Thoughts as they occur...
Thoughts from a chaotic mind
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Try as I may, I cannot come to terms with the hatred expressed by "progressives" against George Bush. Since they consider themselves intellectually superior to the unwashed masses, their true elitism nature comes bursting forth. How can they be so intolerant? For everything they have always said they have stood for, there is clear evidence that it is all false and is simply a front to regain control of their social engineering projects on the guinea pig masses. They loathe the minorities and the unions they garner support from. They daily sell their snake oil of fear to those less educated with their confusing rhetoric. The idiocy of the recent democratic debates is amplified by the lack of vision and leadership and a general muddle of Bush-bashing. Oh that the unwashed masses would see through this sham.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
I'M THE SLIME
I am gross and perverted
I'm obsessed and deranged
I have existed for years
but very little has changed
I'm the tool of the government and industry too
for I am destined to rule and regulate you
I may be vile and pernicious
but you can't look away
I make you think I'm delicious
with the stuff that I say
I'm the best you can get
have you guessed me yet?
I am the slime oozin' out from your TV-set
You will obey me while I lead you
and eat the garbage that I feed you
until the day that we don't need you
don't go for help ... no one will heed you
your mind is totally controlled
it has been stuffed into my mold
and you will do as you are told
until the rights to you are sold
Frank Zappa 1973
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
The Sleaze Behind Our Science
The conflicts of interest revealed by the MMR story are everywhere.
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 24th February 2004
Pity Andrew Wakefield. The doctor who suggested that there might be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, causing thousands of parents to refuse to let their children have the jab, is being paraded through the nation with the label "cheat" hung round his neck. The General Medical Council is deciding whether to charge him with professional misconduct, MPs have called for an inquiry, and the newspapers are tearing him to bits.
There's little doubt that he messed up. Some of his findings have been disproved by further studies, and we now know that when he published his paper he failed to reveal that he was taking money from the Legal Aid Board. The board was paying him to discover, on behalf of parents hoping to sue for damages, whether or not the jab was harmful.
It looks like a conflict of interest, and his failure to disclose it was wrong. But the crime for which the new Dr Evil is being punished is everywhere. The scientific establishment is rotten from top to bottom, riddled with conflicts far graver than Dr Wakefield's. Such is the state of science today that if, for example, there HAS been a genuine rise in the incidence of autism, and if that rise is linked to an environmental pollutant or the side-effects of a valuable drug, it's hard to see how we would ever find out.
Just as Wakefield was being burnt in effigy over the weekend, a much bigger story passed by almost unnoticed. The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report showing how American science has been systematically nobbled by George Bush.1 Whenever scientific research conflicts with the needs of his corporate sponsors or the religious fanatics who helped him into office, he has sought to suppress it.
Last year, the White House tried to force the Environmental Protection Agency to alter its findings on climate change. It ordered the agency to dump its temperature records and replace them with a discredited study partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute. It told the EPA to delete the finding that "climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment".2
It went on to suppress the agency's findings on mercury pollution from power stations, and to block the publication of a study showing that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are leaking from pig farms.3 When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control revealed that Bush's "abstinence-only" sex-education programme appears to have caused an increase in teenage pregnancies, the CDC was told to stop gathering data.4 The National Cancer Institute was instructed to claim, quite wrongly, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. 5 Independent scientists have been purged from the government's expert panels and replaced with corporate stooges and religious nutters. One learned professor hoping for a seat was asked how he had voted in the presidential election. He gave the wrong answer, and wasn't appointed.6
But Bush has simply systematised something which has been taking place informally, all over the world, for years. The religious component is mostly new, but the corporate distortion of science is almost universal.
One study, published in 2001, found that only 16% of scientific journals had a policy on conflicts of interest, and only 0.5% of the papers they published disclosed such conflicts.7 The same researcher found that 34% of the lead authors of the scientific papers he studied were compromised by their sources of funding.8 In other words, the great majority of the scientists with conflicts of interest are failing to disclose them.
Wakefield's paper (and therefore his conflict) was consequential - measles, mumps and rubella are likely to have spread as a result of the vaccine scare - but no more consequential than the daily deceptions practised by the most eminent scientists. A study of research papers examining the side-effects of a class of heart drugs called calcium channel blockers found that 96% of the researchers who said they were safe had financial relationships with the manufacturers, as opposed to 37 per cent of those who raised concerns.9 Other studies have found similar relationships between the financial interests of researchers and their reporting of the dangers of passive smoking and the side effects of contraceptive pills.10
It gets worse. In 2002, the Guardian revealed that British and American scientists are putting their names to papers they have not written.11 The papers are "ghosted" or co-written by employees of the drugs companies, then signed, for a handsome fee, by respectable researchers. In some cases, the researchers have not even seen the raw data on which the papers' conclusions are based. A pharmacologist who has studied the practice told the Guardian, "it may well be that 50% of the articles on drugs in the major journals across all areas of medicine are not written in a way that the average person in the street expects."12
Among the papers he had questioned was one suggesting there was no link between SmithKline Beecham's anti-depressant drug seroxat and an increased risk of suicide. Last year, the government managed to extract the company's original data. This showed that the drug trials revealed a clear increase in suicidal tendencies.13 Earlier this month a further leak, to the Panorama programme, revealed that the drug didn't even work.14 How many suicides might have been avoided if those scientists had not put their names to SmithKline Beecham's report? And why haven't THEY been hauled before the General Medical Council?
It's left to non-scientists to try to drag the data we need to see into the public domain. Friends of the Earth are currently being sued by the biotech company Bayer to prevent them from exposing its data on the environmental and health effects of glufosinate ammonium, the herbicide used on the GM maize the government wants to approve for planting in Britain.15 By all accounts the figures make grim reading. But if Bayer gets its way, neither we nor the government will be allowed to see them before the decision is made.
Three years ago, eleven of the biggest medical journals drew up a code on conflicts of interest. It is plainly not working. Since it was published, an analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 87% of the scientists who write the clinical guidelines used by doctors for prescribing drugs have financial links to drugs companies. Over half of them are connected to the companies whose drugs they are reviewing. Of the 44 papers analysed, only one carried a declaration of conflicting interests. 16
So, given that undisclosed conflicts of interest in science are everywhere, why is it only Dr Wakefield whose bloody remains are being dragged through the streets? The obvious answer is that his alleged co-option works against the interests of the drugs companies, while almost everyone else's works in their favour. Why? Because in science, as in all fields of human endeavour, you get what you pay for. There is more corruption in our university faculties than there is in the building industry. But, though the mobs are baying for Wakefield's blood, hardly anyone in Britain seems to give a damn.
The references for this and all George Monbiot's recent articles can be found at www.monbiot.com.
1. The Union of Concerned Scientists, February 2004. Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science. UCS, Cambridge, MA.
7. S. Krimsky and L.S. Rothenberg, 2001. Science and Engineering Ethics 7, 205-218, cited in Frank van Kolfschooten, 28th March 2002. Can You Believe What You Read? Nature Vol 416, 360-363.
8. S Krimsky et al, 1996. Science and Engineering Ethics 2, 395-410, cited in Frank van Kolfschooten, ibid.
9. Henry Stelfox et al, 8th January 1998. Conflict of Interest in the Debate over Calcium-Channel Antagonists. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 338, No. 2.
10. Liz Lightfoot, 14th February 2000. Scientists 'Asked to Fix Results for Backer'. Daily Telegraph.
11. Sarah Boseley, 7th February 2002. Scandal of Scientists Who Take Money for Papers Ghostwritten by Drug Companies. The Guardian.
12. David Healy, cited in Sarah Boseley, 7th February 2002, ibid.
13. Sarah Boseley, 3rd February 2004. Company 'Held Back' Data on Drug for Children. The Guardian.
14. Sarah Boseley, 3rd February 2004, ibid.
15. Phil Michaels, Friends of the Earth lawyer, 23rd February 2004. pers comm.
16. Cited in Alison Tonks, 16 February 2002. Authors of Guidelines Have Strong Links with Drugs Industry. British Medical Journal, 324:383.
24th February 2004
Monday, February 16, 2004
A couple of stories come to mind to illustrate incrementalism...
1. You've heard the story of the frog put in cold water and the temperature gradually rising until the frog actually boils. If you put the frog near the hot water, it will immediately jump away...much like the public did with the resent fiasco during the Super Bowl.
2. A friend used this illustration for ecological pollution, but it could be applied to pollution of the soul, as well. If you take a five gallon carboy of water and a dropper filled with red die, one drop of die will not be seen, but if the drops continue to be added, over time, the water will take on a pinkish tinge. The damage has been done.
So it is in our society where nothing shocks anymore, yet to the quest for a shock never ends. This results in a continual expansion of the "moral envelope" or the limit of what is morally acceptable.
Can we put the genie back in the bottle or is it too late? What do you think can be done or should be done to stem this tide?
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
12 "Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything.
13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."
17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
- - AND - -
20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Proud Versus Humble
Proud, unbroken people
- have self-righteous, critical, fault-finding spirits
- look down on others
- are independent; have self-sufficient spirits
- maintain control; must have their way
- have to prove they are right
- desire to be served
- are driven to be recognized and appreciated
- are quick to blame others
- are concerned about what others think
- wants to be sure no one finds out about their sin
- have a hard time saying, "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"
Humble, broken people
- are compassionate; have forgiving spirits; look for the best in others
- esteem all others before themselves
- have dependent spirits; recognize others' needs
- surrender control
- are willing to yield the right to be right
- are motivated to serve others
- are thrilled to be used at all; are eager for others to get the credit
- accept personal responsibility; can see where they are wrong
- knows that all that matters is what God knows
- are willing to be exposed; know once broken, there's nothing to lose
- are quick to admit fault and to seek forgiveness
By Warren Wiersbe
Thursday, February 12, 2004
President Bush lied?
Re-evaluating Weapons of Mass Destruction
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the
capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver
them. That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998
"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose
is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters
a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue
state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against
us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998
"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has
ten times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18,
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent
with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions
(including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect
Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by
Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction
- Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom
Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons
of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries
in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998
"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons
of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999
"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his
weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical
and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf
War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery
systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile
program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the
United States and our allies."
- Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,)
and others, December 5, 2001
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a
tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region.
He has ignored the mandated of the United Nations and is
building weapons of mass destruction and the means of
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and
chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven
impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue
for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking
and developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998.
We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of
chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked
on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological
warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is
seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States
the authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because
I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction
in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working
aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have
nuclear weapons within the next five years .. We also should
remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has
made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002
"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11
years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that
he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and
any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do"
- Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence
reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his
chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery
capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid,
comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda
members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam
Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage
biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to
develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence
that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a
developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons
of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002
"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a
brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ....
He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently
prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's
response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for
weapons of mass destruction. So the threat of Saddam Hussein
with weapons of mass destruction is real."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003
SO NOW THE DEMOCRAT LEADERSHIP SAY PRESIDENT BUSH LIED, THAT
THERE NEVER WERE ANY WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND HE
TOOK US TO WAR FOR HIS OIL BUDDIES??? ANOTHER 'LIE DU JOUR'. THEIR
NOSES GET LONGER EVERY DAY.
PLEASE PASS ALONG.
Friday, February 06, 2004
(This has been around for a while, but it is worth keeping on top of the pile.)
Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.
Our Senators and Congresspersons do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it.
You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan. In more recent years, no congressperson has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan.
For all practical purposes their plan works like this:
When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die.
Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments.
For example, former Senator Byrd or Danforth or Congressman White or Gephardt and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars ), with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives.
This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two Dignitaries.
Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much more during the rest of their lives.
Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA....ZILCH....
This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds;
"OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK"!
From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, -every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer)- we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after retirement.
Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill Bradley' s benefits!
Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.
That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us ... then sit back and watch how fast they would fix it.
If enough people read this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.
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