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Mon, 29 May 2023
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Justina Pelletier: Mitochondrial disease or medical child abuse?

© A Miracle for Justina/Facebook
It's difficult to know what's really going on with Justina Pelletier.
Justina Pelletier's case is a study in diagnostic challenges.

Linda and Lou Pelletier brought their daughter to Boston Children's Hospital last year. They were looking for a gastroenterologist to help with 14-year-old Justina's mitochondrial disease, a rare disorder that causes widespread and nonspecific symptoms. Justina Pelletier never saw a GI specialist, though. Instead, she officially became a ward of the state last week.

The physicians at Boston Children's concluded that Justina did not have mitochondrial disease. They believed that her symptoms were the result of psychological stress, caused in part by her parents. They accused the Pelletiers of subjecting Justina to dangerous and unnecessary medical treatments. When the hospital petitioned the state to take custody, the Boston Globe picked up the story and painted an unflattering picture of both the state government and the doctors at Boston Children's Hospital.

It's easy to get angry about this scenario - and there are some troubling things about the way the conflict has been managed - but the doctors at Boston Children's deserve a defense. First, we're essentially hearing only one side of the Justina Pelletier story. Neil Swidey and Patricia Wen, the reporters covering the story for the Boston Globe, have done an admirable reporting job, but hospitals can't say much about their patients. Linda and Lou Pelletier appear to have provided much of Wen and Swidey's information. Second, the science is complicated. Mitochondrial disease (Justina Pelletier's original diagnosis) and medical child abuse (the Boston Children's diagnosis) can look extremely similar. Both can be deadly if not treated properly.

Comment: For more information, see SOTT's previous articles on this troubling case:
Hospital holds girl for 9 months after parents argue diagnosis
Parents lose custody of teen after seeking 2nd medical opinion; girl indefinitely detained in psych ward
Massachusetts father charged for speaking about his daughter's kidnapping
Boston Psychiatric Unit's imprisonment of teenager Justina Pelletier needs State investigation into reckless endangerment of psychiatric diagnosing


North Carolina wants to tax 5 cents a mile for driving

Big changes could be just down the road for North Carolina drivers. A proposal is in the works that would change the state tax system to charge drivers by the mile, and at the gas pump.

The proposal would be to charge a half cent per mile for cars, which would generate almost $500 million in annual state revenue. A driver who travelled 15,000 miles in a year would pay about $75.

"Basically you pay per the mile. It's treating transportation as a utility, much like your water and sewer," said Larry Goode, with the Institute of Transportation Research and Education.

North Carolina currently tacks on an additional 37.6 cents gas tax at the pump. The vehicle mileage tax, or VMT, would not replace the gasoline tax. It would be an additional fee.

Lawmakers are looking at making changes because of falling state gas tax revenues - in part because of more fuel-efficient cars requiring less gas. North Carolina drivers currently pay one of the highest gas taxes in the nation.


11-year-old Georgia children proned out at gunpoint for building a tree fort

Omari Grant
11-year-old Omari Grant had a gun in his face while playing with his friends.
Henry County - A group of children building a tree fort in a wooded area near their home were accosted by foul-mouthed, gun-wielding police officers who treated them "as if they were robbing a store."

Omari Grant, 11, and several of his friends were off playing together in a wooded area near their subdivision. On that day earlier this March, the boys decided to build a tree fort in the woods out of some branches and sticks.

A busybody neighbor witnessed the boys removing tree limbs and promptly called 9-1-1 for a police response.

Several officers from the Henry County Police Department arrived, and one came running with his gun already drawn, the children said according to WSB-TV.

The boys were allegedly proned out on the ground and cussed at by armed agents of the government.

"He was crying," said his mother, Janice Baptiste, to WSB-TV. "All he could get out at the time was, 'Mom, he had a gun in my face.'"

She continued: "I got him to calm down. Then he told me how they had them down on the ground, and they had to spread their legs, as if they were robbing a store."


Doctors say lethal injection is often botched and horrific

© National Archives and Records Administration/Colourized by Mads Madsen
German Gen. Anton Dostler is tied to a stake before his execution by a firing squad in Italy in December 1945.
Dennis McGuire clearly knew something was wrong. At 10:34 a.m. on Jan. 16, as a crowd at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility looked on, the convicted murderer began gasping for air. Then McGuire began to make snorting and choking sounds. For the next 10 minutes, as a combination of midazolam (a relaxant similar to Valium) and hydromorphone (an analgesic related to morphine) coursed through his veins, McGuire's chest and stomach heaved as the oxygen in his blood dwindled. Death was approaching, but slowly.

Watching a man gradually suffocate may have come as a surprise to some people in the gallery, but it didn't surprise David Waisel, an associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, who had predicted this would happen. Ten days earlier Waisel had presented U.S. district court judge Gregory Frost with a nine-page declaration explaining that the state of Ohio planned to use an improper dose of midazolam - a short-acting benzodiazepine that's often used to induce sedation and amnesia before a medical procedure - to kill McGuire. "In light of the insufficient dose of midazolam," Waisel wrote, "it is substantially likely that McGuire will be aware of this agony and horror." Based on his expertise, he felt there was a "substantial, palpable, objectively intolerable risk of experiencing the agony and horrifying sensation of unrelenting air hunger" during the execution, suggesting that "McGuire will remain awake and actively conscious for up to five minutes, during which he will increasingly experience air hunger as the drugs suppress his ability to breathe." It turns out Waisel may have undershot things; Dennis McGuire took nearly 30 minutes to die.


Incredible Truth: 36.8% of Americans over 16 are unemployed

© Bloomberg News
The problem is not just a cyclical downturn. We need to tackle deep structural issues in the U.S. economy.
The Unemployment Puzzle: Where Have All the Workers Gone?

The U.S. unemployment rate is down, but rising numbers of Americans have dropped out of the labor force entirely

A big puzzle looms over the U.S. economy: Friday's jobs report tells us that the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7% from a peak of 10% at the height of the Great Recession. But at the same time, only 63.2% of Americans 16 or older are participating in the labor force, which, while up a bit in March, is down substantially since 2000. As recently as the late 1990s, the U.S. was a nation in which employment, job creation and labor force participation went hand in hand. That is no longer the case.

What's going on? Think of the labor market as a spring bash you've been throwing with great success for many years. You've sent out the invitations again, but this time the response is much less enthusiastic than at the same point in previous years.

One possibility is that you just need to beat the bushes more, using reminders of past fun as "stimulus" to get people's attention. Another possibility is that interest has shifted away from your big party to other activities.

Economists are sorting out which of these scenarios best explains the slack numbers on labor-force participation - and offers the best hope of reversing them. Is the problem cyclical, so that, if we push for faster growth, workers will come back, as they have in the past with upturns in the business cycle? Or do deeper structural problems in the economy have to be fixed before we can expect any real progress? To the extent that problems are related to retirement or work disincentives that are either hard to change or created by policy, familiar monetary or fiscal policies may have little effect - a point getting too little attention in Washington.


Fort Hood shooter was on anti-depression medication - suffered PTSD from Iraq

© Image from Facebook
Ivan Lopez
The Iraq War veteran who opened fire at Fort Hood on Wednesday, killing three people and injuring 16, was being treated for mental health issues and being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, the Associated Press reports.

Identified as Spc. Ivan Lopez by Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Ft. Hood's commanding general, the Army veteran reportedly walked into one of the area buildings with a .45 semi-automatic handgun and started shooting. He kept firing even as he used a vehicle to make his way to another building, where the gunfire continued.

When military police confronted him, Lopez put his hands into the air before pulling out his gun from his jacket and shooting himself in the head.

According to the AP, an investigation into the gunman's mental health background was initiated immediately after the violence ended. Part of the probe will also focus on the possibility that a fight or argument triggered the shooting.

Bad Guys

MH370: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says government purposefully concealing information

© Australian Defence Force
RAAF Warrant Officer Wright looks from a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search for flight MH370
Malaysia's sophisticated radar system would have immediately detected Flight MH370 as it crossed the country's mainland after changing course and should have alerted the air force, Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader, has claimed

Malaysia's government is deliberately concealing information that would help to explain what happened to missing Flight MH370, the country's opposition leader has claimed.

In a wide-ranging interview that cast doubt on the official investigation into the disappearance of the plane, Anwar Ibrahim said the country's "sophisticated" radar system would have identified it after it changed course and crossed back over Malaysia.

Mr Anwar, who personally knew the pilot of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing in the early hours of March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, called for an international committee to take over the Malaysian-led operation because "the integrity of the whole nation is at stake".

He indicated that it was even possible that there was complicity by authorities on the ground in what happened to the plane and the 239 people on board.

Alarm Clock

Insane! Nine-month-old boy Pakistani accused of planning murder

9 month - old
© Geo TV
A nine-month-old boy has appeared in court in Pakistan on charges of planning a murder, threatening police and interfering in state affairs, it appears.

Baby Muhammad Mosa Khan is one of more than 30 people facing charges after a police raid to catch suspected gas thieves in the city of Lahore, The News website reports. Police say the suspects tried to murder security officers by pelting them with stones. But the Times of India newspaper quotes the infant's father as saying the group was protesting against an electricity shortage.
9 month - old 2
© Geo Tv
The infant appeared in the courtroom sitting on his father's lap and clasping a bottle. He was given bail and the case has been adjourned until 12 April, reports from Lahore say. His father is also among the accused.

The murder charges against a baby have alarmed Punjab's Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif. He has asked for clarification from the province's inspector-general of police and demanded "stern action" against the officials who registered the case.


Bison seen running down road at Yellowstone spark supervolcano rumors online

Videos of bison seemingly fleeing Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming have sparked concerns among some bloggers that recent seismic activity could trigger the eruption of the park's so-called supervolcano.

According to Epoch Times, multiple videos of such incidents have been posted online recently, one of which shows a herd of buffalo allegedly leaving the park and "running for their lives." Although people behind the discussion acknowledge there's no way to predict when the park's massive volcano could erupt, they believe the reaction of the Yellowstone's animals could signal some kind of alert.

On March 30, Yellowstone was struck by the most powerful earthquake it has experienced since 1980 - a 4.8 magnitude quake that did no damage, but that some believe could be connected to the various animals' movements.

"Whether I believe this, or whether I don't believe the story or not, I don't know. I can tell you this story I saw this morning about the buffaloes running the street ... whether or not it's because of any activity in Yellowstone or not, I don't know," said blogger Jay Lee, according to the Times.

"But I'll tell you this, whatever the case may be, that their running away from Yellowstone is an alert of some sort."


Traditional names for babies are dying out - what's hot and what's not

© Alamy
Notable men called Cecil include Cecil Beaton, the English photographer, who died in 1980.
They are the names nobody wants.

Although Cecil, Rowland and Willie were once among the most popular names in Britain, they have fallen so far out of favour they have now became "extinct".

Latest birth records show that not a single person was given any of the three names while girls' names Bertha, Blodwen or Fanny are also extinct.

Research carried out by Ancestry.co.uk studied birth records for 1905 and produced a "top 100".

They then compared the names to those on the 2012 baby name list from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most recent data available. The extinct names are those that did not appear on the 2012 lists at all.

The names Gladys, meaning princess, and Muriel, meaning sea-bright, have also disappeared as tastes change.