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General Health

A Member of Congress Just Issued a Warning to the World Bank: ‘Stop Privatizing Water’
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By Jesse Bragg / AlterNet Around the globe, people’s access to water is being threatened every day by one of the most powerful institutions on the globe—the World Bank. Under the guise of development, the World Bank and its investment arm, the International Finance Corporation, invest hundreds of millions in water privatization schemes that reduce access to water, increase costs and have a devastating impact on people. What’s worse is that the IFC often positions itself to profit from these projects, creating an irreconcilable conflict of interest. But one congresswoman just took a stand against this threat that could mean the beginning of the end of the World Bank’s harmful water-for-profit pursuits. In a letter, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) demanded the World Bank cease all promotion and financing of these projects pending an external review and congressional hearings on conflicts of interest. Because Moore is the ranking member of a subcommittee with direct World Bank oversight, it has no choice but to listen. The letter, addressed to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, describes the failure of a World Bank-backed water privatization project in Manila, Philippines—the “success story” the IFC uses in marketing around the world—as the foundation of her concern. In Manila, the IFC advised the government to contract with two private corporations to manage the city’s water system, which it did in 1997 in a concession deal that favored one corporation, Manila Water Company, with less debt and better infrastructure. The IFC subsequently took part ownership in MWC only. Since taking over, MWC has raised rates nearly 850 percent, and has even brought the Manila regulator—and the Philippines Department of Finance—into arbitration in an attempt to hike the cost of water even higher. As part owner of MWC, the IFC is now in direct opposition to the government’s efforts to keep water affordable for its people. And while the IFC has stood by MWC, it has made $43 million from its initial investment. Regrettably, these shady dealings aren’t unique to Manila. Recently, as adviser to the government in Kigali, Rwanda, the IFC awarded a 27-year public-private partnership contract to a subsidiary of Metito—in which IFC also has an ownership stake. As if that weren’t enough, it also approved a $14 million loan to the corporation as part of the deal. These deals create a perverse incentive for the World Bank to try to squeeze money out of the very people it’s supposed to be helping. Thanks to organizing and powerful leaders like Moore, the World Bank’s course could be changing. In the face of campaigning and public scrutiny, the IFC divested its ownership stake in global water privatizer Veolia in 2014. And in Lagos, Nigeria, a popular movement against a proposed privatization project has brought the World Bank to its knees, forcing it to drop its goal of securing a private sector contract for the water sys [...]
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Former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg named in massive conspiracy and racketeering lawsuit involving Johnson & Johnson, a Wall Street hedge fund, and the Levaquin drug
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The former head of the FDA, Margaret Hamburg, used the federal agency to run a massive conspiracy of racketeering and fraud in order to generate millions of dollars in drug company profits for her husband's hedge fund firm, alleges a damning lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit alleges that while acting as FDA commissioner, Margaret Hamburg engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to approve an extremely dangerous drug known to cause severe (and even deadly) side effects, in order to financially benefit her husband's hedge fund which held very large financial positions in Johnson & Johnson, makers of the drug. "Defendants, each and every one of them, operated a criminal conspiracy at least between the years 2009 to 2015 to fraudulently suppress warnings about the devastating effects of Levaquin," says the complaint. "This Amended Complaint sets forth allegations that involve a conspiracy by Defendants, each and every one of them, to reap large financial returns by failing to disclose to Plaintiffs and the public at large the full extent of the devastating, life-threatening, and deadly effects of a highly dangerous pharmaceutical drug named Levaquin," reads the opening of the lawsuit. The conspiracy complaint also alleges that over 5,000 people died as a result of Hamburg's conspiracy cover-up at the FDA: Once confirmed as FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg acted as the instrumentality that all Defendants used to perpetrate their conspiracy and racketeering enterprise by having her act illegally and outside the scope of her authority as FDA Commissioner to suppress material information to Plaintiffs and the public that Levaquin was inherently dangerous and in fact, deadly. Had this information been disclosed to Plaintiffs and the public at large, her and her husband's financial gain and net worth would have plummeted, since Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg's husband, Peter F. Brown, reaped and continues to reap huge financial gain as a result of Renaissance Technologies, L.L.C.'s holdings of Johnson & Johnson stock. To further this conspiracy, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, acting in concert with each and every Defendant, jointly and severally, appointed officials of Johnson & Johnson to key FDA Advisory Committees and colluded with Johnson & Johnson and its officials and subsidiaries to suppress information about the dangerous and deadly effects of Levaquin. As a result, during Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg's tenure as FDA Commissioner from 2009 to 2015, over 5,000 people died as a result of consuming Levaquin and other dangerous drugs promoted, manufactured, marketed, distributed and sold by Johnson & Johnson, suffered debilitating, life-threatening, and deadly illnesses and effects. This deadly harm is continuing as Plaintiffs and thousands of other people are suffering and dying from the highly dangerous effects of Levaquin. "Both Alkermes and Johnson & Johnson stock v [...]
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Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption
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An advertisement for Paxil in The American Journal of Psychiatry, October 1999; from Christopher Lane’s Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness. Paxil is one of the drugs about which unfavorable research has been suppressed by pharmaceutical companies. Recently Senator Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has been looking into financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the academic physicians who largely determine the market value of prescription drugs. He hasn’t had to look very hard. Take the case of Dr. Joseph L. Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. Thanks largely to him, children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age. Legally, physicians may use drugs that have already been approved for a particular purpose for any other purpose they choose, but such use should be based on good published scientific evidence. That seems not to be the case here. Biederman’s own studies of the drugs he advocates to treat childhood bipolar disorder were, as The New York Times summarized the opinions of its expert sources, “so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive.” In June, Senator Grassley revealed that drug companies, including those that make drugs he advocates for childhood bipolar disorder, had paid Biederman $1.6 million in consulting and speaking fees between 2000 and 2007. Two of his colleagues received similar amounts. After the revelation, the president of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the chairman of its physician organization sent a letter to the hospital’s physicians expressing not shock over the enormity of the conflicts of interest, but sympathy for the beneficiaries: “We know this is an incredibly painful time for these doctors and their families, and our hearts go out to them.” Or consider Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg, chair of Stanford’s psychiatry department and president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. Senator Grassley found that Schatzberg controlled more than $6 million worth of stock in Corcept Therapeutics, a company he cofounded that is testing mifepristone—the abortion drug otherwise known as RU-486—as a treatment for psychotic depression. At the same time, Schatzberg was the principal investigator on a National Institute of Mental Health grant that included research on mifepristone for this use and he was coauthor of three papers on the subject. In a statement released in late June, Stanford professed to see nothing amiss in this arrangement, although a month later, the university’s counsel announced that it was temporarily replacing Schatzberg as principal inv [...]
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US Government Report Admits Poisoning Drinking Water Of Millions
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The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a shocking report that says drinking water across the United States is being knowingly contaminated with dangerous poisons by the federal government. According to the GAO, the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to protect underground drinking water supplies from oilfield contamination, and been grossly negligent in allowing companies to dump wastewater into aquifers – putting the health of millions of citizens at risk. Offthegridnews.com reports: The report blasts the EPA for its oversight in California, where, since 2014, the state has allowed oil companies to violate safe-drinking water laws. An AP analysis in 2015 found that California had handed out 2,000 permits giving oil companies permission to dump wastewater into federally protected drinking water. The tragedy impacted at least 11 aquifers. “It shows a massive failure to protect our drinking water,” Kassie Siegel, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, told AP. “The takeaway overall is that the EPA doesn’t collect and states don’t provide the information for the EPA to exercise the oversight that’s its job.” The GAO report found that the “EPA has not consistently conducted oversight activities necessary to assess whether state and EPA-managed programs are protecting underground sources of drinking water.” “For example,” the report found, “GAO found in June 2014 that EPA does not consistently conduct oversight activities, such as annual on-site program evaluations.”The EPA mostly agreed with the report, AP [...]
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Chemical Exposure Linked to Escalating Healthcare Costs
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By Dr. Mercola While the World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 4 deaths are related to living and working in a toxic environment1,2,3,4 — with air pollution being the greatest contributor—your diet, personal care, and common household products likely pose the most immediate risk to your and your family’s health. Repeated tests have confirmed that those who eat primarily organic foods tend to have far lower levels of toxins in their system. Your choice of household goods, building materials, and furniture can also play a role, as many contain toxic chemicals like flame retardants and formaldehyde. Do You Have Toxic Flooring in Your Home? In fact, according to a recent report5 by the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, formaldehyde in certain laminate floors may pose a greater health risk than previously suspected. Not only does the report say that everyone exposed can experience some adverse health effects, the lifetime cancer risk is also higher than previously estimated. These issues are specifically associated with laminate wood flooring produced in China and sold by Lumber Liquidators. The company announced it stopped selling this type of flooring last year, but if you already have it installed in your house, it may pose a hidden, long-term health risk to everyone in your home. According to CNN:6 “The lifetime cancer risk increased from the previous estimate of 2 to 9 extra cases for every 100,000 people to between 6 and 30 extra cases per 100,000 people... Individuals who have this type of flooring should take steps to reduce exposure, including opening windows daily to get fresh air, using exhaust fans and reducing other sources of formaldehyde, such as tobacco smoke. Anyone with the floors who is experiencing symptoms such as eye irritation and breathing difficulty should seek medical attention. Professional air testing should be considered if symptoms are persistent.” On March 22, 2016, Lumber Liquidators Inc. paid a $2.5 million settlement to the California Air Resources Board7 over charges that the company "failed to take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure those products met such limits designed to protect public health." Toxic Burden Becoming Evident in Health Statistics Health statistics suggest the toxic burden is becoming too great for children and adults alike, and warnings have been issued by a number of different organizations, agencies, and health experts around the world. Dr. David Bellinger, a professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School estimates Americans have lost a total of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphate pesticides.9 A recent report10,11 by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics12 warns that chemical exposures now represent a major threat to human health and reproduction. An Endocrine [...]
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