I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!
Today, I'm not going to talk too much, because the articles are about our health and their message is quite obvious. Oxygen, sunlight and moderate exercises for all of our organs (even the eyes) are the key to healthy life.
- Eye exercises help patients work out vision problems
- Can High-Pressure Oxygen Therapy Help Autistic
- Vitamin D found in fish boosts brain power
- Gluten-free diets help many
So, what's the moral? Do the pencil "push-ups" once a day (it feels quite good to the eyes-mine, at least, but maybe you have to ask a doctor if it's good for you too), or even better, do couple of push-ups daily and do another cool eye-exercise- stand below a tree and trace its body from the bottom to the top and then all the way down-slowly! Don't do it if the Sun is above you, because this could damage your eyes-but if the sky is clear, even if bright-that would be even better. This is a wonderful distance-training-if you think about it, spending our day on the computer, we watch to a constant distance and this is the worst thing you could do to the eyes. Try varying the distance even when working-look trough the window, look to your neighbours, just watch stuff near and far in every hour or two. It takes like a minute and this could benefit BIG TIME your eyes. Of course, the next most important thing for healthy eyes is that you sleep enough.
And as the 3d article suggest-the brain loves vit. D, so we must eat a lot of fish when mentally strained or under pressure. And last but not least-the eyes and the brain adore SUNLIGHT. Just spend time under the sun, without those glasses, just enjoy the light. You don't have to go outside at noon or around it, do it in the safe hours, but never forget to enjoy the sunlight. We're simply addicted to it and when you lack it, you're likely to become ill or depressed or both.
Also, I find the article on autisme very interesting. Because it goes well with deep-breathing therapies. Obviously the oxygen could be very helpful in many situations. I'll write if I find more on the issue. Enjoy!
Eye exercises help patients work out vision problemsMarch 31st, 2009
Eye exercises are used to treat a variety of vision disorders, according to Dr. Janice Wensveen, clinical associate professor at the University of Houston's College of Optometry.
Patient reactions to this quite common prescription range between surprise and relief, she said, but doing the therapy can improve their performance at school and work.
"They're curious, especially when we tell them, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it like we do with glasses or contact lenses, we're actually going to solve your problem. You're going to be cured, and that's something we don't very often do," she said.
The standard at-home prescription is known as "pencil push-up therapy," said Wensveen, who practices at the University Eye Institute's Vision Therapy Clinic in the Family Practice Service.
"Patients visually follow a small letter on a pencil as they moved the pencil closer to the nose. The goal is to be able to keep the letter clear and single until it touches your nose."
Not surprisingly, she said, many patients don't follow through once they're out the door.
In fact, a study released in the fall by the National Eye Institute (NEI) found that office-based treatment for patients with a common eye muscle coordination disorder, along with at-home reinforcement, is more effective than home-based programs in isolation. The research, reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology, involved more than 200 young people with a condition known as convergence insufficiency, which Wensveen said likely affects between 5 percent and 20 percent of the population, depending on the definition used and the age group studied."As the name implies, it's somebody who can't cross their eyes, and you might think that's a weird thing to have to be able to do. But, if you just consider the geometry of looking up close, your two eyes do have to turn in so that they're both pointing at the thing that you want to see," Wensveen said.
Left unattended, Wensveen said, convergence insufficiency can affect a student's performance in school, because reading can become very frustrating.
While most eye care professionals treat convergence insufficiency using only home-based therapy, the NEI results indicated approximately 75 percent of patients treated both in the office and at home reported fewer and less severe symptoms related to reading and other close-up work. Symptoms of convergence insufficiency include loss of place and concentration while reading, reading slowly, eyestrain, headaches, blurry vision and double vision.
"Studies would suggest there is a possible relationship between convergence insufficiency and ADHD, in that about 10 percent of patients with convergence insufficiency had a history of ADHD at initial presentation or in follow-up exams," said Dr. Nick Holdeman, executive director of the University Eye Institute. "While the research does not support a direct relationship between the two diagnoses, it is recommended that evaluation of convergence insufficiency should be undertaken in children diagnosed with ADHD."
Wensveen said the research results underscore that patients, or the parents of patients, advised to conduct eye exercises should seriously consider in-office vision therapy to get the results they desire.source
The first rigorously scientific study of hyperbaric oxygen treatment, in which autistic children breathe in extra oxygen inside a pressurized chamber, found that children who received the treatment showed improvement in social interactions, although researchers note that the small study didn’t examine whether the treatment had long-term effects.
Study leader Dan Rossignol says the use of hyperbaric therapy for autism has been gaining popularity in the US where parents can buy their own hyperbaric chamber if they have a spare $14-17,000 [BBC News]. Other parents take their children to clinics for treatments that usually cost between $120 and $150 per session, and which typically aren’t covered by insurance providers. Rossignol says he expects the findings to generate controversy, and notes that he too was initially very sceptical of the idea but was prompted to do more research after the treatment showed benefits for his two sons who have autism. “We’re certainly not talking about a cure, we’re talking about improvements in behaviour, improving certain functions and quality of life” [BBC News].
The new study was the first randomized, double-blind study of the treatment, meaning that neither the subjects nor the examiners knew which children received the high-oxygen air in a room with increased pressure, and which children received normal air. The study of 62 children found that those who received 40 hours of treatment over a month were less irritable, more responsive when people spoke to them, made more eye contact and were more sociable than kids who didn’t receive it. They were also less sensitive to noise (some autistic children experience a kind of sensory overload from loud sounds and background noise). The most improvement was observed in kids older than five (the study included children ages two to seven) who had milder autism [Scientific American].
Researchers aren’t sure why the treatment may be having a beneficial effect on autistic kids. One theory is that oxygen can help reduce inflammation and improve flow of oxygen to brain tissue.Researchers say the study’s positive results, published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, should prompt further investigations. source
Vitamin D found in fish boosts brain powerMay 21st, 2009
Eating fish -- long considered 'brain food' -- may really be good for the old grey matter, as is a healthy dose of sunshine, new research suggests.
University of Manchester scientists in collaboration with colleagues from other European centres have shown that higher levels of vitamin D - primarily synthesised in the skin following sun exposure but also found in certain foods such as oily fish - are associated with improved cognitive function in middle-aged and older men.
The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men aged 40 to 79 years at eight test centres across Europe.
The researchers found that men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in a simple and sensitive neuropsychological test that assesses an individual’s attention and speed of information processing.
“The main strengths of our study are that it is based on a large population sample and took into account potential interfering factors, such as depression, season and levels of physical activity.
“Interestingly, the association between increased vitamin D and faster information processing was more significant in men aged over 60 years, although the biological reasons for this remain unclear.” source
Gluten-free diets help manyMay 22nd, 2009 By Jessica Yadegaran
For 20 years, Maurie Ange of El Cerrito, Calif., suffered from chronic belly aches. A decade ago, she was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and told to exercise more and increase her fiber intake. But the pain, bloating and digestive issues continued into her 60s.
Finally, four years ago, at the suggestion of an osteopath she was seeing for sinus trouble, Ange went on a gluten-free diet, avoiding everything that contained the protein found in wheat (durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro), barley, rye, contaminated oats, and a host of products including lipstick, soy sauce and pharmaceuticals.
"Ninety percent of my issues are gone," Ange says. "When I fall off the wagon the pain and yuckiness return."
Ange is one of many who has benefited from gluten-free living. Whether they suffer from gluten intolerance, hope to temper the symptoms of autism, or have been diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects one in 133 adults and is getting overdue attention, they are going gluten-free for good, not as a fad. It is a lifestyle, that, when approached naturally and under medical supervision, provides relief and bonuses such as avoiding processed and packaged foods.
Still, cutting out gluten is difficult. It requires vigilant label reading and a dedication to eating at home. Most American staples such as pizza, pasta, beer and burgers are off limits. On the bright side, the things you can eat -- proteins and fruits and vegetables -- are good for you.source
When I told my boyfriend what you're about to read, he was stunned. He couldn't believe it. And why should he believe it? Is it normal to have hormones or toxic chemicals in your water? Well, some might speculate that if it happens so often, then it is normal. Of course, I disagree. If a lie is repeated 1000 times, that doesn't make it a truth. It makes it a mass delusion.
So, what's all about? Read the following short articles:
- What's in your water?: Disinfectants create toxic by-products
- Hormone-mimics in plastic water bottles -- just the tip of the iceberg?
- CDC: Rocket fuel chemical found in baby formula
- BPA chemical leaches from plastic drinking bottles into people
The second article-have you read the article on soya in tothefuturewithlove.net? If not, please read it, it's quite important. Anyway, it turns our that plastic bottles not only leak into our water hormone-like substances, those substances are ACTIVE! What does this mean? As you know, estrogen is a female hormone found also in the soya. In moderate quantities and consumed by females, it might have beneficial effect. But as the soya study I referred you to showed, it may provoke extremely unpleasant effect in young children-like premature menstruation and development of breast in YOUNG children. When I say young, I mean almost a toddler. 3-4-5. It affects also boys in various nasty ways. At some point, I even thought that the soya mania was government-directed to make men more passive. Now I think it's outright stupidity. Anyway, check the site for the details. And now, this article say that we have the same estrogen in our water and everything that was packaged in plastics! And this is VERY serious. What's even worst, those estrogen-like chemicals turned out to be functional-they had estrogen-like effect on the worms mentioned in the article. So these are not only estrogen-like chemicals, they are acting like estrogen too. I find this extremely troubling. Hormonal therapies should be done under the careful observation of doctors or scientists. Not just like that. Not to such extent. And this is in every package, every bottle, everywhere!
The third article about perchlorate in baby formula in levels that may be dangerous for an adult, speaks for itself. Another reason why breastmilking is better, even if it sucks!
As for the forth article-it's moral is-never use plastic bottle, no matter what. Glass is so much better. 70% increase of nasty substances, because of the use of plastic bottle is enough proof for me.
I hope you read the articles and get my point. It's not about making panic, it's about making rational decision. Technology is never final. If something is not working, it must be perfected. Technology must serve humans, not the other way around. But the humans must require that technology would be perfected. Otherwise, we'll continue to drink the same shits and get ill, get fat or get crazy. It's our choice. What do you choose?
P.S. not that the chemicals discussed in the last article mess with metabolism, which may lead to obesity!
What's in your water?: Disinfectants create toxic by-productsMarch 31st, 2009
Although perhaps the greatest public health achievement of the 20th century was the disinfection of water, a recent study now shows that the chemicals used to purify the water we drink and use in swimming pools react with organic material in the water yielding toxic consequences.
University of Illinois geneticist Michael Plewa said that disinfection by-products (DBPs) in water are the unintended consequence of water purification. "The process of disinfecting water with chlorine and chloramines and other types of disinfectants generates a class of compounds in the water that are called disinfection by-products. The disinfectant reacts with the organic material in the water and generates hundreds of different compounds. Some of these are toxic, some can cause birth defects, some are genotoxic, which damage DNA, and some we know are also carcinogenic."
The 10-year study began with an EPA grant to develop mammalian cell lines that would be used specifically to analyze the ability of these compounds to kill cells, or cytotoxicity, and the ability of these emerging disinfection by-products to cause genomic DNA damage.
The first discovery involves iodine-containing DBPs. "If there is high bromine and iodine in that water, when you disinfect these waters, you can generate the chemical conditions necessary to produce DBPs that have iodine atoms attached. And these are much more toxic and genotoxic than the regulated DBPs that currently EPA uses," he said.Plewa said that the second discovery concerns nitrogen-containing DBPs. "Disinfectant by-products that have a nitrogen atom incorporated into the structure are far more toxic and genotoxic, and some even carcinogenic, than those DBPs that don't have nitrogen. And there are no nitrogen-containing DBPs that are currently regulated."
In addition to drinking water DBPs, Plewa said that swimming pools and hot tubs are DBP reactors. "...Hair falls into the water and then this water is chlorinated. But the water is recycled again and again so the levels of DBPs can be ten-fold higher than what you have in drinking water."
Plewa said that studies were showing higher levels of bladder cancer and asthma in people who do a lot of swimming - professional swimmers as well as athletic swimmers. These individuals have greater and longer exposure to toxic chemicals which are absorbed through the skin and inhaled.
"The big concern that we have is babies in public pools because young children and especially babies are much more susceptible to DNA damage in agents because their bodies are growing and they're replicating DNA like crazy," he said.
Ironically, the DBPs that are regulated by the EPA tend to be some of the least toxic DBPs in Plewa's study.
Plewa said that until new technologies are engineered to safely disinfect the water in public pools, education is needed to encourage people to bathe or shower before entering a public pool. source
Hormone-mimics in plastic water bottles -- just the tip of the iceberg?March 26th, 2009
In an analysis1 of commercially available mineral waters, the researchers found evidence of estrogenic compounds leaching out of the plastic packaging into the water. What's more, these chemicals are potent in vivo and result in an increased development of embryos in the New Zealand mud snail. These findings, which show for the first time that substances leaching out of plastic food packaging materials act as functional estrogens, are published in Springer's journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
Wagner and Oehlmann looked at whether the migration of substances from packaging material into foodstuffs contributes to human exposure to man-made hormones. They analyzed 20 brands of mineral water available in Germany - nine bottled in glass, nine bottled in plastic and two bottled in composite packaging (paperboard boxes coated with an inner plastic film). The researchers took water samples from the bottles and tested them for the presence of estrogenic chemicals in vitro. They then carried out a reproduction test with the New Zealand mud snail to determine the source and potency of the xenoestrogens.
They detected estrogen contamination in 60% of the samples (12 of the 20 brands) analyzed. Mineral waters in glass bottles were less estrogenic than waters in plastic bottles. Specifically, 33% of all mineral waters bottled in glass compared with 78% of waters in plastic bottles and both waters bottled in composite packaging showed significant hormonal activity.
By breeding the New Zealand mud snail in both plastic and glass water bottles, the researchers found more than double the number of embryos in plastic bottles compared with glass bottles. Taken together, these results demonstrate widespread contamination of mineral water with potent man-made estrogens that partly originate from compounds leaching out of the plastic packaging material. source
CDC: Rocket fuel chemical found in baby formulaApril 3rd, 2009 By MIKE STOBBE , AP Medical Writer
(AP) -- Traces of a chemical used in rocket fuel were found in samples of powdered baby formula, and could exceed what's considered a safe dose for adults if mixed with water also contaminated with the ingredient, a government study has found.
The study by scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked for the chemical, perchlorate, in different brands of powdered baby formula. It was published last month, but the Environmental Working Group issued a press release Thursday drawing attention to it.
The chemical has turned up in several cities' drinking water supplies. It can occur naturally, but most perchlorate contamination has been tied to defense and aerospace sites.
No tests have ever shown the chemical caused health problems, but scientists have said significant amounts of perchlorate can affect thyroid function. The thyroid helps set the body's metabolism. Thyroid problems can impact fetal and infant brain development.
However, the extent of the risk is hard to assess. The government requires that formula contain iodine, which counteracts perchlorate's effects. The size of the infant and how much formula they consume are other factors that can influence risk. source
BPA chemical leaches from plastic drinking bottles into peopleMay 21st, 2009
(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles, the popular, hard-plastic drinking bottles and baby bottles, showed a two-thirds increase in their urine of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Exposure to BPA, used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics, has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans. The study is the first to show that drinking from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of urinary BPA, and thus suggests that drinking containers made with BPA release the chemical into the liquid that people drink in sufficient amounts to increase the level of BPA excreted in human urine.
In addition to polycarbonate bottles, which are refillable and a popular container among students, campers and others and are also used as baby bottles, BPA is also found in dentistry composites and sealants and in the lining of aluminum food and beverage cans. (In bottles, polycarbonate can be identified by the recycling number 7.) Numerous studies have shown that it acts as an endocrine-disruptor in animals, including early onset of sexual maturation, altered development and tissue organization of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring. It may be most harmful in the stages of early development.
"We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds. If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher. This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA's endocrine-disrupting potential," said Karin B. Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH and Harvard Medical School and senior author of the study.
Canada banned the use of BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles in 2008 and some polycarbonate bottle manufacturers have voluntarily eliminated BPA from their products. With increasing evidence of the potential harmful effects of BPA in humans, the authors believe further research is needed on the effect of BPA on infants and on reproductive disorders and on breast cancer in adults.source
Етикети: water contamination
So, happy 24th May, everyone! Happy Day of the Slavic alphabet and language!
As I already said in My European Dream, this is one of the biggest holidays in Bulgaria (България) and so, I feel compelled to share it with all of you.
Although it's hard to fight over the origin of the holy brothers-St. st. Cyril and St. St. Methodiy, or the original contractor for their mission, still, in the end, it was the Bulgarian king Boris that offered them a home and offered a home to their alphabet. And this was the beginning of many great events-one of them, the admission of Slavonic (Slavic) language as one of the official languages of the Church-before that, it was only greek, latin and aramean. So, the slavic letter were the forth power to balance the church, so to say.
Anyway, at some point I will discuss st. Cyril and Methodius more extensively, because they are quite important from many points of view. But today, all I want to say is-Happy Holiday!
In Bulgaria, this is the Day of Language, Education and Enlightenment, so as a scientist, this is my day too. So, although I don't feel particularly slavonic, I congratulate all the slavs around with that great day, all my fellows scientists, and all the people who seek the truth.
Върви, народе възродени,
към светла бъднина върви
С книжовността, таз сила нова,
съдбините си поднови!
Върви към мощната просвета,
в световните борби върви,
От длъжност неизменно воден -
и Бог ще те благослови!
Напред! Науката е слънце,
което във душите грей!
Напред! Народността не пада
там, гдето знаньето живей!
Безвестен беше ти, безславен!
О, влез в историята веч,
едно със другите славяни
кръстосай дух със огнен меч!
Тъй солунските двама братя
насърчваха дедите ни...
О, минало незабравимо,
о, пресвещенни старини!
България остана вярна
на достославний тоз завет -
в тържествованье и в страданье
извърши подвизи безчет...
Етикети: 24th May
A long postponed post, but I wanted to have the time to discuss the issue in its completeness.
- As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes
- Fight Over Internet Filtering Has a Test Run in Europe
- Google to Offer Ads Based on Interests
- Iranians and Others Outwit Net Censors
- France Approves Crackdown on Internet Piracy
Now, first there was the first article. A girl is forced to take down her video, because she was singing a carol. If that's not an obvious absurd, I don't know what is. Since when a company holds the rights over a carol. The original idea of youtube is that you can share videos of you doing stuff. By making you remove those videos, they limit your rights. You may agree that they remove porn and obscenities too, but let's say those behaviour are unacceptable for the age range of the auditory (physical or mental). But now, they're telling you that you don't have the right to sing, play or even listen on the background of copyrighted music. What's next? Prohibiting you from singing those songs on the streets? Under the shower? Where's the end of that road! And what's even more, they are acting against their own interests-they can only win from the publicity of the song, since obviously an amateur can't compare with the millions invested in a singer. But the song can only benefit from the publicity.
Now, as seen from the other articles-this had two sides. From the one is Google not willing to share (enough) from its revenues. Something that looks unfair, because if Youtube profit from a video, so must profit its copyright holders. But I'd like to point out that very low percentage of the income (20%?) generated by such activities goes to the authors or the musicians playing/singing in a song/album. The rest goes to the record company. Does that sound fair? I don't think so. And I loved very much an article in euraktiv, in which the Greens were revolting against music label companies, bringing old stars when they fight for money and copyrights, but giving them only minuscule parts of the real income. This is a) hypocrisy b) outright lie. I agree that the author's rights should be protected, otherwise people would simply stop doing whatever they do best. But we have to ask ourselves and the people we put in power, whose rights exactly copyright laws protect and isn't it time that those laws change to reflect the reality.
Of course, I cannot stop myself from asking, why doesn't youtube share its revenue with people who publish their videos- after all, they are the ones generating that income.
On the other articles. Two important issues. First the new law in France (which happens to be the last article, but for me it's one of the most important). Why I see a problem in that law. First, because I think that access to Internet should be a general human right, compared to access to education or water. And if you argue that if you don't follow the university rules, you might end up out of the institution, that doesn't mean that you'll be banned from ALL the universities in the country. Or banned from reading books, for example. That's the one thing I wanted to say.
The second thing is quite obvious. This law is protecting not only music/movie industry. It's also fighting the free access to wireless-a system in which you buy a wireless rooter and you share certain amount of the traffic unconditionally to anyone. I'm not sure who that practice is harming (though I can make some pretty good guesses), but in the end, this was the beginning of free internet for everyone. I pay my traffic, I have the right to give away some of it for free to anyone. And I can expect that if I go in another country and need desperately internet, I can use such free points for access. Under the French law, every internet user has the obligation to secure its connection. Meaning, if you give away your internet to neighbour, friends or random people, you can be penalised for their behaviour. In short-no more free internet. Don't let anyone near your computer. Don't let anyone use your broadband. You never know what interests someone might have. Do you think this is fair or good for the development of the internet society? I think not.
Last but not least comes the problem of filtering or tracing your activities-both sides of one violation. Many people might not be aware that they are constantly monitored by various players in the internet game-providers, governments, third parties (Google and other). While this might not cause a problem for the moment, this practice can lead to many unwanted effect. Filtering is one of them. You probably think-there's nothing wrong in filtering "children pornography". I absolutely agree-there's nothing more disgusting than that. But is this the correct way to fight it? Stopping people finding the pictures, doesn't mean that they will stop doing them. Just that they'll become more creative. But let's say I'm ok with this. But what's next? Pornography as a whole? Why? Is it illegal to watch adult movies? Of course not, but somebody might decide that it demoralises the population and to filter a little the searches. Or leave that aside-how about banning "drugs", "alcohol", "nuclear bomb", "Obama"? Another road without an end. If you start walking it, you never know where it will end. Do we want another Great Chinese Firewall? I don't know about you, but I don't want it. I want to be able to find information for whatever I need. Would you like the term "Holocaust" to be banned? Or the term "Nazzi"? People want to think that Google is neutral, but the reality is that it's hard to remain neutral in a highly-politicised world. And we have to require that its neutrality is guaranteed. Because Google (and other search engines) are no more simply tools, they are a culture. They educate people, they form their reality. And as we know, whoever controls information, controls everything. I think we have to make our best to keep Internet uncontrolled. Otherwise, it can lead to a dangerous deformations in the society-for example the Greeks filtering information about Macedonia and vice versa can lead to a very serious situation on the Balkans. It's a long story, but in the last round, Greece vetoed the path of Macedonia in NATO. It is serious and Internet can be a major propaganda machine if big companies are not able to stay neutral.
And in the end is the positive news about Iran and their positive experience in working around the filters. I hope more and more people adopt the technology, although I have some doubt about the privacy settings of the proxies. But in any case, this is the way forward. Internet privacy and rights should be just as important as those in "real" life. For if you work 11 hours on the computer and then spend another 2 hours having fun on it, then it form more than 50% of your life. You must be able to enjoy it without boundaries as long as you don't harm anyone. You have to have the right to share it with anyone you want. As long as none commits a major crime with it, you must be able to do it. And for me, downloading a song or a movie is not a major crime. It's in the worst case an infringement. Although I still wait the time when people will realise that illegal download doesn't equal missed profits from records or movies. It's simply not the same. Non-consumer societies are not likely to spend those money one movies/cds anyway. It's simply a different time. Record companies have to understand it and keep up with the time, not to try to forcefully bring back the good old days. This is a mission impossible.
Enjoy and please consider the problem for a while!
As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes
In early December, Juliet Weybret, a high school sophomore and aspiring rock star from Lodi, Calif., recorded a video of herself playing the piano and singing “Winter Wonderland,” and she posted it on YouTube.
Weeks later, she received an e-mail message from YouTube: her video was being removed “as a result of a third-party notification by the Warner Music Group,” which owns the copyright to the Christmas carol.
Hers is not an isolated case. Countless other amateurs have been ensnared in a dispute between Warner Music and YouTube, which is owned by Google. The conflict centers on how much Warner should be paid for the use of its copyrighted works — its music videos — but has grown to include other material produced by amateurs that may also run afoul of copyright law.
A spokesman for Warner Music said that YouTube’s system for identifying copyrighted material does not distinguish between professionally made music videos and amateur material that may include copyrighted works.
“We and our artists share the user community’s frustration when content is unavailable. YouTube generates revenues from content posted by fans, which typically requires licenses from rights holders. Under the current process, we make YouTube aware of WMG content. Their content ID tool then takes down all unlicensed tracks, regardless of how they are used,” said Will Tanous, a spokesman for Warner Music.
More broadly, however, the takedown notices are a glaring example of the rising tensions between Internet sites that distribute content free and owners of copyrighted material.
In late December, Warner and YouTube failed to agree to terms on a new licensing deal that would have paid Warner a cut of advertising revenue in exchange for permission to stream the music company’s videos. Warner then began having its music videos removed from YouTube. The site has licensing deals with the other major music companies, and had a deal with Warner for two years before the recent impasse.
YouTube more recently began blocking music videos from all companies from its site in Britain after failing to reach terms with PRS for Music, a group that collects royalties on behalf of singers and songwriters.
Google does not disclose advertising revenue for YouTube, and estimates among analysts range widely, from $200 million to $500 million a year.
Ms. Weybret says she has been hesitant lately to use YouTube as an outlet for her musical talents. “I’m kind of nervous now about putting up covers,” said Ms. Weybret, 15, who plays in a band with her friends called the Knockouts.
The situation has raised anew questions about the meaning of fair use under copyright law in the context of the digital age, when anyone can easily excerpt copyrighted works and distribute the result in a manner that is sometimes hard to identify as being a commercial product.
The law provides a four-point test for the fair use of copyrighted works, taking into account things like the purpose, the size of an excerpt and the effect the use might have on the commercial value of the actual work.
Many of the offending videos of the user-generated variety like Ms. Weybret’s — as opposed to copies of music videos produced by Warner and its artists — would fall under fair use, according to Mr. von Lohmann, because they are noncommercial and include original material produced by the user.
Others, including Warner Music’s lawyers, might argue that the videos, while themselves created for noncommercial purposes, are nevertheless being shown on YouTube, which is a moneymaking enterprise.source
Fight Over Internet Filtering Has a Test Run in Europe
BERLIN — As European lawmakers debate how to keep access to the Internet free and equal — so-called network neutrality — they are inundated, not unsurprisingly, by lobbyists.
But the corporate envoys roaming the halls of Brussels trying to make their case, more often than not, do not represent the Continent’s myriad telecommunications and Internet companies, but rather those from the United States. Europe has become the world’s technology regulator. So the AT&Ts and Verizons are pitted against the Googles and Yahoos to shape European law in the hopes that American regulators will follow suit.
Net neutrality, which La Quadrature supports, is a proposal backed by some free-speech advocates and Internet businesses that would bar network operators from filtering Internet traffic. Internet service providers, however, say that basic traffic management is necessary to balance the soaring demand for bandwidth from video and popular sites.
For consumers in Europe and the United States, the outcome of the debate could influence whether they will continue to be able to download unlimited data using their flat-rate broadband plans or be forced to pay higher rates related to the amount of data they download.
The outcome could also legally empower operators to focus on users of file-sharing software that can be used for illegal downloading.
The question before lawmakers — in Europe at the moment and in the United States probably later this year — is whether such filtering could lead to access fees on Internet businesses and, according to some free speech advocates, de facto censorship.
The approach to net neutrality in the United States has been shaped largely by the Federal Communications Commission, which in August drew up a set of four neutrality principles as it penalized Comcast, a cable broadband operator, for slowing the speed of broadband service to high-volume users.
European lawmakers remain split over the issue, which may be more limited in Europe. Richard Allan, Cisco’s head of European regulatory affairs, said lawmakers were likely to let network operators continue to use reasonable management practices, like unclogging traffic bottlenecks when necessary.source
Google to Offer Ads Based on Interests
SAN FRANCISCO — Google will begin showing ads on Wednesday to people based on their previous online activities in a form of advertising known as behavioral targeting, which has been embraced by most of its competitors but has drawn criticism from privacy advocates and some members of Congress.
Perhaps to forestall objections to its approach, Google said it planned to offer new ways for users to protect their privacy. Most notably, Google will be the first major company to give users the ability to see and edit the information that it has compiled about their interests for the purposes of behavioral targeting. Like rivals such as Yahoo, it also will give users the choice to opt out from what it calls “interest-based advertising.”
Privacy advocates praised Google’s decision to give users access to their profiles.
But the privacy advocates also said Google needed to do more to notify people that they were being tracked.
“We think more needs to be done on how to educate people and tell them how to opt out,” said Ari Schwartz, chief operating officer of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Google will use a cookie, a small piece of text that resides inside a Web browser, to track users as they visit one of the hundreds of thousands of sites that show ads through its AdSense program. Google will assign those users to categories based on the content of the pages they visit. For example, a user may be pegged as a potential car buyer, sports enthusiast or expectant mother.
Google will then use that information to show people ads that are relevant to their interests, regardless of what sites they are visiting.
Google said the approach could help advertisers reach their audiences more easily and publishers to earn more from their sites. Users will also see ads that are more relevant to their interests, the company said.
Google said that it planned to segment users along 20 categories and nearly 600 subcategories, and would not create categories for certain “sensitive” interests, including race, religion, sexual orientation or certain types of financial or health concerns. It does not plan to associate the cookie of users with search data or with information from other Google services, like Gmail.
Google won’t notify users that it has begun to show them ads based on their behavior, but users who click on the “Ads By Google” link, which appears on thousands of Web pages, will be taken to a site where the technique is explained. There, they will also be able to tap into what Google calls the Ads Preferences Manager, to see and edit the ad categories that have been associated with their browser.Google is allowing publishers to opt out of the program. source
Iranians and Others Outwit Net Censors
Last July, on popular sites that offer free downloads of various software, an escape hatch appeared. The computer program allowed Iranian Internet users to evade government censorship.
College students discovered the key first, then spread it through e-mail messages and file-sharing. By late autumn more than 400,000 Iranians were surfing the uncensored Web.
The software was created not by Iranians, but by Chinese computer experts volunteering for the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that has beem suppressed by the Chinese government since 1999. They maintain a series of computers in data centers around the world to route Web users’ requests around censors’ firewalls.
More than 20 countries now use increasingly sophisticated blocking and filtering systems for Internet content, according to Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based group that encourages freedom of the press.
Although the most aggressive filtering systems have been erected by authoritarian governments like those in Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria, some Western democracies are also beginning to filter some content, including child pornography and other sexually oriented material.
In response, a disparate alliance of political and religious activists, civil libertarians, Internet entrepreneurs, diplomats and even military officers and intelligence agents are now challenging growing Internet censorship.
The creators of the software seized upon by Iranians are members of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium.
Separately, the Tor Project, a nonprofit group of anticensorship activists, freely offers software that can be used to send messages secretly or to reach blocked Web sites.
The danger in this quiet electronic war is driven home by a stark warning on the group’s Web site: “Bypassing censorship may violate law. Serious thought should be given to the risks involved and potential consequences.”
Those who back the ragtag opponents of censorship criticize the government-run systems as the digital equivalent of the Berlin Wall.
The risks of building circumvention tools became clear in April 2006 when, Mr. Li later told law enforcement officials, four men invaded his home in suburban Atlanta, covered his head, beat him, searched his files and stole two laptop computers. The F.B.I. has made no arrests in the case and declined to comment. But Mr. Li thinks China sent the invaders.
China acknowledges that it monitors content on the Internet, but claims to have an agenda much like that of any other country: policing for harmful material, pornography, treasonous propaganda, criminal activity, fraud. The government says Falun Gong is a dangerous cult that has ruined the lives of thousands of people.source
France Approves Crackdown on Internet Piracy
PARIS — The French National Assembly on Tuesday approved a plan by President Nicolas Sarkozy to punish digital pirates with the possible suspension of their Internet connections, a little more than a month after the same body had rejected the proposal in a surprise vote.
The bill would create a new agency that would send warning letters to copyright violators; those who ignored two warnings would lose their Internet service.
Approval in the upper house, the Senate, is expected Wednesday. The sponsor of the bill in the National Assembly, Franck Riester, has said that the first penalties could occur next year.
Opponents say, however, that the plan is saddled with provisions that would make the system difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.
Before the measure goes into effect, it also faces several potential hurdles. Assuming it is passed by the Senate, it would be reviewed by the Constitutional Council, which has the power to reject proposed legislation, something that happens relatively infrequently.
Groups that favor an unfettered Internet are also vowing to challenge the measure through the courts, citing a recent declaration by the European Parliament that it is illegal for a European Union country to sever Internet access without the approval of a court. source
Amid the fading panic about swine flu, let's remember the viruses that used to be important before the whole "crisis" hit the world.
The first article is about HIV and it's quite troubling. Although until it gets airborne, we're relatively safe from HIV (as long as you use condoms and don't need a blood transfusion). But still, if the virus is mutating, you never know what might happens with it. So, be careful with sex, people. If we keep the newly infected to a minimum, then the virus won't have where to mutate further. Because the antiviral cocktails that HIV-positive take are raising the chance that the virus will mutate to evade them!
And the second article is about the need of vit. D trough flu seasons. If you think about it, it makes sense. Because the sun is a major factor in our body. So boys and girls-drink vitamins, drink milk, eat ice cream and go out and enjoy the sun. And show the finger to Tamiflu :)
HIV quickly evolving among large groups: study
LONDON (Reuters) – The AIDS virus is quickly adapting across large groups of people to avoid triggering the, posing another challenge in the search for a potential vaccine, researchers said on Wednesday.
Scientists know the , or HIV, constantly mutates within individual people to find ways to attack cells.
But the study published in the journal Nature suggests changes that help the virus do this are increasingly passed on in the wider population.
"What was previously clear is the virus could evolve within each infected person but that doesn't really matter from a vaccine perspective if the virus at the population level is staying the same," said Philip Goulder, an immunologist at Oxford University who led the study.
"The implication is that once we have found an effective vaccine, it would likely need to be changed to keep pace with the rapidly evolving virus."
There is no cure for AIDS and 33 million people globally are infected with HIV. Cocktails of drugs can control the virus and keep patients healthy. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since the early 1980s, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Researchers are trying to find vaccines that either prevent infection or would control the virus so that patients are less likely to transmit it -- a so-called therapeutic vaccine.
"The process of the virus adapting is happening before our eyes at quite a speed, and it is something we need to take into account when making our vaccines," Goulder said.
HIV attacks the immune system, the body's natural defenses. Like other viruses, it cannot replicate on its own but must hijack a cell and turn it into a virus factory. source
flu typically reach for a glass vitamin C-packed orange juice, but new research suggests that vitamin D may be a better protector. People with low levels of the vitamin, which is often called the sunshine vitamin because sun exposure triggers its production in the body, are more likely to catch colds, the flu, and even pneumonia, a broad new study reports. The effect was magnified in people with asthma or other lung diseases.
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in the United States — particularly in winter…. “People think that if they have a good, balanced diet that they will get enough vitamin D, and that’s actually not true,” said Dr. Michal Melamed…. “Unless you eat a lot of fish and drink a lot of milk, you can’t get enough vitamin D from diet” [CNN].
In the new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers studied data from almost 19,000 participants in a national health and nutrition survey. They found that people with the worst vitamin D deficiency were 36 percent more likely to suffer respiratory infections than those with sufficient levels….
Evidence has been piling up that vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining the immune system.
Lab work has shown that lack of vitamin D is associated with weaker production of an antimicrobial peptide called hCAP-18, a protein that works with immune-system cells to kill pathogens. “We think that if you’re exposed to a virus [and] you have sufficient vitamin D, those cells will be better equipped to fight off that organism so you don’t get an infection” [Scientific American], says study coauthor Adit Ginde. Higher levels of vitamin D have also recently been linked to reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. source
Favourite issue of mine. Texas! Yeah, baby...
The fun aside, I find this article most disturbing. Because it's one to question a theory that uses millennia to make a piece of the environment walk on two feet and completely another, to remove crucial data about the age of the Universe-data which nobody actually questions. I am an astrophysicist and I can tell you honestly that I fear the day when I will talk with an American friend, tell him/her what I do for living and s/he'll laugh at my face.
The truth is that in science, there are many theories which are not that fundamental that we tell people. We don't do it to lie to them, but to simplify the story. Because let's be honest-people don't fall for formulas and digits-they like simplicity (and the show). So, that's what we give them.
But in the end, we always know where are the good sides and where are the flaws of those theories. But the age of the Universe is not a theory. It is a something that we have measured. You can misinterpret that data, of course, but you cannot misunderstand 13 billions of years! Sure, there are many people who question the Big Bang, there are many people who question the strings theory, but those are theories we made to describe and explain the data-they are good as long as they fit the data. But the data isn't questionable. Not by a billion of years. And to deny the children that knowledge is much more than simply deleting some digits. You are denying them the possibility to grasp the true scale of the Universe. That our lives are just minuscule part of the whole story, that not only our size, but our perception of time is ill-equipped to comprehend the size of the place where we are living. Note-that could be a good creationist tool, but I don't want to be the source of creativity for them. The point is that we, as humans, tend to forget how small we are compared to a star. We get involved in our petty lives, while all around us, there is so much space, space which we don't know, space which maybe we can never know. And this knowledge can be a source of so much inspiration and even love.
Anyway, enjoy the article and think carefully, do you want to live in a world that is only 5000 years old, that is the centre of a dark and inanimate Universe. That gives you no other option but to die from dullness.
Texas School Standards: Age of the Universe ErasedApril 7th, 2009 by Miranda Marquit
(PhysOrg.com) -- The fight over the new education and curriculum standards for the public schools in Texas has been long and publicized. Most of the publicity, though, focuses on the school board's focus on "intelligent design" as it relates to the biological question of evolution. Because evolution has long been contested in public schools, it is no real surprise that this has gotten the most play from the media. But one thing that hasn't been mentioned as much is the fact that the Texas school standards also remove mention of the age of the universe. Long-standing ideas of cosmology are being challenged as well.
Originally in the Texas school standards was this phrase: "concept of an expanding universe that originated about 14 billion years ago." However, board member Barbara Cargill thought this wasn't good enough. It was too definite. The standards now read, "current theories of the evolution of the universe including estimates for the age of the universe." You can bet that the age of the earth is not listed in the Texas curriculum as about 4.5 billion years old -- in spite of the fact that most of the people my age and older have known (or rather, estimated) this for years.
There certainly are many different theories about the formation of the universe. Whether it was a big bang or a big bounce are two of them. Cosmologists and astronomers wonder about the rate of expansion in the early universe, and they debate the effects of gravity (not to mention its nature) as well as consider questions about the composition of the universe and the kinds of particles that exist. However, despite the questions that do exist about the origination of the universe, there is very little debate about its age.
Right now, the latest estimate is that the universe is 13.73 billion years old, plus or minus 120 million years. This information is the latest from results from the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe (WMAP). While the age of the universe is likely to be fine tuned in coming years, it is extremely likely that it will remain in the neighborhood of 14 billion years. And few scientists see the age of the earth being cast in doubt as well. But it appears that cosmology could now be thrown into the fray of science v. religion. source
I don't really know how to start this one, because I want people to actually read it, not to dismiss it as anti-american and to not bother. It's not anti-american, it's very pro-american, the reason why I post here those articles is to ring a bell in your mind. Sure, I don't believe that we have to live in a mono-polar world where USA is the biggest power and the rest hide under its umbrella, but USA has its place in scientific progress and it shouldn't lose it for a bad publicity and bad policies.
The two articles below are about the attitude towards science in USA, about the lack of scientific litteracy among average americans and about the very unfortunate politics that USA has towards international students in science and scientists as a whole.
Honestly, I wouldn't go to USA to a conference. I want to visit USA, but I'm scared. I don't know whether I should be scared, but I am! Reading how people are detained on airports for no rational reasons is not exactly helpful. And all the visa related problems...I think the US government should reconsider its priorities. It really is no longer the top choice for scientific carreer. Yes, the money are best (probably), but it's not all about money. If you have to sacrifice too much of your personal life, it's just not worthy! Just read the second article-can you even imagine not to go to your parents death bed, because of fear for visa problems! And those are university workers, who usually can expect their employer to understand such problems. What if they work for a company? How would they explain the delays? Can you call your boss and say "well, I might not come back to work in the next 2 to 6 weeks, because I have problems with the visa". Will s/he waits for you? I doubt. Yes, some research fields can be dangerous in many ways. But USA must decide what is more important-security or science. Note-if you leave alone in the world, obviously, security is the most important, but if other people's scientific advance is direct treat to your security, then, your scientific advance might be more important.
Sure, there must be balance, but for me, if you have a priority to be scientific and technological leader, then you must at least give different priority to visa's for scientists. Do your checks, but do them quickly! Otherwise, scientists will just go elsewhere.
As for the first article about americans and science-it says all.
American adults flunk basic scienceMarch 12th, 2009
A new national survey commissioned by the California Academy of Sciences and conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that the U.S. public is unable to pass even a basic scientific literacy test.
Over the past few months, the American government has allocated hundreds of billions of dollars for economic bailout plans. While this spending may provide a short-term solution to the country's economic woes, most analysts agree that the long-term solution must include a transition to a more knowledge-based economy, including a focus on science, which is now widely recognized as a major driver of innovation and industry. Despite its importance to economic growth, environmental protection, and global health and energy issues, scientific literacy is currently low among American adults. According to the national survey commissioned by the California Academy of Sciences:
• Only 53% of adults know how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun.
• Only 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time.
• Only 47% of adults can roughly approximate the percent of the Earth's surface that is covered with water .
• Only 21% of adults answered all three questions correctly.
Knowledge about some key scientific issues is also low. Despite the fact that access to fresh water is likely to be one of the most pressing environmental issues over the coming years, less than 1% of U.S. adults know what percent of the planet's water is fresh (the correct answer is 3%). Nearly half didn't even hazard a guess. Additionally, 40% of U.S. adults say they are "not at all knowledgeable" about sustainability.
Despite this lack of knowledge, U.S. adults do believe that scientific research and education are important. About 4 in 5 adults think science education is "absolutely essential" or "very important" to the U.S. healthcare system (86%), the U.S. global reputation (79%), and the U.S. economy (77%).
"There has never been a greater need for investment in scientific research and education," said Academy Executive Director Dr. Gregory Farrington. "Many of the most pressing issues of our time—from global climate change to resource management and disease—can only be addressed with the help of science." source
Scientists Fear Visa Trouble Will Drive Foreign Students Away
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Alena Shkumatava (Whitehead Institute of M.I.T.), studies zebra fish in her quest to unravel one of the knottiest problems in biology: how the acting of genes is encouraged or inhibited in cells.
The work, focusing on genetic material called micro-RNAs, is ripe with promise. But Dr. Shkumatava, a postdoctoral researcher from Belarus, will not pursue it in the United States, she said, partly because of what happened last year, when she tried to renew her visa.
What should have been a short visit with her family in Belarus punctuated by a routine trip to an American consulate turned into a three-month nightmare of bureaucratic snafus, lost documents and frustrating encounters with embassy employees.
Dr. Shkumatava, who ended up traveling to Moscow for a visa, is among the several hundred thousand students who need a visa to study in the United States. People at universities and scientific organizations who study the issue say they have heard increasing complaints of visa delays since last fall, particularly for students in science engineering and other technical fields.
A State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that delays of two or three months were common and attributed the problem to “an unfortunate staffing shortage.”
The issue matters because American universities rely on foreign students to fill slots in graduate and postdoctoral science and engineering programs. Foreign talent also fuels scientific and technical innovation in American labs. And the United States can no longer assume that this country is everyone’s first choice for undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate work.
It would be hard to argue against security checks for foreigners coming to the United States to pursue high-level scientific or engineering work. And some experts argue that people from certain countries — China, India, Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries are most often mentioned — should be subject to additional scrutiny.
When visa applicants from problem countries seek opportunities in research fields related to national security, the State Department official said, he hoped Americans “would want us to look at those cases very closely.”
Researchers and students seeking to enter the United States routinely encountered difficulties in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, but as security checks became faster and more efficient, most could count on receiving a visa or a visa renewal in about two weeks. That appears to no longer be the case.
“I started hearing this back in early November,” said Amy Scott, assistant vice president for federal relations at the Association of American Universities. “We are very concerned that we are losing ground here, that people are missing the opportunities to come to the U.S., to teach, conduct research or just participate in a conference.”
According to “Beyond ‘Fortress America,’ ” a report in January by the National Academy of Sciences, universities around the world now have the research equipment and infrastructure to compete with their American counterparts. When the United States puts up barriers, the report said, “foreign universities are well positioned to extend competing offers.”
Or as Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology put it: “There are other countries that want these folks. They are the best of the best. They have other options.”
Problems typically occur if they leave the United States — for family visits or scientific meetings abroad — and then find they need a new visa to return.
She told of one student from the Middle East who agonized when he was called home to the bedside of his dying father for fear he would not be allowed back to his classes. He made the trip, she said, and his return was delayed.
Visa requirements vary from country to country, Ms. Guichard-Ashbrook said, but because some students must renew their visas often and cannot predict how long it will take for their documents to come through, some of them spend a lot of time calculating when they can travel and when they must start the paperwork dance again.
She and others said that students from all over — even the European Union and Australia — had had problems, but that they seemed most acute for people from China, India, the Middle East and Russia. Belarus was part of the former Soviet Union, which might explain some of Dr. Shkumatava’s difficulties, said Kathie Bailey Mathae, director of the Board on International Scientific Organizations, part of the National Academy of Sciences.
She said researchers were increasingly unwilling to schedule conferences or other scientific meetings in the United States. Although the problem is particularly acute for meetings organized on short notice, she said, some groups are looking for sites outside the United States even for meetings scheduled two years or more in advance.
“That’s unfortunate,” the State Department official said. “We want people to think this is the best place to hold their meetings.”
Dr. Shkumatava said she will probably return to Europe. Her husband, a computational biologist from Germany, left the United States last fall for a job in Vienna.source
Етикети: america in science
Hi again. I'm not very regular in posting, but I try to make my best when it comes to the posts themselves. So...
As you remember, I like very much writing about the health conspiracy. I guess now it's a great time to write about pharmacy non-sense, especially with the swine flu all around (sorry, H1N1, I apologise to all of the pigs that were harmed by the bad publicity). One thing I don't get about this flu is what happens if you don't treat it. Because let's face it, very few people die from human flu even if they don't treat it at all-our immune system kill it in 5 days and that's it. You could die from pneumonia or some other bug, but not the virus itself. And with all that hysteria around the tamiflu and how it helped and the older stuff don't help (why? seriously, they act on more or less on the same principle), I start seeing this much more like conspiracy and media-driven panic than like a real threat to humanity. Don't get me wrong, I'm very serious when it comes to a virus and even more serious when it comes to a bacteria, but still, so far the statistics is on our side. So I don't see so much reason in pouring money in Roche Holding (though, Yahoo claims it's Swiss company, still, corporations has enough ways to generate money, they could go without my money). Btw, did you know that the stocks of Roche were falling for the last few months and now, of course they are on the rise (link). It appears to own Genentech and Chugai Pharmaceutical, which is of course good for them, but still, I'd rather keep my money for me.
Anyway, back on the main subject. Check out what kind of good news I found for you.
- No Legal Shield in Drug Labeling, Justices Rule
- Support for adjunctive vitamin C treatment in cancer
- 'Holy powder' ingredient makes membranes behave for better health
The two other articles are also victories on their own. First, I don't know what kind of idiot would claim that vit. C would prevent tumor killing-this is probably the most harmless vitamin ever. You cannot even overdose it. And the third article is about a very interesting substance that I would research at some point. It's obviously a miracle cure, which is not bad :) Enjoy!
No Legal Shield in Drug Labeling, Justices Rule
WASHINGTON — In a major setback for business groups that had hoped to build a barrier against injury lawsuits seeking billions of dollars, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said state juries may award damages for harm from unsafe drugs even though their manufacturers had satisfied federal regulators.
The ruling could have significant implications beyond drug manufacturing. Many companies have sought tighter federal regulation in recent years in part to shield themselves from litigation.
The court, by a 6-to-3 vote, upheld a jury verdict of $6.7 million in favor of a musician from Vermont whose arm had to be amputated after she was injected with an antinausea drug. The drug’s manufacturer, Wyeth, had argued that its compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements should immunize it from lawsuits.
Pharmaceutical companies were especially disappointed by Wednesday’s decision.
Ronald Rogers, a spokesman for Merck, said, “We believe state courts should not be second-guessing the doctors and scientists at the F.D.A.”
Merck was hit with several huge damage awards over its painkiller Vioxx before agreeing to a $4.85 billion settlement in 2007. Allowing juries to make determinations about drug risks, Mr. Rogers said, would cause “mass confusion.”
Producers of goods as different as antifreeze, fireworks, popcorn, cigarettes and light bulbs have sought to take refuge behind federal oversight in recent years to fend off litigation. After Wednesday’s decision, those efforts are most likely to succeed if they are based on express language in a Congressional statute or a specific regulatory action that makes compliance with state requirements impossible.
The case began in 2000, when Diana Levine, suffering from migraine headaches, visited a clinic. She was given injections of Demerol for the pain and Wyeth’s drug Phenergan for nausea.
If Phenergan is exposed to arterial blood, it can cause swift and irreversible gangrene. For that reason, it is usually administered by intramuscular injection or intravenous drip. This time, a physician’s assistant used a third method, injecting the drug into what she thought was a vein, a method known as “IV push.”
In the following weeks, Ms. Levine’s hand and forearm turned black, and they were amputated in two stages. She settled a lawsuit against the clinic and went to trial against Wyeth, claiming its warnings against IV-push administration were not strong enough.source
Support for adjunctive vitamin C treatment in cancerMarch 6th, 2009
Serious flaws in a recent study, which concluded that high doses of vitamin C reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs in the treatment of cancer, are revealed in the current issue of Alternative and Complementary Therapies, a journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
In the Medical Journal Watch column of the latest issue, Jack Challem, a personal nutrition coach and nutrition author from Tucson, Arizona, and a regular contributor to the Journal, challenges the findings of a study published in Cancer Research (2008;68:8031-8038), in which the authors conclude that vitamin C given to mice or cultured cells treated with common anti-cancer drugs reduces the antitumor effects of the chemotherapeutic agents.
Challem points out two main problems with the study: the oxidized form of vitamin C (dehydroascorbic acid) and not actual vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was used; and in the mouse experiments, the animals were given toxic doses of dehydroascorbic acid, a compound that is not used as a dietary supplement in humans.
He adds that "considerable positive research…has shown striking benefits from high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in cancer cells and animals—and in actual human beings."
High-dose intravenous vitamin C is a common form of alternative and complementary therapy for patients receiving chemotherapeutic drugs and is believed to help bring about tumor cell death. In addition, it may promote postsurgical healing by enhancing collagen formation, and increase tissue resistance to tumor spread.
More information: The report is available free online at http://www.liebertpub.com/actsource
'Holy powder' ingredient makes membranes behave for better healthMarch 6th, 2009
Revered in India as "holy powder," the marigold-colored spice known as turmeric has been used for centuries to treat wounds, infections and other health problems. In recent years, research into the healing powers of turmeric's main ingredient, curcumin, has burgeoned, as its astonishing array of antioxidant, anti-cancer, antibiotic, antiviral and other properties has been revealed.
Now, University of Michigan researchers led by Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy have discovered that curcumin acts as a disciplinarian, inserting itself into cell membranes and making them more orderly, a move that improves cells' resistance to infection and malignancy.
"The membrane goes from being crazy and floppy to being more disciplined and ordered, so that information flow through it can be controlled," said Ramamoorthy, a professor of chemistry and biophysics. The findings were published online March 3 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Scientists have speculated that curcumin does its health-promoting work by interacting directly with membrane proteins, but the U-M findings challenge that notion. Instead, the researchers found that curcumin regulates the action of membrane proteins indirectly, by changing the physical properties of the membrane.
In a related line of research, Ramamoorthy's team is using the same methods to investigate the effects of curcumin on the formation of amyloids---clumps of fibrous protein believed to be involved in type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and many other maladies. In addition, the researchers are looking to see whether other natural products, such as polyphenols (compounds found in many plant foods that are known to have antioxidant properties) and capsaicin (a pain reliever derived from hot peppers), interact with membranes in the same way as curcumin.
More information: http://pubs.acs.org/journal/jacsat