DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Yemen & The Congress of Reaction

Conn Hallinan
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:20:00 PM

While the ostensible rationale for Saudi Arabia’s recent intrusion into Yemen is that the conflict is part of a bitter proxy war with Iran, the coalition that Riyadh has assembled to intervene in Yemen’s civil war has more in common with 19th century Europe than the Middle East in the 21st. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Iran: Diplomacy or War?

Bob Burnett
Friday April 10, 2015 - 10:37:00 AM

We’re on the brink of a historic treaty to constrain Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but the details are still hazy and most Americans haven’t made up their minds. Early polls indicated broad support for the agreement with Republicans the most resistant. Before the end of June, when the details of the treaty are worked out, President Obama has to convince Congress and the US public that a rapprochement with Iran is in our long-term interest. If we turn away from this treaty, we’re likely headed to war with Iran.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll found opinions on the Iran nuclear agreement split along party lines. 50 percent of Democrats supported it, 10 percent were opposed, and 39 percent were unsure. 31 percent of Republicans support the treaty, 30 percent are opposed, and 40 percent are unsure. 33 percent of Independents support the agreement, 21 percent are opposed, and 45 percent are unsure.

It’s worth remembering that, in the fifties, the United States helped Iran start its nuclear program under our “Atoms for Peace” initiative. In 1979, the US-Iran relationship went south when the Iranian revolution toppled the Shah. In 2003, Iran made a clandestine offer to the Bush Administration to guarantee full transparency to the Iran nuclear program in return for security assurances and normalization of relations; unfortunately, the Bush White House did not respond. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Two Topics This Week

Jack Bragen
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:06:00 PM

Nineteen Years

April Fool's Day marks the nineteenth year since my last hospitalization.

I recall that when I was in the psych ward upon being 5150'd, I was reinstated on medication, but at too low a dosage. (I initially refused medication, and a Reese Hearing was done in which a judge ordered me to take medication.) It was a level of medication that barely stabilized me enough to function out of the hospital, and the dosage was soon raised.

I had been 5150'd at a church in Pleasant Hill--I had walked there from where I lived in downtown Martinez. I had been seen wandering around the streets of Martinez in a delusional state.

That last episode, although not much different of an experience than the previous one of six years before, had more long-term bad effects. It was a struggle of a number of months before I could get my mind freed of a bad case of psychosis. Even after that, and even to this day, I find things are more difficult than they were. Many of my symptoms affect types of functioning that ninety-nine percent of people probably never question. For example, I have acquired a case of agoraphobia.

I owe my lack of relapses since that time to having made an irrevocable commitment to compliance with treatment. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Rwanda, a U.S. Friend and Ally--
U.S Realpolitik at Work

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:27:00 PM

On April 7, 2015, President Barack Obama marked the 21st anniversary of Rwanda's 1994 mass killings "that would claim the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children and mark the beginning of one hundred days of horror for Rwanda’s people." However, President Obama made no mention about Rwandan President Paul Kagame's role in the four-year Rwandan civil war leading up to the civil war and the twenty years after, which include 5 million or more deaths in the Congo and in Rwanda. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Jeb Bush: The Return of “Compassionate” Conservatism

Bob Burnett
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:16:00 AM

Sixteen months before the Republican convention, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a slight favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination. Given that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, Bush vs. Clinton should be an interesting race. Although Jeb Bush is a typical right-wing Republican, he will attempt to soften his image and portray himself as a “compassionate” conservative, as did his brother in 2000. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: San Francisco Sheriff on the Hot Seat Again

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:14:00 AM

It has been widely reported that the San Francisco Sheriff's deputies are accused of forcing inmates to fight "gladiator-style" to entertain guards who bet on the outcome and even forced the inmates to train for future fights. What has not been widely discussed, is, if the allegations are true, what responsibility does San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have for the misconduct? What did he know and if he did not know, why not? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Real Versus Imagined Threats

Jack Bragen
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:06:00 AM

It is important for people with schizophrenia to distinguish imagined threats versus real ones. Psychosis can take over the mind and can make us feel threatened, anxious, and frightened. This emotional upset can then snowball into worse symptoms of psychosis. It is important for us to prevent getting excessively upset over things. Once we become excessively upset about real or imagined problems, it opens the door for a possible relapse. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Old age comes on suddenly; forever is composed of nows-- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:22:00 AM

Two new (2014) books:

Atul Gawande (1965- ). Being Mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end.

Donald Hall (1928- ). Essays After Eighty.

Frontline’s Feb. 10, 2015 program was based on Dr. Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End. Gawande’s fields are journalism, public health, and surgery.

He must have been in his late forties when he wrote this book about the modern experience of mortality. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he went to Stanford for his B.S., Oxford for his M.A., and Harvard Medical School. He has been both a MacArthur Fellow and Rhodes Scholar.

“Mortal” is an adjective relating to human beings subject to death. It is also used to mean deadly, fatal. Gawande writes, this is a book “…about what it’s like to be creatures who age and die, how medicine has changed the experience and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about how to deal with our finitude have got the reality wrong.” When doctors and patients talk death, hope is not a plan. The goal of medicine should not be a good death, but rather, a good life to the very end. -more-