STOP RACIST COPS

There are, I certainly hope, good, fair, non-racist cops in America. But my faith in that is seriously eroding  as it should be for you.

Watch this clip: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/01/1333619/-So-ugly-Florida-officer-tases-62-year-old-woman-in-the-back-just-for-the-hell-of-it?detail=email

I am sick to death of witnessing almost daily the brutality of cops all over our country. It is one thing to be sick of it, it’s another to recognize the racist brutality underlying it.

Yes we live in a security state that should be overthrown, but more imeadiately we need to reach out to our nonwhite brothers and sisters and help them resist the violent repression of our police departments. Yes, violent repression.

This along with the unconscionable court & prison system that decimates black and brown communities needs the attention of all of us, especially white America, of which I am a part.

We need to examine our own conscious and unconscious racial attitudes, confront them and move on to stands side by side with the miserably, violently oppressed in our midst.

All police departments should be under the review of civilian boards who will have the power to investigate abuse, punish abuse and fire those whose actions are clearly criminal. Until then, we’re just pissing up a rope.

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LIVING WITH PAIN: COLLAGENOUS COLITIS & THE DEVIL

My latest, and most personal column can be read at http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/living-with-pain-collagenous-colitis-and-the-devil-8824898.html

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Police Rampage in Mo.

We are witnessing in Ferguson, Mo. the oppression of a black community, which, of course isn’t out of the ordinary, with the attendant arrests of working journalists and photographers documenting this violent crackdown.

Not only was there the shooting of a young man, possibly shot in the back while running from the gunman in blue, but we’re are also seeing an armed government agency intent on stopping unbiased media coverage of their over-the-top behavior.

I’m not going to argue the specifics of the killing of Michael Brown as I believe we don’t know all the facts yet. I’m very skeptical that we will ever know the facts as the Ferguson Police Dept. the mayor and the governor can not be in any way trusted to give us the facts.

This is even more opaque as the “eyewitnesses” tell a very different story the authorities. I’m inclined to believe the eye witnesses except for one very discouraging fact: eyewitness testimony is rarely sufficient to know the truth as different witnesses detail different stories.

But in this case, the seemingly obviously lying by the authorities lends more weight to the eyewitnesses. I, like many of you fellow progressives, want the truth. However, in this hair trigger environment, we are left with highly debatable “facts.”

This however, does not in anyway exonerate the authorities either with the shooting nor with the aftermath of attacking the protesters with highly aggressive, provocative military style behavior.

This event should explode the myth that the police are in minority neighborhoods to protect the residents from the “criminals” in their midst. As any resident of any segregated neighborhood can attest, the police are there to control and oppress the black and brown residents.

If you think I’m blowing smoke here read Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow” and for a deeper historical look at this pervasive problem read Sally Haden’s ” Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolina.” Each book will provide in depth insight into law enforcement today and what and who it serves.

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The War in the Gaza Strip Continues

The war in the Gaza Strip has fallen off the front pages as the racial strife in Ferguson has taken dominated the media.

But the crisis in Gaza has not let up. Cease fires fall apart with numbing regularity. While useless rockets are fired on Israel from the Strip the Israelis still respond with inhuman ferocity.

There’s little point to arguing over which side started this war. What counts in ending the violence which most likely means the end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This, however, is, unfortunately, unlikely to happen as the Israelis will not stand down as long as they perceive the Palestinians to be a mortal danger.

One bit of reality the Israelis need to address is that with each of the last few wars against the Palestinians not one has included other Arab states coming to the aid of the occupied Palestinians homes in the West Bank or the Strip.

I believe at this time the threat against Israel is propaganda and no longer the real policy of the Arab states. If this is true, then the army of Israel could withdraw from their positions in and above the West Bank and simultaneously withdraw from strategic points around the Gaza Strip.

This, though, is unlikely to happen as the Israelis have, unfortunately, good reason not to withdraw until the Arab states and Hamas formally rejects this policy. It is my opinion that this has happened already on the ground, but it doesn’t penetrate the Israeli government mind set.

Those of us who desire peace for the Palestinians must keep the pressure on Israel while also pressuring the other side to formally renounce their intention to destroy the Israelis. I think that until this happens all peace talks will be nothing more than smoke and mirrors while the deadly conflict simmers along while time and again boiling over into murderous campaigns against the ill armed Palestinians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel continues to point to the fact that Hamas and the surrounding Arab states are committed to driving Israel into the sea. This policy remains on paper and hasn’t changed. Yet with each uprising by the Palestinians is militarily ignored by the Arab states committed to the annihilation of Israel.

It seems to me that this policy of eradicating Israel is at this point a paper tiger. Yes, it would be of singular importance to the Israelis if the Arab states and the Palestinians were to formally renounce this doctrine. But my point is that this doctrine is confined to chest thumping speeches and to the paper on which this

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Daily Walking for Pain Patients

This may seem paradoxical, but even though I’ve been disabled for 20 years, I’ve been able to walk, after extensive spinal surgery 15 years ago, nearly 4 miles most mornings. There are mornings when either the pain or collagenous colitis has hold of me and I stay home. Even though I can walk for about an hour, what I can’t do is stand for more than a few minutes. I also have trouble with sitting, but that’s another sob story.

I know that not everyone can walk as far as me, that some of you can’t walk at all, or just for very short distances. Knowing that, I’m recommending walking to everyone who can, even if it’s for short distances.

Of course we all know that walking provides several kinds of health benefits. The benefit I’m going to write about is all in the head, including the usual physical & mental health benefits.

I started walking 5 and 6 miles a day in my mid-twenties because of my inability to run. Running caused far too much pain and gave me shin splints in the bargain as I tried to jog around LIncoln Park in Chicago. I switched to walking in the park, along the lakefront and in the neighborhoods regardless the weather. Okay, okay, I never walked in driving rain or snow storms. I’m talking relatively normal weather here.

I now have a really cool version of a balaclava that I wear when the Hawk is out in Chicago in the dead of winter. It’s really a black mask with slits for my eyes and piece that fits over my nose with two holes for breathing. It’s stitched with a line for my mouth giving me quite the IRA hardman appeal–I look like a Republican gunman.  I only use this mask when the temperature is below 30 and the wind is above 15 mph, which is more often than not during Chicago winters.

I walked alone until I was 40. One dark night at 4 a.m. I woke up a 2nd time in Chicago with a home invader prowling around our first floor. After chasing him off and having cops and detectives crawling over every surface in our home I went out to buy a gun. I’d had it with break-ins, bike thefts, a drug fiend trying to jimmy open my kitchen window as I watched him from the other side & cleaning up after 7 break-ins in my car. Chicago 30 years ago wasn’t so safe.

Fortunately, the gun shop owner and my wife talked me into buying a dog and that night we did just that, a lovely golden retriever pup who was my companion on all my walks for the next 15 years.

Now I walk with my lovely mutt, Dylan. I find that if I don’t have him with me, I really don’t want to walk. I’m recommending walking with a 4 legged pal if you can, but on your own otherwise.

When I’m with Dylan on our walks I keep up a running commentary of whatever enters my mind. I admit, as a writer and poet, that all manner of things enter my mind that might not enter yours. But, please, don’t let that stop you. Even if you walk without a dog, keep that running commentary coming.

Why? I’m not exactly sure, as I’m a little too close to myself to be an accurate reporter. But I think it goes something like this: I find, as most will admit, that when walking I see more, hear more & feel more than when I rode my bike. The same in triplet for driving. When driving we experience so little.

But walking? I suppose the only thing to be that would be crawling, but I’m not here to recommend that, because, if like me, you’ve had some really bad moments with your body and crawling would bring back entirely too much. And it all comes alive when I say it to Dylan.

Now that I’ve moved back to Lincoln Pk. after an absence of 40 years I’ve found so much has changed while the basics have remained untouched. I love seeing all the new two and three flat buildings that have taken the Victorian architecture and updated it with a turn here and a twist there. Each new element I see, practically with every other lot, I tell Dylan what’s up. It’s as if we’re on an architecture tour and he’s my audience. I’m sure he appreciates the education.

The wonderful thing about walking in my new (old) neighborhood is that now that I’m in my mid-60s I seem to notice more as I’m not filled with a bazillion thoughts that whirled around my head when I was a couple of decades younger.

Now when I’m out seeing the changes and the things that haven’t changed I’m acutely aware that most of my life has been lived, and given my health history, I simply can’t count on more decades. It’s almost as if everything I look at now is surrounded with a slightly golden penumbra. I try explaining this to my pal, Dylan, but I’m convinced the smile I see on his furry countenance is nothing more than happiness of being on the prowl with me.Another wonder that Dylan brings me is that everyone who walks towards us beam smiles as they watch my pal marching next to me. Nearly 90% of the people I meet, and especially moms walking their babies in prams, stop to talk to us. As I speak with them their little one’s tentatively reach out to pat, or I should say, whomp, Dylan with their tiny hands, I’m thrown back over two decades when I walked my baby son.

It may sound a bit overblown, but I find all this thrilling in a way that never got through to me when I first started my perambulations 40 years ago. Everything seems so alive and fresh to me even though I’ve seen it over and over as you have, too. I think this is the leavings of 50 years in pain.

Being outside and with my pal and meeting both the old and new somehow elevates me for a few hours above the pain. As write this, it occurs to me that sitting in a comfortable lawn chair on the sidewalk next our loft would do the same. Or if I could only walk just a bit–which if I last long enough will surely come–I could sit on a park bench under the shade trees across the street and talk to all the passersby as my pal lies next to me.

I’m not saying this will work for everybody, but some portion of it just might. I know that much of my pleasure comes from being back in Chicago after years of living in NY, LA, and San Francisco. All nice, but not home.I

’m home, and maybe that’s all this is: being home.

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Living With Pain: TIME & AGING

My latest column for the National Pain Report can be read & commented on @ http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/living-with-pain-time-and-aging-8824510.html This one is on the movement of time throughout our life span and how time with aging my affect our resiliency.

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LIVING WITH PAIN: PET THERAPY

The central California sun beat down relentlessly on the parking lot. Most of the curious, and a few buyers confined their excitement to the shade of the awning extended from the pet store out over the sidewalk.

After going to several kennels oohing and awing over the many puppies we came to a kennel with a shaggy frightened puppy described to us over the net as a golden-doodle. He was clearly a rescue dog.

I knelt down in front of the kennel and tried to coax the pup to come to me. He shivered and stretched while eyeing me suspiciously. But after repeated tries he did come forward towards me. I could read the hope and despair in those gold eyes.

I stayed with him for about 10 minutes while my wife stood above us. We disagreed right away. She wanted to take a pass on him as he was too frightened and maybe traumatized. I saw that, too, I thought we could bring him out of that and he’d probably make a wonderful pet.

An hour later driving north through the central valley, Judie was in the back seat with our new shaggy, somewhat leery puppy. We immediately discovered the kennel cough and began ringing up the dollars we’d likely have to spend.

Judie agreed with me to call him Dylan after my favorite 20th century Irish poet, Dylan Thomas, most famous for his poem, “Do not go gentle into the night/ rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan spent the first month with us under our bed, only to come out to eat, what little he did, and  taken outside 3 or 4 times a day. We had all sorts of medicines we had to feed him to route all the disease pups pick up in the wild. Dylan was found wandering the streets.

From the beginning I felt an unusual draw to Dylan as we quickly fell in love with him. As he began to trust that we weren’t going to abuse him he began to warm to us.

He was a skinny 25 pound 6 month old pup with shaggy light brown fur that covered him from muzzle to tail with gold rings around the black pupils of his haunting eyes. And Dylan was amazingly calm and after warming to us, incredibly loving.

It wasn’t long before I began taking him on my daily 4 mile walks along the water works canals near us. On the trails I would keep up a running patter about whatever entered my mind, a kind of free association a patient engages in during psychoanalysis. The bond between Dylan and I grew ever stronger.

After about six months we recognized that Dylan was really a therapy dog for me. He had the uncanny ability to sense when the pain in my body began to ratchet up. It took me a while to notice, but whenever I began to feel badly, Dylan would stand next to me patiently waiting. It finally occurred to me that he wanted me to pick him up and put him on my lap.

He would lie across my lap and chest with his muzzle buried against my neck and stay in that position for nearly an hour. After a time, it slowly came to me that his presence on my lap gradually diminished the pain that started before he came to stand next to me.

As it became clear how Dylan related to me we obtained the papers and tags designating him a therapy/companion dog for me, including a recommendation from my pain physician.

Shortly after this, we decided to move back to Chicago. In talking with the airline about transporting Dylan we learned that as a Therapy dog we could buy a seat for him on the plane. On the four-hour flight to Chicago from San Francisco, Dylan lay on the center seat between my wife and me with his sleepy head on my lap for the entire trip.

It wasn’t until a month after we moved to downtown Chicago that we began to hear from people on the street about Dylan. Whenever went down the elevator in our high-rise other residents would ask us about him while fawning all over him. He clearly garnered attention as he seemed like “every” dog, a compilation of all beloved dogs.

Every few weeks someone, usually an out-of-town tourist, asks me if he or she can take a picture of Dylan. It happens so often we had a hard time understanding what it was about him that attracted such attention.

On my daily walks up the lakefront and through the Gold Coast parents with small children stop me every few blocks asking to pet him. If I’m walking along and hear a small child squeal “doggy” I always stop and let the child and parent pet Dylan. Dylan, for his part stands still and patiently takes in all the petting and admiration as if it is his due.

At night when we tumble in to bed Dylan hops up on the mattress to lie between us. In a way it reminds us of having our young son occasionally sleep with us. For me, his presence for is a combination soporific and analgesic. Like many of us, lying in bed isn’t always pain-free. With Dylan lying next to me and my arm draped over his body, the pain along my spine gradually subsides to the point where I can, with the help of modern chemistry fall asleep.

Over the last 2 years when I’m writing in our spare bedroom, Dylan lies quietly on the on the corner of the bed just off my left shoulder. Every 30 minutes or so, he stands up. reaches out with his right paw and drops it on my shoulder. I’ve learned that he does this when he senses I’ve been sitting at my computer long enough and it’s time for me to take a break and let the pain dial back.

I don’t know how to recommend how to find such a therapy dog other than to advise to follow your heart. If your heart reaches out to the pet, that pet just might be the one.

 

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UNCHECKED PAIN IN THE GAZA STRIP

It is a mind numbing reality throughout the world that there are many countries that do not have, for various reasons, the capacity to treat their citizens suffering from chronic severe pain with the benefit of opioid therapies. This is hard fact of life for many of our fellow sufferers across the globe.

Right now a horrible war is taking place between Israeli soldiers and the fighters of Hamas, the ruling party for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. I ask readers to put aside  political passions about this conflict and focus with me on the human dimension of this tragic, never-ending conflict.

Most news reports indicate that there have been over 700 deaths of Palestinians and 32 deaths of Israelis in this war. Most of the dead in Gaza are civilians.  More worrisome are the reports of the number of Palestinian children killed in this conflict, now more than 100.

We are faced with a huge number of Palestinians wounded and suffering terrible pain. We can make a guess at that number in that almost all armed conflicts produce far more wounded than killed.

The years long Israeli blockade of Gaza has limited not only suspect building materials, but of most commodities including health care supplies has intensified the suffering of the Palestinians.

Just today, NBC reported an attack on a school housing Palestinians from the war. Bombs detonated there and left behind the dead and wounded including a 6 month old wounded baby. The report showed doctors removing the shrapnel from the baby’s back without any available anesthetics.

Will that child enter the world of chronic pain for which in his country there are few resources for good care?

This paints a humanitarian catastrophe for the Palestinians. The closed border between Gaza and Egypt makes the suffering worse. The military government in Cairo refuses to support the Hamas led government in the Strip as they believe Hamas is equivalent to the Muslim Brotherhood whom the military leaders in Cairo ousted from power.

I am not trying to make a political case for the Palestinians sequestered in the Gaza Strip. The lack of adequate medical care and pain care in particular is widespread throughout the Middle East, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and most of Asia.

The plight of the Palestinians echos in the prolonged and ghastly warfare in Syria and Iraq and in Sub Saharan Africa. In these conflicts it is impossible to write only about those who now, and in the future, will suffer the ravages of untreated chronic pain, from the immediate pain suffered by people trapped in these conflicts.

It’s axiomatic that immediate humanitarian medical aid is provided to the thousands upon thousands of victims in these war ravaged parts of the world.

But we need to look beyond the current wars to the future of these countries, to the future of the thousands of people who will be cast into the pit of chronic pain as result of ghastly wounds.

What medical care will be available to these people in pain? It is, I’m afraid, not to difficult to imagine. But for a moment, I’d like all of us who suffer from grinding chronic pain to imagine ourselves as refugees being repatriated to our homes while living with shrapnel wounds, high velocity ammunition wounds, the horrid pain of amputations and all types of neurological pain. Imagine living in such madness with no hope of surcease.

Wars are raging all around the globe daily. Pick up the paper or log onto the internet and chose your horror. The endless ubiquity of it dampens our natural inclination to help those suffering worse than we. The people surviving these wars are foreign to us, across the world and out of sight. We are numb to the suffering of the other .

This begs the question of what to do.

First, we need to acknowledge our commonalities with those who cannot who don’t have the same access to care we have, however flawed it be. We need to see pain care in a broader way, not as a problem confined to us, but an international problem which we all share and have some responsibility to address.

Since this is an enormous problem, I’ll only focus on the continuing disaster in the Gaza Strip. Even this focus has deep and lasting difficulties. Without taking a political stand for or against either side in this conflict, I believe we should respond to the Palestinians who have been and likely will continue in chronic pain.

We need to tell our stories to the United Nations through our representative there. It might be prudent to tell our stories to Doctors Without Borders. It is on us to contact our Representatives and Senators telling them our stories and asking them to press for general medical assistance to the beleaguered Gaza Strip while advocating an emphasis on short and long-term pain care.

I’m not just asking that the Palestinians have access to opioid pain care, but all aspects of good pain care practice.

Finally, I think it would be wise for our pain groups to consider reaching out to the Palestinians through the United Nations. After the conflict comes to an end and rebuilding the Strip begins, contact might be established through the internet. For example, we might try establishing Facebook groups with the Palestinians.

It is well-known that one of the ways we can care for ourselves is by reaching out to others in similar circumstances. I’m not for a second comparing our lives with those around the world forced into refugee camps, but our pain is similar.

Please, let’s join together and reach across the divide. Who know what healing ripple effects` might ensue.

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LIVING WITH PAIN

My latest column can be read @ http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/living-with-pain-prejudice-and-mistreatment-8824038.html

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This is What “Open Carry” Has Brought Us

Check out this link for an idea of where open carry laws has brought us: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/17/1307546/-Open-Carry-incidents-at-my-place-of-employment-The-cops-got-involved?detail=email

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