Friday, August 28, 2009

When will all this End??

An Artist's Musings
Image by walknboston
A convicted rapist who fathered two children by a girl he kidnapped when she was 11 has claimed his life is 'the most powerful heart-warming story'.

Phillip Garrido, who abducted Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 and kept her hidden in his backyard as a sex slave, admitted his behaviour was at first 'disgusting'.

But in a bizarre, rambling phone interview from inside a Californian prison, he claims his life completely changed when she had the first of their two children.

The 58-year-old boasted 'wait until you hear the story of what took place at this house' and insisted the world would be amazed by his rehabilitation.

The discovery of Miss Dugard after almost two decades has stunned America as further details emerged today of her incredible ordeal.

Snatched on her way to school 18 years ago, she had two daughters by Garrido - one when she was just 14 and the second four years later.

Police said the three had been living in sheds and tents hidden at the back of the his home in Antioch, near San Francisco, 170 miles from where she was abducted.
Phillip Garrrido

Phillip Garrido is charged with kidnap, rape, conspiracy and committing lewd acts with a minor

Miss Dugard, now 29, was renamed Allissa by her captors. Her children were born on the property and had never been to school or seen a doctor.

He claimed to be "Born Again"

His claim that he turned his life around is thought to be a reference to his born-again Christianity.

People who knew him said he had become increasingly fanatical about his religious beliefs in recent years, sometimes breaking out into song and claiming that God spoke to him through a box.

He ran a church called God's Desire from the house and is said to have conducted religious revival ceremonies in a tent in the grounds of his home, which had bars on the windows.

A web blog apparently written by Garrido includes bizarre religious ramblings.

One post says: ‘The Creator has given me the ability to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world.’

He claimed he had hired a private investigator to verify his ability to speak to people using only his mind.

An 'affidavit' said he could 'control sound with my mind and have developed a device for others to witness this phenomena'

Where she lived while in captivity

Miss Dugard, now 29, spent part of her time as Garrido's hostage locked in a tiny 10ft by 10ft shed hidden in a secret compound at the back of his home.

The shabby outhouse was soundproofed so neighbours would not hear her and could only be opened from the outside.

She later shared the room, another shed and two small tents, with her two daughters. Power was provided by leads from the house's electricity supply and there was a 'rudimentary' shower and toilet

How Jaycee Dugard was freed:

Miss Dugard was eventually freed after Garrido aroused the suspicions of guards as he tried to give out religious leaflets to students on the Berkeley campus of the University of California.

A campus policeman checked his record and discovered he was a listed sex offender and on parole after serving a jail sentence for a vicious rape and kidnapping in Nevada in 1971.

State police were called and ordered Garrido to check in at his parole office. He arrived there with his wife, 'Allissa' and the two children.

The parole officer was immediately wary because he had never seen the younger woman and the two girls on visits to Garrido's home.

He called police who began questioning Allissa and discovered she was really Miss Dugard.

This case is similar to that of ELISABETH FRITZL who was 18 when her father Josef Fritzl drugged her with ether imprisoned her in the cellar warren he had built beneath the family home in Amstetten, two hours from Vienna. For 24 years she was raped and assaulted and had seven children through incest.

Three of the children had been imprisoned along with their mother underground for their whole lives before their release last year. Fritzl was jailed for life in March this year after being convicted of murder, rape, enslavement and incest.

Read more
Mail Online

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How flexible are you?

Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is an unusual form of physical display which involves the dramatic bending and flexing of the human body. Contortion is often part of acrobatics and circus acts.

In general, contortionists have unusual natural flexibility, which is then enhanced through gymnastic training. Many contortionists have a genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)?

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (Also called: Cutis elastica, EDS) is a heterogeneous group of heritable connective tissue disorders, characterized by articular (joint) hypermobility, skin extensibility and tissue fragility.

Individuals with EDS have a defect in their connective tissue, the tissue that provides support to many body parts such as the skin, muscles and ligaments.

The fragile skin and unstable joints found in EDS are the result of faulty collagen. Collagen is a protein, which acts as a "glue" in the body, adding strength and elasticity to connective tissue.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is uncommon. About 1 in 5,000 people has EDS.

What are the types of EDS:

There are six major types of EDS. They can range from mild to life-threatening. The different types of EDS are classified according to their manifestations of signs and symptoms. They are:
  1. Hypermobility type (formerly type III): This is the most common form. It may affect as many as one in 10,000 to 15,000 people
  2. Classical type (formerly types I and II): This type probably affects about one in 20,000 to 40,000 people
  3. Vascular type (formerly type IV): This is one of the most serious forms of EDS. It affects an estimated one in 250,000 people.
  4. Kyphoscoliosis type: This uncommon form has few cases reported worldwide.
  5. Arthrochalasis type: This is rare. Only about 30 cases have been reported worldwide
  6. Dermatosparaxis type: This form is also rare, with only about a dozen cases reported worldwide.
Each type of EDS is a distinct disorder that "runs true" in a family. This means that an individual with Vascular Type EDS will not have a child with Classical Type EDS.

What are the symptoms of EDS?Some of the more prominent symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome include flexible joints that extend beyond the normal range of movement, and skin that's especially stretchy or fragile. Clinical manifestations of EDS may include:

  • Joint hypermobility
  • Loose/unstable joints which are prone to frequent dislocations and/or subluxations
  • Joint pain
  • Hyperextensible joints (they move beyond the joint's normal range)
  • Early onset of osteoarthritis.
  • Soft velvetâ-like skin
  • Variable skin hyper-extensibility
  • Fragile skin that tears or bruises easily (bruising may be severe)
  • Severe scarring
  • Slow and poor wound healing
  • Development of molluscoid pseudo tumors (fleshy lesions associated with scars over pressure areas).
Miscellaneous/Less Common:
  • Chronic, early onset, debilitating musculoskeletal pain (usually associated with the Hypermobility Type)
  • Arterial/intestinal/uterine fragility or rupture (usually associated with the Vascular Type); Scoliosis at birth and scleral fragility (associated with the Kyphoscoliosis Type)
  • Poor muscle tone (associated with the Arthrochalasia Type)
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Gum disease.
  • Hernias

There is no cure!!!
There is no way to reverse the genetic alterations that cause Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Treatment focuses primarily on managing individual signs and symptoms and preventing further complications. Much of this consists of self-care strategies to protect joints and prevent excessive bruising and injuries.
The required health care team may include specialists from a variety of different fields, including medical genetics, surgery, pediatrics, orthopedics, cardiology and ophthalmology, to name a few.
A point to note:

Not all contortionists have EDS. Many may have normal yet very flexible joints, or "double joints." This isn't the same as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
So how flexible are you?

Read more:
MedLine Plus
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Boko Haram in Nigeria

Very recently my country, Nigeria was rocked by violence which shook Nigeria and the world as a whole. For yet another time, Nigeria made front page news all over the world for the wrong reason.
The group behind the latest violence in northern Nigeria is known by several different names, including al-Sunnah wal Jamma, or Followers of Muhammad's Teachings in Arabic, and Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa dialect.

The group was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf. In 2004 it moved to Kanamma, Yobe State, where it set up a base called "Afghanistan", used to attack nearby police outposts, killing police officers.

Yusuf was hostile to democracy and the secular education system, vowing that "this war that is yet to start would continue for long" if the political and educational system was not changed.
In Bauchi the group was reported as refusing to mix with local people. The group includes members who come from neighbouring Chad and speak only Arabic.
Boko Haram opposes not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well.In a 2009 BBC interview, Yusuf stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sun.

What I find so ironic is the fact that the Western culture they oppose makes up a great part of their lives.........the guns and ammunition they use (and used) were all Western. As a Nigerian, it is very saddening that the Northern part of my country has been and continues to be the site of a lot of violence which are mostly religious in nature.
In July 2009 the Nigerian police started investigating the group, following reports that the group was arming itself. Several leaders were arrested in Bauchi, sparking deadly clashes with Nigerian security forces and the estimated deaths of at least 700 people.
I pray this kind of violence would come to an end and become history.