“Diabetes Shocker Has Medical World Up In Arms”

I recently received a promotional email from the platform Patheos (I am on a few of their mailing lists) which was interesting to me.
This has happened before (also on patheos) when I saw an ad for a product that allegedly had the cure for dementia. This latest addition brings up another so-called medical marvel.

This time, however, for diabetics. Sent on behalf of a company called Constitutional Health, let’s get into it.

Here is the video link:

https://constitutionalhealth.com/secret/blueprint/webinar-pr1/?utm_campaign=2942018_Patheos&utm_medium=email&AFID=1&SID=2942018_Patheos&utm_source=dedicated

Interestingly, though they use proprietary Youtube logo’s both in the email and within the link, I couldn’t open the link in youtube itself (and therefore directly embed the video here). Possibly explainable legitimately. But also a red flag, since universally recognized logos can lend legitimacy to the material they are associated with.

The video is essentially a testimonial of a man named Jacob’s experience with this so-called miracle diabetes reversal method called The DWD Protocol (DWD meaning Done With Diabetes).
I use the word miracle because of the nature of the video, obviously aimed at those of faithful sensibilities (the main Patheos userbase). And yes, yet another tri-acronym protocol.
This is aparently brought to us by a physician named Dr. Roy Taylor (more on the aparently later). According to the video, the protocol reboots the pancreas to quote do what God intended it to do, aka keep your blood sugar levels healthy and reverse insulin resistance.

This new protocol allegedly sharply reduces the need (or even eliminates!) the necessity of medication.

Though I would normally watch the provided video webinar to its conclusion, I just . . . couldn’t. Though these things always beat around the bush right to the very last second, this one had no end in sight. With a healthy dose of fearmongering, conspiratorial allegations against drug companies and the American Diabetes Association, AND promotion of distrust in people’s personal physicians, I couldn’t hear it any longer.

I already have extracted the most important details that I needed.

The DWD (Done With Diabetes) protocol.

https://dwdprotocol.com/

The DWD Lifestyle Blueprint focuses not on treating symptoms but addressing the lifestyle factors which lead to type 2 diabetes in the first place—the same factors that ensure it remains a chronic, ongoing disease. With step-by-step guides, natural nutritional support, and behavioral strategies firmly grounded in psychology, the Lifestyle Blueprint provides the tools people need to achieve long-term healthy change.

The four-module Success Blueprint addresses the most important lifestyle factors for type 2 diabetics, fostering healthy habits by giving them the education they’re missing and the tools for consistent success. Community support ensures that users stay on target. And the powerful DWDX3 supplement, clinically-proven to support insulin sensitivity, offers physical support for recovery from the damage done by type 2 diabetes.

So it looks like we’re dealing with a sort of educational and nutritional manual in combination with a proprietary supplement.

The core of the program is the very low calorie DWD reversal diet, based on groundbreaking studies 1,2,3 showing that very low calorie diets of 600 to 800 calories per day can reverse type 2 diabetes. But where other such diets employ meal-replacement shakes to achieve their goal, the DWD diet takes users through eight weeks of very low calorie eating based on real food. For the duration of the program, users will prepare their own healthy low-calorie meals, aided by the dedicated cookbook included with each module. They will also learn to calculate their unique energy and macronutrient needs. By the end of the program will have all the tools they need to maintain a healthy weight—and blood glucose–long-term.

But diet is only one factor affecting the development of type 2 diabetes. Each of the four modules addresses one important aspect of lifestyle and is designed to bring about positive change in that area. Each day, users will be given education, activities, and exercises intended to highlight the behaviors which contribute to type 2 diabetes and modify those behaviors organically.

I can’t see all that much wrong with this so far. There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health and well being. There are other ways to get this information than paying these guys for it but to each his own.

Hint: Use a search engine. The vast library that is the resources of the internet is a godsend to almost anyone inquiring into almost anything.

The final component is the concentrated DWDX3 supplement. This proprietary formula is comprised entirely of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals clinically proven* to support healthy blood sugar levels and protect against the damage caused by type 2 diabetes.

This is the part that has me curious. The supplement.

As a rule, I don’t trust supplements because they are regulated differently than other food and drugs (at least in the US and Canada), so you are often at the mercy of seller honesty when you are purchasing this type of stuff. Consider the Alex Jones example. Or for that matter, that it’s not all that uncommon for supplements to claim to contain ingredients that they don’t actually have.

From frozen dinners to vitamins, the labels on our foods are sometimes incorrect. Earlier this month, the attorney general of New York accused GNC GNC, -2.47%  , Target TGT, -0.34%  , Walgreens and Wal-Mart WMT, +1.34%   of selling herbal supplements that claimed to contain ingredients they didn’t actually contain; indeed, DNA tests of some of these stores’ supplements found that just 21% contained DNA from the herbs and plants listed on the label.

The New York review wasn’t the first to reach such conclusions. A study released in 2013 in the journal BMC Medicine — in which 44 bottles of herbal supplements from 12 companies were tested — found that one-third of the supplements tested didn’t contain the supplement advertised (so, for example, a bottle of St. John’s wort didn’t actually have any St. John’s wort herb in it). Many other supplements contained ingredients like wheat and rice that weren’t even listed on the label—even though they can cause allergic reactions in some consumers.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/margin-of-error-on-food-labels-20-2013-11-07

The final sentence is particularly disturbing. Allergies can literally be a death sentence for some people. Making this problem far worse than a simple issue of deceiving a consumer for profit.

Let me be clear . . . I am not making any claims of certainty about the DWDX3 supplement. All I am telling readers of this blog is that they should exercise caution in terms of supplements because not all participants consider your wellbeing as their top priority.

Consider this legal disclaimer that was prominently displayed on the webinar video I referred to earlier.

Either way, time to look into this.

Interestingly enough, the first link I found was to a Medium article reviewing a book (and process) called the diabetes protocol, which is entirely different than the one I am looking into. That protocol and book were created by Dr. Kenneth Pullman. Interestingly, the links to materials on Pullman’s official site are now broken. The review was written back in September 2014.

Though the link went dead sometime in 2016, thanks to the way back machine, we can have some insight into what the page looked like.

Where have I seen this before . . .

Next on the docket is . . . a review of Done With Diabetes. Here, however, the product is credited to a Dr. Eugene Koprowski (as opposed to Dr. Roy Taylor). Interestingly, most of the references I found in the wilds of the search engine results also credit a Dr. Koprowski. Only the video and email distributed to Patheo’s users seems to credit Dr. Roy Taylor from Newcastle, England.

https://www.organicsupplementsreview.com/done-with-diabetes/

I found this link through a video testimonial that came up with my first search query.

Here, I suspect yet another common form of digital marketing trickery. This time, I will pass the baton to CBC’s Marketplace. Allow them to highlight why you should be careful of these everyday person type reviews and testimonials.

And for this matter, online reviews in general.

Next, we have . . . yet another book by yet another doctor (Dr. Neal B. Barnard). Given your newfound education in analyzing online reviews, did anything seem amiss?

It seems that there is no shortage of doctors promoting different diabetes fixes. A regular cottage industry, it seems.

The most obvious question that comes to my mind is can diabetes be reversed, PERIOD? Seems like a good jumping off point (being that it covers everything past and present, DWD included).

A Time magazine article from September 2017 claims that the answer is yes, based on a newly released paper.

An analysis published in The BMJ aims to let doctors and the public in on a little-known secret: Type 2 diabetes, in many cases, is curable.

People can reverse their diabetes by losing about 33 pounds, say the authors of the new paper, despite popular belief that the diagnosis is always a permanent one. If more people were striving for this goal, and if more doctors were documenting instances of diabetes remission, complication rates and health-care costs could both be reduced dramatically, the authors say.

The analysis is based on evidence from recent clinical trials. In one from 2011, people who were recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes returned their blood sugar levels to normal when they lost weight on a calorie-restrictive diet. In a 2016 follow-up study, people who had been diabetic for up to 10 years were able to reverse their condition when they lost about 33 pounds.

Mike Lean, professor of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, is an author of both the new analysis and of those earlier trials. He says a person’s likelihood of remission from diabetes is greatest in the first five years after being diagnosed.

Type 2 diabetes, he wrote in an email, is a disease “best avoided by avoiding the weight gain that drives it.” For people who do develop it, he believes that evidence-based weight-loss programs could help them achieve lasting remission.

“Not all can do it, but they should all be given the chance with good support,” Lean writes. “Taking tablets or injections for life to reduce blood sugar is a poor second rate treatment.”

Current guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes include reducing blood sugar levels and lowering risks for heart disease, primarily with medications and general lifestyle advice about diet and exercise.

But many people don’t attempt to lose weight and keep it off, Lean says—and that may be because because they don’t realize they can become non-diabetic again. Many doctors don’t know this either, he says, so they don’t give patients the proper guidance and encouragement.

So, a probable yes?

I hesitate to go all in based on this for a couple reasons. First off, it looks like it’s a fairly small sample size. And secondly, the media is known for misrepresenting the findings of scientific studies, often times unintentionally. I’ll again let John Oliver explain this phenomenon to you.

Imagine that . . . a reference to Time Magazine.

Moving on, when it comes to the big question (can diabetes be reversed?), I found a small panel of experts that have various answers to that question, but the majority lead to the same ultimate answer (No).

There is no reversing of type 1 diabetes, period. It is an autoimmune disease. The pancreas, in this case, has never produced any insulin, so there is no treating that without taking insulin.
Type 2 on the other hand, is caused by the body developing a resistance to insulin due to the overproduction of it on account to constantly high blood sugar levels. This constant overworking of the pancreas can eventually lead to it slowing (or even ceasing) production of insulin. Being that it’s driven largely by lifestyle, type 2 can generally be managed by making good diet and lifestyle choices. Obesity tends to be associated with this disease (they see the most benefit from exercise), however, one doesn’t need to be obese to develop the disease.
Interestingly, this was something I warned a family member about (I know they consume ALOT of sugar in a day). But it was a warning they didn’t heed until their doctor warned them that their blood glucose was higher than it should be.

https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/can-diabetes-type-2-be-reversed/

Once a person enters pre-diabetes where their hemoglobin HbA1c starts rising above 5.7% they have entered the disease process. The patient – if made aware that they have pre-diabetes and has access to educational support – has the opportunity to prevent the pre-diabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes.

They will always have the pre-diabetes diagnosis and have the potential to develop type 2 diabetes if aggressive dietary, exercise and or medication is not followed. It is possible to achieve a normal non-diabetic HbA1c after this – virtually not having any clinical evidence of the pre-diabetes, however the disease process is still there and being held at bay.

If the person stops the interventions or is predisposed to having diabetes due to risk factors out of their control, they can and will develop type 2 diabetes. It’s worth noting that there are genetic and other non-adjustable risk factors (ethnicity for example) that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

It is also worth noting and all of this advice can be followed and a person can still develop type 2 diabetes. Following strict guidelines and taking medications is not a 100% promise that type 2 diabetes will be prevented.

A patient diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (HbA1c of 6.5% or above) will always have type 2 diabetes. Interventions such as medication (including insulin), staying active and making good diet choices must be maintained to prevent the disease from progressing further. However, even if the patient undergoes strict medication, diet and exercise adherence and manages to lower the HbA1c they will still have type 2 diabetes.

The idea of “reversing” is describing the well managed type 2 diabetes that can be maintained without the outcome of complications (eye disease, kidney disease, etc.). And it is totally possible to have type 2 (or type 1 diabetes for that matter) and have no complications – however, this takes careful management and is largely driven by the patient and their access to quality healthcare.

So, can you “reverse” diabetes? No – but you can manage it very well with the help of a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a knowledgeable primary care physician or endocrinologist. There are even prescription apps available to bridge the care that your clinicians can give you between visits and apps that offer virtual CDE’s for greater assistance.

Molly McElwee-Malloy, RN, CDE

This one, while similar, offers a word of warning to all those seeking help from miracle protocols. Though one can theoretically achieve remission enough to allow the discontinuation of diabetic medications, you still can not let your guard down. Likely why none of these proposed protocols ever use the word cure. Because despite being able to reverse many of the worst symptoms, there is no going back to square one.

From my professional experience as an inpatient diabetes educator, many patients are able to reduce or stop their diabetic medications through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. Through these adjustments their A1C improves, they lose weight, and do not require the same interventions as when they were diagnosed.

Many of my patients with several comorbidities elect to have weight loss surgery, such as gastric banding, in order to lose the amount of weight needed to improve their diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risks that follow obesity.

However, once someone has a tremendous improvement and no longer needs to take diabetes medications they do not need to assume it is “gone for good.” Different factors can cause their glucose to rise again, such as gaining weight or not following a diabetic diet.

Therefore, once a person has been diagnosed with diabetes they need to always check their glucose at home and follow-up with their PCP to have their A1C monitored regularly.

Amanda L. Gilbert, RN, MSN

I pulled that one to let anyone looking into any diabetes protocol (past or future!) know to be careful of words like reversing, in the context of type 2 diabetes. The video that drove me to write this piece didn’t overly emphasize the importance of monitoring one’s condition even AFTER the protocol seems to be kicking in (or at least that wasn’t what I came away with, anyway).

To conclude, I never came around to any solid conclusions about what I first set out exploring, the Done With Diabetes protocol. Really, I don’t have to.

If I were in such a situation, I would not purchase it. For one, the price.

https://www.easybodyfit.com/done-with-diabetes-reviews/

What is the price of freedom? $60 a bottle apparently.

While I am at it, I may as well show you another thing to watch for in terms of these kinds of sites. First off are the ads for CBD oil that are front and center. If not CBD oil, than any substance. I don’t have to do a long form to tell you that laundry list of cured ailments is a load of scheiße.

Is a website that pushes this kind of nonsense a place where you want to be purchasing ANYTHING, let alone medical necessities? I know my answer.
Yes, this is just one independent retailer of this product (likely unaffiliated with its manufacturer). But the fact that one would need to resort to a place like this says a lot.

The second is the language. The presence of many errors that a native English speaker would not make tells me that this wasn’t written by someone with English as their native tongue. Though it is hosted in Las Angeles (I dug up the IP Address and checked), you can’t go by that.
Take this blog.  It is run by a content creator in Canada but hosted by a company called Automattic in San Francisco.

Either way, if you are type 2 diabetic or prediabetic, no matter what the true status of the supplements in the Done With Diabetes protocol, they are not necessary. Frankly, neither is the protocol itself if you are to be paying for it. First and foremost, your doctor should be your first stop in your quest. If they are uninterested in much more than pulling out the prescription pad (it happens. Burnout or greed can affect members of any profession), consider a second opinion from another doctor.

As for implementing a healthy lifestyle, consider how you got here. Chances are you were looking into some supposed diabetes protocol or other easy solution to a terrifying health problem. Instead of looking for something to buy, consider looking for advice. Try terms like “healthy living with diabetes” or “living with diabetes”.

By the looks of many of these protocols, you will likely be following many of the same steps anyway. Only without the added expense of the literature and questionable additional supplements.

After polishing this off, I found a reference to Dr. Roy Toylor buried in the hyperlinks of the Time magazine article I utilized above. The man is indeed a legitmaite doctor that ran a legitamite study. I suspect that his work being refrenced as sales material for a supliment is not with his permission (possibly even knowledge). 

I also have some concerns about his findings as described even on his Universities website, because they seem to contradict with other medical literature. Namely that a pancreas that has been dysfunctional for as long as 2 decades can start working as normal just with the removal of excess fatty tissue.

Indeed, I am not the doctor here. None the less . . . the claim seems a bit premature. Particularly from a physition.

Posted in Opinion, Other, Various Commentary | Leave a comment

DNA Genology Services, Baby Pictures On Social Media, And Other Privacy Issues In Today’s World

It’s interesting when something you were pondering in your mind suddenly makes an appearance in the media. Though it hasn’t happened for awhile (a few years), it did today.

In Hunt For Golden State Killer, Investigators Uploaded His DNA To Genealogy Site

Recently, advertising and popularity for services that help map out your ancestry by way of your DNA have been more prominent in the cultural matrix. I have been critical of these services from day 1 due to the prospect of a private company retaining a copy of your DNA profile. Though I have had naysayers question this conclusion (“What could they possibly use it for?!”), I was steadfast. Even if a use hasn’t been developed YET, we live in a rapidly technologically advancing world. I figured that if ever this DNA data was usable in terms of marketing data, then these private entities are sitting on a goldmine.
Do they have the right to sell or share your DNA profile as part of the agreement in using the service? Did you check that fine print?

Though that was my mid to long-term concern of such services, a story about law enforcement subpoenaing such services in looking for matches to samples they had come across opened a whole new avenue of concern. A concern that we don’t have to wait around for either.

Some years back, my family went through a genealogy tracking phase of sorts. Some family member had opened an account on some genealogy tracing platform, and most of my relations with digital access (me included. I was a teenager) contributed things like information and photos. Though the tree that we built is gone (the person paying decided not to renew), you can still find bits and pieces of information archived all over the public domain. When you combine these breadcrumbs with other breadcrumbs publicly (and likely unknowingly!) shared by family members on social media, you can build an accurate picture.
It’s the main reason why I was annoyed when may in my family were taken in after a medium childhood friend of one of my aunts claimed that my dead grandfather dropped by during a session. So strange that someone with a memorial Facebook page dedicated to him should drop by in a session by one of its main contributors. I chronicled this 2013 experience HERE.

A realization of all of this was that even if you are extremely careful at managing your information, photo’s etc, that is only half the battle. You can lock down and keep things under wraps, but it can easily be undone if friends and close relations either don’t know (or don’t care) about sharing these details publicly.

It occurred to me that this type of situation could also occur when it comes to these DNA sharing services. Since relations have DNA profiles that are fairly similar, then law enforcement could (in theory) find a close enough match VIA a family member, allowing them to force you to submit a sample (VIA a subpoena or warrant).
Of course, a common reaction may be “Well, if you didn’t do anything wrong, then what are you worried about?”.
Indeed, there will be a net benefit in some cases. However, because humans are humans, there will be inevitable cases where this is abused. Possibly to falsely imprison someone for a crime they didn’t commit. It’s happened many times already, even with so-called sophisticated forensic techniques.

Many (most?) law enforcement agencies still use the Polygraph. If that doesn’t give you some pause than I don’t know what will.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-doug-williams-war-on-lie-detector/

In terms of my future DNA as a marketing toolkit hypothesis, these libraries are likely to be even more useful. Owing simply to the fact that marketing does not necessarily have to be about individual targeting (though that is certainly the most ideal). You can also effectively market to large cohorts.
These days, such blocks that come to mind could be based on geolocation (based on your IP address) or other metadata as collected from social media (gender, interests, hobbies, etc). In the future, you may be able to create cohorts from anything from ancestral information to character (or other) traits.

Another thing that I have been contemplating of late which goes hand in hand with the previous topic, is the sharing of information, photographs, and other personal material without the explicit consent of the people involved. People that don’t consent because they can not consent.

The dead come to mind. I have doubts that my grandfather would approve of his image and name being used so frivolously online. Much like his living siblings, as evidenced by the brick wall they put up when my families ancestry inquiries reached them.

The bigger concern for me, however, are among the living. That is, parents and family members of babies and children that share these images far and wide before the child is even cogent of their native launguage (let alone the possible far reaching consequences). Also worth noting is this annoying trend of opening social media accounts for these children.
We all likely see examples of this on a daily basis. A child of only 3 weeks can now get more public exposure than many past individuals could over their entire lifetime. Though most social media platforms have rules against underage accounts in their terms of service, this only covers those questionable acounts (and only if they are brought to their attention). But babies and children shared on legitimate profiles are generally of no concern.

This is a fairly new issue, yet another that has sprung up with the growth of social media’s prevalence in everyday life. Though social media has been around for a decade, like many other implications, I suspect this one has not yet been fully realized.

When someone brings up the age of consent, they are generally talking about when a young adult is considered old enough to willfully agree to sexual activity. This age varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
I wonder if it is time to take a similar step, only in terms of information and media. Since babies and children are young or too immature to fully comprehend the complexities of having their information and photos floating around online (and there is no reversing it by the time they DO come of age), is it time to restrict such public displays of the information?
Note that I am not saying that someone shouldn’t be allowed to share family photos between friends and family. Just that this stuff should not be made public (even inadvertently!) before the concerned individual has a say in the matter.

In most cases, I doubt that much will come out of this. None the less, however, it is only right that autonomous individuals have full control of their information. If we don’t tackle this issue now, could it result in future lawsuits down the road?

Posted in All Things Tech, Opinion, Social Issues, Various Commentary | Leave a comment

“Are Palestinian Journalists Being Censored by Murder?” – (Truthdig)

First of all, an admission. I don’t know what (if any) agenda may be in the mind of the author of this article,  David Palumbo-Liu. A quick search shows that he is certainly an interesting man, having been labeled a terrorist by the right-wing media only this February. All this for helping to set up (not long after the Trump victory) and being a member of an anti-fascist network on campus (I assume Stanford). He is even controversial on his own campus, with the Stanford Review taking him on directly. Twice.

When dealing with divisive material as we are with the geopolitics involved here, it dosesn’t hurt to be careful. Though everyone has a story to tell, the issue is whether or not it is a mere reiteration or a guided journey for your benefit.

I am not sure what the answer is in this case. None the less, the material is worth exploring.

On April 25, Ahmad Abu Hussein became the second Palestinian journalist Israeli snipers shot to death while covering the Great March of Return demonstrations, a series of weekly, massive Palestinian demonstrations demanding the right to return to their lands. Abu Hussein was 24 years old. Just days before, Israeli live ammunition killed 30-year-old Yasser Mourtaja. Like Abu Hussein, he was wearing a large, bright “Press” jacket that made clear he was a reporter.

The organization Reporters Sans Frontieres asserts that the Israeli Occupying Forces’ targeting of journalists is deliberate and systemic. This would be in direct violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2222 (2015), which states: “impunity for crimes committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed conflict remains a significant challenge to their protection and that ensuring accountability for crimes committed against them is a key element in preventing future attacks.”

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/are-israeli-snipers-censoring-palestinian-journalists-by-murder/

Here is some information surrounding both listed reporters deaths.

A Palestinian journalist who died on Wednesday “needed a miracle to save his life” after being shot by Israeli forces and made to wait two days to be transferred out of the Gaza Strip, health officials said.

Ahmad Abu Hussein succumbed to his wounds nearly two weeks after having been shot by Israeli forces while covering the “Great March of Return” in the besieged Gaza Strip.

A 24-year-old freelance photographer and correspondent for Al-Shaab radio station, Abu Hussein was shot in the abdomen with an expanding “dum-dum” bullet on 13 April east of the town of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, while standing several hundred meters away from the fence separating Gaza from Israel, according to witnesses.

He was transferred to the occupied West Bank for treatment in a Ramallah hospital two days later, only to be later admitted to Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel on 19 April. The ministry said the journalist died in Tel Hashomer.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, blamed Israel for delaying Abu Hussein’s transfer to the West Bank, saying it further endangered his life.

“He was supposed to be transferred to the hospital in Ramallah immediately, as his situation was very critical,” Qidra told Middle East Eye. “Unfortunately he was transferred two days after being injured, due to complications with Israeli security forces.”

Osama al-Najjar, spokesman for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health, told MEE that Abu Hussein “needed a miracle to save his life” by the time he arrived at the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, adding that the journalist had parts of his pancreas and liver removed during surgery due to the damage inflicted by the dum-dum bullet.

Israeli authorities only authorised Abu Hussein’s mother Rajaa to accompany her son to the hospital in Israel, denying a permit to his younger brother despite Rajaa being diabetic and in need of assistance, relatives said.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/ahmad-abu-hussein-gaza-journalist-killed-israeli-army-march-return

And Yasser Mourtaja.

A Palestinian reporter killed last week by Israeli fire was detained and beaten by Hamas security forces in 2015, a global journalist body said Wednesday, after Israel accused him of being a member of the Islamist group.

Yasser Murtaja was shot dead along with eight other Palestinians during clashes on the Gaza border Friday while, witnesses said, wearing a press vest, leading to criticism of Israel’s open-fire policy.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday said the photojournalist had served for years as a Hamas officer with the rank of Nakib (equivalent to Captain A) in the Gaza Strip.

Lieberman claimed the 30-year-old had received a salary since 2011, but provided no evidence for the claims.

A case file from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) documented how Murtaja was detained and beaten by Hamas security forces in 2015 while filming.

The file, seen by AFP, said Murtaja and three other colleagues were filming the demolition of a home near the Israeli border when a man demanded to see their documents.

After they refused, a jeep belonging to the Hamas security forces arrived and “pulled the photographer Yasser Murtaja into their jeep without explaining what was going on.”

It said inside the van he was beaten by Hamas police, leading to his eventual hospitalization. After an interrogation, his photographs were eventually seized.

Murtaja and the other journalists were interviewed by an IFJ researcher at the time, the file said.

Indeed, it’s hard to shake the notion that we are being led by both pieces, the 2ed of which really illustrates a mess.

Original piece:

Any proper inquiry into the shooting should take into account that the demonstrations are not a matter of “armed conflict.” The protests have been largely nonviolent, even celebratory. But Israel is determined to take brutal, punitive measures toward anyone who even approaches the border fence, which marks off its illegally occupied territory. An Israeli investigation into a December 2017 shooting reveals that Israeli soldiers are ordered to shoot anyone who is approaching the border fence, regardless of whether or not they are armed. This military posture has led to hundreds of unarmed Palestinians being hit with live ammunition, including several children.

According to Diana Buttu, a political analyst and Palestinian citizen of Israel, Israel’s targeting of journalists is not new and not accidental:

For years the Israeli censorship office, as it is called, has used tactics to try to punish journalists covering Israel’s occupation of Palestine. For example, Israel threatened to close down the BBC for its airing of a documentary on Israel’s nuclear weapons. Israel is now threatening to close down the offices of Al Jazeera for doing their job: reporting critically on Israel’s denial of freedom. The targeting of Palestinian journalists in Gaza is an extension of this: in the eyes of Israel’s military establishment there ‘are no innocents in Gaza’ including journalists.

One might even say, “especially journalists,” or indeed, anyone documenting the military’s actions. The Middle East Monitor notes a new law that punishes anyone who documents army personnel in action: “The draft law calls for anyone who films soldiers during their military service to be handed a -year [sic] jail term which would increase to ten years if the content is classified as ‘detrimental to Israeli security.’ The bill also prohibits the publication of video recordings on social media or disseminating them to the media.”

Human rights activist and law professor Noura Erakat sums up the situation thus: “It is both an effort to ensure that the Palestinian story is not told to the world and to tell Palestinians themselves that no one is safe.”

Certainly a bold accusation there.

To understand the significance of Israel’s attacks on journalists, it is crucial to understand how their professional lives are inextricable from their private lives under Israeli occupation. Doing journalism under these material, political and military conditions is nearly impossible, in any conventional sense. To try to get the story of what doing journalism is like, I contacted Issam Adwan, a freelance journalist in Gaza. He agreed to listen to my questions, pose them to a few of his colleagues and then translate the interviews. As one begins to learn more about the situation of Palestinian journalists, one understands the particular difficulties of working under not only Israeli censorship and repression, but also under the complexities of the Palestinian political world.

It is not only the Israeli state that is targeting journalists—the Palestinian Authority does so as well. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports the case of Hazem Naser, who was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in the middle of the night at his house. Anas Dahode, a 26-year-old journalist with Al-Aqsa TV, vividly describes the result of these pressures. He told Truthdig:

Being a journalist in Gaza only means death. Either you die trying to cover the massacres of Israeli Occupation forces as what happened to my friends like Yasser Mourtaja and others before him who were killed with cold-blood despite showing their identity as press personnel, or you die of watching others dying, it’s deadly any way. On one hand you face the political disputes between Hamas and Fatah which are derived from different ideologies and affect our media focus and the future or our jobs. On the other hand, the Israeli occupation that violates human rights almost every single day here in Gaza.

A nothing like being caught between a wall, a sea, and 2 terrorist organizations.

Mohammed Shaheen, 24, from the Voice of Palestine spoke about both the material and psychological challenges of doing his work:

We live in an open-air prison, we have few resources to live daily lives. In terms of my job as journalist, the Israeli authorities occasionally ban cameras, photographic materials, the use of safety gear that we need to do our jobs.

In normal cases, working as journalist omits the normalcy of your life. You should be always ready to work on breaking news to be a successful journalist. Imagine trying to do all this hard work when we are living in Gaza, a place we have martyrs and injuries almost every day. We have drones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You live the war—feeling every single moment of your life, not only because you fear to die in any moment or losing someone you always loved but also that you can wake up at dawn for a call from your agency to start working on some cases that related to Israeli massacres.

Shaheen added a striking, terrible afterword:

It is unfortunate that world community turned a blind eye and deaf ears to the Israeli massacres on Gaza. We have had three deadly wars, with Israel vastly armed against a people with few resources, military and otherwise. Thousands are killed and injured when all they wanted was to return their homes and villages, where their grandparents expelled from. We have been calling for the world community for 70 years—even when they know the truth, do you think it care? Israel always has the support of U.S., which will use the veto in any Palestinian-related voting. This is futile.

Despite this sense of futility, he and others still try to carry on their work. It is our responsibility to read and listen and watch the news that is brought to us at such a high cost.

 

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Freedom Of Speech & Expression – Should Political Beliefs Be A Protected Class?

Today, I bring you a segment from the David Pakman Show which caught my attention. The news story being covered was about a Trump supporter who found himself removed from a bar seemingly because of the hat (and it’s representative political affiliations).

The first thing that needs to be said (though it should be obvious) is that this is in the context of the United States. When Free Speech and Expression are concerned, international boundaries matter. How this plays out in the US is likely different than it would play out almost anywhere else.

To start, when it comes to the free speech debate, I no longer really stake out a position. It is one of the only debates where the status quo logical position is positioning yourself right at the extreme, the so-called Free Speech Absolutist. Though I used to be there as well, further life lessons have taught me that occupying the extremes of an ideology often times means overlooking various (and often times important) nuances.
While the absolutists are in good company in their chosen position (following people like Christopher Hitchens and Noam Chomsky), I can’t help but wonder if the position overlooks some important nuances. Particularly in the context of the last 2 years, with the rise of the fascist right all over the world.

If sunlight is truly the best disinfectant for these toxic ideologies, then should they not be falling away instead of growing? Is it REALLY that important that ideas that have rightfully fallen out of favor DECADES ago, be allowed to be spoken?

Again, at this point, I don’t stake out any position. I don’t have enough data to do so.

To bring it back to the original topic, I have a definite position on this. Which is, this is ridiculous.

The first thing that must be acknowledged is that private businesses are essentially sovereign entities, entitled to enforce whatever rules and regulation they choose (short of discrimination). This judgment and legal precedent seem to state clearly that political affiliations and beliefs do not count as a protected class, and therefore removal based on such is not discrimination (at least in the eyes of the law). A risky proposition, if you ask me.

http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2018/04/25/judge-rules-new-york-city-bar-can-refuse-service-to-trump-supporter-wearing-maga-hat.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/384911-judge-rules-that-a-bar-was-allowed-to-kick-out-trump-supporter

https://nypost.com/2018/04/25/judge-bars-are-allowed-to-throw-out-trump-supporters/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5658483/Trump-supporter-lawsuit-against-NYC-bar-tossed.html

From what I can tell, there were no behavioral reasonings for the refusal of service and subsequent removal from the establishment (other than the highlighted). The spirituality and mention of the 9/11 memorial are a bit ridiculous. But in all honesty, this should not have happened.

I am not without empathy. I remember January 2017. The first 3 months of that year were a blur of horror. Having to deal with THIS walking into your establishment was no picnic. Particularly when it was likely deliberately in your face. Let’s be honest.
None the less, there is a reason why law tends not to be driven by emotional reactions. Emotions are messy and often irrational. Short of the patron giving a legitimate reason for removal, one should just have done the capitalist thing and taken his money.

As for the court decision . . . I can’t help but think that this could be troubling.

This happened in New York City, so those involved live in the liberal side of the nation. Included in this is also David Pakman and his co-host Pat, both residing in Boston. There is not much chance of finding yourself a democrat in a republican owned establishment in this area. Neither coast for sure, and possibly even most major cities (since cities tend to vote liberal). One can not say the same thing for a Democrat in middle America, however.

This has come up before, in the context of establishments refusing to serve openly GLBTQ+ patrons. I say openly because how would the business owners know otherwise, and I use the + sign to encompass the ever-changing additions to the acronym.

Either way, I used to not care about businesses not serving any clientele for any reason, because they can go elsewhere. However, my mind was changed after the I realized that such businesses as pharmacies could also enforce such restrictions. If you live in a town with a private pharmacy that refuses to provide contraceptives or birth control for religious reasons, there may be no easy alternative. I doubt that your corporates like CVS or Walgreens would allow such policies in their stores. But they are not everywhere.

Though political affiliations are not considered a protected form of speech, I can’t help but wonder now, if they should. Because now that this obviously left-leaning establishment in the heart of the American liberal bubble has opened this can of worms, will the business owners in Trump’s 30% or so base start utilizing this loophole? Possibly to masquerade their true bias (insert protected class here)?

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

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Things That Annoy Me – Part 17

81.) Critical Thinking

A hit and a miss. Better luck next time!

82.) Baby Boomers

For many years, millennials annoyed me.  Looking back, all the way to high school really. I didn’t know the name of the generation (MY generation) at the time, but I knew that they annoyed me. If I recall, it was mostly the conformity and cluelessness that bugged me.
As I transitioned into the world of working and employment, it was the laziness and immaturity that got me. It seemed that I was always cleaning up or fixing the issues of some inept youngin.

And then I pulled my head out of my ass.

To be fair, I wasn’t entirely wrong. When it comes to the assumptions of my teens, we can dismiss those. It was also a time when I thought that everyone who did drugs was bad people. A false notion that adulthood experience quickly smashed.
And I have (and DO) spend a whole lot f time cleaning up the messes of others. But not just the young. Much like stupid or irrationally biased people (racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever), lazy workers come in all forms.

A big part of it came early in my career, at my very first fast food job.  One manager, in particular, was always pushing you to think ahead. If you finish this task, then what is the next step.
Another manager had EXTREMELY high cleaning standards, and I SWEAR stopped just short of inspecting the dining room and the washrooms with a magnifying glass. Cleaning for him was annoying as hell because there was always something. Until there was nothing one time, to my surprise.
Another aspect of this story is my brain. Even before being turned onto philosophy and otherwise sampling the world of academia from the outside, I have had a strong sense of logic and an annoying inability to just close my eyes and leave it be. It’s helped me come to realizations about atheism, my former flair. But it has also made life difficult to navigate in the real world.

From a productivity perspective, this tends to be good for whatever faceless entity happens to be profiting from the fruits of my labor. When in an assinine environment, short of the idiocy being put right in your face, I’ve generally learned that keeping yourself occupied helps.
Spending the majority of life engaging in pointless work is a cross of its own to bear. Add in boredom, and you soon find yourself amplifying whatever macro emotion is present. Almost certainly frustration, but sometimes depression. Though that also tends to swing towards frustration as well.
And so, I try and keep busy. Keep occupied. Attempt to keep the ignorant idiocy of the machine at bay by, doing something.

From a young age, young people tended to annoy me. Given some time, this seems a somewhat unfair comparison being that I have always been apart from them. Not above them, just on a different path than much of the status quo. I am not brilliant or outstanding in comparison. I am just, different in many ways. Rather than a benchmark for all to measure up to, I am just another fish in the sea.

Which begs the question, where did this attitude come from?

Certainly, false bravado and anecdotal life experience played no small part (neither of which I was cogent enough of to realize for most of my life). None the less, it would be foolish to deny that the culture in which we live, with its saturation of contempt towards the young and rebellious, didn’t have any influence. Even if it just boiled down to me unknowingly committing Argumentum Ad Populum, influences are influences.

Which brings us to the subject of this annoyance and the main purveyors of this bias towards the young. The Baby boomers.

Generally speaking, I can think of no cohort that wields more control and influence in pretty much every area of both the private and public sectors. No cohort comes close to the entitlement behaviors as displayed by this generation (though, they love projecting this onto the millennials). Nor does any cohort come anywhere even NEAR the fragility of this generations collective emotional psyche. Dare I say once more that Donald Trump is not an exception, he is a mirror.

Life is, and so far always has been, based on a trajectory set by the baby boomers. It is a trajectory and destructive existence that threatens our very survival as a / the conscious and sentient species. But it is a trajectory that we are so far sticking to because there is still power and profit to be retained by this cohort.
To put it simply, the young being sacrificed for the comfort and spoils of the old.

This is what I think when I hear willfully downtrodden yet otherwise able-bodied white men ask questions like “What has this government ever done for me?!”. This is what I think of when I have to dutifully execute some idiotic task as designated by some empty vessel in a position over me, in any employment environment. This is what I think of when I look at almost any political conversation in any nation. And this is what I think of when I see attacks, smearing, and eventually flat-out frustration aimed at a bunch of Florida teens (and an ever-growing audience) that no longer feels obligated to swallow the same old bullshit.

In fact, much ado is commonly made because of younger generations in a sense, not swallowing the shit that appeased their parents. Think of the ever-growing list of Millenials are killing ______ items that even legitimate publications can’t resist mirroring. Such lists are amusing to me because they generally boil down to the mediocre, the unaffordable, and the obsolete.

My generation is killing the landline because we carry around this little portable device that serves the same purpose, and then some. The landline is our telegraph.
Millenials are killing cable TV because many have embraced a new platform that is both far easier on the personal time budget AND the pocketbook. Even 5 seconds spent skipping advertisements on a signal that you already paid for is 5 seconds you won’t get back.
Millenials are killing all manner of mediocre restaurant chains, beers and all manner of fodder that I like to call boomer pablum. This likely due to the young having different tastes to the old, or just not having the same disposable income that their parents had.

And millennials are killing home ownership because . . . who the fuck can afford a home these days?!

One of my relations (guess which generation they are a part of!) managed to purchase a home with his career and kept it even after unfortunate circumstances brought an end to that career a decade before their set retirement. Despite other setbacks, they still had a personal piece of property to call their own. But due to their choice in embracing self-pity over everything else (including taking even a LITTLE responsibility for their own actions), that home was squandered. What was a fixer-upper some 25 years ago, is now essentially trash. Just a future plot of land to build another 4 plex.

Bill Maher once remarked on his show that the only acceptable form of discrimination left in the public sphere is ageism. Hillarious, coming from someone that it seems can’t go 2 episodes without saying something stupid about millennials. Either way, if such is the case, then I suppose that I am guilty as charged. An agist asshole.

What can I say . . . I can’t help myself.

The very well that we all need to drink from, is permanently polluted with your piss.

 

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“Trump Earth Day Statement an Orwellian Disaster” – (David Pakman Show)

While I understand the sentiment, I can’t help but to think there is some honesty in this speech on the part of Trump. Ironically.

Most world leaders (people, really) celebrate Earth day, shut off lights for a whole hour, whatever. But most of this isn’t much more than lip service.

Trump is an ass. But is he not just mirroring our true psyche?

Politicians are not aliens from outer space. They are a mirror of the society from which they came.

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Pope Francis Lied To A Child About Whether His Dead Atheist Father Was In Heaven – (Patheos)

Today we’re looking at an article that made me raise an eyebrow because of its implications. It was written and published by Hemant Mehta on his Friendly Atheist platform on Patheos, April 18th, 2018.

Note that the article is using a quote in itself (a quote within my quote). To help avert confusion, I underlined all quoted material in the article.

By all accounts, there was a touching moment outside of Rome this week when Pope Francis consoled a little boy who recently lost his father.

The boy, Emanuele, stepped up to the microphone during a Q&A session but had trouble getting his question out. The Pope told him to come whisper it in his ear, which the boy did, and the situation was later shared with the audience (with the child’s permission):

He revealed that Emanuele was crying for his father, who had recently died. The boy told the pontiff that his dad was an atheist, but a good man who had all four of his children baptized.

“Is Dad in heaven?’” the boy asked the pope.

Your heart has to go out to that poor child, and the pope said what you’d expect the Catholic leader to say: He told the audience that anyone who gave birth to a child like that, one who has the “courage to cry in front of all of us,” must have been a good man. The Pope added that he must have had a good heart, too, since he baptized his children.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2018/04/18/pope-francis-lied-to-a-child-about-whether-his-dead-atheist-father-was-in-heaven/#fwDuWtbqv5OeoMOQ.99

I don’t much object to the answer anything so far. If anything, the boy’s father has been given more respect by the pope than I have seen given to many friends and relatives at funeral services held in their honor. Normally, Jesus is always front and center, with the life and accomplishments of the deceased almost an afterthought.  Likely because goddonit anyway, right?

But what about Heaven? That answer generated a lot of positive headlines but deserves closer inspection:

“What do you think? A father’s heart. God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and gave them that bravura, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself?”

“Does God abandon his children?” the pope asked. “Does God abandon his children when they are good?”

The children shouted, “No.”

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope told the boy. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.

That’s a beautiful response… and a complete dodge of Catholic teachings.

Yeah . . . and, so what?

I was under the impression that it was a GOOD thing that people didn’t take this dogma so seriously. Even if it is because of the audience (children), what is there to criticize?

Pick your battles.

Catholics believe you must accept Christ’s divinity in order to get to Heaven. The Catechism also says the window of Heaven is also open to those “who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart.”

What about atheists who are aware of Catholic teachings but still reject them? What about people like the boy’s father, who may live in a culturally Catholic society but who has no use for irrational dogma?

They’re. Screwed.

Nein.

They’re. Dead.

Am I really defending the pope against an atheist being ridiculous?!

It doesn’t matter if you went through the ritual of baptizing your kids (and we have no idea why Emanuele’s father did that). It doesn’t matter if you were a good person. If you actively rejected the Church’s teachings, Catholics say you’re not in Heaven.

Barring a deathbed conversion — the sort of thing that only ever exists in the minds of religious apologists — the boy’s father, according to the Catholic faith, is now in Hell. That’s why the kid was freaking out in the first place; ever since his father died, he’s been under the assumption daddy’s getting tortured. That’s what Catholicism did to him.

What Pope Francis did, then, was protect a child from the actual teachings of the Catholic faith.

Yes. He did.

What was he supposed to do? Say “He’s burning in HELL for all eternity!”, laugh maniacally, and walk off into the sunset?

So call it beautiful. Call it heartwarming. But don’t forget to also call it dishonest.

The boy’s father isn’t in Heaven. But here’s the good news: He’s not in Hell, either. However, if the kid grows up to be a kind, decent person — the sort of man his father apparently was — that’s a way of letting his legacy live on. In that way, his father is never truly gone.

The Pope could’ve said something like that without being a hypocrite and without really answering the question. Instead, he offered a platitude that may have sounded nice on paper but isn’t even accurate by his own religious rules.

I call it a nice middle ground between “He’s pushing up daisies and nothing more!” and “He’s burning for all eternity!”. If anything, I see an issue with YOUR attitude. If you grow up to be a decent person, he will live on through you.

In life, there are beginnings and there are endings. People live, and people die. Sometimes it may seem like their time came earlier than it should have. But it is what it is.
Indeed, THAT criticism may not be fair. Grief is a personal process, and however the person best handles the situation is their prerogative.

Either way, an Atheist telling the Pope that he is lying because he skirts his supposedly false book of rules, is asinine. For one, this could be seen as lending the teachings credibility. And for another . . . WHO CARES?!

Vatican City has orchestrated and gotten away with more crimes than has justified the invasion of other sovereign nations before. You have ALL OF THAT to pick from.

Stop making me defend the Pope for not going full-on ideologically driven psychopath on a grieving child.

 

 

 

Posted in Opinion, Religion & Atheism, Various Commentary | Leave a comment