Monday, April 30, 2007

Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green? - - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

In the Middle Ages sinners bought indulgences from the Church. This saved them from years in Purgatory. But "carbon neutral" is something new under the sun. The greedy rich now get to buy off their crushing damages to the planet by making donations to some mysterious Super Fund; this is called being "carbon neutral. "

The catch: the irreparable damages, the drastic climate changes, the loss of Mother Earth as we know her, don't get the carbon-neutral reprieve. There is no time unless all carbon emissions are stopped or drastically reduced immediately. This is fact-checked Science, folks, not to mention discoverable by heroes like Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen who saw first-hand the drastic harm to the Arctic last summer. Polar bears drowning, ice caps melting.

There is no time to waste. Shut down all the coal-fired plants and the nuclear ones too. Carbon emissions aren't the only way to destroy the planet and even peaceful nuclear uses can cause untold harm, as in Chernobyl, the death toll of which is incalculable because nobody knows what winds blew where.

There are plenty of renewable energy sources, notably wind and water and sun. Use them.

And for each and every person, what are you doing to reduce your carbon emissions footprint? Your poisonous waste footprint? Make a list, if you please.

True is shivering with cold to save electricity, and turning out lights and stumbling in the dark. He is actually driving the speed limit! to save on gas as well as perhaps preserve the life of some deer along the highway. He travels by car as little as possible, only for essential work and chores.
He lobbies for mass transit options (except by air) that move lots of folks for minimal damage. Trains, ships, buses... in Europe people have these choices.

True's challenge: What are YOU doing to reduce your carbon and planet-poisoning footprint? Do you accept and approve of Minnesota Power's coal-fired plant, touted as a model that reduces SOME toxic emissions but doesn't address the fact that coal is the big "sinner"?

Here's a story to read, if you like:

Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green? - - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sales tax reprise: county to hire lobbyist!

The Cook County board will spend up to $10,000 on a lobbyist to support the sales tax proposals currently wending their way through the legislature.
The board takes this step after hearing a lot of public criticism, including Yours Truly, against more sales taxes that are hardest on the poor.
Also, it comes after their knee-jerk response to the self-justifications and manufactured facts presented by the so-called Cook County Economic Analysis Council, a self-serving group that represents resort owners and others who consistently pay the lowest wages to their employees, so that they can fund yet MORE PR stuff on their own behalf than they already get from taxpayers. (See previous posts, including "Tourism sales: one-third or 82 percent?" Click on the labels for tourism, taxes, and economy.)
True thinks of forming a Cook County Bullshit Analysis Council, writing a more truthful and fact-checked report about the county's economy and our need to promote NON-tourism jobs, and making as much noise as the ATV and CCEAC folks.
As for the dropping the cap on the hospital levy, True does support this. It is a fair tax and we need our hospital. As for the so-called "infrastructure" tax, True agrees that we need infrastructure improvements in the county, but there are plenty of state and federal and private grant programs that ought to be looked at first. $10K would pay for a powerful lot of grantwriting. Moreover, the proposed improvements in the present version will all go to Grand Marais. West-Enders, a lot of whom didn't like the sales tax idea in the first place, will get shafted.
As for the three-percent recreation tax, the idea here seems to be that only tourists will be paying it. Not so, struggling young families will be paying it so their kids can have some fun.
VOTE NO on the one-percent referendum! But the ordinary citizen apparently won't even get a vote on the three-percent, if it passes the legislature. True calls this TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION! Only the CCEAC is represented, not the vast majority of voters and taxpayers.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Most doctors get money, gifts from industry -

"Doc, Doc, gimme the news!" is the pitiful and plaintive cry from patients everywhere. We trust our docs, even while we shy away from the for-profit medical providers that push designer drug sales and other scams while fighting every little claim by little clients.
But, so many docs are wooed and won by the drug industry. Probably they don't even realize how they are compromised in most cases (at least True hopes so)...But, if we can't trust our docs who can we trust? Read on, folks:

Most doctors get money, gifts from industry -

Spell It Out: "I-M-P-E-A-C-H!"

After house speaker Nancy Pelosi chased her cat "Impeachment" off the table last fall, that sneaky little sucker has jumped back on, in a big way.
Oh, heck, we all know the crimes of Bush and Cheney against the American people, the Iraqi people, international human rights, and too many others to name, are impeachable. Even though the MSM has refused to report most of the evidence, it is well documented and readily available via Google searches. Poor old Tricky Dick Nixon was a cupcake compared to these birds. He opened the door to diplomatic relations with China; he lowered the highway speed limit to save energy. By today's far-reich standards he was a visionary following in the moderate reign of Dwight Eisenhower. Oh, so, he was paranoid, ya you betcha and Vietnam was a major blunder inspired by his rigid anti-Communist agenda. Lots of folks signed on to the Cold War paranoia in those days, including the still-revered Henry Kissinger who guided several administrations into stupid errors. But Dick wasn't guilty of high crimes and treason against the Constitution and humanity.
Local governments are signing on to the Impeachment Bandwagon. Today, April 28th, the people with their bodies are spelling out "Impeach" all over the place.

Read on:

Spell It Out: "I-M-P-E-A-C-H!

DFL-led House OKs shift in tax burden, Pawlenty promises veto

Governor Tim Pawlenty, best known for a swell haircut, a toothy smile and a total lack of understanding of Minnesota history and values, has promised to veto a House bill shifting some of the state's tax burden to those who can afford it.
Dear old Hubert H. Humphrey, our long-winded and well-beloved former Vice President, who faithfully spoke his joyful message at DFL bean feeds, would be glad today at the House vote. Paul Wellstone, the people's senator, would be jumping up and down with joy.
Minnesota has (until the bad old Reagan years) always been about its people, its workers, its children and their collective well being. AND also, about supporting local governments and schools so the big tax burdens don't fall on the few.
True is proud to provide the link to this story from the Strib. Hopefully people in Cook County will recognize that the old Minnesota way that produced a great way of life is still the best way.
Read on:

DFL-led House OKs shift in tax burden

In New Cancer Guideline, a Host of Uncertainties - New York Times

In New Cancer Guideline, a Host of Uncertainties - New York Times

Benefits of Mammograms For Women in 40s Challenged -

Benefits of Mammograms For Women in 40s Challenged -

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Grand Marais poor tax

There are many ways that the poor are over-taxed. Onesuch is the sales tax, that same one now in the state legislature asking that everybody pay one percent on everything they spend except for food and clothing. This is to support "infrastructure improvements" that could probably be supported by existing grant programs, both federal and nonprofit.
Another such is the proposed gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon, a blip to the comfortable middle class, a mosquito to the rich, but for us poor folks a devastating blow. We don't have mass transit in Cook County so cars are our only access to jobs.
None of us make enough money to pay income tax. Think about that. But we pay hundreds of dollars in fees and sales taxes that bring our total tax burden at least to the level of the middle class.
Po' folks like me also live on fixed incomes (NOT welfare, cowboys! Think, Social Security) that don't always meet our essential needs. For this very reason, the federal fuel assistance program was created to ensure that we don't freeze solid during the winter. In past years the worst of the winter heating costs were largely subsidized by it.
This year, the subsidies were cut drastically. Also the Grand Marais Public Utilities fees per kilowatt hour went up by about 20 percent. And, even when a grant was approved, it was strung out over four months.
For me, True, this meant that my utility liability more than doubled over last winter. I don't have any heat source except for small electric heaters and wood.
But the Poor Tax was added on: I have to pay a stiff penalty of $15 to $20 per month because the fuel assistance help I counted on was denied or delayed.
I will be paying this Poor Tax every month in 2007 as well as the excess fees charged this year, as well as the gap resulting from federal budget cuts.
Are you rich?
Well, lucky you. But you don't pay any more in taxes and fees than I do, with my IRS taxable income of minus zero.
Anonymous (Oh don't think I am so dumb as to sign my name to this!)

ATV Reprise: USFS and Cook County Roads

True's mailbox includes a packet from the U.S. Forest Service about their proposed OHV (ATV) trails and asking for public comment. With chagrin, he notes that the public comment period ended today.
Still, True has read and studied the USFS scoping document as well as their maps and he thanks our Tofte and Gunflint ranger staff for making this process very open, for coming to town and county meetings, for mailing out information to interested parties such as Yours Truly. He is impressed at the effort to close dead-end trails, reclassify roads, and create trails to move from the lower to the upper forest. Okay, he (I) don't like or want ATVs over-running our county but if they must and will come here let them come to designated trails. As Tofte district ranger John Wytanis put it, "We are not going to allow everything, and we are not going to allow nothing."
But, unfortunately, on the ATV issue most all of the comments come from the ATVers themselves. Notably, a four-page document was submitted by the local ATV club recommending additional trails to be opened. Ugga bugga boo.
For most of us, the USFS plan is a compromise we can reluctantly live with, but not for the hard-core folks who like to enjoy the environment by destroying it. This puts me in mind of nasty little boys who tear the wings off of butterflies because they just don't SEE anything outside their personal ego demands for instant gratification.
Metaphors aside, a more serious ATV issue looms on the horizon, that being permission to ride on virtually all county roads. Last time the county had a public hearing at least two-thirds of those attending were strongly pro-ATV. Next time, who knows? We have a statewide lobby that would just love to devour Cook County as an ATV destination.
Commissioner Jim Johnson has promised to vote against the Open Season ATV Plan (because his constituents are adamantly opposed) but most of them, like politicos everywhere, are just watching to see which way the wind blows. Commissioner Bruce Martinson, at least, has been vocal in his reports to his West End constituency about all of the issues in play here; his personal concern is safety.
True (aka yours truly) admits that there will be an increased ATV presence here in Cook County and hopes that if enough folks who love the peace and quiet of the woods, or even enough folks who understand that the economy will suffer if the ATVers take over the woods, will speak out in time to make a difference, in time to set limits we can live with.

Rovian Reich dismantles social contract, health and safety oversight, including Pure Food

Okay, we know that the Rovians and their ultra-right think tankers have been trying to dismantle democracy, worker protections, Medicare, Social Security, environmental protection and just about every other domestic policy enacted during the 20th century in response to the excesses of the robber barons, the depression, and the preference of the rich to enrich themselves further at everybody else's expense like the emperors of old. They have reached the pinnacle of achievement under the Bushco junta by squelching a free media, stealing elections, stomping on individual rights, and privatizing even their illegal wars with obscene profits to shadow outfits like Blackwater and Hallibuton. But their greatest success has been achieved by installing incompetents in every federal oversight agency so that disasters like Katrina help to worsen the plight of those who might vote against them.
We know all this. But are we prepared for them to kill us by poisoning our food supply? After all, everybody has to eat, not just welfare queens and labor union members.
In the bad old days, 100 or so years ago, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair exposed lots of bad behavior in the Chicago meat-packing industry. True recalls reading about this in elementary school and being very shocked that rats, sawdust, cigarette butts and other unmentionables got stuffed into sausages.
But I don't recall reading that people were dying of E. coli in their spinach or peanut butter back in those utterly unregulated times. No, we can thank the Reich for that. They have gutted the Food and Drug Administration so severely that there is no way they can protect the food supply, even when they know (as they did in both recent cases) that there are serious problems. 101 years later, the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 is slated to go the way of the horse-and-buggy. That will be one of the high spots of the "Bush Legacy."

Miller, Yevseyeva exhibit opens at JHP May 4th

Above is one of Bev Miller's new paintings to be exhibited at Johnson Heritage Post beginning Friday, May 4th with a 5 p.m. opening. Miller will also show her latest photographs, and promises small paintings, prints and cards for "those who can't afford a few hundred bucks for the large paintings."
Another artist, Yelena Yevseyeva, will be exhibiting paintings as well, and quite a few potters from the Art Colony will have ceramic work to show and sell.
All are cordially invited to attend.

New evidence links school shootings, psychiatric drugs

In the following letter, Bev Miller updates True on the latest status of the controversial TeenScreen program in the Minnesota legislature. She also provides some scary recent articles and a clip by Michael Moore that will hopefully pop a few eyeballs.

This is to let you know about s/thing that is being considered right now by the Minnesota House and Senate Conference Committee-- it's part of a big bill they'll be giving the governor any day now. Since I know many folks in our community care about this issue I'm sending this to you. Parents won't even know they have the option to turn this down. Please send this to anyone you know to call one of the legislators listed below.

This a question of freedom for parents and protecting our kids from proven false labeling. Let alone the violence connection as shown even with the recent school shooting. Check out Michael Moore's clip below if you can.

Thanks very much. - Bev

The Minnesota House and Senate Conference Committee is still debating and could vote any day on whether TeenScreen goes or stays in the final bill.

Thank you for your calls! They are getting much attention. It is crucial at this point for us all to contact friends and family and brief them on the bill. Get them to call any or all committee members. Please let me know how many people you're able to get to call in.

Here is a brief summary to help you enlighten your friends and family:

House File 6 contains a provision (126C.44 Safe Scools Levy) which increases a property tax levy for schools by 11% to fund a program called TeenScreen. It is worded as "suicide prevention tools." TeenScreen is a very controversial suicide screening questionnaire that asks very open and vague questions about how they feel.
Here are some examples of the questions asked in the teenscreen:

7 Have you often felt very nervous when youve had to do things in front of people?
7 Has there been a time when you had less energy than you usually do?
7 Has there been a time when you felt you couldnt do anything well or that you werent as good-looking or as smart as other people?
7 Has there been a time when you couldnt think as clearly or as fast as usual?
7 How often did your parents feel worried or concerned about the way you were feeling or acting?

A survey of psychiatrists published in a 2002 Journal of American Medicine article shows that 9 out 10 kids leaving a psychiatrists office leave with a prescription for dangerous psychiatric drugs. These same drugs have received a Black Box warning from the FDA due to their potential to create suicidal and homicidal ideas in kids.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force "found no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality."

Important, but not necessary are citizens from these areas:
The area to the southeast of the St Paulmetro area
Fairbault, Morristown, Medford
Freeport, Melrose, Glenwood, Starbuck, Sauk Centre
St. Cloud, Rockville
North Saint Paul, Maplewood
Lake Elmo, Woodbury, Afton, Stillwater
White Bear Lake, North Oaks, Oak Park
Independence, Maple Plain, Medina, Minnetrista, Mound, Orono, Wayzata, Excelsior
Here are the Conference Committee members:

District Area Code 651
65B Rep. Mariani 296-9714
55B Rep. Slawik 296-7807
26B Rep. Fritz 296-8237
13A Rep. Heidgerken 296-4317

15 Sen. Clark 296-6455
55 Sen. Wiger 296-6820
56 Sen. Saltzman 296-4166
53 Sen. Rummel 296-1253
33 Sen. Gen Olson 296-1282

Here are some more links for background information.
From: Parents Against TeenScreen [] Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 3:10 PMTo: Parents Against TeenScreenSubject: Michael Moore, School Shooters and Are Drugs to blame for Cho's rampage?

In 2002, Fox National News reporter Douglas Kennedy exposed the link between psychiatric drugs and school shootings;
Click here to watch video:

Filmmaker Michael Moore has also called for a federal investigation into school shooters and psychiatric drugs.
Click here to watch video:

In September 2005, following confirmation that Red Lake Indian Reservation school shooter, Jeff Weise, was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac, the National Foundation of Women Legislators, together with American Indian tribal leaders, called for a Congressional investigation into the correlation between psychiatric drug use and school massacres. Congress has yet to investigate the role of psychiatric drugs relating to school shootings despite international drug regulators warning these drugscan cause mania, psychosis, hallucinations, suicide and homicidal ideation.

At least eight of the recent school shooters were under the influence of such drugs, and according to the NY Times, prescription medications said to be related to treatment of psychological problems were found among Cho Seung-Hui's effects. The Associated Press reported today that "Pathologists sent blood samples for toxicology testing to determine if Cho was on drugs at the time of his rampage, but it could take as long as two weeks to get the results."

VIRGINIA TECH MASSACREAre meds to blame for Cho's rampage?Experts say psychiatric drugs linked to long list of school shooting sprees
April 23, 2007
By Bob Unruh
Cho Seung-Hui
Cho Seung-Hui's murderous rampage – during which he killed 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech – is prompting research into gun laws, resident aliens and graphically violent writings. Investigators also may want to check his medicine cabinet, because psychiatric drugs have been linked to hundreds of violent episodes, including most of the school shootings in the last two decades.
The New York Times has reported the killer was on a prescription medication, and authorities have said he was confined briefly several years ago for a mental episode. They also have confirmed that the "prescription drugs" found among his effects related to the treatment of psychological problems.
Dr. Peter Breggin, a prominent critic of psychiatric drugs and founder of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, said even if Cho wasn't taking psychiatric drugs the day of the shooting, "he might have been tipped over into violent madness weeks or months earlier by a drug like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft."
While media reports have focused on guns and gun laws, Cho's violent writings and autistic behavior at Virginia Tech and the delay in notifying students and faculty of the beginnings of the shootings, there are those who say the focus should be on his medical history.
"In my book 'Reclaiming Our Children,' I analyzed the clinical and scientific reasons for believing that Eric Harris's violence was caused by prescribed Luvox and I've also testified to the same under oath in depositions in a case related to Columbine," Breggin wrote, referring to the 1999 tragedy when Harris and classmate Dylan Klebold shot and bombed students at the Colorado school until a dozen were dead.
"In my book "The Antidepressant Fact Book," I also warned that stopping antidepressants can be as dangerous as starting them, since they can cause very disturbing and painful withdrawal reactions," he added.
The TeenScreenTruth website, dealing with the campaign to "screen" children for "problems" and then prescribe drugs, has documented an extended list of violent episodes believed connected to the use of psychiatric drugs.
They range as far back as 1985, when Atlanta postal worker Steven W. Brownlee, who had been getting psychotropic drugs, pulled a gun and shot and killed a supervisor and a clerk.
Among the specifically school-related attacks the site documents are:
In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann, who had been taking Anafranil and Lithium, walked into a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill., and began shooting. One child was killed and six wounded.
Later that same year, 19-year-old James Wilson went on a shooting rampage at the Greenwood, S.C., Elementary School and killed two 8-year-old girls and wounded seven others. He'd been on Xanax, Valium and five other drugs.
Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old of Springfield, Ore., in 1998 murdered his parents and proceeded to his high school where he went on a rampage killing two students and wounding 22 others. Kinkel had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.
Patrick Purdy, 25, in 1989 opened fire on a school yard filled with children in Stockton, Calif. Five kids were killed and 30 wounded. He been treated with Thorazine and Amitriptyline.
Steve Lieth of Chelsea, Mich., in 1993 walked into a school meeting and shot and killed the school superintendent, wounding two others, while on Prozac.
10-year-old Tommy Becton in 1996 grabbed his 3-year-old niece as a shield and aimed a shotgun at a sheriff's deputy who accompanied a truant officer to his Florida home. He'd been put on Prozac.
Michael Carneal, 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in Heath High in West Paducah, Ky. Three died and one was paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin.
In 1998, 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson apparently faked a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., and shot at students as they left the building. Four students and a teacher were killed. The boys were believed to be on Ritalin.
In 1999, Shawn Cooper, 15, of Notus, Idaho , took a shotgun to school and injured one student. He had been taking Ritalin.
April 20, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 24 others. Harris had been taking Luvox.
Todd Smith walked into as high school in Taber, Alberta, Canada in 1999 with a shotgun and killed one and injured a second student. He has been given a drug after a five-minute phone consultation with a psychiatrist.
Steven Abrams drove his car into a preschool playground in 1999 in Costa Mesa., Calif., killing two. He was on probation with a requirement to take Lithium.
In 2000, T.J. Solomon, 15, opened fire at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga., while on a mix of antidepressants. Six were wounded.
The same year Seth Trickey of Gibson, Okla., 13, was on a variety of prescriptions when he opened fire on his middle-school class, injuring five.
Elizabeth Bush, 14, was on Prozac. She shot and wounded another student at Bishop Neumann High in Williamsport , Pa.
Jason Hoffman, 18, in 2001 was on Effexor and Celexa, both antidepressants, when he wounded two teachers at California's Granite Hills High School.
In Wahluke, Wash., Cory Baadsgaard, 16, took a rifle to his high schooland held 23 classmates hostage in 2001. He has been taking Paxil and Effexor.
In Tokyo in 2001, Mamoru Takuma, 37, went into a second-grade classroom and started stabbing students. He killed eight. He had taken 10 times his normal dosage of an antidepressant.
Duane Morrison, 53, shot and killed a girl at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Antidepressants later we re found in his vehicle.
In 2005, 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac when he shot and killed nine people and wounding five before committing suicide.
Another case involving a school-age youth – although not at a school – happened in 1986, when 14-year-old Rod Mathews of Canton, Mass., beat a classmate to death with a baseball bat while on Ritalin.
And just a few among the dozens of incidents cited, but not apparently related to schools:
William Cruse in 1987 was charged with killing six people in Palm Bay, Fla., after taking psychiatric drugs for "several years."
The same year, Bartley James Dobben killed his two young sons by throwing them into a 1,300-degree foundry ladle. He been on a "regimen" of psychiatric drugs.
Joseph T. WesBecker, 47, just a month after he began taking Prozac, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine. Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.
In 1991, 61-year-old Barbara Mortenson, on Prozac for two weeks, "cannibalized her 87-year-old mother …"
In 1992, Lynnwood Drake III, shot and killed six in San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Prozac and Valium were found in his system.
Sixteen-year-old Victor Brancaccio attacked and killed an 81-year-old woman, covered her corpse with red spray-paint. He was two months into a Zoloft regimen.
While on four medications including Prozac, Dr. Debora Green in 1995 set her Prairie Village, Mo., home on fire, killing her children, ages 6 and 13.
Kurt Danysh, 18, shot and killed his father in 1996, 17 days after his first dose of Prozac. "I didn't realize I did it until after it was done. … This might sound weird, but it felt like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding a gun."
In 1998, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, was ordered to pay $6.4 million to surviving family members after Donald Schnell, 60, just 48 hours after taking Paxil, flew into a rage and killed his wife, daughter and granddaughter.
The website also cites psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce, in a speech advocating for the treatment of children and youth.
"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, towards our elected officials, towards his parents, towards a belief in a supernatural being, and towards the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It's up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well – by creating the international child of the future," Pierce told a 1973 childhood seminar.
Breggin's conclusion that whatever mental manifestations were causing Cho's dangerous behavior, resulting in a professor asking for him to be removed from her class and two complaints of stalking, there was a solution.
"The answer to vengeful, violent people is not more mental health screening or more potent mental health interventions. Reliance on the whole range of this system from counseling to involuntary treatment failed. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that locking people up against their will or otherwise 'treating' them reduces violence. As we'll see, quite the opposite is true," he wrote. "So what was needed? Police intervention."
He wrote that "it's not politically correct to bring criminal charges against someone who is 'mentally ill' and it's not politically correct to prosecute him or to remove him from the campus. Yet that's what was needed to protect the students. Two known episodes of stalking, setting a fire, and his threatening behavior in class should have been more than enough for the university administration to bring charges against him and to send him off campus."
He continued with a warning, "And what about drugs for the treatment of violence? The FDA has not approved any medications for the control of violence because there are no such medications. Yes, it is possible to temporarily immobilize mind and body alike with a shot of an 'antipsychotic' drug like Haldol; but that only works as long as the person is virtually paralyzed and confined – and forced drugging invariably breeds more resentment.
"Instead of offering the promise of reducing violence, all psychiatric drugs carry the potential risk of driving the individual into violent madness. For example, both the newer antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Celexa, and the antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal and Zyprexa, cause a disorder caused akathisia – a terrible inner sensation of agitation accompanied by a compulsion to move about. Akathisia is known to drive people to suicide and to aggression."
He said he's been writing for more than 15 years about the capacity for psychiatric drugs to cause mayhem, murder and suicide, but it wasn't until 2005 when the FDA issued a warning that such drugs produce "anxiety, agitation, panic attacks …"
He said in the Columbine case, Harris "looks the most like Cho. Both were very emotionally disturbed in an extremely violent fashion for a prolonged period of time."
Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of Virginia Tech's English department, said Cho's writings were so disturbing he was referred to the school's counselors.
"Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it's creative or if they're describing things, if they're imagining things or just how real it might be," she said. "But we're all alert to not ignore things like this."
In a statement posted on the TeenScreen opposition site, Sidney Taurel of Eli Lilly noted that it would be "unreasonable" to expect "that there is such a thing as a risk-free drug."
Another website concerning the psychiatric drugs, called RitalinDeath, also documents some of these cases, as well as additional ones.
Dr. John Breeding concluded in a report shortly after Columbine that there were about five million school children now being given psychiatric drugs, and the number had been doubling every 10 years since the 1970s.
"This has got to be a cause for major alarm in all adults," he said. "The bottom line is that we are giving stronger and stronger psychiatric drugs to more and more children. Many of our children are taking mo re than one of these drugs at a time, and many of these drugs were never even tested and approved for children."
Over 21,000 signatures:
TeenScreen - National Fraud video:

Congressman James L Oberstar -- Oberstar Urges President to Sign Iraq Bill with Target for Troop Withdrawal

Way to go, Jim! If only any of the presidential candidates from either party had your courage. Read on:

Congressman James L Oberstar -- Oberstar Urges President to Sign Iraq Bill with Target for Troop Withdrawal

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Quarantined wood imports may contain emerald ash borer

Now, if those pesky border cops would just check out the big corporations to make sure they aren't importing forest-destroying predators from quarantined areas, that might be useful.

Check out this latests Alert from the Duluth News Tribune:
· Duluth News Tribune ·

Fattening up the kids: the School Lunch program

Last week's "lunchbox" menu at ISD166 looked a lot like a trip to the food mall at the Minnesota State Fair: tacos, buttered corn, chili, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, french fries, muffins, cookies and cakes, fruits in sugary syrup. Nothing whole grain was on offer and the closest things to healthy foods were the ubiqitous milk (rgbh free? fat free? not), lettuce and tomatoes on the tacos, the carrot and celery sticks with the chili and cheese biscuits, and the juice or fruit with breakfast.
This week was distinguished from the usual fare only by the absence of macaroni, spaghetti, white buns and tater tots.
Yet with its usual myopia the MSM (main stream media to the innocent) has been kicking up a big fuss about healthy SNACKS for kids. Ho hum, sugary soft drinks are bad for you, yes; but is gingerbread cake any better? What about pancakes and bacon?
Get real, America. The fattening of kids has been going on steadily ever since the onset of the school lunch program where the USDA dumps excess commodities on the schools. Only lately it is much worse because the subsidies now go to produce white-flour products, high-fructose corn syrup, and fats from soybeans. Another piece of the puzzle is that most people really don't know anything about nutrition. If they cared, they would find out, despite the MSM's focus on the smallest piece of the problem so the big agribiz takeover of American diets is, like impeachment, "off the table."

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times article, "You are what you grow," which is also linked below.
A public-health researcher from Mars might legitimately wonder why a nation faced with what its surgeon general has called "an epidemic" of obesity would at the same time be in the business of subsidizing the production of high-fructose corn syrup. But such is the perversity of the farm bill: the nation's agricultural policies operate at cross-purposes with its public-health objectives. And the subsidies are only part of the problem.
The farm bill helps determine what sort of food your children will have for lunch in school tomorrow. The school-lunch program began at a time when the public-health problem ofAmerica's children was undernourishment, so feeding surplus agricultural commodities to kids seemed like a win-win strategy. Today the problem is overnutrition, but a school lunch lady trying to prepare healthful fresh food is apt to get dinged by U.S.D.A. inspectors for failing to serve enough calories; if she dishes up a lunch that includes chicken nuggets and Tater Tots, however, the inspector smiles and the reimbursements flow. The farm bill essentially treats our children as a human Disposall for all the unhealthful calories that the farm bill has encouraged American farmers to overproduce.

You are what you grow:
New York Times

AlterNet: DrugReporter: U.S. Border Patrol Bars Canadian Psychotherapist with Drug Research Far in His Past

Lest we forget, the Border Patrol is still sending us 50 or so of its finest from the Mexican border to make sure nobody that Homeland Security (read: The Bush Administration) doesn't like gets in here from Canada. No, for the bad guys, like eminent Canadian psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor Andrew Feldmar, a venerable gentleman of a certain age, there won't be any more attending seminars with his colleagues in this lifetime.
Yours truly, whose own brilliant career has some similarities to Feldmar's, figures if he leaves for Canada he better not plan on coming back. Hmm, unless maybe he slaps a "Bush/Cheney" bumper sticker over the old "Kerry/Edwards" one.

And though we expect Boeing to be building its electronic surveillance barrier on behalf of those spendy folks at Homeland soon enough, it really isn't necessary anymore. All the patrol agents have to do is Google you.

Read on for this amazing but True story from Alternet, a modern version of the deportation of John Lennon, that old peacenik, for protesting the Vietnam War and making songs like "Give Peace a Chance."


AlterNet: DrugReporter: U.S. Border Patrol Bars Canadian Psychotherapist with Drug Research Far in His Past

Monday, April 23, 2007

Congressman James L Oberstar -- Water Resources Bill Benefits Minnesota

Grand Marais harbor redesign by the Army Corps of Engineers in included among the billions of dollars funding water resources passed last week in the House of Representatives. Follow the link to read more:

Congressman James L Oberstar -- Water Resources Bill Benefits Minnesota

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another taconite miner killed in Eveleth

The new Widow Maker? Taconite mining is apparently getting more dangerous; follow this link.

· Duluth News Tribune ·

Congressman James L Oberstar -- Oberstar Statement on Failed Coast Guard Program

Will Deepwater join Blackwater, Katrinagate, Plamegate and the growing oversight of misbehavior, incompetence and criminal negligence (at least) that is damning the Bush administration? True has never heard Oberstar speak so sternly as he does here:

Congressman James L Oberstar -- Oberstar Statement on Failed Coast Guard Program

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Army Extends Iraq Tours to 15 Months

Where is the rage? Who voted last November to get out of Iraq?
This administration has forged full speed aheads with its disastrous escalation. Who will hold it accountable? NOT the newly elected Congress, who has put Impeachment off the table. NOT the legislature who lack the gumption to stand up for what 2/3 of the American people want. Too bad it is not 3/4, the super-majority required to over-ride a veto. BUT, the one-third of fools who think they are pre-ordained by God to control the planet and also get chosen during Armageddon have, unfortunately, the power to prevent a peaceful resolution to this conflict and a mission of peaceful work in our troubled world.

Follow this link to ponder True's latest passionate urge toward activism for peace:

Army Extends Iraq Tours to 15 Months

Where are the mothers? sisters? wives? children? Stem cell bill approved by Senate - Yahoo! News

Where have all the mothers gone?
Most Americans recognize that an eight-cell blastocyst is not a human being.
Dear Cook County residents,
Please follow this link....

Most, like me, have known the loss of loved ones that might have been avoided by stem cell therapy and perhaps even worse, the pending death sentence overhanging those who are denied live-saving treatment because of this stupid president beholden to so many special interests that he has no longer a face of his own, this upper-class pawn so willing to cave to any interests that might give money to his party.
As loved ones all over the planet die when they might have lived,
I wish and hope that some good souls might speak out.

Nancye Belding
Grand Marais

Stem cell bill approved by Senate - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tourism sales: one-third or 82 percent?

Readers, check out this story in yesterday's Duluth paper. It says about one-third of sales in Cook County are tourism-related, a far cry from the 82 percent used by the tourism group calling itself the Economic Analysis Council that wants us all to pay more in sales taxes to increase tourism promotional budgets.
It does look like the Minnesota House may balk at the proposal for a recreation tax to create a super-tourism board.
True has heard rumblings all over the county of people who don't want to pay a regressive sales tax to support the industry that pays us the least (on average $297 per week) of all county jobs.

Click the link to read the story, "Tapping Assets of the North Shore":

· Duluth News Tribune ·

Minneapolis may rein in 'monster houses'

Grand Marais, take a look at what one Minneapolis neighborhood (Southwest) is doing to rein in the excesses of "monster houses" by following this link. In a nutshell, they want to REDUCE the 35 foot height limit and restrict the footprint of a house to 50 percent of its lot size.
True says, good idea. We wouldn't do so badly to follow their example instead of passing new zoning ordinances to allow bigger footprints and higher height limits which is now being pushed by the so-called Business Council.

Minneapolis may rein in 'monster houses'

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Housing Study

Now that the Cook County EDA has heard four hours of resident comments and decided to go ahead with the Northern Communities Land Trust deal to create ten homesites in Sawtooth Cottages, it is time to move on. Everyone has had their say and we at True North think EDA made the best decision. The affordable housing situation here in Cook County is so desperate that it really doesn't matter where we start, as long as we set foot upon the road to finding more.

Affordability is a complex issue, involving the much-tossed about number of $183,000 as the average home sale price in Grand Marais, as well as available jobs, income levels, age of population, seasonality, taxes, growth projections, and cost of living. The Cook County Housing Study completed last November looked carefully at all of these factors as well as separate studies of Schroeder, Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Marais and Grand Portage before reaching some conclusions and recommendations. The Housing Study deserves to be studied by everybody who has a stake in the affordability game before coming up with any more proposals. Even better, in fact, would be a task force or steering committee to develop a county-wide affordability proposal based on the Study recommendations.

True will be looking at how these issues inter-connect. For example, take the average home in Grand Marais. Is it comparable to what $183,000 would buy in the Cities or Duluth. Just drive around town and you will realize the answer is no. CRP reported after a "windshield survey" that 71 percent of the 28 Creechville neighborhood homes is in need of minor or major repair, and five are possibly beyond repair. Another older neighborhood, North Broadway, with 219 homes has 78 percent either Sound or needing only minor repair, 20 percent needing major repair and two percent possibly beyond repair. We are looking at housing stock of fair to moderate condition. and generally a fairly small footprint.

Now, what makes these homes so valuable? It is the value of the surrounding seasonal properties that are newer and larger and to some of us tastelessly vulgar in their amenities and their footprint on the environment. The owners who raise our property values have incomes double, triple or even ten or 20 times the average Cook County resident.

The ten NCLT units are admittedly only available to the high-end of those needing affordable homes--in fact those at 80 percent of the Cook County median income, about $32,000 for singles and $45,000 for a family of four. Still, as we said, it is a start. Next the county urgently needs to address those most in need: the 2,000 residents living in households below that line.

As a helpful start, we will be offering in-depth study of current economic and housing conditions in future posts as well as some specifics of the Study's findings and recommendations. Knowing that some community leaders may not have found time to study this remarkable document True is pleased to make it more accessible.

Among the many valuable findings are a number of sources the city and county might look to to meet the projected housing needs.

In Grand Marais:
  • CPR recommends 70 to 80 new housing units during the next five years, 15 to 18 "affordable," and 10 t0 12 town homes, with half of these being affordable.
  • During the same period, CPR recommends 12 to 16 market rate rental units, 12 to 16 senior rental units, and 12 to 16 subsidized affordable units in addition to the existing four: Birchwood, Harbor View, Grand Marais Apts. and Sawtooth Ridges which offer 93 general occupancy units for 30 percent of household income.
  • Adding up all the affordable or subsidized units brings the total to as many as 40 needed in the next five years alone, and only in Grand Marais. True believes this is understating the need; CPR has no way of knowing that our school enrollment is declining because young families can't afford to live here. It's time to stop arguing and start building. It's time to stop fighting over resources and start seeking out new ones--grants, scattered-site subsidies, and government aid, to name a few.
Watch True for more posts on affordable housing, coming soon.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action

Dear readers,
On this Good Friday which also takes place during Passover, I am taking the unusual step of posting the entire text of this passionate and spiritually inspiring speech made by Bill Moyers in February. He urges us to look to the teachings of Jesus as well as the roots of our democracy and then do our part to bring America back on the right track.
If you like this speech, check out one made just over a year ago, called "A Time for Heresy" at You may have to first go to the Alternet website archives to access this story.

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action
By Bill Moyers

The following is a transcript of a speech given on February 7, 2007 at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
I am grateful to you for this opportunity and to President Prager for the hospitality of this evening, to Diana Akiyama, Director of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, whose idea it was to invite me and with whom you can have an accounting after I've left. And to the Lilly Endowment for funding the Values and Vocations project to encourage students at Occidental to explore how their beliefs and values shape their choices in life, how to make choices for meaningful work and how to make a contribution to the common good. It's a recognition of a unique venture: to demonstrate that the life of the mind and the longing of the spirit are mirror images of the human organism. I'm grateful to be here under their auspices.

I have come across the continent to talk to you about two subjects close to my heart. I care about them as a journalist, a citizen and a grandfather who looks at the pictures next to my computer of my five young grandchildren who do not have a vote, a lobbyist in Washington, or the means to contribute to a presidential candidate. If I don't act in their behalf, who will?

One of my obsessions is democracy, and there is no campus in the country more attuned than Occidental to what it will take to save democracy. Because of your record of activism for social justice, I know we agree that democracy is more than what we were taught in high school civics - more than the two-party system, the checks-and-balances, the debate over whether the Electoral College is a good idea. Those are important matters that warrant our attention, but democracy involves something more fundamental. I want to talk about what democracy bestows on us?the revolutionary idea that democracy is not just about the means of governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency. "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being" - those are the words of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.

I've been spending time with Woodrow Wilson and others of his era because my colleagues and I are producing a documentary series on the momentous struggles that gripped America a century or so years ago at the birth of modern politics. Woodrow Wilson clearly understood the nature of power. In his now-forgotten political testament called The New Freedom, Wilson described his reformism in plain English no one could fail to understand: "The laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the week..." He wrote: "Don't deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of great interests which now dominate our development... There are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States. They are going to own it if they can." And he warned: "There is no salvation in the pitiful condescensions of industrial masters... prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of endurance."

Now Wilson took his stand at the center of power - the presidency itself - and from his stand came progressive income taxation, the federal estate tax, tariff reform, the challenge to great monopolies and trusts, and, most important, a resolute spirit "to deal with the new and subtle tyrannies according to their deserts."

How we need that spirit today! When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

We do not have much time. Our political system is melting down, right here where you live.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only 20% of voters last November believe your state will be a better place to live in the year 2025; 51% say it will be worse. Another poll by the New American Foundation - summed up in an article by Steven Hill in the January 28th San Francisco Chronicle - found that for the first time in modern California history, a majority of adults are not registered with either of the two major parties. Furthermore, writes Hill, "There is a widening breach between most of the 39 million people residing in California and the fewer than 9 million who actually vote." Here we are getting to the heart of the crisis today - the great divide that has opened in American life.

According to that New American Foundation study, frequent voters [in California] tend to be 45 and older, have household incomes of $60,000 or more, are homeowners, and have college degrees. In contrast, the 12 million nonvoters (7 million of whom are eligible to vote but are not registered) tend to be younger than 45, rent instead of own, have not been to College, and have incomes less than $60,000.

In other words, "Considering that California often has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation - in some elections only a little more that 1/3 of eligible voters participate - a small group of frequent voters, who are richer, whiter, and older than their nonvoting neighbors, form the majority that decides which candidates win and which ballot measures pass." The author of that report (Mark Baldassare) concludes: "Only about 15% of adult people make the decisions and that 15% doesn't look much life California overall."

We should not be surprised by the consequences: "Two Californias have emerged. One that votes and one that does not. Both sides inhabit the same state and must share the same resources, but only one side is electing the political leaders who divide up the pie."

You've got a big problem here. But don't feel alone. Across the country our 18th political system is failing to deal with basic realities. Despite Thomas Jefferson's counsel that we would need a revolution every 25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure - practically deified for 225 years - has essentially stayed the same while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know, named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: "We've gone way past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were functioning, they would have never had that power."

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a $2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: "It's hard to understand what a trillion is. I don't know what it is." Is it fair to expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?" He goes on: "But the political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still fit to human scale. I'm at a point where the idea of a political savior in the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it."

Our political system is promiscuous as well as primitive. The first modern fundraiser in American politics - Mark Hanna, who shook down the corporations to make William McKinley President of the United States in 1896 - once said there are two important things in politics. "One is money, and I can't remember the other one." Because our system feeds on campaign contributions, the powerful and the privileged shape it to their will. Only 12% of American households had incomes over $100,000 in 2000, but they made up 95% of the substantial donors to campaigns and have been the big winners in Washington ever since.

I saw early on the consequences of political and social inequality. I got my first job in journalism at the age of 16. I quickly had one of those strokes of luck that can determine a career. Some of the old timers were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to cover what came to be known as the 'Housewives Rebellion.' Fifteen women in my home town decided not to pay the social security withholding tax for their domestic workers. They argued that social security was unconstitutional, that imposing it was taxation without representation, and that - here's my favorite part - "requiring us to collect (the tax) is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage."

They hired themselves a lawyer - none other than Martin Dies, the former Congressman best known, or worst known, for his work as head of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the 30s and 40s. He was no more effective at defending rebellious women than he had been protecting against Communist subversives, and eventually the women wound up holding their noses and paying the tax. The stories I wrote for my local paper were picked up and moved on by the Associated Press wire to Newspapers all over the country. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP ticker beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing one "Bill Moyers" and the News Messenger for the reporting we had done on the rebellion.

That hooked me. In one way or another - after a detour through seminary and then into politics and government for a spell - I've been covering politics ever since.

By "politics" I mean when people get together to influence government, change their own lives, and change society. Sometimes those people are powerful corporate lobby groups like the drug companies and the oil industry, and sometimes they are ordinary people fighting to protect their communities from toxic chemicals, workers fighting for a living wage, or college students organizing to put an end to sweatshops.

Those women in Marshall, Texas - who didn't want to pay Social Security taxes for their maids - were not bad people. They were regulars at church, their children were my friends, many of them were active in community affairs, and their husbands were pillars of the business and professional class in town. They were respectable and upstanding citizens all.

So it took me awhile to figure out what had brought on that spasm of reactionary rebellion. It came to me one day, much later. They simply couldn't see beyond their own prerogatives. Fiercely loyal to their families, to their clubs, charities, and congregations - fiercely loyal, in other words, to their own kind - they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like them. The women who washed and ironed their laundry, wiped their children's bottoms, made their husbands' beds, and cooked their families meals - these women, too, would grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show from their years of labor but the creases in their brow and the knots on their knuckles.

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether "We, the People" is a spiritual idea embedded in a political reality - one nation, indivisible - or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

We seem to be holding our breath today, trying to decide what kind of country we want to be. But in this state of suspension, powerful interests are making off with the booty. They remind me of the card shark in Texas who said to his competitor in the poker game: "Now play the cards fairly Reuben. I know what I dealt you."

For years now a small fraction of American households have been garnering a larger and larger concentration of wealth and income, while large corporations and financial institutions have obtained unprecedented power over who wins and who loses. Inequality in America is greater than it's been in 50 years. In 1960 the gap in terms of wealth between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was 30 fold. Today it's more than 75 fold.

Such concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefiting proportionally. But that is not the case. Throughout our industrial history incomes grew at 30% to 50% or more every quarter, and in the quarter century after WWII, gains reached more than 100% for all income categories. Since the late 1970s, only the top 1% of households increased their income by 100%.

Once upon a time, according to Isabel Sawhill and Sara McLanahan in The Future of Children, the American ideal of classless society was 'one in which all children have roughly equal chance of success regardless of the economic status of the family into which they were born. That's changing fast. The Economist Jeffrey Madrick writes that just a couple of decades ago, only 20% of one's future income was determined by the income of one's father. New research suggests that today 60% of a son's income is determined by the level of his father's income. In other words, children no longer have a roughly equal chance of success regardless of the economic status of the family into which they are born. Their chances of success are greatly improved if they are born on third base and their father has been tipping the umpire.

As all of you know, a college education today is practically a necessity if you are to hold your own, much less climb the next rung. More than 40% of all new jobs now require a college degree. There are real world consequences to this, and Madrick drives them home. Since the 1970s, median wages of men with college degrees have risen about 14%. But median wages for high school graduates have fallen about 15%. Not surprisingly, nearly 24% of American workers with only a high school diploma have no health insurance, compared with less than 10% of those with college degrees.

Such statistics can bring glaze to the eyes, but Oscar Wilde once said that it is the mark of truly educated people to be deeply moved by statistics. All of you are educated, and I know you can envision the stress these economic realities are putting on working people and on family life. As incomes have stagnated, higher education, health care, public transportation, drugs, housing and cars have risen faster in price than typical family incomes, so that life, says Jeffrey Madrick, "has grown neither calm nor secure for most Americans, by any means."

Let me tell you about the Stanleys and the Neumanns, two families who live in Milwaukee. One is black, the other white. The breadwinners in both were laid off in the first wave of downsizing in 1991 as corporations began moving jobs out of the city and then out of the country. In a documentary series my colleagues and I chronicled their efforts over the next decade to cope with the wrenching changes in their lives and to find a place for themselves in the new global economy. They're the kind of Americans my mother would have called "the salt of the earth". They love their kids, care about their communities, go to church every Sunday, and work hard all week.

To make ends meet after the layoffs, both mothers took full-time jobs. Both fathers became seriously ill. When one father had to stay in the hospital two months the family went $30,000 in debt because they didn't have adequate health care. We were there with our cameras when the bank started to foreclose on the modest home of one family that couldn't make mortgage payments. Like millions of Americans, the Stanleys and the Neumanns were playing by the rules and still getting stiffed. By the end of the decade they were running harder but slipping further behind, and the gap between them and prosperous America was widening.

What turns their personal tragedy into a political travesty is that while they are indeed patriotic, they no longer believe they matter to the people who run the country. They simply do not think their concerns will ever be addressed by the political, corporate, and media elites who make up our dominant class. They are not cynical, because they are deeply religious people with no capacity for cynicism, but they know the system is rigged against them.

"Things have reached such a state of affairs," the journalist George Orwell once wrote, "that the first duty of every intelligent person is to pay attention to the obvious." The editors of The Economist have done just that. The pro-business magazine considered by many to be the most influential defender of capitalism on the newsstand, produced a sobering analysis of what is happening to the old notion that any American child can get to the top. A growing body of evidence - some of it I have already cited - led the editors to conclude that with "income inequality growing to levels not seen since the Gilded Age and social mobility falling behind, the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society." The editors point to an "education system increasingly stratified by social class" in which poor children "attend schools with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries" and great universities that are "increasingly reinforcing rather than reducing these educational inequalities." They conclude that America's great companies have made it harder than ever "for people to start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchies by dint of hard work and self-improvement."

It is eerie to read assessments like that and then read the anthropologist Jared Diamond's book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail He describes an America society in which elites cocoon themselves "in gated communities, guarded by private security guards, and filled with people who drink bottled water, depend on private pensions, and send their children to private schools." Gradually, they lose the motivation "to support the police force, the municipal water supply, Social Security, and public schools." Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure, warns Jared Diamond, if elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their own actions.

So it is that in a study of its own, The American Political Science Association found that "increasing inequalities threaten the American ideal of equal citizenship and that progress toward real democracy may have stalled in this country and even reversed."

This is a marked turn of events for a country whose mythology embraces "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as part of our creed. America was not supposed to be a country of "winner take all." Through our system of checks and balances we were going to maintain a healthy equilibrium in how power works - and for whom. Because equitable access to public resources is the lifeblood of any democracy, we made primary schooling free to all. Because everyone deserves a second chance, debtors, especially the relatively poor, were protected by state laws against their rich creditors. Government encouraged Americans to own their own piece of land, and even supported squatters' rights. In my time, the hope of equal opportunity became reality for millions of us. Although my parents were knocked down and almost out by the Great Depression, and were poor all their lives, my brother and I went to good public schools. The GI Bill made it possible for him to go to college. When I bought my first car with a loan of $450 I drove to a public school on a public highway and stopped to rest in a public park. America as a shared project was becoming the engine of our national experience.

Not now. Beginning a quarter of a century ago a movement of corporate, political, and religious fundamentalists gained ascendancy over politics and made inequality their goal. They launched a crusade to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have held private power. And they had the money to back up their ambition.

Let me read you something:

When powerful interests shower Washington with millions in campaign contributions, they often get what they want. But it is ordinary citizens and firms that pay the price and most of them never see it coming. This is what happens if you don't contribute to their campaigns or spend generously on lobbying. You pick up a disproportionate share of America's tax bill. You pay higher prices for a broad range of products from peanuts to prescriptions. You pay taxes that others in a similar situation have been excused from paying. You're compelled to abide by laws while others are granted immunity from them. You must pay debts that you incur while others do not. You're barred from writing off on your tax returns some of the money spent on necessities while others deduct the cost of their entertainment. You must run your business by one set of rules, while the government creates another set for your competitors. In contrast, the fortunate few who contribute to the right politicians and hire the right lobbyists enjoy all the benefits of their special status. Make a bad business deal; the government bails them out. If they want to hire workers at below market wages, the government provides the means to do so. If they want more time to pay their debts, the government gives them an extension. If they want immunity from certain laws, the government gives it. If they want to ignore rules their competition must comply with, the government gives its approval. If they want to kill legislation that is intended for the public, it gets killed.

I'm not quoting from Karl Marx's Das Kapital or Mao's Little Red Book. I'm quoting Time Magazine. From the heart of America's media establishment comes the judgment that America now has "government for the few at the expense of the many."

We are talking about nothing less that a class war declared a generation ago, in a powerful polemic by the wealthy right-winger, William Simon, who had been Richard Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury. In it he declared that "funds generated by business... must rush by the multimillions" to conservative causes. The trumpet was sounded for the financial and business class to take back the power and privileges they had lost as a result of the Great Depression and the New Deal. They got the message and were soon waging a well-orchestrated, lavishly-financed movement. Business Week put it bluntly: "Some people will obviously have to do with less... .It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more." The long-range strategy was to cut workforces and their wages, scour the globe in search of cheap labor, trash the social contract and the safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control, deny ordinary citizens the power to sue rich corporations for malfeasance and malpractice, and eliminate the ability of government to restrain what editorialists for the Wall Street Journal admiringly call "the animal spirits of business."

Looking backwards, it all seems so clear that we wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs at the time. What has been happening to working people is not the result of Adam Smith's invisible hand but the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious literalism opposed to any civil and human right that threaten its paternalism, and a string of political decisions favoring the interests of wealthy elites who bought the political system right out from under us.

To create the intellectual framework for this revolution in public policy, they funded conservative think tanks that churned out study after study advocating their agenda.

To put muscle behind these ideas, they created a formidable political machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class, Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post, reported that "During the 1970s, business refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right - Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition - who gleefully contrived a cultural holy war that became a smokescreen behind which the economic assault on the middle and working classes would occur.

From land, water, and other resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medial breakthroughs, a broad range of America's public resources have been undergoing a powerful shift toward elite control, contributing substantially to those economic pressures on ordinary Americans that "deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation and civic life."
What's to be done?

The only answer to organized money is organized people.


The only answer to organized money is organized people.

And again:

The only answer to organized money is organized people.

I came to Occidental because your campus has a reputation for believing in a political system where ordinary people have a voice in making the decisions that shape their lives, not just at the ballot box every two or four years in November, but in their workplaces, their neighborhoods and communities, and on their college campuses. In a real democracy, ordinary people at every level hold their elected officials accountable for the big decisions, about whether or not to go to war and put young men and women in harm's way, about the pollution of the environment, global warming, and the health and safety of our workplaces, our communities, our food and our air and our water, the quality of our public schools, and the distribution of economic resources. It's the spirit of fighting back throughout American history that brought an end to sweatshops, won the eight-hour working day and a minimum wage, delivered suffrage to women and blacks from slavery, inspired the Gay Rights movement, the consumer and environmental movements, and more recently stopped Congress from enacting repressive legislation against immigrants.

I believe a new wave of social reform is about to break across America. We see it in the struggle for a 'living wage' for America's working people... Last November, voters in six states approved ballot measures to raise their states' minimum wage above the federal level; 28 states now have such laws. Since 1994, more than 100 cities have passed local living wage laws that require employers who do business with the government - who get taxpayer subsidies, in other words - to pay workers enough to lift their families out of poverty.

Los Angeles has led the way, passing one of the nation's strongest 'living wage' laws in 1997. And just the other day the LA City Council voted to extend that "living wage" law to the thirty-five hundred hotel workers around the Los Angeles Airport - the first living wage law in the country to target a specific industry and a specific geographic area. But it took last fall's march down Century Boulevard - organized people! - to finally bring it about and it took the arrest of hundreds of college students, including several dozen from Occidental.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said that "if there is no struggle, there is no progress." Those who profess freedom, yet fail to act - they are "men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning, they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters... power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them."

What America needs is a broad bi-partisan movement for democracy. It's happened before: In 1800, with the Jeffersonian Democrats; in 1860, with Radical Republicans; in 1892, with the Populists; in 1912, with Bull Moose Progressives; in 1932, with the New Deal; in l964, with Civil Rights activists - each moment a breaking point after long, hard struggles, each with small beginnings in transcendent faith.

Faith! That's the other subject close to my heart that I have come talk about. Almost every great social movement in America has contained a flame of faith at its core - the belief that all human beings bear traces of the divine spark, however defined. I myself believe that within the religious quest - in the deeper realm of spirituality that may well be the primal origin of all religion - lies what Gregg Easterbrook calls "an essential aspect of the human prospect." It is here we wrestle with questions of life and purpose, with the meaning of loss, yearning and hope, above all of love.

I am grateful to have first been exposed to those qualities in my own Christian tradition. T.S. Eliot believed that "no man [or woman] has ever climbed to the higher stages of the spiritual life who has not been a believer in a particular religion, or at least a particular philosophy." As we dig deeper into our own religion, we are likely to break through to someone else digging deeper toward us from their own tradition, and on some metaphysical level, we converge, like the images inside a kaleidoscope, into new patterns of meaning that illuminate our own journey.

For most of our history this country's religious discourse was dominated by white male Protestants of a culturally conservative European heritage - people like me. Dissenting voices of America, alternative visions of faith, or race, of women, rarely reached the mainstream. The cartoonist Jeff McNally summed it up with two weirdoes talking in a California diner. One weirdo says to the other. "Have you ever delved into the mysteries of Eastern Religion?" And the second weirdo answers: "Yes, I was once a Methodist in Philadelphia." Once upon a time that was about the extent of our exposure to the varieties of Religious experience. No longer. Our nation is being re-created right before our eyes, with mosques and Hindu Temples, Sikh communities and Buddhist retreat centers. And we all have so much to teach each other. Buddhists can teach us about the delight of contemplation and 'the infinite within.' From Muslims we can learn about the nature of surrender; from Jews, the power of the prophetic conscience; from Hindus, the "realms of gold" hidden in the depths of our hearts," from Confucians the empathy necessary to sustain the fragile web of civilization... Nothing I take from these traditions has come at the expense of the Christian story. I respect that story - my story ?even more for having come to see that all the great religious grapple with things that matter, although each may come out at a different place; that each arises from within and experiences a lived human experience; and each and every one of them offers a unique insight into human nature. I reject the notion that faith is acquired in the same way one chooses a meal in a cafeteria, but I confess there is something liberating about no longer being quite so deaf to what others have to report from their experience.

So let me share with you what I treasure most about the faith that has informed my journey. You will find it in the New Testament, in the gospel of Matthew, where the story of Jesus of Nazareth unfolds chapter by chapter: The birth at Bethlehem. The baptism in the River Jordan. The temptation in the wilderness. The Sermon on the Mount. The healing of the sick and the feeding of the hungry. The Parables. The calling of the Disciples. The journey to Jerusalem. And always, embedded like pearls throughout the story, the teachings of compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation:

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also... and whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer our gift.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

In these pages we are in the presence of one who clearly understands the power of love, mercy, and kindness - the 'gentle Jesus' so familiar in art, song, and Sunday School.

But then the tale turns. Jesus' demeanor changes; the tone and temper of the narrative shift, and the Prince of Peace becomes a disturber of the peace:
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers..... and he said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.'"

His message grew more threatening, amid growing crowds right on the Temple grounds. In his parable of the wicked tenants, he predicted the imminent destruction of the Jerusalem elites, setting in motion the events that led to his crucifixion a short time later.

No cheek turned there. No second mile traveled. On the contrary, Jesus grows angry. He passes judgment. His message becomes more threatening. And he takes action.

Over the past few years as we witnessed the growing concentration of wealth and privilege in our country, prophetic religion lost its voice, drowned out by the corporate, political, and religious right who hijacked Jesus.

That's right: They hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, "The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor" - this Jesus, hijacked by a philosophy of greed. The very Jesus who fed 5000 hungry people - and not just those in the skyboxes; the very Jesus who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast; who raised the status of women and treated even the hated tax collector as a citizen of the Kingdom. The indignant Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple - this Jesus was hijacked and turned from a friend of the dispossessed into a guardian of privilege, the ally of oil barons, banking tycoons, media moguls and weapons builders.

Yet it was this same Jesus who inspired a Methodist ship-caulker named Edward Rogers to crusade across New England for an eight hour work day; called Frances William to rise up against the sweatshop; sent Dorothy Day to march alongside striking auto workers in Michigan, fishermen and textile workers in Massachusetts, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont; who roused E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield to stand against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude, challenged a young priest named John Ryan to champion child labor laws a decade before the New Deal, and summoned Martin Luther King to Memphis to join sanitation workers in their struggle for a decent wage.

This Jesus was there on Century Boulevard last September, speaking Spanish. And it is this resurrected Jesus, in the company of the morally indignant of every faith, who will be there wherever Americans are angry enough to rise up and drive the money changers from the temples of democracy.

To you students at Occidental, let me say: I have been a journalist too long to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. I believe the only way to be in the world is to see it as it really is and then to take it on despite the frightening things you see. The Italian philosopher Gramschi spoke of the "the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will." With this philosophy your generation can bring about the Third American Revolution. The first won independence from the Crown. The second won equal rights for women and for the sons and daughters of slavery. This third - the revolution of the 21st Century - will bring about a democracy that leaves no one out. The simple truth is we cannot build a political society or a nation across the vast divides that mark our country today. We must bridge that divide and make society whole, sharing the fruits of freedom and prosperity with the least among us. I have crossed the continent to tell you the Dream is not done, the work is not over, and your time has come to take it on.

TeenScreen Petition posted by Bev Miller

Dear TRUE:

If anyone has not yet signed the TeenScreen petition please go to and add your name to the now 20,737 signatures and growing!

The pressure we created at the state Capitol on TeenScreen has caused it to go "underground". Congratulations on making such a big impact! Here's an example of what one Representative had to say:

Minnesota Representative Olson: "Given the volume of e-mails that I've received, on this issue, more than any other issue in this session and the fact that I've not received any in support and I've had a number of psychiatric professionals and psychologists contact me with their concerns about this program, I think it's very important that we rule out any of these kinds of tools."

TeenScreen is now considered so controversial that it has now been renamed: It is now being called a "suicide prevention tool" and is located in HF 6, HF 6 is a large education funding bill, and the part we are opposed to is just one small portion of the bill. We don't want to defeat the entire bill, just the "suicide prevention tool". The next step for this bill is the House floor for a vote, after Easter. Therefore it is essential that legislators have an email box full of emails when they return. Send an email as soon as you can, but definitely by Monday morning.

1. Send an email to your Minnesota Representative. If you cannot remember who it is, go to and type in your address. The first person listed is the person you want to write to, and their email address will be right there for you, as well as their phone number. Send a bcc to rest of the Representatives in the House (see email addresses below).

2. Ask them to vote in favor of an amendment that will remove suicide prevention tools from the Safe Schools Levy (tax) in House File 6. Tell them that this is just a devious attempt to fund the controversial TeenScreen program that identifies too many children as being at risk of suicide, leading to the unnecessary drugging of kids. These drugs can cause suicidal and homicidal reactions in kids, which will make our schools MUCH LESS SAFE. Ask for a response. Include your home address so they know you are from Minnesota.

We've driven TeenScreen underground - now it's time to drive them completely out of Minnesota.

Bev Miller
Grand Marais

Minnesota House Reps. email addresses:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, rep.diane.loeffler,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rep. Oberstar Op Ed: Helping Those Who Serve

Helping Those Who Serve
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
by Rep. James Oberstar

Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have had many opportunities to meet with veterans from those conflicts. While their opinions on the wars were varied, these veterans were in agreement on two issues: they are proud of their service, and are desperately looking for guidance and respect as they cope with physical and psychological injuries. Throughout their first, second, or even third deployment, these men and women in uniform were adamantly committed to looking out for each other, making sure they each did his or her duty and got home safe. We owe these veterans the same level of loyalty and commitment that they gave to us and to themselves, often times at great personal cost.

Unfortunately, our returning soldiers have found that our nation has not fulfilled its responsibility to meet their most basic needs. After fighting terrorists and insurgents overseas, our veterans are now forced to fight for their medical services. They are forced to fight red tape. They are forced to fight for respect. This is wrong.

The sad fact is that the fight for proper, earned benefits for America’s veterans goes back decades. In the 19th Century, help for veterans was haphazard at best, with pension laws not enacted until years after a conflict was over, and scant attention was devoted to medical care or rehabilitation. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that Congress enacted laws that provided more comprehensive and timely benefits for veterans and their families. However, it was too often the case that the funding for these benefits was not adequate to meet the needs of our veterans.

Our veteran’s health care system is in crisis. This year, it’s expected that there will be more than 58 million outpatient visits to VA facilities. The number of new enrollees waiting for their first clinic appointment has skyrocketed. The bottom line is that the VA is overburdened and unable to keep up with the growing needs of veterans. The American Legion is saying this. The VFW is saying this. The DAV is saying this. And Democrats in Congress have been saying this.

To help offset the rising healthcare costs in the VA, the current Administration has asked veterans to pay a larger share of the costs with enrollments fees and prescription drug co-pay increases, as well as limiting the number of veterans who can access VA facilities. I have long opposed these efforts to ask our veterans to shoulder these additional burdens to receive their earned benefits.

Instead of cutting benefits for veterans, we need to cut the red tape they face when applying for benefits. We need to cut the time veterans have to wait to be seen at a VA hospital. We need to cut the rising healthcare costs for veterans.

In the next few weeks, I will be visiting VA hospitals, outpatient clinics, veterans homes, and speaking with administrators, doctors, nurses, service officers and veterans themselves to find out what is working, what is not working, and what can be done to better assist veterans. Based on previous discussions with veterans, I know the healthcare within the VA system is topnotch. That’s not the problem. We are failing these men and women as they make the transition from soldier to veteran and they are not receiving the follow-up care that they need. There are many veterans and VA employees who want to reinforce what’s working and to fix what isn’t. I want to hear from them.

On April 14, I will hold my first 2007 Hometown Values forum at the Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Cambridge, entitled “Our Military Community: Helping Those Who Serve.” At the forum, I will have specialists in the VA field who will offer their own analysis and take questions from the audience. The forum is open to the public.

No citizens have paid a higher price, nor invested a larger stake in America, than those who now serve or have served in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines. We need to go beyond honoring our veterans with dedications, monuments, holidays and lofty rhetoric. We need to honor them with the real and substantial support they deserve after shouldering the burden of defending the United States.


TeenScreen: A National Fraud

Dear True--- please post these links on True North and the attached URGENT articles and call to arms here in Minnesota and nationwide. My editorial that printed in the duluth trib on monday is below as is another one from St. Cloud on what's happening elsewhere. It is crucial that we stop this from a human rights standpoint. THANK YOU.

Also, Let's get folks to sign the teenscreen petition. TeenScreen Petition: Over 20,500 signatures:

Video: TeenScreen - A National Fraud:

Please get the word out to all your Minnesota friends about the legislation to fund TeenScreen / mental health screening of kids there.

Minnesota legislators are considering a bill to fund TeenScreen to the tune of 2.2 million dollars. Please contact everyone you know so they can contact everyone they know and in this way we may be able to alert a bunch of Minnesota folks. Please do this now.

Otherwise, you may have TeenScreen at your own doorstep next.

Duluth News Tribune (Minnesota)

April 02, 2007

Program to prevent teen suicide misguided

I am a parent concerned about a new program being considered by the Minnesota Legislature, the so-called “TeenScreen” suicide-prevention program (HF 196 and SF 789).

While promoted as a suicide-prevention program, its implementation likely would not prevent suicides, but actually could result in more suicides and also in the mislabeling of children with mental disorders and in the placement of children on dangerous, mind-altering psychiatric drugs.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has found no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality. On that score, funding TeenScreen would be a waste of state tax dollars.

Most important, those found to be at risk after an initial screening would be referred to a psychiatrist. This is particularly distressing as the data released by a survey, printed in JAM Academy Adolescent Psychiatry in 2002, showed that nine of 10 children who see a psychiatrist are given psychiatric drugs. This is most dangerous as the FDA has found that antidepressants play a causal role in pediatric suicides, and that children given psychiatric drugs are twice as likely to commit suicide as those given a placebo. Witness the fact that all school shootings have been linked to psychiatric drugs. As a result, the FDA has ordered drug manufacturers to place a black-box warning on antidepressant labels. The black-box warning is the most serious measure the FDA can take regarding a prescription medication, short of an outright ban.

While preventing suicide is a noble goal and any suicide is a needless loss, TeenScreen, drugs and psychiatrists are not the mechanisms to achieve that aim.

Bev Miller
Grand Marais

Please read the below and then send an e-mail to the Chairman of the Montana Senate Finance and Claims Committee and bcc the rest of the committee members. Tell them NO on Resolution 27 which they will be hearing tomorrow, April 5, 2007. You can find the resolution here: You could even send them the link to the BMJ article below.

The resolution simply is an attempt to to implement the plan of the "New Freedom Commission" which recommended TeenScreen and also TMAP (read below) The commission recommended comprehensive mental health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children. Schools, wrote the commission, are in a key position to screen our 52 million students. Many states are now working on the recommendations of the NFC to "transform" the mental health system. You can read more about the NFC here:

Any questions, comments or coordination, please contact Steve Pearce
British Medical Journal
19 June 2004
Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness
Jeanne Lenzer
New York

A sweeping mental health initiative will be unveiled by President George W Bush in July. The plan promises to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing "services in the community, rather than institutions," according to a March 2004 progress report entitled New Freedom Initiative ( While some praise the plan's goals, others say it protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public.

Bush established the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in April 2002 to conduct a "comprehensive study of the United States mental health service delivery system." The commission issued its recommendations in July 2003. Bush instructed more than 25 federal agencies to develop an implementation plan based on those recommendations.

The president's commission found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children. According to the commission, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviours and emotional disorders." Schools, wrote the commission, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.

The commission also recommended "Linkage [of screening] with treatment and supports" including "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions." The commission commended the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes."

Dr Darrel Regier, director of research at the American Psychiatric Association (APA), lauded the president's initiative and the Texas project model saying, "What's nice about TMAP is that this is a logical plan based on efficacy data from clinical trials."

He said the association has called for increased funding for implementation of the overall plan.

But the Texas project, which promotes the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, sparked off controversy when Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General, revealed that key officials with influence over the medication plan in his state received money and perks from drug companies with a stake in the medication algorithm (15 May, p1153). He was sacked this week for speaking to the BMJ and the New York Times.

The Texas project started in 1995 as an alliance of individuals from the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas, and the mental health and corrections systems of Texas. The project was funded by a Robert Wood Johnson grant—and by several drug companies.

Mr Jones told the BMJ that the same "political/pharmaceutical alliance" that generated the Texas project was behind the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission, which, according to his whistleblower report, were "poised to consolidate the TMAP effort into a comprehensive national policy to treat mental illness with expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit and deadly side effects, and to force private insurers to pick up more of the tab" (

Larry D Sasich, research associate with Public Citizen in Washington, DC, told the BMJ that studies in both the United States and Great Britain suggest that "using the older drugs first makes sense. There's nothing in the labeling of the newer atypical antipsychotic drugs that suggests they are superior in efficacy to haloperidol [an older "typical" antipsychotic]. There has to be an enormous amount of unnecessary expenditures for the newer drugs."

Drug companies have contributed three times more to the campaign of George Bush, seen here campaigning in Florida, than to that of his rival John Kerry

Olanzapine (trade name Zyprexa), one of the atypical antipsychotic drugs recommended as a first line drug in the Texas algorithm, grossed $4.28bn (£2.35bn; 3.56bn) worldwide in 2003 and is Eli Lilly's top selling drug. A 2003 New York Times article by Gardiner Harris reported that 70% of olanzapine sales are paid for by government agencies, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Eli Lilly, manufacturer of olanzapine, has multiple ties to the Bush administration. George Bush Sr was a member of Lilly's board of directors and Bush Jr appointed Lilly's chief executive officer, Sidney Taurel, to a seat on the Homeland Security Council. Lilly made $1.6m in political contributions in 2000—82% of which went to Bush and the Republican Party.

Jones points out that the companies that helped to start up the Texas project have been, and still are, big contributors to the election funds of George W Bush. In addition, some members of the New Freedom Commission have served on advisory boards for these same companies, while others have direct ties to the Texas Medication Algorithm Project.

Bush was the governor of Texas during the development of the Texas project, and, during his 2000 presidential campaign, he boasted of his support for the project and the fact that the legislation he passed expanded Medicaid coverage of psychotropic drugs.

Bush is the clear front runner when it comes to drug company contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), manufacturers of drugs and health products have contributed $764 274 to the 2004 Bush campaign through their political action committees and employees—far outstripping the $149 400 given to his chief rival, John Kerry, by 26 April.

Drug companies have fared exceedingly well under the Bush administration, according to the centre's spokesperson, Steven Weiss.
The commission's recommendation for increased screening has also been questioned. Robert Whitaker, journalist and author of Mad in America, says that while increased screening "may seem defensible," it could also be seen as "fishing for customers," and that exorbitant spending on new drugs "robs from other forms of care such as job training and shelter programmes."

But Dr Graham Emslie, who helped develop the Texas project, defends screening: "There are good data showing that if you identify kids at an earlier age who are aggressive, you can intervene... and change their trajectory."


Tell them NO on Resolution 27

Senator Trudi Schmidt TRUDI@IN-TCH.COM



St. Cloud Times (Minnesota)
Be wary of TeenScreen legislation

April 03. 2007

If you have not heard about TeenScreen, here is a crash course.

TeenScreen is a program quietly making its way through the state Capitol. Nationwide, it is known as a highly controversial suicide screening program. Essentially, it is a test given to high school students with very vague questions like, “Do you sometimes feel depressed?”

Responses to these questions then lead to psychiatric evaluations, which often leads to prescription drugs.

This is a program with a clear agenda: Put more kids on prescription drugs. Research shows that screening for suicide, while a noble cause, has a less than impressive success rate. Caught in the crossfire are thousands of kids who will suffer the effects of a “false positive” score. According to one study published in the January 2004 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, for every 16 students correctly identified by TeenScreen, 84 were falsely labeled.

Don’t be fooled by the well-intentioned but misguided efforts of the TeenScreen promoters.

Jason Krueger
Sauk Rapids