Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hank Cooper

At least 20 to 25 years ago, I went to a birthday party for a guy who was a friend of my fathers. He was always coming by the Castle and the party looked to be a good one, so I went. While at the party there was a guy there who I didn't know and he and I got talking. Our conversation came around to music and we had one of the best conversations I have ever had talking about our favorites; from The Beatles to Clapton to Zappa, and everything in between. He was about 10 years older than me so he had even more experiences at concerts and with music in general.

I never did get the guys name, but a few weeks later we were talking about the party and I asked who the blond guy was that was there. I was told it was Hank Cooper, Lillian's brother!
I was surprised that Lillian had such a cool brother. Not that Lil isn't a cool person, but she has always listened to classical music - always! (She plays the cello which may be why she prefers classical, though she does enjoy The Beatles!)

Over the years I would see Hank often - especially when I lived with Mr. Cooper. We always had a good relationship, talking about all kinds of things including our love of music. Hank and his wife lived in Japan for awhile, then Massachusetts and more recently in Spring Hill, Florida (which is where my Aunt Rita and Uncle Larry lived for many years when I would visit them!)

So about 20 minutes ago I hung up the phone after speaking with my lovely, wonderful friend, Lillian. She left me a message a couple of days ago to tell me that she was no longer in Maine, she was in Florida where her brother Hank had been hospitalized.

A (very) few months ago, Hank had hurt his back while moving a box. After being checked with the doctor, he was sent for further tests. At that time he found out that he had cancer and that he had just a few months to live. Being in his early 60's, that was a shock to him and his wife Jackie and to Lillian as well.

Hank had had a very rough time about 15 or 20 years ago when he had had a heart attack. Since that time he stayed in pretty good health.

Over the past few months Lillian spent quite a bit of time in Florida, and shipped quahogs and saugys to him to remind him of home. He was able to come to Rhode Island last month for a few days visit and to say goodbye to some of his friends and family.

So when Lillian called me a couple of days ago, I missed the call. (I knew that this was not a good call. We had spoken a few days earlier while she was in Maine and left off that we'd talk again when she got home because school was starting the week before the Labor Day weekend and she had meetings to go to and schoolwork to prepare. So I knew she wasn't calling to chat and I didn't want to listen to her message, and hearing whatever news she was calling about.) Just as I had thought, her message was that she was in Florida and Hank had taken a turn for the worse. She left a time that was good to call her back and when I called, she didn't answer so I left her a message.

I had been trying to figure out over the past couple of days when to call Lillian and find out how Hank was. I left a message for Jason, Lil's son yesterday to see if he had any news - he never called back (I found out today he is out of cell range on Cape Cod.)

So I decided to call Lil tonight just before 20:00. When she answered I knew right away (and what she confirmed almost immediately) that Hank had died just about an hour or so before my call to her. She and Jackie had just returned from the hospital and Lillian had gone into the guest room and sat on the bed, not knowing what else to do. I called at that right time, thank goodness, which gave her something to do. We talked for awhile before I let her go to make other calls.

Other than one of Mr. Cooper's brothers and some nieces and nephews, it's just Lillian and Jason left. My condolences to them all. Rest in peace Hank Cooper.

Oakland Beach

The kids and I celebrated the first day of school (for Matthew and Emilee) by going to Iggy's for supper and eating it at the beach.
After eating, the kids were climbing all over the rocks. It was fun to watch and the weather was just beautiful. Emi, of course, was dancing on the rocks as well as climbing on them.
We really had a good time and I hope we can do it again!
Especially since they are growing so fast - we'll have to get back there soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Documented Facts About Sarah Palin

Yesterday was John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected, he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

She was elected Alaska 's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1

Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2

She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.3

Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4

She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5

She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6

How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

Alaska MoveOn members gave responses to what the rest of us should know about their governor. Their response was striking. Here's a sample:

She is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the US in the volatile international scene that exists today. —Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

She is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She's a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska. —Christine B., Denali Park, AK

As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be. —Karen L., Anchorage, AK

Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.—Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She's vehemently anti-choice and doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. —Marina L., Juneau, AK

I think she's far too inexperienced to be in this position. I'm all for a woman in the White House, but not one who hasn't done anything to deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John McCain's part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume he'll get our vote by putting "A Woman" in that position.—Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

So Governor Palin is a staunch anti-choice religious conservative. She's a global warming denier who shares John McCain's commitment to Big Oil. And she's dramatically inexperienced.

In picking Sarah Palin, John McCain has made the religious right very happy. And he's made a very dangerous decision for our country.

In the next few days, many Americans will be wondering what McCain's vice-presidential choice means.

1. "Sarah Palin," Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008
2. "McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate," NARAL Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008
3. "Sarah Palin, Buchananite," The Nation, August 29, 2008
4. "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage Daily News, October 27, 2006
5. "Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science," Huffington Post, August 29, 2008
6. "McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy," Sierra Club, August 29, 2008
"Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past," League of Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008
"Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor," The Times of London, May 23, 2008
7 "McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008

Katrina Revisited?

I've pretty much had the opinion that what happened 3 years ago with Hurricane Katrina will happen again.

I think that we will find out in the next few days whether the re-built levees will hold when Gustav comes a calling.

For an interesting video on some myths about New Orleand and Hurricane Katrina, as well as to be educated about levees, click here:

Sarah Palin - Who?

Coldest State - Hottest Governor

Huh? Well, that's what bumper stickers around Alaska say.

I guess having a former beauty queen as the governor would allow all kinds of strange things to be said about her.
Here's what I say about her: She's a NRA member, anti-abortion, denies global warming is man made, pro-oil drilling, no protection for polar bears, REPUBLICAN!

I'm sure the Hillary hold outs will flock to her - NOT!

Enough said.

Friday, August 29, 2008

So It's All In My Head

Brain dysfunction tied to fibromyalgia
Levels of chemicals in hippocampus may explain symptoms, study says

NEW YORK - Dysfunction in a portion of the brain may explain some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, researchers suggest in a paper published in the Journal of Rheumatology

Dr. Yasser Emad, of Cairo University, Egypt, and colleagues used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to examine the function of the hippocampus in 15 patients with fibromyalgia syndrome and in 10 healthy women who were the same age as the other patients.

The hippocampus is located deep in the front portion of the brain involved in regulating emotions and memory. Functionally, the hippocampus is part of the olfactory cortex, which is important to the sense of smell.

Using spectroscopy, the researchers calculated levels of hippocampus levels of the brain chemicals N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), choline, creatine, along with their ratios, and compared the findings between the two groups. All study participants also underwent assessments of sleep patterns, cognitive function, and symptoms of depression. The number of tender points on the body was assessed in all patients and a visual analog scale was used to measure pain.

Patient age averaged 35.7 years, and their average disease duration was 18.1 months. All of the patients had cognitive functional impairments on the Mini-Mental State Examination, eight (35.5 percent) were depressed according to the Hamilton Depression Scale, and nine (60 percent) had sleep disturbances. None of the control subjects had any problems in these areas.

"NAA levels of the right and left hippocampi were lower in the patients compared to controls," Emad's team explains. "Another statistically significant difference was observed in choline levels in the right hippocampus, which were higher in the patient group." The fibromyalgia patients also had significantly lower NAA to choline and NAA to creatine ratios compared with the control subjects.

There were no differences between the groups in other metabolites measured or in the choline to creatine ratio.

In the patient group, language scores were significantly correlated with choline and creatine levels, but there was no significant correlation between the levels of the metabolites or their ratios and the number of tender points.

"The hippocampus was dysfunctional in patients with fibromyalgia, as shown by lower NAA levels," the investigators conclude.

Because the hippocampus has a critical role in maintaining cognitive functions, sleep regulation, and pain perception, the researchers suggest that metabolic dysfunction of hippocampus may be implicated in the symptoms of this puzzling syndrome.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Unbelievable Inspiration

I could not be more proud to be a Democrat than I am today! Watching the speeches tonight; Bill Richardson, Al Gore and then Barack Obama. The issues and thoughts I have were reflected in what they had to say!
These past 8 years have taken a lot out of me. Physically, mentally and financially I am so much worse off than before I even knew who George W Bush was. The word hope seems too trivial at this point with how I feel about the future. There is no way the democrats can lose - I don't mean that as a prediction, I mean it as a life line. There's no doubt in my mind that I will not make it through another republican administration. My spirit and soul just could not take it.
Having not been on the Barack bandwagon all along, I've had to take a long hard look at this man and it was worth my time and energy. He is just exactly what this country and this world need. Not to put too much on his shoulders, but his job is to save the world - and I mean that literally. The consequences of the past behaviors weigh heavily on his shoulders. I don't really thing there is anyone else who has the energy and the plan to do what Barack Obama has told us he will do.
I loved what he said, he was firm and specific. He didn't hesitate to let us know how he feels about the Bush/McCain agendas and how the United States can't allow them to continue.
History was made tonight. It is unbelievable that an African American has been nominated to be our next President of the United States. I admire his wife and her love for her husband! Their daughters are adorable and I look so forward to seeing them roam the hallways of the White House.

Oh My Gosh!

Here's a short little video that Emi made last night at the beach. Very funny!

Foreclosure Means No Rights For Tenants

In Rhode Island, if you rent a house or an apartment in a house that has been foreclosed there are absolutely no laws in place to protect the tenant. Therefore they have no rights at all. I've made a few calls and spoke with a nice woman at RI Housing. She said that tenants get 30 days notice, that's it!

With Vanessa's situation, we're not exactly sure when the 30 days would begin or have begun. The real estate company that has called her hasn't been exactly up front and has said that there is a mortgage company involved and they are the ones calling the shots.

I'm waiting for some others to return my call and hope we can get a little more info.

Democratic National Convention - Day 3

Okay, so I had to watch Bill's speech. I watched it on my laptop while laying in bed and I would bet money (again, if I had any) that if he were able to run for President again, he'd get voted in no problem.

It was very rousing, most Democrats really do love him and it showed. His speech was what you would expect from someone who has been there, and as he stated; he and Jimmy Carter are the only living democrats that have been there. He compared his and Obama's preparedness to be the President and that Obama has what it takes. He said that Barack Obama is the man for the job and “Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world.”

He did pay tribute to Hillary first and then said that he along with Hillary and her 18 million supporters would now be supporting Obama.

He went pretty far with criticism against the Bush White House’s failures: falling wages, slower job growth, declining health care and pension benefits and rising poverty and income inequality.

Tomorrow (later today, rather) I will watch Joe Biden's speech and add my remarks to tomorrow's closing day ceremonies.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democratic National Convention - Day 2 1/2

Okay, so it's day 3 and I've only watched a few minutes of news coverage.

Veronica woke up early today to go to the beach. But, before she left I had fallen back to sleep and I didn't wake until 1:20 this afternoon! I made some phone calls - the house where Vanessa apartment is has been foreclosed and she needs to be out by 9/15!! I'm trying to find out what her rights are (if any) so that she can make some decisions.

Then I drove into Providence to my doctor's new office (they just moved) to get some sample medication. I get one of my meds from the pharmaceutical company which they send to my doctors office but it hasn't shown up. I learned a hard lesson last December that I can't go without it because the withdrawal symptons are just awful. So I got a 30 day supply, just in case the package of medication can't be forwarded and is returned to the company.

Then I went to see how Emi and Matthew made out at their first day at. They both have teachers they like and some friends in their classes. I'm glad that one of Emilee's friends is in another class, as she is mean to Emi at times.

Emilee was calling all over for someone to play with but found no takers. So we decided to go to Job Lot as the one near their house is the only one where I can find the lemon soap I love so much. So Matthew decided he wanted to buy a skim board so that got us talking about the beach and how we hadn't made it there or to Iggy's for supper after the beach.

So we decided to go to Iggy's down in Oakland Beach and then go to Job Lot afterwards. Chelsea sat in the front passenger seat for the first time ever for our ride, which was pretty cool. She broke up with her boyfriend today, because they go to different schools, so we talked about that a bit on the drive. There was no line at Iggy's (it was only 4:35) so we were able to order right away and then we drove down to the beach to eat. I wanted to get out and find a table, but the kids wanted to eat in the car! After moving the car once (some smokers pulled in next to us) we ate our dinner with a nice cool breeze coming off the water. The kids got out and climbed over the rocks and both Matthew and Emilee could hear a metallic ringing coming from the rocks!! Matthew said it was a ferret with a collar and Emilee wasn't sure what it was, but she saw it's tail and she didn't want to see any more after that.

Then we went back to Iggy's to pick up the doughboys that we had ordered and paid for. Well, they couldn't find them, so they cooked up a new batch for us. We never did make it to Job Lot.

I thought that I would be babysitting JaeMae tomorrow, but she will be coming here Friday instead which is great, because I am exhausted tonight and that's why I haven't blogged about the convention!

I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democratic National Convention - Day 2

Clinton: 'No way, no how, no McCain'

Interesting evening so far. In my opinion, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich had the best speech so far. It wasn't televised, unfortunately, unless you were watching C-Span. You can go to their website, and see his speech, which was under 6 minutes, but very rousing.

As for the keynote speaker, ho hum, Governor Warner (pictured below)of Virginia seems to have his own aspirations. Oh, by the way, he did mention Obama a few times. Who picked this bozo to speak and who approved his speech? Booooring! What a waste of a keynote speaker.

I'm waiting for the democrats to pick apart the Bush/Cheney jerks. Where is the fire and brimstone (other than Kucinich?)

I just finished watching Hillary's speech, which was great! She brought her supporters over to Obama, bashed Bush and, in turn, McCain. A bit of humor at their expense also. She really did a good job of taking her message and combining it with Obama's so that it became the same message for all democrats (and Americans) to embrace.

I have to admit that as Hillary was introduced by her daughter and she took the stage, my eyes filled up. Not in sadness, though there was just a bit of that, but of pride in Hillary and in what she accomplished. But mostly because I never thought that in my lifetime a woman would have come so close to becoming President of the United States!

I know there is the future and who knows when, no longer if, a woman becomes President, but it made me very proud to be a democrat and an American.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Republicans Don't Want Cheney

I thought it was interesting to watch the crawl on MsNBC tonight to see that Cheney will be out of the country next week when the republicans will be gathering for their convention. I guess they don't want the dark force with them. That's one smart move on their part.

Democratic National Convention - Day 1

I am blogging tonight from the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Well, not really. I am in front of my television watching the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Even if I had been given a free trip, there are far too many enthusiastic people there for me. I join them in spirit though.

I'm watching the coverage on MsNBC, of course, and there are a lot of commercial breaks. The ads have been interesting though. Health care ( and environmental ( and political ( seem to have beaten out all the wireless ads. That oil baron idiot T Boone Pickens had another ad about wind power, I get the feeling that he wants us to think alternative energy was his idea. What a moron he is - of course he's a best buddy to President Idiot.
I do enjoy MsNBC with Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann and even the loud-mouthed Chris Matthews who, I would like to point out, when Luke Russert came on to give his report, immediately started to ask Luke a question. Keith Olbermann motioned him to be quiet and and just let Luke give his first prime-time report. There were a few awkward moments but Luke was able to give his report and Chris Matthews was able to ask his question towards the end. After his report you could see the emotion in Keith Olbermann's face and when they cut to Tom Brokaw, he was beaming with pride. Tim Russert would have been proud of his boy, he did a great job!

So in between the commercials there was a lot of talk - about what Michelle Obama would speak about, and the tribute to Ted Kennedy.

And that tribute was a great one. Caroline Kennedy spoke and then introduced a video and that began a trip into the past. To see John, Bobby and Ted back in the 60's helped to realize that they are the past and Barack Obama is the future of our country. Chris Matthews did have a good point - that Ted Kennedy is the only one of the Kennedy boys to grow old.

Then Michelle Obama spoke - so eloquently - it's hard not to be impressed by her. She was introduced by her brother and it was the "mutual admiration society" with those two. It's nice to see siblings that get along. I loved her speech. She took us through her life - before the guy with the funny name came along - to their life together. She also stated how strong their beliefs are and how committed they are to making this a better world.

It was emotional for sure, her father died from complications from MS, after silently suffering with it for years. Her mother always stressing to her that people rarely return to the south side of Chicago, so that when she graduated from college she knew it was her duty to return and give back to her neighborhood.
Then the Obama daughters came out - beautiful young ladies 7 and 10 years old - and their daddy was on the big screen and they got to speak with him. It was very sweet and touching.

Between the tribute to Ted Kennedy and then Michelle Obama's speech, it makes me proud to be an American, something that has been severly lacking in my life for many years.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Somalia's Runners Provide Inspiration

Samia Yusuf Omar of Somalia reacts after a heat of the women's 200-meter during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008

I really enjoyed the Olympics this year. The swimming, diving and track and field especially. I watched much more of the women's beach volleyball than I ever thought I would! I noticed this runner from Somalia, but didn't know anything about her - other than the fact that she wore a tee shirt, which seemed odd and was certainly different. Today I found an article that gave much more information that I learned from the TV coverage.

This is a great story about the 2 Somalia athletes at the Olympics. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! To me, this is what the Olympics should be all about.

Hello Joe Biden

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Very Wise Choice

One of my favorite Democrats - Senator Joe Biden of Delaware - has been chosen to be the running mate of Barack Obama! As the Foreign Relations Committee chairman he adds globe-trotting credentials to Obama's Democratic ticket.

He shoots from the hip and is never afraid to speak his mind. He's also one of the "poorest" of the U.S. Senators - he's never been one to take advantage of his status of being a Senator for over 35 years. And he takes the Metro to work each day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Anywhere From 7 To 11 Homes

John McCain spent more on household help last year than the average American family spends to buy a house.

Also more than he gave to charity: $273k for housekeeping services v. $210k in contributions, out of an income somewhere north of $5m.

I guess charity begins at home(s).

Will The Pick Be A sHe?

I would have bet money (if I had any, that is) that we would have known who Obama chose for his running mate by now, 16:00 on Friday.

I'm going to predict that he chooses Hillary Clinton. I think she would be the wise choice and having the Clinton machine behind Obama would, in my opinion, make them pretty unbeatable.

We'll see if I'm right, won't we? (Of course, I haven't been right about any of the candidates, so I'd recommend not holding your breath!)

An Inexperienced President

The "most unqualified Presidential Candidate ever nominated by a major political party throughout USA's modern political history" was a Republican.

Before he even became a Republican, he served a single 2-year term in the House of Representatives. He was gaffe prone and was such a political failure that he didn't even run for reelection.

After that, he worked as a lawyer for a decade and made a few speeches, but generally stayed away from politics entirely. After he became a Republican, he lost a bid for the Senate to an ex-Democrat.

After only two years experience and 11 years removed from any elected office, he decided to run for president. He was by far the underdog, but the Democratic party at the time was so completely fractured. He won, but generated less than 40% of the popular vote.

His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

He Doesn't Remember Where He Lives

In a recent interview, John McBush didn't know how many homes he owns!! Surely it must be more than one, especially if he can't remember. Two would seem to be easily recalled, three even. Four, maybe kind of hard. After all, there's most likely a primary residence; his Washington residence; a country residence; maybe even one out of the country. So if there are four, that could be pretty hard, especially for an old guy. But he owns at least seven homes! Yes, you read correctly 7, Seven, S E V E N! And there may be more.

I guess if I owned 7 homes I'd also have trouble remembering them. Of course, I don't even own one home, though I do live in a home that is owned by, that's not right. My house is owned by a trust because my landlord died. So I guess I can't relate to anyone who owns a home or, especially, 7 homes.

Makes me think that if John McBush owns 7 homes that maybe he can't relate to those of us who own one or less homes. His not remembering makes me think that maybe he can't remember other things either. After all, he is almost 72 - his birthday is next week!

He certainly doesn't remember that there is an on-going gas crisis, because John McBush voted (along with all of the other republicans) to give the giant, money grubbing oil companies over 13 billion in tax breaks!!! This alone should make you NOT vote for him!

Does he remember that most of American's are against the war in Iraq and want the service men and women home as soon as possible? I think not, because he said they could be there "for a hundred years" or more.

Does he remember the campaign finance bill that he and Russ Feingold were able to pass? Nope, because he has pretty much financed this campaign in ways that are quite questionable.

Does he even remember that he is a U.S. Senator? Seems unlikely, since he has missed 63.8% of votes during this 110th Congress, which was 407 votes! The most of a U.S. Senator! (In comparison, RI's senior Senator, Jack Reed missed .08% which was just 5 votes!)

He obviously remembers that he is a Republican, because he votes along party lines 88.3% of the time during this 110th Congress. Or, maybe he just follows along because it's easier.

He certainly forgot when he started dating his current wife, Cindy, that he was already married! whoops!

He doesn't remember to watch his temper too often, either.

I wonder what else he has forgotten, or, what he might forget if elected President!

Let's - all of us - NOT give him another home: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fruit Juices Block Common Drugs

(WebMD) Grapefruit, orange, and apple juices block drugs commonly used to treat infections, allergy, transplant rejection, cancer, and high blood pressure.

In 1991, David G. Bailey, PhD, and colleagues found that grapefruit juice increased blood concentrations of the blood pressure drug Plendil to possibly dangerous levels.

Grapefruit juice, they later learned, slows down a key liver enzyme that clears Plendil - and about 40 other drugs - from the body.

Now Bailey reports that grapefruit, orange, and apple juices decrease the absorption of several important medications:

The allergy drug Allegra, available generically as fexofenadine

The antibiotics ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Proquin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and itraconazole (Sporanox)

The beta-blocker blood pressure drugs atenolol (Tenormin), celiprolol, and talinolol

The transplant-rejection drug cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)

The cancer chemotherapy etoposide (Toposar, Vepesid)

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure we'll find more and more drugs that are affected this way," Bailey says in a news release.

Bailey revealed the new findings in a report to the 236th annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. A substance in grapefruit juice called naringin seems to be the culprit. The compound apparently blocks OATP1A2, a transporter molecule in the gut, which carries some drugs from the small intestine into the blood. Orange juice contains hesperidin, a naringin-like substance. The culprit in apple juice remains unidentified.

"The concern is loss of benefit of medications essential for the treatment of serious medical conditions," Bailey says.

In their studies, Bailey and colleagues had healthy volunteers take fexofenadine with either a glass of grapefruit juice, a glass of water mixed with naringin, or pure water.

Taking the drug with grapefruit juice or the naringin mixture halved the amount of drug that reached the bloodstream. People should take their pills only with water, advises Bailey, a professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

He suggests that people taking medications should check with their doctor or pharmacist before taking medications with fruit juices or whole fruits.
By Daniel DeNoon

Monday, August 18, 2008

How To Burn The Speculators

By James K. Galbraith (Smart, fearless journalism)

NEWS: Why is the price of oil so high? Because the Bush administration did to the commodities market what it did to housing.

Whenever economies sour, politicians blame speculators. But on occasion, they are right to do so. Speculators did wreak havoc in 1630s Holland, 1720s France, and in the American stock market in 1929. That crash led to the Great Depression and 60 years of tight controls on speculation.
Now, thanks to our 30-year infatuation with free markets, the controls are off, and the mad gamblers are at it again. Yesterday's burst bubble was housing; today's expanding ones are energy and food. True, we have major long-term energy problems that cannot be laid at the feet of speculators.

To avoid catastrophic global warming, we will be obliged to reengineer the country, from housing to transport to forests, and also to develop and export the technologies required for the rest of the world to do likewise. Eight years of George W. Bush's policies have made this much harder, and during that time the world may have passed "peak oil"—that moment when half the recoverable reserves of conventional oil have been drained and burned—so that from now on short supplies will be endemic. Meanwhile, demand grows, notably from China and India, which account for nearly 40 percent of the world's population.

But do supply and demand explain oil prices at $140 per barrel, with voices from Goldman Sachs projecting $200 for next year (a figure that would push gas prices above $5 per gallon) and Russia's Gazprom saying $250, despite a likely US recession? Do they explain the historic price hikes in rice, corn, and wheat, leading to hunger in the developing world? Do they explain the absolutely stratospheric price of copper? No they do not.

Yes, Virginia, speculators can affect the price—if they are large and relentless enough to dominate a market, and especially if they can store the commodity and keep it off the market as the price rises.

Futures markets exist to permit commercial interests to hedge their business risks. For a fee, a farmer (or oil producer) can put a floor under the price at which his product will sell. The forward price is normally a bit lower than the current price, but the contract protects the farmer from a catastrophic price slump—such as may occur in (for instance) bumper years. Speculators buy the futures on the chance that the market price will be substantially higher. They make a respectable profit on what is in effect an insurance function, and a killing in years of drought, flood, and war.

This system works reasonably well so long as speculators do not actually control or manipulate prices. For if they can drive prices way up, they can obviously cash in while the farmer (who has presold his crop) cannot. Strict regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (cftc) is supposed to prevent that.

But thanks to Phil "nation of whiners" Gramm—the former Texas senator who was until recently John McCain's top economic adviser (see "Foreclosure Phil")—futures market regulation went to hell. Under the "Enron loophole" pushed through by Gramm in 2000, energy futures were allowed to escape all federal and state regulation. Gramm embedded that loophole in a surprise 262-page rider, drafted at the behest of Wall Street and Enron, in an 11,000-page appropriations bill on a Friday evening two days after the Supreme Court handed down its Bush v. Gore ruling and as Congress was rushing home for Christmas. In a separate bit of absurdity, in January 2006, the Intercontinental Exchange (ice) of Atlanta, which trades benchmark US oil futures (West Texas Intermediate or wti), came to be treated by the cftc as a British market (the "London loophole") so that US regulators do not even track what is going on. (Even more surreal, the cftc was going to allow trades of US oil futures on terminals located in America to be "regulated" in Dubai; political pressure put an end to that idea in July.)

Worse still, Gramm's Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 also opened the way for growth in deregulated "credit default swaps"—a way in which financial institutions "insured" that bad loans would not cause them losses. This, combined with other deregulatory moves by the cftc, broadened the "swaps loophole," an enormous backdoor into the commodities markets, basically permitting speculators making bets off the commodities exchanges to be treated as "commercial interests"—like say, farmers—and hence avoid the scrutiny (including limits on the size of their bets) normally applied to financial players. Thus today, when officials like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson say that speculation is not a factor in the commodity markets, they're not counting hedge funds and investment banks as speculators—even though that's what they really are.

According to Senate testimony on June 3 by Michael Greenberger, who used to head the cftc's division of trading and markets, if swaps were properly labeled, about 70 percent of the oil futures now traded on the New York exchanges would be deemed speculative, not commercial, and subjected to a high degree of regulatory scrutiny.

Okay, let's think this through. First, vast sums of money are flowing through regulatory loopholes into the commodities markets, particularly for oil. Second, spot prices (those charged for immediate sale) in all commodity markets have been soaring. In particular, Americans now pay an average of $4 per gallon for gas. Is it possible that these two events are unconnected? Is it possible that Paulson—former ceo of Goldman Sachs—is right when he says that the price of oil is being driven mainly by supply and demand?

No, and Senate testimony in May by Michael W. Masters, a hedge fund manager, illustrates why not. Masters points to the spectacular rise of "index speculation," in which pension funds and other investors invest in the commodities futures markets according to formulas created by, among others, (guess who?) Goldman Sachs. Index speculation investments have risen from $13 billion to more than $250 billion since 2003. Masters calculates that the speculative demand for Texas oil futures from this source is now five times the actual 2003 stockpile (the baseline he used); for corn and aluminum the figure is about nine times; for silver it's a phenomenal fourteen times. There is of course no way that the orders represented by all those futures contracts could be met.

So the futures price goes up. As it does, supplies actually disappear. For instance, copper expert Frank Veneroso believes that 800,000 tons of copper has been hidden away in China, waiting to emerge closer to the market top. For Saudi Arabia and perhaps Russia the matter is simpler: Oil stays in the ground, and the oil not sold boosts the price of the oil that is. As current prices soar, the index speculators obey their computer programs, which tell them to pour still more money into the commodity markets.

There may be a further element at play, according to an April speech by Attorney General Michael Mukasey: "International organized criminals control significant positions in the global energy and strategic-materials markets. They are expanding their holdings in these sectors, which corrupts the normal functioning of these markets and may have a destabilizing effect on US geopolitical interests." To whom exactly Mukasey is referring, he does not say. But that organized criminal interests have the motive, means, and opportunity—handed to them by Phil Gramm—to destabilize the world energy markets seems quite clear.

On these matters, there is a quick fix. Under pressure, the cftc is closing the London loophole. Early in the next administration, Congress must slam shut the Enron and swaps loopholes. Index speculation should be curtailed by making such strategies illegal for regulated pension funds and by imposing limits for all traders on how much they can buy or sell. Investment banks using credit default swaps to enter the commodities markets should be regulated to the standards that apply to speculators, not as if they were heating-oil vendors hedging against a warm winter.
Investigations now under way at the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Justice should be intensified, and criminal manipulation of the markets, if detected, should be punished.

Finally, the federal government should burn the oil speculators by selling up to 4 million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And as economist Tom Palley has pointed out, consumers can help too. An awful lot of gas is stored in cars. If people stop topping off and make do with half a tank, they'll back up supply and lower demand. It's a brilliant suggestion and definitely worth a try.

And while this is being done, and especially if all this smoke leads to fire, someone should ask, "What did Henry Paulson know, and when did he know it?"

James K. Galbraith is a contributing writer for Mother Jones.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pride In America

A week ago I had never heard of Michael Phelps. Now I, along with the rest of the world, are completely aware of this phenomenonal athlete. Eight gold medals. Wow.

For those of us who remember Mark Spitz winning his 7 gold medals 36 years ago, we thought that could never happen again. Not only did Michael Phelps tie that record, he went one better.

Thank goodness the Olympics are taking place this year. Watching the American athletes represent our country so well has restored some of my pride in our country. Thank you for that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Not Just Disappointed, But Really Ticked Off

Remember all those nice things I said about John Edwards while he was running for President. Well, I'm taking them back.

It has been reported in the news today that he admits to having an affair while he was campaigning for President!

One of the reasons I had admired him so much was because of the devotion he showed to his wife and family. And now to find out that he was out screwing around just ticks me off beyond belief.

So he's a cheater and a liar and who knows what else. What a jerk.

What is it about so many men that they can't be faithful in their marriage and to their wives and their kids? I know from my own experiences how a father's cheating affects his kids.

And to think I gave this guy money for his campaign! I'm seriously thinking of asking for it back.

Have I mentioned how ticked off I am.

John McCain: Really Is Worse Than You Think

John McCain is running for President as a war hero.

My take on that is, yes, he was and still is a war hero. But being a prisoner of war for more than 5 years doesn't make you an expert (as he claims) on war. It makes you a prisoner of war.

There's an interesting video that shows how opposed he was (and still is) to a Senate select committee on POW/MIA Affairs.

Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Come To "A Time"

In Rhode Island we have something that I think may be unique to this little state of ours - well, actually we have lots of things that make us unique, but the one I am referring to is "a time."

Sooner or later everyone in Rhode Island ends up going to a "time." By that, I mean an event, usually a fundraiser of some sort. Typically it's for someone who is running for office or is down on their luck. Maybe they had an illness, or an accident of some sort and their bills are piling up.

I think that it is mostly our Italian-American population that coined the term "time," though I am not completely sure of it. I am pretty sure that the meaning is that when you go to "a time" it means that you will spend some time with that person and his or her family and friends. There may be raffles to up the amount of money raised.

Friends and families get together and plan this "time." It may include a dinner which is usually chicken, but always has pasta in the menu. Or it could be cocktails and appetizers only - to keep the overhead down, of course. Most times, though, the location has been donated because a family member or a friend or a friend of a family member or a friend of a friend of a family member or a friend of a friend of a friend owns it. It's a small little world here in the Ocean State, that's for sure.

Example: My brother Michael turned in his license plate a few years ago when he bought a new car. Sometime after that I went to a friends party that was not "a time" although they are a political family. I saw Michael's old license plate on a car that I didn't recognize. Parked in front of it was Michael's car. When I got in the house I found out that Dave, my brother's best friend from high school, now had Michael's old license plate!

So anyway, I am going to a "time" later this month. It's a fundraiser for my god daughter, Rachel, who is running for Cranston City Council - Ward 6. Rachel, who I am quite proud of, has become quite the activist since she has married and had a child. And she has a strong passion to keep the quality of life in her city. I am hoping that the "time" that is being held raises lots of money for her to be victorious in her campaign. This "time" will take place at the Kelley-Gazzaro Post on Plainfield St. in Cranston on August 21st at 6:30 pm, which, coincidentally I used to go to for dances and singles parties! (Again, small world here)

I hope all who know about it come to it with their checkbooks. Remember there is a $2,300 limit for any contributions.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Perseids Are Coming

The annual Perseid meteor shower is set to peak on Tuesday, Aug. 12, (you can watch any day before or after the 12th, which is Chelsea's birthday!) after the moon sets in the wee hours of the morning. The best time to view the meteor shower will be between 4 and 5 a.m., according the American Meteor Society. You can actually see meteors (or shooting stars, as some refer to them) any night of the week when you have a clear sky. The Perseids and other meteor showers just guarantee that you WILL see one or more while you are looking.

Meteor showers are best viewed with the naked (oh!) eye. Telescopes and binoculars don't aid in viewing as meteors move too swiftly.

Get away from city lights. While in a dark location you should be able to see 2 or 3 meteors every minute.

Get comfortable! Bring a lounge chair and a blanket and recline with your feet facing due south.

The Perseids should appear to be coming over your left shoulder.

Meteors occur when the Earth cuts through the dirty old paths of comets. The specks strike our planet's atmosphere and burn up, creating brilliant streaks of light. Most importantly, enjoy our beautiful night sky!

Prosecute Them All

Forget impeachment.

Try Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and all the rest for murder.

Former LA Deputy District Attorney, who successfully prosecuted, dozens of murder cases, makes the case that George Bush is indictable for murder.

Any state or city that had a citizen killed in the course of the Iraq War is eligible for pressing charges and bringing these lying psychopaths to justice.

For an interesting video, click here:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A bouncing baby .....

I just got off the phone with Dawn, my very good friend who lives in New Hampshire. She had called me about a week and a half ago and I hadn't yet had the chance to speak with her. Today, we finally got to catch up and boy did she have some big news. Really big news. I mean BIG NEWS!

Come next March - St. Patrick's day or so - she is going to be a momma! I am so excited for her -and her husband Joe - of course. Congratulations!

Dawn and Joe were married last June 23, so it's been just over a year. They added a dog to their family during that time, a girl named Sophie, who looks quite a bit like Hannibal would if he were on steroids. And now a baby - boy or girl flavor, who cares - as long as he or she is healthy.

Go Dawniebird!

Oh, and you too, Joe!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Drive Safely? Not So Much In Rhode Island

LOS ANGELES, July 31, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ --

North Dakota, Montana and New Mexico have best highway systems; New Jersey, Alaska and Rhode Island have the worst; Deficient bridges would take 62 years to fix at current repair rate
North Dakota does the best job maintaining its roads and bridges and New Jersey has the worst-performing, least cost-effective highway system in the nation, according to an annual study that measures each state's road conditions and expenditures.

Massachusetts' roads are the safest (so much for those Massholes!); Montana's are the deadliest. Across the country, 24.1 percent of bridges are deficient or functionally obsolete. In Rhode Island an astonishing 53 percent of bridges are deficient. At our current rate of repair it will take 62 years for today's deficient bridges to be brought up to date.

California has the worst traffic congestion: 83 percent of its urban interstates are congested. But other states are becoming increasingly gridlocked too: 18 states report at least half of their urban interstates are jammed. Even South Dakota has traffic congestion now.

Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems measures the condition of all state-owned roads and highways from 1984 to 2006. The study calculates the effectiveness and performance of each state in 12 different categories, including pavement condition, bridge condition, traffic fatalities, congestion, highway maintenance costs, and administrative costs.

Ranking State Highway Systems on Performance and Cost-Effectiveness
1. North Dakota
2. Montana
3. New Mexico
4. Wyoming
5. Kansas
6. South Carolina
7. South Dakota
8. Nebraska
9. Kentucky
10. Georgia
11. Oregon
12. Texas
13. Missouri
14. Idaho
15. Indiana
16. Virginia
17. Ohio
18. Minnesota
19. Tennessee
20. Nevada
21. Wisconsin
22. Maine
23. North Carolina
24. West Virginia
25. Utah
26. Arizona
27. Arkansas
28. Delaware
29. Alabama
30. Vermont
31. Colorado
32. Iowa
33. Oklahoma
34. Illinois
35. Connecticut
36. Pennsylvania
37. Maryland
38. Mississippi
39. Washington
40. Louisiana
41. Florida
42. Michigan
43. Massachusetts
44. California
45. New York
46. New Hampshire
47. Hawaii
48. Rhode Island
49. Alaska
50. New Jersey

Full Report Online - Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984-2006), is online at

About Reason Foundation
Reason Foundation ( is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets.

SOURCE Reason Foundation

Despite Data, Debate On Recession Goes On

It seems odd to me that anyone living in the U.S. today doesn't know there is a recession going on. Well, except for big oil's executives and stockholders. The so-called experts are debating the point because the economy only shrank at a 0.2 percent rate during the quarter. “Outside of housing and autos, it’s not all that bad,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard and Poor’s. What do you think, are we in a recession? Here's a look at today's headlines:

Stocks close down after gloomy reports

U.S. jobless rates hits a four year high

GM, Toyota, Ford's July U.S. sales tumble

Jobs cut to part-time

Home foreclosures up 125%

Gasoline falls to just under $4.00 a gallon

Heating oil to average $4.79 a gallon this coming winter

Big oil's biggest quarter ever: $51.5B in all

Solar Eclipse

Here in Rhode Island, we didn't have the right vantage point to watch the solar eclipse. However, due to technology, I was able to watch it on the computer !! Anyway, I found this photo on the NASA website. This is what we missed: