Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine has kidney problem after jail
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA
Wednesday, August 29
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Bobi Wine, the Ugandan pop star who opposes the longtime president and has been charged with treason, has a “kidney problem” that needs urgent medical attention abroad, his lawyer said Wednesday, two days after the singer was freed from detention on crutches.
A medical report confirmed the suspicion of a kidney problem afflicting the singer and parliament member whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, Medard Sseggona told The Associated Press.
Ssentamu, who is being treated at a private facility in the capital, Kampala, also reported that in detention “they squeezed his manhood,” he said. “He was suffering pain in the hips.”
All efforts were underway to get the papers necessary for Ssentamu to travel abroad for specialized care, the lawyer said.
Ssentamu, through lawyers and colleagues, has alleged severe torture at the hands of security personnel. He has not made any public statement since he was arrested on Aug. 14 in the northwestern town of Arua for his alleged role in an incident in which the presidential motorcade was pelted with stones.
Ssentamu was freed on bail Monday after being charged with treason alongside 32 other suspects. Ssentamu’s driver was shot and killed in the aftermath of the incident, allegedly by the security forces. The government says the killing is being investigated.
Ssentamu and others on Thursday will appear before a magistrate who will consider the evidence and decide if the case should go to the High Court for trial.
Since winning a seat in parliament last year Ssentamu has drawn big crowds while campaigning for several opposition candidates who have won election. He is widely seen as a challenge to the long rule of 74-year-old President Yoweri Museveni with his appeal among Uganda’s large youth population frustrated by the lack of jobs. His supporters urge him to run for president in 2021.
Like Museveni, Ssentamu was in Arua to campaign in a local election to choose a legislator. The eventual winner, Kassiano Wadri, has also been charged with treason. Wadri was inaugurated on Wednesday.
Two other lawmakers have been similarly charged but are free on bail.
Another lawmaker arrested alongside Ssentamu, Francis Zaake, is hospitalized with injuries his colleagues describe as serious.
The speaker of Uganda’s parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has written to Museveni urging the arrest of alleged perpetrators within the security forces.
In the letter she said that Zaake “remains gravely ill” and Ssentamu “has visible signs of torture and beatings.” Unless the accused officers are arrested and presented in court, she warned, “it will be very difficult to conduct government business” in parliament.
Ssentamu’s arrest sparked protests in Kampala and elsewhere demanding his release, with scores of people detained, and a social media campaign to #FreeBobiWine was launched. Dozens of top international musicians, including Angelique Kidjo and Chris Martin, signed a letter demanding Ssentamu’s release.
Museveni, a U.S. regional security ally who took power by force in 1986, has been elected five times. Although he has campaigned on a record of establishing stability, some worry those gains are being eroded the longer he stays in power.
Museveni is now able to seek re-election in 2021 because parliament passed legislation last year removing a clause in the constitution that had prevented anyone over 75 from holding the presidency. Ssentamu publicly opposed that decision.
Museveni recently accused “unprincipled politicians” of luring youth into rioting.
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For the parents of gender-nonconforming kids, a new approach to care
August 29, 2018
Self-knowledge rarely comes packaged in a single coherent narrative. Yet this is the expectation we have of the children in our lives.
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Tey Meadow does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Ari had a difficult time talking about his gender.
He had always been feminine, insisting on wearing only androgynous clothing, flowing pants in bright colors, patterned shirts and scarves. His hair was long and carefully arranged, and his nails were usually painted with a kaleidoscope of colors. By the time he was 12, he vacillated between using male and female names and pronouns. At school, he mostly socialized with female classmates while performing in school plays and making art.
When I met his mother, Sandy, at an event for parents of trans and gender-nonconforming children, she spoke anxiously about his experience of puberty, his struggles with depression and the daunting task of helping him cope with the changes in his body. Sandy read every parenting manual on gender nonconformity she could get her hands on. She wasn’t sure whether Ari would grow up to be a gay man or a transgender woman, and she felt a tremendous amount of discomfort with that uncertainty.
Sandy was like many parents I met while doing research for my new book on families raising gender-nonconforming children. These parents often struggled with the question of how to tell if their child was really transgender, merely experimenting with gender or, instead, simply growing into an adolescent gay identity.
The media teaches parents to doubt
The parents and clinicians with whom I spoke all wished that there was some foolproof method to determine whether kids were actually trans. They longed for a formula that would tell them, with certainty, that they could safely assist these kids with social and medical gender transition without fear of mistake or regret.
News articles and blog posts on the subject seem to appear weekly. In July, for example, The Atlantic published a cover story about Claire, a gender-nonconforming 14-year-old. After a period of consideration, Claire decided that she didn’t ultimately feel the need to transition. The author of that article, Jesse Singal, used Claire’s experience to illustrate the complexities of parenting gender-diverse children.
I found the article troubling, however, because it was a prime example of two dangerous trends in public discussions of parenting gender-nonconforming youth.
First, Claire’s experience is not at all typical. The American Psychological Association has found that children who “consistently, persistently and insistently” tell the adults who surround them that they are transgender almost never have a sudden and complete change of heart. Indeed, they say, gender identity is resistant – if not immutable – to environmental intervention. Children can and do learn to “cover,” a term sociologists use for downplaying parts of one’s identity to assimilate. But that’s different from no longer feeling transgender.
Second – and perhaps more important – this article and others shift the focus from whether a child might be transgender to asking how it might be possible for them to not be.
This is called “cisnormativity” – the cultural belief that being gender-normative is inherently better than being trans. And the media is, at times, its biggest proponent.
Stories and false statistics that exaggerate the proportion of children who stop exhibiting gender nonconformity may offer comfort to anxious parents who long for an easy life for their kids. They also prompt those parents to interpret any signs of struggle or ambivalence as de facto evidence their child is not trans, to withhold information about transgender lives from interested children and to create an atmosphere in which children learn to hide the complexities of their experiences to garner the approval of adults.
This is not a new story.
For decades, transgender adults have written about how, when seeking gender reassignment, they needed to seem authentically trans – and report a total identification with the other gender – to physicians and psychologists. This could entail an exclusive preference for clothing and activities consistent with the other gender, a heterosexual sexual orientation and an ability to pass as a member of that gender. Absent those criteria, trans people would be turned away from medical care and disbelieved by friends and family.
As a result, many learned to cover up their ambivalences, struggles and self-doubts. They learned to present a version of trans that seemed foolproof to cisgender people: a narrative in which gender is certain, impervious to the vicissitudes of actual emotional life.
This is not to say these trans people were uncertain about who they were. That’s simply untrue. But self-knowledge rarely comes packaged in a single coherent narrative.
And yet, this is the expectation we have of the children in our lives.
It’s possible to do better. Development is not a linear process. It can weave through joy and ambivalence, through pain and delight. Adult gender doesn’t come easily to anyone. It’s fertile ground for self-doubt and humiliation, experimentation and adaptation.
Think for a moment about your own adolescence, the time when you experienced rapid bodily changes, social maturity and emergent sexuality. Few of us remember this process as smooth and linear. Now imagine you had adults – perhaps even your parents – scrutinizing this process each step of the way and trying to nudge you to fit neatly into an identity or way of behaving that felt uncomfortable. This is a recipe for depression and anxiety in children. In anyone, really.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Gender-nonconforming children who are supported by their parents in expressing their identities by and large thrive. In fact, recent studies show that trans youth who are affirmed and supported by their families to transition are psychologically healthier than children who are gender-nonconforming but receive no such encouragement.
Moving toward an affirmative model
Dealing with uncertainty and ambivalence can be especially difficult for parents who fear their children will face discrimination in their communities. But the truth is, it’s difficult for all parents.
As more families grapple with the complexities of gender development, we see stories of children and parents being offered guidance and support by clinicians who work from “an affirmative model of care.”
This affirmative model doesn’t push kids toward a transgender outcome or even a linear narrative. Instead, clinicians teach parents to pause, absorb the messages their children are sending and then articulate what they are seeing back to their children. Parents and psychologists help children express their genders in authentic ways, and then work to understand the significance of the things they are saying and doing. It takes times and practice.
Affirmative clinical work treats all gender variations as signs of health – not illness – and supports the unhurried unfolding of a child’s emergent self. In this context, uncertainty and ambivalence are a part of transgender development, just as they are for all gender development.
After some time and discussion, Sandy, Ari and his therapist decided to put Ari on Lupon, one of a class of drugs used to suspend the body’s production of the hormones that incite puberty. Sandy works hard to allow Ari to vacillate in his gender presentation and in his sense of self.
When we last spoke, she told me she didn’t know where he would end up. She knew there was no foolproof way to tell, only a process to endure.
Whatever the conclusion, she told me, Ari knew that she was walking alongside him – but letting him lead the way.
Why synthetic marijuana is so risky
August 29, 2018
C. Michael White
Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut
C. Michael White does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Connecticut provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The Green, a gathering place in New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University looked like a mass casualty zone, with 70 serious drug overdoses over a period spanning Aug. 15-16, 2018.
The cause: synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2, Spice, or AK47, which induced retching, vomiting, loss of consciousness and trouble breathing. On July 19, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that another batch of synthetic marijuana had been laced with rat poison. In 10 states and the District of Columbia, hundreds of people were hospitalized with severe bleeding, and four people died.
Many parts of the country have seen episodic crises due to synthetic marijuana, the largest occurring in Mississippi, where 721 adverse events were logged between April 2-3, 2015.
Even with outbreaks aside, synthetic cannabinoids are 30 times more likely to harm you than regular marijuana. Even with these risks, 7 percent of high school seniors and approximately 17 percent of adults have tried synthetic cannabinoids. It is easy to understand why these synthetic substitutes are alluring. They are easy to purchase, relatively inexpensive, produce a more potent high and don’t emit the typical marijuana scent. And, they are much harder to detect in the urine or blood than marijuana.
As an intensive care pharmacist and clinical pharmacologist, I have been researching street drugs for over a decade to help emergency room, critical care and poison control clinicians treat overdosing patients.
Why is using synthetic marijuana risky?
When you open a packet of a synthetic cannabinoid like K2 or Spice and pour the dried vegetation into your hand, it looks like marijuana. These dried leaves and stems can be inert or come from psychoactive plants like Wild Dagga. Some of these plants are contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, mold or salmonella.
However, synthetic cannabinoids are anything but natural. They are mass-produced overseas and then shipped in bulk to the U.S., where they are dissolved and then mixed with dried vegetation, which absorbs the liquid. This process is very imprecise, so the dose in one packet can differ greatly within or between batches.
There are several hundred synthetic cannabinoids in existence, and they all stimulate cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1), just like the active component in natural marijuana, THC, that provides the high. But they do so with different intensities and for differing periods of time. Some incorporate the central ring structure of the THC molecule before laboratory modification, but many others do not. More problems arise because some of the synthetic cannabinoids stimulate non-cannabinoid receptors and can cause unanticipated effects as well. There is no way to know which synthetic cannabinoids are actually in the product you purchased.
Natural marijuana does not comprise only THC. The other constituents in natural marijuana such as cannabidiol actually help to temper the negative impact of THC but are absent in synthetic cannabinoids. In addition to these myriad risks, there is also a risk that synthetic cannabinoids can be adulterated with other chemicals, ranging from opioids to rat poison.
Synthetic cannabinoids were initially designed by legitimate researchers in the U.S. and around the world who were looking to explore the function and structure of cannabinoid receptors. They did not intend for illegal drug labs to use their recipe to mass-produce these synthetic cannabinoids.
What are the consequences of using these drugs?
In addition to giving the user a high, the primary psychological and neurological effects of synthetic cannabinoid use include anxiety, agitation and paranoia, although psychosis and seizures have also occurred. The anxiety and psychosis can cause the heart to beat fast and even trigger heart attacks or strokes when the body’s adrenaline gets flowing. Many people suffer upset stomach with synthetic cannabinoids, and vomiting is also common (which is paradoxical, since medical marijuana is used to prevent vomiting). Finally, there is a risk that synthetic cannabinoids can damage both the muscles and kidneys.
Rarely, people reported having trouble breathing, but in some cases this is due to adrenaline release. In other cases, the butane that was used to extract THC from marijuana before laboratory alteration was not removed. The butane ignites during smoking and damages the lungs. Early detection and aggressive treatment for all of these adverse events can help to prevent severe adverse events or death.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
Many of the risks of synthetic cannabinoids and other illegal drugs of abuse arise because of contamination, adulteration, substitution and inconsistent dosages. As long as people are able to manufacture, transport and sell these drugs secretly, there is no way to assure buyers of a consistent quality product. Public health personnel, teachers and parents need to educate adults and students alike about the inherent risks of the drugs in their pure form but should also include the risks associated with poor manufacturing practices.
People generally prefer natural marijuana to synthetic forms, but as long as natural marijuana remains illegal, highly desired, easily detected and periodically unavailable, the desire to purchase synthetic forms will persist.
Finally, synthetic cannabinoids are primarily manufactured overseas. Foreign governments, especially in Asia, need to crack down on illegal drug factories and better scan freight for illegal drugs. In addition, all shipping companies need to do more to detect the illegal transport of drugs into the United States. There are hand-held detectors that can help identify some but not most synthetic cannabinoids. However, detection will still be painstakingly slow.