Saudi Arabia May Purposely Paralyze Convict

Today as I was seeking out some woo news, I found something that was absolutely repulsive. Although not woo, it definitely made me stop and go what the…?

In Saudi Arabia there are talks that the courts may indeed purposely paralyze a man as punishment for a crime. Hospitals have been contacted to see if the operation on severing the spinal cord could be done, and sure enough one of the hospitals has answered and said that their facility would be able to perform such an operation.

Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi is the man who has requested this punishment be done. And Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi is able to make this request under Sharia law, since he himself was left paralyzed by the convict after being stabbed in the back with a large knife.

This seems a bit inhumane from an American stand point, but this isn’t actually all the uncommon in Saudi Arabia. Other sentences that have been carried out in the past include the gouging of eye balls out, teeth extraction and even death.

Thankfully I am not the only one who feels that this is nothing less than torture, in a comment on the article someone stated “Intentionally paralyzing a man in this way would constitute torture, and be a breach of its international human rights obligations.”

Another comment was made by the human rights group “Under international human rights law, the use of this sentence would constitute a violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”

The court has not officially decided if the procedure will be carried out. It may issue a form of compensation, flogging or imprisonment.

References:
http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/saudi-arabia-urged-not-to-paralyze-man-as-punishment-for-a-fight/19602954

Brazil’s Government Orders UFO Sightings be Documented

Brazil’s government has recently ordered that it’s air force is to record any UFO sightings. The order also extends to civilian pilots and air traffic controllers, all of which will have to register with the National Aerospace Defense Command. All of the records, which will be maintained at the Brazil national archives in Rio de Janeiro, will be available to those researching UFO phenomena. These records will contain testimonials and even picture and video data if it is available.

The Brazilian Air Force has gone on record as stating they would limit themselves in the reporting process. They want to make it known that they are not UFO chasers. “Air Force Command does not have a specialized structure to carry out scientific experiments on these phenomena and will limit itself to recording any events,” the Air Force said in a released statement.

I must admit, I feel like this is a semi-waste of time. There are so many questions running through my head right now. Are they making the assumption that since people are pilots and air traffic controllers that their reports are in some way more reliable than a pedestrian? Who is going to be in charge of “validating” these claims? How are they going to prevent hoaxers? If they are not going out to chase the UFO sighting how will we determine whether or not it’s an “authentic” UFO and not a sky lantern caught in an air current? This seriously seems like a huge waste of time in my opinion. I stand on the side of those who say if the aliens are coming to Earth, they will make themselves known. And no, I don’t consider UFO sightings proof they are making themselves known.

References:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-10947856

Oxygen Causing Cancer to Spread

Have you ever heard that when someone who has cancer and goes in for surgery that as soon as the oxygen hits the tumor, the cancer spreads like a wildfire? For years I thought this was true. I have heard my parents, teachers and people I thought of as authority figures spew this claim out throughout the years. Well, today at work I was talking to my boss about her mother who has recently died from lung cancer when she said “I wonder if the cancer spread when they opened her up?” I instantly questioned if this is true, because if you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense. I mean if oxygen cause cancer to metastasize wouldn’t something like simple breathing do the same thing?

So, after some research I am happy to report that this is just a common cancer myth. The real reason cancer spreads is because the cancer cells get into the blood stream and travel to other parts of the body where they lodge and start growing. Although the origins of this myth are unknown, it may stem from when a patient undergoes surgery for cancer and later dies because the cancer has spread. Because an individual has had surgery friends and family usually become optimistic. When they find out the cancer spread, people tend to grasp for meaning and causality. They come to the conclusion that the surgery was the cause of the cancer spreading. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is plenty of published scientific data that supports surgery as the treatment with the best cure rate. Also surgeons may leave microscopic cancer cells which can cause cancerous tumors to grow rapidly, which could also lead one to believe that when the cancer hit the air, it spread.

So cancer can/does spread in some instances, before surgeries and after surgeries. But it has nothing to do with the cancer being exposed to oxygen when surgery is being performed.

References:

http://www.caring.com/questions/does-surgery-make-cancer-spread-faster

http://www.oncolink.org/experts/article.cfm?c=3&s=19&ss=50&id=1916

http://www.healthexpertadvice.org/forum/Cancer/Does-cancer-really-spread-after-a-surgery-51868.htm

Orange Light Linked To UFO Sighting

In the Newbrough area, it seems mysterious lights are causing quite a UFO craze.

One caller, who refused to give his name, claimed that he was driving around 11:30pm when he noticed a very bright orange light in sky. According to his report this light was traveling quite slowly when it stopped, turned around and darted off at a very high speed to the north. The man who reported the claim said “I’m normally very skeptical about these things, but you have to accept the evidence of your own eyes.”

This statement is completely wrong. Although it is highly difficult for humans to admit when they are wrong or that their perceptions have been duped, senses like sight and sound mixed with recollection can easily be distorted over time or during times of excitement.

Another report that was called in said a pretty similar claim as the first individual.

“It was a bright orange saucer shape like a frisbee,” said the man. He also claimed that it switched directions and shot away, again, at a very high speed.

Now this article states that these sightings may be related to the popularity of sky lanterns. I actually would agree with this, because I use sky lanterns frequently. Though one of the individuals said it moved to fast to be one of these lanterns. I have observed that these lanterns can fly amazing distances and they can get caught in air currents which move them at quick speeds, when they were flying slowly seconds before.

References:

http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk/news/news-at-a-glance/in-the-dark-over-mystery-ufo-light-1.743375

Me and the Neti Pot

Lately I have been plagued with a serious series of insane sinus issues; complete with itchy watery eyes, scratchy throat, congestion of the head and the nose. All of these are pretty much tolerable except for the nose congestion. This year it seems to be worse than ever! One side is clogged and the other side is constantly dripping. It lasts this way for about 5-8 hours then alternates, like they are in perfect synchronization with each other. Saline spray wasn’t working and neither were any of the over the counter decongestants, in complete misery I was willing to try anything just to get a quick feeling of relief, the sensation of oxygen filling both nostrils, the feeling of comfortably breathing which we all take for granted so often.

I was told to try something called a Neti Pot. Quickly I had to ask what it was, the response actually shocked me. I was told it was something that looked like a tea pot that was filled with luke warm water and a salt solution. I was told that this salt solution was something that had to be bought strictly for the Neti Pot, I couldn’t just use regular table salt. Then what I heard next literally made me cringe, it sounded so bizarre I didn’t believe it.

After the Neti Pot is filled with the warm salt water solution, the individual is to lean forward and tip their head to the side and place the spout in one of the nostrils. The water travels up the nose and pours out the other side. That’s right; supposedly the water goes up one nostril and out the other. Insanely skeptical, I decided the only way to find out if this Neti Pot was real was to test it out myself.

First, I did some research on exactly how this device really works. I refrained from typing things like “Neti Pot skeptical” in the Google search because I didn’t want to bias my test. What I found was this: “The Neti Pot irrigates the sinuses with a steady, low-pressure, stream of warm water. If done properly, the water should flow into one nostril, up into the sinus cavities and out the opposite nostril. When we are sick, the mucus tends to thicken in order to trap viruses and bacteria. Pollen is also very sticky and may cling to the nasal passages. The warm salt water flushes dust and other debris out of the sinuses that blowing your nose may miss. Salt also has mild antiseptic properties and can kill some bacteria on contact. The salt also has some mild detergent effects. Some nasal irrigation formulas also use baking soda, which provides an extra level of cleaning. Neti Pots also work preventatively by cleaning out the sinuses, and have been proven effective as a treatment for chronic sinusitis.”

The word that caught my attention in that description on how the Neti Pot works is in the last sentence, the word proven. I instantly thought, I have to purchase this thing ASAP. So I went out my local pharmacy and dropped about $14 on my very first, personal Neti Pot.

When I got home I went right into the bathroom and opened my Neti Pot and found out the water used has to be distilled, so I quickly went into the kitchen to boil some water. After about 45 minutes everything was finally ready. I have to admit, the thought that I was about to pour salt water into my nose was a bit nerve wrecking. Hundreds of crazy thoughts were running through my brain. What if I choke? What if I drown? Finally after a few minutes and a quick pep talk, I placed the spout in my nose, leaned forward and tilted my head to the side.

The feeling was very weird, similar to… well, water going up your nose. My eyes started to water slightly and I thought, “Wow this is stupid.” Then it happened, a stream of water started to pour out my other nostril.

Instantly I started to laugh, which wasn’t a good idea, because it cause some of the salt water solution to drip down my throat. The taste is awful. I let about half of the pot drain into one nostril, when I stopped and switched sides. When I was finished, I let the excess water drain out of my nose and gently blew my nose into a tissue. Mucus galore. I have to admit, it’s very soothing and surprisingly I could breathe a little better. I wasn’t 100% normal but I was definitely breathing out of both nostrils.

So what do the doctors say about this home remedy? Is it really effective? Does the Neti Pot really work?

To my surprise E.N.T’s (ear, nose and throat doctors) actually recommend nasal irrigation by use of Neti Pots. They use this method as a way to clear away any crusting in the nasal passages. The basic explanation of how the Neti pot works is that it thins mucus to help flush it out of the nasal passages.

On WedMD it reports “A more biological explanation for how the Neti pot works has to do with hair-like structures called cilia that line the inside of the nasal and sinus cavities. These cilia wave back and forth to push mucus either to the back of the throat where it can be swallowed, or to the nose to be blown out. Saline solution can help increase the speed and improve coordination of the cilia so that they may more effectively remove the bacteria, allergens, and other irritants that cause sinus problems.”

On one of my favorite, Science Based Medicine, Dr. Harriet Hall cautions not to overdue Neti Pots she says “

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in November 2009 found that while short-term nasal irrigation is therapeutic, long-term use of nasal irrigation is harmful. Regular users of irrigation who continued using it had an average of 8 episodes of recurrent rhino sinusitis per year, while those who discontinued it only averaged 3 episodes per year. The investigators hypothesized that the nasal mucosa serves as the first line of defense, and irrigation depletes the nose of its immune blanket of mucus, thereby increasing the risk of recurrent infection.”

I know most people are thinking salt water solution, why not just use saline spray? Well truth be told, I thought the same thing, but study actually shows that saline spray is not as effective as nasal irrigation, that can be seen here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025315?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=3.

So turns out medically this method does work. It doesn’t cure the common cold or even your sinuses, it does however provide temporary relief of horrible symptoms, just be careful and don’t overdo it.

References:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/26053-neti-pot-work/#ixzz0w4hfxfs6

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-pain-pressure-9/neti-pots

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2841

Baby Cheats Death Just in Time

17 year old Dafne Marisol Hernandez had to endure the worst pain a mother could. She was preparing to bury her premature daughter. . Hernandez’s water broke when she was just 24 weeks pregnant and the doctors told her they had to induce labor otherwise the baby could die. Dafne herself was also in great danger.

When the baby was born she only weighed 1.3 pounds. Doctors told Hernandez that her baby had died, because no pulse could be detected.
Dafne had to sign the death certificate of her newborn and mourn as her child was taken to an “ice-cold” mortuary. This is where she stayed for over 4 hours before the family received the body for burial purposes.

This is where this story gets a little strange. Hernandez claims to have heard noises coming from the inside of the premature infant’s coffin. When it was opened Hernandez was surprised to see her child alive and crying.

Adolfo Martinez who is the director of the hospital said “We know that premature babies can’t take even a minute of cold conditions, let alone the temperature of a morgue.” Martinez also said. “It’s not normal that she survived.”

References:
http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/mexican-baby-comes-back-to-life-inside-coffin/19584287

Can Prayer Heal?

We’ve all heard it before. A friend has someone close to them injured or sick, and they ask for your thoughts and prayers. Can praying for the sick really help? According to an international study led by religious studies Professor Candy Gunther Brown, it can. In a study titled “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique,” Brown measured the effect of prayer on vision and hearing. The study found surprising improvements where glasses and hearing aids are not readily available.

“We chose to investigate ‘proximal’ prayer because that is how a lot of prayer for healing is actually practiced by Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world,” Brown said. “These constitute the fastest-growing Christian subgroups globally, with some 500 million adherents, and they are among those most likely to pray expectantly for healing.”
Brown and her colleagues carried out the study as part of a larger research program on the cultural significance and experience of spiritual healing practices.

Brown and her team studied the effect supposed healers has on people who had vision and hearing impairments located in Mozambique and Brazil.
The team used vision charts and audiometers to evaluate subjects in 14 rural Mozambican who had reported having some type hearing deficiency and 11 who had some sort of absence of vision. They carefully evaluated these subjects both before and after they received ‘proximal intercessory prayer’ (PIP). The reason Professor Brown and her team focused on vision and hearing impairments is because these ailments can be measured by mechanical devices such as vision charts and hearing machines. By doing this, the team can see if improvements have really occurred instead of taking the word on the subject.

So according the results of these tests, subjects did have improvements in their vision and hearing after receiving PIP. Three subjects had their tested vision improve from 20/400 or worse to 20/80 or better. Two subjects with impaired hearing reduced the threshold at which they could detect sound by 50 decibels.

Professor Brown recounted that one subject, a woman named Maryam, could not see a person’s hand that was only one foot away. A healer put her hand on Maryam’s eyes, and prayed for less than a minute. After the prayer the person held five fingers in front of Maryam, who was able to count them and even read the 20/125 line on a vision chart.

Professor Brown said that this study will be published in the September issue of the Southern Medical Journal.

These results may sound promising, but many scientists disagree. Terry Sanderson, President of National Secular Society (NSS) said “This study, as it describes itself, is unscientific and therefore of no worth beyond its use as religious propaganda. It exploits the desperation of people living in extreme poverty who are unable to access proper medical care in order to bring them under the influence of these Pentecostal churches.”

Neurologist Dr. Steven Novella (personal hero of mine) had some doubts about this study as well. On his blog NeuroLogica he brought up the fact that “these tests had no blinding or control group.”  He explains that “everyone in the study, subjects and experimenters, knew that every subject was getting the treatment.” Dr. Novella goes on to state that “the protocol also calls for multiple interventions if initial treatments are not effective – essentially the subjects receive repeat treatments as long as possible until they report a response.”

Just like Terry Sanderson, Dr. Novella makes a similar statement in his blog- “At this point anyone with any reasonable familiarity with how to assess the quality of medical studies should see that this is a worthless study. This barely qualifies as a pilot study. It really doesn’t matter what the treatment is or how plausible it is – you simply cannot draw any meaningful conclusion from 24 self-selected subjects with no controls and no blinding.”
Dr. Novella writes that vision and hearing is subjective even if proper medical tests are administered and that it is essential to get subjective feedback from the subjects. The problem this test poses is that it allows subjects to exaggerate their limitations before treatment and try hard to perform better after the intervention.

The consensus seems to be the same in most of the medical reviews I have read on this subject matter. Personally I think this study is irresponsible. What it is showing is that it alright to rely on prayer as opposed to medical treatment, which is dangerous and negligent. It has nothing to do with personal belief in a deity, it’s just foolish.

References:
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/health/proximity-could-be-key-to-success-of-healing-prayer_100407893.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1300506/Prayers-really-heal-sick-finds-international-study.html
http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=2188

The Jesus Crop Circles

Jesus Christ has made his presence known by appearing in everyday items across the world: wood grain, toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even lung x-rays. But now it seems that Jesus isn’t content with food or human organs, but rather crop circles. Near Hungerford in Berkshire, two circles both 250ft in diameter seem to portray the face of Jesus Christ. Many are saying it looks to resemble to Shroud of Turin. For those who do not know what the shroud of Turin is, supposedly it is the cloth that wrapped Jesus body after he was crucified. It is said to depict his face on the shroud.

“These circles are causing quite a stir in the crop circle community. The last time a face appeared as a crop circle was in 2002 when an alien face appeared at Sparsholt in Hampshire. Farmers whose land is used to make the circles worry that they will be inundated with visitors seeking a religious experience,” said crop circle expert Karen Alexander.

Personally I don’t think it looks anything like Jesus, although many highly disagree. What do you think? Either way, these were obviously made by humans; though I must admit I haven’t seen any claims that say this is the work of aliens. It is cool none the less.

References:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300319/The-Holy-Trail-Crop-circles-Jesus-M4-spiritual-lift.html

Winston Churchill Kept UFO Sighting Secret

It reads like a pitch for the newest TV drama: Prime Minister of the UK, Winston Churchill, ordered a UFO sighting to be covered up during World War ll. The reason he ordered the cover up was to prevent “mass panic”. Churchill is reported to have made the following statement: “This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one’s belief in the Church.”

Ah, if only I was talking about a new show, but this real life. Supposedly the report that was kept secret involved a reconnaissance plane that was shadowed, and then confronted by a silver saucer-shaped aircraft that hovered noiselessly. Churchill was so concerned about the sighting; he ordered it to be kept secret for at least 50 years.

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10853905

Has St. John the Baptist Really Been Found?

Today, when I got to work, I immediately began my normal routine. No, I wasn’t actually working, I was checking news websites, blogs and other such odd internet locations. During this search, I saw an interesting title on BBC News which read “Remains of St. John the Bapist Found.” I was disappointed to find that the article was ridiculously short and somewhat misleading, saying not much more than “Bone fragments of St. John the Baptist appear to have been found on Sveti Ivan Island near Bulgaria’s southern black sea.” Check it out here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10849211.

Essentially, archaeologists have found the reminas of iconic Christian figure, and while they were waiting on a few more tests to be completed, they decided to go public with their best guess as to who this person was. I decided to go on my own dig of sorts, through the internet, to see what I could find.

First, I wanted to know what exactly was found. From what I could research, late last month a reliquary (a container that holds ‘holy relics’) made of alabaster was discovered on an island in the Black Sea named Sveti Ivan (which translates into ‘St. John’ in Bulgarian apparently). It just so happens that in the 11th century a monastery was built and dedicated to St. John. Inside this container were some skull fragments, a tooth, and some
phalanges (bones from a human hand). According to Kazimir Popkonstantinov, the lead archeologist, exacavator and the one who lifted the lid of the reliquary, this container dates back to about the middle of the 5th century.

My next question was why is this discovery so significant and how can it be linked to St. John the Bapist? The date ‘June 24th’ was found carved in Greek on the alabaster reliquary. This is the day some Christians celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, also know as the ‘Fest of John the Baptist.” Like I mentioned before, further tests are to be carried out on the fragments. Even without the test results complete, the discovery has been enough to convince Popkonstantinov that these are indeed the remains of the iconic Christian figure.

I must admit it would be pretty cool if these fragments do date back to the time of Christ, but as usual I am a bit skeptical. The date found on the reliquary, June 24th, isn’t enough evidence to convince me outright. It is possible that this could be a fraud. Sadly, frauds aren’t that uncommon with religious artifacts, even during this time period. Some pieces of fraudulent Christian relics include a multitude of crowns made of thorn, pieces of the ‘true’ cross, multiple Shrouds of Turin, the nails that held Christ to the cross during his crucifixtion and many Holy Grails, one of which dates back to the 4th century. Even St. John has been ‘hoaxed’ before, with 2 heads that held the claim to be his. In all, a simple date isn’t enough to persuade me that this recent discovery is indeed authentic. If the pieces are carbon dated back to the time of Christ, could anyone even possibly be able to identify them as belonging to St. John?  Or will it have to be taken on as an act of faith?

References:
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/03/remains-of-john-the-baptist-found-in-bulgaria/?hpt=C1
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10849211