Archive for December 2010
On Sept. 12, 2001, George W. Bush said something he had avoided saying the day before. “The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror,” he told reporters. “They were acts of war.”
The decision to frame the response to 9-11 as a “war” was a fateful one. Before that moment, western democracies would never have sent their soldiers to fight endless battles in distant and obscure deserts.
Imprisonment without charge or trial would never have been advocated by leading politicians. Torture would never have been supported by much of the population. And calls for the assassination of a man who leaked documents would never have been heard from leading journalists. It was George W. Bush’s statement on Sept. 12, 2001, that made all this possible.
“We are at war,” wrote the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer last week. “A hot war in Afghanistan where six Americans were killed just this past Monday, and a shadowy world war where enemies from Yemen to Portland, Oregon, are planning holy terror. Franklin Roosevelt had German saboteurs tried by military tribunal and executed. (Julian) Assange has done more damage to the United States than all six of those Germans combined.”
The conclusion is obvious. “We are at war.” That statement appears in virtually every call for more spying, more torture, more killing. War is an emergency. An existential struggle. To the extent that the ordinary rules get in the way of victory, they must be suspended — just as Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. “The constitution is not a suicide pact,” as the saying goes.
Occasionally, this stuff is disingenuous, as when Mitch Daniels, Bush’s budget director, justified the ballooning deficit by saying “it’s a wartime budget” and then turned around and justified tax cuts by claiming “Americans are being taxed at the highest peacetime rates in history.”
Dec. 14, 2010 By Ron Najafi TheScientist
Here’s what we need to do to create new antibiotics and extend the life of those that already exist
People are proposing various solutions, such as offering financial incentives to the pharmaceutical industry to spur the development of vitally needed antibiotics. But along with creating new drugs, we can get more life from our existing antibiotics and maintain their utility. As the head of a company focused on the development of compounds to treat and prevent a wide range of infections without causing bacterial resistance, this is an issue I find both fascinating and vitally important. In my opinion, there are five ways we can extend the functional life of our antibiotic arsenal.
1. Do the obvious
In a recent New York Times article, Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Extending the Cure project on antibiotic resistance at the policy organization Resources for the Future, suggested that the government should focus on conserving the effectiveness of existing antibiotics by preventing their unnecessary use in people and farm animals, and by requiring better infection control measures in hospitals.
These are crucial steps, which should be taken immediately. First, we must stop and assess the use of antibiotics as additives to the feed of our farm animals, and specifically prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotics in animals that are not sick. The U.S. Congress has already urged farmers to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animals because it is creating new, drug-resistant strains of bacteria that can spread to humans. A recent CBS news report spotlighted microbiologist Stuart Levy at Tufts University, the individual who identified tetracycline resistance in chickens more than 30 years ago. In his research, nearly all of the E. coli in the intestinal tracts of the chickens become tetracycline-resistant after one week of treatment.
Garbage viruses and DNA in vaccines
Vaccines are currently produced using fertilized chicken eggs, cell culture or a combination of egg and cell culture. An ‘attenuated’ vaccine is created from a pathogen by reducing its virulence, but still keeping it viable, in contrast to those produced by ‘killing’ the virus (inactivated vaccine). Inactivation is done by selecting non-pathogenic strains of the pathogen after treatment such as heat or cold culture, or targeted deletion of virulence genes.
Many live attenuated vaccines are produced using cell culture. A number of such vaccines have been found to contain not only the live attenuated viral pathogen but also contaminating viruses or viral nucleic acid . These contaminants are garbage, and people administering such vaccines should inform patients of potential risks associated with the garbage. Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged the contamination of the live attenuated rotavirus vaccine (to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea) and suspended the vaccine, but later decided that the benefits of the vaccination outweigh potential contamination risks . The FDA opinion is premature because the circovirus contaminating the vaccine is active in replication, transcription and translation of viral genes and able to produce toxic products. Contaminated vaccines are not isolated cases, they are widespread.
Environmental Health News Dec. 7, 2010
Wise, A , K O’Brien and T Woodruff. 2010. Are oral contraceptives a significant contributor to the estrogenicity of drinking water? Environmental Science & Technology http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es1014482.
A new study finds that oral contraceptives are not the main culprit in estrogenic pollution of US and European rivers and drinking water. Instead, the contribution of contraceptives is quite small compared to other human, industrial and agricultural sources.
People are increasingly concerned about estrogenic pollution due to scientific studies that document the feminization of fish and other aquatic animals. Other studies have suggested that long term exposure to low levels of estrogens in water may adversely affect human health. This new information should ease concerns that contraceptives are a major factor contributing to feminized fish and frogs.
To see if OCs are mainly to blame, the researchers reviewed scientific studies from Europe and the United States that identified sources of estrogens in surface, source and drinking water. They paid close attention to the main estrogen in OCs, 17 alphaethinylestradiol (EE2). They also evaluated the public health impact of estrogenic pollution in drinking water.
The authors find that agricultural sources are an important source of estrogens in waterways because livestock produce 13 times more solid waste than humans. The animals can excrete both natural and pharmaceutical hormones. One study estimates that up to 90 percent of total estrogens in the environment could come from animal waste.
I keep seeing articles written as if Obama might waken from his actual self and become the dream-self many thought he was. Why is it so difficult for many to face the current reality?
There was never any intention or even feint move to fulfill his supposed campaign promises. If we can’t get beyond that, we can never effectively stand up to the onslaught against the people by the banks and the mega-corps. The polls tell us the people’s views are being ignored with impunity. Because they can! The Lone Ranger isn’t coming this time.
This article is interesting for its statistics about people’s stand on issues. If only it mattered!
The New Silent Majority
|“Today there’s a New Silent Majority, and it looks very different from Nixon’s. The polling results are undeniable: This Majority is looking for somebody to fight the big banks, protect Social Security, and tax the rich to fund government’s vital role in society … If the President can let go of his attachment to his postpartisan self-image and embrace the policies most Americans want and need, they can be his North Star.”|
The American majority must be suffering from whiplash. It’s not just the sudden reversal on the deficit. Now the story of the day is taxes – which was a top priority for only one voter in fifty.
What else does the “new silent majority” stand for, besides jobs, protecting Social Security, and taxes for the rich?
- 72% want the government to crack down on Wall Street more than it has.
- 81% want the government to do more to reduce poverty.
- Eight out of ten oppose cutting Medicare.
Despite the widespread support for these views by members of both parties (bipartisanship at last!), the political and media landscapes are dominated by journalists and politicians who keep telling us these positions are “extremist” and politically unrealistic.
–read entire article here
HillBillyReport Tue Dec 07, 2010
compromise- A concession to something detrimental or pejorative: a compromise of morality.
With the announcement that the Administration will indeed roll over to Republicans once again one thing is ringing true. In the political arena when these “compromises” are reached the only folks that are expected to give anything up are Progressives, and working America. When we had huge majorities in Congress and the White House still Progressives were expected to concede everything. Now it has become apparent that once again we are the only ones to sacrifice. One begins to wonder if this is not the way it was meant all along.
The sad fact is that in the spirit of “bi-partisanship” these were not compromises but capitulations. You see, with a compromise both sides are expected to sacrifice. However, with the weakness and cowardice of our Democratic leadership starting at the top with the President Progressives never receive anything in return. This is called cowardice, not compromise.
Especially when the public as a whole supports your position. On these tax cuts as with the public option, a majority of Americans favored asking the greediest and least patriotic to pay their fair share. Yes, poll after poll showed the American people favored ending these cuts but still our President was too timid to stand up to the Mitch McConnells and the John Boehners of the world who will never be satisfied until we have a two-class society run by the elites. Folks like them and yes, President Obama.
Wikileaks: State Dept. wants intel on African acceptance of GMOs
By Tom Laskawy
Grist Magazine, Nov 29, 2010
The Wikileaks release of U.S. State Department classified diplomatic cables may be problematic, but it has been quite a trove of information on the workings of our diplomatic corps. For the most part, the dump has confirmed things that we already knew about U.S. policy — and that seems to be the case regarding the one mention of agricultural policy in these thousands of emails and documents (no doubt there are more) to which I was alerted.
Buried deep in a document that outlines priorities for intelligence gathering in the African “Great Lakes” countries of Burundi, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda is a list (for the most part, very reasonable) of what the State Department would like to know about the region’s agricultural policy. Things like government policies on food security and food safety top the list, for example, along with information on the impact of rising food prices in these countries. Agricultural yield statistics, infrastructure improvements, data on deforestation and desertification, water issues, and invasive species are included as priorities for “reporting” as well.
But also getting its own line item on the intel priority list is this:
Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops.
Tom Philpott has reported on the State Department’s biotech-loving science adviser Nina Federoff and her industry ties — and certainly USDA Chief Tom Vilsack believes that genetically modified foods are an answer to world hunger. So this revelation hardly counts as a surprise. But it’s still a shame to see that our spymasters are actively engaged in efforts to make the world safe for Monsanto. Aren’t there better things for them to do?