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November 04, 2007

What do you do with the seriously mentally ill homeless people?

Rights of mentally ill street people thwart efforts to prevent harm

Apparently, nothing.

"The person has every right to put up whatever signs he wants," says Parekh, "if the person is not making any concrete threats. It's impossible to tell the future. Are we saying I know the person is going to do something in the future so I am going to lock them up today?"

Well, yes. Not in the sense of grabbing random people off the street, but let's look again at Jaworski. He's clearly mentally ill, he's had violent run-ins with the police, and he had a warrant out for his arrest. Wouldn't he be a good candidate to be taken off the street?

"But where would we take them?" Parekh asks. "Where would that place be? We don't want to go back to the days of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' either. It used to be very easy to lock people up."

Those days, immortalized in Ken Kesey's "Cuckoo's Nest," ended in the '60s when mental health professionals became convinced that Thorazine and other drugs could treat schizophrenia and other mental conditions. They argued that locking people up in asylums was pointless and expensive.

Instead, the idea was that once successfully medicated, mentally ill patients would be released from confinement. The original idea was that states would set up treatment centers that would monitor progress, but in most cases those centers were not funded.

New Attorney General nominee promises to prosecute "mainstream obscenity"

This Week in Porn Hysteria, Part Umptymillion / Sen. Hatch grills DoJ nom about porn over terrorism; Violet Blue wonders what's more obscene

Of course, the trouble with "mainstream obscenity" is that there is no such thing, just like there is no such thing as "fat-free ice cream." According to First Amendment lawyer Julie S. Turner, "The very definition of obscenity depends on the standards of the community. If a pornographic work is 'mainstream,' then by definition it has been accepted by the community. After all, that's what 'mainstream' means." However, a quick glance at Sen. Hatch's public statements on First Amendment rights and "sexual privacy," tells us that, never mind torture or terrorism, Senator Hatch clearly knows his double-anal scenes from his First Amendment.

In Greenwald's liveblogging of the hearing, he continued:

"Mukasey promised to review the policy of only prosecuting 'extreme' rather than 'mainstream' pornography, and vowed: 'I recognize that mainstream materials can have an effect of cheapening a society, objectifying women, and endangering children in a way that we can't tolerate.'"

"The very idea of prosecuting what Senator Hatch calls 'mainstream obscenity' is antithetical to the First Amendment," according to Turner, who is based in Palo Alto. "It undermines the distinction between protected pornography and unprotected obscenity, so that government can censor any erotic expression."

November 02, 2007

Massive flooding hits Mexico

Hundreds of Thousands Flee Mexico Floods

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans fled a flooded region of the Gulf coast Friday, jumping from rooftops into rescue helicopters, scrambling into boats or swimming out through murky brown water.

President Felipe Calderon called the flooding in Tabasco state one of Mexico's worst recent natural disasters, and pledged to rebuild.

A week of heavy rains caused rivers to overflow, drowning at least 80 percent of the oil-rich state. Much of the state capital, Villahermosa, looked like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with water reaching to second-story rooftops and desperate people awaiting rescue.

At least one death was reported and nearly all services, including drinking water and public transportation, were shut down. The flood affected more than 900,000 people in the state of 2 million — their homes flooded, damaged or cut off by high water.

New homeowners find secret room full of mold

S.C. Couple Find Secret Moldy Room

Kerri and Jason Brown discovered a secret room behind a bookcase containing a homeowner's worst nightmare — mold. Also in the room was a handwritten note: "You found it!" What the Browns found was a mold problem so serious the previous owner was forced to move, according to the note.

Fearing their young daughter's health, the Browns hired an environmental engineer who detected high levels of several types of mold, including a black mold fungus called Stachybotrys.

"It terrified me," Kerri Brown told WYFF-TV in Greenville. "I had heard reports of what it does for children, and I was terrified."

Brand new disease hits English farmers

BBC NEWS | Health | 'Mystery' skin disease in farmers

Farmers are being affected by a mysterious new skin disease, dermatologists report.

The condition affects the ears, which become hot, itchy and sore before blistering and crusting.

A study in the British Journal of Dermatology found it only occurs during lambing season, which lasts up to three months, but the cause is unclear.

The researchers from Southampton believe "lambing ear" may be a problem associated with indoor farming.

(via)