Daily Archives: March 25, 2009

Maryland considers changing Civil War-era state song that urges secession, calls northerners ‘scum’

The song begins with a hostile reference to President Abraham Lincoln, who brought troops through Baltimore en route to protect Washington: “The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!”

Associated Press | Mar 24, 2009

By BRIAN WITTE

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland lawmakers are thinking maybe it’s time to find a way to scrub “Northern scum” — and a few other sensitive pre-Civil War phrases — from the official state song.

“Maryland, My Maryland,” set to the traditional seasonal tune of “O, Tannenbaum,” was written in 1861 and adopted as the state song in 1939. But now some lawmakers are pushing for a change to the warlike language in what was originally a poem that doubled as a call to arms.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants a new commission to examine the song and consider changing some stanzas to reflect the state’s diversity and remove offensive phrases.

Maryland, My Maryland

“I love history, but there comes a time when you have to adjust,” Miller, a Democrat, told senators Tuesday.

A Maryland House of Delegates committee voted down a bill to change the song because members were reluctant to tinker with history.

That bill — and another still making its way through the Senate — would have replaced the words written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 with ones penned by John T. White in 1894 describing the state’s natural beauty.

Randall’s poem calls for Maryland to secede from the Union — at a time before the Civil War when Maryland residents sympathized with the Confederacy.

The song begins with a hostile reference to President Abraham Lincoln, who brought troops through Baltimore en route to protect Washington: “The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!”

It ends with a call for the state to stand up to the Union: “She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb — Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum! She breaths! She burns! She’ll come! Maryland! My Maryland!”

___

On the Net:

Read Senate Bill 892: http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/SB0892.htm

Read House Bill 1241: http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/HB1241.htm

Suicide-Linked Cymbalta Promoted for Minor Conditions

Epoch Times | Mar 17, 2009

By Martha Rosenberg

Many are outraged that Eli Lilly gave nonprofits $3.9 million in grants last year for medical courses to “educate” doctors about the pain-and-fatigue ailment fibromyalgia—more than it spent for diabetes and Alzheimer’s, which people already know they have.

But finding new diseases to justify a drug’s existence is the normal way pharma operates, especially Lilly, which agreed to pay $1.42 billion for illegal marketing of its anti-psychotic Zyprexa in January—$615 million for criminally promoting it for dementia—another $62 million to 32 states for illegal pediatric marketing, and agreed to resolve Medicaid fraud investigations into “rebates” at the same time. Lilly—whose diabetes treatment Byetta is tanking since reports last summer of six deaths, at least two from pancreatitis.

But Lilly’s fibromyalgia-fighting drug, Cymbalta (duloxetine)—its second-best seller after Zyprexa—is anything but normal.

Starting with the death of 19-year-old Cymbalta test subject Traci Johnson, who hanged herself in the Lilly Clinic in Indianapolis in 2004 and had no history of mental problems—it has been beset by reports of baffling, rapid, unprovoked, and out-of-character suicides and suicide attempts.

A 37-year-old man described in the February 2008 Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology with a stable marriage and employment and no history of mental problems tried to kill himself with carbon monoxide two months after taking Cymbalta for back pain.

“The patient was unable to state exactly why he wanted to commit suicide,” write the four physician authors of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center, who note he returned to normal when the drug was stopped.

A 63-year-old man with no history of suicide attempts or ideation was similarly “unable to explain why he was having thoughts of wanting to die,” say the authors after becoming suicidal two weeks after being put on Cymbalta for fatigue, insomnia, and sadness.

Last January, a Texas man prescribed Cymbalta for peripheral neuropathy because of a job that required him to be on his feet all day, a man with no history of mental problems “had a normal day at work, drove home, said he was going to grab a sandwich for his wife, went and shot himself,” his family wrote a reporter.

In February 2007, a 19-year-old Wisconsin college student recently put on Cymbalta “checked out books for a paper he was to write over the weekend,” emailed his résumé “to see if he could get a spot on Obama’s team for the summer,” and “then hung himself from his loft bed in his dorm,” writes his family. One month earlier, a 21-year-old Midwest college student, recently put on Cymbalta, took his own life three minutes after speaking to his family while driving home and sounding fine, the family wrote a reporter.

Approved as an antidepressant and for diabetic nerve pain in 2004—soon after the Johnson suicide, thanks to an unfazed FDA—Cymbalta soon proved to be the “Swiss Army Knife” of Lilly drugs, says its hometown paper the Indianapolis Star. It was approved for general anxiety disorder and maintenance treatment of depression in 2007, for fibromyalgia in 2008, and with approvals for chronic knee and low-back pain expected shortly.

In Europe, it is in use for stress urinary incontinence, but in the United States, its side effect of urinary retention landed Cymbalta on the FDA’s first Potential Signals of Serious Risks danger list in 2008. (FDA won’t release suicidal rates from stress urinary incontinence trials says reporter Jeanne Lenzer on Slate.com. She estimates the suicidal rates as 400 per 100,000 person-years for middle-aged women.)

But some, like Shannon Brownlee, author of “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer,” question the revenue-driven prescribathon. Should drugs  “that may have a really serious side effect called suicide,” be used for simple knee or back pain, she asks in the Star.

Cymbalta is also being studied for binge eating, social phobia, chronic fatigue, restless legs disorder, seasonal affective disorder, migraines, attention deficit disorder, and childhood depression (despite known pediatric risks), PMS, menopause, alcoholism, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, kleptomania, and the important medical condition: tennis elbow.

At the American Academy of Pain Medicine Annual Meeting in January, Lilly presented a study by its own doctors finding Cymbalta was superior to placebo in knee pain—in keeping with its penchant to publish studies by Lilly-funded and Lilly-employed doctors who say Cymbalta is safe.

Cymbalta is also a good use of state and third-party-payer dollars, say Lilly-funded doctors in “Differences in Medication Adherence and Healthcare Resource Utilization Patterns: Older Versus Newer Antidepressant Agents in Patients With Depression and/or Anxiety Disorders” in the 2008-22 CNS Drugs. These doctors are fighting the “restrictive reimbursement policies for newer antidepressants,” in which pharmacy benefits managers are saying, “You want us to spend WHAT”?

Getting benefits managers to cover the $200-a-month cost for Cymbalta prescriptions for fibromyalgia may also be tough since the ailment has no clear cause, blood test, or cure.

Maybe Lilly will offer pointers in the medical courses it is funding.

Martha Rosenberg is a freelance writer.

Pharmaceuticals found in fish across U.S.

Residue of allergy, cholesterol, other meds were in fish near 5 major cities

MSNBC | Mar 25, 2009

Fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including medicines used to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and depression, researchers reported Wednesday.

Findings from this first nationwide study of human drugs in fish tissue have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly expand similar ongoing research to more than 150 different locations.

“The average person hopefully will see this type of a study and see the importance of us thinking about water that we use every day, where does it come from, where does it go to? We need to understand this is a limited resource and we need to learn a lot more about our impacts on it,” said study co-author Bryan Brooks, a Baylor University researcher and professor who has published more than a dozen studies related to pharmaceuticals in the environment.

A person would have to eat hundreds of thousands of fish dinners to get even a single therapeutic dose, Brooks said. But researchers including Brooks have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of pharmaceutical residues can harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species because of their constant exposure to contaminated water.

Brooks and his colleague Kevin Chambliss tested fish caught in rivers where wastewater treatment plants release treated sewage in Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla. For comparison, they also tested fish from New Mexico’s pristine Gila River Wilderness Area, an area isolated from human sources of pollution.

Earlier research has confirmed that fish absorb medicines because the rivers they live in are contaminated with traces of drugs that are not removed in sewage treatment plants. Much of the contamination comes from the unmetabolized residues of pharmaceuticals that people have taken and excreted; unused medications dumped down the drain also contribute to the problem.

The researchers, whose work was funded by a $150,000 EPA grant, tested fish for 24 different pharmaceuticals, as well as 12 chemicals found in personal care products.

Traces of meds found at all sites tested

They found trace concentrations of seven drugs and two soap scent chemicals in fish at all five of the urban river sites. The amounts varied, but some of the fish had combinations of many of the compounds in their livers.

The researchers didn’t detect anything in the reference fish caught in rural New Mexico.

In an ongoing investigation, The Associated Press has reported trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals have been detected in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans.

The EPA has called for additional studies about the impact on humans of long-term consumption of minute amounts of medicines in their drinking water, especially in unknown combinations. Limited laboratory studies have shown that human cells failed to grow or took unusual shapes when exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.

“This pilot study is one important way that EPA is increasing its scientific knowledge about the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment,” said EPA spokeswoman Suzanne Rudzinski. She said the completed and expanded EPA sampling for pharmaceuticals and other compounds in fish and surface water is part of the agency’s National Rivers and Stream Assessment.

Bone-chilling Vermont winter broke low temperature records, brought thicker ice

vermont_winter

FILE PHOTO JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR

Most of us will also remember January 2009 for its bone-chilling temperatures, which set new records across the state and forced many of us to jump-start our cars on some of the coldest mornings. New record-low temperatures were set at St. Johnsbury (-30) and Burlington (-21) on Jan. 16, and at Rutland (-20) the next day.

Statewide, the average monthly temperature was 11.1 degrees – the 21st coldest January since 1895. Many of Lake Champlain’s bays froze over (and remained so until the first week of March), with ice fishing enthusiasts reporting some of the thickest ice seen in years.

Rutland Herald | Mar 22, 2009

Winter weather was wild

By LESLEY-ANN DUPIGNY-GIROUX and LAURA KIESEL

The 2008-2009 winter across Vermont and much of the North Country was wild, marked by temperature swings, lots of precipitation and even a rare weather phenomenon on Lake Champlain.

In December the most dramatic event was the ice storm that moved through the region on Dec. 11-12. This storm played havoc with air travel in southern New England and left millions without electricity. Unlike the infamous ice storm of January 1998, which began as a rain event that changed over to freezing rain from north to south, the ice storm this winter was much more complex. It began as snow across much of northern Vermont and surroundings, changed over to freezing rain in the southern parts of the state, and continued as snow to the north.

Snowfall totals were heaviest on either side of the Green Mountains. The National Weather Service in Burlington reported 0.25 to 0.5 inches of ice accumulation in Rutland and Windsor counties, while Bennington and Windham counties saw higher amounts. This pattern reflected the northeast-southwest orientation of a cold front that stalled off the New England coast during the evening of Dec. 10. Along the frontal boundary, cold air from southern Québec met with warm, moist air from the south. By the following evening, the stalled front started moving northwestward back toward New England, this time as a warm front.

December 2008 was also marked by the passage of several other frontal systems that brought the total statewide precipitation to 4.77 inches. This number represents what is called the “liquid water equivalent,” or the sum of what the snowfall would amount to if it fell as rain, plus the actual rain that also fell. This 4.77-inch total was 149 percent of the average December precipitation, making 2008 the 13th wettest December since 1895. Most of this precipitation fell in western Vermont.

January 2009 saw more flip-flops, both in terms of temperature, as well as in the amount of precipitation around the state. Compared to the abundance of December, Vermont as a state only received 50 percent (1.57 inches) of its average in January, making it the 16th driest January since 1895. These dry conditions were most prevalent in the northeastern and southeastern portions of the state, while western Vermont (including the Champlain Valley) actually received about 3.14 inches or 128 percent of average. The apparent dichotomy illustrates why climatologists seldom use averages alone, as they can hide important patterns.

Most of us will also remember January 2009 for its bone-chilling temperatures, which set new records across the state and forced many of us to jump-start our cars on some of the coldest mornings. New record-low temperatures were set at St. Johnsbury (-30) and Burlington (-21) on Jan. 16, and at Rutland (-20) the next day. These records capped off a week of cold, dry weather that persisted as an arctic front moved eastward across the North Country and caused temperatures across the region to plunge by 30 to 40 degrees. In fact, this cold snap was so severe that some ski resorts either closed early or restricted slopes, and most of them posted frostbite warnings. Statewide, the average monthly temperature was 11.1 degrees – the 21st coldest January since 1895. Many of Lake Champlain’s bays froze over (and remained so until the first week of March), with ice fishing enthusiasts reporting some of the thickest ice seen in years.

Why these temperature swings? One clue lies to the west, the other to our east. Most of our weather originates to our west – the numerous fronts that move through, as well as the high pressure patterns associated with clear skies but frigid conditions. The January cold snap was marked by an unusually strong and very extensive high pressure system that formed over the central states and expanded to encompass the entire eastern half of North America.

How did this extraordinarily high pressure – with its frigid, dense air – develop and persist? The second clue, to our east, is known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. When the North Atlantic Oscillation is in its positive phase (characterized by the presence of a low-pressure system near Iceland and a high pressure system further south near Gibraltar), temperatures across the eastern part of North America are moderate. However, when the system near Iceland is dominated by high pressure and that near Gibraltar by low pressure, we experience the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. In this case, cold Arctic air invades eastern North America and Europe, as we saw here in January.

On a somewhat different note, Jan. 15 also marked the rare occurrence of a waterspout in Lake Champlain, the second one on record since 1954. A waterspout is a micro-scale tornado resembling a funnel-shaped cloud that stays concentrated over a body of water and causes the water to shoot upwards. The lake temperature that morning was 33, and the air temperature over the southern portion of the lake was zero. This large difference in temperature between the air and water below it contributed to the formation of steam (evaporation) fog. This and the resulting updraft likely caused the waterspout to form.

After the excitement of December and January, February was quieter. Statewide, 2.26 inches of precipitation fell – 97 percent of the average for that month.

One of the month’s highlights was the blizzard of Feb. 22-23. The heaviest snowfall was recorded in an east-west band across the northern part of the state from Eden (13 inches) to East Haven (16 inches) and Island Pond (12 inches) in the Northeast Kingdom. The town of Sutton was at the center of this swath of snow, where 20.6 inches fell on that day alone. For Chelsea, Corinth, East Haven, Eden, and Sutton, these 24-hour snowfall amounts set new daily records that were only superseded as a monthly record by the Valentine’s Day blizzard of 2007.

Are we out of the woods? March is a time of transition. The air masses and storm systems are beginning to shift from winter-like patterns to those that will dominate the summer. Expect the unexpected!

Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux is an associate professor at UVM and the Vermont state climatologist. She can be contacted at state.climatologist @uvm.edu. Laura Kiesel is a graduate student at UVM who works as a research assistant in the Vermont State Climate Office.

Some want to rid Maryland of anthem’s ‘offensive phrases’

“The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!”

Huzza! Md. mulls changing ‘offensive’ state song

AP | Mar 24, 2009

By BRIAN WITTE

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland lawmakers are thinking maybe it’s time to find a way to scrub “Northern scum” — and a few other sensitive pre-Civil War phrases — from the official state song.

“Maryland, My Maryland,” set to the traditional seasonal tune of “O, Tannenbaum,” was written in 1861 and adopted as the state song in 1939. But now some lawmakers are pushing for a change to the warlike language in what was originally a poem that doubled as a call to arms.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants a new commission to examine the song and consider changing some stanzas to reflect the state’s diversity and remove offensive phrases.

“I love history, but there comes a time when you have to adjust,” Miller, a Democrat, told senators Tuesday.

A Maryland House of Delegates committee voted down a bill to change the song because members were reluctant to tinker with history.

That bill — and another still making its way through the Senate — would have replaced the words written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 with ones penned by John T. White in 1894 describing the state’s natural beauty.

Randall’s poem calls for Maryland to secede from the Union — at a time before the Civil War when Maryland residents sympathized with the Confederacy.

The song begins with a hostile reference to President Abraham Lincoln, who brought troops through Baltimore en route to protect Washington: “The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!”

It ends with a call for the state to stand up to the Union: “She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb — Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum! She breaths! She burns! She’ll come! Maryland! My Maryland!”
On the Net:

Read Senate Bill 892

Read House Bill 1241

The Planet is Freezing now

Al Gore, Global Warming crowd, Extreme crises, Government control

Canadian Free Press | Mar 24, 2009

By Laurie Roth

I am most concerned about the mental health of so many environmental geniuses who don’t seem to know the difference between hot and cold and world disaster and normal temperature changes. Then there is the confusion about stealing and working for a living.

al_gore_constipatedMental illness and pathological like confusion even permeates our award givers. Even with hundreds and hundreds of renowned and published scientists completely refuting Global warming, the award elite police gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore, that is Dr. I don’t know where I am, but it sure is hot…Al Gore. Who was one of the low life wannabes who lost the bid for the Nobel Peace Prize in favor of Mr. Gore? Only a German woman Irena Sendler, who just passed a way in her mid 90s and what did she do? She only saved over 2500 Jewish children, sneaking them out in her cleaning truck, day after day, week after week, eventually being caught by the Nazis and being beaten within an inch of her life. (Irena Sendler: Compassion and Courage) That is why I cry mental illness folks. Do we not know real courage from cowardice? Do we not know a real hero from a fraud and moron? Apparently we don’t.

Now scientists are boldly lining up crying global cooling. Most scientists now are finally admitting that the Polar Bear population is increasing. The ice caps are getting colder and the temperature around the world is getting rather cool. What I want to know is that with all the drama queen and greedy antics around the mythology of global warming, trying to get massive billions from us taxpayers to solve this non-existent nightmare, what kind of drama will we see with global cooling?

Are we going to start press conferences to raise money to harvest heat from the sun with Russian rockets? Are we going to outlaw vacations to Hawaii and other tropical resorts because it sucks up much needed heat that could be dispersed to freezing areas of the world? Will the Government take over the Wool industry and sheep farming so they can control the thickness of Wool coats for this long winter?

With all the nonsense, distortion and frankly greed displayed by the now debunked global warming crowd, I’m wondering if a few more of the sane scientists who don’t want to take over the world and control people and land, would please come forward and put some sanity back in our science, text books and press conferences!

When you look behind the curtain on so many EXTREME CRISES issues you see the classic manipulation of communistic goals, the same ones that have been used countless times to take over people and a nations…..a HUGE environmental crises, the Government will solve it with your money and a ton of regulations; a HUGE financial meltdown, the Government will solve it with your money and a ton of regulations. Now we are morphing toward massive gun control, parental rights controls, special rights for all except tax paying normal citizens, on and on it goes.

Hold on to your hat, coat and gloves….you may need them.

Cut UK population in half to fight climate change says “green advisor”

UK population must fall to 30 million, says Porritt

Sunday Times | Mar 22, 2009

By Jonathan Leake and Brendan Montague

JONATHON PORRITT, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society.

Porritt’s call will come at this week’s annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron.

The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably.

Related

Porritt can go first

Porritt said: “Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure.

“Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact.”

Population growth is one of the most politically sensitive environmental problems. The issues it raises, including religion, culture and immigration policy, have proved too toxic for most green groups.

However, Porritt is winning scientific backing. Professor Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum, will use the OPT conference, to be held at the Royal Statistical Society, to warn that population growth could help derail attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Rapley, who formerly ran the British Antarctic Survey, said humanity was emitting the equivalent of 50 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

“We have to cut this by 80%, and population growth is going to make that much harder,” he said.

Such views on population have split the green movement. George Monbiot, a prominent writer on green issues, has criticised population campaigners, arguing that “relentless” economic growth is a greater threat.

Many experts believe that, since Europeans and Americans have such a lopsided impact on the environment, the world would benefit more from reducing their populations than by making cuts in developing countries.

This is part of the thinking behind the OPT’s call for Britain to cut population to 30m — roughly what it was in late Victorian times.

Britain’s population is expected to grow from 61m now to 71m by 2031. Some politicians support a reduction.

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: “You can’t have sustainability with an increase in population.”

The Tory leader, David Cameron, has also suggested Britain needs a “coherent strategy” on population growth.

Despite these comments, however, government and Conservative spokesmen this weekend both distanced themselves from any population policy. ”