What You Need to Know About Human Organ Trafficking


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There’s that urban legend. You go to dinner with a good looking stranger, go back to their hotel room or yours, have a drink, and pass out. The next thing you know, you are in the bathtub, naked, covered in ice, with a poorly stitched side, and a phone nearby with a note attached. The note warns you to seek emergency medical care right away. According to medical anthropologist Nancy Scherper-Hughes, the truth is different, but is just as sinister and macabre, and tells us something about the state of global affairs today.

Nancy Scherper-Hughes has been working on the problem of human organ and tissue trafficking for a full decade. Yes, it is real, and it’s probably happening at a hospital near you. Encapsulated within is a travesty of justice, an argument over global equality, and the dark, secretive underbelly of medical science, which few of us have dared to peak at. Today, Scherper-Hughes is the director of Organ’s Watch, a nonprofit that keeps track of global organ trafficking. She is also the chair of Berkeley’s doctoral program in medical anthropology.

The truth is, organ trafficking is a reality in many parts of the world. Documented cases have shown up in Indonesia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and many other countries. The reason?The demand for organs is just so high. 123,000 men, women, and children are on the organ donor’s list right now. An average of 25 will die each day. As a result, there is a huge scramble to find organs, legitimate or otherwise.

11,000 organs were obtained on the black market in 2010, according to the WHO. That organization states that an organ is sold every hour, each day, every day of the year. Scheper-Hughes calls the demand for organs and tissues “insatiable.” According to her, it’s easier to trade in human body parts once they have been dehumanized through the processes of organ and tissue harvesting.

This high demand has set up a depressing yet all too familiar dynamic: organs going from poor to rich in the United States, and global South to global North. The poorest slums of the world supply kidneys, for instance, to donors in the U.S., Europe, Israel, and Canada. The UN is even looking into reports that ISIS, the wealthiest terrorist group ever, may be in the business of selling its victim’s organs. UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov said that the matter is being investigated. Meanwhile, Scherper-Hughes says organ trafficking in wartime, particularly in dirty wars or those with undisciplined armies, is not uncommon.

Her life reads like that of a secret agent’s. The anthropologist has posed as a medical doctor in countries all over the world in order to investigate organ trafficking. She says, some of the U.S.’s topmost medical facilities have been caught with illegally trafficked organs. Scherper-Hughes has tracked organs to hospitals and medical centers in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, among other places. At one point, she found herself across the table from a group of organ transplant surgeons at a top Philadelphia hospital. The 60 year-old showed these physicians a sixty page report of interviews from a labyrinthine trail of buyers, sellers, and middle men, stretching across the world, showing just where the kidneys these doctors were implanting came from. The WHO estimates that one-fifth of all transplanted kidneys, or 70,000 of them, are trafficked each year.

Organized crime syndicates work behind the scenes. Their methods are varied. Sometimes they trick the person into giving up the organ. For instance, there are cases where the so-called patient is treated for a sickness they don’t have, and the traffickers make off with the organ. Or they force the person into giving it. But oftentimes, it is a cash payout that draws people out. There are cases where the person decides to sell their organ, say a kidney or a section of liver, but gets cheated, ending up with a much lower amount than what they were promised beforehand.

From there, the kidney, or whatever it is, goes to organ brokers, who can get $150,000 per transplant or more. $200,000 is not uncommon. Meanwhile, the donor usually only gets around $5,000. These brokers cross international lines to find “broker-friendly” hospitals in the U.S. and other developed nations. Two surgeons in the room with Scherper-Hughes in Philadelphia were implicated. The meeting ended poorly. The medical anthropologist was tossed out. The follow-up internal investigation turned up nothing. Scherper-Hughes believes many doctors are either involved, ignore where the organ came from, don’t ask questions, or are in denial. Let’s look at a few documented cases of organ trafficking.

In China in 2006, a state run hospital was exposed for trafficking the organs of prisoners of conscience. 10,000 transplantable organs are sold out of China each year, a market worth $1 billion, despite the fact that few donors are on official lists. This has become the subject of a documentary: “Human Harvest: China’s Organ Trafficking.” International investigators cite evidence that tens of thousands have been killed in China to support illegal organ trafficking by the government.

Al Jazeera, in February of this year, helped break up a three person trafficking ring in Indonesia. Here villagers in West Java, around 30 individuals, had sold their kidneys to the tune of $5,000 apiece. Other stories include a child in China who had his eyes cut out, possibly for the corneas, an African girl who was kidnapped and rescued in the UK before her organs could be harvested, and in America, the dizzying case of Kendrick Johnson. His death was deemed a freak accident in the school gym — they said the boy suffocated in a rolled up gym mat. Loved ones remained skeptical, however. After a protracted fight, his parents finally got a court order. They had the body exhumed and independently autopsied. During the autopsy, the medical examiner discovered something terrifying. The Georgia teen was found to have had all his organs removed and replaced with newspaper.

Though organ donation is regulated in the U.S., there are ways to beat the system. Corruptible funeral home directors forge death certificates and consent forms before the human remains are disposed of. In the developing world, people are kidnapped and used for their organs. Children sold into sexual slavery sometimes have their organs sold. And there are those in slums who give up their tissues, a piece of their liver, or their kidney, just to get their hands on a few hundred American dollars.

Scheper-Hughes has seen advertisements requesting organs in newspapers in Brazil, Moldova, and parts of Africa. She has also witnessed middlemen trawling the streets for donors in some countries holding wads of $100 bills. In China, one ad stated a kidney would get you $4,000 and a new iPad. Organ transplant tourism is a growing field, and here black market organs are often supplied.

The UN HUB or Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, has listed the organ trade as one of their top priorities. Someday 3D printed organs using stem cells will make donation obsolete. But human organ trafficking will continue to be a serious, global problem as long as global inequality remains unchanged, desperate people of affluence and those just as desperate financially tight — tight regulations or not — believe there are huge profits to be had. The urban legend is scary, if not a bit melodramatic. The reality, however, as it often is, is in some sense even more horrifying.

Source:http://bigthink.com

Nationwide study reveals just how broken the US mental health system is.


More than 8 million Americans now suffer from psychological distress.

A nationwide study has found that more Americans than ever before now report suffering from serious mental health problems – but the country’s healthcare system is struggling to meet the demand.

The survey spanned eight years and involved more than 200,000 people living in the US aged between 18 and 64. It concluded that 3.4 percent of the population now suffer from what researchers call ‘severe psychological distress’ (SPD) – mental health issues so serious that they affect someone’s physical wellbeing.

 Extrapolated, that suggests more than 8.3 million adult Americans suffer from mental health issues, far higher than researchers had previously assumed.

And yet the study also found that access to mental health care services actually deteriorated between 2006 and 2014 for people suffering from SPD, when compared to those who didn’t report mental distress. In other words, the gap is getting bigger.

“Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation,” said lead researcher Judith Weissmanfrom NYU Langone Medical Center.

To get this insight, the researchers looked at data from the 2006 to 2014 US CDC’s (Centres of Disease Control and Prevention) annual National Health Interview Survey, which has been conducted for more than 60 years in about 35,000 US households around the country.

Participants are asked how often over the past month they felt certain feelings, such as being so sad that nothing could cheer them up, or that everything they did was worthless.

Together, the frequency of these symptoms allows researchers to get an idea about whether someone is suffering from SPD or not.

 While SPD itself isn’t a formal diagnosis, previous research has linked a high SPD score with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as chronic diseaselower socio-economic status, and a reduced lifespan.

“Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy,” said Weissman.

“Our study may also help explain why the US suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year.”

For perspective, that’s the highest it’s been in the US in 30 years.

In total, around 3.4 percent of the population showed signs of suffering from SPD – previous estimates had put that number at less than 3 percent.

But despite the increase in people needing support, people with SPD specifically are also finding it harder to get support than before.

Interestingly, the report suggests that the mental health care situation has gotten worse despite the introduction of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both included provisions that were meant to make it easier for people without insurance to access mental health support.

The team found that, in 2014, 9.5 percent of Americans who reported SPD still didn’t have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or counsellor – a slight increase from 9 percent in 2006.

About 10.5 percent of people who reported SPD in 2014 experienced delays in getting professional help due to insufficient mental health coverage, while only 9.5 percent of people said they experienced such delays in 2006.

And, in 2014, 9.9 percent of people with SPD couldn’t afford to pay for their psychiatric medications, up from 8.7 percent in 2006.

There are some limitations to this research – primarily the fact that the classification of SPD was based on self-reported symptoms, rather than being objectively determined by a healthcare professional.

The team was also specifically looking at the access people with SPD had had to health care, but didn’t investigate whether there were other patterns in demographics that would make it harder for them to get help.

While the results of this latest study paint a pretty grim picture about US health care, the team is now looking at ways the system could be improved, and suggest that getting primary care physicians more involved in mental health support could help.

“Our study supports health policies designed to incorporate mental health services and screenings into every physician’s practice through the use of electronic medical records, and by providing training for all health care professionals, as well as the right resources for patients,” said one of the researchers, Cheryl Pegus.

Source: Psychiatric Services.

Mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers and other megafauna went extinct because of ancient climate change


‘We should be quite worried about the warming that is going on now and … about whether again we are going to see a suite of extinctions’

Mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers, giant sloths and other ‘megafauna’ died out across most of the world at the end of the last Ice Age because the changing climate became too wet, according to a new study.

By studying the bones of the long-dead animals, researchers were able to work out levels of water in the environment.

And they found a link between the time large grassland animals and their predators became extinct in different parts of the world over a period of 15,000 to 11,000 years ago and a sudden increase in moisture.

This changed the environment from one dominated by grass to one more suited to trees, bogs and peatlands at the same time as human hunters moved in – creating a lethal “double whammy” that proved too much for many species.

The researchers warned that this process showed how vulnerable today’s large grassland animals could be to climate change, which will result in an increase in rainfall in some places.

One of the researchers, Professor Alan Cooper, of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at Adelaide University, said in a video: “What we have found by looking into the actual bones themselves is a signal of sudden environmental change just before they became extinct.

“We see water, moisture, everywhere, which we think is changing the vegetation patterns away from grass, which is what they want, towards trees. What we are really seeing is a double whammy, where the environment is suddenly shifting, the populations are in major trouble, and humans are turning up and hunting is taking off.”

It had long been a “big mystery” why Africa’s megafauna had remained when populations in the rest of the world died out, he said.

“The idea has been that they evolved with humans and were somehow used to them,” said Professor Cooper.

“What we see instead is, because there were no glaciers and large amounts of water to melt, grasslands were always present in Africa, so the animals never had the stress they had elsewhere.

“So it had nothing to do with being use to humans.”

He said the timing of the extinctions around the world, which hit South America first, then North America and then Europe, correlated with the increase in water.

“What it shows is climate change can have some quite large impacts across landscape-sized environments and that we should be quite worried about the warming that is going on now, the changes in water production, and about whether again we are going to see a suite of extinctions,” he said.

Elephants, rhinos and giraffes could all be at risk. “With added rainfall in these areas, we could actually see some quite major impacts on these populations, relatively quickly,” Professor Cooper said.

The international team of researchers, from the US, Russia and Canada as well as Australia, looked at levels of nitrogen isotopes from bone collagen that had been radiocarbon dated. This gave an indication of levels of moisture in the landscape, they said in a paper about the research in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

“Grassland megafauna were critical to the food chains. They acted like giant pumps that shifted nutrients around the landscape,” said Dr Tim Rabanus-Wallace, also of Adelaide University.

“When the moisture influx pushed forests and tundras to replace the grasslands, the ecosystem collapsed and took many of the megafauna with it.”

The Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables in 80 Years


Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables

Story at-a-glance

  • Ninety-three percent of seeds were lost from 1903 to 1993
  • Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply
  • The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction

Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds.

It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage.”1 But this is no longer the case.

Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply.

Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, but the privatization of seeds has only occurred very recently. In that short time, seed diversity has been decimated, farmers have been put out of business due to rising seed costs… and the pesticide companies that control most seeds today have flourished.

According to Worldwatch:2

“…by the early 1900s, the U.S. and Canadian governments began promoting the development of large export-oriented agriculture industries based on only a few crops and livestock species.

To maximize uniformity and yields, seed breeding moved off the farm and into centralized public research centers, such as U.S. land grant universities. Variety development became commodity-oriented.

Scientific advances in the 1970s and ’80s heralded a new era in agriculture. To boost flat sales, Monsanto and other agrichemical companies ventured into genetic engineering and transformed themselves into the biotechnology industry.

They bought out traditional seed companies and engineered their herbicide-resistant genes into the newly acquired seed lines.”  It’s been all downhill from there…

93 Percent of Seeds Have Been Lost in the Last 80 Years

If you were alive in 1903, you would have been able to choose from more than 500 varieties of cabbage, 400 varieties of peas and tomatoes, and 285 varieties of cucumbers.

Eighty years later in 1983, the varieties had dwindled sharply, to just 28 varieties of cabbage, 25 varieties of peas, 79 for tomatoes, and just 16 varieties of cucumbers.

In a comparison of seeds offered in commercial seed houses in the early 1900s to the seeds found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983, researchers found 93 percent of seeds were lost over eight decades.

The National Geographic infographic below shows just how many varieties of fruits and vegetables appear near extinction.3  Even more concerning is the fact that the data is already more than 30 years old, and the problem may have gotten even worse since.

For the record, it’s not only fruits and vegetables that are disappearing. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction.4

Food Variety Infographic

Loss of Seed Diversity Coincides with the Consolidation of Seed Companies

Seeds have traditionally been saved and shared between farmers from one harvest season to the next. Farmers rarely ever had to buy new seed. Nature, when left alone, provides you with the means to propagate the next harvest in a never-ending cycle.

Now, however, farmers relying on patented seeds must buy them each year from pesticide companies like Monsanto. Saving such seeds is illegal because it is considered to be patent infringement.

Many farmers depend on Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) (and patented) seeds. More than 90 percent of US soybeans and 80 percent of corn acreage is planted with Monsanto’s patented GM seeds.5

For 200 years, the patenting of life was prohibited, especially with respect to foods. But all of that changed in 1978 with the first patent of a living organism, an oil-eating microbe, which opened the proverbial floodgates.

Patenting of life forms was never approved by Congress or the American public. But as far the GMO industry is concerned, they own a gene, wherever it ends up.

According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), as of August 2013 Monsanto owned 1,676 seed, plant, and other similar patents.6 This was the plan all along. As reported by Friends of the Earth International:7

“At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years.

The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it.

They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.”

Seed Industry Consolidation Increases Along with Seed Costs

In 1996, there were still about 300 independent seeds companies left in the US. By 2009, there were fewer than 100.8 With the rise of GM crops and seed patents, meanwhile, the pesticide industry has been snapping up an ever-growing share of the seed industry.

Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply, and 10 multinational corporations hold 65 percent of global commercial seed for major crops.9 According to Philip Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University:10

“The commercial seed industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in the last 40 years as transnational corporations entered this agricultural sector, and acquired or merged with competing firms.

This trend is associated with impacts that constrain the opportunities for renewable agriculture, such as reductions in seed lines and a declining prevalence of seed saving.”

He further stated,“[t]he Big Six chemical/seed companies [Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF] have increased their cross-licensing agreements to share genetically engineered traits, strengthening the barriers to entry for smaller firms that don’t have access to these expensive technologies.”11

Howard has also compiled the graphic below, which depicts changes in ownership involving major seed companies and their subsidiaries from 1996 to 2013.12

As for seed costs, prices for GM soybean seeds rose 325 percent from 1995 to 2011, with GM soybean seed costing about 47 percent more than non-GM soy.13 GM corn seed is also about double that of conventional seed, and according to the Center for Food Safety:14 “In addition to the cost of seeds, a ‘trait fee’ is charged—this fee has also precipitously risen from $4.5[0] per bag of soybean seed in 1996 to an estimated $17.50 by 2008.”

As the Worldwatch Institute reported:15 “With the profitability of seed increasing over the last 15 years, largely because of patents and contracts, the money and incentive for public institutions to develop new varieties are declining. Farmers also are saving less seed.”

seed industry structure

Insane Government Policy Targets Seed Swap at Community Library

The Cumberland County Library System in Pennsylvania set up a “seed library” at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library last year. Locals could borrow heirloom seeds for the growing season and then replace them at the end of the year. The library thought the system would encourage “residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring self-sufficiency skills.”16

All was well in the community… until the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent a letter telling them they were violating the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds. For good measure, the USDA also sent in a high-ranking official and lawyers to meet with the library. As Global Research reported, the USDA was only doing their job, stopping possible “agri-terrorism” at the hands of community residents planting heirloom tomatoes…17

“Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down. Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, ‘continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.’

Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of ‘agri-terrorism.’…While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.”18

In reality, “old-fashioned” seed swaps such as the one attempted at the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library are one of the best ways to secure non-GMO, heirloom seeds for your garden. You can try this on your own with friends and neighbors or local gardening clubs. The National Gardening Association, for instance, has an online seed swap that allows you to post either seeds you’d like to share or seeds you’re looking for. It’s a free service and, as they say on their site, “one gardener’s extras are another’s treasures.”19 If you’re interested in learning more, keep an eye out for the film “Seed: The Untold Story,” which is slated to be released in 2015.

Drug Overdoses Are the 9th Leading Cause of Death in the US



Story at-a-glance

  • Prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009, and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide
  • Drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids) replaced kidney disease as the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. as of 2015
  • Addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain; 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription

According to the U.S. surgeon general, more Americans now use prescription opioidsthan smoke cigarettes.1 This makes sense when you consider prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009,2,3 and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide.4

In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.5 A result of this over-prescription trend is skyrocketing deaths from overdoses.6,7

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, specifically, include8 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.”9

There are safe options to treat pain, but education — both among doctors and patients — is sorely lacking. This is why I frequently write about this issue, and hope you’ll do your part in spreading the word.

Far too many people in the prime of their life are losing it to painkiller addiction, and often they simply had no idea a prescription painkiller for a temporary injury or pain would send them into the throes of drug addiction.

Drug Overdoses Now 9th Leading Cause of Death in the US

In 2014, prescription drug overdoses, a majority of which involved some type of opioid, killed more Americans than car crashes (49,714 compared to 32,675).10 This held true for 2015 as well, despite 2015 being hailed as the deadliest driving year since 2008.

In all, 38,300 Americans died in car crashes in 201511 — a sharp rise thought to be related to a combination of cheaper gas prices and hence increased travel, and using smartphones while driving.12 A rise in overdoses also suddenly placed drug overdoses in the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.

In 2015, 52,404 Americans died from drug overdoses; 33,091 of them involved an opioid and nearly one-third of them, 15,281, were by prescription.13,14,15 Meanwhile, kidney disease, listed as the 9th leading cause of death on the CDC’s top 10 list, killed 48,146.16

The CDC does not include drug overdoses on this list, but if you did, drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids), would replace kidney disease as the 9th leading cause of death as of 2015, inching its way toward the 8th slot, currently occupied by respiratory complications such as pneumonia, which took 55,227 lives in 2015.

Why Are Pregnant Women Prescribed Narcotics?

A statistic that shows just how overprescribed and misused opioid drugs are is the prescription rate for pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

Despite carrying risks of pregnancy-related problems and birth defects, shockingly, nearly one-third of American women of childbearing age are prescribed opioid painkillers17 and more than 14 percent of pregnant women were prescribed opioids during their pregnancy.18

Reasons for prescribing these extremely dangerous drugs include back and/or abdominal pain, migraine, joint pains and fibromyalgia. Clearly, if you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant, you should go to great lengths to avoid narcotic drugs. If you wouldn’t consider taking heroin, you shouldn’t take a narcotic pain reliever.

Yet, in 2015, 27 million Americans either used illegal drugs and/or misused prescription drugs, and addiction to opioids and heroin now costs the U.S. more than $193 billion each year.

Please, take care to avoid becoming part of this devastating trend. Studies show addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Worse, 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription.19

According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for both men and women dropped between 2014 and 2015, for the first time in two decades, and overdose deaths appear to be a significant contributor.20,21,22

Drug Industry Is Responsible for Mass Addiction

Many believe the drug companies that create and sell these drugs need to be held accountable for America’s rapidly escalating drug problem, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs.

As noted by the Organic Consumers Association,23 the drug industry has “fostered the opioid addiction epidemic” by:

Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which prior to reformulation in 2010 could be snorted or shot. Many addicts claimed the high from OxyContin was better than heroin.

From a chemical standpoint, OxyContin is nearly identical to heroin, and has been identified as a major gateway drug to heroin.

Changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for lower back pain and other pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.

Promoting long-term use of opioids, even though there’s no evidence that using these drugs long-term is safe and effective.

Downplaying and misinforming doctors and patients about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. OxyContin, for example, became a blockbuster drug mainly through misleading claims that Purdue Pharma knew were false from the start.

The basic promise was that it provided pain relief for a full 12 hours, twice as long as generic drugs, giving patients “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night.”

However, for many the effects don’t last anywhere near 12 hours, and once the drug wears off, painful withdrawal symptoms set in, including body aches, nausea and anxiety. These symptoms, in addition to the return of the original pain, quickly begin to feed the cycle of addiction.24

Drug Enforcement Administration Struggles to Hold Drug Makers Accountable for Black Market Sales

Evidence has repeatedly shown opioid makers have acted with callous disregard for human life, yet they keep getting off the hook with little more than a slap on the wrist. The Washington Post recently published an article detailing the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) failure to bring an opioid maker to justice.25

In 2011, the DEA began investigating Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest manufacturers of oxycodone in the U.S. This was the first time the DEA targeted a drug manufacturer for violating laws designed to prevent black market sales of legal narcotics.

To date, it’s also the largest prescription drug case the DEA has ever pursued. Federal prosecutors accused Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of ignoring “its responsibility to report suspicious orders as 500 million of its pills ended up in Florida between 2008 and 2012.”

In all, 66 percent of all oxycodone sold in Florida between those years was shipped to suspected “pill mills” selling prescription drugs to addicts.

In 2010 alone, one distributor, Cincinnati-based KeySource Medical, shipped 41 million oxycodone tablets made by Mallinckrodt to Florida. That’s enough pills to give every man, woman and child in the state 2.5 pills each. Cardinal Health, one of the largest drug distributors in the U.S., was also sending extremely large amounts of Mallinckrodt-made oxycodone pills to Florida.

One Delray Beach doctor named Barry Schultz received 92,400 oxycodone pills from Sunrise Wholesale in just 11 months. He once prescribed 1,000 pills to a single patient, all in one day — a clearly suspect prescription by any reasonable standard.

At the time these enormous shipments were made, the street value of one “oxy” pill was $30. Schultz was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2016 after being charged with drug trafficking and one case of manslaughter, following the overdose death of one of his patients. As noted in the featured article:26

“‘Mallinckrodt knew through law enforcement reports that Barry Schultz was diverting controlled substances, and that the diverted oxycodone was supplied by Mallinckrodt through Sunrise,’ prosecutors later wrote in an internal document sent to the company. ‘When Mallinckrodt continued to distribute oxycodone to Sunrise for such purposes, and continued to pay incentives in the form of chargebacks for the product sales to Barry Schultz, Mallinckrodt was diverting oxycodone.'”

A pharmacy in Sanford, Florida, also stood in receipt of suspicious amounts of pills. Over the course of four years, it received 5.8 million oxycodone pills — nearly 20 times more than the state average for pharmacies.

By law, drug manufacturers must notify the DEA when suspicious orders such as these occur. Mallinckrodt stood accused of 44,000 federal violations, totaling $2.3 billion in fines. In all, federal prosecutors claimed 222,107 Florida orders were “excessive” and should have been reported to the DEA as suspicious.

Oxycodone Maker Gets Off Scot-Free — Again

Yet, despite a massive five-state investigation spanning several years, the U.S. government has taken no legal action against Mallinckrodt, and likely never will. “Instead, the company has reached a tentative settlement with federal prosecutors,” The Washington Post writes, adding:

“Under the proposal, which remains confidential, Mallinckrodt would agree to pay a $35 million fine and admit no wrongdoing … The case shows how difficult it is for the government to hold a drug manufacturer responsible for the damage done by its product. DEA investigators appalled by rising overdose deaths said they worked for years to build the biggest case of their careers only to watch it falter on uncertain legal territory and in the face of stiff resistance from the company.

‘They just weren’t taking this seriously, and people were dying,’ said a former law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is pending … ‘It wasn’t their kids, their wives, their husbands, their brothers. It was some hillbilly in Central Florida, so who cares?'”

A $35 million fine is a drop in the bucket for a company that boasts $3.4 billion in annual revenue, with a net profit of $489 million,27,28 and will do absolutely nothing to deter it or other drug companies from continuing business as usual. As noted by The Washington Post:

“Drug manufacturers have paid much larger fines for other misdeeds. Glaxo­SmithKline was fined $3 billion, and Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion for illegally promoting off-label drug use and paying kickbacks to doctors. Purdue Pharma paid a $600 million fine, and three of its executives pleaded guilty to charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the risks of the painkiller that is widely blamed for setting off the nation’s opioid crisis: OxyContin.

All of those cases were initiated by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. The largest fine the DEA has levied against a drug distributor was the $150 million that McKesson, the nation’s largest drug wholesaler, recently agreed to pay following allegations that it failed to report suspicious orders of painkillers. For a company the size of Mallinckrodt, a $35 million fine is ‘chump change,’ one government official said.”

Drug Industry Ensures Leniency by Hiring DEA and DOJ Agents

Last year, seven U.S. senators demanded to find out why there has been such a sharp decline in enforcement actions by the DEA against wholesalers suspected of distributing prescription narcotics to the black market.29

According to The Washington Post, DEA lawyers began delaying and blocking enforcement efforts by DEA agents against opioid distributors in 2013, suddenly insisting on increasingly higher standards of proof before moving cases forward. This included proof of intent — a factor that is very difficult to prove and typically only required in criminal cases.

In 2011, the DEA took 131 actions against distributors. By 2014, that number had dropped to 40. In that same time frame, the number of “immediate suspension orders” dropped from 65 to nine. (The suspension order allows the agency to freeze shipments of narcotics, effective immediately.) The question is why. I’ve written about the dangers of the revolving door policy that allows regulators to be hired by industry and vice versa on numerous occasions.

In this case, former DEA and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials hired by the drug industry fought for lenience and a “soft approach” to the burgeoning drug addiction problem.30 They succeeded, thereby allowing the problem to grow more or less unrestrained, despite official promises to the contrary. Many DEA officials did in fact suspect Clifford Lee Reeves II, the lawyer in charge of approving their cases, of secretly working for the drug industry.

New FDA Chief Unlikely to Take Hard Line Against Opioids

Unfortunately, President Trump’s nominee for head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is also in the opioid industry’s pocket, having received nearly $45,000 in speaker’s fees from opioid manufacturers and distributors.31 During his confirmation hearing, Gottlieb stated he believes the U.S. opioid crisis is a “public health emergency on the order of Ebola and Zika” that requires dramatic action, and promised that developing a strategy to curb the opioid epidemic would be his “highest and most immediate priority.”32

The question is whether or not he’ll actually follow through. Gottlieb’s drug industry ties are so significant, he’s agreed to recuse himself for one year from decisions involving more than 20 different drug companies with whom he has decades’ long financial connections.

As noted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University:33 “Our country is in desperate need of an FDA commissioner who will take on the opioid lobby, not one who has a track record of working for it.” Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) also criticized Trump’s choice for the FDA saying,34 “Gottlieb’s record indicates that he would not take the epidemic and the FDA’s authority to rein in prescription painkillers and other drugs seriously.”

Prescription Painkillers Are Gateway Drugs to Heroin and Other Deadly Highs

Oxycontin and other opioid pain killers have been identified as the primary gateway drugs to heroin.35 Chemically, these drugs are very similar and provide a similar kind of high. According to a 2013 U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin have previously used prescription painkillers.36 Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in your brain, thereby blocking pain signals.

This also has the effect of creating a sensation of pleasure or euphoria — and addiction. Over time they can also result in increased pain perception, setting into motion a cycle where you need increasingly larger doses, making a lethal overdose more likely.

Oxycontin’s high rate of addiction is the result of a short half-life (the amount of time the drug stays in your system before you are left wanting more). Opioids are also very potent immune suppressors. As such they can wreck your health in serious ways, leaving you far worse off than where you started.

Many users are also turning to much stronger types of opioids, such as fentanyl, which is seeing the fastest rate of growth in use. Deadly overdoses involving fentanyl rose by 50 percent between 2013 and 2014, and another 72 percent between 2014 and 2015. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 percent more potent than morphine.

Besides a more potent high, price is another factor driving its popularity. Since it can be created in a lab, it’s far cheaper than heroin, which in turn is cheaper than prescription opioids.

A recent NPR story37 reveals the tremendous impact fentanyl is having on many people’s lives. Allyson, a 37-year old client at the AAC Needle Exchange and Overdose Prevention Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says she’s lost 30 friends to these deadly painkillers. “Basically, my entire generation is gone in one year,” she said.

Are You or Someone You Love Addicted to Painkillers?

Some of the marketing material for opioids claims the drug will not cause addiction “except in very rare cases,” describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a “benign state” and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn’t true. Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

It’s important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you’ve been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you’re likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a long list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous articles, “Treating Pain Without Drugs,” and “New Treatment Guidelines for Back Pain Stress Non-Drug Interventions.”

Source:.mercola.com

SMARTPHONES ARE THE NEW CIGARETTES


Igo to this boot camp-style class sometimes at a gym near my apartment. It’s one of those classes where a coach stands there and yells at you to do more pushups and squats until you think you’re going to puke. Then you go home and struggle to sit on a toilet for the next three days.

It’s great. I love it. I never miss a week.

Today, as happens many mornings, a couple of people, in between exercises, ran over to the wall to pick up their phones and check… well, I don’t know what the fuck they could have been checking. Email? Instagram? Snapchatting their sweat beads so everyone could see? I don’t know.

The point is they were on their phones.

And the coach got pissed, yelled at them to put their fucking phones away, and we all stood around awkwardly.

This proceeded to happen two or three times in the class, as it does in pretty much every class, and for whatever reason, today I decided to speak my mind to the women glued to her phone while the rest of us were working out:

“Is there really nothing in your life that can’t wait 30 minutes? Or are you curing cancer or something?”

Note to readers: this is a bad way to make friends.

I was pissed. But fuck them. I felt like I was in the right, that I was saying what pretty much everyone else in the room was silently thinking.1

Later that day, once we’d all gone home, while painfully sitting on a toilet seat, I was going over the incident in my head. And I asked myself, “Why does that bother me so much? Why do phones, in general, seem to bug me so much? Why does it bother me when my wife pulls out her phone when we’re walking down the street together? Why do I fervently hate with a passion people who hold up their phones and record half a concert? What’s the deal?”

Am I the screwed up one here?

I know I’m not though. We all have this weird love/hate relationship with our phones these days. Every year, we become more glued to them than ever before. Yet, every year, we seem to resent that we’re glued to them. Why is that?

ATTENTION POLLUTION

If you think about it, our attention is the only thing we truly own in our lives. Our possessions can go away. Our bodies can be compromised. Our relationships can fall apart. Even our memories and intellectual capacity fade away.

But the simple ability to choose what to focus on — that will always be ours.

Unfortunately, with today’s technology, our attention is being pulled in more directions than ever before, which makes this optioning of our own attention more difficult — and more important — than ever before.

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport argues that the ability to focus deeply on a single project, idea or task for long periods of time is not only one of the most important skills for succeeding in the information age, but it’s also an ability that appears to be dwindling among the population.

But I would go even further. I would say that our ability to focus and hone our attention on what we need is a core component of living a happy, healthy life. We’ve all had those days or weeks (or months or years) where we’ve felt scatterbrained — out of control of our own reality, constantly sucked down rabbit holes of pointless information and drama comprised of endless clicks and notifications.

To be happy and healthy, we need to feel as though we are in control of ourselves and we are utilizing our abilities and talents effectively.2 To do that, we must be in control of our attention.3

And I think this is why the cell phone thing at the gym pissed me off. Those workouts are fucking hard. They require me to focus and exert not only physical discipline but mental discipline as well. And to stop every 10 minutes because somebody needs to email their boss or text their boyfriend yanks me out of that. And worse, it yanks me out against my will.

It’s attention pollution when somebody else’s inability to focus or control themselves then interferes with the attention and focus of those around them.

And with the explosion in smart devices and internet available pretty much everywhere from Timbuktu to your mother’s ass crack, attention pollution is infiltrating our daily lives more and more without us realizing it.

It’s why we get annoyed at dinner when someone starts texting in front of us. It’s why we get pissed off when someone pulls their phone out in a movie theater. It’s why we become irritated when someone is checking their email instead of watching the ballgame.

Their inability to focus interferes with our (already-fragile) ability to focus. The same way second-hand smoke harms the lungs of people around the smoker, smartphones harm the attention and focus of people around the smartphone user. It hijacks our senses. It forces us to pause our conversations and redouble our thoughts unnecessarily. It causes us to lose our train of thought and forget that important point we were constructing in our head. It erodes at our ability to connect and simply be present with one another, destroying intimacy in the process.

But the smoking comparison doesn’t end there. There’s evidence that suggests that we are doing long-term harm to our memories and attention spans.4 The same way smoking cigarettes fucks over our long-term health in the name of a series of short-term bursts of highs, the dopamine kicks we get from our phones are harming our brain’s ability to function over the long-term, all in the name of getting a bunch of likes on that really cool new photo of our food we just took.

Now, it may sound like I’m overreacting here. Like I had a shitty gym session and am taking it out on hundreds of thousands of readers on the internet.

But I’m serious. I think this is fucking us up more than we realize.

I’ve noticed that as the years go on, it’s becoming harder for me to sit down and write an article like this than it was three or four years ago. And it’s not just that the amount of available distractions have compounded over the years, it’s that my ability to resist those distractions seems to have worn down to the point where I often don’t feel in control of my own attention anymore.

And this kind of freaks me out. It’s not that I resent the woman at the gym who can’t go 10 minutes without checking her messages. I resent that I am becoming that person at the gym who can’t go 10 minutes without checking his messages.

And I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one.

I’ve met people the last few years who get incredibly anxious if they can’t check their phone in social situations. They carry their phones into conversations the way some people carry dogs on airplanes. It’s a constant outlet if the necessity to interface with another person’s thoughts and feelings ever becomes too intense.

I’ve started to notice people who feel like they need to always be checking email or their messages to feel as though they’re being a good, productive employee. Doesn’t matter if it’s their kid’s violin recital, or in the car at stop lights, or in bed at midnight on a Saturday. They feel like they have to always be caught up on every piece of information that is flung their way, otherwise they’re somehow failing.

I’ve noticed friends who can no longer sit through entire movies (or even episodes of a TV show) without pulling out their phones multiple times in the middle of it. People who can’t make it through a meal without putting the phone next to their plate.

It’s happening everywhere, and it’s therefore becoming the social norm. The eroded attention is becoming the normal, socially acceptable attention, and we are all paying for it.

THE FUTURE

I have a dream, friends. I have a dream of a world where people can sit through long, dull conversations, without feeling the need to douse themselves with instant-gratification delivered through glowing plastic screens.

I have a dream of a world where people are cognizant of not only their own limited attention, but the precious attention of others and some numb-nuts won’t start texting in the movie theatre, totally killing the mood of a dramatic scene.

I have a dream where our devices will be comfortably allotted as the occasional supplement to our lives, and not used as a poor replacement for them. Where people will recognize that the constant and instantaneous delivery of information has subtle costs associated with it, as well as its more obvious benefits.

I have a dream of a world where people become aware of their own attention as an important resource, something to be cultivated and renewed, to be built and cherished, the same way they take care of their bodies or their education. And this new cultivation of their own attention will oddly set them free. Not just free from the screens, but free from their own unconscious impulses.

I have a dream where that respect for attention would extend to the world around them, to their friends and family and the acknowledgment that the inability to focus is not only harmful to oneself, but harmful to one’s relationships and ability to hold and maintain intimacy with someone.

I have a dream that these women won’t check their fucking phones when I’m doing burpee #327 next Wednesday. For God’s sake, if you’re going to the gym, go to the fucking gym.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last (from our smartphones)!”

OK, maybe I plagiarized that last paragraph, but next time you’re taking a selfie at dinner, ask yourself, what would Dr. King have wanted?

Source:https://markmanson.net

Fukushima Radiation: Hundreds Of Millions Of Salmon Completely Die Off On U.S. West Coast.


Following the catastrophic effects of Fukushima, now millions of Salmon are missing from the pacific ocean and are presumed dead. Fears that ocean food chain has been damaged to the point that sea life could die off as a result. New data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have now found that Salmon numbers have dropped dramatically from the Sacramento River.

Fukushima Radiation: Hundreds Of Millions Of Salmon Completely Die Off On U.S. West Coast

New data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have now found that Salmon numbers have dropped dramatically from the Sacramento River. Enenews.com reports The Oregonian: Worst Klamath chinook run on record forecast — The worst run forecast on record for the Klamath River’s chinook salmon could close all salmon fishing along most of the Oregon Coast this summer… Mendocino Beacon: Returns of spawning Klamath River fall Chinook are projected to be the lowest on record in 2017.“The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy… “the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented”… “This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California”… said Council Chair Herb Pollard. Juneau Empire: Spring king fishing canceled by emergency order… the Juneau area will be closed for king salmon fishing… biologists expect a second-straight year of record-low king salmon returns on the Taku River. “We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean. The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon… Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean

“The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy… “the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented”… “This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California”… said Council Chair Herb Pollard. Juneau Empire: Spring king fishing canceled by emergency order… the Juneau area will be closed for king salmon fishing… biologists expect a second-straight year of record-low king salmon returns on the Taku River. “We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean. The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon… Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean

The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon.. Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean

Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean salmon pastures have failed… Minato-Tsukiji: Japan chum salmon landings the worst in 24 years — This year’s chum catch in Japan is very poor, with declines in landings not only in the Hokkaido region but also in Honshu… Also, chum sizes are also getting smaller… Russ George: Hundreds of Millions of Pacific Salmon Missing and Presumed Dead — Across 10,000 miles of North Pacific ocean pasture declarations from Japan and the USA are reporting a cataclysmic collapse of Pacific Salmon. The fish are tragically starving at sea as the plankton pastures have turned into clear blue lifeless deserts… Collapse of North Pacific ocean fish pastures has resulted in near total collapse of Pacific Salmon… It’s not just Pacific salmon that are dying in the North Pacific all forms of ocean life are being reported dead and dying [in] stunning numbers… Hokkaido Shimbun: Salmon landings in Hokkaido in 2016 are the lowest in three decades — The number of salmon caught in Hokkaido in 2016 plunged 29.4% from the previous year… The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check… Minato-Tsukiji: The harvest in Hokkaido was the worst in 24 years… Beginning with the Sanriku area, landings all over Honshu were below those of the previous year… The number of returning four-year-olds, which are regarded as the main shoal, was a record low…… Read More:

“We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean… The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon… Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean salmon pastures have failed… Minato-Tsukiji: Japan chum salmon landings the worst in 24 years — This year’s chum catch in Japan is very poor, with declines in landings not only in the Hokkaido region but also in Honshu… Also, chum sizes are also getting smaller… Russ George: Hundreds of Millions of Pacific Salmon Missing and Presumed Dead — Across 10,000 miles of North Pacific ocean pasture declarations from Japan and the USA are reporting a cataclysmic collapse of Pacific Salmon. T

he fish are tragically starving at sea as the plankton pastures have turned into clear blue lifeless deserts… Collapse of North Pacific ocean fish pastures has resulted in near total collapse of Pacific Salmon… It’s not just Pacific salmon that are dying in the North Pacific all forms of ocean life are being reported dead and dying [in] stunning numbers… Hokkaido Shimbun: Salmon landings in Hokkaido in 2016 are the lowest in three decades — The number of salmon caught in Hokkaido in 2016 plunged 29.4% from the previous year… The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check… Minato-Tsukiji: The harvest in Hokkaido was the worst in 24 years… Beginning with the Sanriku area, landings all over Honshu were below those of the previous year… The number of returning four-year-olds, which are regarded as the main shoal, was a record low..

WiFi Experiment Done By A Group Of 9th Grade Students Got Serious International Attention. THIS Is Why.


Researchers from England, Holland and Sweden have shown great interest in the experiment done by 5 girls from northern Jutland in 9th grade.

They did an experiment for a biology test, so brilliant, that it has attracted international attention among acknowledged biologists and radiation experts.

The girls got really surprised by the sudden attention from all around the world.

“It has been such a rollercoaster ride. I still cannot believe it”, says Lea Nielsen, one of the girls.

“It’s totally overwhelming and exciting. It’s just not something you experience every day”. added Mathilde Nielsen, another girl from the group.

It all started because they found it difficult to concentrate during the school day:

“We all think we have experienced difficulty concentrating in school, if we had slept with the phone next to our head, and sometimes also experienced having difficulty sleeping”, explains Lea Nielsen.

So here is what they did:

They took 400 cress seeds and placed them in 12 trays. Then, they placed 6 trays in 2 separate rooms at the same temperature. They gave the same amount of water and sun to all the trays for 12 days.

However, 6 of the trays were put next to two [Wi-Fi] routers. Such routers broadcast the same type of radiation as an ordinary mobile.

After 12 days what the result spoke was clear: cress seeds next to the router did not grow, and some of them were even mutated or dead.

The unexposed cress
The unexposed cress
The exposed cress
The exposed cress

“It is truly frightening that there is so much affect, so we were very shocked by the result”, says Lea.

Olle Johansson, a renowned professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is one of the impressed researchers.

He will now repeat the experiment with a Belgian research colleague, Professor Marie-Claire Cammaert at the Université libre de Bruxelles.

According to him, this is absolutely brilliant:

“The girls stayed within the scope of their knowledge, skilfully implemented and developed a very elegant experiment. The wealth of detail and accuracy is exemplary, choosing cress was very intelligent, and I could go on”, he says.

He is not slow to send them an invitation to go on the road:

“I sincerely hope that they spend their future professional life in researching, because I definitely think they have a natural aptitude for it. Personally, I would love to see these people in my team!”

The students

But the experiment proved something really huge. Something the majority of the world does without knowing the consequences.

“None of us sleep with the mobile next to the bed anymore. Either the phone is put far away, or it is put in another room. And the computer is always off”, says Lea.

If your bed is close to a WiFi Router we strongly advise to change the bed’s or the router’s location. And when it is time to sleep, leave the technology where its place is.

Source:lifecoachcode.com

Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits.


Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed.

The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons.
The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons. 

Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

The missing islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5-12.4 acres) were not inhabited by humans.

But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found.

Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas.
Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas. 

One was Nuatambu island, home to 25 families, which has lost 11 houses and half its inhabitable area since 2011, the research said.

The study is the first that scientifically “confirms the numerous anecdotal accounts from across the Pacific of the dramatic impacts of climate change on coastlines and people,” the researchers wrote in a separate commentary on an academic website.

The scientists used aerial and satellite images dating back to 1947 of 33 islands, as well as traditional knowledge and radiocarbon dating of trees for their findings.

The study raises questions about the role of government in relocation planning, said a Solomon Islands official.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/maps/embed/may/2016-05-10T01:00:49.html
Map of Nuatambu Island.

“This ultimately calls for support from development partners and international financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund,” Melchior Mataki, head of the Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Council, was quoted as saying in the commentary.

The Green Climate Fund, part of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was founded to help countries deal with climate change.

Ad hoc relocation has occurred on the islands, the study said. Several Nuatambu islanders moved to a neighbouring, higher volcanic island, the study said. Other people were forced to move from the island of Nararo.

Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, is among those who had to relocate from Nararo. He told researchers: “The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea.”

Source:www.theguardian.com

Smoking causes one in ten deaths globally, major new study reveals.


Efforts to control tobacco have paid off, says study, but warns tobacco epidemic is far from over, with 6.4m deaths attributed to smoking in 2015 alone

 Students wearing masks with no smoking signs attend an anti-smoking lecture in Fuyang, China. More than a million deaths a year in China are from smoking related diseases.
Students wearing masks with no smoking signs attend an anti-smoking lecture in Fuyang, China. More than a million deaths a year in China are from smoking related diseases. 

One in 10 deaths around the world is caused by smoking, according to a major new study that shows the tobacco epidemic is far from over and that the threat to lives is spreading across the globe.

There were nearly one billion smokers in 2015, in spite of tobacco control policies having been adopted by many countries. That number is expected to rise as the world’s population expands. One in every four men is a smoker and one in 20 women. Their lives are likely to be cut short – smoking is the second biggest risk factor for early death and disability after high blood pressure.

The researchers found there were 6.4m deaths attributed to smoking in 2015, of which half were in just four populous countries – China, India, USA, and Russia.

Major efforts to control tobacco have paid off, according to the study published by the Lancet medical journal. A World Health Organisation treaty in 2005 ratified by 180 countries recommends measures including smoking bans in public places, high taxes in cigarettes and curbs on advertising and marketing.

Between 1990 and 2015, smoking prevalence dropped from 35% to 25% among men and 8% to 5% among women. High income countries and Latin America – especially Brazil which brought in tough curbs on tobacco – achieved the biggest drops in numbers of smokers.

But many countries have made marginal progress since the treaty was agreed, say the authors of the study from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in the US. And although far more men smoke than women, there have been bigger reductions in the proportions of men smoking also, with minimal changes among women.

Senior author Dr Emmanuela Gakidou said there were 933m daily smokers in 2015, which she called “a very shocking number”. The paper focused only on those who smoke every day. “The toll of tobacco is likely to be much larger if we include occasional smokers and former smokers and people who use other tobacco products like smokeless tobacco. This is on the low end of how important tobacco is,” she told the Guardian.

There is much more that needs to be done, she said. “There is a widespread notion that the war on tobacco has been won but I think our evidence shows that we need renewed and sustained efforts because the toll of smoking in 2015 is much larger than most people would think, so we absolutely have a lot more to do. We need new and improved strategies to do it and a lot of effort and political will.”

Traditionally there have been far fewer women smoking around the world than men, but it was a huge problem for both, she said.

“There are some really worrisome findings – for example in Russia female smoking has increased in the last 25 years significantly. There are also some western European countries where about one in three women are smoking. So it is true globally that a lot fewer women smoke than men but there are some countries where it is a big problem for women,” she said.

Dr Kelly Henning of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is committed to tobacco control and co-funded the study with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “I think the study highlights the fact that the work is not finished on tobacco. The good news is the decline in daily smoking among men and women … however there are still many smokers in the world and there is still a lot of work to do. I think we have to keep our eye on the issue and really do more.”

Countries with some of the highest death tolls such as China and Indonesia “really don’t need those health problems – they have so many other issues they are trying to address. But tobacco control is critically important in those places,” she said.

“China has more than a million deaths a year from smoking related diseases and China is only beginning to see the effects of their high male smoking rate. That is only one instance of what is expected to become an extremely major epidemic,” she said.

Writing in a linked comment, Professor John Britton from the University of Nottingham said: “Responsibility for this global health disaster lies mainly with the transnational tobacco companies, which clearly hold the value of human life in very different regard to most of the rest of humanity.” British American Tobacco, for instance, sold 665bn cigarettes in 2015 and made a £5.2bn profit.

“Today, the smoking epidemic is being exported from the rich world to low-income and middle-income countries, slipping under the radar while apparently more immediate priorities occupy and absorb scarce available human and financial resources,” he writes. “The epidemic of tobacco deaths will progress inexorably throughout the world until and unless tobacco control is recognised as an immediate priority for development, investment, and research.”

Source:/www.theguardian.com

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