Balkinization  

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Still More on Murphy

Mark Graber

The Wall Street Journal apparently believes “what happened” to Professor Murphy “was out of the ordinary only inasmuch as the airline clerk . . . made a sensational and untrue claim.” They know so, because “as luck would have it” (be prepared--there are going to be a lot of remarkable coincidences in what follows) an administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, just happened to be visiting the Wall Street Journal Office yesterday. Given that such officials are nonpartisan and have never been known to exaggerate in any respect, unlike named chairs at Princeton University, we now have a totally accurate account of the no-fly affair.

Apparently Murphy was a “selectee,” chosen for reasons “most of which are not publicly disclosed,” but include such potentially innocent matters as “holding a one-way ticket and purchasing a ticket in cash.” Of course, the first was not true in the case of Professor Murphy and I doubt the second was either. But other undisclosed reasons might exist. Maybe the government routinely searches people who write books for Johns Hopkins University Press or, as I fervently hope, criticize my friend Gerald Rosenberg. But clearly, we are informed, the search of Murphy was just another coincidence. As the Wall Street Journal explains, “this has happened to us on numerous occasions.” Just not, apparently, to the numerous persons who had read the original post.

Besides, the Journal informs us, “federal terrorist watch lists are compiled . . . by career professionals at the FBI . . . who . . . would balk at any effort to list people for political reasons.” And as we all know, the FBI is absolutely impervious to political influence. For those who think maybe, just maybe, the FBI some of the time has investigated people for political reasons, consider that the Journal does not spell out which FBI is doing the watch list. Perhaps FBI in this case stands for “Friends of Bjorn Ipswich.” It’s just a coincidence that this group has the same initials as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And presumably, there is every reason to believe the Transportation Security Administration is as nonpartisan as the FBI.

Another unfortunate coincidence took place when the clerk informed Murphy that participating in a peace rally might explain why he was a selectee. As the Journal points out “airline clerks have no way of knowing why a passenger is a selectee.” A social scientists might think that even if airline clerks have no official knowledge of the criteria, they regularly observe and chat with the people who are selectees and might make some inferences if they detect certain patterns. If a remarkable number of redheads are taken out of line, some reason exists for thinking that being a redhead is part of the criteria. But I think there is a better explanation, one that supports the Journal’s account. When I am subject to a random search at check-in, I am told this is a random search, that this is nothing special about me. I feel so insignificant. The Airline in question probably has a policy of making people feel special about random searches by telling people that they are politically important. Oh, and when my luggage is randomly searched, they usually let me watch. But the secrecy, no doubt, made Professor Murphy feel really important.

The last coincidence occurred when Professor Murphy’s luggage was lost. Of course, he was told that his luggage would be ransacked (and presumably a clerk would know whether in practice luggage is merely searched or ransacked). Indeed, the luggage would be ransacked or searched even though this seemed clearly a case of mistaken identity. Nevertheless, the government thought playing things safe best. There are, after all, many Walter Murphy’s in the world. And given his reputation, a great many of us, myself included, have been doing failed Walter Murphy impressions for years. Perhaps this was a fraud, someone cashing in on Professor Murphy’s academic reputation while the real Professor Murphy is tied up in a basement somewhere. And distinguishing one Walter Murphy from another is difficult. No doubt, the FBI (remember we may be talking about “Friends of Bjorn Ipswich” here) merely has “Walter Murphy” on somelist and not, "Walter Murphy, a twenty-two year old, six-foot-four, redhead."

I do not know James Taranto, who wrote the Wall Street Journal piece, or Kip Hawley, the administrator in question. I have every reason to believe that Mr. Hawley, in particular, is making a good faith effort to place the Transportation Security Agency in the best possible light. And there are a good many explanations as to what happened. But there are also a good many mysteries and they ought to trouble everyone, even as we do not yet know the answers. Professor Murphy appears to have made some list for some reason. Persons on the ground seemed to have observed that a fairly common characteristic of persons on that list is some opposition to Bush administration policies and being on this list appears to have some consequences. Most important, while I am not a student of Walter Murphy's or a member of the Princeton School of Constitutional Thought, Professor Murphy ought not be depicted as “so blinded by hatred” to be “gullible enough to believe anything.” Walter Murphy is not a political ideologue. The last message I recall him sending on the lawcourts listserv was a strong endorsement of Samuel Alito. Perhaps he has lost his mind or his judgment has gone horribly awry. But that would strike me as the least likely coincidence in the above account.

UPDATE: My sense of the Murphy debate on the blogosphere is that the dominant positions are one of two extremes. Either this was part of a systematic effort to harass opponents of the Bush administration or this was entirely random. Neither seems fully true to the facts for reasons persons on one side point out about the other. Let me suggest a third alternative, which seems to best fit the facts (although hardly any explanation is perfect). I think there is a fair degree of evidence that there was some targeting going on, given both the initial stop and the baggage lost on the return flight. On the other hand, one thing we know about secretive processes is that people can sometimes get on the wrong list simply because someone has a grudge against them. Needless to say, the FBI has hardly been immune to this problem. Consider how a false tip from Walter Winchell led to an extensive investigation of the entertainer Josephine Baker (see http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/jbaker.htm --thanks to MaryDudziak for this tip). So consider the possibility that someone, upset with Professor Murphy's talk at Princeton, either put him on the list or made a complaint to the FBI. Put differently, there is randomness going on, but a randomness that is enabling citizens to use and abuse government to harass persons whose politics or persona they do not like.

Comments:

Well...

Taranto is a well known idiot. Who on the WSJ Op-Ed isn't?

Kip Hawley? Not quite as notorious an idiot... yet?

http://www.kiphawleyisanidiot.com/
 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Wisconsin man who wrote "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" on a plastic bag containing toiletries said he was detained at an airport security checkpoint for about 25 minutes before authorities concluded the statement was not a threat.

I rest my case.
 

I submit into evidence, this:


IDIOT, n.

A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.
 

Something that has been missing in the moderate blogosphere discussion of this issue ("selectees" being searched before boarding airplanes) is the well-known, in fact almost commonplace occurrence of WTO protesters, peace marchers, environmental activists, and all-around "lefties" being routinely and regularly searched at airports. Amongst activist circles it's common knowledge. It's routine now. Quotidian. You're a progressive activist? You will be delayed and searched before boarding a plane. Your luggage will be ransacked and/or lost. You will be treated with disrespect, to say the least. The TSA personnel who perform the searches regularly explain that it's because of the "selectee's" peace-march/anti-WTO/Greenpeace/ACLU etc. affiliation. Nothing new here, move along.

Now, how much of this is an urban myth, how much is exaggerated self-reporting, and how much is unvarnished truth is anything but clear. But my personal experiences, and the encounters of my close friends (pacifists all, by the way), seem to indicate (to me, anyway), that there is something rotten at the core at the TSA.
 

There is something rotten at the core of the GOP and "movement conservatism" and has been for quite some time. Peter Viereck was the first to see it in the 50s. John Dean saw it. Goldwater finally saw it. Pete McCloskey finally saw it last year here in CA when the GOP endorsed Richard Pombo over him (and lost to a Democrat that McCloskey, a Republican, endorsed). There are damn few, if any, true conservatives or loyal American Republicans in the GOP anymore. Most have left politics (they can't get nominated as a Republican) or switched parties.

I don't fly. I know I'm on a watch list. There are no "progressive activists". There is "us" and "them" and to "them," we are "terrorists" and "terrorist sympathizers". Don't you read the news, watch the TV and listen to the GOP? If "they" are in power, I guess I'm a "terrorist". That's fine with me. And I never liked flying anyway. After we have flushed all these pigs out of government over the course of the next 20 years, if I'm still around, maybe I'l fly then.
 

JT Davis:

I don't fly. I know I'm on a watch list. There are no "progressive activists". There is "us" and "them" and to "them," we are "terrorists" and "terrorist sympathizers"....

In all fairness, I don't get stopped (but I haven't been physically present in peace marches, etc.; albeit there's other reasons to single me out). My partner's been given the dreaded letter "S" while flying with me though ... guess her 1-way ticket (or her relationship with me) might have triggered this.

And as I said in another thread, I've gotten chuckles and "nice T-shirt" comments from TSA and INS/DHS before for wearing my political T-shirts to the airport. Maybe you need to piss the wrong person off, but hasn't happened yet. There are some good guys working there.

Cheers,
 

Arne,

I've gotten the SSSSSSSSSS's 4-5 times in the past two years. Since I have stool-pidgeon status, why have I been selected so many times? Can't the Bushies cut their minions some slack?
 

Of course, I should add that nothing is as fun as the extra scrutiny I get for my visits to Jordan and Iraq. When I have to show my passport, the darn Euros really grill me on that.
 

It would surprise me if TSA does anything beyond load other agencies databases when creating the selectee/no-fly lists.

Would anyone be really that surprised to find out that anti-war/anti-bush activists are getting flagged somewhere?
 

i may be cursing myself, or maybe i'm just not as important as i think i am, but i have not been "selected" for quite some time. perhaps i should be insulted that i am not considered important enough, or maybe i should stop wearing my groucho glasses to hide my true identity at the airport....
 

phq,

Perhaps I might suggest picking up your cell phone and calling someone (because cells are the NSA's favorite). If you use the words terrorist, bomb, and Bush at least 3 times per minute, Woooolah! You're on the list within a day thanks to wonderful compentency of the beaucracy.

Also, remember, only C-list critics get on the list, unless you are Teddy K. So, that is another big point in your favor.
 

This is terrible. I am a solid supporter of the war, ran for office as a Republican, have two brothers in Iraq, daily reader of James Taranto and think President Bush is a great war president. I, even I, have been selected for random searching 33% of the flights I have flown since Sept. 11. Is it a coincidence? I think not. Clearly the "Bush" administration (I'm sure it's Karl Rove) is sending signals to their cronies in the TSA to harass supporters of Iraqi Freedom. This masks their efforts to make life miserable for critics of the administration. Thanks for the hard evidence to support my theory.
 

someone:

Of course, I should add that nothing is as fun as the extra scrutiny I get for my visits to Jordan and Iraq. When I have to show my passport, the darn Euros really grill me on that.

I've been to Egypt too. And Indonesia and Tchad. Maybe I get a pass for being one of the "snoops". ;-)

Cheers,
 

Arne,

Where/when did you visit in Egypt? I'm considering making a backpacking trip there. What were your impressions?
 

The reason for the recent bad-jacketing of Ward Churchill becomes all the more CLEAR, as the FACT that "bad jacketing" was WHAT was done to him now becomes QUITE OBVIOUS. His past scholarship on the subject. Sure, he may be a "wannabe" indian who plagiarized some artwork and said something unfortunate but his work with AIM, his research on COINTELPRO and the FBI as political police and agents of repression during that period just scratched the surface, as we are now finding out. It's not like it was anything new or that it was the first time the FBI has done this, or the last.

Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI's Investigation of American Anthropologists. Duke University Press, 2004.


Amazon has it. My favorite customer review there:

Nothing is so disgusting as an author who creates in his own mind, regardless of the evidence, some historical gobbledgook under the guise of science. Price totally ignores Venona files(1992) evidence that McCarthy saved the United States and totally destroyed Soviet plans for the internal overthrow of the US government.

This book is destined for the garbage bin appropriately named "inaccurate historical fiction."


I like it because of the fact that there are now more Bushistas in our government than there ever were communists, and they are far more dangerous than any communist, ever, and in time, the work of Harvey Klehr & John Earl Haynes and their ilk will probably be headed for the "garbage bin appropriately named 'inaccurate historical fiction'".

That's irony.
 

Professor Graber,

I find yours (and his) claim that his baggage was intentionally lost (though it was returned delivered to him later on that night) to be quite incredible. So, somehow there is a system that tells the baggage handlers whose luggage "to lose"?

Let's tease out the implications of your assertion.

There is some broad system for temporarily delaying the luggage of certain individuals? Out of all the baggage handlers, don't you think SOMEONE would cry foul? I hardly doubt that the thousands of baggage handlers and TSA peeps are all minions in the vast, (and I do mean vast) right wing conspiracy.

If your assertion was true, it should be something that an intreprid reporter should be able to uncover rather easily.

Also, he wasn't subjected to the same scrutiny on the way back. So, somehow in a breathtaking display of competence on the government's part, he was able to get off of the list (or out from scrutiny) much more quickly than almost anyone else? And this is before he broke his story (so the government didn't have a particular motivation to suddenly play nice).

I mean seriously, professor. You can't really believe this stuff.

I know the rest of you apply all sorts of evil motivations to the Bush administration and the beaucracy. But, doesn't this suggest a level of competence that you so often say it does not have?
 

Even conservative columnist Cal Thomas (a former spokesman for the Moral Majority) was on the no-fly list.

His account is entertaining reading but, alas, he does not seem to draw any larger lessons from the experience.
 

beaucracy (sic)

Perhaps if you could spell "bureaucracy" you would get through law school faster. My apologies if you meant "beau crazy". You remind me of the "good Germans" living near the death camps. Day in and day out the unmistakable smell of burning flesh was in the air they breathed. They were shocked! Shocked, I tell you, to find out that genocide was going on in Bavaria. They had no idea that could happen there. Ignore the luggage. It's irrelevant.
 

Someone,

Strawman. Did anyone say it was intentionally lost? What was said was that Dr. Murphy was warned that his bag would be ransacked, then the bag was lost.

What are the possible explanations? One, that it was simply coincidence. Two, that the bag was ransacked, and then accidentally lost; we all know how badly bags are handled at airports, and adding an additionally stage in it's handling is quite likely to increase the possibility of it being lost. Three, it was ransacked and damaged in the process; reasonable behavior by the security personnel would then be to simply toss the bag, rather than write out any associated paperwork or deal with any ensuing complaints. Fourth, someone really, really hates him and is trying to punish him.

The fourth one is obviously the least likely, and the least like real world bureaucratic behavior. But that in no way negates cases 2 & 3.

Are you really a law student? Don't they require finer level analysis at your school, or are you a student at Regent?
 

Josh said...
This is terrible. I am a solid supporter of the war, ran for office as a Republican, have two brothers in Iraq, daily reader of James Taranto and think President Bush is a great war president.


Josh's case is easy to explain. Anyone that stupid (thinking Bush is a war president) could be an inadvertant mule for a bomb. He probably let the Afghani cab driver repack his bags for fitty cents.

Your average, middle class white persone just don't get this. I think Professor Murphy is a unique and special exception. This is as plain as the nose on your face to an oppressed minority in this country. Blacks, American indians and now Muslims.
 

Random,

If you want a response, make your argument without the personal insults.
 

These lists are more about domination than passenger safety. Fisk's article in the Independent - carving Baghdad up into little segments and requiring everyone to have papers is more the line. Checkpoint society for internal control - that's what's being built.

Airline security does not depend on knowing who is on the plane or who they hang out with. It depends on whether they have weapons and on physical items like locked doors.
 

These lists are more about domination than passenger safety.

And the harassment is more about fear than anything else. It appears random because it is putatively illegal to be anything other than random or "accidental". If you haven't noticed how this admin uses fear by now, you're as deluded and oblivious as DeSmarma and this dipshit... Or you tacitly approve.


Someone said...
Random,

If you want a response...


Promises, promises.
 

I've been "selected" many times, both for the ticket counter luggage search and the body search at the gate even though I never pay with cash and always travel round-trip. A good 90% of the time when I arrive home I find a note in my suitcase informing me that it's been ransacked, er, searched. And my luggage has been lost twice and delayed several times more.

I'm a 61 year old white woman who voted for George Bush twice and hasn't attended any kind of protest or march since the 60's.

The paranoia here, not to mention the self-importance, is palpable. Get over yourselves.
 

Someone:

Where/when did you visit in Egypt? I'm considering making a backpacking trip there. What were your impressions?

I'd tell ya but then I'd have to ki... -- uh, sorry, that was Indonesia.

Seriously, we went to Egypt last New Years (15 months ago). I'll post pictures on my blog when I get a chance to cull the good ones; the new U/W camera rig was dicey, so not too many good shots down under ... but some great ones of the archaeological sites (which I don't post). We did Cairo to Abu Simbel, and then by local bus and ferry to Hurghada (near where that ferry sank last year). Took the good ferry [Norwegian-built, ;-)] to Sharm al-Sheikh. Great place to visit, but bring traveller's cheques (your ATM likely won't work there; Billmon [whose Whiskey Bar blog is sadly defunct] had a similar experience). Bargain for everything ... including hotels and train fares.

Cheers,
 

Persons on the ground seemed to have observed that a fairly common characteristic of persons on that list is some opposition to Bush administration policies and being on this list appears to have some consequences.

I still don't understand what these consequences are. The guy got on his scheduled flight. He got home on his scheduled flight. His baggage all went with him. If don't come back with him, but it came back.

Some consequences! Flying is no fun, but it's no fun for all of us. This is a very hysterical man this Walter, like Mitty I think.
 

Republicans really are stupider than the rest of the human race. How else can you explain voting for George Bush... twice!

They really do lack reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. He was told he was on a "terrorist watch list". Now, Kip Hawley is an Idiot comes along to explain that he was actually a "selectee". These are two different things. But trust the government. Unless it's a Clinton. They will ban the Bible and sell secrets to the ChiComs!Damn, these people are stupid. They are probably regular call-ins to CSPAN. The mountains of evidence (including Bush's oown admission) that this is going on is only notable when they can get indignant at the NYTimes for revealing this surveillance.

Rope. Tree. Journalist.

Some Assembly Required.

At least they found a use for trees.
 

All I can say is, Graber should be thankful for tenure. Not because of the long arm of the Bush administration, but because he's revealed himself to be a complete idiot. A moron. A fool. A jackass. This dolt is lucky, but his students are stuck with him. (Thankfully for the students at Princeton, Murphy has retired, and in any event this incident may be indicative of and be excused by dementia.)

On a blog where I'm often reminded that a majority of the country opposes the administration's policies, it is said to surprise someone that a majority of those selected for security review are--get this--opposed to the administration's policies! Somehow that's supposed to be significant, rather than obvious.

For what it's worth, I too was a selectee, for more than a year. I was told I could go through a process to get my name removed from the list, which seemed to be as much hassle as being on the list. For some reason--presumably ominous and political--I'm no longer on the list. Perhaps NSA's surveillance has revealed my true politics.

What an embarassing mess.
 

BangkokAl:

I still don't understand what these consequences are. The guy got on his scheduled flight. He got home on his scheduled flight. His baggage all went with him. If don't come back with him, but it came back.

Some consequences! Flying is no fun, but it's no fun for all of us. This is a very hysterical man this Walter, like Mitty I think.


I'd suggest that the "hysteria" is with a different group (and for a different group).

I'm not particularly worked up about the security checks (I'm a pretty patient person), but to pretend that it does a lot of good is delusional. We're "fighting the last war" way too many times for us to be thought competent, much less smart, as I said previously.

And if the procedures are being used for harassment and/or intimidation, I do have a problem with it. My brother recounted a friend of his (a person of colour) whose take on it was: "This is nothing new to me. They're just doing it to see what your reaction will be." So are we sheep? How's the 'test run' going?

Cheers,
 

Thomas is a prime example of the observation (here in CA where there ratio used to be 1 to 47 per) that when it comes to pecking orders it "dispirited young lawyers" at the top, then real estate agents, then car salseman, then door to door vacuum cleaner salesman. Anyone who thinks an idiot can't get through law school just needs to see one of Bart's comments, and at least he has some hare-brained legal arguments. Good job, Thomas. Nothing but ad hominems and the same anecdote you all repeat. "It happened to me and I love Bush!" Why should we believe any of you? For all we know, you are afraid to fly. You certainly were afraid to enlist to fight the evil terrists. Or did you just have other priorities.

Ignoring the mountains of evidence that the government has done all these things is awfully convenient, but judging by your blog, which you haven't updated since 2004, you probably don't read the news. I don't blame you. It's all bad news.
 

Good job, Thomas. Nothing but ad hominems and the same anecdote you all repeat.

Pot, meet the kettle.
 

Someone: "If you want a response, make your argument without the personal insults."

Someone, I'd care about your responses if they actually contained information. But since I can predict, so far with 100% accuracy what your opinion will be on any issue, the informational content therein is exactly 0.

When you surprise me, then I'll treat you with respect.

Until then, debunking is all you'll receive and deserve.
 

In defence of airport security, I have never heard a casual, flip or derrogatory explanation for my delays at airports. I am a 65 year old caucasion grandmother who has been delayed and subjected to additional search and security measures several times now. I routinely am selected for a wand check, nobody has an explanation and they are uniformely polite (almost appologetic). The security people have variously and professionally explained the security checks - it might be something to do with changes to my flight schedule (twice), one way travel (twice), separation of my baggage from the flight posting (mis-sent, skipped by the computer), name confusion, and/or a randon occurance, etc.
 

Pot, meet the kettle.

# posted by PMS_Chicago


Yes. Some people are not worth anything but an insult. I'd have no problem insulting an idiot ex-marine with a Ph.D. You can be sure I have. But in this instance, in this context, it isn't Murphy who is the idiot. It's Thomas, and that's obvious to anyone who is not an idiot themselves. Me? I'm more of a fool than an idiot but I'm mostly an ill-tempered cynic. My take on you is that you are a little of both the idiot and the fool. (See definition above. Will provide working definition of fool on request, maybe). Ask yourself. Is it really worth it to start with me?
 

If I'm going to assign a value of credibility to anectdotal evidence about experiences with airport security, I'm going to rate Murphy very high, for obvious reasons, as opposed to all others so far. If those reasons are not obvious to you - Ph.D., Law prof., ex-Marine, understands security procedures, obvious wisdom and intelligence indicated by opposition to Bush, if not Alito (he is a jarhead, nobody's perfect) - as opposed to the nice little old ladies and other idiots, like Thomas (support Bush at this stage of the game, you are an idiot, partisan hack or a scoundrel, probably all 3. Refute that.) besides,not all airports are equal. What many people do not realize, including Murphy, is that Congress allowed TSA to keep the private screeners that were in San Francisco, Kansas City and the three other airports. The private screeners have been only slightly more effective at detecting threats than federal screeners. How many of you knew that?
 

Will provide working definition of fool on request, maybe.

You (or Ambrose) would score victory points if you could find some way to include the word "Chicago" in it.
 

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mesotheliomaThe level of soluble mesothelin-related protein is elevated in the serum of about 75% of patients at diagnosis and it has been suggested that it may be useful for screening. Doctors have begun testing the Mesomark assay which measures levels of soluble mesothelin-related proteins (SMRPs) released by diseased mesothelioma cells
Incidence
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. The incidence rate is approximately one per 1,000,000. The highest incidence is found in Britain, Australia and Belgium: 30 per 1,000,000 per year. For comparison, populations with high levels of smoking can have a lung cancer incidence of over 1,000 per 1,000,000. Incidence of malignant mesothelioma currently ranges from about 7 to 40 per 1,000,000 in industrialized Western nations, depending on the amount of asbestos exposure of the populations during the past several decades. It has been estimated that incidence may have peaked at 15 per 1,000,000 in the United States in 2004. Incidence is expected to continue increasing in other parts of the world. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age. Approximately one fifth to one third of all mesotheliomas are peritoneal.
Between 1940 and 1979, approximately 27.5 million people were occupationally exposed to asbestos in the United States.[ Between 1973 and 1984, there has been a threefold increase in the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in Caucasian males. From 1980 to the late 1990s, the death rate from mesothelioma in the USA increased from 2,000 per year to 3,000, with men four times more likely to acquire it than women. These rates may not be accurate, since it is possible that many cases of mesothelioma are misdiagnosed as adenocarcinoma of the lung, which is difficult to differentiate from mesothelioma.
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure exists in almost all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos. In rare cases, mesothelioma has also been associated with irradiation, intrapleural thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), and inhalation of other fibrous silicates, such as erionite.
asbestos
is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven.
asbestos
has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
The combination of smoking and
asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the airways (lung cancer bronchial carcinoma). The Kent brand of cigarettes used
mesothelioma in its filters for the first few years of production in the 1950s and some cases of
mesothelioma have resulted. Smoking modern cigarettes does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma.
Some studies suggest that simian virus 40 may act as a cofactor in the development of mesothelioma.
Asbestos was known in antiquity, but it wasn't mined and widely used commercially until the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with
asbestos exposure were not publicly known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of
asbestos exposure in the workplace, and created guidelines for engineering controls and respirators, protective clothing, exposure monitoring, hygiene facilities and practices, warning signs, labeling, recordkeeping, and medical exams. By contrast, the British Government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states formally that any threshold for
mesothelioma must be at a very low level and it is widely agreed that if any such threshold does exist at all, then it cannot currently be quantified. For practical purposes, therefore, HSE does not assume that any such threshold exists. People who work with
asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure. Recent findings have shown that a mineral called erionite has been known to cause genetically pre-dispositioned individuals to have malignant mesothelioma rates much higher than those not pre-dispositioned genetically. A study in Cappadocia, Turkey has shown that 3 villiages in Turkey have death rates of 51% attributed to erionite related
mesotheliomaExposure to
asbestos fibres has been recognised as an occupational health hazard since the early 1900s. Several epidemiological studies have associated exposure to asbestos with the development of lesions such as asbestos bodies in the sputum, pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, asbestosis, carcinoma of the lung and larynx, gastrointestinal tumours, and diffuse mesothelioma of the pleura and peritoneum.
The documented presence of
asbestos fibres in water supplies and food products has fostered concerns about the possible impact of long-term and, as yet, unknown exposure of the general population to these fibres. Although many authorities consider brief or transient exposure to
asbestos fibres as inconsequential and an unlikely risk factor, some epidemiologists claim that there is no risk threshold. Cases of mesothelioma have been found in people whose only exposure was breathing the air through ventilation systems. Other cases had very minimal (3 months or less) direct exposure.
Commercial
asbestos mining at Wittenoom, Western Australia, occurred between 1945 and 1966. A cohort study of miners employed at the mine reported that while no deaths occurred within the first 10 years after crocidolite exposure, 85 deaths attributable to mesothelioma had occurred by 1985. By 1994, 539 reported deaths due to mesothelioma had been reported in Western Australia.
Family members and others living with
asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing
mesothelioma and possibly other asbestos related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to
asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of
asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to asbestosMany building materials used in both public and domestic premises prior to the banning of
asbestos may contain
asbestos Those performing renovation works or activities may expose themselves to asbestos dust. In the UK use of Chrysotile asbestos was banned at the end of 1999. Brown and blue
asbestos was banned in the UK around 1985. Buildings built or renovated prior to these dates may contain asbestos materials.
For patients with localized disease, and who can tolerate a radical surgery, radiation is often given post-operatively as a consolidative treatment. The entire hemi-thorax is treated with radiation therapy, often given simultaneously with chemotherapy. Delivering radiation and chemotherapy after a radical surgery has led to extended life expectancy in selected patient populations with some patients surviving more than 5 years. As part of a curative approach to
mesothelioma radiotherapy is also commonly applied to the sites of chest drain insertion, in order to prevent growth of the tumor along the track in the chest wall.
Although
mesothelioma is generally resistant to curative treatment with radiotherapy alone, palliative treatment regimens are sometimes used to relieve symptoms arising from tumor growth, such as obstruction of a major blood vessel.
Radiation Therapy when given alone with curative intent has never been shown to improve survival from
mesothelioma The necessary radiation dose to treat mesothelioma that has not been surgically removed would be very toxic.
Chemotherapy is the only treatment for
mesothelioma that has been proven to improve survival in randomised and controlled trials. The landmark study published in 2003 by Vogelzang and colleagues compared cisplatin chemotherapy alone with a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed (brand name Alimta) chemotherapy) in patients who had not received chemotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma previously and were not candidates for more aggressive "curative" surgery. This trial was the first to report a survival advantage from chemotherapy in malignant pleural
mesothelioma showing a statistically significant improvement in median survival from 10 months in the patients treated with cisplatin alone to 13.3 months in the combination pemetrexed group in patients who received supplementation with folate and vitamin B12. Vitamin supplementation was given to most patients in the trial and pemetrexed related side effects were significantly less in patients receiving pemetrexed when they also received daily oral folate 500mcg and intramuscular vitamin B12 1000mcg every 9 weeks compared with patients receiving pemetrexed without vitamin supplementation. The objective response rate increased from 20% in the cisplatin group to 46% in the combination pemetrexed group. Some side effects such as nausea and vomiting, stomatitis, and diarrhoea were more common in the combination pemetrexed group but only affected a minority of patients and overall the combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin was well tolerated when patients received vitamin supplementation; both quality of life and lung function tests improved in the combination pemetrexed group. In February 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved pemetrexed for treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. However, there are still unanswered questions about the optimal use of chemotherapy, including when to start treatment, and the optimal number of cycles to give.
Cisplatin in combination with raltitrexed has shown an improvement in survival similar to that reported for pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin, but raltitrexed is no longer commercially available for this indication. For patients unable to tolerate pemetrexed, cisplatin in combination with gemcitabine or vinorelbine is an alternative, although a survival benefit has not been shown for these drugs. For patients in whom cisplatin cannot be used, carboplatin can be substituted but non-randomised data have shown lower response rates and high rates of haematological toxicity for carboplatin-based combinations, albeit with similar survival figures to patients receiving cisplatin.
In January 2009, the United States FDA approved using conventional therapies such as surgery in combination with radiation and or chemotherapy on stage I or II Mesothelioma after research conducted by a nationwide study by Duke University concluded an almost 50 point increase in remission rates.
Treatment regimens involving immunotherapy have yielded variable results. For example, intrapleural inoculation of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) in an attempt to boost the immune response, was found to be of no benefit to the patient (while it may benefit patients with bladder cancer.
mesothelioma cells proved susceptible to in vitro lysis by LAK cells following activation by interleukin-2 (IL-2), but patients undergoing this particular therapy experienced major side effects. Indeed, this trial was suspended in view of the unacceptably high levels of IL-2 toxicity and the severity of side effects such as fever and cachexia. Nonetheless, other trials involving interferon alpha have proved more encouraging with 20% of patients experiencing a greater than 50% reduction in tumor mass combined with minimal side effects.
A procedure known as heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy was developed by at the Washington Cancer Institute. The surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible followed by the direct administration of a chemotherapy agent, heated to between 40 and 48°C, in the abdomen. The fluid is perfused for 60 to 120 minutes and then drained.
This technique permits the administration of high concentrations of selected drugs into the abdominal and pelvic surfaces. Heating the chemotherapy treatment increases the penetration of the drugs into tissues. Also, heating itself damages the malignant cells more than the normal cells.

What is the mesothelium?
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It is composed of two layers of cells: One layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac around it. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding and contracting lungs to glide easily against adjacent structures.
The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body. The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. The pleura is the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. The pericardium covers and protects the heart. The
mesothelioma tissue surrounding the male internal reproductive organs is called the tunica vaginalis testis. The tunica serosa uteri covers the internal reproductive organs in women.
What is mesothelioma?
mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs.
cancer cells can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.
How common is mesothelioma?
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the air passageways in the lung.
Who is at increased risk for developing mesothelioma?
asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.
The risk o f asbestosrelated disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma On the other hand, not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.
There is some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to
asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of
asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to
asbestos fibers, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to
asbestos Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by
mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis
How is
mesotheliomadiagnosed?
Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or abdomen and lung function tests. A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful. A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. In an MRI, a powerful magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures are viewed on a monitor and can also be printed.
A biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma. In a biopsy, a surgeon or a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer) removes a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the
cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut through the chest wall and puts a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the chest and obtain tissue samples. If the
cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a peritoneoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument called a peritoneoscope into the abdominal cavity. If these procedures do not yield enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.
If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of the disease. Staging involves more tests in a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to which parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan treatment.
Mesothelioma is described as localized if the cancer is found only on the membrane surface where it originated. It is classified as advanced if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.
How is
mesotheliomatreated?
Treatment for mesothelioma depends on the location of the
cancerthe stage of the disease, and the patient's age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined.
Surgery is a common treatment for
mesotheliomaThe doctor may remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the pleura (pleural
mesotheliomaa lung may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.
Stereo Tactic Radiation Therapy also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill
cancercells and shrink tumors Radiation therapy affects the
cancercells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the
cancercells are found (internal radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Most drugs used to treat
mesotheliomaare given by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).
To relieve symptoms and control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the chest or abdomen. The procedure for removing fluid from the chest is called thoracentesis. Removal of fluid from the abdomen is called paracentesis. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating. Radiation Therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.
 

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