Supporting Our Boys (and Girls):

Sick, wounded U.S. troops held in squalor: “Hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait — sometimes for months — to see doctors.

The National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers’ living conditions are so substandard, and the medical care so poor, that many of them believe the Army is trying push them out with reduced benefits for their ailments. One document shown to UPI states that no more doctor appointments are available from Oct. 14 through Nov. 11 — Veterans Day.

‘I have loved the Army. I have served the Army faithfully and I have done everything the Army has asked me to do,’ said Sgt. 1st Class Willie Buckels, a truck master with the 296th Transportation Company. Buckels served in the Army Reserves for 27 years, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first Gulf War. ‘Now my whole idea about the U.S. Army has changed. I am treated like a third-class citizen.'” —UPI


Ambassador accused after criticising US

The strange case of Britain’s outspoken envoy in Uzbekistan, who was threatened with sack and faulted for shortcomings after upsetting Downing St. “Inquiries by the Guardian have discovered that Craig Murray, one of Britain’s youngest ambassadors, was subsequently called back from his Uzbekistan post, threatened with the loss of his job, and accused of a miscellaneous string of diplomatic shortcomings in what his friends say is a wholly unfair way…

‘He was told that the next time he stepped away from the American line, he would lose his post,’ said the source. During a visit earlier this year at the height of the political tensions prior to the Iraq invasion, the former development secretary, Clare Short, is reported to have said to him: ‘I love the job you are doing down here, but you know, don’t you, that if I go, you go.’ She eventually resigned over the Iraq war.” Murray had a depressive episode in the aftermath, requiring treatment with antidepressant medication. Shades of David Kelly?


Drug for Late Stages of Alzheimer’s Is Approved

“The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new option for people with Alzheimer’s disease, the first treatment specifically for late stages of the illness.

The drug, memantine, has long been sold in Germany, and many people in the United States have bought it over the Internet.

Now that memantine has been approved, Forest Laboratories will sell it in the United States under the brand name Namenda for patients with moderate to severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The company said the drug should be on pharmacy shelves in January.

Memantine does not offer miraculous benefits. The drug agency’s scientific advisers, in evaluating it last month, worried that memantine’s availability could give false hope to families of the most severely ill.

In studies, some patients who took memantine have experienced improvements in memory and thinking skills. But for the vast majority, the drug merely slows the pace of deterioration, letting patients maintain certain functions a little longer.” —New York Times


Alternative medicine takes a beating

David Brake pointed me to this, as he puts it, ‘hugely entertaining’ chat session at the Guardian with their ‘barefoot doctor’ (free registration with The Guardian is necessary to view the session), who took unremitting abuse from several cynically angry participants. To wit:

Given that 95% of what you preach is superstitious nonsense and that the Observer effectively pays you to plug your products (available at an incredibly over-inflated price at a Boots near you!), how do you sleep at night?

thankyou for asking – generally on my right side so the blood can go more easilly into my liver, there to be purified as i sleep – this is the taoist sleeping position known as coiling of the five dragons – it’s advisable as it tends to prevent an overload of blood to the heart, which would produce unsettling dreams and possibly even waking delusions the next day

generally on my right side …. and possibly even waking delusions the next day

guess you must toss and turn in your sleep as much as you do in print…

Of what, exactly, are you a doctor?

Also, I know two people with Multiple Sclerosis. Should they massage their kidneys clockwise or anticlockwise? And what is the correct chant?


‘Cosmic talent with a child’s generosity’

Fidel Castro reflects on Gabriel Garcia Márquez on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography: “He and I share a scandalous theory on the relativity of words in language. Also, as a public man obliged to write speeches and narrate events, I agree with the illustrious writer on the delight of finding the exact word – a kind of shared and inexhaustible obsession – until the phrase fits our criteria. Above all, I admire the fact that when an exact word doesn’t exist, he calmly invents one. How I admire that licence of his!

Now, with the publication of his autobiography, we have Gabo on Gabo. A book of his memories, a work that conjures up nostalgia for the thunder at four in the afternoon, which was the time of lightning and magic that his mother Luisa Santiaga Márquez Iguarán missed when she was far away from Aracataca, the unpaved village of eternal torrential rain, traditions of alchemy, the telegraph and turbulent, sensational love which populates Maconda, the small town found in the pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude.” —Guardian.UK [via walker]