Daily Archives: July 12, 2007

Overmedication of Children ‘Troubling,’ Say Experts

Psychotropic drugs particularly overused for kids in group homes

Epoch Times | Jul 12, 2007

By Cindy Chan

Experts are warning that rising numbers of Canadian children are being over-medicated with psychotropic drugs.

Vulnerable kids under the care of children’s aid societies are being given too many psychotropics, with those in group homes being over-medicated the most.

Documents recently obtained by the Globe and Mail under Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act revealed that in a random sample of five Ontario children’s aid societies, 47 percent of the children were prescribed psychotropics last year for a range of mental health diagnoses, including depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Globe article reported that this number is more than triple the rate of drug prescriptions for psychiatric problems among children in the general population.

The article said that last year prescriptions for antidepressants, including Ritalin—widely prescribed to children to treat ADHD—rose more than 47 per cent to 1.87 million. In addition, prescriptions for a new generation of antipsychotic drugs increasingly being used on children almost doubled, rising to 8.7 million.

Dr. Marty McKay, a clinical psychologist who has consulted for children’s aid societies across south-western Ontario for 31 years, cites even more alarming figures. The 47 percent rate of psychotropics used refers to all children in Crown care, including foster homes and group homes, but “if you look only at the group homes, it’s about 90 per cent, in my experience.”

‘Drug Cocktails’

McKay brought this to public attention last year after working with a patient, a now-13-year-old boy, who was prescribed a “drug cocktail” of three psychotropic drugs while living in a group home near Toronto.

“He had eight diagnoses but has none of those disorders,” she said.

The World Health Organization defines psychotropic drugs as “a loosely defined grouping of drugs that have effects on psychological function.” They include antidepressants, tranquilizers, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs.

In a “very troubling” finding, McKay said large numbers of group home children are being prescribed not just one psychotropic but cocktails of usually about three different drugs, many of them not authorized for use in children.

She says it’s unreasonable to believe so many of these children would have so many different psychiatric diagnoses.

Some of the disorders are actually the result of the drug itself, she said. For example, a child usually receives a first diagnosis of ADHD and is given Ritalin. If ineffective, the dosage is increased, leading to motor ticks, a known side effect of the drug. Instead of reducing the dosage, the child is then diagnosed with a further disorder of Tourette’s syndrome and given another drug.

McKay believes these children are not psychotic but are victims of neglect or abuse, whose anger or agitation are normal responses. She called the drugs “chemical straitjackets” and a “gross violation of children’s human rights.”

“It’s like turning [children] into zombies” since the drugs are “basically lobotomizing agents,” said McKay. “It constitutes criminal assault to forcibly give them these drugs that have such a devastating effect on their brain chemistry and learning ability.”

Studies show long-term results of risk for diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, central nervous system disorder, Parkinsonism, and liver, kidney, pancreas, and other organ damage, she said.

Group Homes

In group homes, the children’s aid workers signing consents often lack training and knowledge, said McKay. Burdened with high caseloads, they might only see a particular child once a month.

Instead of doing a thorough assessment, psychiatrists often prescribe based on group home workers’ descriptions of behaviour, or checklists filled out by a teacher or parent. The children typically are not given the right to protest or a chance to refuse treatment.

Many group homes are often private, for-profit businesses where the workers are not well educated and lack training to be able to recognize drug side effects. Although the homes are provincially regulated, the regulations only cover a few aspects, and hiring practices is not one of them, said McKay.

This is reiterated in report released last week by Ontario’s Chief Child Advocate Judy Finlay on the quality of care of three children’s aid societies.

“Typically, staff in group care are young, poorly paid with limited training and insufficient supervision. They often lack the professional qualifications, experience, and judgement required to assume the task of managing the range of behaviours and circumstances in group care.”

General Population

While the situation in group homes and child welfare is severe, a new study is prompting urgent concern about widespread overmedication among Canadian children in general.

According to research published in this June’s issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, of 212 survey respondents, 94 per cent of 176 child psychiatrists and 89 per cent of 36 developmental paediatricians across Canada are prescribing atypical antipsychotics to patients under 18 for diagnoses that included psychotic, mood, anxiety, and behaviour disorders.

Although the researchers said that these drugs are not approved for use in children, of all the prescriptions, 12 per cent went to children under nine, including some as young as three.

“These medications are currently being used off-label without clear guidelines for indications, dosing, and monitoring,” noted the report, saying there is “an urgent need for more data regarding safety and monitoring of these medications in children.”

McKay said filing a complaint with the college of physicians doesn’t achieve anything, as the college will contact one of its “so-called experts” who will say prescribing those drugs is “standard of practice.” Thus the prescribing physician is not disciplined, even if the patient suffers from the drugs he is given for disorders he did not have.

Kathryn Clarke of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons explained that the college itself does not develop standards or guidelines about treatments and monitoring but relies on experts within the medical profession.

As for Health Canada, spokesperson Carole Saindon says that as the federal regulator, her department approves drugs for safety and efficacy and ensures as many indications on the label as possible. Beyond that, prescribing practices are in the hands of physicians and other health care providers.

Counseling, ‘Kinship Settings’

The National Youth in Care Network, an advocacy group for youth in Crown care, says medication, often seen as a “quicker, easier, and cheaper alternative” and a means of controlling behaviour and enforcing compliance, should not be the sole focus of interventions.

In a report published in 2006, the network calls for informed consent, access to counselling and other mental health services, and a regulatory body to oversee all agencies involved in the use of chemical restraints for these youth.

McKay said she would like to see group homes essentially eliminated and foster placement emphasized, particularly “kinship settings” with grandparents and extended family members. Moreover, she urged increasing budgets for counselling, psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy to teach kids how to cope with feelings of anger, hurt, and frustration.

Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, she said, yet it is not living up to that commitment.

“Get psychiatry out of child welfare,” said McKay. “Child welfare, especially group homes, should not be like miniature mental institutions for children.”

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Counting on Failure, Energy Chairman Floats Carbon Tax

NY Times | Jul 8, 2007

by EDMUND L. ANDREWS

A powerful House Democrat said on Friday that he planned to propose a steep new “carbon tax” that would raise the cost of burning oil, gas and coal, in a move that could shake up the political debate on global warming.

The proposal came from Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and it runs directly counter to the view of most Democrats that any tax on energy would be a politically disastrous approach to slowing global warming.

But Mr. Dingell, in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on C-Span, suggested that his goal was to show that Americans are not willing to face the real cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. His message appeared to be that Democratic leaders were setting unrealistic legislative goals.

“I sincerely doubt that the American people will be willing to pay what this is really going to cost them,” said Mr. Dingell, whose committee will be drafting a broad bill on climate change this fall.

“I will be introducing in the next little bit a carbon tax bill, just to sort of see how people think about this,” he continued. “When you see the criticism I get, I think you’ll see the answer to your question.”

The idea behind a carbon tax is to provide an incentive to reduce the use of fossil fuels like oil and coal, which are loaded with carbon, and increase the use of cleaner, renewable fuels like solar power, wind and fuels made from plants and plant waste.

Many economists like the idea of a carbon tax, saying that it would be simple to administer and could profoundly affect energy choices.

But most Democrats are staunchly opposed, saying that a tax would raise the costs of travel, commuting and heating and cooling homes, and that it would be wildly unpopular at a time when voters are already angry about high energy costs. Republicans, they said, would seize on any such proposal as proof that Democrats were bent on raising taxes and increasing the size of government.

Indeed, many Democrats still cringe at the memory of President Bill Clinton’s trying to pass a broad “B.T.U. tax” in 1993 on most forms of energy. The measure passed the House but not the Senate, and more than a few Democrats believe the effort was one reason they lost their majority in the House in 1994.

Now, House and Senate Democrats are writing bills that would require factories and power plants to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases through a so-called cap-and-trade system of mandatory requirements and tradeable pollution credits.

Most of the proposals would impose mandatory limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that companies would be allowed to produce each year, and those limits would become steadily more rigorous over time. A factory or a power plant that is already below the limit could sell its unused allocations to companies that were over the limit.

The United States already uses a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants that cause acid rain.

The European Union has adopted a system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, though the system has come under considerable criticism for letting companies game the rules and for failing to reduce emissions in line with European goals.

Not all would put a heroic sheen on Thompson’s Watergate role

Boston Globe | Jul 4, 2007

Thompson was a mole for the White House

By Michael Kranish

fred-thompson

The Senate Watergate Committee chief counsel, Samuel Dash, crouched to confer with Fred Thompson (left) minority counsel, and Senator Howard Baker during a July 1973 hearing. (James Atherton/ Washington Post/ File)

WASHINGTON — The day before Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson made the inquiry that launched him into the national spotlight — asking an aide to President Nixon whether there was a White House taping system — he telephoned Nixon’s lawyer.

Thompson tipped off the White House that the committee knew about the taping system and would be making the information public. In his all-but-forgotten Watergate memoir, “At That Point in Time,” Thompson said he acted with “no authority” in divulging the committee’s knowledge of the tapes, which provided the evidence that led to Nixon’s resignation. It was one of many Thompson leaks to the Nixon team, according to a former investigator for Democrats on the committee, Scott Armstrong , who remains upset at Thompson’s actions.

“Thompson was a mole for the White House,” Armstrong said in an interview. “Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was.”

Asked about the matter this week, Thompson — who is preparing to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination — responded via e-mail without addressing the specific charge of being a Nixon mole: “I’m glad all of this has finally caused someone to read my Watergate book, even though it’s taken them over thirty years.”

The view of Thompson as a Nixon mole is strikingly at odds with the former Tennessee senator’s longtime image as an independent-minded prosecutor who helped bring down the president he admired. Indeed, the website of Thompson’s presidential exploratory committee boasts that he “gained national attention for leading the line of inquiry that revealed the audio-taping system in the White House Oval Office.” It is an image that has been solidified by Thompson’s portrayal of a tough-talking prosecutor in the television series “Law and Order.”

But the story of his role in the Nixon case helps put in perspective Thompson’s recent stance as one of the most outspoken proponents of pardoning I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Just as Thompson once staunchly defended Nixon, Thompson urged a pardon for Libby, who was convicted in March of obstructing justice in the investigation into who leaked a CIA operative’s name.

Thompson declared in a June 6 radio commentary that Libby’s conviction was a “shocking injustice . . . created and enabled by federal officials.” Bush on Monday commuted Libby’s 30-month sentence, stopping short of a pardon.

The intensity of Thompson’s remarks about Libby is reminiscent of how he initially felt about Nixon. Few Republicans were stronger believers in Nixon during the early days of Watergate.

Thompson, in his 1975 memoir, wrote that he believed “there would be nothing incriminating” about Nixon on the tapes, a theory he said “proved totally wrong.”

“In retrospect it is apparent that I was subconsciously looking for a way to justify my faith in the leader of my country and my party, a man who was undergoing a violent attack from the news media, which I thought had never given him fair treatment in the past,” Thompson wrote. “I was looking for a reason to believe that Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, was not a crook.”

Thompson was a little-known assistant US attorney in Tennessee when the Watergate investigation in Congress got underway. He had served as campaign manager for the successful 1972 reelection of Senator Howard Baker, a powerful Tennessee Republican.

When the Senate Watergate Committee was established in 1973, Baker became the ranking Republican member and brought Thompson to Washington to serve as minority counsel. Baker, who has been among those now urging Thompson to seek the presidency, did not return a call seeking comment.

John Dean , Nixon’s former White House counsel, who was a central witness at the hearings, said he believed that Baker and Thompson were anything but impartial players. “I knew that Thompson would be Baker’s man, trying to protect Nixon,” Dean said in an interview.

The website of Thompson’s presidential exploratory committee, imwithfred.com, suggests that Thompson helped reveal the taping system and expose Nixon’s role in the Watergate coverup. And while Thompson’s question to presidential aide Alexander Butterfield during a Watergate hearing unveiled the existence of the taping system to the outside world, it wasn’t Thompson who discovered that Nixon was taping conversations. Nor was Thompson the first to question Butterfield about the possibility.

On July 13, 1973, Armstrong, the Democratic staffer, asked Butterfield a series of questions during a private session that led up to the revelation. He then turned the questioning over to a Republican staffer, Don Sanders, who asked Butterfield the question that led to the mention of the taping system.

To the astonishment of everyone in the room, Butterfield admitted the taping system existed.

When Thompson learned of Butterfield’s admission, he leaked the revelation to Nixon’s counsel, J. Fred Buzhardt .
“Even though I had no authority to act for the committee, I decided to call Fred Buzhardt at home” to tell him that the committee had learned about the taping system, Thompson wrote. “I wanted to be sure that the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action.”

Armstrong said he and other Democratic staffers had long been convinced that Thompson was leaking information about the investigation to the White House. The committee, for example, had obtained a memo written by Buzhardt that Democratic staffers believed was based on information leaked by Thompson.

Armstrong said he thought the leaks would lead to Thompson’s firing. “Any prosecutor would be upset if another member of the prosecution team was orchestrating a defense for Nixon,” said Armstrong, who later became a Washington Post reporter and currently is executive director of Information Trust, a nonprofit organization specializing in open government issues.

Baker, meanwhile, insisted that Thompson be allowed to ask Butterfield the question about the taping system in a public session on July 16, 1973, three days after the committee had learned about the system.

The choice of Thompson irked Samuel Dash , the Democratic chief counsel on the committee, who preferred that a Democrat be allowed to ask the question. “I personally resented it and felt cheated,” Dash wrote in his memoirs. But he said he felt he had “no choice but to let Fred Thompson develop the Butterfield material” because the question initially had been posed by Sanders, a Republican staffer.

When Dash told Thompson on the day of the hearing that he had agreed to let Thompson ask the question that would change US history, Thompson replied: “That’s right generous of you, Sam.”

So it was, at the hearing, that Thompson leapt into the national spotlight:

“Are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?” he asked Butterfield during the national televised hearings.

“I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir,” Butterfield responded.

Even as he quizzed Butterfield during the hearing, Thompson said later, he believed the tapes would exonerate Nixon, so he saw no problem in pressing for their release. It was after Thompson heard Nixon incriminate himself on the tapes that Thompson finally decided that Nixon was a crook — and stopped be ing a Nixon apologist.

“Looking back, I wonder how I could have failed to realize at once . . . the significance of the tapes,” Thompson wrote. “I realized that I would probably be thinking about the implications of Watergate for the rest of my life.”

Sheehan: Distinct Chance Of Staged Attack, Martial Law

Prison Planet | Jul 12, 2007

sheehan-1

Peace Mom warns of false flag terror as she prepares to take on sell-out Pelosi

by Paul Joseph Watson

Cindy Sheehan, the famous Peace Mom who recently expressed her intention to run against Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, says there’s a “distinct possibility” that America will be hit with another staged terror attack that will allow Bush to enact the martial law provisions he recently signed into law.

Sheehan spoke to The Alex Jones Show as she prepares to embark on a two week trek towards Washington to confront Pelosi.

Asked what she thought of numerous recent comments on behalf of politicians, military analysts and GOP kingpins that the Bush administration needs more terror to save a doomed foreign policy, along with recent legislation that establishes the framework for martial law in the event of an emergency, Sheehan was open to the plausibility that another false flag attack could be visited upon the American people.

“I definitely think that is a distinct possibility, that there will be some kind of attack whether it’s manufactured or real….I think it’s really possible that these people will do that – why would he [Bush] put in that presidential directive if he didn’t need to use it – I think it’s really really frightening,” Sheehan told The Alex Jones Show.

“Does anybody think that [Bush’s] recent presidential decision directive wasn’t for declaring martial law and suspending elections – that’s why they have to be stopped,” added Sheehan.

Recently liberated from the straightjacket of partisan control, Sheehan attacked the Democrats for failing to achieve what they were voted in to do last November.

“The culture of corruption doesn’t stop at the Republican party and people need to realize that Democrats are not our saviors,” said Sheehan.

pelosi_bush-1

“Over 600 soldiers have died since the Democrats took over power and many thousands of Iraqis, the blood is on their hands, they have the power to stop it and support our troops, support the people of Iraq, save America from more threats from the Bush administration and get them out of power,” added the anti-war activist.

Sheehan told Pelosi that if she didn’t have impeachment on the table by July that she would run against her in San Francisco and the Peace Mom has now taken that course of action.

“I will run against you and I will give you a run for your money,” challenged Sheehan.

Sheehan slammed Pelosi as a warmongering elitist who lives in a mansion on a hill and is completely out of touch with her electorate, as well as a major supporter of AIPAC, a group which has expressed its explicit support for an attack on Iran.

“You can’t have allegiance to two countries when you’re a lawmaker in one of those countries,” said Sheehan, adding that many politicians put America’s best interests second behind Israel.

Asked why the candidacy of Ron Paul has become so popular, Sheehan commented “People are hungry for change, people are hungry for people to tell the truth, no matter what, people are hungry for those who act out of their integrity.”

RCMP, U.S. Army block public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership

The Council of Canadians | Jul 12, 2007

The Council of Canadians has been told it will not be allowed to rent a municipal community centre for a public forum it had planned to coincide with the next Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit in Montebello, Quebec on August 20 and 21.

The Municipality of Papineauville, which is about six kilometres from Montebello, has informed the Council of Canadians that the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the U.S. Army will not allow the municipality to rent the Centre Communautaire de Papineauville for a public forum on Sunday August 19, on the eve of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership Leaders Summit.

“It is deplorable that we are being prevented from bringing together a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians to share their concerns about the Security and Prosperity Partnership with Canadians,” said Brent Patterson, director of organizing with the Council of Canadians. “Meanwhile, six kilometres away, corporate leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada will have unimpeded access to our political leaders.”

As well as being shut out of Papineauville, the Council of Canadians has been told that the RCMP and the SQ will be enforcing a 25-kilometre security perimeter around the Chateau Montebello, where Stephen Harper will meet with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón on August 20 and 21. According to officials in Montebello, there will be checkpoints at Thurso and Hawkesbury, and vehicles carrying more than five people will be turned back.

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest citizens’ organization, with members and chapters across the country. The organization works to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, safe food, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians.