Monthly Archives: November 2017

Doctor Interrupts Anti-Vax Movie: ‘Your Presence Will Cause Babies To Die’

This is the moment a celebrated M?ori doctor crashed a special viewing of a controversial anti-vaccination documentary playing at a theater in Kaitaia in New Zealand?s Far North District this week.

The above video shows Dr. Lance O?Sullivan taking the stage to warn audience members watching ?Vaxxed? at his local theater of the dangers of the message behind the American documentary, which tries to link vaccines to autism.

?When I heard they were coming into town, there was no way I was going to let them come and peddle this misinformation and falsehood on my watch,? O?Sullivan told John Campbell, host of the Radio New Zealand show ?Checkpoint.? 

Event organizers had invited O?Sullivan to Monday?s screening but, as the above video shows, he made it clear to the audience that he?s not there to watch the documentary.

?I come here with a lot of anger,? the doctor says in the video after walking on to the stage. ?That?s because I am adamantly opposed to this because this position, this idea of anti-immunization has killed children around the world and actually will continue to kill children … whose parents have put off immunization because of misinformation ? misinformation based on lies, quite frankly.? 

He later added, ?Your presence here will cause children to die.?

In 2014, O?Sullivan was named New Zealander of the Year, a prestigious award in the country, for making healthcare more accessible for children and underprivileged communities in New Zealand. 

The film O?Sullivan was protesting, known fully as ?Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,? was directed by former doctor Andrew Wakefield. He was labeled an ?elaborate fraud? after an investigation found that he had misrepresented or altered patients? medical histories used in a 1998 study he authored that suggested a vaccine was linked to autism, according to CNN.

Wakefield?s study was discredited and the United Kingdom took away his medical license in May 2010. 

His documentary caused outrage when it was released in 2016, with the Tribeca Film Festival pulling ?Vaxxed? from its lineup.

And the U.K. National Autistic Society slammed Wakefield for premiering his documentary in London this year.

?Much research has been dedicated to exploring whether there is a link between autism and vaccines, and the results have repeatedly shown there is none,? Carol Povey, director of the society?s Center for Autism told HuffPost UK in January.

?This includes a comprehensive 2014 review of all available studies in this area, using data from more than 1.25 million children,? Povey added. ?Further, the 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine and autism has been completely discredited.?

Organizers in New Zealand did not disclose where they were screening Vaxxed? until three hours before the movie started, the news website reported.

The above video features a heated conversation between O?Sullivan and the event organizer, anti-vaccine activist Tricia Cheel, which took place outside of the theater Monday night, according to local station 1 News Now.

In the footage, Cheel maintains that vaccines have caused death and destoryed lives. O?Sullivan argues that playing ?Vaxxed? could negatively affect ?vulnerable communities? in New Zealand.

O?Sullivan told news channel Kawe K?rero Reporters on Wednesday that he was enraged that the documentary was playing in the community in which he worked.

?We know that there is significant benefit gained from immunizing our children,? he said. ?My greatest concern is that the most vulnerable in our community, our M?ori children, will be affected by this propaganda which is just lies.?

In the video below, watch O?Sullivan defend his appearance at the theater and detail his experience working with children who were dying from a vaccine-preventable infectious disease.

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How To Tell A New Partner You Have A Mental Illness

I cried in his arms our first night together. I?m not good, I kept repeating, tears falling into my ears as he caressed my face. I knew what love required, and I knew that, time and again, I?d failed at giving it because of the ways my anxiety distorted my thinking, and my panic disorder made me alternately dependent, selfish, and needy.

I wanted to write him a guide for loving me, so he could understand that when I tried to break up with him when one thing went wrong, when I changed plans because I didn?t feel like I could leave my house, when I criticized him much too harshly, it was because of faulty thought patterns and neurochemical flare-ups, not because I didn?t love him.

Love is hard for nearly everyone. But for those with anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses, love can be a minefield. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 18.5 percent of adults in this country live with a diagnosed mental illness. That?s roughly 1 in 5 people, or 44 million total.

For years, my relationships would end abruptly because I hadn?t prepared the men I loved for the ways I?d lash out when I became claustrophobic; how I?d become distant and cold when panicked, and suddenly clingy and hot when the panic had passed; how I?d pick them apart against my will, obsessing over perceived shortcomings and imperfections, burning with embarrassment when they held forth at dinner parties or cowering with shame when I deemed them too shy.

After I ended my last relationship, I worked with a therapist on how to prepare myself and my partners for being in a romantic relationship not only with me, but with my anxiety and panic ? and how my partner could support me, himself, and us through it.

Dr. Ayelet Krieger, a psychologist who practices in the Bay Area, believes disclosing a mental illness early in a relationship is crucial.

?I like to talk about striking when the iron is cold,? she says. ?You don?t want to tell your partner about your diagnosis when you?re in the throes of a crisis. It?s more productive to talk about it when you?re calm.?

Avi Steinhardt, a licensed clinical social worker in Brooklyn, New York, agrees. ?Many of the risks of disclosing a mental illness are similar to the risks of falling in love,? he says. ?How will this new, suddenly important person react? Will it scare them away? Unfortunately there is still stigma and misconceptions about mental illness in our culture, so there?s a good chance that this person has absorbed some misinformation over the years. But how a person responds to your disclosure may tell you a lot about this person?s sensitivity, biases, and capacity to listen with an open heart. If there is a risk that they won?t be sensitive enough, it is also good to know early on that this person would likely not be a good match.?

Rebecca Chamaa, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was dating her boyfriend long-distance. About three months into the relationship, she was hospitalized after a suicide attempt.

?After my release, I told him about my diagnosis,? she recalled. ?He told me he didn?t know if he could handle it. I said, ?Fair enough.? But we were in love. The information may have given him pause, but it didn?t scare him away.?

?We were married less than a year later, and since that time my husband has been my number one fan and biggest help and support,? she went on. ?I?m glad I was honest with him, and he was able to decide whether he wanted to give our relationship a try or walk away. The best thing that ever happened to me is that he stayed.?

They have now been married for 19 years.

Disclosing can be a valuable litmus test of whether a partner is a good long-term match. Sometimes, it turns out they?re not. Stephy Hamrick, who has complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, experienced this when she disclosed to a new partner.

?The first time I spent the night, the sound of his belt buckle as he undressed caused me to completely freeze and shut down, and I had to explain,? she remembers.

At first he was gentle with her, and very understanding. But a few months later, when he witnessed her depression, he didn?t know how to react.

?He had only seen the charming, adventurous optimist I was when healthy,? she said. ?When my physical and mental health crashed, he couldn?t wrap his head around the amount of pain I was in, no matter how much I tried to explain it.?

It?s sometimes difficult for those who have never experienced a mental illness to grasp how debilitating it can be.

?You can say you?re drowning, but a fish has no frame of reference for that experience,? Hamrick says. ?I thought I was disclosing fully, but he didn?t understand until I texted him at work to tell him that one of my friends was taking me to the psychiatric ER because I was suicidal.?

If Hamrick could do it over, she would be much more explicit in describing the seriousness of her depression.

?I didn?t realize he didn?t understand the difference between the clinical use of the term ?depression? and its popular use,? she said. ?Next time, I will spell it out a lot more clearly.?

The good news is that educating oneself and one?s partner about mental illness is easier than it?s ever been. ?There?s so much information online and blogs kept by people who struggle with mental health,? Krieger says. ?The more you learn, the more you realize how common these are.?

Another positive aspect of early disclosure is that it can jump-start vulnerability. When one person opens up about something sensitive or challenging, it can elicit trust and an equal willingness to be vulnerable in the other. ?It?s rare there?s a relationship in which one person is perfect and one is complicated,? Krieger says. ?Both people usually have ?stuff.? Disclosing is dropping into that trust and vulnerability sooner.?

Iesha Williams waited 11 months and until she was married to tell her husband about her anxiety and depression.

?It wasn?t a planned conversation,? she remembers. ?We talked about my depression on the anniversary of losing a baby, which was an emotional trigger. The depression was intense and seemed inescapable. Thankfully, he listened and was attentive to what I expressed.?

?He admitted to not fully understanding, but did everything in his power to support me,? she went on. ?Disclosing my struggles made us stronger and better able to support, understand, and love one another. I?m very glad I disclosed.?

Steinhardt believes these conversations often result in both partners feeling more known, accepted, and loved.

?I can?t think of a romantic relationship where we don?t need to tell one another how we need to be loved, what our challenges are, our triggers, our weaknesses,? he says.

Confronting something this real and personal early in a relationship can be a catapult into deep intimacy and trust.

I told Joel everything right away, that first night. He responded beautifully, holding me and sharing painful aspects of his own life. Within the first few weeks, I taught him about common anxiety-induced relationship pitfalls, and more about panic. Four months in, he has been unfailingly responsive and calm, encouraging and nurturing, and inspires me to be the same with him.

Still, I?ve tried to end it a few times, to save us both the trouble. He reminds me this is part of it: the doubting, the fear, the bliss.

One evening I arrived late to a concert and saw him sitting there, eyes closed, body still. We walked wordlessly toward each other through the crowd and rubbed our faces together, swaying slowly. I let myself submit just the smallest bit more. A woman near us said, ?Ah, love.?

We listened to the music.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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When It Comes To The Seth Rich Conspiracies, Enough Is Enough

We?ve always had fringe conspiracy theories floating in the ether, but it seems like now ? perhaps because of social media – they are more visible than ever.

Lord knows there have been a million insane conspiracy theories revolving around President Trump and Russia. My personal favorite was the one that claimed the Russian government had been grooming him to be president of the United States since the 1980s. Gotta love those Russians ? always playing the long game!

But now we are being constantly bombarded with stories about the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich.

Look, I get it. The same way that those on the left just cannot accept Hillary Clinton?s defeat and desperately want to cling to some other explanation ? even if the Russians were behind the release of DNC/Podesta emails, there is no evidence that stuff did anything to sway votes in PA, Michigan, and Wisconsin ? so to, do some elements of the right want their own biases confirmed.

This is what makes ?fake news? spread ? an eagerness to believe anything that supports your previously held belief.

The problem with the Seth Rich theories is that law enforcement has already debunked them. Not to mention the main source pushing them ? the notorious Kim Dotcom ? has been shown to be a liar on stuff like this before. If you?ll recall, he famously said he had a way to recover all of Hillary Clinton?s deleted emails, yet somehow, he was never able to make them reappear.

And shame on Sean Hannity for running with this nonsense. I?ve met Sean personally and have found him to be a very nice guy. Many others ? including a lot of people who despise Hannity?s politics ? would say the same. The majority of people don?t know anything about some of the truly nice things Hannity does for people behind the scenes, and that?s to Sean?s credit, as he doesn?t want any philanthropic stuff he engages in to be about him.

That said, this past election cycle has clearly driven him insane. Whereas he was previously just a right-wing talking head with whom I agreed sometimes and disagreed sometimes, he has now become a full-blown conspiracy loon who gins up crazy stories and repeats White House talking points.

If you know me or have read my writing, you know that I am a supporter of the president. But that doesn?t mean I accept everything he does or says uncritically. And it certainly doesn?t mean spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories just because they suit an agenda.

Being able to think for yourself is a very important tool to have in one?s intellectual arsenal.

Sean Hannity has completely lost that aspect of himself. I realize he was always biased but he has gone into dangerous territory now that he may never come back from.

Sadly, what Hannity is doing here is far worse than the spreading of most conspiracies. Most of those we can just shrug off and laugh at. But this is especially awful because of the pain it is causing Seth Rich?s family, made even more terrible by the fact that they have literally BEGGED Hannity to stop using Rich?s death to further a political agenda.

Thus far, he has ignored their pleas, which is beyond shameful. I?m a father and if one of my children were killed and some television host tried to use that death for a ratings or political ploy, I would be beyond enraged, justifiably so.

So while I know people with far bigger platforms than I have said this already, I say this to Sean Hannity and the rest continuing to spread the Seth Rich conspiracy: please stop. There is a family hurting and you have done enough unnecessary damage already.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

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The DEA Misled Congress About Deadly Shooting In Honduras

WASHINGTON ? The Drug Enforcement Administration misled Congress about a 2012 shooting in Honduras that left four innocent people dead, including a 14-year-old boy, according to a new report from the Justice Department?s internal watchdog.

A DEA agent in a helicopter gave an order to fire upon a passenger boat in Ahuas, Honduras, on May 11, 2012. The boat, which was carrying 12 passengers, had came into contact with a small motorized canoe that had been used for drug smuggling and commandeered by a DEA agent and two Honduras police officers. The police officers in the smaller boat fired upon the larger boat, and a DEA agent in a helicopter ordered another Honduran police officer to fire upon the boat. Four people were killed, and no drugs were found. Some initial reports suggested there was a firefight, but there?s no evidence that anyone in the passenger boat fired at the officers.

The Inspector General report found that Operation Anvil was poorly planned, that the DEA misled Congress and the public about the role the agency played in the operation, and that the post-shooting review was significantly flawed. The deadly incident was the subject of a 2014 investigation by The New Yorker.

Read the report here.

The report also focuses on two separate shooting incidents involving DEA agents in the months following May 2012. The Honduran police misrepresented the incident in both cases, according to the report. In one instance, Honduran police officers apparently planted a weapon on the scene of a shooting in which two DEA officers fatally shot a pilot who had been unarmed but made ?furtive movement? and disobeyed commands to exit a suspect plane that had crash landed.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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