Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.


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PJ Crowley on why he “went rogue”

I still remember the pause – two or three seconds – between me asking State Department spokesman PJ Crowley whether he was ‘on the record’ with his scathing criticism of the Pentagon’s treatment of Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, and Crowley’s one word answer. “Sure”. Now Crowley has talked to Ben Smith at Politico about that moment, why he felt the need to speak out, and his strength of feeling about US foreign policy and US national values.

As Smith puts it, there were “few more unlikely candidates” than the tight-lipped Crowley to become a free speech martyr. I doubt Mr Crowley cares what I say here – but he’s clearly a very decent man who chose his moment to talk frankly about a matter where he believed (still believes) this administration is doing itself harm.

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Facebook empowering patients with rare diseases

Here’s another example of social media making a difference – well beyond the “feel good” boost of knowing you’re not alone out there. I helped fix up this piece for Nancy Shute of NPR on the way that patients with rare diseases are sharing information, advice and contacts online. Only last week, women with the rare lung disease LAM or lymphangioleiomyomatosis, came together via Facebook to help a very scared young woman with little English and a new, terrifying diagnosis. If you listen to her story and want to know more, do visit the LAM Foundation. I’m biased. I have LAM, and I want a lot more people to have heard of it, so more women are diagnosed early, and get to live.