Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Whistleblower protection

From the AHRP & the Government Accountability Project (U.S.)

Supreme Court Rules against Government Whistleblowers
Garcetti v. Ceballos Ruling Undermines Public Employees' First Amendment Rights

WASHINGTON - May 30 - Today, the Supreme Court severely limited the rights of government employee whistleblowers to protect the public interest. Through its ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Court holds that government employees' job-related speech is not protected by the first amendment, a significant departure from prior law.

"The Supreme Court's ruling strikes a shameful blow against free speech rights and a vigorous democracy - public employees' ability to serve as guardians of good government are severely restricted by this opinion," stated Joanne Royce, GAP General Counsel. "A deeply divided, but majority court, today upheld the values of "employer control" over the traditional
American values of freedom and protection of public discourse and professional dissent. This ruling will have a serious chilling effect on the willingness of public employees to risk their livelihood to expose government fraud and waste. Our democratic traditions and the American
taxpayer are sacrificed to the alter of "employer control."

GAP's amicus curie brief to the Court regarding the case, written by Royce and GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, can be found here

The case before the court was that of Richard Ceballos, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County, California who learned that a deputy sheriff lied to obtain a search warrant, Ceballos advised his superiors of the wrongdoing, and recommended that the county drop its case.

His recommendation was ignored, and his superiors demanded that he continue with
the prosecution. Ceballos then informed the defense of his findings, as required by law. Despite the fact that he had acted in a lawful fashion, Ceballos was removed from the case, demoted, and transferred to a different office.

Ceballos' ordeal is a shining example of how ethical government workers are supposed to act - he exposed misconduct that was in gross violation of the underpinnings of the American justice system. It is a tragedy that the Supreme Court allowed the government to penalize such
principled behavior.

The ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision are devastating to public employees who choose to speak out in the interest of the American people. By restricting the speech of whistleblowers, the Supreme Court has made government more susceptible to fraud and corruption. Public employee truth-tellers are essential to the safety and welfare of our country - they expose corruption, fraud, and national security shortcomings.

The muzzling of such vital contributors to the nation's well-being will certainly have grave consequences. Without whistleblowers, government will no longer be compelled to act in an accountable and ethical fashion.

Tom Devine, GAP Legal Director, commented "This decision is outrageous. Canceling the doctrine of "duty speech" means that government employees only have an on-the-job right to be "yes people," parroting false information and enabling illegality.

The Court alludes to the Whistleblower Protection Act, but it has been weakened by a series of limiting court decisions. House and Senate Leaders must schedule a vote on legislation to strengthen the Whistleblower Protection Act, so that government employees are not punished for speaking in the public interest. This bill has been unanimously approved by Congressional committees for the last two Congresses, but the leadership has refused to schedule an up-or-down vote. It is time for Congress to act."

GAP has been an outspoken advocate of Ceballos' cause, because we see it as a vital stop-gap in the protection of employees who speak out, to protect the public interest, about wrong-doing. In this case, Ceballos' speech protects the integrity of the criminal investigation process, and that is

See the Government Accountability Project's October 2005 New York Times Op-Ed by GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock and FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley, available here

Government Accountability Project
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext. 137,

World Cup Soccer

I don't know about you guys...but I can't wait for World Cup Soccer to start with the first game between Germany and Costa Rica on June 9 at 6 pm (I'm assuming that's Eastern Standard Time).

I really don't know why the major networks in Canada, including all those brewing companies haven't caught on to soccer...especially world cup. Missing out on tapping into some great markets - especially in Canada where soccer is the number the one sport (probably at about 98%) within our immigrant communities.

See this Financial Times report on the Economics of World Cup Soccer.

C'est domage...(it's sad the CBC is only loyal to hockey...)

Check out the World Cup Soccer schedule here on the FIFA website, which includes an online game predictor and links to their interactive viewer participation like this one at Rogers.

The standings board is here waiting to tally the scores and CTV is already on the band wagon - here's their latest article on the games.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ontario Coroner commits human rights abuses

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled in favour of mandatory coroner's inquests into deaths that occur in psychiatric facilities. The Crown or the Ontario Coroner's office refused to hold an inquest into the death of a patient when clinical records were altered by the facility. The OHRC deemed the Coroner's actions to violate the patient's right of equal treatment under the law (s. 15 of the Charter, s. 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Act) thus discriminating against individuals within that have mental illness, an enumerated ground under both the Charter and the Code.

See the CBC website for details. Here is the news release from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

I don't know about you, but I'm personally disgusted that the Crown via the Coroner's office wouldn't totally disregard Charter provisions for individuals with mental illness. But then again, this is Ontario.

Perhaps now the Randy Modgridge case could be looked into by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Speculative drug treatment on healthy children


Information Alert from AHRP and an article from the New York Times below

Our criticism of a high risk, speculative drug experiment conducted on healthy children and adolescents at Yale University's Psychiatric Institute was validated by a federal investigation: and our criticism is now validated by the principle investigator, Dr. Thomas McGlashan. Dr. McGlashan, who now concedes that his screening test proved unreliable. Furthermore. he said:
"I'm more pessimistic about all this now. I don't think the drugs can prevent full-blown psychosis, only delay it." He added, "I think more than ever we need to follow a group of prodromal adolescents who get no drug treatment to see more clearly what happens and refine our understanding of what the prodrome is."

A profile of Dr. McGlashan, Director of Yale Psychiatric Institute and professor of psychiatry, was published in The New York Times Science section, "A Career That Has Mirrored Psychiatry's Twisting Path." The profile follows a Times news report (May 1) revealing that this
controversial (we maintain, unethical) experiment failed. The authors reported that "the drugs were more likely to induce weight gain than to produce a significant, measurable benefit. [And] more than two-thirds of the participants dropped out, rendering the trial inconclusive."

This unethical experiment was funded by Eli Lilly and the National Institute of Mental Health. The children (12 years old +) did not qualify for a diagnosis of any mental illness. Yet, they were exposed for one year to the severe risks and health hazards linked to Lilly's antipsychotic drug,
Zyprexa (olanzapine) merely because the Yale investigators presumed the adolescents were "at risk" of schizophrenia-without scientific evidence to back up that presumption. See this link

The profile of Dr. McGlashan (below) is a portrait of psychiatry: its pseudo-scientific theories that are anchored in faith and speculation, not science. Its scientifically unsubstantiated treatement arsenal have given rise to a cowboy culture that readily endorses high risk, mostly
non-therapeutic experimentation on patients. Dr. McGlashan at first enthusiastically embraced psychoanalysis. When it failed to improve patients' lives, he threw his energies into biological, drug-centered treatment. Benedict Carey notes that Dr. McGlashan "has with grim delight
extinguished some of psychiatry's grandest notions, none more ruthlessly than his own."

But what about the patients who have suffered harm by being subjected to test "psychiatry's grandest notions" that ended in failure? Where is the concern about the human consequences of pseudo-scientific tinkering?

Indeed, if psychiatry's prescribed treatments were assessed from the perspective of patients' satisfaction-as is done in all other medical evaluations-the inescapable conclusion would be that each of its failed treatments has aggravated rather than ameliorated suffering-often causing
chronic disability and premature death. Psychiatry's ministrations violate the foremost Hippocratic medical dictum: "Primum, Non Nocere" ("Above all, do no harm").

Even as a body of irrefutable empirical evidence has shown that psychiatry's drug treatments induced irrevocable harm, medical journal editors and most of the major media have deftly avoided questioning psychiatry's ethics and have continued to broadcast unfounded, claimed benefits for its harmful treatments. FDA officials have shown reckless disregard for the safety of
children who are exposed to toxic drugs in unehtical experiments.

The drug prescribed for the adolescents in Dr. McGlashan's experiment (Zyprexa, olanzapine) is so toxic that Eli Lilly paid $700 million to settle lawsuits filed by 8,000 surviving patients and families of deceased patients who became diabetic while taking the drug. Zyprexa's adverse effect profile is so well-known among psychiatrists, University of Cincinnati psychiatrist,
Dr. Henry Nasrallah, refers to the "Zyprexa metabolic syndrome" in his presentations. [1] And Dr. Carol Tamminga, a leading schizophrenia researcher and promoter of the antipsychotics acknowledged in an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry: "the side effect outcomes are staggering in their magnitude and extent and demonstrate the significant
medication burden for persons with schizophrenia.."

The Times quotes Dr. Steven E. Hyman, Provost, Harvard University and the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health: "Given the likelihood that psychosis is delayed and not prevented by the drugs, and given the severe side effects of the drugs, this is an idea that needs to be taken with great caution." However, a cowboy culture fosters risk taking-"shoot first, worry about the consequences, later"-and ambitious psychiatrists at powerful academic institutions do not respect the cautionary principle of medicine.

Furthermore, psychiatry's penchant for applying its "grandest notions" before they have been scientifically validated is an abuse of power that tramples on individual rights. Schools are being turned into experimental laboratories posing a threat to children and adolescents who may be
mistakenly labeled as "mentally ill." The Boston Globe reported (2002) that a "Yale research center called Prevention through Risk Identification, Management and Education , or PRIME, is developing a possible student screen now, although Dr. Thomas McGlashan, PRIME's chief investigator, said general screening was still some time in the future. ''We're talking about a year from now'' at the soonest, he said.

Dr. McGlashan now concedes that his screening test proved unreliable, and he no longer recommends exposing adolescents to antipsychotics inasmuch as they may never need them. Not so, Dr. Barbara Cornblatt, the director of the Recognition and Prevention Program at Zucker Hillside Hospital of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center (Albert Einstein School of Medicine). Dr. Cornblatt continues exposing children to unjustifiable risks of harm in a similar dubious experiment on the basis of the following rationale: "I may be more optimistic about early treatment than he is at this point."

Dr. Cornblatt's shrug of the shoulder attitude about very serious risks of harm for the human subjects in her speculative experiment is a reflection of the lack of accountability within the context of medical research. The adverse events suffered by the children and adolescents in these experiments must be accessible to public scrutiny. What did the original consent forms
disclose about the risks to parents ?

The media's soft-peddling when one after another of psychiatry's ambitious experimental forays ("grand notions") has ended in disaster, has helped perpetuate disinformation about speculative benefits of harmful treatment modalities such as those embraced and then discarded by Dr. McGlashan. He told the Times that he has turned down an invitation to sign up for a debate
over whether high-risk adolescents should be treated with drugs: "He wanted me to sign up for the pro side, and I said absolutely not."

Whereas Dr. McGlashan has seemingly retreated from prescribing antipsychotic drugs for adolescents, the same toxic drugs are currently being tested on very young children--even toddlers--at Harvard University affiliate, Massachusetts General Children's Hospital. See this link.

The outpouring of public comments about this experiment on the ABC News (Brian Ross) website is an indication of public dismay and indignation. To our knowledge, the last comment was posted by Dr. Marcel E. Wingate, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington, a clinical psychologist and expert on speech pathology. His most recent book, Foundation of Stuttering
(2001) set forth a rational and scientifically defensible foundation for the study and management of stuttering, based on the fact that stuttering is manifestly a disorder of speech: "Stuttering is not a symptom of emotional or mental problems, although it may become a source of stress and cause emotional difficulties."

Commenting about the Mass General antipsychotic drug experiment, Dr. Wingate wrote: "These experiments are truly exploratory. The territory is strange and very little is known about it. Those who invade it are truly adventurers, reminiscent of the Conquistadores, essentially criminal types, looking for GOLD!"

Posted by: Marcel E Wingate, Ph.D. May 25,
2006. See ABC News Blog

1. See video slide presentation (Internet Explorer)

2. See: Dr. Carol Tamminga, "Practical Treatment Information for
Schizophrenia" Editorial, AJP, April, 2006, vol. 163:563-565.

3. Ellen Barry, High school testing eyed for schizophrenia signs, Boston
Globe May 25, 2002 page A1

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav

Scientist at Work Thomas McGlashan
A Career That Has Mirrored Psychiatry's Twisting Path


The patient, Keith, was a deeply religious young man, disabled by paranoia, who had secluded himself for weeks in one of the hospital's isolation rooms.

In daily therapy sessions he said little but was always civil, seemingly pleased to have company and grateful for a cigarette and a light.

Until one spring morning, when he wrestled the lighter from his therapist's hand and held it to his own head - igniting his hair.

"I grabbed him and was slapping at the flames, and he immediately became passive," said Dr. Thomas H. McGlashan, the man's therapist. "He went limp and pulled a blanket over his head."

He added, "That patient, that experience, changed everything for me."

In a career that has spanned four decades, Dr. McGlashan, now 64 and a professor of psychiatry at Yale, has with grim delight extinguished some of psychiatry's grandest notions, none more ruthlessly than his own. He strived for years to master psychoanalysis, only to reject it outright after demonstrating, in a landmark 1984 study, that the treatment did not help much at all in people, like Keith, with schizophrenia . Once placed on antipsychotic medication, Keith became less paranoid and more expressive.

Without it, he quickly deteriorated.

Dr. McGlashan turned to medication and biology for answers and in the 1990's embarked on a highly controversial study of antipsychotic medication to prevent psychosis in high-risk adolescents. But doctors' hopes for that experiment, too, withered under the cold eye of its lead author.

Early this month, Dr. McGlashan reported that the drugs were more likely to induce weight gain than to produce a significant, measurable benefit.

Through it all, he has remained optimistic, restless, hopeful that he is close to understanding some of schizophrenia's secrets. In a way, his work mirrors the history of psychiatry itself, its conflicts and limits, its shift away from talk therapy to drugs and biological explanations for

And for those who want a sense of what direction the field will take next - and how - Dr. McGlashan may serve as a kind of bellwether.

"Basically, you're talking about a person who can walk into an extremely hostile environment and deliver bad news; I don't know how to describe him better than that," said Dr. Wayne Fenton of the National Institute of Mental Health. He is a former colleague of Dr. McGlashan's at Chestnut Lodge, a psychiatric hospital in Rockville, Md., closed in 2001.

"At the lodge, he stood up and, in essence, told all these giants of psychotherapy that there was not a shred of evidence that what they were doing with schizophrenia patients was helping, much less curing the disorder," Dr. Fenton said. "And the therapies were being advertised as

Dr. McGlashan is recognizable from a distance, a lean figure striding across the grounds of the medical school as if against a strong wind, chin forward beneath a mop of white-gray hair. On a typical day, he visits with adult patients at a state mental hospital in the morning and with adolescents in a private institute in the afternoon. He is a deliberate presence, solemn for
long periods; but then he will remark on something absurd and tip backward with laughter.

This unsettling combination - gravity punctuated by sudden levity - may help explain his comfort with the world of psychosis.

"I thought he was the Antichrist when I first met him; I thought all the therapists were," said Keith, the patient at Chestnut Lodge who changed Dr. McGlashan's thinking in 1982. "But in the end I liked his sense of humor, and he liked mine, and I keep in touch with him."

Keith, who is now 47 and spoke by telephone only on the condition that his last name not be used, said he set his hair on fire that day because he was terrified that a great tribulation was at hand, during which he would be dragged by his hair before the devil.

"I really believed it was coming, any moment, and there was no way to escape," he said. "I still believe it's coming, but not right now; I'm not afraid of it." Dr. McGlashan joined the staff of Chestnut Lodge at a time when psychoanalysis was in ascendance in psychiatry, nowhere more so than at the lodge, which became known for its commitment to treat severe mental
illness without antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs or electroshock therapy. It was thrilling just to be there, Dr. McGlashan recalled, hearing so many accomplished therapists offer seemingly powerful ideas about what troubled patients and why.

At the time he was treating Keith, Dr. McGlashan was pursuing a study for the hospital's owner, Dr. Dexter Bullard, to track patients years after treatment. Their records were revealing artifacts, detailing thousands of interactions in which therapists, steeped in psychoanalytic theory, tried to interpret patients' every word and gesture.

In one account, a psychiatrist described an outing when he bought a patient an ice cream cone. The patient refused it vehemently. "This was very exasperating to me," the therapist wrote. "She never did accept the cone, and I had to throw it away. I thought of it at the time as having
represented a kind of rape situation to her."

Yet in his analysis of 446 cases, Dr. McGlashan found that about two-thirds of the former patients with schizophrenia who had been treated with psychoanalysis were functioning poorly and struggling in their relationships and in their jobs, if they had them. Their lives were no better than those of similar patient groups who had received little psychotherapy or none at

"I felt like people at the lodge had become lost in the process," he said.

"We would have all these erudite conversations, talking about interpretations, and meanwhile the patient is crumpled in the corner of his or her room."

Chestnut Lodge changed some of its policies as a result of the study, allowing more drug treatment, job training and other programs.

Dr. McGlashan's intensity, and willingness to reverse course, was evident even in childhood. An ardently religious boy, he grew up with two sisters near Rochester, where his father worked at Kodak. In middle school, the youngster pored through the Bible, to the dismay of his father and the bemusement of his mother.

The devotion was isolating, Dr. McGlashan remembers, creating a mostly private world of mystery and awe. Then in his first year of high school, he met other Christian students, who belonged to a group devoted to proselytizing.

He was reluctant to join, and his father sensed it. "He saved me," Dr. McGlashan said. "He picked me up after a meeting and said it was O.K. to pull back" from the group.

"He was giving me permission."

He graduated second in his high school class and studied chemistry at Yale. He then entered the University of Pennsylvania's medical school, where, during a psychiatry rotation, he met his future. He interviewed a middle-aged Philadelphia businesswoman, who described to him a tortuous plot being hatched against her, involving family members and the F.B.I. "I thought, 'She can't possible believe this,' " Dr. McGlashan said.

He was hooked. Psychosis was isolating, too, and deeply mysterious even to scientists who spent their lives thinking about it. By the 1990's, most psychiatrists believed schizophrenia to be a genetically based brain disorder involving developmental changes that occurred well before the first full-blown psychosis. No one knew precisely what those changes were, but studies strongly suggested that they were real.

Moreover, psychiatric clinics periodically saw adolescents who seemed to be experiencing mild, prepsychosis symptoms. They were "prodromal," in the medical jargon, perhaps destined to develop a full-blown psychotic episode, perhaps not.

Dr. McGlashan and several others saw in these converging threads a possibility: maybe treating young people with drugs before they became psychotic would prevent the illness, and perhaps even help illuminate its cause.

Dr. McGlashan recalled patients at Chestnut Lodge who had spent decades receiving daily psychotherapy, to no avail, before receiving antipsychotic drugs and reclaiming some portion of normal life. One woman spent 18 years at the lodge, barefoot, unkempt, closeted in her room. One day, he said, he looked out a window and saw her going for a morning walk, smartly dressed, wearing shoes; she had recently been given medication and began taking daily

"What right did we have denying her that?" he asked. "Small changes in a person's life, which I think is what we can expect, can make a big difference."

The risks of using drugs to try to prevent psychosis seemed to him moderate.

New antipsychotics were becoming available, and, though they could have serious side effects, they appeared to be more tolerable than the older generation of drugs, and to reduce the risk of debilitating, Parkinson's disease-like side effects. So Dr. McGlashan began a study, financed in part by Eli Lilly, giving medication to adolescents considered at high risk for developing psychosis. But almost immediately, there were difficulties.

The test that Dr. McGlashan developed to identify those at high risk proved less reliable than he had hoped, meaning many adolescents would be exposed to drugs needlessly. Participants for the trial were hard to recruit. Mild psychosislike symptoms are rare in adolescents; and some who came in chose to continue seeing Dr. McGlashan or another psychiatrist but did not enter
the study.

An ethical debate over the wisdom of early treatment ensued, and not everyone thought the potential benefit was worth the risk.

"Given the likelihood that psychosis is delayed and not prevented by the drugs, and given the severe side effects of the drugs, this is an idea that needs to be taken with great caution," said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard and a former director of the
National Institute of Mental Health.

And in 2000, Vera Sharav, a prominent patient-protection advocate, wrote to government officials calling the experiment unethical, because "healthy children - who are not capable of voluntary, informed consent - are being put at high risk of harm for experimental purposes."

Officials from the federal Office for Human Research Protection began an investigation. About a year later, the agency concluded that the researchers needed to strengthen their informed consent documents to emphasize the side effects of the medication.

The researchers made the required changes, and the trial continued. But in a paper published this month, the authors reported that more than two-thirds of the participants had dropped out, rendering the trial inconclusive.

Moreover, those on medication gained an average of about 20 pounds. The entire process, almost 10 years in the making, has altered Dr. McGlashan's thinking again. "I'm more pessimistic about all this now," he said. "I don't think the drugs can prevent full-blown psychosis, only delay it." He added, "I think more than ever we need to follow a group of
prodromal adolescents who get no drug treatment to see more clearly what happens and refine our understanding of what the prodrome is."

Sitting in his office on a recent Tuesday morning, after having seen three patients taking a total of 10 drugs, Dr. McGlashan sighed. "I've never written so many prescriptions in my life," he said. He said he had recently gotten a call from someone in England organizing a debate over whether high-risk adolescents should be treated with drugs. "He wanted to sign me up for the pro side, and I said absolutely not," he said.

Now colleagues are watching the progression of his thinking, wondering where his drive for answers will ultimately take him. "It's funny, he seems to be coming full circle," said Dr. Barbara Cornblatt, the director of the Recognition and Prevention Program at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., and an early critic of preventive drug treatment. "I may be more optimistic about early treatment than he is at this point."

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sandbox politics

"We can't accept that the prime minister's office would decide who gets to ask questions," said Yves Malo, a TVA reporter and president of the press gallery. "Does that mean that when there's a crisis they'll only call upon journalists they expect softball questions from?" - from CTV

I'm wondering if Harper's respect for freedom of the press is for real or if it's coming from his Hamilton bred communications director Sandra Buckler. If there is a remote bit of Hamilton in this woman - the above the law Hamilton attitude just may be influencing these bizarre decisions in the PMO's office and would make a little sense that the clause you see above on the Habamus Rodentum clause from the Charter is brushed off.

Are journalists not FREE to asks questions? Even the press gallery themselves decides who is a qualified "journalist" in order to let them into news conferences to ask questions - so it's not like just anyone can ask a question.

I noticed when the Liberals were in office that the press gallery didn't ask the tough questions - I was so irritated by this I called the press gallery myself. That was after a guy who posed as a journalist was "let into the question gallery" without proper credentials - but he asked a really tough question that Martin couldn't answer. The guy was dragged out.

So I'm not exactly sure who is controlling what or whom.

I've started blogging because journalists and news media didn't cover the stories that affected me and other Ontarians a.k.a. Canadians. So someone is controlling what type of information is getting out - just not the right info.

Perhaps Harper knows how non-elite Canadians feel and wishes to take his message to the people as they distrust the media as much as this subject suggests he does.

So I'm going to say to the media what I used to say to my son when he wanted to play with something another child was playing with: Harper isn't ready to share yet, when he is ready he will.

As for Harper he'll realize he's being selfish and controlling and will be more compromising within a very short period of time - it always worked with the kids and there was no fighting.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Foster care children are guniea pigs

At least in Texas there appears to be justice for children within the foster care system that are being prescribed psychotropic medications to keep them compliant with the system. If those of you didn't watch the CBC documentary 'Finding Normal' you can do so here - the video link is available for you to watch it.

An overview: A child 'J' was diagnosed with various mental illnesses - some of the rationale for diagnosing them were based on adverse symptoms of the drugs he was given for ADHD - not because he actual had the condition. Here is a list with the amounts of drugs he was given:

50 mg of Ritalin
500 mg of Divalproex
500 mg of Seroquel.

500 miligrams of Seroquel! Seroquel is an anti-psychotic drug meant for schizophrenic patients. This child does not have schizophrenia - or at least the idiotic physician didn't diagnose that yet. 25 mg can make an adult feel out of sorts. Imagine what a child on that amount of drugs must be going through but don't have the capability at such a young age to describe that they are having adverse reactions.

What is more nefarious and criminal is the conclusion by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario from a complaint against the physician:

Last spring, the college cleared the psychiatrist; concluding "the medications and dosages prescribed by Dr. Massabki are standard, and are medications commonly prescribed for young patients in similar situations with good effect."

The CPSO is condoning and telling us that it was ok to drug this child in the manner the physician did and that more children within the mental health system in Ontario are being targeted in a cruel and unusual game of irresponsible, incompetant, harmful and discriminatory medicine. If this isn't a reason to remove the CPSO from investigating and disciplining physicians and putting it in the hands of courts so it can determine Charter rights - I don't know what is.

The government has done nothing to investigate health care fraud and the government's relationship to big pharma.

I tried contacting Katherine Clarke spokesperson of the CPSO but she did not return my phone call - although that may be because I told her I was going to file a human rights complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission using this documentary as evidence (as well as many other reports) and ask them to investigate under the definition of crimes against humanity when it comes to Ontario's treatment of mental health patients by physicians and 'health care practitioners'.

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Contact: Will Holford or Dick Ellis
Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's Statement * Press Conference (639K MP3)

(Austin)-- "I started the ongoing investigation of possible Medicaidfraud and abuse in the foster care prescription drug program inNovember 2004."

As mama and a grandmamma, I am concerned with the health and well-being of our foster kids."As Comptroller, I am also concerned with the potential Medicaid prescription drug fraud and abuse in our foster care system because of the high cost of many of these prescriptions."

Under my statutory responsibility for the Texas Health Care Claims Study conducted by my office each biennium, I requested the prescription drug and claims data for foster care children for fiscalyears 2004 and 2005 to determine whether these medications are being prescribed to make children more submissive or to simply line the pockets of the unscrupulous and the uncaring - or both.

"It is not uncommon for one child to have prescriptions totaling more than $1,000 per month and for some children to have up to 19 different prescriptions within one month."

Based on the data I have received:

* $39 million was the total cost of all prescriptions for fosterchildren in fiscal year 2004;

* Of that, more than $29 million were for powerful, mind-alteringpsychotropic drugs;

* Of the 12,000 foster children who received psychotropic drugs infiscal year 2004, each child averaged 21 psychotropic drug prescriptions during the year.

"According to the Food and Drug Administration, many of these drugs are not labeled for use in children and have serious side effects, such as suicidal tendencies, diabetes, and cardiac arrhythmia. I am particularly concerned about the use and side effects of the atypical antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Zyprexa."

A clear pattern of overmedication and potential misdiagnosis of fosterchildren is evident. This potential for Medicaid fraud and the possibility of long-term health problems in these children is alarming.

"Today I am sending a letter to Gov. Rick Perry calling on him to immediately instruct his Texas Health and Human Services Commission to release the fiscal year 2005 data I requested and need to complete my investigation." Gov. Perry's Health and Human Services Commission has been stonewalling my investigation since I launched it in November 2004.

"The Commission has given the same Medicaid information I have requestedto the Cyber Security and Emergency Preparedness Institute in theEngineering and Computer Science School at the University of Texas at Dallas for its Texas Health Analytics Information Technology project."

On April 25, my general counsel formally requested the same data from the Health and Human Services Commission to provide this data.

"On May 2, the Health and Human Services Commission's general counselsent a letter to my office refusing to provide the requested data."It is unfathomable that Gov. Perry's appointed commissioner would provide this information to the University of Texas at Dallas and not provide it to satisfy a legislative mandate.

"The stonewalling at every turn by Gov. Perry's Health and HumanServices Commission to provide this data may be endangering thephysical and mental health of thousands of children in the state'sfoster care system."I urge Gov. Perry to act immediately. The lives of our most preciousand most vulnerable resource -- our forgotten children -- are atstake." -end-


Like many Canadians I spent the long weekend with family sightseeing. This is a view of lower Hamilton from the escarpment.

Of course when family comes to visit that means I have to drive by all those landmarks where there was familial involvment to bring back some sense of nostalgia just because my siblings were born here... but remember nothing...(?)

Maple keys carpeting stairs that descend down the escarpment in one of many of Hamilton's escarpment parks

I think I'm going to take on a project and document all the various stairs in this city. Here is one set of probably hundreds in Hamilton. This one isn't the most daunting that climbs the escarpment to the upper city - at least I could walk back up them. There are some that I can't even get past 2 stories before I'm ready to pass out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Scientific and moral integrity in medicine - an oxymoron

HR's note: I finally got back on to AHRP's info e-list after months of it not working on my new email addy. Whew! I was getting worried. Vera Hassner Sharav recently did an interview with ABC on American toddlers getting scribed for Seroquil. Seroquil! Toddlers!

Here is the link for the video, which you can watch or the text, which you can read.

I made two phone calls after I watched and recorded this documentary. One to the Ministry responsible and one to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. The latter is the biggest bunch of SoB that as far as I'm concerned, should be arrested and thrown in jail just so they can experience their own brand of justice - getting screwed up the back end like they've been doing to Ontarians.

The following from AHRP is a large write-up on the credibility gap that physicians, researchers and those that are supposed to protect the public - the FDA - are facing.


A documented report by David Armstrong of The Wall Street Journal (below) shatters the last glimmer of illusion about The New England Journal ofMedicine as a bastion of scientific and moral integrity. The revelations inthis investigative report deliver an irredeemable blow to the reputation ofthis preeminent academic journal that physicians around the world havetrusted as a repository of impeccably vetted scientific information.

The evidence brought to light by the WSJ reveals that a culture change atthe NEJM mirrors the prevailing culture within the pharmaceutical industry.Neither the scientific integrity of its published reports nor theprofessional conduct of those who review the reports can be trusted.

Among the documents for which the WSJ provides links, is a link to a Seattlepublic radio broadcast ( Aug. 14, 2001) in which pharmacist JenniferHrachovec called in and challenged NEJM editor, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, aboutthe inaccuracy of the published Vioxx-VIGOR study.


Hrachovec: "With this study in particular, it bothers me thatthere is more data from the trial than has ever been published and the New England Journal still hasn't published an editorial or any kind of update tolet readers and clinicians using this drug and giving it to patients who they think will benefit from a better side-effect profile. My concern isthat doctors are still using this and exposing their patients to higherrisks of heart problems and they just don't even know that that's the case."

Drazen: "We can't be in the business of policing every bit of data that weput out. We think that that's the role of people who know the field. Andwhen they think that the field has advanced to the point where somethingwhich was true at the time it came out may no longer be true .

Having brought that evidence to our attention in the form of a manuscript or aletter, we can judge whether there's enough new information and put it outif we believe that the re-analysis is correct." Jennifer Hrachovec also submitted a letter to the editor to alert physiciansabout the vital misinformation, but the NEJM refused to publish.Evidence that NEJM editors knew and remained silent for 5 years about thedisparity between the Vioxx trial data submitted by Merck to the FDA (20heart attacks, 0.5%) and the data reported to physicians taround the worldin the published NEJM version (17 heart attacks 0.4%), first came to lightin a court deposition (December 8, 2005).

Under oath, Dr. Gregory Curfman, Executive Editor of the NEJM, made somedamaging admissions about how the NEJM handled the Vioxx report (2000). The WSJ reports: "The journal's editors grew alarmed about the potentialfor bad publicity over the videotaped deposition, fearing it could be leakedor played in a federal courtroom session on Dec. 8, according to internalemails and an interview with Drs. Curfman and Drazen.

"Forbes reported the malodorous revelations that came to light in thedeposition showing the editors' failure to intervene when they foundevidence of data manipulation in the published VIGOR study (December 8,2005). See this link from AHRP

Just as the pharmaceutical industry relies on public relations firms toclean up its sullied image with ethical pronouncements, so too, editors ofthe NEJM were guided by a public relations firm when they crafted aneditorial statement, an "expression of concern" about Merck's misconduct(December 2005).

That "expression of concern," the WSJ shows, was cynically calculated to divert public attention from the damaging deposition. The strategy worked, the major press and media were hoodwinked by the phony "expression of concern"-except FORBES.

What could account for the most trusted source medical of information to fall so ignobly from its high pedestal? The answer is most likely found by following the money:

"Internal emails show the New England Journal's expression of concern was timed to divert attention from a deposition in which Executive Editor Gregory Curfman made potentially damaging admissions about the journal's handling of the Vioxx study.

In the deposition, part of the Vioxx litigation, Dr. Curfman acknowledged that lax editing might have helped the authors make misleading claims in the article. He said the journal sold more than 900,000 reprints of the article, bringing in at least $697,000 in revenue. Merck says it bought most of the reprints."

Of further note, the WSJ reports: "The journal won't disclose its revenue, but its owner, the nonprofit Massachusetts Medical Society, listed $88 million in total publishing revenue for the year ending May 31, 2005."

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav


Bitter Pill: How the New England Journal Missed Warning Signs on Vioxx
Medical Weekly Waited Years To Report Flaws in Article That Praised Pain
Drug Merck Seen as 'Punching Bag'By DAVID ARMSTRONG
May 15, 2006; Page A1

BOSTON -- In August 2001, a Seattle pharmacist called a radio show on which
Jeffrey Drazen, the top editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, was appearing. On the air, the pharmacist, Jennifer Hrachovec, begged Dr. Drazen to update an article in the journal that touted the benefits of the painkiller Vioxx while playing down its heart risks.

Dr. Hrachovec had been reviewing data on a Food and Drug Administration Web site indicating that patients in a Vioxx clinical trial had suffered more heart attacks than the journal article about the trial reported.

"It bothers me there is more data from the trial than has ever been published and the
New England Journal still hasn't published an editorial or any kind of update," she said. "My concern is that doctors are still using this and exposing their patients to higher risks of heart problems and they just don't even know that that's the case."


Pharmacist Jennifer Hrachovec challenged Jeffrey Drazen, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, about the Vigor study in a call to a Seattle radio show Aug. 14, 2001. Below, excerpts.

Hrachovec: "With this study in particular, it bothers me that there is more data from the trial than has ever been published and the New England Journal still hasn't published an editorial or any kind of update to let readers and clinicians using this drug and giving it to patients who they think will benefit from a better side-effect profile. My concern is that doctors are still using this and exposing their patients to higher risks of heart problems and they just don't even know that that's the case."

Drazen: ". We can't be in the business of policing every bit of data that we put out. We think that that's the role of people who know the field. And when they think that the field has advanced to the point where something which was true at the time it came out may no longer be true . Having brought that evidence to our attention in the form of a manuscript or a letter, we can judge whether there's enough new information and pu it out if we believe that the re-analysis is correct."

* * *

Listen to the full exchange on the Web site of KUOW,Puget Sound Public Radio. (Hrachovec's call begins at about minute 44:30.)

Dr. Drazen was dismissive. "We can't be in the business of policing every bit of data we put out," he told Dr. Hrachovec.

Three years later, Merck & Co. pulled Vioxx from the market, citing higher risk of heart attacks and strokes in some patients. An estimated 20 million Americans took Vioxx, and more than 11,500 lawsuits have been filed against Merck alleging death and other damage from the drug.

While Merck has taken the brunt of criticism in the affair, the New England Journal's role in the Vioxx debacle has received little attention. The journal is the most-cited medical publication in the world, and its November 2000 article on Vioxx was a major marketing tool for Merck.

Last December, the journal repudiated the Vioxx article in an "expression of concern," but only after the drug had been recalled and more than five years after the article appeared. Had the journal acted before the recall, its authoritative voice almost certainly would have damped the Vioxx boom.

Dr. Hrachovec's radio-show call was one of several early warnings about the article's flaws including its failure to mention the extra heart attacks. She and a colleague also submitted a letter to the New England Journal, which was rejected for publication. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on Vioxx's cardiac risk in an August 2001 article.

In April 2002 the FDA added a caution on Vioxx's label that warned of cardiovascular risks.

Internal emails show the New England Journal's expression of concern was timed to divert attention from a deposition in which Executive Editor Gregory Curfman made potentially damaging admissions about the journal's handling of the Vioxx study. In the deposition, part of the Vioxx litigation, Dr. Curfman acknowledged that lax editing might have helped the authors make misleading claims in the article. He said the journal sold more than 900,000 reprints of the article, bringing in at least $697,000 in revenue. Merck says it bought most of the reprints.

Stanford University medical professor Gurkirpal Singh, a rheumatologist who was among the first researchers to raise questions about Vioxx's cardiac risks, says the affair shows that journals need to be more vigilant about problems in what they publish. While praising the New England Journal for eventually taking action, he says "They absolutely should have corrected in 2001." Had it acted earlier, he says, sales of Vioxx "would have been killed."

Dr. Drazen, the editor, says in an interview that the authors of the article, who included Merck employees and consultants, are the ones at fault. "This was an episode where it was clear people had taken data and not reported it fully," he says in an interview. He adds: "I have now learned we need to be much more careful."

The questions about the New England Journal come as the flaws of leading medical journals are receiving greater attention. Many articles lend an academic imprimatur to messages hatched by drug companies as part of publicity campaigns. Sometimes they fail to disclose authors' financial ties to companies or the involvement of company-hired ghostwriters.

Started in 1812, the New England Journal has 200,000 subscribers and is considered must reading for doctors who want to stay current. Its selectivity and editing practices are feared and respected. The weekly rejected 93% of the 3,586 manuscripts it received last year. Accepted papers typically undergo months of editing, including "peer review" by a secret panel of experts and scrutiny by staff editors, many of whom are doctors.

The journal won't disclose its revenue, but its owner, the nonprofit Massachusetts Medical Society, listed $88 million in total publishing revenue for the year ending May 31, 2005.

In May 2000, a team including Merck employees submitted to the journal an article about Vioxx, a painkiller approved the previous year by the FDA. The article presented the results of a human trial called Vigor that showed Vioxx posed a lower risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding than naproxen, one of a class of older pain relievers long associated with such complications.

The article said 0.4% of the Vioxx patients had suffered heart attacks, compared to 0.1% for the naproxen group. It offered several reasons why that wasn't as worrisome as it seemed, including a theory that the difference stemmed from naproxen's supposed protective effect on the heart. The New England Journal published the article on Nov. 23, 2000, and the occasion was celebrated by Merck in a press release.

Merck submitted data from the Vigor study to the FDA because it wanted to add the favorable information about stomach side effects to Vioxx's label.

But the data it gave to the agency, posted on the FDA's Web site in February 2001, did not square with the data in the New England Journal article. Merck said Vioxx takers had 20 heart attacks, which translated into 0.5% of the total, not 0.4% as the article said. The higher figure undermined an assertion in the article that only those who were already at high risk of a heart attack showed an increased risk after taking Vioxx. That's because the extra heart attacks were all in the low-risk group.

The FDA Web site said Merck submitted the revised heart-attack data in October 2000, before the publication of the article. Dr. Curfman, the journal's executive editor and a cardiologist, acknowledges that he reviewed the FDA Web site posting around September 2001. The journal says the editors believed the FDA had posted late data from the trial that had not been analyzed in time to be included in the article's manuscript.

In June 2001, Dr. Hrachovec in Seattle and a doctor reviewing the drug for a Seattle health insurer wrote to the New England Journal, noting the FDA posting. They warned the journal that the Vioxx results it printed were incomplete and made the drug appear safer than it was. The journal refused to publish the letter, saying space was limited. It acknowledges that during this period it never asked Merck, the FDA or the article's authors about the discrepancy, believing that it was the responsibility of the authors to report new data.

Merck says the extra heart attacks, three in total, happened after a predetermined cutoff date for recording events in the trial. Merck says the article was properly done and doesn't require a correction. That puts the company at odds both with critics of the New England Journal and the journal's editors, who now are calling for a correction while defending their failure to ask for one earlier.

Dr. Drazen says journal editors are "just the middleman in picking what goes out there" and "when there are problems the onus lies with" authors to sound the alert. "If you ask me, it is none of our concern about whether [Vioxx] is a cardiovascular risk in the patients that are on trial," he says. The concern was making sure what was published was correct, he says, and "people could have set the record straight."

Early Criticism

Besides the article's possible understating of the heart-attack numbers, its theory that naproxen had a protective effect on the heart also came in for early criticism. "This hypothesis is not supported by any prospective placebo-controlled trials with naproxen," an FDA official wrote in a memo also published on the agency's Web site in February 2001. In September of that year, the FDA sent a public warning letter to Merck, criticizing the drug maker for promoting the naproxen idea without explaining the lack of evidence for it.

Curt Furberg, a Wake Forest University public health professor, says the New England Journal should have challenged the authors on the naproxen theory during the article's editing. "Here we have an editorial board attacking the company when they conducted an inferior review of the article," says Dr. Furberg, who is also an adviser to the FDA on drug safety. "The sad thing is patients have suffered as a result."

In September 2004, Merck withdrew Vioxx, citing the results of a new study that showed the drug raised the risk of heart attack and stroke for those using it at least 18 months.

Both sides in federal litigation over Vioxx conducted a deposition in November 2005 of Dr. Curfman, the executive editor. Plaintiffs hoped to bolster their allegation that Merck's marketing of Vioxx was deceptive.

Although the New England Journal wasn't on trial for anything, the deposition produced a number of damaging admissions by Dr. Curfman. He acknowledged that neither the peer reviewers nor journal editors challenged the authors' heart-attack theory about naproxen as it was presented in the article. "Yeah, we signed off on this," he said, according to a transcript of his testimony. "And I have many times had second thoughts about having done that."

Dr. Curfman also disclosed that the journal sold 929,400 reprints of the article -- more than one for every doctor in the country. Merck says it bought most of them. The reprints brought in between $697,000 and $836,000, using per-copy price estimates provided by the journal.

If the New England Journal had questioned the article's findings earlier, the impact of the reprints likely would have been blunted because any corrections or official
statements on a study must be included with the reprint. Merck says that after February 2001 it included a letter with the reprints telling doctors about the additional information submitted to the FDA.


Read the "Expression of Concern" published by the New England Journal of Medicine Dec. 29, 2005, about the Vigor trial.

The journal's editors grew alarmed about the potential for bad publicity over the videotaped deposition, fearing it could be leaked or played in a federal courtroom session on Dec. 8, according to internal emails and an interview with Drs. Curfman and Drazen. After five years of silence on the article, the editors started racing to prepare an "expression of concern" about it.

The New England Journal says there was a good reason for the sudden decision to rebuke the article's authors. It says Dr. Curfman was surprised to discover from a July 5, 2000, memo he was shown during the deposition that two of the authors who worked for Merck knew of the extra three Vioxx heart attacks well in advance of the November article.

However, that shouldn't have been news to Dr. Curfman since he says he read the FDA documents in 2001 showing Merck submitted information about the three events to the FDA more than a month before the article's publication.

Dr. Curfman says there was nothing in the FDA data to indicate the authors knew of the additional heart attacks. Also, he says, "The data were in the hands of a regulatory agency and we felt it was now up to them to take appropriate action."

Dr. Drazen also received a clear description of the timing in a July 2005 email from Eric Topol, then a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, who had criticized Merck and Vioxx. Dr. Topol, who had been contacted by a National Public Radio reporter asking about the November 2000 New England Journal article, told Dr. Drazen that the article's authors "clearly had ample time to correct the data when one compares the FDA Submission dates and the galley proofs (as relayed to me by Greg Curfman)."

On the night of Dec. 7, Edward W. Campion, a senior New England Journal editor, sent a note to his staff explaining why the statement had to be released the next day. The explanation didn't involve any late-breaking information obtained by Dr. Curfman. "The reason is that tomorrow's testimony in the Vioxx trial may involve part of a deposition that Greg gave," Dr. Campion wrote. "It will be essential to notify press" about the statement "and make it prominent" on the journal's Web site, he added.

A public-relations specialist who has advised the journal since 2002 predicted the rebuke would divert attention to Merck and induce the media to ignore the New England Journal of Medicine's own role in aiding Vioxx sales.

"I believe that given what a public punching bag Merck has become, there is more than enough information and more than enough context in the statement to drive the media away from NEJM and toward the authors, Merck and plaintiff attorneys," wrote Edward Cafasso, a Boston-based public relations consultant, in a late-night email to journal staffers hours before the expression was released. Mr. Cafasso later added, "In my view, this disclosure may very well be seen as the final straw for Merck on the Vioxx matter."

Mr. Cafasso's prediction initially proved correct. The Texas court ended up delaying the release of Dr. Curfman's deposition, and the expression of concern released Dec. 8 received wide media attention. A Dec. 12 list of talking points circulated among journal editors advised them to deny that the journal's statement was connected to the federal trial. If asked about the release date, editors were advised to say, "We made this information public as soon as we could, without regard to the trial." It isn't clear who wrote the memo.

The editors now concede the timing was connected to the planned release of Dr. Curfman's deposition at the trial. "We wanted a coherent statement to go out before that," says Dr. Curfman. However, they maintain that the statement was motivated by Dr. Curfman's discovery of new information about the Merck authors' advance knowledge of the three heart attacks.

'We Were Hoodwinked'

Dr. Drazen says one discovery he made after the journal's statement was published shows how the authors deceived the journal. He found that the Vigor study of Vioxx continued to tally stomach-related events for several weeks after it stopped tallying heart-related events. "We were hoodwinked," he says. Merck says these cutoff dates were determined ahead of time and weren't designed to reduce the number of heart events included in the totals.

Perhaps the most sensational allegation in the journal's expression of concern was that the authors of the November 2000 article deleted heart-related safety data from a draft just two days before submitting it to the journal for publication. The journal said it was able to detect this by examining a computer disk submitted with the manuscript.

The statement was ambiguous about what data the authors deleted, hinting that serious scientific misconduct was involved. "Taken together, these inaccuracies and deletions call into question the integrity of the data," the editors wrote.

In reality, the last-minute changes to the manuscript were less significant. One of the "deleted" items was a blank table that never had any data in it in article manuscripts. Also deleted was the number of heart attacks suffered by Vioxx users in the trial -- 17. However, in place of the number the authors inserted the percentage of patients who suffered heart attacks. Using that percentage (0.4%) and the total number of Vioxx users given in the article (4,047), any reader could roughly calculate the heart-attack number.

Dr. Curfman says it would have been easier on readers to give the exact number and admits "both the authors and the editors slipped up" in not including it.

Many news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, misunderstood the ambiguous language and incorrectly reported that the deleted data were the extra three heart attacks -- which, if true, would have reflected badly on Merck. The New England Journal says it didn't attempt to have these mistakes corrected. Dr. Curfman says the language about the deletions is "very precise and it is correct."

The day after the expression of concern, Mr. Cafasso emailed colleagues:

"The story is playing out exceptionally well."

Write to David Armstrong at david.armstrong@wsj.com4

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Charter protection for dogs - not humans - in Ontario

For all those who defend the rights of human beings in this country and who don't realisitcally believe that dogs are included in the enumerated grounds for a Charter Challenge in the Canadian Constitution.

Dear Minister Bryant:

I never thought I'd see the day when a high profile lawyer, Clayton Ruby, starts defending dogs under our Constitution in a Charter Challenge. (CTV news)

But then again, this is Ontario - a province that snubs it's nose at the legal rights of human beings - especially those already enumerated in section 15 of the Charter - namely those who are branded as "mentally ill" and who have their rights violated daily but cannot get legal services or access to the courts or Charter challenges because of the discriminatory attitudes of lawyers and the Crown.

So, it's not really surprising that dogs have more rights in Ontario than human beings. If a dog was subjected to the inhumane and undignified treatment that individuals who are branded by the health community with a "mental illness" do in this province, Ontarians would certainly be up in arms about it wouldn't they and as fast as possible launch a Charter challenge?

What an incredibly pathetic province this is.

Human Rights/Mental Health Rights Advocate
Hamilton ON

Friday, May 12, 2006

Go figure...

Thought I should post to let readers know what's up with HR. I was pretty damn sick and still have a cold or whatever it is. But one good thing has happened - actually two.

I've stopped smoking and with that have cut down how much coffee I drink. Go figure...

In any case this is good news. I've been reading the blogs of journalists who have decided to web log how they are handling quitting. Some sound like they are suffering quite a bit and I do have to say, that there has been no suffering from lack of nictotine on this girl's part.

Yes, I'm having some not-so-serious cravings but I still have a sufficient amount of phlegm in my lungs that I'm really not interested in taking in anything that only a few weeks ago burned my lungs with such intensitiy that I was sure I seared a hole through the bottom of my wind bags.

I did have one or two ciggies but they tasted like I scraped the tar off of a well travelled highway and stuck it in a tube of bleached paper. So after a few days of not smoking, the coffee tasted like crap too, well not exactly, but it certainly wasn't worth drinking let alone enjoying so this means I'm down to one professional coffee a day.

Speaking of cigarettes...

I wanted to write about Constable John Atkinson the Windsor police officer that was shot and killed last week but I didn't know what to say. I used to get my cigarettes from the Mac's where he was killed as I lived up the road from that intersection. Here's a link to a really beautiful use of html. It's a guest book to sign condolences offered by the Windsor Star.

Instead, I cried off and on throughout the weekend because I knew him, if only briefly. I still have his card he gave to me after we met. I can still hear his voice and the words he said when we first spoke.

Death is surreal. One day the life of a person is exuded by the voice we hear and presence we feel but in a matter of seconds it vanishes like the sun burning off a fog. It fades into the air, never to have presence again. It's hard to wrap the mind around this vanishing.

So for a little while, with all this seriousness in mind, I will stop posting to concentrate on a few non-serious things - like some sculpture - so I can express myself a little more creatively, with satisfaction and hopefully, with some impact.