Thursday, June 23, 2011

CHART OF THE DAY: New GOP Governors Tanking Nationwide

The anti-labor, anti-public interest policies of the new crop of Republican Governors has created quite a ruckus all over the land. Try and guess which of these deregulation-prone, tax-cuts for the wealthy and corporations screaming, collective bargaining stripping Republicans has suffered the most precipitous fall from grace. I was a little disappointed in one of the numbers...

The Inner Secrets of the Right-Wing Echo Chamber

The persistent misinformation heard on all media that social security is going bankrupt and that we will need to raise the retirement age to sustain it goes hand-in-hand with the persistent calls to privatize social security. As it turns out the origins of this thinking and the repeated position papers supporting these policies were developed by Koch brother-funded think tanks like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and others. Their staffers then parade all over the media spectrum repeating the falsehoods over and over until the public believes that it's all true. Well, it's absolute malarkey, S.S. has a $2.7 trillion surplus according to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Brave New Media put together an excellent short video illustrating the mechanism for the misinformation campaign to manipulate public opinion.

Drug Companies Win Two Supreme Court Decisions

The pro-business tilt of the Supreme Court continue to show itself in two decisions that benefit Big Pharma. The application of 1st Amendment protections to businesses, as though they were individuals, is undoing much legal precedent for handling commercial claims. It seems the 'public interest' aspect of these decisions is sadly relegated to the sidelines by the current court. There are gong to be serious implications for these laws that continue to strip companies of liability and also to allow further intrusive data mining and marketing leeway with personal pharmacy records.

Supreme Court strikes down Vermont prescription privacy law

The True History of Dole, Banana Plantations, Chemical Pesticides and Human Suffering

Lest we forget that the pesticides on commercially produced produce unnecessarily threaten not only the health of those who consume these fruits and vegetables, but have also caused sterility, miscarriages, still births, birth defects, cancers, depression, impotence and other maladies for farm workers exposed to these dangerous substances, we should take a moment to regard the record of the world's largest fresh fruit company, Dole. If you think this is bullshit and don't want to support such morally bankrupt practices then do what you can to buy organic bananas and other fruits and vegetables.

Chief Scientists Continue to Ignore Science by Promoting GMOs

The propaganda war to spread patented GMO seeds throughout the planet is being waged every day in a never-ending sort of echo chamber. Now a report designed to encourage tolerance of GMOs and to counteract valid scientific criticisms of GM crops is being touted a prominent British scientist as a scientific endorsement of a bioengineered, pesticide-intensive industrial agriculture future. And, regrettably, this sort of strategy is proved brilliant by a British press that ran wild with the misinformation to the public.

GMO Scientists Ignore Science - Again

Baking Soda Can Clean Your Teeth, Clear Your Complexion and Act as a Natural Antacid

Just about everything Americans consume, meats, fish, dairy products, most grains, sugars, alcohol and caffeinated drinks put the body in an acid state that prompts it to rob alkaline from the bloodstream, leading to health problems including arthritis and other ailments. It's much better to maintain an alkaline balance and daily use of baking soda can do the trick. Of course, you can also brighten your teeth and support the health of your gums by sprinkling a little baking soda on your toothbrush (and avoiding the chemicals in most commercial brands).

Reason to Smile: Natural Health Remedies May Prevent Memory Loss

Wildlife Refuges to be Planted with GMOs

This news really sucks and also demonstrates the overwhelming influence wielded by the biotech industry in our national politics. For no discernible reason, other than to disperse genetically modified DNA as widely as possible, the Obama Administration has agreed to allow unlimited planting of GMO crops, accompanied by their Roundup Ready toxic herbicides, on more than 50 wildlife refuges in America.


The absurdity of the fiscal discourse these days is downright malicious. Corporations have gamed the system to avoid taxes while states are in crisis due to the decreased revenues, swimming in a pool of budget deficits and proposed spending cuts to close the gap. Meanwhile, we are still in a recession and the economy is going nowhere. Even the chairman of the Fed believes that spending cuts will worsen the recovery and result in more job layoffs. Yet, the mainstream of the media and public still talk about spending cuts as the way to spur the economy.

Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Wendell Berry Call for Civil Disobedience on Tar Sands

The picture above depicts emissions from and a mining operation in a Canadian tar sand pit. Around Labor Day this year the State Department and the White House must decide whether to grant a certificate of "national interest" which would allow the "most environmentally devastating, energy project on earth" to proceed. If allowed by Washington oil and gas extractors would build a 1,661 mile pipeline extension across the heartland to transport the tar sand to refineries in Texas. With enormous and powerful interests pushing for an energy project that would greatly exacerbate global warming, environmental leaders are calling for peaceful public resistance to the project, in the form of civil disobedience, near the end of summer. The stakes of this policy are very high, like the floodwaters that have inundated America, and it will go forward unless a lot of people tune in and register their opposition. They've got the bucks but in theory we have the bodies. The organizers are stressing that this is not a regular demonstration but rather calls for principled civil disobedience that might well result in arrest. They are emphasizing message discipline as well by insisting on training prior to the event and encouraging participants to maintain decorum and appearance to maximize the impact of the action.

Tar Sands Action Signup Info

Washington Marijuana Legalization: Former Seattle U.S. Attorney Sponsors State Pot Initiative

An initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use in Washington is being lead by a former federal prosecutor who believes that the War on Drugs has failed and that the prohibition on marijuana only serves to make drug cartels and crime rings more powerful. The law would institute legal limits of 21 for use and allow up to an ounce of dried marijuana. There would be licensed dispensaries and sales would be taxed to bring the state revenue. If the group, New Approach Washington, succeeds in getting enough signatures then lawmakers can approve it or allow the initiative to go to the ballot.

The Triumph of New-Age Medicine

This article from The Atlantic provides a comprehensive view of the state of alternative medicine, and it's increasing value in the eyes of traditionally trained doctors. There is quite a bit on acupuncture and an examination of the claims that the practice is a sham because it's effects are not demonstrated in randomized controlled studies. I can personally attest to acupuncture which helped me to heal sciatica and later, with a chinese medicinal herb, to cure a swelling of the uvea in my right eye called Uveitis, that and avoid using the heavy-duty six-week course of prednisone that doctors at the Eye and Ear Infirmary wanted to prescribe.

“Mainstream medicine uses the placebo effect all the time,” says Ted Kaptchuk, a Harvard researcher who studies the impact of placebos. “Doctors don’t tell you the drug they’re giving you is barely better than a placebo. They all spin.” To be approved by the FDA, a drug has to do better than a placebo in studies—but most approved drugs do only a little better, and for many drugs the evidence is mixed. A number of studies have indicated, for example, that most antidepressants don’t do better than placebos, but patients filled more than 250 million prescriptions for them in 2010. The vast majority of drugs don’t work in as many as 70 percent of patients, according to an estimate from within the pharmaceutical industry. One recent study concluded that 85 percent of new prescription drugs hitting the market are of little or no benefit to patients.

“Doctors are paid for providing treatments, not for spending time talking to patients,” says Victor Montori, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. A medical system that successfully guided patients toward healthier lifestyles would almost certainly see its cash flow diminish dramatically. “Last year, 75 percent of the $2.6 trillion the U.S. spent on health care was for treating chronic diseases that, to a large degree, can be prevented or reversed through lifestyle change,” says Dean Ornish of UCSF. Who (besides patients) has an incentive to make changes that would remove that money from the system?