August 10, 2013 archive

On This Day In History August 10

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

August 10 is the 222nd day of the year (223rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 143 days remaining until the end of the year.

The term ‘the 10th of August’ is widely used by historians as a shorthand for the Storming of the Tuileries Palace on the 10th of August, 1792, the effective end of the French monarchy until it is restored in 1814.

On this day in  1846, Smithsonian Institution was created. After a decade of debate about how best to spend a bequest left to America from an obscure English scientist, President James K. Polk signs the Smithsonian Institution Act into law.

In 1829, James Smithson died in Italy, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson’s curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

After the nephew died without heirs in 1835, President Andrew Jackson informed Congress of the bequest, which amounted to 104,960 gold sovereigns, or US$500,000 ($10,100,997 in 2008 U.S. dollars after inflation). The money, however, was invested in shaky state bonds that quickly defaulted. After heated debate in Congress, former President John Quincy Adams successfully argued to restore the lost funds with interest.  Congress also debated whether the federal government had the authority to accept the gift. Congress ultimately accepted the legacy bequeathed to the nation and pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust July 1, 1836.

Eight years later, Congress passed an act establishing the Smithsonian Institution, a hybrid public/private partnership, and the act was signed into law on August 10, 1846 by James Polk. (See 20 U.S.C. § 41 (Ch. 178, Sec. 1, 9 Stat. 102).) The bill was drafted by Indiana Democratic Congressman Robert Dale Owen, a Socialist and son of Robert Owen, the father of the cooperative movement.

Saturday Night Movie

Cartnoon

Sanjay’s Change of Mind on Medical Marijuana

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In an amazing reversal, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed his position on marijuana’s health benefits and apologized.

Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Meet the little girl who changed his mind. Charlotte Figi is a 6 year old who suffers from Dravet Syndrome:

Dravet syndrome, also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy. Initial seizures are most often prolonged events and in the second year of life other seizure types begin to emerge. Development remains on track initially, with plateaus and a progressive decline typically beginning in the second year of life. Individuals with Dravet syndrome face a higher incidence of SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy) and have associated conditions, which also need to be properly treated and managed. [..]

Children with Dravet syndrome do not outgrow this condition and it affects every aspect of their daily lives.

Unless a cure or better treatments for Dravet syndrome and related epilepsies are found, individuals with these disorders face a diminished quality of life. Current treatment options are extremely limited and the prognosis for these children is poor. The constant care and supervision of an individual with such highly specialized needs is emotionally and financially draining on the family members who care for these individuals.

Long Search For 6-Year-Old’s Seizure Relief Ends With Medical Marijuana

Nicole Flatlow, Think Progress

Before she started using medical marijuana, Charlotte Figi was suffering from seizures lasting 2 to 4 hours that landed her in the hospital and several times stopped her heart. She lost the ability to walk, talk, and eat, and her parents said their goodbyes on several occasions. Doctors had her on seven different potent, addictive medications; they had her on a special diet. But each time, the benefits were only temporary, and the side effects were overwhelming.

Charlotte’s mother, Paige Figi, had voted against the Colorado medical marijuana ballot initiative that passed in 2000. But after doing some research, she and her husband Matt changed their minds. They found a video of a young boy in California who suffered dramatic seizures and whose life had been changed by a strain of medical marijuana. [..]

To find a steady supply of the substance, they turned to brothers known as the “Robin Hoods of marijuana” who ask patients to donate only what they can. Forty-one other patients with seizures and cancer are now using the strain that’s been named Charlotte’s Web for its first user.

Now Charlotte is feeding herself, walking, and riding her bike. She usually only has one seizure a day, and usually in her sleep. [..]

But the Figis are lucky enough to live in one of the 20 states where medical marijuana is legal, which largely insulates them even from federal criminal prosecution. Suppliers of medical marijuana in these states, however, are not immune from criminal crackdowns, even when they are seeming models for compliance with state law. A recent survey found that the overwhelming majority of U.S. doctors – 76 percent – would prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.

In all my 30 plus years in Emergency Medicine, I have never treated a patient for a marijuana overdose. Yet, I have treated patients whose only relief from pain of glaucoma, or the side effects of drug therapy for AIDS or cancer chemotherapy was marijuana.

Please support the legalization and fight for marijuana reform nation wide.

Just Say Now

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Late Night Karaoke

The Greatest Lies Ever Told

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Someone suggested that latest lie told by President Barack Obama on the Jay Leno Show that other night stating, “There is no spying on Americans. We don’t have a domestic spying program,” was up there with the 10 greatest lies ever told. That fallacy of the president’s declaration was made very obvious in a New York Times article by Charlie Savage on the latest and greatest NSA domestic surveillance program. The NSA has been copying virtually all overseas messages that Americans send or receive, scanning them to see if they contain any references to people or subjects the agency thinks might have a link to terrorists.

Hints of the surveillance appeared in a set of rules, leaked by Mr. Snowden, for how the N.S.A. may carry out the 2008 FISA law. One paragraph mentions that the agency “seeks to acquire communications about the target that are not to or from the target.” The pages were posted online by the newspaper The Guardian on June 20, but the telltale paragraph, the only rule marked “Top Secret” amid 18 pages of restrictions, went largely overlooked amid other disclosures.

In an opinion by the New York Times Editorial Board, these messages could be very private and no connection to terrorists or terrorist activity:

That could very well include innocent communications between family members expressing fears of a terror attack. Or messages between an editor and a reporter who is covering international security issues. Or the privileged conversation between a lawyer and a client who is being investigated.

Data collection on this scale goes far beyond what Congress authorized, and it clearly shreds a common-sense understanding of the Fourth Amendment. It’s as if the government were telling its citizens not to even talk about security issues in private messages or else they will come to the attention of the nation’s spies.

At the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mark Rumold explains what it means to be an NSA target:

When “Target” Means Searching a Specific Person’s Communications

First, at least this much is clear: a “target” under the FA (FISA Amendments Act ) must be (a) a non-US person and (b) not physically located within the United States. A “person,” for purposes of the FAA, includes individuals as well as “any group, entity, association, corporation, or foreign power.”  Under the FAA, the government can thus “target” a single individual (e.g., Vladimir Putin), a small group of people (e.g., Pussy Riot), or a formal corporation or entity (e.g., Gazprom).

So, when the NSA decides to “target” someone (or something), it turns its specific surveillance vacuum at them. [..]

When “Target” Means Searching Everyone’s Communications

Once a target is established, the NSA believes it can expand the sweep of its interception far more broadly than the communhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/20/exhibit-a-procedures-nsa-documentications of the particular, identified target. Notably, the NSA’s procedures state (emphasis added):

   [I]n those cases where NSA seeks to acquire communications about the target that are not to or from the target, NSA will either employ an Internet Protocol filter to ensure that the person from whom it seeks to obtain foreign intelligence information is located overseas, or it will target Internet links that terminate in a foreign country.

In plain English: the NSA believes it not only can (1) intercept the communications of the target, but also (2) intercept communications about a target, even if the target isn’t a party to the communication. The most likely way to assess if a communication is “about” a target is to conduct a content analysis of communications, probably based on specific search terms or selectors.

And that, folks, is what we call a content dragnet.

Importantly, under the NSA’s rules, when the agency intercepts communications about a target, the author or speaker of those communications does not, thereby, become a target: the target remains the original, non-US person. But, because the target remains a non-US person, the most robust protection for Americans’ communications under the FISA Amendments Act (and, indeed, the primary reassurance the government has given about the surveillance) flies out the window. If you communicate about a target of NSA surveillance, your citizenship is irrelevant: the only thing standing between you and NSA surveillance is your IP address or the fiber optic path through which your communications flow.

Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, made the following comments about the latest revelations:

“The program described by the New York Times involves a breathtaking invasion of millions of people’s privacy.  The NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans’ international communications, collecting and monitoring all of them, and retaining some untold number of them in government databases.  This is precisely the kind of generalized spying that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit.

“The government’s scrutiny of virtually every international email sent by Americans will have extraordinary consequences for free expression. Americans will inevitably hesitate to discuss controversial topics, visit politically sensitive websites, or interact with foreigners with dissenting views. By injecting the NSA into virtually every cross-border interaction, the U.S. government will forever alter what has always been an open exchange of ideas.

“There is no spying on Americans. We don’t have a domestic spying program,” is right up there with “I am not a crook” and “I did not have sex with that woman.”

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Grated Squash, Corn and Tomatillo Tacos photo 31recipehealth-tmagArticle_zps131744c9.jpg

Tomatillos, which are closer botanically to the gooseberry than to the tomato, have a wonderful acidic tang. They’re low in calories and a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, as well as dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, potassium and manganese. To get the best out of them they should be simmered or grilled for about 10 minutes, until they’re soft and the color has gone from pale green to olive. You can use them for a quick, blended salsa and also for a cooked salsa, which has a rounder, seared flavor. I made both last week and used them with different taco fillings. The salsas keep well in the refrigerator and I’m enjoying the leftovers with just about everything I make, from scrambled eggs to grilled fish to plain corn tortillas that I crisp in the microwave.

Two Tomatillo Salsas

You could eat both of these green salsas with a spoon. The quick fresh salsa is the tangier of the two.

Potato ‘Salad’ and Tomatillo Tacos

The filling for these tacos can also stand alone as a potato salad, but it’s very nice and comforting inside a warm tortilla.

Grated Squash, Corn and Tomatillo Tacos

Tacos with a light filling make for a perfect summer meal.

Tacos With Salmon or Arctic Char, Greens and Tomatillo Salsa

This tangy fish filling tastes good hot or cold.

Tacos With Green Beans, Chiles and Tomatillo Salsa

This filling works in tacos or on its own as a delicious summer salad.

Random Japan

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SIC TRANSIT

A woman was injured at Shin-Koiwa station when a suicidal man jumped in front of an approaching Narita Express train and was hurtled back onto the platform.

Hundreds of commuters-your correspondent included-were forced to evacuate their trains and walk down the tracks after the Toyoko line went FUBAR late last month during a violent rainstorm.

Officials in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, donated 64 bicycles to the people of Malawi, where, it is said, “locals often carry the sick on their backs to hospitals.”

The head of spacecraft development at JAXA says the Kounotori unmanned resupply vessel could help pave the way for “a Japanese crewed space flight.”

Friday Night at the Movies

Earth Under Water- BBC

Transgender Life in the US Military

Brynn Tannehill has been a guest author at The New Civil Right Movement this past week, writing about transgender people in the military.  She published articles on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tannehill is a former Navy pilot and also writes for the Huffington Post.

On Monday she published the title essay, After DADT: Transgender Life In The United States Military.  

Most people, including many within the LGBT community (including some very prominent LGBT leaders), were or still are unaware that the end of DADT did not end the exclusion of transgender people from military service.  There is no law preventing transgender individuals from serving.  However, being transgender is still grounds for “rejection for military service.”