Thursday, May 16, 2019

Her name was Susan - never to be forgotten

Written by a physician and should be read by all those white males in Alabama and other states, telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies;

Several years ago, I posted a remembrance from my experience as a junior medical student at UCLA in 1964. The recent events in Alabama have released a flood of memories from that period. So with your indulgence I am reprinting that diary. As an old white male, I can never pretend to know the agony and despair that so many women have suffered and continue to suffer as the result of those who would deprive them of their choice and dignity. I can only try to understand. Even at the age of 78 it haunts me still.

Her name was Susan. She was young. She was beautiful. She was intelligent. She was articulate. She was dying…

Susan was a 23 year old single woman who came to Los Angeles in the early 60's to pursue her dream to become an actress. She had played the leads in her high school plays somewhere in Utah. She was runner-up in the Miss Utah pageant. She managed to get a couple of walk-on parts in some B-grade Hollywood films. She was a starlet.

A year or so after coming to the West Coast she became pregnant. The father quickly faded away into faceless LA. Her good Christian parents were humiliated, outraged and wanted nothing to do with her. She was on her own. Broke. Friendless. Pregnant. Scared.

So she took the bus to San Diego, walked across the border and headed to a cheap, dirty Tijuana abortion clinic. Four hours later she was back on the other side of the border, in pain, bleeding and completely debased.  By the next day, the pain had become unbearable and she was spiking a temperature. She went to a local emergency room and was hospitalized overnight at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. She was subsequently transferred to the Medicine  unit at UCLA Medical Center, at that time a small teaching hospital in its embryonic stages.

I was a 3rd year medical student in my first clinical rotation at UCLA. Susan was one of my first patients. We were about the same age. I was embarking on my medical career. Her life was ending

Over the next three weeks, I learned how people die from sepsis. Her uterus was perforated. She had developed gram-negative septicemia. Our knowledge of and access to antibiotics was primitive and limited. Eventually she went into renal failure. She burned with fever. She was racked with abdominal pain. The lovely face become sallow, sparkling eyes sunken, lifeless. Her skin turned a sickly bronze color. Her breath reeked the pungent stench of ammonia. After weeks of agony, her  frail body mercifully surrendered.

As I recollect these painful images of my brief encounter with Susan, the most outrageous aspect of this experience is not even the way she died. It is that she died alone. During those three weeks, she never had a visitor. There was no boyfriend - he was off to other conquests. There were no parents - they disowned her in shame and embarrassment.

Even worse was the mindset of the medical staff. While she was given the requisite care, there was little, if any, sympathy or compassion for this young woman or her situation. There was always the profound sense that "she brought this on herself," that she was, in the final analysis, just "an unfortunate tramp" - Even As She Lay Dying.

It is now 50 years later and I still carry this burden of shame for myself, my colleagues, my society, my country. And to this day, whenever the subject of Roe v Wade comes up, whenever I see and hear the holier-than-thou religious fanatics trying to take away the rights of a woman to control her own body, to make her own choices, to force her into the back alleys of Tijuana, I can still smell the stench of ammonia in the air.

Goodnight, Susan, we will not forget you.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Article by 18-year-old graduating from high school this year should be read by everyone

Two of my grandkids are graduating this year -- their lives will be far different from high school graduates who went before them. They will have to spend their adult lives trying to keep the planet sustainable to support  human and animal life.  The tragedy of our times.

We're Not the Class of 2019. We're the Class of 0000.
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by Lia Harel | May 11, 2019 - 5:30am

I am a second semester high school senior. For many students in my position, this is the best part of the year: the notorious "senior-slide" kicks in, chatter about life after high school fills the hallways, and we countdown the days until we get to toss our caps in the air. It's graduation season.

For decades, each class before mine has shared a similar experience at their graduation ceremony—an experience of time hopping, per say. Students celebrate their past academic accomplishments and look forward in anticipation of future endeavors.

However, my graduating class will not share this experience.

How can we look forward to the next chapter of our lives when the the flames of wildfires are already burning the pages of our stories? How can we look forward to building a home with a family when the floods, hurricanes, and rising sea levels are already tearing down our walls? How can we look forward to making the American Dream our reality when economic instabilityfood insecurities, and mentaland physical illnesses are already plaguing us like nightmares? How can we look forward to our future at all when climate change already threatens to destroy anything that might remain of it?

This is not an exaggeration, and this is certainly not a hoax. This is the reality that my generation faces. But we, the Class of 2019, are determined to reverse this reality.

So this graduation season, we are speaking out about the present. We are emphasizing what needs to happen now. We need zero emission, zero excuses, and zero delays—because we have zero time to waste when it comes to solving the climate crisis. Across the nation in gymnasiums, football fields, and auditoriums, commencement speakers are dedicating a minute of their speeches to talk about the need for immediate, bold climate action. Most significantly, we are giving all 2020 political candidates of both parties a choice: have a plan to get to zero emissions—or get zero of our votes.

Our diplomas may say we are the Class of 2019, but marked in history, we are the Class of 0000. We have the power to create a future to look forward to.

Yes, I am a second semester high school senior. I lack the motivation to finish my AP Statistics homework. Yet, I have the passion to take part in the commencement of a new era of climate leadership. This is the era in which science is fact, calls for action result in change, and boldness will save us. We, the Class of 0000, are the first class of this era.

Please join us.

About the 'Class of 0000' campaign:

Class of 0000 is a student-led campaign to take over graduation for climate action. Together, valedictorians and salutatorians across the country will deliver the same message to our leaders in their commencement speeches: deliver a plan for zero emissions — or get zero of our votes. Join our movement at the website:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.


ABOUT AUTHORLia Harel is an 18-year-old climate activist from Hopkins High School in Minnesota, and she is one of the youth helping to organize the Class of 0000 Campaign.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Decline of the natural world has grim implications for the future of humanity

Much more challenge for our children and grandchildren to face in their lifetimes:  A shockingly gruesome picture of future life on Earth, due to biodiversity changes, is painted in this three-year scientific study backed by the U.N.  Harder times are coming...and, under Trump, we're doing nothing to prevent or assuage it.  Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the developing overpopulation explosion crisis was being warned about (remember The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich?).  Those warnings were largely ignored. we are now, experiencing all the catastrophic consequences.  Trump's lifting of regulations on all previously Obama-regulated/banned pollutants of earth, air and water, including agricultural poisons and the deep water oil rigs, is helping to hasten the end along.


Dubya Bush - could he force Trump out of office? Read this link and see what you think

George W. Bush may be the only person in the world who can force Trump out of office

This article presents an outrageous idea, but should be considered for the hail Mary pass we need right now.  For most Democrats, Dubya Bush will always be George the Dumb, a stupid idiot.  But in the Republican world of crazy tea bags and MAGA hats and Trump (and Bush) worship, Dubya actually has gravitas...or what passes for that on Earth Two.  Maybe, just maybe, there is merit in this argument that he, given help in speech writing and a teleprompter to read, could convince the Trump supporters that they are following their "dear leader" off a cliff, and taking us and our country along with them.  But, honestly, I doubt it. Those blind and deaf cheerleaders behind Trump at his rallies, shouting "Hail, Trump!" (yes, actually and chillingly!!!) are so suckered in by now, I think even their still-loved Dubya can't turn them around.  For those of us who lived through the "Heil, Hitler!" days, we are shaken to our depths to see another mad lunatic rising up in our own country on the same tide of bigotry and hatred that caused World War II.  So what to do now, in this day, to save our democracy and preserve our way of life?.....

Here is what I think:  We Democrats MUST act now, instead of tip-toeing around like we always do, bending over backwards (as Obama did) to let McConnell obstruct everything we propose.  Pelosi MUST follow her Constitutional duty and start impeachment proceedings!  Rules of law are falling to Trump's ax, right and left, while we Democrats dither around, selling our own souls for poll data, hoping against hope that someone will emerge as the Dem. front runner to take Trump out of office.  The gerrymandered districts and right-wing judges (and unimpeded foreign enemy influence) are against us; we cannot keep dithering!  If ever there was a time to hold our elected officials' feet to the fire, this is it!  We are in grave danger of losing our democratic government and (for God's sake!) the ability of our planet to sustain life!  Political considerations aside, impeachment is absolutely necessary, whether or not it can pass in the McConnell-owned Senate!  The rules of law MUST be followed and protected, or we will certainly lose them all to the mad Trumpzilla monster stomping through our government, screaming, "Off with their heads!'  Where are our Churchills and FDRs in today's world, standing up against any and all who would take away our democracy?  

If we need to start marching in the streets in order to get our elected Democrats to grow a backbone, then I say, Get your pink pussy hats out of storage or make new red/white/blue ones, stick them on your heads, and let's go!  If you agree with me, please call or write Pelosi, Schumer and your representatives in Congress to MOVE AHEAD WITH IMPEACHMENT NOW! Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!!!!  Please pass along if you agree:
Pelosi's phone numbers:  (202) 225-4965 Washington, DC  and (415) 556-4862  San Francisco
Schumer's phone numbers: (202) 224-6542 Washington, DC   (518) 431-4070 Albany  (315) 423-5471 Syracuse