Eyes wide open…

…but not wide awake: “”We’ve known about sleep inertia for many decades now,” says Kenneth Wright, lead author with the University of Colorado. “But we didn’t know how bad it was, especially in the morning. When we woke them up, what we found was their performance was worse than anything we saw with sleep deprivation.”” (New Scientist)
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US troops seize award-winning Iraqi journalist…

…who just happens to be investigating American misappropriation of Iraqi funds: “American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.” (Guardian.UK)

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail

“Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It’s no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it’s OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

‘The use of the word ‘annoy’ is particularly problematic,’ says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘What’s annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else.’

Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called ‘Preventing Cyberstalking.’ It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet ‘without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy.'” — Declan McCullagh (CNET)

Why Do Some Turks Have Bird Flu Virus but Aren’t Sick?

While panic-stricken coverage focuses on the dire pandemic awaiting us, there are suggestions that avian flu may not be as deadly as currently thought and that many mild cases may be going undetected. (New York Times )

More: Bird flu might be less deadly than feared: “Many mild or symptom-free H5N1 infections may have gone undetected in humans, meaning the real fatality rate is lower, a Vietnamese study suggests.” (New Scientist)

In the Treatment of Diabetes, Success Often Does Not Pay

Dramatic contentions by the New York Times that the healthcare establishment has little incentive to control diabetes because treating the devastating consequences is so much more lucrative. “It’s almost as though the system encourages people to get sick and then people get paid to treat them,” one observer is quoted as saying starkly. However, I don’t think this is as nefarious as the sensationalistic spin suggests. It has been a perennial struggle to get the industry to fund wellness and preventive care, and there are complicated reasons why it does not happen, but they do not include powerful interests explicitly making sure that people do not get better because it is more profitable to treat them when they are sicker. Healthcare, of course, has long been dominated and defined by physicians who specialize in treating illness rather than maintaining health. Modern medicine has scored monumental success with intensive interventions in acute problems and in general flounders in approaching the more chronic insidious degenerative and lifestyle-related health problems that become more and more prominent on the healthcare landscape in the industrialized world. And the focus on the quick fix rather than the subtle holistic process is something endemic to the Western mindset. So I’m afraid the type of problem highlighted by this Times exposé will not be fixed by sensationalistic investigative reporting, legislative reforms or judicial proceedings as much as consciousness-raising and philosophical debate.

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The Unmasking of JT Leroy

The New York Times posts intricate speculation that the writer who so starkly portrays prostitution, drug addiction and homelessness is a concoction both in public persona and authorship. But can it ever be said that an author is exactly who we think they are from reading them (and would we want that?).


Best-Selling Memoir Draws Scrutiny:“Police reports and other public records published online on Sunday have raised substantial questions about the truth of numerous incidents depicted in James Frey’s best-selling memoir, A Million Little Pieces.

The book, originally published in 2003 by the Nan A. Talese imprint of Doubleday, soared to the top of the best-seller lists in the fall after it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her television book club. Ms. Winfrey’s enthusiastic endorsement helped the book to sell more than two million copies last year, making it the second-highest-selling book of 2005, behind only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. A Million Little Pieces currently tops the New York Times paperback best-seller list; Mr. Frey’s second book, My Friend Leonard, is on the paper’s hardcover best-seller list.

Mr. Frey has repeatedly stated that his book is true. But a lengthy article posted Sunday by The Smoking Gun Web site (www.thesmokinggun.com) quotes Mr. Frey as saying that events “were embellished in the book for obvious dramatic reasons.”” (New York Times )

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