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Thursday, July 30, 2009


A Major Step Forward for Right-to-Die Movement in Britain


Debbie Purdy * Dr. Anne Turner * Craig Ewert * Daniel James * Sir Robert and Lady Downes

Slowly, yes, but supporters of Right-to-Die movement in Britain are making progress in their efforts to gain recognition of an individual's decision to end his or her life.

Report in the Guardian, Thursday 30 July 2009:

Britian's highest court issued a historic judgment today that could finally remove the fear of prosecution from people who travel abroad to support relatives seeking an assisted suicide.

In a unanimous ruling, the law lords ordered the director of public prosecutions to immediately draw up a policy that would spell out when prosecutions would and would not be pursued.

The ruling was strongly in favour of Debbie Purdy, 46, who has multiple sclerosis and who has been fighting to protect her husband should he accompany her to a clinic in Switzerland that specialises in euthanasia. She had argued that the law was unclear and uncertainty surrounding the issue breached her human rights.

Other notable cases of British citizens who elected euthanasia:

Hannah Jones
Dr. Anne Turner
Craig Ewert
Daniel James
Sir Edward Downes and Lady Downes

Here in America we, who believe in a "A good life and a good death", are a long way from gaining our objective. The state of Oregon was the first to pass a Death with Dignity Act in 1994. The law survived the Bush Administration's efforts to nullify it. To their credit, the voters of Washington State passed Initiative 1000 (modeled on the Oregon Law) in 2008. But in California attempts to pass a similar initiative were defeated -- twice -- due to huge sums of money spent by religious organizations and other vested interest groups. Terminally ill patients generate a lot of revenue for hospital and medical professionals. The blitz of negative advertisements worked. They painted a scenario of terminally ill people being taken off life support en masse based on decisions by those who stood to gain from their death. Lost in the noise were those who did not believe in death being in God's hand and who wanted to have the choice not to be kept alive on life support.

The battle is not over. Some day, all terminally ill people suffering pain and indignity of being kept alive against their wish will win the right to die.

But until then, if you believe in it and don't want to end your life hooked up to tubes, sign Advance Directive to Physician (Living Will) to protect yourself from the Bible thumpers and profiteers. Also, make your position known to your family and friends.

You will not need an attorney; just two witnesses. The form is available from various sources. The World Wide Web contains a vast list of organizations that provide information about this. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is one of them.

Do not lose control over this very important decision.

Recommended reading:

How We Die : Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland,MD, Vintage Paperback
On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, The MacMillan Co.
Final Exit by Derek Humphrey, Dell Publishing
Euthanasia and the Right to Die edited by A.B. Dowling, Peter Owen, London


Monday, July 20, 2009


No, Not a Penis Substitute


Guns and Americans

What is it about guns that has a visceral appeal to so many Americans? Some proponents of gun control -- not gun ban -- joke about guns being a penis substitute but that cannot be true. The number of gun rights advocates is too large to make it stick. They cannot all be suffering from small penises. Of course, when it comes to sex, size is not that important but then you are treading on others who think size matters. We are a nation full of people who think bigger is better.

Now our politicians are in the process of crafting a measure that ".....would give people the right to carry concealed weapons across state lines as long as they obey the concealed gun laws of the state they are visiting." Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota sneaked this in as an amendment to a $680 billion defense spending bill. It is expected to pass because many Democratic senators are afraid of antagonizing the NRA. Even President Obama treads softly on gun control issues.

Back in May, 105 Democrats joined 174 Republicans in tacking on an amendment to a bill to impose restrictions on credit card companies. That measure allows visitors to carry loaded guns in National Parks. The president signed it without any comment.

Americans love guns, and our country also takes the top spot for gun related violence and deaths. Our lax rules about owning and selling guns are now contributing to the carnage in Mexico. Assault weapons from U.S. side of the border are being procured in large quantities by Mexican narco traffickers to kill and terrorize their enemies. And so it goes.

See: Mexico Violence And The US As The Gun Source
A lethal export to Mexico

Addendum July 22. 2009 The Thune Amendment defeated (NY Times).

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Sunday afternoon at Stern Grove


Joan Baez * Pete Seeger

Listening to Joan Baez at Stern Grove this afternoon brought back memories of the late sixties when activists against the Vietnam war were gaining momentum. She was a prominent figure in energizing the anti-war movement. Among her repertoire today was a song that was popular in those days -- "We shall overcome". The first time I heard it was when Pete Seeger made an appearance in Kolkata in 1967 or thereabout. He invited the audience to join him in what he called a "Hootenanny". And we did.

Joan Baez at Stern Grove
© Musafir
Swaying to music
© Musafir

Happiness is a laughing child
© Musafir

It felt good to see people of all ages, races, colors enjoying the music, the sunshine, food and wine under the Eucalptus trees. Young couples hugging, mothers swaying to the beat, holding their children.

Tomorrow it will be back to work for those who have jobs. They are fortunate, but even for them there is nagging concern about the future. Are their jobs secure? In America there is no such thing as job security. But tomorrow is another day. Today they were out there enjoying themselves.

Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan

In some respects, 36 years after the end of the Vietnam war things have not changed much. We were conned into another unjust war, this time against Iraq. Sporadic incidents of internecine violence continue in Iraq as Shias and Sunnis kill each other. But it is news from the war in Afghanistan that now gets more coverage. We installed a puppet, Hamid Karzai, a corrupt and ineffective man to run Afghanistan. Bin Laden is reported to be hiding in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are reports about a natural gas pipeline (TAP or TAPI) from Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan being the primary motive for our involvement in Afghanistan. Could be true. Oil was certainly a factor in the Iraq war although it appears that we are not going to be in control of Iraq's oil. Still, a friendly government in Iraq would be good for the multi-national oil companies. Major powers and oil companies have done a lot of dirty things together. That,too, is not going to change.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Butterflies are Free


A Walk in the Woods

July 4th came and went. Did not watch fireworks but took part in a traditional hike with friends. Picnic in the woods had all the trimmings including luscious watermelon. The pictures below were taken at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.

Variable Checkerspots feeding,I
© Musafir

Variable Checkerspots feeding, II
© Musafir

Hikers on Harkins Ridge Trail, Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve
© Musafir

"In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar. I'll tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.

"Wherever you are, we must do the best we can. It is so far to travel, and we have nothing here to travel, except watermelon sugar. I hope this works out."

--Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

Summer of Discontent ?

For some, it is a bleak summer. The economic recovery seems to have stalled; number of unemployed Americans keeps creeping up; filing of bankruptcies remain high as do foreclosures. It is going to take a long time before the picture brightens.

As military operations by our armed forces slow down in Iraq, the tempo is rising in Afghanistan. Six American soldiers died there on July 6th. Are we done with Iraq? Why have we built, and are going to maintain, the largest U.S. Embassy in the world in Baghdad? It is reported to occupy the size of four football fields! Of course, Iraqi oil has not paid and will not pay for the cost of the war as boasted by the neocons when they began the war on lies.

In the meantime, the politicians are going through their usual antics. Republicans scrambling around to grasp something, anything, to get out of the hole they dug for themselves. And they are still mouthing platitudes about family values. Talk about thick hides.


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