Category Archives: Law

Psychedelics for Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD, Part 2

File:FerndalePoliceStop102415.jpg

Drug paraphernalia including marijuana/cannabis and a methamphetamine pipe, following a police stop in Ferndale, CA, Author Ferndale Police Dept., Source https://kymkemp.com
(PD per California Public Records Act)

We continue our discussion of the risks and benefits of a drug-based psychiatric approach utilizing psychedelics to treat anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Despite growing enthusiasm for the use of psychedelics, the evidence is far from in.

LSD

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) – one of the most potent hallucinogens – was studied from the 1950s to 1970s in order to assess behavioral and personality changes, as well as relief from psychiatric symptoms [1][2A].

LSD was originally used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, and psychosomatic illness.  Readers may recall that the US Army and CIA, also, experimented with LSD as a truth serum.  But most early studies were not performed to today’s standards.

Across 11 randomized-controlled studies (involving a combined total of 567 patients) positive outcomes were observed, particularly with regard to alcoholism [2B].

In rare instances, however, psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD can evoke a lasting psychotic reaction (more frequently in patients with a family history of psychosis) [3A].  Adequate screening of a patient’s vulnerability and prior psychotic episodes before the use of LSD is, therefore, emphasized. Continue reading

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“A Mother’s Love” by Kelly Fratamico

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Mary_Cassatt_-_Mother_and_Child_%28The_Goodnight_Hug%29.jpg

“Mother and Child (A Goodnight Hug)” (1880) by Mary Cassatt, Source https://www.wikiart.org/en/mary-cassatt/mother-and-child-1880 (PD)

Readers of my other blog A Lawyer’s Prayers will be familiar with Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia https://www.clcphila.org/, a non-profit whose predecessor I had the opportunity of co-founding.

Through the efforts of volunteer Christian attorneys and paralegals, CLCP provides the poor of Philadelphia with legal services at no charge.

This is one story [1]:

“In 2016 Maria, a native of the Dominican Republic, sent her two young sons, to live with their father in the US.  She could not afford to come with them, so stayed behind…Maria made this sacrifice so her sons could receive a better education and not be influenced by violence in their town.

Maria was finally able to join her sons and their father in the United States…in the summer of 2021.  However, their father became abusive with Maria and tried to keep the boys from her.  With the help of the police and her sister, she was able to retrieve her sons and move into a place of her own.  However, Maria…was scared that he would use the court system to take  her sons from her.” Continue reading

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The Link Between Domestic Abuse and Mass Shootings

File:05 22 21 Downtown Minneapolis Mass Shooting (51196885820).jpgMinneapolis Mass Shooting 5/22/21, Author Chad Davis, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/146321178@N05/51196885820/
(CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

  • 6 were killed and 12 injured in a recent mass shooting in Sacramento [1].  Three shooters were subsequently identified, and found to have domestic violence backgrounds [2A].
  • Last year, a man who murdered 9 coworkers at a railyard had earlier been accused of sexual assault and abusive behavior toward a girlfriend [2B].
  • The man who murdered 49 patrons of the Pulse nightclub in 2016 had beaten and strangled his former wife [2C].

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions reports that 7 of 10 mass shootings were committed by batterers [2D].

A study in the Journal of Injury Epidemiology confirms that violence against a partner and violence against a stranger are closely related [3][4].  Between 2014 and 2019, 75 of 110 mass shootings were either domestic abuse related or perpetrated by an individual with a domestic abuse background. Continue reading

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Evil Never Rests

Evil eyes Royalty Free Vector Image - VectorStock

The past two years have been eventful for the world.  First, Covid dominated the news. Now, the tragic war in Ukraine (with 115 children killed, 140 injured, an untold number orphaned, and 1.5 million made refugees) is a major focus [1][2].

The following events have, also, taken place. They demonstrate that evil never rests:

  • Incest — Gucci heiress, Alexandra Zarini, has alleged that her stepfather, Joseph Ruffalo, sexually abused her between the ages of six and twenty-two. Her lawsuit has fractured the family, and confirmed that wealth is no safeguard against child abuse [3].
  • Catholic Church Sex Scandal — Retired Pope Benedict XVI (former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) has asked forgiveness from victims for his mishandling of four Catholic Church sex abuse cases [4]. Ratzinger did not in so many words apologize or accept blame. He continues to deny personal responsibility for the rapes and sodomy perpetuated by his failure to curtail the ministries of pedophile priests when complaints first surfaced [5].

Continue reading

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Cyberstalking

“Stop Cyberstalking” Jpeg, Source http://noalciberacoso.blogspot.com, Author Mirar abajo (CC BY-SA 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic)

You have a brief romance, then a break-up.  But the short-lived romance does not end there. 

Revealing photos of you appear online.  You find yourself locked out of your Facebook account.  Then the password to your bank account is changed, without your knowledge. 

And that is only the beginning. 

Next your ex claims that you have been stalking him.  To prove it, he points to threatening texts and emails on his phone you did not actually send.  The court issues him a protective order. 

Now, the situation really escalates.  Your one-time boyfriend reports that you violated the protective order, though you did not.  You find yourself arrested.

If all this seems farfetched, think again [1].

Not only is technology being used to embarrass and frighten [2].  Electronic communication can be utilized to manipulate the legal system, tying the lives of former spouses and romantic partners into knots.

Untying those knots can be both expensive and time-consuming.  More often than not, legal representation is required. Continue reading

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Sexual Harassment in the Sciences

Amazon.com: Pinsanity Science Not Silence Enamel Lapel Pin: Jewelry

Image courtesy of Pinsanity Store

  • Nancy Hopkins, PhD, a geneticist and cancer researcher who served as Professor of Biology at MIT for 40 years [1], was sexually harassed by Nobel Prize winning British molecular biologist, Francis Crick OM FRS, one of the two men credited with discovering the structure of DNA [2][3A]. Crick casually placed his hands on Hopkins’ breasts while inquiring about her research, as if that were a normal thing to do.
  • Jane Willenbring, PhD, a geomorphologist and Assoc. Professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, winner of the prestigious Antarctica Service Medal [4][5], was sexually harassed by glacial geologist, David Marchant, PhD after whom the Matataua Glacier was originally named [3B][6][7]. Marchant expressed open hostility toward Willenbring, repeatedly referring to her by such derogatory terms as “slut”, “whore”, and “cunt”; denigrating her work; tormenting her with painful practical jokes; and ultimately denying her funding.

As of 2017, women constituted only 29% of the STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) professionals in the United States [3C].

As research has now objectively demonstrated, major factors in this are the implicit and explicit gender discrimination and sexual harassment women face in these male dominated fields.

False Assumptions

The assumption has been that the sciences are apolitical, and free of bias; that sexual harassment does not exist in the sciences.  The assumption has been that women are simply unsuited for STEM; that they lack the necessary interest, dedication, and intellect to succeed; that their very biology makes them somehow inadequate to the task.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading

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Sexual Assault by Fraud

Informed Consent' and Why it Doesn't Work

Image courtesy of PetaPixel.

New Jersey nurse, Mischele Lewis, fell in love with the wrong man [1][2].  It was a mistake that would propel her into a world of deceit.

Lewis, a divorced mother of two, believed she had found true love.  The object of her affection, William Allen Jordan a/k/a Liam Allen, described himself as an undercover operative for the British Ministry of Defense.

Jordan turned out to be a con man and convicted sex offender, with ex-wives on two continents, and a half dozen children.  After wearing a wire, Lewis managed to secure a conviction of Jordan for scamming her out of funds. Continue reading

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NXIVM and Other Cults

DOS brand as per Government Exhibit GX-352 in US v. Raniere, Source https://www.courthousenews.com/former-slave-master-describes-sex-cult-branding-ritual/, Author US Attorney’s Office, EDNY (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many’ ” (Matt. 24: 4-5).

NXIVM is old news.  Keith Raniere has joined the ranks of such infamous cult leaders as Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, and David Koresh [1].

But the NXIVM phenomenon has lessons for us.  Here are a few:

1.  A charismatic leader may not be what he claims. 

All that glitters is not gold.

Though venerated as a virtual god, Keith Raniere was originally an Amway distributor [2A].  The self-proclaimed guru and life coach called himself the “smartest man in the world” when, in fact, he had difficulty completing college.

2.  The endorsement of celebrities is no guarantee of an organization’s trustworthiness.

NXIVM was supported by Seagrams heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, to the tune of some $85 million [2B].

Among the celebrities who once endorsed NXIVM were actresses Allison Mack, India Oxenberg, and Sarah Edmondson [3].  Keith Raniere even appeared with the Dalai Lama.

3.  Hierarchy and ritual are no guarantees of an organization’s spirituality.

NXIVM had both.

4.  Finances often reveal the true nature of an organization.

Actions speak louder than words.  Lofty sounding goals are not enough.

Keith Raniere promised his followers they would change the world [2C].  Instead, Raniere’s actions confirmed his desire for sex, money, and power.

Legally, NXIVM was comprised of dozens of shell corporations, their finances dubious [2D].  Functionally, NXIVM was little more than a pyramid scheme, designed to bilk Raniere’s followers of their savings [2E].

A seemingly endless series of classes were heavily promoted. All promised self-knowledge and self-improvement, albeit at a cost.  Meanwhile, members often went unpaid for their labor.

Raniere’s earlier venture, Consumer Buyline (a multi-level marketing company) was shut down in 1993 after being investigated for fraud by 20 states.

5.  Excessive control is a major red flag.

There is a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing; that line must not be crossed.

New members were introduced to NXIVM’s philosophy of “rational inquiry” at intensive, 14 hour-per-day seminars lasting more than 2 weeks.

Loyalty to NXIVM was emphasized over loyalty to family.  The dress, diet, and life decisions of members were all closely regulated by NXIVM.  Even the weight of members was monitored.

Other tactics employed at NXIVM included sleeplessness, isolation, starvation, corporal punishment, and coercion via blackmail.  Cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, also, used “love bombing” – excessive displays of attention and affection intended to overwhelm [5]. Continue reading

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Equal Rights Globally

African women discussing the progress of their community, Author Mailabari (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The following is excerpted from an article in The Hill titled, “Only 10 countries consider women equal – that must change” [1]:

“Discriminatory laws affect every aspect of a woman’s life – from where she lives and works, to when and whom she marries, to whether she can open a bank account, inherit property or apply for a passport [not to mention access the courts, in the event of domestic abuse].

In Senegal the decision of where a married couple lives legally rests with the husband.  In Jordan only men can be the legal head of a household and in Mali a woman legally owes obedience to her husband…

[I]t is also true that important legal reforms have been made…

In the last year alone, Vietnam removed all job restrictions for women, Madagascar toughened domestic violence penalties, Suriname introduced paid leave for new parents and New Zealand enhanced laws mandating equal pay for work of equal value…The United Arab Emirates removed some travel and movement restrictions and became the first and only country in the region to offer paid parental leave.”

Continue reading

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Father’s Day

Family/Parenting • Page 9 of 54 • EBONY

Image courtesy of Ebony Magazine
https://www.ebony.com/life/family_parenting/page/9/

The client was in his late 20s, his face impassive, revealing nothing.  He came to the legal clinic prepared, bringing along rent receipts carefully retained.

He told a story we had heard many times before: a layoff, promises to a landlord and partial payment of rent, then eviction.  In this case, the poignant detail was added of his returning home from the job search to find his sons on the porch with their mother, the door to their apartment padlocked.

We discussed his limited options.  It was only at the end of our session with him that the topic of fatherhood came up.  We were deeply impressed by his faithfulness, his efforts to protect his family against the hardships of poverty.  When we told him so, the dam burst.

He spoke with passion of having been abandoned as a young boy by his own father, of leaving home by his early teens, and fathering his first son within two years.  He spoke of feeling a failure, of the temptation to leave, walk away as his father had.

We did what little we could.  He needed a job and a roof over his head more than he did a lawyer.

But he stands to this day as an example for me of what fatherhood should be.  It is the reason I am reminded of him on Father’s Day.  His sons – the evidence of his existence, the personification of his desire to do better than his father – I am certain were blessed by his presence and his character.

I know I was.

So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him” (Gen. 35: 29).

Originally posted 6/15/14

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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