Archive for January 13, 2008

Saudi Arabia beheads an Indonesian maid convicted of suffocating her employer

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP): Saudi authorities on Saturday beheaded an Indonesian maid convicted of killing her employer, the Interior Ministry announced.

In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the ministry said the maid used a pillow to suffocate her employer Aisha Al Makhaled and then stole her jewelry in the southern province of Asir.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which those convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery are executed in public with a sword.

The maid is the second person to be executed this year in the desert kingdom, according to an Associated Press count. Saudi Arabia beheaded 137 people last year, up sharply from the 38 in 2006. (***)

I wonder what really happened to that poor woman. So many of them are mistreated, not paid the wages they were promised, and held in virtual slavery that I wonder what this person must have undergone to cause her to take such a desperate step.

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Anti-war Harridans Abort Demonstration Plans in Little Havana.

Code Pinkos make spectacles of themselves yet again because it is the only attention they’re likely to get. 

Peace activists in pink dresses and tiaras demanded the arrest of anti-communist militant Luis Posada Carriles Saturday, but aborted plans for a demonstration in Little Havana after Carriles supporters rushed their vehicle.The six activists, of the Codepink anti-war group, had planned to speak to reporters outside the landmark Versailles restaurant to publicize their campaign against Carriles– a former CIA operative wanted in Venezuela in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.However they were met by some 200 irate Cuban-Americans who consider Carriles a champion of freedom. Some ran at the activists’ truck as they arrived, tearing off its pink fringe, while others shouted sexist slurs.Source:

Gosh, some pro-Fidel demonstrators got their feelings all hurt when their whole purpose there was to stir up trouble.  What a pity.

I file this under “some people just really, really need a good ass-kicking”. 

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The Ultimate Tea Diet

I saw Dr. Ukra (aka Dr. Tea) on Fox today promoting his book “The Ultimate Tea Diet“.  What a great idea!  Drink 8 cups of delicious tea per day, and those pesky pounds will just burn off and leave a slimmer, trimmer you!  If you want to add even more delicious, nutritious, fat-fighting tea to your diet, you can get tea rubs for your meat. 

This health tip was really exciting for me.  I have just come in from outside inspecting the lambs and doing a little raking of the yard, so I reached for the sweet tea pitcher and am currently working on my third 16 oz. glass.  That’s 48 ounces of tea, people!  By tomorrow morning, my fat deposits should be packing their bags for a permanent vacation.

Oh, wait.  I drink at least 48 ounces of tea every day, chilled for an even higher calorie burn.  I must have tea-resistant fat deposits!  Perhaps Luzianne tea isn’t expensive enough to burn fat, and I need some of those custom blends that cost dollars per oz. in order to convert my fat to energy. Or something.  Yeah, that must be it.  I better buy the book and the expensive tea blends so that my fat can start burning off, too, just like those fat Hollywood people.

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Freed Colombian Hostages Tell How They Survived

Just in case the hostages were ever tempted to escape into the jungle, the guerrillas brought in big wild cats and snakes to demonstrate exactly what awaited outside their “people’s jail.” Politicians Clara Rojas and Consuelo González said they were kept behind barbed wire and forced to march through the jungle for days or even weeks. They slept on hammocks or plastic sheets, and when Rojas tried to escape, she was sent to bed with an iron shackle around her neck.

The two women were held for more than six years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as political pawns in a quest to force the government into offering a massive prisoner swap or a demilitarized zone for peace talks.

After a 20-day march through the jungle, they were freed Thursday following the intervention of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who was willing to negotiate with the rebels when the Colombian government would not.

In their first media interviews since Thursday’s release, the women told Colombian radio stations about their moments of despair — like the times they went on hunger strikes and struggled to find the energy to even bathe.

”It’s surprising the capacity of human beings to face these situations,” González said. “The only thing you can do is survive, because there’s just nothing else to do.”

During her captivity, González became a grandmother and a widow. Rojas, 44, had a relationship with a rebel fighter and gave birth in the jungle to a boy named Emmanuel, who she said became her salvation.

Rojas had little to say about her son’s father but said the baby gave her cause to pull it together and splash a little water on her face every day, eat and exercise.

`NOT A RESTAURANT’

When mosquitoes pestered or the food was too sweet or too salty and others thought it was poisoned, Rojas would remind herself: “I’m not in a fine restaurant.”

González recalled the rotating menu: rice with peas, rice with lentils, rice with beans and rice with pasta. If they were lucky, rebels would kill a wild animal and they got a treat of meat.

‘When they say `get up and walk,’ you have to be in the condition to survive,” Rojas said. “So I decided to exercise 45 minutes every day so I could be ready the day I was reunited with my son.”

The child is in foster care in Bogotá and is expected to be reunited with his mother soon, according to the head of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute.

Rojas was kidnapped in February 2002 while working as an aide to her good friend, presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The two were snatched by the FARC as they drove toward the southern town of San Vicente del Caguán.

Rojas said she and Betancourt made a decision early in their captivity to escape their captors. They slipped out one night but quickly found themselves disoriented and fighting. Should they turn left? Right?

”We got lost,” Rojas said. “We didn’t know whether to go one way or the other, so they caught us. Because of the very darkness or the very jungle, we never managed to orient ourselves.”

The incident strained their relationship. They were punished with shackles for 30 days but still fared better than the captured police officers. Those men are in chains around the clock — even when they shower and sleep — and some have been held for as long as a decade.

When Rojas and Betancourt were returned to camp, they barely talked.

”It was a very sad situation,” Rojas said.

But when Rojas found herself pregnant in late 2003, she knew she could turn to her friend, who stood by her during a difficult pregnancy that resulted in a Caesarean section.

Rojas said she was later moved to a different FARC camp, so she never had the chance to tell the child’s father that she was expecting a baby.

”I have had no news of him,” she said. “To this day, I don’t know whether he knows he has a son.”

But her child’s arm broke during delivery, and he seemed to have leishmaniasis, a serious skin disease common in the jungle. The FARC asked Rojas to agree to send the then 8-month-old child to a doctor and bring him back in two weeks.

“If something happened to him, how would I look for not having let him get treatment? I later regretted not taking more time to think it over and talk them into letting me go with him.”

Rojas did not learn until recently that the child has been in state child welfare custody for two years.

She is eager to clarify what happened to Emmanuel and even more eager to see the boy in person. Rojas carries a photo of her son around her neck, and saw a recent picture of him on the Internet Thursday.

BETANCOURT BROKEN?

As for Betancourt, the last proof-of-life video released late last year showed Betancourt thin and with hair down to her waist. She appeared despondent.

”When I saw that proof of life, on the one hand, I was happy to see she was alive, because it’s been three years since I’ve had news of her,” she said. ‘On the other hand, I thought, `My God? What happened?’ ”

”I hope they free her,” she added. “She’s desperate.”

Read the rest at the Miami Herald.

And in a related story, Hugo Chavez informs the rubes about how the FARC group are not “terrorists” but instead “insurgent forces with respected political aims”.  Dang.  If he weren’t already busily terrorizing a country, I believe Hillary would probably hire him for her campaign.

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Important Information for Anybody Who Has a Relative with Alzheimer Disease.

An extraordinary new scientific study, which for the first time documents marked improvement in Alzheimer’s disease within minutes of administration of a therapeutic molecule, has just been published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

This new study highlights the importance of certain soluble proteins, called cytokines, in Alzheimer’s disease. The study focuses on one of these cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha(TNF), a critical component of the brain’s immune system. Normally, TNF finely regulates the transmission of neural impulses in the brain. The authors hypothesized that elevated levels of TNF in Alzheimer’s disease interfere with this regulation. To reduce elevated TNF, the authors gave patients an injection of an anti-TNF therapeutic called etanercept. Excess TNF-alpha has been documented in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer’s.

The new study documents a dramatic and unprecedented therapeutic effect in an Alzheimer’s patient: improvement within minutes following delivery of perispinal etanercept, which is etanercept given by injection in the spine. Etanercept (trade name Enbrel) binds and inactivates excess TNF. Etanercept is FDA approved to treat a number of immune-mediated disorders and is used off label in the study.

The use of anti-TNF therapeutics as a new treatment choice for many diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and potentially even Alzheimer’s, was recently chosen as one of the top 10 health stories of 2007 by the Harvard Health Letter.

Similarly, the Neurotechnology Industry Organization has recently selected new treatment targets revealed by neuroimmunology (such as excess TNF) as one of the top 10 Neuroscience Trends of 2007. And the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives has chosen the pilot study using perispinal etanercept for Alzheimer’s for inclusion and discussion in their 2007 Progress Report on Brain Research.

The lead author of the study, Edward Tobinick M.D., is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and director of the Institute for Neurological Research, a private medical group in Los Angeles. Hyman Gross, M.D., clinical professor of neurology at the University of Southern California, was co-author.

The study is accompanied by an extensive commentary by Sue Griffin, Ph.D., director of research at the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock and at the Geriatric Research and Clinical Center at the VA Hospital in Little Rock, who along with Robert Mrak, M.D., chairman of pathology at University of Toledo Medical School, are editors-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Griffin and Mrak are pioneers in the field of neuroinflammation. Griffin published a landmark study in 1989 describing the association of cytokine overexpression in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. Her research helped pave the way for the findings of the present study. Griffin has recently been selected for membership in the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization of more than 200 leading neuroscientists, including ten Nobel laureates.

“It is unprecedented that we can see cognitive and behavioral improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention,” said Griffin. “It is imperative that the medical and scientific communities immediately undertake to further investigate and characterize the physiologic mechanisms involved. This gives all of us in Alzheimer’s research a tremendous new clue about new avenues of research, which is so exciting and so needed in the field of Alzheimer’s. Even though this report predominantly discusses a single patient, it is of significant scientific interest because of the potential insight it may give into the processes involved in the brain dysfunction of Alzheimer’s.”

While the article discusses one patient, many other patients with mild to severe Alzheimer’s received the treatment and all have shown sustained and marked improvement.

The new study, entitled “Rapid cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s disease following perispinal etanercept administration,” and the accompanying commentary, entitled “Perispinal etanercept: Potential as an Alzheimer’s therapeutic,” are available on the Web site of the Journal of Neuroinflammation (http://www.jneuroinflammation.com/content/5/1/2/abstract).

Author Hyman Gross, M.D., has no competing interests. Author Edward Tobinick, M.D. owns stock in Amgen, the manufacturer of etanercept, and has multiple issued and pending patents assigned to TACT IP LLC that describe the parenteral and perispinal use of etanercept for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders, including, but not limited to, U.S. patents 6015557, 6177077, 6419934, 6419944, 6537549, 6982089, 7214658 and Australian patent 758523.

From Science Daily.

Commentary:  We have recently gone through the agony of having a relative slip away from us with Alzheimer disease (within the last year).  He did not recognize his family.  He chatted politely with his wife, then informed her that it was nice talking with her but that he needed to get home to his wife who would be worried if he were late. 

Would Enbrel have helped at that late stage?  I don’t know, but we would have gladly paid any price to find out so that wonderful man would have had more years with his family. 

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