Tag Archives: human/ inhuman behavior

Study 15

From the Washington Post:

A Silenced Drug Study Creates An Uproar

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 18, 2009; A01


The study would come to be called “cursed,” but it started out just as Study


It was a long-term trial of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. The common wisdom

in psychiatric circles was that newer drugs were far better than older drugs,

but Study 15’s results suggested otherwise.

As a result, newly unearthed documents show, Study 15 suffered the same fate as

many industry-sponsored trials that yield data drugmakers don’t like: It got

buried. It took eight years before a taxpayer-funded study rediscovered what

Study 15 had found — and raised serious concerns about an entire new class of

expensive drugs.

Study 15 was silenced in 1997, the same year Seroquel was approved by the Food

and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia. The drug went on to be

prescribed to hundreds of thousands of patients around the world and has earned

billions for London-based AstraZeneca International — including nearly $12

billion in the past three years.

The results of Study 15 were never published or shared with doctors, even as

less rigorous studies that came up with positive results for Seroquel were

published and used in marketing campaigns aimed at physicians and in television

ads aimed at consumers. The results of Study 15 were provided only to the Food

and Drug Administration — and the agency has strenuously maintained that it

does not have the authority to place such studies in the public domain.

AstraZeneca spokesman Tony Jewell defended the Seroquel research and said the

company had disclosed the drug’s risks. Since 1997, the drug’s labeling has

noted that weight gain and diabetes were seen in study patients, although the

company says the data are not definitive. The label states that the metabolic

disorders may be related to patients’ underlying diseases.

The FDA, Jewell added, had access to Study 15 when it declared Seroquel safe

and effective. The trial, which compared patients taking Seroquel and an older

drug called Haldol, “did not identify any safety concerns,” AstraZeneca said in

an e-mail. Jewell added, “A large proportion of patients dropped out in both

groups, which the company felt made the results difficult to interpret.”

The saga of Study 15 has become a case study in how drug companies can control

the publicly available research about their products, along with other

practices that recently have prompted hand-wringing at universities and

scientific journals, remonstrations by medical groups about conflicts of

interest, and threats of exposure by trial lawyers and congressional watchdogs.

Even if most doctors are ethical, corporate grants, gifts and underwriting have

compromised psychiatry, said an editorial this month in the American Journal of

Psychiatry, the flagship journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

“The public and private resources available for the care of our patients depend

upon the public perception of the integrity of our profession as a whole,”

wrote Robert Freedman, the editor in chief, and others. “The subsidy that each

of us has been receiving is part of what has fueled the excesses that are

currently under investigation.”

Details of Study 15 have emerged through lawsuits now playing out in courtrooms

nationwide alleging that Seroquel caused weight gain, hyperglycemia and

diabetes in thousands of patients. The Houston-based law firm Blizzard,

McCarthy & Nabers, one of several that have filed about 9,210 lawsuits over

Seroquel, publicized the documents, which show that the patients taking

Seroquel in Study 15 gained an average of 11 pounds in a year — alarming

company scientists and marketing executives. A Washington Post analysis found

that about four out of five patients quit taking the drug in less than a year,

raising pointed doubts about its effectiveness.

An FDA report in 1997, moreover, said Study 15 did offer useful safety data.

Mentioning few details, the FDA said the study showed that patients taking

higher doses of the drug gained more weight.

In approving Seroquel, the agency said 23 percent of patients taking the drug

in all studies available up to that point experienced significant weight

increases, compared with 6 percent of control-group patients taking sugar

pills. In 2006, FDA warned AstraZeneca against minimizing metabolic problems in

its sales pitches.

In the years since, taxpayer-funded research has found that newer antipsychotic

drugs such as Seroquel, which are 10 times as expensive, offer little advantage

over older ones. The older drugs cause involuntary muscle movements known as

tardive dyskinesia, and the newer ones have been linked to metabolic problems.

Far from dismissing Study 15, internal documents show that company officials

were worried because 45 percent of the Seroquel patients had experienced what

AstraZeneca physician Lisa Arvanitis termed “clinically significant” weight


In an e-mail dated Aug. 13, 1997, Arvanitis reported that across all patient

groups and treatment regimens, regardless of how numbers were crunched,

patients taking Seroquel gained weight: “I’m not sure there is yet any type of

competitive opportunity no matter how weak.”

In a separate note, company strategist Richard Lawrence praised AstraZeneca’s

efforts to put a “positive spin” on “this cursed study” and said of Arvanitis:

“Lisa has done a great ‘smoke and mirrors’ job!”

Two years after those exchanges, in 1999, the documents show that the company

presented different data at an American Psychiatric Association conference and

at a European meeting. The conclusion: Seroquel helped psychotic patients lose


The claim was based on a company-sponsored study by a Chicago psychiatrist, who

reviewed the records of 65 patients who switched their medication to Seroquel.

It found that patients lost an average of nine pounds over 10 months.

Within the company, meanwhile, officials explicitly discussed misleading

physicians. The chief of a team charged with getting articles published, John

Tumas, defended “cherry-picking” data.

“That does not mean we should continue to advocate” selective use of data, he

wrote on Dec. 6, 1999, referring to a trial, called COSTAR, that also produced

unfavorable results. But he added, “Thus far, we have buried Trials 15, 31, 56

and are now considering COSTAR.”

Although the company pushed the favorable study to physicians, the documents

show that AstraZeneca held the psychiatrist in light regard and had concerns

that he had modified study protocols and failed to get informed consent from

patients. Company officials wrote that they did not trust the doctor with

anything more complicated than chart reviews — the basis of the 1999 study

showing Seroquel helped patients lose weight.

For practicing psychiatrists, Study 15 could have said a lot not just about

safety but also effectiveness. Like all antipsychotics, Seroquel does not cure

the diseases it has been approved to treat — schizophrenia and bipolar

disorder — but controls symptoms such as agitation, hallucinations and

delusions. When government scientists later decided to test the effectiveness

of the class of drugs to which Seroquel belongs, they focused on a simple

measure — how long patients stayed on the drugs. Discontinuation rates, they

decided, were the best measure of effectiveness.

Study 15 had three groups of about 90 patients each taking different Seroquel

doses, according to an FDA document. Approximately 31 patients were on Haldol.

The study showed that Seroquel failed to outperform Haldol in preventing

psychotic relapses.

In disputing Study 15’s weight-gain data, company officials said they were not

reliable because only about 50 patients completed the year-long trial. But even

without precise numbers, this suggests a high discontinuation rate among

patients taking Seroquel. Even if every single patient taking Haldol dropped

out, it appears that at a minimum about 220 patients — or about 82 percent of

patients on Seroquel — dropped out.

Eight years after Study 15 was buried, an expensive taxpayer-funded study

pitted Seroquel and other new drugs against another older antipsychotic drug.

The study found that most patients getting the new and supposedly safer drugs

stopped taking them because of intolerable side effects. The study also found

that the new drugs had few advantages. As with older drugs, the new medications

had very high discontinuation rates. The results caused consternation among

doctors, who had been kept in the dark about trials such as Study 15.

The federal study also reported the number of Seroquel patients who

discontinued the drug within 18 months: 82 percent.

Jeffrey Lieberman, a Columbia University psychiatrist who led the federal

study, said doctors missed clues in evaluating antipsychotics such as Seroquel.

If a doctor had known about Study 15, he added, “it would raise your eyebrows.”


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Ron Unger Presents-

This information is forwrded from MindFreedom International. Ron Unger is a a therapist in Oregon who embraces the CS/X movement and teaches cognitive approaches to recovery from serious mental health issues.


MindFreedom Oregon – 12 May 2008
http://www.mindfreedom.org – human rights in mental health



Oregon alternative treatment in mental health seminar:

Ron Unger is a longtime MindFreedom member, and coordinator of
MindFreedom Lane County, who advocates for a treatment alternative
called “cognitive therapy for psychosis.”

This therapy might sound like common sense to many of us: noticing
that people who sound “crazy” can really be understood if we try,
noticing that their problems aren’t that much different than anyone
else’s, and finding the story of how the problems got going and
looking for practical ways to shrink the problem.

However, this therapy is revolutionary in a mental health system that
insists that “psychosis” is a biological brain disorder that can only
be treated with medications!

Details on the seminar are below: this seminar is very affordable to
mental health workers who need CEU credit, and is free to consumers
who might be interested.


Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis: an evidence-based psychological
approach for delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia

A Seminar In Corvallis, Oregon, on Friday June 27, 2008

Learn to:

– Conceptualize psychosis as an understandable reaction to life events

– Use proven cognitive methods to reduce psychotic thinking

– Help clients recover by activating their own rational and self-
organizing process

– Offer an effective alternative to people who receive limited
benefit from medications or who prefer less dependence on medications

Most current treatment approaches frame psychotic experiences as non-
understandable, address them only with medication, and then ask
clients to resign themselves to living with the symptoms medication
does not control.

Cognitive therapy for psychosis, developed mostly in the UK and still
little known in the US, is an evidence-based method with a different
perspective. In this seminar, you will gain insight into the
connections between everyday psychological difficulties and the more
extreme ones we call psychosis. You will become able to track the
story of how psychosis develops and how people became trapped in it.

Then, by hearing about basic cognitive therapy principles,
participating in exercises, and exploring case examples, you will
learn how to collaborate with clients in exploring evidence and
explanations for experiences, and in testing coping ideas. This
process works to restore the client’s role as an active problem
solver capable of making decisions that reduce psychotic symptoms,
and as an active partner in a journey toward recovery.


Ron Unger, LCSW, is a therapist specializing in cognitive therapy for
psychosis. He has given numerous seminars about cognitive therapy and
other psychosocial approaches to psychosis, and on trauma and the
relationship between trauma and psychosis. His presentations
emphasize simple, practical, and humanistic ways of understanding and
relating to human difficulties that can too easily be perceived as
being “beyond understanding.”


* Refute misconceptions that have often discouraged professionals
from attempting psychotherapy for schizophrenia or other psychotic

* Learn about research showing that medical model explanations
actually increase stigma, and identify a better approach

* Understand psychotic symptoms as existing on a continuum with other
human reactions to distressing circumstances

* Utilize the style and the essential steps of cognitive therapy for

* Explore a variety of case examples that illustrate effective

* Identify 3 ways to integrate this psychological approach with
existing treatment methods



A cognitive perspective on psychosis

Continuum from “normal” to “psychotic”

Inter and intra-personal dialogue and its breakdown

Nonlinear causality in psychosis

Stress and trauma as factors

Limits of biological explanations

Multi-factorial understanding and hope for recovery

*Therapeutic Style

Relationship considerations always primary

Goals structured around client concerns

Balance between confrontation and collusion

Collaborative Empiricism

Drawing out client’s rationality

Empathy even when it is challenging

Self disclosure of unusual experiences by therapist

*Two Key Procedures

“Normalizing” psychotic experiences

Developing a formulation

*Approaches for specific issues


Hallucinations and voices


Thought disorder

Negative symptoms

*Putting it into practice

Case examples

Difficulties and possible solutions

Three levels of integration with the existing system

Target audience:

Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Case
Managers, Addiction Counselors, and other mental health professionals.

Cancellation Policy:

If you contact us before the seminar date, you can receive a tuition
refund, less a $30 cancellation fee.

Seminar Schedule for Friday, June 27, 2008:

8:00 Check in/Continental Breakfast

8:30 Program Begins

11:50-1:00 Lunch /(on your own)/

4:30 Program ends

Questions? Call 541-513-1811, or email ronunger@efn.org

Credit Information: 6.25 NASW CEU credits approved – attendees
registering for CEUs must attend the full seminar.

Guarantee: If the quality of this seminar does not meet your
expectations, simply explain the reasons for your dissatisfaction, by
mail or email, and you will receive a full refund.

Call early with your ADA needs!

Seminar Location Details:

LaSells Stewart Center

875 SW 26th Street, Corvallis


http://oregonstate.edu/lasells/gettinghere.html for more details on
finding the site, and on parking. Note that while the website says
parking costs $5, it is actually free the day of the seminar due to
OSU being out of session.

Include the book listed below with your seminar registration and save!

*Cognitive Therapy of Schizophrenia (Guides to Individualized
Evidence-Based Treatment) (Paperback)*
by David G. Kingdon and Douglas Turkington

Drawing on the authors’ decades of influential work in the field,
this highly practical volume presents an evidence-based cognitive
therapy approach for clients with schizophrenia. Guidelines are
provided for collaborative assessment and case formulation that
enable the clinician to build a strong therapeutic relationship,
establish reasonable goals, and tailor treatment to each client’s
needs. Described in thorough, step-by-step detail are effective
techniques for working with delusional beliefs, voices, visions,
thought disorders, and negative symptoms; integrating cognitive
therapy with other forms of treatment; reducing relapse risks; and
enhancing client motivation. Special features include reproducible
client handouts and assessment tools. List Price $25: available with
this seminar for just $20!

To Register, please complete entire form (to notify you of any
seminar changes):


Employer Name_________________________________



Home/Cell Ph ( )______________Dept. Ph ( )___________________

Email address______________________________

To register together with another person: send both registrations in
at the same time, and write in the name of the other person(s) here:


Please note: Confirmation/receipts are sent only via email.

Please return entire registration form

Register by Fax: 541-686-2440

Register by Phone: 888-214-3263

Register by Mail:

Ron Unger LCSW

1257 High St. Suite 7

Eugene, OR 97401

Check tuition (includes refreshments)

_____ $99 single registration postmarked three weeks prior to seminar

_____ $79 per person for 2 or more pre-registering together
postmarked three weeks prior to seminar date

_____ $89 per person for 2 or more pre-registering together if *not
*postmarked three weeks prior to seminar date

_____ $109 Standard

_____ Scholarship (free attendance for consumer/survivors and family
members who want to learn more about this approach)

_____ $20 to purchase the book */Cognitive Therapy for Schizophrenia /
*(See below for a description of this book. It will be distributed at
the seminar – saves you $5 plus shipping costs!)

Indicate method of payment (All registrations must be prepaid):

_____ Check enclosed payable to Ron Unger LCSW

_____ MC (16 digits)

_____ VISA (13-16 digits)

_____ AE (15 digits)

_____ Discover Novus (16 digits)

Card #______________________________ Card Exp. ______________________


V-Code #*: ________________

(MC/VISA/Discover: last 3 digit # on signature panel on back of card.
American Express: 4-digit # on face of card.)

Registrations due one week in advance of the seminar! Walk-in
registrations at the seminar are welcome, but admission cannot be

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Another MindFreedom news release from lazy blogger


This is for everyone in Oregon

In case you missed any of these news items, here is a link to April
2008 alerts about changing Oregon’s mental health system:


If that link is too long for your browser, try clicking on this link:


The big picture for April 2008?

As you may know by now, Oregon’s mental health system has two unusual
honors in the USA in 2008:


Oregon is one of the FEW USA states that is actually BUILDING new
huge psychiatric institutions. That’s right, the last legislative
session found $500,000,000 (half a billion) for the bricks, concrete
and energy for this. Whatever your stand is on replacing Earthquake-
prone buildings, consider:


Oregon is one of the FEW states to continue to have ZERO funds for
the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric
survivors. For five years Oregon has had no funding for a state-wide
newsletter, state-wide advocacy, state-wide conference, office of
consumer affairs, etc. for mental health consumer/survivors.

Five years! Not a cut-back, zero!

Well, more and more Oregonians are *doing* something about it!

So check out the April 2008 news re-cap!

You’ll find out…

**** HOW *you* can easily ask Governor Kulongoski and his
administration “Why zero? Why zero for five years for the state-wide
voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors?”
MindFreedom Oregon has determined that Governor Kulongoski’s office
itself is one of the top obstacles, since there is widespread support
in the legislature, and within the Governor’s own bureaucracy!

You can attend remaining public hearings by Oregon Dept. of Human
Services in Portland, Wednesday, April 30; Salem, Tuesday, May 6, 9
a.m. – noon; Wednesday, May 7, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.; Eastern Oregon
interactive teleconference, Thursday, May 8, 10 a.m.

**** READ the front-page article in Willamette Week about an
Oregonian blowing the whistle on psychiatric drug industry fraud.

**** READ a news story in Street Roots about the launch of a state-
wide coalition by and for mental health consumers and psychiatric
survivors. Read how Oregon’ Mental Health Division Deputy Assistant
Director Madeline Olson claims their choice was between funding a new
psychiatric institution, or funding voice for consumer/survivor
voice. (Really? But why ZERO? Not a cut-back: Zero?)

**** SEE theater in Portland in May & June exploring mental health

**** FIND OUT about a job opening in an Oregon empowering alternative
in mental health care, Empowerment Initiatives.

**** WITNESS the launch of the Oregon Mental Health Consumer/
Psychiatric Survivor Coalition.

Again, all the above April 2008 news items are here:


If that link is too long for your browser, try clicking on this link:


Other news:

REMEMBER, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 is the last day to register so you
may vote in the Oregon election — including presidential primary —
on 20 May.

PARTICIPATE IN “THE NORMATHON” — A free skit on challenging the
power of the psychiatric drug industry (watch for our Big Giant
Pill), to take place in Eugene, Oregon, Saturday, 17 May 2008, at 4 pm:

For info on the Normathon see:


More about activism to change mental health care in Oregon is here:


Join MindFreedom International here:


Check out an all-new Mad Market of books and DVD’s on changing mental
health system, proceeds fund MFI human rights campaigns, here:


Please forward this news to appropriate places on and off Internet!



David W. Oaks, Executive Director
MindFreedom International
454 Willamette, Suite 216 – POB 11284
Eugene, OR 97440-3484 USA

web: http://www.mindfreedom.org
email: oaks@mindfreedom.org
office phone: (541) 345-9106
fax: (541) 345-3737
member services toll free in USA: 1-877-MAD-PRID[e] or 1-877-623-7743

United Independent Action for Human Rights in Mental Health!

MindFreedom International is an non-profit coalition with a vision of
a non-violent revolution in mental health. Accredited by the United
as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Consultative
Roster Status.

Join now! http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate


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Forced Electroshock in Oregon + other stuff

Reprinted from OCSC:

Hi MindFreedom Oregon TALK list:

I asked for and receive statistics about State of Oregon electroshock
(that is, electroshock by State of Oregon “Hospital”).

Definitely, at least one individual received electroshock over their
expressed wishes, using involuntary electroshock.

What suggestions do you have for us to all do something about that?

Below is e-mail I received (in addition to the involuntary shock…
two are considered ‘voluntary’ though they received via guardian).


From: Robert.E.Nikkel@state.or.us
Date: March 6, 2008 12:30:53 PM PST
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Information on Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy
To: oaks@mindfreedom.org
Cc: Robert.E.Nikkel@state.or.us, Madeline.M.Olson@state.or.us


The following are ECT statistics for calendar year 2007 and 2008 to

3 voluntary consents for ECT; 1 by patient and 2 by guardian
1 involuntary ECT plus 2 who had override consents but did not
receive ETC.
All ECT sessions are conducted by and at OHSU.
Maynard E. Hammer
Deputy Superintendent
Oregon State Hospital
Oregon Department of Human Services
Fax: 503-945-9429
e-mail: maynard.e.hammer@state.or.us
Bob Nikkel, MSW
Assistant Director, DHS
Addictions and Mental Health Division (AMH)
500 Summer St NE, E-86
Salem, OR 97301-1118
fax: 503-373-7327

Also,if you want, see and listen to the latest news conference by the Dalai Lama regarding the current uprising in Tibet:


And a silly animated gif:



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Causes of Poverty- reprinted- url below

Causes of Poverty


  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Tuesday, March 04, 2008
  • Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).

More Facts (and Sources) »

Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.

Behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalization are global decisions, policies, and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.

In the face of such enormous external influence, the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless. As a result, in the global context, a few get wealthy while the majority struggle.

These next few articles and sections explore various poverty issues in more depth:

Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty

Cutbacks in health, education and other vital social services around the world have resulted from structural adjustment policies prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as conditions for loans and repayment. In addition, developing nation governments are required to open their economies to compete with each other and with more powerful and established industrialized nations. To attract investment, poor countries enter a spiraling race to the bottom to see who can provide lower standards, reduced wages and cheaper resources. This has increased poverty and inequality for most people. It also forms a backbone to what we today call globalization. As a result, it maintains the historic unequal rules of trade. Last updated Monday, July 02, 2007.

Read article: Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty

Poverty Around The World

Inequality is increasing around the world while the world appears to globalize. Even the wealthiest nation has the largest gap between rich and poor compared to other developed nations. In many cases, international politics and various interests have led to a diversion of available resources from domestic needs to western markets. Historically, politics and power play by the elite leaders and rulers have increased poverty and dependency. These have often manifested themselves in wars, hot and cold, which have often been trade- and resource-related. Mercantilist practices, while presented as free trade, still happen today. Poverty is therefore not just an economic issue, it is also an issue of political economics. Last updated Thursday, February 15, 2007.

Read article: Poverty Around The World

Today, over 26,500 children died around the world

Around the world, 27–30,000 children die every day. That is equivalent to 1 child dying every 3 seconds, 20 children dying every minute, a 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every week, or 10–11 million children dying every year. Over 50 million children died between 2000 and 2005. The silent killers are poverty, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. In spite of the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage. Last updated Thursday, January 31, 2008.

Read article: Today, over 26,500 children died around the world

Economic Democracy

This next page is a reposting of a flyer about a new book from J.W. Smith and the Institute for Economic Democracy, whom I thank for their kind permission. The book is called Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle Of The 21st Century. Typically on this site, I do not advertise books etc, (although I will cite from and link to some, where relevant). However, in this case, I found that the text in the flyer provides an excellent summary of poverty’s historic roots, as well as of the multitude of issues that cause poverty. (Please also note that I do not make any proceeds from the sale of this book in any way.) Posted Sunday, November 26, 2000.

Read article: Economic Democracy

World Hunger and Poverty

People are hungry not because of lack of availability of food, or “over” population, but because they are too poor to afford the food. Politics and economic conditions have led to poverty and dependency around the world. Addressing world hunger therefore implies addressing world poverty as well. If food production is further increased and provided to more people while the underlying causes of poverty are not addressed, hunger will still continue because people will not be able to purchase food. Last updated Thursday, February 15, 2007.

Read article: World Hunger and Poverty

Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty

Even non-emergency food aid, which seems a noble cause, is destructive, as it under-sells local farmers and can ultimately affect the entire economy of a poor nation. If the poorer nations are not given the sufficient means to produce their own food and other items then poverty and dependency may continue. In this section you will also find a chapter from the book World Hunger: 12 Myths, by Lappé et al., which describes the situation in detail and looks at the myth that food aid helps the hungry. A must read! Last updated Monday, December 10, 2007.

Read article: Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty


We often hear leaders from rich countries telling poor countries that aid and loans will only be given when they show they are stamping out corruption. While that definitely needs to happen, the rich countries themselves are often active in the largest forms of corruption in those poor countries, and many economic policies they prescribe have exacerbated the problem. Corruption in developing countries definitely must be high on the priority lists, but so too must it be on the priority lists of rich countries. Last updated Sunday, September 23, 2007.

Read article: Corruption

United Nations World Summit 2005

The UN World Summit for September 2005 is supposed to review progress since the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all Member States in 2000. However, the US has proposed enormous changes to an outcome document that is to be signed by all members. There are changes on almost all accounts, including striking any mention of the Millennium Development Goals, that aim for example, to halve poverty and world hunger by 2015. This has led to concerns that the outcome document will be weakened. Developing countries are also worried about stronger text on human rights and about giving the UN Security Council more powers. Last updated Sunday, September 18, 2005.

Read article: United Nations World Summit 2005

IMF & World Bank Protests, Washington D.C.

To complement the public protests in Seattle, the week leading up to April 16th/17th 2000 saw the other two global institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, as the focus of renewed protests and criticisms in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the mass demonstrations was to protest against the current form of globalization, which is seen as unaccountable, corporate-led, and non-democratic, and to show the link between poverty and the various policies of the IMF and the World Bank. Last updated Friday, July 13, 2001.

Read article: IMF & World Bank Protests, Washington D.C.

Poverty Facts and Stats

While the world is globalizing and the mainstream media in many developed nations point out that economies are booming (or, in periods of downturns, that the current forms of “development” and economic policies are the only ways for people to prosper), there is an increasing number of poor people who are missing out on this apparent boom, while increasingly fewer people are becoming far wealthier. Some of these facts and figures are an eye-opener, to say the least. Last updated Tuesday, March 04, 2008.

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Various news items

First- (personal update):
We are still unpacking but slowly finding a sense of place in our new townhome/ apartment. Several issues to deal with- mostly monetary (getting health care premiums paid, re-establishing household supplies, 2 broken vacuum cleaners…). We have a bed- donated by May T from Meeting. Food is being brought to us by strangers- nice strangers. Most animals are back- except the white cats are still at my sister’s house.

From Common Dreams:

Bush The Torturer, The Tyrant, The Disgrace

by Pierre Tristam

On Saturday, Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have outlawed the CIA’s use of torture in interrogations (a bill, it should be noted, John McCain, alleged opponent of torture, voted against). He had the temerity, our Dear Leader, to begin his official endorsement of torture in his radio address this morning with these words: “Good morning.” Good for him and his kind of delusional sadists, maybe. Not so good for this country, whose reputation today takes one more plunk toward the abyss of rogue and less than ordinary nations. Not so good for the rest of the world, either, whose nations have been disbelievingly howling, in Babels of translations, that most American of plaints: “Say it ain’t so.” This spring training for terrorist-interrogators (for torture is terrorism at its distilled worst), it very much is so. The United States is officially, proudly, the land of torturers. It’s true that the United States has been at this for years. But the difference here is not only that the president is endorsing torture, but that he’s doing it so openly and willfully. It isn’t arrogance anymore. It isn’t even hubris. Arrogance and hubris suggest that at least some awareness that public perceptions still matter. In Bush’s mind, perceptions are for the birds. This is pure tyranny. His statement embracing torture, a study in mendacity, is worth a line-by-line look.

“This week,” he began, “I addressed the Department of Homeland Security on its fifth anniversary and thanked the men and women who work tirelessly to keep us safe.” Really? As of last May 1, Homeland Security, the Washington Post reported, “had 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions, with the greatest voids reported in its policy, legal and intelligence sections, as well as in immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard.” It got so bad that a panicky report was sent to the House committee overseeing the department-the department led, as we unfortunately know, by the intrepidly dismal Michael Chertoff, who captained the agency through its finest hour: its spectatorship of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

“Because the danger remains,” Bush continued, “we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists.” All the tools. Not the necessary tools, but all the tools. The most effective way not to worry about crossing the line into the dark side is not to have a line at all. For the Dear leader there is no question of nuance, of the difference between right and wrong. It is all right as long as he declares it so. By all means necessary (although I hate to soil Malcolm’s fine line, given its context, with the Dear Leader’s criminal intent). But by that reasoning, nuking Kandahar would be justified. Aren’t nuclear weapons also tools in the fight against “terrorism”? One day, the question may well be answered. Especially if the country insists on electing John McCain (and liberals who personally despise the black one or the bitch, as their prejudices couch them, insist on helping along the reactionaries).

Where Bush Lies Like a Nixonian Sweat Bead

“The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.” The bill, of course, does no such thing. It does not take away the CIA’s right to detain anyone. It does not take away the CIA’s right to question anyone. It only forbids the CIA to employ waterboarding and other forms of torture or degrading and dehumanizing treatment of inmates-inmates, we should always, always remember, who aren’t terrorists, but alleged terrorists. Until they are proven so, it is only their incarcerators who are the demonstrably proven terrorists.

Bush then lists a series of supposed terrorist attacks the interrogations foiled. We have to trust him on that one, as several of them have never been mentioned before. Trusting Bush at this point, of course, is an exercise best left to the pathologically cretinous. One example from the plots Bush does mention-the supposed attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles. It’s an old story, peddled by his administration since 2002. But when even the Voice of America, which is barely two radio waves removed from Radio White House, gives credence to doubts about the Dear Leader’s story, it’s time to give his fictions a chance to get sold as the latest memoir. “Micheal Scheuer, who was the leading al-Qaida expert in the CIA’s counter-terrorism center in 2002,” VOA reported in 2006, “says he is not aware of any such serious threat against the West Coast in 2002. As the man in the CIA who knew more about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida than perhaps any other agency officer, he says it is unlikely that he would not have been kept informed on such a plot. “It could be that it was very closely held, but I think that’s unlikely,” he said. “It could be just a function of my failing memory. But this doesn’t sound like anything that I would recall as a major threat, or as a major success in stopping it.’”

Brutality’s Euphemisms

Bush in his radio address then moves on to euphemizing torture as “specialized interrogation procedures to question a small number of the most dangerous terrorists under careful supervision.” It’s a little disingenuous for the man who turned extraordinary renditions into a secret competitor of Disney’s Vacation Club, the man who replaced the Soviet Union’s gulags with a secret gulag of his own (using, cleverly, the Soviet Union’s old prisons in some cases, as in Poland and Romania), the man under whose careful supervision the likes of Khaled el Masri and Maher Arar were wrongly imprisoned, tortured in Afghanistan and Syria, and released without apologies long after the CIA knew they had the wrong men-it’s a little disingenuous for that man now to claim “careful supervision” in torture chambers.

And to characterize torture as “these safe and lawful techniques.” Safe? When, by 2006, more than 100 individuals in American detention had been murdered by their captors? Lawful, when this very veto the Dear Leader is bandying about is an attempt to evade the law? But here’s his reasoning: limiting the CIA to interrogation techniques allowed only by the Army field manual would be wrong because the field manual deals with soldiers. The CIA deals with terrorists. Just as Bush on March 8 officially placed the United States as a champion of torture, Bush on this day also placed the United States as a champion of separating the race between legitimate human beings and sub-human creatures-”hardened terrorists.” The circular argument gives the appearance of perfect logic-if you’re willing to accept the notion that some human beings are not quite human beings. And isn’t that the notion once peddled in the United States about blacks-excuse me, about niggers? Isn’t that the notion peddled about Indians, at least while there were enough of them around that a distinction mattered? Isn’t that the kind of distinction some conservatives attempted to write into the Constitution with their prohibition of “oriental” immigrants at the turn of the last century?

Some things don’t change. Once a bigoted nation, always a bigoted nation. But this goes beyond bigotry. Bush is projecting an interpretation of human beings that links up with the sort of distinctions Nazi and apartheid regimes were known for, when they, too, facilitated the torture and murder of “enemies” by dehumanizing them in the eyes of the public. This is no different. He may be speaking the language of Anglo-Saxon civilization. He may be doing so from the august rooms of the White House. What he’s saying makes him no different in these regards than the tyrants of the 20 th century. His rhetoric is another chain-link to his actions: he dehumanizes in words in order to dehumanize in deeds.

Last month Michelle Obama was criticized for saying that finally, she can be proud of the United States, the implication being that she hadn’t been proud of it before Barack Obama’s hopeful run. She may want to rethink her newfound pride. There’s nothing to be proud of when the president reduces this country to rank criminality while calling it, of all things, a “higher responsibility” that is “keeping America safe.” No one should envy the next Americans to be taken prisoner by rogue nations and terrorists, now that we’re no better than either.

Now for something completely different- Big Bang/ Universe Expansion diagram:


Today’s Rumi:

The way of love is not a subtle argument.

The door there is devestation.

Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.

How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling

they’re given wings.

Check out

Better Bees than Bears- my older son’s blog.


Silly animated gif:


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The 1913 Italian Hall Massacre

The copper strike of 1913-14 started in July and lasted nine months. It was one of Michigan’s most bitter labor actions. The introduction of the one-man drill triggered the strike. Miners feared cutbacks on the number of jobs and working alone. Strikers also demanded recognition of the Western Federation of Miners as their bargaining agent, a reduction from a 10-hour to an 8-hour work day, and $3.50 per day wages. The mining companies refused to recognize the union or to return to the two-man drill, but did, in the end, cut hours and increase wages. Miners who returned to work found themselves alongside men who had been hired as strikebreakers. In the following years, many experienced miners left the Copper Country for the auto factories of Detroit, mining jobs inthe western U. S. or military service with the outbreak of World War I in 1917. The strike was a bitter struggle. Michigan state militia, on horseback, was deployed against the strikers. Strike leaders, lead by “Big” Annie Clemenic, rallied the strikers by hosting a Christmas party at the Italian hall. While the miners’ families were celebrating Christmas Eve at Italian Hall in Calumet someone yelled, “Fire!” In panic, the crowd rushed to get out of the second-floor hall. They could not open the door to the outside, and 73 people–mostly children–died in the crush.There was no fire. Many miners believed that the mine companies had sent the person who caused the panic, although this could never proved it seems the most likely explaination. Eye witnesses saw company agents in the area but could not identify them. The crime remains unsolved.

In recent times the hall fell on disrepair. Local Unions, including the North West Upper Peninsula Labor Council, and a variety of volunteers, purchased the site and the surrounding land. They restored it and preserved it as a monument to Michigan’s workers. These individuals kept the incident and the site from fading into the mists of history.


Mother Jones marches with the strikers before the masscreMother Jones marches with the strikers

The victimsThe victims

Woody Guthrie’s song about this event


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Oregon State Hospital Caught with it’s Pants Down

SALEM, Ore. — The U.S. Department of Justice has found numerous civil rights violations of patients at the Oregon State Hospital. In a report released Wednesday, federal investigators listed inadequate conditions and practices at the mental hospital ranging from life-threatening use of restraints to widespread patient-on-patient assault. Federal law entitles patients to certain standards of care. State health officials say many improvements have been made since the investigation took place in 2006, but acknowledged problems still exist. “The conditions reported on … are completely unacceptable,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director of Oregon’s Department of Human Services. “It’s unacceptable as a state and its unacceptable for us as a state hospital for the health and well-being of our patients.”

The Oregon State Hospital is the state’s primary psychiatric facility for adults, which has a main hospital in Salem and other satellite facilities. Officials found violations in Salem and at its smaller Portland campus, which is used for psychiatric rehabilitation. Some of the cases highlighted in the 48-page report include:

  • Nearly 400 cases of patient-against-patient assault over one year.
  • Infection control issues such mice in rooms, deaths from pneumonia and outbreaks of norovirus and scabies.
  • Patients injuring themselves, including multiple suicide attempts, while under staff observation.
  • Failure to follow common standards of care: A patient with a disorder that causes excessive thirst was left at the water fountain and gained 13 pounds in water weight in one day.
  • Patients being put in seclusion indefinitely: One patient had been in seclusion for a year with no other treatment when investigators arrived. Other issues included improper medication, failure to diagnose mental health conditions, improper use of restraints, nurses working excessive overtime and patients waiting for discharge for more than a year after being approved. The report sets out recommended changes but does not set timelines to complete them. It is the latest in a series of critical looks at the hospital. Multiple state-commissioned reports found major health and safety dangers there, primarily from the crumbling century-old facility in Salem. It was the setting for the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The Oregon Legislature last year authorized $458 million to build two new state-operated hospitals by 2013: a 620-bed hospital in Salem and 360-bed facility in Junction City. The hospital also hired a new chief medical officer and additional staff. “It’s not the same hospital today that it was in 2006,” Goldberg said. A spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski said the governor takes the findings seriously, but is pleased with progress made since the 2006 investigation. Others were more dismayed by the report. “It’s the worst report I’ve read in my entire life,” said Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem. “Every word was something else that was terrible. No standards, no progress … it goes on and on.” Courtney said he will create a a legislative oversight committee to monitor progress toward compliance with the Department of Justice’s recommendations. “In my opinion, this is the number one issue for Oregonians today,” he said. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon said it wants a comprehensive review of the entire mental health system so the 2009 Legislature will know how to respond. The Department of Human Services says it will request additional positions from the to improve patient care and safety. “This is a symptom of years of neglect to our entire mental health system,” Goldberg said.
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    My dad’s war stories

    I remember my father talking about things that were done by the Japanese to American prisoners during the Second World War (he was a career navy man, enlisted in 1937 and retired in 1960 or thereabouts; he had also been stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the 1941 air attack- he had a lot of stories). One of the things he talked about was “the water cure”. He had said that key officers in the Japanese military were executed after the war based particularly on the use of this technique.

    I didn’t know what the “water cure” was. In my mind it was something like the “Chinese Water Torture” talked about in connection with the Korean War. And I had no idea what that meant either.

    I heard someone on the radio today talking about waterboarding and the historical context. So I looked for more information.

    Here is some of what I found:

    After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

    Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

    In this case from the tribunal’s records, the victim was a prisoner in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies:

    A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession.

    Here’s the testimony of two Americans imprisoned by the Japanese:

    They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

    And from the second prisoner: They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.

    As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the “water cure” to question Filipino guerrillas.

    The bottom line is that when “water treatment” was practiced against our side, it was called a war crime. That was the ruling against the Japanese after the Second World War by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and by the military courts that tried what were called in the Far East, the “B” and ”C” level war criminals.

    When the leaders of Japan were found guilty of multiple and horrific war crimes, one of them was the “water treatment.” Those who actually did the “water treatment” – the officers who directed torture (B level) and those who carried it out (C level) were guilty of war crimes. Some were executed.

    So, who’s right? Is waterboarding torture, or is it merely a stressful psychological technique?

    Interestingly, the United States has long since answered that question. Following the end of the Second World War we prosecuted a number of Japanese military and civilian officials for war crimes. including the torture of captured Allied personnel. At one of those trials, United States v. Sawada, here’s how Captain Chase Nielsen, a crew member in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, described his treatment, when he was captured, (and later tried for alleged war crimes by a Japanese military commission):

    Q: What other physical treatment was administered to you at that time?

    A: Well, I was given what they call the water cure.

    Q: Explain to the Commission what that was.

    A: Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water was poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let me up until I’d get my breath, then they’d start over again.

    Q: When you regained consciousness would they keep asking you questions?

    A: Yes sir they did.

    Q: How long did this treatment continue?

    A: About twenty minutes.

    Q: What was your sensation when they were pouring water on the towel, what did you physically feel?

    A: Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death.

    The prosecutor in that case was vehement in arguing that the captured Doolittle fliers had been wrongfully convicted by the Japanese tribunal, in part because they were convicted based on evidence obtained through torture. “The untrustworthiness of any admissions or confessions made under torture,” he said, “would clearly vitiate a conviction based thereon.”

    At the end of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East of which the United States was a leading member (the Tribunal was established by Douglas MacArthur) convicted former Japanese Prime Minister Tojo and numerous other generals and admirals of a panoply of war crimes. Among them was torture:

    Historical uses

    Spanish Inquisition

    A form of torture similar to waterboarding called toca, along with garrucha (or strappado) and the most frequently used potro (or the rack), was used (though infrequently) during the trial portion of the Spanish Inquisition process. “The toca, also called tortura del agua, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning.” One source has claimed that the use of water as a form of torture also had profound religious significance to the Inquisitors.

    Colonial times

    Agents of the Dutch East India Company used a precursor to waterboarding during the Amboyna massacre, which took place on the island of Amboyna in the Molucca Islands in 1623. At that time, it consisted of wrapping cloth around a victim’s head, after which the torturers “poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water.” In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim’s “body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead.”

    World War II

    During World War II, Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, as well the Gestapo, the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. The German technique was called the German equivalent of “u-boat”. During the Double Tenth Incident, waterboarding consisted of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach.

    Algerian War

    The technique was also used during the Algerian War (1954-1962). The French journalist Henri Alleg, who was subjected to waterboarding by French paratroopers in Algeria in 1957, is one of only a few people to have described in writing the first-hand experience of being waterboarded. His book The Question, published in 1958 with a preface by Jean-Paul Sartre (and subsequently banned in France until the end of the Algerian War in 1962) discusses the experience of being strapped to a plank, having his head wrapped in cloth and positioned beneath a running tap:

    The rag was soaked rapidly. Water flowed everywhere: in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. But for a while I could still breathe in some small gulps of air. I tried, by contracting my throat, to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs for as long as I could. But I couldn’t hold on for more than a few moments. I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably. “That’s it! He’s going to talk,” said a voice.

    The water stopped running and they took away the rag. I was able to breathe. In the gloom, I saw the lieutenants and the captain, who, with a cigarette between his lips, was hitting my stomach with his fist to make me throw out the water I had swallowed.

    Alleg has stated that the incidence of “accidental” death of prisoners being subjected to waterboarding in Algeria was “very frequent.”

    Vietnam War

    Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in the Vietnam War. On January 21, 1968, The Washington Post published a controversial photograph of an American soldier supervising the waterboarding of a North Vietnamese POW near Da Nang.photo. The article described the practice as “fairly common.” The photograph led to the soldier being court-martialled by a U.S. military court within one month of its publication, and he was thrown out of the army. Another waterboarding photograph of the same scene is also exhibited in the War Remnants Museum at Ho Chi Minh City.

    Khmer Rouge

    The Khmer Rouge at the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, used waterboarding as a method of torture between 1975 and 1979.

    We have certainly come a long way.

    For so many reasons, I can’t understand why George W. Bush has not been impeached.

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