Sunday, January 27, 2008

Using Music to Lift Depression’s Veil

An uplifting result of music therapy. (Alan Zale for The New York Times)

The New York Times, January 24, 2008, 10:38 am
Tara Parker-Pope on Health

Using Music to Lift Depression’s Veil

Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Now new research shows that music therapy — either listening to or creating music with a specially trained therapist — can be a useful treatment for depression.

The finding that music therapy offers a real clinical benefit to depression sufferers comes from a review by the Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit group that reviews health care issues. Although there aren’t many credible studies of music therapy for depression, the reviewers found five randomized trials that studied the effects of music therapy. Some studies looked at the effects of providing music therapy to patients who were receiving drug treatment for depression. Others compared music therapy to traditional talk therapy. In four out of five of the trials, music therapy worked better at easing depression symptoms than therapies that did not employ music, the researchers found.

“The current studies indicate that music therapy may be able to improve mood and has low drop-out rates,” said lead author Anna Maratos, an arts therapist for the National Health Service in London. “While the evidence came from a few small studies, it suggests that this is an area that is well worth further investigation….We need to find out which forms have greatest effect.”

Full article at:

and see blogger responses at end of article as well.

Click here to listen to a podcast about music therapy with the study author.

A Basic Hospital To-Do List Saves Lives

Personal Health: A Basic Hospital To-Do List Saves Lives
By Jane E. Brody, Published: January 22, 2008, The New York Times

This is a call to arms for everyone who may someday be hospitalized, or who has a relative who may someday be hospitalized — which is to say everyone.

These days, to spend time in the hospital is to be at risk of contracting a hospital-acquired infection. Some of these infections can be life-threatening. But there is a simple way to make that hospital stay safer, devised by Dr. Peter J. Pronovost, a physician-researcher at Johns Hopkins.
The method — a five-item checklist to assure that proper precautions are taken to prevent infection — has been thoroughly tested, first at Johns Hopkins and later in 108 intensive-care units in Michigan, where it succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams in saving lives and reducing costs for patients who received the major fluid tube called a central venous catheter.

See 5 steps and rest of article at

Study Calls HIV in D.C. A 'Modern Epidemic'

Study Calls HIV in D.C. A 'Modern Epidemic'
More Than 80 Percent Of Recent Cases Were Among Black Residents
By Susan Levine, Washington Post

Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, November 26, 2007; Page A01

The first statistics ever amassed on HIV in the District, released today in a sweeping report, reveal "a modern epidemic" remarkable for its size, complexity and reach into all parts of the city.

The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV's impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American.

The 120-page report, which includes the city's first AIDS update since 2000, shows how a condition once considered a gay disease has moved into the general population. HIV was spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37 percent of the District's cases detected in that time period, in contrast to the 25 percent of cases attributable to men having sex with men.

See full article and charts at

Drugs-for-Information Scandal Shakes Up New York Police Narcotics Force

NYC Police give snitches portion of proceeds of drug seizures from dealers that the snitches pointed out to them! Doesn't that make the cops dealers themselves? Read this article!

The New York Times, January 23, 2008

Drugs-for-Information Scandal Shakes Up New York Police Narcotics Force
By Al Baker

In the world of urban policing, few relationships are as fraught with peril as those between narcotics officers and confidential informants. These informants — C.I.’s in police parlance — are often small-time criminals who are paid or get criminal charges dropped in return for information about other, theoretically more dangerous criminals.

Now four police officers in Brooklyn are under arrest in a case that involves paying informants not with cash or leniency but with the very drugs they craved, taken from the dealers who were arrested after the informants pointed them out. Two of the officers were charged in an internal sting last week after another was caught on a department audio tape bragging about the practice in September, officials said. For full story go to:

Also see the article's chart on [recent NYC] ...History of Police Misconduct Charges

Keep Fighting for Lovinsky's Return!

Distributed by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti on January 26, 2007

Half-Hour for Haiti: Keep Fighting For Lovinsky’s Return!

Human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, abducted on August 12, is still missing. For many of us, the holiday celebrations with family and friends were tempered by Lovinsky’s absence, from his family and from our midst (see the January 13 message from Lovinsky’s wife Michele). But the fight for Lovinsky’s safe return continues. Haiti’s Embassy in Washington reported receiving over 500 letters in response to Amnesty International's Action Alert for Lovinsky and his colleague, Wilson Mesilien. The Petition to Save Lovinsky now has 1803 signatories. This week Vanessa Redgrave signed onto the Free Lovinsky! movement, joining a host of celebrities including Danny Glover, Martin Sheen and Selma James.

This week’s action: Yesterday, United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of over 1,300 groups that came together to oppose the Iraq War, issued an alert for Lovinsky that was drafted by the Haiti Action Committee. The letters generated by UFPJ, on top of the letters for Amnesty International and all the other alerts, could make a turning point in this case. If you have not yet urged the Haitian government to investigate Lovinsky’s disappearance, now is the time:

Demand the safe return of Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.

Lovinsky was kidnapped on August 12th, 2007 after meeting with a U.S. human rights delegation. He is a member of Fanmi Lavalas and a founding member of September 30th Foundation. He is a psychologist who works with victims of torture, and a fierce activist who stands with his people in the streets.

Shamefully, the United Nations helped legitimize the Bush Administration-backed coup that forced out the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. That coup reversed Haiti's ten years of grassroots democracy, and in its aftermath, as documented by reports from the University of Miami, Harvard Law School, and other organizations, UN "peacekeepers" backed up Haitian police as they cracked down on activists with the pro-Aristide Lavalas movement. Lovinsky was among those who worked ceaselessly against all that the 2004 coup brought: killing, torture and exile of thousands; the destruction of schools, health services, markets - the infrastructure which served Haiti's poor; sex trafficking and rape of Haitian women and girls by UN troops and Haitian rightists.

Lovinsky's kidnapping serves to warn Haitian's poor majority that powerful forces can and will do whatever it takes to crush resistance.

Haiti Action Committee joins with organizations and individuals across the globe that are working to keep the pressure on those who hold the power in Haiti - the U.S. and the UN occupying forces - to demand the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.

A petition for Lovinsky has been signed by over 1600 organizations and public figures, including actor/activist Danny Glover, Selma James, actor Martin Sheen, Andaiye, writer George Lamming, playwright John Arden, former Labour Minister Tony Benn, John McDonnell MP, journalist Rickey Singh, Madaraka Nyerere (son of the late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere), the Walter Rodney Commemorative Committee and many more. To sign the on-line petition, click here

Haiti Action Committee members are fasting on Wednesdays as part of an ongoing rolling fast to highlight the Haiti-based campaign for Lovinsky's safe return. Solidarity activities have been taking place in Los Angeles, London, Boston, San Francisco and Benton Harbor, MI, as well as in the Caribbean.

Support for Haitian democracy in the U.S. Congress has been led by notable progressive Democrats including Representatives Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, and Jan Schakowsky. Much work needs to be done to pressure other Congresspeople to support Haiti's poor majority, rather than Bush-backed elites.

Join the campaign, and open a discussion with your friends and co-workers about Haiti (learn more at and and about taking action to save Lovinsky's life.

Haitian president René Preval's 2006 election was a victory for the country's poor, but pro-democracy activists maintain that government ministries remain dominated by coup forces, which also control the Haitian police. The Haitian government is also receiving enormous pressure from the Bush Administration to privatize state companies and to pursue even more draconian "free trade" (pro-rich, anti-poor) policies.

Preval needs to hear from supporters of Haiti's pro-democracy movement about the importance of the safe return of Lovinsky, the release of remaining political prisoners, the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and ending the occupation.

Please send a letter to Haiti's President René Préval, urging him to ensure that his government does everything it can to investigate Lovinsky's disappearance and ensure his safe return to his family and his community. A sample letter is below, please customize and personalize it if you can.

You may send your letter directly to President Préval by regular mail (.69 postage in U.S., $1.55 in Canada), or by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email:, and they will be delivered.Thanks for your support and your solidarity in helping us save our brother Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.

Haiti Action Committee


January __, 2008

His Excellency René Préval

President of the Republic of Haiti
Palais NationalPort-au-Prince,

Re: Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine's Disappearance

Your Excellency:

I am writing because I am extremely concerned about Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the human rights activist kidnapped last summer. I sincerely request that you do everything in your power to ensure that your government takes every possible step to ensure Mr. Pierre-Antoine's safe return to his family. Mr. Pierre-Antoine is important to people all over the world that care about Haiti. His safe return is essential to show that Haitians can participate effectively and lawfully in Haiti's democratic process, without fear. I am also concerned about reports from Haitian grassroots human rights activists that the Haitian police are not zealously investigating this case. Please demand that everyone working for your government- from the Ministry of Justice to police leadership to investigators- immediately take every possible lawful step to investigate Mr. Pierre-Antoine's disappearance, pursue the perpetrators and return Mr. Pierre-Antoine safely.