Monday, August 31, 2009

Cell Phones and Health: Is There a Brain Cancer Connection?

TT Note: I remember an uncle of mine suggesting that my brand new cell phone would cause brain cancer. His bold statement was made in 1991. Wonder what the evidence shows now?

/PRNewswire/ -- Are cell phones safe? Mounting concerns about the cancer risks of cell phone radiation, especially for children, will bring experts to Washington for a groundbreaking international conference on September 13-15. The goal of the conference is to propose a U.S. research agenda.

The latest scientific evidence on cell phones and human health and public policy implications will be presented by such respected experts as Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, Director Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, Tel Aviv Medical University, Israel's key researcher on cancer and cell phones; Dr. Margaret Offermann, national research deputy at the American Cancer Society; and Professor Frank Barnes, chairman of the 2008 National Academy of Sciences report on research needed on cell phones and other personal wireless devices.

Key members of Congress are expected to attend. Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) is planning to independently chair a Senate hearing on cell phones and health on Monday, September 14 on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Devra L. Davis, Professor of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh and primary organizer of the conference, reports: "Deeply troubling findings have been reported outside the U.S., where cell phones have been widely used for longer periods of time. These findings show a doubled risk of brain cancer. Many governments, including France, Finland, China and Russia, even advise that children not use cell phones."

Says co-organizer Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski, Research Professor at the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, "People want to believe that cell phones are safe, but at this point we cannot make that judgment. Some scientific evidence suggests that cell phones might be harmful. Given the current uncertainty, we have to develop precautionary measures to reduce potential risks while the new research is planned and carried out."

Sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; University of Pittsburgh; National Research Center for Women & Families; The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety; The Flow Fund Circle, and the Environmental Health Trust, the conference will be held at the historic Credit Union House, 4th and Maryland Ave. NE, near the U.S. Capitol.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Forbidden Health Care Ad Against Obamacare





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Revolt Against Career Politicians in the US Congress Begins Today

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Revolution of 2010 unveiled its web site two days ago, providing the Nation with a viable means to dramatically change the US Congress. With the current uproar over Congress' handling of health care proposals, their timing could not be better. Their unique strategy has a real potential to lure literally millions of Americans who are frustrated with the career politicians currently occupying the halls of Congress to join their revolt.

Based upon a concept of voluntary accreditation of candidates seeking public office, the strategy incorporates mandatory standards for candidates that focus on ethics, disclosure, conduct, term limits and other requirements that many have been clamoring for. Coupled with an evolving five-year plan to move the Nation forward, this grassroots initiative might very well evolve as the consolidation point of numerous other grassroots political initiatives, obviously enhancing the chances of Congress actually being transformed.

A thorough examination of this non-partisan approach reveals no major or even minor flaws. Other than the career politicians they are targeting, and those few who still have a favorable opinion of Congress, this initiative will be very appealing. Confident in their concept, the American Revolution of 2010, LLC promises that if a more feasible, viable, and achievable plan emerges that will enable the American people to take back control of their Nation from the career politicians they will turn over all of the company's financial assets to the organization spearheading that initiative, offer its full endorsement of that initiative, and promote the support of that initiative through their web site. In addition, their founder has pledged he will make a $50,000 donation to that organization from his personal savings should such a superior plan emerge.

Don't look for either to occur. If the American people really want to wrestle control from the career politicians, this concept appears to be the means to do so. This common sense concept leaves the reader thinking "Why didn't someone think of this sooner? This is a more perfect form of a representative democracy."

Discussing the unique concept of accreditation of political candidates will likely prove to be an irresistible topic for many of the political talk shows. Given the percentage of voters possessing a low opinion of Congress, look for this initiative to quickly gather momentum.

Web site visitors should plan to spend an hour or so of their time fully exploring the site to glean a full appreciation of the comprehensive strategy. The site is at: http://the-american-revolution-of-2010.com/ .

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

White House Sued Over Free Speech Violations In Healthcare Battle: Doctor & Patient Groups Say White House Intended to Shut Up Opponents

TT Note: "When we first try to deceive...." Free speech with your fish, anyone?

/PRNewswire/ -- The Office of the President and other White House officials are defendants in a free speech lawsuit filed by a prominent physician group, and a non-profit advocate for inner-city poor.

The White House has "unlawfully collected information on political speech," thereby illegally using the power of the White House to chill opposition to its plans for health care reform, according to the complaint filed in District Court for the District of Columbia, by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) and the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE)

The lawsuit was prompted by the White House solicitation for the public to report any "fishy" comments to 'flag@whitehouse.gov.' Although the White House slightly revised its data collection procedure last week, the email address still exists, the illegal activity continues, and is part of an "unlawful pattern and practice to collect and maintain information" on the exercise of free speech, which "continues in violation of the Privacy Act and First Amendment even if the Defendants terminate a particular information-collection component due to negative publicity."

The lawsuit outlines how the White House has employed a form of "bait-and-switch" tactic of accusing the Plaintiffs and other opponents of spreading misinformation about the Administration's goals for health care reform, and thereby refusing to 'come clean' about its real agenda.

The lawsuit outlines that the White House knew that the data collection would chill free speech, and in fact, intended to do just that:

"43. As part of their effort to advance the White House healthcare
reform agenda, Defendants have accused opponents (including
Plaintiffs) of spreading misinformation on issues such as whether
(a) health reform would provide public funding for abortions, (b) put
"death panels" in place to deny care to the elderly or infirm,
(c) amount to a government takeover of healthcare, and (d) increase
healthcare costs..the Defendants and the administration have spread
misinformation, semantics, and disinformation on these topics.....

"45. By denying and continuing to deny that healthcare reform
legislation includes "death panels" that make individual life-or-death
decisions on the elderly or infirm, the Defendants and the current
administration have ignored and implicitly denied and continue to
ignore and implicitly to deny both that their healthcare reform agenda
involves rationing healthcare..."


"My hate mail started shortly after the White House issued the 'fishy' request," said Kathryn Serkes, Director of Policy and Public Affairs for AAPS. "We were quite visible and vocal before then, so it doesn't seem like a coincidence. Who did they share their data with? With whom might they share it?"

AAPS and CURE demand that the White House remove all information already collected, and further, be prohibited from collecting any personal data in the future.

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Political News You Can Use

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Taxes, Just the Give Me the Health Plan

TT Note: Hmmm. Illegal? Don't have to pay taxes? But Americans pay for health care of illegal aliens? Doesn't seem right, does it? Let your Congressman know your views on the subject.


Congressional Research Service: Illegal Aliens Can Receive Benefits Under House Health Care Bill

/PRNewswire/ -- Tuesday, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the "research arm" for the United States Congress, issued a report validating an analysis by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), that illegal aliens would be able to receive benefits under the House health care reform bill, America's Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200).

The report, Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200, states definitively, "H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitizens - whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently - participating in the Exchange." H.R. 3200 establishes a Health Insurance Exchange which would provide individuals and small businesses with access to health care plans, including the "public option" to be managed by the government.

CRS also confirms FAIR's assessment that the House bill does not include a mechanism to prevent illegal aliens from receiving "affordability credits" that would subsidize the purchase of private health insurance. CRS specifically noted the absence "of a provision in the bill specifying the verification procedure." Because the language is ambiguous, all CRS could reasonably conclude is that any eligibility determination would be the responsibility of the Health Choices Commissioner.

The CRS analysis comes after weeks of denials by Members of Congress that illegal aliens could receive benefits under the House bill. These denials were echoed by countless media and health care "experts" who dismissed public concerns as myths, or as politically orchestrated attacks.

"Case closed. Illegal aliens will be eligible to participate in the health care program offered by the House bill unless Congress acts to amend the bill," stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "The loopholes and omissions in the House bill are not there by accident," continued Stein. "These loopholes were intended to extend benefits to illegal aliens while allowing Members of Congress to deny those facts to the American people."

The House Ways & Means Committee had the opportunity to include language that would have barred illegal aliens from enrolling in the proposed public option or receiving the affordability credits, but chose not to. An amendment offered by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would have applied the same eligibility verification procedures for coverage under H.R. 3200 that have been used for years to prove eligibility for Medicaid. That amendment was rejected by a party-line vote.

Based on its own findings and those of CRS, FAIR is calling on Congress to:

-- Adopt clear language that makes illegal aliens (and nonimmigrants)
ineligible for enrollment in publicly funded or subsidized health
insurance programs.
-- Require electronic eligibility verification for any health care reform
proposal through the existing Systematic Alien Verification for
Entitlements (SAVE) system.
-- Maintain a five-year eligibility waiting period for legal immigrants
to ensure that individuals don't come to the U.S. and immediately tap
the system.


"For the past month, irate citizens, concerned that their tax dollars will be used to fund health care for illegal aliens, have been unfairly portrayed as uninformed rabble by their elected representatives and a host of media organizations," said Stein. "It is time for the politicians to close the loopholes, and for the media establishment to acknowledge that they got it wrong."

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CASA* 2009 Teen Survey Reveals: Teens Likelier To Get Drunk, Use Marijuana, Smoke Cigarettes If They See Parent Drunk

/PRNewswire/ -- Compared to teens who have not seen their parent(s) drunk, those who have are more than twice as likely to get drunk in a typical month, and three times likelier to use marijuana and smoke cigarettes, according to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIV: Teens and Parents, the 14th annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

The CASA survey found that 51 percent of 17-year olds have seen one or both of their parents drunk and 34 percent of 12- to 17-year olds have seen one or both of their parents drunk.

Teen drinking behavior is strongly associated with how teens believe their fathers feel about their drinking. Compared to teens who believe their father is against their drinking, teens who believe their father is okay with their drinking are two and a half times likelier to get drunk in a typical month.

The survey found that five percent of 12- to 15-year old girls and nine percent of 12- to 15-year old boys say their fathers are okay with their drinking. Thirteen percent of 16- and 17-year old girls and 20 percent of 16- and 17-year old boys say their fathers are okay with their drinking.

"Some Moms' and Dads' behavior and attitudes make them parent enablers--parents who send their 12- to 17-year olds a message that it's okay to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs like marijuana," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA's chairman and founder and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. "Teens' behavior is strongly associated with their parents' behavior and expectations, so parents who expect their children to drink and use drugs will have children who drink and use drugs."

Prescription Drugs Readily Available

For the first time this year, the survey asked 12- to 17-year olds how fast they can get prescription drugs to get high. More than one third of teens (8.7 million) can get prescription drugs to get high within a day; nearly one in five teens (4.7 million) can get them within an hour.

When teens were asked where they would get prescription drugs, the most common sources were home, parents, other family members and friends.

For the second year in a row more teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer.

Drinking, Drugging and Sex

This year the CASA survey took a close look at teen drinking and discovered that 65 percent of 12- to 17-year olds who drink monthly report that they get drunk at least once in a typical month. Eighty-five percent of 17-year old drinkers get drunk at least once in a typical month.

The survey found that one third of teen drinkers usually drink with the intention to get drunk. Eighty-five percent of teen drinkers who say that when they drink they usually drink to get drunk do so at least once a month. Of those teens who do NOT set out to get drunk, 33 percent find themselves drunk at least once a month.

Compared to teens who have never tried alcohol, teens who get drunk monthly are:

-- 18 times likelier to have tried marijuana;
-- Four times likelier to be able to get marijuana in an hour;
-- Almost four times likelier to know someone their age who abuses
prescription drugs;
-- More than three times likelier to have friends who use marijuana; and
-- More than twice as likely to know someone their age who uses meth,
ecstasy, or other drugs such as cocaine, heroin or LSD.

Compared to teens who have never tried alcohol, those who get drunk at least once a month are:

-- Twice as likely to know a girl who was forced to do something sexual
she didn't want to do; and
-- Nearly four times likelier to know a guy who uses drugs or alcohol to
hook up.


"The message for parents is loud and clear. If your teen is drinking, the odds are your teen is getting drunk. And teens who get drunk are much likelier to try marijuana and hang out with friends who are abusing prescription drugs and illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin," said Elizabeth Planet, CASA's Vice President and Director of Special Projects. "Parents who think their kids are just having an occasional drink each month need to wake up and smell the beer and pot."

Marijuana, Availability Up Sharply

Between 2007 and 2009 there was a 37 percent increase in the percentage of 12- to 17-year olds who say marijuana is easier to buy than cigarettes, beer or prescription drugs (19 percent to 26 percent).

Forty percent of teens (10 million) can get marijuana within a day; nearly one-quarter of teens (5.7 million) can get it in an hour.

Teens who say that the decision to use marijuana by someone their age is not a big deal are four times more likely to use it compared to teens who say this decision is a big deal.

Teens whose parents believe the decision to use marijuana is not a big deal are almost twice as likely to use the drug, compared to teens whose parents say this decision is a big deal.

Most teens who smoke cigarettes (56 percent) say the decision to use marijuana is not a big deal.

Other Notable Findings
-- Two-thirds of high school students say that drugs are used, kept or
sold at their school.
-- Sixty percent of parents say that their child's school is not drug
free.
-- Of parents who say their teen's school is not drug free, almost half
think there is nothing they can do about it, and only a quarter have
even tried.


"Parents are the key to raising drug-free kids and they have the power to do it if they send their children the clear message to choose not to use and demand that the schools their children attend be drug free," noted Califano whose book How to Raise a Drug Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents, was published this month by Simon & Schuster's Touchstone/Fireside Division.

QEV Analytics conducted The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIV: Teens and Parents from March 2 to April 5, 2009 (teens) and March 21 to April 10, 2009 (parents). The firm interviewed at home by telephone a national random sample of 1,000 12- to 17-year olds (509 boys, 491 girls) and 452 of their parents. Sampling error is +/- 3.1 percent for teens and +/- 4.6 percent for parents.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Get Ready for Possible Taxation of Cash for Clunkers Rebates

TT Note: Oops. Did you take time to read the fine print when you traded your paid off car for the "free" money the American taxpayers so graciously gave you for Cash for Clunkers? Hmm. Looks like you might get taxed for it. Or did you notice that some dealers enticed customers with the rebate and only took that off the sticker price? So, was it such a great deal?

Whoops! Cash For Clunkers Payments Are Taxable!

Some of the drivers that bought new cars through cash for clunkers are learning that it wasn't quite the deal they hoped for.

Keloland Television: But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised.....http://www.businessinsider.com/whoops-cash-for-clunker-participants-dont-realize-their-rebates-get-taxed-2009-8

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CPSC, Goodman Manufacturing Co. Announce Changes to 1998 Recall Program to Replace Dangerous Home Heating Vent Pipes

/PRNewswire/ -- The CPSC and Goodman Manufacturing Company, of Houston, TX, are urging consumers who have not yet responded to the previously-announced 1998 recall to do so immediately. After October 1, 2009, the remedy consumers receive will change to be identical to modifications recently announced for a related recall.

The recall included about 10,000 Plexvent and Ultravent HTPV pipe systems attached to certain Goodman mid-efficiency furnaces manufactured from October 1988 to July 1994 (models GUP, GDP, GUPS, GDPS, GUPI, GDPI, GUPX, GDPX, GMP and GMPV for the following brands manufactured by Goodman: Janitrol, GMC, Hamilton Electric, Franklin, Liberty and Sears/Kenmore). The HTPV pipe used for these vents could be susceptible to corrosion, cracking and joint separation, which could result in the release of carbon monoxide (CO) into living areas, posing a danger to consumers. Goodman did not manufacture the HTPV pipe.

The following table describes the different remedies available to consumers with qualifying furnaces that use the two leading brands of HTPV pipe - Plexvent and Ultravent.

Plexvent Owners Ultravent Owners
--------------- ----------------

Valid claims Will receive:
initiated on or -- a new, professionally-installed venting
before October 1, system free of charge
2009, with
remediation or
completed and
required -- a new, high-efficiency Goodman furnace and
documentation suitable vent for the manufacturer's price
submitted by (of just the furnace), with no charge for
January 1, 2010. labor, associated materials or dealer markup.

---------------------- ----------------------- --------------------------

Valid claims A rebate up to $400 A rebate up to $250
initiated toward either an HTPV toward either an HTPV
after October 1, 2009 replacement system, or replacement
a new, high-efficiency system, or a new,
furnace from Goodman high-efficiency furnace
that does not require from Goodman that does HTPV. not require HTPV.

---------------------- ----------------------- --------------------------


Consumers who register after October 1, 2009 and who choose to repair their systems will be responsible for up-front payment of parts, labor and permits, and will be responsible for arranging to have the work performed.

Consumers should determine whether they have a recalled HTPV pipe system by checking the vent pipes attached to their natural gas furnace. Vent pipes subject to this recall can be identified as follows:

-- the vent pipes are plastic;
-- the vent pipes are colored gray or black;
-- "Plexvent," "Plexvent II" or "Ultravent" is stamped on the vent pipe
or printed on stickers placed on pieces used to connect the vent
pipes; and

-- the vent pipes are located on furnaces and the pipes go through the
sidewalls of structures.


Other plastic vent pipes, such as white PVC, are not included in the recall.

Owners of Goodman furnaces that are vented with HTPV pipe should immediately call Goodman at (800) 394-8084 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday. CPSC reminds all consumers to have fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected each year to check for cracks or separations in the vents that could allow CO to leak into the home. In addition, CPSC recommends that every home should have at least one CO alarm.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Utility Wants to Pour $334 Million of Taxpayer Money Down Carbon Capture Rat Hole

/PRNewswire/ -- Utility giant AEP has applied for $334 million in stimulus money to construct the first commercial scale CO2 capture and storage project at a West Virginia coal-fired power plant. That's about half the money needed for the project. The project goal is to capture 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 per year and then to store it 1.5 miles below the surface. Left unanswered, however, are some very significant questions:

Q How much of a difference in atmospheric CO2 levels will this make?

A Atmospheric CO2 accumulation from this plant is the product the emissions (0.0015 billion metric tons of CO2) times its persistence in the atmosphere (estimated to be 40%), which equals 0.0006 billion metric tons of CO2. Since 1 part per million by volume (ppmv) of CO2 weights 7.81 billion metric tons, the atmospheric persistence of the plant's emissions is roughly 0.0006 / 7.81, which equals 0.000077 ppmv. So AEP plans to spend $670 million -- remember half is taxpayer money -- to avoid increasing atmospheric CO2 levels by 0.000077 ppmv per year. That's only $8.7 trillion per ppmv avoided.

Q How much of a hypothetical change in temperature will be achieved by this $670 million expenditure?

A If the project started burying CO2 in 2015 as planned, then between 2015 and 2100 the atmosphere would contain about 0.0065 ppmv less CO2 (85 years x 0.00077 ppmv per year). Using the IPCC's simplified expression for calculation of radiative forcing due to CO2 and 380 ppmv for our base year 2007, we get a change in CO2-related forcing of about 0.000092 W/m2, which works out to between 0.0000276 degrees Celsius to 0.000092 degrees Celsius of potential warming avoided over those 85 years.

That works out to a rate of between $7.3 trillion to $24.3 trillion spent per hypothetical 1 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature avoided. Remember, this is only a hypothetical temperature difference; it's not at all certain that any temperature difference would actually occur! Moreover, even if this miniscule temperature increase were avoided, it's not at all clear that any climatic benefits would actually occur. Global warming is better, after all, than global cooling.

"The only thing worse than AEP's application to throw $334 million in taxpayer money down the carbon capture rat hole be the Obama administration granting the request. Stimulus money is supposed to jump-start the economy not be wasted on politically correct boondoggles that provide no value to society," said Steve Milloy.

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Avoiding Online Scams When Buying a Car

(StatePoint) Shopping for cars online is easier than ever, which is why an estimated 90 percent of people use online resources when hunting for vehicles, according to industry experts. However, with this convenience comes a growing number of scams putting vehicle shoppers and sellers at risk, and greater need to protect yourself against online fraud.

A new Harris Interactive survey sponsored by AutoTrader.com, the Internet's largest auto classifieds marketplace, finds that two out of three Americans worry about online fraud, and nearly one in three has either already fallen victim to an online scam or knows someone who has.

Despite worries, many surveyed are not well educated on protecting themselves, with only one in eight saying they feel "very confident" they know enough to avoid online fraud.

Sid Kirchheimer, nationally renowned fraud expert, author and the AARP Bulletin's "Scam Alert" columnist, advises consumers to learn about protecting themselves before researching or making any major purchases online.

"It's easy for the average consumer to be duped into an online scam, especially when dealing with a high-ticket item like a car," he says. "People need to know how to recognize common scams and what they can do to easily avoid them and stay safe."

Kirchheimer offers the following tips:

* Mind your money (and other paper): If shopping for a car online, ensure its existence by getting photocopies of vehicle title and registration, and a vehicle history report from a company like Carfax to note its location and accident and repair history. Never wire money to buy a car, and when selling one online, wait until the bank says the "money has been collected" on deposited checks from the "buyer." It's not enough to hear "the check has cleared." Never provide sensitive information like Social Security, credit card or checking account numbers via email before inspecting the vehicle and striking a deal.

* Watch for scammers and "too good to be true" deals: Beware of ads urging the need for a quick sale at an incredible discount; research realistic prices on similar cars or other big-ticket items to learn general market prices. Be suspicious of "sob story" reasons for quick and cheap sales. Two common scams are the fake soldier departing for Iraq or the recently divorced woman needing cash.

* Know with whom you're dealing: Many online classified sites like AutoTrader.com only advertise items for sale and don't get involved in transactions. Other sites help facilitate transactions. If a seller claims to be using a transaction service from a site you know, make sure that site actually offers that service by visiting it yourself.

* Use the phone: Don't rely only on e-mails when negotiating in cyberspace. Although there's no guarantee scammers will provide legitimate phone numbers, phone contact can weed out foreign scammers placing bogus online ads.

* Don't click on emailed links: Scam Web sites often resemble well-known banks, retailers and escrow services. Links in emails to these sites allow scammers to steal your money when you enter payment information. You're safer accessing a site by visiting its home page than by clicking a link in an email from a stranger.

* Beware of overpayment or complicated payment schemes. Don't agree to plans where the buyer asks to send a check for more than the sale price, requesting the seller refund the difference. Be suspicious of buyers who propose making payment through friends or agents.

For more on safely shopping online, visit www.autotrader.com/fraudtips.


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Mercury Becomes Toxic In The Environment

TT Note: With the recent headlines of fish contaminated with mercury along many of the southeast coastlines, we thought you'd be interested in learning more about the way it happens in nature.

Naturally occurring organic matter in water and sediment appears to play a key role in helping microbes convert tiny particles of mercury in the environment into a form that is dangerous to most living creatures.

This finding is important, say Duke University environmental engineers, because it could change the way mercury in the environment is measured and therefore regulated. This particularly harmful form of the element, known as methylmercury, is a potent toxin for nerve cells. When ingested by organisms, it is not excreted and builds up in tissues or organs.

In a series of laboratory experiments, Amrika Deonarine, a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, found that organic matter and chemical compounds containing sulfur – known as sulfides -- can readily bind to form mercury sulfide nanoparticles. Since they are more soluble than larger particles, these nanoparticles may be the precursors to a process known as methylation.

“When the organic material combines with the mercury, it prevents the particle from accumulating with other mercury particles and growing larger,” said Deonarine, who presented the results of her analysis at the summer annual scientific sessions of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington, D.C.

“Since the mercury remains in a nanoparticle size, it can easily collect on the surface of microbes where any mercury that dissolves can be taken in by the microbes,” Deonarine said. “Without the organic matter, the mercury sulfide nanoparticles would grow too large and become insoluble, thus reducing the availability of mercury for microbial methylation.”

It is while inside the microbe that the mercury is converted into the harmful methylmercury form, the researchers said.

These reactions can only take place in cold water environments with little to no oxygen, such as the zone of sediment just below the bottom of a body of water. Other such anaerobic environments can also be found in waste water and sewage treatment systems, the researchers said.

“The exposure rate of mercury in the U.S. is quite high,” said Heileen Hsu-Kim, Duke assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior member of the research team. “A recent epidemiological survey found that up 8 percent of women had mercury levels higher than national guidelines. Since humans are on top of the food chain, any mercury in our food accumulates in our body.”

Because fish and shellfish have a natural tendency to store methylmercury in their organs, they are the leading source of mercury ingestion for humans. Mercury is extremely toxic and can lead to kidney dysfunctions, neurological disorders and even death. In particular, fetuses exposed to methylmercury can suffer from these same disorders as well as impaired learning abilities.

There are many ways mercury gets into the environment, with the primary sources being the combustion of coal, the refining of such metals as gold and other non-ferrous metals, and in the gases released during volcanic eruptions. The air-borne mercury from these sources eventually lands on lakes or ponds and can remain in the water or sediments.

“These initial laboratory findings could have far-reaching implications,” Hsu-Kim said. “That these reactions can take places in anaerobic environments suggests that the old paradigm of testing for toxic metals in sediments may provide an incomplete picture of how much methylmercury is there.”

The researchers plan to continue their studies with other types of organic matter and for longer periods of time.

For her presentation and paper, Deonarime was one of six recipients of the C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award, given annually to graduate students.

The research was supported by the federally funded Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT), which is based at Duke, and the ACS’s Petroleum Research fund.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Statement from the American College of Surgeons Regarding Recent Comments from President Obama

/PRNewswire/ -- The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

-- Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts
completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg
amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and
$1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the
evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient
follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation.
Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for
this service.

-- Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon's decision to
remove a child's tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of
money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were
dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons
make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for
the patient.


We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President's remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

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Health Care Reform Bill Allows Cities to get Grants for Beautification?

TT Note: Perhaps the good Congressmen should really read the current Health Care Reform Bill. Perhaps they should note all the non-health projects that have been slipped in to the bill. Has any American thought to ask their Congressman "why"? The Congressmen just may be hard pressed to explain how a new sidewalk or swing set are in the best interest of the country's health.


Health Care Bill Fact of the Day: Billions in Pork Barrel Spending for ‘Community Transformation’ and ‘Beautification’


Under the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s “Affordable Health Choices Act,” local governments can apply for “community transformation” grants to build jungle gyms, sidewalks, bicycle paths, and grocery stores, to install streetlights, and to establish new farmers’ markets.

The dollar amount of these grants, and of the total “community transformation” earmark program, is left to the discretion of the Obama administration....http://www.redstate.com/jeff_emanuel/2009/08/12/1health-care-bill-fact-of-the-day-billions-in-pork-barrel-spending-for-community-transformation-and-beautification/

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hackers Crack UK's National ID Card in 12 Minutes

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at http://www.eogn.com.

The U.K.'s new National ID cards are supposed to be "unforgeable." Embedded inside the card is a microchip with the details of its bearer held in electronic form: name, date of birth, physical characteristics, fingerprints and so on, together with other information such as immigration status and whether the holder is entitled to State benefits. Unforgeable or not, Adam Laurie successfully forged one in twelve minutes.

I wrote recently (at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2009/07/an-rfid-chip-in-your-pocket-is-broadcasting-your-personal-identity-information.html) about some of the security concerns with the new U.S. passports and PASS (People Access Security Service) cards. A security expert was able to drive around a city and read some information from those documents in the pockets and purses of people nearby, even though that security expert never left his automobile. While the information he was able to obtain was limited, he did obtain the unique serial numbers of the RFID chips embedded in those documents.

Now computer expert Adam Laurie, technical director of the London security and networking firm The Bunker, was able to clone RFID chips embedded in the prospective national ID card being issued to foreign nationals in the United Kingdom.

This time the security expert did not obtain "limited information." Information included on the chip includes physical details of the recipient, name, fingerprints, among other personal details. The information was easily changed and copied to new, forged documents. After rewriting the data on the card, Laurie reversed the bearer's status from 'not entitled to benefits' to 'entitled to benefits.' Adam Laurie then created a new, forged document that would have passed all the electronic verification tests. He performed all this in front of reporters from the Daily Mail newspaper.

The time required? 12 minutes from beginning to end. The equipment? A Nokia mobile phone and a laptop computer. Both were unmodified units that you can buy in most any electronics store.

The RFID chip has room for text notes that will be visible to any security official who scans the card. Adam Laurie added the following text to the newly-created card's RFID chip: "I am a terrorist - shoot on sight."

You can read more at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1204641/New-ID-cards-supposed-unforgeable--took-expert-12-minutes-clone-programme-false-data.html#

What's in YOUR wallet?

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Rep. Tsongas Has Her Choice of Health Care, but What about the Little People?

TT Note: Members of Congress have their choice of health care. Does Rep. Tsongas really think the current health care reform bill will increase the choices for Americans? Does she really think the current health care reform bill will strengthen private health care?

Hmmm. Government exchange provision will provide any private insurance company? Gee, that's not what the White House said.

Yes. The system needs reworking-- but not by government mandates of an one payer system.




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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cash for Clunkers to Cause Used-Car-Value Bubble

TT Note: The Cash for Clunkers program has been interesting to watch. It would appear to have its own legacy in the works. First, if a consumer clicks on the cars.gov site, the consumer has to agree the government now owns and has access to the consumer's computer. This even allows your (yes, our loving) government to give your information to any foreign government. Well, that in itself was enough to encourage me not to participate.

In addition, lots of motors that would have been used for parts are mandated to be destroyed by the dealer. So, those parts are now gone. Where's all the incentives from the car manufacturers? It seems like they were better before the taxpayers had to choke up the change for this cash for clunker program.

Has anyone even examined the CO2 emissions from all the destruction of these no-longer-deemed-useful vehicles? Has anyone heard the horror stories from dealers who are wondering how much they will have to absorb since the paperwork is horrendous and some of the vehicles being traded in didn't fit the government's rules?

Now, here is another piece of the growing legacy of the program.


/PRNewswire/ -- Kelley Blue Book, www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new car and used car information, today reveals possible effects of the Cash for Clunkers program on the used-car industry as reported in the company's August 2009 Blue Book Market Report. As dealers and consumers continue to take advantage of this program, Kelley Blue Book analysts forecast a likely bubble in used-car values, which could deflate as the Cash for Clunkers program comes to a close.

With $1 billion spent and more than 250,000 new vehicles sold, the success of the Cash for Clunkers program cannot be argued. With more than 250,000 vehicles leaving the used-vehicle supply, this equates to a 1.6 percent reduction in the overall supply of used vehicles (based upon sales of 16 million used vehicles in 2008). When the Senate signs off on an additional $2 billion funding for the Cash for Clunkers program later today, it could equate to an additional 500,000 used cars being removed from the overall used-vehicle supply, which is a 4.7 percent overall reduction in supply this year alone. With a total of 750,000 vehicles being removed from the marketplace, dealers are stocking up on used inventory in anticipation of low supply and high demand. This scenario is driving used-car prices up significantly in the short term, causing a bubble in values that will seriously impact used-vehicle values when the Cash for Clunkers program ends.

"Dealerships have reported increased foot traffic, creating a false sense of automotive market recovery," said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book. "As a result, dealers are going to auction to restock inventory, driving up used-car values. However, the effect of a supply reduction of this magnitude could have an immense impact on these values in the short-term, exacerbating the already-limited supply at auction. If this bubble comes to pass, dealerships will end up with excess inventory of both new and used vehicles and be forced to offer deep discounts to remove surplus inventory, driving values down. Ultimately, there will be the possibility of a severe contraction in auto sales as soon as the Cash for Clunkers program runs out of funding."

According to a Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence study on the Cash for Clunkers program, 1-in-10 new-vehicle shoppers said they are likely to purchase sooner as a result of the government-sponsored program. In addition, 45 percent of consumers likely to participate in the program own a sedan, followed by SUV and crossover owners at 25 percent. Among that group, 37 percent plan to trade in their clunker for a sedan and 28 percent plan to buy an SUV or crossover. The top brands being considered among study participants are Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet.

This Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence study was fielded to 517 in-market new-car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com from July 10-17, 2009.

Kelley Blue Book's vehicle valuation department is keeping a close eye on values as the program continues and an influx of additional funds is added to the program by the federal government.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Electronic Cigarette Company (eCigarettesChoice.com) Claims FDA Study Proves E-Cigarettes Are Safer Than Tobacco Cigarettes

TT Note: While I don't smoke, I have still been following this issue. My dad was a smoker and I wonder if he would have tried the electronic cigarette. What I don't have to wonder about is the lack of evidence the FDA presented in their recent release on the safety of cigarettes. Their report did seem a bit skewed in the direction of tobacco.

I had planned to ask a smoker what they thought about this whole debate, but they are hard to find in my area.

/24-7/ -- The study by the FDA released July 22, 2009 may actually prove what e-cigarette aficionados have been shouting on the rooftops from day one: that electronic cigarettes are actually much safer than tobacco cigarettes. Within the last year at least three independent labs have given the green light to electronic cigarettes and the FDA pretends they do not exist.

In the recent FDA study, trace amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines and tobacco specific impurities were reportedly found in a limited test of two brands of e-cigarettes. Nitrosamines may also be found in consumer foods such bacon and beer. Trace amounts of carcinogens may also be found in nicotine replacement products such as NicoDerm CQ and Nicorette gum which are FDA approved. The list of hazardous chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes is somewhere around 4,000 according to the CDC

The FDA claimed their analysis detected diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze which is toxic to humans was present in only one of the samples. They failed to qualify at what level is it harmful or how much was in the sample. This misleads the public to believe that antifreeze is in their e-cigarettes. Diethylene glycol is not an ingredient used to make electronic cigarettes and how it came to be in the sample should raise an eyebrow. But the FDA sounded an alarm even though the test was done months before.

With as many toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke in comparison to electronic cigarettes, the alarm the FDA is sounding about a less hazardous product is both suspicious and negligent. One might be left to believe that the real FDA agenda may not be to protect the publics' health, but to aggressively protect the bottom line of the makers of smoking cessation products as well as the loss of tax revenue from the sale of tobacco cigarettes. The pressure the FDA is under from health groups and special interest groups is certainly noticeable. It is public record where these organizations receive their funding from and to who they owe their allegiance.

"In effect, the FDA news release was telling the public go smoke tobacco cigarettes, cancer sticks, which are known to kill millions of people while not one death has been recorded as a result of using electronic cigarettes," says Kyle Newton, owner of eCigarettesChoice.com. "It does not make sense." eCigarettesChoice.com is an online Super Store that manufactures the SS Choice No 7 brand along with the new No 7 Stealth electronic cigarette for military use in combat environments. This brand was not part of the FDA test.

The FDA scare resulted in several customers canceling orders. However, on Monday morning they were calling back to order again. "It was educational," says Kyle, "after our customers did their homework, they determined the benefits of the electronic cigarettes far out-weighed the risks. Almost everything consumers come in contact with has traces of hazardous chemicals. Nothing is 100% safe. I lost my mom, who was a smoker, to cancer in 2005, so we do our best to protect our customers and our reputation.

Several prominent doctors and tobacco researchers, including Dr. Michael Siegel at the Boston University School of Public Health, Dr. Joel Nitzkin of the AAPHP Tobacco Control Task Force, and Dr. Brad Rodu, Endowed Chair, Tobacco Harm Reduction Research University of Louisville, has chastised the FDA and requested that they justify their warning about electronic cigarettes with qualified scientific proof.

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