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Prescription for Disaster August 24, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Corner.
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What is going on with the Food and Drug Administration, entrusted to protect public health from unsafe food and drugs? FDA seems more concerned with protecting the public from emergency contraception and dietary supplements than dangerous drugs or foods, due to inside influence by industries the agency is supposed to regulate, with disastrous consequences. The award-winning Gary Null documentary Prescription for Disaster exposes the corruption and bias built into the medical system. From the ranks of government, medicine, and the drug industry, some people are concerned enough to shed light on the money machine masquerading as the best health care system in the world. Vioxx whistleblower Dr. David Graham expounds on how dangerous drugs like Vioxx get approved and promoted to lure in the trusting public.

Conflicts of interest are rife at FDA, causing it to look the other way at the incredible corruption, waste, and side effects of Big Pharma. Detail people are trained, not in medicine, but to sell doctors drugs, while slick marketing campaigns manipulate people to pressure their doctors to prescribe drugs, often against their better judgment. Doctors working for a HMO are not allowed to spend much time with patients, not enough to determine the cause of a complaint or whether a drug the patient requests is warranted. Most nations do not have this problem because marketing prescription drugs directly to consumers is not allowed. The pressure to go along with the system takes many forms, bribery, intimidation, firing whistleblowers, smear campaigns, armed raids. Dr. Jonathan Wright describes such a raid on his clinic. FDA claimed it was after pure B vitamins made in Germany. Meanwhile Americans spend half the world total on prescription drugs. Behind the scenes schemes CODEX, part of the free trade agenda to freeze dietary supplements out of competition with drug-based medicine. Only citizen outrage has kept FDA from regulating most supplements into the dumpster as unapproved drugs.

The mind altering component of medicine is another scam of unimaginable proportions. Votes by a psychiatric committee determine which symptoms get an official ID number as a mental disorder, despite the lack of objective criteria for diagnosis. The profit margin on some popular drugs makes oil companies look magnanimous by comparison. Manufacturing cost has little to do with price; some antidepressants are especially cheap, costing pennies a bottle, but the price is what the market will bear. The imperative to maximize profits applied to medicine means profits rise, not from curing or preventing a complaint, but from keeping the patient coming back for more medicine. Medicine driven by the profit motive generally tars alternative approaches as quackery or outright illegal, since these cannot be patented, but might actually help people, unlike the standard approach to chronic conditions, alleviate the symptoms regardless of side effects. One might well ask, who are the real quacks in this system? Where is the scientific integrity? When doctors are getting bad information they are trained to accept as reliable, blindness prevails, people are on their own, far better off to do their homework than to have blind faith in professional competency, and scandals such as Vioxx, hormone replacement therapy, making children docile sheep with psychotropic drugs, as horrendous and unnecessary as this film extensively documents they are, may be just the tip of the iceberg.

The DVD and a trailer are available at garynull.com, as well as the related Drugging of our Children.

Update 9/13/2006: USA Today reports on Dr. Graham blasting the replacement for Vioxx Merck is trying to get approved.

FDA whistle-blower Graham blasts new Merck arthritis drug

Updated 9/12/2006 9:51 PM ET

The arthritis drug that Merck has developed to compete with Celebrex may be as risky for the heart as Vioxx, writes Food and Drug Administration whistle-blower David Graham in an editorial posted online Tuesday by a medical journal.

In considering whether Arcoxia should be approved, “the FDA, academia, and the medical research enterprise are once again faced with the opportunity to forsake common sense by willfully accepting misdirection and disinformation presented in the guise of science,” Graham writes on the Journal of the American Medical Association‘s website.

An editor’s note says the FDA allowed Graham to write the editorial as a private citizen, not as an agency employee. The editorial and the two studies it accompanies will run in the Oct. 4 JAMA, but they were posted online early “because of the public health implications,” a JAMA press release says.

Graham, a physician in the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, made news nearly two years ago when he told a Senate panel that the agency was “virtually defenseless” in preventing a “tragedy and profound regulatory failure” such as Vioxx.

You can see Dr. Graham giving that testimony in this movie. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears, so nothing of any significance has changed.

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Mining Industry Malarkey August 24, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized.
6 comments

Barrick, a gold mining company based in Canada, recently got approval from Chile to go ahead with its controversial Pascua Lama project. Opponents claim Barrick will destroy two glaciers high in the Andes to get at the gold beneath. Originally the plan was to relocate these glaciers. Barrick denies the orebody it wants to mine is under any icefields or glaciers. It says glaciologists classify the icefields involved as glacierets or ice reservoirs rather than traditional glaciers. However, Barrick quotes COREMA, the regional Chilean environmental agency: “the company shall only access the ore in a manner that does not remove, relocate, destroy or physically intervene the Toro 1, Toro 2, and Esperanza glaciers.” So if there was never any plan that would endanger these glaciers, since according to Barrick they are outside the limit of the pit containing the orebody it intends to mine, what is COREMA referring to?

Another mining company just won the 2006 Hardrock Mineral Community Outreach and Economic Security Award from the Bureau of Land Management. The Kensington gold mining project, being developed by Coeur d’Alene Mines, is under fire from environmentalists because of its plan to dump the mining waste in a nearby lake. From Yahoo Finance http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060809/sfw045.html?.v=68

In an award letter, BLM Director Kathleen Clarke noted that the award is presented annually to “those hardrock mining projects that have shown responsible mineral resource development while demonstrating an understanding of sustainable development. We salute the effort of all employees at Coeur Alaska’s Kensington Gold Mine for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the community.”

Coeur’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis E. Wheeler said, “We are honored and humbled to be recognized by the BLM with this award. BLM is uniquely qualified to determine what constitutes responsible development because of its very charter, which is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of some 260 million acres of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Since its inception, the Kensington mine has been guided by principles that are entirely consistent with this charter.”

The Alaska U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging a permit given Coeur by the Army Corps of Engineers to dump its waste in the lake. Coeur is primarily involved in silver mining, and has won several environmental awards over the years. Presumably these awards are as meaningless as this recent BLM award.

Friendly Fire: Exposing Gulf War Syndrome August 4, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Corner.
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One of the worst culprits misusing science is of course the military. It is bad enough what havoc modern weaponry wreaks on the target, but the soldiers hardly escape unscathed. In Vietnam it was just Agent Orange poisoning. Gulf War syndrome makes that look like a picnic. The military has a long history of experimenting on soldiers, and it appears their vain attempts to inoculate against weapons sent to Iraq from USA to fight Iran, such as botulism, anthrax, nerve agents, had nasty side effects on soldiers who never made it to Iraq. Depleted uranium is a euphemism for the stable isotope, since it is no good for fission bombs, but fine for dirty bombs. Nuclear waste is far more potent than DU in that sense. Military experts have the nerve to say DU is not toxic. It does take nearly the age of the earth for half to break down, so the rate of emission is slower than any other radioactive element. This does not make it safe by any means, especially if inhaled. Besides constant X-ray bombardment it releases helium ions, called alpha particles. Helium in its normal state is the most stable, unreactive element there is. Without its electrons, helium will burn as bad than any acid. DU does not hold a candle to plutonium as a cause of cancer, but when these DU weapons hit targets, that dust rides the wind. Childhood cancer and birth defects are increasingly commonplace in Iraq, and soldiers show the effects as well.

That was the state of my knowledge before I saw the LA premiere of the latest Gary Null documentary, titled same as this post. Perhaps you think you know everything about this syndrome. I did, but by the end I was so angry it took me a long time before I could speak. Between that and other issues of mine with speaking in public, I did not persist in raising my hand, so had to ask an associate if Null would mind if I blog about his movie. I did not agree with every statement in the movie, nor all the comments Null made, visiting LA for the premiere and to launch a new health support group. This was of minor import to me, as is usual with Null. I could nitpick over technical minor issues, but the man is an innovative genius, and a straight shooter, as far as I can tell. This is a rare combination, in my estimation, and his documentaries have impact, not just on me.

I cannot give too much away. The movie is not available to the general public yet, and with a news blackout preserving the coverup the movie blows out of the water, it may never make it out. The trailer can be seen at friendlyfirethemovie.com or garynull.com. One star of the movie is a defense dept. whistleblower, disclosing a public relations program waged by his agency to spread disinformation about Gulf War Syndrome, that there was no physical cause tied to the war, only a possible stress disorder. This may be what made me most angry, the coverup angle. They knew what they were doing to the soldiers and the people. They knew all along and did it anyway, just another military experiment. Null sent out at personal expense promotional copies to major media reporters and all members of Congress. Who wants to talk about yet another coverup? Some members of Congress are talking about their knowledge. You can see one in the trailer, and no, it is not some bleeding heart liberal who hates Bush. This coverup has been ongoing since Gulf War I, so it is not a partisan issue. Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger have both sent Null personal notes thanking him for making the film. Also in the trailer, a former CIA analyst states one supplier of biological weapons to Iraq was the Centers for Disease Control. See this movie, if it ever gets out, there is plenty more disclosed to make anyone mad than just the coverup. I knew enough to expect this kind of thing from military research, treating people as human guinea pigs. To see these insane experiments in action was quite a different experience than just knowing a little about the long sordid history.

The soldiers of the first Gulf war had three strikes against them. Exposure to fumes from chemical and biological weapons exploding nearby, experimental vaccines, and uranium dust in the air. One of the villains of the film is Bush himself, in his own voice as captured by the news media. Bush Sr., Rumsfeld, other government officials are also featured. A minor villain was the inventor of an engineered virus found in 40% of sick Gulf War veterans, who declined to be interviewed, as did other officials spearheading the coverup. The movie shows the patent held by the army for this virus. Many soldiers had their say about what happened to them. Soldiers are angry, some sick and contagious, only to be told their problems were typical post traumatic stress syndrome, all in their head. Birth defects, rare cancers and other disorders, all in their heads. The coverup means the vets are on their own with this syndrome, no help from Uncle Sam. Veterans who complain are accused of wanting money. It took how many years for Uncle to settle on Agent Orange vets, who got 2 billion spread over 3.5 million, no admission of responsibility. You do the math. It is beyond insulting. One soldier told about learning Gulf War vets are not allowed to donate blood. See the movie, you will see why that might be. Another told about her doctor telling her she should not even think about having a baby. About fourteen thousand chemical weapon alarms were triggered in the first Gulf War. The army jumped to declare them all equipment malfunctions! Later it had to admit some soldiers were exposed, but downplayed the numbers and health risks, comparing it to occupational levels of exposure considered safe. This despite the Defense Dept. knowing from its own studies the chemical protection suits issued to the soldiers would not protect them. This syndrome is no small problem. There may be twenty thousand soldiers dead from Gulf War Syndrome, hundreds of thousands sick, more every day from Gulf War II.

DU dust is the problem for the people of Iraq. The rate of birth defects and childhood cancers has skyrocketed. The movie has graphic pictures. Some material took months to smuggle out of Iraq. Footage of Fallujah, not just a war zone reduced to rubble, but radioactive to boot. Iraqis talking about our soldiers stealing greenbacks from the dead. Pictures of these so effective weapons taking out targets. Pictures of soldiers watching the old atmospheric bomb tests. DU is illegal under international law, dirty ammunition originally proposed by the Manhattan Project as a terrain contaminant, then becoming a staple of modern warfare because of the extreme density of DU, twice as dense as lead. First tested by Israel in 1973, it worked well, all too well. Hundreds of tons have been exploded in Iraq. Afghanistan and Yugoslavia got their share. DOD says to this day, DU is not a problem, no link to Gulf War Syndrome. Tell that to all the Iraqis watching their children die. Null has thousands of pictures of deformed children he could have put in the movie. It took 17 screenings to satisfy the demand at Cannes, unprecedented. Breaking from the pack is not unusual for Gary Null. He is best known as a cutting edge nutrition expert and researcher, here in his investigative journalist hat.

Update 9/12/2006: This story from CBS News:

Experts convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said that their review of 850 studies shows it (Gulf War Syndrome) doesn’t exist.

While studies show that Gulf War veterans are at higher risk than nondeployed soldiers for a variety of illnesses, “the results of that research indicate that … there is not a unique symptom complex (or syndrome) in deployed Gulf War veterans,” the report stated.

Same old BS. Will these alleged scientists ever come clean?

Also, the movie is now available for sale at garynull.com.

Rape August 2, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in Feminism, Uncategorized.
4 comments

All right guys, what is it with this rape fascination? Is it really that hard to believe you are a man that you would think rape is acceptable under sufficient provocation? You know there are guys who make excuses for rape, she was too provocative, or she really wanted it, but would not say so, and when she realized what had transpired, she turned to crying rape to spite the guy. We all know humans know how to lie, even to oneself, but guys who think rape is warranted under any circumstances, how can you justify treating a woman as a sex slave? Oh I know, the way you justify paying for some time with a sex slave. Soon there will be responsive robots, you will have no excuse, boys! Slavery was abolished during the Civil War. Women are still not recognized as equals legally. The constitutional amendment was effectively vetoed by a few recalcitrant states, so face it, women still have a long way to go before the imbalance of power is erased. If women were to organize, that distance could narrow down in no time. Women have no power to avoid or stop rape, unless the woman has learned how to defend herself. Is that more why a rapist does it, because he can, the feeling of naked power evoking horror? Life is not a porn flick, boys!

I imagine not many guys will defend rapist or batterer attitudes up front, but guys need to think about what goes on over in Iraq in our name. One entire checkpoint gang probably knew about that plan to rape that young woman and murder the witnesses. Did anyone think to protest, this is a WAR CRIME, what the hell were you thinking? Everything is fair in love and war, so rape is fair game, boys will be boys? Whatever chance America had left to win over moderate Muslims is no more. America would rather rape the women, and cow enemies into submission. I hope to hell these boys are brought down hard. I hope they are a fluke, but somehow I doubt it. Maybe not typical, but not a fluke either, somewhere in between. In war, not even a pretense of consent matters? Did our army learn no lessons from Abu Ghraib?

I believe rape is always a vicious violent crime, though how badly the woman is hurt may vary all over the map. What motivates sexual assault? What drives a man to violate a woman? It is not lust. I can tell that much. I have trouble understanding this because I thought most people were raised to believe males should not threaten females, period; that was more cowardly than mere bullying.  I have learned this is naive, that a sizeable proportion of men batter or rape women, considering it asserting manhood. Maybe I am a weird guy, but I am a man, and I know some things are just plain wrong. Women deserve as much respect as men. In my experience, women in general have far deeper understanding and perspective on issues than men. Men learn how not to think, to be good cannon fodder. Women are also taught not to think, but have reasons to rebel against that conditioning that would not occur to men. Men seem to think they deserve some kind of power over women. The whole concept of hierarchy is artificial and of questionable utility. I think only violent criminals make it necessary at all. Practically everything is run by hierarchy in this society, since the reigning philosophy is cutthroat competition, winners dominating losers. Competition does not need to be vicious. Relationships do not need to be hierarchical. Men do not need to rape, no matter how horny. Listen up rapists, you show what kind of man you are,   you are cowardly criminals. You have no more right to take what you want from a woman than a bank robber, but less risk. You are exemplifying the worst of what you have learned to believe appropriate. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Update, 8/16/06: Reuters reports 

A U.S. general will decide next month whether to court-martial four U.S. soldiers for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family in March, a U.S. military spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

A U.S. military court in Baghdad that heard the rape case this month is reviewing the court documents and will submit its recommendations to Major General Thomas Turner, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, the spokeswoman said.

The rape case, the fifth involving serious crimes being investigated by the U.S. military in Iraq, has outraged Iraqis and led Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to call for a review of foreign troops’ immunity from Iraqi prosecution.

If court-martialled and found guilty Private First Class Jesse Spielman, Specialist James Barker, Sergeant Paul Cortez and Private First Class Bryan Howard could face the death penalty.

Former private Steven Green, 21, faces the same charges in a U.S. federal court in Kentucky. Green, who has pleaded not guilty, was discharged from the army for “personality disorder”.

So, our troops are immune from Iraqi prosecution, and also from the International Criminal Court. How convenient. Considering the status of the USA as a rogue nation that commits war crimes regularly with impunity, perhaps removing that immunity might have some effect on the dastardly ways the sole remaining superpower throws its weight around? One could argue these soldiers are merely mirrors of the policy of their superiors. One could hope they will not be sacrificed as bad apples while actions like theirs that have not made the news (yet) go on unabated, but I expect that is exactly what will happen. Then our army will learn nothing from this, just like Abu Ghraib.

An Inconvenient Truth August 2, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized.
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Big Business and politics thrive on ignoring such truths. Global warming is the subject of this sometimes silly, sometimes overtly political, sometimes persuasive movie. Understand I look at any such attempt by a politician with preconceived skepticism. For a politician I would say it was less politically theatrical than I expected, though Gore did leave it vulnerable to attacks for bits of political theater he included. I might have liked it more if I knew less about the subject matter, but this is one area I have investigated in some depth. It does make a graphic argument to show there is a real problem, and touches on options to lower carbon dioxide emissions. For anyone on the fence on this issue, it might scare some sense into you.

My Book on Male Mythology August 2, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Feminism, Uncategorized.
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This is most of an introductory letter I sent around to a few agents before I gave up on that book in 2000, since I could not get an agent interested enough to take it on. It is not an easy read.

I have written a book about myths crucial to male dominance, developing a thoughtful male perspective on feminism. The Crumbling of Male Mythology is my skeptical dissection of the imbalance of male power, still prevalent despite all the work of feminists to challenge it. Despite claims of inevitability, people need not be stuck in traditional male dominant two-sided logic. What would it take to truly level the field, to crumble such destructive fabrications into the scrap heap?

By vocation a software developer, I appreciate the depths of originality and insight I have found in feminist literature. This book disassembles the basic pretenses of sexism, confronting assumptions, motives, and results, to weave my case why its practice cannot be fair, sound, or practical. Interacting without rigid roles, sharing respect, power, and love, I argue is the worthy pursuit for men, as opposed to superiority over women. Another theme is how sexist regimes thrive on dividing and disempowering people, while feminist perspectives emphasize the principle of internal power that can empower everyone to realize their best.

Male control of traditional relationships and most fields of endeavor may presume to be due to superior skills, common sense, and what is best for all, but ultimately derives from violence or its threat. This is not hard to show, yet trite stereotypes still skew the perceptions of many, symbolic of underlying prejudices I call the blind wall, that they dare not look beyond. Other sciences have similar blind spots, such as disregarding the economic value of housewives or ecology. I take apart some of these errors to illustrate that science has its share of bias.

By way of evasion men may support equality in theory, but have trouble living it, think it is already achieved or going overboard, or deeper implications escape them. I examine how such fragmentary consciousness persists in the face of all women’s efforts have brought to light, preserving denial by contorting the meanings of feminism, equality, manhood, power, life itself.

I also wrote articles, dialogue, essays, and one science fiction tale intended for a movie. That story is about a couple of innovators for a small research lab whose breakthrough develops into a battleground between biotechnology and alternative health approaches to life extension.

Are Mad Scientists Wrecking the World? August 2, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized.
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Science has so much potential, it is such a shame what it has come to. Man’s penchant for death machinery may have made much of this mess inevitable, but science is grievously misused both for military and profiteering purposes. Men need to get through their thick skulls that nature is not theirs to conquer, that trying to conquer nature is as impossible, foolhardy, and bound to backfire as trying to conquer a lover, or terrorism.

 Of course when profit or killing efficiencies are the bottom line, who cares about any of that? Men can have very thick skulls when it benefits them. Scientists are by no means immune to this corruption. So arise such phenomenal boondoggles as radioactive materials routinely used for weaponry, energy, and smoke detectors; engineering DNA for profit; residues of hundreds of synthetic toxic or hormone-disrupting chemical compounds in placental blood and breast milk; pathologizing women medically and psychologically; factory farms profiting at the expense of food value and environmental quality; accelerating puberty; giving children stimulants to help them behave like proper robots; corporate power; playing havoc with air, water, and soil quality, the ozone layer, biodiversity, and the climate; I could go on, but that is enough for now. 

The point being, this is bad science, some is mad science, science corrupted in the service of big money, ignoring likely consequences. I think these scientists are bought and paid for, and know somewhere in the back of their thick skulls what hell they are wreaking, but they cannot afford to care if they want to keep their cushy jobs. They may think I cannot know of what I speak, but I think I know enough about these issues to make such statements with confidence I can defend my position. I blow the whistle on all of this bad science, getting away with slow murder to feather their pockets. I have been intimidated into silence too long. I am now angry enough to take the risk of publishing my protests to www.

 To Be Continued