Newsletter (20 January 2004)
165 deaths of cancer
"The Cellular Antennas are Killing Us"
165 cancer cases were found in one neighbourhood in Osafia.
The Health Ministry started researching the connection between the cancer cases and the antennas that are erected in the area, and considers extending the research to Yavne, Modeen, Reut and Tamra.
By Alex Doron
After the villages Zoran and Porat which became famous for their cancer cases multitude that were linked to the radiation from radio antennas, it's time for the Druze village Osafia to fight the cellular companies. To the meeting of the parliament committee came the representatives of Osafia's "The Women Committee for Fighting the Antennas", who told that in the last 4 years 165 people died of cancer, all of them lived in one neighbourhood where there are cellular antennas. "We decided to unite and stop the monster" said the committe member Mira Abu Zalef. "The cellular companies representatives come as thieves in the night to erect the antennas". Abu Zalef presented herself as a mother of three children who had a brain damage, and added: "I don't want others to go through what I went through. Every day a new cancer case if found". Another committe member, Zahia Naser, was furious: "The Nature and Gardens Authority forbade erecting antennas in the National Park because of concerns for the animals' lives. And what about us? There is no concern about our lives?"
Dr. Micha Bar Hana, manager of the national cancer registry of the Health Ministry reported that he had started a research on Osafia in order to find out the connection between the exposure to electromagnetic radiation and the cancer rate in Osafia, "but we have difficulties in gathering data". Parliament members suggested that the research will be extended also to Yavne, Modeen, Reut and Tamra, which complained about many cancer cases near antennas.
The cellular companies representative, Asaf Aisen, said that the companies check the base stations and give all the data to the Environment's Quality Ministry. He emphasized that the radiation levels "are very low".
Parliament member Ofir Pines informed that he would initiate a law of 3 years in prison for manager of any cellular company that will erect antennas in a pirate way.
Informant: Iris Atzmon
Here is a stunning comment made by Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal:
"The public is being regularly deceived by the drug trials funded by pharmaceutical companies, loaded to generate the results they need."
Though Richard Smith's below article is about scientific spin as practiced by the drug companies, it's application to other contentious issues, such as cellphone research is tempting.
"The public is being regularly deceived by the drug trials funded by pharmaceutical companies, loaded to generate the results they need."
Wednesday January 14, 2004
Yet the whole scientific point of doing such trials is to answer so far unanswered questions. Supposedly, researchers conduct trials when they are in a charmed state called "equipoise", which means they are genuinely uncertain which is the best treatment. If they think one treatment is better than another, then they shouldn't be conducting the trial.
A review published in 2003 found 30 studies that had compared the results of trials funded by drug companies with those funded from other sources. Trials funded by companies were four times more likely to have results favourable to them than those funded by others.
Yet the technical quality of the trials funded by drug companies was always as good and often better than the quality of those funded by other sources. This is not surprising, as drug company trials are tightly regulated. There are explicit high standards, and companies can afford to hire the best to conduct the trials.
How then do companies usually manage to fund research that is favourable to them? An answer is supplied in a recent issue of the BMJ by Dave Sackett and Andy Oxman, two tireless campaigners for the better use of scientific evidence in medicine. They have founded a spoof company called Harlot - which stands for How to Achieve positive Results without actually Lying to Overcome the Truth. They created the company after it finally dawned on them that "being good and being poor are causally related: being good doesn't pay".
Harlot plc promises to give drug companies and others the results they want. Your drug may be wholly ineffective, Sackett and Oxman promise, but as long as it isn't a lot worse than a sip of triple distilled water, then Harlot can produce positive results from a trial. Importantly, these results are not usually achieved by doing poor quality trials. The trick is in the question asked and the design of the trial. Sackett and Oxman, both experts on the design and analysis of trials, describe 13 methods for getting the results you want.
One of the commonest methods is to test a new drug not against an effective treatment but against a placebo. Ironically, regulators often require companies to do this. But what matters to patients is not whether a company's drug is better than nothing, but whether it is better than established treatments. Companies are nervous about these "head-to-head" trials, particularly if many drugs are being tested - because there may be only one winner and many losers. A huge publicly funded head-to-head trial of treatments for high blood pressure was published recently and threw companies into a tizz because it showed that long-established drugs that are off patent were better than newer, much more expensive drugs.
A company gets huge benefit from showing that its drug is better than a competitor's. But the company needs to control the trial, and Harlot suggests that a company compares its product with an inadequate dose of a competitor's product. This may have been the reason why previous trials on drugs for high blood pressure suggested that newer drugs were better.
A variant on this technique is to compare the drug with an excessive dose of the competitor's product: it is then possible to show that the company's drug has far fewer side-effects (because side-effects are more common with higher doses of a drug). This may have been the method for showing that new and expensive drugs for schizophrenia have fewer side-effects than older drugs.
Perhaps the most common method to avoid unfavourable results is to make sure that a trial is not big enough to show that a competitor product is either better or worse. Such trials are very common, and Silvio Garattini, a leading Italian researcher and critic of the drug industry, has proposed a consent form for them: "I understand that this trial is worthless for science and medicine, but will be of great use to the marketing department of Shangri-la Pharmaceuticals."
All this matters greatly because 70% of trials in major medical journals are funded by the drug industry. Often companies will buy reprints of these articles to use in promoting their drug. Sometimes they may spend up to £750,000.
Virtually all research on drugs is funded by the industry, because governments have taken the view that public money can be better spent elsewhere. The end result is that information on drugs (on which Britain spends £7bn a year) is distorted.
The Harlot article was written to amuse, but is as deadly serious as anything else published in the BMJ in the past 10 years. The public is being regularly deceived and exploited.
Richard Smith is the editor of the British Medical Journal
Bushwhacking Mother Nature: US Environmental Destruction Abroad
COPYRIGHT Sueddeutsche Zeitung
Some in the White House argue that US national interests transcend greenie niceties, and this certainly was the case with Bush's 3-day stay at Buckingham Palace last year. US security forces trashed the Royal Gardens, historic statues and even the palace itself in an effort to provide the best environment for the president. The Queen's ensuing outrage didn't seem to bother Washington: if US self-protection mandates despoiling a patch of land far away, then so be it.
The issue of US military bases overseas arouses similar conflicts. According to Gary Vest, an assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security, "There is not a [US] military base in the world that doesn't have some soil or ground water contamination. That is just a given."
A classic case involves the Clark and Subic bases in the Philippines, which after closing in 1992, were discovered to be veritable death traps: wells had been poisoned by insecticides, industrial waste and toxic metals had been buried in random landfills, and petroleum had leaked from underground tanks. As a result, ground water and nearby agricultural lands were contaminated, and Filipinos living at or near the bases suffered from disproportionately high rates of illness.
It gets worse: while the cost of decontaminating Clark and Subic was estimated to be $1 billion, the US claimed to be exempt from any clean-up liabilities, and even refused to provide technical assistance and pertinent documents.
Germany's tough environmental laws and strategic importance have ensured more favorable treatment thus far, but significant problems remain. In 1999, a US Department of Defense inspector general said base cleanup costs in Germany could total at least $1 billion.
Yet another black mark in the US environmental record abroad concerns toxic weaponry dumped on countries such as Afghanistan. Via independent monitoring of weapon types and delivery systems, the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) indicated that "radioactive, toxic uranium alloys and hard-target uranium warheads were being used" by US-led coalition forces during 2001's Operation Enduring Freedom. UMRC's follow-up assessments of uranium contamination in Afghan civilians' urine samples found "abnormally high levels of non-depleted uranium," 400% to 2000% higher than normal population baselines.
Put bluntly, in addition to littering the Afghan countryside with cluster bombs and a seismic shock warheads, it appears US-led forces helped irradiate the local environment, with unspeakable civilian health implications.
Same story in Iraq. In the 1991 Gulf War, depleted uranium (DU) bullets and shells were widely used by US forces because of DU's ability to cut through conventional armor plating on tanks. DU-weaponry burns upon contact, emitting radioactive dust which can then spread across a large region.
Experts at the Pentagon and the United Nations estimate that while 375 tons of DU were used in Iraq during the Gulf War, up to 2,200 tons of DU were dumped on the country by US-led coalition forces during the 2003 invasion. DU remains destructive for 4.5 billion years.
But military bases and the War on Terror and aren't the only justifications given by the US for its assault on the global environment; its War on Drugs has dealt Mother Nature a separate death blow.
The White House has mandated a sharp increase in funding for aerial spraying of coca and opium poppy crops abroad, despite evidence that domestic drug treatment programs are 20 times more effective than eradicating drug supply at the source.
Aerial eradication, a process by which toxic herbicides are indiscriminately dumped from airplanes onto the land and water below, flies in the face of logic. A United Nations' study, for example, found that coca cultivation in Colombia tripled between 1996 and 2001, despite nearly one million acres of Colombian land having been sprayed during that time.
More alarmingly, an herbicide commonly used in US-sponsored Colombian eradication programs is Roundup Ultra, a broad-spectrum Monsanto product which destroys food crops, water supplies and Amazonian bio-diversity along with the intended coca and poppy plants. According to its warning label, Roundup Ultra should not directly come into contact with bodies of water, people, grazing animals, and desired crops; regardless, the US is funding Colombia to spray such herbicides over hundreds of thousands of hectares each year.
The theme is clear: too often America's War on Fill-in-the-Blank becomes a war on the environment, a trumped up justification to rape and pillage Mother Nature in the name of increased personal security.
And too often this approach backfires into a spiral of destruction and resentment.
It's safe to say George W. Bush will not be invited back to Buckingham Palace anytime soon - consider that door slammed. Given the ongoing attacks on American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, it would appear US interests are not welcome there either. And it's doubtful that aerial drug eradication in Latin America will lead to much else than hungry locals enraged at Yankee destruction of their habitat.
The White House has to learn that it's impossible to secure a sustainably safe environment through the destruction of nature and endangerment of people abroad.
Informant: Heather Wokusch
FW: Please see if you can help
From: Meenu.Seth@Utibank.co.in ,To: undisclosed-recipients: ; Subject: Please see, if you can help, Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 13:59:21 +0530
I am attaching a message from a very distraught person, in case you could help by providing any information, may be one life (family) would be saved.
Thanks and regards,
Meenu Seth, NRI Services, UTI Bank Ltd., Barakhamba Road branch, New Delhi - 110 001.
Tel : 011-23311 047 / 051 / 067, Fax : 011-23311 054
Help Needed.... Please Don't Delete.
From Divya Singh(Siemens)
forward it. Please send this to all your contacts.
If anyone you know who has survived NON SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER, please inform me at the address given below. My husband has it and I would like to know what treatment was used. Please forward this to everyone on your contact list.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you.
Inform here: SIEMENS, Siemens Information System Limited, #84, Keonics Electronics City, Hosur Road, Bangalore - 561 229. INDIA
Please keep forwarding this, even if you are unable to help. Somebody else might be able to.... MAY GOD BE WITH U AND BLESS U ALWAYS
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