British conductor Edward Downes and wife die in double assisted suicide

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

British conductor Sir Edward Downes and his wife Joan took their lives at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic on Friday, July 10, 2009, according to a statement from their family. Lady Downes, 74, was afflicted with terminal cancer, and Sir Edward, 85, was nearly blind with increasing hearing difficulties. These disabilities had forced him to give up conducting. Having no religious beliefs, the couple decided against holding a funeral.

The statement read, “After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems. They died peacefully, and under circumstances of their own choosing, with the help of the Swiss organisation, Dignitas, in Zurich.”

Many who knew the couple as friends said that Sir Edward was not terminally ill, but wanted to die with his wife, who he had been with for more than 50 years.

Sir Edward Downes’s children, in an interview with The London Evening Standard, said they escorted their parents to Zurich, and on that Friday, they watched in tears as their parents consumed “a small quantity of clear liquid,” and then proceeded to lie down together, holding hands.

“Within a couple of minutes they were asleep, and died within 10 minutes,” said their 41 year old son, Caractacus Downes.

Sir Edward was well respected in the operatic and orchestral worlds and was particularly noted for his performances of British and Russian music and of Verdi, conducting 25 of the composer’s 28 operas. He had a long association with the Royal Opera House, where he conducted for more than 50 seasons in succession. This did not stop him from refusing to conduct a series of performances of Verdi’s Nabucco there as he was “out of sympathy” with the adventurous production. His approach to conducting was similarly conservative. He wrote “The duty of a conductor should be to present… a faithful and accurate account of the composer’s music as he wrote it, disregarding any subsequent ‘interpretations’, ‘meanings’, or political agendas that may have been attached to it by others.”

It was on Friday, 28 September, 1973, that Sir Edward conducted the opening public performance at the Sydney Opera House, a staging of Prokofiev’s War and Peace by Opera Australia, of which he was musical director. Downes also served as chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Orchestra and principal conductor of the BBC Philharmonic.

The family reported that Lady Downes “started her career as a ballet dancer and subsequently worked as a choreographer and TV producer, before dedicating the last years of her life to working as our father’s personal assistant.”

The Metropolitan Police have announced that Greenwich CID are investigating the circumstances of the couple’s deaths. Assisting a suicide is illegal in the United Kingdom.

Over 100 people who wished to die have made the journey from Britain to Switzerland to take advantage of the clinical services that Dignitas offers. British police have investigated many of the resulting deaths, but no family member has yet been prosecuted for helping relatives negotiate with Dignitas and travel to Switzerland. Debbie Purdy, a woman with multiple sclerosis, attempted last year to obtain a ruling from the English High Court that family members would not be prosecuted for helping someone use the service, and in particular that her husband would not be charged should she decide to use Dignitas in future. The court refused as it believed that such clarification is the responsibility of parliament and not the judiciary.

Last week the House of Lords rejected a proposal by former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer to allow people to help someone with a terminal illness travel to a country where assisted suicide is legal.

Iraqis demonstrate on fourth anniversary of Baghdad’s fall

Monday, April 9, 2007

On the fourth anniversary of Baghdad’s fall to United States forces, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched peacefully in protest of the continued occupation. Wearing Iraqi flags, demonstrators marched from Kufa to Najaf chanting “Get out, get out occupier!” Many were dancing through the streets as police kept an eye on the proceedings and lined the route.

The rally was largely Shi’ite, as it had been ordered by controversial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Leaflets were scattered about, reading “Yes, Yes to Muqtada!” and “Yes, Yes to Iraq!” Some demonstrators shouted “we obey your call,” seemingingly in response to al-Sadr’s statements on Sunday.

The enemy that is occupying our country is now targeting the dignity of the Iraqi people. After four years of occupation, we have hundreds of thousands of people dead and wounded.

Al-Sadr called the demonstration in a statement that was distributed in Najaf yesterday. In the statement he ordered for his supporters to stop attacking their fellow Iraqis and instead work to fight the American occupiers. He also encouraged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with America. “You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don’t walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy,” the statement said. “God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them – not against the sons of Iraq.”

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Tips On Detecting Early Macular Degeneration}

Tips on detecting early macular degeneration


Susan Slobac

Having Regular Eye Examinations is Key to Detecting Early Macular Degeneration

Living with low vision is a concern for many, especially those age fifty and over. One of the types of eye vision problems often associated with people in this age range is age related macular degeneration. A degenerative condition of the macula, which is located at the back of the retina in the eye, age related macular degeneration can leave the patient with low vision suitable for reading, driving and other close-up work where detail vision is required.

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Your ophthalmologist is your best resource for detecting early macular degeneration. He or she can then offer you preferred macular degeneration treatment options, as well as a full range of eye glasses for macular degeneration, low vision magnifiers, and other aids to help you see better and live a full and active life.

What Procedures Will My Doctor Use for Detecting Early Macular Degeneration?

The first step your physician will take is to ask you if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with macular degeneration. Symptoms can include blurry vision in the central vision field or portions of the vision that are missing, as well as straight lines appearing wavy, an inability to detect color variations between two dark or two light colors, and a long recovery time after you have been out in bright light.

When detecting early macular degeneration, your doctor will also want to determine how at risk you are for developing age related macular degeneration. Age is a factor; most people with macular degeneration are age fifty and over, although on occasion it will affect children. Those with a family history of the disease are also at a greater risk for developing it as well. Some individuals have a gene that puts them at risk. People who are obese, eat a high fat diet and suffer from high blood pressure stand a greater chance of developing macular degeneration, as do Caucasians.

What vision aids are available?

After detecting early macular degeneration, your physician will provide you with the best options for treatment. They could include the use of low vision magnifiers, as well as specialized eye glasses for macular degeneration.

Magnifiers can be as simple as a hand-held device all the way up to lenses that clip over your glasses, so that you can use them for detail vision when needed, and then flip them out of the way when you do not need them. Specialized eye glasses with tiny microscopes allow you to have a very magnified central vision area, yet they are placed on your regular prescription glasses, so that you can look under the microscopes when you want to see through the other lenses, working in much the same way as bifocal lenses do. Your physician can determine if you are showing signs of early macular degeneration and provide you with the best treatment options and vision aids.

Susan Slobac has had a parent diagnosed with macular degeneration. She has had experience in macular degeneration treatment. In this article, she discusses

macular degeneration

risk factors.

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Tips on detecting early macular degeneration


Feverfew compound gets at leukemia roots

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 A compound in the common daisy-like plant feverfew kills human leukemia stem cells and could form the basis for newer, more effective drugs for the disease.

American researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York say that it could take months to develop a useable drug from the compound, parthenolide.

However, they are working to do so with chemists at the University of Kentucky who have identified a water-soluble molecule with the same properties. The US National Cancer Institute has also accepted the work into its rapid access program, which aims to speed experimental drugs into human clinical trials.

“This research is a very important step in setting the stage for future development of a new therapy for leukemia,” says Rochester researcher Craig Jordan. “We have proof that we can kill leukemia stem cells with this type of agent, and that is good news.”

Parthenolide appears to target the roots of myeloid leukemia, stem cells, while current treatments including the relatively new drug Gleevec don’t. So, “You’re pulling the weed without getting to the root,” says Jordan.

Used for centuries to fight fevers, inflammation and arthritis, feverfew earned interest from the Rochester researchers after other scientists showed that it could prevent skin cancer in animal models.

So the researchers investigated how a concentrated form of the plant component parthenolide would affect leukemia cells and normal cells.

Comparing the impact of parthenolide to the common chemotherapy drug cytarabine, they found that parthenolide selectively killed leukemia cells while sparing normal cells better.

While the findings suggest that parthenolide is a good starting point for new drugs, people with leukemia aren’t being encouraged to take high doses of feverfew as they could not take enough of the remedy to halt the disease.

The research is reported in the journal Blood.

Ariel Sharon’s brain shows activity

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remains in a coma after 10 days.

Medical experts on the outside say that Sharon’s failure to regain consciousness does not look well for his recovery.

On Wednesday, doctors began reducing the level of sedatives with the intent of drawing Sharon out of an induced coma. Hospital officials say that Sharon remains “lightly sedated”, but are not sure when he will wake up once they stop giving him the sedatives.

New reports say an EEG has shown that Sharon has activity on both sides of his brain and doctors say that’s the most “promising” signs they have had since they started to bring him out of the coma. Doctors also say that activity in both lobes doesn’t indicate anything about the extent of the brain damage. “It is another piece of information that on its own means nothing,” said Dr. Gal Ifergan, a neurologist at Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, who is not treating Sharon.

Although he has activity on both sides of his brain, Sharon could still have extensive brain damage, Ifergan said. He also said that it’s “very worrisome that he hasn’t woken from his coma”, yet.

There are 2 major types of stroke, and Sharon has had both. The first was a mild stroke Dec. 18 caused by a blood clot that lodged in an artery in the brain, cutting off blood flow and causing minor damage. The second occurred just one day before he was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair a hole in his heart. This one was a severe cerebral hemorrhage

“After nine days he has had very slow progress and that indicates more permanent injury to a level where his quality of life is affected,” Dr. Demetrius Lopes, a Rush University Medical Center neurosurgeon said. “And then decisions will have to be made,” he added.

Sharon’s condition is still critical but stable.

Michael Jackson doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dr. Conrad Murray has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the death of Michael Jackson, who Murray was doctor to. Dr. Murray was with the singer when he died on June 25 last year.

The doctor is alleged to have acted “unlawfully and without malice“. The prosecution’s complaint said that when Dr. Murray gave Michael Jackson a powerful sedative to attempt to assist Jackson with his sleeping, he acted “without the caution and circumspection required”. During rehearsals for a series of return concerts planned in London, England last year, the entertainer had employed the doctor to be his personal physician for the spring. If convicted of the charges, Dr. Murray could be imprisoned for up to four years.

According to Ed Chernoff, Dr. Murray’s lawyer, he will not plead guilty. Speaking on Monday, before the charge was filed, Chernoff stated: “We’ll make bail, we’ll plead not guilty and we’ll fight like hell.” The coroner’s office in Los Angeles, California, US reported that the death of Michael Jackson was a homicide, with the cause being an overdose of sedatives.

10 Easy Ways To Lose Weight Fast At Home

By Janine Michaels

Losing weight at home is a big challenge. I mean, you’re literally surrounded by oodles of food choices in supermarkets and restaurants. You’d have to be a hermit in order to avoid being tempted by fat filled snacks, sweets and meals.

So what do you do in order to reach your weight loss goal?

First of all, pick a diet plan that you feel comfortable with and that you are confident you can stick with for the duration. While fad diets promise great results, usually the pounds you lose is very short term.

Here are some easy tips you can follow:

Eat a decent breakfast – Get your body off to a good start in the morning with a healthy breakfast. You can eat a bowl of cereal with some fresh fruit slices, or a cup of yogurt with some wheat toast, etc. In order to burn calories, your body needs food energy, so make sure you eat something early.

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Cut down on carbs – There is lots of discussion about carbs in the diet world. Some diet plans suggest cutting out carbs altogether, but this isn’t a good idea because your body needs carbs for fuel. Instead, reduce your carb intake by cutting way down on white breads and pasta.

Practice portion control – The food portions on your plate should be no bigger than your fist. Resist the temptation to overfill your plate with food. Train yourself to eat one helping only. When eating out, don’t feel you have to eat every drop of food on your plate. Instead, eat your portion and take home the rest.

Drink Enough Water – It’s important to stay hydrated while on a diet. Water is an important source of energy for your body. Water flushes out many toxins and fat molecules. Drinking more water will help reduce your appetite and help you shed pounds.

Get a Good Workout – Commit to exercising at least three times a week for at least 20 minutes. Exercise is one of the fastest ways to build up muscle, which helps create enough energy to burn off that unwanted fat.

Embrace fruits and vegetables – With most diets, you can eat as many fruits and vegetables as you like. Choose your favorites and include them in your meals every day. This is a healthier way to keep eating while quickly losing weight.

Throw out the junk food – Go through your kitchen cupboards and throw out any tempting snack foods that will derail you from your diet goals. Potato chips, Doritos, cookies, Twinkies, candy bars, and any other empty calorie food stuff. Shed a tear if you want, but ditch it in the trash can.

Eat Slowly – Instead of rushing through your meals, savor each bite and really taste your food. Rushing to finish your plate only makes you wanna go and get seconds, and even, third helpings. You’ll feel a lot more satisfied after your meal when you eat slowly.

Get Plenty of Sleep – Try to get as much sleep as possible. Eight hours of sleep is ideal. The point is, when you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to make bad food choices than when you’re fully rested.

Eat fruit instead of sweets – Replace that donut with an apple. Replace that candy bar with some fresh melon. Every time you would normally have a cookie, piece of cake or other sweet temptation. Grab some fresh fruit instead. You’ll still get that sweet taste, only there won’t be all those fat and calories.

About the Author: Tired of looking at your bulging thighs, flabby stomach and out-of-shape body every morning? With a little guidance, you have the power within you to lose all that extra weight and change your life for good. Get started now:


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14,000-acre Southern California ‘Crown Fire’ at 82% containment, evacuation orders lifted

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Antelope Valley, California — The Crown Fire that has burned through 13,980 acres in the High Desert of Southern California since 2:32 pm (2232 UTC) Thursday was at 82% containment Saturday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

On Friday high winds caused the fire to jump the California Aqueduct and spread into the city of Palmdale. Over 2,000 residents of Leona Valley, Ana Verde, and Rancho Vista were given mandatory evacuation orders. The sky was blanketed with thick orange pyrocumulus clouds and falling ash, making the air hard to breathe.

State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in Palmdale on Friday to survey the burned areas. “We were very fortunate to not have fires for quite some time because the air temperature was cool and we didn’t have the experiencing of dry weather and all the winds and so on, but all of a sudden the fire season kicked in as if, ‘Here we are,'” Schwarzenegger said during a press conference. “But we are ready and we have luckily distributed resources all over the state of California, so we are ready at any given time.”

The fire has so far destroyed one house and three mobile homes, damaging the roof of another and burning car garages, horse stables, and other outbuildings. Most of the more seriously threatened homes were constructed recently from fire-proof materials, with walls coated in stucco, and fire-resistant plants in the yards. Although some roads are still closed to all traffic, all existing evacuation orders were lifted late Friday night and 500 residents of Rancho Vista were told to “shelter in place” until further notice. Despite the absence of mandatory evacuation orders, over 2,000 houses, 60 commercial buildings, and 100 outbuildings are still under threat.

Throughout the night, fire crews have been battling the wildfire, assisted by cooler temperatures and lighter-than-expected winds which have enabled them to establish containment lines. “Crews went out [Friday] night and did some great work trying to complete more lines and also trying to take care of what we call ‘cat eyes’ which are embers within the perimeter of the fire, so there will be much more work being done there today,” said LACFD Captain Roland Sprewell. “But of course we’re not going to rest on our laurels today…we’re going to be vigilantly watching the winds, especially in the ridge and down in the valleys.”

At the height of the fire, 1,700 firefighters from all over California were battling the flames, although as of 12:00 pm Saturday afternoon, it has been reduced to around 1,350 personnel. 16 fire camp crew have also assisted. 250 fire engines and four bulldozers have been used. In the air, 4 Boeing 747 supertankers, 1 McDonnell Douglas DC-10 tanker, and 6 modified Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters known as “Firehawks” have been dropping water and red Phos-Chek slurry. The Los Angeles Sheriffs Department also increased its presence in the Antelope Valley by bringing in response teams from stations outside the AV. This afternoon, the deployment has been scaled back to three teams as the fire stabilizes and further evacuation orders become unlikely.

Three firefighters have been injured battling the fire, although all injuries are minor. One sheriff deputy was also hospitalized for smoke inhalation but has since been released.