Posts Tagged ‘fda’
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship, Sustainability
GMO Ticking Time Bomb is a fantastic fifteen minute video which helps explain why California polls show overwhelming support for Prop 37 on the November ballot. If passed by voters, the citizens initiative would require mandatory labeling for genetically modified foods.
The film starts by briefly explaining how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are created. It goes on to talk about scandalous corporate interference that put a once and future Monsanto executive in charge of a 1992 FDA decision that GMO crops and foods are safe and don’t require testing for potential health hazards.
Filmmakers reveal a recent recommendation by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (medical doctors who specialize in environmental medicine) that all doctors prescribe non-GMO foods for all their patients. This is based on a wealth of private – and government – studies showing that GMO foods interfere with reproductive and immune function; cause accelerating aging, GI distress and organ damage and interfere with cholesterol and insulin regulation.
The US is one of a handful of industrialized countries that don’t require labeling for GMO foods.
Monsanto’s main argument for opposing mandatory labeling: consumers are too dumb to know the difference.
by stuartbramhall in Mind Control and Disinformation
According to Sayer Ji, who writes at GreenMedInfo.com, Proteus Digital Health recently gained FDA approval for its 1 square millimeter device (the size of a grain of sand), which it believes will “shift the care paradigm” into an era of digital medicine.
The aim of the “ingestible sensor” is to electronically verify patient compliance in taking the medication. Proteus Digital Health estimates that over 50% of patients do not get the full benefit from the pharmaceuticals they take because of taking the wrong dose or taking the medication inconsistently.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has recently come under criticism for their financial support of GMO agriculture, ‘edible‘ and “flying” vaccines, pesticide-laden traditional scarves, and other questionable technological interventions ostensibly to reduce suffering, are also prominently figured partners on the Proteus Digital Health website.
The European Union was the first to approve Proteus’ digital pill in 2010
Read more here.
Editorial comment: Forget the constitutional right to privacy. Now the government and their favorite corporations (the drug companies) can digitally monitor us without the pain and expense of surgically inserting microchips.
by stuartbramhall in The Global Economic Crisis, Things That Aren't What They Seem
This is the last of three posts on ending the War on Drugs.
Unlike the federal government, states aren’t allowed to run deficits. Since the 2008 economic collapse, both Democratic and Republican dominated states have been extremely proactive in reducing law enforcement costs by enacting drug liberalization legislation. This mainly takes the form of laws legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes and laws reducing personal marijuana use to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.
While marijuana decriminalization is typically associated with liberal Democratic states, it enjoys growing support in Republican states facing harsh budget realities. According to Mother Jones magazine, among Republicans, 61% support legalizing marijuana for medical use and 33% support total decriminalization. Approximately 50% of Americans overall support marijuana decriminalization. http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/09/tea-party-marijuana-legalization
Tea Party Support for Decriminalization
The Georgia Tea Party also supports decriminalization (http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=115334838544068&topic=56), as does a Kentucky Tea Party group called Take Back Kentucky. The latter, who were instrumental in Rand Paul winning a 2010 Senate seat strongly back hemp legalization, in part as an alternative crop for tobacco farmers hurt by anti-smoking legislation (http://www.willowtown.com/promo/blogfpnov10a.htm).
Decriminalization to Reduce Budget Deficits
Fifteen states and Washington D.C. have passed medical marijuana laws. This includes a number of traditionally Republican states (Kansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Nebraska, Alaska, Montana, and Nevada). Sixteen states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania) have passed laws making any marijuana possession (and in some states cultivation) for personal use a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine. The California law was signed by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before leaving office last year. Local authorities in eight other states (Arkansas, Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Montana, Missouri, Michigan and Kansas) have made marijuana possession a misdemeanor within city limits.
Eight states are considering bills to fully decriminalize marijuana. Connecticut, the first state to enact paid sick leave, is also expected to be the first make marijuana possession a civil offense, like a traffic ticket, punishable with a $150 fine.
Decriminalization Efforts in California
With marijuana its largest cash crop, California has the strongest decriminalization movement. At $14 billion annually, cannabis-generated revenue is double that of vegetables and grapes combined.
A decriminalization initiative on the November 2010 ballot was narrowly defeated (53.8% No to 46.2%). A recent analysis in the Nation attributed the defeat to a conspiracy theory circulating among pot growers and elderly users that the tobacco giant R J Reynolds was buying up land and planning a corporate takeover of California production and distribution once personal marijuana use became legal. This was despite an absolute denial by the cigarette manufacturer that have any interest in expanding into marijuana. http://www.thenation.com/article/157001/altered-state-californias-pot-economy
Enter Big Pharma
The rumors have some basis in reality, given the way Big Pharma has moved into the medical marijuana market. In 2007, the British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it had partnered with the Japanese company Otsuka to bring “Sativex” – a liquefied marijuana sprayed under the tongue – to the U.S. Sativex recently completed Phase II efficacy and safety trials studies, and the manufacturer is in discussion with the FDA regarding Phase III testing. Phase III is generally thought to be the final step before the drug can be marketed in the U.S.
Sativex is already in use in Britain, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Canada, the Czech Republic and New Zealand.
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship
In the US, it appears that the cellphone and wireless industry is working hard to shut down research about EMR health risks. Scientists like Dr Henry Lai at the University of Washington risk having their careers destroyed by publishing studies about the health hazards of cellphones, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi (see http://www.seattlemag.com/article/nerd-report/nerd-report and http://www.psrast.org/mobileng/mobilstarteng.htm#junk). Lai wasn’t even thinking about cellphones when he published a study in 1995 about DNA and memory damage in rats exposed to EMR from radar equipment – until a whistle blower leaked an internal Motorola memo about their plan to institute “war games” to get him fired and cut of his grant funding. Although the University of Washington president resisted their request to fire Lai, lack of funding has forced the scientist to discontinue his EMR research.
Meanwhile, as in the case of fluoride and genetically engineered foods, the European Environment Agency recommends the Precautionary Principle (using all new technology cautiously until industry proves it’s safe). They have issued the following six recommendations related to cellphones:
- Consumers, especially young adults and children (who are at highest risk for brain tumors) should stick to texting and hands-free sets to avoid exposing their brains to EMR.
- Manufacturers should design hands-free phones that are easier for consumers to use.
- Cellphones should carry warning labels.
- Corporate funded research needs to be more broadly focused on biological effects, rather than being limited to “heating” effects of microwaves.
- Governments should place a research levy on cell phones to fund independent research
- Governments need to better protect cell phone researchers from retaliation from the industry opponents.
European Warnings on Wi-Fi and Cellphone Towers
Following the release of the 2007 Bioinitiative Report http://mreengenharia.com.br/pdf_novo/report.pdf (which cites European studies showing a tripling of cancer rates following the installation of cellphone towers), the European Environment Agency issued similar warnings on “electrosmog” from Wi-Fi and cellphone towers. It’s easy to forget that all of us are constantly exposed to artificially high EMR levels – also known as electrosmog – even if we don’t use cellphones, cordless phones or Wi-Fi, or only use them at a safe distance from our bodies. And as with cellphones, the FDA denies there is any risk from exposure to Wi-Fi hotspots or routers or cellphone towers.
Despite hundreds of studies showing that EMR has biological effects (mainly DNA breakage and cell membrane leakage of nerve cells), the FDA bows to industry pressure use ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation) standards, which only measure to the “thermal” or heating of effects of EMR. And since there is no heating at the low levels emitted from Wi-Fi or cell phone towers, the FDA draws the illogical conclusion electrosmog poses no no health risks. Despite hundreds of studies linking Wi-Fi and cellphone towers to cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, fatigue, headaches, multiple sclerosis (MS), impaired memory and behavior problems in children.
Electrohypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)
Approximately 3% of the population (many of them children exposed to Wi-Fi routers in schools) suffer from a serious condition caused by exposure to EMR known as Electrosensitivty Syndrome (ES) or Electrohypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS). It’s a condition, well recognized by environmental physicians, characterized by headaches, disrupted sleep, chronic fatigue, depression, erratic blood pressure, rapid pulse, rashes, nausea and childhood behavior problems. In some patients, it can look a lot like MS. In fact, patients with MS often have a worsening of their symptoms when exposed to EMR.
Unfortunately, other conditions linked to EMR take much longer to develop (10-15 years). This means it could scientists take 50 years or more to collect the “conclusive proof” necessary to force the FDA to regulate exposure.
The European Position
Following the 2007 Bioinitiative Report, many French and English schools dismantled their Wi-Fi systems and replaced them with cables. The German government has issued a warning that all citizens avoid Wi-Fi use at home and at work. Likewise the Austrian Medical Association has recommended all Wi-Fi be replaced with cables. The position taken by the Swedish government, which formally recognizes EHS as a disability, is the strongest. They will remove Wi-Fi from the school of any student suffering from EHS, as well as providing microwave opaque paint and/or wall coverings for the homes of EHS patients.
What Should Americans Do?
Long-suffering Americans can find excellent tips on Dr Magda Havas’s website http://www.magdahavas.com/2011/01/18/multiple-sclerosis-and-electrohypersensitivity/) on practicing good electromagnetic hygiene:
1. Replace cordless with corded phones.
2. Replace Wi-Fi internet hook-ups with an Ethernet cable.
3. Use cellphones as little as possible and only in speaker mode (Bluetooth devices and regular head phones also give off microwaves – only air tube headsets are safe). Don’t carry cellphones in your pocket or on your waist band, as they lower sperm production and quality (the FCC carried this warning on their website for 10 months but removed it in November 2010, under industry pressure – http://labrat4sar.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/fcc-website-secretly-changed-to-delete-the-recently-added-consumer-warning-to-never-carry-a-cell-phone-in-your-pocket/).
4. Do NOT use CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs – although good for environment, the erratic currents they produce are linked to health problems http://www.dirtyelectricity.ca/cfl_lights.htm).
5. Do NOT use electric blankets or water beds
6. Keep alarm clock radios at least 2 meters from your bed
7. Measure EMR radio frequency in your home and install radio frequency-reflecting window film or fabric to shield from external sources
8. Measure “dirty” electricity (erratic currents from CFLs) in your home and install filters if values are above 50 GS units.
9. Use “wired” – not wireless – smart meters/
10. Do not live in a home within 100 meters of transmission lines or within 400 meters of cell phone antennas.
Links to other research on EMR health effects from Wi-Fi and cellphone towers:
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship
Predictably, the FDA, acting under pressure from the cellphone and wireless industry, has declared cellphones, Wi-Fi and cellphone towers safe. And as in the case of fluoride, lead, asbestos, genetically engineered crops and other environmental hazards, industry sponsored research of harmful health effects comes up with very different results than independent researchers. What’s more, government and foundation scientists who publish unfavorable research get fired, blacklisted and demonized.
Both light and radio waves are natural forms of EMR (electromagnetic radiation) that surround us in the natural environment. EMR can be divided into high energy, or ionizing radiation, and low-energy non-ionizing radiation. The ionizing radiation, like x-rays and nuclear radiation, actually smashes our fragile biochemistry, like the proverbial bull in a China shop. There’s no controversy about the damage that it causes. The dangers of non-ionizing radiation are more subtle. Microwave ovens, cellphones, Wi-Fi, radar equipment and high voltage lines produce large amounts of EMR of a different frequency than human beings are exposed to naturally. Scientists have been concerned about potential health risks of microwave exposure since the 1930s, when mechanics working on early radar equipment developed a cluster of rashes, headaches and flu-like illnesses.
Study Shows Cell Phones Prevent Brain Tumors
The FDA has pronounced cell phones safe based on the Interphone Study – a series of multinational, case-controlled studies funded by the UN and the cell phone industry – published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in May 2010. You wonder how any reputable scientific journal could publish a study showing that cellphones reduce the risk of brain tumors. But these industry whores have no shame. Dr Magda Havas, Associate Profession of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University in Canada, has done a detailed analysis of the Interphone study was deliberately designed to minimize adverse effects (http://www.magdahavas.com/2010/05/20/lessons-from-the-interphone-study/). When this didn’t work – frequent cellphone users still came out with a high risk of meningioma – they reported this in two appendices in a separate part of the journal that weren’t released to the press.
Examples of bias in the study design:
- A “regular” cellphone user was defined as someone who made one cellphone call a week – Havas compares this to looking for lung cancer in people who smoke one cigarette a week.
- Cordless phone users (who experience the same EMR exposure as cellphone users) were included in the control group (the non-exposed group) instead of the experimental group – whereas in a proper study, a genuine control group would have no EMR exposure at all.
- 90+ percent of the control (the supposedly non-exposed group) had used cellphones for 10 years or more – which is problematic, as most brain tumors take 10+ years to develop.
- The Interphone studied excluded two important age groups – those under 30 (those most vulnerable to carcinogens) and those over 60 (an age group with high numbers of brain tumors, given their slow development).
Deliberate Misrepresentation of Results
Obviously the scientists who performed the study knew they had gone too far, when their numbers revealed that heavy cellphone use prevented brain tumors. So they attempted to correct some of the bias statistically in two separate appendices. However instead of linking them with the report, industry scientists merely had them inserted in the very back of the May 2010 International Journal of Epidemiology.
- Appendix 1 – contradicts findings in the body of the report (which reports reduced or no increase in meningioma risk), revealing a 84% increase in subjects using digital and analogue phones and a 343% increase in subjects using “unknown” category phones.
- Appendix 2 – attempts to statistically correct the downward bias (the four design flaws described above) and comes up with a 68% increase in meningioma risk after 2-4 years cellphone use and a 118% increase in meningioma risk after 10+ years.
What Havas and others, find particularly troubling about the Interphone study is that it relates to cellphone use between 2002-2004, when overall cell phone use (particularly among children) was quite low compared to current use. Moreover, it also excludes any data from US cellphone users.
At November 2010 San Francisco conference “The Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields,” Dr Joel Moskovitz presented a larger meta-analysis of independent cell phone studies that points to an average of 18,000 preventable glioma (a highly malignant tumor) deaths directly related to cellphones.
Here’s a video of Dr Moskovitz’s presentation: http://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/cc-video/
To be continued with the cellphone warning issued by the European Environment Agency, as well as links between electrosmog from cellphone towers and Wi-Fi with other illnesses.
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship
Owing to stranglehold powerful corporate lobbies have on Congress and federal regulatory agencies (such as the EPA and FDA), the US has the worst record in the industrialized world for regulating toxic chemicals. The sad thing is that the majority of Americans are totally clueless about the poisons they expose themselves to (and their children and pets) on a daily basis. The spin the mainstream media puts on it is that it costs too much to worry about the environment during a recession. The problem is that many of the common chemicals in household cleaners are even more dangerous to the people who use them than to the environment. Some examples:
AIR FRESHENERS – usually contain methoxychlor, a pesticide that accumulates in fat cells, as well as formaldehyde, a highly toxic, known carcinogen, and phenol, a common culprit in contact allergies.
CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY SHAMPOO – commonly contain perchlorethylene, a known carcinogen, and ammonium hydroxide, a corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.
DISHWASHER DETERGENTS (number one cause of household poisoning) – commonly contain highly concentrated dry form of chlorine, which leaves a residue on dishes that accumulates with each washing and is absorbed into hot food.
FURNITURE POLISH – contain petroleum distillates, which can cause skin and lung cancer and nitrobenzene, linked with low sperm counts, anemia and liver, kidney, lung and eye damage.
LAUNDRY detergents contain the following chemicals (which remain as residue in clothes, as well as being released into waterways)
- Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates (LAS or anionic surfactants) – release carginogenic and reproductive toxins into environment during production.
- Petroleum distillates (aka napthas) - linked to cancer, lung damage and inflammation (can cause asthma) and damage to mucous membranes.
- Phenols – linked with damage to nervous system, heart, blood vessels, lungs (can cause asthma) and kidneys.
- Nonyl phenol ethoxylate – endocrine disruptor banded in Europe, owing to link to breast cancer, premature puberty and low sperm counts.
- Optical brighteners (convert UV light wavelengths into visible light, making clothes appear whiter without making them cleaner) – toxic to fish and can cause allergic reactions when exposed skin is later exposed to sunlight.
- Phosphates (banned in many states) – contribute to water “dead zones” by stimulating algae growth that depletes oxygen needed for fish and other animal life.
- Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) – highly toxic chemical which reacts with organic materials in the environment to form carcinogenic and toxic compounds that can cause reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders.
- EDTA (ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate) – chelating agent that biodegrades poorly and can re-dissolve toxic heavy metals in the environment, allowing them to enter the food chain.
OVEN CLEANERS – contain highly toxic and corrosive lye and ammonia with fumes that can damage the respiratory system (especially of small children and pets) and which leave residue that is vaporized when the oven is turned on.
TOILET BOWL CLEANERS - contain hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive irritant which can damage skin, eyes, kidneys and liver; and hypochlorite bleach, a corrosive irritant that can damage eyes, skin and respiratory tract.
The best database for finding safe, natural cleaning products is http://www.mamashealth.com/doc/cleanprod.asp
However they do tend to be quite pricey. I’ve posted some excellent recipes (ones our grandmothers used) for homemade alternatives people can make in two minutes with a food processor at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2010/12/08/going-non-corporate/
They will save a family of four about $4,000 a year and surprisingly work far better than the commercial alternatives.
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship
The US has the worst record in the industrialized world for regulating toxic chemicals – thanks to the stranglehold powerful corporate lobbies have on Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a doctor, I am understandably concerned that millions of Americans may be systematically poisoning themselves with common household products, toiletries and cosmetics. In this article, I list some of the more dangerous products, as well as providing links to databases that suggest. I even include some simple recipes at the end for homemade alternatives. It is also essential for all American consumers to support the 2010 Safe Cosmetics Act presently in Congress – which would greatly strengthen FDA oversight for a virtually unregulated industry (see http://www.safecosmetics.org/section.php?id=74).
At present, I believe Americans are at highest risk from endocrine disruptors found in most commercial cleaning and beauty products. These are chemicals that mimic estrogen and other hormones in their effect on the human body. Many epidemiologists believe they are linked to the current epidemic of breast cancer, premature puberty, and both male and female infertility. However I also worry about evidence linking other synthetic chemical to the big increase in cancer prevalence that occurred with the “better living through chemistry” revolution that occurred after World War II. What many people forget is that cancer was an extremely rare condition prior to the industrial revolution. I also find the current epidemic of asthma epidemic in children – and its apparent link to the use of commercial household cleaners during pregnancy – extremely alarming.
Why is There a Frog Disruptor in My Toothpaste?
(from www.tree.hugger.com/files/2009/1/why-is-there-a-frog-disrupter-toothpaste.php). The phthalates and bisphenol-A found in plastic water bottles, pacifiers, and baby toys has been pretty well publicized. Many Americans consumers seem well aware that these compounds function as synthetic estrogens and that they cause feminization of frogs and fish, and possibly breast cancer, premature puberty, and low sperm counts in men.
There is much less public awareness that nearly all commercial shampoos, hand and body lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, and sunscreen contain preservatives that function as estrogen-like endocrine disruptors. The US bans only eight of these compounds. In contrast the EU bans more than 1,000.
The problem with widespread use of these products is that the harm they cause they cause to individuals who use them for years on end (and their children and pets) is compounded when they are flushed down the drain and accumulate in our waterways. Studies of indigenous populations in both the third world and the Arctic reveal they have a hundred or so of these toxic chemicals in their blood stream and breast milk– even though most of them have never even heard of Right Guard or Colgate toothpaste.
One of the worst offenders is the paraben class of compounds (mostly found as methyparaben or PABA), which is used as a preservative in nearly all commercial toiletries. The second most common is triclosan, found in numerous so-called antibacterial products, including the following:
- Neutrogena Deep Clean Body Scrub Bar
- Lever 2000 Special Moisture Response Bar Soap, Antibacterial
- CVS Antibacterial Hand Soap
- Dial Liquid Soap, Antibacterial Bar Soap
- Softsoap Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
- Cetaphil Gentle Antibacterial Cleansing Bar
- Clearasil Daily Face Wash
- Clean & Clear Oil Free Foaming Facial Cleanser
- Dawn Complete Antibacterial Dish Liquid
- Ajax Antibacterial Dish Liquid
- Colgate Total Toothpaste
- Right Guard Sport Deodorant
- Old Spice Red Zone, High Endurance and Classic Deodorants
- Vaseline Intensive Care Antibacterial Hand Lotion
To be continued with a list of dangerous chemicals found in household cleaners.
by stuartbramhall in End of Capitalism, The Global Economic Crisis, Things That Aren't What They Seem
As I blogged previously, I am intrigued by analyst Sam Vaknin’s concept of a “zombie state” – one which has ceased to perform effective domestic governing functions. Vaknin, writing pre-2010, is mainly concerned about the total inability of US regulatory agencies to regulate. Paul Roberts, Reagan’s former Assistant Treasury Secretary, and other analysts allude to other serious crisis points: the loss of America’s manufacturing base, food “deserts” in inner cities, a debt crisis worse than Greece’s, the steep decline in the US dollar, massive youth unemployment, and a local government funding crisis – with dangerous cutbacks in law enforcement, street lighting and schools and potential defaults on municipal bonds.
1. The loss of America’s manufacturing base
US economists increasingly link resistant unemployment figures (in contrast to other countries, where joblessness is improving) to the loss of the US manufacturing base over the past three decades.
o In 1965 manufacturing made up 53% of the US economy; in 2010, it comprises 11% of the economy.
o In 1970 only 6% of US consumer goods were imported; in 2010 37% are imported.
o Between 2000 and 2010, 40,000 plants closed (most moved overseas to reduce labor costs).
In 2011 manufacturing constitutes 80% of world trade. The US simply can’t compete in the export market with other countries where manufacturing is growing. The standard used to contrast “developed” from “developing” countries is the relative strength of their manufacturing sector. In fact the terms “developed” and “industrialized” are used interchangeably. Moreover, so long as American imports vastly exceed exports, we also have no hope of resolving the US debt crisis
2. Food deserts in inner cities and rural areas
The last supermarket chain closed in Detroit in 2007. In all, twenty-one US cities are experiencing an “urban grocery gap,” where residents have no access to fresh food – only high fat/high sugar fast and junk foods. In Climate Wars, Gwynne Dyer defines a failed state as one unable to provide food for its population.
3. The worsening debt crisis
Total US public debt: 13,858,529,371,601.09 as of 12/22/10 ($13.8 trillion)
US annual deficit as a percent of GDP: 10.6% http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_deficit_chart.html#copypaste
This is 1.2% higher than the 2010 deficit/GDP ratio in Greece (9.4%).
Total personal (consumer) debt is even higher, at $16.1 trillion (http://www.usdebtclock.org/)
4. The falling dollar
Largely related to increasing debt, the dollar has lost 20-30% of its value in the last decade, relative to the euro, yen, and even the lowly New Zealand dollar.
5. Massive youth unemployment
The official unemployment rate has remained at 10% over the last 12 months. However even the Department of Labor admits this number doesn’t reflect true employment, as it omits people jobless for longer than two years and “involuntary” part timers unable to get full time jobs.
Official unemployment among youth age 18-24 is 24%. No one tracks “true” unemployment among this age group. The fact that a quarter of young Americans are unemployment – and have no prospect of becoming employed – has very serious implications for the future health of the US economy.
6. Local government funding crisis
Local communities in 49 states have been cutting back street lighting and law enforcement, laying off teachers and cutting back school hours, and closing clinics and libraries owing to extreme budget difficulties (see http://www.thetotalcollapse.com/third-world-america/).
More ominously, financial analysts caution that a number of cities are at risk of defaulting on their municipal bonds (see http://www.elliottwave.com/freeupdates/archives/2010/12/22/The-Municipal-Debt-Bomb-is-Ticking-When-Will-It-Explode.aspx)
To be continued with a discussion of Vaknin’s other criteria (hostile and suspicious citizenry, pariah-state status, empire building and social fragmentation) for a semi-failed state
by stuartbramhall in End of Capitalism, The Global Economic Crisis, Things That Aren't What They Seem
Obviously the 2008 economic collapse – and the virtual paralysis of either the Bush or Obama administration in effectively addressing it – strongly supports the premise (that the US is on the brink of failed statehood) Chomsky lays out in his 2006 Failed States: the Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Both Paul Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and Dr Sam Vaknin, an Israeli-born economic and health policy analyst in Eastern Europe, have laid out similar concerns in some detail.
To make his case that the US is a failed state http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts10222009.html), Roberts cites irresponsible squandering of billions of dollars a year on the defacto US occupation of Iraq and an unwinnable war in Afghanistan; massive foreign borrowing and debt creation; virtual collapse of US industrial production; and total failure of federal regulatory agencies to regulate. He points out the inability of Congress to address any of these issues, owing to the “ultra-constipated” movement of federal legislation through the Senate and House – a process that regularly brings US governance to a standstill when appropriation bills become stalled. During these recurring periods of Congressional stalemate, the federal bureaucracy continues by inertia while waiting for new appropriations to be approved.
A Perspective from Eastern Europe
Vaknin, who describes the US as a Semi-Failed state (see http://samvak.tripod.com/failedstate.html), has a somewhat different perspective. According to Vaknin, a Semi-Failed manifests the following five characteristics:
1. It maintains all the appearances of power, legitimacy and control but is actually a “political and societal zombie state,” both in its domination by corruption and cronyism, and in its failure to perform the domestic governing functions expected of a national government. It only continues in power due to the absence of other alternatives.
2. Its citizenry is characteristically disgruntled, hostile and suspicious
3. It’s generally regarded by other countries with derision, fear and abhorrence.
4. It replaces rational reconstruction and policy making at home with Empire building.
5. Social fragmentation occurs as popular and local leaders, backed by angry and rebellious constituents, take matters into their own hands.
Does the US Meet Vakin’s Five Criteria?
I think it’s helpful to examine each of these criteria individually in assessing whether the US qualifies for failed statehood:
- Is the US a zombie state?
The total corruption, by corporate interests, of the US electoral system, as well as Congress and the Presidency, has been well documented and is of major concern across the political spectrum.
As for the inability of the US government to govern, Vaknin, like Roberts, is very concerned about the failure of federal agencies to perform their statutory regulatory function. He cites the inability of the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) to address the catastrophe in New Orleans following Katrina, as well as the failure of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Deposit Insurance (FDIC), and US Treasury to address the banking crisis that caused the economic collapse. He also points out the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) failure to adequately monitor or manage lethal prescription drugs.
Obviously his article was written pre-2010, but the US government failure to prevent or adequately manage the worst environmental catastrophe in world history (the BP oil spill) is obviously another example. A December 1 status report (see http://phoenixrisingfromthegulf.wordpress.com/) reveals the Earth’s crust under the Gulf has been badly damaged by years of deep-sea drilling. As a result, oil and methane continue to leak through cracks in the sea floor around the blown well.
Example of one of dozens of ongoing seabed leaks
Yet because the federal government is incapable of addressing the ongoing contamination and potential permanent degradation of the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and other oceans it connects to, this information is covered up instead.
To be continued with additional, more recent evidence of the breakdown in US domestic governance – as well as discussion of criteria 2-5.
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship, New Zealand
Toxic Skin Products: Buyer Beware!
I am always on the look-out for good examples of medical censorship. Recently I came across a 2010 Friends of the Earth report on preliminary studies into the health effects of the nanosized particles present in many popular sunscreens and so called “natural” mineral foundations.
A condensed version at http://www.aolnews.com/nanotech/article/more-bad-news-about-sunscreen-safety-nanoparticles/195001 makes for very worrying reading.
Worse still is the group’s recent discovery that the FDA has known for nearly a decade that many common sunscreens contain ingredients that may actually accelerate the growth of skin cancer cells.
Nanoparticle containing skin products are strictly regulated in France, Germany the UK and the European Union as a whole – with laws requiring safety testing and mandatory product labeling as a minimum – with an outright ban in some places.
Preliminary evidence suggests that nanoparticles can penetrate healthy skin to some extent. Since there is no scientific data whatsoever regarding “safe” levels of exposure, any absorption is worrying. Nanoparticles are clearly absorbed (into the blood stream) through skin damaged through eczema or psoriasis, a major health concern as mineral foundations are specifically marketed to women to conceal unsightly dermatitis. And the mineral foundation powders are often accidentally inhaled (into the lungs) during application.
The potentially hazardous nanoparticles in sunscreen are nanosized zinc oxide and nanosized titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide nanoparticles have been shown (in very small concentrations) to kill brain stem cells in mice, to damage colon cells, to play some role in the development of autism, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s and to cross the placenta and potentially harm the developing fetus. Nano-titanium has been show to cause cell and DNA damage (both directly and indirectly by increasing circulating free radicals).
Not only are these substances totally unregulated in the US, but due to lax labelling laws, 80 percent of sunscreens that claim to contain no nanoparticles are found to contain them.
Most “natural” mineral foundation powders aren’t really natural at all – as the minerals they contain undergo an industrial process in which they are “micronized” – a fancy term to describe to describe the crushing process they undergo. The most common minerals in minderal foundations are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, mica and iron oxides. Unfortunately the majority of manufacturers (deliberately it seems) fail to specificy the size of their “micronized” minerals. Anything smaller than 10 microns qualifies as a nanoparticle – and clearly most products contain mineral fragments small than 10 microns.
Thin Lizzy, produced by a New Zealand manufacturer, is the number one make-up product in New Zealand, especially among teenagers (owing to its sexy commercial jingle, low cost and saturation TV advertising). According to their website, they are rapidly expanding into the US market, as well.
Owing to misleading and disceptive advertising, my strong recommendation to all sunscreen users is to consult the following website to make sure any product they put on their skin is safe:
Likewise women seeking truly “natural” mineral foundations should consult one of the following websites for safe brands:
Meanwhile all conscientious consumers need to support the 2010 Safe Cosmetics Act presently in Congress – which would greatly strengthen FDA oversight for a virtually unregulated industry.