‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.

Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.

“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him”

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Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion.

Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.

“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.”

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Belmarsh is a Category A prison – the highest level in the UK penal system – intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape, typically befitting murderers and terrorists. While Assange meets none of those criteria and was initially locked up for a minor offense of skipping bail, he was nonetheless thrown in Belmarsh and punished as if he were a violent, hardened criminal. He now awaits proceedings for extradition to the US.

The explanation may be as simple as taking revenge against somebody who dared to speak truth to power, Smith believes, and to make an example for anyone who might follow Assange’s lead in fighting state and corporate secrecy.

“What is clear that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding American power to account in this way,” he said.

[Assange] delivered a discussion, a debate about what transparency should look like in the digital age… The debate got quashed it never really happened, instead he’s being victimized… That’s’ why he’s in Belmarsh.

Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

“This whole thing, really we need to be asking more questions. This needs to be held much more in the open… Julian has had his freedom compromised for nearly a decade now,” Smith said. “It’s completely disgraceful. This is bullying. He deserves better.”

This content was originally published here.

Invisalign vs. Traditional Braces: Why Some People Still Choose the Metal Look

Getting teeth straight is almost a rite of passage. Middle schools and high schools are full orthodontia, but sometimes we need a little help realigning our smiles in adulthood, too. Invisalign, the game-changing brand of clear aligners has been around since 1997 and has been a clear choice for teeth straightening since then. But traditional braces aren’t obsolete and are still a viable option for those who want to straighten their smile. 

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A Clear-Cut Case
Invisalign are clear, removable, plastic aligners that are custom made to fit your smile and slip over your teeth to straighten them for anywhere from 10 to 14 months. Invisalign aligners gradually move your teeth back into place. The cosmetic dentists we spoke to said Invisalign has been the clear choice for patients for mainly for aesthetic reasons. “The trays are clear and barely visible so they don’t make people feel self-conscious when wearing them,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irene Grafman, DDS. “Also, the trays are way more comfortable than having brackets on all your teeth which can cause tissue irritation.” 

“My patients choose Invisalign to avoid metal braces,” says Malibu, CA cosmetic dentist Bob Perkins, DDS. “The biggest benefit of Invisalign is the fact that you don’t have to have a silver band across your smile for years.” Newport Beach, CA cosmetic dentist Robert McHarris, DDS adds time and budget are also big factors in choosing the clear trays: “The cost is often comparable or less than metal braces and sometimes treatment time is accelerated compared to metal braces.”

Ceramics & Metallics
Traditional braces are made up of metal or ceramic brackets and metal wires. Today’s metal brackets are smaller and less noticeable than the metallic braces of the past. Ceramic braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, but have clear or tooth-colored brackets and sometimes wires that blend in with teeth. 

“Good candidates for traditional braces are people with severe jaw related issues, such as top and bottom jaw not in alignment,” says Dr. McHarris. “Often these cases also require services of an oral surgeon.”

Dr. Grafman adds that she typically will consider traditional braces for more extensive cases. “Anytime I must bring down an ankylosis tooth, which is one that never came down, or if I have to move a tooth that is straight right or left without tilting it. Traditional braces are also good for when you lose a tooth and the molars can shift or tilt into that space. If I need to open up the space for an implant, it is better done with braces.”

Whether comfort is king or metallic orthodontia is the only option, the good news is the waiting period for straighter teeth isn’t that long. In just a little over a year, it’s possible to comfortably and affordably shift and straighten your teeth for your best smile yet.

This content was originally published here.