Thoughts as they occur...
Thoughts from a chaotic mind
Thursday, January 29, 2004
If you listen to the independent conservative, Michael Savage, he calls liberalism a mental disorder. I believe one must clearly differentiate this comment from liberal thought or being liberal in the classic sense. His definition is most appropriate to describe the current left wing dogmatic culture wars that we are presently immersed in.
The reason he uses this label is because any discussion with this "group" leaves one frustrated due its non-committal, non-positional, ungrounded, emotional approach to nearly every social issue on the table at the moment. In turn, they call those on the right cold and calculating (but never logical). I've listened to Michael, Rush, and Sean go around and around with call-in guests or program guest of the "American" liberal persuasion and every question by the host is evaded with another question. They cannot answer a question directly and WILL NOT be pinned down on anything. Only when angered will they blurt out the most incoherent blather one can imagine, such as Teddy Kennedy calling a judge candidate a Neanderthal and no one on the left raises an eyebrow. This Neanderthal happened to be a female African-American that didn't kowtow to the DNC line.
The fact is that the liberal mind in this country is accountable to no one but themselves and I hardly think that to be the case.
Unfortunately, when dealing with large social problems or issues, logic and calculation must take place. The left immediately kicks in their "tyranny of the majority" mantra and everything goes to hell or comes to a stop or introduces a new level of moral degradation.
With them, everything is possible...nothing is impossible or prohibited short of a personal attack...then watch out.
The preoccupation of the Democrats on the primary is hilarious. They are sooooo serious as they try to sort out who can top the other with the biggest flip-flop or reaction to the latest poll. It is also a sad commentary that this morally bankrupt and platform bankrupt bunch of ninnies continue to waste so much money and time. The most pathetic of the bunch was Kucinich...a favorite down at the local farmers market in Santa Cruz. It is also frightening that this brainwashed mindset has captured around 50% of our populace.
What to do? Anchor yourself to the Good Book and venture out from there. Real simple, eh?
Friday, January 23, 2004
Don't say I didn't tell you so. Thank you, Wal-Mart. Thank you, illegal aliens. Thank you, multinationals!
Jobs shift to lower-paying sectors
LABOR LOSSES LARGE IN MANUFACTURING, PROFESSIONAL INDUSTRIES
By Margaret Steen
In almost every state, including California, jobs are shifting from higher-paying industries to lower-paying ones, according to a report released Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute.
From November 2001 to November 2003, California had a net loss of 37,900 jobs, the study found.
Underneath this relatively small job loss, however, were larger losses in industries that typically pay well: manufacturing, the information sector and professional and business services. Job gains came in areas that often pay less: education and health services, leisure and hospitality and retail.
The average pay in California in industries that grew during the period studied was $34,742, 40 percent less than the average wage in industries that shrank, $57,800.
California was not alone in seeing this shift.
"What I found most surprising was that the job shift to lower-paying industries has happened in 48 of the 50 states,'' said Michael Ettlinger, a policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute who worked on the study.
Although the study explains why some workers who have lost high-paying jobs are having trouble finding new ones that pay as well today, it's not clear whether the findings represent a permanent shift in the types of jobs available to American workers.
Low-wage jobs tend to grow as the population grows, whereas many of the high-wage jobs that have been lost are in industries that are more cyclical, said Steve Cochrane, senior economist at Economy.com, who was not involved in the study.
"There just isn't enough information to be able to come to some firm conclusions on the trend,'' Cochrane said, because the study covered only two years. "The economy isn't always in this kind of a pattern.''
The study's authors said previous research showed that during the boom years of the late 1990s, the pattern was the opposite, with jobs shifting toward higher-paying work.
Ettlinger said government policies, especially regarding international trade, could address this shift.
The Economic Policy Institute is a non-profit group that was created to make sure the concerns of low- and middle-income workers were included in economic policy discussions.
Contact Margaret Steen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 278-3499.
© 2004 Mercury News and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Un-American (Author Unknown)
A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a free market. A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it's a free market. A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it's a free market. We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico. We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh. We can purchase almost anything we want from many different countries BUT, heaven help the elderly who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a Canadian (Or Mexican) pharmacy. That's called un-American! And you think the pharmaceutical companies don't have a powerful lobby? Think again!
Friday, January 16, 2004
Goodness! Because everyone likes to put labels on things, I have labeled myself as a conservative libertarian, which most fundamentally means minimal government, but just enough to assure our founding fathers' vision. I was thrown off guard the other day in the current culture wars when I confronted a very typical libertarian. After the conversation, I felt like I'd just had a session with a militant Quaker, which is most certainly an oxymoron.
I've been spending most of my time steeling myself against the loony left and their mindless rants about our "moronic" president, when someone of the libertarian persuasion tweaked my political barometer.
The conversation revolved around a colleague's son with an out-of-control anger management issue, which may ultimately result in bodily harm to him or someone else. I proceeded to throw out several issue of youth these days relating back to the immorality foisted upon us by the likes of the ACLU and our current court system. I soon found that the extreme live-and-let-live position of the typical libertarian was contrary to my Christian values. I think libertarianism is fine in an environment where your nearest neighbor is one mile away, however, in an urban setting, the philosophy falls apart. This libertarian's concern was the suppression of our civil rights associated with the Patriot Act. My immediate response was to ask him how he'd been personally affected. No answer. Further, on the surface, he considered the ACLU the forefront organization fighting for civil rights, the cornerstone of libertarian ideals.
I could not convince him of the sinister political agenda the ACLU has been supporting. Citing examples, his response was walk away from it. Turn off the TV. Ignore it...it is your choice. My suppressed retort was because of his attitude, we are being submerged in sewage nearly up to our mouths. He seemed oblivious to this in true libertarian idealism. He does not realize that our children, our environment, etc. is being polluted in an oppressive fog of situational ethics with no moral compass. In short, he epitomizes the atheistic conservative, if I can go that far.
The bottom line of this rant is that without God in one's life, we become islands of ignorant "bliss" slowly sinking in a morass of rising sewage.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
How very different the world we live in would
be if we all tried to "make a difference" in
someone's life. It is all about love and caring.
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class
on the very first day of school, she told the
children an untruth. Like most teachers, she
looked at her students and said that she
loved them all the same. However, that was
impossible, because there in the front row,
slumped in his seat, was a little boy named
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year
before and noticed that he did not play well
with the other children, that his clothes were
messy and that he constantly needed a bath.
In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson
would actually take delight in marking his
papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's
and then putting a big "F" at the top of his
papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson
taught, she was required to review each child's
past records and she put Teddy's off until last.
However, when she reviewed his file, she
was in for a surprise.
Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is
a bright child with a ready laugh. He does
his work neatly and has good manners....
he is a joy to be around.."
His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an
excellent student, well liked by his classmates,
but he is troubled because his mother has a
terminal illness and life at home must be a
His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's
death has been hard on him. He tries to do
his best, but his father doesn't show much
interest and his home life will soon affect
him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy
is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest
in school. He doesn't have many friends and
he sometimes sleeps in class."
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem
and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even
worse when her students brought her
Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful
ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's.
His present was clumsily wrapped in the
heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery
bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it
in the middle of the other presents. Some
of the children started to laugh when she
found a rhinestone bracelet with some of
the stones missing, and a bottle that was
one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled
the children's laughter when she exclaimed
how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on,
and dabbing some of the perfume on her
wrist Teddy Stoddard stayed after school
that day just long enough to say, "Mrs.
Thompson, today you smelled just like my
Mom used to." After the children left, she
cried for at least an hour.
On that very day, she quit teaching reading,
writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began
to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid
particular attention to Teddy. As she worked
with him, his mind seemed to come alive.
The more she encouraged him, the faster he
responded. By the end of the year, Teddy
had become one of the smartest children in
the class and, despite her lie that she would
love all the children the same, Teddy became
one of her "teacher's pets."
A year later, she found a note under her door,
from Teddy, telling her that she was still the
best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note
from Teddy. He then wrote that he had
finished high school, third in his class, and
she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.
Four years after that, she got another letter,
saying that while things had been tough at
times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it,
and would soon graduate from college with
the highest of honors. He assured Mrs.
Thompson that she was still the best and
favorite teacher he had ever had in his
Then four more years passed and yet another
letter came. This time he explained that after
he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go
a little further. The letter explained that she
was still the best and favorite teacher he ever
had. But now his name was a little longer....
The letter was signed,
Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story does not end there. You see, there
was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said
he had met this girl and was going to be married.
He explained that his father had died a couple
of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs.
Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding
in the place that was usually reserved for the
mother of the groom.
Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess
what? She wore that bracelet, the one with
several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she
made sure she was wearing the perfume that
Teddy remembered his mother wearing on
their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard
whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank
you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me.
Thank you so much for making me feel
important and showing me that I could
make a difference."
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes,
whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have
it all wrong. You were the one who taught
me that I could make a difference. I didn't
know how to teach until I met you! ."
(For those of you who don't know, Teddy
Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist in Des
Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)
Warm someone's heart today. . . pass this along.
I love this story so very much, I cry every time
I read it. Just try to make a difference in
someone's life today? tomorrow? just "do it".
Random acts of kindness, I think they call it?
"Believe in Angels, then return the favor"
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift
us to our feet when our wings have trouble
remembering how to fly."
Good ole HP...asking for corporate welfare. Will it ever end??
HP's $1 Billion Singapore Investment Draws Ire
By Jim Wagner
January 14, 2004
Officials at Hewlett-Packard (Quote, Chart) Wednesday announced a five-year, $1 billion investment to its manufacturing operations in Singapore that is attracting some heavy criticism.
The move, according to the computer and printer maker, is to provide more production capabilities to meet the growing demand from Asia-Pacific countries for high-end servers and printers, according to news reports.
HP officials were not immediately available for contact on the effect this would have on American jobs or facilities.
The Asia-Pacific region -- which encompasses IT-hungry South Korea, Japan, and China -- is currently a hotspot for computer software and hardware. According to research at IDC, a technology research firm with offices in Singapore, HP is the second-largest PC maker in the region, ahead of competitors IBM (Quote, Chart) and Dell (Quote, Chart) but well behind Chinese PC manufacturer Legend.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company also enjoys an expanded market share in the region, up from 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2002 to 9.8 percent in the same quarter of 2003.
To cut down on the costs associated with shipping U.S.-manufactured hardware overseas and by extension the price tag, officials plan to expand its existing manufacturing plants and build new ones in Singapore.
Not everyone's happy about the investment, however. Margaret Bartley, the technology chair of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, said the timing on the announcement couldn't be worse, coming two days after Carly Fiorina, HP chairman and chief executive officer, was quoted as saying high-tech industries need more U.S. taxpayer support for research and development.
"My observation when I read that was what good is it going to do for us to spend taxpayer money on research and development when she is going to give jobs to Singapore and India?" Bartley told internetnews.com. "Any U.S. company asking for taxpayer support for their basic infrastructure has to turn around and provide some support to the U.S. economy and give us back something for our dollar."
IDC researchers expect Asian tech spending to increase in 2004, as companies in the Asia-Pacific region recover from the SARS-induced freeze that affected many countries.
"With SARS now behind us, we can expect normal purchase patterns to resume," said Bryan Ma, IDC Asia/Pacific senior research manager for personal systems, in an October report. "In fact, further growth is expected in the upcoming quarters due to the rapidly approaching year-end holidays as well as a gradual improvement in the regional economy next year."
It's likely the substantial investment will rekindle fears within the IT industry of a massive migration out of the U.S. by software and hardware manufacturers. Because of the low labor costs associated with Asian production in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, companies like Dell, HP and IBM have been bolstering their foreign production numbers.
It's become widespread enough to touch off Congressional inquires and an initial round of legislation, like the American Manufacturing Jobs Retention Act of 2003, sponsored by Rep. James Walsh (R-NY). It calls for any company with 10 percent of its contracts coming from the U.S. government to have at least 50 percent of its work force in the U.S.
Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives Oct. 20, Harris Miller, president of trade organization Information Technology Association of America, said the concerns were largely overblown.
"In statistical terms, the trend towards offshore outsourcing is a cloud on the horizon, not a hurricane sweeping everything in its midst... I say this because over 10 million Americans earn their living in the IT workforce," he told the Committee on Small Business. "Nine out of ten of these workers are employed by businesses outside of the IT industry -- banks, law firms, factories, stores, and the like."
Copyright 2004 Jupitermedia Corporation All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 08:45:31 -0500
From: Richard Kew
Subject: An Interesting Lunch
This last weekend was an echo of my old lifestyle as a wandering Aramean,
because I fulfilled a long-standing obligation to be at the Vestry Retreat
of Christ Church, Charlottesville, Virginia. While there I also met up
with James Davidson Hunter, who I had married to his wife, Honey, more
than a quarter century ago when we were all a lot younger -- James had a lot
more hair and I had less waistline in those days! James was the author of
the ground-breaking book, "Culture Wars," and is on the faculty at the
University of Virginia.
We were able to have a wonderful lunch with the Hunters and with Jeffrey
and Carol Fishwick, the Rector and his wife. During the lunch James was
talking about some of the work that he is doing, and his deepening
conviction that the culture is changed by institutions, and therefore the
task for Christians as they seek to recovere the culture is to find right
and appropriate ways to shape society's institutions. While ideas may
come from the periphery, change comes from the center.
I had a late-night flight home to ponder this piece of data, and I think
that with some provisos he may be right. Of course, he pointed out, this
requires much political involvement, and that political involvement then
needs to be rooted and grounded in prayer and great humility. With this I
would entirely agree. I am not a political type, but I have found myself
even more drawn into the political process in our diocese, and can see no
way out of it if we are to maintain a strong Gospel presence in Tennessee.
Right now, those of us in the Episcopal Church are wringing our hands over
what has happened, and the faithful are looking for ways either to protect
themselves from what could very well become the scorched earth policies of
our detractors, or to make an orderly exit from the church. Some of us
are committed to staying and fighting this grievous error the church has made,
some are making plans to go -- which, in turn, makes it more difficult for
those of us remaining to fight for the truth. However, that is another
I have little doubt that whichever strategy is pursued the Episcopal
Church as an institution is in far worse decay than even those on the left hand
side of this controversy realize. They think they have won the golden
prize -- really they have won the booby prize.
I am increasingly of the mind that within the next 4-8 years further
ructions will shake it, or there will be a forced reshaping of this
entity -- and mostly from the grassroots upward. Yet, if James Davidson Hunter
is right, then we must do all we can to retain some foothold in the
institution and then from that base to seek to win it back. That may seem
an outrageous and outlandish notion, but no more than Gideon routing the
Midianites with a mere handful of warriors.
I would want us to go beyond that, however. We are in a position where we
are being called to challenge the culture, and for this Hunter suggests we
need to think in terms of a hundred year strategy. He, rightly again,
points out that American culture is like a solvent and it is leeching out
into all the world. What it has done to undermine the institutions of
Faith in our culture in North America it will do in all the rest of the world
where the faith is growing and flourishing at the moment.
Our responsibility is to develop congregations and believers who have a
solidly Christian worldview, and who can be generative from generation to
generation. We need to be raising up CEOs and Professors and Lawyers and,
yes, Priests, who think like Christians in such a way that their Christian
mindset is brought into every aspect of their world and leisure. This
transformatory understanding of the Gospel must infiltrate every facet of
life from the corridors of power to the corridors of the local high
Given the size of the so-called Christian community, its captivity to the
secular-pagan culture as it is presently configured is patently obvious.
This means we have a long-term task ahead of us. As one who believes the
future of Anglicanism is more with the nascent federation of Anglican
jurisdictions that is beginning to grow out of the US Anglican Congress
initiative, I believe this is something we need to be working on together
to see what the Anglican part of the big picture might be.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Illegal Aliens? Undocumented Immigrants?
No matter which title you chose, this is big problem which neither major party is willing to properly address. That is, enforcing the laws of the land on persons who have broken those laws.
I've always welcomed and respected migrant farm workers from Mexico, however the permissive federal policies of the last twenty years have created economic and security risks, especially now, with a shaky economy and terrorists on the loose.
Somehow we have all been programmed with, "But these workers will take jobs that no one else will do." Such arrogance. Such elitism. Such snobbery! We sit here on the longest sustained period of low inflation that I can remember and why? It is due to illegal aliens and the Wal-Mart effect. No one seems to be looking at the big picture.
1. Wal-Mart has systematically, through huge market share, forced a number of manufacturers out of business domestically and will proceed, via vertically integrating, to put reputable foreign suppliers out of business that yield too much of their production to this one company.
2. Illegal aliens are willing to take unskilled labor jobs for minimum wages or less. They keep the wage level down so low that the residents they displace take the logical route and go on public assistance. No one can tell me that if the wages were higher, no one would take them. These have always been entry level jobs. Where do our children go to get their first job? They've all been absorbed into this distortion of our system. In short, by business turning a blind eye to this situation, our overall standard of living will continue to decline. Those with the power to change this situation are insulated from the problem completely.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
This was sent by Stephen Kaufman of the Christian Vegetarian Association...
I reviewed and commented on the following essay by Dr. Michael Gregor on Mad Cow disease. I think it illustrates how factory farming is focused on the bottom line and that there is no reason for consumers of animal products to feel safe. The same government body that supposedly protects consumers of animal products (the USDA) is also charged with promoting animal and other agricultural products. And, one should not expect industries that have no regard for animal welfare to have much concern for American consumers.
Could Mad Cow Disease Already be Killing Thousands of Americans Every Year?
by Michael Greger, M.D.
January 7, 2004
October 2001, 34-year-old Washington State native Peter Putnam started losing his mind. One month he was delivering a keynote business address, the next he couldn't form a complete sentence. Once athletic, soon he couldn't walk. Then he couldn't eat. After a brain biopsy showed it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, his doctor could no longer offer any hope. "Just take him home and love him," the doctor counseled his family.[1,2,3] Peter's tragic death, October 2002, may have been caused by Mad Cow disease.
Seven years earlier and 5000 miles away, Stephen Churchill was the first in England to die. His first symptoms of depression and dizziness gave way to a living nightmare of terrifying hallucinations; he was dead in 12 months at age 19. Next was Peter Hall, 20, who showed the first signs of depression around Christmas, 1994. By the next Christmas, he couldn't walk, talk, or do anything for himself. Then it was Anna's turn, then Michelle's. Michelle Bowen, age 29, died in a coma three weeks after giving birth to her son via emergency cesarean section. Then it was Alison's turn. These were the first five named victims of Britain's Mad Cow epidemic. They died from what the British Secretary of Health called the worst form of death imaginable, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a relentlessly progressive and invariably fatal human dementia. The announcement of their deaths, released on March 20, 1996 (ironically, Meatout Day), reversed the British government's decade-old stance that British beef was safe to eat.
It is now considered an "incontestable fact" that these human deaths in Britain were caused by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease. Bovine means "cow or cattle," spongiform means "sponge-like," and encephalopathy means "brain disease." Mad Cow disease is caused by unconventional pathogens called prions--literally infectious proteins--which, because of their unique structure, are practically invulnerable, surviving even incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead. The leading theory as to how cows got Mad Cow disease in the first place is by eating diseased sheep infected with a sheep spongiform encephalopathy called scrapie.
In humans, prions can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a human spongiform encephalopathy whose clinical picture can involve weekly deterioration into blindness and epilepsy as one's brain becomes riddled with tiny holes.
We've known about Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease for decades, since well before the first mad cow was discovered in 1985. Some cases of CJD seemed to run in families; other cases seemed to just arise spontaneously in about one in a million people every year, and were hence dubbed "sporadic." The new form of CJD caused by eating beef from cows infected with Mad Cow disease, though, seemed to differ from the classic sporadic CJD.
The CJD caused by infected meat has tended to strike younger people, has produced more psychotic symptoms, and has often dragged on for a year or more. The most defining characteristic, though, was found when their brains were sampled. The brain pathology was vividly reminiscent of Kuru, a disease once found in a New Guinea tribe of cannibals who ate the brains of their dead. Scientists called this new form of the disease "variant" CJD.
Other than Charlene, a 24 year old woman now so tragically dying in Florida, who was probably infected in Britain, there have been no reported cases of variant CJD in the U.S. Hundreds of confirmed cases of the sporadic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, however, arise in the United States every year, but the beef industry is quick to point out these are cases of sporadic CJD, not the new variant known to be caused by Mad Cow disease. Of course, no one knows what causes sporadic CJD. New research, discussed below, suggests that not hundreds but thousands of Americans die of sporadic CJD every year, and that some of these CJD deaths may be caused by eating infected meat after all.
Although the fact that Mad Cow disease causes variant CJD had already been strongly established, researchers at the University College of London nevertheless created transgenic mice complete with "humanized" brains genetically engineered with human genes to try to prove the link once and for all. When the researchers injected one strain of the "humanized" mice with infected cow brains, they came down with the same brain damage seen in human variant CJD, as expected. But when they tried this in a different strain of transgenic "humanized" mice, those mice got sick too, but most got sick from what looked exactly like sporadic CJD! The Mad Cow prions caused a disease that had a molecular signature indistinguishable from sporadic CJD. To the extent that animal experiments can simulate human results, their shocking conclusion was that eating infected meat might be responsible for some cases of sporadic CJD in addition to the expected variant CJD. The researchers concluded that "it is therefore possible that some patients with [what looks like]... sporadic CJD may have a disease arising from BSE exposure." Laura Manuelidis, section chief of surgery in the neuropathology department at Yale University comments, "Now people are beginning to realize that because something looks like sporadic CJD they can't necessarily conclude that it's not linked to [Mad Cow disease]..."
This is not the first time meat was linked to sporadic CJD. In 2001, a team of French researchers found, to their complete surprise, a strain of scrapie--"mad sheep" disease--that caused the same brain damage in mice as sporadic CJD. "This means we cannot rule out that at least some sporadic CJD may be caused by some strains of scrapie," says team member Jean-Philippe Deslys of the French Atomic Energy Commission's medical research laboratory.
Population studies had failed to show a link between CJD and lamb chops, but this French research provided an explanation why. There seem to be six types of sporadic CJD and there are more than 20 strains of scrapie. If only some sheep strains affect only some people, studies of entire populations may not clearly show the relationship. Monkeys fed infected sheep brains certainly come down with the disease. Hundreds of "mad sheep" were found in the U.S. in 2003. Scrapie remains such a problem in the United States that the USDA has issued a scrapie "declaration of emergency." Maybe some cases of sporadic CJD in the U.S. are caused by sheep meat as well.
Pork is also a potential source of infection. Cattle remains are still boiled down and legally fed to pigs (as well as chickens) in this country. The FDA allows this exemption because no "naturally occurring" porcine (pig) spongiform encephalopathy has ever been found. But American farmers typically kill pigs at just five months of age, long before the disease is expected to show symptoms. And, because pigs are packed so tightly together, it would be difficult to spot neurological conditions like spongiform encephalopathies, whose most obvious symptoms are movement and gait disturbances. We do know, however, that pigs are susceptible to the disease--laboratory experiments show that pigs can indeed be infected by Mad Cow brains--and hundreds of thousands of downer pigs, too sick or crippled by injury to even walk, arrive at U.S. slaughterhouses every year.
A number of epidemiological studies have suggested a link between pork consumption and sporadic CJD. Analyzing peoples' diet histories, the development of CJD was associated with eating roast pork, ham, hot dogs, pork chops, smoked pork, and scrapple (a kind of pork pudding made from various hog carcass scraps). The researchers concluded, "The present study indicated that consumption of pork as well as its processed products (e.g., ham, scrapple) may be considered as risk factors in the development of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease." Compared to people that didn't eat ham, for example, those who included ham in their diet seemed ten times more likely to develop CJD. In fact, the USDA may have actually recorded an outbreak of "mad pig" disease in New York 25 years ago, but still refuses to reopen the investigation despite petitions from the Consumer's Union (the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine).
Sporadic CJD has also been associated with weekly beef consumption, as well as the consumption of roast lamb, veal, venison, brains in general, and, in North America, seafood.[32,33] The development of CJD has also, surprisingly, been significantly linked to exposure to animal products in fertilizer, sport fishing and deer hunting in the U.S., and frequent exposure to leather products.
We do not know at this time whether chicken meat poses a risk. There was a preliminary report of ostriches allegedly fed risky feed in German zoos who seemed to come down with a spongiform encephalopathy. Even if chickens and turkeys themselves are not susceptible, though, they may become so-called "silent carriers" of Mad Cow prions and pass them on to human consumers. Dateline NBC quoted D. Carleton Gajdusek, the first to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on prion diseases, as saying, "it's got to be in the pigs as well as the cattle. It's got to be passing through the chickens." Dr. Paul Brown, medical director for the US Public Health Service, believes that pigs and poultry could indeed be harboring Mad Cow disease and passing it on to humans, adding that pigs are especially sensitive to the disease. "It's speculation," he says, "but I am perfectly serious."
The recent exclusion of most cow brains, eyes, spinal cords, and intestines from the human food supply may make beef safer, but where are those tissues going? These potentially infectious tissues continue to go into animal feed for chickens, other poultry, pigs, and pets (as well as being rendered into products like tallow for use in cosmetics, the safety of which is currently under review). Until the federal government stops the feeding of slaughterhouse waste, manure, and blood to all farm animals, the safety of meat in America cannot be guaranteed.
The hundreds of American families stricken by sporadic CJD every year have been told that it just occurs by random chance. Professor Collinge, the head of the University College of London lab, noted "When you counsel those who have the classical sporadic disease, you tell them that it arises spontaneously out of the blue. I guess we can no longer say that."
"We are not saying that all or even most cases of sporadic CJD are as a result of BSE exposure," Professor Collinge continued, "but some more recent cases may be--the incidence of sporadic CJD has shown an upward trend in the UK over the last decade... serious consideration should be given to a proportion of this rise being BSE-related. Switzerland, which has had a substantial BSE epidemic, has noted a sharp recent increase in sporadic CJD." In the Nineties, Switzerland had the highest rate of Mad Cow disease in continental Europe, and their rate of sporadic CJD doubled.
We don't know exactly what's happening to the rate of CJD in this country, in part because CJD is not an officially notifiable illness. Currently only a few states have such a requirement. Because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not actively monitor the disease on a national level, a rise similar to the one in Europe could be missed. In spite of this, a number of U.S. CJD clusters have already been found. In the largest known U.S. outbreak of sporadic cases to date, five times the expected rate was found to be associated with cheese consumption in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. A striking increase in CJD over expected levels was also reported in Florida and New York (Nassau County) with anecdotal reports of clusters of deaths in Oregon and New Jersey.
Perhaps particularly worrisome is the seeming increase in CJD deaths among young people in this country. In the 18 years between 1979 and 1996, only a single case of sporadic CJD was found in someone under 30. Whereas between 1997 and 2001, five people under 30 died of sporadic CJD. So five young Americans dying in five years, as opposed to one young case in the previous 18 years. The true prevalence of CJD among any age group in this country remains a mystery, though, in part because it is so commonly misdiagnosed.
The most frequent misdiagnosis of CJD among the elderly is Alzheimer's disease. Neither CJD nor Alzheimer's can be conclusively diagnosed without a brain biopsy, and the symptoms and pathology of both diseases overlap. There can be spongy changes in Alzheimer's, for example, and senile Alzheimer's plaques in CJD. Stanley Prusiner, the scientist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of prions, speculates that Alzheimer's may even turn out to be a prion disease as well. In younger victims, CJD is more often misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis or as a severe viral infection.
Over the last 20 years the rates of Alzheimer's disease in the United States have skyrocketed. According to the CDC, Alzheimer's Disease is now the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, afflicting an estimated 4 million Americans. Twenty percent or more of people clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, though, are found at autopsy not to have had Alzheimer's at all. A number of autopsy studies have shown that a few percent of Alzheimer's deaths may in fact be CJD. Given the new research showing that infected beef may be responsible for some sporadic CJD, thousands of Americans may already be dying because of Mad Cow disease every year.
Nobel Laureate Gajdusek, for example, estimates that 1% of people showing up in Alzheimer clinics actually have CJD. At Yale, out of a series of 46 patients clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer's, six were proven to have CJD at autopsy. In another study of brain biopsies, out of a dozen patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's according to established criteria, three of them were actually dying from CJD. An informal survey of neuropathologists registered a suspicion that CJD accounts for 2-12% of all dementias in general. Two autopsy studies showed a CJD rate among dementia deaths of about 3%.[69,70] A third study, at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that 5% of patients diagnosed with dementia had CJD. Although only a few hundred cases of sporadic CJD are officially reported in the U.S. annually, hundreds of thousands of Americans die with dementia every year. Thousands of these deaths may actually be from CJD caused by eating infected meat.
The incubation period for human spongiform encephalopathies such as CJD can be decades. This means it can be years between eating infected meat and getting diagnosed with the death sentence of CJD. Although only about 150 people have so far been diagnosed with variant CJD worldwide, it will be many years before the final death toll is known. In the United States, an unknown number of animals are infected with Mad Cow disease, causing an unknown number of human deaths from CJD. The U.S. should immediately begin testing all cows destined for human consumption, as is done in Japan, should stop feeding slaughterhouse waste to all farm animals (see http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/GregerBSE.cfm), and should immediately enact an active national surveillance program for CJD.
Five years ago this week, the Center for Food Safety, the Humane Farming Association, the Center for Media & Democracy, and ten families of CJD victims petitioned the FDA and the CDC to immediately enact a national CJD monitoring system, including the mandatory reporting of CJD in all 50 states. The petition was denied. The CDC argued that their passive surveillance system tracking death certificate diagnoses was adequate. Their analysis of death certificates in three states and two cities, for example, showed an overall stable and typical one in a million CJD incidence rate from 1979 to 1993. But CJD is so often misdiagnosed, and autopsies are so infrequently done, that this system may not provide an accurate assessment.
In 1997, the CDC set up the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University to analyze brain tissue from CJD victims in the U.S. in hopes of tracking any new developments. In Europe, surveillance centers have been seeing most, if not all, cases of CJD. The U.S. center sees less than half. "I'm very unhappy with the numbers," laments Pierluigi Gambetti , the director of the Center. "The British and Germans politely smile when they see we examine 30% or 40% of the cases," he says. "They know unless you examine 80% or more, you are not in touch." "The chance of losing an important case is high."
One problem is that many doctors don't even know the Center exists. And neither the CDC nor the Center are evidently authorized to reach out to them directly to bolster surveillance efforts, because it's currently up to each state individually to determine how--or even whether--they will track the disease. In Europe, in contrast, the national centers work directly with each affected family and their physicians. In the U.S., most CJD cases--even the confirmed ones--seem to just fall through the cracks. In fact, based on the autopsy studies at Yale and elsewhere, it seems most CJD cases in the U.S. aren't even picked up in the first place.
Autopsy rates have dropped in the U.S. from 50% in the Sixties to less than 10% at present. Although one reason autopsies are rarely performed on atypical dementia cases is that medical professionals are afraid of catching the disease, the primary reason for the decline in autopsy rates in general appears to be financial. There is currently no direct reimbursement to doctors or hospitals for doing autopsies, which often forces the family to absorb the cost of transporting the body to an autopsy center and having the brain samples taken, a tab that can run upwards of $1500.
Another problem is that the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center itself remains underfunded. Paul Brown, medical director for the National Institutes of Health, has described the Center's budget as "pitiful," complaining that "there isn't any budget for CJD surveillance." To adequately survey America's 290 million residents, "you need a lot of money." UK CJD expert Robert Will explains, "There was a CJD meeting of families in America in which... [the CDC] got attacked fairly vigorously because there wasn't proper surveillance. You could only do proper surveillance if you have adequate resources." "I compare this to the early days of AIDS," says protein chemist Shu Chen, who directs the Center's lab, "when no one wanted to deal with the crisis."
Andrew Kimbrell, the director of the Center for Food Safety, a D.C.-based public interest group, writes, "Given what we know now, it is unconscionable that the CDC is not strictly monitoring these diseases." Given the presence of Mad Cow disease in the U.S., we need to immediately enact uniform active CJD surveillance on a national level, provide adequate funding not only for autopsies but also for the shipment of bodies, and require mandatory reporting of the disease in all 50 states. In Britain, even feline spongiform encephalopathy, the cat version of Mad Cow disease, is an officially notifiable illness. "No one has looked for CJD systematically in the U.S.," notes NIH medical director Paul Brown. "Ever."
The animal agriculture industries continue to risk public safety, and the government seems to protect the industries' narrow business interests more than it protects its own citizens. Internal USDA documents retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act show that our government did indeed consider a number of precautionary measures as far back as 1991 to protect the American public from Mad Cow disease. According to one such document, however, the USDA explained that the "disadvantage" of these measures was that "the cost to the livestock and rendering industries would be substantial."
Plant sources of protein for farm animals can cost up to 30% more than cattle remains. The Cattlemen's Association admitted a decade ago that animal agribusiness could indeed find economically feasible alternatives to feeding slaughterhouse waste to other animals, but that the they did not want to set a precedent of being ruled by "activists."
Is it a coincidence that USDA Secretary Veneman chose Dale Moore, former chief lobbyist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, as her chief of staff? Or Alison Harrison, former director of public relations for the Cattlemen's Association, as her official spokeswoman? Or that one of the new Mad Cow committee appointees is William Hueston, who was paid by the beef industry to testify against Oprah Winfrey in hopes of convicting her of beef "disparagement"? After a similar conflict of interest unfolded in Britain, their entire Ministry of Agriculture was dissolved and an independent Food Safety Agency was created, whose sole responsibility is to protect the public's health. Until we learn from Britain's lesson, and until the USDA stops treating this as a PR problem to be managed instead of a serious global threat, millions of Americans will remain at risk.
For updates on this evolving crisis, visit http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm or send a blank email to mailto:DrGregerMadCowUpdatesemail@example.com
For background on this important issue, read the excellent book Mad Cow U.S.A., the full text of which is available free online at http://www.prwatch.org, or my report "U.S. Violates WHO Guidelines for Mad Cow Disease" at http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/GregerBSE.cfm.
Michael Greger, M.D., has been the Chief BSE Investigator for Farm Sanctuary since 1993 and the Mad Cow Coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association since 2001. Dr. Greger has debated the National Cattlemen's Beef Association before the FDA and was invited as an expert witness at the infamous Oprah Winfrey "meat defamation" trial. He has contributed to many books and articles on the subject, continues to lecture extensively, and currently runs the Mad Cow disease website http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine. He can be reached for media inquiries at (206) 312-8640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Full text of specific articles available by emailing article-request@DrGreger.org)
1 Spokesman Review. 22 September 2003 http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/putnam92203.cfm
2 HealthDayNews. 26 September 2003 http://www.healthday.com/view.cfm?id=515265
3 Reuters. 27 December 2003 http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/cjd122703.cfm
4 Moyes, Jojo. "Depression Leads to Painful Death." Independent 21 March 1996: 1.
5 "Victims' Families Cry Cover-Up by Protecting Beef Industry, Government Cost Lives, They Say." Miami Herald 26 March 1996: 7A.
6 PA News 30 November 1998.
8 Brown, Paul. "Beef Crisis." Guardian 26 March 1996a: 7.
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15 Journal of the American Medical Association, November 8, 2000; 284(18).
17 "BSE prions propagate as either variant CJD-like or sporadic CJD-like prion strains in transgenic mice expressing human prion protein." EMBO Journal, Vol. 21, No. 23, 6358-6368, 2002. http://emboj.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/full/21/23/6358
18 United Press International. 29 December 2003. http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/CJD122903.cfm
19 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98(2001):4142.
20 "BSE may cause more CJD cases than thought New Scientist 28 November 2002.
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26 National Hog Farmer. 15 February 2002.
27 American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 122, No. 3 (1985), pgs. 443-451.
29 Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease surveillance in the UK: sixth annual report 1997. Edinburgh, Scotland: National CJD Surveillance Unit, 1998.
30 American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 122, No. 3 (1985), pgs. 443-451.
31 Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease surveillance in the UK: sixth annual report 1997. Edinburgh, Scotland: National CJD Surveillance Unit, 1998.
32 Quarterly Journal of Medicine 93(2000):617.
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41 Pearce, Fred. "BSE May Lurk in Pigs and Chickens." New Scientist 6 April 1996: 5.
43 "BSE May Have Caused Some Cases Of CJD As Well As vCJD." The Guardian. 29 November 2002.
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47 Altman, Lawrence K. "U.S. Officials Confident That Mad Cow Disease of Britain Has Not Occurred Here." New York Times 27 March 1996: 12A.
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51 Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science 31(2001):211.
52 Boule, Margie. "Despite Anecdotal Evidence, Docs Say No Mad Cow Disease Here." Oregonian 16 April 1996: C01.
53 Burlington County Times 23 June 2003. http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/112-06232003-112425.html
54 Philip Yam. The Pathological Protein: Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and Other Deadly Prion Diseases. New York: Springer-Verlag Press, 2003.
55 British Journal of Psychiatry 158 (1991): 457-70.
56 Neurology 38 (1989): 76-79.
57 Neurology 39 (1989): 1103-1104.
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59 "Brain Disease May Be Commoner Than Thought -Expert." Reuter Information Service 15 May 1996.
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65 Folstein, M. "The Cognitive Pattern of Familial Alzheimer's Disease." Biological Aspects of Alzheimer's Disease. Ed. R. Katzman. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1983.
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69 Mahendra, B. Dementia Lancaster: MTP Press Limited, 1987: 174.
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84 Altman, Lawrence K. "Four States Watching for Brain Disorder." New York Times 9 April 1996.
87 Case Western Reserve University Magazine - Summer 2001.
88 Case Western Reserve University Magazine - Summer 2001.
89 USA Today. 7 January 1999.
90 Philip Yam. The Pathological Protein: Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and Other Deadly Prion Diseases. New York: Springer-Verlag Press, 2003.
91 Rampton, S and J. Stauber. Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? Common Courage Press; (September 1997):149-50. Full text available free online at http://prwatch.org/books/madcow.html
92 Food Chemical News 25 March 1996: 30.
93 Food Chemical News 5 July 1993: 57-59.
97 "World Health Organization says BSE is a major threat" http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/BSE7601.cfm
Michael Greger, M.D.
Chief BSE Investigator for Farm Sanctuary
Mad Cow Coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association
185 South St #6
Boston, MA 02130
For periodic updates on the Mad Cow crisis send a blank email to mailto:DrGregerMadCowUpdatesemail@example.com
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Happy New Year!
I think I said it somewhere else on this site about the three big NO-NO's... Don't talk in mixed company about religion, politics, and how to raise the other person's kids. Boring!!
These days, the conversation inevitably converges on the terrorist situation. Moreover, one is eventually coerced to take a position on one issue or another. On New Year's Eve, a discussion centered on WMD's (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and the war in Iraq. The group I was with were following the common discussion of the Bush's Administration's misleading the American Public on WMD's as one of the prime reasons for invasion. Additionally, a CATO Policy Analysis just came in that day entitled "Iraq: The Wrong War". This was more than I could take. It is not that I agree 100% with what is going on, or express blind support, however, this instant gratification world we have developed in the last 20 years has distorted our sense of time that is necessary to properly analyze and resolve issues. We are still seeing revelations from WWII and the Kennedy years. How can anyone state definitively such strong opinions on such a tactical view of the overall mess the world is in at the moment?
Nonetheless, this sniping and second guessing does nothing but indirectly undermine our national security AND aid or encourage those who would do us harm.
The fact remains that Iraq had chemical weapons and somehow they either buried them or shipped them somewhere. The trail will be picked up.
The fact also exists that troublesome regimes are showing a bit more cooperation because someone finally had the guts to take action.
This is a very difficult position to expound upon or to promote, since there is a lot of disinformation floating around and if one supports the Iraq occupation, that person is suddenly labeled a hawk or imperialist.
This is where our enemies take advantage of us, because we are afraid to voice our opinions and worse, if we do, we usually stick our foot in our mouth or don't know what to say. The useful idiots will continue their irritating ways until overwhelming positive results silence them. War is not a good platform for positive results based on our current instant gratification mindset.
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