Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #309

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 309

… “We have a warrant to search the premises, nurse.” One of Tallahassee’s finest is in the company of Attorney Jordan Essington of Jacksonville…

Reliable Lettie Golden is working at LBMH this day and needs no prompting in locating the ledger book appointment-book2from two years ago. She was not working that evening in question, but she did book the appointment. She is able to go directly to the right page. “Here it is Mr. Clavitt… Sanders.”

“Good work, Lettie. Now do you see why it is a good idea using a pencil instead of a pen to take down names?” He removes Missy Sanders from the 7:00 p.m. space with a clean eraser. A clean fresh eraser is the key, leaving behind nary a trace of graphite. The lone entry for the evening is the admission of Edwina Stevens, the one of broken ankle fame; must have taken all night to set it proper. That’s going to be their story and they’ll stick to it.

“We are going to change the rules here,” the lawyer continues, “and I want you to promise me that you’ll stick to them. But let’s get over to George’s Store to talk this out. I’d rather you weren’t here A.O., in case the police show up. Lettie? Put that book away like no one has seen it since it was filed.”search-warrant-001

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“We have a warrant to search the premises, nurse.” One of Tallahassee’s finest is in the company of Attorney Jordan Essington of Jacksonville. They expect to encounter some resistance, perhaps in the form of foot dragging or pleading of ignorance. Neither is present here at LBMH.

Lettie is a God-fearing woman, not well versed in lying or covering up, but she would perjure herself if and when the doctor’s career was on the line. She is polite, while trying not to look as if she were expecting them. “Yes, officer, what can I do for you?”

“We need to have Doctor Campbell’s appointment book from 1952, specifically January 24.” Fifteen minutes earlier, they would have found what they were expecting to find.

“This is 1954, sir. I don’t rightly recall where it is, but I’ll do my best to find it. I ain’t the head nurse, but I knows a few places where it might be.”

“Do your best and I’m sure you will find it.”

  Lettie goes to the back storage rooms and basically spends the ensuing half-hour praying, pretending like she was having difficulty. She tries the patience of the men in the lobby.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode # 309


page 291

Stuff in “America’s Attic” -WIF Museums

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Mysteries Locked

in the

Smithsonian Institute

The Smithsonian Institution is often called America’s attic, and within its vast collections can be found items ranging from mundane to utterly unique. Over 150 million items are contained within the Institution’s collections, scattered throughout its many museums, affiliated museums, temporarily displayed at other locations on loan, or carefully stored. It should be no surprise that, considering the size of the collections, an accurate inventory has been elusive at times. In 2010 an independent study revealed discrepancies in the Smithsonian’s inventories that indicated approximately 10% of items claimed by the Smithsonian were unaccounted for; that is, they were missing. Across the 19 museums operated directly by the Smithsonian, the number could be much higher.

The Smithsonian fields queries from collectors, salvagers, and archaeologist both professional and amateur, evaluating items and documents for their authenticity and historical significance. In doing so it runs into the occasional, shall we say, quack. These queries and of course the spread of unconfirmed reports across the internet have led to the belief of items in the institution’s care which are wholly unfounded. Others seem to be true. Since only a tiny percentage of the Smithsonian’s collections are actually on display, there is an opportunity to assign to them the holding of objects which cannot be confirmed visually by a visit to one of their facilities. Denials of possession from the Institution’s docents are treated with a conspiratorial wink. Here are 10 items believed to be in the possession of the Smithsonian, and whether or not such possession is true.

10. John Dillinger’s sex organ

Where and when the story of John Dillinger’s improbably large penis being housed in the Smithsonian Institution began is elusive. It has been debunked by writers and fact checkers, denied by the Institution itself, and still the story won’t go away. The Smithsonian has for years maintained a form letter denying its possession of Dillinger’s member, which it sends in response to queries regarding its existence and asking for confirmation of its size. During the 1960s the story was spread further to explain that the organ was actually on display at the Institution, with hundreds claiming to have personally examined it as it lay pickled in a jar of formaldehyde. Embellishments to the story had the organ displayed, in its jar, in the office of J. Edgar Hoover before it found its way into the nation’s attic.

The story of Dillinger’s penis being, shall we say, larger than life began shortly after photos of the dead criminal awaiting his autopsy were seen by the public. A large bulge in the sheet covering his lifeless body was the culprit. Dillinger had more than his share of admirers in the Depression years, including those who admired his many known trysts with attractive women. How the item in question moved from his autopsy room to a place in the Smithsonian, and why it did, are both questions with an array of answers, none of which can be confirmed. But nobody has been able to prove that the item doesn’t exist in the Smithsonian’s collections either, though the museum has long maintained that it has no record of possessing the curious article.

9. George Washington’s missing bed

Within the inventory of the collection held by the National Museum of American History is George Washington’s bed, which he slept in while at home on his Mount Vernon Plantation. During an inventory review in the early 21st century the inspectors reported that parts of the bed in question, surely significant as it was likely the bed in which the Father of His Country breathed his last, were missing, and had been for many years. The Smithsonian responded that the bed had in fact never been delivered to the Institution, and although it was not in their material position, they knew where it was. It was on display in Washington’s bedroom, at Mount Vernon, where visitors could view it when touring the estate.

Technically the bed is in the possession of the Smithsonian, though there is dispute over whether the Institution ever had physical custody of the bed. The bed and another item in the Smithsonian’s collections – George Washington’s uniform – can be used to answer another often debated feature regarding the Virginian. Washington’s height has been reported as being as tall as 6-foot-6 by some historians, with others stating he was just over 6-feet tall. Washington indicated the latter when ordering suits from London tailors. Measurements of the uniform, and the longer than average length of the mattress of the Mount Vernon bed, indicate his height was 6-foot-2; not a giant, but considerably taller than the average height for his day.

8. A steam engine lost in the Titanic disaster may be owned by the Smithsonian

Hiram Maxim was a British inventor (though he was born in America) who held a multitude of patents, including one for the invention of a better mousetrap. He is most famous for the advances he made in automatic weapons. Among his interests was the invention of a heavier than air flying machine, powered by a steam engine. When the aircraft experiments ended in failure, Maxim donated the engine, which was of his own design, to the Smithsonian Institution. The engine was shipped to the United States in the hold of the new White Star Lines steamer, RMS Titanic. Although the ship’s manifest did not specifically list a shipment made by Maxim, unidentified crates and cartons arriving at the docks just prior to departure could have included the engine.

Officially the Smithsonian has not confirmed ownership of the engine. Nor has it denied it. Numerous items from the wreck of Titanic have been displayed by the Smithsonian; however, the Institution insists that the items were recovered from the surface following the sinking, or were washed ashore. The Smithsonian has steadfastly refused to accept or display items retrieved from the actual site of the wreckage of Titanic, citing the principle of sanctuary. The Smithsonian does hold a patent model of a steam pump donated by Maxim in 1874. The possession of the Maxim pump and the letters covering the donation lost on the Titanic have been confused into the belief that a steam engine retrieved from Titanic’s wreck is in the Smithsonian’s collections.

7. John F. Kennedy’s brain has been rumored to be held in the Smithsonian’s collections

During the autopsy on the body of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, his brain, or rather what was left of it, was placed in a steel box and put in the custody of the Secret Service. It was taken to the White House, where it remained until 1965, when it was transferred to the National Archives for safekeeping. During an inventory of medical evidence from the Kennedy assassination, conducted in 1966, the National Archives could not locate the late President’s brain. Besides giving fuel to the conspiracy theorists who speculated on the reasons for the brain’s disappearance, it revealed a mystery which has yet to be solved more than 50 years later (what happened to the portion of skull and brain matter retrieved by Jackie Kennedy from the trunk of the limousine remains unknown as well).

Rumors regarding the reason Kennedy’s brain vanished into seemingly thin air abound, with some speculating that it was ordered by Robert Kennedy to prevent the press from learning the truth regarding the number of physical ailments suffered by his brother, from the drugs used to treat them. Others believe the brain was hidden from public sight, as it were, to prevent the revelation that JFK had been hit from the front during the fatal shooting. Was the President’s brain transferred to the Smithsonian for safekeeping? If so the fact has never been confirmed by either the Kennedy family, the National Archives, or the Smithsonian Institution. It’s possible that the box was simply lost, though how likely such an event could be is subject to debate as well.

6. Ghosts might be found in the Smithsonian in several of its buildings

For those who believe in the supernatural and the haunting of ghosts, the Smithsonian Institution is a natural place to expect the visitations of the dead. In the past, reports by employees and visitors of spectral visitors have been common. As early as 1900, the Washington Post reported on ghostly visitors, former officials of the institution returned in the night to keep watch over the work they had supervised in lives long since ended. The Post reported that several Smithsonian watchmen had encountered the spirits of former – and deceased – secretaries who vanished when approached and spoken to. They were described as being attired as they had been when they were at their jobs in life.

It wasn’t only human ghosts reported by the Post. Numerous residents in the vicinity of the Castle, as well as those going about their business in the city’s evening hours, told of hearing the disembodied screams of birds and other animals emanating from the building. The newspaper recounted their claims of the sounds coming from exotic birds and animals which had been sacrificed to fill the Institution’s taxidermy collections. The residents were reported as being near desperation in their attempts to silence the unearthly wail of one bird in particular. Over the decades, ghosts have been reported in other buildings housing the Smithsonian collections, including in the Museum of Natural History. Ghost sightings became so common that in the 1940s Secretary Alexander Wetmore dictated that all employees had to vacate the premises by midnight.

5. The Smithsonian has a storage facility to protect meteorites from contamination

When the early Apollo missions went to the moon, the astronauts were quarantined upon their return to earth, to prevent possible contamination exposure from the lunar mission spreading to the general population. After Apollo 14 the quarantine period was eliminated. In the 21st century, the Smithsonian Institution operates a quarantine system which protects meteorites recovered from Antarctica from earthly microbes. The storage center consists of a clean room, with an atmosphere of nitrogen (an inert gas) which ensures that the specimens recovered from the Antarctic are not exposed to the risks present in the air which we all breathe to sustain life.

The clean room and other complex support facilities for the Smithsonian’s collections are located in the Museum Support Center (MSC) operated by the Institution at Suitland, Maryland. Inbound donations to collections are examined and prepared at the facility, which includes a facility to ensure that all biodegradable material is examined for and treated for pest contamination, in order to protect both new and existing collections. For example, a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark, long rumored to be in the Smithsonian’s possession, would be required to undergo examination and possible treatment to prevent it from infesting other items held by the museum (the Smithsonian officially denies holding a piece of Noah’s Ark). The MSC is not open to the public, and visitors and staff are subject to extensive security.

4. The Hope Diamond and its curse may be encountered at the Smithsonian

The presence of the legendary Hope Diamond within the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is well known, and it is one of the most popular exhibits of the entire collection. The curse of the Hope Diamond might be encountered there as well. According to the curse, anyone possessing the diamond, no matter for how short a time, suffers from misfortunes great and small. The curse was in truth a fable embellished by Pierre Cartier as a sales pitch, adding to the stone’s notoriety. In 1911 Evalyn Walsh McLean bought the stone, and her own succession of unfortunate events added to the luster of the curse (her husband abandoned her, her son was killed in an auto accident and her daughter died of an overdose).

The Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian by Harry Winston in 1958. It was delivered, believe it or not, by registered mail, and the mailman who made the delivery also suffered a run of bad luck, though he refused to accept that it was caused by the curse. Visitors to the Smithsonian are not afforded the opportunity to handle the diamond, merely to view it, and are thus evidently immune to the curse which according to some resides in the Institution within the stone. In the sixty-some years the stone has been in the museum’s possession it has certainly not brought ill fortune. Millions of visitors have gone to the museum to view the diamond, despite the protests of many when the museum accepted it, who feared that the curse would be extended to the nation.

3. You can learn a lot from a dummy

During the late 1980s a series of Public Service Announcements were produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The PSAs appeared in print in magazines as well as in commercials for airing on television. Two talking crash test dummies were created as partners for the campaign, Vince and Larry. Vince was voiced by character actor and comedian Jack Burns, who had earlier appeared as Deputy Barney Fife’s replacement on The Andy Griffith Show. Larry, who was often a foil for Vince’s mistakes, was voiced by Lorenzo Music, later the original voice of Garfield. The two demonstrated the proper use of seat belts and the consequences of failing to wear them properly.

“You Could Learn a Lot from a Dummy” was their catchphrase, and became a part of the lexicon in the late 1980s. Eventually they were replaced by other dummies, and they were so popular that a line of action figures featuring crash test dummies was marketed by toymaker Tyco in the early 1990s. They even became the basis for a one hour television special. Crash test dummies are still used to demonstrate the proper use of seat belts and children’s car seats, but Vince and Larry were retired long ago. Larry’s head, the only part of him known to still exist, is within the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, though as of early 2019 not on public display. Photos of the head, somewhat battered, are visible on the Smithsonian’s website, where one may still learn a lot from a dummy.

2. The model of Lincoln’s patented device is a replica

Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History are able to see one exhibit which is truly unique. On display is a model depicting the invention of a system to raise riverboats over sandbars on the inland rivers, which were not yet improved with dams to allow continuous navigation. It was an invention of Abraham Lincoln’s, the only president in US history to be awarded a patent. Never put into production, the device nonetheless proved workable in theory, and on the Smithsonian website there are comments which describe the ease with which the design could be modernized, using materials unheard of in Lincoln’s day.

The model was commissioned by Lincoln — he did not make it with his own hands — and at any rate the model on display is not the original he submitted. That model resided at the Patent Office during Lincoln’s tenure in the White House, a place to which he frequently resorted as president, escaping the cares of his office. By 1978 it was deemed too fragile for display, and the currently displayed model was built to replace it, though the original remains in the possession of the Smithsonian. Lincoln is not often linked with American infrastructure, though he was a railroad lawyer, a supporter of the Transcontinental Railroad, and of the improvement of rivers and streams. A visit to the display may serve to remind that the 16th President was a multi-faceted man, far from the country lawyer as he is all too often portrayed.

1. Missiles guided by pigeons along for the ride might have worked

During the Second World War missiles were, for the most part, a point and shoot weapon, which were unguided once in flight. It took Yankee ingenuity, in the form of psychologist B.F. Skinner, to come up with the idea of using pigeons riding inside the missiles to guide them to their target. Relying on their pecking instinct and rewarding them with food, Skinner trained pigeons to peck at the images of enemy ships, planes, tanks, and other equipment. Pecks on the center of the screen maintained the weapon on course, pecks off-center led to signals which caused the missile’s fins to change alignment and alter the course of the weapon in flight. The pigeons rode in a capsule which was attached to the nose of the missile. Obviously, it was a one-way trip.

The pecking pigeons project was pursued for months before it became clear that the guidance technology of the weapons available at the time – the speed with which course could be altered – was too slow to keep up with the little peckers, and the project was abandoned. As evidence that such a project actually existed, the Smithsonian in its collection has a capsule in which a pigeon would have flown, attached to a missile as he guided it to its target by pecking away at the image he had been trained to recognize. The capsule can also be viewed on the Smithsonian’s website, along with a description of the project. Skinner later claimed that the project would have been successful, and was only abandoned because, “no one would take us seriously.”


Stuff in “America’s Attic”

WIF Museums

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #305

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #305

…The second unique case of abduction is Sara Fenwick, who was missing for six full years, and most recently, has been making regular visits to a Fountain of Youth…

walter-reed

All this to-do about Sara is transpiring in Washington, D.C. at Walter Reed Medical Army Hospital; physicians to anyone from Presidents and Privates. Sara has seen most of these same doctors while in New Mexico, so she is Image result for walter reed army hospital 1950not totally opposed to being poked and prodded. She is treated like the celebrity she has become, especially among this exclusive group.

The four men and one woman are very busy these days, attempting to sort through volumes of x-rays, blood tests and testimony from men, women and children who claim to have been lifted from their lives, with little recollection of what went on. The only thing they seem to know is that something had happened.

It has become apparent that each of the two dozen or so cases has its own peculiarity. But there are only two that are clearly unique. One, is the unlucky unidentified man who was the lone human casualty at the crash at Roswell (which we all know never happened, wink – wink).The second is the case of Sara Fenwick, who was missing for six full years, and most recently, has been making regular visits to a Fountain of Youth, at an undisclosed locale. The latter will be coming to an end, with an Army of help, but without discerned or predicted results.

Holloman AFB-001 The lead doctor in the Top Secret study is, Ben Wright, the psychiatrist who50-to-40-001 was the first professional to interview the mysterious woman on runway 4-9er at Holloman Air Force Base. He is flat out flabbergasted by what he finds out about the 1952 version of this woman. Had she not been in the company of Carolyn and Robert, he would not have recognized her; such was the extent of her physical reversal. After he sees the freshly taken x-rays, he cannot believe his eyes.

“She has two kidneys! I’ll be damned!” He has since summoned his colleagues to check out the before and after electromagnetic images. “And look at the frontal lobe of her brain, it has regenerated completely — and it looks better than ever!”

          “The left kidney is a kidney of a sixteen-year-old. How old did you say she was?” asks the female of the team, Jane Friez, to the Ben Wright.

          “When we found her in ‘47, she was 56 in calendar years, closer to 50 in biological years. Here, 5 years later, she hardly looks a day over 40.”

          “I’m definitely jealous, but that is physically impossible. Are you sure this is the same woman?”


Alpha Omega M.D.

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X-Ray Art by Yury Shpakovski

Episode #305


page 287

Britbox Beatbox Bumbles – WIF Eye On Britannia

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Bloody Curious

Facts About the

Expansive

British Empire

The British Empire was by far the biggest empire in human history, which doesn’t sound as impressive if we just leave it at that. Consider this; at its height, the tiny island famous for being damp and cold controlled around 24% of Earth’s total area, ruling over 23% of the world population. It was a hugely influential entity, too. Many of our modern technologies first originated there, and its effects can still be seen in many nooks of modern life.

For all of its merits, though, the British Empire was also one of the most controversial empires to have ever existed. While many other European nations had their own territorial empires around the world, the excesses of colonialism are inherently associated with the Brits. For good reason, too, as it was the biggest one of them all, and perfected many of the techniques later used by other colonial powers to keep their numerically-superior colonial subjects in control. Some of them have been extensively discussed in modern discourse – like its prominent role in the establishment of the slave trade – though many of them have been left out of history books.

Because of its size and global influence at its peak, there are still many surprising – and shocking – facts from across the once-mighty British Empire most of us don’t know about.

7. The First Evil Corporation

The British Empire existed as a monarchy throughout its existence, though the true credit for its rapid rise around the world could be squarely given to the East India Company. Think of it as a private firm with its own standing army and patronage from the monarch, as the EIC was instrumental in wrestling control of Britain’s colonies in South and Southeast Asia all on its own.

What most of us forget, though, is that the EIC also pioneered the blueprint for all ‘evil corporations’ to come after it. Its whole business model was set up around efficiently securing the natural resources from its colonies, with support from the central British state in exchange for a bulk of those resources and military backing. It was also the recipient of the world’s first corporate bailout in 1773, when the EIC ran into massive debt and caused banks across Europe to crash. It could be compared to the Wall Street Bailout of 2008, except the EIC was way bigger and more intertwined with global trade at that time than any of those banks ever would be.

6. 1857 Sepoy Revolt

There’s no doubt that the EIC was one of the most successful corporations in history, with control over some of the most resource-rich and populous parts of the world at its peak. What started out as a loose group of merchants just trying to set up trading outposts in the East turned into a state of its own, with little to no oversight from the British government in its early days. If you’re wondering why we don’t hear about it as much as other successful business ventures in history, it’s because of the 1857 revolt in British-controlled India.

While the EIC had a standing army of its own, it wasn’t enough to control a territory as diverse and politically-complicated as India. That’s where the sepoys came in. An anglicized word for sipahi – which translates to soldier – they were soldiers picked from local populations to help the EIC army maintain control of the territory. That plan worked quite well for a while, too, until they decided to coat the rifle cartridges with pig and cow meat.

While the reasons behind the rebellion were diverse and numerous (much like all rebellions), the cartridges turned out to be the final straw. You see, the cartridges had to be picked with the teeth before being reloaded into the rifles, which was offensive to Hindu and Muslim sepoys. It gave way to one of the most brutal rebellions in the history of the British Empire, as the rebels came shockingly close to wrestling control of the whole territory. It caused quite a bit of outrage in Britain, too, as stories of rebels murdering British civilians living in India made its way there.

The rebellion was eventually suppressed, though it fundamentally changed how Britain dealt with its colonies. It marked the end of the East India Company, and put the British Indian territory directly under the monarch. It would stay that way until India’s independence in 1947.

5. Influence On Nazi Ideology

When we talk about the Nazis in the modern context, there’s always an air of shock to it. How could an ideology so opposed to human rights and just generally being nice to others gain a foothold in one of the world’s largest democracies of the time? Many reasons are cited, including the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression. While they may have contributed to it to an extent, what we often forget is that Nazi ideology never had to come out of the woodwork in the first place. The most problematic parts of it were already out in the open and widely-practiced, especially in the British Empire.

Hitler was massively influenced by British subjugation and control of its overseas territories – especially India – as he wanted to replicate it for Germany. He even referred to Eastern Europe as ‘Germany’s India’, though as we all know, that didn’t exactly go according to plan. The British Empire also kind of had a racism problem, as is proven by Churchill’s (and other British politicians’ of the time) frequent remarks on the colonies.

Moreover, many parts of the Nazi ideology were already popular across sections of governments in Europe, largely due to other countries wanting to replicate Britain’s success in their own colonies. A huge part of that was written out of Western history after the Second World War, though Hitler’s admiration for the British Empire remains well-documented. Despite that, the British Empire’s influence over the Nazis and fascists in Europe is almost never discussed.

4. The Bengal Famine

We’re no strangers to the disastrous policies of the British Empire, so much so that apologizing for them is a sort of an in-joke among the Brits at this point. From its infamous ‘divide and rule’ doctrine to the botched partitions of various countries in the wake of its departure from them, we’d say that we could fill a book with it, if there weren’t already many books like that. The fallout of those policies is still clearly visible in almost all of its economically-disadvantaged former colonies, in the form of inflamed racial and ethnic tensions as well as their economic backwardness after decolonization.

The Bengal Famine of 1943, however, is rarely ever mentioned as a part of that fallout, despite being one of the most devastating and controversial events in British Empire’s history. The mere fact that it’s known as a famine instead of a disaster caused by artificial scarcity of resources should tell you something about why it’s so rarely talked about. By some estimates, around 3 million of Bengal’s population died as a direct result of it, and many more were left malnourished for years to come, as it took quite some time for the state of Bengal – and India in general – to recover from it.

While the official position of Britain has always been that it was caused by a natural drought, recent studies have found that it wasn’t that natural after all. It was actually caused by the redirection of the food resources to Britain’s war effort and halted rice imports due to the Japanese invasion of Burma, as well as not declaring it a famine-hit region at the right time (or at any time since then). One study done on soil moisture data from that time concluded that Bengal was under no threat of a drought, and that the factors leading to the famine were purely manmade. To this day, the Bengal famine remains one of the most severe and deadly famines in history.

3. Still The Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets

As we said above, the phrase ‘the biggest empire ever’ doesn’t mean much on its own, as we have no intuitive way of quantifying how big that actually is, especially considering that history is full of massive empires – like the Roman and Mongolian empires. Consider this; at its peak, the British Empire was so huge that it was daytime in at least some of its territory, earning it its unofficial nickname ‘the empire on which the sun never sets’. That’s not to say that it was the only empire like that – as other big empires of the time, like Spain, could also qualify for that description at some point in their history – though Britain held that reputation for far longer than any of them.

While Britain is far from its glory days now, surprisingly, the sun still doesn’t set on it, as it still has many of its former colonies under its control. Apart from the British mainland, there are 14 British territories around the world, and we’re assuming all of them are okay with the arrangement as they’ve not yet asked for independence. Some of those territories are British outposts in uninhabited, remote areas – like its Antarctic base – though they still count as British territory for all intents and purposes.

2. Its Contribution To The Current Conflict In The Middle East

No matter which side of the story you listen to, you’d agree that the Middle East is in kind of a mess right now. With multiple factions – many of them extremist, armed groups – vying for control of vast tracts of countries like Syria and Iraq, there seems to be no end to the conflict. Well, not unless everyone mutually decides to call it quits and go back home. It’s made worse by underlying ethnic tensions between the various groups; tensions that have been unresolved and simmering under the surface for quite some time now. “Surely,” you’d probably wonder, “all of this couldn’t have happened overnight.” And you’d be right, because it didn’t.

In case you missed the title of the article, Britain had a huge role to play in what would inevitably, sooner or later, turn the Middle East into what it is today. It all started with the end of the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire’s territories were divided by Britain, with considerable help from France. Known as the Sykes-Picot agreement, the arrangement divided up the whole region according to spheres of influence and territorial ownership of the victors, with little to no regard for the actual ethnic demographics of the place.

To their credit, they didn’t know that they’d have to give up these territories at some point, as colonialism was still going strong around that time. Many terrorist groups in the Middle East still have the removal of the Sykes-Picot agreement as one of their primary aims, something we don’t even consider when we talk about the current state of the region.

1. The Disastrous Afghanistan Invasion

Afghanistan, for some weird reason, has been the focal point of many global conflicts in its history, right from the Soviet invasion in the ’80s to America’s ‘War on Terror’. Like Russia, many countries have discovered the hard way that Afghanistan isn’t the best place to invade, as it’s still a country largely ruled by independent warlords, with little oversight from the central government. The harsh and vast terrain doesn’t help the chances of invading armies, either.

What may be common knowledge now, though, wasn’t back in the middle of the 19th century, when the British Empire decided to make the same mistake as its later counterparts. Its invasion of Afghanistan in 1938 and eventual retreat in 1942 remains one of the empire’s biggest military defeats, despite its technological strength on the battleground.

It all began when the British army – made up of British and Indian soldiers – toppled the Afghan ruler, Dost Mohammed, and installed Shah Shujah Durrani in his place. While their original plan was to take the country and withdraw all of their forces, two of their brigades had to stay back to keep the peace, including their civilian family members. They eventually grew comfortable with their hold on the country, and decided to kick back and relax a bit in Kabul.

It was all going well till the local population started to revolt, as any occupied population would tend to. Because of the rapidly worsening situation, the British decided to take all of their troops (around 4,500 soldiers and 12,000 civilians) and withdraw back into India in 1842, with a promise of safe passage from the local army general. As you probably guessed, the Afghans did not honor that promise, and the British army was harassed and slowly decimated throughout their long journey back across the treacherous terrain. All in all, the entire British army was killed, except one British and a handful of Indian soldiers.


Britbox Beatbox Bumbles

WIF Eye On Britannia

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #295

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #295

…Your biggest misunderstanding is believing Bob Ford has anything to do with bringing drugs into the United States. He is a true hero…

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“I came to Miami to see Robert Ford, not to have my book reviewed,” explains Carolyn Hanes.

          “Yes, he is here and just as talkative as you. It seems he doesn’t know how the cocaine got onto his airplane.”

          “Cocaine? He wouldn’t know what cocaine was if came up and bit his behind.”

          “Would Constance Caraway know?”

          “Yes. In book four, she tracks down a corrupt cop. Cocaine is a byproduct of the cocoa plant, grown chiefly in South American countries.”

          “You know quite a lot about this illegal drug.”

          “I do my research.”

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“How did you research the debris from the spaceship crash? I don’t recall many of those, you?”

“That’s what fiction is. Made up, you know imagination. You probably don’t have one.”

“Oh come on now, you don’t need to verbally assault me. I am just trying to clear up a series of misunderstandings.”

Your biggest misunderstanding is believing Bob Ford has anything to do with bringing drugs into the United States. He is a true hero, with no motivation to do something stupid.”

“You’re right. That only happens when you two are together. Just how long did you think it would be before we found out about you and Ford taking pieces of a government weather balloon to Weather on marsunsuspecting scientists for examination? They have their standards, you know.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, I don’t have a corner on that market.”

  “What is the weather like on your planet?”

“Funny girl!” He is getting nowhere. The whole object of this sting operation was to rattle the duo into keeping Roswell a government secret… silly boy. “You will find Ace Bannion tabooupstairs, waiting patiently for his precious Constance.”

“Were you born this way or did you have an accident?”

“In a war of words, I am defenseless?” He extends his hand. “How is your friend, Sara?”

“She isn’t the same, but awfully lucky she got off that spaceship.”

Subject: Taboo. End of discussion.

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“What did you do to get me off the hook?” Bob Ford thought his goose was cooked. Instead, he goes from the frying pan to the royal treatment.

“It appears that a little knowledge goes a long way.” Lyn winks at her partner. “They just wanted to scare us.”

You?”

          “No. You?

          “Just a little.”

“Cocaine? Next thing you know, Shirley Temple is going to be arrested for being a prostitute and I am a Chiang Kai-shek sympathizer.”

“You do look good in red.”

“What’s going on in this world, another war, and in Korea of all places? This whole obsession with Communism makes me ill. I guess the word “trust” is just another noun.”

“Is the word “fly” a verb?”

“Yes it is. Let’s make Miami a bad memory.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Emerico Toth ~ Lady in Red

Episode #295


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Bipartisanship , It Does Exist – WIF Politics

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Bipartisan Votes –

The US Government

Isn’t So Divided

For the past few years the media has wanted to portray the American government as divided into Democrats and Republicans, a supposedly black and white dichotomy. The two parties supposedly can never be expected to cooperate, even though many will insist that the parties are functionally the same. This has predated the election of President Donald J. Trump, but his election has certainly supercharged how the conflict is framed.

Don’t you believe it. Many momentous bills have overwhelmingly passed the two chambers of Congress and have been signed by the president while barely attracting a blip of attention. Partisans on both sides of the party lines want to portray the situation with more conflict than there really is even while the majority of both parties cooperate away from the public eye.

10. Patient Right to Know Act

For years, pharmaceutical companies kept doctors and pharmacies from telling patients about more affordable medications through gag orders. The bill to stop these gag orders passed through the Senate with 98-2 votes on September 17, 2018. It was signed by President Trump on October 11.

As anyone with much experience dealing with contemporary healthcare costs knows, these are not trifling expenses. It’s estimated that doctors offering more affordable alternatives will save the public more than $135 million annually. Everyone is entitled to their opinions regarding how much regulation is necessary or productive, but this is a strong indication that there are bipartisan ways to deal with runaway healthcare expenses if we take the time to look for them.

9. VA Choice and Quality Employment Act

The Veterans Affairs office is one of the most heavily criticized services in the US government. With more than $180 billion in the annual budget, it’s one of the larger annual expenses. Yet few will argue that it’s not worth it, considering the sacrifices made by its ostensible beneficiaries. So it was that in 2017, an emergency allotment of six billion in funds was voted into law. The focus of the funding was to provide government-funded medical services to veterans.

A big part of the reason the effort didn’t become a larger news story was that it was signed on August 12, which meant that it was completely overshadowed in the public consciousness by the murder of Heather Hayer during the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Few bills would be able to compete with that in the news cycle.

8. Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act

The National Council on Aging reports that an estimated one in 10 people over the age of 60 has been a victim of elder abuse, and every year another five million suffer from it while roughly only one in every 14 actionable cases is reported. On October 18, 2017, this law was signed with the intention of greatly expanding the enforcement of laws that protect elders. The law required every state to designate an Elder Justice Coordinator that would serve the Bureau of Consumer Protection. It also requires the Department of Justice to make information regarding the investigations public.

Additionally, in what seems directly inspired by a plot in the critically-acclaimed AMC program Better Call Saul, there are increases for penalties regarding interstate fraud. Furthermore, interstate adult protective groups are allowed to operate. In total, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that enforcing this law will cost $21 million, which — if it has a significant impact on rates of elder abuse — seems like a real bargain.

7. Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act

As said earlier, the Department of Veterans Affairs is a very controversial organization. One of the controversies associated with it is that many veterans who should receive coverage or compensation are denied their services erroneously due to incompetent or corrupt decisions by staff members. On June 13, 2017, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass this law, which would increase fines and pension deductions for problem employees, and also stop them from receiving pay during the appeals process.

The inclusion of additional protections for whistleblowers was in large part inspired by the Wait List Scandal of 2014. It came to light that many veterans weren’t receiving medication and other benefits for as many as four months at a time, but that the delays weren’t being recorded or reported. Still, considering that there were a reported 49,000 vacancies in the Veterans Affairs offices at the time the bill was signed, a reluctance to fire employees for any reason is fairly understandable.

6. Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act

Between the heated controversy over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline over Sioux land and what the famous American/Mexican border wall would mean in terms of dividing tribes such as the Tohono O’odham, Native American rights have been more prominent in the news in recent years. But there has been fairly recent good news for those tribes as well. On January 8, 2018, this bill was signed into law, even if it took most of the summer and all of Autumn of 2017 for it to make its way through Congress.

The law allocated 32,000 acres of federal land to three tribes in Oregon. Those were the Umpqua, Coos, and the Siuslaw. The US government does not have the best record when it comes to honoring land grants to tribes, but local leaders expressed that they were pleased with the arrangement.

5. Jobs for Our Heroes Act

As reported by Military Times in July 2018, more than 50% of US veterans have difficulty finding work after the end of their enlistments. There’s apparently not much that the US government feels they can do to change the minds of most employers, but there is one career field where it seems the government feels it can significantly expand employment opportunities for veterans. This bill, which was signed into law on January 8, 2018, has been intended to find veterans work as commercial drivers.

There are two primary ways the bill works to expedite this process. For one, it makes training with heavy machinery during enlistment valid as meeting the requirements for operating heavy civilian vehicles. It also makes health certification provided by VA medical professionals valid for health checks related to civilian driving jobs. Such is the sort of legal red tape that leaves it no wonder that some veterans have trouble finding employment in civilian life.

4. Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act

For those unfamiliar with the term, an excise tax is a tax on a specific good or service. In the case of this law, which was signed on May 10, 2019, it would allow taxes collected on the sales of firearms to be used to buy the land for, and to maintain, shooting ranges, covering up to 90% of the expenses. As one of the bills sponsors, Rob Bishop from Utah, put it, gun ranges are becoming more necessary for proper gun safety training, “As this nation becomes more urbanized.”

Sounds like a bill that would have needed to be concocted by a Republican, right? Actually, no — one of the original sponsors of this bill was Representative Ron Kind. He’s a Democrat from Wisconsin’s Third District. Party lines are much less clearly delineated than it often seems.

3. Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act

For those who don’t know, Medicaid is a program where government on the state or federal level provides assistance to low income families in paying their medical bills. Recently, there seems considerable bipartisan interest in expanding it. For example, in the 2018 Midterm election three of the four states with ballot initiatives to increase funding for it passed it, even though the states in question (Idaho, Nebraska, Utah) generally vote conservative and thus would not usually support increasing funding for social programs.

So it was that on April 18, 2019 this bill to bolster Medicaid services was signed. The law increased penalties for companies that mis-classify their medications to receive more government reimbursement, specifically whether the drugs are “innovator” or “non-innovator.” It also provided more protections against medical bankruptcy for spouses, and parents with children who are suffering from conditions that require intensive treatment.

2. Water Infrastructure Improvement Act

Between calamities such as massive flooding in the Midwest in the spring of 2019 and ongoing lead-tainted water in communities nationwide such as Flint, Michigan, dealing with water has recently become a growing problem for the United States. Against this background, despite its un-glamorous nature, six cosponsors evenly divided between the parties attached themselves to this bill in December 2018. It was signed into law on January 14, 2019, a brisk process for any piece of legislation.

This act delegates to local municipalities plans for how to deal with storm water and wastewater. It establishes offices for an ombudsman to expedite the process for municipalities to meet full Environmental Protection Agency standards. There is also, under Section 5, an emphasis on the EPA being required to promote the implementation of natural (i.e. “green”) infrastructure process.

1. Natural Resources Management Act

Sometimes when an act is signed into law, it’s not so much a single bill as a bundle of them. When this act was signed into law on March 12, 2019, it was roughly 120 bills that ranged in focus from public land conservation to water management. Considering recent rumblings in the media that there would be drilling and mining in national park areas, it makes sense that the government would be inclined to demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection.

The most striking single aspect of the act was the setting aside of 1.3 million acres of land for federal protection, including from damage by dam construction. Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley alone had an extra 40,000 acres added, which in the former case makes a lot of sense considering the damage that national park suffered during the 2019 government shutdown. Hopefully we can look forward to more bipartisan environmental initiatives in the near future.


Bipartisanship , It Does Exist

WIF Politics

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #293

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #293

…I kept the whole incident a secret for the year it took to write the book. I never publicly proclaimed it as nonfiction, and that makes me a freaking Communist?…

red-channels2“I am being accused of what?” Carolyn Hanes has heard something that literally floors her.

“Like I was saying, Joe McCarthy claims that you are a Communist.”

“… Me and ten thousand of my closest friends. This is a bunch of crap, Stanley. What did I do to deserve this?”

Conspiracy in the Cactus was not exactly flattering to the United States military. You made them come off like a bunch of lying skunks.”

“If anything I wrote was inappropriate, you were my editor, you edited most of my books. What did I write that wasn’t true?”

“Nothing really, Lyn. But 490,000 people read that book as a piece of fiction. The other 10,000 took it at face value, knowing that what Constance Caraway and Ace Bannion dug up in New Mexico really happened. If the complete truth were ever to come out, I think the feds fear public panic and egg on their faces.”

I kept the whole incident a secret for the year it took to write the book. I never publicly proclaimed it as nonfiction, and that makes me a freaking Communist?

“You should be proud; you’re in some good company. He was going to go after George Orwell also.”

“He died in January, for crying out loud!”

“That Big Brother thing of his may have been construed as subversive.” Stan Rogers is trying to be protective of Harpers Publishing’s most profitable commodity. “Remember what happened to the Hollywood Ten.”

“Dalton Trumbo was a Party member. The only party I belong to is a book signing at Julie’s Gifts on Tennessee Street!”

“I’m here to tell you, Lyn, they are trying to get to old man Harper. I am the main reason Conspiracy in the Cactus went to print. Harper was leaning against publishing it, for some the same reason Joe McCarthy thinks that it is anti-government yellow journalism.”

Rogers fears a society that ignores the truth, in favor of lies. “How is your friend Bob Ford doing?”

          “He’s been out flying, I don’t know.”

          “He called here looking for you, before you got here. He was arrested for flying drugs into the country.”

          “What? That does it, Bob Ford running contraband? Bull bleep! Where is he?Image result for framed

          “He called from Miami.”

          “Well I’m glad you got around to telling me.”

          “I didn’t know how much you cared or what I had to tell you was that important.”

          “So now you know I care. Is that against the law too? You know, I’m really getting tired of being jerked around.” She gets up to leave.

          “Where are you going?”

          “I’m going to see if North Korea needs some help.”

          “Be careful who you say things like that to.” Stan Rogers is dead serious.

          “I’m on the next flight to Miami. Give my regards to the Old Man.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Conspiracy in the Cactus-001

Episode #293


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