Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Zimbabwe's historic anthrax epizootic: new analysis

A paper has been published here and, while in draft form, discussed at length here, which reanalyzes the features of Zimbabwe's anthrax epizootic, which began in 1978 and slowly tailed off after 1980.

The authors include an MD and geography specialists from the University of Nevada, Reno.  The first author, James M. Wilson, MD, has founded a center to investigate and forecast epidemics.  From his bio:
Director, Nevada State Infectious Disease Forecast Station @ the University of Nevada-Reno.This is the first operational infectious disease forecast station in the United States that operates at the state level. 
The group has done a great job collecting information about weather (temperature, rainfall), soils, outbreak locations, possible means of spread, and number of animals and humans affected, as well as the movement of the epidemic over time.  The group has pulled together the detail needed to create maps and tables that convey how the epidemic evolved chronologically.

The authors have [as I believe I did in 1992] put to rest a number of unsupported theories as to the nature of the epidemic, and confirmed that the geographic "hops" anthrax made are not explained by natural occurrences.  The authors confirm that anthrax cases extended to the borders of Zimbabwe, but remained confined within Zimbabwe's boundaries. Adjoining countries experienced no similar epizootic.

The authors agree that the vast majority of human cases were associated with exposure to anthrax-contaminated animals, hides or meat.

Of interest, a number of anonymous commenters were extremely critical of Wilson's paper as it was in progress.  Their arguments were mostly specious, and I would be able to knock each down if it was useful to do so; I did knock down a few, then stopped sparring with anonymous critics.  If the critics were serious, presumably they would have used their names.  What was interesting was the concerted attack on Wilson, some 38 years since the onset of the epizootic, to deny the event could have been due to biological warfare.  Yet there is no other explanation, consistent with the facts, that has ever been put forward.

Wilson's paper also makes clear that the 2015 report on this epizootic, by Stephan P. Velsko from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), self-published by LLNL, is not worth the paper it is printed on. Velsko ditched the facts and built a house of cards based on his own inferences about the epidemic, providing an example of the extreme lengths a so-called scientific exercise can be taken to turn the scientific method on its head. I criticized his work here.

Wilson reported that I had been living in Zimbabwe at the time of the epizootic.  Actually, I was living in the US.  I travelled to Zimbabwe to study the epizootic in 1992, and did a poster presentation on the epizootic in Nairobi at the International Society for Infectious Diseases in July 1992, making the argument that the many unique features of this epizootic could only be explained as an act of biological warfare.  Margarete Isaakson, a South African infectious disease scientist with likely connections to Project Coast, and an interest in Ebola, screamed at me in Nairobi for daring to present such rubbish. I believe this was because I came too close to her area of expertise.

Nothing has changed since Zimbabwe's tragic epizootic.  Biowarfare is a horrible mode of warfare that has not been eradicated, identifying it is controversial, and developing the scientific tools that allow one to definitively identify when an act of offensive biowarefare has been used, shifts the balance of power from the perpetrators to the investigators and to those who were attacked.  That seems a very fair power shift, but it isn't to everyone's liking. (What makes biological warfare especially attractive is the ability to hide that it actually occurred, and who caused it.) Scientific studies that remove this advantage are, unsurprisingly, being attacked.

The attacks, mostly spurious, that Wilson has received for his paper tell us there are still many people who would keep the whole subject under wraps.

Finally, despite a 2010 paper by Fasanella et al. that flies can transmit anthrax spores in the lab (and several similar earlier papers going back decades have found the same thing), the problem is the flies' failure to transmit enough spores or viable vegetative forms to cause illness in livestock, because on the order of one million spores is required to achieve an infectious dose. It is much more likely that flies could transmit anthrax to rodents, for whom several orders of magnitude fewer organisms are required.  But in nature, they do not seem to do this, either.  So much for the fly theory.

While I am pleased this subject is getting the careful attention it deserves, I wonder why it is getting it now?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

COMMENTARY Death By A Thousand Clicks: Leading Boston Doctors Decry Electronic Medical Records/ WBUR

It happens every day, in exam rooms across the country, something that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago: Doctors and nurses turn away from their patients and focus their attention elsewhere — on their computer screens.
By the time the doctor can finally turn back to her patient, she will have spent close to half of the appointment serving not the needs of her patient, but of the electronic medical record.
Electronic medical records, or EMRs, were supposed to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care, and provide instant access to vital patient information.
Instead, EMRs have become the bane of doctors and nurses everywhere. They are the medical equivalent of texting while driving, sucking the soul out of the practice of medicine while failing to improve care.
To fix them, hospital administrators and clinicians need to work together to demand better products from EMR manufacturers and to urge government to relax several provisions of the HITECH Act, the 2009 law that spawned many of the problems with EMRs.
How did technology that has increased efficiency in every other industry become such a drag on health care? For starters, people who take care of patients did not design or choose these systems. They were foisted upon us.
Doctors and nurses know that good diagnosis and treatment requires listening attentively to their patients. They spend years learning to parse the clues that patients offer, both the physiological and personal, in order to provide the right care.
To do this well takes time and undivided attention.
Making sense of a patient’s blood panel means knowing the patient’s work and eating habits, and where he or she may have traveled. We need to know if the patient is experiencing a traumatic life event, like the death of a parent or domestic abuse, in order to interpret an elevated blood pressure.
Instead of making this easier, most EMRs create extra work. A lot of extra work, thanks to endless prompts with multiple choice answers that hardly ever fit the facts and that demand click after click to get anything done.
Want to order a simple test? That requires getting through multiple prompts. Need to write a prescription -- an exercise that used to take less than 15 seconds? Another set of clicks.
Typing, filing, mailing results and placing referrals all used to be done by assistants. Now, EMRs put that burden on clinicians, and we must do it during office visits, or “encounters,” as EMRs call them. And when the wrong button is clicked, the wrong test or drug is ordered, or it does not go through at all, delaying medical care.
It’s death by a thousand clicks, and it happens every day.
We are frustrated by EMRs because they pull us away from our patients. We are driven mad by the fact that EMRs in different locations do not talk to each other. And we think it’s just wrong that much of the EMR’s busywork is about optimizing billing for the hospital.
Who is to blame? Start with EMR manufacturers, who lobbied Congress to require every hospital and doctor’s office to install an EMR system; hospital administrators who bought technology that conveniently pushed billing duties onto doctors and nurses; and federal regulators, who imposed on EMRs numerous quality metric requirements that do nothing to improve care.
We do not want to go backward. We believe that computing is essential to the future of medicine. We simply want all EMRs to live up to their promise of improving care and making patient information readily available.
Thousands of doctors in Boston and across the country are expressing the same frustration, through gritted teeth, between exasperated sighs, and in resignation letters. EMRs are driving too many health care providers to hang up their scrubs and white coats in search of work that is less infuriating and more fulfilling.
As we continue to debate how our country will finance an equitable health care system for all, we need a long-term strategy to address this crisis in health care delivery.
The public and private institutions of this city have long and illustrious histories of leadership in health care. Now is the time to embrace that tradition and do something about EMRs. We plan to hold town hall meetings to give providers, patients and community members a chance to discuss how to address the problems of EMRs. We invite executives and administrators from all our hospital systems to participate.
The sound of medicine is not the click of a mouse. It is the human voice. Let’s bring it back, for the sake of our patients’ health and our own sanity.

Friday, May 5, 2017

How the federal government helps make healthcare unaffordable/ Medscape

One big contributor to ridiculously high administrative costs of medicine in the US is the federal government.

Constantly changing federal rules seem to aim for complexity.  Compliance is nearly impossible for small medical practices, because Medicare changes its rules every few months. Doctors have to play by its rules, but it is very difficult to keep up with them.  Medicare feels no need to issue its rules on time, even after it announces their schedule for release.

Here is an example from today's Medscape.  Just remember that YOU are paying for this nonsense, and it is one reason that healthcare has basically become unaffordable in the US:
"The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that by the end of May, it will notify all clinicians who are eligible for payment under the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). One of two payment tracks in CMS' Quality Payment Program, MIPS was launched January 1. Physicians who are subject to MIPS will have their performance on quality, electronic health record (EHR) use, and practice improvement measured this year to determine positive or negative payment adjustments in 2019.
Physicians and other clinicians are subject to MIPS if they bill more than $30,000 a year in Medicare Part B allowed charges a year and provide care for more than 100 Part B–enrolled Medicare beneficiaries annually. They are exempt from MIPS, however, if they receive a specified percentage of income from one of several care delivery models that are known as advanced alternative payment models.
CMS originally said it would notify clinicians who must participate in MIPS by last December, before the 2017 performance measurement period began. But CMS failed to do that, leaving many physicians and group practices in limbo... 
CMS recently released a list of "qualified registries" clinicians can use to report their quality data, he said. But the agency has not issued a list of approved "qualified clinical data registries." The qualified registries are mainly offered by EHR vendors, which can charge hefty fees for the service. In contrast, the more reasonably priced qualified clinical data registries are operated by specialty societies and quality improvement collaboratives.
Gilberg views this omission as a challenge for some practices that want to report more data to CMS this year to qualify for a bonus in 2019... 
CMS' requirement that all MIPS participants use 2015 Edition EHRs presents practices with another quandary. So far, only two major EHR vendors, Epic and Allscripts, have had their 2015 Edition EHRs certified by the government. There is serious concern in the industry that the bulk of eligible clinicians will not have 2015 EHRs by the start of the 2018 reporting period....

Thursday, May 4, 2017

US Medicine is a Racket: 10 Examples by Elisabeth Rosenthal, MD

Former NY Times journalist and non-practicing physician Elisabeth Rosenthal's new book, An American Sickness, lists 10 economic "rules" of US medicine that are guaranteed to make money, but not to improve outcomes:
  1. More treatment is always better. Default to the most expensive option.
  2. A lifetime of treatment is better than a cure.
  3. Amenities and marketing matter more than good care.
  4. As technologies age, prices can rise rather than fall.
  5. There is no free choice. Patients are stuck. And they're stuck buying American.
  6. More competitors vying for business doesn't mean better prices; it can drive prices up, not down.
  7. Economies of scale don't translate to lower prices. With their market power, big providers can simply demand more.
  8. There is no such thing as a fixed price for a procedure or test. And the uninsured pay the highest prices of all.
  9. There are no standards for billing. There's money to be made in billing for anything and everything.
  10. Prices will rise to whatever the market will bear.
Here is a review of her book.  I am thrilled this book is getting the attention it deserves: for without understanding what our health care system has become, there is no way to make the changes needed for it to work for the People, and their medical providers.

NSA collected Americans' phone records despite law change: report/ Reuters

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) just issued a report that said the NSA had FISA court permission to spy on less than 100 people (terrorism suspects) in 2016, but it collected information on 150 million phone calls instead.

You might ask how NSA whittled down the billions of phone calls made in the US last year to 150 million.  Or you might remember that a former top NSA official, Bill Binney, told us in 2014 that NSA collects not only the metadata, but the entire conversation, of most phone calls:
At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
And then you might call the ODNI report a "limited hangout"--designed to make us think we are getting the "real truth" at last, when in fact this new "admission" barely scratches the surface of what is truly happening.

Today I was sent a short guide on achieving internet privacy, designed for journalists.  I have my doubts that true privacy is possible, especially for journalists handling issues related to "national security," but there do exist methods to make it harder for the snoops. This free guide, by Michael Dagan, may be worth a look if you need to beef up your security.

Below is from the Reuters story on the ODNI admission:

The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 151 million records of Americans' phone calls last year, even after Congress limited its ability to collect bulk phone records, according to an annual report issued on Tuesday by the top U.S. intelligence officer.
The report from the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was the first measure of the effects of the 2015 USA Freedom Act, which limited the NSA to collecting phone records and contacts of people U.S. and allied intelligence agencies suspect may have ties to terrorism.
It found that the NSA collected the 151 million records even though it had warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court to spy on only 42 terrorism suspects in 2016, in addition to a handful identified the previous year.
The NSA has been gathering a vast quantity of telephone "metadata," records of callers' and recipients' phone numbers and the times and durations of the calls - but not their content - since the September 11, 2001, attacks...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

French intelligence service piles on with more anti-Assad nonsense--here's why it is BS

According to the LA Times and echoed by many other outlets, 
"France’s foreign ministry says deadly sarin gas used in a chemical attack in Syria this month that killed 87 people “bears the signature” of President Bashar Assad’s government.
A six-page report by French intelligence services claims the nerve agent came from hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons that Damascus was supposed to have destroyed under an U.S.- and Russian-brokered deal in 2013."
Here is what you should be aware of as you sift this latest news:

1.  Assad gave up 1300 tons (2,600,000 pounds) of his chemical weapons in 2013-14.  They were moved out of Syria, loaded on ships, and destroyed by portable shipboard factories far offshore.  This complicated, non-transparent process, which was completed far from prying eyes in the middle of the ocean, lent itself to transferring stocks of Assad's sarin and mustard gas to unknown third parties.

Damascus was not given the option of destroying its own weapons, nor was it even considered safe to do so in a war zone.  The chemical weapons had to be handed over to the West.

Who might now have some of the [allegedly destroyed] sarin and mustard gas that Assad offered up for destruction?

2.  Since chemical and biological weapons may leave a chemical or genetic signature, and since a major advantage of such weapons is the difficulty of identifying a perpetrator, the smart players do their best to create chem/bio weapons that leave the signature of someone else. 

3.  If you know the chemical signature of a chemical or biological weapon, even if you cannot obtain someone else's material, you may be able to reverse engineer a specific signature and impute an attack to your enemy.

4.  Seymour Hersh and others have noted that weapons from Gaddafi's stockpile were sent from Libya through Turkey to Syria to be given to anti-Assad rebel forces, in a complicated maneuver engineered by the CIA.  Sarin was alleged to have been found by police, who arrested al-Nusra rebels in Turkey with 2 kg. of sarin.  Using Gaddifi's arms gave the CIA plausible deniability of involvement.

Anyone giving sarin to Syrian 'rebels' would expect its use to be attributed to Assad.

It should not be lost on the reader that, according to Hersh, the US has established a track record of transferring someone else's sarin to Syrian rebels, so its use would be imputed to Assad.  In other words, there has already been CIA connivance in a complex operation to create false flag chemical attacks in Syria, in 2013.

5.  The UN report on chemical weapons attacks in Syria in 2013 did not blame Assad for them, and a commissioner of the 
Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Carla del Ponte, described evidence favoring the rebels as the perpetrators.

6.  Since no Syrian sarin attacks have ever been demonstrated conclusively to be due to Assad or to anyone else (rumors and claims abound, but definite proof has been elusive), France's claim that the recent sarin is from Assad because it matched sarin from an earlier attack is utter nonsense, since we don't know the source of the earlier sarin signature.

7.  The French intelligence service authored this report.  And the US intelligence services authored the 2003 report of Iraq's WMD, and claimed the 2013 sarin attacks were due to Assad (without proof, read the report here).  US and UK intelligence services had something to do with the Trump "golden showers" dossier of trash.

These intelligence services were all carrying out their missions, which sadly have become propaganda, not intelligence. 

8.  There was no motive for Assad to use chemical weapons in 2013, and no motive today.  Each time sarin was allegedly used, was after his army had made recent impressive gains. Instead, strategically, Assad had much to lose from employing sarin.  

Read what a former State Department insider had to say about the unlikelihood Assad used chemical weapons in 2013, in an article in the Atlantic.

9.   When you consider the background to the claims about Syria's chemical weapons, the series of stories blaming Assad for attacking his people with sarin this month make less and less sense.  

10.  Instead, it seems we are reliving Judith Miller's series of false NY Times stories that provided the drumbeat to war in Iraq, in 2002-3. We should not be fooled again. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why Aren't the Mass Media Asking Where Assad got Sarin, What Ambassador Stevens was doing in Benghazi, and Why al-Nusra was caught with Chemical Weapons in Turkey?

1.  The 2013 sarin attacks in Syria, despite efforts to pin it on Assad, were never proven to come from the Syrian government. On the contrary, the chemical weapons were probably supplied to al-Nusra Front 'rebels' by agents of Turkey.  In 2014 Seymour Hersh wrote:

British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff...
Last May [2013], more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin...
A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack.
2.  Did you ever wonder why Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was even in Benghazi, at a 'consulate,' when his embassy was in Tripoli?  He was checking on an arms ratline set up by the CIA/ General Petraeus to funnel weapons from (slain) Gaddafi's arsenal to Syrian rebels, to be used against Assad.  From Seymour Hersh:
A highly classified annex to the [Senate Intelligence Committee] report [on the death of Ambassador Stevens], not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria...
 ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’
... The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.
3.  Only Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey -- and the 'rebel' troops they have supported-- had a motive to use gas.  The obvious motive was to create a false flag attack that would draw the west (the US, UK and France) into active war against Syria, after Obama laid down a red line in 2012. Both in 2013, and 2017 (here and here), it appeared the Syrian government was coming close to beating the opposition.  And then there was sarin.

4.  While Obama was initially prepared to wage a hot war in 2013, once he learned the charges against Assad for the chemical weapons attacks did not stand up, and that our allies knew this, he backed off.  He left it to Congress to decide on war, and the impetus for an attack quickly died.  When David Cameron called for a Parliamentary vote to attack Syria, he lost.  Seymour Hersh claims that at a 2013 face-to-face meeting,  

Erdoğan said [to Obama], ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “f***ing waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing [supplying sarin] with the radicals in Syria.’
5.  To prevent the US waging war on Syria, all Syria's chemical weapons (1300 tons) were offered up by Assad, and destroyed, in 2014.  At least, this is what was claimed by Secretary of State Kerry, and by National Security Advisor Rice

But the Wall Street Journal and the Times of Israel said no, despite destroying the bulk of his weapons, Assad held some back.  From the Israeli Times:

Assad “hid caches of even deadlier nerve agents” than the ones he gave up.
“A new intelligence assessment says Mr. Assad may be poised to use his secret chemical reserves to defend regime strongholds. Another danger is that he could lose control of the chemicals, or give them to Hezbollah.
6.  It is infuriating that the US media and armed forces can attack Assad over "more" sarin gas attacks -- when he was never proven to be responsible for any previous attacks.

Had governments and media told the truth about what they knew back in 2013, we would be less likely to be suckered into a war now on the basis of false allegations. We the People could weigh the evidence for ourselves.  Instead, we get rehashed baloney from the mass media.

 The fake media's sins of omission (avoiding giving us the facts) are equally as serious as its sins of commission (its lies and slanted stories).  We need new, honest, Peoples' Media.  Thank God for the internet.

7.  UPDATE:  See Michel Chossudovsky's piece from today with references to the UN and the Daily Mail (2013) stating that US and allies were involved in chemical weapons training of Syrian rebels.

8.  UPDATE:  And if you really want to weep about US foreign policy, read this piece I posted in March, 2016 from the LA Times titled "In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA."

Friday, April 7, 2017

Syria's 2013 gas attacks were all false flags. Why would Assad in 2017, nearly winning his war, use gas and incite a US response?

I wrote about Syria's earlier gas attacks, in 2013.  There was never any evidence linking Syrian government troops or the Assad government to the attacks then.  No proof in the document given to the UN.  And the US report making the case to Congress admittedly was full of unsubstantiated claims and guesswork.  After initially pushing for action, France did a U-turn when the lack of evidence became obvious.  UK Prime Minister David Cameron was halted by a vote in Parliament from going to war over the gas attacks. From the Aug 29, 2013 Guardian:
David Cameron indicated on Thursday evening that Britain would not take part in military action against Syria after the British government lost a crucial vote on an already watered-down amendment that was designed to pave the way to intervention in the war-torn country.
Even 'fake news' CNN pointed out the inconsistencies, back then.  I and others noted that (just like today) Assad had no motive for such an attack, which could only hurt him.  See 2013 coverage by the AP and the Atlantic.

Putin then brokered a deal in which Assad agreed to give up all his chemical weapons (the same ones the US and Russia still have).  Portable factories that destroy chemical weapons were brought in, and all chemical weapons were turned over and destroyed.

Secretary of State Kerry confirmed the complete removal of chemical weapons from Syria on NBC's "Meet the Press" on July 20, 2014.   He said
Russia has been constructive in helping to remove 100% of the declared chemical weapons from Syria. In fact, that was an agreement we made months ago. And it never faltered, even during these moments of conflict.
Fast forward 3 years, and we are again alleging that Assad used his (destroyed in 2014) chemical weapons on his own people.  Oops, no.  That was yesterday.

Alleging Assad's use of chemical weapons is over; the claims have morphed into pounding Syria with Tomahawk cruise missiles and plenty more.

The Deep State apparatchiks (HillaryPelosiSchumerMcCain, etc.) are celebrating. But the Congressmembers also want a piece of this war action.  For example:
“This week’s unspeakable chemical weapons attack is only the latest in a long series of horrors perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad on innocent men, women and children,” Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement issued on the attacks in Syria. “Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the the regime’s use of chemical weapons. If the President intends to escalate the U.S. military’s involvement in Syria, he must to come to Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force which is tailored to meet the threat and prevent another open-ended war in the Middle East.”
Arrangements that helped avoid clashes between US and Russian planes/missiles/troops have now been shredded. This is not good.

Gold, the dollar, and oil prices are up.  Tillerson should be pleased.

Meanwhile, Trump's base believes it has been double-crossed. Candidate Trump promised less war.  Pundit Trump criticized Obama for even considering war in Syria, back in 2013.

Whether Trump continues to obey the will of the shadow government/deep state remains to be seen.  But today he has lost his supporters, those in the 99% who know the cost of war falls on their shoulders... while some of those in the 1% reap the spoils.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

US government spent over $500m on fake Al-Qaeda propaganda videos that tracked location of viewers/The Independent

The US government spent half a $Billion (yes, with a B) on a UK public relations firm to make fake videos that were supposedly made by al Qaeda (and, I read elsewhere, ISIS.)
A former contractor for a UK-based public relations firm says that the Pentagon paid more than half a billion dollars for the production and dissemination of fake Al-Qaeda videos that portrayed the insurgent group in a negative light...  
And from Zero Hedge we get some more detail: 
According to a Bell Pottinger insider, propaganda films were categorized into three categories with “White" being accurately attributed, “Grey" being unattributed, and "Black" being falsely attributed material.  The media firm created various types ofcontent ranging from TV commercials to news items and "fake Al Qaeda propaganda films..." 
Bell Pottinger’s output was signed off by the commander of coalition forces in Iraq. Wells recalled: “We’d get the two colonels in to look at the things we’d done that day, they’d be fine with it, it would then go to General Petraeus.”

Some of the projects went even higher up the chain of command. “If [Petraeus] couldn’t sign off on it, it would go on up the line to the White House, and it was signed off up there, and the answer would come back down the line.”
Seems that reality is even more interesting than any fiction that Hollywood can conjure up.  

Legalized Marijuana Could Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic, Study Finds/ Reuters, NBC

Finally some good news!  Legalizing pot may have large, unpredicted benefits, according to NBC and this Reuters article:
In states that legalized medical marijuana, U.S. hospitals failed to see a predicted influx of pot smokers, but in an unexpected twist, they treated far fewer opioid users, a new study shows. 
Hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse dropped on average 23 percent in states after marijuana was permitted for medicinal purposes, the analysis found. Hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average. 
At the same time, fears that legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an uptick in cannabis-related hospitalizations proved unfounded, according to the report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence...

The Military’s 5 Biggest Procurement Fails Since 9/11 / Task and Purpose

Lt. Douglas Santillo administers an anthrax vaccination in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

The multi-billion dollar vaccination for Anthrax that the DoD has required many of its personnel to receive may be one of the largest scams in recent history. Despite numerous congressional inquiries, the program being shut down on multiple occasions, and scientific peer reviews questioning its ability to protect in an actual anthrax attack, the vaccine — called BioThrax — received another round of funding worth $1.25 billion in 2013. 
The company had a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman among its founders in 1998, and has spent more than $20 million on lobbying efforts — often being accused of strong-arming any emerging competition. Despite the DoD dropping them dolla-dolla bills on the vaccine, and serious side effects suffered by some military personnel who have taken it, there has never been any notable anthrax attacks on any entity in the Department of Defense. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Maine: Drug Overdose Deaths TEN TIMES higher than in 1997/ Portland Press Herald

By the end of 2016, Maine overdose deaths totaled 378, and the black and green lines were a lot steeper.  The black line was off the chart (literally).

Also note that overdose deaths from prescription (legal) narcotics have actually been stable, and fallen a little, since 2002.  Legal drugs are not a factor in the staggering increase of deaths.  While the use of legal narcotics definitely needs to be minimized, and while legal narcotics continue to be diverted and used illegally, the epidemic of opioid deaths is due to Afghan heroin and (probably Chinese) fentanyl, which are not being prevented from entering the US.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Heroin deaths skyrocket to 620% of 2002-2006 levels; fentanyl increase steeper than heroin/ NIH, CDC

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-ratesNational Overdose Deaths—Number of Deaths from Heroin.​National Overdose Deaths—Number of Deaths from Heroin. The figure above is a bar chart showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving heroin from 2002 to 2015. The chart is overlayed by a line graph showing the number of deaths of females and males. From 2002 to 2015 there was a 6.2-fold increase in the total number of deaths.

National Overdose Deaths—Number of Deaths from Heroin and Non-Methadone Synthetics.Above reflects mostly heroin plus fentanyl overdose deaths

 Graph: Number of Reported Law Enforcement Encounters Testing Positive for Fentanyl in the US: 2010 - 2015. 2010: 641; 2011: 650; 2012: 673; 2013: 1015; 2014: 5343; 2015: 13882

My collected posts on the raging epidemic of Heroin/Fentanyl, and the lies we are told about it, 2015-2016

2.  My vanished post, and important comment, recovered from the WayBackMachine, about how US heroin comes mostly from Afghanistan, not Mexico, and the US Government could easily stem the supply, if it wished to. Original title and date are below:
Saturday, January 30, 2016
NY Times' penetrating look at the heroin epidemic gets the cause and solution all wrong