Are you ready for whooping cough?

If you’ve read or watched the news lately, you may have heard about an increase in pertussis, or “whooping cough,” infections. Several states are now reporting new cases, including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island and Maine.

Pertussis is caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It causes respiratory illness that starts out like the common cold, with symptoms like a runny nose and low fever. After a week or two of illness, people infected often develop exhausting fits of coughing, which sometimes end with a “whooping” sound — hence the nickname, “whooping cough.” (Here’s what a young girl with whooping cough sounds like.) The coughing is so violent that it can cause people to vomit, pass out or even fracture their ribs. In other words, it’s a serious illness. Read more about pertussis on the National Foundation for Infectious Disease’s website.

Without treatment, pertussis can last for 6-10 weeks. While 10 weeks of violent coughing may sound terrible for anyone, babies are at especially high risk. More than half of infants that contract pertussis are hospitalized each year with life-threatening complications. In the U.S., 25 of the 27 deaths from pertussis in 2010 were babies who were less than a year old.

That’s the bad news. The good news about pertussis is this: There’s a vaccine for that! (Actually, there are two: One for babies and one for older children and adults.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that babies get a series of shots called DTaP at 2, 4 and 6 months of age, and then two booster shots.

Older children and adults also need to be immunized regularly — even people who were immunized as a baby aren’t protected for life. The shot for teens and adults is called Tdap, and it’s recommended that most people get a booster shot about every 10 years.

This is especially true for pregnant women, new parents and anyone who spends time around newborn babies, because parents, older children and other caregivers can spread the disease to a new baby in their family without knowing it. You can listen to one mother’s story in this video from Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases, an organization that provides educational information.


[Video: One family’s struggles with pertussis, from Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases, via CDC.]

You can read more about pertussis vaccinations on CDC’s website. If you think it’s been a while since you’ve had a Tdap shot, the best thing to do is to contact your health care provider.

To end this post on a happy note, here is some good news from California: The state had a large outbreak of pertussis in 2010, which we wrote about on the Get Ready Blog. Hoping to control the outbreak, state health officials launched a big effort to educate and vaccinate people of all ages — and their hard work paid off! The California Department of Public Health announced last week that the number of pertussis cases dropped by more than two-thirds last year (dropping from 9,154 cases in 2010 to 2,795 cases in 2011). And even better, there were no reported deaths from pertussis in 2011.

So there you have it: The vaccine is your best defense against pertussis. Make sure your immunizations are up to date today so that you can be ready if whooping cough comes your way tomorrow!

Be Careful What You Tweet The Yanks Are Listening and The Yanks Are Paranoid

And the Yanks are ever so slightly batshit and ever so pissed with power.

Oh, and did I mention, lacking a tad in the sense of humour department?

Whatever happened to:

''Are you now, or have you ever been a member of, or in any way connected or associated with the Communist Party?''

"Do you intend to engage in the United States in any activity to overthrow the United States government?"

All joking apart kiddywinks, this is scary shit.


Brit pair deported from US for 'destroy America' tweet

Also intended to disinter Marilyn Monroe, Homeland Security claims
By Lester Haines
30th January 2012

A couple of Brits were unceremoniously ejected from the US last week after one of them ill-advisedly tweeted he was off to "destroy America".

Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and pal Emily Bunting, 24, jetted into Los Angeles last Monday ahead of what they hoped would be a lively Stateside holiday. Their shorter-than-expected trip certainly delivered, although the pair weren't expecting to be arrested, internally probed and thrown in a cell for 12 hours with hungry Mexican narcos.

The Department of Homeland Security had already earmarked Van Bryan and Bunting for a warm welcome before they even touched down at LAX. The agency had picked up on a couple of Van Bryan's tweets, which suggested they intended to wipe out the US and disinter Marilyn Monroe.

The first, posted on 3 January, said: "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA pissing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!"

The second, written on 16 January, declared: "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America."

Van Bryan and Bunting had their collars felt after clearing passport control. They were first quizzed for five hours, during which they failed to convince the authorities of the innocent nature of the tweets.

According to the Daily Mail, Bunting said: "The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh's tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do. They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.

"I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh's lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. I couldn't believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show."

She added: "It got even more ridiculous because the officials searched our suitcases and said they were looking for spades and shovels. They did a full body search on me too."


Van Bryan described the ordeal as "almost funny" but "really scary". He said: "The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist. I kept saying to them they had got the wrong meaning from my tweet but they just told me 'you've really fucked up with that tweet boy'."

The two then spent the night in jail, where the Mexican drug cartels put Van Bryan on involuntary hunger strike. He explained: "When we arrived at the prison I was shoved in a cell on my own but after an hour two huge Mexican men covered in tattoos came in and started asking me who I was.

"They told me they'd been arrested for taking cocaine over the border. When the food arrived on the tray they took it all and just left me with a carton of apple juice."

Van Bryan and Bunting were deported back to the UK the next day. Van Bryan's rap sheet, explaining why he was refused entry, says: "Mr Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter [sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe. Also on his tweeter account Mr Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America." Register

Some of the stranger parts of US immigration discussed here.

How's the tourist trade these days?

Paleo Diet Article in Sound Consumer

I recently wrote an article for my local natural foods grocery store, PCC, about the "Paleolithic" diet.  You can read it online here.  I explain the basic rationale for Paleo diets, some of the scientific support behind it, and how it can be helpful for people with certain health problems.  I focused in particular on the research of Dr. Staffan Lindeberg at the University of Lund, who has studied non-industrial populations using modern medical techniques and also conducted clinical diet trials using the Paleo diet.
Read more »

Gingrich: I'd Be Quite Happy Nuking Every Fucker In Sight But I'll Ban Stem-Cell Research

Is there a competition going on that I don't know about, one where the wannabees see who can sound the most ridiculous?

Talk about Talibangenical! Fuck me! these people are utterly insane.




Gingrich vows to ban embryonic stem-cell research, questions in vitro practices

By Karen Tumulty
January 29, 2012

LUTZ, Fla. — As former House speaker Newt Gingrich courts evangelical voters in advance of Tuesday’s Florida primary, he is drawing an increasingly hard line against the use of embryonic stem-cell research — a position that contrasts not only with that of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, but also with statements that Gingrich himself has made on the subject in the past.

Speaking at a Baptist church in Winter Park on Saturday, the former speaker received a standing ovation when he declared that embryonic stem-cell research amounts to “the use of science to desensitize society over the killing of babies.”

And in a news conference Sunday, he said he would ban all embryonic stem-cell research, including that done on discarded embryos created by in vitro fertilization.

Gingrich added that he would also create a commission to study the ethics of in vitro fertilization, which has involved the creation of hundreds of thousands of excess embryos stored or discarded by fertility clinics.

“I believe life begins at conception, and the question I was raising was what happens to embryos in fertility clinics, and I would favor a commission to look seriously at the ethics of how we manage fertility clinics,” Gingrich said at a news conference outside another Baptist church here. “If you have in vitro fertilization, you are creating life; therefore, we should look seriously at what the rules should be for clinics that are doing that, because they are creating life.”

Scientists say embryonic stem cells are valuable in research because they can develop into any type of cell in the body. They are thought to hold the promise to treat or cure a variety of illnesses and injuries. However, social conservatives oppose the practice, because it destroys days-old human embryos.

In 2001, when then-President George W. Bush was considering new guidelines for federal funding of stem-cell research, Gingrich had indicated in at least two interviews on Fox News that he would support using government money for research on embryos in fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded.

“For many of us, there’s a very, very real distinction between doing something with an unborn child, a fetus that is implanted, and doing something with cells in a fertility clinic that are otherwise going to be destroyed,” Gingrich said in one of the interviews, on July 10, 2001.

In the other, 10 days later, he added: “I think that there are ways to have appreciation for life, to recognize the sanctity of life, but nonetheless to look at fertility clinics where there are cells that are sitting there that are not going to be used to create life. They literally today, they’re unregulated, they can be thrown away. And I think the president, I hope the president, will find a way to agree that there ought to be federally funded research.”

Bush allowed federal funds to be spent only on 21 stem-cell lines that existed before his August 2001 decision. President Obama lifted that restriction in 2009. washingtonpost.com




Julian Assange to Guest on 'The Simpsons'

Something gentle to end the day.


WikiLeaks' Julian Assange to guest on 'The Simpsons'
by Dan Snierson

Here’s some news that we couldn’t wait to leak: Julian Assange will play himself in the 500th episode of The Simpsons! EW has learned exclusively that the WikiLeaks founder/editor-in-chief recorded a guest spot over the summer that is part of the animated Fox comedy’s landmark episode airing Feb. 19.

So, how did this casting curveball come about? Simpsons exec producer Al Jean says that series creator Matt Groening heard a rumor that the polarizing and elusive activist who runs the whistle-blowing website was interested in guest-starring on the series, “so we asked our casting director Bonnie Pietila — who had been able to unearth Thomas Pynchon and got Tony Blair to do the show — to find Mr. Assange. And she did.” Assange recorded his lines at a location unknown to Simpsons producers — he was and is still under house arrest in Britain — as Jean directed him remotely from Los Angeles. (“I was just given a number to call,” sums up Jean.)



In the milestone episode, Homer and Marge discover that the residents of Springfield are holding a secret town meeting to kick them out of Springfield for all of their shenanigans over the years. As a result, “the Simpsons go off the grid to this very rugged place where they meet [Assange], who’s sort of their new Flanders,” explains Jean. And how exactly is he like pious neighbor Ned? “Well, he lives next door,” quips Jean. “The similarities end there… He invites them over for a home movie and it’s an Afghan wedding being bombed.”

Assange, who will unveil a talk show on Russia’s English language channel RT in March, is slated to appear before Britain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday to appeal extradition to Sweden in connection with sex crimes allegations. “He’s a controversial figure, and there’s a good reason he’s controversial,” says Jean. “There was discussion internally whether or not to have him on the show, but ultimately we went ahead and did it.” Jean points out that “there’s nothing we did that has anything to do with the legal situation that he’s in…We wanted to make sure it was satirical, and he was willing to do that.”

Get more EW: Subscribe to the magazine for only 33¢ an issue!

Assange isn’t the only guest in the 500th episode. Hints Jean: “There are a couple of other cameos that are more familiar to fans of the show. And much less controversial.”

Season 23 of The Simpsons also features guest spots by celebrities including Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Cera, Jane Lynch, Andy Garcia, and Jeremy Irons. insidetv

Clarence Mitchell Is a Twunt

Yes, that Clarence Mitchell, the same one that Carnival Cruise Lines, in their infinite wisdom, have brought in to spin the sinking of the Costa Concordia.



The title of this post was actually meant to be, Clarence Mitchell is a Twat, but I couldn't ignore the first thing that came up under those search terms. Hence the hybrid header.


Clarence Mitchell


Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, has become a Tory spin-doctor cunt.

He's gone from being paid to defend a couple of rich, devious,
spending-other-people's-money, uncaring, two-faced,
unemployable cunts who are going to disappoint millions
when they are exposed as frauds and liars...to.... ....is a cunt


~ ~ ~


Nevertheless, a search for Clarence Mitchell is a Twat does bring up rather a lot of stuff, some of it quite familiar, extremely so in fact, but for purposes of this post, which is to remind Clarence Mitchell, that there is, and always will be, a price to pay for his previous high crimes and misdemeanors. But, as I started to say, for purposes of this post I shall ignore the more familiar stuff and look to third parties for a more eclectic mix than I could ever provide.




Still on the first page of search results, this looked as though it might hold some interest.



And lo and behold, what did it render? a veritable feast of the outpourings of Joe Public. I remind you these are comments found on Youtube, not as you might have thought, on some dedicated forum or other.

The video in question can be found at the bottom of the page. Now as then, then being when it was first aired, I have never watched the performance of this slithering globule of puss, save but a few seconds in order to grab a screen shot.



Some of the comments accompanying the video then.


It's not only Mr Amaral's work- THE WHOLE WORLD THINKS THE PARENTS WERE INVOLVED...
~

Its the slick and at times sinister spin machine surrounding the whole Madeleine saga which makes people very uncomfortable and leaves many people having nothing but contempt for the McCann's.

~

Clarence ! Who pays your salary cunt ? The fake fund ( which only used 13% to search for Madeleine. Or is it the government ?

So what's the McCanns got on you all ? More debauchery towards little kids ? That is all hushed up when Tony Blair called a media blackout to protect paedo ministers.

Your days are marked in this country. Only a matter of time before the people take the power away from you lot.

Bunch of high level paedos, the lot of you.

~

they should have helped the police in the investigation when first the little girl vanished instead they refused to answer 47 questions (?) why? now its too late, all they doing here is trying to clear their names. presence of blood and bodily fluids does not suggest she has been harmed?and shave that fucking toupee off u lying cunt!

~

Oh Clarrie you really are a buffoon...

Clazza...just what kind of look were you going for here? So, listen up Claz... You're telling me you got up that morning, showered, washed your hair and then STYLED it to look like THAT. What? On purpose? Holy F^**!

Your hair is hiliarious - even after all this time - I just can't look at it without laughing until my stomach .

~

i cannot stand this tory twat and i wish he would fuckin die

~

WTF's with that hairdo????

~

Why did this man leave a secure well paid government post to take on a role that would have been rendered redundant had Madeline actually been abducted and then recovered just days / weeks later.

A role for which his salary is wholly reliant on donations to the McCanns fund, which, like his job security, is wholly reliant on the continued disappearance of the child.

Shrewd career move?

~

Not too long before he starts wearing a toupee, I dare say. Its strange; even from the start of this sorry charade, anyone with a brain would have realised the McCanns were slightly dodgy. It all comes down to connections, of course, and Mr Clarence wanted to be a piece of the action. What he doesn't have - piquantly for a man in Public Relations - is the gift of self-awareness - he looks like a complete twonk.

~

How much are you making out the fund you pathetic liar ? Go spin somewhere else, off the planet perhaps. The UK public aint listening no more. Dispicable... and while your at it go get your hair cut the fund will see to your expenses.

~

In every answer to the journalist, Clarence Mitchel says "there is no evidence that she (Madeleine) was harmed".

Trying some brainwashing, hun, Clarence!

And the Oscar for the best liar goes to... Clarence Mitchel!!

~

Erm. We don't believe you CM - nor your 'clients'. Tell you what though.... get your 'clients' to officially request the case be RE-OPENED (not that review rubbish), get them to take polygraph tests, complete a reconstruction with their other warped friends; get KM to answer those straight-forward 48 questions and maybe we WILL have faith in them. Until then, we find your 'clients' behaviour extremely odd, suspicious and guitly of a terrible crime. And that's before we even consider neglect...

~

Watching this Toad makes my skin crawl,

and he's going to work for the Tory party, as there spin Doctor,

~

lying cunt should be shot

~

Watch out boys and girls. Dont take the piss out of his hair or he will have you on "defamation of barnet" Just when you thought this man couldnt make himself more ridiculous he goes and does this.

~

I could only watch the first 20 seconds or so of this tosser doing his bla bla about disrupting the search! What bloody search? The McScams have never searched and neither have their dodgy defectives!

~

How can parents be given hope from hearing that a young girl was abducted and held in a shack by a paedophile for all those years? She was raped, had children when she was not much more than a child herself, and that gives the McCanns hope? Even so, Madeleine will not have come to any harm!

~

That is why I said it was act of desperation. Why not also bring up the Austrian evil dad as well? The glib way in which Mitchell dragged up the Duggard case shows you how stupid this wanker is.

http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=gFZy2f2yQJA


Clarence Mitchell, Carnival Cruise Lines Spokesman!


~ ~ ~


What, thought I, would a similar search render, if one searched, gerry mccann is a cunt not inconsequential as you might appreciate. But unlike the comments for Mitchell, I shall limit those for the repulsive Gerry, and family McCann, to just the one. It being quite sufficient of purpose, putting it somewhat mildly.


Doctoring standards: officially slipping

Doctors have an age-old tradition of moonlighting as murderers, from Crippen through to Shipman. However, they also have a vague reputation for not being thick-as-pigshit fuckwits.

Which brings us to anonymous blogging medic Dr Rant. For those of you who’ve been on Mars for the last six months, god-bothering doctors Kate and Gerry McCann went on holiday in Portugal and murdered their child abandoned their child to be murdered were the cruel victims of Evil Child Abductors and Sinister Foreign Policemen. Unsurprisingly, this has become something of a news story.


Just a couple of things before I go; unless they give excellent English lessons in Poland these days, I don't really think Stanislav is a young plumber from Cracow, or Kracow for that matter. And if you want a little fun, try a Google image search, safe search off of course, Clarence Mitchell is a Twat,


Responses to “Doctoring standards: officially slipping”

stanislav,a young plumber from Cracow says:
September 17, 2007 at 1:49 am

No, it won’t. War on Portugal, that’s the only remedy. And cuntfaced pharmaceuticals salesman, Brother Righteous John McCunt should be put in charge of Interpol. And fuckwit teachercunt fishwife sister Philo mcCunt should be in charge of UNICEF and Kate and Gerry be put in a Cabinet of all the talents by snot-eating McCannite Gay Gordon McBroon. Make Gerry McCunt minister for child welfare and make the Mrs minister for running issues. And anyone who questions John ‘n’ Yoko McCunts’ bizarre, surreal version of events should be damned for a sick weirdo, child-molesting, internet creep in the pay of incompetent and corrupt Portugeezers determined to frame two fine british doctors. One of them a drugged-up scouse headbanger and the other a smarmy Glasgow git in love with his own ghastly voice. Kate and Gerry McCann, what a pair of cunts. There. Everyone should say it out loud. And feel much better. One-two-three, Kate and Gerry McCann are a pair of cunts. Kate and Gerry McCann’s family are all cunts. Kate and Gerry McCann’s friends are all complete and utter fucking cunts. Richard and Judy Wotsit, Alison Pearson, Melanie Phillips, India Knight and the rest of the stupid cocksuckers in the McCann media circus are all cunts. Stupid cunts.

Richard Branson is a complete cunt, too, but everybody knows that, even Branson himself.

Remember stupid readers, should your child “be abducted” first thing is phone Philo McCunt in Ullapool, Scotland, organise a fund for your own expenses, recruit a top-notch PR team, retain a couple of ruinously expensive lawyers and then and only then, notify cops of “abduction.” Oh yes, don’t forget to have a dozen drunks rampage over the crime scene before the cops arrive. This is perfectly normal behaviour after your child is “abducted.” First things first, PR team, expenses fund, lawyers and then the cops. Innocent until proven guilty. Cunts. Pigdogfucker




The relevant bit from the link in the comments.
• Unusual to hear directly from Dirty Des, proprietor of the Star and Express, but we did last week at the Leveson inquiry. A short contribution. There one minute, gone the next. As was this helpful, erratically crafted, reader posting that appeared immediately afterwards on the great man's website. "I agree the news papers heve been scapegoated. No one knows what happened to that poor wee girl Madelaine. Untill what has happened to her has been established then no one can be rulled in or out of the enquiry. Unless their is absolutley compelling and unrefutable evidence that the parents were not involved then they should remain as suspects." They should "consider themselves lucky that they have not been charged with child neglect". Another case of system failure at the "world's greatest newspaper", and although the rant was deleted the following day, he'll want to get his story straight. He's already had to pay the McCann's £500,000 in damages.

• They could turn again to Clarence Mitchell, the former BBC reporter who represented them at the outset. He's now managing director of PR giants Burson-Marsteller UK but before that he gave a talk on it all: "Missing Madeleine McCann: The perfect PR campaign". But that was then; right now he's busy. Costa Crociere, the cruise ship operator whose fortunes, and vessel, hit the rocks in Italy needs PR help. Someone has to do it. Might as well be him.

A Russian Eye View of the Netherlands: Islamists Dying for Power in Holland

Come back Geert, all is forgiven.

Islamists Dying for Power in Holland
30.01.2012

For the first time in the history of Europe, Islamic organization can participate in the elections. Party For Muslim Netherlands wants to get into parliament in 2015. The Netherlands could become the first country on the continent where the Islamists will participate in the legislature. The far-right sentiment is increasing in the country as well.

The party program leaves no doubt about its nature. Let's start with the fact that only Muslims can be members of the organization. Its aims are to fight against abortion, homosexuality, abuse of religion and religious texts and all kinds of discrimination. It proposed to prohibit all kinds of drugs, including recreational. The main authority in the Netherlands should be the Shura (Islamic council).

There are also no doubts with regard to foreign policy. Activists of the Party for Muslim Netherlands insist on the cessation of support for Israel, withdrawal of Dutch troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, an early admission of Turkey into the EU. Party members are promoting their ideas through the members of city councils of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Many Muslims live in the major cities of Holland, so Party for Muslim Netherlands has enough voters.
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Some of the demands of the organization are shared by the conservative Dutch (there are still some of those). Many residents of the country do not like the open sale of marijuana, gay marriage, and "red light" neighborhoods - in short, everything that made modern Netherlands famous. However, the topic of discrimination and harassment of religious texts is quite slippery. The indigenous people are unlikely to be thrilled with the idea of life under Sharia law under the authority of the Shura.

What are the chances that the Islamists will get into the parliament? The threshold for getting into the States General of the Netherlands is five percent. The number of adherents of Islam is approximately one million people (out of 16), or over six percent. It is not a given that all followers of Islam will vote for the Party For Muslim Netherlands. But even participation in the election of such an organization is a significant event. Never before has Islamist party "stormed" the parliament of a European country. And then, everything is possible: the birth rate in Muslim families is high. The time may soon come when the Islamists break through to the power. More Pravda

Ahmadinejad: Just Another End Times Religious Nutter?

Should the West be worried about Ahmadinejad's preoccupation with the Twelfth Imam? Is it any different to the crazies of the religious right in the US, and their preoccupation that Israel must be in place in order to facilitate the second coming of Christ?

Or are both sides equally insane, and both to be feared equally?

Listen to Ahmadinejad towards the end of this 2007/2008 clip.

Just another self deluded religious headbanger. Unfortunately, one with a nuclear agenda. And he has, make no mistake about that. His time as President is supposedly up in 2013, is a nuclear weapon meant to be his legacy?

Not that I advocate the immediate bombing of Iran, but then I don't have to; it's on the cards; it's the American way. It's the only way they know.




Is this below the bit he is talking about? Don't see much of an aura, do you?



Iran, with a serious hard on.



Mark McGowan gives us, among others, a little bit on the Iranians and their marching.





Clarence Mitchell Spokesman For Carnival Cruises

For updates follow COSTA CONCORDIA IMBROGLIONE

Clarence Mitchell You Are Such a Twat


Rather more disturbingly, Mitchell went on to say: "I am, of course, fully aware of the blog you wrote on January 24 and was somewhat disappointed that you chose to publish such assertions about me without any attempt to seek comment or balance."



COSTA spokesman Clarence Mitchell has responded to my request for information regarding the company's future plans - but not with answers. I had emailed him three specific questions earlier this week and when he had not replied by Thursday evening, I sent a gentle reminder.

This brought a quick response, but only to say: "Your questions were received and are currently being processed by my colleagues in London. [They] will be dealt with in due course." Fair enough; as I acknowledged when I posed the questions, Mr Mitchell has a lot on his plate since being drafted in to leading Costa's PR team.

Rather more disturbingly, Mitchell went on to say: "I am, of course, fully aware of the blog you wrote on January 24 and was somewhat disappointed that you chose to publish such assertions about me without any attempt to seek comment or balance." More


Insulin and Obesity: Another Nail in the Coffin

There are several versions of the insulin hypothesis of obesity, but the versions that are most visible to the public generally state that elevated circulating insulin (whether acute or chronic) increases body fatness.  Some versions invoke insulin's effects on fat tissue, others its effects in the brain.  This idea has been used to explain why low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic-index diets can lead to weight loss (although frankly, glycemic index per se doesn't seem to have much if any impact on body weight in controlled trials). 

I have explained in various posts why this idea does not appear to be correct (1, 2, 3), and why, after extensive research, the insulin hypothesis of obesity lost steam by the late 1980s.  However, I recently came across two experiments that tested the hypothesis as directly as it can be tested-- by chronically increasing circulating insulin in animals and measuring food intake and body weight and/or body fatness.  If the hypothesis is correct, these animals should gain fat, and perhaps eat more as well. 

Read more »

Flu Fridays: So, what causes the flu?

Happy Flu Friday! Today we’re going to talk about what causes the flu.

You may have heard that flu is caused by a virus. You may even know that there are different kinds of flu viruses out there, like “H1N1” and “bird flu.” But do you know the difference between them? Let’s take a closer look at the influenza virus so that you’re prepared when flu is in the news.

A virus is a tiny (way too small to be seen with the human eye) infectious particle. Viruses need to get inside other living things to reproduce, so they don’t just infect humans. Viruses are found inside animals, plants and bacteria as well. Viruses come in different shapes, and each type of virus acts differently once it gets inside the host.

There are actually three types of viruses that cause the flu. They’re called influenza A, influenza B and influenza C. Scientists have found that influenza C usually causes a mild respiratory infection that is usually not very serious.

Influenza A and B are the typical causes of the “flu season” that happens every winter around the world. These two types of flu viruses cause more serious illness in humans, so let’s talk more about them.
Influenza virus image, courtesy
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When seen under a microscope, influenza A and B viruses usually look similar — imagine a round ball covered in spikes. The “spikes” are proteins that stick out from the surface of the virus. There are two types of proteins on the influenza virus: H, which stands for hemagglutinin, and N, which stands for neuraminidase.

These protein spikes do two things in your body:
  1. They help the virus stick to the cell it wants to attack.
  2. They help your immune system recognize that something has invaded your body.
If you have been infected with the same type of flu before — or if you got your flu shot — the H and N proteins are like a “caller ID” for your immune system. Your body knows exactly what to do to help you fight off that type of the flu. If it’s a type of influenza virus with Hs and Ns that your body has never seen before, it’s harder for your immune system to fight it off. This is why some strains of the flu make us sicker than others.

Here’s why viruses like the ones that cause influenza are hard to fight: Viruses can change their protein “spikes” so that the human body doesn’t recognize what’s infecting it. Influenza B viruses change their spikes (also called mutation) somewhat slowly. But influenza A can mutate very fast, and there are many different types.

Because influenza A viruses change so quickly, we give them different names based on their proteins. In 2009, you might remember the “swine flu” outbreak was also called H1N1. (Yes, those are the same H and N proteins we talked about earlier!) This was a version of influenza A that hadn’t been seen in humans for many decades, and scientists were worried that it would cause a lot of people to become very sick, very quickly. Luckily, even with over 1 million cases in the United States, the H1N1 pandemic was not as deadly as originally feared. (Read more about the 2009 H1N1 pandemic from CDC.)

Quickly mutating influenza A viruses are also the reason that CDC recommends getting your flu shot on a yearly basis — because there are different strains of the flu virus every year. This season’s flu shot includes protection against influenza B as well as the H1N1 and H3N2 strains of influenza A.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet for the 2011-2012 season, it’s not too late! You can read more about the vaccine, and find out where to get your shot, at Flu.gov.

Thanks for joining us for our first-ever Flu Friday! Remember, if you have any flu questions, email us at getready@apha.org.

Ministers vote for Dutch ‘burqa ban’


Ministers vote for Dutch ‘burqa ban’

27 January 2012

People wearing burqas, balaclavas or all-in-one motorbike helmets in public in the Netherlands will soon face fines. On Friday, government ministers voted to outlaw all clothing which covers the face.



Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies said what has become known as ‘the burqa ban’ was “incredibly important”. She went on to say that she found it vital that in an open society people’s contact with each other should also be open.

The government said earlier that the European Treaty of Human Rights allows member states to regulate the freedom of religion in the interest of public order. In the past two years France and Belgium issued similar bans on clothing that hides the face.

People who dress up in disguise for traditional Dutch festivities like carnival or Saint Nicholas need not fear the law, the government said.

Financial crisis
Political reactions to the cabinet decision varied across the political spectrum. Geert Wilders, whose party supports the minority rightwing government, tweeted in elation 'Great news! At last the Netherlands has a burqa ban! Cabinet passes proposal. Great!'.

From the other side of the house, opposition Green Left MP Tofik Dibi put the measure against the background of the financial crisis in Europe. He said in a Twitter message dripping with irony, 'Yo cabinet! While people are unsure about their own future and their kids', lets focus on fining a handful of burqa wearers...'

Leader of the small evangelical Christian Union, Arie Slob said, also in a tweet: 'That's how the Rutte cabinet wants to face the crisis: by banning the burqa. That will help. #unemployment #500,000 #dosomething'. RNLW

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Holland split over burqa ban (2006)

Opposition condemns Dutch government's 'stunt' in election dominated by race and religion
Jamie Doward
The Observer
19 November 2006

A bitter debate about multiculturalism was raging in Holland yesterday following Friday's pledge by the leading party in the coalition government to introduce legislation banning the wearing of burqas in public if it is re-elected on Wednesday.

The pledge by the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party to outlaw the full-length veils has caused uproar among the Muslim community and civil rights groups. It has also shone a light on the shifting politics of a country long considered one of Europe's most welcoming for immigrants. However, since the murder in 2004 of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim fundamentalist, the country has become increasingly polarised on racial and religious issues.

Integration and Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk justified the move on security grounds. 'People should always be recognisable, and from the standpoint of integration we think people should be able to communicate with one another,' she said. 'The Cabinet finds it undesirable that face-covering clothing - including the burqa - is worn in public places for reasons of public order, security and protection of citizens.' She said the ban would also apply to headgear such as ski masks and full-faced helmets.

If it should pass in parliament, women would be barred from wearing burqas in a variety of places, including schools, trains, courts and even the street.

But the plan was condemned by Muslims as an overreaction and by the opposition Labour Party as an election stunt that will breed resentment among Holland's one million Muslims.

'This is a big law for a small problem,' said Ayhan Tonca of the Dutch Muslim organisation, CMO. She estimated that as few as 30 women in the Netherlands wear a burqa and warned the law could be unconstitutional if it is interpreted as targeting Muslims. In the past, a majority of the Dutch parliament has said it would approve a ban on burqas, but opinion polls suggest public enthusiasm for such a move has dissipated recently.

Labour MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem said: 'I'm very much worried that in the Muslim community many people will see this as Islam bashing.'

Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen said he would like to see burqas disappear, though he did not advocate a ban: 'From the perspective of integration and communication, it is obviously very bad because you can't see each other, so the fewer the better. But actually hardly anybody wears one. The fuss is much bigger than the number of people concerned.'

Racial and religious issues have become key platforms on which the election is being fought. Yesterday as Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and the CDA campaigned in the southern city of Tilburg, Labour leader Wouter Bos addressed a rally in a borough of Amsterdam that is home to large immigrant community.

In a clear bid to distance himself from the CDA's increasingly tough stance on immigration, Bos has said he will sign a general pardon for thousands of asylum seekers who have been living in the Netherlands for years, despite their applications having been rejected.

According to polls, Balkenende's party is on target to become the largest party in the 150-seat lower house of parliament when voters go to the polls this week. Labour is trailing in second place while Verdonk's Liberals, part of Balkenende's ruling coalition, is fighting the Socialist Party for third place. Balkenende, who has been in power since 2002 and is campaigning on his economic credentials, remains the most popular choice for the next Prime Minister, ahead of Bos.

The government's decision to speak out against burqas echoes comments made by former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who prompted a national debate on the issue when he urged Muslim women to remove full facial veils when talking to him, arguing they were a visible statement of separation and of difference.

The issue has also been hotly debated in other European countries. France has passed a law banning religious symbols, including Muslim headscarves, from schools. Some German states have banned teachers in public schools from wearing headscarves while Italy has outlawed face coverings. Gruniad

Visions of The Year 2000

For me, a fellow whose first love would be history, this gallery of (now postcards) is for want of a better expression, doubleplusgood.

To be admired not just for their historical value, but for a brief glimpse into the mind of free thinking French artist Villemard. Perhaps not quite on the scale of Leonardo, but an original outside the box man, nonetheless.


"The Bibliothèque nationale de France has a wonderful gallery of illustrations by Villemard from 1910 imagining what life would be like in the year 2000. It's part of a larger exhibition titled Utopia: The Quest for the Ideal Society in the Western World. BB's Paris liaison, Alex Boucherot, editor of Fluctuat, kindly provided a rough translation of the Villemard gallery description:

Visions of The Year 2000 These labels, most probably intended to be found in food products, were presented on panels of a dozen little scenes. They illustrate the way our grandparents imagined the year 2000. The inventions meant to improve everyday life are seen side by side with more erudite or searchful vocations, but curiously the clothing fashion remains that of the Belle Epoque!" Wiki
The easiest way to view, right click, open in new tab.
























Help yourself, any or all.

Cervical Cancer Screening


            January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month, and Maine CDC encourages Maine women to schedule a Pap test, especially if it has been five or more years since the last test.
            “Regularly scheduled Pap tests are critical in preventing cervical cancer,’’ said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC. “With the holiday rush over, now may be the perfect time to schedule a test.”
            But going for a routine Pap test can make all the difference - helping medical staff spot potentially cancerous cells growing on the cervix, or neck of the womb, before it’s too late, said Dr. Pinette.
            Women should check with their doctor to find out if they need a Pap test or other cancer screenings, including a mammogram, a FIT test (Fecal Immunochemical Test), or a colonoscopy.
            For more information about breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer, or to learn if you qualify for free screening, women should call 1-800-350-5180 and press 1


Senate Panel OKs Creationism Teaching Bill


Senate panel OKs creationism teaching bill
Associated Press
January 26, 2012

An Indiana Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow creationism to be taught in Indiana's public schools.

The Times of Munster reported that the Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 Wednesday to send the legislation to the full Senate despite pleas from scientists and religious leaders to keep religion out of science classrooms.

The bill allows schools to authorize "the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life" and specifically mentions "creation science" as one such theory. Creationism is the belief that the Earth and its creatures were created by a deity.

Purdue University professor of chemistry John Staver told the panel evolution is the only theory of life's origins that relies on scientific investigations. He says creationism "is unquestionably a statement of a specific religion." IBJ
~ ~ ~

Which fits in ever so nicely with the agenda of mega charlatan, Ken Ham and his ridiculous Answers in Genesis

Answers in Genesis is adamantly against the mandated teaching of Creation in schools.

"While we don’t support compulsion to teach the creation position (imagine how unbelievers would distort our position), it would be good if Christian teachers had the legislative freedom and encouragement to present critiques of evolution and discuss alternatives." Santorum Amendment supports teaching alternatives

They don't want creationism officially mandating, because if it were, it would, as Ham says, get torn to shreds by anyone with two neurons bolted together.

Far better, legislation like this, where the creationists can sneak in through the back door like thieves in the night and fuck with the minds of vulnerable children.

It is child abuse, nothing more nothing less.

Abuse your own mind, Creation Wiki. Tip, coal, oil, sedimentary rock and and Noah's flood aren't bad places to start, but please.





Link

Breast Cancer Behind Bars: How a Prison Sentence Can Become a Death Sentence



Breast Cancer Behind Bars: How a Prison Sentence Can Become a Death Sentence


by Victoria Law,
25 January 2012

Imagine finding a lump in your breast. Imagine that your efforts to schedule a medical check-up are stymied and you have to wait weeks, if not months, for that initial exam. In the meantime, the lump continues to grow. Imagine that, when you finally do see a doctor, you are told that you have breast cancer. When you walk out of the office, you are locked into your prison cell with no more information or sympathy than when you walked in. This is the daily reality for women in prison....

....Despite these numbers, prevention, screening, diagnosis, care, pain alleviation and rehabilitation for breast cancer remain virtually nonexistent in prisons. In 1998, a study at an unnamed Southern prison found that, although many were at high risk because of family histories, women were not provided with a clinical breast exam, information or basic education on self-examination upon admittance. Seventy percent of women who should have had mammograms under standard medical procedure had never been tested. [Williams, Roma D, Terry D. Mahoney, and R. M. Williams, Jr, "Breast Cancer Detection Among Women Prisoners in the Southern United States," Family & Community Health 21.3 (1998): 32.] Even women who enter prison already diagnosed with cancer must fight to receive lifesaving medical care. more

Eugenics Alive and Well and Living in Sweden

As if Transgender folk didn't have enough to deal with without the likes of this.

And it is a cruel game that nature plays on these people. Not all trans are beautiful sylph-like ladyboys. I have a friend who has undergone the whole thing, surgical restructuring, but in her case nature has been doubly cruel, as a bloke his physical appearance was that of a bruiser, and despite a few bumps and frills added, it's not an awful lot different today.

Forced Sterilization for Transgender People in Sweden

By Nicole Pasulka
Jan. 25, 2012 3:19

Little known fact about Sweden, that supposed bastion of liberal idealism: If a Swedish transgender person wants to legally update their gender on official ID papers, a 1972 law requires them to get both divorced and sterilized first.

Sweden is considered extremely gay-friendly, with one of the highest rates of popular support for same-sex marriage, and more than half the population supports gay adoption. Arguing that the current law is both unpopular and abusive, the country's moderate and liberal parties want to see it repealed. In response, the small but powerful Christian Democrat party formed a coalition with other right-of-center parties to join in upholding the requirement for sterilization. End result: a proposal for new legislation that allows trans—a preferred term for many people who undergo gender reassignment—to be married but continues to force them to be sterilized.

When trans people can't present official identification matching their preferred gender presentation, they can suffer "frequent public humiliation, vulnerability to discrimination, and great difficulty finding or holding a job," says Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program at Human Rights Watch, in response to the law.

Sweden's relationship with forced sterilization goes way back. In 1997 journalist Maciej Zaremba, a reporter for Dagens Nyheter, discovered that over 60,000 people between 1935 and 1976 were sterilized against their will, including "'mixed race individuals,' single mothers with many children, deviants, Gypsies, and other 'vagabonds.'"

Then, like now, marginalized groups were obligated to sacrifice their reproductive freedom to gain basic rights. According to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review about Zaremba's investigation:

The person concerned was either declared "of unsound mind"—a simple procedure—or was subjected to irresistible pressure. Sign this or we'll take the children, sign this or there'll be no social benefit, no flat, no leave…and so on. Sweden went furthest in the way of legalized blackmail. More Mother Jones

Teddy Joins Barnaul Siberia Protest

He's a bugger is Teddy, he don't half get about.

When you read the details in these two articles, you know one thing, the establishment have already lost.

Doll 'protesters' present small problem for Russian police

Police in Siberian city ask prosecutors to investigate legality of protest involving display of toy figures holding miniature placards
Miriam Elder in Moscow
26 January 2012

Russian police don't take kindly to opposition protesters – even if they're 5cm high and made of plastic.

Police in the Siberian city of Barnaul have asked prosecutors to investigate the legality of a recent protest that saw dozens of small dolls – teddy bears, Lego men, South Park figurines – arranged to mimic a protest, complete with signs reading: "I'm for clean elections" and "A thief should sit in jail, not in the Kremlin".

"Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests," Andrei Mulintsev, the city's deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. "In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event."

Activists set up the display after authorities repeatedly rejected their request to hold a sanctioned demonstration of the kind held in Moscow to protest disputed parliamentary elections results and Vladimir Putin's expected return to the presidency in a March vote.

Passersby admired the display with giggles, but police took it more seriously, examining its details and writing down each placard.

"The authorities' attempt to limit citizens' rights to express their position has become absurd," said Lyudmila Alexandrova, a 26-year-old graduate student and protest organiser. "We wanted to hyperbolise this attempt and show the absurdity and farce of officials' struggle with their own people."

They are not the first. Russia's Blue Buckets group, formed to protest officials' wanton flouting of traffic rules, have run across government cars while wearing buckets on their heads, drawing the state's ire.

Voina, the rebellious art collective, won worldwide fame after painting a 65-metre-long phallus on a drawbridge in St Petersburg that, when erected, faced the city's Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters. Its members have been repeatedly detained.

The activists in Barnaul say they have no choice but to adopt creative measures. Local authorities have refused to issue approval for opposition protests since 10 December, the first nationwide day of protest in Russia. Around 2,000 people turned out in Barnaul that day, an unprecedented number for the small city.

Police have tried to pressure them into shutting down the doll protests, organisers said. "They tried to tell us our event was illegal – they even said that to put toys in the snow, we had to rent it from the city authorities," Alexandrova said.

All authorities appear to be on high alert, as Russia prepares for its next day of protest on 4 February, one month before a presidential vote that Putin hopes will sweep him back into the Kremlin. On Thursday, the Moscow mayor's office approved the opposition's request to gather up to 50,000 people for a march through part of the city centre.

The jumpiest police were found this week in Kaliningrad, Russia's Baltic exclave. As two dozen nationalist youth took to the streets for a jog designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, carrying their traditional black, yellow and white flag, police descended upon the rally, having confused it for a gay pride parade. Gay rights remain largely unrecognised in Russia, and gay rights rallies are regularly banned. Police questioned the activists before releasing them, local media reported. gruniad



Outdoor market Barnaul Siberia

Siberian Police Crack Down on Toy Rally Organizers
Russian Poll Protests
Maria Kuchma, Moscow
January 26, 2012

Not amused by the creativity of liberal activists in the South Siberian city of Barnaul, police have moved to punish the organizers of toy demonstrations that took place in the city earlier this month in the wake of nationwide election protests.

After two unsanctioned demonstrations against alleged fraud in the December 2011 parliamentary polls were dispersed by Barnaul police, Kinder Surprise, Lego and other toys marched in to campaign for fair elections.

Armed with tiny placards denouncing supposed violations in favor of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, toy monkeys, bears, sheep and horses “protested” in central Barnaul on January 7 and 14.




“While the authorities restrict our constitutional rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, the rights of toys have so far been untouched,” one of the protest organizers, 30-year-old IT specialist Andrei Teslenko, wrote in a post on Russia’s most popular social network Vkontakte.

But local police believe the law might have been violated as the demonstrations, called “nano meetings” by the initiators, have not been agreed with the authorities.

Noting that the organizers were also present at the events, deputy Barnaul police chief Andrei Mulintsev said he believed those demonstrations were “public events.”

“Somebody has brought the toys there and therefore expressed his opinion in such a way,” Mulintsev told RIA Novosti in a phone interview on Thursday. “People were approaching, looking [at the toys]… There is some kind of publicity in those events, right?”

However, unsure about their own interpretation of the law (“there is no such term as “nano meeting” in the federal legislation regulating public events”), police turned to prosecutors for advice, Mulintsev said.

“There is nothing to discuss,” prosecutor Sergei Kirei told RIA Novosti by phone. “I don’t understand why police decided to consult with us. I believe there are certainly grounds to initiate administrative cases.”

“People are not stupid,” he went on. “The figurines did not come there by themselves. They did not write the placards on their own. They have not invited anyone in social networks to join the public event.”

The toys, he said, were used as “agitation material,” adding that those complaining of legal nihilism during elections have themselves “gravely ignored the law.”

Activist Teslenko described as “absurd” the police move to “launch a trial against toys.” He said “no more than ten people” brought toys to the square in front of Barnaul’s Drama Theatre on January 7, and “no more than 15” joined the action a week later.

“This is again proof of willfulness of the local authorities,” he told RIA Novosti via VKontakte. “I wonder where our nano meetings would feature on the list of meetings that require official sanction.”

“I am certainly not going to plead guilty,” he added.

Kirei said he believed the gathering was a "picket."

“At least one person learned as a result of this that such an event had taken place, and I believe proving that [an unsanctioned public meeting has been held] will not be a problem,” he said.

The toy demonstration organizers face fines of up to $33 or arrest for a period of up to 15 days if found guilty of staging an unsanctioned public gathering and disobeying police orders. en.rian.ru

The Big Iranian Capital Punishment Post

I would take an awful lot of convincing as to the accuracy of the charges brought against the six hundred plus people that Iran executed in 2011. In my mind it's nothing more than Iran's ongoing reign of terror against its own citizens.

What more convenient way of shutting up political opposition and stifling descent, than to publicly execute such numbers of people only exceeded by China and in a manner of barbarism that is only exceeded by that of Saudi Arabia.

What more convenient way of doing this than to accuse someone of any one of a catalogue of ''crimes'' that carry the death penalty in Iran. Most, to us in the west, might be considered laughable, certainly archaic, but not so I fear, if you are on the receiving end of such charges.

Such a list can be found here, courtesy of Wiki, but you won't find all there, you won't find for instance, ''crimes against chastity,'' a charge brought against Atefeh Sahaaleh, whose accuser was also the judge, jury and executioner. How's that for Iranian justice?
The Execution Of A Teenage Girl. BBC 49 mins.

Nor am I alone in this way of thinking, try this fellow.

Cloaked in a language of morality, capital punishment in Iran is used by the government to prevent threats to the legitimacy of the country’s religion-based political system. In other words, the government conflates threats to the religious order with threats to the political order.

Under Islamic law as applied in the country, a gamut of crimes is punishable by death. Homicide, rape, incest, homosexuality, adultery, and prostitution are capital offenses. Execution sentences are sometimes given out for drug-related crimes. The protesters sentenced to death last week were charged with mohareb, or “taking up arms against God.” freedomhouse.org

Perhaps this latest 'shopped' image ain't quite befitting the tone of the article, I did put it together before I started writing, but there's one thing for sure, the context certainly is. And to borrow a passage from a previous article:

Great satire does just this: it turns reality on its head, making us laugh while, at the same time, revealing some sort of ugly truth that we can't confront without laughing.
"Photoshop Justice" Cop Art: The Rise of the Citizen Satirist




I am putting up two versions of the same story, read one or both, or just the offering from the Guardian, but I couldn't let this one sentence pass unnoted, the irony is breathtaking.

Drewery Dyke, of Amnesty International, said that it seems Iran believes its law can be extended to other countries.

Iran to kill Canadian web developer

Claims his software promoted porn
by Edward Berridge
23 Jan 2012

Iran has decided that a Canadian man who visited the country a couple of years ago deserves to die for promoting porn.

Iran's supreme court has upheld the death sentence for a web programmer who faces imminent execution after being found guilty of developing and promoting porn websites.

Saeed Malekpour was visiting the country in October 2008 when he was picked up by plainclothes police and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, where he spent a year in solitary confinement without access to lawyers and without charge.

After a year, Malekpour was wheeled out in front of the television cameras, confessing to a series of "crimes" in connection with a porn website. On the basis of his TV confessions, he was convicted of designing and moderating adult materials online by a court in Tehran.

He later retracted his confessions in a letter sent from prison, in which he said they had "extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture" and in the face of threats to him and his family.

Malekpour is a permanent resident of Canada. He wrote photo-uploading software which was used by a porn website without his knowledge.

After an international campaign and expert evidence, the supreme court suspended Malekpour's death sentence in June 2011 and ordered a judicial review

According to the Guardian, the view of the court was that it was all fair enough to execute a visitor to their country for something which is not a crime in the country they reside, and in any event they are probably innocent.

Drewery Dyke, of Amnesty International, said that it seems Iran believes its law can be extended to other countries.

Malekpour was charged with the crime of spreading corruption on Earth which is vaguely worded. So, basically, if you do anything that might miff the Iranian top brass and their ideologies, it might not be such a good idea to visit the country which once was a flower of human civilisation. That is unless you want to be strung up in a car park, which we can't imagine is on anyone's agenda. techeye.net
~ ~ ~

Iran confirms death sentence for 'porn site' web programmer


Saeed Malekpour faces imminent execution on basis of confessions he retracted in letter, saying they had been beaten out of him
Saeed Kamali Dehghan
18 January 2012

Iran's supreme court has upheld the death sentence for a web programmer who faces imminent execution after being found guilty of developing and promoting porn websites.

Saeed Malekpour was picked up by plainclothes officers in October 2008 and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, where he spent a year in solitary confinement without access to lawyers and without charge.



A year after his arrest, the 35-year-old appeared in a state television programme confessing to a series of crimes in connection with a porn website. On the basis of his TV confessions, he was convicted of designing and moderating adult materials online by a court in Tehran, which handed down death penalty.

Malekpour later retracted his confessions in a letter sent from prison, in which he said they had been made under duress.

According to Malekpour's family, he is a permanent resident of Canada and is a programmer who wrote photo-uploading software that was used by a porn website without his knowledge.

His sister, Maryam Malekpour, said the supreme court had confirmed the death sentence despite many discrepancies in the case. "Saeed's lawyers were told that his death sentence will be issued this week," she said in an interview with the Iranian website Roozonline.

After an international campaign and new expert evidence, the supreme court suspended Malekpour's death sentence in June 2011 and ordered a judicial review.

Speaking to the Guardian, Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, a human rights activist based in Toronto who has followed Malekpour's case closely, said: "Saeed is in imminent danger of execution. He has never been provided with a fair trial at any point during this horrific and twisted ordeal.

"There are various discrepancies in Saeed's case file that were supposed to be reviewed and investigated by the revolutionary court, but the judge ignored the discrepancies and reissued the death sentence anyway.

"Saeed is being used as a scapegoat in a string of political games led by the revolutionary guards."

In his letter, Malekpour said large proportions of his confessions had been "extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture" and in the face of threats to him and his family.

"Once, in October 2008, the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water," he wrote. "While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck.

"Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios."

Drewery Dyke, of Amnesty International, said: "The death sentence recently upheld in the case of Saeed Malekpour extends the long, cold reach of execution in Iran.

"He is alleged to have created 'pornographic' internet sites and [is accused of] 'insulting the sanctity of Islam', for which he was charged with 'spreading corruption on earth', a vaguely worded charge which attracted the death penalty in Iran.

"The use of vaguely worded charges is not new in Iran, but the allegation that these were carried out on the internet is. It is an unwelcome addition to the catalogue of ways in which Iran finds it can execute its own citizens.

"In advance of March's parliamentary elections, when you would expect the right to exercise one's freedom of expression to increase, this case exemplifies 'innovative' ways as to how Iran is setting itself against access to online information."

Iran has faced international criticism for escalating its use of the capital punishment in recent years. In December, Amnesty warned against "a killing spree of staggering proportions" in the Islamic republic, and said Iran had executed at least 600 people between the beginning of 2011 and the end of November. guardian.co.uk
~ ~ ~

Iran criticised over capital punishment 'killing spree'

Amnesty International warns of 'new wave of drug offence executions' in Iran as well as public and secret hangings
Saeed Kamali Dehghan
15 December 2011

Iran has escalated its use of the capital punishment to what has been called "a killing spree of staggering proportions" in an effort to contain drug-related crimes amid concerns about the west's continuing support for the regime's anti-narcotics campaign, according to a report.

Amnesty International warned of "a new wave of drug offence executions" in Iran in a report published on Thursday, which highlights the country's extensive use of the death penalty, especially in a series of public and secret hangings.

According to the report, at least 600 people were executed in Iran from the beginning of 2011 up to the end of November, of which a minimum of 488 executions were carried out for alleged drug offences.

Amnesty said the figures showed a threefold increase in comparison to drug-related executions it documented in 2009. "Members of marginalised groups – including impoverished communities, ethnic minorities suffering discrimination, and foreign nationals, particularly Afghans – are most at risk of execution for drugs offences," it said.

Iran's judicial system has been criticised for holding "grossly unfair trials" in a majority of the cases. Many trials are reported to have been held behind closed doors without the presence of a defence lawyer and families have not been given prior notice of the execution.

Iran is a neighbour to Afghanistan, a leading producer and supplier of the world's drugs. As for the Afghans imprisoned in Iran for drug offences, Amnesty said it appears they are "particularly poorly treated" and as many as 4,000 of them are believed to be on death row.

The sharp rise in the number of drug offence executions in Iran comes at a time when the international community, especially many European countries, including Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland and Britain, continues to provide the Islamic republic with financial and technical support for its anti-drug campaign.

Paradoxically, many of these countries have repeatedly condemned executions in Iran while praising its achievements in the anti-drug field. According to Amnesty, the EU has provided Iran with €9.5m over three years and the UN office for drugs and crime (UNODC) has also given the country £14m since 2005 for its anti-narcotics campaign.

Many activists have raised concerns in recent years about the west's support for Iran. Fazel Hawramy, the editor of Kurdishblogger.com, who has campaigned on the issue, said Iran has received "body scanners, drug detecting kits, drug catalysts, sniffer dogs, vehicles, night-vision devices and radio communication equipment" as part of the west's support despite international sanctions.

"It cannot be ruled out that some of this equipment was used by the police to crush the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2009," wrote Hawramy in an article published by the Guardian earlier this month.

"All countries and international organisations helping the Iranian authorities arrest more people for alleged drugs offences need to take a long hard look at the potential impact of that assistance and what they could do to stop this surge of executions," said Ann Harrison of Amnesty. "They cannot simply look the other way while hundreds of impoverished people are killed each year without fair trials, many only learning their fates a few hours before their deaths."

Activists fear that Iran might have executed political prisoners and activists among those killed secretly for drug offences. In one example in the city of Mashhad, at Vakilabad prison, Amnesty has received reports of secret mass execution involving 89 individuals in August 2010.


Nasrin Sotoudeh is one of a number of activist lawyers who have fallen foul of the Iranian regime for highlighting Iran's high rate of executions.

In recent years, many Iranian activists and lawyers have fallen foul of the Iranian regime for highlighting Iran's high rate of executions. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, is currently kept in Tehran's notorious Evin prison after being arrested in September 2010 for speaking out on the execution of juvenile offenders in Iran.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The UK has contributed to the UN's Iran country programme, with the majority of funding in recent years being given in 2007. Work funded included a variety of projects including a project to reduce demand for drugs and a project to improve capacity to tackle money-laundering.

"We take the human rights implications of our counternarcotics work very seriously and human rights are a central consideration in all decisions. We are opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances including for drugs offences, and have made our views on this matter absolutely clear. We have regularly raised our concerns with the Iranian regime about its human rights record including its appalling use of the death penalty as evidenced in this Amnesty report.

"More broadly, the illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to the UK and to countries all around the world. The UK's overseas work in tackling this threat involves a range of activities including improving policing and law-enforcement standards and promoting best practice." Guardian


And not another word shall I write until I can get my spell check set back to English en. For reasons best known to itself it has jumped to US en. and no matter what I try, nothing's working. To say it's driving me feckin insane, would be an understatement. It wants me to spell everything with a zed instead of an ess, or should I say, goddamned zee.

Unedited