Category: Healthcare


About The Video:

Source: LewisforWV

Caught this guy dumping Frac Fluid on Rt 19 approximately 4 miles north of Washington, PA. He was parked and out of the truck with water running when I drove by. I had my video camera because I was on my way to my son’s hockey game at Bethel Park. When he saw me stop and search for my camera, he shut the water off, got in his truck and drove away. This was Sunday morning around 9:39 am on the 5th of December 2010. I called the PA DEP and registered a complaint.

“They wonder why we don’t trust them to do the right thing”

Un-Fracking-believable! Be sure to check out all of my previous stories on Fracking

Source: by Jennifer Mueller | Causes

This weekend 60 Minutes aired an investigative story about the dangers of a largely-unregulated method of extracting natural gas from shale miles below the Earth’s surface – known as “fracking” – and the dangers it poses to drinking water, our health, and the environment.

If the BP spill taught us anything, it’s that exploring for energy has safety risks, but that can get lost in all the excitement,” begins Lesley Stahl of CBS’s “60 minutes” in her segment. Stahl explores the controversies surrounding this new drilling method, from the undisclosed toxic chemicals pumped into the ground to the extract the gas to the safety record of the industry. It’s not pretty.

Take Action: Support a repeal of the natural gas industry exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Secrecy and Toxins in Shale-Gas Extraction
“The industry doesn’t have to disclose what’s in the tens of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals they use when they fracture the shale because of the so-called ‘Halliburton loophole’,” explained Stahl.

“The 2005 energy bill completely exempted the natural gas industry and fracking technology under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It’s an outrage!” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The first thing the industry should do is disclose what chemicals are being used in fracking and then limit the toxic chemicals to the point of zero,” urged Brune.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just begun to study the effect of fracking chemicals on groundwater. They have requested that the major natural gas companies disclose their fracking fluid formulas; all but Halliburton complied. So last week, EPA was forced to subpoena the information.

Related Reading: 9 Out of 10 Natural Gas Wells Use Unregulated, Polluting Drilling Method

Take Action: The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act
Very simply, S.1215 and H.R. 2766, The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, would repeal the industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Use this Sierra Club online action form email your member of Congress in support of the bill.

Source: Washington’s Blog

The FDA is close to approving genetically modified (gm) salmon. See this and this.

We know that at least some genetically modified foods may harm the environment. See this.

And serious questions have been raised about whether some gm foods might increase allergies or cause other health problems in humans and other organisms. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
Indeed, as Mother Jones pointed out last week, gm salmon may itself increase allergies:

Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen called the company’s food safety tests “woefully incomplete,” and the group pointed out that the FDA approval panel is mostly comprised of GE [i.e. genetic engineering] cheerleaders, with no fish ecologists or allergists. Why’s an allergist important? Because the company’s own tests suggest that the new salmon could be much more allergenic than regular salmon.

In order to understand the allergy tests, a bit of backstory on how AquAdvantage salmon are made is necessary. First, genetic engineers create a “diploid” fish, meaning like people, it has two sets of chromosomes. Then, to make the final market product, they add genetic material from other fish and breed a new salmon with three sets of chromosomes—a “triploid” female that can’t reproduce. AquaBounty researchers compared the allergenicity—or potential to cause an allergic reaction—of a control group of salmon to both the genetically engineered diploids and triploids. They found (PDF, see page 102) that the diploid salmon were 40 percent more allergenic than the control, while the triploid group was 19 percent more allergenic.

AquaBounty says that the triploids’ allergenicity level wasn’t statistically significant, and although the diploids’ level is significant, it doesn’t matter because only triploids will be sold. But Hansen of the Consumers Union finds a few problems with this argument. For starters, the test wasn’t double blind, meaning the researchers knew which fish were part of which test group. Second, the sample size of triploid fish was tiny—only six fish in all. Third, although AquaBounty is going to try to turn all its market-bound fish into triploid sterile females, the process isn’t perfect, and some 5 percent could end up as the more allergenic diploid. Especially scary when you consider that unlike the triploids, the diploids aren’t sterile. So if they escaped, they could breed with wild salmon.

The FDA simply doesn’t have enough information to determine whether AquaBounty’s salmon are likely to cause more allergic reactions than their non-GE counterparts. But there is good reason to be concerned about the potential allergenicity of all GE foods, says Margaret Mellon, director of the scientist Union of Concerned Scientsts’ Food and Environment Program. “You have this technology that allows you to essentially move proteins around from food to food,” she says. “You can move a highly allergenic protein into a new food, and no one will know to avoid the new food.”

Indeed, a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who were allergic to Brazil nuts were also allergic to soy beans that had been implanted with a Brazil nut protein. There is also some evidence that even proteins don’t usually cause allergies can become allergenic when they are moved to a new food. A 2005 Australian study found that mice who were fed peas containing a typically non-allergenic protein from kidney beans experienced allergic reactions.

Another worry is that potentially allergenic GE crops might “escape” into foods. In the late ’90s, the pharmaceutical giant Aventis introduced StarLink, a genetically engineered variety of corn. StarLink was approved for sale in the US, but only for non-food uses, since it contained a potentially allergenic protein. But then, traces of it started turning up in food (most famously, Taco Bell taco shells), and 28 people claimed they had suffered allergic reactions to foods containing StarLink. Although the CDC later found no medical evidence that any of those people had an allergy to the corn, an EPA advisory panel acknowledged that the CDC’s tests did “not eliminate StarLink…protein as a potential cause of allergic symptoms.”

The bottom line: It’s not that genetically engineered foods are inherently more allergenic than traditional foods, but transfering genes does make it more likely that allergens might pop up in unexpected places. “There can be a lot of unintended side effects when you do genetic modification, which means you have to test very carefully,” says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the watchdog group Food and Water Watch. “In the case of salmon, one test on six fish just seems very insufficient for something that will open the floodgates to other GE meat and fish.”
Allergic reactions can – in a small percentage of people – be more severe than just a sniffle or stomach ache. Some people die from allergic reactions.

At least genetically modified salmon will be labeled as such, so people can avoid it if they wish. Right?

Wrong.

As the Washington Post notes:

The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not “materially” different from other salmon – something agency scientists have said is true.

Perhaps more surprising, conventional food makers say the FDA has made it difficult for them to boast that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients.

Unfortunately, stifling the ability of producers of traditional foods to tell consumers they are not using an additive is nothing new. For example, Monsanto has sued milk producers who labeled their product as not containing growth hormone.

Similarly, Scientific American notes that gm seed producers control research, so that independent scientists can’t study the effects of gm:

Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops.

Liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians should all be up in arms about this.

We have a right to know what we’re eating.

Postscript: Farmed salmon contains less of the healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and more pollutants than wild salmon. See this and this. GM salmon will be farmed (unless it escapes into the ocean). So eating wild salmon may potentially be one way to avoid gm salmon, reduce exposure to pollutants, and increase healthy Omega 3s.

The reason that wild salmon has more Omega 3s than farmed salmon is that wild salmon eat Omega 3 rich foods. It is the same reason that grass-fed beef contains more Omega 3s than beef from cows fed corn, meat or other “modern” feeds. See this and this.

Eating Omega 3 rich foods can increase gray matter in adults and boost neurological development in children. Conversely, low dietary levels of Omega 3s in mothers can reduce their kids’ IQ.

This is not entirely surprising, given that (1) our brains are about 60% fat, and (2) leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume alot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so

Hydro-Fracking aka Hydraulic fracturing is an industry-wide process in which large volumes of unknown chemicals, water and sand are injected at extremly high pressure to extract natural gas from underground rock formations. Basically, the process creates fractures in bed-rock formations such as shale, allowing the natural gas to escape into a well for recovery. Once, thought of as a method of last resort, hydraulic fracturing is now the primary method used to extract natural gas and its use is literally exploding across the country.

Pa. Environmental Agency Butts Heads With Gas Drilling Company Over Towns Water Woes

by Marian Wang | ProPublica, 44 minutes ago

Residents of Dimock, Pa., whose water woes have been widely chronicled as a prime example of the hidden costs of natural gas drilling,  will get a safe and permanent water supply to replace their methane-contaminated wells, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday.

For about two years, Cabot Oil & Gas, a natural gas drilling company, has supplied drinking water to some Dimock residents after several private drinking wells were found to be contaminated with methane, the main component of natural gas. A few wells have exploded. The Pennsylvania DEP has said that Cabot is responsible for the problems and announced intentions to bill the company for the cost of an $11.8 million plan to construct a new public water line to serve these residents.

“We have had people here in Pennsylvania without safe drinking water for nearly two years,” said John Hanger, head of Pennsylvania’s DEP. “That is totally unacceptable. It is reprehensible. We have given Cabot every opportunity to resolve this matter.”

But Cabot has pushed back against the agency, taking out a full-page ad this week in several local newspapers and calling plans to construct the water system “unreasonable, unprecedented … and unfair.”

The company also issued the following statement:

Despite the fact that the company has presented overwhelming scientific evidence and historical documentation to the Pennsylvania DEP proving it is not responsible for methane gas migration to local water wells, the Pennsylvania DEP has chosen to ignore such evidence, preferring instead to base unprecedented and costly mandates on biased and unscientific opinions and accounts.

Pennsylvania’s DEP chief said earlier this week that the agency and the company would likely end up in court on this issue.

As we’ve reported, the agency fined Cabot $120,000 last fall after determining that water supplies were contaminated by methane gas leaked through Cabot’s faulty well casings. It was fined again in April for failure to address the problem of methane contamination. This time the fine was heftier 2014 a $240,000 penalty, plus $30,000 each month until the department determines that the problem has been properly addressed. It also ordered the company to permanently shut down some of its wells.

As we’ve noted, methane in drinking water itself isn’t necessarily harmful or dangerous, but it can be when it evaporates from the water and into people’s homes. If the gas becomes concentrated enough, it can ignite, even in water.

A private lab that tested water in Dimock found that water supplies in the areas affected by methane contamination were also contaminated by toxic industrial solvents including toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported earlier this month.

A group of Dimock residents 2014 among them, a former Cabot employee and several residents whose wells had caught fire 2014 filed a lawsuit last year against the company for the contamination and the health risks it could pose to them.

Cabot mentioned the lawsuit in its ad this week, adding that it “does not believe it caused these conditions and intends to fight these allegations through its scientific findings.”

Image Credit | AP Photo | Matt Rourke

 

Americans assume the new health care reform act will benefit mostly the poor and uninsured and hurt everyone else, according to polls. As Matt Yglesias wrote, “Basically, people see this as a bill that will take resources from people who have health insurance and give it to people who don’t have health insurance.” Those who still oppose the reform say that people ought to pay for their own health care.

We all believe in the virtues of hard work and self-reliance, but these days it’s a fantasy to think that anyone but the mega-wealthy will not, sooner or later, depend on help from others to pay medical bills. And that’s true no matter how hard you work, how much you love America, or how diligently you take care of yourself. The cost of medical care has so skyrocketed that breaking an arm or leg could cost as much as a new car. And if you get cancer or heart disease — which can happen even to people who live healthy lifestyles — forget about it. The disease will not only clean you out; it will leave a whopping debt for your survivors to pay. 

 And the truth is, we all pay for other peoples’ health care whether we know it or not. When people can’t pay their medical bills, the cost of their health care gets added to everyone else’s bills and insurance premiums. When poor people use emergency rooms as a doctor of last resort, their care is not “free.” You pay for it. 

 Another common fantasy about medical care is that the “free market” provides incentives for medical companies to develop innovative new drugs and treatments for disease without government subsidy. It’s true that private enterprise is very good at developing profitable health care products. But not all medical care can be made profitable. 

 For years, the U.S. government has been funding medical research that the big private companies don’t want to do because there is too much cost for the potential profit. This is especially true for diseases that are rare and expensive to treat. An example of a recent advance made possible by government grants include new guidelines for malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment developed by MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers. Another is a blood screening test developed by mesothelioma doctors like thoracic surgeon Dr. David Sugarbaker. The health reform act provides for more dollars for such research, from which even many of the tea party protesters will benefit. 

The biggest fantasy of all was that people who had insurance didn’t have to worry about health care costs. But the fact is that in recent years millions of Americans have been bankrupted by medical costs, and three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had health insurance. And yes, insurance companies even dumped hard-working, law-abiding patriots. But the health care reform act will put an end to that, and now America’s hard-working, law-abiding patriots are more financially secure, whether they like it or not. 

Source: By Dave Edwards & Sahil Kapur | RawStory

Comedian and political commentator Bill Maher said Wednesday that President Obama’s insistence on courting Republican votes on his legislative priorities has weakened his presidency and the outcome of health care reform.

“I think the biggest mistake that he has made in his first year was to put bipartisanship ahead of fixing the country,” Maher declared Wednesday on MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann.

He said Obama should have “come  in with all the energy from the election and saying, you know what, we’re in a crisis mode, I won this election by a sizable mandate — here’s what we’re going to do; if you don’t like it, Republicans, you can suck on it.”

The host of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher has for months skewered Democrats on his show as too timid and lacking the courage to fight for their beliefs. Last summer he famously said, “We don’t have a left and a right party anymore” because “Democrats have moved the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital.”

“They should have started with single payer,” he told guest host Lawrence O’Donnell. “It’s the one program that makes sense, but okay, we live in a country that doesn’t make sense… If they had started from that, then the fall-back compromise position would have at least been the public option,” Maher said, assailing Democrats for their ostensibly poor negotiation skills.

“I think [Democrats] wussied out on standing up [for] the things that were actually going to be cost-cutting,” said the controversial but popular comedian.

But he added that “a quarter-loaf is better than none” and the current package, while flawed and unlikely to save much money, will save lives and is worth passing.

The comedian said he was baffled that it’s acceptable for up to forty thousand people to die every year due to an inadequate medical system. “Can you imagine if that many people were dying in Iraq or Afghanistan — or a terrorist attack?” he asked.

Arguing that Democrats should have framed the debate to warn people who are satisfied with their health insurance that their premiums would surge, Maher alleged that “Democrats need to use fear the way the Republicans use fear.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday also critiqued the White House for not being forceful enough on health care and wasting months trying fruitlessly to recruit Republican support. Acknowledging Obama’s more aggressive posture in recent weeks, Sanders said the president has “finally got that message.”

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast March 10, 2010.

Aspartame has been renamed and is now being marketed as a natural sweetener

Source: Ethan Huff | Natural News

In response to growing awareness about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, what does the manufacturer of one of the world’s most notable artificial sweeteners do? Why, rename it and begin marketing it as natural, of course. This is precisely the strategy of Ajinomoto, maker of aspartame, which hopes to pull the wool over the eyes of the public with its rebranded version of aspartame, called “AminoSweet”.

Over 25 years ago, aspartame was first introduced into the European food supply. Today, it is an everyday component of most diet beverages, sugar-free desserts, and chewing gums in countries worldwide. But the tides have been turning as the general public is waking up to the truth about artificial sweeteners like aspartame and the harm they cause to health. The latest aspartame marketing scheme is a desperate effort to indoctrinate the public into accepting the chemical sweetener as natural and safe, despite evidence to the contrary.

Aspartame was an accidental discovery by James Schlatter, a chemist who had been trying to produce an anti-ulcer pharmaceutical drug for G.D. Searle & Company back in 1965. Upon mixing aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two naturally-occurring amino acids, he discovered that the new compound had a sweet taste. The company merely changed its FDA approval application from drug to food additive and, voila, aspartame was born.

G.D. Searle & Company first patented aspartame in 1970. An internal memo released in the same year urged company executives to work on getting the FDA into the “habit of saying yes” and of encouraging a “subconscious spirit of participation” in getting the chemical approved.

Continue reading

Check out the guy's sign in the middle

I just ran across some laugh out loud (LOL) facts about the family values, far right-wingnuts who are more interested in Tea Party’s than food banks, healthcare and home foreclosures. So without further delay.

You might be a Right-Wing Republican if: 

  • you’re for tax cuts for the rich because you actually believe that one day you’ll be rich.
  •  You might be a right-wing Repugnant, oops, I mean Republican, if you’re against abortion but don’t give a damn about those babies once they’re born.
  •  you try to make it complicated, but all Jesus was really saying was “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”
  •  you think that (compared to you), a whiskey-guzzling, coke-sniffing, draft-dodging loser is the cream of the American crop and the best this country could offer up for President.
  • Abortion is murder, but killing the children in Iraq is liberating them

SNAP!

Want more words of Repugnant wisdom? There is more to be had at All Hat No Cattle.

Over the weekend the N&O reported that Gov. Perdue wasn’t happy with the state’s probation and parole system, yet her budget cuts continue to target the state’s most basic, necessary services. Doesn’t she realize her actions have a trickle down effect? It’s time we face the facts, Perdue is putting the state in a very vulnerable place, with the burden of a costly future.

Gov. Bev Perdue said Sunday that fixing the state’s probation system remains high on her to-do list.

“I am not happy with where probation and parole, our state’s system, is today,” Perdue said Sunday. “I am happier than I was at this time last year. … It was a wreck.”

Perdue was responding to a report in The News & Observer that one of the probation system’s chief problems has worsened in the past year: 141 street-level positions for probation officers are vacant – up 32 from a year ago.

“It was a wreck”? Sorry but this is a simple case of the pot calling the kettle black. The number of state programs that ARE a wreck, due to ole’ Bev policies and budget cuts has grown exponentially. Moreover, as long as she and the state legislators continue with business as usual things will only get worse, much worse.

One example that comes to mind is Perdue’s narrow-minded, slash and burn approach to the state’s Mental Health system. Studies have shown repeatedly that mental illness and Crime go hand in hand.  A Harvard study in 2009, showed that nearly “Two thirds of prisoners nationwide with a mental illness were off treatment at the time of their arrest”. The study also found that “under-treatment of mental illness contributes to crime and incarceration”.

The study, published today online in the American Journal of Public Health, found that about a quarter of inmates nationwide had a history of chronic mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar illness and depression. Researchers analyzed data collected in 2002 and 2004 from local, state and federal correctional facilities.

Now, consider the recent case where a mother camped out at Wake County’s Crisis and Assessment Unit to make sure her son got the mental health treatment he needed. However, her 13-year-old son didn’t arrive at the unit with his mother, he arrived at the unit in the back of a squad car because he had assaulted his mother and his brother.  But wait, if that isn’t bad enough. 

Continue reading

Mom, What does FDA mean?


FDA says it’s unable to regulate BPA

As ‘indirect food additive,’ substance is exempt from scrutiny

Source: by Meg Kissinger | Jounral Sentinel Online

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials say they are powerless to regulate BPA, although they have declared the chemical to be a safety concern for fetuses, babies and young children.

A quirk in the rules allows BPA makers to skirt federal regulation.

“We may have to go after legislation to change it,” Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA’s principal deputy director, told the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper has been investigating the government’s lack of regulation regarding BPA for three years.

FDA officials announced Friday that they had reversed their position that bisphenol A is safe. The chemical, used to line most food and beverage cans, has been found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested.

The agency now considers BPA to be of some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses and the very young. Scientific studies have raised concerns about the chemical’s link to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, reproductive failures and behavioral problems.

The FDA did not ban the chemical, although top scientists, including Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Toxicology Program, say they consider the safety of BPA to be uncertain. An agency source says some from within the FDA wanted to follow Canada’s lead and ban it from baby bottles – or from the lining of infant formula cans – but administration officials have resisted, concerned that babies who rely on bottled formula would be left without healthy alternatives.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: