Monday, May 30, 2005

"Mermaid baby" to start surgery soon

Little Milagros Cerron will soon undergo the first of a long series of operations to repair her rare birth defect.

Milagros was born with sirenomelia, or "mermaid syndrome," a rare disorder that causes the legs to be fused along their entire length. This syndrome is usually fatal because of the accompanying internal abnormalities. Original reports said that Milagros was the second surviving child with sirenomelia, but the CNN article says she's the third. Tiffany Yorks is the well-known survivor, treated at Shriners Hospital. I've not gotten any lead on who the other child might be.

Kids and Dust-Off

The Urban Legends Reference Page relates the tragic tale of a police officer's son who died abusing Dust-Off canned air.

This is one where all anybody can recommend is prayer and vigilance. And maybe tuning down the hysteria over pot so that adults are more credible when we give warnings.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Letter to Neil Cavuto

Jim Cavuto of Fox News recently interviewed Rep. Jim Langevin, questioning how he could identify himself as prolife while supporting "stem cell research." Cavuto failed to clearly stress that embryonic stem cell research is not the only kind of stem cell research currently being pursued. I sent him this email:
Dear Mr. Cavuto,

I think you did an excellent job in your interview with Rep. Jim Langevin. However, I was surprised at what you failed to ask him: Why is he supporting embryonic stem cell research, which has had dubious results at best and disastrous results at worst, while there are currently available treatments using adult and cord-blood stem cells.

In fact, this is a question that needs to be asked repeatedly of those advocating for embryonic stem-cell research. Why are these folks focusing on a pie-in-the-sky approach which is producing nothing, rather than on an approach that is getting spectacular results in the here-and-now, without all the moral and ethical baggage that comes with the use of embryonic stem cells.

Cord-blood and adult stem cells have been used to restore sight to the blind, help paralyzed people to walk, and cure children with fatal diseases, among other amazing cures. This isn't hypothetical: These are real results that we are currently able to achieve. Isn't this where we should be focusing our energies?

For more, check here:

Christina Dunigan
Webmistress, RealChoice

Folks, let's bombard this man with the truth -- that the real promise for ailing patients is to be found in their own bodies or in cord blood, and not in the fragile bodies of abandoned embryos.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Everybody was kung-fu fighting...

... including the dude in the wheelchair.

Elverson man earns coveted martial arts honor

A young man who's been using a wheelchair all his life decided to take martial arts classes. This guy rocks!

Why kids don't belong on ATVs

A toddler is in critical condition after falling 60 feet down a cliff when the ATV he was on rolled over, killing his father.

As an EMT, I've no great fondness for ATVs to begin with. But okay, adults can learn to use them responsibly. But kids don't belong on them. Nor do kids belong on lawn tractors, riding mowers, or farm equipment. It's like, "How to get your kid maimed or killed in three easy steps." Just don't do it!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

11-ounce preemie thriving

At 11 ounces, or 312 grams, Dakota Juanita Guido, born at 26 weeks, is doing well. Her only problem is her prematurity, her prognosis good.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Let's get this straight.

Prolifers are not opposed to stem-cell research! We're just opposed to gutting embryos to get the stem cells.

Why is this over here, not in RealChoice? Well, it is over there too. But it also belongs here because this obsession with cloning and gutting embryos is diverting badly-needed resources away from the adult or cord blood stem cell treatments that are already provoding cures. It is utterly immoral and irresponsible to be tinkering with helpless embryos in order to feel like God when all the stem cells you need to develop treatments are already there in the patient's own body. Not only are these Dr. Frankensteins killing embryos, they're allowing born patients to suffer and die needlessly because they're unwilling to focus on what actully has a proven track record:

Enough with gutting embryos already! Start treating ailing patients!

Let the man donate his liver!

Gregory Scott Johnson, soon to be executed for the brutal murder of an elderly woman, lost his bid to delay the execution long enough to try to donate part of his liver to his ailing sister.

Let's get this out of the way: Johnson doesn't meet my personal criteria for somebody who needs to be executed, because there's no evidence that he remains a risk. But my personal criteria don't apply. But okay, he's still slated for execution.

How can the same society that says it's okay to gut embryos for medical research say that it's wrong to delay an execution so that the man's liver might save a life?

I think the sister needs an attorney to argue that she is being punished for her brother's crime.

Saddam's pictures

Does anybody else find it profoundly ironic that there's so much outrage about showing pictures of a guy in his underpants when the guy in question was a genocidal murderer? Isn't this on a par with pitching a hissy fit that people make fun of Hitler's moustache? Okay, it's inappropriate to publish the pictures, but to whine about it shows a profound lack of any sense of proportion.

Why I've added NORML to the sidebar

I just saw a report on CNN News about a man sentenced to over 50 years in prison after being arrested for sale of a small amount of pot. The judge who sentenced him noted that it's absurd that the law forces a worse sentence against a potentially violent man than for folks convicted of actual rapes and murders.

And this is the crux of the drug laws: They're all about punishing people in advance for crimes they might commit. And that's just wrong. We have all these draconian drug laws on the grounds that the drugs cause people to steal and to hurt people. But stealing and hurting people are already against the law. Why, of all the reasons people commit crimes, do we single out drug use as the contributing factor that we will punish even more harshly than we punish the crime itself?

I could go on at length, but I"m not particularly articulate on the subject. But check out NORML's site. Let's focus on punishing people for stealing and assaulting people and committing rape and murder, rather than on punishing people who someday might start stealing and assaulting people and committing rape and murder.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A sad question answered

I blogged over at RealChoice about Manar Maged, an Egyptian baby who had "second head" removed. I pondered:
Was this a growth, or a second person living a parasitic existance? Should the ethics of killing the parasitic twin even enter into the equation?

Well, little Manar, her mother, and her team of doctors were on Oprah today. And the doctors confirmed what I suspected: This was not a "2-headed baby". Manar had a twin who for some reason had never developed enough of a body to survive on her own. The twin had no heart. She was even given a name: Islaam.
Manar and Islaam had two different brains but shared a common blood vessel that fed off of Manar's vital organs. Because Islaam was so dependent on Manar's body for survival, Manar suffered severe heart failure six times in the first few months of her life. Keeping Manar alive was a daily struggle.

"Islaam didn't have a heart to survive on," Dr. El Alfi explains. "She was surviving on the heart and lungs of Manar. She was getting nutrition from Manar. She was exchanging gases through Manar's lungs. And she was having blood supplied from Manar's heart."

So, despite the way the mainstream news covered this story, it wasn't a case of one baby having an unsightly and dangerous growth removed. It was a rare case in which both conjoined twins will die unless they are separated in surgery that will kill one of them.

What Oprah's web site fails to report are the words that moved me to tears of gratitude: One of the twins' doctors spoke of how little Islaam was a human being, afforded dignity to the end, given anesthesia just like her sister. The entire medical team spoke of the two children. Two human beings. Twins. Just one of them with birth defects that made survival impossible.

To her discredit, though, Oprah kept referring to Islaam as "the second head" and "the parasitic head." Earth to Oprah: she only lived nine months in the womb and ten months outside it, but she was still a child, not a "head." The surgical team sought a religious consultation before proceeding because they were fully aware of the moral implications of surgery that would end Islaam's life.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Prayers needed for Baby Faith and family

Read this report at Jewish World Review. Baby Faith had a stroke shortly before her birth, and is struggling to survive. Add prayers for all the little ones in NICUS across the country.

Where was CPS?

This report from Newsday:
A woman was charged with first-degree murder Monday for allegedly hanging her 4-year-old son to death by wrapping a sheet from a bunk bed around his neck, authorities said.

Nicole Harris, 23, is accused of killing Jaquari Dancy on Saturday after becoming angry at him for disobeying her orders to not leave the house when she went to do laundry. She discovered the boy and his 5-year-old brother outside when she returned about 45 minutes later, then beat him with a belt and sent him to his room, prosecutors said.

When he would not stop crying, she wrapped a sheet from the a bunk bed around his neck and hanged him, prosecutors said.

This can't have been the first time that woman attacked those children.

Shameful secret remembered

This ABC News report reminds us of what happens when the people in power think they know who should or shouldn't be allowed to have children.
From the early 1900s to the 1970s, some 65,000 men and women were sterilized in this country, many without their knowledge, as part of a government eugenics program to keep so-called undesirables from reproducing.

One woman had been raped and became pregnant at the age of 13. Social workers declared that she was promiscuous and too feeble-minded to be a responsible parent. So, after giving birth in 1968, Riddick was sterilized without being told. She found out only after her marriage, when she and her husband tried to start a family.

Rest in peace, Mae

Mae Magouirk, the 81-year-old Georgia widow who was nearly starved to death before getting treatment, died of a stroke today at approximately 8 a.m. Eastern, at a nursing home.

Mae had improved after treatment and had been sent to the nursing home to regain her strength. Restoration of Mae's feeding tube bought her a little over a month of time with her family and friends, who were with her until the end.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Forgetful Dad leaves baby to bake in car

Dad Faces Charges in Baby's Death

A New Jersey man dropped his older kids off at school, forgot the 4-month-old was in her car seat, and went home and slept instead of dropping her off at the babysitter.

Can't people just get in the habit of looking in the back seat before they get out of the car if they have kids? I know them man meant no harm and he's suffering, but with all these stories in the news again and again, can't people start thinking to check the car before they get out of it?

I also understand that some auto manufacturers are working on a carbon dioxide detector that would sound an alarm if a parked car had a baby or pet in it. That would be such a lifesaver!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Did UN vacations kill a quarter-million people?

World Net Daily reports that virtually all of the 310 UN workers who were supposed to be monitoring seismic activity were on vacation at once -- just in time for the tsunami.

Certainly there needs to be a massive investigation into this, especially considering the Oil-For-Food scandal and the sexual abuse by UN workers in crisis areas. Read The Lords of Poverty for more about how the poverty bureaucrats get fat from the deaths of the poor.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Thanks, James!

James Lileks nails it with this one: What does mom want?. Thanks, James!

Another for the "They oughta be horsewhipped" files

Boy, 13, Asked For Inhaler Before Death

A thirteen year old boy being restrained by "counselors" at a camp for troubled youngsters asked for his inhaler, went limp, and finally was hospitalized before dying.

These stories keep cropping up. Isn't anybody overseeing these places? How many kids have to die before they start making sure that these places are properly licensed and overseen?

Can you even begin to imagine what this kids' parents are going through? And the other kids who had to watch that?

Beyond appalling

Thanks to Vanessa for this link: Before Schiavo, DCF sought to let abused girl die
Fifteen years after brain damage put Terri Schiavo in a persistent vegetative state, the Florida Department of Children and Families went to excruciating lengths to block the removal of a feeding tube that was sustaining her. Fifteen days after a toddler was beaten nearly to death despite DCF cataloging numerous alarming signs of abuse, the agency began seeking a Do-Not-Resuscitate order for her.

.... Then-DCF Secretary Kathleen Kearney had sent Dr. Eric Handler to Palm Beach County to assess Moesha, who was admitted to Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach on Jan. 11, 2001, and transferred to Delray Medical Center's trauma unit the next day. She was unconscious with a swollen brain, bruised liver, broken bones and black-and-green welts. Some breaks and bruises were old — having been detected, though unexplained, during a monthlong stay at Miami Children's Hospital that had ended just weeks prior, with doctors and nurses pleading that DCF not release Moesha to her uninterested mother. ....

DCF asked a judge to appoint an attorney ad litem to pursue a Do-Not-Resuscitate order. ....

DCF's missteps were so obvious and horrific that a grand jury recommended the firing of nine DCF workers, and the cases of Moesha and two boys who died in 2000 became teaching tools for new DCF hires. ....

On the day Moesha was scheduled to go home, Pierre-Louis did not show up because she was, instead, trying to help her boyfriend get out of jail. Yet DCF let the girl leave with Pierre-Louis — and, while debating whether the Miami-Dade office or the Palm Beach County office should have jurisdiction, did not follow up when Moesha missed doctor appointments on Jan. 8, 10 or 12. On Jan. 11, Moesha was barely alive at Bethesda.

The girl DCF gave up on four years ago has been spending recent days in her wheelchair in Palm Beach County Courtroom 11B, as lawyers for DCF try to convince a jury that the agency should not have to pay for her continued medical care. Often referred to in DCF records as the "V/C," for "victim child," Moesha has been renamed Marissa Amora. ....

Attacker may walk because of jurisdictional gaffe

Read it and rage: The Boundaries of Justice.

A man convicted of a heinous sexual assault on a 9-year-old girl in 1980 may be freed -- because though he kidnapped the child in Maryland, he crossed the state line into Pennsylvania before torturing her. This guy is truly scary. How can we keep him locked up, where he can't harm any more children?

(P.S. If you need a password to get in, go to BugMeNot and get one.)

Friday, May 06, 2005

I See Odd People

This fantastic piece at Odd Features celebrates three of my all-time favorite people: Johnny Eck, Billy Barty, and Marty Feldman, among others who took personal "deformity" and turned it into an asset.

I particularly love the portrait of an older Johnny at work painting. Celebrate diversity! People who look different, or whose bodies are configured a bit differently from the norm, have just as much right to be here as anybody else. And -- here's my particular soapbox -- they have a right to choose to show off their differentness to make a living. Why is it okay for Pamela Anderson or The Rock to show off their non-ordinary bodies to make a living, but it's considered "exploitation" if Johnny did the same thing? Johnny and others lost a beloved career when the sideshows were shut down in the interests of "protecting them from exploitation." Excuse me, but that's patronizing. Billy Joel was ripped off by his manager on his first album. Alan Parsons only got a measly pittance for his amazing work engineering "Dark Side of the Moon." It's just show business! People get ripped off sometimes! Johnny had just as much a right to take his lumps and learn his lessons as Billy Joel and Alan Parsons.

(Jumps off soapbox.)

At any rate, read the article and enjoy!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

"Precious Doe" identified; mom charged

Okla. Mom Charged in Girl's Decapitation

Four years after a child's decapitated body was found near Kansas City, her mother was charged in connection with her death. Evidently the child, Erica Michelle Maria Green, was died two days after being felled by a kick to the head delivered by her stepfather. The couple didn't seek help for the injured girl because there were already warrants out for their arrest. The stepfather then severed Erica's head with a pair of hedgeclippers. He and the girl's mother then disposed of the body.

And herein we touch on another of my pet peeves: It's Jon Benet Ramsey until she bleeds out your ears, but missing or murdered Black kids just don't seem to be very newsworthy. A kid is missing, a kid is dead, it shouldn't matter what color her skin, what shape his eyes, what texture her hair. Every harmed child is an unacceptable tragedy; every child murdered or kidnapped or abused is an instance of an unacceptable crime. Precious Doe rarely got mention outside Kansas City. Mega cudos to the Kansas City community that they never let their own local interest in this case flag.

A little late, but not outdated

The Flag of the World has this great post suggesting Earth Day reading material. As many as 2.7 million people a year, most of them young children, die from malaria. Together, we can eliminate these needless deaths.

And I'd appreciate any info folks can give me on this item on the's 100 things you should know about DDT:
Population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing third world population. In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure than up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing." [Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company]

Whoa! I know population controllers aren't known for any great love of children, but this is pushing the envelope.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Baby pepper-sprayed

File this in the "People who ought to be horsewhipped" file:

Infant Pepper-Sprayed in Family Feud

Justice at last for Emmett Till?

For the full story, read this.

Fifty years ago, 14-year-old Emmett Till was abducted from his home and beaten to death for allegedly having whistled at a white woman. The men who were charged in his death were acquitted by an all-white jury. These men have since died, but others, who may have been accomplices, are still alive.

Though it's fifty years to late for Emmett, it's about time.