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    This is a  general interest site  with pages on history,  science, government, art, etc.  About us, contact us: click here.
Art to left is  by Twist, street art, 20th and Harrison, San Francisco, circa 1993. See with tagging on art page this site.
 The Bush/Obama education reform programs, which President Trump is also pursuing (No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top) have blamed and punished poor area schools for having low test scores, even though poor schools almost always have lower test scores. Scores track with income.
In poor area schools, test scores are consistently low because of meager funding due to lower property taxes, and because of the effects of poverty on poor families, and because of disrupted families due to America's racist prosecution for non-violent drug crimes. Poor area schools have been under huge pressures from the Bush and Obama administrations over standardized test scores going back to 2002. 2015 federal legislation dealt a setback to the  movement to  judge and punish schools according to test scores, putting limits on the manipulation of state schools by Washington, including using federal funding leverge to get states to comply with Washington's agenda, such as adopting the Common Core standards. Called the "reform" movement, this eneavor has big corporate backers who want to see it move ahead. Under the Obama/Bush programs school takeovers and closings and the firing of teachers and principals had poor schools scrambling to raise test scores. Recess, social studies, science, art etc. were abandoned to focus on government testing. As a teacher at a low-income area school said to me: "If it's not on the test we don't teach it."  The number of tests given each year went from one every two years (the NAEP) to eight or ten a year, or more, delivering billions in profit to testing corporations and honoring the right wing credo that whatever generates profit benefits us all. Poor area schools were shut down with a veangeance, essentially blaming them for poverty. Big corporate money backing school closings and creation of charter schools poured money into districts to pursue this agenda. Local school chiefs Joel Kline in New York and Arne Duncan in Chicago (before he joined the Obama administration) were among the most eager to impose the test-based inquisition on poor schools. As Michelle Rhee, the hatchet woman of Washington D.C.'s schools said, when confronted with issue of poverty being the basis of low test scores --"No excuses."
Neither she nor Duncan nor Klein would be able to turn around test scores in these beleaguered schools. She, like other "education experts" such as Phd's in education, can't teach. She got the job because Joel Klein recommended her. But she, like the whole "reform" movement, is great at punishing schools for low scores.
   These are, frankly, deranged people. Focusing teachers' energy on test preparation is a corruption of the principle of school testing. It is putting the cart before the horse. These tests are supposed to be an impartial, and obviously imperfect assessment of a student or school whose scores have meaning only by comparison with all other students or schools taking that test. "Teaching to the test" distorts the objectivity of the tests -- it is akin to cheating -- although a little time devoted to looking at sample questions is appropriate so kids will not be nervous about the basic format when they take the test. If there were national standards, however, teaching to the test would make sense because curriculum would be based on those standards. This has been tried before without succes and is what the Common Core proposed to do. The term "standardized test" is a misnomer in most cases because the test is not based on any specific standards. The two tests in use based on the Common Core, Smarter Balanced and PARCC, are, therefore, are properly called standardized tests.
   Local families and teachers have not been invited to help shape an agenda for better schools. When Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) donated $100 million to Newark, New Jersey's schools to pursue "reform" goals, locals first found out about it on the Oprah show. To be on the board to administer the funds a contribution of $5 million dollars was required. Not within the budget of too many Newark public school families. Shutting down schools has been terrible for the affected communities nationwide.
   The Journey for Justice, headed by Jitu Brown of Chicago, is one group standing up to the corporate takeover of our public schools. Search the Web for those names or click here for an open letter by Journey for Justice. One of Brown's essential beliefs is that we need to keep schools based in the community. The "reformers" want schools to derive from corporations. The corporate testing issue is not just a matter of the "standardized" tests, but the SAT/ACT tests the Advanced Placement tests as well. Not to mention the ludicrous IQ tests. There is no test that can measure a child's inherent intelligence as if it were the horsepower of a car motor.
   We have to face thefact that public schools need reform, but of a different kind. We need to make school less boring so kids will want to come to school. We need to put the ball back in the kids' court instead of bulldozing them into submission. We need to get rid of the teaching credentialing programs, created by PhD's in education who aren't really educated in anything but the mind-numbing theories of education they come up with. They make it up as they go along, and, ironically, they can't teach. Teaching is an art and a passion. It is entertainment. And teachers should be life long learners, who bring their own new ideas to class. Teaching credential programs are not about that. These programs keep a lot of good people out of teaching because they refuse to spend a year of their lives studying bureaucratic balony cooked up by uninspired people who can't teach. Alternative programs are out there. We should expand them. The current trend in education, standardization under corporate control, is reflected well in the comment of an advocate of "scripted learning," which simply has teachers read from written materials, to the New York Times some years ago: "The beauty of it is the teacher doesn't have to think." Teachers should be someone that students will often remember for the rest of their lives. There are lots of groups and people working to keep this spirit alive. We must remember that all children have talent, and help them tap into their own gifts. And we should fight the corruption that poisons school bureacracy and all branches of municiple governments. Corrupt bureaucrats are easy prey for corporate financial persuasion. Why don't we have a high school class on government corruption? See what the school board has to say about that.
The Common Core began with $200 million from Bill Gates  Bill Gates has spent over $3 billion trying to shape education as he sees fit, calling it philanthropy with no strings attached. Obama and Gates worked as a team pushing the Common Core. Obama had been pushing for test company takeover of education, like Pres. Bush, until Congress voted against this agenda in Dec. 2015.
   The Common Core effort to transform U.S. public school curriculum (standards, actually, the basis of currculum) was started in 2008 with Bill Gates money, $200 million to develop the standards and coax private and public institutions, left and right leaning, to endorse them and persuade the states to adopt them. The standards claim a sort of no-nonsense ethic, college-ready and career-oriented, that already enjoyed a lot of support with the "reform movement," whose intent has been to catch the U.S. up to other industrialized countries in international test scores, improve graduation rates, stop teachers from passing students who were not grade-competent, while expanding standardized testing to get a clear picture of how students across America are performing, including race-based assessment. But the process of adopting the new standards, that would usually take a single state about three years to do on its own, was, was completed in a few months in some states, and in less than two years forty-five states were onboard. At the height of the depression cash-strapped state agencies went down like bowling pins under the influence of Bill Gates money, and then Obama made allocation of federal money favorable to states adopting Common Core testing programs -- which meant they would adopt the Common Core standards. Advocates of Common Core happily told us that "teaching to the test" -- referring to teachers spending a great portion of class time preparing students for standardized tests under federal pressure to raise test scores --would no longer be an issue because, "If you're teaching the right way" (using Common Core standards) "then your students will score well on the tests" (Common Core-aligned tests). Testing company personel, along with several academics, wrote the standards behind closed doors in Washington D.C. The claim that teachers and state education leaders were involved in "creating" the standards is a  straight up lie, a headline claim on the Common Core website, that seduced the nation. Teachers and state agencies implemented the standards once they had been adopted by their state, but had nothing to do with writing them. A June 7, 2014 article in the Washington Post by Lindsey Layton (Click here) was the first major media piece that revealed the truth about the Common Core.
   The language these self-appointed education experts use is choice, as if they are coming down off the mountain like Moses with the tablets, telling us that instead of math "mile wide and an inch deep" we should focus more deeply on the essentials. And student essays in English should be "evidence-based" text analysis, not the musings of students on their personal reaction to the text. More disturbing than these cheeky corporate clones delivering these revelations to us, was the huge number of people seeming to say "amen." I mean how do you argue with "common" and "core"? The bizarre math, "counting up subtraction, partial products multiplication" and so on (look them up), are interesting in their way -- it is analysis really -- but they take too long and are not practical as replacements for the standard methods. They are neither common nor core. If it hadn't been for this kookie math, which had parents asking -- why am I unable to help my childeren with their homework? -- the Common Core might have taken ove U.S. education. (I think an undersused method to bring analysis into school math is to explore ways of doing math in your head.) The red states began to rebel against this weirdness before blue states. When Massachusetts, the state with the leading reputation in public school education, dropped the Common Core, many breathed a sigh of relief. Yet the C.C. is clinging, as bureaucratic disorders tend to do, but at least it will not take over education. It is still standard in California.
   The "education experts" were driving the makover of public education, including high-stakes testing, towards completion when, in July 2015, Republicans in Congress called for a pause, against a background of many states having second thoughts about their shotgun mariages with C.C. Invoking a longstanding rule that federal agencies do not have authority to dictate what and how schools teach, Republicans sent lawmakers back into negotiations on how to proceed. Democrats, black leadership, the New York Times etc. had lined up behind the mantra that these new standards and proliferation of tests would enable us to better gauge the situation of underachieving minorities, and prompt us to do something about it, whereas the current state-by-state patchwork of different tests was giving us a confusing picture. Their argument, "We cannot fix what we cannot see," is pure nonsense. There is a long-standing national test, the NAEP (math and English), which is given every year (every other year before Bush)  The only change needed was to index scores by race, which was done under Bush. This is all we need to see the "achievement gaps" between races. The Common Core and the raft of new testing that arrived with the Bush and Obama "reform" movement are only telling us what the NAEP alone tells us quite adequately. If whites are 20 points ahead of blacks in a given area on the one test (NAEP=National Assessment of Educational Progress) it will be close to that on the the battery of unnecesary tests including the Common Core. A few percentage points is not going to blur the basic picture. And the testing barrage has been a huge, destructive burden on schools.
    For this site's page on education click here  Note: although I am not a fan of the Common Core standards and aligned tests, other people like them and I am not arguing with their preference. But there is no justification for making all public schools march to the Common Core, no justification for President Obama forcing states to adopt Common Core-aligned testing or lose out on federal money, as was his policy.  The fact that Democrats were united in trying to press these standards on all public schools shows once again that the progressive movement needs new blood. It is crazy and scary that the New York Times, the NAACP and other supposedly liberal institutions were arrayed against those who opposed the wild increase in testing which was redefining public education. The opposition to over-testing includes the "opt-out" movement -- students skipping the tests with their parents' approval because of testing excesses. This was a powerful wave forming after its origins in upstate New York, and it is a great example of how the voice of the people can change miguided govenment policy. We need to keep up the pressure to regain community control of our schools and stop the corporate takeover of public schools. Obama signed the 2015 bill saying, "Everyone agrees there has been too much testing," but those words would never have made it to his teleprompter if the people hadn't forced the issue.
Prison Labor  This three page article on prison labor provides good quick study on the topic. Prisoners are essentiallly forced to work. About half of them are in jail for low level drug charges -- victimless crime for which the prison building industry has lobbied successfully for long sentences, ensuring prison revenue. ...When the current presidential candidates lament fatherless black homes because of men in prison, they have not, H. Clinton included, had the courage to address the major cause of this tragedy: the war on drugs. For article click here.          
Olfactory receptors promote healing of wounds Olfactory (smell) receptors are found in many human tissues for reasons that have been a mystery to scientists. German researchers have recently discovered that in tissues containing olfactory receptors, such as skin, wounds heal faster when exposed to odors such as rose and lily. (So it would seem there is something to aromatherapy after all.) For article click here.          
Farm animal horrors  A U.S. government center in Nebraska experiments on farm animals -- which are exempted from the protections of the Animal Welfare Act -- for the benefit of agribusiness. Pigs are bred to have 14 piglets instead of the usual eight, with the result that many newborns, too frail or crowded to move, get crushed when the mother rolls over. Cows cows engineered to produce extra calves, which are often deformed or weak and die at a high rate. In order to develop "easy care sheep," intended to avoid the expense of shelters and attendants for birthing, ewes are left out to give birth in open fields where weather, predators and starvation kill the lambs in large numbers.
For NYT article click here    For a book on the pork industry try Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat by Barry Estabrook. For an interview with the author on NPR's Fresh Air click here. Pigs are highly sensitive and intelligent, not that this kind of torture would be acceptable for a less evolved creature. It would be nice to hear the presidential candidates weigh in on farm animal issues: see if they are willing to stand up to the appalling cruelty to animals of ag-business. And what about us, Americans? We know what's going on.
Medical overcharging  This is a quote from the Elisabeth Rosenthal article nyt: "Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented. 'The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray,' said Robin Levi...referring to the $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter." For article click here. The "Affordable Care Act" (Obamacare) neglected to do something about the rackets that make health care unaffordable in the U.S. A prominent reason is the government does what Big Pharma says. If you want to visit a rogue's gallery of U.S. health care racketeering search Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times. She has been doing the kind of reporting in medical graft and fraud this nation needs in all sectors of the economy if we are ever going to stop criminals from eating our lunch with scant interference from captive government agencies like the FDA. The revolving door (people going back and forth between jobs in industry and jobs in the agency which is supposed to police those industries) has to be stopped. Obama has done nothing about any of it, nor will Hillary if elected.          
Medical overcharging  The markup on saline solution used in IV bags in hospitals is a fine example of medical racketeering, the real reason for high medical costs. This is the kind of thing the Affordable Health Care somehow overlooked. For New York Times article click here.          
Simple changes get great results in farming experiment. Science journals reject article.  A farming experiment at University of Iowa tried reduced use of chemicals with a longer crop rotation cycle including livestock grazing to get manure into the soil. Says Mark Bittman, New York Times writer, "The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent." This is not organic farming, because chemicals are used. But it could be a game changer in agriculture. What is disturbing is that, as Bittman points out, both Science and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned down this study for publication. The journal Science, the top general science journal in the U.S., is partial to genetically modified crops and a friend of Monsanto, ConAgra etc. So they probably looked at this study and said, this could change agriculture, we better back off for now and think about it. It got published in PLoS (Public Library of Science), a free web journal that has about as much clout in science as the Salvation Army does in fashion. Actually that' no true, I just said it because it sounded cool. It is highly respected. But it is viewed warily by the establishment and is for sure an outlier. Click here for nyt article.          
Islam and democracy For an article on the history of this theme from a Tunesian perspective by Anthony Shadid, a New York Times reporter who died while reporting from Syria Click here.          
Afghan hospital horrors At Dawood Hospital, the top Afghan military hospital where salaries are paid by U.S. taxpayers, for years wounded Afghan soldiers went to surgery without anaesthetic because the staff was selling off the morphine, patients had to bribe staff for treatment and services, and many died from starvation and untreated infections because their families could not pay. U.S. army personel in 2010 first reported "...horrific conditions. Maggots fed off patients' open wounds. Nurses and doctors refused to help amputees to the bathroom, and they soiled their beds for days." The Afghan ex-surgeon general, Ahmen Yaftali, is under investigation for pilfering about $175 million, mainly in medical supplies including drugs, but he is so well connected  politically that he may remain untouchable.  When coalition agents (U.S. and NATO) posted notices regarding abuse of patients they were torn down by staff. For September 3, 2011 Wall Street Journal article click here. For a WSJ update on the situation click here  The presence of U.S. monitors has allegedly made a difference, but that is not a lasting solution. This article is one illustration of an underlying problem with U.S. claiming it is promoting a noble cause in Vietnam, decades ago, and Iraq and Afghanistan now, it that these governments are not worth fighting for -- there is only corruption, no democracy. Their soldiers only join the army because they can make a little money. All the foreign aid is stolen, when possible: medical, military and humanitarian. If you don't believe this talk to someone who has been in the U.S. armed services fighting in these wars. Officers will tell you a different story. And yet political solutions, such as taking out Sadam Hussein after the first Gulf War and working with groups wanting to develop democracy and a viable government, are always rejected by the U.S.            
Doctor $  Doctors prescribe certain heart tests more often when they make money out of it, according to data study.  Click here. Note: I realize this is not hot copy. It is routine in U.S. medical practice.    Contents:  articles of note from recent years... humor ... Verbatim: original sources from recent decades and past centuries ... Photo Gallery...Art Gallery:1, 2 ..Music ...Education .....Law....History...   Emerging democracies, emerging economies, Third World...Cold War ..   U.S. Policy in the Muslim World...Science and Math ...Medicine & Public Health.......Environment and public health.... Corruption in  U.S. Government and business   ............Contact Us, click here.  scroll down for more articles
Parkinson's disease Chemical found in solvents has been linked through studies of twins to Parkinson's disease. Job history of exposure to trichloroethelyne revealed a six to one disparity. Click here.            
Republican mission "Redmap" aims to take over state legislatures. Art Pope is a wealthy North Carolinan providing funds for attack ads as part of project called Redmap,  whose mission is to take over state legislatures for the Republican party. The 2010 Supreme Court decision "Citizens United" has removed spending limits on attack ads, and this article, by Jane Mayer, Oct. 10, New Yorker Magazine, gives an unnerving picture of a growing frontier of political slander. Pope and his allies the Koch brothers also are backing voter ID standards that will stop poor voters from voting, hurting Democratic candidates' prospects. And, through legislators he has backed, Pope got $400 million cut from the state university system's budget, at the same time as he gives money to the universities to arrange classes with a right wing agenda on government and economic issues. For article click here.

County's schools get great results, but it is denied federal money because it won't evaluate teachers by student test scores. In  Montgomery County, Maryland public schools, teacher performance is evaluated by teachers and principals under the "Peer Assisted Review"  program, which helps teachers having problems improve, and can result in firing teachers who do not improve. With one third of the county's students from poor families, 84% go on to college, where 63% graduate. 2.5% of all black children in America who pass Advanced Placement tests live in the county, more than five times its share of the nation's black population. But the school superintendant, Jerry Weast, will not agree to evaluate teachers with tests as prescribed by President Obama's "Race to the Top" program, and so the county has been denied $12 million dollars in federal money. Shouldn't an exception be made given the county's fine performance? No, say the feds, nor are districts allowed to appeal to the Department of Education. For June 6, 2011 NYT's article click here. For this site's page on education  click here.

U.S. government covered for Pakistan's nuclear bomb program in 1980's, so as not to jeapardize Pakistan's cooperation in opposing the Soviets in Afghanistan. CIA whistle blower squelched. Pakistan's nuclear bomb program was kept secret by the U.S. government as it evolved in the 1980's because exposing it would have mandated a cutoff of funds to Pakistan, funds that bought Pakistan's cooperation in helping Afghanistan's mujahedin fight the Soviet occupiers. Richard Barlow, a whistle blower in the CIA who wanted to stop the nuclear traffic and its cover up, which included letting private U.S. companies ship prohibited technology to Pakistan, was ousted from the CIA and later ousted from the Department of Defense for his efforts. Compensation for his unjust treatment and reinstatement of his pension and have been scuttled by various ruses (National Security) and he now lives poor in Montana. The basic facts of this case are not in dispute, but Barlow's story remains little known, even though the lunacy of our relationships with the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan is being widely debated in the press. The New York Times and Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have have been keeping their mouths zipped on this one in recent years. For articles click the following: The Guardian 2007 article, click here, for an article with lots of links by -- the Project on Government Oversight -- click here, for a review of Barlow's case by the Congressional Research Service, click here. For and article from The Economist, January 3, 2008 click here. This article discusses the book "The Nuclear Jihadist," which addresses various related issues. (Amazon has it.)            
Homeland security, CIA, AirForce et. al. get conned out of millions by fake anti-terror software peddler. In 2003 Dennis Montgomery convinced the CIA that he had developed software that could, among other feats, decode details of terror plots hidden in Al Jazerra broadcasts that were supposed to be read by Al Qaeda. The Bush administration forced the cancellation of French, British, and Mexican flights based on Montgomery's warnings, and even after the CIA finally figured out that the software was not for real the Air Force picked up with Montgomery, who raked in millions from different agencies until his scam ran out of takers. Now the U.S. won't prosecute. The real reason is embarrassment. But of course the government is saying, once again, that there would be a risk to national security in such a court proceeding. For recent NYT's article click here. For article from January, 2010 Playboy Magazine, click here.            
Gangs  A gang member's tatoo depicting a murder scene leads to his conviction for the crime. L.A. Times. Click here.            
Biology Naked role rats have few predators and a restricted diet, both factors in their long life span compared with other rodents. (A restricted diet has been shown to confer longer life in many animal studies. Fewer predators lets the species have offspring later in life so that they live ten times longer than mice, which have many predators.) And there is another factor in their longevity, involving cancer resistance and DNA sequences called telomeres. Mice usually die of cancer, whereas naked mole rats don't get cancer, partly due to a highly sensitive system for "contact inhibition" which stops cells from dividing (multiplying) when they make contact with another cell, and thus impedes cancer's runaway growth of cells. Endowed with a low cancer risk cancer risk, naked mole rats can afford to keep an enzyme called telomerase turned on, a state which keeps cells from aging, but which would lead to cancer in humans, and most animals. Telomeres are repeat  DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes, which keep the chromosome intact, but which drop off one by one whith each cell division. When there are no more telomeres the cell dies. The enzyme telomerase replenishes telomeres, but it is switched off in humans and most species as a defense against cancer: cancer cells multiply at a high rate, use up their telomeres at a high rate, and die (although this is, obviously, an imperfect defense mechanism or we would not have cancer).  So humans and other animals, by letting their telomeres deplete with each cell division, gain a defense against cancer but the tradeoff is aging of tissue.
  Naked mole rats, with their special defense against cancer -- enhanced contact inhibition -- against cancer, can run the risk of keeping their telomeres (keep their telomerase switched on) and thus have a  defense against aging that other animals lack. Life for naked mole rats, however, is no Shangri-La, as the article details.  For article click here...For Wikipedia page on these creatures, who have a social structure based on a queen akin to ants and bees, click here.
 Contents:  articles of note from recent years... humor ... Verbatim: original sources from recent decades and past centuries ... Photo Gallery...Art Gallery:1, 2 ..Music ...Education .....Law....History...   Emerging democracies, emerging economies, Third World...Cold War ..   U.S. Policy in the Muslim World...Science and Math ...Medicine & Public Health.......Environment and public health.... Corruption in  U.S. Government and business   ............Contact Us, click here.  scroll down for more articles
Pepsi Corporation is helping a about three hundred farmers in San Gabriel, Jalisco, Mexico by buying corn directly from them rather than go through unscrupulous middlemen, and by guaranteeing a price for their crop, which makes it easier for the farmers to get credit for purchase of seeds, fertilizer, crop insurance, and equipment. Click here.... I saw a report some years ago about a wealthy individual who was assisting a group of Mexican farmers by helping to remove the same impediments. A farmer who before had to constantly work just to survive with his family, due to difficulty in obtaining credit and finding access to affordable fertilizer etc., said to the reporter, "Now, on Saturday afternoon my family and I can go into town and have a good time." It doesn't seem too much to ask. As with non-profit microcredit (making business  loans to the poor) it is amazing what a little bit of caring can accomplish. For a few comments from this site on "the free market" (which is largely racketeering with government compliance) click here.          
Microcredit institutions make loans as low as $50 to the poor. Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh made his first microloan in 1976, founded the non-profit Grameen Bank in 1983, and was awarded, along with the bank, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.  He is facing charges brought by Bangladeshi politicians who feel threatened by his popularity and efforts he has made to confront the government's culture of corruption. They are wielding phony charges made in a discredited documentary that accused him of fraud, and they are trying to identify him with the wave of greedy bad operators that have marred the woldwide reputation of microfinance. Now 70 years old, Yunus would like to find a successor who shares his values. He wants to retire from running the bank and instead be chairman of the board, but his enemies in the government, who have partial control of the bank, are trying to force him out altogether. He has faced much adversity along the way, as in resistance upon founding Grameen in 1983. Wikipedia: "Yunus and his colleagues encountered everything from violent radical leftists to the conservative clergy who told women that they would be denied a Muslim burial if they borrowed money from the Grameen Bank." Now all his work will go down the drain if the sleazy politicians get their way, and the 8.3 million borrowers will be squeezed without mercy by people motivated only by greed. For NYT's article by Lydia Polgreen, click here. LA Times, click here. For article by the Guardian, click here. For Wikipedia on Muhammad Yunus, click here. Fortunately the U.S. is backing Yunus in strong terms: click here. Update: Yusuf lost his job and there is no indication the U.S. will do more than pretend to care.
More spent on drug ads than drug development. Drug companies spend twice as much on marketing as they do on research and drug development, whereas before 1997 a requirement that they list all of a drug's side effects in TV ads made the ads impractical. Since that restraint was lifted billions flow into television ads that are of little benefit to anyone, including big pharma. For an article recommending an end to this waste of money, not by government mandate but by enacting laws that would grant a waiver of antitrust laws so drug companies can cooperate in limiting ads, click here. For a Science Daily report on pharma ad spending, click here. For a page by ACT UP on drug company profits, executive salaries, and spending on ads, click here. For a page by ProQuest on pharma ad spending click here. The proquest article states (last paragraph) that in 2005 drug companies spent more on marketing to doctors, such as ads in medical journals, than on marketing to consumers ($7.2 billion vs. $4.2 billion), and that ads aimed at doctors generated more sales per dollar spent.          
Tsunami/reactor warning ignored in Japan by authorities. A member of Japanese Parliament, Hidekatsu Yoshii, warned of a tsunami threat to take out backup generators at nuclear reactors, and raised general issues of vulnerability of reactor backup systems. Warnings dismissed by industry and regulators.  Click here for Wall Street Journal article  March 28. For article on cozy relationship between Japanese regulators and nuclear industry from Shenzhen Daily (China) click here. For article on prescient lawmaker by Shenzhen Daily click here. For comments from blog "future pundit" click here. Note: The Wall Street Journal's article was the first on Yoshii's warnings, and in the U.S. major presses nothing else is coming up so far on Google.          
Birds use tools, smart birds.  For an article and link to videos of some very smart birds,  click here. Click the first link that is offered, or click here: one famous example from Oxford University, for a video of a New Caledonia crow bending a wire to make a hook to retrieve food. The New Caledonia Crows spend a comparatively long time raising their young, have especially developed brains, and are exceptional among birds in their ability to use tools. Crows and ravens in general are very smart. In a video from Japan, crows drop nuts on roads so they can retrieve the opened nut after cars have cracked the shell: click here. To avoid traffic they drop the nuts in a crosswalk and retrieve them after traffic has passed and the light is green for pedestrians! The lyre bird, whose males attract females by delivering the mostcomplex song they can, copying other bird calls and ambient sounds perfectly. At the end of this segment he makes a sound like a chain saw he has heard cutting down the forest. It is incredible.For lyrebird click here.  For another lyrebird video, click here. For a video of a bird using bait to catch fish, click here. For a video of a crow retrieving a series of tools to get the one that will access the offered food, click here. For a parrot dancing to music, click here. This is all youtube links. There are more of these bird videos worth looking at.          
Endocrine disruptors. Article from "Living On Earth", click here. Endocrine disruptors (click here for wikipedia page on) are chemicals found in pesticides and household products that are similar to hormones and therefore interfere with hormonal processes, such as sexual development. In the "Living On Earth" article the effect of atrazine, a weed killer that has provoked wide controversy, on frogs' sexual development is discussed, along with the possibility of  similar outcomes in people. (Click here re: atrazine by NRDC) For an article describing similar changes in fish click here.  One of the scariest aspects of these chemicals is that there are a lot of them in us, exerting combined effects because they are similar chemicals in their structure, and human fetuses are exposed at a high rate.  For a clear and informative page on this issue from a women's health site (women to, click here. For the NIH (U.S. gov.) page on endocrine disruptors click here. For an article with many links on E.D.'s and brain development click here. There are many who think autism is the result of fetuses being exposed to endocrine receptors.          
Murder conviction overturned. Prosecutors induced witnesses to lie and never told the defendant's lawyer that leverage had been applied, resulting in a murder sentence for Jabber Collins. Collins worked for fifteen years to bring out the truth and obtain his release.  For Wall Street Journal article click here. Bribing witnesses is standard U.S. practice, a police state practice that does not belong in a democracy.          
Poor farmers around the world: new frontiers in corporate abuse. African governments are selling out their small farmers in the name of progress, but the ag-business product will be for export and corporate profit. Click here for NYT's article.  In the wake of massive floods in Pakistan, corporations (Monsanto, Cargill and Chinese interests etc.) are trying to replace local seed providers by offering free seed handouts, U.N. logo on the bags, with no information about genetic content. The Pakistani government has made a deal with Monsanto to import Bt-cotton (genetically modified), despite protests from Pakistani seed companies. For an article from click here.
For more of the same see articles on Haiti, below.
Haiti election, Haitian farming: rich nations have no principles.   A Dec. 13, 2010 Wall Street Journal piece speaks plainly about fraud in election in Haiti, while noting that the U.S. government has no complaint. Click here for article. For an article that looks at the U.S. recent history with respect to Haiti, including destroying their rice farming to suit U.S. agribusiness, click here. For a scathing look at abuse of Haiti over the years by the U.S., the I.M.F. and others pretending to help, click here -- article from          
E-waste dumped on third world  On the NPR program "Fresh Air" Terry Gross interviewed Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, a group dedicated to exposing and  changing the way electronic waste is disposed of. He describes horrendous conditions in the reclamation of a little value from our computers by the world's poor, such as thousands of women in China boiling circuits and such in acid baths in wok-like containers on the side of the road. To hear these interviews search "Fresh Air" and select programs Dec. 21 and Dec. 22. Click here for the site of the Basel Action Network. According to Puckett, the U.S. licenses "recyclers" who are actually dumping toxic waste on the third world. The situations he describes, including children being exposed to fumes rich in cadmium, lead and smoke from burning plastic, surely are causing cancer, respiratory disease and other disease.           
Medicare A Wall Street Journal article describes a government database on Medicare payouts that cannot be viewed free by the public, lest doctor privacy be compromised, although for fees of thousands of dollars limited viewings can be had. The public, if allowed to look at this data, would be able spot fraud, the same as government investigators are able to do. For article click here.
This is one of many areas of medicine needing reform, like fraud on hospital bills, like the racketeers called "pharmacy benefits managers" -- extortionists positioned between pharma and the pharmacies and hospitals. Shutting down the big hospitals that serve the poor -- e.g. M.L.King in L.A. is another issue you won't hear politicians talk about. Obama should have adressed such issues in his health care reform effort, that would have been "change."
U.S. in Bolivia, 1953  In Bolivia, in 1953, the U.S. worked an agreement with President Estenssoro's leftist government, which was threatening to nationalize mining interests of U.S. business. Rather than engineer a coup as it did at the time in Guatemala and Iran, the U.S. figured that in Bolivia, a small nation, which was weak economically and dependent on the U.S. for aid and exports, the leftist government could be controlled and so the U.S. would tolerate it. Following Eisenhower's election in 1952, this is the only example I know of in which a U.S. administration decided to support rather than cut down a leftist government with policies like land reform (forcing rich land holders to cede land to poor farmers), curbing the predations of Western businesses operating in post-colonial mode, or putting environmental concerns ahead of Western business operations.  For an article on the 1953 Bolivia - Eisenhower maneuvers, click here. For an article comparing the U.S. treatment of Bolivia with the U.S. treatment of Guatemala in 1953-54, click here.          

Supplements  Exercise generates "free-radicals," molecules with free bonding electrons that can cause trouble, including cancer, according to accepted dogma. In rat experiments, using anti-oxidants before exercise lowers the rats' free-radical count, but also stifles the body's own biochemical responses that counter free radicals. Insulin sensitivity, which increases with exercise, is also adversely affected by use of anti-oxidants. Click here for article

Maureen Dowd gives a sickening glimpse of a get rich with God's help seminar that included Colin Powell, Rudolph Guiliani and Dan Rather as speakers. Click here. Contents:  articles of note from recent years... humor ... Verbatim: original sources from recent decades and past centuries ... Photo Gallery...Art Gallery:1, 2 ..Music ...Education .....Law....History...   Emerging democracies, emerging economies, Third World...Cold War ..   U.S. Policy in the Muslim World...Science and Math ...Medicine & Public Health.......Environment and public health.... Corruption in  U.S. Government and business   ............Contact Us, click here.  scroll down for more articles

below: the screwhead illustration by Sidney H. Sime, born 1867  


Sexual abuse of minors by powerful people covered up, investigator killed. D.C. townhouse used.   Check out the Franklin Scandal on Google or You Tube or click url's below. Boys and girls were plied with drugs and sent around the U.S., sometimes to a Washington D.C. townhouse, by a pedophile ring that operated out of Omaha, Nebraska headed by Larry King, a prominent Republican who was charged and convicted of defrauding the Franklin Credit Union, but not charged in relation to the sex ring. The media have let the issue, first exposed in 1988, fade as the FBI took the investigation out of the hands of the local police and then killed it; the state investigator died when his plane broke up in mid-air;  a grand jury managed to deem the allegations "a hoax," without explaining who organized the hoax. For a little more detail from this site. click here  Or click on the url's below to see videos.
 Or just google: Franklin scandal, or Conspiracy of Silence. Amazon has two books on the topic for sale.
Monsanto sues GM contamination victims. Monsanto has sued farmers whose crops have been contaminated by windblown pollen from nearby farms growing Monsanto's genetically engineered crops. The farmers have claimed they did not want or profit from the contamination, that they are the damaged party and Monsanto the perpetrator who should be liable for damages. Monsanto says the farmers are lying and have been using the seed for financial gain. For Wikipedia's page on the best known court battle (Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser) click here.  For a 2008 article in Native Nutrition by Percy Schmeiser click here.  For and interview with Percy Schmeiser by Global Vision, click here. For Monsanto's argument that the farmers they are suing have been using their seed unfairly and for financial gain, click here. For a page in this site with variety of links related to this issue, click here....... I have two new articles on the issue of Monsanto suing farmers for being in adverse possession of Monsanto's patented genes after windblown GM pollen has contaminated the farmers crops . For a 2008 article in Native Nutrition by Percy Schmeiser click here.  For and interview with Percy Schmeiser by Global Vision, click here. For Monsanto's argument that the farmers they are suing have been using their seed unfairly and for financial gain, click here. There are a number of articles in the bar on the left. Monsanto says Percy Schmeiser is just a liar, and the Canadian courts upheld Monsanto's position that he used their seed in adverse possession and deliberately. Monsanto has worked up a lie from the fact that Schmeiser and others cultivated crops from their contaminated seed, as if they planned it that way. Farmers have cultivated crops after the fact of contamination, when they  had no  choice. They had to move ahead despite the contamination and sell their crop, but they had no desire to wind up in this situation. But the courts have said it doesn't matter haw the seeds got that way the farmers are still in adverse possession of Monsanto's altered genes. It is crazy.

In Iraq, civilians were arrested just to make a database.   A Science Magazine article reported  last year that in Iraq the U.S. has deliberately arrested thousands of civilians with no suspicion of terrorist affiliation because these people, when interrogated, will create an information network that can be parsed with computer programs to reveal information about terrorists. All during the Cold War and now in the Middle East the U.S. has supported and carried out brutal, murderous treatment of civilians. In the Cold War this drove people into the communist militias, and in the Iraq and Afghanistan maltreatment has been driving young people to join the militants. Many U.S. soldiers have  spoken of how our military abuses people we are supposedly trying to help, treating everyone they encounter as an enemy, trashing homes and terrorizing the people in them, killing for no reason. Throwing people in jail just to create a database shows how disconnected from the concept of winning over hearts and minds U.S. policy makers have been. For Science Magazine article click here. For this site's page on U.S. policy in the Middle East click here.

A low calorie diet confers longer, healthier life on mice. A low calorie diet causes cells to recycle tissue and protein in order to generate more essential protein at the expense of less essential protein. The structures inside cells that do the recycling, proteosomes and lysosomes, also function to digest defective protein and defective mitochondria, both of which cause disease and aging. Thus, enhanced recycling in response to fewer nutrients (low calorie diet) seems to enhance recycling of disease-causing molecules. Click here for article
Besides inflating the price of his body-armor company's stock by false performance and inventory reports, and thus making $190 million from stock sales for himself and co-defendant Sandra Hatfield, David H. Brooks is accused of trying to obtain "memory erasing medicine" to disrupt the testimony of a witness. The witness exposed how company revenues from contracts with the U.S. military were used to pay for "university textbooks for his daughter, pornographic videos for his son, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees, and, for him, a $100,000 American-flag belt buckle encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds." for NYT's article click here          
 Batteries that can store and release energy from wind farms (wind-driven turbines that generate elecricity) are becoming more cost effective and are expected to increase the competitiveness of wind energy. Coal plants can increase power production to meet high demand times of day, then decrease it, but wind doesn't have that option. A common power storage technology, a "pumped hydro plant," involves pumping water uphill, from a lower reservoir to to a higher one, using excess power when demand is low. "At hours of peak demand the water flows back down through a turbine, creating electricity."  The new generation of batteries may achieve the same goal at less cost: click here for article.          
For three part Washingtom Post series about huge numbers of private contractors functioning as part of a national security workforce, click part 1, part 2, part 3. (To go to the Washington Post web page with these three articles, slide shows,  videos, and related articles click here or if that comes up small print go to : or Google: washpost, top secret America.)          
Equador police discover a submarine for moving drugs which is more sophisticated than what drug agents are used to finding. click here          
Solar Fuels: using concentrated sunlight to deliver energy rich molecules that can be used as fuel. Focusing sunlight with mirrors is a simple way to intensify solar energy, and one might think this approach could be used to boil water to make steam to drive a turbine. Apparently this is not efficient or cost effective or it would be happening. For a Science Magazine article about using focused sunlight to drive (cook, heat) chemical reactions which will yield fuels that will burn cleaner than coal and gasoline, click here. For example, hydrogen and oxygen could be produced from water by splitting water. Then the hydrogen and oxygen could be recombined, an explosive reaction which provides heat as with burning any fuels,  but in this case water is the non polluting exhaust. More complex molecular products are among the various fuels being researched. Using sunlight to drive "uphill" (that is fuel-producing) reactions may be the wave of the future. Lots of scientists are working on these ideas, but the money is not there to carry the ideas forward to commercial energy production. Photosynthesis, whereby plants use sunlight to generate fuels including sugar, does what solar fuel scientists are trying to do with solar-driven chemical reactors.          
For a July, 2010 NYT's article about the improvement in some Latin American economies click here          
editorial note: An argument no one ever seems to raise with regard to illegal (undocumented) immigrants is that U.S. citizens and government have not enforced hiring standards all these years, and we as a nation are complicit in the lawbreaking. The 1986 Simpson Mazzoli immigration bill was just window dressing:  it only required that employers check ID, not run a deeper check to make sure the I.D. is valid (Wikipedia: a "clause in the law which explicitly releases employers from any obligation to check the authenticity of documents presented to them.") We have all known that undocumented workers are here in large numbers and U.S. citizens have been a party to maintaining this class of workers whose rights are in legal limbo. I wish more commentators and public call-ins to programs on immigration would point out that the U.S. business community, public, and politicians are just as guilty as the unauthorized workers for what has been  going on here. That is why amnesty for the workers is fair and sensible It would seem right to start requiring employers to do a government-confirmed I.D. check, but we should first establish residence claims for workers who have been living here and apply to be processed. It is pure hypocrisy to focus blame and vindictive measures on people who work without papers as if the rest of us are innocent. (If you see a media editorial or statement from immigration advocacy groups expressing the view that Americans share the blame for the illegal work force, would you please send a citiation? Go to contact us or email People tell me they have seen such editorials, but I know of no such example.          

Crops like soy and cotton are engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to the weed killer Roundup, made by Monsanto. "Roundup-Ready" crops enable farmers to hit the weeds with a heavy dose of Roundup without killing the crops that get sprayed at the same time. The weeds are now becoming resistant to Roundup, so new crops are being engineered (DNA changed), which will be resistant to older weed killers, like Paraquat, which had largely been replaced by Roundup. For Wall Street Journal article click here.  (Among many issues at play here is the expanding control of the seed market that goes with the Roundup-ready crops. Around the world small farmers are having to go to Monsanto for seeds that they used get from plants whose lineage goes back centuries. Now because the old strains are not competitive with the Roundup Ready process, farmers are under the thumb of Monsanto, Do, Dupont, Bayer et al

An article in the June 1 NY Times science/health section describes the danger of toddlers swallowing lithium cell batteries, the small, round, flat metallic discs found in cameras, watches, toys, bathroom scales and other devices. Newer batteries are stronger and more dangerous. 20 millimeter batteries numbered 2032, 2025 and 2016 cause 90% of severe cases. In recent years cases with serious complications have risen from about 12 per year to about 100 per year, out of the approximately 3,500 cases of cell battery ingestion reported annually to poison control centers. The battery's current can trigger a chemical reaction that lesions tissues including the esophagus, trachea, vocal chords and aorta.  Early misdiagnosis is frequent and long-term injury and death can occur. Click here for article.  Contents:  articles of note from recent years..  humor .Verbatim: original sources from recent decades and past centuries ... Photo Gallery...Art Gallery:1, 2 ..Music ...Education .....Law....History...   Emerging democracies, emerging economies, Third World...Cold War ..   U.S. Policy in the Muslim World...Science and Math ...Medicine & Public Health.......Environment and public health.... Corruption in  U.S. Government and business ............Contact Us, click here.          

 Below is a Feb., 2010 picture of a crowd gathered to hear the Afghan forces declare that they have liberated Marja from the Taliban. Don't they look thrilled to know that the corrupt, cowardly, incompetent, abusive Kabul military, supported by the despised, abusive (household raids), civilian-slaughtering (airstrikes) U.S. military, has displaced the ruthless, merciless, despised Taliban?  For a page with links to numerous articles on Karzai, Maliki and other follies, click here.

A study from Rutgers and Columbia says children on Medicaid are four times as likely to receive antipsychotic drugs as children on private insurance. The article notes that much of this prescribing is done "off label," meaning for disorders like ADHD, or just for problems like aggressive or erratic behavior. These drugs are distinct from Ritalin, a methamphetamine variant being prescribed very prevalently for ADHD without any clear understanding of the long term effects. Given the known effects of methamphetamines on long-term recreational users, this is dubious practice. Another aspect of this can of worms is university doctors, who use their position to extol the use of psychoactive drugs for children, being paid a lot of money from drug companies -- supposedly for "consulting" and the like. In some cases, including a big name in the field at Harvard, these professors have lied to their university about the amount of money they have been receiving. For article click here          
 There was an article by Jane Brody in the New York times on Nov. 2, 2009 about a breathing method that has helped people with asthma. Konstantin Buteyko invented the method in the 1950's.  Inhalers use steroids and this has some downsides, including, possibly, interfering with the body's natural ways of correcting the asthma. Click here for Wikipedia article.          

The health care reform bill has passed the House, but the important aspects of saving money, improving health care and serving the poor are being overlooked by the politicians and the press, as occurred under Bill and Hillary Clinton's effort. These aspects include the necessity of going to the costly emergency room for non emergencies, the fact that hospitals that serve the poor are being shut down, the insane amount of paperwork insurers foist on doctors offices, insane malpractice judgments and more. For this site's discussion and a NYT's editorial about a type of government health center that is working, click here.

Brooksley Born called it right as the economy headed for the cliff.  Brooksley Born, head of the commodities board, is a person, like Sheila Bair of FDIC, whom Obama should have picked for the positions held by Summers, Geitner and Rubin. These guys are no better than Bush's Paulson. In non-government and government roles they pushed to deregulate derivatives, increase leverage (the debt to equity ratio) and in general based their strategy on an ever-rising market. Bair and Born were sensible, thoughtful, but when they argued common sense they were rebuffed or ignored by their colleagues. It is crazy to put the same people who caused this world-wide disaster in charge of remediation, passing over the ones -- Born and Bair --  who wanted to stop and look at the recklessness of it all. Obama's "greed is our salvation" guys are just stuffing taxpayer money into the pockets of their low-life Wall Street cronies. Credit has not emerged because the bankers are using their taxpayer billions to protect themselves rather than try to help the economy. Loan modifications are being denied and a provision to let judges require banks to remake loans on better terms was taken out of legislation, with, of course, no complaint from Obama inc.  For Stanford Magazine article on Brooksley Born click here.          
 World Bank not addressing graft where loans are sent, report says.  The Wall Street Journal cites a World Bank-commissioned report that says interest-free loans to poor countries are getting eaten up by corruption on the part of government officials in those countries. The report tucks the cruel truth away in inconspicuous paragraphs, apparently not wanting to rile its sponsors, but it says the corruption is rampant, the World Bank hasn't done anything concrete to stop it, and staff who want to report on corruption are afraid of retribution from managers. Click here for  April 24 WSJ article.          
Science ..... Scientists are reporting that sea sponges contain a chemical, algeferin, that thwarts bacterial resistance to antibiotics, as demonstrated in the lab. When antibiotic resistant bacteria are treated with algeferin they become vulnerable again and antibiotics kill them.  The bacteria so far tested include those that cause ear infections, whooping cough, septicemia, food poisoning, MRSA (resistant staph), and pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes devastating infections in wounded soldiers. So far it has worked on every type of resistant bacteria tried. Biofilms, which figure in infections contracted in hospitals and are usually very resistant to treatment, dissolve when treated with algeferin, the report says. Reseachers had found sponges living where other life had been wiped out by bacteria, and began to investigate. (Report from the Hollings Marine Lab in Charleston, presented at the AAAS meeting Feb. 14, review by Science News) Click here for article.          
A glimpse of history: immigration and race in 1936: A 1936 Time Magazine article about a U.S. government offer to pay the travel cost for Filipino men to return to the Philippines -- a program intended to free up scarce jobs for citizens  -- cites the opinion of a judge that the Filipino men should go home because their skills in the arts of love enable them to take white girls away from their white boyfriends. click here          
Humor: two New Yorker cartoons  click here          
The Sahara was green not that long ago. From about 10,000 years ago until about 5000 years ago the Sahara desert area of Africa was green, as a recent excavation of human remains illustrates. Click here  (Although this site supports controls on greenhouse gases (like auto emissions) because it appears they are changing the climate, it remains a fact that natural climate is not a stable affair, viewed over thousands of years.          
Article: Terrorists have nuclear bomb plans thanks to officials in Pakistan. Uranium enrichment technology and nuclear bomb blueprints were sent to Lybia, Iran, and North Korea, apparently by Abdul Khan, father of Pakistan's nuclear weapon program. In 2004 U.S. intelligence figured this out but got no help from the Pakistan government in investigating Khan, a national hero, or agents of Khan's network within the Pakistani government -- even though this government, under the now sidelined Musharaf -- has been deemed a U.S. ally in the war on terror. Now it has become clear, through CIA investigations of Khan network computers in Switzerland, Dubai, Malaysia and Thailand, that a bomb design for a much smaller bomb than what was revealed in 2005 has been disbursed to recipients. The smaller bomb -- four feet wide -- can fit in a missile cone and can be more easily hidden for transport. For NYT's article June 15 click here, article June 16 click here Now (update) Khan (July 4) has claimed Musharraf army personnel supervised a shipment of centrifuges to North Korea in 2000. The Pakistan government denies it.          
Albinos in Tanzania are being killed for their body parts, a  horror driven by the emerging belief that their skin, bone and hair, when added to potions made by witch doctors, can make someone rich. Objects of discrimination throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Albinos are believed to have magical powers. But trying to benefit from those powers by consuming albino remains is a horrific new twist........ Click here for article  
 Article: Cuttlefish are masters of disguise even though they are color blind. click here for article and pictures          
 Article:In Malawi the government  has defied the U.S. and Europe by subsidizing fertilizer for its small farmers.  The result has been an end to famine and surplus crops for export. (The U.S. -- via the World Bank -- dumps subsidized corporate crops on poor countries while threatening poor countries' credit if they subsidize their own farmers.) click here for article          
Article: Some governments in poor countries are taking health care money and management away from corrupt government officials, and putting them in the hands of international non-profit contractors. This has transformed the targeted medical care into something that works for people. Corrupt practices include making people pay bribes to get care, and the staff may run off with supplies to use at their own private dispensaries and clinics. This article focuses on efforts in Cambodia. For article click here.                
  In science we are posting articles about new scientific developments, and we are developing sections on the basics. We wish to discuss issues like the unexplained intelligence of ants, which manage tasks with no managers, and the seeming intelligence of molecules, which behave with ant-like cooperation as they go about their business in the chemistry of life. It seems that as scientists learn more, the questions grow deeper and stranger.... Physics is full of ideas we would like to discuss, some of them ideas that seem quite crazy, like the "wave-particle duality". Even Einstein, the godfather of crazy physics, had a hard time accepting some of the theories that emerged and took hold in his lifetime, and doubted his own theoretical prediction that what we call black holes should exist. (The larva to the left, of a swallowtail butterfly, has false eyes.)
 Environment, Technology, Public Health  Lead was added to gasoline as a combustion  enhancer in the 1920's and then taken out in the 1960's, giving us "unleaded gasoline." Most people have the the false impression that petroleum contains lead in it in its natural form, and the oil companies have done us a favor by taking it out. You won't hear the auto/oil companies trying to set the record straight, and they lied about what they knew in the 1920's. To go to a website detailing the history of lead in gasoline click here. In past decades scientists failed to protest the claim, discredited in the 1990's, that margarine was safe for the heart.  The fact that margarine, made from vegetable oils, is solid at room temperature like butter should have prompted scientific skepticism and review. It is probably safe to say that millions died from heart disease due to the belief that trans-fats were OK, based on industry claims, while the nations chemists either kept silent or were ignored by the media if they spoke out... Lead in house paint was recognized as a health hazard and discontinued by many European countries in the early 1900's, but the U.S. paint industry convinced the U.S. government to leave lead paint alone until the 1950's..... If you don't think biotechnology is dangerous, consider the "terminator" gene, a gene Monsanto wanted to put in its bioengineered crops so they would not produce seeds, ensuring that farmers would have to buy more seeds, rather than reseed from an earlier crop as they usually do. The possibility of disaster from the gene spreading exists because of inter-species pollination, like the well-studied spread of  genes from crops engineered to stand a lot of weed killer to the surrounding weed populations. (This is much like bacteria trading genes that confer resistance to antibiotics, and, as in plants, the genes move between different species.) Citizen groups stopped Monsanto from deploying the terminator gene. The government, as with lead paint, turned a blind eye, and in fact was a partner with a smaller company in its initial development... In the 1950's the U.S. performed above ground nuclear tests in Utah which sent clouds of radioactive particles across the nation, impairing film production at Kodak's upstate New York factory. So the U.S. government warned Kodak before a bomb was set off, but did not say anything about the testing to Utah residents. Cancers were caused by the testing according to scientists reading of cancer rates near the testing area.
Below: more articles          
article: Irwandi Yusuf was a separatist rebel until the Tsunami hit in December 2004, taking 170,000 lives in Indonesia's Aceh ("Achay") province, and shocking the two sides into negotiations. Mr. Irwandi, now the elected governor of Aceh, is still a rebel in that he is fighting corruption, something not many politicians in Indonesia (or anywhere else) bother to do. He is unpretentious, drives his own car, and gets along well with regular folks. Click here for article.          
  Ben Underwood, a 14 year old Sacramento, California boy who lost his sight to cancer at three years old, is a rare case among the few blind people who see by sound. He can see moving objects to the extent of playing sports well, and he can see stationary objects....Quote from People Magazine article: "There was the time a fifth grader thought it would be funny to punch the blind kid and run. So he snuck up on Ben Underwood and hit him in the face. That's when Ben started his clicking thing. 'I chased him, clicking until I got to him, then I socked him a good one,' says Ben, a skinny 14-year-old. 'He didn't reckon on me going after him. But I can hear walls, parked cars, you name it. I'm a master at this game.' " In the article Ben beats the interviewer at table hockey. Google his name for many links.
Ben Underwood died on January 19, 2009. For article from his local newspaper click here.
Recent Article:  The Legion of Christ is a Catholic Order whose mission seems to be to provide a social nexus for rich Catholics and, of course, acquire some of their riches. The Legion's founder, a Mexican priest named Marcial Maciel, was accused of child molestation spanning decades but, except for a Catholic Church reprimand issued in May, has escaped prosecution by the law. The Vatican reprimand instructed him to live a penitent life of prayer and introspection, but there was no formal verdict on his actions.  For article click here  (In this context, we would like to note that the U.S. legal system has chosen not to prosecute bishops and other high ranking church officials for covering up molestations, and for moving accused priests quietly to new parishes to molest again. The Vatican has also said and done nothing about these coverups by church leaders.)          
  Like the duck billed platypus, the long-beaked echidna is an egg-laying mammal, with variable body temperature like a reptile and other aspects that are bird-like. They forage at night, using their long snout to find bugs and worms not unlike an anteater.  They have no predators nor do they bother anyone but the bugs and worms they eat. The first field study of these very shy animals, found only in a remote part of the New Guinea rain forest, has been completed and reported by biologist Muse Opiang. He learned he could pick them up by grabbing them under the belly and they don't resist. "If you hold them against yourself they're friendly and they won't struggle," he said. Click here for article


Issues of the sort we wish to discuss at this site.... The AIDS virus (HIV) in the U.S. and Europe is, according to many health professionals, very rarely transmitted from a woman to a man, outside of heavy drug using circles. In the "third world" this is not true (although women are more susceptible than men), and it has become clear over recent years that circumcision is a factor. We would like to discuss the reasons for the media and public health agencies saying "any one can get AIDS" without citing the above disparities, and the reasons that testing to establish the facts of AIDS transmission has not been deployed in the U.S. For this site's article on these issues click here..........The U.S. and Europe fought fire with fire in the Cold War, establishing reliably anti-communist dictatorships to stop the spread of communism. In every case there was a discarded option to fight fire with water: to support rather than destroy leftist democracies and thus try to keep them on our side. Both approaches can be supported with reasonable arguments. Did the U.S. and Europe choose the most effective way to fight communism? Could the U.S. and Europe have won the Cold War much sooner by supporting democracies, despite the risk of not having control of these governments? Or would this approach have led to many Soviet takeovers?  The third world still lives in the political wreckage of the Cold War, so we should debate and study it as part of the effort to help poor nations find a democratic, prosperous future. Furthermore, the "War on Terror" is in many ways a mirror of the Cold War. Until U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has only supported dictatorships in the Muslim Middle East (including Egypt and Turkey, which, like Mexico and many other U.S. allies, have elections, but the corruption and suppression of political and individual rights is so pervasive that there is no real democracy).  for this site's page on Islam and the West click here.........Education: School is boring because we use drills to teach science, we offer memorization of whitewashed accounts for history, we distort the teaching process to get higher scores on government tests, among other factors. The SAT's are sort of like a military drill in math, and in English, they took out the only part that was any good, the word analogies. Teacher training screens out inspired people who refuse to spend a year of their life studying pure baloney. (Professors of education are not good teachers in a regular classroom, or in the teacher training courses. They they are bureaucrats masquerading as academics.) A favorite of  PhD's in education is the "I.Q." test, which shows us how stupid we are, to believe some one test can peg your intelligence for life. A young person's aptitudes change and evolve and can improve in any given area, if they are not held down by drills, memorization, and anti-intellectual peer pressure. We think young people have an argument in rejecting the system, but we want to be part of making a new system.  A lot of  African American  and Latino and other students are just walking away from the idea of learning. That makes us, the people, weak, when we need to be strong and fight for justice and an economy where there is opportunity outside of getting a degree in business and joining a corporation. For this site's page on education click here.          
   Article: In 2007 The Southern Poverty Law Center won $9 million dollars for Billy Ray Johnson a mentally disabled black man from Linden, Texas, who was used by a group of whites for entertainment on a night in September, 2003. Forced to dance around a bonfire at a "pasture party", ridiculed, struck blows to his head, and left on a remote road, he suffered brain damage such that he must remain in a nursing home. The hospital that received him did nothing for him, and Cass County juries have handed down minimal or suspended sentences to the four whites charged.  Now a Cass County Jury has shown a different version of Southern justice. Click here for article. For an earlier article by the Southern Poverty Law Center,  click here.  For an article posted by Black Press USA click here. (The Bush Justice Department showed no interest in the case.) Google Johnson's name for pages of links.
Article: Proposals and rules of recent years intended to protect consumers of beef from mad cow disease have not been put in place, with the result that calves are still being fed cows' blood as a "milk substitute" and cows are still being fed the litter from chicken farms: feces, feathers, parasites and so on.  Cows and sheep are now (since mad cow disease appeared) officially not supposed to consume remains of cows and sheep, but chickens, pigs and other livestock are still being fed brains, spinal cords, nerves, eyes, tonsils and intestines from cows. Thus cows do consume the content of these tissues because they eat chicken litter, and also cows are fed plate scrapings from restaurants. (Not to suggest that cows eating chicken litter is O.K. by itself.) The FDA is now making another proposal, that brains and spinal cords from older cows be kept out of animal feed, while still allowing all the above from younger cows. The newly proposed rules are weaker than earlier proposed rules (which weren't adopted), and there is little effort anyway to enforce rules. For article click here.  The surfacing of a video showing a "downer" cow, a cow unable to walk, being lifted by a forklift so it could be brought to slaughter has enhanced public awareness the the beef industry's lack of ethics.          
Article: An Army captain, Ian Fishback,  whose allegations about ongoing prisoner abuse in Iraq were published in a report by a human rights group, was grilled by investigators and pressured to reveal sources, but the investigators did not pursue questions about the abuse itself, such as how much officers may have known. Captain Fishback, a 26 year old West Point graduate whose father fought in Viet Nam, has been lodging complaints with the Army since this spring to no avail, so he took his concerns to the Senate Armed Services Committee and Human Rights Watch. He says the abuse of prisoners is a "systemic" and a "leadership problem"  For article click here. FBI reports from 2002 about torture at the Guantanamo prison have now surfaced showing many of the same methods used in Iraq. The administration, including Justice and CIA stifled these reports, and it is becoming clear that prosecuting enlisted soldiers while attaching no blame to officers is an ongoing miscarriage of military justice. (It is much akin to the refusal of the Catholic Church or U.S. prosecutors to punish the bishops and priests who covered up for the molesting priests, sending them off to new parishes to molest again, and hiding their past crimes.)          
9-11 related News: (It is amazing that Americans have not raised some noise about this. It appears to be a sure thing that the FAA and Airforce colluded to keep the jets on the ground on 9/11. It is obvious they lied to the 9/11 Commissions for two years, and then lied about lying. The Times and Post have acted as if this is no big deal. This a horrendous situation that something so serious has been passed over by the mainstream press and the public. )  ..... The Air Force had no communication with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) until 51 minutes after the first plane struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, '01, but the FAA originally told the 9-11 Commission that it had contacted the Air Force right after the first plane hit. And the Air Force originally claimed it had planes airborne quickly on 9-11 and had a chance to shoot down flight 93 over Pennsylvania. According to the now accepted timeline, the Air Force was very slow to respond on 9-11. .....The FAA and Air Force stuck to their version of the events for two years while some members of the 9-11 commission persisted in saying that that facts did not support those claims. After two years the FAA and Air Force finally admitted they were wrong. They finally admitted that they did not communicate and respond as they had claimed they did. This led to the question, how did the FAA and Air Force get their facts so wrong on something so important, and why did it take them two years to figure out or admit they were wrong? The answer to that question was then put forth by FAA and Air Force investigators. Both agencies claimed innocent errors were to blame, poor record keeping and the like..... For years, in incidents prior to 9-11, when air traffic controllers lost communication with a flight or the aircraft deviated from its planned flight path, there was consistently quick communication by the FAA with the Air Force, whose jets were promptly in the air.  It is hard to imagine that the Air Force and FAA did not deliberately impede the normal response on 9-11, and it is almost impossible to believe that their initial false claims about that response were not conscious lies. Likewise there can be no doubt they lied, for two years, in standing by their original claims about when the interceptor jets went airborne. And with these new reports, blaming accounting errors, they are lying again. For articles and links click here.          
 Medical ......In the news: 25% of U.S. pregnant women have genital herpes, according to a New York Times article on an appeal by a group of experts for better reporting on herpes transmission from mother to newborn infants. Estimates of such transmission range from 460 to 2,800 per year, in the U.S.   Untreated neonatal (infant) herpes is usually fatal, and most survivors have permanent disabilities. Even with treatment death and disability are common, and treatment must be prompt to be successful. (New York Times, 8/24/05)  Note: for years the standard doctors' advice on genital herpes was that transmission did not occur without visible lesions (open sores). But a New England Journal of Medicine article, from about two years ago, cited evidence that transmission can occur without lesions. It has become clear that the longstanding public health dogma on this question has been wrong, and that asymptomatic transmission is widespread, not rare. We are seeking citations for editorials in the journals noting that doctors have been feeding the the public false information for decades.          
 Medical .....Think twice: The five-year survival rate of lung cancer patients whose tumors were detected early by a CT scan is 80%, compared with 15% for patients who did not receive the CT scan. One problem with this statistic is that a CT group patient's 5 year clock starts earlier because his or her tumor is diagnosed earlier with the with the scan. So that while the tumors of a CT-scan patient and a non-CT-scan patient may start at the same time, and while the patients may lapse into cancer and die at the same time, the CT-scan patient will be said to survive more years from diagnosis. The other "numbers lie" problem is that about 4 out of 5 in the CT scan-positive group will actually have inactive tumors that will not progress to cancer, and yet they are likely to undergo the dangers chemotherapy and/or surgery. The death rate for screened patients is actually higher than for non-screened. View article.  Similar arguments have now arisen in the case of several cancers, including breast and prostate: early tumors that give a positive test will disappear or not progress to disease in many cases. The tests are not really "false positives" because the tumor is real. But the clinical outcome, treating a patient who will not develop cancer, is the same. (And there are probably cases in which a tumor that would have disappeared or remained dormant becomes active and virulent because of the damage caused by radiation and chemotherapy to the patient's immunity.)          


 Images  Left: Getting down at the mudhole -- Lynaecid butterflies pulling up water with their straw-like proboscises. Right: Painting by Aya Takano from a show by the Japan Society on post war (World War II) culture in Japan.

       Lycaenid butterflies drinking at a mud hole          Illustration by Japanese artist Aya Takano



More articles of note from the media.


According to a writing program director at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) scores on the new essay section on the SAT verbal test can be predicted by the length of the essay 90% of the time. Longer essay gets a higher score. Click here for article


In the fall of '04, 28 year old Laleh Seddigh petitioned for the right to compete against Iranian men in auto races. In March, '05 she won the national championship, agreeing not to wave to the crowd of largely women fans, whose enthusiasm at her past appearances had unnerved the organizing committee. Click here for article  

Science and Nature

A few reptiles can become  frozen -- not hibernating but frozen solid -- and then return to life when they thaw out months later. ( Washington Post, Dec. 12, '04)

Animals in many locations sensed the impending tsunami that struck in December. (Wall Street Journal January 4, '05) Reports of such animal behavior, although not verifiable scientifically, have followed many disasters, especially earthquakes.


How natural disasters have altered the course of human history   (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, '05)

U.S. Government and Business  (The golden rule: "Them with the gold makes the rules.")

Minnesota has so far let communities decide whether or not to permit factory farms in their vicinity, and the communities have kept agribusiness from taking over farming. But Governor Tim Pawlenty is working on handing the state over to corporate farming. (New York Times Dec. 2, 'O4) ...  There are some states which have, in ways, stymied the spread of factory farms.  Some would call this government  meddling with the free market, others would say local people are exercising their right to protect their community from nuisances and environmental dangers, and the state governments are complying with community interests as is appropriate.

Federal farm subsidies rose 40% in over 2003 and 2004, to $15.7 billion dollars, even though farm income doubled over those two years due to the big crop yields.  (This article is some years old. It is important to note that the same huge subsidies to the richest farms continue to be approved approved by Congress, even though farm income stays high.) Large harvests have lowered crop prices, triggering subsidies formulated to compensate for lower prices. But the fact of higher subsidies in big-income years runs against the principle that farm subsidies are supposed to kick in when farmers are losing money, not when their income is high. The subsidies are not, in fact, even contingent on the sale of a crop: "A farmer can sell his crop early at a high price, say, in a futures contract, and still collect a subsidy check after the harvest if prices are down over all. The money is not tied to what the farmer actually received for his crop. The farmer does not even have to sell the crop to get the check, only prove that the market has dropped below a set rate." (New York Times, Dec. 26, 2004.)

M. J. Troy dies. Former Democratic Party boss in Queens, New York, exposed facts of corruption to the public after being imprisoned.  (New York Times, Dec. 6, 2004) Note: The extent to which judges are corrupt is a great mystery in the U.S. because we do not carry out "stings," which would involve putting hidden microphones on government agents who then offer bribes to judges. The same applies to elected lawmakers, e.g. congressmen.

A California law requires hospitals to make public what they bill for various items and services.  (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 27, 04) Note: Medical billing is a funny-money realm in many ways. Hospital bills list crazy charges like $50 for a paper hospital gown, in what is called cost-shifting, and the bills are laced with fraud, such as charging for a doctor visit when a nurse gives a shot. Medicare took no measures to prosecute billing fraud until the 1990's, and the private insurers refused to investigate overcharges in the years before they took over medicine in the name of "cost containment," which turned out to be cutting services and putting the money in their pocket. The fraud continues, the HMOS are paying themselves now. This Wall Street Journal article, which reviews wild price disparities in California hospitao billing, is another window into the fact that nothing like a free market is operating in medicine, if it were costs at various hospitals would be more aligned. It is worth noting that the very basis of the HMO process is to deprive the consumer of choice, the choice of his or her doctor. The ability of the consumer to choose the best product or service is what the free market is about. Medicine, like the law, and many aspects of our economy, is a racket, not a free market.   


        Eric, editor of this site, outer Mission Street, San Francisco around 2004.


                                                                                                                                                                                       E                                                  Eric, 2013












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