It was a sign on a popular campus hangout that brought the owner such blowback from gun lovers, he was forced to change his phone number and have police open his mail. Gun lovers also attacked his restaurant on Yelp and ruined his ratings.

 

It is a phenomenon familiar to many reporters, bloggers and activists who criticize the "guns-everywhere-all-the-time" agenda. Single-issue gun bullies pile on with Internet attacks on gun critics' careers and personal lives, even publishing their home addresses in some cases. At NGVAC, both a board member and a senior editor have been attacked by such "law-abiding" gun owners, provoking bans from the major social media organizations but not before the damage was done.

 

Gun advocates' wrath, spite and retaliation is instructive for two reasons. First, it is how politicians are coerced into co-signing the gun agenda--they never hear from gun critics with as much emotion, implied reprisals and numbers. Secondly, it is the biggest reason for gun regulation. Gun advocates are the first and last to get violent and get even with those who make them angry. They are the reason road rage incidents result in deaths not dented fenders. They are the reason for the recent Skittles, Popcorn and Loud Music murders. Who can forget gun advocates lying in wait for unarmed anti-gun violence mothers outside of a Texas mall, locked and loaded? What? Should people with hair trigger tempers really be armed?

 

Illinois' recent legalization of Concealed Carry presents the same dilemma to business owners as the pub owner who posted “If you are such a loser that you feel a need to carry a gun with you when you go out, I do not want your business” faces. The majority of the public does not want to be in the same room with a "carrier" who may get angry, drunk, mistake someone's identity, have a accident or decide he is "protecting" us from bad guys like Zimmerman and Dunn. And those are the customers the business wants. (That's why Starbucks "unwelcomed" carriers.)

 

While gun advocates have a loud bark, an attempt by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre to aggregate their buying power and teach ConocoPhillips a lesson for gun regulations by boycotting them proved an embarrassing flop. There are only an estimated one million gun extremists in the US--not enough to hurt ConocoPhillips much less make a restaurant crave their business.

 

Many Illinois businesses don't want carriers in their stores and restaurants but also do not want to post signs banning them as the law now requires. Thanks to the NRA and the Illinois State Rifle Association, guns are now welcome in any building (with a few categories of exceptions) that does not post a guns banned sign. But businesses have not spent huge amounts of money beautifying their exteriors only to have an ugly gun decal on their door! Moreover, the very image of a gun causes mental reactions in people, studies have now shown--none of which are good. The sign could also suggest to potential customers, especially tourists, that they are not as safe as they thought if there are so many guns they need to be banned by a sign. Finally, businesses don't want to invoke the wrath of the gun lunatics who forced the pub owner, mentioned above, to change his phone number.

 

To those of us who have lost loved ones to gun violence or do not want ourselves and our children to be around guns and gun carriers, the new sign law is as backwards as having a specially marked lane on the highway for sober drivers with all other drivers presumed to be drunk. While screaming they are "victims," gun lovers have bullied through such extreme laws, a person without a lethal weapon is now considered an exception!

 

Not all gun owners agree with the "carry everywhere" mentality. Even though chef Sean Brock says he sleeps beside a 9-millimeter handgun every night, he also doesn’t want guns in his restaurants. “It’s a bit strange to me that you think you need to carry a gun when you’re having a cheeseburger,” he says.

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Gayathri Ramprasad, Author of Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within 

 

 

The just published memoir, Shadows in the Sun, is a first-of-its-kind, cross-cultural lens to mental illness through the inspiring story of the author's thirty-year battle with depression.

 

Rosenberg: Your book gives vivid images and details of your childhood, growing up in India. It seems like you were never alone, between your immediate family, your extended family and, later, your in-laws. Yet, psychologically you were totally alone.

 

Ramprasad: India is collectivistic culture and the Indian family can either be a fortress or a prison. When the "enemy" is mental illness, it is often a prison. Not because of a lack of love. But, because of a lack of understanding. As a culture, there are many myths and misperceptions about mental illness, and tremendous shame and stigma associated with it.  If I would have been diagnosed with depression as a teenager when my symptoms started, my life would have been over. Perhaps, I would have never finished school or gotten married and I would have brought such shame onto my family, my sister might not have gotten married either. I want to point out, however, that once my family was educated about depression, they became the greatest support system I ever had.

 

Rosenberg: Has mental illness in India lost some of the stigma since then?

 

Ramprasad: Yes and no. There are a few people who are standing up and speaking out about their mental health experiences, but the stonewalls of stigma, shame, and secrecy are still intact. Recently, I met with a group of Indian professionals struggling with mental health issues, while working with ASHA International, the nonprofit organization I founded to promote mental health awareness, hope and holistic wellness. All of them told me they admired how I was speaking out about my struggles with mental illness and breaking the bonds of silence but they could not do the same thing. Medical professionals said they would lose their clients' respect. An engineer said he would lose his job. A stay-at-home mom said it would hurt her children and bring dishonor to her family. When I visited a government hospital in India, fairly recently, there were hundreds of people camped out on the hospital grounds. They had come from miles away on trains and auto rickshaws just for a psychiatric consult and were waiting for days. In India and many parts of the world, the situation is terrible.

 

Rosenberg: Your symptoms of depression began as a teenager and were heightened by your "desperate need to please others" and "perfectionistic attitudes," according to your therapist, who pointed out they were common traits in Indian culture. Later in life you found out that your father had also been diagnosed with depression. Why would he have not been more empathetic to you since he shared the disease? Why was your dad's struggle with mental illness kept a secret from you for so long?

 

Ramprasad: My father, like many men around the world, perceived the expression of emotions as a sign of weakness and suppression of emotions as a strength. He had difficulties accepting his struggles with depression, and, therefore, couldn’t empathize with my pain. Looking back, it was difficult for me to understand how my mother could have considered my father's suicidal behavior—wanting to throw himself under a bus, for example, and other things--"normal." She said they did not tell me because they didn't want me to "worry about it." My parents, like millions of people in many cultures around the world, were imprisoned by ignorance about depression.

 

Rosenberg: Did your dad's depressed behavior start after you left the house?

 

Ramprasad: Growing up in a patriarchal culture where a man’s temper is his prerogative, my father’s flare-ups were a mere fact of life. While my father is a very loving man, to this day, he regards the show of emotions as a weakness.

 

Rosenberg:  Your recovery story includes the Twelve Step principles like surrendering to a higher power and powerlessness. Both self-help recovery and the advice to "snap out of it" that is often given to depressed people rest on individual self-reliance yet they are complete opposites. Can you explain the difference?

 

Ramprasad: I think the one word that captures the difference is "knowledge." When you don't understand what is happening to you, you can't "snap out of it." I finished college, married, emigrated to the US, had a child--I did everything I was supposed to do to snap out of it. But I lacked the knowledge. I did not understand how pregnancy caused my symptoms. I did not understand that I had the genetic predisposition to depression. I certainly did not appreciate how much early experiences had affected me.

 

Rosenberg:  Your first depressive episode began when you failed math even though you were a good student. You discovered that a male student had maneuvered the failure because you had rejected his advances.

 

Ramprasad: Yes! And, as a young woman born and raised within the Indian culture, I felt utterly powerless to confront him, even when he threatened to rape me. Unfortunately, women continue to be victimized in India even today.  And, despite all the media attention on the recent gang rapes across India, we as a culture are striving to ensure that justice is served.

 

Rosenberg:  Was there a moment when your recovery from depression began?

 

Ramprasad: Yes. When I was stripped of all freedom and human dignity in an isolation cell. Until then, I blamed everyone else, God, my parents, my society, my husband, my culture. But in the cell, I realized I was the only one with the key to set myself free. I realized that I was not evil, an ingrate, weak, a drama queen, possessed or being punished--all the names I was called and had internalized. That is when I discovered the light within me – the light of love, wisdom, courage and compassion that has sustained me on my journey to wellness.

 

Rosenberg:  In Shadows in the Sun you also discuss the people who helped you along your journey.

 

Ramprasad: Yes! I had never had a roommate other than my sister. My roommate in the hospital, Sanya, demystified mental illness for me. I could see myself for the first time through her. There were also women I worked with who shared their stories with me and let me know I was not alone or different by having mental illness. There was also a wonderful nurse I write about in the book. Probably the strongest influence was a woman named Aida, the wife of my husband's boss. She was a mother figure and she embodied everything I wanted to be when I grew up. She instilled in me the conviction that I could make it despite the mental illness and made me promise I would not kill myself.

 

Rosenberg: One thing that is remarkable about your story is how even though you were in the United States, it was Indian practices like pranayama and meditation that finally helped you.

 

Ramprasad: Yes--I write in the book that India gave me my roots but the US gave me the wings to fly.

 

Rosenberg: Despite experiencing psychotic post partum depression with your first daughter, you were able to have a second baby through practicing pranayama, transcendental meditation, nutrition, exercise and other factors. You used no drugs!

 

Ramprasad: I am not opposed to medication and they have worked wonders with my brother and sister. But for me, the antidepressants and antipyschotics were anti-life and anti-wellness. They were supposed to abate my symptoms and they exacerbated them. They made me more depressed and more suicidal. Now, we know more about those drugs and they have black box warnings. My husband and family would say to me you have the best doctors, the best health care, the best medication--what is wrong with you? The medications were hurting me. Nearly 50 percent of people are not helped by antidepressants. I was lucky my doctor and family supported me going off drugs. Western medicine focuses too much on treatment, including medication and not wellness.

 

Rosenberg: You have parlayed your journey into ASHA International to help others struggling with mental illness and social stigmas, especially in other countries.

 

Ramprasad:  Yes. I would not wish my experience on anyone else. But those who go through such experiences have an obligation to use them to help others --which is what I am doing. We need to embrace our loved ones who have mental illness and not hide them away as is too often done. 

 

Gayathri Ramprasad is the Founder and President of ASHA International a nonprofit organization promoting personal, organizational and community wellness. She is the author of Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within

 

 

 

It took academic, government and military researchers five years to say they don't really know what is causing military suicides but whatever it is--it isn't the psychoactive drugs they are prescribing and pushing. There have been more than 6,500 suicides since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars says Army Times---one every 80 minutes according to a 2012 Veterans Affairs report. Thirty percent of military personnel who kill themselves have never deployed and 60 percent have not seen combat say published reports, leading to the suspicion that the excessive administration of psychoactive drugs in the military is the culprit.

 

Yet, if you're looking for names of the Pharma companies who've created the most drugged up fighting force in history, you'll have to look at the conflicts of interest of the authors of the research, which appeared in JAMA Psychiatry in March. They report at least 15 financial links to Big Pharma including to Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho-McNeil Janssen Scientific Affairs, Pfizer, sanofi-aventis, Shire US and Johnson & Johnson. Reported links of some authors are conspicuously absent.

"Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of PAXIL or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need."

 

That's the "black box" warning on the antidepressant Paxil, which the VA’s Iraq War Clinician Guide says is "clearly effective" for combat veterans suffering with PTSD, even though most are clearly "young adults." Paxil and other SSRI antidepressants, all of which carry suicide warnings, are recommended in the Guide as "first line medications for PTSD pharmacotherapy in men and women with military-related PTSD." Between 2001 and 2009, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft,  38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil and 12,047 for Cymbalta were dispensed according to Tricare data.

 

Prescriptions for anticonvulsants like Topamax and Neurontin, which also carry suicide warnings, rose 56 percent in the same group, says Navy Times. And the use of antipsychotics like Zyprexa, Seroquel and Risperdal which also carry suicide warnings?  Seroquel leapt by 700 percent in active duty troops from 2001 through 2009 reported the New York Times. Maybe the suicides are caused by the green beans as Dorothy Parker would have said.

 

The authors of the long-awaited papers turned over every stone except the ones that feather their nests. They considered military personnel's gender, race/ethnicity, age, age at enlistment, mental history, deployment history, rank, marital status and even  education. But nowhere do the words "medication," antidepressant" or "prescription" appear in the new research even though "At least one in six service members is on some form of psychiatric drug," according to Military Times. An internal study of all deaths in Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) "found the biggest risk factor may be putting a soldier on numerous drugs simultaneously, a practice known as polypharmacy," wrote Marine Times in 2010.

 

There is money for Pharma in keeping troops and veterans drugged up. And there is money for doctors willing to live with conflicts of interest. One example is Matthew Friedman, MD, executive director of the VA’s National Center for PTSD who admits receiving an AstraZeneca honorarium in an online course, Pharmacological Treatment of PTSD and Comorbid Disorders which--surprise!--promotes psychoactive drugs. AstraZeneca makes Seroquel. Friedman has also served as a Pfizer Visiting Professor. Neither relationship was reported on his section of the military suicide research in JAMA Psychiatry.

 

Friedman is far from the only official working for the government while taking Pharma money. VA administrators unabashedly receive money from Pharma, and even enroll veterans in their Pharma-financed clinical trials, making no effort to hide the dual loyalties. One DOD official cited in Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, recommends off-label use of psychoactive drugs in published reports while attributing military suicides to the availability of firearms and "dear John" letters from the girl back home. Right. She also appears in a Pharma-funded video despite being a government official.

 

While academic, government and military researchers continue to play their game of funding Whac-A-Mole, pretending they don't know the source of many suicides while profiting from them, we may never know the true toll. "The number of military suicide victims who may have been taking antidepressants or anticonvulsants is unclear," says Army Times. "The Army repeatedly has denied a Military Times Freedom of Information Act request for that data."

 

 

 

 

Direct to Consumer Drug Advertising Works So Well, They are Now Selling Radiation Treatment Directly to Consumers

 

Seventeen years after direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising was instituted in the US, 70 percent of adults and 25 percent of children are on at least one prescription drug. Topping the adult pill category for central nervous system drugs is--surprise!--antidepressants which are used by an astounding one in four women between 50 and 64. Topping the pill category for children 12 to 17 is--another surprise!--ADHD meds, though kids increasingly take blood pressure, diabetes and insomnia meds too. (Babies are actually given GERD medicine for spitting up.) Twenty percent of the population is now on five or more prescription medications. Ka-ching.

 

DTC advertising has done two pernicious things. It has created a nation of hypochondriacs with depression, bipolar disorder, GERD, Restless Legs, insomnia, seasonal allergies and assorted pain, mood and "risk" conditions and it has reduced doctors to order takers and gate keepers. Thanks to TV drug ads, patients tell doctors what is wrong with them and what pill they need, coupon in hand. Drug company-funded web sites even give patients talking points to use when they see the doctor, lest they don't ring up a sale.

 

Selling prescription drugs like soap makes a mockery of a medical school education. It has created the need to train doctors in "refusal" skills said Richard Pinckney, MD, Professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine at a 2010 Chicago conference attended by medical boards, accrediting agencies and representatives from the AMA, FDA, VA and 23 medical centers. Now the same technique is at play with radiation therapy.

 

For at least two years, direct-to-consumer radiation ads have aggressively promoted "proton therapy" to patients, an expensive new kind of radiation treatment for people with prostate and other cancer that is said to limit radiation exposure to surrounding organs. While proton therapy sounds like a "scientific marvel," writes biotech reporter Luke Timmerman, the evidence of its value is limited so far to brain tumors called medulloblastomas and not other cancers for which it is marketed. There is also a "real problem" with the business model, writes Timmerman. Because a proton center costs $152 million to build and operate, it "creates an incentive for doctors within a network to steer their patients to proton therapy," including cancer patients who may not be appropriate and who may "benefit just as much from an existing, lower-cost alternative."

 

How much more expensive is proton therapy? The average Medicare reimbursement for proton treatment for prostate cancer is about $32,428 versus $18,575 for standard radiation. Other estimates place proton therapy at $50,000 for prostate cancer, twice as much as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) which is also employed to limit radiation exposure to surrounding organs.

 

Is it proton therapy better? Not according to comparative effectiveness studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Patients on the cheaper IMRT therapy had a 34 percent lower risk of gastrointestinal side effects compared to proton therapy. (IMRT was also associated with 22 percent fewer hip fractures and a 19 percent reduced need for further cancer treatment than traditional radiation though there was a greater risk of erectile dysfunction.)

 

Will "Ask Your Doctor" radiation ads sell proton therapy the way they have Lipitor, Nexium, Claritin and Prozac? If patients can be experts on diseases and medication, why can't they be experts on oncology? Or will the medical establishment realize if proton therapy were really superior, ads and patients would not be required to sell it--and pay for the machine.

 

 

 

 

What was he thinking? That's what many are asking about Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott’s choice of gun rights advocate Ted Nugent as a campaign side show while he pursues the Texas governorship. It's not that Nugent called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel” and "a piece of sh-t" who should "suck on my machine gun." It's that Abbott apparently didn't know about Nugent's unbalanced, incendiary rhetoric--not a good sign in someone who wants to be a state's top elected official.

Democrat Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, also seeking the governorship, said this weekend that Abbott’s "values are not my values" given the "cozy relationship he has with an admitted sexual predator," referring to Nugent who has admitted to having sex with underage girls. Nice.

 

Nugent has directed verbal violence against women, foreigners, immigrants, African-Americans and many elected officials. He was banned from performing at Fort Knox in Kentucky in 2012 for his anti-Obama vitriol. He is a twice-convicted animal poacher (so much for "law-abiding") who has been banned from hunting in Kansas. This will get Abbott in the Governor's mansion?

 

As many question Abbott's judgment in palling around with Nugent and even current Governor Rick Perry disavows Nugent's "mongrel" quips, it is likely that Nugent will disappear from the campaign trail and return to killing animals with machine guns as he recently bragged. Yet Nugent's same portfolio of racist, ethnic and sexist slurs has not dislodged him from his seat on the NRA Board of Directors.

 

Last summer after Nugent's inflammatory remarks about the murder of Trayvon Martin, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, an umbrella group which includes 47 other organizations, asked the NRA to remove Nugent from its board. “The NRA likes to bill itself as the ‘oldest civil rights organization in the United States,’” said its petition. “If they want to wear that mantle it’s time for them to walk the walk and end their relationship with Ted Nugent immediately.”

 

It's easy to see why the NRA wants to retain its racist-in-chief. Nugent has mastered the NRA's perverse combination of bully belligerence and persecuted, "poor-me" victimhood. "I'm like a black Jew in Nuremberg 1938 and the brownshirts can't stand me," Nugent whined on a radio show last summer. "I'm Rosa Parks with a Gibson," he cried last fall.

 

If they become candidates for governor, it's not clear that Greg Abbott can win over the immensely popular Wendy Davis, even if he loses Nugent fast. But already his campaign is trying to spin the Nugent debacle into gun advocacy. Davis only brought up Nugent to "avoid talking about the issues in this race," accuses Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch, like her support for "restricting the Second Amendment rights of Texans.”

 

 

Are you DONE ASKING for sane gun laws? Force them! Join the thousands making the TELL AND COMPEL™  pledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone has heard the expression, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail."  As self-deputized armed citizens increasingly end up in court, the saying clearly applies to "carriers." Once vigilante-style cop wannabas are armed, anyone from a kid carrying Skittles or playing music too loudly to someone texting his daughter or throwing popcorn at the movie theater looks like a "bad guy" to be shot and killed.

 

Last spring, anti-gun violence author and activist Heidi Yewman explored the psychology of carrying a gun in a widely read online diary called "My Month With a Gun." Yewman, author of Beyond the Bullet, decided to buy and carry a Glock 9mm handgun because she "wondered what would it be like to be that good guy with a gun. What would it be like to get that gun, live with that gun, be out and about with that gun."

 

Procuring a gun was easy. "The whole thing took 7 minutes. As a gratified consumer, I thought, 'Well, that was easy.' Then the terrifying reality hit me, 'Holy hell, that was EASY.'  Too easy. I still knew nothing about firearms," wrote Yewman. Both the gun dealer who sold Yewman her Glock and a policeman she randomly asked for help in ascertaining if there were bullets in the chamber, knew she was walking around with a lethal weapon she knew nothing about. Hey, this is America! She has rights!

 

Soon owning the Glock changed Yewman's actual thinking. "Before I had a gun, I would go to sleep thinking about what I'd make for dinner tomorrow or how to help my son on a project or remind myself to pay a bill I'd forgotten. With a gun, all I thought about were the sounds I heard at night. I would lie awake thinking: 'Is someone breaking in? How fast can I get to the gun? Will they hear me? How much time do I have before they get to my bedroom? What if they go to my son's room first? Will I shoot them in the face or heart or stomach?'"

 

Seeing trouble because you are armed is a new and deadly theme seen in recent gun violence. In the last year, gun owners have killed their own family members, new neighbors, stranded motorists and a wandering Alzheimer victim, thinking them "intruders."

 

Curtis Reeves, a retired police officer accused of killing Chad Oulson and wounding his wife Nicole at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida apparently thought his life was threatened by another patron texting and throwing popcorn. Defendant Michael Dunn discharged his concealed weapon nine times into a car of youths, allegedly killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis because he felt his "life was threatened." Dunn did not mention seeing a weapon to his fiancée after the shooting, according to court testimony, nor did he even report the shooting to police. Chalk one up to civilian justice!  George Zimmerman, of course, was threatened by murdered teen Trayvon Martin even though it was Zimmerman who had the gun. And almost every week armed road ragers shoot at other motorists because they feel "threatened" when cut off in traffic. In fact, the legions of "carriers" in the US have created a brand new criminal offense that is filling morgues and courtrooms: AWA-- armed while angry.

 

Are you DONE ASKING for sane gun laws? Force them! Join the thousands making the TELL AND COMPEL™  pledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a four-alarm fire requiring more than 50 fire departments and 100 firefighters. But owners of S&R Egg Farm in La Grange, Wisconsin say chemicals and explosives were not involved in the late January fire. Unless, of course, you count the ammonia buildup from 300,000 hens caged over their own manure in the barn that burned down. All the birds burned alive.

 

Whether you care about animals, the environment or the tax dollars used in extinguishing the blaze for which water had to be trucked in, charges should be brought against the owners of S&R Egg Farm. News outlets describe the operation as a "third-generation, family-owned business founded in 1958, producing up to 2 million eggs a year," but no "family farm" produces 2 million eggs a year. Battery egg operations with millions of hens are a blight on farm workers, animals, the environment and the face of US agriculture. Grocery stores, distribution centers, egg wholesalers and food consumers should refuse to buy any products linked to S&R Egg Farm.

 

Fires occur with chilling regularity at factory farms for the same reason they occur in textile shops and in prison--the victims are the least powerful in society and few care. Four years ago 250,000 hens were incinerated at Ohio Fresh Eggs in Harpster, Ohio in a similar and predictable event. It took 225 firefighters and one million gallons of water, some from the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area reservoir, to extinguish the blaze. Thank you taxpayers. The egg operation had one employee per 250,000 hens. Factory farming brings jobs.

 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it was sending the bodies of the burned hens to the pet and animal feed processor G.A. Wintzer & Son Co. in Wapakoneta. Ohio Fresh Eggs said its "Easter egg donation project"  would go forward as planned.

 

Ohio Fresh Eggs, linked to the infamous Teflon chicken don Jack DeCoster, boasts a three decade list of worker and environmental violations. In February of 1987, a fire at its Turner, Maine operation killed 100,000 birds and DeCoster was only charged with polluting groundwater with their carcasses. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the Turner operation a "sweatshop" and Cesar Britos, an attorney representing egg workers, said he thought he would faint in the egg barns though he "was only there a few minutes."

 

Thirteen years after Reich and Britos visited, four law enforcement officials involved in a raid at the same operation had to be treated by doctors for lungs burned by the ammonia concentrations in the barns. Six months ago, an employee at the same operation was shot and killed by another employee who was "shooting rodents and stray chickens while clearing a barn." Nice.

 

Nor are the factory farm fires limited to egg operations. 8,700 pigs perished in a 2008 fire at a Netley Hutterite Colony hog farm in Manitoba which had only six full-time employees. Bulldozers could not breach the manure pits, said news reports, making the fire more deadly. Hogs perished in the same barn in Flora, Indiana, owned by Lynn Peters, twice, according to news reports and hog farmers Jan and Nancy Pannekoek of Chilliwack, BC, have three hog farm fires to their name--and counting. Why are charges not brought? Why are "farmers" allowed to repeat this abuse?

 

Fires don't just "happen" as fire science and alarms, sprinkler systems and contingency plans have shown for decades. But Big Ag and local and state regulators believe a few thousand animals burned to death is just the cost of producing a cheap product. And when food consumers embrace these "cheap" products without questioning their origin and production they are guilty, too.

 

 

Learn more about foods to avoid in Martha Rosenberg's award-cited expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Healtg

 

 

 

 

It's a crime to jolt the most jaded Chicago TV News watchers. Last week, a 14-year-old girl in a Chicago suburb allegedly stabbed her 11-year-old half sister 40 times, killing her. News reports say the 14-year-old was angry over an argument the night before, set her alarm, got a kitchen knife and entered her sister's room. The suspect allegedly uttered that the younger girl was not thankful for what she had done with each stab wound, said police. The older sister's unappreciated services included cooking dinner, doing the 11-year-old's chores for her and keeping the household running, said news reports.

 

The stabbing comes a little over a year after another shocking Chicago area stabbing. Elzbieta Plackowska in the Chicago suburb of Naperville was charged with fatally stabbing her 7-year-old son 100 times and fatally stabbing a 5-year-old girl she was babysitting. Plackowska felt her husband "truly did not appreciate how fine a wife and mother she was," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "She told the detectives that she thought by killing (her son) Justin she would make her husband hurt the way she hurt in their relationship," reporters were told. Plackowska also stabbed the two family dogs to death.

 

Are there two psychiatrists somewhere out there wishing they had not prescribed SSRI antidepressants, linked to such bizarre violence, to the suspects? We will probably never know. But bizarre knife murders--excessive, inexplicable and without clear motive--are increasingly associated with the widely-prescribed drug class which includes Prozac, Luvox, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro and Celexa. Bizarre violent acts are also associated with SNRI antidepressants (which include Effexor and Cymbalta) the antismoking drug Chantix and Lariam, an anti-malaria still in use in the military.

 

“The kind of energy, rage and insanity seen in a lot of crimes today was not seen before SSRIs appeared,” Rosie Meysenburg, founder of the website SSRI Stories told me in an interview shortly before her death. “There are two cases of women on the SSRI Stories site who stab a man close to 200 times and a case of a man who stabs his wife over 100 times and then goes next door to the neighbor’s house and stabbed the neighbor’s furniture about 500 times."

 

"Multiple stab wounds can indicate rage as well as dissociation," University of South Florida criminology professor Kathleen Heide told the Chicago Tribune about the recent sister stabbings in Chicago. "That's why a (risk evaluation) is critical. Is this person aware of what she's doing?"

 

Stabbings are not the only bizarre violence seen under the influences of SSRIs Meysenburg told me. "There are also cases of kleptomania, pyromania and a strange kind of nymphomania in which women school teachers molest their minor male students,” she said. Meysenburg founded the SSRI Stories website after experiencing severe side effects from being prescribed an SSRI herself.

 

The site includes many examples of people setting themselves on fire, biting their victims and elderly offenders not traditionally associated with violent crime. Besides unlikely offenders and weapons, the crime stories recounted on the website often lack a comprehensible motive like the two recent cases in Chicago. A Midwest City, Oklahoma woman accepted a cup of tea from an elderly nurse she’d just met, in one crime report cited, and then strangled her. A 12-year-old boy stayed in his cousin’s car while she shopped at Target and killed her 5-week-old daughter while she gone. All the cases on the site involve people under the influence of SSRIs, as reported by news outlets.

 

Of course lethal stabbings are not a new occurrence in US history. The spectacular 1966 murders of eight nurses in Chicago by Richard Speck were committed with a knife. And who can forget Lizzie Borden who was tried and acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892? (Though her "40 wacks" were from an axe not knife.)

 

Still, more than 5,000 murders and bizarre violence have been linked to SSRIs in news reports and often, if the crimes sound too extreme to be true without a medical explanation--they are. Despite the large evidence database, Big Pharma has denied, hidden and downplayed the side effects to get its money's worth. Watch for an admission that the drugs do cause violence when all the patents have run out.

 

 

 

Learn more about dangers of popular prescription drugs by reading Martha Rosenberg's award-cited expose Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flacks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health (Random House) Support investigation journalism.

 

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/230995/born-with-a-junk-food-deficiency-...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will stop referring to ourselves as a "civil rights" organization that defends "human rights." It is a sacrilege to people actually killed or harmed by civil and human rights abuses.

 

We will stop blaming gun crime on "failure to enforce existing laws" and confess that it is our lobbying that has blocked sharing and computerizing of national firearm sales data so crimes cannot be solved. We also block weapon microstamping, further making sure the "bad guys'" never get caught.

 

We admit that arming bad guys through such loose laws and then blaming armed "bad guys" for the need for more firearms is like killing your parents and crying you are an orphan.

 

We will admit background checks are a joke. Mass shooters Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), James Holmes (Aurora), Jared Loughner (Tucson), Aaron Alexis (Navy Yard), Paul Ciancia (LAX airport) and Stephen Phillip Kazmierczak (Northern Illinois University) sailed through them.

 

We declare that the "gun show loophole" is actually gigantic and that such private sales amount to 40 percent of US guns sales. Yes, almost half.

 

We will stop our obstruction of "one firearm a month" laws to stop straw buyers. Convicted grandmother-killer William Spengler used a straw buyer at Gander Mountain in Henrietta, NY to get the weapons he used to kill firefighters last Christmas Eve. Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold also used a straw buyer.

 

We will admit our contention that criminals will target homes because they believe there are no firearms or because they believe there are firearms is nonsensical. We will further admit that asking the same jack booted government we rail against to protect our identities so our neighbors don't know about our firearms is contradictory and sniveling.

 

We will stop pretending our fear to go anywhere unarmed is somehow a public service and that we cop wannabes are the real law enforcers. We will admit our carrying does not protect others or ourselves and take a hard look at all the people--including elderly and 80 pound women--who go the same places we are afraid to go without weapons.

 

 

We will stop whipping up "preppers" and citizen army extremists into stockpiling bigger arsenals because jack booted government agents are about to storm their homes and disarm them. Though we love the melodrama of being "victims," the 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller means that will never happen. Never. And if we are victims, we're the best armed victims in the history of the world.

 

We will stop our compulsive firearms talk about clips, magazines and how a semiautomatic weapon shouldn't be considered an assault weapon. Though the blather is designed to reveal how the public is too ignorant about firearms to understand laws, the truth is we get buzzed just talking about weapons. Yes, it's a fetish.

 

Finally, we will retire our shopworn "guns don't kill people, people kill people" slogan and our mantra that gun laws won't stop the bad guys and mentally disturbed people. Mentally ill people are everywhere, like a man in China who attacked over 20 school children on the same day as the Sandy Hook massacre. Because he had a knife and not a rapid fire weapon, the children did not die and 40 parents in China still have their loved ones. Unlike in Newtown.

Are you DONE ASKING for sane gun laws? Force them! Join the thousands making the TELL AND COMPEL™  pledge. 

 

Elliot Fineman

CEO and President

National Gun Victims Action Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month's FDA guidance for reducing livestock antibiotics will actually make things worse, animal welfare and food activist groups are saying. "The FDA is using a garden hose on a forest fire," says Farm Sanctuary Senior Policy Director Bruce Friedrich. The guidance is a "diversion" that pretends to address the problem of factory farm-driven antibiotic resistance while accomplishing nothing. Antibiotic resistant infections, widely seen as driven by factory farming, sicken 2 million a year in the US and kill 23,000, says the CDC. By asking drug makers to voluntarily renounce the use of antibiotics for livestock growth on their labels, the guidance "won't cost the industry a penny" or reduce antibiotic use at all, says Friedrich. The reason? Factory farm antibiotics are also used to treat sickness which the crowded conditions tempt--a use that is still allowed under the guidance. Only the wording will change, says Friedrich.

 

 

In a December 11 conference call, the FDA's Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, William T. Flynn, deputy director for science policy and USDA's Thomas J. Myers, associate deputy administrator, told reporters that the government is asking drug makers to voluntarily restrict the uses on their antibiotic labels--yes, asking--in a shocking gift of self-regulation. Similar honor systems exist at slaughterhouses since Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) was instituted  in 1998 in which industry creates its own safety plan which the government simply cosigns. A similar honor system called the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) is imminent for poultry slaughterhouses.

 

Why are the FDA and USDA allowing industry to write its own ticket? (And why would industry write itself out of its own profits?) Because to mandate the changes would require "hundreds of separate regulations" and actions, whined government officials on the conference call. It is easier to just say please to industry.

 

To many reporters on the conference call, the plans sounded like fluff. If the changes are voluntary, "what will enforce" them and serve as an "incentive" asked an ABC reporter? Food producers and drug companies need no incentive retorted Michael Taylor because they are starting to phase out antibiotics "for their own reasons"--citing McDonald's and KFC. Right.

 

If factory farmers actually phased out antibiotics (which prevent animals from becoming sick in high density-farming) won't livestock producers "have to move to different buildings" asked a reporter from Reuters. That's why we are giving industry three years to comply replied William Flynn.

 

Will you release the identities of drug companies who do not comply asked another reporter? No, replied Flynn. We will give an "overview" of  the level of "engagement" of  industry but not individual company names. (USDA has also protected the identities of US ranches that released mad cows into the US food supply and restaurants who served them according to newspaper and government sources.)

 

Animal welfare groups like Farm Sanctuary, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are not the only ones calling the FDA guidance toothless and a serious capitulation to industry. Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, called the guidance "an inadequate response to the growing antibiotic resistant crisis caused by overuse of antibiotics on the farm." Industry has spent over $17 million to block a bill Rep. Slaughter developed, in conjunction with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, called the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), says a press release from her office.

 

This is not the first time government has caved to drug makers over the regulation of livestock antibiotics. In 2008, the FDA had announced that there was "evidence that extralabel use of these drugs [cephalosporins] in food-producing animals will likely cause an adverse event in humans and, as such, presents a risk to the public health," and called for their prohibition. Notice the FDA says "will likely cause" not "could likely cause" and "presents a risk" not "could present a risk"?

 

But by the time hearings were held two months later and lobbyists had worked their magic, the "Cephalosporin Order of Prohibition" had somehow become a "Hearing to Review the Advances In Animal Health Within The Livestock Industry." Prohibition -- advances, same idea, right?

 

At the hearings, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Animal Health Institute, a Big Pharma trade group and the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries whined that they could not "farm" without antibiotics because more feed would be required and the animals would get sick from being immobilized over their own manure.

 

Afterwards, W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, who was the USDA's top vet before leaving for industry and helming the AVMA, penned a rambling, almost incoherent 18-page letter with 62 footnotes to the FDA. Cephalosporin resistant "human pathogens" aren't increasing, says the letter, and even if they are, they're not affecting human health, and even they're affecting human health, how do you know it's from the livestock drugs, and even if it's from the livestock drugs, the FDA has no legal authority to ban cephalosporin. Got that?

 

Alternately maudlin and accusatory, the letter plays on terrorism fears by calling a cephalosporin ban a "food security issue" affecting "the number of animals available for the food supply." It also plays on humanitarian sentiments by claiming a ban would impede veterinarians' ability "to relieve the pain and suffering of animals" as if cephalosporins are pain killers and other drugs aren't available. (And as if antibiotics are given for animals' welfare instead of revenue welfare!) But less than a month after the letter was sent, on Nov. 25 the FDA quietly revoked the prohibition. Good hire, AVMA!

 

It is no surprise that factory farm operators fight to keep their antibiotics says Farm Sanctuary's Bruce Friedrich. Without them, in their profit-driven "filth chambers," the animals would simply die. END

 

Do you care about animals and unethical consumerism? Give Martha Rosenberg's award-cited, Random House expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, for the holidays! Includes 30 cartoons. http://www.randomhouse.com/book/230995/born-with-a-junk-food-deficiency-...