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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 35,773

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Glenn Close Joins #MindfulAllies Campaign to Help End Stigma Around Mental Illness


"Glenn Close is doing her part to help end the stigma around mental illness.

To help further initiate conversation and educate people about mental health, Close, 68, has joined Mashable's #MindfulAllies campaign, which tells real stories about real people dealing with mental illness.

As part of the campaign, Close, a longtime advocate for ending the negative stigma attached to mental illness, penned an emotional letter in which she opened up about her family's battle with mental illness.

"Over multiple generations, various members of my family and extended family have been impacted by: serious depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder," she revealed. "I have learned that I have been living with mild depression for probably most of my life."


Please work to end the stigma.

Thank you.

Alternative Medicine and the Ethics Of Commerce


"Is it ethical to produce and market complementary and alternative medicines? Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are medical products and services outside the mainstream of medical practice. As the terms imply, ‘complementary’ medicines are typically offered as an adjunct to other, more mainstream, treatments, whereas ‘alternative’ medicines are offered as substitutes for mainstream treatments. It is important to emphasize that complementary and alternative medicines are not just medicines (or supposed medicines) offered and provided for the prevention and treatment of illness. They are also products and services – things offered for sale in the marketplace. Most discussion of the ethics of CAM has focused on bioethical issues – issues having to do with therapeutic value, and the relationship between patients and those purveyors of CAM1. This article aims instead to consider CAM from the perspective of commercial ethics. That is, we consider the ethics not of prescribing or administering CAM (activities most closely associated with health professionals) but with the ethics of selling CAM (something that may be done by profit-oriented health professionals, or by retail outlets). Our interest here includes all commercial activities focused on CAM. It includes, for example, manufacturers of all types, whether major pharmaceutical company or small producer of, for example, homeopathic remedies. And it includes all kinds of providers, whether that provider is a health professional such as a physician or a pharmacist, or instead a specialized purveyor of CAM, for example a homeopath or a naturopath, members of occupations that hold themselves out, at least, as health professionals.


Consider also the case of CAM remedies derived from species (such as the rhinoceros) that are being driven extinct because of demand for animal parts based on magical thinking.14 In such cases, our shared ecological heritage is being diminished by an industry that pursues exotic – and generally useless – ingredients. In such cases, CAM again violates the ethical principle that forbids participants in a commercial transaction from imposing harms on unconsenting third parties.

As a final category of the marketing of CAM having a significant impact on third parties, consider the tragic cases in which parents fail to provide adequate care to their children because they insist on providing CAM instead. Examples abound, unfortunately, and many have resulted in criminal charges and have thus found their way into the media. An Australian couple, for example, were found guilty of manslaughter as a result of having treating their infant daughter's eczema with homeopathy, rather than with any of the conventional treatments that could easily have prevented her death.15 A Canadian mother faced criminal charges in the death of her son after she opted for treating his serious strep infection with various forms of CAM, including herbal therapy, rather than taking him to a physician who would likely have prescribed an easy and effective course of antibiotics.16


Central cases of CAM can be shown to violate all three of the fundamental principles presented above. We conclude that there are significant ethical problems, from the perspective of the ethics of commerce, with the production, advertising and selling of complementary and alternative medicines. The ethics of commerce is generally relatively permissive. Commercial acts between consenting adults are generally free from substantial third party critique. Markets function well, and do well at satisfying human needs, when we allow market participants substantial freedom to innovate and to engage in exchanges even when we ourselves do not endorse those exchanges, or even understand their desirability. But there are ethical limits to market interactions. Market interactions, in order to be considered ethical, need to involve products that actually work, that are advertised honestly, and that do not have undue effects on innocent third parties. Many examples of CAM fail on one or even all of those counts.



Worth the read, IMO.

Who knew? Tightening requirements for waivers for school vaccines increases vaccine uptake



Remember how, starting January 1, 2015, the Michigan Department of Community Health altered the rules regarding requirements for parents to claim personal belief exemptions to vaccine mandates. Basically, it patterned its policy change on California Bill AB 2109, a bill from a few years ago that sought to tighten up requirements for personal belief exemptions (PBEs) in California. AB 2109 required parents seeking PBEs to meet with a physician or other enumerated health care practitioner to receive counseling on the risks of opting their children out of school vaccine requirements. The physician would then have to sign the PBE form to verify that he had counseled the parents. Of course, in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak a year ago, California passed a far stronger measure, SB 277, which, beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, eliminates PBEs in California.


So has this new rule been effective? A recent news report suggests that it has:


Statewide, 11,204 students (out of 399,880) had received waivers as of November 2015, for a rate of 2.8%. That compares to the 4.6% rate in November 2014, when 19,152 students (out of 415,891) received waivers.

So, based on this analysis, this temporal correlation between the enforcement of a more stringent standard for vaccine exemptions, the requirement that parents seeking PBEs go to a local health department for 15-30 minute counseling sessions on the benefits and risks of vaccines and, in particular, the risk of forgoing vaccines, has been effective. Statewide, PBE rates have declined markedly since the rule change. In metro Detroit, rates have declined ...



Good news is good news.

Profile of an Indian GM farmer: high-tech seeds on a traditional farm



However, Ganesh sounds pragmatic as he describes his history with this crop. “The year I started to grow GM cotton is etched in my mind because that is the same year my son was born — 2003. He is now twelve, in the seventh standard at school, and that is how old my GM crop is”, he says. “I was the first farmer in my local area to try it out. The first year, I grew it in two acres as an experiment. The next, I expanded that to ten acres. The third year onwards I went up to a hundred percent. Other farmers have looked at my example and now most (you could say all) are growing GM cotton.”


Many people imagine that Indian farmers were growing native cotton using thousands-of-years-old traditions before GM cotton dragged modernity in. This is not the case. Most farmers had moved beyond native cotton because its short fiber length and low yield makes it unsuitable for what the market demands — raw cotton that can feed high-volume mechanized production of fabric. Most were already growing modern hybrids, with high yields and large bolls — that were also unfortunately more susceptible to pests. In the 1990s, before GM cotton came into the market, farmers all over the country were fighting a serious infestation of cotton bollworms. Sometimes, Ganesh told me, especially given long stretches of cloudy weather, farmers would lose more than half their cotton to it, and could not harvest enough to cover their costs.


“The thing about Bt cotton is, it has guaranteed production,” he says. “If you grow more of it, you get more of it. The more you feed it, the more you get. I don’t over-feed my soil though — I limit the NPK I add to the soil. Still I get about 12–13 quintals per acre. Before Bt cotton, the hybrids I was growing were longer duration crops. For ten months of the year my farms were occupied by cotton. Bt seeds grow a crop that is ready to harvest in six months. I can then plant a different crop for the Rabi (winter) crop after Diwali, permitting me to rotate my crops.”


The only way to make people understand, he says, is to include Indian farmers in the conversation. While Indian and international media has been preoccupied by tales of their distress and suicides, no one, he claims, actually asks them what they think. “I feel good that someone like you is bothering to talk to me,” he says, “I feel like I have a sister all the way in America. No one usually bothers us for our opinions, not even the Indian press. They just write anything they want. If farmers didn’t like Bt cotton, why would 99% of farmers seek them out in the market?”



A good piece that shows the vacancy that inhabits the vast majority of the anti-GMO movement.

Farmers are not stupid.


Real Scientific Literacy, Part II


"5) How to Analyze a Scientific Study


7) Consensus Matters


9) Understand Denialism


Scientific literacy means not only having a working understanding of the big ideas of science, but also understanding critical thinking and how science works. This list of the basic components of the latter two is certainly incomplete, and I welcome feedback about what else should be included.



Part I here: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/real-scientific-literacy/

and here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1016141920


The GMO labeling movement is as organic as a Twinkie



So what happened over the last few years to make this such a heated battle? Organic companies and environmental groups teamed up to launch a well-funded attack on GMOs. The first shot was fired in September 2011 when the Center for Food Safety joined with several organic companies to file a petition at the FDA asking the agency to require mandatory GMO labels. Petitioners included the Organic Trade Association, Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms. Since that time, the organic industry has spent millions to push for GMO labels (proponents spent more than $10 million on Washington State’s failed GMO labeling referendum in 2013).

One of the biggest spenders is Stonyfield Chairman Gary Hirshberg, who launched Just Label It in 2012 to promote mandatory labels. Hirshberg is a main funder and frontman for the pro-labeling movement, helping sponsor other GMO-labeling referenda in California, Oregon and Colorado (all failed). Last year, Hirshberg produced Internet videos featuring celebrity moms to warn other moms about GMOs and state their support for mandatory labels. He even invited Gwyneth Paltrow to a Capitol Hill press conference he sponsored last August to explain her opposition to HR 1599.

But this is more about labeling to Hirshberg. His Just Label It website is loaded with anti-GMO propaganda. He’s an outspoken opponent of genetically modified crops in our food supply and his misleading comments are designed to foment fear among consumers – particularly moms – so they’ll instead buy his non-GMO products.


The Organic Consumers Association is another organic industry group that has led the crusade against genetically modified foods (the OCA represents “several thousand businesses in the natural foods and organic marketplace.) They’ve spent millions not just pushing for mandatory labels, but also for “a global moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops.”



It's just an unethical industry out to con people. Nothing more.

The Clean Eating Delusion


"While some parts of the world are concerned with eating, because of food insecurity, the “worried and well-fed well” are increasingly obsessed with so-called “clean eating.”

This is nothing new, but like every cultural phenomenon, it seems, has increased partly due to the easy spread of misinformation over the internet. If you are anxious about your health, and who isn’t to some degree, your anxiety is fed by a steady diet of pseudo-experts, con-artists, and internet personalities telling you about all the things you eat that adversely affect your health.

This phenomenon is increasingly being recognized as a health issue among experts. In 1996 Dr. Steven Bratman proposed a formal disorder he calls orthorexia nervosa. He writes:

For people with orthorexia, eating healthily has become an extreme, obsessive, psychologically limiting and sometimes physically dangerous disorder, related to but quite distinct from anorexia.

Essentially orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy. There are a lot of parallels with anorexia, which is an unhealthy obsession with weight control. As Bratman himself points out, and I want to emphasize – there is a spectrum from a healthy concern with eating a healthful diet at one end to a harmful or even delusional obsession with a restrictive diet at the other. This is also not an attack on veganism or vegetarianism, which are a combination of health and ethical considerations.



A good read, IMO.

Tell Me I'm Not The Only Reminded Of Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America" By Trump, Cruz, etc...


"The novel is told from the point of view of Philip Roth as a child. It begins with aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, already criticized for his praise of Hitler's government, joining the America First party. As the party's spokesman, he speaks against American intervention in World War II, and openly criticizes the 'Jewish race' for trying to force American involvement. After making a surprise appearance on the last night of the 1940 Republican National Convention, he is nominated as the Republican Party's candidate for President. Although criticized from the left, and hated by most Jewish Americans, Lindbergh musters a strong tide of popular support from the South and Midwest, and is endorsed by conservative rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf. Lindbergh wins the election by a landslide under the slogan 'Vote for Lindbergh, or vote for war.' He nominates Burton K. Wheeler as his vice president, and Henry Ford as Secretary of the Interior. With Lindbergh as president, the Roth family begin increasingly to feel like outsiders in American society.

Lindbergh's first act is to sign a treaty with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler promising that the United States will not interfere with German expansion in Europe, (known as the 'Iceland Understanding' after the place it is signed), and with Imperial Japan, promising non-interference with Japanese expansion in Asia (known as the 'Hawaii Understanding'). The new presidency begins to take a toll on Philip's family. Philip's cousin Alvin joins the Canadian army to fight in Europe. He loses his leg in combat, and comes home with his ideals destroyed. He leaves the family and becomes a racketeer. A new government program begins to take Jewish boys to spend a period of time living with exchange families in the South and Midwest in order to 'Americanize' them. Philip's brother Sandy is one of the boys selected, and after spending time on a farm in Kentucky he comes home showing contempt for his family, calling them 'ghetto Jews.'

Philip's aunt Evelyn marries Lionel Bengelsdorf and becomes a frequent guest of the Lindbergh White House, even being invited to a dinner party for German Foreign minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop. This causes further strain in the family. A new government act is instituted relocating whole Jewish families to neighborhoods out west. Many of Philip's neighbors move to Canada. Philip's shy and innocent school friend Seldon Wishnow, an only child, is moved to Kentucky with his mother. In protest against the new act, radio broadcaster Walter Winchell openly criticizes the Lindbergh administration and is fired from his station. He then decides to run for President and begins a speaking tour. His candidacy causes anger and antisemitic rioting in southern and midwestern states, and mobs begin targeting him. Making a speech in Louisville, Kentucky he is shot to death. Winchell's funeral in New York City is presided over by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who praises Winchell for his opposition to fascism, and openly criticizes President Lindbergh for his silence over the riots and Winchell's death.

After making a short speech, Lindbergh's personal plane goes missing. Body hunts turn up no results and Vice President Wheeler assumes command. The German State Radio discloses 'evidence' that Lindbergh's disappearance, as well as the kidnapping of his son were part of a major Jewish conspiracy to take control of the American government. This announcement causes further antisemitic rioting. Wheeler and Ford, acting on this evidence, begin arresting prominent Jewish citizens, including Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Herbert Lehman and Bernard Baruch, as well as Mayor LaGuardia. Seldon calls the Roths when his mother doesn't come home. They later discover that Seldon's mother was killed by Ku Klux Klan members who beat and robbed her before setting fire to her car with her in it. The Roths eventually call Sandy's exchange family in Kentucky and have them keep Seldon safe until Philip's father and brother drive to them and bring him back to Newark. Months later, he is taken in by his mother's sister. The rioting stops when first lady Anne Morrow Lindbergh makes a statement asking for the country to stop the violence and move forward. With the body searches called off, FDR runs as an emergency presidential candidate, and is reelected. Months later, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and America enters the war.


Docs v. Glocks: government regulation of physician speech



As finally passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Rick Scott, the 2011 Firearm Owners Privacy Act subjects physicians to disciplinary action for making “verbal or written inquiry” into a patient’s firearm ownership when the physician does not “in good faith believe” such inquiries are “relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety of others.” The Act included amendments to the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, adding similar provisions. (The Act also applies to health care facilities, but here we will discuss only its effect on physicians and their patients.) Physicians may not enter any information regarding firearm ownership into the patient’s medical record if they know this information is not “relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.” They may not “discriminate” against a patient “based solely on the patient’s Second Amendment right to own firearms or ammunition.” Finally, physicians must refrain from “unnecessarily harassing” a patient regarding firearm ownership during an examination.

Shortly after Gov. Scott signed the Act into law, several physicians filed suit in federal district court challenging its constitutionality (Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida). The controversy was dubbed “Docs v. Glocks,” a term widely adopted by the media. Similar legislation has been introduced in at least 12 other states.

The Act, the physicians said, was an unconstitutional infringement on their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and was unconstitutionally vague because they were not fairly put on notice as to what they were expected to do to comply with the Act. (We’ll mostly focus here on the First Amendment issues.)


loser to the SBM home, my concern about legislative bodies making medical judgments is reinforced by state laws promoting politically-favored messages not necessarily consistent with evidence-based medical practice. (I do not include the SOCT bans in this category. There the legislature’s judgment was medically sound.) As we’ve discussed a number of times on SBM, legislators sometimes wander far outside the boundaries of science in making decisions affecting healthcare: Legislative Alchemy, the 21st Century Cures Act, non-medical vaccination exemptions, and “Right to Try” statutes. Physician questioning about gun ownership is, in my view, based on a reasonable judgment that discussing it is, at least arguably, a medically sound preventive medicine practice. Yet, the court, in requiring “relevancy” to a specific patient’s medical care based on a “‘some particularized information about the individual patient” effectively overrules the physician’s judgment. The same is true of state laws requiring physicians to make scripted speeches containing medically irrelevant information. Perhaps we need a constitutional “right to science” to protect the public against scientifically unsound legislative decisions."


When some Republican tries to talk about "smaller government," remind that individual that the GOP works to tell health care workers how to do their job, and it doesn't care about best practices when doing so. It's just pushing ideology via bad laws.

1986 Interview Of Nat Hentoff: Good Stuff From A Complex, Influential Writer


"IN ``Boston Boy'' (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, $15.95), Nat Hentoff tells of the time, as a teen-ager, he slipped and fell on the ice on Elm Hill Avenue. When he looked up, a gang of Irish kids were standing around him. Was he Jewish, they wanted to know? Desperate, the decidedly Jewish Nat decided to pretend he was Greek. After all, this was Boston around the late '30s, a time when gangs of Irish toughs stalked the neighborhood like wolf packs, looking for Jewish prey; a place where Father Coughlin's newspaper, Social Justice -- sold each Sunday throughout the city -- warned constantly of the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

Later, Nat was less fortunate and had a tooth punched out when Irish youths caught him unprotected. But this time his Greek tactic allowed him to escape unscathed. What's more, a pop-music record he was clutching somehow remained unbroken.

Potent vignettes like these -- recalled from a mellow distance by a clear-eyed journalist -- trace the roots of Hentoff's social views as he tells of his life in Boston until the time he left for New York at age 28 to write about jazz in Down Beat magazine.

Hentoff's name was later to become virtually synonymous with fiercely independent stands -- on First Amendment rights, Middle Eastern politics, and many other social issues -- taken in his Village Voice and Washington Post columns, his books, and elsewhere. And that pop record he was clutching was an early sign of his other lifelong interest -- jazz -- which, in ``Boston Boy,'' serves as a frequent metaphor both for life and for the freedom of expression that means so much to him: Hentoff became a renowned jazz critic whose pieces are seen on the Leisure & Arts page of the Wall Street Journal and in other publications. Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and other jazz greats strengthened his ``life as heretic, a tradition I kept precisely because I am a Jew,'' he says in the book. These jazz musicians were ``my chief rabbis for many years.''



A great mid-week break, or so I think.

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