Having a Wonderful Adventure from Somewhere on the Road

September 7, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good morning:

Crane-Station and I were hacked rendering our computers inoperable. Our place was burglarized, our property vandalized and stolen. Our bank account was breached and money stolen.

Our lives were threatened.

We left Kentucky in a hurry to avoid a worse fate.

This problem began when someone burglarized our home and obtained the access code to our AT&T router, which wasn’t difficult to do since it was printed on the side.

Our apartment was trashed.

Then both of our computers were hacked. Our administrator privileges were usurped, our passwords were altered, and we could no longer log-in to our computers.

I was able to reset and restore my computer to the state it was in when I purchased it, but Crane ended up in the same place unable to log-in after she reset hers.

My computer now appears to be operating normally with assistance from HP Tech Support.

Looks like we offended some people.

Public Health Hospital and Charity Hospital New Orleans Internship of 1958

August 27, 2015

by Crane-Station

Many thanks to a reader who commented on a post yesterday, for bringing our attention to the grand opening of a new hospital in New Orleans, that will replace Charity Hospital. For those interested in a small first-hand account from back in the day, this post is a true story of internship at the Public Health Hospital and at Charity Hospital in New Orleans in 1958, as told by Ray Owings, MD, age 92, and his wife Letty, age 90. Raymond H Owings MD is listed in the Charity Hospital Administrative Board report on Charity Hospital Louisiana at New Orleans here, as an intern at Charity, September-October, 1958.

Charity Hospital in New Orleans was specifically founded by grant in 1736 to serve the indigent population in New Orleans, and it was a teaching hospital affiliated with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans (LSUHSC-NO) for more than 250 years until its close after Hurricane Katrina. The hospital was notable for being the second largest hospital in America in 1939 with 2680 beds and it has been featured in a TLC series called Code Blue, which was a documentary series featuring the ER that was one of the busiest in America. Here is one video from that series, titled, “Kernisha:”

Public Health Hospital and Charity Hospital New Orleans Internship of 1958

Letty relates:

The first thing Ray said to me was, “Maybe you shouldn’t have come down here.” Ray was never, ever able to come home and the place was just a madhouse. It was a weird, weird, weird year. Everything was crooked in the politics, and we had the likes of Earl Long getting out of his car and peeing by the side of the road. It was just bizarre. Somebody shot Huey Long right there in the Capitol because you had to get dramatic in New Orleans. Earl, at thirty-six, called Huey “the yellowest physical coward that God had ever let live.” Huey Long said of Earl: “Earl is my brother but he’s crooked. If you live long enough he’ll double cross you.”

We had the shrimp people who paid for their baby delivery in shrimp because they thought the doctor ought to get a little something for his services and they were very grateful, so they brought shrimp. There just weren’t enough people to man the place, so I was home with the kids a lot and the first thing I did was slip and fall on some concrete slabs because everything was so wet your shoes turned green. It was truly a bizarre year but for all of its utter craziness, New Orleans had such a haunting and deep beauty about it. The weeping trees were gorgeous, and the flowers were so pungent it was like putting your face into a jar of perfume. We had four small children at the time.

Ray relates:

During the internship at Public Health Hospital in New Orleans that year, the interns could go to Charity Hospital right near the Mississippi River as well, so that’s what I did. I reported for duty July 1, 1958 and at first I just rented a room. It was hotter than the damn hinges of hell, so I bought me a little old fan and had the thing directly on me during the night. Letty moved down there but I wasn’t so sure she should have even come.

The training was very good. At the Public Health Hospital we treated merchant seamen and their families as well as fishermen and their families. Charity Hospital was quite interesting because if you wanted to see a disease, you could find it in that hospital. For example, there were very few cases of diptheria in the US, and a physician may go through an entire career without seeing it, but on the Pediatrics ward we had 25 cases of diptheria at one time.

At Charity I worked with a resident named Clarence MacIntile from Idaho. He went back, and we kept in touch. Interns had free run to do what they wanted, so we ran the Pediatrics Deartment by ourselves. The place was always jammed, and I mean there were hundreds of them. But there just weren’t enough hours in the day, and you were lucky to get to a little bed across the street and get a few hours of sleep.

Emory had been a good school because during the clinical years, students got to do a lot of things and this was not true of some medical schools. I felt that my training was much better than others, so I was happy about that.

What took place over my lifetime to get to that point might have been called the ‘American Dream’ just a little while ago. You hear that term, but no one ever talks about the nitty gritty of how this was obtained. My philosophy has always been that no matter what it is one chooses do do in life, it is essential to do the very best you can do at it.

End Note: In the Charity ER video (above), a 9-year-old girl was involved in an accident where the frame of a swing set fell onto her skull. She has a severe head injury with bleeding and her brain is swelling. The brain has few places to swell to inside the rigid skull except through the foramen magnum at the base of the skull, and this is called herniation. Doctors will monitor the pressure, as they explain. They will also likely induce a coma to rest the brain and decrease oxygen demand. Posturing is an indication of severe head injury, where the arms become rigid and either turn out and away from the body or move inward toward the core of the body.

Was Vester Flanagan suffering from paranoid delusions and losing his sanity?

August 27, 2015

Vester Lee Flanagan II, who used the name Bryce Williams professionally, shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward yesterday morning as Parker was interviewing Vicki Gardner, the director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. Ward, who worked with Parker regularly as her cameraman, was filming the interview which was being broadcast live by WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, VA. Although wounded, Gardner survived the shooting and is listed in good condition today after undergoing emergency surgery yesterday. Flanagan committed suicide yesterday around midday by shooting himself in the head after he attempted to flee from a Virginia state trooper and appeared to lose lost control of his vehicle ultimately stopping in a grassy median between the E/B and W/B lanes of I-66.

In a 23-page manifesto that Flanagan faxed to ABC News yesterday morning after the shooting, he described himself as “a human powder keg” claiming that he had been a victim of racial and sexual discrimination at the television station where Parker and Ward worked. He accused Parker of making a racist remark to him and Ward filmed his physical removal from the television station in 2013 after he was fired and refused to leave the premises. From Wikipedia:

WDBJ announced their hiring of Flanagan, using the professional name Bryce Williams, as a multimedia journalist on April 19, 2012. During his time there, he had heated confrontations with coworkers and was noted to have breached the company’s journalism standards, a poor on-air performance, and demonstrated a lack of thorough reporting. Office memos from WDBJ showed that in July 2012, Dan Dennison, then news chief of the station, ordered Flanagan to contact the Health Advocate after complaints that coworkers were “feeling threatened or uncomfortable” while working with him. The station dismissed him on February 1, 2013, citing his volatile temper and difficulty with coworkers. According to a former colleague, Flanagan lashed out at newsroom staffers after learning of his firing, resulting in the staffers being put in a room while police escorted Flanagan out of the building. Ward was said to have recorded Flanagan as he was escorted out and had a confrontation with him that day. WDBJ provided security to the staffers for a time after the incident, and directed them to call 9-1-1 if he ever returned to the station. Flanagan filed an EEOC complaint against WDBJ, again alleging racial discrimination; he allegedly named Parker in his complaint. Following an investigation, the EEOC dismissed the complaint after Flanagan’s claims were not corroborated.

I suspect Flanagan was struggling with a worsening mental illness that made it difficult for him to distinguish between reality and his imagination. He was difficult to work with and his work performance was sub-par. Here’s Wikipedia again,

Between March 1999 and March 2000, Flanagan worked as a reporter for NBC affiliate WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida. After losing his job in March 2000, Flanagan filed a civil lawsuit against WTWC alleging racial discrimination. He also allegedly threatened to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Flanagan’s lawsuit against WTWC was settled under unspecified terms in January 2001 (WTWC’s news operation itself was discontinued by its owner earlier in November 2000 due to ratings and budget issues). Former colleagues at WTWC later stated that Flanagan was fired for his poor work ethic and that he had fabricated his allegations of discrimination.

Flanagan spent a short period of time working in customer service in a Bank of America branch in San Francisco, then Pacific Gas and Electric in Greenville, North Carolina. He later joined Media General owned CBS affiliate WNCT-TV in Greenville from 2002 until 2004. He also found some work at ABC affiliate KMID in Midland, Texas.

He was apparently unable to secure another job after he was fired by WDBJ-TV in Roanoke in 2013. In his manifesto, he expressed admiration for the Columbine high school shooters and the Virginia Tech shooter. To top it off, he live-tweeted the murders while filming them. Then he posted his video on his Facebook page, set to auto-play, and linked to it with a tweet.

These were not the acts of a sane man. They appear to be the acts of an angry, vengeful and frightened paranoid man losing his sanity.

Flanagan never should have had access to a gun.

I would like to know if Flanagan was being treated by a mental health professional and, if so, whether he disclosed his intent to kill Parker and Ward.  If Flanagan disclosed his intent to kill Parker and Ward to a mental health professional, that person may have had a legal duty to warn them and the police.

Flanagan certainly acted with premeditated intent to kill because he had to get-up early, prepare himself and drive to the remote location by 6:45 am where the interview took place. We also know that he had previously rented a car at the Roanoke airport and parked it in the airport parking lot. After the murders, he drove to the airport, abandoned his car and drove out of the parking lot in the rental car.


We must decriminalize drug use and possession ASAP

August 26, 2015

The verdict is in. Portugal decriminalized* drug use and possession in 2001, including heroin and cocaine. Fourteen years later, heroin addiction rates have been cut in half and the number of drug-related deaths has been cut by 75%. The fear that decriminalization would cause an increase in so-called drug tourism never materialized.

In his white paper** analyzing the effects of decriminalization in Portugal, Glenn Greeenwald concludes,

None of the fears promulgated by opponents of Portuguese decriminalization has come to fruition, whereas many of the benefits predicted by drug policymakers from instituting a decriminalization regime have been realized. While drug addiction, usage, and associated pathologies continue to skyrocket in many EU states, those problems—in virtually every relevant category—have been either contained or measurably improved within Portugal since 2001. In certain key demographic segments, drug usage has decreased in absolute terms in the decriminalization framework, even as usage across the EU continues to increase, including in those states that continue to take the hardest line in criminalizing drug possession and usage.

By freeing its citizens from the fear of prosecution and imprisonment for drug usage, Portugal has dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources that were previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available to provide treatment programs to addicts. Those developments, along with Portugal’s shift to a harm-reduction approach, have dramatically improved drug-related social ills, including drug-caused mortalities and drug-related disease transmission. Ideally, treatment programs would be strictly voluntary, but Portugal’s program is certainly preferable to criminalization.
The Portuguese have seen the benefits of decriminalization, and therefore there is no serious political push in Portugal to return to a criminalization framework. Drug policy-makers in the Portuguese government are virtually unanimous in their belief that decriminalization has enabled a far more effective approach to managing Portugal’s addiction problems and other drug-related afflictions. Since the available data demonstrate that they are right, the Portuguese model ought to be carefully considered by policymakers around the world.
Criminal justice reform is one of the most important and pressing issues of the day. We are the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in our nation’s prisons or jails — a 500% increase over the past thirty years. In October 2013, our nation’s incarceration rate was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. We have imprisoned 25% of the world’s prisoners even though our population is only 5% of the world’s population. More than half of the people incarcerated in federal prisons were sentenced to prison for drug offenses. A June 2015 ACLU poll of citizens likely to vote in 2016, found that 7 in 10 people favor criminal justice reform.
Meaningful criminal justice reform cannot happen in this country unless we decriminalize drugs. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate for President who supports decriminalization. Unfortunately, however, he only supports decriminalization of marijuana.
We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Portugal’s 14-year successful experience decriminalizing drug possession and use, including heroin and cocaine, provides us with a comprehensive master plan to follow. No legitimate reason exists to not implement this plan as soon as possible.
The first step, of course, should be to declare amnesty and restore full civil rights to everyone convicted of a non-violent drug offense and to release everyone who is incarcerated for a non-violent drug offense.
*Decriminalization in Portugal does not mean legalization. Decriminalization means drug possession for personal use and drug usage are still prohibited, but violations are deemed to be non-criminal administrative violations similar to parking tickets. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.
**Greenwald, G., Drug Decriminalization in Portugal, Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies (Cato Institute July 2015)

Seneca Police Department hires PR firm instead of releasing dash cam video of Hammond shooting

August 25, 2015

On July 26th Lieutenant Mark Tiller of the Seneca (South Carolina) Police Department shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond in a Hardee’s parking lot. Tiller claimed that he shot Hammond in self-defense to prevent Hammond from driving into him with his vehicle. I wrote about the incident here.

The shooting happened after Hammond’s passenger and date, Tori Morton, sold a few grams of marijuana to an undercover cop. She was subsequently arrested and taken to jail. Tiller shot Hammond through the driver’s side window, which casts doubt on his claim that he reasonably believed that his life was in danger when he fired his gun.

According to Andrew Emett of the Free Thought Project,

Hammond’s autopsy revealed that the teen was shot in the back of his left shoulder and his side. According to witness statements, Hammond’s vehicle was not moving when Tiller shot him twice. In a letter from Hammond’s attorney to the FBI, a witness has recently come forward describing officers planting evidence under Hammond’s body and high-fiving his dead hand after the shooting. Although police found no weapon or drugs on Hammond, Chief Covington claims that a white powdery substance was found at the scene.

Instead of releasing a dash-cam video of the shooting, city officials have hired a PR firm to defend the police from public criticism.

What criticism, you ask? In addition to the troubling facts, here’s a couple of for-examples, provided by Emett.

These alleged acts of misconduct do not make it more or less likely that Lieutenant Tiller lied about the shooting, but the double standard evidenced by the favorable treatment accorded to Chief Covington’s son, the department’s apparent coverup of Tiller’s disciplinary file, and the decision to hire a PR firm instead of releasing the dashcam raise all sorts of questions that the Justice Department may find more than a wee bit “curious.”


Trial judge defends LWOP sentence for James Holmes

August 24, 2015

NBC News is reporting that Judge Samour, the judge who presided over the James Holmes murder trial (AKA: the Aurora theater shootings) defended the outcome (life without parole) against criticism by the mother of one of the shooting victims. She said the result showed more concern for Holmes than his victims. He said,

“You can’t claim there was no justice because it wasn’t the outcome you expected,” Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said in an unusual speech from the bench during Holmes’ formal sentencing hearing for the 2012 attack.

Samour said the jury was fair and impartial and that he tried his utmost to be the same.

“And that’s how you know it was justice,” he said.

Holmes killed twelve and wounded 70 people. He was schizophrenic and delusional when he committed the crimes. Experts testified that he would not have committed the crimes if he were not mentally ill.

I agree with Judge Samour.

Prior to trial, the defense offered to plead guilty to a life-without-parole sentence, but the prosecutor rejected the offer. I have have criticized that decision harshly as a catastrophic waste of time and money because juries are reluctant to sentence the mentally ill to death. The result was predictable. I feel bad for the victims and their families, but this trial and its attendant emotional roller coaster did not need to happen.



We are not yoyos for the rich to play with, damn it!

August 24, 2015

Bill Maher with a spot-on slam of greed-is-good.

There is nothing good about greed. Nothing at all.

I am really sick and disgusted with the Republicans. I wish they would all STFU.

They have nothing relevant to say about anything.

We need jobs that pay a living wage and affordable colleges and universities.

The rich are not job creators. They are parasites. They need to start paying taxes or go to prison.

BTW, the stock market plunged 1,000 points when it opened this morning. China’s economy is slowing down and investors are freaked out.

We are not yo-yos for the rich to play with, damn it!

We are human beings.

Pentagon’s new Law of War Manual is an atrocity

August 22, 2015

The Pentagon published a new Law of War Manual in June that is quite disturbing because it legitimizes conduct that constitutes war crimes.

The World Socialist Web Site reports that it contains the following points:

* Declares legitimate the use of nuclear weapons, stating, “There is no general prohibition in treaty or customary international law on the use of nuclear weapons.” Nor is the use of nuclear weapons considered “inherently disproportionate,” even if the target is a military force that does not possess nuclear weapons.

* Authorizes the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, herbicides (such as Agent Orange in Vietnam), laser weapons and riot control agents (tear gas, pepper spray, etc.), as well as depleted uranium munitions.

* Authorizes cluster munitions, mines and booby-traps, noting that “the United States is not a Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”

* Authorizes the use of exploding (hollow-point) bullets, stating that the United States government was not a party to the 1868 St. Petersburg declaration banning their use or the 1899 Declaration on Expanding Bullets.

* Justifies drone missile attacks by both the Pentagon and intelligence agencies such as the CIA, declaring flatly, “There is no prohibition in the law of war on the use of remotely piloted aircraft…”

* Declares that when human rights treaties and the laws of war come into conflict, “these apparent conflicts may be resolved by the principle that the law of war… is the controlling body of law with regard to the conduct of hostilities.”

None of this is new, of course, because our military is already doing these things. The Law of War Manual merely codifies and legitimizes what our military has been doing. As such, it represents a giant step backward that deserves absolute condemnation..



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