All I can think of is that 3,000 brave soldiers sacrificed their lives in Iraq as of this last day of 2006.
Little did I know when I posted about the below three recent deaths that this entry would be the fourth. God, please let it end.
Subject: Baghdad Burning
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 12:07 AM
If you haven’t read Baghdad Burning, you should – and maybe add it to your blogroll.
Riverbend doesn’t write often – two posts over the course of a couple of days is not her usual level of written production – but she’s incensed over the way the Butcher was tried and executed.
She’s an Iraqi woman, writing from inside Baghdad, and gives an “inside” view of life in that city, outside the Green Zone. I first read one of her posts through a link on Emptywheel. But these posts came to my attention through Juan Cole’s blog.
It’s as close to an Al Jazeera account that we can get.
MORETON BAY, AUSTRALIA -- The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour.
When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars. "At nighttime, you can feel them burning. I tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked."
As the weed blanketed miles of the bay over the last decade, it stained fishing nets a dark purple and left them coated with a powdery residue. When fishermen tried to shake it off the webbing, their throats constricted and they gasped for air.
After one man bit a fishing line in two, his mouth and tongue swelled so badly that he couldn't eat solid food for a week.
Others made an even more painful mistake, neglecting to wash the residue from their hands before relieving themselves over the sides of their boats.
For a time, embarrassment kept them from talking publicly about their condition. When they finally did speak up, authorities dismissed their complaints — until a bucket of the hairy weed made it to the University of Queensland's marine botany lab.
Samples placed in a drying oven gave off fumes so strong that professors and students ran out of the building and into the street, choking and coughing.
No Room At the Inn
By Timothy Shriver
Monday, December 25, 2006
I believe in the principle of last-first: The last thing you think will be valuable is likely to be the first and most important. This Christmas, the lesson came to me in a particularly powerful story: the scandal of Misty Cargill.
Driving home from Christmas shopping, I couldn't believe what I heard on NPR. Misty Cargill is a woman with a mild intellectual disability living in a group home in
. She and her boyfriend go to movies regularly and play in a weekly bowling league with friends. She works full time at a nearby factory. Her life is normal in almost every respect except one: Misty Cargill needs a kidney transplant. Oklahoma
I'm no expert on the gut-wrenching ethics of transplant decisions, nor am I a doctor. But when I heard that Cargill was told that she was not a candidate for transplant because of her lack of mental competence, I was outraged. The University of Oklahoma Medical Center decision makers claimed that she was unable to give informed consent and turned her away.
They did this despite her own physician saying that she is perfectly competent. The hospital then suggested she get a medical guardian, but state officials refused to play the role, because they rightfully determined that she was already fully competent. Most recently, the hospital has offered to conduct its own assessment of her competence, and that's due next month.
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. In one survey quoted by reporter Joseph Shapiro, 60 percent of transplant centers reported that they'd have serious concerns about giving a kidney to someone with mild to moderate intellectual disability apparently based on fears that these patients can't handle the complex post-transplant care. The facts are exactly the opposite: People with intellectual disabilities who have been lucky enough to get a transplant do as well if not better than non-disabled people, probably because of their fidelity to instructions and their network of caregivers and supporters.
Lurking below the surface is the more likely reason for denial: Someone determines that people with intellectual disabilities are inferior, human beings of lesser value, the last priority. They're put last in line because they're thought not to matter quite as much as other people. For Misty Cargill, like another vulnerable person who is being celebrated today all over the world, there is no bed available. And for Cargill, being turned away may well cost her life.
But the transplant physicians' attitude is common. According to a Special Olympics Gallup survey in 2003, a strikingly similar number of Americans, 62 percent, don't even want a child with intellectual disabilities in their child's school. In studies of health care providers, Special Olympics has found rampant negligence in the care of people with intellectual disabilities. Some doctors even report that they don't want people with intellectual disabilities sitting in their waiting rooms. One confided that when care is given, it's usually "quick and dirty."
All of which brings us to the real question that Christmas invites: Who matters? A child in a malaria-infested zone? A transplant surgeon? Misty Cargill?
During this season when we're confronted with the world's injustices, we're challenged to muster the willpower to make a difference for those who suffer from inequalities.
But what about when the problem is not an absence of willpower but the presence of won't power? What about when we are the innkeepers -- confronted by too little space and finding ourselves uttering the terrifying words to those who we decide matter less: "There is no room for you." What about when we ourselves construct the edifice on which the shocking and outrageous devaluing of human dignity rests?
We search for a way out. The Americans With Disabilities Act forbids such discrimination by public entities such as the hospital that turned Misty down, does it not? The recently adopted United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities forbids such discrimination, does it not? Medical ethics would disallow such behavior, would it not? Political leaders committed to protecting human life will act, will they not?
Maybe. But on Christmas, we might remember that no matter how many restrictions and rules we create, the enigma of humanity remains our inability to follow the mystery of love all the way to its awe-filled conclusion: Every human life matters. There are no exceptions. There is no hierarchy. The presence of the divine can be seen in the tiniest and most vulnerable just as it can be seen in the strong and powerful.
But it can be seen especially among those who are demeaned, reduced to a stable, having no room at the inn.
The most celebrated character in literature with a disability, Tiny Tim, famously proclaimed, "God bless you, one and all." He was an agent of change -- the cause of poor Scrooge's transformation from misery to joy.
Perhaps Misty Cargill is today's protagonist of change inviting us to a deep and terrifying view of the world we have created. She is the embodiment of the last-first principle: She may be last on the transplant list, but she may be first in her power to invite a rethinking.
I pray that she will inspire us to feel differently about human life, both hers and our own.
This is me, and I've decided to give this blogging thing a try. It feels risky, so naturally I wanted to really go out on a limb and share the good, the bad and the ugly. Hence the title, "Shella Uncut".
I will post on a variety of topics. You'll get politics, state and federal budget stuff, disability-related posts, affordable housing information, and since I am a gadget geek, you get a lot of that also. Be prepared to read posts that reflect my raw, gut reaction. Some of will be politically incorrect. I will probably curse relatively frequently.
I also read some amazing blogs, and I hope to share some of that with you as well -- both by quote and by link.
In the blog set up, I've allowed anyone to post comments on this blog with me moderating it. I sincerely hope my skin is thick enough. I reserve the right to change this setting if it proves to have been ill-considered.
I have some interesting friends and I hope to get them to contribute and post as well. We'll see how it goes.
I have a lot to share, so I expect after a time you'll see a ton of links on the side bar.
I think that I am about done with my first blog post folks, so let's get this party started!