Alison Rose Levy

The incredible belief that corporate ownership does not influence media content

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (CJR, 8/26/19) has recently noted, corporate ownership of media interferes with the core societal function of the press: reporting and investigating key issues at the intersection of public need and governance. And nowhere is that more critical than when it comes to climate. Due to their corporate conflicts of interest, trusted news authorities have diverted us from our primary responsibility—assuring a viable habitat for our children and grandchildren.

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An Environmental and Public Health Disaster Awaits - If USDA Gives Organic Label to Hydroponics

Whether food production entails acres of mono-crops, livestock shuttled through assembly lines or orderly tracks of plastic pipelines in factory-scale hydroponics spaces, streamlined production techniques tempt food producers to improve on nature, without necessarily assessing the long-term health or environmental costs. Even an apparently benign innovation, like hydroponics, may convey unexpected downsides.

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Dem Party Platform Exposes Two Big Areas Where Hillary Clinton Needs to Get a Lot More Progressive

Donning a baseball cap doesn’t make millionaire Donald Trump a man of the people. Nor did playing the saxophone make Bill Clinton the "first black president.” His rooty-tooting effectively obscured his actual record, stripping the social safety net and incarcerating record numbers of blacks in private prisons, setting up what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow and what Angela Davis calls the prison-industrial complex, a prime contributor to the recent violence against black people.

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Why on Earth Did the Feds Approve a High-Pressure Gas Pipeline Near a Nuke Plant?

A gas explosion leveled two buildings in New York’s East Village this past week, with two neighboring structures damaged, one still at risk for collapse, and 22 people injured, four of them severely. The fire raged from early afternoon into the next morning with more than 250 firefighters responding. Just over a year ago, a gas explosion leveled two buildings in Harlem, killing eight people. The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet released its conclusions as to what caused the Harlem fire.

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Is the U.S. 'Fast-tracking' Its Way to a Toxic Nightmare?

A speaker at an event I recently attended asked why U.S. food companies put butylated hydroxyltoluene, a food preservative and endocrine disruptor, in cereal sold stateside, while in Europe the same companies formulate the same product without  BHT.  

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Will the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact Deepen Our Climate Change Nightmare?

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke recently at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC, she said that if she had to pick one case to undo, her choice would be the 2010 Citizens United ruling. Two years after that decision, one poll found that 62% of Americans also opposed it. Among progressives, there is even broader consensus that it represented a sea change for democracy.

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Scientific Sleuth Gets the Call When Communities are Contaminated

Wilma Subra has studied the biological impacts of industrial and naturally occurring chemicals for over 25 years. When chemical spills or toxic industrial releases affect unsuspecting communities, Subra, a microbiologist and chemist, often gets called in to investigate. Her experiences have taught her that the contamination of communities and waterways is just part of doing business for multinational corporations and it is becoming a significant, growing byproduct of our current, poorly regulated industrial practices.

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The Fracking Industry's Contempt for the Public Is Finally Coming to Light

Phrases like, “natural gas,” “cleaner than coal,” “energy independence,” and “radical environmentalists” were deployed to create a popular mandate for shale gas development, and to discount fracking critics. While it seems likely that gas-industry spin doctors honed these deft marketing terms prior to the nationwide explosion in fracking, neither reporters nor the public have been privy to the behind-the-scenes machinations, until now.

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Why the Shale Gas Rush Will Be an Economic Bust for New Yorkers

If nothing else, the recent chemical spill in West Virginia reveals the extent to which elected officials go along with powerful industries at serious cost to public health and the environment. As can be seen in the abject 40-year failure to regulate toxic chemicals like the one contaminating the West Virginia water, U.S. policy (from the national level all the way down to the state and local level) is to accept at face value industry safety assurances and economic projections, without further investigation to protect the public health or pocketbook.

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Impacts of Fracking Spread Across New York and New England

Just one year ago, New York’s Governor Cuomo hovered on the brink of issuing guidelines to frack New York State. But in March 2013, mounting public demand for a comprehensive health assessment prompted Commissioner of Public Health Nirav Shah to hit the pause button. Since then, there have been no fracking guidelines issued and no green light for fracking in New York, as Shah’s investigation continues. But that doesn’t mean fracking concerns are over. In fact, in New York (and New England) fracking and its infrastructures remain one step ahead of public notice in scary ways.

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What New Yorkers Want from Their New Mayor When it Comes to Food

"We have to thank outgoing Mayor Bloomberg for raising consciousness about the health consequences of what we eat," Jan Poppendieck, a professor at Hunter College reminded foodies and food activists attending "The Future of Food Policy in the Post-Bloomberg Era." The event, which featured New York city grass roots food organizations such as Just Food, the Brooklyn Food Coalition, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and the New York City Community Garden Coalition took place at Talking Transitions, a huge glass enclosed "tent" in downtown Manhattan.

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A Brilliant Activist Shows Us a Path to Real Change Through Civil Disobedience

A human chain spanned Manhattan’s West Side Highway. The group carried a highway-wide yellow banner that proclaimed, “Stop the Pipeline” and sang the old civil rights anthem, “Which Side Are You On?”

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3 Scary Misconceptions About One of the Most Widely Prescribed Drugs for Heart Attack Prevention

With statin medications, used to prevent heart attacks, among the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S., most people make certain assumptions:

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Aspartame and GMOs: What You Really Need to Know About the Science and Health Risks

In response to a plunge in sales of artificially sweetened sodas last week, Coca-Cola announced plans to roll out an ad campaign to win back popular favor for its aspartame-containing beverage, Diet Coke. (Diet Pepsi, which also contained aspartame, saw its sales fall 6.2 percent in 2012 while regular Pepsi sales fell little more than half that amount.)

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Anti-Fracking Activists Celebrate Cancellation of Gas Leases and Drilling Plans in NE Pennsylvania

Certain powerful images really stick with you when you watch Gasland or Gasland 2. First is the shot of the tap water on fire. Equally powerful are the images of the film’s director Josh Fox on his porch strumming his banjo, in the woods on his property, walking by the local stream, and celebrating the pristine beauty of the nearby Delaware River. The film keeps returning to the land that Fox treasures, cluing us in on why he turned down a sizeable offer to lease for gas drilling, and what drove him forth with his camera on a fact-finding journey that culminated in the first Gasland, the film that ignited the fractivism movement.

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The Medical Establishment's "Favorite" Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at
 Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
 has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013). Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about healthcare treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last 25 years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do).

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Connecting the Dots Between Autism and Your Health

The state of science on all industrial outputs that contribute to health risk is nowhere near what it needs to be. The reason? Whether it’s fracking or GMOs or other novel toxins, government regulators tend to rely for safety studies on the very industries that proffer these toxins. And that includes medical industry products, aka drugs, treatments, and perhaps even vaccinations.

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With Senator Frank Lautenberg's Death, What Happens to His Crucial Fight to Protect Us from Harmful Chemicals?

When Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died Monday morning at age 89, the Senate lost its oldest member, (he was also the last WWII veteran), and proponents of toxic chemical safety, gun safety, and other protections lost a champion. His most enduring legacy should have been the passage of the Safe Chemicals Act he first introduced in 2010. But due to pressure and lobbying by the chemical industry, the original version of the bill never made it to the Senate floor for a vote despite Lautenberg’s committed work (in alliance with a coalition of environment groups) to get a vote on it every year from 2010 to 2012.

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Why 'Safe' Regulation of Fracking in New York Is a Fiction

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

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6 Ways to Replace Violence With a Culture of Caring

The Newtown tragedy compels Americans to consider the ways that both our society and our attitudes contribute to creating a more violent society. Much has been written about gun control, but we also need a focus on the widespread attitudes and beliefs that contribute to violence and how we can identify and change them. Here are six ideas.

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4 Horrifying Dangers of Fracking

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

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Which Political Leader Will Deal with “Weather on Steroids?"

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

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Romney's Debate Strategy: The Testosterone Ploy

Just like in the ads featuring beautiful women, luring consumers to buy products, in this week’s Presidential debate, Mitt Romney pulled out something alluring—testosterone—offering this country a choice with which many women are familiar: Do we choose the nice guy with the solid values that we share, or do we choose the primate who beats his chest and displays high testosterone?

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Can Fracking Ever Be Done Safely?

Governor Andrew Cuomo appears to have hit the pause button on once-imminent plans to frack New York. This is a turnaround from June, when someone in his administration leaked to the New York Times a tentative plan to begin drilling in New York’s Southern Tier. In place of the predicted post-Labor Day announcement, the governor hinted in a recent radio interview that he’s in no hurry to launch into the controversial practice. Cuomo “isn’t going to pressure the state agency into making the decision by a certain date, such as the upcoming Election Day or by the end of the year,” reported the Ithaca Journal

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Will Public Outcry Against Fracking Sink Governor Cuomo's Political Ambitions?

In late June, Governor Andrew Cuomo leaked a plan to permit gas companies to frack five counties in New York’s Southern Tier. Confirmation of a final plan is expected after Labor Day. With no assurance that fracking won’t be permitted elsewhere once in the state, Cuomo aims to compromise between gas company lobbyists, pressing to drill before land leases expire, and citizens, 53% of whom are concerned about fracking’s impact on New York. In response, a coalition of organizations have planned, “Don’t Frack New York,” a mass march and rally in Albany on Monday, August 27th.

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How Smart Is Your Body?

We all know that ah-ha! moment when a new insight or experience changes everything. But ah-ha's are the province of the mind, aren't they? Like a backward beast, the body merely drags around our higher mental functions and our opposable thumbs. Despite its amazing capacity to self-heal, it's regarded as a mere mechanical marvel, like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz -- to be oiled, excised, and/or flooded with exogenous chemicals, an ingenious contraption incapable of learning, progressing, or manifesting.

But what if the body is smarter than we think? Or understands things we don't? Perhaps it's time for a dialogue.

For two centuries, homeopaths have engaged in an intimate conversation with the body -- regarding it as not just alive, but also capable of learning, acting upon subtle information, and taking hints from nature about how to expel infections, self-regulate, and restore balance.

Homeopathic remedies begin with a given natural substance, progressively diluted (and shaken in a process known as "succussion") until no measurable amount of the material remains. The chosen remedy induces the entire range of symptoms the person suffers and paradoxically prompts the body's capacity to heal them. According to Dana Ullman, a homeopathic educator and author of The Homeopathic Revolution, homeopaths see symptoms as expressions of the body's innate healing response. A homeopathic remedy, like aikido, "goes with" the symptoms, subtly amplifying the healing message so that the body "gets it." Once the body goes "ah-ha," the symptoms express, lessen, and then pass.

Obviously, this method and view sharply contrast with approaches that suppress symptoms, or "fight" disease, the typical "us against them" stance of mainstream western medicine.

In his book, Ullman (recently on radio on Oprah and friends) recounts homeopathy's long history of successful use by a host of monarchs, (the British royal family), world leaders, (including Gandhi, and eleven U.S. Presidents ranging from Lincoln to Clinton), artists (Beethoven, Renoir, and Pollock), and celebrities, (Marlene Dietrich, Tina Turner, and David Beckham). Countless powerful and smart people -- with ample health care options -- have found homeopathy valuable.

One was Charles Darwin, whose persistent health problems (untreatable by the medicine of his day) debilitated him, making work impossible, Ullman learned. Skeptically, Darwin went to a homeopath, received treatment, and recovered, going on to do his most important research and writing (while living for three more decades.) He never publicly mentioning his homeopathic treatment for fear of his scientific colleagues' derision.

Conventional biological scientists (then and now) resist healing mechanisms outside their paradigm. Like the man who lost his contact lens down a dark alley, but searched for it under a bright street lamp because that's where he could see, they deny even the possibility that homeopathy could convey healing information via mechanisms they can't measure. Since only material substances (rather than information) have agency, surely homeopathy must be either a fraud or a placebo.

Late last year, in a debate on homeopathy at the University of Connecticut, naturopath Andre Saine revealed his investigated outcomes for homeopathic treatments of typhus, meningitis, tetanus, anthrax, septicemia, malaria, and other infectious diseases -- including a dozen cases of fully developed rabies with recoveries solely via homeopathic treatment.

"Despite well-documented and official reports," Saine argued, "the results obtained by homeopathy have been almost completely ignored... as if they had occurred in a void of time and space."

"When scientists ignore or reject healing successes outside of their paradigm, the spirit of scientific inquiry is undermined," claims a leader in the Connecticut debate, Professor Rustum Roy, who among his credentials is Professor of the Solid State Emeritus at the Pennsylvania State University as well as Visiting Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona.

Professor Roy's current research could lead to a sea change. While homeopaths assert that a plant "signature," imprinted in water, carries information to the body, conventional scientists consider that impossible since homeopathic dilutions are biochemically identical to "pure water."

Roy, however, points out that due to water's unique properties, even weak forces can cause powerful structural changes. His lab is currently investigating a recent discovery that common radio waves can cause water to burst into flame and burn, which has immense implications for energy production. In Roy's view, it's not water's biochemical content but its structure that's ripe for exploration. Water's structure can readily be changed by the very actions commonly used in homeopathic preparations, he says. In their research, Roy and his colleagues have found that even when remedies are biochemically indistinguishable from pure water, changes in structure differentiate them. This altered structure persists over time. Since the human body is composed of over 60% water, Roy's research supports the working hypothesis that the water structure in homeopathic remedies can potentially carry healing information to the body. As more scientists follow the thread initiated by Roy, perhaps we'll discover the secrets of the healing power of information.

For more on Proactive Health and links referenced in this article, please go to www.health-journalist.com

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