March 24th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

I realize this morning I've been reading books on travel. I am feeling a need for wider boundaries than the last six months have provided. I come to the NY Times, and there is a lovely editorial on a coyote checking out Central Park.

I identify.

I, too, have been away from my usual haunts, exploring and being explored in this strange, new, medical world, and I hope, like the coyote to soon be home to a niche more natural and comfortable for me. And it is true that we each embody domestic and wild, and it is fun to see what's happening on the other side, so we can merge the two.

It's Hard to Be a Coyote in the City

Published: March 24, 2006 in the New York Times.

It's one thing to see a pair of red-tailed hawks nesting on a precipice overlooking Central Park. There's not much question how they got there, after all. But it's another thing to see a coyote in Central Park, like the one that was pursued and finally captured earlier this week. That coyote helps us re-imagine the city's boundaries. How would a coyote slip into Manhattan? Suddenly you get a glimpse of how constricted our own access to the island is — funneled across bridges and through tunnels. And yet, for all we know, it may be easier for a coyote to enter Manhattan now than it was when there were no bridges or tunnels and visiting Manhattan meant a long swim.

But however it got here, that coyote was suddenly reframed by Central Park, its wildness set apart by the domesticity of everything around it. We don't really think of the squirrels in the park as wild, though they are. The same goes for robins and starlings and swallows. They have been absorbed into our everyday landscape. What that coyote carried with him — what people saw when they looked at him, that is — was the feel of the places where we expect to see coyotes. It was as unexpected as seeing Woody Allen on the Arctic tundra.

The coyote in the park wasn't quite as dramatic as the whale that swam up the Thames through the heart of London in January. Only a few New Yorkers saw him on the loose.

But what makes such occasions remarkable isn't just the sight of a coyote or a northern bottlenosed whale. It's the fact that such animals appear among us on their own, as if we were the creatures in captivity and they were the ones taking a gander. Even these places were wild once, their sudden presence seems to say.
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Medical advice!

I think this op-ed piece is a good example of staying involved in our medical care. In this case, the doctors are focused on the baby, and that is obviously majorly key, but the mother's moods as environment for the baby must be considered too. We are all connected with others, as we go travel through medical care. How can we stay nourished, involved, aware?

Op-Ed Contributor
Don't Take This Lying Down

Published: March 24, 2006


IN 1877, Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell, describing what he called his "rest cure" for hysterical women, wrote, "I do not permit the patient to sit up or to sew or write or read. The only action allowed is that needed to clean the teeth." At the end of six weeks to two months of such treatment, he expected that women would be good as new.

A few years later, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was prescribed Mitchell's rest cure for postpartum depression, and her fictionalized account of its effects in "The Yellow Wallpaper" depicts a woman descending slowly but surely into insanity. As someone who was prescribed bed rest two years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, I know that Gilman, not Mitchell, gets closer to the truth.

Over a century later women are still prescribed the equivalent of the rest cure for obstetrical complications, but now it is recommended before birth. It is a standard means of treating just about any pregnancy-related problem in the United States. Women at risk of preterm labor, women with too much or too little amniotic fluid, women with placenta previa (where the placenta implants on or near the cervix), women with pregnancy-induced hypertension, women whose fetuses are judged to be growing poorly, women with multiple fetuses and women with chronic health problems are all likely to find themselves on bed rest. Indeed, doctors prescribe it for about one in five of all pregnant women, or around 750,000 women a year.

When I was placed on bed rest, it was because of low amniotic fluid levels. Frankly, I would have stood on my head if there was a chance it would save my daughter's life. While lying prone at least sounded comparatively benign, I soon realized, as Gilman did 120 years before me, that it was anything but.

Small actions like teeth-brushing became for me, as for Mitchell's patients, the high point of my day. The change from an active, fulfilling professional life to one of complete immobility left me weakened and depleted just when my strength was most needed for the rigors of birth and motherhood.

Although I was lucky enough to have a supportive family and a husband who could adjust his schedule to work from home, like all women on bed rest I experienced a range of debilitating problems. By the time my bed rest regimen was relaxed in the final week of my pregnancy, I could barely walk. I also experienced intense joint pain from lying on my left side — as directed — 24 hours a day, circulation problems, dizziness, fatigue and the bewildering frustration of a life suspended.

For many women (though fortunately not for me), such feelings of frustration and isolation lead to outright depression, not to mention the burden of lost wages and other financial costs.

And yet there is substantial doubt within the medical profession about the efficacy of bed rest. My own doctors, who were undoubtedly acting in good faith, openly admitted that they were not sure bed rest would increase my amniotic fluid levels. I carried my daughter to term, although no one could tell me if bed rest really helped or not.

In fact, doctors in other countries are far less likely to prescribe it. For example, obstetricians in Australia typically monitor pregnancy complications through daily testing at a clinic or, for more serious cases, at prenatal units in hospitals where regular movement is encouraged. Yet 92 percent of American obstetricians prescribe bed rest in some form, according to Judith Maloni, a professor at the Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University and one of the few researchers of the phenomenon.

Dr. Maloni's investigations reveal that obstetricians in the United States tend to discount both the side effects of bed rest and to believe in its value in the face of evidence to the contrary. (Although bed rest continues to be prescribed almost routinely by some doctors for mothers of multiples at 24 to 28 weeks gestation, a study in 2000 conducted by a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Adelaide in Australia linked hospitalized bed rest to higher rates of preterm delivery in mothers of twins.) Dr. Maloni hypothesizes that fear of lawsuits may also play a part in its widespread prescription. Bed rest convinces patients and doctors alike that everything possible is being done to sustain a difficult pregnancy. And it is, after all, cheap to prescribe.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman finally took herself off Mitchell's rest cure. "Using the remnants of intelligence that remained, and helped by a wise friend," she remarked, in 1913, "I cast the noted specialist's advice to the winds and went to work again — work, the normal life of every human being; work, in which is joy and growth and service."

Few of us today are likely to follow Gilman's example. For most women, it's one thing to dally with their own health, but quite another to risk their child's. Women on bed rest feel they have little choice but to follow the advice they are given by their doctors. They may wonder if the prescription is founded on much more than superstition, dubious assumptions and unexamined tradition, but their doctors have experience and expertise and they do not.

Still, the lack of research on bed rest's value for the long shopping list of complications for which it is prescribed, and the lack of recognition of its consequences, is simply astounding. For example, I have yet to hear of a woman on bed rest being offered rehabilitative treatment; I certainly was not. The profession needs to recognize the profound psychological and physical costs of this modern rest cure, and to thoroughly research its putative benefits, before yet another generation of women finds itself staring blankly at the wall- paper.

Sarah Bilston, a professor of English at Trinity College, is the author of the forthcoming "Bed Rest," a novel.
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more medical thoughts -

On Wednesday, when I was waiting in the crowded radiation waiting room, a woman came out, walked up to me, and, addressed me as Cathy. I wondered how she knew who I was, so, I asked. Well, in this medical practice, they take your picture when you come to it, and attach the photo to your file, which is also on the computer, so, they are able to come out and address you personally by name. It is a caring touch that again adds to a feeling that you, individually, are important. They really do address the whole person with a wholeness of medical care. I appreciate that, and see how they do everything they can to augment and support healing. They create a healthy womb.
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Reading the news today -



Global Warming!


Lesbians, gays, GM,


children unable to read,

or even feed.

Birds not singing for mates.

Drought, flooding, hurricanes,

fires -

The oceans rise.

The land shrinks.

The huddled masses

draw close.

Breath is shared,
Mine, and yours!



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Politics -

I keep saying to myself that I will put no more about Bush on this blog, but, then, he is so blatant, I just can't help myself. How does he rationalize this? I do not understand. Well, of course, he would say, he is listening to a "higher law."

Bush Shuns Patriot Act Requirement
By Charlie Savage
The Boston Globe

Friday 24 March 2006

Washington - When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it "a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a "signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: "The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

After The New York Times disclosed in December that Bush had authorized the military to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without obtaining warrants, as required by law, Bush said his wartime powers gave him the right to ignore the warrant law.

And when Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush signed the bill but issued a signing statement declaring that he could bypass the law if he believed using harsh interrogation techniques was necessary to protect national security.

Past presidents occasionally used such signing statements to describe their interpretations of laws, but Bush has expanded the practice. He has also been more assertive in claiming the authority to override provisions he thinks intrude on his power, legal scholars said.

Bush's expansive claims of the power to bypass laws have provoked increased grumbling in Congress. Members of both parties have pointed out that the Constitution gives the legislative branch the power to write the laws and the executive branch the duty to "faithfully execute" them.

Several senators have proposed bills to bring the warrantless surveillance program under the law. One Democrat, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, has gone so far as to propose censuring Bush, saying he has broken the wiretapping law.

Bush's signing statement on the USA Patriot Act nearly went unnoticed.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, inserted a statement into the record of the Senate Judiciary Committee objecting to Bush's interpretation of the Patriot Act, but neither the signing statement nor Leahy's objection received coverage from in the mainstream news media, Leahy's office said.

Yesterday, Leahy said Bush's assertion that he could ignore the new provisions of the Patriot Act - provisions that were the subject of intense negotiations in Congress - represented "nothing short of a radical effort to manipulate the constitutional separation of powers and evade accountability and responsibility for following the law."

"The president's signing statements are not the law, and Congress should not allow them to be the last word," Leahy said in a prepared statement. "The president's constitutional duty is to faithfully execute the laws as written by the Congress, not cherry-pick the laws he decides he wants to follow. It is our duty to ensure, by means of congressional oversight, that he does so."

The White House dismissed Leahy's concerns, saying Bush's signing statement was simply "very standard language" that is "used consistently with provisions like these where legislation is requiring reports from the executive branch or where disclosure of information is going to be required."

"The signing statement makes clear that the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "The president has welcomed at least seven Inspector General reports on the Patriot Act since it was first passed, and there has not been one verified abuse of civil liberties using the Patriot Act."

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said the statement may simply be "bluster" and does not necessarily mean that the administration will conceal information about its use of the Patriot Act.

But, he said, the statement illustrates the administration's "mind-bogglingly expansive conception" of executive power, and its low regard for legislative power.

"On the one hand, they deny that Congress even has the authority to pass laws on these subjects like torture and eavesdropping, and in addition to that, they say that Congress is not even entitled to get information about anything to do with the war on terrorism," Golove said.

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Walter Cronkite -

Documentary Sends Warning to Congress
By Walter Cronkite
The Miami Herald

Thursday 23 March 2006

When young Anh Duong fled war-torn Saigon in 1973, she never imagined she'd grow up one day to make bombs for the U.S. military. She was just a child whose passage to safety in the United States she credits to "a thirst for freedom" and "the sacrifice of other people."

In the important new documentary film Why We Fight, Duong's remarkable saga is told alongside the stories of a number of everyday people working for America's defense. From a wide-eyed young recruit to the pilots who launched the opening strike of Operation Iraqi Freedom to a New York policeman who lost his son on 9/11, the film is a scrapbook of the American family at a time of war, trapped in a tragedy of history repeating.

Today, Duong is an explosives expert employed at the Naval Surface Warfare Station at Indian Head, Md. Credited with the development of a powerful bunker-buster used in Afghanistan and Iraq, she proudly recounts her rise from refugee to "defense technician."

"I do remember the desperation," Duong recalls, the obvious sunshine in her nature battling the anguish of memories.

"A lot of South Vietnamese felt that the Americans had left them to fend for themselves. That in the end, America deliberately withdrew all the support."

Though the pain of betrayal is not lost on her, there is an irony in her path from war victim to war professional. Though Duong's tale is a stirring immigrant success story, watching the movie's scenes of Saigon's fall at a time when we are facing the withdrawal question in Iraq gave me a profound sense of déj vu.

Not unlike the Vietnam quagmire on which I reported in 1968, we are today presented with the Iraq quagmire. The threat of world communism has been replaced by international terror as a pretext for another misbegotten and mismanaged war, but the falsehoods, broken promises and withering national faith are too familiar.

Now, as then, with each further escalation, we come closer to the brink of cosmic disaster. A recent poll revealed that three-fourths of U.S. troops serving in Iraq want full withdrawal, one-fourth immediately. Despite the executive's stubborn optimism, two-thirds of the public now favor withdrawal.

Yet in Congress, such voices are the minority.

In my February 1968 broadcast, I called the position of Vietnam a stalemate.

I'm not sure "stalemate" fits the U.S. military's loose footing in the sands of Iraq, but the need to cut losses does. In the wake of the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra, Shiites and Sunnis now clash across the region. Our men and women in uniform face the task of trying to stave off a civil war when their very presence as an occupying force more often than not fuels the violence and represents an obstacle to Shiite and Sunni reconciliation.

As I stated in relation to Vietnam, the only rational way out is to proceed not as victors but as an honorable people who tried to defend democracy the best they could. Recently, I suggested that in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina there was an opportunity to withdraw from Iraq and still maintain our sense of honor. We had an urgent need to redirect our resources to the aid of our communities and people stricken by the devastation of the great storm. Almost no one on Capitol Hill was listening.

Why We Fight should be required viewing for Americans but even more for those on Capitol Hill. The film sends a chilling warning that should not be ignored by Congress and our executive branch.


Walter Cronkite is a former anchorman for CBS News.
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Why We Fight!

I see that the documentary "Why We Fight" is no longer playing in Marin. It is one, then, we should all look for and rent. I heard it was hard to watch, though, important. I suppose that is often true.
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A card from my brother arrived today. The photo is of Tibetan monks speeding downhill on a roller coaster with their arms straight up in the air, and their mouths open. I can hear and feel their screams of terror and delight, just from looking at the picture.

Gar writes, "SMILE!!! You're on the DOWNHILL RUN!

And this is how it seems. Each day I have a little more energy, and do a little more. I am starting to feel like I'm getting my old self back. My cocoon is opening. Yay!!