December 18th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Bob Stump VA Medical Center Arlene Gregorius, British Broadcasting Corporation producer, records Alb

Bob Stump VA Medical Center Arlene Gregorius, British Broadcasting Corporation producer, records Albert Laughter, Navajo medicine man, for an upcoming documentary on the integration of traditional American Indian ceremonies into the Bob Stump VA Medical Center’s mental health program for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ancient ways go around the world

PRESCOTT - To Navajo medicine man Albert Laughter post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a curse.

Standing before a roaring fire, with an eagle feather, a bamboo flute, clay pipes and herbs in hand, Laughter uses lore handed down from generation to generation to remove the curse war leaves in the mind.

"When we leave the land and ways we know to take up a rifle and kill, we are cursed. We use tradition to remove that curse," said Laughter. "The ceremony for veterans with PTSD usually takes three days, sometimes longer; there's so much mental anguish and anger to deal with."

Laughter works with the Bob Stump VA Medical Center's mental health department, where he incorporates traditional American Indian ceremonies into the treatment of mental disorders. He comes from five generations of medicine men, dating back to the time of the Trail of Tears.

After fighting for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Laughter dealt with his own PTSD experiences.

"The curse comes mostly at night, when they're isolated, when it's quiet," said Laughter. "It seems like someone's touching you, like someone's watching you, like you're back in the jungle, and the enemy is all around you."

Laughter said the ceremony translates to "Beautiful Way," a process of cleansing the lingering spirits of war and helping a soul reintegrate into a peaceful life.

"We say to the earth: 'I'm your child, I want to be reborn, to be cleansed,'" said Laughter. "We rid ourselves of those burdens the war placed on our hearts, and are welcomed back to the earth, the fire, the songs, and to family."

Service Line Manager for Mental Health David Fero said that Laughter's contribution to the VA mental health program is invaluable.

"I frequently have seen persons who've undergone ceremonies with Albert who have a significant improvement, by their perceptions," said Fero. "They often come back from war feeling cut off, like they need to be cleansed to be accepted back into society. Albert gives them that cleansing."

Laughter works primarily with American Indian veterans, but said he is willing to work with any veteran interested in a cleansing ceremony.

The incorporation of traditional ceremonies into a mental health program is still unconventional, but VA hospital spokesman Frank Cimorelli said that the Prescott VA is pleased with the results.

"We're really leading the way on this, and other VA hospitals are following," said Cimorelli. "This treatment was effective for generations of returning Native American warriors in the past. Who are we to judge what works?"

Reporter Robert Hodierne and producer Arlene Gregorius of the British Broadcasting Corporation recently interviewed Laughter and VA personnel about his work.

"They were intrigued by our willingness to incorporate centuries-old holistic healing techniques into our modern PTSD treatment," said Cimorelli. "It really is intriguing. People from all across the nation, and now the world, have written about Albert.

"When this place was built as Ft. Whipple, it had walls that served to separate our cultures. Now, within these walls, we have a fusion of cultures. I think that's a beautiful thing. It gives me hope for humanity."

Chris Keeley

Sen. Joe Lieberman Endorses John McCain

Sen. Joe Lieberman Endorses John McCain

In other news in the GOP race, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman has endorsed Republican Senator John McCain for president. Lieberman said McCain is “a leader who can break through the partisan gridlock.” Lieberman was a Democrat up until 2006 and was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000.

Huckabee Equates Environmentalism With Pornography

Meanwhile the past writings and comments of Republican Mike Huckabee are coming under increasing scrutiny now that he has become the Republican frontrunner in Iowa. In 1998 Huckabee published a children’s book that equated environmentalism with pornography. The book was titled “Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence.” Huckabee wrote: “Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities.” Huckabee also equated homosexuality to necrophilia. He wrote: “It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations—from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.”

International Donors Pledge $7.4 Billion to the Palestinians

International donors have pledged 7.4 billion dollars to the Palestinians during a one-day conference in France aimed to help stabilize the Palestinian economy. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the financial support is needed to prevent a total catastrophe in the West Bank and Gaza. Monday’s meeting was rejected by Hamas. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said international aid should not be politicized.

Fawzi Barhoum: “We welcome political, monetary and media support to the Palestinian people, to all the Palestinian people, but we refuse for this monetary support to be politicized and money that comes with conditions or follows the American and Israeli agenda and to be tied with the progress of the Palestinian Authority on the ground, meaning to carry out security roles as part of the ‘road map’ which means the destruction of Hamas and the resistance.”

Israeli Air Strikes Kill 12 in Gaza

Meanwhile thousands of mourners took to streets of Gaza earlier today to bury their dead after Israeli air strikes killed 12 Palestinians including a senior commander of the group Islamic Jihad. Israel claimed all of the Palestinians killed were militants.

Chris Keeley

A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory

A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory

A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory

The film tells the story of the still missing person Danny Williams, Robinson's uncle and key member of Andy Warhol's Factory during the 1960's. The film shows the previously unseen films of Danny Williams, which provides a unique window into his extraordinary creative talent and unique character. Surviving members of the Factory reflect on Danny Williams, as well as the legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles
Chris Keeley

Harvey Wasserman on New Ohio Voting Report: “The 2004 Election Was Stolen… Finally We Have Irrefutab

Harvey Wasserman on New Ohio Voting Report: “The 2004 Election Was Stolen… Finally We Have Irrefutable Confirmation”

Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, announced Friday that the voting systems that decided the 2004 election in Ohio were rife with “critical security failures.” We speak with Harvey Wasserman, author of “What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election.” [Harvey Wasserman, senior editor of the Ohio-based and author of “What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election.”

AMY GOODMAN: Harvey Wasserman, I wanted to switch gears—


AMY GOODMAN: —and ask you about voting. Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, announced on Friday the voting systems that decided the 2004 election in Ohio were rife with “critical security failures.” You and Bob Fitrakis have reported extensively on the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio, your most recent book, What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election. Your response to the report? What did you think was most important in her findings?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, our initial response was “Yippee!” I mean, they finally, after all these years of us banging our—you know, we’re local boys. We live in Ohio, in Columbus. And we saw the election of 2004 stolen right in front of our faces. And we reported it extensively, and everybody laughed at us. And they said, “Oh, this couldn’t happen in America.” And we documented it in How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008. We documented scores of ways that this election was stolen. And we pointed out a myriad flaws that we saw right in our own neighborhoods, of what was done to keep people of color and young people from voting and to rig the vote count.

I mean, the servers for the computation of the Ohio vote count were in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee that houses servers for the Republican National Committee. The programmers who did the stuff for Ken Blackwell, the Republican Secretary of State, were Republicans who did websites for the Bush administration. I mean, it’s amazing.

So, here we have—finally we have a Democratic Secretary of State, who took—spent $1.9 million of state money, hired Battelle, which is not exactly a progressive organization, to study it, and found that every single method of voting, pretty much, except for, you know, marking paper ballots, was corrupted in the 2004 election. They, you know—

AMY GOODMAN: Coming up with opposite results?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Any—basically what she says was, you could have manipulated the 2004 election results with a Blackberry. You know, the Conyers report basically said all you had to do was drive by with a Wi-Fi. And she comes up and says there are very simple ways the 2004 election could have been flipped just like that. And that’s what we said since 2004. Look, this election could have—

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Chris Keeley

New Ron English book: Abject Expressionism

New Ron English book: Abject Expressionism
Laughing Squid reports that a book about artist Ron English just came out. Picture 6-40


Ron English has been called the Robin Hood of Madison Avenue for his seminal work in billboard subvertising and is widely considered to be a founding member of the Culture Jamming movement. Abject Expressionism is a comprehensive survey covering 20 years’ of English’s career, from staged photography to neo-Surrealist oil paintings to street art.

English’s work often involves “liberating” commercial billboards with his own messages: he wrangles carefully created corporate iconographies so they are metaphorically turned upside down, used against the corporations they are meant to represent. English’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including Paris’ MOCA and NYC’s Whitney. An important look at the work of an artist who has been at the forefront of activist art movements in photography, painting and underground music.

Chris Keeley

Doctors in rehab still practice

Doctors in rehab still practice
Confidential programs criticized after reports of botched operations
The Associated Press
updated 3:12 p.m. ET, Tues., Dec. 18, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - Troubling cases in which doctors were accused of botching operations while undergoing treatment for drugs or alcohol have led to criticism of rehab programs that allow thousands of U.S. physicians to keep their addictions hidden from their patients.

Nearly all states have confidential rehab programs that let doctors continue practicing as long as they stick with the treatment regimen. Nationwide, as many as 8,000 doctors may be in such programs, by one estimate.

These arrangements largely escaped public scrutiny until last summer, when California's medical board outraged physicians across the country by abolishing its 27-year-old program. A review concluded that the system failed to protect patients or help addicted doctors get better.

Opponents of such programs say the medical establishment uses confidential treatment to protect dangerous physicians.

"Patients have no way to protect themselves from these doctors," said Julie Fellmeth, who heads the University of San Diego's Center for Public Interest Law and led the opposition to California's so-called diversion program.

Most addiction specialists favor allowing doctors to continue practicing while in confidential treatment, as does the American Medical Association.

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