BLACKENING THE PITS OF INFAMY February 28, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Terrorism Issues.
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First of all, since the opposition of the American Government does not appear to stack up, this report, in The Sydney Morning Herald, is not a good look for the United States of America, or at least that other country that had a Bill of Rights, a Constitution, and formerly among the leading advocates of human rights.
And then there is this report, also in the Herald, describing the Bagram prison in Afghanistan which begins:
WHILE international debate rages over the future of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military has quietly expanded another, less-visible prison in Afghanistan, where it holds about 500 terrorist suspects in more primitive conditions, indefinitely and without charges.
I am guessing, judged on the behavior of their Australian brothers and sisters in religion, the proponents of these measures espouse the cause of “values”, always to the detriment of the designated out group to follow the newly minted prescribed values, universal assumptions, or leave the Country.
Now this reminds me of Gerald Henderson, a columnist for the same newspaper seems to build his argument purely on assertion. Judge me harshly, if I ever have, or ever in the future fall to the same low depths. I do not espouse, but I aspire to higher standards.
DEXTER – PIT BULL? February 28, 2006Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
We got a new dog last week by adopting a stray dog. The law requires that all dogs be mirco-chipped with details of their owners and place of residence and so forth.
Yesterday we took him up to the Vet. Getting into a car is like experiencing a thunder storm for other dogs. This response does not happen by chance, it happens by experience. I do not understand this response. Our other dogs, by contrast, cannot wait to get into the car and go for a drive.
The Vet confirmed that he has not been micro-chipped and estimated his age to 9 months. While it is difficult to know what breed any dog might be, and although I am no expert looking through google I have concluded that there is a good chance he is Pit Bull Terrier, despite other judgments. Supposing this is true, it means that he would be classified as a dangerous dog, and require child-proof fencing.
The fact that he got out, as un-desexed dogs will do by chewing through his collar, is evidence of the utter irresponsibility of his former owner/s. Should my opinion be correct, Dexter is a breed predisposed to attack other dogs and not to back down, while at the same time requiring plenty of exercise.
Now we have inherited the problem without knowing what we were getting into. Based on my observations there is much to admire about his nature. He is a strong dog, an agile dog and an affectionate dog, but I have to observe his aggressiveness towards Sasha, one of other dogs. I perceive there is not backing down with Dexter.
Breeding dogs for desirable qualities is something that human beings are very good. It does not take long for the next generation to appear, and the selection process to be refined. It strikes me as an example of selection combined with intelligent design. Probably, more intelligent design and less evolutionary selection because there is not speciation involved.
My personal opinion is that there is not much cross with Dexter, or if there is, it does not make much difference. This means at least three things. We must establish dominance over his behavior to the smallest degree while providing partial reinforcement. We have to ensure that he is separated from the other dogs when we are away. And we have to ensure that he will not get out, which I have to say so far he has shown no disposition to do so, but we will assume that this will not always be the case.
Our decision to adopt Dexter was a happy event for his rescuer because she had three male dogs – at least Sasha is a female – and was not disposed to take him to the pound where my guess his fate would be pre-ordained. Kindness can sometimes come back to bite the person that provides it. Some people are simply hard hearted, so this dilemma is never a problem for them. Here we deal with human nature.
Not me, but another opinion is been expressed that we should take him to the pound, and have him euthanized. Having said that, I am not wholly convinced I am being wise. De-sexing is the first thing to do, and look at other measures such as controlled socialization with other dogs. Further measures may be required.
Regardless of what Dexter’s breed might be, we will have to act on the observations of his behavior.
“BUT I KNOW THE TRUTH” February 27, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Terrorism Issues.
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So concludes Thomas Wilner in his article, “Guantanamo: American Gulag”, originally published in the LA Times and picked up on Common Dreams.
As he observes: “The government continues to deny that there is any injustice at Guantanamo.” For those of us who are merely observers, we wonder about the mental health of the those responsible up to and including the Secretary of Defence and the President, and the loss of honor of the American Nation as its values are transformed into evil.
These things happen, and it seems we do not understand history well enough to stop happening again. The fact that this political change has happened in America is contrary to the intent of the founders. I find it enormously difficult to understand how Bush could even be considered as a presidential candidate in the first place. The power of money and expertise is one explanation. Complacency and indifference to the consequences for other people is another.
But who am I to comment since our government has abated and endorsed the behavior of the Americans. Then the leading members of that government have the impertinence to talk about values, when they are over-qualified, and might talk without end, about hypocrisy.
I pessimistic because I do not have any grounds for optimism. And I wonder how things have come to this situation.
BE AN AUSTRALIAN February 26, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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So says John Howard, or as the headline on the front page of Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald says: “Live here, Be an Australian.”
I do not understand the attack on multiculturalism. We live in a multicultural world. Our primary loyalty should be to planet Earth, and remember we are human beings. Why in principle should people who are holding private conversations speak English in public places? When I travel on public transport, I appreciate it when I am not loudly entertained by the details of other people’s i lives.
This is just retrogressive nonsense, no doubt appealing to some, if not many. Costello, the current deputy, but a putative prime minister got right into the same slime bath as Howard, drawing attention to the alienation of some Australian-born Muslims. These comments were not repudiated by the NSW Priemer, and the article observes:
This endorsement is a sure sign that Labor polling identifies the Muslim divide as a potent electoral issue.
As Pierre Trudeau observed the history of the 20th century should alert us to the dangers of nationalism. I cannot identify, or wish to identify myself, with a bigoted, ignorant group of people, however they describe themselves.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – LIFE WITH DEXTER February 24, 2006Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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When the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, they are said to have played a popular song of the time: “The World Turned Upside Down.” Now we have a new dog, Dexter, and that is pretty much the feeling.
As it happened, we had gone to the vet to get medication for Taffy, when a young woman, who had been out on a walk brought in a stray dog, which otherwise would have gone to the Pound. One thing led to another. She already had three male dogs. We volunteered to adopt Dexter, and the thought “big mistake” has crossed our minds a few times. I am hoping it from now on will just be a matter of patience and reinforcement. Meanwhile, Sasha is getting a workout.
As usual you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them, and as always I refer you to Friday Ark#75 at Modulator and the Carnival of the Dogs at Mickey’s Musings.
WHAT PRICE CREDIBILITY? February 23, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak.
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As I recall John Lukacs, the writer of Five Days in London, was of the view that Churchill’s greatness as a orator and war-time Prime Minister was not just his inspiring speeches, but that he remained credible. The truth could be told and be believed. Surely, if correct, this would be a wondrous result to behold, and I might hope that it might be once again become exampled, in the remaining days of my life.
Joseph Gobbels, as I remember, did not believe this to be true regarding Churchill, yet he recognized the problem, which is to imply that he was a superior propagandist to many of today’s political leaders, media managers and advisers. The great Karl Christian Rove comes to mind as the greatest artist of the current time, somewhat like the greatest quarterback who possess that extra spit second timing and decision-making that shades his best contemporaries. As far as I am aware Rove has never troubled himself over the credibility, believing I suppose, and not unreasonably that when you hold an effective monopoly over radio talkback and can intimidate the press there is no problem.
However, it is a strange yet true fact that the world is a bigger place, with vastly more people, more wealth, albeit less military firepower than the United State of America. Now this larger world, strange also to relate has other sources of information, despite Rubert Murdoch. The problem of credibility becomes an issue, if it was not an problem for democracy in countries including Australia. But since in the United States, democracy and the Constitution, as it appears are largely passe in the question of truth, accountability and transparency in government have been transcended in that country, and so have become formally and informally irrelevant, the great Karl Christian Rove may well again be right in that section of planet Earth.
The United States government media managers are aware of the problem and are attempting to address it. Karen Hughes is charged with the job. She declared apparently, “My job starts with the truth.” And she finishes her interview with Der Speigel by saying about George Walker Bush:
I know him so well personally, that I sometimes am stunned by what I see as a caricature of him that has emerged in some press coverage. He’s a very warm person, he’s a very thoughtful person, he’s a very decent person. He cares deeply about people, he’s a wonderful leader. I think all of us should take a breath and be a little bit more charitable about how we view each other.
Sure Hughsie. You have gotta do better than that mate. I have viewed Mr Bush charitably, and I think I have come to the view of Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, who could never be charitable, except in large measure to himself. The inference is mine, but the reference is here (also from Speigel on Line).
Meanwhile truth withers, as democracy withers – there as here. The wind ferociously blows, it seems, in the one direction.
Perhaps the analysis is overly pessimistic, nor deep enough or as accurate as it should be. There is a problem. I doubt that most media are players in addressing the problem.
SAMARRA MOSQUE BOMBING February 23, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
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The al Askari Mosque is one of the most important for Shia. Now it has been bombed. The BBC carries the story suggesting that the intention was to trigger a religious civil war in Iraq with implications throughout the region. Juan Cole expresses great concern at this development. “Both Sunnis and Americans”, he says,” will be blamed.”
Photo via BBC.
PHILLIPINE MUDSLIDE – PART TWO February 21, 2006Posted by wmmbb in The Neighbours.
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I have the idea that The NY Times will not make its article available for long. So here are some relevant quotes:
According to official records, the government of the Philippines knew as early as last May that this village in the eastern part of the country, where more than 1,000 people may have died in a landslide Friday, was in grave danger.
Policies were even in place to avert a pending disaster: area villages were evacuated late last year and a logging ban, to address the deforestation that helped cause the problem, had been adopted more than a decade ago.
But reality was another matter. Many residents soon returned to their homes. According to government officials and environmental groups, problems ranging from government corruption and ineffective laws to a lack of money and the political will to enforce the laws contributed to the collapse of the mountainside here in the first place, and allowed it to become a large-scale human tragedy.
“This is a failure of the implementation of laws and a failure of policy,” said Von Hernandez, the campaign director for Southeast Asia of the environmental group Greenpeace, which had warned the government last month that its current policies were bound for trouble.
. . .
Local officials said they had detected what looked like fractures on the side of the mountain months before the tragedy, but they said no one thought it was serious enough to do anything about it.
The underlying problem of deforestation also reflected policy failures, critics said.
“The real reason for this terrible tragedy is that forests have been badly denuded and no serious replanting has been done,” Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales of Manila said in a statement on Sunday. “It is time for the powers that be to address strongly these issues.”
But the logging ban already in place is widely seen as ineffective. Endemic corruption, lack of resources and weak law enforcement have allowed illegal logging to flourish and environmental predators to go unpunished, critics said.
And politically, whoever sits in the presidential palace must reckon with the nation’s political dynasties, several of which earned their wealth and power through logging, Mr. Hernandez said.
In late 2005, for instance, the environment department allowed the resumption of logging by a company owned by a senator who is an ally of the president, over the objections of residents and religious leaders. The logging concession was within a national forest reserve.
So what is to be done, and more particularly what can we do?
SOME WRITING RULES February 21, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Miscellaneous.
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Good intentions have merit by definition, what is difficult is the apparent problem of implementing them.
I suspect I honor them in the breech everyday for which I have no excuse. Still I print the list out, and perhaps pin it somewhere upon which my eye might just occasionally fall, so as to follow the examples as illustrated.
WHERE IS THE AMERICAN MSM? February 20, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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Where the important news stories are of course.
Sometimes understandably somethings get below the radar. Because they represent such an elite, alert and intelligent group of professional journalists, they would be unimportant things. Right.
Last week, for example, there were new photographic evidence (via Common dreams)of the torture as Abu Gharib prison. But the news judgment was, I assume, that is an old story. The seven low-level individuals involved have been imprisoned, and otherwise punished.
Then there was the report from the UN Investigation that the Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp should be closed. Apparently the USA does not subscribe either to civilized standards or its basic law. So that does not matter either. The clincher on this was the assertions of the Secretary of Defence, Rumsfeld.
And – do not laugh – the President of this country wants to spread democracy around the world.
Of course, we sometimes laugh at inappropriate things, but as witnessed by these examples, they are not so much funny, as a disgrace.
Dr Sentamu, is we are told the number two in the Church of England, the Archbishop of York, and his comment in part, reported by The Independent, via Common Dreams, pretty much sums up the concern at the behavior of the Media:
“The American Government is breaking international law,” he told The Independent. “The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, innocent until proved otherwise, and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? Transparency and accountability are the other side of the coin of freedom and responsibility. We are all accountable for our actions in spite of circumstances. The events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law and international obligations.
But I think he means 1984, not Animal Farm, later in his comments. Orwell, to my memory, did not describe the subservience of the press. I suppose the historical example is the capitulation of the German press from 1933 onward, and I suppose, it should be possible to look at more recent history. I guess here one issue is not to idealize the past.
HOWARD SURPRISES! February 20, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Or rather once it is recognized that slime is his style, his comments as reported by the ABC are to be expected.
Easy to recall that he has won elections on the basis of racist insinuations that as he well knows will magnify existing prejudices, which I think in context is fair enough to describe as slime. Such it seems is the nature of the man that he could stoop to that moral level while claiming to be the leader of the country.
In my opinion, in these he should argue from the general principle, and emphasize that it applies to all. This statement is not an example:
“We want people, when they come to Australia, to adopt Australian ways.”
I think he is talking about the social norms that are common to most, if not all, at least Western societies. On that basis he is exhibiting ignorance and intolerance of other civilizations, and if not,what is he talking about? It is not as if Australian ways of behaving, unsurprisingly so very similar to other human beings, do not display diversity related to such social variables as class and ethnicity. Or is it the Australian ways of the Anglo-Celts, ignoring for example the far longer footprint on this continent of the Aboriginal peoples.
I am curious as to wonder why he is so desperate for a distraction. Surely, it could not be the AWB scandal, which we are confidently lead to believe he knew nothing and was told nothing.
It is wonderfully ironic, not to mention amusing, that the person who is lying prostate in the metaphorical, verbal gutter, sucking it all in, wants to stay in his position for as long as he can, and will do anything to stay there.
21 February 2006 – Howard’s arrogance knows no boundaries, as evidence of the report by the ABC. If I am fair, he has not quite reached the dizzying heights of personal immunity demonstrated by Richard Bruce Cheney, Vice President of the United States. Soon, if not now, the rule of law, will mean nothing.
Still you have to say about John Howard some of his arguments are cute. Courts, and I suspect, Royal Commissions work not just with the paper trail but perhaps more importantly cross-examination. I suppose it is fair to say that Howard, unlike for example Bob Hawke, has little experience in court environment, so he is outside his comfort zone.
You can might place ready money that Howard will not be held to account. As I have mentioned previously just one more example of failing to responsibility. So much for accountability and transparency as essential to liberal democracy, when spin and media management are just the thing.
Now John Howard has set the precedent those prime ministers who follow will I expect, independent of party, accept his standards. Somehow what we have to do as the electorate is to re-establish and set standards, if we want a credible democracy to survive.
Tim Dunlop has two posts, here and here, on the unfolding saga that is the Cole Inquiry. John Howard was very brave when he set up this Inquiry and when he appointed Mr Cole to lead it. I suspect political geniuses do not make these mistakes, but I suppose it is possibilly his worst political mistake in ten years, and it had nothing to do with the Oppposition?
THE HAMAS DILEMMA February 19, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Middle East.
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It is amusing to observe the problems caused to the imperialists and invaders by the election of Hamas.
The madness of the Bush Administration is to be expected. They are so pathetic as to warrant sympathy, which they will duly receive at the end of the reign of murder and destruction in Iraq when they leave with as much military pomp as they can muster, their tail between their legs, and the shame that will last down the generations, a stain not easily washed away. The problem for Bush, and for America, is that their domestic policies are now closely tied to their foreign adventure.
Then there are the Israelis. They propose living in the Middle East down the generations , and that history has just run a short course so far. Their propose forgetting the holocaust.
ABC news reports a fracet of the continuing story.
The parlous position of the Bush Administration, so easily distorted to their hometown folks by spin and management of the media cycle, is suggested by this analyis, via Common Dreams.
Bush may consider attacking Iran, via Common Dreams. The money quote may be of interest:
In the eyes of the Bush administration, however, Iran’s worst transgression has less to do with nuclear ambitions or anti-Semitism than with the petro-euro oil bourse Tehran is slated to open in March 2006. Iran’s plan to allow oil trading in euros threatens to break the dollar’s monopoly as the global reserve currency, and since the greenback is severely overvalued due to huge trade deficits, the move could be devastating for the US economy.
That act may well imply lunacy abroad, full blown fascism at home, and economic collapse. I understand the fundamentalist christians will be enraptured. What is to stop the bubble boy emperor from destroying the world?
PHILLIPINE MUDSLIDE February 18, 2006Posted by wmmbb in The Neighbours.
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The immediate problem in a disaster such as this is to save as many people as possible.
Then comes the post mortem. ABC TV news reported this evening that due to illegal forest clearing on the background mountains. How could that happen without the Government and local authorities knowing about it? Who bought the timber or the wood chips? According to the same report it is not as though this incident did not have a precedent.
With disasters such as this example, prevention is better than cure.
The BBC has the story here. And a view that appears to contradict the television report:
Officials said the mudslide happened after about 200cm of rain (79 inches) fell in the area in the space of 10 days.
Dec 2004 About 1,800 people killed after a series of storms in north-eastern Philippines
Dec 2003 Up to 200 people die in landslides in Southern Leyte
Nov 1991 Typhoon Thelma strikes Leyte causing floods that drown at least 5,000
Eva Tomol, a board member for the Southern Leyte provincial government, denied that deforestation caused by illegal logging could have contributed to the disaster.
Correspondents say the area lies in the path of several typhoons each year, and that coconut trees – which are common locally – have shallow roots which leave the soil vulnerable to landslides.
Governor Lerias said many residents had left last week, fearing landslides, but had begun to return as rains eased in the past few days.
Of course, no one thought to grow trees with deep roots.
21 February 2006 – The New York Times provides a critical analysis, reviving in part, deaforestation as a cause.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – LIGHT AND OTHER EFFECTS. February 17, 2006Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Some people are as cynical about dog nature as they are about human nature. As with people, dogs are individuals who express a whole range of moods. Incidentally, such is the nature of photography, they too can be caught in different lights.
Most mornings, I am now leaving Taffy at home to give his arthritis a rest. Balanced against that need is the issue that his quality of life as a dog requires him to get out. Sasha seems very patient with a much slowed Taffy. Left to her devices she is romping around, an environment, not without dangers such as ticks. The judgments are conflicted.
As you may appreciate with these photos, you can click to enlarge them. And I remind you of Friday Ark#74 and the Carnival of the Dogs.
MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY February 16, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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John Quiggin has a post on ministerial responsibility saying that it should be reframed to make it a practical concept of accountability.
One suggestion is that Ministers should be accountable for their ministerial staffs, who seem not accountable to anybody at the moment. That seems to me to a good idea, a place to start, if not to stop?
I look forward to further discussion and dialogue on this question. In retrospect, it seems to me that soft toys and color television sets are trivial, although they involved customs breeches. While Ministers may not have a responsibility for the actions of every public service, it seems to me that they must hold some responsibility for the culture of the department. I suspect that the Minister, with the head of the department, has a general leadership role as well as setting policy directions.
STILL THERE, AND STILL LYING February 16, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak.
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Much like Howard really.
But I had thought that Blair’s fate would be decided six months on from the London bombings on the 7 July 2005. He is still there.
The Independent has the story.
Meanwhile the supposition that the Great White Hunter, Richard Bruce Cheney was tanked at the time has been airbrushed from history. As with George Walker Bush, these individuals are in their own bubbles, and in the great private/government propaganda machines, above the law. What might you expect?
Blair and Howard like to think that they are similarly endowed.
One day, with one foul swoop (the revenge of the birds) the whole gang might be indicted at war criminals. One small step for humanity, one giant leap for the World.
HOWARDIAN ARROGANCE February 14, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Despite John’s affirmation in public of piety and humility, helped immeasurably by never it seems having to meet any persona in the form of a Socrates, much less a curious journalist, because as you understand such questions must indicate bias, Howard and his henchmen have issued orders to defang the Senate’s Estimates Committee.
Senator Andrew Bartlett has the story.
15/02/2006 – For a fuller analysis of the actions of Howard in relations to the Senate Estimates check Michelle Grattans article in The Age, via Gary at Public Opinion.
WORKCHOICES CHALLENGE February 14, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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I had appreciated that by now most State Governments would be challenging the Howard WorkChoice legislation in the High Court. Today, I learnt that my union in conjunction with Unions NSW will also be challenging the Federal Government’s legislation, although I suspect the critical decisions will be made on the application of the State Governments.
Nevertheless the information I received is a neat summary of what is involved. The unions legal challenge will argue:
The legislation is not supported by the Constitutional Corporations power.
That the legislation does not appropriately regulate industrial organizations under the Constitution.
That the legislation improperly attempts to regulate intra-state industrial disputation.
There may be other issues emerge, but these strike me as the crucial ones, to follow as best I can the arguments. As always, I will be relying on the constitutional commentators to assist me (to that point, often soon reached, when incomprehension takes over).
George Williams is just one constitutional lawyer, but here is his review of the possible extent of the Commonwealth’s Constitutional corporation power. He makes the point that none of the existing judges have previously sat on a similar case.
WHO ARE “WE” February 13, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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It seems the member of Hughes, represents some of her electorate, not others who are not “we”, which means I infer means people not of Anglo-Celtic background. Those are the people supposedly who have a special loyalty to the flag with the Union Jack on it. I know that Gary Sauer-Thompson has covered this, but I have just heard what she said on the radio news.
Dana Vales words are included in the ABC News report:
“I’ve actually read in the Daily Telegraph where a certain imam from the Lakemba mosque actually said that Australia is going to be a Muslim nation in 50 years’ time,” she said. “I didn’t believe him at the time but when you actually look at the birthrates and you look at the fact that we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence by a 100,000 abortions every year. “You multiply that by 50 years, that’s 5 million potential Australians we won’t have here.”Mrs Vale says apart from the morals of the issue, she is concerned about what she says are the implications for Australia’s future.”The ramifications it actually has for the community and the nation we’ll become in the future is not for the decision of the TGA,” she said.
I suppose this will play with some people. I do not wonder whether the prime minister in the national interest will contradict her, probably on the basis of freedom of speech.
Perhaps I am unfair.
POST BONE MARROW February 12, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Life Experience.
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I survived the Bone Marrow Biopsy on last Thursday. And I managed to get the plaster off this time reasonably quickly.
A good outcome so far. As far as I am aware there are two possible outcomes: either I have myeloma, or I have monoclonal gammopathy(IGG). My specialist was somewhat concerned when my potassium levels showed 6.3, a high reading, whereas my sodium and chorine levels were normal. So I then had to get a electrocardiogram and have more blood tests. These tests were normal. A biochemist suggested that the high potassium might be due to pumping my hand to make the veins stand out. I suggested that the high potassium count might have been due to anxiety.
In hospital, I learnt to wriggle my fingers and toes to relax the muscles, so that perhaps was another factor. Actually during the course of the biopsy I was doing the same thing, attracting comment from the surgeon, who told me to keep going, but I did not want to distract him so I stopped. Luckily he had twenty-five years experience, which gave me confidence. He even suggested I start singing.
I really hope for a clear determination. I think I can deal with uncertainty, but I suggest we all have limits. The radiologist suggested that he thought that myeloma was likely. The specialist who looked at my sinuses suggested not to take the radiologists report as definite guide, but rather to rely on the specialist who looking at my symptoms, or in this case my blood counts. The initial impression was that my plasma cell count was normal, but further investigation had to be undertaken to confirm that result, or disconfirm as the case my be.