Sunday, May 29, 2016

Death of Harambe

"I mourn my brother Harambe being killed in the Cincinnati Zoo. I don't know if he would have ultimately harmed the human child or not.
What I'd like to know is what the human parents were doing that allowed their child to fall into his home? I hope they pay, in some way, for the loss of my brother. Cincinnati Police Department spokesman Lt. Steve Saunders said no charges were being pursued against the child’s parents. That saddens me.
Zoos are not the perfect solution for our survival but considering we are on every endangered species list it is, at the moment, the best refuge we have from hunters. Until our human friends wake up to the reality that we are all connected on this planet we'll seek any shelter we are offered.
Please stop killing us."

Dear Mayor Murray

University District - Photo M Barrett Miller

Edward B. Murray
Seattle Mayor
Seattle, Washington

Dear Mr. Mayor,

I realize you are under constant pressure to do this, or to do that, by all sorts of people.
Your job is difficult and you deserve some sympathy to those demands on your time, energy and resources.
One collective issue that gets lots of ink, and passion, is our relentless challenge with homelessness, poverty and affordable housing in our community.
I know you realize that affordable housing, homelessness, poverty, equity are not priorities in our city, county or country, or we wouldn't still be wrestling with the continuing crisis.
We would have solved it long ago if it were truly a priority!
After all the years I've been involved with trying to mitigate poverty it seems to be less a priority than ever--sure, there are moves forward but the challenge grows larger. From what I see, feel, hear, we, the so called advocates, are not winning the hearts and minds of the public, administrators or elected officials enough to end this crisis.
It's not acceptable that people live under a freeway in a environmental toxic zone breathing carbon monoxide, nitric oxide and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons etc. on a minute by minute basis. Numerous epidemiologic studies have already shown that traffic-related pollution is linked to increased risk of asthma, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.
Why not propose a lid, roof, huge tents, to be put up away from the freeway, where some clean air blows, offering some shelter from the elements.
Yes, it'll cost  but why not ask for minor equity stakes from those who want to live rough i.e a monetary contribution, cleaning commitments, sanitation responsibilities, fire watch etc. like the Tent Cities required. Hire some people to help/monitor and toss out those who don't want to comply.
I think allowing  people to live under a freeway is similar to promoting drinking water in Flint.
Perhaps micro housing could be constructed by those desperately needing jobs. The city, county and state could purchase the raw materials, oversee construction and coordinate placement of the units.
Since land in Seattle is at a premium why not use whatever piers may be available, perhaps near the Coast Guard museum, situating the small homes on the piers.
It could be beautiful if done right.
Imagine trees, multi-colored little housing units, lit pathways, public art, social service facilities all clustered together offering housing and support.
As with the living rough aficionados those that are housed would be asked for some equity. That equity could be on a case by case basis.
I wish I had the answer to all these challenges but I don't. What has become apparent is that no one else does either.
Maybe it's time to try radically different approaches.

With respect,

Michael Barrett Miller
Managing Director

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seattle Rents and reaction from teens

Seattle high school students focus on soaring rents. 
Too many of us are looking down the road wondering if Seattle offers us anything in the future.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Black Stump

The sale of “Beyond the Black Stump”, and the other books linked on helps support Let Kids Be Kids,Inc™ advocacy work.
Our advocacy centers on trying to make life a little better for all creatures - human and animal.
Part of our advocacy work is to assist people who are temporarily blocked by systems they may not fully understand. This is usually one on one assistance to people who have asked for help. Not long ago we helped a homeless diabetic secure a companion dog that will warn him to seizures.
We contribute clothing, tents, sleeping bags, gloves, cash, meals, housing support, transportation to residents in various homeless shelters and outdoor camps.
We continue our commitment to those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS and the loneliness, isolation and abandonment that so often accompanies their struggles by highlighting and educating people to the struggle.
Photo: Hakan Yıldız

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Russian couple fight for their daughter!

Incredibly moving story of a "challenged" couples fight to keep their daughter.
Be sure to watch the short video.

Johnny's Story

As promised here is Johnny's story. ( June 17 -18, as part of Eclectic Theater's Fair Play Festival. Dan Niven actor will present.) 
"I don’t think I’ve ever seen Johnny (not his real name) completely sober. He is either high on drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it’s hard to be around him, particularly if he is shifting moods. Sometimes the swing from accepting to angry occurs in the blink of an eye.
On one visit to a school he went off on a high school kid who asked him how he became infected. As his rant was beginning to climb towards the stratosphere one of the other guests interrupted telling the kids he would be happy to share his story. John sat staring at the floor for the rest of our visit. As we were wrapping up he muttered an apology to the class.
I haven’t risked inviting him to speak since, though I do see him occasionally as part of a care team that he requested as support to his battle with HIV. He is mostly maintaining with NA and AA meetings though I don’t have a lot of confidence that he can continue much longer unless he kicks his care up a notch. We all know only he can do that…
I started to feel lousy after a day of skiing in the rain. I wrote it off as a cold and tried to ride it out at home for a couple of days. Jamey didn’t feel well either. She managed to go to work telling me to rest and get better. I got worse. When the coughing hurt so much I had to bend over to manage the pain I went to the doctor. I got a pretty thorough inspection with blood and urine taken. I was given some little sticks and a mailer so I could gather up some feces for analysis.
After waiting forever in a little waiting room I was told by the nurse that I had the flu with a touch of bronchial infection. I was given a couple of prescriptions and sent home with orders to stay in bed. The pills seemed to help. In two days I was moving around pretty well with only the occasional coughing spell.
I don’t remember if it was Thursday or Friday morning when the nurse called me. It was a Thursday. I remember I called work the day after seeing the doc. The nurse told me I needed to give some more blood as they wanted to run a couple of more tests. I went in after lunch.
I was taken into a waiting room where I sat for about a half an hour. Finally, in came a doc I hadn’t seen before trailed by a nurse and some guy who was introduced as a social worker. I didn’t get it right away. The doc had to tell me a couple of times that I had tested positive for HIV.
The nurse and social worker tried to explain to me some options but I bolted out heading to the nearest bar. I remember sitting there tossing down whiskey after whiskey wondering if I had it right or had they said something completely different. Did I have AIDS? Fuck, this couldn’t be…
I kept drinking but the booze didn’t do its usual magic. Nothing happened-I was as sober as when I walked in the joint. I thought about going back to the clinic but decided to head home instead and tell Jamey.
This all occurred about seven years ago.
When I got home Jamey was laying on the couch reading a magazine. I sat down on the end and blurted out what the doctor had told me. She sat up pulling in her legs as if to get as far away as possible from me. At first she didn’t say anything. Then she screamed at me wanting to know how it was possible that I was infected. We had been tested when we first got together, as the virus was sweeping through our community and neither of us had arrived without previous experiences. We didn’t go too deeply into them at the time as neither of us wanted to hang all our laundry out anymore than was comfortable. We tested negative promising never to risk the other no matter how our relationship developed. She had been cheated on before and was adamant she would never put up with it again. I promised I would never treat her like others had no matter what.
I thought about lying but I knew I couldn’t pull it off with her. I told her about the two times I had sex with other women since we’d been together. She didn’t say a word. After a few minutes she got up, went into the bedroom for a bit and then returned wearing her coat. All she said was that she may or may not be back. I cried, pleaded and begged but I could see she had flicked the master switch closing me off, possibly forever.
She didn’t return for six days. I didn’t see her. I only saw the note she left telling me she got tested and that she was negative. She told me that there are false positives and that I should be tested again. I went to the public health clinic and had them test me. In three days I was told I was negative. I went back to the first doc and demanded some explanation. What I heard was a lot of BS on how I would need to wait and get retested in six months as I had risky behavior too close to the test to ensure it was 100% accurate. They told me to be careful and not to do anything risky until I was tested yet again.
In the meantime I had called Jamey’s friends and all our mutual friends leaving messages with all of them asking her to call. More than a week went by before I heard from her. She wanted to meet at a restaurant up the block from our place. I was planning on begging for forgiveness if she would give me the opening to do so.
She was there before me waiting at a table facing the door. As soon as I saw the look in her eyes I knew we were finished. I no sooner sat down then she told me that she loved me but would not ever again be in a situation where she had to trust someone who had been unfaithful to her. She waved away the waitress angrily, telling me she was moving her stuff out on Saturday and would be grateful if I was not there. I couldn’t help myself and began to cry begging her forgiveness. She told me she forgave me and that I would have to find a way to forgive myself. She got up saying she was sorry about the whole thing. That was the last time I saw her in person.
For the next four years Johnny unraveled in a death spiral of drugs and alcohol. He told me he started shooting smack, meth and drinking non-stop. He ran with a biker crowd that offered him all the escape he could muster as long as he helped contribute to bringing in more drugs to consume and distribute. He took part time jobs, robbed and burgled homes to feed his growing habit. He did a ninety-day stint in the county jail for possession and public intoxication. The second time he was arrested and given six months they did an HIV screening. He came up positive. This time for real!
When he got out he was offered a months free rent from one of his friends who still had some faith in him. He learned Jamey had married and was expecting her first child. He got drunk. In his drunken state he jumped off his friends lanai in a wish to end it. He hit the little green strip running along the street side of the sidewalk breaking his back and his right leg.
When he got out of hospital he realized he couldn’t face the future by himself. During his ‘reckless’ years he alienated everybody in his family, as they were the first victims of his need to have money for drugs. He either borrowed or robbed their homes for whatever he could turn into drugs.
When he was diagnosed he had already burned every bridge with his family. Some even said they were “happy he was sick, as he was nothing but blight in their lives.” Other than a couple of ‘care teams’ and his buddies at NA and AA he is mostly alone. One counselor is trying to get him involved in coaching swimming at the YMCA. Hopefully he’ll find something to focus on other than his daily situation."
See the following for more info on the book and the stories within:

Cancer Research

Hopefully, this will help a lot of people.
"A new experimental treatment has achieved what chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants have failed to do: put chronic, relapsing blood cancers into remission.
What’s more, it uses the body’s own natural defense system to attack these cancerous growths. 
The treatment involves T cells, a type of immune cell that works as your body’s own personal S.W.A.T. team to detect, surround, and destroy foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. Historically, cancerous cells have grown too fast for T cells to mount an effective defense, and they can also trick T cells into thinking that they’re a healthy part of the body as opposed to a cancerous growth that needs to be stopped.
But in experimental treatments at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, initial evidence shows Dr. Stanley Riddell has successfully trained these T cells to better recognize and eliminate cancer cells in a short time span, allowing cancer to go into remission. 
Specifically, he extracted a person’s T cells in order to prime them to recognize the type of cancer that is affecting the patient, allowing these primed T cells to attack the growth while sparing healthy cells and tissue. 
The results
Riddell’s preliminary findings on the success of T cell therapy to cure previously terminal cases of cancer made a stir at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. on Sunday because of his eye-popping results: 93 percent of the small group of 29 participants with previously incurable or constantly relapsing acute lymphoblastic leukemia have gone into complete remission after undergoing Riddell’s immune cell therapy.
An additional 65 percent of 30 participants with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma have also gone into remission. And while it’s too early to report the results of a small test group of 15 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Riddell says that they’re also showing “really high” remission rates. In total, Riddell has treated nearly 100 patients with the T cell therapy. 
“These were all cases that had failed all conventional therapy, so they relapsed after chemotherapy. Many of them had relapsed after an allogeneic bone marrow transplant or they just weren’t considered candidates for a transplant,” he explained to HuffPost. “To take an experimental therapy and use it in patients that are this advanced, and to get these kinds of results, is really encouraging.” 
The T cell treatment is the result of a 10-year collaboration with Dr. Michael Jensen of Seattle Children’s Hospital, who is currently conducting trials in children with leukemia and getting similar results, said Riddell. The effect appears to be long-lasting, and could provide a way forward for developing therapies for the more common and harder to treat diseases like breast, colon and lung cancer.
How it works
Riddell withdraws a patient’s immune cells in what amounts to a simple blood donation. Then he takes a few weeks to link synthetic receptors called chimeric antigen receptors to the T cells, in order to help them identify cancer cells in the body and destroy them. Once they’re re-infused back into the patient, Riddell basically sits back and lets the T cells do their thing. It generally took about 30 to 60 days for cancerous growths to disappear in his patients, he said.
Riddell suspects that his T cell therapy worked so well because the cancers he were treating were blood cancers. Instead of being bound up in solid tumors, the cancer cells are diffuse throughout the body, and also collect in certain sites where T cells also like to hang out: the bone marrow, blood, lymph nodes and spleen.
What’s next
Still, Riddell hopes that his research can be re-purposed to begin attacking the more common cancers, like breast or colon cancer. These types present a special difficulty because solid tumors essentially create their own micro-environments that can turn off an active T cell, suppressing its immune system function.
“We’re going to have to learn to combine T cell therapy with things like check point inhibitors, which is another very effective form of immunotherapy for some patients with solid tumors, or to engineer T cells in ways that will allow them to function in that immunosuppressive microenvironment,” Riddell said.
While his study is still in its earliest stages and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, he hopes that the technology can become available to the wider public within two to three years.
“This is really another demonstration that [shows] the immune system can be used to treat cancer,” Riddell concluded. “I wouldn’t say yet that this will be applicable to all types of people with all cancers, but I think that the opportunity is there and the research directions now are really apparent.” Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Enough of Trump

Elizabeth Warren is no slouch! Thank God!!
“Donald Trump is now the leader of the Republican Party. It’s real – he is one step away from the White House. Here’s what else is real: Trump has built his campaign on racism, sexism, and xenophobia. There’s more enthusiasm for him among leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.
He incites supporters to violence, praises Putin, and, according to a columnist who recently interviewed him, is “cool with being called an authoritarian” and doesn’t mind associations with history’s worst dictators.
He attacks veterans like John McCain who were captured and puts our servicemembers at risk by cheerleading illegal torture. In a world with ISIS militants and leaders like North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un conducting nuclear tests, he surrounds himself with a foreign policy team that has been called a “collection of charlatans,” and puts out contradictory and nonsensical national security ideas one expert recently called “incoherent” and “truly bizarre.”
What happens next will test the character for all of us – Republican, Democrat, and Independent. It will determine whether we move forward as one nation or splinter at the hands of one man’s narcissism and divisiveness. I know which side I’m on, and I’m going to fight my heart out to make sure Donald Trump’s toxic stew of hatred and insecurity never reaches the White House.”