Useless Studies, Real Harm

Stephan:  More about the illness profit system showing that it is corrupt more deeply than most people can imagine. This is what you get when you dilute regulatory oversight. Carl Elliott teaches bioethics at the University of Minnesota and is the author of 'White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine.


LAST month, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a scathing reassessment of a 12-year-old research study of Neurontin, a seizure drug made by Pfizer. The study, which had included more than 2,700 subjects and was carried out by Parke-Davis (now part of Pfizer), was notable for how poorly it was conducted. The investigators were inexperienced and untrained, and the design of the study was so flawed it generated few if any useful conclusions. Even more alarming, 11 patients in the study died and 73 more experienced ‘serious adverse events.

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Jobs Czar Sends Jobs to China

Stephan:  Finally the truth SR readers have been hearing for years is beginning to be confirmed elsewhere. This is why nothing has been done about jobs. As this report makes clear, 'Unfortunately for America's workers, men like President Obama put their faith and trust in people like Jeff Immelt. And CEO's like Jeff Immelt admittedly pledge their loyalties not to their country or their countrymen, but instead to maximizing profits for their corporate shareholders. If higher profits come at the price of devastating their country, so be it.'

BEIJING — Workers are celebrating in the streets and thanking America’s Jobs Czar for moving so many high-paying, high tech jobs to their communities today. The only problem is, they are Chinese workers throughout China. Jeff Immelt is not only President Obama’s Jobs Czar, he is also the CEO of General Electric. In addition to being the parent company all the NBC family of broadcasting networks, GE is also one of the largest military contractors in the US.

In 2008, GE CEO Jeff Immelt called China the company’s ‘second home market

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World Population to Top 9 Billion by 2050, 49% Growth from Africa

Stephan:  These are the projections based on the data available. I suspect that this is not how it will work out. I believe climate change is going to have a depressive effect on population numbers as one of its several unintended consequences.

The global population is expected to top seven billion in 2011. By 2050, it’s expected to exceed nine billion. By 2100, it’s expected to rise to 10 billion.

The figures were cited by a Harvard School of Public Health press release about a review article of Professor David Bloom published in Science.

The global population growth is expected to be highly uneven geographically.

In certain developed countries like Japan and Germany, it’s expected to stay flat or even decline. In the coming decades, these countries could face a demographics crisis as society fails to produce enough adults to care for the elderly.

Towards 2050, the entire developed world is expected to contribute only three percent of the projected global growth.

In developing countries, populations are expected to explode. In Africa alone, the population is expected to grow 1.1 billion, or 49 percent of the global projected growth, by 2050.

The demographics challenges in these developing countries are supplying food, water, housing and energy for the growing population, said Bloom.

However, contrary to popular belief, the earth isn’t running out of resources to accommodate its growing population.

Agricultural scientists almost universally agree that the earth has more than enough arable land to feed people. […]

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Sticky Ultra-bad Cholesterol Discovered

Stephan:  The findings are published online in the journal Diabetes.

WARWICK, England — So-called ultra-bad cholesterol — MGmin-low-density lipoprotein — appears to be more likely than normal LDL to stick to artery walls, British researchers say.

Scientists at the University of Warwick in England say the super-sticky ultra-bad cholesterol is more common among those with type 2 diabetes and the elderly than among others.

Study leader Dr. Naila Rabbani, an associate professor at Warwick Medical School, says the researchers made the discovery by creating human MGmin-LDL in the laboratory, and then studying its characteristics and interactions with other important molecules in the body.

The MGmin-LDL is created by the addition of sugar to normal LDL — glycation – making LDL smaller and denser. By changing its shape, the sugar exposes new regions on the surface of the LDL, Rabbani says.

The exposed regions are more likely to stick to artery walls, helping build fatty plaques, and as the fatty plaques grow they narrow arteries, reducing blood flow. They can rupture, triggering a blood clot that causes a heart attack or stroke, Rabbani explains.

‘The next challenge is to tackle this more dangerous type of cholesterol with treatments that could help neutralize its harmful effects on patients’ arteries,’ Rabbani says in a statement.

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Key to Swaying Mass Opinion Found

Stephan:  This is what the teabaggers achieved, and this is what those of us who are social progressives must achieve. Ten per cent or better, a definable goal. The findings were published July 22 online in the journal Physical Review E.

For an opinion or belief, 10 percent is critical mass. If that proportion of the population emphatically embraces an idea, then it will spread rapidly to the majority of the population, scientists have found.

‘When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas,’ said researcher Boleslaw Szymanski, director of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. ‘Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.’

For example, dictators who held power for decades in Tunisia and Egypt were overthrown in a matter of weeks when events pushed public opinion past the 10 percent threshold, Szymanski said.

Szymanski and colleagues tested out the spread of opinion using computer models of different social networks - one in which everyone was connected to everyone else, one with a few well-connected people and one in which everyone had the same, limited number of connections. In all cases, a few people within the network held an unwavering, but uncommon, belief; everyone else held a traditional view but was open-minded.

They found that, regardless of the type of network, 10 percent remained the threshold required to shift the majority opinion once […]

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