March 16th, 2017
Aeschylus said it best. “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
I’m not feeling too well today because of an incident that never happened.
A 1993 lawsuit over holocaust denial – a popular form of amnesia among fascists and disappointed humanists – was filed in London. Truth won in that suit but remains a flexible rod there in 2017. That trial was memorialized in a book of the same name, a valuable read that. demonstrates just how prevalent denial has become in our everyday life.
Delusions of American indemnity from homefront battles were dented in the plane attacks of September 11, 2001. The fires following the fall of New York City’s twin towers resulted in toxic dusts settling in the homes and offices of New Yorkers. Misinformed about the wisdom of normal cleaning methods, many ailments resulted from amateur efforts to clean the mess requiring hazmat procedures. Like most individuals with multi-system illnesses resulting from unknown causation, the sick were often misdiagnosed and denied recognition until science had literally weighed the components of those particles carrying asbestos, petro-chemicals and numerous other dangers. My own history of toxicant induced injuries from 1999 and 2000 exposures required a great deal of detective work to uncover.
Living part of every year in Israel, I see the strongest delineation made between the norms of peaceful, enlightened life and the predations of terrorism. The latter can only be fought when every resident is aware of the realities of attempted murder with knives, guns or gas canisters. Fearless reporting of suspicious behavior and widespread understanding that pride may be taken in treating reality as desirable divides life and death into their appropriate compartments.
Denial, frequently used as a palliative measure to frightened consumers of preferred half-truths, is extremely dangerous. September eleventh, and more recent events in San Bernadino, California, informed Americans that not only does terror exist but that it may visit or lodge with you in your neighborhoods. Those of us who’ve collided with reality in its many guises have to maintain an unshakeable belief in the strength of truth.
I was in a UK airport this month, having a bite to eat before getting a boarding pass printed out in search of spring warmth. Suddenly, a man approached a nearby trash can with what looked like a canned drink. Pressing the top of that can, he then dropped it into the trash where hissing sounds of escaping fumes were heard and inhaled. My Israeli side immediately challenged him about what he’d thrown out. “A milk-shake.”, he retorted in annoyed tones. My western training of immediately relegating responsibility to authority led to my calling aloud for security. Twenty minutes later with lungs burning, I informed a guard who chanced by in a rather emptied-out section of the terminal and departed for safer environs.
Resting in another area hours later, a familiar airport employee approached. “Thought you’d like to know that nothing was found in the trash at terminal ___ this afternoon.” Growing up in New York and living in the Middle East allows for a wealth of reality-testing skills. I knew a lie when I heard one. Still feeling ill, I now lacked a leg to stand upon should I need a doctor in the absence of facts about what I’d inhaled that day. So would the staff and visitors of that terminal. A baseless need to deny reality would cascade into an ineffectual series of accidents for all present that day.
Perhaps a cleaner will develop migraines. “You really ought to stop working double shifts.”
Perhaps a ticket salesperson will develop joint pains. “Take a month off from the gym.”
Perhaps a security guard will develop a persistent cough. “Careful with this codeine, now.”
Perhaps a doctor will quit. “Too many limits on medical testing. How can I figure out what’s wrong?”
Perhaps the most inaccessible test is that of an accurate patient history.
February 11th, 2017
I have enough regard for Elizabeth Warren to have sent her a plan for helping the homeless at minimal public expense. Her observations are generally ‘on point’ so I have to admit to some degree of puzzlement about her congressional grand-standing over the appointment of Jeff Sessions to the office of attorney general.
The sacrifices of minorities and the visionaries who spurred us onward are always to be remembered. However, the congress needed to hear data on Mr. Session’s litigation record along with ratios of ‘charges brought to cases fought’. Attorneys litigate the cases easily won and avoid those they stand to lose. Racism is relevant but his record, rather than commentary about his record, is required for official review. Had those statistics been presented, Ms. Warren would have retained the floor and possibly been more influential.
However, this position is not one that will pose a threat to the public because of the duties involved. The attorney general protects the government from charges of malfeasance. He or she advises the federal government whenever legal actions/orders open up the government to possible litigation on the basis of constitutionality or other issue. Should the public interest be at all threatened when Sessions leaves a new order in place, a suit may be filed to challenge the law in question.
The role is not one of absolute rule with the citizenry always retaining the option of challenging laws and executive orders. Attorney Alan Dershowitz states (below) that the President is required to have counsel regarding his orders and bill approvals. Given the fact that the Federal Government will have minimal funds to distribute to the states makes the actions of State officials primary in carrying out policies. States will definitely make appropriate appeals wherever federal rulings are onerous to the state budget and/or the will of their voters.
February 11th, 2017
Special Delivery! Old Problems in New Packaging.
Consumers were shocked when the San Francisco Gate broke a story about workers dying of an incurable lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. Treatable only by a lung transplant, the chemical diacetyl was found to be the source of cellular degradation. Used to flavor microwave popcorn and responsible for that signature odor (fragrances and flavors share an identical chemical base), the disease was found in a few consumers who used the product on a daily basis.
E-cigs use the same chemicals and the story below demonstrates the full nature of self-abuse engaged in by people with their careless fingers on the buttons of their vape machines. Not content with self-harm, those not using vapes for delivery of medicinally needed products appear to be using them like cameras.
Just point and shoot!
Do e-cigarettes cause popcorn lung?
It is not only microwave popcorn that contains dangerous chemical flavorings such as diacetyl. A study published in 2015 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives showed that harmful chemicals associated with “popcorn lung” are present in many types of flavored e-cigarettes, particularly those with flavors like fruit and candy that may appeal to young smokers. Of the 51 flavored e-cigarettes tested, flavoring chemicals were found in 47 and diacetyl specifically in 39 samples.
November 24th, 2016
Terrorism has taken another route in Israel – fires have been burning out of control while multiple countries sent additional planes to drop water on our desert nation. The city of Haifa, home to many University students and hi-tech industries is the latest blaze requiring tens of thousands to be evacuated. The latest bulletin stated that the fire has been contained and some of the suspected terrorists have been arrested.
Fire is an old weapon and I was in Southern California in 2014 when fires were spreading upwind, a strong signal that arson was responsible for the destruction. There are numerous sources of terrorism throughout the world and we should not be afraid to use the word when other nations use the word to describe similar events.
I was present at a bi-partisan congressional hearing held on March 31, 2000 that determined municipalities (case in point, New York City), ought not spray residents with pesticides from helicopters like they are cropdusting. Terrorism requires analysis of intra-state activities in addition to those by outliers. The attitude of ‘Can’t happen here.”, must be lost. I would have a far larger family were our predecessors in fascist countries more disposed to the analysis of realities.
Perhaps facts are too easily dismissed when emotions ride “low”. A little known equation is Facts + emotion = Truth – denial. Admittedly when you believe a truth to be self-evident, you may have to backtrack from the endpoint to get all the facts required to show others.
Categories: commentary, Newspaper Commentary
September 9th, 2016
We’ve seen the awful sights of Syria’s ruined cities, smoke emanating from the rubble of buildings that used to be homes. The story of those abandoning the destruction is well known to newspaper readers and television viewers via the images of the Syrians trudging towards transportation and the hope of shelter.
Earlier blog posts here at the Armchairactivist spoke of homes I’ve been forced to abandon when sudden symptoms of serious illness emerged for no apparent reason. Ignorance and disbelief sometimes led to my remaining inside some of those quality structures, unaware they had turned into equivalent forms of ‘rubble’ practically overnight. Whether I walked or crawled out of those buildings depended upon my ability to relate environmental events with possible reasons for sudden illness. Toxic events that can lead to chronic health problems are numerous be it living too close to a golf course or next door to a home that is one day tented for termite treatments. Construction problems may also come from electrical sources to drywall brands.
Around 430 people die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning. My knowledge of the symptoms had grown after taking a fire safety course. The knowledge proved invaluable when high levels of CO required my evacuation from a new rental with a leak, and again when damage to my car raised interior cabin levels well above safe limits. The EPA tells us repeatedly that hazardous indoor gasses may be more harmful to our health than dissipated industrial fumes encountered outdoors. Listening to the language of your bodily organs protesting invasion by hazardous substances will lead residents to look for external events, like the sight of a retreating lawn chemical truck leaving a neighbor’s yard. Children and adults have had demonstrable nervous system damage sometimes leading to death as in these cases.
Poisons can end the ability to work and even life itself. There is a turning point when a home is transformed from that long sought-after dwelling you’ve purchased or rented and becomes a ‘toxic hell’. That is a test of each person’s willingness to examine seemingly invisible realities of modern life. The ease of selecting the wrong paint for interior work can alter the quality of your life for years to come. It wasn’t until 1977 that lead-containing paints were banned because the public refused to analyze the safety issues and independently cease to purchase the product. The government cannot wrap each citizen in cotton-wool to protect us. The market place speaks based upon dollars used to chase the least hazardous products. After all, our supermarkets sell chlorine bleach and pesticide foggers.
The Syrians suffered from an insurgency involving chemicals, ultimately confiscated by international rulings and transported to Russia for destruction. Newspaper reports after that point spoke of people buying chlorine bleach and making gasses from it, indicating a full scale war was in motion. The death toll is noted to be around half a million.
The death toll from our own voluntary toxic exposures is counted in cases of cancer, auto-immune diseases, strokes, diabetes and organ failure (kidney and liver predominantly). The toll is well into the millions and requires us to think about whether the Syrian conflict is limited to that country. Perhaps we need new glasses to see whether our well-appointed western homes aren’t significantly different from a Syrian home.
Optical illusions of whole habitats tend to go hand in hand with denial.
Categories: Articles, CDC, commentary, Daily Mail, EPA, Life Observations
August 24th, 2016
In my slow travels through the warmer places of the world, I’ve visited countries where neo-Nazis like ‘Golden Dawn‘ hold parliamentary seats. But then, I’ve lived in New Hampshire, USA where swastikas adorned the necks of young men who beat up elderly Jews in supermarket parking lots. In Holland, two elderly Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were beaten by into helplessness. The couple was forced to move into a nursing facility, yet another home lost to violence.
People laughed when the term, ‘secular humanism’ was declared a religion, something I’d urged in a letter written to Bill Mahr, the libertarian entertainer. In discussions overheard about minorities and ‘outsiders’, along with direct verbal and physical assaults upon myself as a Jew, I realized the foreign deity we all fear most is ‘Politics’ with a capital ‘P’. Small letters are best utilized when speaking about the ways people organize life in our communities.
Interestingly, early and later emerging religions espoused human values that were written into constitutions and tort laws. When humans began to believe they were too intellectually advanced to abide by those ‘primitive’ values, (like, thou shalt not murder), their codes of honor were turned into a combination of graceful concessions to the fair sex (thank you Sir Walter Raleigh for the mantle over the mud puddle) and various political systems.
The wars of the world were fought between political systems for resources, (like water rights), and power over those who would potentially enslave them. When humans “assimilated” into these political realms of thought, the religious/humanist principles faded away. When Scarlett O’Hara felt guilty about manipulating others for food security after the Civil War left her destitute and starving, she would say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Obviously the author of ‘Gone With the Wind” did not envision a world where thought police would ensure those reflections upon Scarlett’s own behavior would never recur.
Humanist, thy valued ideals are religious in nature. Do not assimilate because tomorrow you may not be able to find the visions you hold today in the recesses of your mind. There is a disease of government we may refer to as ‘Political Alzheimers’. That’s called fascism and the children of its acolytes (Nazis) and proponents/victims (communists), learn to equate less oppression with freedom.
Tomorrow is now.
Categories: commentary, Life Observations
August 7th, 2016
This blog has a long history of detailing incidents of chemical poisoning by both accident and intent. Following the Environmental Protection Agency’s request that I litigate my own chemical injuries due to negligence, my medical and legal files showed ongoing harassment resulting from that action. A settlement offer was never made and my lawyer left the still-open case under a NYC courthouse. The unfortunately inadequate legal precedents regarding the use of chemicals to injure and harass are likely responsible for their increasing usage around the globe.
The Times of Israel has a chilling report of how Jewish children are being driven from Belgian elementary schools with Nazi rhetoric. In the above noted article, local children pressed cans of deodorant against the back of a Jewish boy, causing actual burns to his skin. Damage to his lungs was not detailed but we all know that aerosols are regarded as too toxic to allow on board airplanes. Must we now worry about whether boys are mature enough to handle cans of deodorant and girls, their perfume atomizers?
Belgium, host to NATO and the European Parliament, is also home to frequent incidents of anti-Semitism. I wear my Star of David when in Europe just as many Europeans wear crosses. The fact that I travel with Jewish books makes my identity open knowledge, so I may as well wear my own standard for life. Additionally, the pendant helps when making reports of problems illustrative of anti-Semitism, because my reports may then state the perpetrator(s) likely knew I was Jewish. That includes a Brussels police officer referring to the ‘Yid’ who called at midnight after a hostel manager objected to having a ‘Juden’ sit up overnight in his 24 hour lobby. Insomnia had required I leave my room to work where a light would not disturb my roommates. The manager merely wanted to sleep on the couch against his employer’s rules and I was in his way.
The article above is indicative of an even more serious problem. Children preying upon children demonstrates the failure to transmit values of tolerance from parent to child and points to an absence of adequate supervision in public schools. Is it any surprise that private school alumni are sought by employers as having a better quality of education than their peers?
Like many Jews, I’ve resorted to reading about defensive measures needed to survive the travel required by my health and budgetary limitations. Personal observations made in Central Europe and Scandanavia affirm the come-back in obvious disdain of Jews. The easily obtainable chemicals cited in the news report ought to be termed a modern method for conducting ‘pogroms’ upon the dispersed Children of Israel. Law enforcement professionals must learn new ways to document and prosecute those attacking others with toxic agents.
It’s so cheap and easy, even a child can do it.
Categories: The TImes of Israel
June 23rd, 2016
…of my missing suitcase. I’m sitting at the Fiumicino Airport like a Golem, with no suitcase due to the bizarre games people play with cellphones and MP3 players.
Following the favorable weather for my health and my pocketbook, I’m presently in Italy.
Taking a bus from Roma Center to the airport for lodgings, my youthful companions on the Schiaffini airport bus were playing a game I’ve already written about in prior posts about ‘smell-o-phones’. Rather dazed from the latest garbage in use by empty-headed teens, I exited the bus and forgot my suitcase stored beneath. Realizing the error after several minutes of fresh air had blown the cobwebs from my brain, I returned to the bus stop and found no evidence that it had been turned into their office by a company employee.
Definitely an unfavorable sign, I went to file a police report. Feeling silly about reporting the phone spray as I had in a past situation when a spray had induced a state allowing the theft of my cellphone, closely held to my body in an airport pouch. The report has been filed and I await word of the company’s search process here at the airport..
While the kids may have been indulging in play that would be forbidden in a perfume store where law suits by allergic and asthmatic individuals were successful, this trend is truly a hazard. Encouraged by this frequently encountered game, gangs of thieves in England are introducing anesthetic gasses into homes and caravans, robbing the inhabitants as they lie unconscious. This is happening with increasing frequency as reported here, in this British newspaper:
This renders the stupid play of mindless adolescents something of a screen for the real thieves out there.
Categories: Articles, Daily Mail, Life Observations
June 15th, 2016
The Netherlands is also the hinterland for international justice. An international appeal is now warranted to that August body for help with an international crisis.
We are faced with a quandary in the form of ISIS that you may not understand first hand from your living room sofa. I divide my time between America, where I experienced chemical terrorism, and Israel, where we prepare daily for all types of terrorism. The news from Syria is ‘next door’ to my Jerusalem sub-lets.
When an apartment of mine in New York was poisoned, it was comparable to a bombed-out structure in Syria. The building ‘fell upon my head’, in a manner of speaking. In Syria you can see the rubble. In a poisoned Western home, only the sick resident sees the dust of the ruined dwelling.
The nature of the Syrian insurgency was so severe that the nation permitted those homes to fall, survivors casting themselves upon the kindness of strangers both far and near. However, the insurgents were unable to stop themselves even in flight. Be it the purchase of chlorine bleach in a market to manufacture gas, (after chemical weapons were removed from Syria), or the violence of migrants among the refugees leading to the burning of tent cities in Sweden, these androids of warfare have no place to go. As with ISIS, their countries of origin are varied and don’t want their return. That leaves only a promise of interminable warfare, declared or otherwise.
The Hague was designed for this kind of problem. United Nations peace-keeping troops are feared as much as they used to be desired, often an excuse to post Chinese troops on foreign soil. Given international approval, The Hague would offer true justice with approved judges and international prison facilities. At present, militant ISIS either tortures its prisoners or is tortured in the prisons where they are held. Surrender is not an option and therefore members escalate in ferocity to reduce the frequency of confrontations. With a reasonable expectation of justice, most might consider taking their leave of savagery.
Newer members might be freed quickly, before committing atrocities. Older members could be evaluated through a variety of parameters that includes a frank analysis of that brand of warfare. Victims, partially or fully censored in their own countries of refuge, would have an opportunity to have their stories told and their cases prosecuted. Costs would be amortized across countries.
The Hague may be the only remaining forum in our international ‘night’ to provide a glimmer of what Francis Scott Key would term, ‘the dawn’s early light’. Raise your voices and pens to demand forward movement in our backward march through the Middle Ages. We have ample daily evidence that barbarity doesn’t require modern weaponry so options must be created to lure what’s left of humanity back towards civilization.
March 27th, 2016
Men are faced with an interesting problem when a wife (or girlfriend) tells them they are about to become a father. Paternity ought to give leave to thoughts about a father’s role in the birth process. Perhaps paternity leave for fathers should be offered during the wife’s pregnancy instead of afterwards? It’s an undeniable fact that the woman will nurture and bear the child that both conceived together, for better or worse. However, the shaping of the mind and heart of the infant is the task of both parents.
In Jewish law, moral adulthood begins at twelve for girls and thirteen for boys. The fathers give sighs of relief for the delivery of that soul to its rightful owner. I believe the years between birth and puberty may be interpreted as the ‘paternal gestation’ period. Fathers can choose to avoid or observe the pangs of the actual expulsion of a newborn from the womb of a beloved woman. However, they cannot escape the moral imperative of that child’s ultimate expulsion from their own period of ‘protective custody’, before a son or daughter enters into adulthood and must vie with all the challenges of this world.