Frontline nurses and docs: Deserving warriors of the widening battle against Ebola

& To say the least, the stories of the bravery and risks in the midst of this medical fight against Ebola are riveting.

I’m reminded, in a way, of stories about war. Well-trained and briefed, armored and armed to withstand and fight the fiercest of assaults, warriors move forward to confront a determined, sneaky enemy, trusting that their precautions, their protection and their cunning will see them through to victory. But in wars the enemy also is cunning; there is always a risk.

And so it is today in this war against a determined, sneaky virus. It’s ravaging West Africa. It has sneaked into America. Despite guarded assurances that it will go no further, we still wonder, and hope it won’t. Everybody knows that in wars, things go wrong. We’ve got ample proof of that.

In this war, the generals are away from the front – back in the Center for Disease Control or research hospitals – seeking to understand the enemy and plotting its defeat. The colonels and majors are those behind the lines – providing new chemistry and hazmat suits and the means to distribute the weapons and sustenance to those on the front lines, the doctors and the nurses.

The captains and lieutenants are the doctors, fulfilling the same role as those who led their companies through German fusillades and up the cliff faces of France, or crept with their platoons — carefully, oh so carefully — into nests of enemies hidden in the jungles of Vietnam. We’ve honored them, over and over. And rightly so, just as we’ve honored the foot soldiers, those GI grunts who really win the wars.

In the war against this pestilence – as with any virulent, dangerous disease – the foot soldiers are the nurses. (more…)

Israeli Exodus Numero II: Fanciful answer?
 Too bad we can’t ask Sammy

& This had to happen. Among the current crop of made-for-Facebook people-for-peace posters circulating these days is this:

move israel Yr’s Truly has been thinking about this idea – something like it, at least —  for about 25 years. The idea wasn’t mine. It came from an adventuresome old Polish Jew who’d lived a life that Hemingway would have envied. His name was Sam Kaplan. I called him Sammy. By the time I’d met him, he’d been embroiled in two or three wars – he was even a partisan in those early-guerilla days of the Spanish Civil War. On other occasions, he spent a few days as a guest of Russian and Swiss jailers — problems at the borders, apparently. If you had to spend time locked up, he would say, do it in Switzerland. The cells are clean and the food is to die for. He’d lived a number of lives on a number of continents in the company of a number of lovely ladies, siring, with the help of a Mexican beauty, a couple of sons. He ended up in the Baja, down south of Tijuana in Rosarito Beach, running a little general store and an ice plant.

His idea was even better than the one in this poster. When he told me his idea, with a fanciful twinkle in his eye, I took it mostly as a joke. Now, I wonder, if it’s about the only good idea left.

“It’s simple,” Sammy would say after a sip of wine. “The United States moves Israel to the Baja.”

Yr’s Truly, also having had a few sips of wine, wasn’t taking notes, of course. And over the quarter-century of mulling Sammy’s idea, it has become infused with my own wanderings through the world of what-ifs. Sammy’s dead now – he faced the world for 89 years – and he’s not here to defend himself. He might not say it quite in the words that follow, but he’d probably sign his name to the thoughts, con mucho gusto.

& Here’s what we’d say: (more…)

An Internet Flash Mob of Peppy’s protectors

& Up in Colorado this week, there’s been a lively discussion having to do with some starving horses. Perhaps you’ve heard about it. I’ve personally started to think of it as the Saga of Dual Peppy. I’d never heard of Dual Peppy until a friend emailed to suggest I take a look at a Facebook page, entitled “Justice for Dual Peppy.”

What’s a Dual Peppy, I wondered, and why does he, she or it need justice?

It didn’t take long to find out. The social media and Twitter and the internet in general, I assume, was electrified – at least among people of the horsey set – when some really grim news came out of a barn not far from Colorado Springs. A lady had followed her dog into the barn last Friday, and wished she hadn’t.

Inside, she came across piles of manure – three feet deep, she said – in which were standing eight emaciated horses, with ruts between their ribs. On the ground, she saw some tarps, with big lumps under them. She peeled one tarp back and found a rotting equine carcass, covered with lye, then more carcasses, and some bones. She called the sheriff. At first, the deputies didn’t seem too interested – they went out to take a look and said there was nothing they could do. The ribby horses that were alive, they decided, were not in “imminent danger.”

As happens these days, the story found its way onto the internet, where there was interest. A lot of it. Pictures were posted and somebody recognized one of the still-standing-but-obviously-starving steeds. It was Dual Peppy, a 22-year-old former champion cutting horse – known to many in the rodeo world as one of the best of all time. It was if Muhammad Ali was found waiting in line in a soup kitchen. But for dual Peppy, there wasn’t even soup.

Emails started flying, the Twitterverse came alive, somebody created the Facebook page, pleading for justice for Dual Peppy.

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette’s story, “more than 16,000 people in the region and horse enthusiasts across the country and the world (Yr’s Truly even saw some comments from the Netherlands) took to Facebook through a page titled “Justice for Dual Peppy”. Thousands signed a petition demanding that the Sheriff’s Office remove the horses. Internet bulletin boards and forums filled up with pages of comments. The owners of a horse rescue ranch nearby berated the sheriff for exhibiting “another example of less than excellent help from those that have been hired to serve and protect.”

Nobody’s recorded how many calls started pouring into Colorado authorities as the outrage exploded, but one New Mexican reported that she’d called a Colorado state vet to complain. His response, she said, “sounded lame and uninterested.” The authorities – those aforementioned servers and protectors – weren’t especially sensitized, you might say. But, the Internet Flash Mob finally managed to provoke somebody – probably someone much higher up in the chain of command – to have a chat with the sheriff. On Monday, some sufficiently sensitized deputies went back to the barn, removed the horses and took them to a large animal facility, where, we can assume, they’ll be able to eat, to drink clean water and not have to stand around in three feet of manure.

The horse’s owner got a citation charging her with animal abuse. The dead horses, she said, had succumbed to colic. Last winter.

& This story, I would hope, also makes it way to the powers-that-be in the New Mexico Livestock Board. That’s the organization with the strange policy affecting the state’s horse shelters, which do exist to serve and protect horses that are unwanted, mistreated, and otherwise down-on-their-luck. It’s a policy that seems to say that the state of New Mexico doesn’t differentiate between the people who want to save horses and those who want to sell them for slaughter. It’s not what you could call a sensitive policy.

Maybe the lesson from Colorado Springs – and the loud reaction from around the world to the plight of Peppy and 20 other horses – will help to sufficiently sensitize the New Mexico Livestock Board, and help them understand that a large number of dedicated, vocal, determined people regard horses as something more than four-legged hay burners. And when those people get angry at you, you know it. Just ask that sheriff up in Colorado.

Maybe the NMLB can come up with a policy that helps, rather than hinders, the efforts of horse rescuers in New Mexico.  Lots of people would be grateful. And we might avoid another Flash Mob from cyberspace.

& Off to de-sensitize my horse, I’m outta here.

Saving horses: It’s no longer ‘in lieu,’ it’s ‘in lunacy’

& You’ve got to hand it to the New Mexico Livestock Board.

They can take a big pile of road apples and turn it into an even bigger pile of horse poop.

Loyal readers of this here Gazette will recall that Yr’s Truly has written before of the massive problem of unwanted horses in New Mexico, and the never-getting-anywhere debate over what to do with them. Keep ‘em and feed ‘em, says one faction. Slaughter ‘em and sell ‘em, says another.

In the midst of the circle-jerk debate-that-goes-nowhere, however, unwanted horses keep turning up. The inspectors of the NMLB are kept busy carrying out their state-mandated duties of picking up horses that are loose, or mistreated, or starving, or surrendered by down-and-out owners who can’t afford to buy milk for the kids, let alone hay for the horse.

And what do the inspectors of the NMLB do with the horses? Well, that’s where we start slogging into the mounting mountain of bureaucratic manure.

Let’s start with a law in New Mexico that says the government can’t donate property it owns. Sounds reasonable – that stops people from giving away county-owned Caterpillar bulldozers and things like that. You just walk into the guv’s mansion and start asking for the bathtub. See how far that gets you.

If you live by the letter of that law [in New Mexico, I know that’s a very strange concept], you can come to the conclusion that the horses seized by or signed over to the NMLB inspectors are the property of the state, especially if no one has claimed the horses within a five-day waiting period. Not many people come a-claiming.  So, the inspector has picked up the poor thing, he’s advertised it on the NMLB’s website for the required five days, and there have been no claims. Now, the state is the proud owner of yet another starving-unwanted-mistreated equine bag of bones which, to the anally-inclined-narrow-minded among us, is no different than a bulldozer or a bathtub, and cannot be given away.

But, legalities aside, there is one small difference: Bulldozers and bathtubs don’t eat hay. And they don’t deposit smelly pelletized poop that has to be picked up. Hay and poop pickers cost money. The state, which doesn’t like to spend money on any smelly thing unless it benefits a politician, wants to get rid of these horses as soon as it can. So, it tries to sell them. For the first five days a horse is advertised on the NMLB site, individuals can submit bids, assuming they also agree to pay the state $10 a day for the cost of boarding the horse in addition to the bid. If nobody bids on the horse by the end of the sixth day, the horse goes to the auction barn, and, probably, from there to a south-of-the-border slaughterhouse. Nobody knows where it goes for sure, but ah’ll betcha the abattoir is a good bet.

That’s the way it is these days.

Back in the old days, say a month or two ago, the NMLB’s inspectors had a little leeway, which offered at least an opportunity for the state to save some money, and for some dedicated people to save a horse’s life.

Back in the old days, an inspector had the discretion to work out a deal with one of the several state-licensed horse rescue organizations, one like Four Corners Equine Rescue up in Aztec, or End of the Road Ranch in Silver City, or The Horse Shelter in Cerrillos, where they actually rescue horses – take them in, care for them, even train them – and get them back to being something worth more than a trip to a Mexican slaughterhouse.

Back in the old days, an inspector could drop a horse off at The Horse Shelter, for example, where it would be cared for during the five-day temporary hold. If no bids were received, and the rescue and shelter folks decided they’d take the horse, the inspector could transfer ownership, using the shelter’s cost of feeding and stabling the horse in lieu of payment to the state. To some lawyers, at least, (maybe even a state-paid lawyer, it’s said) that’s a perfectly acceptable way of getting around the state’s ‘no donation’ law. Not to mention saving lots of brain damage and a little money.

But in the new days, like today, the NMLB has replaced the ‘in lieu’ payment process with an ‘in lunacy’ process. No longer does the inspector have the discretion to make a deal. He or she must haul the horse, at additional cost to the state, all the way to Los Lunas, where the horse stands less of a chance of finding permanent shelter: The non-profit, donation-dependent, money-strapped volunteer-supported horse shelters must bid, just like everybody else, for the right to take an unwanted animal off the state’s hands. They don’t always have the money to do that bidding. It makes no sense, but it no doubt makes it easier on paper-shufflers in government offices, for whom nothing is of greater value than less work.

Under this pile of poop is the plain truth: Although its inspectors may feel otherwise – and Yr’s Truly hears that some of them do — the NMLB no longer takes into consideration the benefits of putting a horse in a state-licensed shelter, or the efforts of those who operate those shelters. In the blinkered eyes of the Livestock Board, those who are trying to save horses are no different than the kill buyers who prowl the sale barns looking for fat horses to ferry off to the slaughterhouses of Mexico.

& Heading off to look a gift horse in the mouth, I’m outta here.

Ebola worries big news back East. In New Mexico? …ehh, not so much

8/19, 8/20, 8/21 New Mexico ebola-testing updates: See below

& I try not to watch too much cable news these days. The only hope for optimism about the future of this country – the planet for that matter – is in not knowing what the hell is happening. I have a friend, an intelligent, well-versed-on-the-stuff-Back-East-think-tank-people-are-well-versed-on person, whose bottom line these days, is: “In the short term I’m pessimistic, but in the long-term, I’m optimistic.” I take him at his word, not knowing why. Avoiding tv news helps.

But: The tube in my kitchen occasionally is on, and I pass within earshot while moving between one chore and other, and something catches my attention. It was on early this morning (8/18) as I sat nursing coffee and perusing my online version of the Santa Fe New Mexican to learn if there was anything new on last weekend’s FBI arrest of our county’s sheriff on civil rights violation charges  (that’s another story. Tune in later, please), and read that a young woman is in the hospital in Albuquerque, being tested for the ebola virus. (more…)

New Mexico Chili: Aphrodesiac for adults only?

& This just arrived from the webby internets. Yr’s Truly can make no claim to its authenticity — its reputedly an “an actual account as relayed to paramedics at a chili cook-off” down in south Santa Fe…

A word of warning to loyal readers: If chili doesn’t make you cry, this will:


‘Doc, I got a tick.’

& My college roomie Jerry Davies, rest his soul, was a worse hypochondriac than I. One Sunday evening he returned from a woodsy in the hills above Boulder and settled in to study, which he did often. I did what I often did, which was go to bed.

Late in the evening Davies discovered, just above his navel, a tick. Oh. My. God!

I was rudely shaken awake.

“Cox! Wake up! I gotta tick!”

I rose on one elbow, blinking into the fuzzy room (my glasses — which I wore only because they were cheaper than a guide dog — were somewhere out of reach). Davies stood there beside my bed, holding his shirt out away from his hairy stomach, which indeed displayed what appeared to be an industrious tick. (more…)

How Cronkite learned about the death in Dallas

& For journalism junkies only: 

F L A S H !



That’s just the beginning. For a ride into broadcast history, take a look at a reproduction of the UPI Broadcast Wire from 11/22/1963. 

& With memories, I’m outta here.

Remembering my laughing Cousin Bev

& Today at a funeral home in Grosse Pointe, Michigan they are going to have a memorial service for my cousin and lifelong friend Beverly Harrison. Bev died Sept. 14 — a few weeks after her 83rd birthday and after a long and brave struggle against an incessant parade of afflictions that would have taken the smile off of anybody’s face — but not Bev’s. (more…)

An unfoalding story of goodness — so far, so good — then, damn!

(There’s an unfortunate update. And some good news, too. See below)

& There are worse places for starving, pregnant mares to present a new foal to the world than the Abiquiu-El Rito-Medanales Ruralplex*. (more…)