November 25th, 2007

Chris Keeley

More on Annapolis: Francis Boyle on missing PLO and List of Invitees

Nov 23, 2007

My Dear Palestinian Friends:

As you can see from the US Government's list of Invitees [below] to the
Annapolis Conference, it has only invited the Palestinian Authority, not
the PLO. But only the PLO has the authority under international law to
negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian People and the State of
Palestine. That is why the Chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat signed the
Oslo Agreement in the name of the PLO. The Palestinian Authority has no
authorization under international law to negotiate on behalf of the
Palestinian People, let alone the State of Palestine, whose Provisional
Government is the PLO Executive Committee.

Indeed, an entire series of UN General Assembly Resolutions have made it
clear that only the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the
Palestinian People. Hence this delegation of the Palestinian Authority
to the Annapolis Conference has no legal authority under international
law to conclude anything on behalf of the Palestinian People, let alone
the State of Palestine
I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to bring this matter to
the attention of the Palestinian People around the world.

Thank you.

Francis A. Boyle

Professor of International Law
Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace
Negotiations and His Excellency Dr. Haidar Abdul Shaffi (1991-1993)
*US State Department - Nov 20, 2007
Announcement of Annapolis Conference
Press Statement: Sean McCormack Washington, DC* MORE

Please also see:

*Dan Lieberman: The Turbulent Winds of the Annapolis Conference*

*Annapolis, as seen from Gaza*
by Laila El-Haddad

*The Joke in Annapolis: How to Get Out?*
by Uri Avnery
Chris Keeley

This eclectic group of around 50 homeless and disadvantaged men and women, have come together to cre

This eclectic group of around 50 homeless and disadvantaged men and women, have come together to create an unlikely music phenomenum under the leadership of Founding Choir Director and winner of the Victorian Local Hero award 2008 Jonathon Welch, former Opera Australia Principal.  With his guidance and expertise they have beaten the odds, performed 6 sold out shows at both the Melbourne Town Hall and Sydney Opera House and now appear regularly around Melbourne at corporate and community events.

Our aim to bring people together, build their confidence enabling them to contribute to their community in a positive way, but also to have fun.
Chris Keeley

Psychiatrists frequently have to switch medications because of side effects or lack of effectiveness

Psychiatrists frequently have to switch medications because of side effects or lack of effectiveness, and anticipating this potential need to change medications plays into our initial choice of a drug. Knowing that Effexor was hard to give up made me think twice about prescribing it in the first place.

Dr. Drug Rep

I. Faculty Development

On a blustery fall New England day in 2001, a friendly representative from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals came into my office in Newburyport, Mass., and made me an offer I found hard to refuse. He asked me if I’d like to give talks to other doctors about using Effexor XR for treating depression. He told me that I would go around to doctors’ offices during lunchtime and talk about some of the features of Effexor. It would be pretty easy. Wyeth would provide a set of slides and even pay for me to attend a speaker’s training session, and he quickly floated some numbers. I would be paid $500 for one-hour “Lunch and Learn” talks at local doctors’ offices, or $750 if I had to drive an hour. I would be flown to New York for a “faculty-development program,” where I would be pampered in a Midtown hotel for two nights and would be paid an additional “honorarium.”

I thought about his proposition. I had a busy private practice in psychiatry, specializing in psychopharmacology. I was quite familiar with Effexor, since I had read recent studies showing that it might be slightly more effective than S.S.R.I.’s, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants: the Prozacs, Paxils and Zolofts of the world. S.S.R.I. stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, referring to the fact that these drugs increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical in the brain involved in regulating moods. Effexor, on the other hand, was being marketed as a dual reuptake inhibitor, meaning that it increases both serotonin and norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter. The theory promoted by Wyeth was that two neurotransmitters are better than one, and that Effexor was more powerful and effective than S.S.R.I.’s.

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Chris Keeley

I love those guys, just like every other actor,” he said of the Coen brothers, who wrote and directe

I love those guys, just like every other actor,” he said of the Coen brothers, who wrote and directed the movie. “They are among the greatest filmmakers alive. They know exactly, exactly what they want. The first day of shooting I was in the last scene, and they still had me come in at 9 a.m., and I thought, ‘Well, that’s cool. I’ll get to watch them work all day.’ They were done by lunch. There was nothing in that movie that they had not thought through a long time before we ever got there.

Over time the kid from the sticks — he grew up in Lebanon, Ohio — found himself working with A-list directors like Robert Altman (“A Prairie Home Companion”), Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line”), Milos Forman (“The People vs. Larry Flynt”) and, most notably, Oliver Stone (“Natural Born Killers”).

Loves the Beach, the Planet and Movies


WOODY HARRELSON was late. Not Hollywood, Big Star late, just a few tardy minutes because he couldn’t talk a meter here into giving him more than 15 minutes, and had wasted all his quarters. He had no “people” in tow to park the car. He cadged a few quarters from the folks at the restaurant Juliano’s Raw, left to find a more forgiving parking spot and then returned, plunking quarters down on the table as he sat.

“See, I made money on the deal,” he said, flashing a smile that is both knowing and a little deranged, one that most television viewers first encountered over the bar at “Cheers.”

The recipient of a fairly charmed career, Mr. Harrelson takes none of it for granted. While many actors spend time in interviews rubbing their chins and talking about plumbing the emotional depths of particular roles, he makes moviemaking sound more like a caper from Spanky and Our Gang.

“I love getting together and making something with a bunch of other people,” he said, leaving aside the dire, arduous rhetoric that seems to be the default of many other film actors of some renown.

And he seems to walk his talk. Apart from politics — he is frantic about the environment, the war in Iraq and what he views as the erosion of civil liberties — Mr. Harrelson wears life like a beach towel loosely around the shoulders and grabs what it offers with both hands, including a reporter’s nondairy chocolate shake that was left temporarily unguarded on the table. “Sorry about that,” he said, making it clear he was not one bit sorry as he licked his lips and looked for more. As the chef fluttered about, and Mr. Harrelson made his way through much of the vegan fare on the menu, it became clear that he is a man of significant appetites for almost everything but the darker arts of getting roles and pleasing mass audiences.

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Chris Keeley


FIRST SYNTHESIZED IN 1912 -- A BYPRODUCT IN THE MANUFACTURE OF A DRUG TO SUPPRESS BLEEDING -- MDMA was little known until a former Dow Chemical researcher named Alexander Shulgin tried it himself in 1977. Shulgin had made his reputation, and made Dow millions, by inventing the first biodegradable pesticide. After that success, he was able to work on whatever he chose. He chose psychedelic drugs, based on a transforming experience he had with mescaline in the late 1950s. "I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit," he wrote. "We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability."

All of these studies are directly or indirectly funded by a surprisingly robust organization whose roots stretch back 40 years to the psychedelic movement of the 1960s. Before Harvard lecturer Timothy Leary started channeling aliens and urging college kids to turn on and drop out, an intense cadre of doctors and researchers had come to believe that psychedelic drugs would revolutionize psychiatry, providing those with a wide spectrum of psychological problems -- or even just ordinary life difficulties -- the ability to, basically, heal themselves.

But Leary's bizarre career, which morphed from doing research on psychedelics to cheerleading their widespread abuse, obscured whatever medical potential the drugs may have had. Instead, authorities focused on the risks, and often exaggerated them. Richard Nixon famously called Leary "the most dangerous man in America." After a slow start, regulators and legislators cracked down hard. Millions of dollars in enforcement efforts were unable to end abuse of psychedelic drugs, but they effectively stamped out sanctioned research into their healing potential.

A small group of psychedelic researchers and therapists willing to break the law continued their work clandestinely. A much larger group did not flout the law, but waited in the wings and is now emerging. Experience had convinced these therapists that psychedelics, along with significant risks, had potential for even more significant benefits.

This may have been especially true of MDMA.

The Peace Drug
Post-traumatic stress disorder had destroyed Donna Kilgore's life. Then experimental therapy with MDMA, a psychedelic drug better known as ecstasy, showed her a way out. Was it a fluke -- or the future?

By Tom Shroder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2007; W12


Or the couch, or whatever. A futon. Slanted.

She hadn't noticed it before, but now she can't stop noticing. Like the princess and the pea.

By objective measure, the tilt is negligible, a fraction of an inch, but she can't be fooled by appearances, not with the sleep mask on. In her inner darkness, the slight tilt magnifies, and suddenly she feels as if she might slide off, and that idea makes her giggle.

"I feel really, really weird," she says. "Crooked!"

Donna Kilgore laughs, a high-pitched sound that contains both thrill and anxiety. That she feels anything at all, anything other than the weighty, oppressive numbness that has filled her for 11 years, is enough in itself to make her giddy.

But there is something more at work inside her, something growing from the little white capsule she swallowed just minutes ago. She's subject No. 1 in a historic experiment, the first U.S. government-sanctioned research in two decades into the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat psychiatric disorders. This 2004 session in the office of a Charleston, S.C., psychiatrist is being recorded on audiocassettes, which Donna will later hand to a journalist.

The tape reveals her reaction as she listens to the gentle piano music playing in her headphones. Behind her eyelids, movies begin to unreel. She tries to say what she sees: Cars careening down the wrong side of the road. Vivid images of her oldest daughter, then all three of her children. She's overcome with an all-consuming love, a love she thought she'd lost forever.

"Now I feel all warm and fuzzy," she announces. "I'm not nervous anymore."

"What level of distress do you feel right now?" a deeply mellow voice beside her asks.

Donna answers with a giggle. "I don't think I got the placebo," she says.

FOURTEEN YEARS AGO, Donna Kilgore was raped.

When the stranger at the door asked if her husband were home, she hesitated. Not long, but long enough. That was her mistake.

"That was it," Donna, 39 now, is saying. "He pushed in. I backed up and picked up a poker from the fireplace. I was screaming. He says, 'I've got a gun. If you cooperate, I won't kill you.' He unzipped his jacket and reached in. I thought, this is it. This is how I'm going to die. My life didn't flash before my eyes. I wasn't thinking about my daughter. Just that one cold, hard fact. I checked out. I could feel it, like hot molasses pouring all over my body. I went completely numb."

She dropped the poker.

Afterward, she stayed strong. She wasn't going to make the classic victim's mistake of blaming herself for provoking the attack. She had no doubts about that. She'd screamed and screamed until the police came through the door. (They later reported that her attacker jumped up, clutching for his pants, saying, "She said I could!")

And, bottom line, she'd survived. She'd be fine, she told herself. She was wrong.

"It was what it must feel like to have no soul," she says. She quit all her hobbies. A passion for tennis died. Devastating nightmares woke her in the dark, her heart racing and palms slick. She dreamed of explosions, tornadoes, bears eating people.

"Psychologists will tell you to go to your happy place," she says. "Well, my happy place had bears in it."

Five years passed. Whatever went wrong, or right, in her life, it felt like it was happening to someone else. She found a wonderful, loving man -- she could still recognize those qualities, even though she couldn't respond to them fully -- and remarried. She had more kids. But even her family felt alien. It was "almost like going overseas and being an exchange student, living with someone else's family . . . I didn't like being close to people, and my children didn't understand that. Mommy was always busy." She was often irritable, and felt an unaccountable anger, which sometimes morphed for no obvious reason into a heavy-breathing, sweat-streaming rage. Almost worse, she couldn't feel the love she knew surrounded her. "I was afraid it was gone -- when you look at your child and say, 'I would die for that child in a heartbeat,' I didn't feel it -- and I was afraid I would never get it back."

As she says this, she never breaks eye contact. Talking about her trauma and her treatment is a decision she's made, she says. "It's important." But it is also, obviously, hard, and she looks a little pale as she explains what it was like for those five years: "I would put my finger on my arm, and it would be like touching a dead body."

Incredibly, she didn't see a connection to the rape. Then, one evening, she was sitting on her couch watching a disaster show on TV -- she calls her interest in the genre "an addiction"-- when her apartment door opened. Something about the angle of it seemed odd. As she looked at the door, the room began to swirl. "It was kind of like a whirlwind, make-you-dizzy moment, and I saw the whole thing, that man pushing through the door, the warm molasses pouring down, my body going numb. I call it, 'when I left my body.'"

Now she understood: She had left her body -- and never come back.

The panic attacks began at work one Friday. She felt butterflies in her stomach, then couldn't breathe. "I thought: 'Oh my God, I'm dying. I'm having a heart attack.'"

It passed, but she was shaken, especially because she'd also been having fainting spells and migraine headaches. She went to a neurologist "sure they were going to find a brain tumor."

The doctor was getting ready to order an MRI scan when Donna just blurted it out: "Things don't feel real to me."

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Chris Keeley


MITHOEFER DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT HIS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH MDMA, except to say that it occurred when the drug was legal. But it must have stuck with him. "I was working in the emergency department, looking for some deeper way to address people's problems," he recalls. "Stan Grof's work really got my attention."

Stanislav Grof, a Czech psychiatrist and one of the first to research therapeutic uses of LSD, believed that the West had lost touch with the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. When psychedelic drugs became illegal in the United States, Grof created an alternative called holotropic breathwork. The idea was that hyperventilation, combined with music and a ritualistic setting, could foster an altered consciousness, through which patients could be guided into insight and problem resolution. Mithoefer went to California to train with Grof, then began to use breathwork in his own practice. And though he says it is often effective, he wondered how much more could be accomplished using MDMA. In 2000, Mithoefer approached Doblin to ask if he knew of a country in which a study of MDMA-assisted therapy might be permitted.

"You can do it here," Doblin said. "And we'll help."

Doblin says his optimism was based on a change in leadership and culture in the federal bureaucracy. When he first founded MAPS, Doblin says, "the FDA was refusing to permit all the studies we proposed," even one attempting to use MDMA therapy to ease the fears of a dying cancer patient who had found solace using the drug before it was banned. "The FDA said, 'No, we have to protect him from brain damage,'" Doblin says.

Then in 1992, after six years of refusals, the FDA approved a MAPS-funded human safety study. Safety studies are required before any drug can move on to Phase II -- studies of a specific medical application. In MDMA's case, this was particularly important because many believed the drug to be so toxic. Even talking about the possibility of therapeutic benefits would only make more people want to try it, some believed, and that would inevitably lead to more emergency room visits. And deaths.

More than 200 fatalities involving ecstasy use in the United States were reported to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration from 1994 to 2001. Many of these deaths were related to traffic accidents and the use of other drugs and alcohol or other incidental causes. Of deaths directly related to ecstasy, most were caused by heatstroke. MDMA exerts a stress on the body similar to strenuous exercise and increases core body temperature, so dancing all night in a hot, crowded bar can quickly go from fun to deadly. More rarely, some ravers, paranoid about hyperthermia, have reportedly consumed so much water, many gallons, that the water itself became toxic and killed them.

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