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Wow

Jaguar

but the best encounter

Diane

I’ve ever had

the best one

was when

I was tracking a jaguar

in the jungle

by myself

which I usually don’t do

I saw these big male tracks of a jaguar

I’d never seen before and

I just took off thinking okay

I’ll track it a little while but

I shouldn’t be alone but

I ended up tracking it for hours and

 it was getting dark and

I didn’t have a flashlight and

I can’t be alone in the jungle without a flashlight so

I turn around and

there’s the jaguar

in back of me

wow

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(Excerpt from an 8.18.14 interview between NPR’s Diane Rehm and zoologist/wildlife ecologist Alan Rabinowitz )

It was like the end of the world

140723-mh17_kids-7a_9ccd2da63a049d06de43af53892c5c1c.nbcnews-ux-640-400

in those fields

the grasses were very high

wheat fields sunflower fields and

you would come upon the bodies

in their strange shapes and

it felt so deeply sad that

no one was coming to help them that

they were alone

basically

there was a little girl

who had a little

pink T-shirt on and

she was in this distant area near a pond

totally thrown clear

not near anything at all

they stay with you

the faces of the people and

how they lay in the grass and

they come into your mind and

it’s hard to get them out

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(Excerpt from an 8.6.14 interview between NY Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise and NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross)

A dark preoccupation

guns-more-guns

Yesterday, a 20-year-old runner from Fiji was shot to death in California. He was about to start school at the University of Louisiana. Last Tuesday, a lone killer gunned down a 14-year-old freshman at Reynolds High School in Oregon. On June 5th, a gunman who wrote in his journal “I just want people to die…” killed a Seattle Pacific University student. Days before that slaying, another madman with guns (and knives) murdered six University of California, Santa Barbara, students. And, a few days prior to those killings, a 10-year-old Wisconsin girl was shot on a playground.

In total, there have been 74 school shootings since 26 individuals, including 20 first-graders, died inside Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, according to data compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety. Just in 2014 alone, there have been 37 gun-related incidents at schools; 79 shooting-free school days out of the total 116 since Jan. 1. Thirty-one states have experienced school shootings since Newtown. ~ Quote

When I realized I was losing track of the number of children who had been gunned down around the US, I thought the very least I could do in a country that has lost its collective mind on the subject of the Second Amendment would be to send out regular tweets, such as the one below, chronicling the instances of baby murder and calling on members of Congress to stand up to the NRA:

Why we need editors

How one errant “e” can turn a desperate, undocumented immigrant into a dangerous criminal:

Children in the crossfire

Anti-Slavery Day March To ParliamentIn his chilling piece in Vox about the April 14th abduction of more than 275 Nigerian school girls, Zach Beauchamp argues that Boko Haram’s recent threat to sell the kidnapped children into slavery “is not a one-off event.” Rather, he says, “[i]t’s part of a vast web of human trafficking and slavery in West Africa — one that neither local governments nor the international community have been able to shut down.”

According to Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery group in Australia, “30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership.” With some 700,000 of its people enslaved, Nigeria now boasts the largest such population in West Africa — and the fourth largest in the world, says Beauchamp.

While the rest of the world has been focused on the missing Malaysian plane, anguished relatives have been looking frantically for their missing little girls and have had relatively little support in the process.  “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling, dramatic, heartbreaking story,” writes Frida Ghitis, a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. “If it had happened anywhere else,” she suggests, it “would be the world’s biggest story.”

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Ambien: poison in a pill

ambien

I have used Ambien twice in my life: Some 15 years ago, I took it one night after a protracted bout of insomnia, and my daughter found me sitting on the floor in the living room clacking away on my computer. Apparently, I got up to do this after going to bed, and I had no memory of it the next day. About eight years ago I tried taking the drug one more time, and I have a vague memory of sitting in the dark and carrying on a conversation with an inanimate object.

I was very frightened by the hallucination, and I vowed I would never take Ambien again. Some years later, it became public knowledge that getting out of bed when not fully awake and doing an activity without remembering it is a not uncommon side effect of the drug. Hallucinating, it seems, is another.

Feeling agitated, aggressive, or suicidal are also potential side effects of taking zolpidem, the active ingredient in Ambien, and over the past several years a good deal has been written about the link between the drug and some of its more frightening side effects, which include delusions and violent behavior; yet, it is the most popular sleep medication prescribed today, and its use has increased 220 percent over the past five years.

In the hours after last week’s tragic shooting at Fort Hood, the media stories included mention of the fact that Ivan Lopez, who killed three soldiers and wounded sixteen other people before taking his own life, had been prescribed Ambien, among other drugs. It appears he was suffering from a sleep disorder as well as from anxiety and depression, though there is no obvious connection between these disorders and his military experiences since he had not been exposed to direct combat during his four-month tour in Iraq.

Although I am not saying that Ambien made Lopez do what he did, I am saying that it cannot be discounted as a factor that might have contributed to his descent into madness.

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Flight 370

on the lookout

“It’s been more than a week since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 seemingly vanished into thin air,” writes CNN reporter Dana Ford. “Yet we remain glued to the story—hungry, some almost desperate, for any tidbit of news. Why?”

This is a question that seems well worth asking, as some 26 countries—and counting—along with “thousands of good Samaritans” online join forces to try and find a Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

If the truth be known, I, myself, have been able to think of little else since the crisis began and have spent the better part of my days and nights scouring the Internet for news articles and video reports that will give me minute-by-minute updates on the status of the search.

The crisis is riveting for a number of reasons, not least that we can easily put ourselves in the place of grief-stricken family members who have been made to endure an agonizing wait. Were I awaiting word about the fate of my own child, I would likely not survive news that confirmed the worst.

I’ve been thinking, though, that, for all the negative press about social networking and the impact it has on human connection, there is something very hopeful to be found in this unprecedented collective coming together across the globe, something that has us climbing down into both our deepest humanity and our fundamental animal natures.

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