‘More Muslim than you’

An interesting tweet from@AliIkram



I hadn’t heard of Abdul Sattar Edhi but he has just died and is being widely mourned.

He has been called the ‘Father Teresa of Pakistan’.

Abdul Sattar Edhi (Memoni, Urdu: عبدالستار ایدھی‎; 1 Sindhi: عبدالستار ايڌي‎ January 1928 – 8 July 2016) was a prominent Pakistani philanthropist, social activist, ascetic, and humanitarian. He was the founder and head of the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan and ran the organization for the better part of six decades. He was known as Angel of Mercy and was considered Pakistan’s “most respected” and legendary figure. In 2013, The Huffington Post said that he might be “the world’s greatest living humanitarian.”

Revered by many as a national hero, Edhi created a charitable empire out of nothing. He masterminded Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation almost single-handedly, entirely with private company and donations.


Al Jazeera refers to him as legendary and “a prominent Pakistani philanthropist and humanitarian”.

Thousands attend funeral for Pakistan’s legendary Edhi

Tens of thousands attended the state funeral for Pakistan’s legendary philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi in Karachi.

Prominent Pakistani philanthropist and humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi was laid to rest on the outskirts of Karachi on Saturday at a state funeral attended by thousands of people. 

Edhi, 88, died late on Friday at a medical centre after a long battle with kidney disease. His death triggered a massive outpouring of grief across the nation of 190 million for a man who trancended social, ethnic and religious divisions. 

Tens of thousands attended Saturday’s ceremony, the first state funeral since the 1980s, at Karachi’s National Stadium. 

At one moment, crowds broke through the military lines to help carry Edhi’s coffin, which was draped with Pakistan’s green and white flag and covered with rose petals. 

Pakistan’s top civilian and army leadership offered funeral prayers at the stadium, as the country mourned the loss of a man commonly known as the “Angel of Mercy” for his internationally acclaimed social work.

For more than 60 years the Edhi Foundation, a charity he created with his wife, Bilquise, has run clinics and orphanages across Pakistan and managed a fleet of ambulances that provided much-needed assistance to poor communities failed by an inadequate public health and welfare system. 

“He was one of the chosen ones. People like him come once in many centuries, and he was a special chosen one,” one woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera at the funeral.

A hero to the poor

Born in the western state of Gujarat in British India, Edhi and his Muslim family moved to Pakistan in 1947 during the violent partition of the subcontinent.

He built up his charity solely through donations, focusing on addicts, battered women, orphans and the disabled.

Despite the vast sums of money that passed through his charitable foundation, Edhi lived modestly with his family in a two-room apartment adjacent to the headquarters of his foundation.

Renowned for an ascetic lifestyle and recognised by his long white beard and traditional black cap, Edhi was a hero to the poor but infuriated some religious leaders with his refusal to give preferential treatment to Muslims above minorities.

He also berated hardline groups for attacking civilians, criticised the government for incompetence and corruption, and denounced tax-dodging by the rich.

Despite constant threats, the Edhi Foundation became Pakistan’s most relied upon social safety net, handling many of the responsibilities that the Pakistani government could not.

The Edhi foundation was at the forefront of the response last year when a devastating heatwave struck Karachi, a city of more than 20 million people.

Sounds like a good bloke who did extremely well in a challenging part of the world..

It’s good to see someone who does so much and uses religion positively and not to discriminate.

Hunting death, file photo nonsense

NZ Herald seems to often use file photos for online news items, and they are often inappropriate.

News: Man dies in hunting incident in Central Otago

An investigation has been launched after a 61-year-old man died in a hunting incident last night.

Police say emergency services were alerted to the incident in an area of the Nevis Range in Central Otago shortly before midnight.

Ambulance and police officers performed CPR on the injured man but were unable to revive him.

This is of particular interest to me as I know the area and if the dead man is a long time local I will probably known him.

Talking about the area, I’d be surprised if was on the Nevis Range. More likely the Carrick Range, which you drive over on the Nevis Road to get to the Lower Nevis Valley where the Nevis River flows.

There’s a Nevis Range in Scotland.  In New Zealand  Ben Nevis is a peak in the Hector Mountains, which runs alongside the Nevis Valley, which is named after a river, not a range.

I’d be surprised if you can get an ambulance on to Ben Nevis.

Talking of ambulances, the Herald includes a file photo:

That ambulance is likely to have never been anywhere near the Nevis Range, or the Nevis Road. Why include something that’s irrelevant to the story?

They might as well have shown a file photo of the Nevis Range from Scotland, that also has nothing to do with the story.

UPDATE: The ODT has a bit more detail in Man dies in Central Otago hunting incident:

Police say emergency services were alerted to an incident in an area of the Nevis Range near Duffers Saddle shortly before midnight.

UPDATE: The ODT has amended their online story.

Duffers Saddle is the highest point (1300 metres, 4265 feet) ) on the Nevis Road going over the Carrick Range.

Duffers Saddle (Dangerous Roads)

Favourite post-death Bowie songs

I’ve never been much of a fan of David Bowie’s music. Some of his songs are ok but I’ve never thought of buying a record or CD of his.

Remember CDs? They rotate at 210-480 rpm (slower when reading the outside tracks), compared to 33 rpm for LPs (long players) and 45 rpm for singles.

But many people remembered how fond they were of Bowie songs when he died. This is what they flocked to in order of popularity:

  • Heroes
  • Let’s Dance
  • Life on Mars?
  • Lazarus
  • Space Oddity
  •  Blackstar
  • Changes
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Rebel ERebel
  • China Girl
  • Starman
  • Ashes to Ashes
  • Young Americans
  • Under Pressure
  • Girl Loves Me
  • Sound and Vision
  • Oh! You Pretty Things
  • The Next Day
  • Modern Love
  • Thursday’s Child

I haven’t had any of those on my playlist but many have. Graphically:


Source: New York Times Upshot

Life and Death and Cannabis

Helen Kelly has a guest post at The Standard on Life and Death and Cannabis.

I am taking Cannabis Oil to manage my pain as my lung cancer takes over my body. It’s sort of as simple as that really. For some people talking about dying is confronting but actually talking about it allows us to think about how it happens – it is actually as much a social event as a physical one and knowing someone is comfortable, getting good treatment and pain relief is very much part of the social dimension as the physical one.

She then details what is required to get to use a cannabis derived medical product. And what she is having to try because that’s such a rigmarole.

I have been taking Kytruda (the drug all the publicity is about – a break though for melanoma and has had some success with lung cancer but not with me). I have paid for is (this is what Kiwisaver will be for in the future – to subsidise our underfunded health system). It is completely experimental and the Doctors admit it – they don’t know who it works with, why, exactly how or really even how to administer it the most efficiently – but oh fill me up with it – exactly because I have nothing to lose. I have also had whole brain radiation – massively dangerous – huge side effects possible – I have been lucky – but I can’t take cannabis?

What she wants:

 I would like a referendum on the issue at the next election – and I am hoping a Bill might be sponsored to that effect  (collecting signatures is not necessary and John Key has shown with the flag – you just need a Bill). It could be run at the election to save money and my bet is it will be overwhelmingly supported.

I think we could change this situation with a little more push – a few leaders speaking out in support, an exposure of the current system refusal by refusal and with real stories of people with real illness just wanting to live the end of their life with a bit of dignity.

It’s very sad that a dying person is having to hope that our politicians will stop ducking for cover, avoiding addressing something that many other countries are advancing on, including the US, Canada and Australia.

It’s bloody stupid that one of the mostly widely used drugs in the country cannot legally be used by someone in the last months of their life.

The whole post is well worth reading – especially by our politicians.

Life and Death and Cannabis.

Alex Renton dies

Very sad to hear that Alex Renton died yesterday. Prior reports had been of improvement as he was gradually allowed to come out of a drug induced coma as cannabis oil treatment increased.

His family posted on Facebook – Support for Alex’s Journey – last night:

This evening our beautiful warrior Alex passed peacefully away. He was surrounded by his family, listening to his own music with a tummy of mums food. We thank you all from our hearts as you kept us strong during this journey. His spirit is amongst us all as he taught us so very much. We love you dear Alex (aka Ratty) xxxxxxx

Two days earlier (June 29) they had posted:

Alex is holding his own maintaining his own breathing! He shows courage, strength and fortitude as he battles towards better health. Keep prayers flowing. We are now feeding Alex our own meals with support from Hospital. This continues to be the most challenging event of our lives as a family, support around NZ is incredible, thank you xx. Rose

Stuff reports Nelson teenager Alex Renton dies despite treatment with medical cannabis.

Alex, 19, has been in hospital since April 8 in “status epilepticus”, a kind of prolonged seizure. It was not known what caused the seizures.

He had been put in an induced coma and his family petitioned the Government to allow him to be treated with a medicinal cannabidiol oil, Elixinol. They gained national support and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne approved it to be used last month.

Alex was given his first dose of the oil on June 16, after it arrived from America.

His sedation medication treatment was reduced and he regained consciousness and his seizures stopped in that first week.

There will possibly be an inquest into Alex’s illness and death to explore the complex medical issues involved.

How should we remember him?

Seventy years ago today Adolf Hitler killed himself.

Steve Braunias recounts the last days of Hitler and asks: Ghosts of the Fuhrer: 70 years after Hitler’s death, how should we remember him?

The only thing worth celebrating about Hitler’s life is his death. It was all so furtive, so becoming of that trembling neurotic when he killed himself deep beneath the ground, at about 3.30pm on April 30, 1945. It was a Monday, 70 years ago today. He was on honeymoon. Eva, his bride of two days, slumped beside him on a sofa, dead of cyanide poisoning; the side of her blue dress was wet. Hitler had knocked over a vase of flowers when he put a bullet in his head, and the water spilled on Eva’s dress.

What to do with Hitler on the 70th anniversary of his exit? Picture him as the doomed and raving tyrant in the film Downfall, now the meme for all crazed occasions, played as someone so completely insane that it’s impossible to think of him as human? Mad dog, demonic.

Or bring him down to size, see him as shabby and pathetic, a little man shambling his lugubrious way towards death in that dark bunker, stinking it up with his flatulence and his halitosis?

Hitler’s last days are detailed, up until his last.

Hitler was served his usual lunch at the usual time on April 30: two fried eggs, with mashed potato. Eva Braun wore his favourite dress, black with pink roses at either side of a low, square neckline. They retired to his room. Hitler told his adjutant, Otto Graunsche, to wait 10 minutes after the shot.

Junge found some fruit and ham for the six Goebbels children and made them sandwiches. A single shot was heard. Helmut Goebbels, 9, hooted: “Right on target!”

Graunsche obeyed his final order, and opened the door after 10 minutes. He writes in Last Witnesses, “Hitler’s body was crumpled up, his head hanging towards the door. Blood was running from his right temple onto the carpet.”

Braunias concludes:

On May 1, the day after Hitler’s suicide, Magda Goebbels poisoned her children. She sat down afterwards and played patience. Her husband shot her and then himself. Bormann fled the bunker, and was killed. Most of the domestic staff survived; Junge records that when she came up for air, the first thing she saw were dozens of starved and hysterical Berliners cutting up a dead horse.

The end of the Thousand Year Reich, the end of a short, ghostly 56-year-old man from Linz. Stripped away bit by bit, piece by piece in those last days beneath the ground, sans his coloured pencils and his buttons, left with his enemas and his gas, Hitler finally emerged as identifiably human, no longer beyond understanding. He learned what it was like for everyone else touched by Nazi Germany. He felt afraid.

Choices about euthanasia

I had a close encounter with the pros and cons of euthanasia recently as I watched my mother die.

She had expert care and assistance in her home and at the hospice. The hospice uses care plans that emphasise comfort for the patient within current laws.

Emergency admission to hospital with reflux and difficulty eating. Tests done, suspected possible hernia. Discharged.
Continued having eating and reflux problems.

Further outpatient tests.

Diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
Treatment options explained. Booked for radiation therapy to try to relieve symptoms.
Continued difficulty eating – can’t eat many things, can only eat liquids or near liquids. Some food, for example meat, cannot be eaten at all.

Three week course of radiation begins.
Admitted to hospital after first treatment.
Several days later discharged to family home, radiation continues.

Eating continues to be difficult, no real improvement.
Saw specialist, advised relief may take another month.

Liquid diet only.
Saw specialist who advised they had done what they could, referred to Hospice for in home palliative care.

Week 1
Bad back pain for several days, admitted to hospital with kidney infection.
Tests confirmed cancer now in liver.
Eating increasingly difficult.

Week 2
Back in home but has difficulty managing.
Talks about considering self euthanasia. Says she just wants to go quickly.
Has fall on footpath in town.
Needs walking frame.
By the end of the week it’s obvious she needs more care.

Week 3
1. Assessed by hospice doctor, booked into hospice for assessment
2. Arrived at hospice and advised she would be there about a week.
3. Advised that she wouldn’t be leaving the hospice.
4. Drinking is increasingly difficult. She says she just wants to go quickly.
5. Has final interview for hospice memoirs.
6. Had a fall overnight trying to go to toilet. Enjoyed watching rugby on TV. Last “meal”.
7. Significantly worse.

Week 4
1. Continues to deteriorate. Family advised she is now on final care plan, death could be within a day or two but could take much longer.
2. Looks terrible, barely recognisable. Barely awake all day. Overnight her body goes just about completely cold. Death rattle begins.
3. Bounces back in the morning. Awake and seems to enjoy family visits in the afternoon. Goes cold again overnight.
4. She looks nothing like my mother. Slight recovery, then has internal bleed.
5. Cold. Slightly warm. Cold. Hasn’t eaten since Saturday, all she has had is moisture swabs in mouth. Death rattle gets worse despite drugs.
6. Vigil continues. Turned regularly with distress. In the evening death rattle isn’t be relieved. Nurses turn her with a lot of discomfort.
7. Very distressing. Nurses leave room to get drugs.

At about twenty minutes after midnight my mother opened her eyes and looked at me, she looked desperate, pleading, terrified, I’m not sure what, just terrible.

Then thankfully she died.

After the nurses had finished my mother looked like herself again, relaxed.

My mother was lucky she died relatively quickly. Her last few months were mostly not nice for her, increasingly less so. During that time she never enjoyed a meal.

My mother had talked a number of times about wanting to go quickly when her time was up. She mentioned several times about euthanasing herself. The hospice always made it clear they had to comply with the law and within that they did a fantastic job.


What the best possible palliative care did for my mother over her last few days was supply her with regular drugs, support relatives who were on death watch, and turn her regularly.

The regular turns were necessary, but they were awful. They were about the only times my mother became semi awake, because it was so disruptive and uncomfortable for her.

It was a turn that actually triggered her death. It’s ironic that they are allowed to turn a patient and know it can commonly precipitate death, but they can’t up her drugs to do the same thing.

Euthanasia is a very tricky subject. If it was legal when should it be allowed?

In retrospect I think (and I think my mother would probably think similarly) that it would have been sensible and far better for her if she had been helped to die sooner. While her last Wednesday was “useful” for saying goodbye to quite a few visitors if she could have seen how she looked she would have been horrified.

Looking back I think that her last Monday evening when it became obvious she was in a state of dying a decision could have been made to ease her pain and discomfort and help her die.  She got no benefit from being nursed through an extended death.

The last week was very hard on extended family who put their lives on hold and gathered round to watch a strange old body suffering. But the decision isn’t about them.

I’m certain if my mother had seen herself in any of her last week alive she would have been horrified – it was the sort of situation she’d made it clear she wanted to avoid if at all possible.

I know there are many variables when people are dying and it’s impossible to be certain of timeframes and discomfort levels.

But to me it seems senseless, and it could easily be seen as cruel, to extend someone’s life when there is virtually nothing to be gained from it.

If I can have a say in the course of my death I would like to be able to state that I want to be able to die comfortably, if necessary with assistance, and I don’t care if there’s a slight chance that I could have eked out another day or two of consciousness.

Care has to be taken in deciding when to go – if you are lucky to get the choice – but denying any legal opportunity to choose a more comfortable way of dying a little bit sooner is not very caring. It’s selfish of those insisting on every last minute of life extension.