigeria halted vaccinations in 2003, it was purchases of Indonesian vaccine that persuaded wary imams and politicians to drop their opposition, because it is a Muslim country...

With each new case, the W.H.O.'s goal of eradicating polio by the end of this year slips farther away. With its emergency response fund virtually depleted, the organization is pleading with donors for help with containing new outbreaks in Ethiopia, Yemen and other very poor countries.

At the disease's low point, in early 2003, it was endemic in only six countries: Nigeria, Niger, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India...

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Day 113 of the President's Silence

Falling in the foosteps of Clinton....

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Day 113 of the President's Silence: "Finally, finally, finally, President Bush is showing a little muscle on the issue of genocide in Darfur.

Is the muscle being used to stop the genocide of hundreds of thousands of villagers? No, tragically, it's to stop Congress from taking action.

Incredibly, the Bush administration is fighting to kill the Darfur Accountability Act, which would be the most forceful step the U.S.has taken so far against the genocide. The bill, passed by the Senate, calls for such steps as freezing assets of the genocide's leaders and imposing an internationally backed no-fly zone to stop Sudan's Army from strafing villages."...

All three concerns are legitimate. But when historians look back on his presidency, they are going to focus on Mr. Bush's fiddling as hundreds of thousands of people were killed, raped or mutilated in Darfur - and if the situation worsens, the final toll could reach a million dead...
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