Daily Archives: January 7, 2009

Free The Iranian Doctors Arash and Kamiar Alaei

The government of Iran sucks.

Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei are two Iranian physicians who have reportedly been detained in Iran by Iranian authorities. The physicians, who are brothers, were apparently arrested at the end of June, 2008 and their current whereabouts are unknown. Physicians for Human Rights calls on the government of Iran to disclose their whereabouts, provide them access to lawyers and family, and either to charge them with an internationally recognized crime or release them immediately.

Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei have played a role in putting the issues of drug use and HIV/AIDS on Iran’s national health care agenda. They have worked closely with government and religious leaders to ensure support for education campaigns on HIV transmission, including those targeting youth, and for HIV and harm reduction programs in prisons.

Since completing their medical training, the brothers have worked in AIDS research in Iran, and along with other clinicians and advocates, helped make the country a leader in prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS. They played a part in the creation of Iran’s HIV/AIDS prison program, one of the best in the region if not the world. The program passes out condoms and syringes in the prisons, one of only a handful of countries globally doing so. The doctors have also shared their knowledge with neighboring countries by holding training workshops for Afghan and Tajik health professionals.

Dr. Arash was scheduled to speak at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. A coalition of groups including PHR will be sponsoring an empty chair with his name, to bring attention to the detention of the brothers. Dr. Kamiar, a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health, is expected to return to his program in September.

Family, friends, and colleagues from around the world are deeply concerned for the brothers’ well-being. We urge you to take action today to ensure their human rights are protected and they are reconnected with their family.

Here’s the web site. Here’s the petition for you to sign if you like.

If you want to call the Iranians and bitch them out directly, here are the instructions:

Continue reading Free The Iranian Doctors Arash and Kamiar Alaei

Rick, Erin, Robert and Skepchick!!!!

Hey, my outgoing mail server is borked, so the only way I can communicate with the outside world is via my blog. So here are some critically important messages for several individuals.

Rick McPhearson: Yes, thank you so much for taking the initiative. I’ll do whatever you want, as always. Just don’t let PZ hurt me.

Erin: OK, we’re doing it on Friday, I’m looking forward to this, it will be great. Good luck to Tim. Two questions: What do I tell my readers, and are we going to re-visit the bar on the right side?

Robert: I love a good script, go for it, man!

Skepchick: What? What? You couldn’t just decide on ME??? I decided on you!

Hey, everybody, please go HERE and do exactly what she says.

Cool Google Trick

As I’m sure you already know, you can type this into a google search box:

time Minneapolis

and you can put lots of different words in there and get the time.

What you may not know is this. If you look at the page you get back, there is a little clock graphic next to the time. The time on the clock graphic is correct. Like this:



Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General

As you know, Senator Elect Barack Obama appears to have chosen neurosurgeon, former policy wonk, and CNN medical/health correspondent Sanjay Gupta to be surgeon general. There is an overwhelming display, on the science blogosphere, of diversity in opinion about this choice. My opinion: WTFC? He is not clearly unqualified, and the exact nature of the surgeon general position is poorly defined and ever changing. He is a communications guy, so maybe his thing will be about science communication. That would be interesting. The point is that every surgeon general has either picked up on a cause or two and run with it, or simply hid out (as the current SG has done), hobbled by an administration that does not want to hear anything from the SG.

Also, have you noticed that Surgeon General and Sanjy Gupta are both “SG.” That’s gotta mean something!

Anyway, here is a list of some of the current posts discussing this appointment. Dont’ listen to what I say, read this stuff:

I’m not so sure about this pick
Moore v. Gupta: Truth v. False Doubt
The Intersection: Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General? Here’s My Gripe
Jake Young at Pure Pedantry: Sanjay Gupta is a possible Surgeon General
Orac: Dr. Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General? Yawn.
Some guy who really does not like him: Sanjay Gupta As Surgeon General? Not So Fast
PalMD, who really does like him: Gupta for Surgeon General? Cool.
Abel Pharmboy: Why I think Sanjay Gupta is a good pick for Surgeon General
An old post by revere: Michael Moore puts Sanjay Gupta into intensive care

Tainting Franken: The real reason for the Coleman law suit

And other Republican Hypocrisy.

The long term plan is to keep Franken out of the Senate forever. Not likely to work. The short term plan is to “taint” Franken, so that morons like Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan (MSNBC) and Ann Coulter can constantly refer to “Franken” and “Tainted” in the same sentence again and again and again.

Which will not be a big problem, really, because this is an old and tired strategy that no on cares about any more. But it is their strategy.

Now, about the law suit: We have the Republicans hitting all the same exact issues that have been hit before. Of these issues, one was never really closely looked at, so the court may need to look more closely. The others have already been tossed out by prior decisions (by the same court!). Although the Coleman lawyers can technically, legally do this because an “election contest” (the technical term for this ‘suit’) is not an appeal, it is normally not the case that if a court says “no” that you can either a) ask another court at the same level to say yes or b) ask the same court again and again. (There is no new evidence here.) The court will quickly toss out all but one of the material challenges.

What the law suit does do, however, is to place coleman in the clear underdog spot, and this is the first time he has been clearly in that spot for the entire race. Then, from this powerful position as victim, the law suit allows the injection of all of the terms and phrases linked to the Tainting of Franken. This way, there will be a nice, rich rhetorical menu from which to chose over the next few years as Coleman repositions himself and the Republicans work towards retaking he Senate.

Now, I’d like to show you a video (Ana the Blogless brought this to my attention). This is a CNN Video that has the phrase “Not so Fast Franken” across the bottom. and it is a sham interview of Texas Senator John Cornyn, “Chairman” of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Why is this a sham interview? Because the interview is about the Republican’s plan to interfere with seating Franken earlier this week (being discussed in the interview as a future event). The thing is, this is not even a tiny issue. Franken was not going to try to be seated, nor was Coleman or anyone else, because of the automatic delay in issuing of the election certificate for a seven day review period, and everyone, including Senator Cornyn, knows this. In other words, this was a totally senseless premise to a news story, and a totally senseless set of statements by Cornyn. So why was this interview happening at all? For no reason whatsoever? Not likely. The video was part of the development of the Franken as Tainted rhetoric.

In this video, Cornyn demonstrates the taint-language approach, and he also demonstrates another bit of Republican shenanigans. I would like to orient you to both of these before you watch.

Regarding the taint-talk, Cornyn refers (although he does a poor job of it) to most of the phrases that are being injected into the conversation by the Coleman campaign (Double counted ballots; Irregularities; Every vote counts; and so on). We are going to see this language regularized, adapted, and repeated as it is spread through talking point memos. We’re going to see the information misused and gotten wrong by gnomes like Cornyn who have gotten the Taint Franken Talking Points Memo, but do not really understand all of it because they have not been paying attention to the details. In other words, we are going to see yet another example of senseless conversation in Washington and the press surrounding yet another non issue.

The lack of understanding the situation by Cornyn may be related to the other thing I wanted to point out about this video. This is what appears to be a logical flaw or even an out and out hypocrisy demonstrated in what Cornyn says. To get this, you have to know that the Democrats are generally against seating Illinois appointee Burris because they think he is not re-electable, and would prefer a stronger candidate in that position. The Republicans want him seated for the same reasons. The logic behind the Democratic Party action is this: According to Senate Rule Two, for a senator to be seated, there must be a proper election certificate. In the case of Burris, there is no proper election certificate, because both the governor and the state’s Secretary of State must sign the certificate. So the Democrats say they won’t seat him on this basis.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are making the argument that the US Constitution really just says that there must be “executive” action or intent on the part of the state. You only need the governor’s signature on the certificate. This makes what the Democrats are doing, according to the Republicans, unconstitutional. Got that? Keep this in mind as you watch the video. It will make you laugh.

Regarding this argument, then, we have the following (paraphrased from various Republican sources including the video you are about to watch) being said:

“Minnesota Law says you need an election certificate with a signature from the governor and the secretary of state. Therefore you can’t seat Franken”

“Burris is seatable because the US constitution says the Senator needs ‘executive approval’ and that does not include the Secretary of State (who did not sign Burris’ certificate.”

And finally, we hear from Cornyn, regarding the Democratic strategy: “You can’t have it both ways.”

Um. Right.

And now the “you can’t have it both ways” show:

Brandon Darby and the RNC Activists

Activists from Texas who call themselves the Austin Informant Working Group have added their voices to the chorus denouncing Brandon Darby, who gave information to the FBI while posing as a protester to infiltrate groups planning demonstrations against last November’s Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul…..

Read the rest here.

Here’s the Brandon Darby Information site. Very interesting reading.