T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Elusive Meningitis Outbreaks - by Denise Grady

Meningitis Cases Are Linked to Steroid Injections in Spine
By Denise Grady,
The New York Times, October 2, 2012

Dr. April Pettit, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University, was worried about her patient. He had been ill with meningitis* for two weeks, he was not getting better, and she could not figure out why. Antibiotics, the usual treatment, were not helping. Bacteria, the usual suspects, could not be found.
On the morning of Sept. 18, as she and a colleague were examining the patient and talking to his family, a pager buzzed. It was the hospital lab, with an answer at last — but a troubling one.
A culture of the patient’s spinal fluid had revealed a fungus, Aspergillus. The patient was so ill that he could no longer communicate, so Dr. Pettit spoke to the family.
“I told them it was a very unusual cause of meningitis in healthy people, and that we needed to try to figure out how he got this infection,” she said.
Had he done anything unusual in the weeks before he became ill? She asked.
The answer alarmed her. He had had a steroid injection in his spinal area to relieve back pain — a common treatment, administered to millions of people in the United States every year.
Dr. Pettit called the State Health Department.
She is now credited with being the clinician who recognized the “index case” in what has become a frightening outbreak of meningitis that has killed two people and sickened 12 others who also received steroid injections in their spines for pain. Doctors suspect that the steroid medicine was contaminated with the fungus. The meningitis does not spread from person to person.
Officials said it was not possible to predict the extent of the outbreak yet. Thirteen of the patients have been in Tennessee, and one in North Carolina. Two of the cases were new as of Tuesday, and health officials have said that there could be more cases and that other states could be affected.
“I don’t think we’ve identified all the cases that will be identified,” said Dr. David Reagan, the chief medical officer for the Tennessee Health Department.
Dr. Pettit’s patient was one of the two who died.
The Tennessee patients were treated at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville, which was closed on Sept. 20. Center staff members notified more than 700 patients who received injections of the suspect drug. Another Tennessee clinic, the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville, also received shipments of the possibly contaminated drug and was notifying patients.
Health officials emphasized that the problem appeared to come from the medication and not the clinics themselves, and that the clinics had immediately cooperated by notifying patients and, in the case of Saint Thomas, shutting down when the outbreak was recognized. But the officials have released few details about the source of the drug, saying the investigation was continuing.
All the patients who became ill were treated with one or more injections between July 30 and Sept. 18, and the incubation period — the time between exposure and when the patient gets sick — has ranged from seven days to about four weeks. That means that some patients may become ill in the next few weeks. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, fever, loss of balance and slurred speech.
At a news conference on Tuesday, state health officials said some of the patients were recovering, but some were in critical condition.
The outbreak has led to a nationwide recall of the drug that all the patients received. The drug, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, was prepared by one compounding pharmacy, a pharmacy that prepares drug mixtures or solutions for hospitals and clinics. Health officials have declined to name the pharmacy or release lot numbers of the drug, but a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that all of the suspect lots had been recalled and that the pharmacy had stopped producing the medication.
Scientists are also testing other medications used in giving the spinal injections, like numbing agents and antiseptic wipes. They say the cause has not been determined for sure.
The treatments are called lumbar epidural steroid injections, but they are not the same as the epidurals commonly given to women for childbirth or Caesarean sections — something that health officials wanted to make clear to avoid creating alarm among women who have recently given birth.
Dr. William Schaffner, the chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt, said that this type of fungal meningitis was serious and difficult to treat, and that the C.D.C. had convened an expert panel to help determine the best treatment. The disease can also be difficult to diagnose, because unlike other types of meningitis, it can cause strokes, and when a patient has stroke symptoms, doctors may not look for an infection as well. In addition, the organism can be difficult to grow in cultures of spinal fluid from patients, making the diagnosis even more of a challenge.
Detecting and treating the disease as early as possible gives the best chance of curing it, Dr. Schaffner said, so getting the word out to alert both doctors and patients to the symptoms is important.
He said that he understood the investigators’ reluctance to name the drug maker or provide full details until the investigation is finished, but that the outbreak and its link to the steroid medication have caused quite a bit of worry among both doctors and patients about whether other steroid preparations are safe.
“We have had many concerns expressed in our own institution,” he said. “Providers say, ‘Can we continue to use the steroids sent to us by our own pharmacy?’ ”
Others doctors also wanted more information. Dr. Christopher Standaert, a specialist in spinal and neuromusculoskeletal care at the University of Washington in Seattle, and a spokesman for the North American Spine Society, said he hoped that health officials would release the name of the product, the manufacturer and the lot numbers thought to be involved in the outbreak so that clinics could make sure it was not on their shelves.
“That would help the spine community,” he said. “The rest of us would like to know. It would be nice if they told the hospitals.”
* Per Kristina Krohn, MD, (University of Minnesota) : Initially, meningitis symptoms may resemble the flu, with worsening headache, vomiting, and a sudden high fever (over 101.3). Over hours to days, patients may develop difficulty thinking, a stiff neck, sensitivity to light and may fall into a coma.  Meningococcal disease, caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, infects the lining around the brain. Once someone becomes sick, without treatment it is always fatal -- even with treatment, up to a third of patients die, Fielding said. There is a vaccine that can prevent illness from meningitis…. The bacteria is [also generally] spread by close contact – such as kissing, or sharing a toothbrush, a cigarette or even a coffee cup.  
Update (May 6,2013): The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC) continues to receive reports of patients presenting with paraspinal/spinal infections (e.g., epidural abscess, phlegmon, discitis, vertebral osteomyelitis, or arachnoiditis at or near the site of injection). These syndromes have occurred in patients with and without evidence of fungal meningitis. For details, please go to: http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-map-large.html

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Blessing and a Curse - by Pinchas Winston

A Blessing and a Curse


Pinchas Winston *

See, I place before you this day a blessing and a curse. The blessing is for listening …. The curse is for not listening ….

[Do you take your beliefs and your philosophy seriously?]

I certainly do, and I seem to function somewhat normally on a day-to-day basis. At least I think I do. I remember once being at the check-in counter of an airport when a man, in line ahead of me, lost his temper at the airline employee behind the counter. Obviously, something had not gone with his reservation, and extremely disappointed, he gave the airline employee a piece of his mind, and loud enough for all of us to share. It was embarrassing for all those who could hear what was happening. If I recall correctly, the man stormed off, seemingly oblivious to what he had done, and who had heard him. The look of anger on his face was scary, even maniacal, and I think we all felt a sigh of relief once he was gone from the area. I, for one, certainly hoped that he would not return until I was long gone.

After checking in rather smoothly, and sitting down by my gate, the events that had just transpired went through my mind. The face of the man was still quite fresh in my mind, and I wondered what he would have done had he seen his own face in a mirror at that time. I recall once catching my own angry face in a mirror, and quite frankly, I scared myself! Then, I tried to imagine what the angry man must be like to work with, but realized that, just because he lost his temper at the airline employee, doesn’t mean that he always loses his temper, and with everyone. There are some people who are completely patient at work with their fellow employees, but monsters at home with their families. Others are just the opposite, so I wondered what people might possibly tell me about this man. Maybe at work he was completely pleasant and dependable. Maybe he had just had a bad day.

At that point, I then considered myself. I wondered about my own snapping points, what it takes for me to lose it, which I have done on too many occasions. [And that, in spite of the fact that I am familiar with the warning that losing one’s temper is like worshiping idols, or that it is bad for memory.] What were we just talking about again?
* http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5768/reeh.html

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Money and Values - by BB Poster Elvis

Money and Values
by Elvis
 The Bulletin Board
St.Paul Pioneer Press, May 21, 2013
***** == *****

It's Stewardship time at church. Lots of talk about money and values.

During kids' time, the pastor was telling a story of carrying a bunch of things in his hands and looking down and seeing a dime on the sidewalk. He stopped and thought about how he could reach down and get it. Could he stretch and not drop something he was carrying? Or should he set some of the items down and then get the dime?

He decided to go on and leave the dime. He was just about to explain why he made this decision when a young man shouted out: "What street were you on?"
UPDATE  (5/31/13)It was quite an eye-popping discovery that on the day I posted this blog, it got 107 hits within minutes practically.  This was very dramatic since I normally only get about 5 to 7 hits on the first day of posting.  I have to conclude that the huge interest here was mainly due to the title, and especially the word “Money” there.  Strangely, the visits have dropped drastically down to one or two hits a day from the second day onward.  I can only attribute this turn of events to human nature (the greed factor) unfortunately.  Ironically, the posting's message has thus been further justified or validated!

Monday, May 27, 2013

"The First Time ..." - by Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte

Lena HorneHarry Belafonte
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
~~~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~~~
Lena Horne (1917-2010)
& Harry Belafonte (1927 -)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Grandma's Birthday - by Anonymous

Grandma’s Birthday


by Anonymous

The family wheeled Grandma out on the lawn, in her wheelchair, where the activities for her 100th birthday were taking place.

Grandma couldn't speak very well, but she would write notes when she needed to communicate.

After a short time out on the lawn, Grandma started leaning off to the right, so some family members grabbed her, straightened her up, and stuffed pillows on her right.

A short time later, she started leaning off to her left, so again the family grabbed her and stuffed pillows on her left.

Soon she started leaning forward, so the family members again grabbed her, and then tied a pillowcase around her waist to hold her up.

A nephew who arrived late came up to Grandma and said, "Hi, Grandma, you're looking good! How are they treating you?"

Grandma took out her little notepad and slowly wrote a note to the nephew...

"Bastards won't let me fart."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nose - by Srimathi Raman

human proboscis

"A nose, kind sir! Sure, Mother Nature,
With all her freaks, ne'er formed this feature.
If such were mine, I'd try and trade it,
And swear the gods had never made it."

Susanna Moodie 

Nose *
By Srimathi Raman
Center of the face
Is located the nose.
Decent are ears, eyes and mouth.
Never behave uncouth.
Problems of the face,
Due to this nose,
Is not at all nice.

Sneeze without a cover,
People around suffer,
Saliva’s shower.
Nose gets a nasty squeeze,
Controlled is the dirty sneeze.

Nose leaks; water flows.
Both from eyes and nose.
Worst is the case.
Plastering the nose and eyes,
Will not be wise.
Cold has no cure.
Person has to endure.
Water from nose and eyes meet.
Horrible is the sight.

Nose blocks.
Breathing cracks.
Breath emits bad odor.
Blowing gets harder.
Try try till you blow.
All around is the filth’s throw.

Healthy is the nose.
Happy is the face.
Index or small finger,
Press {should I say dig} the trigger.
Face loses its face.
Screams, I lose.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Glaring Error Rates of NYPD - The New York Times

Stop-and-Frisk on Trial

Judge Shira Scheindlin, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, got to the heart of the problem with the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program on Monday, after hearing testimony for two months in the civil rights case, Floyd v. City of New York. The plaintiffs charge the department with illegally detaining hundreds of thousands of people on the streets each year not because of suspicious behavior but because of their race.

Judge Scheindlin noted that nearly 90 percent of the time the police found no criminal behavior and that officers almost never uncovered guns, even when they believed there was a “suspicious bulge” in the person’s clothing. (Evidence introduced at trial showed that guns were seized in only 0.15 percent of all stops and in one of every 69 stops in which officers claimed to have seen such a bulge.)

During closing arguments on Monday, the judge criticized the Police Department’s “high error rate” and observed that “a lot of people are being frisked or searched on suspicion of having a gun and nobody has a gun.”

Even though black and Hispanic people make up more than 85 percent of those stopped in most years, the city has denied that the stops are based on race. Yet the trial has produced voluminous evidence to the contrary, including a troubling recording secretly made earlier this year by Officer Pedro Serrano of the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx. In the recording, a superior officer is heard urging Officer Serrano to stop and, if necessary, frisk “the right people at the right time, the right location.” When asked by Officer Serrano for more specifics, the superior said: “I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21.”

The city has long claimed that so many minorities are stopped because they commit more crime. But when a lawyer for the city raised this explanation, the judge rightly called it “worrisome” and wondered if it might lead officers to single out people based on race instead of suspicion of criminal behavior, as the law requires.
The Bloomberg administration has lashed out at critics of the program, describing them as indifferent to street crime. The truth is that stopping hundreds of thousands of law-abiding residents — who don’t need to be deterred from violent behavior — does not reduce crime. It is possible to protect public safety without running roughshod over people’s constitutional rights. The next mayor would do well to understand that.
* The New York Times, May 21, 2013


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Six Degrees - by TPO

Six Degrees

** Source: my buddy, Yafet (in California), sent me this video from DireTube.com **

Monday, May 13, 2013

L'âme en Fleur - Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
L'âme en Fleur

Chanson (L'âme en Fleur)
---------- /// ----------
Si vous n'avez rien à me dire,
Pourquoi venir auprès de moi?
Pourquoi me faire ce sourire
Qui tournerait la tête au roi?
Si vous n'avez rien à me dire,
Pourquoi venir auprès de moi?

Si vous n'avez rien à m'apprendre,
Pourquoi me pressez-vous la main?
Sur le rêve angélique et tendre,
Auquel vous songez en chemin,
Si vous n'avez rien à m'apprendre,
Pourquoi me pressez-vous la main?

Si vous voulez que je m'en aille,
Pourquoi passez-vous par ici?
Lorsque je vous vois, je tressaille :
C'est ma joie et c'est mon souci.
Si vous voulez que je m'en aille,
Pourquoi passez-vous par ici?

Song (The Soul in Flower)
---------- /// ----------
If you have nothing to say to me,
why did you come to me?
Why give me this smile
that would turn a king's head?
If you have nothing to say to me,
why come to me?

If you have nothing to tell me,
why press my hand?
On angelic and tender dreams,
that you dream along the way,
if you have nothing to teach me,
why press my hand?

If you want me to go,
why are you passing this way?
When I see you, I tremble:
It is my joy and it is my concern.
If you want me to go,
why are you passing this way?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Essentials for Knowledge - James Mangan

Excerpted from "You Can Do Anything!", by James Mangan

What you read is important, but not all important. How you read is the main consideration. For if you know how to read, there’s a world of education even in the newspapers, the magazines, on a single billboard or a stray advertising dodger.
The secret of good reading is this: read critically!
Believe nothing till it’s understood, till it’s clearly proven.

To know it — write it! If you’re writing to explain, you’re explaining it to yourself! If you’re writing to inspire, you’re inspiring yourself! If you’re writing to record, you’re recording it on your own memory.

You have a pair of ears — use them! When the other man talks, give him a chance. Pay attention. If you listen you may hear something useful to you. If you listen you may receive a warning that is worth following. If you listen, you may earn the respect of those whose respect you prize.

Keep your eyes open. There are things happening, all around you, all the time.
There are only two kinds of experience: the experience of ourselves and the experience of others. Our own experience is slow, labored, costly, and often hard to bear. The experience of others is a ready-made set of directions on knowledge and life.
Observe! Especially the good man, the valorous deed. Observe the winner that you yourself may strive to follow that winning example and learn the scores of different means and devices that make success possible.
Observe! Observe the loser that you may escape his mistakes, avoid the pitfalls that dragged him down.
Observe the listless, indifferent, neutral people who do nothing, know nothing, are nothing. Observe them and then differ from them.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Quizas Quizas Quizas - by Maria Dolores Pradera

Maria Dolores Pradera

Quizas Quizas Quizas

///// ===== \\\\\
Maria Dolores Pradera (1924 -)

"Quizas, Quizas, Quizas" - sung by Maria Dolores Pradera (accompanied by Los Sabandeños)

- Song was originally from Cuba by Osvaldo Farrés.

- Quizas means "perhaps".

Monday, May 6, 2013

Unprosecuted Corporate Crime in the U.S. - by Russel Mokhiber

The failure to prosecute corporate crime undermines U.S. justice
===== ///// =====
By Russell Mokhiber *
April 30, 2013
Imagine you are driving down the highway at 90 mph where the posted speed limit is 55 mph. As a result of your speeding, you lose control of your vehicle. And you cause a wreck that kills people.

Here’s a sure bet ‑ you will be convicted of a crime. You will admit wrongdoing. And you will be punished.

Now suppose a corporation engages in illegal activity while operating a coal mine. And that illegal activity leads to the death of 29 of its workers.

Here’s another sure bet ‑ that corporation will not be convicted of a crime. And it will not be punished.

The reality is that we live in a two-tier criminal justice system in America, with one level for corporations and one for living, breathing humans.

It’s a system that undermines deterrence and allows corporate criminals to inflict their damage ‑ pollution, corruption, fraud, worker and consumer injury and death ‑ unchecked.

The coal mine corporation is a real one, Massey Energy. In April 2010, a huge explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 workers.

In December 2011, the U.S. Labor Department issued a 972-page report concluding that “unlawful policies and practices” were the “root cause of this tragedy.” The company had a long history of skirting the law and in the Upper Big Branch case kept two sets of books ‑ one for internal use, which identified workplace hazards at the mine, and one to show law enforcement, which didn’t.

David Uhlmann, a former chief of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and currently a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, says Massey should have been criminally charged in the Upper Big Branch case. Uhlmann says that while at the Justice Department, his unit criminally prosecuted hundreds of corporations in cases that were arguably less serious.

But on the same day that the Labor Department issued its report, the Justice Department decided to instead enter into a “non-prosecution agreement” with the company. The company was not required to admit to wrongdoing.

The two most important law enforcement entities in Washington ‑ Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission ‑ have taken a kid-glove approach to the corporate criminal activity that arguably inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.

For years the SEC has allowed major corporations to settle cases of serious wrongdoing with consent decrees in which they “neither admit nor deny” violating the law, agree to obey the law in the future  and consent to sanctions, including multimillion-dollar fines.

A number of federal judges ‑ most notably Jed Rakoff, Richard Leon and Victor Marrero ‑ have recently challenged the SEC’s neither-admit-nor-deny settlement practice. A group of law professors has weighed in on the side of these judges, arguing that judges have the authority to challenge the SEC’s “practice of settling enforcement actions alleging serious fraud without any acknowledgment of facts, on the basis of a pro forma ‘obey the law’ injunction, a commitment to undertake modest remedial measures and insubstantial financial penalties.”

Dennis Kelleher, president of the Washington-based nonprofit advocacy organization Better Markets, says the SEC’s neither-admit-nor-deny settlement practice has had the effect of enshrining a “double standard where the law is aggressively enforced on Main Street and the wealthy and well-connected of Wall Street get away with meaningless slaps on the wrist.”

“This SEC practice only rewards, incentivizes and guarantees more crime on Wall Street,” he said. “That must end.”

Over the past 20 years the Justice Department has slipped down the slope of corporate crime deterrence, from guilty pleas to deferred prosecution agreements to non-prosecution agreements to “declinations.”

Twenty years ago, when a major corporation engaged in criminal wrongdoing, a good bet was that the company would plead guilty, admit wrongdoing and be punished.

In 2000, my publication Corporate Crime Reporter went through our files and compiled a list of all major corporations convicted of criminal activity and ranked them according to the amounts of their criminal fines and cut the list off at the top 100.

We released a report titled “The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s.”

It’s an open question whether there were 100 major convicted corporate criminals from 2000 to 2009.


Around 2000, in the wake of the criminal prosecution and the demise of Arthur Andersen, the Justice Department decided that it would begin to lean toward not criminally prosecuting major corporations. Instead, it instituted a policy of resolving such crimes with deferred and non-prosecution agreements.

In a deferred prosecution agreement, the company is criminally charged. But if the company abides by the agreement ‑ pay the fine, appoint the monitor, enhance the company’s compliance program ‑ then after a period of time ‑ usually three years ‑ the criminal charges will be dropped.

No crime. No admission of wrongdoing.

A non-prosecution agreement ‑ the kind Massey Energy got ‑ is an even better deal for the company. Under that kind of agreement, there is no criminal prosecution. The company agrees to pay the fine, appoint the monitor and enhance the compliance program.

But there is no criminal charge. And no admission of wrongdoing. And no threat that it will ever be prosecuted for that wrongdoing.

At the bottom of the slope are declinations.

And here, the record is murky, because the Justice Department has no obligation to make public declinations. Lanny Breuer, the Justice Department’s former chief corporate crime law enforcement official, is now back at Covington & Burling, taking down a reported $4 million defending accused corporate criminals.

While in office, Breuer was the target of two broadcast newsmagazine pieces — one by 60 Minutes titled “Prosecuting Wall Street” and one by PBS’s Frontline titled The Untouchables.” These brought into sharp focus arguably his most important decisions, in which he chose to not criminally prosecute any big Wall Street banks or high-level executives for the 2008 financial meltdown.

These were bottom-of-the-slope declinations.

On May 3 at the National Press Club, top SEC and Justice Department officials will be featured speakers at a conference titled “Neither Admit Nor Deny: Corporate Crime in the Age of Deferred Prosecutions, Consent Decrees, Whistleblowers & Monitors.”

They will be pressed to dismantle our two-tier justice system. And replace it with a system that embodies what Attorney General Eric Holder calls “our nation’s enduring pursuit for equal justice for all.”

* Source: Reuters.com/ Opinion/The Great Debate

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy As The Day Is Long - James Tate

James Tate

Happy As The Day Is Long

===== ----- =====

by James Tate (1943 -)

I take the long walk up the staircase to my secret room.
Today's big news: they found Amelia Earhart's shoe, size 9.
1992: Charlie Christian is bebopping at Minton's in 1941.
Today, the Presidential primaries have failed us once again.
We'll look for our excitement elsewhere, in the last snow
that is falling, in tomorrow's Gospel Concert in Springfield.
It's a good day to be a cat and just sleep.
Or to read the Confessions of Saint Augustine.
Jesus called the sons of Zebedee the Sons of Thunder.
In my secret room, plans are hatched: we'll explore the Smoky Mountains.
Then we'll walk along a beach: Hallelujah!
(A letter was just delivered by Overnight Express--
it contained nothing of importance, I slept through it.)
(I guess I'm trying to be "above the fray.")
The Russians, I know, have developed a language called "Lincos"
designed for communicating with the inhabitants of other worlds.
That's been a waste of time, not even a postcard.
But then again, there are tree-climbing fish, called anabases.
They climb the trees out of stupidity, or so it is said.
Who am I to judge? I want to break out of here.
A bee is not strong in geometry: it cannot tell
a square from a triangle or a circle.
The locker room of my skull is full of panting egrets.
I'm saying that strictly for effect.
In time I will heal, I know this, or I believe this.
The contents and furnishings of my secret room will be labeled
and organized so thoroughly it will be a little frightening.
What I thought was infinite will turn out to be just a couple
of odds and ends, a tiny miscellany, miniature stuff, fragments
of novelties, of no great moment. But it will also be enough,
maybe even more than enough, to suggest an immense ritual and tradition.
And this makes me very happy.

 **** TPO’s take :   Anything and everything can happen in a day! ****