Archive | March, 2016

52. Ingested Lead Detox

30 Mar

The best way for the ordinary citizen of Flint (and other communities) to deal with lead in the water supply, after it is ingested, is through food education. If you research and study food-based detox methods you may come up with an effective program. Some medical doctors discourage the use of diet and food selection for lead detox, but there are encouraging studies and taking foods that are healthy anyway, would be a good gamble.  If you begin a program and particularly if you are doing something unusual, consulting a qualified expert (such as a nutrition-oriented MD)  is advised. What I have written here is NOT medical advice, but general information.

I have read a number of studies on detox and also information provided by Flint medical experts. As for my qualifications, I have a Ph.D. degree, have taken many chemistry courses, had a neuroscience research grant from NIH, and have studied nutrition all of my adult life.  I realize that most ordinary people will not be able to do the research or make most of the necessary diet changes, but I still feel that it is good to document what may be helpful.  Perhaps community leaders and/or medical experts can help the citizens with this.

Here are some of my conclusions regarding lead detox.

1. General improvements in the diet are highly recommended.  I don’t endorse any radical diet plans or commercial products.

2. Drink plenty of safe water (but not extreme amounts).

3. The most commonly recommended foods and vitamins for detox are: vitamin C, garlic, cilantro, and a wide variety of vegetables. This variety should include dark-grean leafy vegetables, orange and red vegetables, and other colors. The various colors represent different valuable and heathy substances. Examples of excellent food choices are: broccoli, cabbage, blue berries, seeds (pumpkin, flax, and sun-flower), almonds, kale, dark green lettuce or spinach, RED palm oil (must be red, organic, and unrefined), onions, squash, etc.  Organic raw foods are preferable and generally healthier. Refined or processed foods are often useless as they have lost their important ingredients. Sugar and sugar substitutes are the WORST foods.

I always consider the medical oath: “First do no harm.” A detox diet is generally a very healthy diet, so there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Below is a useful reference. I do not endorse everything written in this work, but if you review several works, the methods most often mentioned may well do the job.

http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/12464-36-foods-that-help-detox-and-cleanse-your-entire-body.html

Try an internet search “lead detox naturally” for other references. What I have written here is not the last word and is incomplete, but hopefully a nudge in the right direction.

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51. Flint Water and GOP Policy

17 Mar

The water problem in Flint, MI is very serious and is the subject of investigations and hearings. The entities involved in this Flint problem are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Michigan Governor Snyder, and other Michigan officials. The MDEQ officials are appointees of the Governor.

The role of the EPA  is to develop policies, conduct assessments, publish guidelines, and to provide advice. The EPA does not repair pipes, does not make specific decisions on water supplies, does not have the authority to arrest anyone, or to demand actions and punish those that do not comply.  Gina McCarthy is currently in charge of the EPA.

It is the responsibility of the states to make specific environmental decisions, to run water and other systems, to make repairs, to set charges and so forth. The MDEQ  is responsible for specific decisions and repairs.

In the current Congressional committee meeting (March 17, 2016) it has been clearly established that as soon as the EPA (and Gina McCarthy) had definite and sufficient information on the lead problem it took appropriate actions under their mission statement.  McCarthy testified that they “had insufficient information to indicate a systemic lead problem until mid-summer of 2015.”  They then immediately provided urgent warnings to the Michigan DEQ and state Governor.  The MDEQ replied that they would act on the this problem, but was slow to do so. The EPA did everything it could reasonably do under their rules. Early in 2015 there were indications of contamination, but the testing was only done on a very small sample and info from the MDEQ was faulty and incomplete. Further, the MDEQ told the public many times that the water was tested and safe.  It would have been wrong for the EPA to make a general alarm before there was definite information — but the MDEQ could have run immediate, competent testing and provided effective solutions.

The badgering and insults directed at Gina McCarthy and the suppressions of her response, by Republicans on the Congressional committee, is shameful. It reflects a general trend towards bullying, mindless attacks, and scapegoating as a GOP method of governing.  This abusive method is also a characteristic of the GOP presidential candidates. The leading GOP candidate, in most cases (more so recently), refuses to answer reporters questions and now does not want to debate. When asked a challenging question, he usually answers by crudely attacking the questioner, and by pointing out how successful his campaign is.  It is rare to get a real answer for a specific question. Violence is a part of his policy.

Republicans say that we don’t need an EPA, but at the same time, say that the EPA was not aggressive enough when faced with the incompetence of a state’s environmental agency. We should not eliminate the EPA, but make it stronger. We need to protect the people, not the politicians that ignore pollution and the industrialists the cause it.   The lesson of Flint is that we do need Federal agencies and regulations to protect our people.

50. Trump, Torture, and Aging Inhibition

11 Mar

Former President Ronald Reagan sent the following to the U.S. Senate:

“… I transmit herewith the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention was adopted by unanimous agreement of the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1984 … The United States signed it on April 18, 1988.”

All the GOP candidates and most other Republicans revere President Reagan. He, John McCain, most national leaders, the United Nations, a group of 43 retired U.S. Generals, and developed countries all over the world accept the prohibition of torture.

But Donald Trump, who would love to punch out rally protesters, thinks torture is desirable. Although he is energetic and talks really fast, this, and many other strange positions makes me wonder if, at the age of 69, some critical brain cells have deteriorated.  He is well into the range at which Alzheimer’s  can begin.

As I pondered Trump’s strange utterances, I remembered some research on aging and inhibition.  An internet search revealed several relevant medical and psychological studies.  Recent scientific research has shown that older people often lose their ability to inhibit speaking socially unacceptable ideas.  An example of one such study is:   https://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~uqwvonhi/vH&D.P&A.05.pdf.     (with many good references).  Although Trump can be excused for what he says under pressure, sad-to-say, it does reflect what he is actually thinking.  I also think that being extremely rich his entire life has shielded him from the realities that most of us have suffered — especially minority groups.  To really understand this, when Trump was confronted about his early family support, he remarked that it was only a “small loan” of a million dollars from his father.

 

49. Is Cruz Better Than Trump?

10 Mar

Clearly,  Trump does not have the thoughtfulness and the temperament to function as an effective President. But is Ted Cruz better? To answer this question, in addition to what I have heard and remember, I carefully examined what he presented on his web-site.  Here is a point-by-point examination of the most important issues.

The Cruz plan for personal income tax is a single 10% flat rate for all, total simplification of tax code, and “abolish the IRS as we know it”. This absurd plan is deceptive and impossible. First, the top rate for very rich people is reduced from 39.6% to 10%. So rich people, who don’t need it, will get a big break.  Currently, most poor people don’t pay any income tax.  Some middle class people will also benefit. Who do you think will pay for the staggering loss of tax income under this plan?  All social programs, infrastructure repairs, energy innovations, medical research, veteran benefits, etc., etc, — everything that is so important to our citizens is at risk.  Tax simplification only benefits the rich because their income is complicated and it will be easier for them to avoid tax liability. It is not clear what “abolish the IRS as we know it” means, but it will always take a lot of personnel to carefully collect the tax and enforce the rules.  Just defining “income” is extremely complicated because there are many types of ways to earn money, invest, receive grants, get tips, define expenses, have a home office, lease somethig, pay a maid, etc.  Tax is already very simple for ordinary workers, “simple tax” for the wealthy makes “cheating” simpler.

Like all Republicans, Cruz wants to abolish ObamaCare, and replace it with something better. Since Republicans already dominate Congress, if they are serious, they could already have a detailed and definite health-care plan for replacement, so that there would be no gap in coverage. But they have not done this because their main goal is not the health of the people, but is the destruction of the Democrats. and particularly Pres. Obama. Cruz is not the friend of the people, but is a loyal subject of the wealthy campaign donors, and the traditional (climate disrupting) oil industry. If ObamaCare is abolished without replacement, many millions of people will lose their newly gained insurance coverage and many millions more will lose reimbursement for “pre-existing conditions”, “over life-time limits”, and many other features.

Cruz would abolish all climate-change agencies, bureaus, and programs designed to provide safety for most of the world’s citizens. Almost all major countries take (man-made) climate change seriously and have committed to greenhouse gas reduction programs. I just watched on TV an interview of Pres. Obama and P.M. Trudeau of Canada. Both are firmly committed to climate change programs. If we compare the high level of discussion between them, with the juvenile discourse of Republican Candidates, the contrast is so stark as to be frightening. The danger of climate-change effects is supported by the National Academy of Sciences, almost all reputable scientists, national leaders throughout the world, and most other educated people.  Sorry to state the obvious, but the GOP is against efforts to control climate-change, because some very rich donors, such as the Koch brothers, would lose some money in making industrial adjustments.  But all of us would lose out due to the resulting major droughts, flooding, and storms.  The disrupted populations would produce overwhelming immigrations and possible wars.

On the Cruz site, he promotes the “solution to lift people out of hardship…. by promoting the dignity of work” and “reforming programs such as Section 8 housing” (with no detail). Telling poor people that they should improve their lives by believing in the “dignity of work” is beyond ridiculous. How many major social goals have every been achieved by a simple pep talk. “Just say no” to drugs is a great example of an ineffective and pathetic way to improve lives.

Cruz wants to eliminate the IRS (mostly), and Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, and Housing.  Understanding the elimination of educational help by the government is easy, because he and the other Republicans cannot deceive well-educated people.  But it appears that Cruz is a little better than his rivals at the covert sabotage of other primary candidates by spreading rumors.

So, is Cruz better than Trump?  For a while I thought that Trump would be better because he has more liberal ideas, but when I heard his latest Muslim bashing: “they all hate us” I really cannot decide which presidency would be more of a disaster.

 

48. Morning Joe “Trickles Up”

8 Mar

I was about to totally condemn Joe S. when I did some research and now I have to mitigate the criticism. I am retired and often stay up late at night. So late, that I often watch the early political show “Morning Joe”. This morning I decided to denounce Joe for his advocacy of torture and for his overly aggressive interaction with a female guest. His badgering reminded me of O’Reilly who is a master at suppressing his guests with fast, loud talk.  [Added later:  I changed my mind about Joe’s badgering, when on March 15, he made a gallant defense of Hilary Clinton’s record.]

That would be that, but as I did some research on Joe S., I discovered to my amazement that he condemned “trickle-down” economy, which is advocated (in a subtle way) by the vast majority of Republican leaders. This approach, also called “supply side” economics, says that the way to support non-rich citizens is to give more money to rich people and corporations. This extra money to the rich will make stronger corporations and promote hiring and better wages for the workers. In actual practice, however, this does not happen, and the rich simply enjoy the extra money. Instead of supply-side economics, Democrats tend to advocate a “demand-side” economy. If wages are raised, there will be more spending and the “demand” for goods will increase. Increased demand will promote production and hence economic growth.

For a few decades, now, we have had “supply-side” economics because more and more money has been diverted to the rich.  And everyone accepts the finding that income has substantially increased for rich folks, while for others, income has been stagnant. Every published budget by the GOP candidates has included lower taxes for rich people. In previous blogs I have presented more details.

47. A Republican Policy of Revenge

6 Mar

According to a Republican candidate, it is important for our agents to use serious torture in interrogating possible terrorists. We must do this to get revenge for the beheading of our citizens that were kidnaped by ISIS.  Of course ISIS would claim that they are getting revenge for what we did to Muslim captives at the Abu Ghraib prison. (More gruesome photos of this were just released.)

So we must think up tortures even more horrible than beheadings if we want discourage them and teach them a lesson. And when they find out what we are doing, they will make a real effort to capture more Westerners and do things that are even worse. I am sure we will end up with public whippings or worse by both parties, and the newspapers will be filled with horrible pictures of what we have done to terrorists and people only suspected of being terrorists. And because in some cases, family members of terrorists had some involvement, we must also torture them.

I wonder how the people of more peaceful nations would feel about this escalation of brutality. Maybe they would not want to have alliances with us or trade with us. Or, they might not even send tourists here because if they were arrested for some minor offense, they might be subject to horrific interrogations.

So an escalating “tit for tat” will be the new policy, with each side devising more horrid procedures in an attempt to intimidate the other side. This will take the place of President Obama’s ridiculous plan to do the right thing, set high ethical standards, and follow widely accepted international laws.  And completely ignored is the general finding that advanced interrogations without torture are more effective.