A Death With Dignity…Why I Care

Originally posted on With Dignity:

Those readers who know me from the MisBehavedWoman blog might remember that I decided to break from blogging to pursue other artistic interests. Here I am, less than 3 months later, already back in the blogosphere…so what gives? To answer a private message from a blogger-buddy, no, I did not get bored. I didn’t feel overly *lost* or disconnected…quite the opposite, actually. I was cruising along, working in our little garden, taking time to soak up sun & water in the pool and yes, I was painting and creating like a madwoman…or maybe just like someone trying to learn a new craft. Either way, life was chill and I thought my no-mas-blogging decision was final and right.

And then…and then and then and then…

My dad phoned me one afternoon a couple of weeks ago. While he’s had several months of relatively good health since his Mesothelioma diagnosis last year, he’s beginning…

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A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed

Originally posted on Moorbey'z Blog:

A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed

Texas death row inmate Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death on March 19. He has written us a letter that, he acknowledges, “could be my final statement on earth.” It is well worth your time.

Ray Jasper was convicted of participating in the 1998 robbery and murder of recording studio owner David Alejandro. A teenager at the time of the crime, Jasper was sentenced to death. He wrote to us once before, as part of our Letters from Death Row series. That letter was remarkable for its calmness, clarity, and insight into life as a prisoner who will never see freedom. We wrote back and invited him to share any other thoughts he might have. Today, we received the letter below. Everyone should read it.

A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be ExecutedSExpand

Mr. Nolan,

When I first responded to you, I didn’t think that it would cause people to reach out to…

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Colorado Prison Director To Reform Solitary Confinement After Enduring It Himself

Originally posted on A Solitary Torture:

First thing you notice is that it’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise – other inmates’ blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments,” he wrote. “I couldn’t make any sense of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid. I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not go off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them.”

The Free Thought Project- “Colorado prison inmates who have spent time in solitary confinement should prepare to see their conditions change after the new executive director of the state’s department of corrections said spending 20 hours in isolation has inspired him to reform it.

Rick Raemisch announced his intentions in an…

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The Ukrainian political tug of war between Russia and the US is far more important than most realize. The ramifications of which could foreshadow trouble for all concerned.

Originally posted on Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News:

What Is Happening In Ukraine Is Far More Important Than Most People Realize

Violence During The Ukraine Revolution - Photo by Mstyslav ChernovWhat the people of Ukraine are being put through is absolutely horrible.  They are caught in the middle of a massive tug of war between the East and the West, and they are paying a great price for it.  Ultimately, Ukraine will end up either being dominated by Russia (a bad outcome) or by the EU and the United States (another bad outcome).  Most Ukrainians just want to be free and want to be able to build a better future for themselves and their families, but it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to escape the specter of foreign domination.  Meanwhile, the violence in Ukraine is planting the seeds for a potentially much larger conflict down the road.  The days of “friendly relations” between the United States and…

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Somewhere Over The Colors Of The Rainbow

All morning long now, I’ve had the John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling & I must answer” flitting and floating through my head but in a slightly modified manner…

The colors are calling & I must answer…” 

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“Grief In The Light Of Day”
©R.McFarland 2014

I’ve got that itch, that urge…I look over beside me and think, “Do I really only have 99 bottles of paint (on the wall) to choose from?” Damn, that just won’t do…it won’t be enough paint to reach all the scratchy places in my head or spirit. Ah well…Just look at that stack of wood scrap Steve so generously brought home for me! The pieces are practically screaming – not merely calling – to be fulfilled; to have all of the blank spaces filled in with the colors swirling around in my brain, searching for a crack to bust open and spill out of. 

So…the paints & wood are calling & I am going to take a short blogging leave and go answer them. I’ll return once the colors have been satisfied and I can manage to keep my head on this side of the rainbow and actually focus on words, rather than swirling colors…

 

Arkansas Families File Lawsuit Over Earthquakes

Fourteen families in central Arkansas have filed a lawsuit in connection with a series of earthquakes in Faulkner County.

Houston CBS -“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Saturday that the lawsuit is against Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Operating Inc. and Billiton Petroleum LLC alleges that natural-gas disposal wells resulted in thousands of earthquakes in Arkansas in 2010 and 2011.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday says the earthquakes damaged the plaintiff’s homes and caused the market value for the houses to decline.

Billiton, which purchased Chesapeake’s Arkansas assets in 2011, did not immediately return a phone call or email seeking comment.” More

America’s Preeminent Birdhouse Mason

Curbed – “For Tom Burke, it started the way many artists find their calling—trying to impress an old girlfriend. How long ago? “10 years.” Pause. “Maybe 15 years.” Pause. “99 years I guess, I’m not sure.” OK, so somewhere between 1915 and 2003, Burke was working rehabbing old barns for folks living in Delaware and the Pennsylvania border towns. A longtime subscriber to Architectural Digest,Burke started drawing up blueprints for a birdhouse version of Ralph Lauren’s ranch mansion, and others that splashed across the covers of the glossy he received each month. Soon after he absconded with barn wood salvaged from demolitions and began building…

…Over the course of his career, Burke has built a chapel from Chadds Ford and done up old Southern sprawls in North Carolina. He’s built the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia  and Santiago Calatrava’s 80 South Street skyscraper in NYC. Actually, his 18-foot-tall Calatrava model is still in pieces in his condo in Wilmington, Del.; when it was being installed down on the riverfront in downtown Wilmington (where many of his works are displayed), he made them stop putting it together after five of 12 boxes were assembled. “You should stop,” he said. “It’ll kill somebody.”

And that wasn’t his only deviation from colonial clapboard: the skyline piece he did for The New Yorker  was bought sight-unseen by his “main patron,” an art collector who has spent more than $30K on Burke’s houses. In fact, that same client called Burke this week with a request for a birdhouse rendition of his most recent real estate purchase: Alex Rodriguez’ ultra-modern Miami spread, which sold in May for $30M.

“Honest to God, it’s going to be the best bird house [...] it’s going to be absolutely massive.”

No matter the scale, each birdhouse starts the same: blueprints and “a whole bunch of exterior-grade plywood.” Unlike many miniaturists, Burke doesn’t sweat the exactitudes, preferring “whimsical birdhouse scale” even if it means “I’ll lose a window once in a while.” He uses scrapwood from friends in the demolition world and other odds and ends he finds along the street or in Dumpsters. “The only stuff I buy are the plywood and nails,” he says. Each house takes about two months—”don’t quote me on that, it’s probably going to take longer”—minus installation.” Full Article on Curbed

Terrifying Loud Booms Baffle Residents in Oklahoma

ABC= “If you hear a bang in the night in Oklahoma, it’s probably not a monster, but could something worse — an earthquake.

Across the south central state, 20 earthquakes were reported to The United States Geological Survey on Saturday alone. One of those quakes in the Edmond area had a magnitude of 3.5.

But residents are puzzled as to why the quakes are occurring so frequently and making such alarmingly loud noises.

“Felt like bombs going off. It’s just a huge loud noise and then it’s like a reverb from that boom that just shakes the entire house,” Logan County resident Nancy York told ABC News affiliate KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City.

“If I’m experiencing eight of these in one day, then when does it erupt and become absolutely horrible that takes my house down?” York asked.

Similar booms have been heard across other states including Indiana, South Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island in the last month. All of these regions are active areas on the USGS seismic hazard map.

Seismologist Austin Holland with the Oklahoma Geological Survey said that the unexplained noises are a result of sound waves emitting deep from within the earth before erupting. Residents might not know it’s an earthquake because the shaking may be too slight to detect.

“When you’re on top of a small earthquake it generates a boom. It’s kind of similar to an explosion,” Holland said. “I know these booms have been reported in other places and they couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

Oklahoma has seen a steep rise in the frequency of earthquakes in the area, according to a joint statement by both USGS and OGS. Residents have experienced more than 200 measuring at least a magnitude 3.0 since the beginning of 2009.

Holland said the USGS and OGS are conducting joint research on the increase in the frequency of earthquakes in the area.

It is not clear if the quakes are being triggered by human activity or are occurring naturally, Holland said, although he said suggested changes to lake levels may be involved.

The scientists are looking at hydraulic fracturing among all other possible factors, he said, but it may be a while before they come up with a definitive answer.

“We have no way to predict the future. Earthquakes aren’t predictable,” Holland said. “Certainly the more earthquakes we have, the more likely we are to have a larger one.”

Jumping For Joy!

Ahhhh…Friday! 

FM

My weekly witching hour of blogging has arrived, I think. The sun is sunning, the bees are buzzing and we are set for record high temps here this weekend…My hubby, a few Coronas (with lime, please!), cut-offs and my long-neglected yard-n-garden are calling for me to come out and play…so I am out of here until Monday.

!1AWeather

As I head out, I leave you with some critters jumping for joy, happy tunes for tonight’s full moon o’ love and wishes for a wonderful weekend! ~Reb

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Maybe we’ll head out for a drive tonight just so I can watch the moon follow the car…

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Federal Funding & Research Fraud

“A national expert, New York University bioethics professor Arthur Caplan, said last month that prosecutors should have been alerted about the incident. Caplan told the Register that Han’s admitted actions were “flat-out fraud,” which should have drawn more than a temporary ban from federally financed research.”

Dong-Pyou Han

DesMoines Register -“U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is suggesting that federal officials should have sought tougher sanctions against a former Iowa State University scientist who committed brazen fraud in an AIDS vaccine study.

Han resigned from Iowa State last fall after admitting he spiked samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to falsely indicate a vaccine was protecting the rabbits against the virus that causes AIDS. The assistant professor signed a statement taking sole responsibility for the fraud and saying he was “very ashamed.”

The federal government’s top AIDS research administrator has said the “exciting results” of the tainted tests helped Han’s team gain millions of dollars in government grants.

Grassley’s letter to the director of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity suggests that more should be done to recover some of the grant money.

In a pointed letter Monday, the Iowa Republican asked why the culprit, Dong-Pyou Han, only received a three-year ban from participating in federally financed research.

“This seems like a very light penalty for a doctor who purposely tampered with a research trial and directly caused millions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted on fraudulent studies,” Grassley wrote to a senior official of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is suggesting that federal officials should have sought tougher sanctions against a former Iowa State University scientist who committed brazen fraud in an AIDS vaccine study.

…Grassley’s letter requested that federal officials respond within two weeks to his list of questions about the case. The senator’s questions include whether federal administrators have ever tried to recover grant money in such a case. He also asked whether research supervisors are ever held accountable for scientific misconduct by their underlings…

…In response to an public records request from the Register, ISU officials last month released hundreds of pages of documents about the situation, including numerous emails between the university and federal officials. The documents included no suggestion that anyone had alerted law-enforcement authorities about the fraud.” Full Article

Commit Fraud, Go to Jail?

LabTimes “In June 2009, a judge in New York City sentenced Bernard “Bernie” Madoff to 150 years in prison for his role in a massive fraud scheme that drained an estimated $18 billion from unwitting investors. Six months later, Scott Reuben, a Massachusetts anesthesiologist dubbed the “Medical Madoff”, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for health care fraud after fabricating data in clinical trials he did not conduct.

But since then, despite dozens of findings of misconduct by the Office of Research Integrity, no American researcher has been sent to jail for scientific fraud. You would think that the argument for prison would be easier to make when such fraud involves misusing the taxpayers’ dollars but most such cases don’t even result in outright bans on federal funding. A growing chorus of observers, however, is saying the time is right to make time behind bars part of the sanction against such behaviour.

Looking good in orange

To be sure, the sentiment is far from unanimous. While some scientists are frustrated that fraudsters roam free after faking their way to highly competitive grants and depriving others of research funds, many, if not most, scientists wince at the notion that their dishonest colleagues would look better in orange (the colour of a standard USA prisoner outfit). After all, finding a victim at the back end of the deed is often difficult. Sure, other researchers may have wasted time and money following up on bogus results. But the reaction seems typically to be more “Run ‘em out of town” rather than “Lock ‘em up and throw away the key”.

Yet, the arguments for making research misconduct a criminal offence is worth strong consideration. The leading voice was a December 2013 editorial in Nature titled “Call the cops”, which stated bluntly: “Science likes to shelter its crooks with euphemisms. The prefix ‘research’ softens fraud, and to deliberately obtain public money through deception gets labelled misconduct, among other things. This reflects the fact that the crime is viewed as being against professional standards rather than against the laws of wider society. The international game of science turned professional long ago, but the rules of play and their enforcement still harbour a decidedly amateur spirit.” Full Post on LabTimes