Farewell, Obamas

I admit that I cried when Obama was first elected. (And I admit that I like Michelle Obama more than I like her husband.) As the first black president, Obama had to face a mountain of difficulties, yet he did it with reason, intelligence, style, and humor. He was a calm voice in the storm, as I hope he will continue to be. He will go down in history as the coolest president ever.

But more than all of that, I admired the love story between the president and First Lady. They are strong and proud individuals, made stronger together by their obvious love for each other. Good luck, First Family. We’ll miss ya.

http://www.mic.com/articles/150562/because-we-want-you-to-cry-here-is-a-catalogue-of-beautiful-obama-moments#.4HNIkEOv0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/best-white-house-photos-2016_us_5866889ce4b0de3a08f814d9

Aml Maine · University of Houston
Likely Mrs. Obama will find ways to continue doing public good. I teach college courses to adult students, many of whom are veterans on the GI Bill. Many were enlisteds (not officers) who grew up in families with few options and joined the military for careers, then make the best of it with education. They RAVE about Mrs. Obama and her volunteer efforts to marshall corporate and nonprofit organizations to help military families with services like relocation assistance, family assistance while the enlisteds are deployed overseas, etc. I believe that history will show her to be one of the most admired First Ladies ever.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-legacy-womens-health_us_58595b7ce4b08debb78b2c47?st5cmmty1czy0t3xr

Obama’s signature health care law saved women $1.4 billion on birth control pills alone in 2013, the year after it went into effect. More than 55 million women now get their contraception and well-woman visits for free, and unintended pregnancy in the United States is at a 30-year low…

WASHINGTON, DC (Rueters) — For his last act in office, President Obama has ended the drug war. He signed a law that makes all drugs legal. The law includes dismantling the DEA. And now he leaves it all to President Trump…

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Thinking of you, Zondra Nash

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http://www.fox6now.com/2017/01/05/family-says-woman-found-dead-near-23rd-hadley-had-no-heat-in-her-home-you-have-to-check-on-them/

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating a possible cold weather related death. A family found their 48-year-old relative frozen in her home on Thursday afternoon, January 5th. They’re now encouraging others to check on their loved ones…

The woman’s sister Zeldra Strong found her sister’s frozen body in her home… “Everything was off. The water was frozen in cups and bowls,” Timothy Nash said.

What was certain Thursday — in her last moments, Zondra Nash was not living comfortably. The heat was turned off. Nash’s family said she suffered from depression and refused to open her door — even for them…

http://www.cbs58.com/story/34203153/woman-died-from-the-cold-was-an-army-veteran

According to the medical examiner’s report, the woman had not paid her rent in three months and her sister had not been in contact for three months. The woman was found on January 5. She had served in the army for six years…

Zondra Nash’s heat had been turned off in August. The last phone call she made was on November 27. She had purchased cold and cough medicine from Walgreens. The family told the medical examiner she had lost her job two years ago when the business closed.

Without industry backing, pain patients are screwed

I can’t help but look at successful advocacy work and compare it to the fight of pain patients against the opioid war.

Marijuana advocacy is backed by its own industry and heavily-funded groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, so it’s no wonder that the movement has been successful. While I was surprised at the success of the Standing Rock protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I think it was when the veterans got involved that some success was reached. I’m also thinking about the long-term success of gun rights advocates, which also include a lot of veterans, as well as powerful industry backing.

And then there’s the recent success of kratom.

As an intractable pain survivor, I’ve kept up with the news on kratom. In fact, another pain patient even mailed some to me. I haven’t tried it yet because I’m afraid of the nausea, as I’ve read that this side effect can be severe, depending on dosage. And who knows the right dosage for me? Not me. And I don’t have the money to experiment.

When we look at the success that kratom advocates have achieved so far — against the DEA, of all foes — we have to wonder why. What have they done that pain patients have failed to do?

For one, even the kratom movement has industry backing. Which industries would back pain patients? Not the medical industry, that’s for sure. No, in fact, there are very large industries working against pain patients, including the addiction industry and the federal government.

There’s also the issue of who these advocate are — what positions they hold in this society. Most pain patients are disabled and poor. It’s hard to get anyone to listen to you when you’re disabled and poor, unless you’re supported by funding from… somewhere.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-12-12/is-kratom-a-deadly-drug-or-a-life-saving-medicine

Kratom gained popularity in the U.S. over the past decade or so, as its availability spread online and in head shops. Two or 3 grams of powdered extract steeped in hot water or whipped into a smoothie offers a mild, coffee-like buzz; doses double or triple that size can induce a euphoria that eases pain without some of the hazardous side effects of prescription analgesics. Preliminary survey data gathered recently by Oliver Grundmann, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at the University of Florida, found that American users are mostly male (57 percent), white (89 percent), educated (82 percent with some college), and employed (72 percent). More than 54 percent are 31 to 50 years old, and 47 percent earn at least $75,000 a year…

At the time, the DEA seemed less worried than the FDA. The DEA had listed kratom as a “drug of concern” for several years, but spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told the trade publication Natural Products Insider in March 2014 that kratom had “not been a big enough problem in the U.S. to control.” That posture changed several months later. On the afternoon of July 16, 2014, according to the Palm Beach Post, a 20-year-old Ian Mautner drove to an overpass in Boynton Beach, Fla., left his Isuzu Trooper, removed his sandals, and threw himself to his death on Interstate 95 below. Police found packets of kratom in his vehicle. Lab tests showed mitragynine, as well as prescription antidepressants, in his blood. He hadn’t left a suicide note.

Ian’s mother, Linda Mautner, blamed her son’s death on kratom addiction, telling the FDA that her son had ingested the leaf frequently, causing him to suffer from weight loss, vomiting, constipation, and hallucinations, among other problems. He had dropped out of college and entered rehab, but relapsed the month before he died.

Five weeks later, the DEA asked the FDA for a recommendation on whether to name kratom a controlled substance…

In the U.S., the kratom business consists mostly of retailers who buy raw leaf product from overseas farmers or a distributor. There are also wholesalers who package and encapsulate the stuff, though some retailers contract this out themselves. A recent survey by the Botanical Education Alliance, a business lobby group, counted about 10,000 vendors with annual revenue slightly over $1 billion…

The DEA issued its formal notice about kratom on Aug. 30, calling it “an increasingly popular drug of abuse readily available on the recreational drug market.” By law, the DEA’s final ruling wasn’t subject to court review. Nor did it require public comment…

Within a week, the Botanical Education Alliance and [Susan] Ash’s association hired a lobbyist, a public-relations company, and the Washington law firms Venable and Hogan Lovells, where Rosenberg had once been a partner…

More than 200 of the 660 kratom-related calls to poison centers had also involved alcohol, narcotics, or benzodiazepines, Hogan Lovells said. “Never before has DEA invoked its emergency scheduling authority to take action against a natural product with a long history of safe use in the community,” the letter read. It was signed by David Fox and Lynn Mehler, former lawyers in the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel. According to Ash, the letter cost her organization $180,000…

Thinking of you, Lee Brooker

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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/alabama-prosecutor-valeska-criminal-justice-reform.html?

Mr. Valeska has proved exceedingly adept at using diversion, generating more than $1 million for his office in the last five years. The money has helped him consolidate his singular power over the justice system in Houston and Henry Counties, where he has presided as the chief prosecutor for three decades.

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Dothan, the seat of Houston County and, with 70,000 residents, the regional hub, can feel like it is caught in a Southern time warp, immune to change and defined by racial division. Dothan, where one in three residents is black, has never had a black mayor, police chief, circuit judge or school superintendent. Meetings of the city commission are held in a room adorned with 28 portraits of city leaders, all of them white men. An old photograph shows police officers, including the current chief, posing beside a Confederate flag…

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It is not uncommon for residents to suffer severe penalties for crimes that would be considered minor elsewhere. Lee Brooker, a 77-year-old disabled veteran, was caught growing marijuana in his backyard in 2011. By introducing prior convictions from 1991, Mr. Valeska sought, and won, life without parole for Mr. Brooker…

The Wolves of UNM

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From Wikipedia:  The Lobo is the official mascot of the University of New Mexico (UNM)… “Lobo” is the Spanish word for “wolf” and was suggested as the school mascot in 1920 by George S. Bryan, editor of the school newspaper and student manager of the football team. “The Lobo is respected for his cunning, feared for his prowess, and is the leader of the pack,” wrote Bryan in the October 1, 1920 issue of the newspaper…

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“Being number one isn’t everything. It’s not even the most important thing.” Me 🙂

#StandingWith StandingRock

http://www.mic.com/articles/160657/standing-rock-protesters-are-getting-help-from-thousands-of-veterans-as-human-shields#.XjlX4bISI

Nearly 2,000 veterans have pledged to stand with Standing Rock, acting as “human shields” for those protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The group, Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, offered its services one day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to abandon its ongoing demonstration against the project and South Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced a “mandatory evacuation” of the protesters’ main camp…

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/before-standing-rock-dakota-access-pipeline-faced-resistance-in-iowa-112916.html

Before the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota began its months-long, public standoff with Energy Transfer Partners and the Morton County Sheriff’s department over the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying that the project put their water supply at risk and that they weren’t properly consulted, landowners, environmental scientists, and agricultural experts in Iowa voiced similar concerns about the project…

Some of the landowners describe being threatened by Energy Transfer Partners with eminent domain, even before the Iowa Utilities Board granted its approval for the pipeline. “The piece of land on my farm which Bakken wishes to condemn has been in our family for over 80 years,” Herman Rook wrote to the Iowa Utilities Board…

http://www.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/11/28/dave-matthews-supports-standing-rock-during-livestream-concert-social-media-erupts-166596

Thinking of you, Curtis Gearhart

http://www.whotv.com/2016/11/10/another-iowa-veteran-suicide-after-family-says-he-was-told-to-wait-for-treatment-by-va/

Then nearly two months ago Curtis went to the V.A. because of recurring headaches. Valesca said, “He previously had a tumor. He was worried about it and they told him it would be five to six weeks.” He couldn’t wait any longer and took his own life Monday, November 7th…

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