Ruminations

Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, October 31, 2014

Having It, Keeping It, Missing It

"When you're in school, you have a structured life. There are families who have a young adult, they've finished school, and they're at home watching TV."
"If your family's well enough off, you can purchase supports. People are fairly desperate, and there are some people with money, and there are now waiting lists to purchase supports [in aid of caring for developmentally delayed children]."
"I think it's ambitious [municipal one-year target for government-supplied social aid] but I think within the mandate of this government, I think it probably should be done I think it's ambitious, though. I honestly do think it's ambitious."
"Nineteen hundred adults is not a lot of [additional] adults [looked after, province-wide]."
Miriam Fry, executive director, Families Matter Cooperative, Ottawa

"He had everything he needed in southwestern Ontario. He was living in Woodstock. And just because we wanted to move him here [Ottawa] and provide for his future, we went back to zero and started from scratch."
"Jason asks to move out almost on a daily basis. Not that he's unhappy here, but he really wants his independence back."
"It's just frustrating. You keep waiting and everybody's in a queue and we're told things are going to come but they never do. It's discouraging for families that want independence for their lived ones You want to make sure everything's in place and they're settled and happy."
Bernice McKeown, Ottawa resident, mother of Jason, 37
Impossible choices face parents of adults with developmental delays (with video)
Bernice McKeown hasn't been able to get any services for her 37-year-old, developmentally-delayed son, Jason, since moving to Ottawa almost three years ago. Previously, in Woodstock, services there allowed him to live alone and work full time four days a week. (Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen)

There is a shortage in the province of group homes and treatment programs for adult children with autism, intellectual disabilities and mental illness. A waiting list of up to 23,000 people are hoping that place will be made for their adult children through the province's Community and Social Services. "Wait-lists cannot be eliminated within 12 months based on system capacity and resource limitations; the human resources and infrastructure needed to create supports that would address the needs of everyone on the wait-list", explains the provincial minister, Helena Jaczek.

The province, through its Community and Social Services, has committed to spending about $810-million over a three year period in the hopes the system's capacities and capabilities can be increased to clear the waiting lists. That will bring total spending on the issue to about $2-billion. This represents the needs of people from toddler stage to school age and beyond. Community health centres and hospitals along with specialized non-profit groups all come together to aid families with needy offspring under various government-sponsored aid programs.

In Ottawa, young people with intellectual disabilities are able to remain in school until they're 21, whereas elsewhere in the province they must leave at 18, roughly the age when most able-intellectual students leave for work or ongoing studies at colleges and universities. When a family applies for assistance, an assessment of need is required. The protocol is time-consuming, and the waiting list for services is not growing shorter.  With the additional funding, an added 1,900 people received financial support with another 350 adults with disabilities moving into housing with help.

Bernice McKeown, 60 and her husband 63, moved to Ottawa three years ago to be near their daughter who is a federal civil servant and whom they will depend upon to help her brother when they no longer can. For that reason, they took their son, Jason, 37 years of age, from Woodstock, Ontario where he was settled into a lifestyle he enjoyed and fit his disabilities. By his early 20s he was set up with his own assisted living apartment with help always available when he needed it.

He lived on his own in a subsidized apartment, receiving an hour of support each day. He had a four-day-weekly job with the Woodstock branch of ARC Industries, set up as an enterprise to hire people with intellectual disabilities on simple production-line work. It gave him a sense of fulfillment and independence. When they moved their son with them to Ottawa the McKeowns immediately contacted social services to register him in the hopes that what he had in Woodstock could be speedily replicated. Last summer finally, Jason had a formal assessment of his needs and a case manager assigned to him.

His parents now pay $40 three days a week on their own for a special day program which offers their son something to do, and a place to go to. He would like employment. And he really wants once again to have an apartment of his own. According to his mother, Jason McKeown functions at the intellectual level of a six- or seven-year old child. He is capable of preparing simple meals and can take care of his basic needs, including his own entertainment. He does, though, need someone to be around from time to time, to check and make certain he's all right.

Perhaps they might have done better to think a little more deeply about the change they were bringing to his life taking him  out of the familiar lifestyle he had become accustomed to in Woodstock where he had it all, even as they bemoan the fact that he no longer does have what he needs and wants and depended upon to give him a sense of purpose and belonging now that they've moved him to a new setting, while thinking ahead to the future.

A bird in hand ... is worth two in the bush...

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Do No HARM

If we could depend upon people to use their common sense to self-regulate and self-discipline then society would have no worries and concerns over sociopathic tendencies that arise from time to time within society. Usually from sources considered to be less than amenable to discipline and order through an unspoken social covenant, but occasionally arising from sources the sensible among us might feel because of their education and professional qualifications should know better.

And precisely because we cannot rely on people to behave well in all circumstances, and because there are among us all those who believe it is perfectly consonant with the greater social good to behave however they will, whether it is by physically attacking other people, committing acts of social transgression like robbery and break-and-enters, or even putting the public at potential risk because they value their 'freedom' to do as they will, we need regulating agencies.

At one level the regulating agencies arise out of municipal offices. And they can include educational, legal and medical services which operate under professional guidelines and they can certainly include peace and security services through local policing agencies. So that, when people become unreasonably besotted with the conviction that their personal liberties have prior agency over the public's right to security, authority must step in to mediate. Some issues affect the public in a wider circle, and require the next levels of government authority to step up.
"I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me even though I am in perfectly good health."
"I am completely healthy and symptom-free. I am frustrated by (the) intention ... to file legal action against me.
"And if this does occur, then I will challenge those legal actions."Kaci Hickox, Maine Nurse, volunteer with Doctors Without Borders
Nurse Kaci Hickox came out of her home Wednesday night to speak to reporters, saying she'll fight any legal action taken by the state of Maine to force her into a home quarantine. Hickox says she doesn't have any symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus.

Her current state of 'perfect good health' does not take into account the generally accepted three-week incubation period for Ebola virus. Ms. Hickox generously volunteered with Doctors Without Borders to lend her medical assistance in a hands-on manner in West Africa. On her return from Sierra Leone she was placed in quarantine in New Jersey which exercises a common-sense preventative mandatory quarantine for people arriving from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.


The preliminary evaluation that indicated she had no symptoms and was Ebola-free was just that; preliminary. She poses a potential threat, however slight, to the community for contamination in passing on Ebola virus. As a health practitioner one might suppose it isn't too much to ask of her to volunteer 21 days to isolating herself from contact with others who might be exposed to the virus, should she be carrying it.


Instead, she remains defiant. Maine's health commissioner, Mary Mayhew advised that the state is proceeding to file a court order requiring Ms. Hickox to abide by the 21-day quarantine, citing "concerns about the lack of reliability and the lack of trustworthiness in the information that has been received. You need to be able to have trust and credibility in that information. That makes her a higher risk." Health Commissioner Mayhew vowed "we will not stand by and exacerbate the situation in Maine."

On another front, a six-year-old girl may have contracted HIV as a result of a routine vaccination, in Fort St. James, British Columbia. As the nurse administering the booster shot directed the hypodermic needle, the child flinched and the needle pierced the nurse as well. Extracting the needle, it was obvious their blood had merged.
Parents ‘horrified’ after botched vaccination exposes six-year-old B.C. girl to HIV
File photo: A six-year-old girl is in danger of having contacted HIV after a routine vaccination went awry in Fort St. James earlier this month.  Photograph by: THE CANADIAN PRESS , Chuck Stoody
"Right off the bat, when this was brought forward to us, we expressed deep regret and apologized to the family. We investigated internally, but we cannot express an opinion based on a specific incident."
"We do not discriminate against any health-status issue. What we do expect from staff is they operate within the guidelines of their governing body. Absolutely, this is very rare. As an organization, safety is very important to us."
Dr. Sandra Allison, chief medical health officer, Northern Health

Following the guidelines of the nursing governing body would have seen the nurse in this unfortunate case routinely having her bloodwork done on a regular basis to test for the possibility of any communicable blood infections. The nurse was found to have been HIV-positive. And while it is not known if the nurse was aware of her health status, or whether it was discovered in a follow-up investigation relating to the incident with the child, there was an egregious lack of the cautionary principle at play here.

The College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia registrar, Cynthia Johansen, also its CEO, spoke on the standards and guidelines that all nurses are in theory subject to: "Nurses are responsible to have themselves tested -- and seek counsel and advice over how (testing positive) would affect their practise."

Since they cater professionally to the health care needs of a vulnerable demographic within any population there is an obvious social, ethical obligation for such health-care providers to ensure that they themselves are in no position to pose a medical threat to those whom they serve. A population that places their trust in the hands of the profession.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Proverbial Grains of Salt

"Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures. A higher consumption of milk in women and men is not accompanied by a lower risk of fracture and instead may be associated with a higher rate of death."
Prof. Karl Michaelsson, Uppsala University, Sweden

"There may be another factor causing the increased mortality and fracture rate in women. Milk is a convenient source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. One such study is insufficient to base public health decisions on."
Gaynor Bussell, British public health nutritionist
Current dietary recommendations about milk consumption are unchanged
"The authors advise caution in interpreting the results and are not recommending that anyone stops drinking milk or eating dairy products."
Dr. Louis Levy, Public Health England

The controversy here is whether milk consumption should be considered an aid to building healthy bones in adults, or whether it controversially presents as yet another health risk. Popular health wisdom has it that drinking and eating dairy products with their high calcium content help to maintain healthy bone structure. Of course, it isn't just a consumption matter, but a lifestyle matter as well, in maintaining a robust, healthy body.

glass of milk
A study claims that an intake of three or more glasses of milk a day could perhaps do more harm than good.

Exercise from an early age onward into maturity and continuing the types of exercise appropriate for advancing age with a daily regimen is also a useful assist in maintaining health. Those who lead sedentary lifestyles lose their stamina, flexibility and enduring strength as their physiques languish due to under-use. That old adage of 'use it or lose it' is never so true as when connected to the mechanics of physical lubrication and muscular usage.

The new research referred to above, was published in the British Medical Journal, reflecting the results of a study undertaken by lead author Prof. Michaelsson and his colleagues in Sweden. Theirs was a study tracking 61,000 women and 45,000 men for a twenty-year period. During the course of the study the subjects' milk-consumption habits were tracked, the end result being that the conclusion was that there was no benefit to drinking milk.

The study's authors found no reduction in broken bones for those who consumed milk the most frequently. Instead, for women milk was associated with an increased opportunity of suffering a fracture. Women who drank three or more glasses of milk daily (680 ml) were found to be twice as likely to die at an earlier age than those who consumed less than one glass of milk on a daily basis.

Researchers arrived at the belief that the fat in milk cancels out the positive effects of calcium. Instead of helping to build healthy bones and keep them that way, they feel that milk consumption triggers inflammation, increasing the risk of heart attacks, because of the fat content. Low-fat dairy products, on the other hand; cheese and yogurt for example, produced a beneficial effect in reduction of early death and promoting bone health.

British experts, examining the study and its results, feel that something may have been overlooked, or not adequately factored in when the researchers compiled and examined their data. They feel the conclusions arrived at through the research should be viewed with caution since Sweden fortifies its milk with vitamin A, which might conceivably have tilted toward the result.

Just incidentally, citing a Cochrane Review, the Mayo Clinic in the United States reached a conclusion of their own in acknowledging that the ingestion of too much beta-carotene or Vitamin A may be injurious to peoples' health:
The same review found large doses of vitamin A supplements were also associated with an increased risk of dying prematurely. Supplementation with beta-carotene, a compound that's converted to vitamin A by the body, was also shown to increase risk of death, especially for smokers or former smokers. Since vitamin A deficiency is rare in the U.S., it's probably not worth the potential risk to take this supplement.

And then there are growing cautions against trusting everything one reads even in respected scientific journals. The editor of the British Medical Journal, Richard Smith, spoke of problems with peer review, a process of pre-publication where papers to be published are circulated among scientists with knowledge of the topic at hand who may verify or query some of the assertions concluding a research project.

He found the peer review process to be inconsistent; two reviewers of the same paper can arrive at astonishingly opposite conclusions. Sometimes the process can result in dishonesty (when on a rare occasion a reviewer appropriates parts of a paper to use it in his own work, while rejecting the original). But review of this nature, he said, rarely catches fraud. Peer review, he felt (the standard scientific 'guarantee' of trustworthiness in scientific paper publishing) was "little better than tossing a coin".

Which makes it all the more important that when a research project is concluded and the findings arrived at don't appear to reflect prevailing scientific opinion and recommendations based on a wide range of other research supporting the opposite of a random conclusion, others in the field speak up to express their doubts in the presumed accuracy of the conclusion.
Medical News Today
Milk contains 18 out of 22 essential nutrients. The relationship between the dynamic duo of calcium and vitamin D in milk and their importance in maintaining bone health has long been promoted in nutritional education, especially in terms of child development.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend a daily dose of 3 cups of dairy to support good health and improve bone mass. An intake of three or four glasses of milk a day has been suggested to save at least 20% of health care costs related to osteoporosis.
Milk is also presented to have many other benefits, including:

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UN Watch BriefingLatest from the United Nations  Vol. 511  |  October 29, 2014         

Nazareth Priest Tells U.N. in Arabic: "Israel is only country in Mideast where Christians live in safety"
Must-See Video: Click here
 
 
Father Gabriel Naddaf testified on behalf of UN Watch
Speaking in Arabic and on behalf of UN Watch, Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth intervened during the recent 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Mr. President, I am speaking to you on behalf of UN Watch.
Standing before you is Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Christian citizen from Nazareth, the city in which Christ was raised and where he proselytized.

Dear Sirs, while I stand before you today, the earth of the Middle East is soaked with the blood of Christians being killed daily.

Do you know that at the start of the 20th century, Christians comprised 20% of the population of the Middle East?
Today they comprise only 4%.

Do you know that over the past years some 100,000 Christians have been killed annually? And why? Not for a crime they’ve committed, but only for believing in Christ.
In Iraq alone, more than 77% of the Christians have fled during the year 2000, in addition to thousands killed and expelled.

Some 2 million Christians lived in Syria, but today, they are less than 250,000.

Christians in these countries are treated as second-class citizens; facing racial, religious, economic and social discrimination.

Why is this happening? Only due to their religion, a religion that advocates love and peace between mankind.

Christians in the Middle East are marginalized, their rights denied, their property stolen, their honor violated, their men killed, and their children displaced.

Where will they go? Who will defend them? And who will guard their property?

If we look at the Middle East, Mr. President, we realize there’s only one safe place where Christians are not persecuted.

One place where they are protected, enjoying freedom of worship and expression, living in peace and not subjected to killing and genocide.

It is Israel, the country I live in. The Jewish state is the only place where the Christians of the Holy Land live in safety.
Christians and Jews live in Israel not only because Christ was originally Jewish, born in Jewish Bethlehem, but because they share a common destiny, and a true hope to coexist in peace.

Does the world acknowledge Israel for protecting its Christians? Many in the international community have chosen to criticize Israel.

This, in my mind, is a double crime: because by doing so, the international community helps those striving to annihilate the Jews, the Christians, the Druze and the Yazidis for political ends.

By doing so, the international community unfortunately contributes to exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. It causes Christians to leave the land of Christ searching for a safe haven across the world.

It is time for the world to awaken and realize the truth of those striving to destroy the Jewish state.

They are hastening the death sentence of Christians in the Middle East and the Holy Land, the land which witnessed the birth and life of our Lord Jesus Christ. If they leave, who will remain in it?

I, Father Gabrial Naddaf of Nazareth, stand before you and plead: O world leaders and supporters of peace, stop those who want to destroy the only free Jewish state in the region.

It is the only refuge welcoming and protecting all of its citizens. It is the only place that does not attempt to push out Christians, forcing them to leave their land in search of security.

I implore you from the bottom of my heart to hear the cry of the Christians of the Middle East before it is too late, and you may read about them only in the history books.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Prostate Cancer Screening

"[Recommendations against blanket screening] may do a disservice to Canadian men who are at risk for prostate cancer."
"The Canadian Urological Association feels that it should be individualized, in discussion with the patient."
"Prostate cancer deaths have dropped by 45% since we started screening back in the '80s. There are patients who would benefit from screening."
Dr. Anil Kapoor, professor of urology, McMaster University

"If … PSA testing stops, then what I think is predictable is we’ll go back to the era of 30 years ago when most patients presented with advanced disease. The mortality will go back up and in 15 or 20 years the task force will reconvene and say, 'Oh, you know something? We blew it'."
"There’s been a complete revolution in this field over, I would say, the last five to eight years, towards what’s called active surveillance. Patients with the low-grade cancer, which is about half of newly diagnosed cancers, are simply not treated nowadays."
Dr.Laurence Klotz, urologist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto

"We continue to believe that a thoughtful discussion between patient and provider is the better way to approach PSA screening and that a widespread recommendation [against PSA testing] would particularly put our at-risk men in a vulnerable position."
Dr.Tony Finelli, uro-oncologist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto
A surgeon performs a robot-assisted prostate tumorectomy. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in men and is usually not life-threatening.
A surgeon performs a robot-assisted prostate tumorectomy. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in men and is usually not life-threatening. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty)

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care has issued new guidelines for Canadian doctors in using a blood test that at one time was looked upon as a failsafe guide in early cancer detection. The Task Force feels that PSA screening has proven over time to produce fewer than one percent reductions in death linked to prostate cancer.

Their feeling as health protocol authorities is that based on the evidence they see before them through scrutiny of research into the subject, that the harms that have become evident in the wholesale use of PSA screening for men over 50, the recommended age group which PSA testing targets, outweigh the presumed benefits.

Most cancers detected by PSA screening, the expert panel points out, tend to be slow-developing, and non-life-threatening. They state that as many as 56% of all men diagnosed in Canada with prostate cancer fall into the category of being over-diagnosed. In the sense that the cancer would never have caused symptoms, much less threatened the individual's life during the natural span he was given to live.
Key recommendations:
  • For men under age 55 and over age 70, the task force recommends not using the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. This strong recommendation is based on the lack of clear evidence that screening with the PSA test reduces mortality and on the evidence of increased risk of harm.
  • For men aged 55–69 years, the task force also recommends not screening, although it recognizes that some men may place high value on the small potential reduction in the risk of death and suggests that physicians should discuss the benefits and harms with these patients.
  • These recommendations apply to men considered high risk—black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer—because the evidence does not indicate that the benefits and harms of screening are different for this group.
Men are exposed to needless treatments as a result of over-diagnosis, fear rushing them into treatments they don't really need, to treat a condition that though not necessarily benign, will present with no threatening crises during their lifetimes. That treatment can lead to other conditions far more deleterious to an individual's quality of life, consequentially.

Conditions such as impotence, incontinence and complications of other varieties resulting from radiation, surgery, and hormone therapy.

The new guidelines advanced by the Task Force on Preventive Health Care in Canada was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It took mere hours after the publication of the guideline for critics to warn that following the new recommendations would result in increased cases of advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer Canada stated that in their opinion early detection "can be the difference between life and death." Dr. Anil Kapoor, head of the genito-urinary oncology program at the Juravinsi Cancer Centre and St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton protested that the task force had chosen to ignore other studies that favour a survival advantage with PSA screening.

The prostate specific antigen test (PSA) works by measuring a protein produced by the prostate gland. Through the administering of the test, the higher the man's blood PSA levels are, the likelier he is, according to prevailing medical opinion, to have cancer. On the other than, higher-than-normal PSA counts needn't necessarily affirm that prostate cancer is present. Indeed, even with low PSA levels appearing, cancer may be present.

A perfect detection tool it most definitely is not. There are physical symptoms, on the other hand, that should certainly not be overlooked, and they include weak urinary flow, an urgent need to urinate, frequent urination throughout the day and particularly at night-time, and blood in the urine. With the exception of the very last symptom, all the others preceding it are also indicative of a more common benign but problematical enlarged prostate condition.

Dr. Neil Bell, chair of the task force's working group on prostate cancer screening, a professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Alberta, explained that prior to the PSA test, "We didn't really have anything, except for the digital rectal examination." On the other hand, the test was widely acclaimed and adopted before evidence surfaced that it represented a reliable screening tool.

Because most prostate cancers enjoy a hopeful prognosis, the survival rate now is the highest among all cancers in men. About 95 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive at least ten years. The PSA test was introduced twenty years ago. The number of new cases and incidence of prostate cancer have grown since then, and over-diagnosis is recognized as the culprit.

The task force supports its conclusion leading to recommending less use of the PSA test by reiterating that the detection of cancers that would not progress to cause untoward symptoms or to ultimately cause the death of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has led to the perceived growth of  new diagnoses.

One of the two studies most relied upon by the task force was a European study that reported a small absolute reduction in prostate cancer mortality of less than 1 per cent or 13 lives saved per 10,000 men screened. The task force concluded that was too slim a benefit to outweigh the harms that flow from over diagnosing and over treating prostate cancers.

Dr. Finelli, chair of the guideline committee for the Canadian Urological Association, said his organization will keep backing the PSA test, despite the task force’s advice.

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UN Watch BriefingLatest from the United Nations  Vol. 510  |  October 28, 2014         

UN Watch forum on Iran to feature lawyer of 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was executed by Iran on Saturday
Victims, activists, experts to expose violations on eve of Iran's UN review
 
 
Geneva Residents: To request an invitation for the UN Watch forum on Iran this Thursday, which will take place at the UN in Geneva from
12:00 noon to 2:00 pm, please write to
briefing@unwatch.org.
GENEVA,  Oct. 28, 2014 - One day before Iran goes before a United Nations examination of its human rights record, the non-governmental organization UN Watch will convene an international forum of Iranian victims, activists and experts this Thursday, October 30th, to expose gross and systematic violations that are covered up in the regime's written submission to the UN review session. (See excerpts below.)
The UN Watch parallel event, to take place inside the UN's European headquarters at the Palais de Nations in Geneva, will feature leading figures on the subject of human rights in Iran:
Mohammad Mostafaei - Iranian human rights lawyer who was forced to flee the country after being persecuted by the authorities for his defense of individuals facing the death penalty. Mr. Mostafei was the first lawyer of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old woman who was just executed by Iran on Saturday for allegedly killing the man who was trying to rape her. Mr. Mostafaei is the founder and director of Norway's Universal Tolerance Organization. In 2011, he was awarded PEN's Ossietzky Prize.
Sepideh Pooraghaiee - Iranian journalist and human rights activist who was jailed for 110 days in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. Ms.  Pooraghaiee recently fled Iran, finding asylum in France, after she was threatened by the government for reporting on its crackdown against peaceful protesters. "I was in danger because I know the truth," she says. "And it was bad for them."
Marina Nemat - Iranian dissident, former prisoner of conscience and best-selling author, now living in Canada, who was jailed as a political prisoner in Tehran when she was only 16 years old. During her incarceration for two years in the infamous Evin Prison, she was interrogated, tortured, faced execution, and was raped by a prison guard who she was coerced to marry. Ms. Nemat was the recipient of the European Parliament’s inaugural Human Dignity Prize in 2007, and in 2014 was awarded UN Watch's Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award.
Sohrab Ahmari - London-based editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal. Born in Tehran, Mr. Ahmari was interrogated by Iranian security officials as a child when he accidentally brought a Star Wars video cassette to school. He holds a law degree from Northeastern University and previously served as a nonresident fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. An alumnus of Teach for America, Mr. Ahmari is co-editor of "Arab Spring Dreams," an anthology of essays by young dissidents in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). 
 ____________________
Excerpts from Iran's Report to this Friday's UN Review Session
● “The laws of Iran repudiate all forms of torture.”

● “Iran has tirelessly worked to advance women’s rights.”
● "In order to protect the rights of the people, the Supreme Leader has communicated the following general policies in 2014: [...] the need to fulfill the legal and religious rights of women... the protection of legitimate freedoms and the protection of the nation’s fundamental rights."
● “In all stages of prosecution, including detection, investigation and implementation of sentence – irrespective of race, religion, gender or ethnicity – fairness is of paramount importance.”
● “Consistent with article 14 of the Constitution, the Government is required to treat non-Muslims with respect and Islamic justice and equity, and to respect their human rights.

● “Alongside the recognized religious minorities, the rights of all citizens – including the followers of the Baha’i sect – are respected.”

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Rape As Infidelity

"[I have] constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that as been done on so many fronts because of it."
"It can't have been an easy thing to have stood by [girlfriend and supporters] someone who the courts found guilty of such a destructive act."
"It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to play professional football. If allowed to return] I will do so with humility, having learned a very painful lesson."
"I would like a second chance, but I know that not everyone will agree."
Ched Evans, professional soccer player, Britain
"When you take a footballer on, you are not taking just a footballer, you are also taking on a role model."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Sheffield/London

"[Convicted criminals have a right to return to work, sentence completed] ...but we have to accept that in this case it is an incredibly high-profile figure. [Professional clubs] need to send a strong message that rape and sexual violence will not be tolerated within football."
Katie Russell, Rape Crisis England and Wales

Ched Evans is a convicted rapist. Now aged 25, he has an impressive professional football resume with Manchester City, Norwich City, Sheffield United and with the Wales national team. But at the present time the question looms, should a convicted rapist, having served his sentence, be barred from a return to soccer, or should he be considered an rejected social outcast?

There are at least 150,000 signatures to an online petition demanding that he not be reinstated, and instead be barred from returning to soccer. Clearly, this is an issue that provokes strong reactions, for and against. Clearly, it all depends on perspective, and Ched Evans's own perspective is that he be given the opportunity to do what he is good at, and what he shouldn't have done be overlooked and placed neatly in the realm of 'boys will be boys'.

In his defence Mr. Evans, who obviously doesn't feel that the conviction was the right call, claims the 2012 incident for which he was arrested, charged and found guilty at trial, was in actual fact an "act of infidelity", and not a rape. Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association and groups whose business is to lobby for ex-prisoners' rehabilitation, agree with him.

"I didn't know that there was a law that said once you come out of prison you still can't do anything", Mr. Taylor stated acerbically. Sheffield United had released striker Ched Evans after he was convicted of raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, Wales, in May of 2011. Now, his conviction and sentence behind him, they're thinking of welcoming him back with a $800,000 contract.

The club is co-owned by Prince Abdullah Bin Musa'ad Bin Abdul Aziz, a member of the Saudi royal family. And given the circumstances in which the rape occurred, how likely is it that the staunchly Islamist-conservative Saudi would feel constrained to disallow the re-contracting of Mr. Evans? After all, it was a 'chance meeting' on the street with the 19-year-old by Mr. Evans and another player that led to the rape.

Not that the young woman asked to be raped but in Saudi Arabia women do not appear unescorted by a male family member on a public street, nor do they strike up conversations with men they do not know at ungodly hours, nor do they accompany them to a hotel at 4:30 a.m. All of this implies consent in Saudi Arabia. And the penalty for the ensuing rape would be borne not by the rapists but by the woman for inciting the men to rape.

In her testimony the young woman of 19 confessed to having been so drunk no recollection of what had occurred remained with her. Just as, in all likelihood, her state of inebriation left her unaware of what was happening to her, when it was happening. She testified that she awoke, naked "confused and dazed" to see her clothing scattered on the floor. She had wet the bed. When she left the hotel she was hysterical calling police only after her working shift. She felt one of her drinks had been spiked.

She is unnamed, to protect her identity and although she may not pay a price in public shame and notoriety relating to the event she will certainly regret everything about it; her loss of intimate agency top of mind. Her helplessness to prevent what had occurred when she was used and abused as an object not a human being. Mr. Evans will appear, apart from his limited stint in custody to have landed right-side up, feet firmly on the ground of future opportunities.

Whether that will include other rapes will yet to be seen.

The reason she was out late that night?  She was a waitress, had finished work late that evening. She'd had red wine with colleagues before heading for home, then ventured out again at 1:30 a.m. to meet friends at the seafront nightclub Zu Bar. There she drank four double vodkas. By the time she left the club around 3:00 a.m. on her way to a fast food shop, she was having difficulty standing on her own.

Street-level closed circuit video (CCTV) footage showed her losing her balance, falling into a wall, trying to enter a taxi, her clothing "disarranged, her bra visible", recalled the driver. Which was the point at which Mr. Evans' colleague Clayton McDonald, who had been in the Zu Bar along with Mr. Evans where they had tried to persuade another young woman to come back to the hotel room, approached her. They had pre-reserved a hotel room for that very purpose.

He is adamant that "the acts I engaged in on that night were consensual in nature and not rape". Evidently, extreme intoxication equates with consent. The appeal judges at the Court of Appeal had rejected a bid to overturn his conviction. Having served his time, his long-term partner Natasha Massey, 24, beside him, he states he "constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it."

Ched Evans and girlfriend Natasha Massey on holiday in Portugal
2011
Ched Evans and girlfriend Natasha Massey on holiday in Portugal 2011



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Egypt-inspired probe explores our galaxy’s secrets

The Philae lander is attached to Rosetta’s side. (Photo courtesy: esa.int)
A space craft named after the Nile’s Isle of Philae will land on a comet following a 10-year mission through space aimed to unlock some of the universe’s secrets, the Guardian reported.

As part of the Rosetta Mission, organized by the European Space Agency, Philae is due to land on the comet on Nov. 12 where it will map the body and drill into the surface to obtain material that may reveal clues about the origins of the galaxy and earth.

Rosetta mission selfie at comet. (Photo courtesy: esa.int)

On Wednesday, scientists behind the mission met with Egyptologists at an English country estate to mark the link between the trip and a 19th-century adventurer responsible for the Egypt-inspired names in the trip.

Kingston Lacy, where the scientists and Egyptologists met, was the home of William John Bankes, the adventurer who found the Philae Obelisk in Egypt in 1815 and brought it to his estate where it stood for almost 200 years.

Bankes deciphered the Greek inscription on the Obelisk. His work led others to “crack” the code to the hieroglyphs, which allowed archaeologists and Egyptologists to decrypt the Rosetta stone and other ancient Egyptian artifacts.

The Philae obelisk at the Kingston Lacy Estate near Wimborne, Dorset. (Photo courtesy: collectingegypt.blogspot.ae)

The architects of the mission were drawn to the significance of the Rosetta Stone, and more towards the mysterious Philae obelisk.

While scientists continue to map encryptions on the obelisk revealing more information about the time and age it came from, James Grasby, a curator for the modern custodian of Kingston Lacy, the National Trust, described the events as a “wonderful collision” between the two different fields.

“The Philae obelisk led to a greater understanding of the ancient world. The Philae probe may lead to greater understanding of the planets and life on earth,” he told the Guardian.

Last Update: Monday, 27 October 2014 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Internet Family History

"[9-1-1]: I don't know what I should do. Her husband and her are living together but they are in the middle of a divorce. And he is, um ... "
Jessica Adam, friend of Nancy Cooper, Cary, North Carolina

"Brad Cooper is a very private man. He is not accustomed to the hot glare of the media spotlight. He never dreamed that he would see his face splashed across television news shows, nor his name in headlines, especially not under these terrible circumstances."
".... Different people grieve in different ways. Mr. Cooper wishes to mourn privately."
Seth Bloom, lawyer for Brad Cooper

"That was kind of like, enough is enough. Let's charge him."
"He likes computers and phones and he likes to ride his bicycle. Maybe he'll find a place in the world where he can do that and nobody will know his name."
U.S. assistant district attorney Howard Cummings


Hers was the effervescent personality, she was the extrovert. He was a quiet, reserved man. She thought she was ready for that kind of quiet reserve. It spelled out to her imagination stability, a good marriage, a nice home, and children. She wanted children. Nancy Lynn Rentz was a fun-loving young woman, ambitious and interested in doing things with her furure in mind. All the men she had dated were the popular outgoing type. And nothing had quite clicked.


And then she met Bradley Graham Cooper, the same age as herself, working for IBM in Calgary, just like her. So he was the quiet type, a calmly ambitious type with aspirations of his own. Everything was just right; the big shiny engagement ring, a traditional wedding in the planning stages. But then came a job offer for him from Cisco, and since Nancy planned on moving with her love to Cary, N.C. where he would relocate, they married extemporaneously.

She was appreciative of sports. And he was athletic and intelligent. So their personalities on one level weren't all that remote from one another. Her parents liked him. Everything seemed to work out very nicely. And off they went together to start their new life. The town they lived in was beyond pleasant, a friendly place where neighbours took pains to get to know one another and share weekend backyard barbecues and where children ran about happily.

She couldn't work legally without a visa in the United States. And he said he would look after the paperwork for her so she would be able to find employment, if that's what she wanted, to complement her entrepreneurial spirit. Without being able to keep busy she was bored and not the happy housewife she had thought she would be. She would much have preferred to return to Edmonton.

Then Nancy made some friends, got a car and earned a little money of her own as a nanny. Bella, the first little girl they would have came along in 2004 and two years later Katie was born. Then, two years on it all began to fall apart. Nancy became aware her husband let his wandering eye get the better of him A lawyer informed her if she chose to leave the house she could lose whatever she had, including possibly custody of their daughters.

Nancy's family was aware she was struggling, and the marriage wasn't prospering, and they hoped for the best. She had tried to accommodate her situation; one of her sisters had admonished her: "You decided to marry him, this is your husband. You should try to make it work." No doubt she did; it was humiliating the extent of his firm control over everything she did expressed in financial control. Where he allowed her to have a small amount of fuel in her car so she couldn't get too far.

Brad Cooper (pictured in court today) said 'yes' when a judge asked him if he had killed mother-of-two Nancy (pictured above with two daughters Katie and Bella, and tried to hide her body in Cary, North Carolina

He hadn't, after all, applied for a work visa for her. Was abstemious in allotting her grocery money. She took to sleeping with her daughters, locking the bedroom door, car keys handy. As she parted with her parents after sharing a beach vacation in South Carolina with them in June 2008, the wan, unhappy mother of their two little grandchildren told her mother: "Mom, I just want to go home".

Mere days later on July 11, 2008, the Cooper family attended a backyard party in their neighbourhood. A day later Brad Cooper reported his wife missing. Two days after this a man walking his dog in the vicinity of an undeveloped subdivision, encountered a body floating in stormwater, outside the town of Cary, about five kilometres from the Cooper home.

Suspicion turned to Nancy Cooper's husband. His lawyers held a press conference to address the "wild speculation" raging over the case. And to explain Brad Cooper's choice not to be present at memorials and press conferences, related to his wife's puzzling death. Two months after her death he was again interrogated and again swore he knew nothing other than what came to him on the news.

But investigators were in possession of forensic computer evidence that he had conducted a Google Maps search of the area where the close-by emerging subdivision was located the day before his wife met her mysterious death. He had zoomed in on the very place where her body had been discovered. Quite the coincidence, that. The ensuing trial heard of a calculated and cruel, planned murder.

That directly after leaving the neighbourhood backyard party early in the evening, Brad Cooper had placed their two young daughters in a room to isolate them and then proceeded to choke his wife, the pressure being applied so robust that bones were broken in the process of strangulation. The jury verdict was unanimous: Guilty of first degree murder, warranting life in prison.

But there was an appeal. And there was a theory popularly upheld that he was innocent of the charges levied against him. With the appeal of the murder conviction, a new trial was granted. Brad Cooper decided instead of undergoing another trial to opt for a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and the sentencing then handed down was 12 to 15 years in prison, and the surrender of his children to his wife's sister's care.

"When we started this process years ago, one of the first things I said was that I would wish the person who was responsible for this crime would come forward and acknowledge their guilt and own up to their behaviour. That's what happened today", Garry Rentz, Nancy's father said last month after the hearing.

There can be no closure, no satisfaction, no explanations that might alleviate the burden of loss. There was no apology, no reasons given, and the dreadful result of two people living together out of harmony with one another, with two little children dependent on parents to care for one another and for them, ending up with the children effectively orphaned one dreadful summer night, is a reality everyone must now live with.

Knowing that with time already served taken into account, Brad Cooper will inhabit a prison cell for eight more years and then face deportation back to Canada. Where one of his sisters-in-law is raising his little girls, now aged ten and eight and able to find their mother's and their father's names on the Internet if and when they Google them.

The pair (pictured with their two daughters) married in 2001 but their relationship deteriorated when Cooper was having an affair and Nancy said she wanted to go back to her native Canada 
The pair (pictured with their two daughters) married in 2001 but their relationship deteriorated when Cooper was having an affair and Nancy said she wanted to go back to her native Canada 

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