August 8, 2007

Carnival Barking (080807)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 11:31 am

The 77th Carnival of Ohio Politics, assembled by Ben “western vacation” Keeler of The Keeler Report, is here.

Boring Made Dull’s 36th collection on Econ and Social Policy is here.

Coverage of Oppression by Time’s Almost ‘Man of the Year’ Avoids a Certain Brutal Word

How easy it is to forget that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad almost was Time’s Man of the Year. The Holocaust-denying Iranian despot was even, for a brief while, described as “Champion of the Dispossessed” and “Global Everyman” on its web site:

Ahmadinejad is engaged in a horrible crackdown, whose scope has widened. Amir Taheri describes it in a Monday column:

The Mashad hangings (of seven young men), broadcast live on local television, are among a series of public executions ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month as part of a campaign to terrorize an increasingly restive population. Over the past six weeks, at least 118 people have been executed, including four who were stoned to death. According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks.

The latest wave of executions is the biggest Iran has suffered in the same time span since 1984, when thousands of opposition prisoners were shot on orders from Ayatollah Khomeini.

Not all executions take place in public. In the provinces of Kurdistan and Khuzestan, where ethnic Kurdish and Arab minorities are demanding greater rights, several activists have been put to death in secret, their families informed only days after the event.

The campaign of terror also includes targeted “disappearances” designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists, journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime.

….. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ordered the crackdown, work on converting 41 official buildings to prisons has started, with contracts for 33 other prisons already signed. Nevertheless, Mr. Yassaqi believes that, with the annual prison population likely to top the million mark this year, even the new capacities created might prove insufficient.

There are, however, an unknown number of unofficial prisons as well, often controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or militias working for various powerful mullahs.

….. The biggest purge of universities since Khomeini launched his “Islamic Cultural Revolution” in 1980 is also under way. Scores of student leaders have been arrested and more than 3,000 others expelled. Labeling the crackdown the “corrective movement,” Mr. Ahmadinejad wants university textbooks rewritten to “cleanse them of Infidel trash,” and to include “a rebuttal of Zionist-Crusader claims” about the Holocaust. Dozens of lecturers and faculty deans have been fired.

The nationwide crackdown is accompanied with efforts to cut Iranians off from sources of information outside the Islamic Republic. More than 4,000 Internet sites have been blocked, and more are added each day.

Time gave Ahmadinejad, who would most likely have been the magazine’s Man of the Year but for its off-the-wall decision to name “You” (i.e., everyone attempting to influence the world in some way using the Internet), a contemporaneous and mostly softball December interview. In it, he had this to say about freedom in his country and his supposed non-involvement in suppression:

In our country, freedom is practiced in reality. The students say what they want, and I say my piece. They are our own children. They have complete freedom. I cannot impose my views on them. This is amongst the prides and honors of our system and our revolution. We have struggled and spent our youth to reach to this freedom.

….. our judiciary power is a totally independent apparatus. They are not under the influence or pressure of the political groups or parties. Not even under influence of the president. We have a judicial process and a civil law like everyone else.

While there has been sporadic Old Media coverage of the Iranian crackdown, there is a word that is being avoided. See for yourself (all searches done without quotes):


Cross-posted at

Positivity: The ‘medical miracle’ that brought near-vegetative brain back to life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:13 am

This is about work being done at the Cleveland Clinic, via the UK Times Online:

August 2, 2007

The mother of a man who was left in a near-vegetative state by a serious assault spoke yesterday of her joy at the “medical miracle” that has allowed him to speak and eat again — and which could benefit tens of thousands of people in a similar condition.

The severely brain-injured patient, who is now 38, was unable to communicate, swallow or make co-ordinated movements for six years, before doctors revived him from this mini-mally conscious state (MCS) with a revolutionary therapy.

Since his skull was implanted with electrodes to stimulate a deep-lying and undamaged part of his brain, he has improved so dramatically that he can now feed himself, brush his hair and recognise and talk to his parents and doctors.

“My son can now eat, sleep, watch a movie without falling asleep, he can drink from a cup, he can express pain, he can cry, and he can laugh,” his mother said.

“He can say, ‘I love you, Mommy’. God bless those wonderful doctors who believed in my son, and gave their time and effort to help my son.”

One of his most impressive achievements has been to say from memory the first 16 words of the Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited daily by American schoolchildren.

The transformation achieved by the deep brain stimulation (DBS) technique, which is already used to treat Parkinson’s disease and some mental illnesses, has raised hopes that it could offer a way back to consciousness for many people with similarly serious brain damage. While there are few reliable figures for the number of MCS patients around the world, doctors estimate that the total runs to hundreds of thousands. The research team, which has published its results in the journal Nature, will now start the first formal clinical trial on 12 American patients.

“We hope that the first use of DBS to treat patients in an MCS marks the beginning of a significant period of innovation in our approach to trau-matic brain injury,” said Ali Rezai, Professor of Neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who implanted the electrodes.

Go here for the rest of the story.