Since the Evil
Empire of Ronald Reagan is no longer a country, maybe we should
deal with the evils in our country and
how people in power are misusing that power.
There are many people in
power and places of power that have a god complex in thinking they
know best what should be done to and for the lowly common man and
woman. What is being done is criminal and immoral.
The Evil Empire is now
us. Remember one thing. It is ALWAYS about he
money. So many different companies and
businesses that want to control us and our money. Big Pharma,
big corps., and big gov.
very ABC agencies that are suppose to protect us are doing anything
but. Remember it is always about the money. How
can these ABC agencies protect us from the companies that the people
in these agencies have been in bed with the companies they are
suppose to protect us from. Remember is is always about the
Remember this. It
started with a story or short piece here and there about it might be
possible for a disease to jump from animal to human. There
wasn't much about this but it did show up ever so often. Then
it started appearing more. It changed from might happen to a
good chance it would happen to it is going to happen. The
question that are raised by watching how this is playing out is what
do they know and when did they know it.
There is something in
this story that isn't being told. When you think about it, it
really is scary. If this does happen, IT DIDN"T JUST
HAPPEN. It had help.
I was in a mall the other
day and noticed a large group of people and the size was
growing. Mostly older people but you did see some mothers with
children. I went to the area to check what was going on.
There was going to be flu vaccinations given there. The herd
of humans were getting in line waiting for their shots that the
government and big pharma pushes. Now with the so called Bird
Flu, just wait for the push on the vaccines for this. Do your
research on vaccines and what are in them. Everything is not how it seems.
Why drop the disclosure
provisions and WHO are our so called representives looking out
Amended bill drops
WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders have
quietly scaled back their plan to limit the political influence of
lobbyists, dropping proposed requirements that lobbyists disclose
which lawmakers and aides they have contacted and how they have
raised money for politicians.
The changes were made public in an amended
bill posted on the House Rules Committee website Friday while
Congress was wrapping up a two-week recess. Even before the latest
move, political ethics experts had called the House plan weaker than
a lobbying bill the Senate passed last month.
The legislation is to be considered this week
as Congress returns to address a political influence scandal that
has gripped Washington. The House bill would leave unchanged current
rules that allow members of Congress and their staffs to accept
gifts from lobbyists.
In addition, the measure would:
•Freeze junkets paid for by private
interests, but only until after the November elections.
•Place no new restrictions on lawmakers and
aides who leave Capitol Hill to become lobbyists.
•Leave enforcement of the rules in the hands
of a House ethics committee that is paralyzed by partisan
Ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff landed in legal
trouble for wooing members of Congress with lavish trips, expensive
meals and sports and entertainment tickets, and by luring top aides
to the lobbying world to try to influence their former
The House bill, like the Senate version
approved last month, relies heavily on disclosure to police ties
between lobbyists and policymakers. It would require lobbyists to
file reports quarterly, rather than semiannually as they do
Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority
Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the bill would make the ties
between lobbyists and lawmakers more transparent and “rebuild the
trust between Congress and the American public.”
The House bill is “sleight of hand from a
Congress that is more concerned with facing the voters than with
facing the problem,” said Gary Kalman of the U.S. Public Interest
Research Group, a government watchdog organization. Added Chellie
Pingree, president of Common Cause: “They are maintaining the status
quo and calling it reform.”
Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at
Boston University, said major rule changes usually come only when a
scandal hits peak intensity. Congress, he said, is “still clearly
hesitating to do anything.”
The revised plan finished Friday dropped
requirements that lobbyists specify which lawmakers and aides they
have contacted; disclose their sponsorship of lavish parties for
lawmakers at political conventions; and report their fundraising for
candidates for federal office.
How surprising is this
story here? If you have done much research about Big Pharma
Mama it may not be much of a surprise to you. Remember Everything is NOT how they want you to
Medical manual's authors often tied to drugmakers
A majority of the medical experts who created the “bible” for
diagnosing mental illness have undisclosed financial links to
drugmakers, says a study out today.
And some panels overseeing disorders that
require treatment with prescription drugs, such as schizophrenia and
“mood disorders,” were 100% filled with experts financially tied to
the pharmaceutical industry, says the study published in the journal
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for
Mental Disorders (DSM) is the American Psychiatric Association's
diagnosis manual. It is also used as the basis for insurance
payments for psychiatric treatments, including drugs.
“No blood tests exist for the disorders in
the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the
manual,” says lead study author Lisa Cosgrove of the University of
The researchers looked for research funds,
consultancies, patents and other gifts or grants received by members
of the 18 separate DSM preparation panels from 1989 to 2004, both
before and after their terms.
They found that among the 170 medical experts
who created the two most recent editions of the manual, 56% had one
or more financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. In addition
to the schizophrenia and mood disorder panels' links, more than 80%
of panel members for “anxiety disorders,” “eating disorders,”
“medication-induced movement disorders” and “premenstrual dysphonic
disorder” had financial ties.
“Psychiatrists rely on the APA (American
Psychiatric Association) to police its activities, and we take that
responsibility very seriously,” association psychiatrist Darrel
Regier says. The next edition, scheduled for release in 2011, will
disclose all industry financial ties to panel members, he says,
either in the manual or on a website.
“I don't think that's good enough. People
don't poke around in the latest issue looking for
conflict-of-interest statements,” says physician Peter Lurie of
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
Ideally, the DSM would be created by experts without any financial
links to drugmakers, he says.
The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association
responded, in a statement by spokesman Ken Johnson, that the health
care professionals on these panels “have impeccable integrity and
base their decisions on independent judgments and
This month, the journal PLOS Medicine
accused the drug industry of “disease-mongering,” inventing diseases
from everyday aggravations, such “restless legs syndrome,” and
widening definitions to sweep up more patients.
Psychologist David Healy of the United
Kingdom's Cardiff University notes that recent revisions to the DSM
eliminated a subtype of schizophrenia that responded poorly to
drugs. And “melancholia” was eliminated in favor of major depressive
disorder, Healy says. “The upshot is that some patients are going to
lose out,” he says.
Regier disputes the
Imagine what would happen if a Category 5 viral
storm hit every state'
Health officials from all over
the world are scrambling to figure out how to ward off a
global outbreak of deadly flu. President Bush, fresh
from reading a 546-page tome on his vacation about the
1918 “Spanish flu” outbreak, has been consulting with
the heads of vaccine companies, and he warns that the
military might be used to enforce quarantines. His
administration's flu battle plan reportedly predicts
that almost 2 million Americans could die in a major
The dire projections are
prompting new anxiety among Americans already reeling
from hurricane disasters. But the experts have been
warning for years about a possible flu pandemic. Why
suddenly are all the government's alarm bells going off?
Are there real reasons to be frightened now? And if
there is a flu pandemic, how bad could it be?
Two recent, unrelated events have
put the possibility of a flu pandemic into sharp
•An avian flu that had largely
been confined to Southeast Asia has spread to Europe and
•Two back-to-back hurricanes in
the Gulf demonstrated nature's potential for
Secretary of Health and Human
Services Michael Leavitt was visiting hurricane
emergency shelters after Katrina and Rita when it hit
him just how bad a flu pandemic could be. “What if it
weren't just New Orleans” struck by catastrophe, Leavitt
recalls thinking. “What if it were Seattle, San Diego,
Corpus Christi, Denver, Chicago, New York? Make your own
Unlike a hurricane that's
confined to a specific area over a short time, a
pandemic flu strikes everywhere and can last a year or
more, says Leavitt, who left Saturday on a fact-finding
trip to flu-stricken regions of Southeast Asia. Waves of
illness would shutter schools and businesses, swamp
hospitals and send tens of thousands to overflow medical
shelters and early graves.
“The big lesson I learned from
Hurricane Katrina is that we have to be thinking about
the unthinkable,” Leavitt says, “because sometimes the
The unthinkable has become all
too real in Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian countries
where an especially deadly flu virus, influenza A/H5N1,
has been spreading through millions of birds for the
past two years. The virus recently has shown up in birds
in Romania, Russia and Turkey.
So far, the virus has infected
117 people, killing 60, a death rate of nearly 50%. Most
people have been infected through close contact with
infected poultry. In rare cases, the virus is believed
to have spread among family members through close
contact. If the virus learns to spread readily from
person to person through the air, it could cause a
pandemic that rivals the worst.
No one can predict when a killer
flu will strike, how bad it will be or even whether the
virus will sustain its virulence after it begins to
spread widely among humans. “It's clear the warning
signs are troubling, but there is no certainty,” Leavitt
Health experts agree that a
pandemic is inevitable sometime, that the best defense
is preparedness and that the world isn't ready. Katrina
laid bare America's inability to deal with a massive
“We're not prepared. It's the
ugly truth,” says Shelley Hearne, executive director of
Trust for America's Health, a non-profit public health
advocacy group. “If our emergency response failed so
badly for a Category 5 hurricane, imagine what would
happen if a Category 5 viral storm hit every
Among other things, she says,
there is no human vaccine against the avian flu virus,
the U.S. government has stockpiled enough antiviral
drugs to treat only 1% of the population, and the
hospital system couldn't handle the overload if flu
victims flooded emergency rooms.
Health experts such as Hearne
have been sounding the alarm about a possible flu
pandemic for at least two years, but their cries went
largely unheeded until now.
Katrina hit just days after Bush
finished John M. Barry's The Great Influenza: The
Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History during
his August vacation on his ranch, White House spokesman
Scott McClellan says.
Apparently motivated by the
frightening tale of the 1918 epidemic, which killed an
estimated 150,000 people in the USA and 50 million
worldwide, Bush said last week that the military might
be needed to enforce quarantines.
Michael Stebbins of the
Federation of American Scientists and others challenged
the suggestion as unworkable. “It shows a fundamental
lack of understanding of public health emergencies,” he
says. “I would be fascinated to see whether the
president has a plan to quarantine a city like
Washington, D.C., New York or Boston with so many roads
in or out. Is he going to send in tanks and armed
Assistant Secretary of Defense
William Winkenwirder declined to comment on the
president's statement but said the military is often
called upon for logistical and medical support in
Scientific reports released on
the heels of Bush's statement increased the nation's
anxiety. In one, Jeffery Taubenberger of the Armed
Forces Institute of Pathology and his team said in the
journal Nature that the 1918 pandemic began when
the virus leapt from birds to humans, a scenario that
mirrors what is happening in Asia today.
In a bid to contain the current
epidemic, officials in Southeast Asia have slaughtered
140 million birds. That has not stopped the virus from
Bush met last week with the chief
executives of four vaccine companies to determine how he
can help them boost production enough to safeguard the
population. The State Department on Friday convened a
meeting of health officials from 80 countries to map out
plans to arrest the flu's spread.
The administration is putting the
finishing touches on its long-awaited pandemic plan to
be released after Leavitt returns from his trip. A draft
version, dated Sept. 30 and leaked to The New York
Times, reportedly predicts a major outbreak might
kill up to 1.9 million people and make half the country
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says he
learned of the administration's prediction on Sept. 28
in a top-secret meeting in a secure room in the Capitol.
He and a few other senators met with Leavitt; Anthony
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases; and Julie Gerberding, director of
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The administration, Harkin says,
predicts U.S. deaths from pandemic flu could range from
100,000 to 2 million, and as many as 10 million might be
hospitalized. Up to 100 million might become sick.
Seasonal flu epidemics kill about 36,000 people each
year in the USA.
The briefing prompted Harkin to
push for $4 billion in supplemental funds. “We saw what
happened when you're not prepared,” he says. The money
will bolster surveillance, increase stockpiles of
antivirals, increase the vaccine supply, and help state
and local health officials prepare for
Fauci says the scary statistics
resonate at the White House: “The president has taken a
strong personal interest in getting this country
prepared for pandemic flu.”
Soon after he gets back from Asia
on Oct. 18, Leavitt will unveil the administration's
pandemic plan. He offered few details, but he sketched
out the administration's aims:
•Improving the global network
to detect disease outbreaks. The United
States is working with China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia
and others to strengthen surveillance.
•Heightening vigilance at
home. Among other things, CDC is sending avian flu
test kits to a network of labs.
medications. Leavitt has entered into negotiations
with companies that make antivirals, seeking enough to
treat 20 million people.
•Increasing vaccine capacity.
The United States wants to rebuild the vaccine
market to give drug makers appropriate incentives to end
“A major part of our domestic
plan needs to be domestic capacity, because in a
pandemic, the emergency will be managed across the
globe,” Leavitt says. “Anyone with a supply produced in
their country will want to keep it there.”
Vaccines are less profitable than
drugs, and drug makers worry about liability issues,
such as those that arose when swine flu vaccine,
produced in 1976 to avert an epidemic that never
materialized, caused a nerve disease. The administration
seeks to solve both problems by providing vaccine makers
with a stable market and protection against
Hearne says health officials hope
the administration's plan will be enough to deal with a
flu pandemic. “The reality is that if a pandemic hits,
it's not just a health emergency,” she says. “It's the
big one. It requires big thinking to make sure all those
dots are connected. Katrina was a wake-up call.”
A scary bird
A strain three times more lethal than
the 1968-69 “Hong Kong flu” could kill more than half a
million people in the USA and send 2 million to the hospital.
These estimates do not reflect the latest government
calculations, which have not been released. Projected numbers
of dead, hospitalized and cases:
||No. of cases|
||No. of cases|
Study: Avian flu can spread silently
Mutations in the
often deadly avian flu virus have made it less deadly to ducks. But
it is capable of hiding in healthy-looking ducks and infecting other
birds and humans, researchers find. A study in this week's
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says the H5N1
virus could kill some ducks after causing only mild symptoms — which
means it could lurk, undetected, in flocks while spreading silently.
Also: Another avian flu study, in this week's Journal of
Infectious Disease, finds that the antiviral medication Tamiflu
suppresses the flu strain H5N1. The strain has killed 51 people in
Asia since 2003, and experts fear it could kill millions in a global
Two reports sound
the alarm on animal-borne diseases
‘high-level' effort to protect public
animal-borne diseases that can kill humans and wreak economic havoc
pose increasing threats to the USA, there's a growing shortage of
veterinary experts to meet the challenge and a muddle of agencies
responsible for protecting the public, say two reports released
today by the National Academies' National Research Council.
“In 2003, we woke
up one morning and found out we had monkey-pox, West Nile virus and
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in the United States, three
diseases which had never existed here before,” says Lonnie King,
dean of the college of veterinary medicine at Michigan State
University in East Lansing and chair of the panel that wrote the
report, “Animal Health at the Crossroads.”
the new human emerging disease in the past two to three decades have
And the future
probably will contain more such outbreaks given the increasing
encroachment of humans into wildlife habitats, the globalization of
food and agricultural production, changing climate patterns, the
threat of bioterrorism and tens of thousands of planes and ships
carrying potential infection in every direction, the report
To deal with the
threat, the USA needs a “high-level, authoritative mechanism” to
coordinate the private, local, state and federal agencies that deal
with animal-borne illnesses, the report says.
is for the Agriculture Department and the Homeland Security
Department to work together to support the rapid development of
tests and tools to detect, diagnose and prevent animal-borne
This would require
that the USA's animal health laboratory network be expanded and that
federal agencies begin working to jointly finance research programs
on zoonotic, or animal-to-human, disease, the report
is that as these problems have grown, the numbers of veterinarians,
veterinary pathologists and researchers to deal with them is
shrinking, says the second report, “Critical Needs for Research in
“A lot of
veterinarians average $80,000 in debt when they finish their
degrees, so it's very difficult to entice them to spend three more
years in school getting their Ph.D” in veterinary pathology, says
Jim Womack, the professor of veterinary pathobiology at Texas
A&M University who chaired the panel that wrote the
There also is a
shortage of money and facilities to conduct that research. For
example, Womack says, there's only one Level 4 (the highest level)
biocontainment laboratory in the USA that can deal with
Department spokeswoman Hallie Pickhardt says the agency is prepared
to respond with its federal and state partners to an animal health
emergency but appreciates the additional guidance the reports give.
that the USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, which
monitors animal health in the USA, already has begun several
programs to encourage veterinarians to work in the field of zoonotic
disease and public health.
Flu vaccine maker
Chiron gets second dose of bad news
Chiron, the company whose flu vaccine was
declared unusable last year, plunging the USA into a shortage,
announced Wednesday that problems at a second plant, in Marburg,
Germany, would prevent it from supplying a brand of flu vaccine sold
German-made vaccine was never intended for the U.S. market, the
problems raise concerns about whether the company will be able to
resolve its problems in time to provide vaccine for the coming flu
Chiron, which is
headquartered in Emeryville, Calif., first reported problems on
Friday, when it issued a statement saying quality tests had
identified sterility problems in the production of Begrivac flu
vaccine, which is sold in Germany and the United Kingdom.
The company said
it had cut its expected production of 12 million doses back to 4
million; on Wednesday, it said it would not be able to supply any
Begrivac vaccine for the coming season.
Chiron was unable to deliver an expected 48 million flu shots to the
USA, about half the nation's expected supply, because British
regulators found contaminated vaccine at the company's Liverpool
plant and suspended its license. Wednesday's news could further
erode confidence in the company.
“When will the
bleeding stop?” Merrill Lynch analyst Eric Ende asked in an investor
note, reported by Reuters. “We believe that there is still a risk
that Chiron may not be able to sell any vaccine to the U.S. market
in the 2005-2006 season.”
“This does make
one nervous,” says William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School
of Medicine in Nashville, a specialist in infectious diseases.
“We'll just have to wait and see. It's not a great vote of
restored Chiron's license in March after the company resolved its
manufacturing problems. U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists
are there now conducting an inspection that will determine whether
Chiron will be allowed to sell its flu vaccine in the USA this fall.
The FDA's decision
is expected within weeks.
“We're still in
this uncertain period,” says Lance Rodewald of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. But he adds that he expects that
Chiron will win the FDA's approval. “We haven't seen any red flags
that are showstoppers, but they have hurdles to overcome, and we
won't know whether they've overcome them until the inspection is
The CDC has
devised plans for prioritizing vaccine based on the amount
available. So far, only Sanofi Pasteur, which expects to make 50
million to 60 million doses, and MedImmune, which may produce 3
million, are licensed to sell flu vaccine in the USA.
GlaxoSmithKline is awaiting word from the FDA on its application,
which could add 10 million more doses.
Chiron has said
that, if approved, it can supply 18 million to 26 million doses to
Energy beam weapon
may lower Iraq civilian deaths
Seen as way to avoid
Troops in Iraq will soon be shooting an
experimental weapon that fires an invisible beam of energy instead
of bullets to repel insurgents without killing civilians.
to some forms of radar fired by the Active Denial System (ADS)
penetrates just below the skin's surface to cause an excruciating
burning sensation until it is turned off. Extensive testing has
shown no lasting damage, the military said.
The weapon will be
demonstrated in public this summer and in Iraq within months. It is
the first in what could become a catalog of energy beams that aim to
ease one of the war's toughest problems.
checkpoints, bases and convoys regularly face oncoming people or
vehicles of uncertain intent. Troops open fire rather than risk a
Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari complained about mistaken shootings to
U.S. officials, and the U.S. command in Iraq asked the Pentagon this
spring to speed shipment of the non-lethal beam weapons.
prototype, developed for the Marines, sits atop a Humvee that has a
hybrid gasoline-electric drive train. The propulsion batteries
double as a power source for the gun, which looks like a satellite
dish and is aimed with a joystick.
“It is not a
silver bullet, but it will help our Marines and soldiers from having
to go lethal before it's necessary,” said Sue Payton, deputy
undersecretary of Defense for advanced systems and concepts.
The ADS is one of
several directed-energy weapons, some dating to President Reagan's
space-based missile defense research program. Already being tested
in the field are low-power lasers that would temporarily blind
The ADS follows
more than a decade and $50 million of research into millimeter-wave
radiation weapons. The Army plans a version for its Stryker
vehicles, and the Air Force is developing an airborne
One major concern
is public acceptance of the weapon.
“We have tested
this thing every way from Sunday” to make sure it's safe, Payton
said, adding that she had insisted scientists fire the gun on a raw
egg to make sure the 95-gigahertz beam wouldn't cook it like a
microwave oven does.
felt like someone had opened an oven door, and you felt a rush of
heat,” said Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the Air Force Research Labs
who was one of hundreds of test subjects. “Within milliseconds, it
Once again, a
trade debate ignores the real problem
flashes danger signal, but trashing CAFTA won't help.
Listening to the
fierce debate over the Central American Free Trade Agreement
(CAFTA), one might get the impression that its success or failure
will determine the very future of the U.S. economy. Its proponents
say it's necessary to expand export markets for U.S. goods and
services. Its opponents see it as the latest scheme to export
American jobs so corporations can make ever-fatter
As the House of
Representatives prepares to vote on the measure this week, however,
a few facts might put the debate in a little perspective. The six
countries involved — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,
Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic:
•Have a collective
economy that is about 1/160th that of the USA.
•Have a population
less than 4% of China's and seven of India's provinces.
significant trade with the USA that would be unaffected by
On balance, CAFTA
is a positive step. The pact would reward six fledgling democracies
with greater access to the U.S. markets while providing a modest
increase in U.S. exports markets, particularly for agriculture.
These positives outweigh its unduly generous protections of
drugmakers, the sugar industry and other special interests.
Even so, as a
practical matter CAFTA pales in comparison with much more powerful
economic forces. If the debate is illustrative of anything, it is
how politicians and activist groups like to confuse rather than
inform, and to engage in histrionic fights over secondary matters
while important issues go unresolved.
Faced with an
increasingly competitive global economy, the United States is
running a record trade deficit of more than $600 billion annually.
These trends cause anxiety among many workers and some
Parts of the
problem are beyond U.S. control. The emergence of China and India,
for instance. But issues that could be addressed are ignored for
lack of political will.
The trade deficit
is driven primarily by our own behavior as a nation. We consume too
much and invest too little. Consumers demonstrate this in the
nation's low savings rate, while the government plays its part
through its perpetually unbalanced budgets.
This living beyond
our means puts the future of the U.S. economy in the hands of
foreigners, who own ever-larger amounts of dollars and ever larger
shares of U.S. companies. To date, they have indulged American's
voracious consumption by reinvesting their money in the United
States. If they lose confidence in the U.S. economy, though, they
could send the economy into a tail spin.
That could happen
soon, or not for a decade. Nonetheless, it is inevitable if the
trend is not reversed.
problems involves greater fiscal responsibility in Washington,
including new tax policies that would encourage investment rather
More broadly, it
requires shared sacrifice and a long-term focus — alien concepts in
Washington these days.
Beating up on
countries like Honduras and El Salvador instead — and passing this
off as some kind of significant event — only ensures that the United
States' true challenges won't get the attention they
The debate over
CAFTA only demonstrates that the nation hasn't figured out what is
linked to nerve agent
'91 Gulf War vets
For the first time, a study has found an
increase in brain-cancer deaths among Gulf War veterans who might
have been exposed to the nerve agent sarin by the destruction of
Iraqi weapons in 1991.
About 100,000 of
the 350,000 Army soldiers in the Persian Gulf could have been
exposed to sarin after soldiers blew up two large ammunition caches
in Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March 1991, according to a study
commissioned by the military and performed by the Institute of
Medicine. The institute advises the government on health
At the time, the
military didn't know that the destroyed Iraqi rockets contained
sarin, says Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director for the Deployment
Health Support Directorate in the Department of Defense. Soldiers
showed no signs of exposure to chemical warfare.
United Nations inspectors found that some of the weapons contained
sarin, which can cause convulsions and death. The military has since
contacted about 300,000 veterans who were in or near areas that
might have been affected. The potential “hazard area,” where
shifting winds could have carried traces of chemicals, extended at
times as far as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
According to the
study, soldiers inside the hazard area were about twice as likely as
those outside it to die from brain cancer. Because the actual number
of brain-cancer cases was small, the overall mortality rate was the
same for veterans in the hazard area and outside the area, according
to the study, published in the American Journal of Public
soldiers, researchers found a brain-cancer death rate of 12 per
100,000 from 1991 to 2000, says William Page, director of the study.
During the same period, researchers found 25 brain-cancer deaths per
100,000 veterans who were exposed.
a doubling of risk, but it's still a pretty small risk,” says Page,
a senior program officer at the Institute of Medicine.
The study did not
address “Gulf War syndrome,” as some have called the collection of
ailments experienced by returning veterans. It examined whether
soldiers possibly exposed to the destruction of Iraqi weapons were
more likely to die for any reason. The study also singled out
specific diseases: breathing problems, infections, circulatory
problems, digestive ailments, accidents and suicides, as well as
four types of cancer.
authors note that sarin has never been shown to cause cancer. Page
suggests that researchers follow veterans to see whether the risk of
brain cancer, which is believed to develop over 10 to 20 years,
changes over time. Page also notes that the study doesn't prove that
being in the hazard area caused brain cancer.
Melissa Bondy, a
professor of epidemiology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston,
questions why only one or two days of exposure would increase
brain-cancer mortality. Other experts note that the study could shed
light on the causes of brain tumors, about which doctors know
“It's a very solid
study,” says Faith Davis, a professor at the University of
Illinois-Chicago. “It needs to be taken seriously.”
unready for germ attacks
defense lags despite 4 years, $20B
The nation is woefully unprepared to respond to
a bioterrorism attack despite a $20 billion government investment in
bioterrorism preparedness since 2001, according to top government
and public health officials and members of Congress.
“We're almost four
years after 9/11, and we've made maybe six months' worth of
progress,” says Irwin Redlener of Columbia University's National
Center for Disaster Preparedness. Redlener says the programs could
be run more effectively. “We're wasting billions and billions of
dollars,” he says.
Security secretary Tom Ridge says a biological attack with a
contagious agent is his greatest fear. With respect to preparedness,
“we're not where we want to be,” he says.
the current secretary, named a new chief medical officer last month
and said he intends to put more emphasis on potentially catastrophic
attacks. But bioterrorism preparedness rests largely with the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is responsible
for stocking lifesaving antidotes, sharing information among labs
and hospitals and helping communities deliver aid in an
“This challenge is
larger than almost anything we've ever faced,” says William Raub,
who runs HHS' public health emergency preparedness. The government
may be years away from being adequately prepared, he says, but “I
don't think anyone here has anything to apologize for.” Among the
has created a national stockpile of medical equipment and supplies
and can move the supplies to any city within 12 hours of an attack,
but local officials aren't prepared to deliver the material to
citizens in time to save lives. “Not a single city in America is
prepared,” says Richard Falkenrath, a former top White House aide on
•A $5.6 billion,
10-year government program to spur pharmaceutical firms to develop
vaccines and antidotes has yet to produce the drugs. President Bush
announced Project BioShield in 2003. The funding is for encouraging
firms to invest in research to produce antidotes. The government
would buy much of the new drugs if they met certain standards.
pharmaceutical companies have ignored the program in part out of
liability concerns. “Millions and millions of lives are at stake,”
says Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
5,000 hospitals couldn't handle a surge of patients. “Hospital
preparedness is an exercise in fantasy,” says former HHS
preparedness chief Jerome Hauer, who developed the nation's first
bioterrorism response plan for New York City. “Most people think
having 100 beds is surge capacity. But most cities, if they were to
have 10,000-15,000 patients, would be brought to their
Mad cow cases met
with shrug instead of safeguards
Agencies fail to
remedy inadequate testing, oversight of cattle.
spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, first
surfaced in the United States in 2003, cattle ranchers and
government officials shrugged it off as a cow infected
in Canada before being imported here.
When a native-born
cow tested positive this June, they explained it away once again,
saying the animal was infected before cattle feed restrictions were
put in place in 1997.
And when a third
possible domestic case surfaced last week, they hastened to note
that the 12-year-old cow hadn't entered the food chain.
The story is
always the same. Consumers are urged not to worry about the chance
of a major outbreak of the disease, like the one that occurred in
Europe a decade ago. They are assured they will be protected by the
practices of the cattle industry and the policies of responsible
In fact, those
practices and policies are considered so ineffective that 64 nations
have total or partial bans on U.S. beef products. And the two
agencies charged with ensuring a safe beef supply, the Agriculture
Department (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have
become as much a part of the industry's public relations team as
they are public health watchdogs. Agriculture Secretary Mike
Johanns' response to each episode seems to be to tell everyone he's
going to have beef for dinner.
oversight, resulting from short-sighted cattle industry pressure,
forces American consumers to buy the beef that others will not. It's
also counterproductive for the industry itself, which would like
diners worldwide to think of its products as top of the
As the Agriculture
Department investigates the latest possible case of the disease
— results are expected this week — it has reaffirmed
how lackadaisical and insufficient its testing practices are. The
FDA, meanwhile, oversees cattle feed policies so riddled with
loopholes they would be laughable if they weren't so
Mad cow disease is
spread when cows, which are herbivores by nature, are fed parts of
cattle and other ruminant (cud-chewing) animals. It can be prevented
from spreading to humans by careful monitoring of what cattle eat
and by effective, timely testing.
At the moment,
American consumers have neither protection:
loopholes. In 1997, the FDA imposed a so-called ban on the
feeding of ruminant protein to cows. But that policy has two
enormous exemptions. Weaning calves may drink cattle blood as a milk
substitute. And feed may include the waste from chicken coop floors
as a protein supplement. This waste poses a risk not because of its
many unsavory elements, including feces and feathers, but because
FDA officials estimate that up to 30% of it can be uneaten chicken
feed — which routinely contains beef.
•“Keystone Kops” testing. The brain tissue of
the cow that is currently being tested was first collected in April.
The investigation was delayed because the veterinarian forgot to
send the sample to the laboratory. The sample that tested positive
in June had originally been cleared by USDA last year. Subsequent
tests were ordered by a suspicious internal investigator, showing
how inadequate the department's testing is.
The industry is
right to argue that the chances of anyone contracting the human form
of the disease are quite low. But the issue isn't the overall risk,
but whether the government and industry are taking reasonable steps
to ensure it is as low as it can be.
By that standard,
consumers are right to have a beef. The feed loopholes need to be
closed. Quicker, more accurate testing processes need to be
then will Americans be able to enjoy their summer barbecues without
having to worry that eating a hamburger might lead to a fatal
More kids get
multiple psychiatric drugs
cited in study
diagnosed with behavior and psychiatric problems increasingly
receive more than one medication despite very little proof that many
of the drugs are safe or effective for kids, suggests a research
review out Monday.
“We don't know how
these drugs may interact with each other, and we don't even have
safety studies in children for many of the drugs on their own,” says
child psychiatrist Joseph Penn of Brown University Medical School
and Bradley Hospital in Providence, R.I.
He and co-author
Henrietta Leonard searched the Pub Med database, covering published
scientific research, for all studies on children's psychiatric
“polypharmacy” use between 1994 and 2004. Their report is in the
journal Psychiatry 2005.
They found only
six studies. Updates over time showed soaring use of multiple
medicines with kids.
For example, a
survey of primary care doctors giving children stimulants, commonly
prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
found multiple psychiatric medicines prescribed in about 5% of
office visits during 1993-94. That surged to 25% of visits in
1997-98. Another study on privately insured kids found that 3% given
psychiatric drugs got more than one in 1987. It was up to 23% in
Doctors are using
more medications for several reasons, says Penn:
are marketing their products more aggressively to consumers and
doctors. “Many parents come in and want that ‘quick fix.' ”
•One drug often
causes side effects; since more medications than ever are available,
kids get another drug to deal with these side effects. For example,
stimulants may cause insomnia, which leads to prescribing sleeping
are more willing to pay for pills than for therapy.
“Doctors are doing
this polypharmacy stuff all the time with kids,” says Penn, “but
when you look for the research, there is none.”
A newer class of
medicines called “atypical antipsychotics” are increasingly combined
with other drugs, he says. They're used for kids with bipolar
disorder (manic-depression) or severe temper problems. These drugs —
Abilify, Seroquel and Risperdal — are approved for adult psychosis,
“and we just don't know if they're safe for kids,” Penn
However, there is
“lots of shared anecdotal experience between doctors saying it's OK
to use more than one drug with children and adolescents,” says
Lawrence Diller, a Walnut Creek, Calif., behavioral
And “sometimes you
have to have different treatments to stabilize a child,” adds Boris
Birmaher, a University of Pittsburgh psychiatrist who specializes in
childhood bipolar disorder. “We wish one medication would take away
their symptoms, but it doesn't always happen.”
Many kids with
ADHD have other problems, such as depression, and they may need
multiple medicines, he says.
There's not much
profit incentive for drug companies to do research on multiple
psychiatric medicines with kids, so more studies are unlikely,
Diller believes. “Every doctor weighs the degree of symptoms against
possible side effects of drugs. But in the absence of science, we're
Are our products
everyday goods disrupt hormones
Like the glint of a knife in the dark, a
laboratory accident in 1998 helped scientists realize that some
chemicals commonly used to make life more convenient can be health
Since what they
still call “the disaster” in geneticist Pat Hunt's lab, more
scientists have come to suspect that, even in tiny amounts, some of
the chemicals that keep our food fresh, our hair stylish, our floors
shiny and our fabrics stain-free might be confusing our hormone
systems and derailing fetal development.
Hunt says she's
not the only researcher who has come to study these chemicals —
called endocrine disruptors — because she got “smacked in the face”
by an unexpected result. “Almost everybody in this field was drafted
into this, but we feel we can't leave this area, because if this
stuff is dangerous, then we need to know a whole lot more about
happened seven years ago at Hunt's lab at Case Western Reserve
University in Cleveland:
why women miscarry because of chromosomal abnormalities in the
fetus, Hunt found that the eggs of the mice she was studying were
inexplicably developing serious chromosomal problems.
It took months for
Hunt to realize that the problem was caused by a temporary
employee's error. “He had two bottles of detergent, one for the
floor and one for the cages, and he picked up the wrong
The harsh alkaline
floor detergent caused the plastic in the cages to begin to
disintegrate, which leached a chemical called bisphenol A into the
animals' food and water. Suddenly, 40% of the eggs had chromosomal
The question this
posed for scientists: If plastic can do this to mice, what dangers
do people face?
You can't see
them. There's no way to tell from a product label whether they've
been used. And they don't appear in every variation of the same kind
of product. Scientists are not always sure how they are transmitted
from product to person.
chemicals are endocrine mimics. By sheer chance, their molecules are
perfectly shaped to form keys that open the hormonal locks that
control the proper development and function of our
They may do little
harm to adults, but evidence mounts that they can wreak havoc in the
development of fetuses and children:
•Ana Soto, a
professor of cell biology at Tufts University School of Medicine in
Boston, found that exposure to bisphenol A, a common ingredient in
plastics such as reusable water bottles and the housing of laptop
computers and in resins that line some food cans and dental
sealants, can change the course of fetal development. Fetal mice
developed tissue associated with higher rates of breast cancer later
in life. Soto's findings were presented in San Diego this summer at
the yearly meeting of the Endocrine Society, the largest
professional organization of endocrinologists.
phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) comes from direct contact with
products that contain them, such as vinyl flooring, detergents,
automotive plastics, soap, shampoo, deodorants, fragrances, hair
spray, nail polish, plastic bags, food packaging, garden hoses,
inflatable toys, blood-storage bags and intravenous medical tubing,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by
epidemiologist Shanna Swan at the University of Rochester in New
York found an association between higher phthalate levels in
pregnant women and changes in the genitals in their infant sons that
suggest lower concentrations of male hormones and can lead to
incomplete testicular descent.
Jim Pirkle, deputy
director for science at the CDC's Environmental Health Laboratory,
says that while more research must be done to replicate Swan's
findings, “The big concern of the phthalates is that they have
anti-androgen activity. They get rid of things that are in the
testosterone line, the things that make a man a man.”
•In a separate
study, Harvard and CDC researchers found that boys in neonatal
intensive care units had phthalate levels about 25 times higher than
the general population. This is two years after the Food and Drug
Administration warned hospitals that phthalate leaching out of
plastics used in medical devices carries such a health risk to baby
boys that those devices shouldn't be used on babies or on pregnant
women carrying male fetuses.
acid (PFOA) is a building block of chemicals used to make stain-,
grease- and water-resistant coatings such as Teflon and Gore-Tex. An
Environmental Protection Agency scientific advisory panel recently
concluded PFOA is a likely carcinogen with liver, breast, pancreatic
and testicular cancer of specific concern. The EPA has not yet
adopted the finding and has not set acceptable limits.
• A study released
last month by the U.S. Geological Survey and the City of Austin
found that runoff from parking lot sealant, used to protect and
beautify asphalt, is a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
known to be a likely carcinogen and a possible reproductive
published by Michael Skinner, director of the Center for
Reproductive Biology at Washington State University, showed that
exposure of rodents to an insecticide called methoxychlor and a
fungicide called vinclozolin, both endocrine disruptors, caused
changes in mice that affected not just the offspring exposed to the
chemical in utero but all males born for at least four subsequent
environmental toxin can cause a transgenerational effect and affect
your grandchild, this is a much more major hazard we need to
consider in environmental toxins,” Skinner says.
chemicals have been widely used since the 1960s, it has been only in
the past five or so years that scientists have had tests sensitive
enough to measure the extremely low doses present in the environment
and our bodies. And they have found that phthalates and PFOA are
In random sampling
of participants in a national health survey, the CDC has found trace
amounts of phthalates in all urine tested. In January, the
Environmental Protection Agency reported that adults tested in three
human biomonitoring studies had trace amounts of PFOA in their
concerned about what's happening to adults, but we're especially
concerned about developmental exposure of the fetus and young
child,” Retha Newbold, a developmental endocrinologist at the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told the
mechanisms that are available to the adult, such as DNA repair, the
immune system, detoxification enzymes, liver metabolism and the
blood/brain barrier, are not fully functional in the fetus or
newborn,” Newbold says. “Exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals
during critical states of development may have permanent
consequences, some of which may not be expressed or detected until
later in life.”
producers say researchers aren't coming up with “smoking guns,” in
the words of Sarah Brozena, assistant general counsel to the
American Chemistry Council, an industry group. “The International
Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry did this pretty comprehensive
review and decided there was no evidence of humans being adversely
impacted by environmental exposures to endocrine-active substances,”
The past three
years have seen significant advances in “epidemiological evidence
and the development of animal models” to help understand how
endocrine disruptors work, says Kenneth Korach, director of the
Environmental Disease and Medicine Program at the National Institute
of Environmental Health Sciences.
The means of
exposure to endocrine disruptors can be difficult to determine.
“It's not like smoking was,” says Swan, who did the phthalates
research. “They're all around us, in food, in household dust and in
products, but they're invisible.
“People don't know
when they're exposed. Our old epidemiological tools — interviews,
looking at medical records and questionnaires — are useless. We have
to look at the body. But it's expensive and hard to get people to
And if figuring
out what a tiny amount of one chemical does is hard, researchers say
they have almost no idea what happens when many chemicals interact.
“Nobody's exposed to one thing,” Korach says. “The problem is we
haven't done enough yet to look at combinations.”
Of course, each of
these studies is only one small piece in a much larger puzzle that
still must be filled out, says Earl Gray, a senior research
biologist with EPA's endocrinology branch. “There are things that we
know for sure,” he says. “It's obvious and has been for a long time
that there are effects in wildlife due to endocrine-disrupting
In humans, the
evidence isn't clear-cut: “A single study doesn't create a disaster;
it's a hypothesis that needs to be replicated.”
Others wonder why
compounds are turning up harmful in some studies, while “every test
we've ever done in the past says they're inactive,” says James Lamb
of scientific and engineering consulting firm Blasland, Bouck &
raise questions that need to be addressed by industry and
government,” Lamb says. “I'd hate for people to come away feeling
like they're in danger if they use these products.”
groups and researchers maintain that it's possible to have modern
conveniences without all the health risks.
They note that the
government has been able to eradicate other chemical dangers. “We've
seen lead levels dramatically decline in kids, PCB (polychlorinated
biphenyl) levels decline, all because of direct government
intervention that gets these out of the environment,” says Jane
Houlihan, a scientist with the Environmental Working
The EPA says it's
working on that.
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics has been exploring “green
chemistry” options — a fundamental approach to pollution prevention
on a molecular level — for 10 years now.
chemicals that make plastics soft are endocrine disruptors, chemists
now have the ability to design them without that side effect. It
just takes convincing industry that the result is going to be
cheaper in the long run, says Mary Ellen Weber, director of the
EPA's pollutions and toxics research group. “When you can replace a
known toxic chemical with sugar or cornstarch or sunlight, you know
you've got an environmentally preferable