The American Medical Association declared obesity a disease at their meeting in Chicago. The move was not supported by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health but a majority of physicians attending the convention voted in favour of it.
Obesity is a looming problem for many of the world’s societies. It is perhaps, most pronounced in the US where obesity has been described as an epidemic. Lifestyle choices play a part in obesity, but as the medical community learns more about human metabolism, heredity and hormones have been shown to be contributing factors in some cases. The new field of epigenetics is implicating famines generations removed as having an effect on a person’s weight.
Obesity and its related health outcomes cost the US an estimated $147 billion per year. Health problems associated with obesity can be chronic or short and fatal. Cancers of the breast, uterus and colon are more frequent. Trouble with fertility, heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2 and more are all increased in the overweight.
Children are increasing in girth even more rapidly than the adults. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children which sets them up for a myriad of health related problems. It has been predicted that today’s children will not live as long as their parents.
With the AMA’s declaration more health care insurance schemes may cover costs to reduce the client’s weight. (In British Columbia gastric by-pass surgery is covered under the provincial health plan, but the waiting list is long. Many patients opt for private care. ) It is very likely that those pharmaceutical companies producing “diet pills” will have increased sales and profit.
There are many strategies to help combat excessive fat. It is too simple to say, “Eat less, move more.” It should be “eat smarter”. In our fast paced society with often two parents working full time, it is unrealistic to grind your own flour to make bread or cook beans from the dried stage and just generally make every meal from scratch, but choosing whole grain breads and foods that are usually located on the perimeter of the super market are generally good choices. If it comes in a box it probably has too many calories for the nutrition supplied. Learn to read labels. Calorie and fat count is important, but look at the ingredients list too. Anything ending in –ose is a sugar. And stay away from the candy aisle. The easily digested sugar in candy will shoot up your blood sugar and your insulin levels, pushing you towards insulin resistance. Even more important is love yourself and if you want a dish of ice-cream go ahead and have it. Tomorrow is another day to make good choices and you won’t feel so deprived that you binge eat.
Exercise is important for all of us, skinny or fat, to maintain health. For those living on limited funds in cities, it becomes a problem. It is not safe to allow children to run down to the playground on their own and the living room becomes the centre of activities – couch and TV much too often.
The costs to societies for this new epidemic are considerable. It will take more than slapping a label on the problem in the hopes for a quick fix. A commitment to planning healthy exercise encouraging communities and insistence that healthy school lunches be served will go a long way to modifying the nation’s waistline.
It looks as if one school district is taking positive steps. The Portland, Oregon, school district menus
include a meat or meat substitute, unlimited vegetables and fruit and milk. They are also providing free lunches to children in the summer.
Further reading: Obesity in America CDC
Where is the honor in torture?
Detainees at the American offshore prison camp continue their hunger strikes. Of the 166 prisoners there, at least 100 are starving themselves to try to achieve justice. Nearly half of the prisoners are being force fed.
This has led the 150 concerned physicians to publish a letter in Tuesday’s Lancet urging the American administration to let them treat the detainees. The force feeding is considered by many to be torture and the inmates do not trust the military doctors who are following orders. Some of the doctors who volunteered their services are from the US.
Some prisoners have been kept in the offshore prison for more than a decade. They have not had a trial and while 86 of them have been cleared of wrongdoing, they still are not being released. In an Alice in Wonderland scenario, a further 46 men have been declared too dangerous to be released, yet they will not be tried because there isn’t enough evidence to convict them of a crime.
In addition to force feeding the hunger striking prisoners, Al Jazeera has revealed that the American jailers are administering a controversial drug to the inmates.
The drug, known as Reglan and produced in the US can leave the patient with permanent disfigurement and mental problems. Metoclopramide, commonly known by its brand name Reglan, is supposed to speed up the digestive process and remove the urge to vomit during force feeding. However, medical studies into the drug have determined that Reglan also is linked to a high rate of tardive dyskinesia (TD), a potentially irreversible and disfiguring disorder characterized by involuntary movements of the face, tongue, or extremities. Al Jazeera
This is just the latest injustice meted out to those languishing in the black prison in Cuba. Medical restraint is another euphemism used to say that the prisoner was drugged stupid. An antimalarial drug known to have severe side effects including thought of suicide and neurological symptoms was administered without the detainees’ consent. It is not surprising that after a decade of this sort of treatment that those men no longer trust the doctors.
History will judge the American people for allowing Gitmo to exist.
Further Reading: Revised Guantanamo force-feed policy exposedReglan
Montreal City Hall
Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was arrested early this morning, whisked to police headquarters and charged with 14 counts of corruption related crimes. The time period for the suspicious activities is between 2006 and 2011. Mayor Applebaum was sworn in as Montreal’s mayor to replace Gerald Tremblay who resigned under a cloud. Applebaum’s role as mayor lasted seven months before the arrest.
The ongoing investigations into widespread corruption in Quebec have taken their toll on politicians in that province. Quebec has long had a reputation for corruption and collusion with criminals. The ongoing investigation has reached into many dark corners in the past few months, coming up with a number of ‘plain brown envelopes’.
Arrested this morning as well was Saulie Zajdel, a former Conservative candidate, who now faces five criminal charges.
The net is catching more than Montreal politicians. The town of Laval had their mayor, Gilles Vaillancourt, arrested on charges of fraud and gangsterism. The administration of the town was placed under trusteeship because of suspicions that the corruption was widespread in their city hall.
The anti-corruption commission has set the spotlights onto the construction industry in Quebec as well, revealing payoffs. The superhospital being built in Montreal may have as much as a $115 million unexplained shortfall. Pierre Duhaime, former head of SNC Lavalin the lead contractor for the superhospital was charged with fraud and conspiracy. Dr. Arthur Porter, executive director of the superhospital being built for McGill University decamped to the Bahamas. He and his wife then moved to Panama and have now been sent back to Canada.
For ongoing and up to date information on the corruption scandal try the following: The Star Charbonneau Corruption Inquiry
Four letters that spell the code of life.
US Court Rules that Naturally Occurring Genes Can’t Be Patented In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled that “naturally occurring genes” cannot be patented. They did rule in their split decision that reconstructed genes, also known as complementary DNAs and cDNAs, can be patented.
Myriad Genetics has subsequently lost its right to patents on five genes, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which are used to detect some forms of breast cancer. Myriad did not come out a complete loser. They have retained 24 patents with 500 valid and enforceable claims. While the ruling will prohibit ownership of naturally occurring genes, research companies can still profit from the accoutrements surrounding the tests.
Public interest in the BRCA genes has increased with the news that superstar Angelina Jolie who lost her mother to breast cancer had her genetic profile tested for the marker which would indicate the tendency to a hereditary cancer. She took action by having her breasts removed. Four weeks later she lost an aunt to breast cancer. The average price of the test is about $3000, a price that is out of reach for many women. This Supreme Court ruling is expected to dramatically lower the price of the test.
With the advances in molecular and genetic medicine, the development of finely focussed testing and personalized treatment of diseases, the future looks good both for the research companies and for those needing specific genetic testing and treatment.
We are all oil junkies.
Apache Canada Limited, a Texas company, has announced that it has leaked about 9.5 million litres of toxic water into Northern wetlands. The 9.5 million litres translates to roughly 60 000 barrels of waste water flooding and contaminating about 104 acres(42 hectares).
A byproduct of the oil industry is dirty water, millions of litres of it. The petroleum industry has various names for this contaminated water. Most often it is called “produced water”, but it is also referred to as “brine” or “formation water”. It makes it sounds so much less toxic. Water, usually salty, is found in conjunction with most petroleum deposits. That makes up much of the produced water but in addition to the naturally occurring salt there may be other substances present: oil and grease, heavy metals, chemicals used in drilling for the oil pool and radioactive material called NORM.
The massive wastewater leak occurred on June 1st, but the public was not made aware of it until a citizen notified a local TV station. The Globe and Mail Toronto newspaper had the following quote from an Alberta government official as to why it took nearly two weeks for news of this contamination was released. When asked by the Globe and Mail why it took more than a week for authorities to disclose the spill, a spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board, the provincial regulator, said "there were no real public impacts".
The Apache Corp
. has a news release which reiterates that no harm done. They are sending equipment and personnel to the site now.
Others are not so sanguine about the safety of the spill. Those who have witnessed it say the water looks as black as oil and that any vegetation that it touches is dead or dying. Words for Today
· Produced water – contaminated water produced when an oil well is drilled. May contain various organic and inorganic materials either occurring naturally or added as part of the drilling process. Considered somewhat toxic.
· NORM – naturally occurring radioactive material. Often found in oil well waste water.
Security is an integral part of the modern Olympics.
One of the modern headaches for Olympics organizers is the matter of security, security for the athletes, spectators, volunteers, officials and more. Ever since the tragic events in Munich 1972, organizers have had to face the grim truth that cowardly and unbalanced people will make targets of the people at the games if they can.
Since then the costs of providing security at the Olympic venues has continued to escalate. The London Summer Games in 2012 saw extraordinary measures taken to ensure the security of all. The placement of land to air missiles atop a downtown apartment building was controversial but in the end, unneeded. The winter games for 2014 in Sochi, Russia may prove to be even costlier and more difficult. The Russians are not disclosing the security bill for the games, but speculation places it around $2 billion US.
While the city of Sochi has an experienced security force, Sochi has a presidential residence, the close proximity of an area of Islamic insurgency has added to the usual security responsibilities. The city has a reputation for massive traffic jams which would impede swift deployment of rescue and security personnel. Nikolai Vasilyev speaking for the search and rescue arm was quoted:
”It would be practically impossible for ambulances and our vehicles to get to an Olympic facility," Vasilyev said. "
We can only hope that everything goes forward smoothly." CBC Sports
Sochi, nestled at the foot of Cacausus Mountains and bordering the Black Sea, would seem like an idyllic site for an international sporting event. They have some unstable governments for neighbours – Georgia, Dagestan, Chechnya. Dagestan was the home country of the Boston Bombers whose cowardly acts targeted athletes and spectators at the running of the Boston Marathon this spring.
The Russians are employing extraordinary methods to ensure a safe and uneventful celebration of sports. They have spoken about drones overhead, explosive sniffing robots, fast patrol boats on the Black Sea, thousands of well equipped troops, police and private guards. We can expect that there is more that they are not speaking about.
Still, there is some apprehension about lone actors. Corruption of gatekeepers is a possibility. Terrorists have killed Russians in bold and deadly attacks in spite of best efforts. 2002 saw over 100 people killed in a theatre, 2004 marked the deaths of over 300, half of them children, and more recently attacks in the Moscow subway unsettled many. January, a suicide bomber died at a Moscow airport.
Babies are a lifetime commitment.
Family planning advocates sighed in relief today when the Obama administration declined to challenge the court ruling that the morning after pill should be available to women and girls as young as 15. The emergency contraception is effective for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. It has been ruled in the American courts that the emergency method is contraception rather than abortion, something that those opposed to its use dispute.
The high dosage of synthetic progesterone that is contained in the morning after pill(aka Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, Ella) prevents a mature egg from being released as usual. During the time that a sperm would journey up the Fallopian tubes, there would be no egg present to be fertilized. Planned Parenthood in the US
has a good information site for women of childbearing age to access to see if this method is useful for them. It is not touted as a routine method of contraception if for no other reason than its cost which varies between $10 and $70 per pill.
This method of emergency contraception
has been available in Canada over the counter in all provinces and territories except Saskatchewan which keeps it behind the counter and Quebec which requires a prescription. My Opinion:
There are those who would say that 15 year olds shouldn’t be engaging in intercourse, and I would agree with them. The problem is, teenagers do many things that are not wise, and a pregnancy shouldn’t be a consequence of a lapse in judgement. Of course there are many other reasons why women have unprotected sex, some of them, not of their choosing.
Traditional Asian medicine is often very effective.
Recent clashes in the highlands of Tibet have injured villagers and killed two. Chinese military have moved into Rebgong County to keep the peace. The disturbances over the valuable fungus have prompted the Dalai Lama to speak out, reminding the villagers of the tenets of Buddhism.
Caterpillar fungus preparations are highly valued in traditional Asian medicine. They are reputed to be effective as an aphrodisiac
and also in fighting fatigue and cancers. Western scientific investigations are starting to tease out what might be the active ingredient in this odd fungus.
The caterpillar fungus gathering
in Tibet has gone on for centuries in a sustainable manner, but changing economic times in Asia have pushed prices for the fungus into the stratosphere. In 2008 prices for the lowest quality parasitized caterpillar was $3000 per kilo and up to $18000 per kilo for the best. Another source claims $50 000 per pound(approx. $112 500 per kilo)When many villagers earn the equivalent of two or three dollars per day, you can see how tempers can flare over “picking rights”
The stakes are high for villages that cooperate. One village is reported to have outfitted the roofs of houses with solar panels with the money obtained from one harvest of the ‘yarsta gunbu’.
The market for this weird little fungus seems limitless. The net has sites touting the seemingly magic properties of it. And, of course, these sites are able to sell the supplements to those who buy the magic. Yarsta gunbu may indeed have medicinal properties, but buying testosterone boosters from the net is always a big gamble. From a biological point of view, your body maintains homeostasis so if you are not already deficient in testosterone, adding an external source will only shut down your natural production. Think about what part of a man’s anatomy is the primary producer of that hormone before taking unneeded supplements. In the last decade, a number of Chinese studies have backed up the performance benefits of this mushroom. One, published in 2004 in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found that cordyceps improved athletes' oxygen utilization by as much as 50 percent. Bodybuilding
Smile You are being surveilled.
The American Civil Liberties is challenging the right of their federal government to exercise Section 15 of the Patriot Act. This section was in the news recently with leaked revelations that the government has been spying routinely on its citizens. Actually, more than American citizens have been spied upon. The leaked document states that customers of phone provider Verizon, had their connections “data mined”. Verizon was obligated to keep its part secret.
With only a bit of a red face, the government spokesperson stated that the actual phone conversations were not monitored but notes were kept of who was called, when, where and how often people were called. Their side of the story is that of the approximately 100 million people who were spied upon one terrorist action was prevented. They declined to elaborate about what was prevented.
With phone numbers, connections and other details it is possible to make up a fairly accurate picture of a surveilled person.
The Patriot Act is an insidious piece of legislation that makes it legal for librarians to secretly allow the FBI or other federal officials to keep track of what books are borrowed from the library. The feds can demand that electronic data be released to them, no matter where it was gathered, if the company is based in the US. If your health records are kept electronically by a US company, they are open to the snoops.
The all encompassing act allows the searching of your laptop or cell phone at the border. The border guard need not have any basis for rummaging through your private information – baby pictures, you being silly with someone, sensitive health information – you get the picture.
Section 15 is very encompassing in its breadth. Two of its points are reprinted below. More details are available on the ACLU site. The FBI need not show probable cause, nor even reasonable grounds to believe, that the person whose records it seeks is engaged in criminal activity. Those served with Section 215 orders are prohibited from disclosing the fact to anyone else. Those who are the subjects of the surveillance are never notified that their privacy has been compromised. ACLU
It stunning to me, as an outsider to the US, to see how passive many citizens have become. TV interviews show people saying things like, “I don’t have anything to hide.” “Well, if this makes us safer we can live with it.” Reminds me of a quote from that American revolutionary, Benjamin Franklin: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
The “Important People” have gathered once again to decide what to do with all the “Little People” . The 61st meeting of the Bilderberg Group is being held in Hertfordshire, England at the Grove Hotel. The invitation only, very private meetings have been held each year with invitees from Europe and N. America. In recent years, people have been invited from China as well. Wikipedia has a list of attendees from years past.
Who is invited to attend the six day hush, hush meetings? Politicians and the question arises who is paying for the person to attend when they are sworn to secrecy? Heads of banks, lots of money there. Successful, read very successful business people. European royalty. You get the picture.
We should feel grateful that these rich and famous, although secretive, people are running a charity whose stated goal is public education. They don’t waste a lot of money on administrative staff either. The Steering Committee is the only formal admin they have. The charity is overseen by its three trustees (pdf): Bilderberg steering committee member and serving minister Kenneth Clarke MP; Lord Kerr of Kinlochard; and Marcus Agius, the former chairman of Barclays who resigned over the Libor scandal. The Guardian UK
While the world leaders are holding informal discussions with other power brokers, much discussion is also taking place among conspiracy theorists and human rights activists. Those that look at top level, invitation only, secretive meetings maintain that it is a sign of the world’s secret government and their working toward a New World Order.
New World Order conspiracy theorists maintain that the signs are there for a cabal of powerful and wealthy people to organize a global government that suppresses human rights and supersedes national governments.