Saturday, June 19, 2004

Prozac, stat!

Never mind that anti-depressants may encourage suicide in preteens/teens, Bush wants us all on drugs.

Antidepressant Medications for Children -- "...antidepressant medications themselves may induce suicidal behavior and be ineffective in treating depression in youths"

FDA Issues Public Health Advisory on Cautions for Use of Antidepressants in Adults and Children -- is not yet clear whether antidepressants contribute to the emergence of suicidal thinking and behavior. The agency is advising clinicians, patients, families and caregivers of adults and children that they should closely monitor all patients being placed on therapy with these drugs for worsening depression and suicidal thinking, which can occur during the early period of treatment. The agency is also advising that these patients be observed for certain behaviors that are known to be associated with these drugs, such as anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness), hypomania, and mania, and that physicians be particularly vigilant in patients who may have bipolar disorder.
FDA is asking manufacturers to change the labels of ten drugs to include stronger cautions and warnings about the need to monitor patients for the worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidal ideation, regardless of the cause of such worsening.

Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness

What is the ulterior motive, here? Getting all of us to commit suicide? Antidepressants as a weapon of mass destruction?

No, it's probably simpler than that (remember, money: follow it), as the British Medical Journal article cited above tells us -- "Drug companies have contributed three times more to the campaign of George Bush,...than to that of his rival John Kerry." He has to do something for them, now, and fishing for customers could work just fine.

Now, just as an aside...where would the money for this 'drugging America' program come from? That doesn't come from the pharmeceutical companies -- they're donating to political campaigns, you see -- so...other social programs, perhaps?

Class War in America

The Fight of Our Lives -- Bill Moyers sings it loud. June, 2004.

I don't have to tell you that a profound transformation is occurring in America: the balance between wealth and the commonwealth is being upended. By design. Deliberately. We have been subjected to what the Commonwealth Foundation calls "a fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have shaped public responsibility for social harms arising from the excesses of private power." From land, water and other natural resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs, and to politics itself, a broad range of the American commons is undergoing a powerful shift toward private and corporate control. And with little public debate. Indeed, what passes for 'political debate' in this country has become a cynical charade behind which the real business goes on -- the not-so-scrupulous business of getting and keeping power in order to divide up the spoils.
We could have seen this coming if we had followed the money. The veteran Washington reporter, Elizabeth Drew, says "the greatest change in Washington over the past 25 years -- in its culture, in the way it does business and the ever-burgeoning amount of business transactions that go on here -- has been in the preoccupation with money." Jeffrey Birnbaum, who covered Washington for nearly twenty years for the Wall Street Journal, put it more strongly: "[campaign cash] has flooded over the gunwales of the ship of state and threatens to sink the entire vessel. Political donations determine the course and speed of many government actions that deeply affect our daily lives." Politics is suffocating from the stranglehold of money. During his brief campaign in 2000, before he was ambushed by the dirty tricks of the religious right in South Carolina and big money from George W. Bush's wealthy elites, John McCain said elections today are nothing less than an "influence peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder."

Follow the money. Always.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Is the Press getting their Feces Cohesive?

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan June 17, 2004. were saying this morning that the findings of the 9/11 Commission, which definitively say that there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, are completely consistent with your position that there was such a collaborative relationship. And I'm just wondering if you could explain how those two disparate thoughts are completely consistent.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. If you go back and look at what the September 11th Commission said, they talked about how there had been high-level contacts between the regime in Iraq and al Qaeda. And they specifically pointed out to contacts between Iraqi intelligence officials and bin Laden in Sudan; and they talked about other contacts. And if you go back and look at what Secretary Powell outlined before the United Nations, this was back in February of 2003, he talked about how we know -- this is quote, "We know members of both organizations met repeatedly and have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s. In 1996, a foreign security service tells us that bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum and later met the director of the Iraqi intelligence service." So he talked about some of contacts in his presentation to the United Nations.
Q: Right, but the 9/11 --
MR. McCLELLAN: And that is perfectly consistent with what the September 11th Commission talked about in their report yesterday.
Q: But here's where the two positions diverge, and that is that the 9/11 Commission says, yes, there were these contacts, but they did not result in any kind of collaborative relationship. It means the same thing as you and I contact each all the time, but I don't think anybody here at the White House would account you of having --
MR. McCLELLAN: John, we made it clear a long time ago --
Q: -- a collaborative relationship with me.

Or just read the excerpts over at Tom Tomorrow.

I have two things to say:

  1. *snicker*
  2. About Fripping Time, mainstream press. What, were you waiting for an engraved invitation?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Convention? What Geneva Convention?

Pentagon Admits Violating Geneva Convention

"In a rare admission of violating the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war..."

Oh, so it's not 'consistent with the principles' of the Geneva Convention anymore?

Glad we got that cleared up, because I thought the President had announced his dedication to the principles behind the convention, even though some of the prisoners in our custody are not legally POWs.

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Geneva Convention May, 2003.

What this announcement signifies is the President's dedication to the importance of the Geneva Convention and to the principles that the Geneva Convention holds. In terms of the treatment of the prisoners, even though the President has determined that they will not be treated legally as prisoners of war, they will be afforded every courtesy and every value that this nation applies to treating people well while they're in our custody. So it will not change their material life on a day-to-day basis; they will continue to be treated well because that's what the United States does.

Now, that was specifically regarding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, although, one year later,

And when it comes to Iraq, we are bound by the Geneva Convention. It is our policy to adhere to all of our laws and our treaty obligations...
...the President set out some guidelines when it comes to the enemy combatants and the detainees that you may be referring to at Guantanamo Bay, for instance. Al Qaeda obviously was not a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. But the President set out some broad and clear guidelines stating that these detainees should be treated humanely and consistent with the Geneva Conventions...
...the President's guidelines were very clear; they should be treated humanely and consistent with the Geneva Conventions.

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan (May 12, 2004)

Interesting References:

White House Press Briefings
Former U.S. Officials Say Bush Must Go
9/11 Commission

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Our* (biological) father has cancer. He's had it for a few years now. Colon, now liver. Of all the things that have made me feel bad for him, bad about this whole situation, it is the email I got Friday (or, that was waiting for me since Friday) wherein he mentioned he's down to 2 hours a week of work and on disability.

He can't work. That's the thing that hurts. Without work, what is there to do?

No. Really. This is a serious question.

If you don't have something to *do* with your life, with your hands, with your mind, with your heart and soul -- what do you do?

The eternal question, I guess, faced not only by the ill but by the downtrodden with no chance for advancement in their lives. Those who are stuck being stuck.

*That's the twin 'we'.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

What an interesting thing, timing

Unit Says It Gave Earlier Warning Of Abuse In Iraq

Starting in mid-November, one member of the unit began asking detainees, "How have you been treated since you have been in U.S. custody?" It was intended as a tactic meant to make the detainee feel like the interrogator cared, military intelligence personnel said. But the question soon began eliciting vivid and disturbing answers.

When did Miller visit with his 'suggestions' about 'gitmo-izing' Abu Ghraib? September, 2003, wasn't it?

Doesn't that sound like a reasonable amount of time for

a. 'suggestions' to have been implemented broadly
b. someone suffering under these 'suggestions' to be deemed as no longer useful and sent to the Detainee Assessment for a final interview/interrogation?

N.B.: The question hadn't been part of routine assessments previously, so this could be a coincidence.