Exiled from the Underworld

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another invitation to promiscuity

Remember Dr. Janet Woodcock, deputy operations commissioner of the FDA, who was ordered to give a deposition on her objection to the emergency contraception, "Plan B"? Dr. Woodcock refused to approve over-the-counter access to Plan B because of her concerns that teenagers would become promiscuous and form sex-based cults?

Who knew that the FDA has no standards for the safety of dyes used in body art-- that is, tattoos? It's about time to get some standards, Dr. Woodcock, because impermanent tattoos might lead to promiscuity.

Tattoos made of 'disappearing' ink

27 April 2006

From New Scientist Print Edition.

IF YOU are planning to express your undying love for someone with a tattoo, you might want to wait a little while before going under the needle. New inks that are safer to use, and far easier to remove should you have a change of heart, are set to be launched next year.

The US Food and Drug Administration has no standards for the safety of dyes used in body art. Carbon black, metal salts and other compounds more commonly used in printing or car paint are among those used. Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in these pigments can seep into the lymph system, says Martin Schmieg, president of the company Freedom-2 in Philadelphia, which is planning to introduce a range of dyes that have already been approved by the FDA for use in cosmetics, food, drugs and medical devices.

Such dyes have not been used in tattoos before as they are readily absorbed by the body. To get round this problem, Rox Anderson at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has developed a way to encapsulate the dyes in protective polymer beads just 1 to 3 micrometres in diameter. This is small enough to allow them to be injected into the skin and absorbed by skin cells to form a tattoo.

The pigment can be removed with a single laser treatment. This splits the beads open, dumping the dye into cells where it is absorbed. The tattoo then quickly fades away, in stark contrast to standard tattoo pigments. Applying a series of up to 10 laser treatments can usually bleach them, but only half of tattoos can be completely removed.

(From issue 2549 of New Scientist magazine, 27 April 2006, page 25)

FDA prude, concerned that emergency contraception may lead to promiscuity...

...is named after a dildo.

FDA grilled about Plan B

Newsday Staff Writer

April 24, 2006

Attorneys for a New York women's group plan to grill Food and Drug Administration officials this week about their failure to decide whether an emergency contraceptive pill called Plan B may be sold without a prescription.

Former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, Dr. Janet Woodcock, deputy operations commissioner, and Dr. Steven Galson, director of the FDA's drug evaluation center, are to testify in court-ordered depositions to be taken by attorneys for the Manhattan-based Center for Reproductive Rights on April 26, 27
and 28 in Washington, D.C. and Rockville, Md.

The women's group seeks to force approval of over-the-counter sales of Plan B, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

Simon Heller, one of the attorneys, plans to quiz Woodcock about a March 23, 2004, staff memo suggesting she was concerned Plan B might lead to teenage promiscuity.

The FDA is only supposed to consider the safety and efficacy of drugs.

In the memo released by the FDA during the discovery process, Dr. Curtis Rosebraugh, an agency medical officer, wrote: "As an example, she stated that we could not anticipate, or prevent extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an 'urban legend' status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B."

Rosebraugh indicated he found no reason to bar nonprescription sales of Plan B.

"This was the level of scientific discourse, so to speak," Heller said in a phone interview, referring to concerns attributed to Woodcock. "I find it very odd that these people who are supposed to be responsible scientists and doctors are making up wacky reasons."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Franklin Amanat who represents the FDA had no comment. FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro said: "It is against FDA policy to comment on pending litigation."

Conservative groups contend Plan B causes abortions and have lobbied against non-prescription sales. The manufacturer, Barr Laboratories of Pomona, N.Y., says it simply prevents pregnancy.

The FDA rejected Barr's application for Plan B non-prescription sales in May 2004. On May 6, 2004, Galson, now head of the FDA drug center, wrote in a memo: "Some staff have expressed the concern that this decision is based on non-medical implications of teen sexual behavior, or judgments about the propriety of this activity. These issues are beyond the scope of our drug approval process, and I have not considered them in this decision."

In January 2005, the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the FDA in Brooklyn federal court on behalf of two advocacy organizations and nine women from a group called the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy. The lawsuit alleges the FDA ignored a statutory deadline for a Plan B decision.

Last August, the FDA said it needed more time to consider a revised application from Barr to allow Plan B sales without a prescription to women 16 and older but with a prescription to girls 15 and under. Dr. Susan F. Wood, the FDA's top women's health officer, then resigned in protest over the repeated delays.

In September, Dr. Frank Davidoff, editor emeritus of the Annals of Internal Medicine, resigned as consultant to the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee -- also over the Plan B issue. Davidoff served on the panel when it recommended over-the-counter sales of Plan B in 2003 -- advice the FDA, in a rare move, did not follow.

In November, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, said the FDA decided not to approve non-prescription sales of Plan B even before agency medical officers finished reviewing it. A group including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had requested the investigation of the FDA's handling of Plan B.

And in December, Brooklyn federal Judge Edward Korman refused a government request to dismiss the lawsuit. Korman said: "This has all the earmarks of an administrative agency filibuster."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Send greetings to Queen

A good friend sent me this article from The Sun:

Send greetings to Queen
Sun Online
THE Queen turns 80 tomorrow and we are creating an online birthday card for her.

You can send your birthday wishes for the royal and we will run the best online.

Just email your message to yourviews@the-sun.co.uk with the subject heading 'Queen's birthday'.

Some of the messages:

Happy Birthday your Majesty!

As an ex-pat living in the US (born and raised in Chester) it is wonderful to see how well she is still ruling our great nation.

With such dignity, pride and enthusiasm. I am a royalist and thank God every day for making me an Englishman.

"there is a nay, almost forgotten word that means more to me than any other; and that word is England" - Sir Winston Churchill

Michael Owen

Dear Queen,

Wishing you a lovely birthday!

Sarah Mc & Sarah D

A very Happy Birthday your Majesty.

Ma'am may you and the Royal family have a glorious day.

Mary Gair
And then this curious message:
Dear Queen,

Although you've never recaptured the magic you had when Freddie Mercury was alive, I'm still a big fan.

Next time American Idol asks if the contestants can use your music, however, you should tell Simon to get stuffed.



p.s. Tony Blair is SUCH a poodle.
Really. Even Daddy says so.

"...the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce..."

President Bush, introducing President Hu of the People's Republic of China during a ceremony on the White House lawn:

(From the White House transcript; emphasis added)

PRESIDENT BUSH: As the relationship between our two nations grows and matures, we can be candid about our disagreements. I'll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship .

The United States will also be candid about our policy toward Taiwan. The United States maintains our one China policy based on the three communiqu├ęs and the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose unilateral changes in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by either side, and we urge all parties to avoid confrontational or provocative acts. And we believe the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully. The United States and China will continue to build on our common interests; we will address our differences in a spirit of mutual respect. We have made progress in building a relationship that is candid and cooperative -- and President Hu's visit will further that progress.

And so, Mr. President, welcome to the White House. We're really glad you're here. I'm looking forward to our meetings, and I'm so thrilled to welcome Madam Liu, as well. Thank you for coming. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT HU: (As translated.) President George W. Bush, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends. I'm glad to visit the United States in the lovely season of spring, at your invitation, Mr. President. I wish to convey to the great American people the warm greetings and best wishes of the 1.3 billion Chinese people.

I have come to enhance dialogues, expand common ground, deepen mutual trust and cooperation, and to promote the all-around growth of constructive and cooperative China-U.S. relations in the 21st century -- (audience interruption)

PRESIDENT BUSH: You're okay.

What was the "audience interruption"? CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a surprise outburst that cast a diplomatic shadow, a screaming protester confronted President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao and interrupted the welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn Thursday. Bush later apologized to the Chinese leader.

"President Bush, stop him from killing," the woman shouted, to the surprise of hundreds of guests spread across the lawn on a sunny, warm day. "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong" -- a banned religious movement in China.

Standing beside Bush, Hu had just begun his opening remarks when the woman started yelling in Chinese and English. Bush leaned over and whispered to Hu, "You're OK," indicating the Chinese leader should proceed.

Who was this protesting woman?

From Dana Milbank at the Washington Post:

If only the White House hadn't given press credentials to a Falun Gong activist who five years ago heckled Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta. Sure enough, 90 seconds into Hu's speech on the South Lawn, the woman started shrieking, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!"

Stratfor has even more:

Wang Wenyi, a Chinese-American doctor who has written for the Falun Gong-related Epoch Times and was a main speaker at a March 27 Falun Gong rally in Lafayette Park near the White House, was whisked away by security personnel -- but only after she had shouted at Hu for several minutes from the press area, calling for him to stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and to stop killing Chinese

Falun Gong. Does the name ring a bell?

The Chinese government condemns the spiritual movement Falun Gong as a cult. China began a crackdown on the group in 1999 . The Epoch Times, which disavowed the protest, is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement.

But-- who would guess that she might do something here? Wouldn't the White House need some sort of protocol-- like a security check, or a background search, or, well, something-- already in place to protect the President? Oh, right.

Wang apparently was granted access to the press area because of her affiliation with the Epoch Times, in order to report on Hu's arrival, and government officials told news media she had been on the White House grounds before without causing problems. While that may be the case, there was something odd about her admittance to the grounds for Hu's arrival.

Thursday's disruption was not the first time Wang had confronted a Chinese president about the Falun Gong. On July 25, 2001, she managed to slip through a security cordon surrounding then-President Jiang Zemin, while he was taking an unscheduled tour of Mdina on a visit to Malta. Wang came face to face with Jiang and confronted him over crackdowns and killings of Falun Gong practitioners, before security officers pulled her away. In that incident, Jiang called her back and spoke to her briefly, reportedly telling her that Falun Gong practitioners were killing themselves -- a common commentary in Chinese state media at the time, which was meant to help justify the government's crackdown against the organization.

Wang's previous encounter with Jiang, and her participation as a key speaker at the March 27 rally in Washington, D.C., should have been enough to tip off the White House that she might cause trouble at Hu's arrival ceremony. Either White House security totally missed these prior events in security reviews before approving Wang's press pass, or they overlooked them. It would not, at first, seem plausible that her history could have been overlooked -- since one of mandates of the security services is to protect the president from such embarrassments -- but on close review, it appears to be the more likely of the two scenarios.

Luckily, no real harm came from the White House's lapse in security competence. President Bush apologized for the disruption.

Ah, you say--what an amazing opportunity to demonstrate the high regard in which the United States holds "freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship" !

Hu, who had paused briefly, resumed speaking even though the woman kept screaming for several minutes before security officers forcibly removed her.

The woman had obtained temporary press credentials as a reporter for a Falun Gong newspaper and positioned herself on a camera stand in front of the two leaders. A cameraman tried to put his hand over her mouth before uniformed Secret Service officers hustled her away.

Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said she had been charged with disorderly conduct and that a charge of intimidating or disrupting foreign officials also was being considered.


At least nothing happened on the White House lawn to endanger the freedom to buy, to sell, and to produce.

We're lucky, because China owns us now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In a moment of irony, the cosmos laughs-- no, guffaws...

Perhaps one day these two will be star-crossed sorority sisters.

Note: I wonder what happens to Scientologists' babies? Do they inherit their mothers' Thetans (do Thetans cross the placenta?), or do they get their own personal set? If the mother is "clear", will the baby be as well? If the mother is not clear, will the baby get both its own personal set of Thetans and another set inherited from its mother? What's the father's part in this? Are Thetans small enough to travel inside sperm? If Scientologists procreate through in vitro methods, or with cryogenically preserved sperm, can Thetans survive the extremely low temperatures? If a baby inherits from both parents, and it also gets its own set of Thetans, will the baby be a projectile vomiter?

So much to learn.

Posted on Tue, Apr. 18, 2006

Text of statement on the birth of Cruise-Holmes baby

Associated Press

The following is the complete text of Tuesday's statement from Tom Cruise's publicist announcing the birth of the Cruise-Katie Holmes baby:

"Tom Cruise, 43, and his fiancee, Katie Holmes, 27, joyously welcomed the arrival of a baby girl, Suri, today.

"The child weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches in length. Both mother and daughter are doing well.

"This is the first child for Mr. Cruise and Ms. Holmes. Mr. Cruise also has a daughter, Isabella, 13, and a son, Connor, 11.

"The name Suri has its origins in Hebrew meaning 'princess,' or in Persian meaning 'red rose.'"


Posted on Tue, Apr. 18, 2006

Brooke Shields has baby No. 2

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - It's a girl, again, for Brooke Shields.

The actress gave birth Tuesday to Grier Hammond Henchy, who weighed 7 pounds, according to spokeswoman Pat Kingsley.

Shields, 40, and husband Chris Henchy, a 42-year-old television writer and producer, also have a daughter, Rowan, who turns 3 next month. The couple has been married since 2001.

The birth came the same day as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes welcomed the arrival of a baby daughter, Suri.

Shields and Cruise had a public spat last year after the "Mission: Impossible" star criticized the actress for taking antidepressants following the birth of her first child.

Appearing on the "Today" show, Cruise said there was no such thing as
chemical imbalances that need to be corrected with drugs, and that depression
could be treated with exercise and vitamins.

Shields called those remarks "a disservice to mothers everywhere," adding the drugs helped her survive feelings of hopelessness after the birth in 2003.

"I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never
suffered from postpartum depression," she wrote in an op-ed piece published in The New York Times.

Shields said she considered swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window at the lowest point of her depression. A doctor later attributed her feelings to a plunge in estrogen and progesterone levels and prescribed Paxil.

Shields chronicled her post-childbirth experiences in "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression."