Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The ancient use of drugs tor fanatics in the Middle East

StrategyPage has an article about ISIS guys using a meth like drug, including that they use it by injection.

Few ISIL fighters would surrender and many of them kept fighting even after they were wounded. It was also found that many of the dead (and some of those taken alive) had got by on little sleep for weeks in an effort hold out. One reason for this behavior was drugs. That was not unexpected. What was somewhat surprising was the large number of dead ISIL fighters who were apparently taking more powerful drugs via injection rather than the more common pills. Counter-terrorism analysts have long recognized the connection between illegal drugs and Islamic terrorism. While these drugs are not forbidden in Islamic scripture, as alcohol is, most Islamic scholars and clerics condemn drug use by Moslems. Yet one of the appeals of Islamic terrorism is the tendency of these groups to point out that there is a long tradition of “Holy Warriors” (what the rest of the world calls Islamic terrorists) using these drugs in various religiously approved ways

they also get into this history which goes way back:

rug use by Islamic terrorists is nothing new and it has existed at least since the 11th century. The first recorded users were the Hassassins (or "hashasheen" or users of hashish) of 11th century Iran. The training back then was similar to what many Islamic terrorists groups still use today. There was liberal use of hashish to provide a taste of paradise for new recruits. As is the case now the medieval Hassassins went on suicidal missions assured that they would experience eternal paradise if they died. The Hassassins began when a Iranian minor noble with a grudge and excellent organizational skills created a network of suicide assassins who were convinced they were doing God’s Will. The Hassassins thrived, and killed, for many decades until the Mongols came along and destroyed their impregnable mountain fortress. The Mongols were not afraid of suicide assassins but were annoyed by them. Back then, annoying the Mongols was almost always fatal.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Black market organ donations.

I've been busy reading my old stash of Dean Koontz novels... He writes horror stories,  and a lot of them are on line as audiobooks at Youtube, but it's hard to fast forward the unpleasant parts as an audiobook, so I prefer to read them so I can skip the nasty parts.

But they are popular, and easily found in our used book kiosks here in the Philippines.

I was reading one I hadn't read before, Your Heart Belongs to me, is about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and heart transplants. Interesting, because this is one cause of sudden cardiac death problems, and often isn't diagnosed until autopsy.

Because he is a novelist, he can describe how the symptoms affect a person: not just the pain but psychologically.

The protagonist is a nice guy who is a bill gates/Steve Jobs type... since Steve Jobs actually moved to a different state to get a liver transplant quicker, I suspect part of the story was inspired by is actions (although I'd have to check the dates for this).

Here is a 2009 article asking how he got on top of the list. Actually it makes sense. Not everyone is willing to donate an organ. And living in states where "good old boys" don't wear seatbelts and wreck their pickup trucks while smashing their brains is a good place to find an organ, especially since their good Christian parents will often sign for it, seeing an organ as a gift of life for someone else's child.

But it can look suspicious. When Pennsylvania Governor Casey quickly got a heart and liver tranplant, it did raise eyebrows. (His donor was a man who was mistaken for someone else and beaten up over a drug deal he had no part in).

But this also brings up another dirty little secret about transplants: Size.

Kidneys are place inside the abdomen, so no problem. Livers can be divided and given to several patients (and a parent can donate his left liver lobe to save his child's life... we sent one family to Chicago to do this, but alas the father's liver was damaged, and the child died of a brain hemorrhage relatedcd to the clotting problems of liver failure before they found another donor or decided his dad's bad liver was better than nothing). In transplants, sometimes the patient recovers too and lives longer without it, and in other cases, they have so many other problems they die despite transplant.

But for heart transplants, size is critical. Too small and the person can't survive, too large and it causes pressure on the lungs. And then there is the problem of splicing different size arteries and veins to each other.

A lot of transplant propaganda acts like people die "waiting for tranplant", but a lot of them don't fit the criteria either. I had one druggie who died in a prison hospital awaiting tranplant: he was just too sick and they couldn't find a liver... but I suspect his multiple problems were one reason someone else got the available organs (although since he was in prison, his unreliability was not an issue, but his other medical problems from drug abuse were).

Then we come to the "surprise surprise" part of the novel: The transplant was done in China.

This again is inspired by Harry's Kidney, a romp through China's organ donation system.

Romp is my word: The actual title states:

Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life

well selling kidneys in China, like selling them here in the Philippines, is no big deal, except that it exploits poor people. UKGuardian article here.

the dirty little secret is that China used organs from condemned prisoners.

Including those whose only crime was to belong to the Falun Gong, a Buddhist sect.

this was supposed to be stopped  awhile back, but this CNN article 2016 says it's still going on... and the number of transplants is grossly exaggerated by the Chinese government.

"The (Communist Party) says the total number of legal transplants is about 10,000 per year. But we can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals," Matas said in a statement.
The report estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 organs are transplanted each year in Chinese hospitals. According to the report, that gap is made up of executed prisoners, many of them prisoners of conscience locked up for their religious or political beliefs.
China does not report its total number of executions, which it regards as a secret.
The report's findings stand in stark contrast to Beijing's claim that, since the beginning of 2015, China has moved from almost completely relying on organs from prisoners to the "largest voluntary organ donation system in Asia." 

So a famous novelist published a book about the problem.

But the book really about egotism, callusness to death, and...about redemption.

And in this one, the dog doesn't appear until the ending...

(Koontz joke: many of his novels have a dog companion to the good guys).

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The disease making a comeback with the Heroin epidemic and gangs

A two part series in the NYTimes.  One Two

this is what I posted on my main blog about part one of the story:

Syphilis is back, and the NYTimes blames gangs, drug s and "uneducated doctors".

yes, Syphilis is spread by IV drug use, and this is about the heroin injection epidemic.

And in Asia/Russia, IV drug use, not sex, is the major cause of HIV...

the article notes they are going back to the good old days of tracing contacts (a practice that was discouraged when HIV became a protected disease).

But if you read way down in the article, you find that syphilis is common in another group: men who have sex with men.

When I was in medical school, we learned syphilis was the "Great pretender" because it looked like so many other diseases.

and the underbelly of evil is here:

Usually such efforts lead to sagas of unrelenting grimness: mothers who prostitute daughters, and men who forcibly inject runaways with drugs to hook them, a practice known as guerrilla pimping.
Something to remember the next time you hear a libertarian insist that "sex workers" like to do their jobs.

In the good old days (until it was stopped because there were so few cases, in the 1970's)  everyone admitted to a hospital got a screening test for syphilis because often people didn't know that they had been exposed, especially women.

Sigh. In our prayers.


part two discusses how public health officials investiage contacts of those diagnosed with the disease.

read the whole thing.

But every day, the disease intervention specialists keep reporting the same harsh story, a growing specter of broken young lives....

And where, exactly, are all the clergymen in the Bible Belt state?

yes, they are there, trying to help.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

they do it for the money

Documentary film about male sex workers in Japanese bars. LINK

day of the heroes

one of  the local artists/ graphic artists came over to borrow a photo of Lolo's brother for a "day of the heroes" exhibition at the mall.

I sccanned a photo of him from one of the relative's albums, and posted it here to give to him on a thumb drive.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fentanyll death rates soar


The rate of deaths in US cities related to fentanyl overdoses increased 600 percent from 2014 to 2016, data from the Washington Post has shown The synthetic opioid can be ordered from China or bought from Mexico and is 50 times stronger than heroin The new report emphasizes the expanding role fentanyl is playing in America's drug crisis, especially in East Coast cities Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
so stop blaming the doctors.