Monday, October 12, 2015

Is Obama doubling down on his Proxy War on Russia in Syria?

On October 9, 2015  it appeared to  blogger Moon of Alabama  (MoA)  that the US was giving up on its war against Syria due to Russian determination to employ heavy duty military force in support of Assad. The next day, MoA  reported that  Obama is, instead,  doubling down, risking war with Russia. 

The person who told the Saudis to deliver 500 TOW missiles to Syria ASAP was likely CIA chief Brennan. He also ordered to plan for attacks on the Russian base.So instead of a calming down and cooperating with Russia to fight the Islamic State the Pentagon was told to shorten its program and to hand out weapons to everyone who asks. The CIA is feeding more weapons to its mercenaries via its Gulf proxies and is planning for direct attacks on Russians.The war on Syria, and now also on Russia, is unlikely to end in the near future. With the U.S. throwing more oil into the fire the war will burn not only in Syria but in every other country around it
.(Obama Launches A Proxy War On Russia In Syria, 10.10.15, MoA

Ruthless Obama? Yes, he’s been ruthless since the third day  of his administration in January 2009 when  he launched  his first drones strikes on West Waziristan. But reckless? Up to now he’s only been reckless with the lives and homelands of foreigners. But to let  Brennan loose on Syria, and allow the U.S. to escalate the  proxy war with Russia is cause for concern about  a recklessness that we haven't  seen before.

Up to now Obama seemed to be content with winning  the  domestic public relations war attacking  Assad and Putin, while covertly arming ISIS, al-Nusra,  the Free Syrian Army  and all the other jihadist factions. His agenda has not been  to topple Assad, but to keep the war going indefinitely. But with this new escalation the  administration now seems to be ready fight Russia on more level terms. 

Hopefully Obama  will maintain the flexibility to pull back from red lines that shouldn’t be crossed. In that case, the only ones who  will suffer will be millions of Syrians and Iraqis and Turks, etc.,. – and hundreds of millions of  Europeans  who will continue to be flooded with a continuing mass of   refugees.  

At his next press conference, reporters might like to ask what the president thinks will be the effect on the world economy and polity of the continuing unrest,  destabilization  and suffering  his policies have been causing. 

MoA (10.12.15) published evidence – a photo of a downed drone -- of U.S. special forces operating in South Syria, in contravention of international law.

MoA concludes on an optimistic note citing Russian plans to triple its  daily sorties in support of several thousand new fighters from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon in support of Assad. He feels this ought to be enough to expel “the intruders from South Syria.”

Friday, October 09, 2015

Am I drinking enough water? Sneezing’s A Clue


When I told my nephew, Mike, that I found that sneezing is an indication  that I need to drink water, he asked me how I arrived at this theory. Before he challenged me, I hadn’t really given the question much thought. I’ve simply understood for years that there’s a connection. In the end, most of my 3-page, 1260 word article, turned out to be context and commentary – and seems short enough to include in an email. I’ve also squeezed in two additional tips which have also helped me understand when I need to drink more water.

October 2015 by Ronald Bleier

How do I know if I’m drinking enough water? From time to time media reports feature “experts” asserting that we need to drink only when we’re thirsty, and also, not to worry, we get plenty of water from the foods we eat.  A similar view seemed to be the point of a couple of New York Times articles in the summer of 2015. In the first  the Times pushed back against the familiar 8 glasses of water a day prescription. (“No, You should not have to drink 8 glasses of water a day,” 8.24.15) In the second the Times  went so far as to dig out reports of two college football players who died after drinking 4 GALLONS  of water, presumably in the course of a practice session. (“For Athletes, the risk of too much water,” 8.26.15)

In my experience I’ve found that the counsel to “drink when you’re thirsty” is far from satisfactory.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that much of the time I was probably walking around inadequately hydrated. I’ve learned that drinking enough water takes focus and continual diligence.

Nature makes a compromise

It seems reasonable to reflect that humans have evolved, along with other mammals, so as to be able to survive for long periods while moderately (or even mostly) dehydrated. I suspect that the compromise that nature makes with survival lands us with a thirst function that is not optimal for modern life.  If this is true, then even though we can operate “normally,” without sufficient water for long periods, the resulting lack of sufficient hydration can have cumulative ill effects
In my case, I suspect, insufficient water intake has, from time to time, lowered my resistance and helped bring on colds or even the flu when illness might have been prevented by timely water intake. I also suspect that for some people, lack of adequate hydration could result in even more severe symptoms like gout or kidney stones and who knows what else.  A recent NYT article (“For Older Adults, Questioning a Diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease, 9.15.15)
reported research findings that half the population over 70 may suffer from chronic kidney disease. I wondered if persistent under-hydration could be a factor. (Later I found in a NYT article from 2011 that supported this guess. See below.)

The good news?

Fortunately, over the years, I’ve discovered some tips which help indicate when I need to drink more.  The first, the cue the body receives from sneezing, seems the least well known. I once took the opportunity to mention my theory to a doctor, an experienced internist. He said he had never heard of it, but he seemed interested and he didn’t immediately reject it.

Drinking Water prevents sneezing!?
I’ve found that sneezing is an indicator that I need to drink water. Trying to reconstruct how I figured this out, I suppose that by trial and error I found that when I felt a sneeze coming on, I could prevent it by a timely drink of water.  Perhaps what prompted these initial trials, was that after a sneeze, when I drank some water I felt a sense of relief which suggested there might be a connection.

The theory

My working theory is that when sensors in the body’s nasal and sinus passages detect inadequate hydration, a sneeze is provoked. In my case, I’ve found even subtle changes of temperature, like moving from one room to another where the temperature might be lower or higher, are sometimes enough to stimulate these sensors.  Unsurprisingly my sneeze sensors are more dramatically stimulated by the changes of temperature and humidity when I enter a steam room or sauna.

Sensors may provide limited warning

Nor is keeping up with my body’s water requirement always a routine matter. All too often I’ll be caught up in whatever I happen to be doing, and the sneeze will catch me before I can get to water. After a sneeze I try to make a point of drinking water. I’ve found that the sneeze - sensor function does not continue indefinitely. If I don’t promptly rehydrate, typically I won’t be warned in the same way again.  I suppose we’ve all noticed instances where someone sneezes half a dozen times or more in a row.  Multiple sneeze episodes may very well be the body’s last dramatic notice that water is required.  Afterwards, without prompt re-hydration, the body presumably retreats into water deficit mode. Long periods in this mode may lead to both short and long term health consequences.

As for the 8 glasses of water a day rule, I’ve never found it useful.  I don’t count the number of glasses I drink. What I try to do is pay more attention to my body’s hydrological needs. It’s not so easy, but I’ve got my sneeze function and two other tips (see below) to help me out.

Winter sniffles. 

I usually make use of a handkerchief or two when I go abroad in cold weather. I finally figured out that I wouldn’t need to clear my nose so often – or at all – if I were adequately hydrated. Not so easy to do in cold weather as in warm.  Thinking along these lines also made me wonder about what happens when we’re sick in bed with a cold. To what should we put down our sneezes in these circumstances? By this time readers can imagine my conclusions.

Drinking water with Meals

Years ago I happened to read that WWII concentration camp inmates learned from experience that digestion was facilitated by drinking water before eating.  This prescription has worked very well for me whenever I can so remind myself.  I’ve also learned to drink water during and after eating as well.

I’ve also found that after overeating, the best medicine is water.  A sign that I’ve overindulged is the discomfort I feel when I try drinking water after a bout of gluttony. I soon find that it actually gets too uncomfortable to drink more than a relatively small amount.  Then I need to wait awhile before I drink more to allow my system to go through its processes.  Such thoughts reminded me of those football players forcing down gallon after gallon until they dropped. They might have been taught that they merely had to wait till the discomfort passed before continuing their water intake. Perhaps it was their sports mindset that encouraged them to persevere despite their pain.  It would seem a good idea, with drinking water, as with all things, to keep in mind the golden rule of moderation.

And what about the New York Times?  Does the Times contradict itself?  An internet search yielded a NYT article from 2011  that seems to support my experience (“Really? The Claim: Drink Eight Glasses of Water a Day to Protect the Kidneys,” 11.7.2011).  Researchers found that a moderate intake of extra water, above two liters a day, helps the kidneys clear the body of toxins and reduces long term kidney problems. The brief article concludes:  “A moderately increased intake of fluids may protect the kidneys.”

Two more tips

More people seem to know about the next two tips, about which I have little to say other than they’ve been useful.

The color of urine
Over time I came to realize that if I were adequately hydrated the color of my urine would NOT be yellow. If I’m drinking enough water my urine will be clear.

Chapped lips
I’ve found that chapped lips are one of the body’s indicators of dehydration. It took me years to make this connection which became obvious once I recognized it.  I can’t recall the last time I used lip balm.
The End

Monday, October 05, 2015

Did the US Intentionally Bomb Kunduz MSF Hospital? -- New York Times Buries Evidence

A long, 20+ paragraph front page  story in  the New York Times,   "US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital," (10.4.15) included a statement from MSF that "the bombing continued for 30 minutes after the United States and Afghan military authorities were informed by telephone that the hospital was being bombed."
The Times  story did not mention that the US and Afghan authorities were given  precise information about the location of the hospital
multiple times in the past months (see below).

Institute for Public Accuracy
980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * *

        Monday, October 5, 2015

        U.S.'s Unreported War in Afghanistan

Doctors Without Borders reports that their hospital in "Kunduz [Afghanistan] was hit several times during sustained bombing by coalition forces" over the weekend. The group states: "Precise locations were communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months, including most recently on 29 September." General Director of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) Christopher Stokes states: "MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital -- with more than 180 staff and patients inside -- because they claim that members of the Taliban were present.

"This amounts to an admission of a war crime.

"This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the U.S. government to minimise the attack as 'collateral damage'. There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds."

Glenn Greenwald notes: "One Day After Warning Russia of Civilian Casualties, the U.S. Bombs a Hospital in Afghanistan." 
On Twitter, see @accuracy Afghanistan list and #Kunduz hashtag. 

    Hakim, is a medical doctor who has provided humanitarian relief in Afghanistan for the last decade. He works with Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building nonviolent alternatives to war. Dr. Hakim is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

     He appeared on "Democracy Now" this morning, stating that Afghans are not surprised, though they are definitely angry at the bombing. He stated that given mainstream media coverage, people in the U.S. might not even be aware that the U.S. government is continuing to bomb Afghanistan. See news release from November 2014: "Obama Secretly Extended Afghanistan War." 
    Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is just recently back from Afghanistan. Also appearing on "Democracy Now," Kelly called the U.S. government "the most formidable warlord in Afghanistan." She talked of people at the Doctors Without Borders hospital seeing patients burning in their beds. She stated that given that Doctors Without Borders informed the U.S. military where the hospital was, it seems clear that the U.S. military knew that it was bombing a hospital and went ahead anyway. 
    Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Her most recent book is Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror. She just wrote the piece "Bombing Hospitals All in a Day's Work," which states: "The destruction of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, with 22 dead so far, including doctors, other staff and patients, capped a week that also saw the bombing of another hospital in Afghanistan, plus the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian bombing of a wedding party in Yemen set up in tents far out in the desert, away from anything remotely military. ... The Pentagon relied on its language of 'collateral damage,' trying once again to distance itself from any responsibility for this most recent atrocity in Afghanistan. But there is no distance. This is the direct and inevitable result of an air war waged by U.S. pilots flying U.S. planes dropping U.S. bombs on an impoverished and war-devastated country still immersed in the war that began 14 years ago this week."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, David Zupan, (541) 484-9167