Archive | July, 2013

Time to Increase the US GDP Numbers

31 Jul

If you follow the S&P 500, you’ll know that the companies that comprise this list are not the same as those in the 1950’s, or 1930’s, or even last year. As time marches forward, often companies that have lower and lower market caps, among other reasons, are replaced with ones that are rising in value. This has a distorting effect on S&P 500 charts over time. From a practical standpoint, you need to keep the list current to accurately reflect what the current market is like. Also it does not make sense to keep some companies on the list that are no longer viable. (an example)

Well, it appears that the way the government measures the US GDP is in for a similar, but not the same, update. Today, July 31, 2013, the changes will be announced.

    For the first time in four years, the Commerce Department will revise its estimates of U.S. gross domestic product — the value of U.S.-made goods and services — back to 1929. 

For the first time, money spent on R&D and on the Arts will be included in the GDP. It appears the international community had already accepted the changes to increase their respective GDP numbers.

    The biggest share of America’s R&D spending goes to develop new drugs

The government says the difference between that final growth estimate updated annually, and the initial GDP estimate released within a month of a quarter’s end, can be as much as 1.3 percentage points in either direction.

It will be interesting to see how the new numbers impact the national GDP, but this is probably done in an attempt to offset the downgrade in the GDP numbers posted last month. The total impact looks likely to be in the $400B range annually. That works out to be about 2.7% of the $15 Trillion GDP number for 2012.

National Cancer Institute May Soften Up Cancer Definition

31 Jul

There are now a group of experts who feel that the current cancer screening tests are too suggestive. Their proposal to the National Cancer Institute is that the word cancer be removed from the conversation with patients after performing some cancer screening procedures. The proposal is a result of the experts’ opinions that many cancer procedures performed are unnecessary and cause undue stress on the patients. The mention of the word cancer to the patient causes the patient to expect treatment and possible death.

“We need a 21st-century definition of cancer instead of a 19th-century definition of cancer, which is what we’ve been using,”

Procedures performed after hundreds of thousands of routine screening tests result in disfiguring and needless suffering. A change in the definition of what is considered cancer is the proposal.

“While the policy change, announced on Monday but not yet made final, has the potential to save 20,000 lives a year, some doctors warned about the cumulative radiation risk of repeat scans as well as worries that broader use of the scans will lead to more risky and invasive medical procedures.”

This comes at the same time a federal panel is suggesting that all smokers and ex-smokers get annual CT scans to detect cancer. This would affect millions of patients.

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the US, and decisions made by the National Cancer Institute can have a profound impact on the health of the US population. Below is a list of the leading causes of death in the US during 2010, when the official CDC data is merged with data from the book: Death By Medicine released in October of 2012.

Rank Leading Causes of Death in the US in 2010 Deaths Source

1

Heart disease

597,689

CDC

2

Cancer

574,743

CDC

3

Outpatients

199,000

Starfield(12), Weingart(112)

4

Chronic lower respiratory diseases

138,080

CDC

5

Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)

129,476

CDC

6

Accidents (unintentional injuries)

120,859

CDC

7

Bedsores

115,000

Xakellis(7), Barczak (8)

8

Malnutrition

108,800

Nurses Coalition(11)

9

Adverse Drug Reactions

106,000

Lazarou(1), Suh (49)

10

Medical error

98,000

IOM(6)

11

Infection

88,000

Weinstein(9), MMWR (10)

12

Alzheimer’s disease

83,494

CDC

13

Diabetes

69,071

CDC

14

Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis

50,476

CDC

15

Influenza and Pneumonia

50,097

CDC

16

Intentional self-harm (suicide)

38,364

CDC

17

Unnecessary Procedures

37,136

HCUP(3,13)

18

Surgery-Related

32,000

AHRQ(85)

Genetically Modified Bees to Save the Bees

29 Jul

Worldwide there are concerns about the health of bee populations. The threat to the bees is tied to neonicotinoids among other things. Monsanto in 2012, purchased Beelogic and apparently plans to genetically modify bees in order to save them from the chemicals.

In a related development, the Agriculture Department of Illinois took the bee population from a renowned naturalist who had been developing bees that naturally were resistant to RoundUp/ Glyphosate. Of particular note is that the bees were taken without a warrant or a court hearing. It is suspect that Monsanto had made the request although the State of Illinois claims they were taken due to a routine inspection that uncovered bacteria in the colonies. Terrence Ingram, the naturalist, can be seen on this YouTube video.

Terrence had his day in court, but was convicted and fined $500. The only problem was that he was unable to defend himself, by proving the bees were not infected with foulbrood, as the bees had been confiscated and (apparently) destroyed.

On another note, in Europe, Monsanto has decided to give up their push into genetically modified seeds and limit the sales of seeds in Europe to those that are not GMO. The popularity of GMO seeds was not being met with enough business success, especially with the beekeepers in Poland.

The Flexner Report

29 Jul

In the 19th century, and probably before then, there were two camps within the medical community. There were those who promoted the use of herbs and natural solutions (homeopathy) to ailments and those that thought it better to use pharmacologically active agents (allopathic) in obtaining a treatment or cure. Although there are still people that fall into each camp today, their visibility is not as transparent as it was even into the 20th Century. This is due, in thanks, to The Flexner Report of 1910.

    “Flexner sounded the death knell for the for-profit proprietary medical schools in America.”

At the time, the for-profit proprietary medical schools in America were all homeopathic. The Flexner Report single handedly replaced homeopathy in America with allopathic, and removed the dialogue that had before then distinguished between the two. In effect, The Flexner Report replaced the for-profit, homeopathic medical schools in America with the for-profit allopathic medical schools we have today.

Two Gauges of the Economy – Unemployment and S&P 500

26 Jul

Printing money by the Federal Reserve and handing it to the bankers is not going to bring economic stability to the US or the world. The single visible impact it has is the creation of a rising stock market which for a lot of people is their only gauge of how well the economy is doing. And on that measure, the S&P 500 is on a rate of return of over 28% for the year, and 34% taken from the last day of 2012.

S&P 500 (SPY)

The market historically is a precursor to the health of the economy as measured by GDP.

“….shows a clear positive correlation between equity returns and GDP over the last ten years ….”

Based on that thesis, the good times have only begun. When you take a look into one other indicator within the US economy, you have to wonder what is happening.

Unemployment

Within the confines of Keynesian economic theory, the jobs are either created by the private sector (in good times), or the public sector (bad times). The rising stock market should be signifying good times, so the unemployment should be dropping, as it is, based upon the Federal government numbers. As the public sector is reducing jobs, the newly created jobs are from the private sector, due to the “good times”. Unfortunately, the only jobs being created in the US today are low paying service sector jobs.

The median household income in America increased from 1945 to 1999, where it went from level to a peak in 2006, into a steady drop into 2013. The US has lost its ability to manufacture products worthy of export due to its lack of international competitiveness, so this trend will never end. (Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West )

“When you lose the ability to make things, you lose the ability to invent things.”

The unemployment may be dropping by official numbers, but the purchasing power of the American worker is dropping. It is hard to see this as a driver to higher GDP numbers and a rising stock market. Perhaps there is some credence to the notion that the market is being driven up by the Federal Reserve printing presses.

US Food Additives

22 Jul

When it comes to food additives you have to give credit where credit is due. In the US, industry has determined that intervention into natural processes will lead to lower costs, more consumption, and ultimately higher profits.

MSN’s Healthy Living segment listed what they think are the top 10 things the US diet includes that are banned in some other countries. Not listed in order are:

  1. Arsenic
  2. BHA and BHT
  3. Brominated vegetable oil
  4. Colors and dyes
  5. Olestra
  6. Potassium bromate
  7. Ractopamine (Banned in Europe, Japan, China, Russia and Taiwan)
  8. rBGH and rBST (bovine growth hormone, genetically engineered from Monsanto)
  9. Hawaiian papaya (now genetically engineered)
  10. Canthaxanthin (Farm-raised salmon coloring… soon to be genetically engineered)

In each instance, the risks may be acknowledged by the American Cancer Society, FDA, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or the food industry, but whatever the risks may be, they are deemed acceptable for the American diet.

The Huffington Post’s Big Ag’s Gifts for 2012 brings to bear another additive of concern, antibiotics. The fact that over 70% of all the antibiotics in the US are pumped into animals for human consumption should in itself be a concern. Add to that the increasing lack of effectiveness in antibiotics due to their overuse and you’ve got a real problem.

If you want to make a difference in your own health, and improve the health of the planet, choose to not consume animal and dairy products.

Learning Online

20 Jul

The value of the internet cannot be overstated when it comes to providing an education for those that pursue it. If you are not concerned about an education, and prefer to simply own a degree, knowing that the “learning” part is not important, check out the Forbes article by John Tamny. He makes the case that learning is not important, only the degree and most importantly the “where” that degree comes from.

For those looking for an education online, there are the never ending availability of YouTube videos or the Google search results that provide the education. For others, there are the online lectures available from iTunes U or such Universities as Stanford and not to be left out, edX (recently the focus of The Colbert Report).

Now entering the online education arena with a new boost to their funding is Coursera. This clearly adds some credibility to an online education, as Coursera also provides a Signature Track program that verifies the student’s identity, achievements, and exams.

Investigation of Cancer Research Organizations – 1953

20 Jul

During the 1950’s, the Hoxsey Cancer Clinic in Dallas was the world’s largest cancer clinic in the world with branches in 17 states. It did not achieve this feat overnight. It had been treating patients at a rate of 300/ day in Iowa in the 1920’s.

During the 1930’3 the state of Texas was trying to convict Harry Hoxsey of practicing medicine without a license. The prosecutions in Texas ended when the Assistant Attorney General, Al Templeton found that his brother Mike, was cured of his terminal cancer by sneaking to The Hoxsey Clinic for treatment. Al then became Harry’s attorney, later to become a district judge.

In 1949, after the AMA had been blasting away at Dr. Rife for his cures for cancer, they took up the battle against Harry Hoxsey and lost.

Judge W. L. Thorton ruled: “I am of the firm opinion and belief that Hoxsey has cured these people of cancer. Hoxsey has been done a great injustice and . . . articles and utterances by defendant Morris Fishbein (AMA) were false, slanderous, and libelous.”

From the Congressional record of 1953 (Fitzgerald Report, August 3, 1953) :

  • Patients who received no treatment fared better than those who received surgery, radium, or X-Ray
  • The American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Cancer Society, state “radium, X-Ray therapy, and surgery are the only recognized treatments for cancer.”
  • Senator Elmer Thomas was petitioning the Surgeon General to investigate The Hoxsey Cancer Clinic. The Clinic supplied 62 case histories in 1945 and 77 case histories in 1950. Not only did the Surgeon General avoid an investigation, The Council of National Cancer Institute refused to investigate, in favor of hindering, suppressing, and restricting The Hoxsey Cancer Clinic.
  • My investigation to date should convince this committee that a conspiracy does exist to stop the free flow and use of drugs in interstate commerce which allegedly has solid therapeutic value.
  • Public and private funds have been thrown around like confetti at a country fair to close up and destroy clinics, hospitals, and scientific research laboratories which do not conform to the viewpoint of medical associations
  • “Behind and over all this is the weirdest conglomeration of corrupt motives, intrigue, selfishness, jealousy, obstruction, and conspiracy that I have ever seen.”

Realize that during these days in the 1950’s, you could buy rat poison and arsenic with no problem, but a $.25 tube of penicillin required a doctor’s prescription.

When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies

After the State of Texas failed to bring down Harry Hoxsey, and the AMA failed to bring down Harry Hoxsey, the FDA closed and padlocked all 17 Hoxsey Clinics in 1960.

July 20, 2013: Where are we today in (our search) finding the cure for cancer?

Trial Results Not Published – Dr. Burzynsky

15 Jul

For the first time in history, a private individual was granted the ability to enter the federal drug approval process for a proprietary cancer therapy. The entire process is being funded without any financial support from the American Government, the Pharmaceutical Industry or The Cancer Establishment.

On November 26, 2012 (6:13:08 am), the results of the phase III study on antineoplastons was released to The Lancet for publication, showing over 8 – 16 years survival using antineoplastons to treat a rare brain cancer.

On November 26, 2012 (8:22:57 am) the study was rejected by The Lancet from publication. ” … we have now had time to consider your manuscript… We have decided not to publish it because we believe the message would be better elsewhere.” It appears to have only taken a little over two hours to “consider” publishing.

Earlier, on November 19, 2012: The Texas Medical Board dismissed its motion to revoke Dr. Burzynsky’s medical license after four years of trying.

January 7, 2013: The FDA physically enters Dr. Burzynsky’s Clinic, and demands that all information pertaining to antineoplastons be removed from their website , and that no new patients be provided treatment on American soil (temporary hold). The FDA remained on site for 45 days reviewing data collected over 25 years, finding no evidence of either safety or efficacy violations with Antineoplastons.

The relationship between the FDA and Dr. Burzynsky has a rich legal history which began in 1983 when the “FDA takes Dr. Burzynski to court in a civil action to stop him from manufacturing and using antineoplastons. ” The FDA has since convened 4 grand juries without a grand jury indictment.

While in Japan, a study testing for the “safety” of antineoplastons (1995), which is a Phase I type of test was positive, yet in December of 2012, the Kurume Medical University announced :

“We can’t go any further with these clinical trials allowing antineoplastons to gain market approval exclusively for the Japanese people due to the United States FDA and the power they have over the world market. The FDA would retaliate against any Japanese pharmaceutical company who would try to get antineoplastons approved in Japan by no longer approving their other drugs for market in the USA” – Hideaki Tsuda, MD

Phase II Results (March 2003)

One would think that if there was progress in the treatment of such serious cancers, the FDA would be expanding research in that area. They apparently do not agree with Dr. Burzynsky.

Is an All-Volunteer Force better than a “Drafted” Force?

14 Jul

Look for a book called SKIN IN THE GAME about the costs and the methods we as a country use to man our military.

Retired Major General Dennis Laich has the credentials and the insights on the subject. I and the publisher are encouraging him to be on The Daily Show, and make a television promotional tour. The General may be on Morning Joe as well as some other talk shows.

Some success to the book will be associated to the number of people who are signed up to follow General Laich’s blog : Generally Speaking.

Informed dissent is the highest form of patriotism

You can sign up to follow Deny’s blog at the blog, Generally Speaking, and look forward to the book release, and television tour starting in August.

Also see: The Invisible War

Thanks!