Category Archives: medical ethics

Capitalism Is Killing Patients… And Their Physicians

Photo Greanville Post

Physician burnout, depression, and suicide increasingly invade discussions within the medical field. Depression and suicide are more common among male and female physicians, with suicide rates 1.41 and 2.27 times greater than that of the general male and female populations, respectively. Though, the insults to the mental health of physicians begins much earlier in their career.

While the numbers may vary from study to study, some 28 percent of medical residents experience a major depressive episode during their training compared to 6 to 8 percent of the general population. These numbers are important, not only because suffering physicians are suffering humans in their own right, but also because this epidemic leads to poor patient care.

As a recent study out of the Stanford School of Medicine suggests, burnout and depression in physicians can lead to medical error and death. Many have tried to explain the causes of the epidemic, referencing everything from unmanageable workloads and work inefficiency, to lack of meaning in work and lack of work-life balance. Films are now being produced to shine light on the issue. In her TED talk “Why Doctors Kill Themselves,” Pamela Wible points to a medical school culture of hazing and bullying that continues into residency, along with a professional culture that hinders physicians from obtaining mental health treatment.

These factors certainly contribute to the epidemic, but when discussing physician suicide, we ignore the elephant in the room: capitalism. We are unable to recognize how the exploitation and alienation of physicians is integrally connected to this dominant economic system, but nothing could be more poignant, given in the state of the world today.

Ironically, the same destructive system that is driving physicians to extremes is also the main driver of the deterioration of health of the patients and populations, requiring patients to see physicians in the first place. The sooner we realize and confront our own exploitation, the sooner we can join in the fight to address the real driver of disease that is plaguing physicians and patients.

The System Outlined

Busy physicians may not have time to study how the world’s prevailing economic system functions, but doing so could benefit both our profession and the patients with whom we work. To briefly discuss, inside this system the working class that does not own the means of production is forced to sell its labor to an employer to survive.

A few corporations control most of the market for each of the commodities they produce. In these corporations, a very small sector of a board of directors and majority shareholders makes essentially all of the decisions on what to produce, where to produce and how to distribute profits. This puts the working class in a vulnerable position.  With the ultimate goal of profit maximization, decisions are often made by the corporate class which are not in the best interest of workers and negatively affect the health of entire communities.

Outsourcing work, closing factories, creating poor working conditions to cut costs, polluting waterways and the environment–decision after decision may initially increase profits, but in the long term harms health. This harm to health can be more obvious, as when air and water are polluted, or more subtle, for example, when families are put under chronic stress–which eventually leads to various forms of illness– from poor workplace conditions or income insecurity secondary to factory closure and outsourcing.

In this system, certain “costs”–the health of families, and entire communities being destroyed–are “externalized.” This means the business itself does not pay for these costs of poor societal health, which are created secondary to decisions made by business executives to increase profits. Such decisions are made by a small number of wealthy, powerful individuals pursuing their interests for greater wealth and power accumulation at expense of all else.

As economists such as Thomas Piketty have shown by combing through economic records from as far back as the 18th century, capitalism inherently generates inequality, concentrating wealth into the hands of the few at expense of everyone else. Study after study shows us that socioeconomic inequality itself is detrimental to patient health and actually increases morbidity and mortality.

Despite the negative effects, the working class today is more productive than ever, while wages remain flat (or are sometimes even lower) and work hours continue to increase. Workers struggle to put food on the table and meet basic needs, while the ownership class continues to become richer. Workers are exploited and reduced to tools for industry, many times forced to do mundane tasks or assignments over and over. They are alienated, or separated from the control and the product of their labor, each day they go to work. Inside this system workers are ultimately reduced to mechanistic cogs producing profit for large corporations.

This combination of being overworked and lacking true meaning and fulfillment in the work being done, drives more and more throughout both the white and blue collar sectors into despair. As Johan Hari, shows in his recent work Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and Unexpected Solutions, workers become separated from loved ones and from things that bring them joy as they work multiple jobs for longer hours as they struggle to make ends meet.

This constant stress leads to anxiety, depression, and various other forms of disease. Meanwhile, all medicine has to offer for them are at best poor attempts–many times with questionable supporting data demonstrating efficacy– to numb the pain that much larger systemic structures continue to create.

Unfortunately, the corporate elite know no limits in this system. They continue to exploit the masses and drive more and more into poverty and desperation while concentrating wealth in ever fewer hands. In America today, the three wealthiest individuals own the same wealth as the entire bottom half of the population, more than 160 million individuals. In order to maintain this system, the elite must ensure that the members of the working class fight amongst themselves rather than direct their rage toward those who are benefiting off of the oppression of the masses.

The capitalist system, born from racism and white supremacy as highlighted in studies such as Edward Baptist’s The Half That Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, continues to separate members of the working class based on social constructs such as race. At the same time, through a multitude of mechanisms, the system creates a self-loathing, insecure public, driven to constant consumption, leading to the pollution of the earth and poisoning of community after community.

These various forms of structural violence are the true drivers of disease and suffering, of which the health care system sees the results, but has little to no ability to truly address. The health of the majority of the population deteriorates and the elites benefit. Capitalism’s need to endlessly expand and its effect on the earth, has literally lead some scientists to call for the designation of a new geologic era called the anthropocene to describe the effect humans have had on the earth.

Scientists now warn we have moved into the sixth great mass extinction of species seen in our world’s history. A new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggests, “Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.” Meanwhile, a new U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns us that humanity has only a dozen years to address global warming to avoid increasing droughts, floods, etc., which will inevitably lead to more poverty and illness.

Capitalism does not just threaten the health and well being of every human, but life on this earth as we know it. Capitalism operates as a terminal cancer, knowing no limits to its endless growth and consumption, destroying systems necessary to survival and threatening the continued existence of its host.

Medicine Has Not Escaped

What is outlined above are the underlying causes of the majority of disease and suffering. The prevailing economic system in the world today commodifies every aspect of life including health care. As a result, the health of the public, especially the US public, is subjected to a barrage of market mechanisms.

US medical professionals, while often paid more than the typical member of the working class, are still forced to operate inside of this system that places profits above patient health. We see how this system harms our patients, limiting availability of the care they need, but we tend to miss that we also are damaged by this same system.

As Howard Waitzkin and the “Working Group on Health Beyond Capitalism” state in the book, Health Care Under the Knife: Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health,” until the 1980s, doctors, for the most part, owned and/or controlled their means of production and conditions of practice.” This allowed them to have control over things such as their work hours and how much time to spend with patients. As the Working Group references, “loss of control over the conditions of work has caused much unhappiness and burnout in the profession”.

As other members of the proletariat, or working class, have experienced for years, doctors now no longer have control over their labor. Now corporations or other large institutions control such decisions. Physicians have become “proletarianized” and while not members of the traditional working class, they have become tools in the corporate wheel of profit production. This has left us with a health system parasitized by the capitalism that cares more about profit production than it does the care of human beings.

The medical industrial complex, made of a multitude of different institutions–hospital corporations, large insurance companies, or pharmaceutical and device corporations and, more specifically the corporate elite who control these corporations–ultimately governs a majority of the large scale, structural decisions that affect patient care. The elite in these institutions, just like other capitalist organizations, make decisions that affect the lives of the majority with little to no input from those who are affected by these decisions.

They govern the prices of drugs–often leading to the obscene drug prices–and how long a physician should be spending with his or her patients in the clinic. These organizations have the primary goal of maximizing profit (regardless of whether they bear the title of “for profit” or “non-profit”) above all else. Consequently, patient health really becomes secondary in this system.

The metastasis of capitalism’s perverse incentives to even the sector that claims to care for the health of human beings, has given us the ineffective, damaging system we have today. Since profit production is of prime importance, physicians–and really health care providers in general–must be trained to be efficient tools for profit, seeing more patients more quickly, knowing how to bill appropriately, etc.

These incentives limit a physician’s ability to do what he or she actually went into medicine (or should have) for: to help people. Physicians want to help their patients, but are simply not able to truly address patient suffering because addressing the causes, as highlighted above, are outside the scope of a profit based medical system.

To understand how exactly this system creates human tools for health care profit while in the process leaving them physically and mentally broken, we must delve into the medical education and training structure and analyze how medical providers are conditioned to accept their own exploitation.

Training in the Art of Being Exploited

Step 1: Medical School

Medical trainees in the US enter medical school at least generally claiming they have some interest in caring for other human beings. Unfortunately, little do they know they are entering a system designed to prime them for their own exploitation from the second their training begins—one could argue even well before that point–and subsequently throughout their residency training.

During medical school, students are forced to study innumerable hours while being told they have to “lay a good foundation” of knowledge for their future practice. The first 2 years in most medical schools are classroom based, where insurmountable amounts of information are thrown at students as they are told “this is just the way medicine is, get used to it.”

Unfortunately though, much of the information students spend their time studying–or more often mindlessly memorizing–will never be used when caring for patients. This information is absorbed, regurgitated on an exam, and then often forgotten. One thing students do begin to learn–if they hadn’t already through their undergraduate education or their grade school education prior–is to listen to authority figures’ demands if they would like to succeed.

Students have little influence on what they are being taught. Instead, they must accept what they are being told or they may not pass their next exam. Students who entered medicine eager and idealistic, hoping to help others, begin to slowly withdraw from their individual passions and interests simply because tests, rotation evaluations determined by the opinions of supervising providers students must impress, and board exams are deemed more important. They are taught that listening to authority figures at the expense of their own interests and passions, comes first and then they can try to pursue their interests if they have time. This obviously can affect the mood and morale of a training physician.

During their third year, medical students are forced to spend numerous hours in the hospital. They are also required to take “shelf exams” at the end of each rotation, which can often have a large impact on their overall rotation grade. Because slight differences in grades can affect residency opportunities, students spend free-time studying for these exams instead of participating in activities to maintain their own mental and physical well being. While the exam scores offer little insight into the type of a physician the student will become, they serve to add extra pressure on students and ensure that they spend little time actually thinking for themselves while they are out of the hospital.

During fourth year many students are expected to complete sub-internships in the fields they are are interested in going into for residency training. These sub-internships normally require students to work near their 80 hour work limit, congruous to work limits of residents (more on that shortly). Medical students often carry their own patient panels, write notes that can be co-signed, and can even pend medication orders to be approved. The main difference between them and an actual paid intern is that they do not get paid. Instead they must work to “impress” their superiors in hopes of obtaining a positive evaluation. Once again, students are taught that listening to and striving to impress authority is their ultimate goal.

After four years of indoctrination, in addition to a medical degree, most medical students are given one final parting gift on their way into residency: hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. This debt serves as a convenient way of pushing newly minted doctors into financial constriction when entering their residency.

No matter how they view their new employer or the field they have chosen, they know that they now have hundreds of thousands of dollars that they must find some way to pay back. This makes them much less likely to question or challenge authority in their new positions because doing so could impede completion of their training, sabotaging their career and only chance to escape debt. Along, with the inherent emotional stress of caring for sick patients, these financial difficulties can lead to depression, anxiety and a host of mental health issues in the newly minted physician.

Step 2: Residency

Once medical school graduates enter residency, they have already been primed for their inevitable exploitation, understanding that they need to take direction from authority, curtail their passions to make them more palatable to superiors, and most importantly, suppress any depression or anxiety they feel secondary to an ineffective, exploitative system. They now have few options–or are at least told so–other than to continue through residency. They know that to find themselves at this stage, they have made significant financial and emotional sacrifices, often losing connection with the people and things they love in order to fulfill education requirements.

Unfortunately, the exploitation of these newly minted doctors is just beginning.  During training, residents are forced to work often 80 hours per week doing a large portion of the patient care in hospitals (not to mention the additional hours of preparation outside of hospital or clinic, which are not counted toward this 80 hour limit). Residents are salaried, so they provide a cheap, efficient source of labor for hospitals and clinics. Residents become physically and emotionally exhausted trying to care for maxed out patient loads effectively in understaffed hospitals. Work hours become normalized over time and residents simply expect to be working an unhealthy amount of time in the hospital or at least convince themselves that it is normal to maintain their own sanity. It is no wonder this situation plunges many, who are already at risk, into burnout and depression.

Throughout residency, residents do, admittedly, grow exponentially in their ability to care for patients and become independently functioning physicians. Though, there is another type of growth that occurs during these years, which is seldom discussed.

Residents are groomed to be efficient, effective profit producers once they enter the workforce. For example, over their time in residency, a large degree of emphasis is placed on residents meeting particular “quality measures” for the clinic or hospital settings. Training after training is spent ensuring residents understand how to properly bill and submit insurance claims. Residents learn how to see patients extremely quickly and complete entire patient visits within 15 minutes. As anyone who has even interacted with a health care provider can attest, this is not enough time to actually make any significant interpersonal connection with a patient.

Either during this visit or after, residents must also learn to input information into whichever electronic medical record their training center uses. As Matt Anderson notes in Health Care Under the Knife commenting on EMRs, “most were designed to capture billing and quality information, not facilitate clinical care.” Residents end up spending more time looking at a computer than they do connecting with a patient. In the inpatient setting, a hospitalized patient might only see their doctor for a few minutes each day. This is partially because the rest of the day is spent documenting a coordinating care inside of a completely nonsensical system to ensure hospitals will be able to cash in on patient hospital stays.

This puts individuals, who went into medicine to care for and make connections with patients, torn between still trying to achieve this goal and meeting designated “quality measures.” If they are not able to see patients fast enough in the clinic or inpatient hospital setting they may not be seen as “marketable” to employers. This is clearly an environment that can breed physical, mental, and emotional suffering in the exploited trainee.

Even while studies have shown these grueling hours put both patients and residents at risk, when it comes to actually addressing the problems highlighted above, the onus is consistently put on the provider to maintain “self care.” From the beginning of residency, different “mental health departments” speak with residents about the importance of maintaining self care and “balance,” while at the same time maintaining an exploitative system that overworks its employees and drives suffering. Residents are a cheap form of labor for hospitals or clinics, and actually addressing this problem at a systemic level would be too threatening to the profitable status quo.

How the system’s leaders speak about these work conditions is very telling. For example, in 2016 Dr. Janice Orlowski, the Chief Health Care Officer with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), stated:

The individual is going to go into a profession where their profession calls on them to work extended hours and to be available at unusual hours […] We need to train individuals who can learn to pace themselves, who can recognize when they have sleep deprivation or when they are stressed.

This is an interesting statement, coming from someone who should know the demands put on residents drastically limits their capacity to “pace themselves.” It is clear that there is much more concern for protecting a public image of medicine and hospital programs than there is for addressing the crisis of physician depression and suicide.

Step 3: Practicing Physicians

Finally, if not already burned out, the physician has escaped residency and now believes that he or she will be able to practice “however one wants.” Unfortunately, any overburdened physician–either fresh out of residency or seasoned–who has worked inside a busy hospital or clinic, can attest to feeling tired, overworked, and often unfulfilled, in part due to their lack of patient connection as they are rushed from patient to patient and progress note to progress note.

Again, citing Matt Anderson in the Health Care Under the Knife’s section “Becoming Employees: The Deprofessionalization and Emerging Social Class Position of Health Professionals,” concepts typically lauded again and again in the health sector–”value, efficiency, quality, and market discipline–are part of an ideology to justify corporate control over the work of physicians and other works providing health services.” He references Marx’s concept of alienation–the separation of worker’s control over his or her labor– and describes how more and more health care providers are separated from what they once truly loved about their work, and now must fill the primary role of profit producer and secondary role of health care provider. If this separation did not occur during residency, there is a good chance it will when outside of training working for an employer.

While practicing, providers are still attempting to treat patients who present with illnesses created by the much larger system of capitalist exploitation referenced above, but their training prior to starting independent practice in no way, shape, or form has actually prepared them to join the communities they serve in combating these larger oppressive systems. On the contrary, what they were taught was to keep their head down, survive, and make it through exploitative residency programs. They are in regular practice and know how to put in a billing code and attempt the near impossible task of making a true connection with someone in a 15 minute clinic visit, but have not remotely learned how to begin to resist a parasitic capitalist system damaging both their colleagues and their patients.

At the same time, even if a physician did want to step outside of traditional boundaries to help challenge the true socioeconomic and structural causes of disease highlighted above, the provider still has a massive amount of student loans constricting their decisions. They may also have started a family or accumulated other financial constraints during residency. This leaves them with few options and many find it easier to get back in the clinic, put their heads down, and tell themselves they are really helping to address patient health. When in reality, they have been indoctrinated into a system based on profit maximization and blunting of patient suffering at best.

This endless process of day after day in clinic, seeing little to no progress at a systemic level, can become frustrating and make one’s work seem futile. Imagine spending over 10 years in training–from college, through medical school, through residency–to find yourself in this position. It is no surprise that more and more physicians are burning out, and feeling so desperate, that harming oneself becomes a viable option to escape.

Recognizing One’s Exploitation and Fighting Back

Capitalism’s parasitic economic structure has infiltrated all aspects of our society, and medicine has not been spared. This results in physicians being trained and conditioned to be obedient profit producers above all else. It leads them to be alienated from their loved ones and from their true passions. Inside our healthcare system, physicians are separated from the things that truly brought them joy and fulfillment. Yet we still continue to question why physicians are killing themselves?

Some maintain hope that there will be action around these issues from residency administrations, hospital working groups, or any number of hierarchical bodies that govern medical education, graduate medical education, or our healthcare system in general. The reality is that these issues will never be solved by any large committees or “task forces” we currently have in place, which continually put the onus onto medical students, residents, and practicing physicians to develop more “resilience” inside of a system that is built to do the exact opposite.

Those who have made it to the top positions of organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) are there because they will continue to support the status quo. As political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky discusses in reference to elite control of institutions, “an unstated but crucial premise is that the ‘responsible men’ achieve that exalted status by their service to authentic power, a fact of life that they will discover soon enough if they try to pursue an independent path.” These institutions will never consider the best interests of physicians or the patients they serve. Their leaders have been groomed to support the status quo. It is up to us to realize our exploitation and begin to fight against it.

Realizing this fact is easier said than done, as most physicians, due to the filtering mechanisms throughout our educational system, which typically lead to those from the upper classes securing seats in medical school, come from the exploitive classes themselves. Physicians are also paid more than a majority of other employees within our healthcare system such as nurses, technicians etc. They are conditioned to believe that they are somehow different or more important than the rest of the working staff when in reality all members are important in caring for the patient and all members are overworked and exploited by the same system.

Giving one member of an exploited group–in this case the physician–more benefits than others, helps to keep the fighting going between all groups as opposed to collaboration and organizing. We will be able to begin addressing the crisis of physician suicide once we, as physicians, accept that just as this capitalist system exploits our patients and coworkers, it is also exploiting us. And then we organize against it.

Whether it is consciously recognized or not, physicians specifically are also often boosted up with a false sense of elitism from the second they step into the field. This creates a blind spot for them being able to recognize their own suffering and exploitation and organize against it. They are given special white coats, which–besides becoming completely filthy after 80 hour work weeks–distinguish them from other hospital staff and distinguish themselves by the title of “doctor.”

While other staff members, such as nurses, actually have the collectivist mindset to organize against the damage the health care industrial complex causes to the patients they care for and even strike when necessary, physicians–especially those in the US–have been conditioned to believe they are too important to the system to do the same, even while that system is actively damaging them. Their administrators and peers say, “If we aren’t caring for patients, our patients will die.”

Those with a vested interest in maintaining the business as usual hold patients as hostages inside this system, guilting providers into accepting the status quo (inadequate care, inadequate access to care, medical errors, and crushing debt) with this rhetoric. It is despite the fact that physicians around the world have been able to organize and strike effectively while also continuing to provide absolutely necessary care.

Referencing Mark Ames’s 2005 book, Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond is useful for understanding this current phenomenon. In the book, Ames evaluates the mental anguish caused by Reagan era policies and analyzes how our capitalist system degrades and humiliates workers until they are pushed to harm themselves and others. In the following passage he speaks of how people can often deny their own exploitation until it is too late. He notes:

The middle class persistently denies its own unique pathos, irrationally clinging to an irrational way of measuring it, perhaps because if they did validate their own pain and injustice, it would be too unsettling–it would throw the entire world order into doubt. It is more comforting to believe they aren’t really suffering, to allocate all official pathos to the misery of other socioeconomic groups, and its more comforting to accuse those who disagree of being psychologically weak whiners. Despite its several hundred million strong demographic, the white bourgeoisie’s pain doesn’t officially count–it is too ashamed of itself to sympathize with its own suffering.

Until physicians are willing to accept the fact they they are being exploited by the same system that harms their patients, there will be no progress made in addressing physician depression and suicide. At that same time, until health care providers generally accept that it is our current capitalist system which puts profit production above the well being of every living thing on this planet–including themselves–we will not be able to effectively address true social and structural causes of disease and suffering.

Capitalism exploits, damages, and destroys us all. History shows us, large scale systemic change has never come from the beneficence of those in power and, frankly, it never will. As historian Howard Zinn writes speaking about public activism, the rights of the citizenry only come when “citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”

As physicians, if we truly care about the well being of our coworkers and of our patients, we must begin to organize, unionize, and rebel inside our practices, residency programs, etc, resisting business as usual, and finding ways to threaten the profits of capitalists if we want to see systemic change. We must begin to organize with communities and populations resisting oppression from a parasitic capitalist system as physicians in the past have done with groups such as the Black Panthers and Young Lords.

Once physicians can begin to view the dynamics of our capitalist system more clearly–and view the dynamics of our healthcare system as just one microcosm of how capitalism harms us all–it will become clear what needs to be done. We must put down our fancy white coats and begin to organize with our fellow healthcare staff–and, more importantly, with our patients–against a system that exploits and damages us all. Only then will we be able to begin developing a new system that actually cares about both people and the planet.

• First published in Popular Resistance

Glencore and Other Mining Corporations Make Record Profits and get Away with Murder Literally

Glencore, according to statistica.com is the world’s largest mining company by revenues. As a way of introduction, here is what statistica.com has to say about Glencore.

Glencore-Xstrata is a public limited company founded in 1974 by Marc Rich whose headquarters are based in Baar, Switzerland and also has registered office based in Saint Helier, New Jersey. Glencore-Xstrata is also a mining company whose headquarters are based in the United Kingdom. On May 2nd, 2013, the current company was established through a merger between Glencore and Xstrata. Glencore-Xstrata is the third largest family owned business in the world and was ranked number 10 on the list of Fortune Global 500 in 2015. Glencore Xstrata is the leading mining company in the world with estimated revenue earned in 2017 of $205 billion, on a rebound from 2015 (US$ 147billion) and compared to the best year so far, 2012 (US$237billion). Net earnings have skyrocketed in 2017 to US$ 5.8 billion, more than 4 times higher than in 2016 (US$ 1.4 billion).

The four next mining corporations in world ranking include BHP Billiton, Australia; British-Australian Rio Tinto; China state-owned Shenhua Energy, and Vale, Brazil. Their mining practices may not differ a lot from those of Glencore’s. However, what distinguishes Glencore is its particularly aggressive business style. Aggressive from all points of views – tax avoidance, corruption, total neglect for employees as well as communities they work in, non-responsiveness to critique.

Though it looks like Glencore’s aggressive business model is paying off. Glencore’s tax rate negotiated in Switzerland is next to zero. The Canton of Zug, where the city of Baar, seat of Glencore’s headquarters (HQ) is located, is the number one tax haven in Switzerland.  Glencore pays 0.2% taxes on its net earnings.

Glencore is exploiting developing countries to the maximum, not respecting any social and environmental laws or even humanitarian standards, brushing them aside and pushing ahead – poisoning and killing people on their way with toxic effluents from their mining practices, no regard, no attention to their fate, to their families, irrespective of whether they have been working for a Glencore mine, when they are sick they are out, no compensation; or whether they are just living in the contaminated environment, in communities on their own plots, exposed on a daily basis to water-ways and soil polluted with cancer-causing deadly heavy metals. The average life expectancy in South American mines is between 32 and 40 years for mine workers. Glencore leaves hardly any tax money or royalties in the country they exploit, on average about one cent per dollar of net earnings, as their tax residence is Switzerland.

This article looks specifically at an event which I witnessed and was able to interview victims about, at Glencore’s copper mine in Espinar, near Cusco, Peru, some 4,200 m above sea-level. Gold is a side product. Where there is copper, there is almost without fail also gold to be found and vice-versa. The mining and refining of both metals is highly toxic, leaving poisonous heavy metals, such as mercury, cyanite, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead and many more disease-causing toxins in water, soil, and air, poisoning fauna, flora and humans.

On April 3, 2018, a dozen or so indigenous unarmed, women – the poorest of the poor –protested with their bare hands in defense of their only water way left, a small stream. Glencore wanted to deviate it – totally illegally – for Glencore’s use. The women were attacked by police in full riot gear, beaten with batons. It is openly known that Glencore, like other mining corporations, literally buys the national or local police services for this type of abject brutality.

The police were helped by Glencore’s own security forces. All this was recorded on video and in photos. Arriving the following day on location with a group of locals, we interviewed several of the victims. See also my earlier article on the subject

As the above essay went to press, I wrote directly to Glencore’s CEO, Ivan Glasenberg, suggesting a personal meeting to discuss the event and the general circumstances that led to it. Mr. Glasenberg replied promptly through his director for Sustainable Development (sic), who proposed to meet – which we did, in a neutral place, a hotel lobby in Bern. The Glencore delegation consisted of the Sustainable Development director and her lawyer.  I was alone.

What transpired during a roughly two-hour non-confrontational, rather peaceful dialogue, I recorded in an Aide-Memoire, asking for their approval, comments or suggestions for change. The answer a few days later was a full rejection, saying none of the contents of the AM reflected our conversation. This is, of course, a flagrant lie. Under the circumstances, I decided to make the gist of our two-hour conversation public, as reflected in the Aide-Mémoire.

The conversation covered three key topics

  1. Beating of unarmed indigenous women in Alta Huata, Espinar, Cusco Province, Peru, by Police and Glencore’s Security Forces on 3 April 2018;
  2. Glencore’s contamination of water, soil, air, flora, fauna and humans by toxic chemicals used in the mining process; and
  3. Blood and urine samples – people who are sick from intoxication with mine effluents, working for the mine and/or living in the close vicinity of the mine, sought testing their blood and urine for heavy metals. They were never given the results from the tests from medical doctors, clinics and laboratories. Why?

Addressing point by point, starting with the Beating of unarmed women – the dozen or two bare-handed indigenous women were protesting in defense of their water against Glencore workers, wanting to deviate, actually steal the little stream for Glencore’s own use. They were brutally beaten by national police in government issued riot gear – imagine, in riot gear! – with the help of Glencore’s own security forces. This happened around noon on 3 April, when the women were alone, even more defenseless, while village men were working at the mine or in their small agricultural plots.

According to several accounts from the local population as well as from people in the town of Espinar, Glencore intended to reroute the small stream providing the only water source for the six or so villages higher up on the mountain. This is further corroborated by the large pile of big-sized pipes, deposited on the land next to the small stream. A nearby gigantic earth moving machine and fresh tracks traversing the small water way were also clear signs that water deviation works were planned.

In the early morning hours of 4 April, we went to Glencore’s copper mine at Alta Huata, about 4,200m above sea level, to meet with the mistreated women and to interview them. Still affected by indignation and pain, some of them under tears, showed us their badly bruised body parts. Evidence of the police assault and aggression by Glencore’s security forces is available as independent testimony in the form of short videos and photographs. An elderly woman (65) was beaten so severely, she was resting and moaning in a rickety stone shack which apparently was destroyed by Glencore’s bulldozers the week before and hastily rebuilt by the local population. The woman had pain all over her body, could not move, and got no medical attention, no pain medication – nothing – she was a ‘high risk’ case. Later, we learned, she was miraculously recovering with the care of the villagers.

The villagers told us they wanted to file a complaint with the local police which did not receive them. It is clear, if Glencore hired the police to do their dirty work, they, the police, will not receive the villagers’ complaint. It’s a revolving-door corruption at every level that is being practiced. I wonder whether Glencore’s boss, Mr. Glasenberg, is aware of it. If not, then at least this article which will be sent to him should remind him that he is complicit in serious crimes of his company by letting them happen.

During our meeting, the Glencore ‘sustainable development’ people said the workers were only doing repair work when the women appeared interfering with their job. Another flagrant lie. But how could they know? They are repeating what they are told by their people on the ground. And whenever they go to visit the area, we understand, they never set foot in the affected villages, to talk to the people or to the mayor, but only talk the inside-talk to Glencore insiders, another revolving door approach to resolving problems by being blind to them and keeping perpetuating the lies. The sustainable development people of Glencore also denied that Glencore had anything to do with the beating, that Glencore could not control the police. They dismissed the assertion, against all evidence on video, that Glencore’s security forces were also involved and, of course, that they actually called and hired the police in the first place.

Later we talked to villagers who lived in the mine-surrounding areas. With anguish, sadness and even resignation, they told us that contamination of water, soil, air, flora, fauna – and humans was evident. It appeared in the water ways and was reported in soil samples. Plants adjacent to water courses, rivers and effluents from the mine, were all contaminated by heavy metals, poisoning animals, as well as humans. Farm animals became sick and often died.

Many inhabitants of the mine-surrounding communities, so we were told, including by the former mayor, were sick with cancer and other terminal diseases which were caused by contact with, or ingestion of, contaminated water or food. To purify water efficiently from heavy metals – cyanide, mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and more – a complex and expensive process is required. It’s called reverse osmosis. In most cases, mining companies do not use this process. In the case of Glencore and Espinar, reverse osmosis is not in use, leaving the effluent waters highly and dangerously polluted.

We talked to several people, some working for the mine, others just living in the immediate vicinity of the mine – say, in a radius of 1 to 5 km. All said, they felt sick; their bodies hurt, they had respiratory problems and many suspected having different types of cancers, mainly lung cancer. The disease rate increased the closer they lived to the mine.

One of the peasants said that young people in his neighborhood were dying “like flies” from cancer. He added that the average life expectancy of people living near the mine was drastically reduced. He also said, that most people by now are just resigned to their fate and were tired of protesting and being frustrated, because Glencore would not respond and do nothing for them. They felt helpless.

To top it off, Glencore’s Sustainable Development people said that Glencore received certification from the municipality that the effluents from their mine were clean and not contaminated by the mine, and that it was common knowledge that the water was not potable, ridiculously ascertaining that contamination occurred naturally in these mountainous streams. This abject manipulation of the truth would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. But the people have no recourses to hire lawyers, and even if they would have the money to do so, no lawyer, no judge, no court would take on a case against Glencore. They are afraid to confront the mobsters from where the money flows – corruption at infinitum! Glencore’s sustainable development representatives rejected all responsibilities for the contamination and said they had no knowledge about the disease rates reported by the local population. They were never informed.

Well, if they didn’t know, they must know now. And Mr. Glasenberg would do well sending an HONEST delegation to Espinar to verify with neutral experts on location the veracity of this account and of the account of the victims. Question is, of course, will there be uncorrupt neutral experts daring to tell Glencore the truth?  And even if that were the case, what would Glasenberg do about it? Glasenberg is the key person. It’s a family business, one of the world’s largest, so if he wants to change the way Glencore does business, he can do it.

Who manages Glencore’s mines on the ground?  Mainly locals, we were told. In Espinar, Peru, it’s a Peruvian. This has two purposes. First, a Peruvian is familiar with the local ‘habits’ of how the ‘turntable’ turns, how to buy favors and how to threaten potential adversaries; and, second, if something goes wrong – like in the present case of brutally beating of inoffensive women, deadly contamination and people dying from cancers caused by intoxication from mine effluents – they, at Swiss HQs can say, we didn’t know; nobody told us. The we didn’t know effect seems to be effective, so effective, in fact, that the entire conversation of two hours was annihilated by the sustainable Glencore people. Even though the conversation took place as recorded, the sustainable people deny its contents.

We also talked with people who lived in the vicinity of the mine, who are feeling ill for years and worsening, mostly the lungs, but also their respiratory and nervous system, yet mine management not only ignores them, but also prevents them, directly or indirectly, from getting their blood and urine samples tested, paid for by the victims themselves. We were told that many of the people living in the communities near the mine, including the people who spoke with us, consulted doctors, clinics, hospitals, laboratories on their own, to get their blood and urine tested for heavy metals. They never received the test results back from these medical establishments.

The truth is beyond suspicion. These medical facilities, are either bought by Glencore, or they fear Glencore to a point that they prefer not to hand out negative health results, of which they know from where they emanate.  The people also said that they get absolutely no medical support from Glencore. They pay their medical expenses from their own pockets and yet, they are refused to see the test results.

Diseases stemming from heavy metals have often long gestation periods; i.e., cyanide and mercury do not necessarily lead to immediate symptoms, rather the impact may be slow, because heavy metals accumulate in the body and are not evacuated as other toxins may be. They affect over time the nervous system, respiratory tracts, the heart and often cause cancer and lead to early death. It is well known that mine workers in general in developing countries have a drastically reduced life expectancy; i.e., in some parts of Peru and Bolivia an average of around 35 years.

The director of the Sustainable Development Department appeared to be shocked. She was unaware, she said, and in an outburst of good will, she offered that any of the people who were sick and concerned may call her directly. Of course, none of this was even acknowledged once they received the Aide-Mémoire.

The moral of this story is multi-fold. There is Glencore, the largest mining corporation in the world, largely a family business, with Ivan Glasenberg, main shareholder, at the helm. He could personally intervene, stop the abuse and high crime, bringing about ‘as clean mining’ as there is, respecting environmental and social ethical rules, regardless of whether the country, where they operate, in this case Peru, is corrupt and can be bought. Glasenberg, the CEO, could become a shining example for ethics in mining which would bode well for the company as well as for the host country, Peru, and not least for their country of residence, Switzerland. The cost of implementing ethical environmental and social standards would hardly make a dent in Glencore’s net earnings, but the gains in positive reputation and improved image are priceless.

On the other hand, you have Switzerland that offers this UK-Swiss mining corporation their tax haven as residency. Yet, the Swiss Government does absolutely zilch, nothing, nada to impose and enforce certain standards of ethics to Glencore and other corporate sinners enjoying the Swiss tax paradise. Talking with people from a so-called Ethics Department (sic) in the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the hush answer was, if we are too strict with them, they will leave Switzerland – and as an after-thought, besides, they [these corporations] have their own standards of due diligence and we trust that they adhere to them. If they don’t, then it’s up to their host country; i.e., in this case Peru, to enforce their laws.

Here you have it. The Swiss Government, the paradise for banking and finance and corporate ‘well-being’, the epicenter of neoliberal economics, where privatization reigns, is knowingly and intimately complicit in the crimes committed by these corporations. No wonder the lawmakers, the Swiss parliamentarians, are entitled to sit in as many corporate boards of directors they please – against all rules of ethics and ‘conflict-of-interest’ guidelines of OECD, of which Switzerland is a member. This built-in lobby of parliamentarians is making the laws in their favor, operating on a ‘legal basis’, not unlike a white-collar mafia.

When Health Care is a Privilege and Physician Shadowing is a Right

As it is presently constructed, the American health care system is predicated on the pernicious idea that good health care is a privilege. Meanwhile, medical students, residents, and other interlopers regard observing patients’ doctor’s visits to be their right, regardless of whether or not the patient’s consent has been obtained. This dichotomy embodies the egregious inequality inherent in the two-tier system, and is indicative of a complete inversion of the way any humane health care system must be ideologically oriented.

The subject of physician shadowing is inextricably linked with unfettered capitalism and the neoliberal project, where the privileged few have a vast array of options in regards to where and with whom they can seek care, while the under-insured masses can spend countless hours – sometimes in vain – searching for the appropriate specialist that takes their insurance. If an under-insured patient is able to find a specialist that takes their insurance, they often fall prey to the scourge of nonconsensual physician shadowing, as they can be coerced into becoming a medical model and teaching tool without their consent.

Physician shadowing must never be done without the patient’s consent, as this constitutes an egregious violation of medical ethics, patient privacy, and the patient’s moral right to meet with a physician in private should they choose to do so. Moreover, once a patient feels that their trust in the system has been violated, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ever fully restore it.

While a great deal of lip service is paid to “privacy,” “consent,” and “the doctor–patient relationship” in American teaching hospitals, all of these things are summarily jettisoned once medical students and residents get inculcated with the idea that it is acceptable to shadow a physician regardless of whether or not the patient’s consent has been obtained. In actuality, physician shadowing is a privilege that can be granted by one person, and one person only: the patient.

Under the neoliberal project, many physicians have been pulled inexorably into a vortex of amorality. This is because they are trained in an environment whereby the scourge of free market ideology has distorted their thinking and debased any sense of morality. Indeed, many young physicians are inculcated with the shameful idea that unless a patient has an excellent commercial plan privacy, consent, and confidentiality should have no bearing on the care they will receive.

Medical schools compel undergraduate pre-med majors to shadow a physician for a significant number of hours. This practice should be banned, as these students are not officially medical students. Consequently, they are totally unvetted. Allowing high school students to shadow a physician, or observe medical personnel at work in an emergency room or operating room, is an outrage. Having a secretary serve as a “chaperone” – deemed desirable by some physicians, as this can protect them from lawsuits – is likewise unethical and thoroughly repugnant.

The dismantling of the humanities has played a significant role in fomenting dehumanization and moral bankruptcy in health care, because without the humanities, many health care professionals have lost their ability to be compassionate and empathetic. Indeed, without a humanities education, what separates a urologist from a plumber, or an auto mechanic from a gastroenterologist?

In an online discussion on forums.studentdoctor.net titled “Isn’t Shadowing Intrusive?” doctors and medical students nonchalantly discuss physician shadowing. One philistine writes, “If you agree to the student being in the room, how is your privacy being violated? Everyone should stop being so hysterical – if the patients don’t like something, they can speak up.”

While another defends the right of undergraduates to shadow: “Medical training has to start somewhere. There is not (or shouldn’t be) a glaring divide between premedical and medical education. Better to make sure our students are better prepared for medical school and know what they are getting themselves into. And if anything, many patients are happy to have someone else to talk to. It never was a problem when I shadowed.”

Actually, many patients are interested in talking with a physician in private – and without interlopers barbarically violating their privacy. In all the many times I have experienced this at Weill Cornell and Sloan Kettering, never was my consent first obtained. In fact, at Memorial I had to complain dozens of times before my request to meet with my various doctors in private was finally granted. There are certain departments at Cornell where you can issue complaints ad nauseam, yet they will still not allow a patient with inferior insurance to meet with an attending physician in private.

Another morally bankrupt knave writes: “I’ve seen at least 100 patients in shadowing experiences. Not one asked me to leave. If you’re at a teaching hospital, and the patient has been there before, they know the deal.”

“The deal” is that there is a crisis in American health care, where all too often patient privacy is nonexistent. Also, the notion that patients can easily object is deeply fallacious. Would this hold true with the under-insured, who are acutely aware of how limited their options are? Even a patient with the finest insurance may have a hard time objecting to unwanted observers at Sloan Kettering, as Memorial has a policy of denying patients the right to change from one oncologist to another within whatever department they are ensconced in. Moreover, as these comments demonstrate, the cavalier dismissal on the part of many medical students, residents, and attending physicians that nonconsensual physician shadowing could leave patients with real emotional scars, is indicative of an extraordinary degree of insouciance regarding the delicate nature of the doctor-patient relationship, as well as a deep-seated callousness and moral bankruptcy that has metastasized throughout our entire health care system like a cancer.

Once the callow are inculcated with the idea that nonconsensual physician shadowing is an acceptable and everyday part of learning how to be a doctor, what follows? Catheterizing anesthetized patients without their knowledge? Having medical students do practice pelvic and rectal exams on anesthetized patients? Willful nondisclosure of long-term chemotherapy side effects, such as cognitive difficulties and early menopause? Over-prescribing opioids? Psychiatrists overprescribing psychotropic drugs? Indeed, these are things that have already come to pass.

It is unequivocally true that the principal devils in the American health care crisis are the private insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and the hospital administrators. Yet throughout my many long and arduous years as a patient, I have witnessed medical students, residents, and fellows instructed by attending physicians to do things that are undeniably unethical. All too often their medical training is corrupted by the two-tier system and the moral bankruptcy that this spawns.

What kind of doctors will medical students and residents become, when every day they are immersed in an environment where do no harm applies to a privileged few? Where the haves are endowed with an endless array of good options, and the have nots are commodified and railroaded into resident clinics which prey on the under-insured, and which coerce patients into surrendering all vestiges of privacy? Privacy, confidentiality, and consent are foundational to any humane health care system, and once they become a privilege for the few, the very basis of medical ethics is torn asunder.

Capitalism has distorted and inverted our sense of morality – so that rights such as good health care, a good education, equality under the law, safe drinking water, affordable housing, etc. – have become privileges, whereas privileges, paradoxically, have become rights.

Once at Cornell Dermatology, I was subjected to an examination with a resident present and a nurse going in and out of the room, despite my requests to meet with a dermatologist in private. As I am at risk for melanoma and was overdue for a checkup, I deemed the visit to be medically necessary. Moreover, had I elected to go somewhere else (a specious argument frequently posited by anti-privacy ideologues), the other dermatology departments in Manhattan that take my insurance are run in a similar fashion. This is not a coincidence, as those who manage resident clinics are acutely aware of the fact that many of the under-insured who walk through their doors have few if any options.

I often think about this resident, and whether she was cognizant of the fact that she played a role in egregiously violating my privacy, as well as the oath that she took to do no harm. Did she fail to see the double standard – that she was participating in an assault on a patient’s privacy that she would vehemently object to – indeed be mortified by, herself? She has since completed her residency at Cornell, and is now ensconced at the dermatology department at The University of Pennsylvania. While these things may look nice on one’s resume, I can’t help but wonder how many hours she had to spend shadowing, and how much of this shadowing was done without the patients’ consent. I can only hope that now that she is an attending physician, she can use her influence to give patients a choice in regards to whether observers are present during their doctor’s visits, and that this will be done regardless of what type of insurance these patients may have. It is regrettable that for many ambitious young doctors privacy and consent matter little in the face of blind obedience, authoritarianism, and careerism.

Doctors know much more today than they’ve ever known before. Yet ironically, they are trusted and respected less than was the case in the 50’s and 60’s. Losing their autonomy to the private insurance companies, as well as being forced to see an increasing number of patients each day, have undoubtedly played a role in the diminishing of the doctor’s prestige. However, a growing number of patients are acutely aware of how morally compromised many doctors have become, as unfettered capitalism and the profit motive have come to permeate and defile the very soul of our society. Indeed, many physicians that ardently defend nonconsensual physician shadowing, are the first to use their superior health insurance plans to avoid this very thing when it is time to see a doctor themselves.

It is deeply disturbing watching medical students and residents being instructed to obey unethical orders from an attending physician. Only with a single-payer system will we disenthrall ourselves from the barbarism of the two-tier system – a system which destroys the souls of doctors and patients alike.

Psychiatrist Louis Morissette Should Be Barred From Practice

Quebec medical tribunal will decide if psychiatrist-for-hire Louis Morissette was allowed to provide a hatchet job based on hearsay

The review committee of the medical tribunal of Quebec will decide within 90 days whether or not anyone anywhere, such as a political party or institution or individual in any province or state, can hire a Quebec expert psychiatrist to render a medical opinion about an opponent without interviewing or even informing the individual.

The said medical opinion could be made without any medical record or clinical evaluation or verification of information, and then used publicly or otherwise for political or institutional purposes.

This happened to me, with devastating consequences.

I only found out by chance, years later, thanks to an investigation into my 2008 dismissal from the University of Ottawa, which is still in litigation.1,2,3

I filed a complaint to the medical tribunal as soon as I could. I have publicly posted the entire complaint, the intake investigator’s conclusions, and my appeal of the said conclusions.4

This is what occurred, in the most neutral terms I can muster.

Dr. Louis Morissette, a psychiatrist licenced by the province of Quebec, agreed to conduct a secret medical evaluation of an individual who was critical of his employer.  The psychiatrist evidently agreed to the employer’s request that he work without informing the individual.  The psychiatrist never contacted the individual, never tried to contact him, and never even claimed that he tried to contact him.

The psychiatrist did not use any medical records whatsoever. Instead, he relied entirely on false intimate personal information provided by the employer, which he never attempted to verify, and on media reports selected by the employer.

On this basis alone, the psychiatrist wrongly labelled me a dangerous person, causing me to be exiled from my community, following his definitive recommendations to that effect.  Years later, when I found out that the psychiatrist had medically evaluated me, he refused to give me a copy of his report.

Morissette has a long documented record of evidence-based alleged and proven violations that the Collège des médecins du Québec has ignored.

These include the following that I added to my complaint, with the evidence:

  • judicially proven lying while giving expert testimony in court;
  • giving expert opinion in a criminal proceeding without consulting the relevant scientific research literature;
  • an appellate court finding of his reprehensible behaviour;
  • giving an in-court expert opinion of the harmlessness of mass-murderer Karla Homolka based on 3½ hours of interview;
  • being in conflict of interest while recommending release of double-child-murderer Guy Turcotte;
  • destroying his appraisal-session interview notes immediately and prior to termination of criminal legal proceedings and engaging in such disallowed practice since 1983;
  • requesting double payment for the same service by claiming the same accused person both as patient and legal client;
  • performing such a large amount of opinion-for-hire contracting for clients as to affect his professional independence, put him in conflict of interest, and influence the quality of his practice; and,
  • exercising his profession in a jurisdiction in which he is not a certified practitioner.

After eight months, the medical tribunal’s intake analyst, Dr. Michel Jarry, summarily dismissed my entire complaint, writing that there is no cause to bother the disciplinary committee since I am not a “patient” of Morissette. This remarkable result was handed down despite the many and repeated unambiguous violations by Morissette of the statutory rules of professional ethics.

I filed an appeal on April 2, 2018, and the review committee has 90 days to make its decision about whether this sort of thing is allowed.

It must not be allowed. Otherwise, we are no better than any totalitarian regime that mines rumours and false accusations to legitimize state actions, and psychiatrists are no better than opportunists-for-hire in such a system.

It is also of note that the vice-president-governance of the University of Ottawa who coordinated the collection of hearsay about my intimate personal information, for use by the hired psychiatrist to render his secret “psychiatric opinion”, was Nathalie Des Rosiers.

Des Rosiers subsequently became Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) for a time and is now an elected member (MPP) of the Ontario parliament and a minister in the government.

The university did not inform me of its actions, and vigorously opposed my access to the psychiatric report until the final hour of an appeal in litigation for access in 2017.5

  1. Academic Freedom? How Nasty Can a University Be?” by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, February 17, 2018.
  2. Denis Rancourt’s letter to president Jacques Frémont, University of Ottawa”, with three attached supporting letters from Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney, January 8, 2018.
  3. Did University of Ottawa Persecute a Professor on Its Faculty? A Petition in Support of Denis Rancourt”, March 2018.
  4. Book Of Complaint Against Psychiatrist Louis Morissette With Appeal To CdR CMQ”, by Denis Rancourt, April 2, 2018.
  5. Book: All arguments of parties and intervener in Dr. Denis Rancourt’s constitutional challenge of Section 65(6)3 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, at judicial review, in the Divisional Court for Ontario, Court File No.: 17-DC-2279”, Ontario Civil Liberties Association, March 2018.

The True Stories That Fake News Tells: The Forced Sterilization of Women

I am constantly amazed in this day and age where Americans have a President who touts anything he doesn’t agree with as “fake news” that is the moment that people grow cynical of the term.   Despite Donald Trump’s ability to shun astute critique of his politics, the term does carry currency in terms of how true or false news stories are.  But it is not just American media that is stuck within this paradigm of readers never knowing what is or is not true, the British who have a nationally subsidized media whereby residents in the UK must pay a TV license are subjected to another sort of “fake news,” namely, the endless stream of trivia regarding the Royal Family.

What is “news” today can range from the entirely vapid stories of an impending Royal Wedding to the recent story of a pedophile found in his cell with his penis chopped off.  The former is entirely not newsworthy and stokes the fire of many British who resist paying television taxes because of this sort of abuse of public funds to cover “fluff” and the latter is largely untrue. Yet, both stories are widespread because who doesn’t want to read about a pedophile who has come to his just-deserved end or the happy royal marriage between a Hollywood actor and a prince?

And this is why fake news has become so prevalent: the market forces of advertisement rewards social media shares. Conterminous to this reality of capitalism and social media there is a recent study published in Science last week, untrue stories are shared at far higher rates than factual new items:

About 126,000 rumors were spread by ∼3 million people. False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people. Falsehood also diffused faster than the truth. The degree of novelty and the emotional reactions of recipients may be responsible for the differences observed.

And this paradigm of news “out there” ranging from the entirely fantastical to the well-researched and objectively true means that readers are either constantly suspicious about what they read or just more gullible about the intake of news given the paucity of time to research every media byte.

For instance, last fall when the cryptocurrency market began to rise ever so speedily, many people wrote me to ask me about bitcoin and if the stories were true about its reputed rise.  The quality of fake news is so wide-ranging today in subject matter and analysis that it is hard for people to recognize the difference between actual true news, fake news, and as I found out yesterday when posting a satirical piece about a man who abandoned his family to live out his dream of living life as a squirrel. Indeed, at times it is difficult to recognize fake news from real news simply because reality is also troublingly “unreal” and indistinguishable from fable.

So yesterday, I came upon a story which I shared on Facebook where my stream there is largely a bookmarking of stories I hope to read in the not-too-distant future.  The story I posted is entitled “Big Pharma Co. Has License Suspended As Vaccine Sterilizes 500,000 Girls” and immediately upon posting the thread was flooded with skeptical comments asking if this is true, one wondering why the British media hadn’t reported this, and even one posting to a fact-checking website which rates news stories on the conspiracy range from “none” to “tin foil hat.”

This article received a “mixed” review.  And on Snopes, this related to a story from 2014 which was labelled as “false” despite the origins of the story being factually correct:  a press statement released on 7 October, 2015 by the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya – Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) who state their concerns that the Tetanus Toxoid vaccine (TT) might be laced with Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG). This press release expressed concern for the role played by sponsoring development partners since such programs had “previously been used by the same partners in Philippines, Nicaragua and Mexico to vaccinate women against future pregnancy.”  A component of experimental birth control vaccines, b-HCG caused alarm to these bishops as it is common knowledge that development aid has historically and negatively affected the bodies of women—especially those of women of color.

Anyone who has lived in countries outside the west becomes acutely aware as to how “humanitarian aid” is peddled, offered up as the panacea to all social and medical ills, when, in fact, such aid usually debilitates local economies, medical practices, and educational institutions.  And view the video of the man at the center of this debate, former Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga (1992-2013), who has spoken at length on his concerns. Watching this video, it is clear that Odinga is no biologist and that his statement does not account for presence of b-HCG. Similarly, the Washington Post report on this subject makes clear that the results are inconclusive either way due to how the sample of this vaccine was analyzed.  Still many remain cautious about dismissing the accusations, such as Keith Donovan of Georgetown’s Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, stating:

[T]here are aspects of this that need to be raising red flags because of history and because of the way it was all being done. But raising red flags doesn’t mean that there’s something that actually has occurred.

What Donovan is getting at here is the importance of understanding how women’s bodies have been historically controlled by colonizing forces, especially with regards to their reproductive capacity.  The accusations which target this long-running vaccination program sponsored by the WHO and UNICEF, inoculates women of reproductive age against tetanus in a country where tetanus is a deadly health problem.  Yet the phrase “women of reproductive age” mentioned in the same sentence as any UN organization or NGO will set off alarms for many who have seen the horrors of mass sterilization programs which, oddly enough, British media has rarely covered.

One of the most infamous mass sterilization projects in recent history was that carried out by the Peace Corps in Bolivia in the 1960s and early 1970s. This resulted in the Peace Corps being thrown out of the country in 1971, in large part because of the production of one of Bolivia’s most important films on the topic, Blood of the Condor (Yawar Mallku), by Jorge Sanjínes (1969), which informed the people as to what this US agency was doing to women.  This project involved Peace Corps volunteers distributing contraception, even inserting IUDs into indigenous Quechua women, without their informed consent.  This set off a series of accusations which in turn fueled rumors about widespread US-funded sterilization programs.  Through the 1980s there was a distrust of all US programs, food products, and birth control products.  Meanwhile in this same period, between 1965 and 1971, an estimated 1 million women in Brazil had been sterilized. And in Mexico in 1974 there was a massive sterilization program which gave an anti-fertility vaccine to 1,204 females under the guise of “family planning.”

In Colombia, between 1963 and 1965 more than 400,000 women were sterilized in a program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. And in the Philippines, where similar concerns of the tetanus vaccine was blamed for sterilizing women just last year, USAID has sponsored family planning programs there to the tune of $40m, with poor women being offered money to go through the sterilization procedure in rural villages.  The Philippines has a long history of sterilization projects dating back to the 1970s which has resulted in a healthy skepticism about any “vaccines” that Filipina women will logically view with great suspicion.

In recent years, there have been numerous reports from the Gauteng province of South Africa of women who are HIV+ people told that sterilization is the “best form of contraception” and others who have been sterilized without any consent whatsoever. Similar reports have been emerging from Uganda, Namibia, and Slovakia as well. In Israel, the government has been sterilizing Ethiopian immigrants to the country with a notable decline in their birthrate in the country. And both Kenya and Chile have various important court cases which specifically address the illegality of forced sterilization in well-documented cases. It is no surprise that the former Prime Minister of Kenya is suspicious of a vaccine that has been called into question by the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya.

Still, let us not forget where such eugenicist notions of sterilization originated.  From the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement in the UK was born which led to the formation of the Eugenics Education Society in 1907. This organization campaigned for the forced sterilization of mentally disabled women, a program supported by mostly Labour MPs such that by 1931 there was a draft bill proposed in Parliament to this end. On the other side of the Atlantic, sterilization laws were enacted in 32 of the US states between 1907 and 1937 only to be repealed from the 1970s onward. Although the sterilization was to affect the bodies of both males and females in the United States, the focus of sterilization would come to bear its weight on the bodies of women.

For instance, in California, even when the state’s eugenic sterilization law was repealed in 1979, other legislation paved the way for operations in state prisons to sterilize female inmates. Between 2006 and 2010, there were 146 female inmates in two of California’s women’s prisons who received tubal ligations with at least three dozen of these procedures directly violating the state’s own informed consent process. Not surprisingly, the majority of those who were sterilized were not only first-time offenders, but largely African-American and Latina. The logic as explained by the physician responsible for these surgeries, Dr. James Heinrich: that the state would save money “compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children—as they procreated more.” In 2013, a journalist at the Center for Investigative Reporting published on this story which eventually led to the passage of a bill banning sterilization in California state prisons.

And sterilization campaigns have been more than common outside of prisons in the United States and its territories such as the case of Puerto Rico where from the 1930s to late 1960s mass sterilization was underway such that by 1965, a survey revealed that one-third of Puerto Rican women were sterile.  Similar to the surgeries undertaken in prisons was the rationale rooted in the desire to save the government’s money from women who were perceived as reproducing at high rates, especially when Puerto Rican immigrants were coming to the US in the 1970s. Also, there was the fear that Latinos might edge out “white America” which is why so many Latina women in Puerto Rico, New York City, and California were specifically targeted by the government for sterilization throughout the 20th century.

African American women have also been the targets of population control throughout the country’s history and have been disproportionately affected by sterilization abuse. In North Carolina, the state which has one of the worse records for sterilization abuse, 65 percent of its sterilization procedures were performed on black women despite the population of black women in that state hovering at 25 percent.  The case Madrigal v. Quilligan (1978) was ground-breaking in that, even if the judge ruled in favor of the doctors who abusively coerced Latina women into sterilization, this case set the precedent of informed consent, underscoring the obligation to provide forms in multiple languages for non-native English speakers.

So while some are outraged by the claims of UNICEF and the WHO being accused of sterilizing women in countries like Kenya and the Philippines, others view the historical veracity of what similar agencies have done historically and more recently (eg. USAID’s support of Peru’s sterilization of indigenous women from 1997 through 2002 where “USAID provided $18 million to CARE for training doctors to perform sterilization and supplying sterilization equipment used in the coercive campaigns.”1

What is important to take away from these reports is that the suspicion exercised over the control of women’s bodies by foreign agencies and/or by these agencies exercising their monetary power through local politics needs to be regarded with great scrutiny.  Has the Kenya Accreditation Service (Kenas) truly suspended Agriq-Quest Ltd’s license as a testing laboratory? I called their corporate number this morning and received no answer and went onto their Facebook page only to find it removed.  I went onto the Kenas’ website to see that Agriq-Quest Ltd is delisted.

The whole story has not been told and we have only a few blips of information here and there that can easily seem like fake news, or a story that western media doesn’t really care to tell. The larger question is why more western media isn’t concerned about the medicalization of the bodies of teenage girls and young women to the extent that the WHO and the UN are given carte blanche to create policy and to avoid answering any and all questions put to them about these policies.

What consoles me about seeing Odinga’s statement to the press is not that the reports about sterilization are necessarily inaccurate, but they reveal a healthy dose of cynicism towards foreign agencies that have never had these peoples’ best interest at heart.  We need to applaud the reports that may be inaccurate since they at least stick their neck out for the lives and rights of women to have a say in their corporeal autonomy, reproductive health, and lives.

  1. Peru’s Ministry of Health, “Final Report Concerning Voluntary Surgical Contraception Activities,” July, 2002.

The Jury Has Been Out on Vaccines: Harm to the Brain, Immune System, Limbic System, Life

H-o-p-e Spells Help Our People Exist

Fact One: Aluminum is present in U.S. childhood vaccines that prevent hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanuspertussis (DTaP, Tdap), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), human papillomavirus (HPV) and pneumococcus infection

For someone always skeptical of big money-big business tied to anything in the realm of medicine or science in general, I have lifted myself way beyond hope when it comes to any amount of efficacy in medicine or all the other nodes tied to our modern industrial-postindustrial world.

The vaccination debate is a misnomer in itself, since the debate is really an attack on anyone who dares question the science and chemistry and genetic engineering of the vaccine industry, an industry that plows through so many of our rights as citizens, individuals and patients. We have states and school systems ordering people of all ages to submit to the needle.

A new film airing in May, Injecting Aluminum, looks at a specific aspect of the vaccine “debate” through what easily is the one giant Gordian knot metaphor of the entire vaccine injury and death history – the adjuvant aluminum hydroxide developed in the 1920s as the “best” optimizer of the immune response when injecting the disease.

The subtitle of 90-minute film by director Marie-Ange Poyet, How Toxic are Vaccines?, really takes the air out of the sails of the pro-vaccine-and-never-question-the-vaccinologist zealots. In fact, it’s the Gordian knot we can cut away: disentangling an impossible knot but cutting that damned thing, or finding a loophole through creative and robust outside the box thinking:

Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter
— Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47

The director says things about the power of film, or the limits of documentaries, that I too voice:

“I don’t think movies can change things,” Marie-Ange Poyet says: “They bring new information, they contribute to change, but they don’t carry themselves the ability to deeply shake the system in which we are.”

She states that if the film can educate the public and rally around the “real drama” of those lives affected by aluminum salts in vaccines, then Marie-Ange would be satisfied.

The commitment of citizens is the only way things will change. I hope this citizen-driven film can be a step in that direction.

Storytelling Straight in the Eye

Viewing the interviews in this documentary for 90 minutes, I came to the realization that the story of the wounded and chronically ill — because of their bodies’ reaction to the aluminum — is the taproot of this film’s blossoming.

We have some heavy players in medicine and some compelling victims of the vaccines, as well as intrepid journalists. More than 16 powerful voices from a myriad of perspectives give shape to the film. And this is a film of a special order – the voices are captured in straightforward narrative style. No asides or typical documentary bells and whistles. No graphics, no tours of the drug manufacturers’ research facilities, no laboratory microscopic images, no up close and personal looks at rehabilitation.

Just interviews are captured, as if this is an inquest on the very substance that is at the center of this disease the French medical and research community discovered in the 1990s – Macrophagic Myofascitis, or MMF. It’s a very simple and to the point look at one element that is toxic to the human body, and an element tied to MS and Alzheimer’s and here now, MMF, which has destroyed young people’s ability to lead regular lives.

Anti-Aluminum isn’t Anti-Vaccine – Precaution Over Profits

Some of the heavy-hitters are MDs like Romain Gherardi and Jerome Authier, professor Christopher Exley, member of the European Parlimante Michele Rivasi, Le Monde journalist Stephane Foucart, and President of E3M (Entraide aux Malades of Myofascite to Macrophages) Didier Lambert.

The NGO E3M and victims of MMF support scientific research to buttress their campaign to have aluminum removed from vaccines. Lambert is currently on disability, which is a state of survival 80 percent of the members of the association E3M share.

He’s outspoken and on a mission of protecting his country and others by advocating taking aluminum out of vaccines, “without calling into question the very principle of vaccination.”

The simple aim is to reverse the felonious push to keep aluminums in vaccines by going back to the gold standard of the Precautionary Principle, a simple oath and operating system science and scientists (and all sectors of civilization) ought to abide by, but to also embrace before any chemical, product, service or process is pushed onto us, the prevailing majority of citizens harmed by this current lack of ethical oversight and concern. Where money and profits and vast accumulation of power rides roughshod over our civilization, there rarely is a deep look at the unintended consequences or negative feedback loops!

It’s easy to undergird the documentary with a proviso tied to the ideas of “first do no harm,” or, “better safe than sorry,” or, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the past 100 years, at least, Western Civilization has been moved by demonic ideas of profit tied to these aphorisms: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and, “Let the devil take the hindmost.”

Dr. Chris Exley

Some of the film’s “stars” are folk like Dr. Exley, bioinorganic chemistry professor at University of Stirling, who has been for more than three decades researching “how the third most abundant element of the Earth’s crust, aluminum, is non-essential and largely inimical to life.”

Ironically, he investigates the most abundant element on Earth’s crust, silicon, and how it is almost devoid of biological function: “One possible function of silicon is to keep (aluminium) aluminum out of biota.”

Here, the Precautionary Principle with the help of Peter Montague :

The release and use of toxic substances, the exploitation of resources, and physical alterations of the environment have had substantial unintended consequences affecting human health and the environment. Some of these concerns are high rates of learning deficiencies, asthma, cancer, birth defects and species extinctions, along with global climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and worldwide contamination with toxic substances and nuclear materials.

We believe existing environmental regulations and other decisions, particularly those based on risk assessment, have failed to protect adequately human health and the environment the larger system of which humans are but a part.

We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new principles for conducting human activities are necessary.

While we realize that human activities may involve hazards, people must proceed more carefully than has been the case in recent history. Corporations, government entities, organizations, communities, scientists and other individuals must adopt a precautionary approach to all human endeavors.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.

Mountains of Studies Indicting Aluminum Adjuvants

Compelling for me about the film is the detail both the citizens patients of MMF and the established biology, chemistry, immunology, medical experts lay out for the viewer. Exely is both trustworthy and compassionate, quirky and interesting. He is interviewed in his office with towers of research papers and journal articles behind him like many Leaning Towers of Pisa.

His scientific bent is on deep research, unclouded by some profit margin derived by selling the aluminum to labs and the manufacturing facilities and pharmaceuticals making billions on these vaccines.

He cites the common known fact that adjuvants in vaccines do not require clinical approve. The vaccine preparation does go through trials, so when the aluminum is put in vaccine, it’s the vaccine that gets approved, not the aluminum or another adjuvant.

The articulate scientist knows the field of aluminum research. For instance, he states that he can’t say the cause of Alzheimer’s is aluminum, but aluminum does make Alzheimer’s worse, and aluminum does make Alzheimer’s occur at an earlier age. He goes on:

You have this fantasy of, I think it’s the World Health Organization, giving a safe limit for aluminum, and they say, as long as it’s low, one milligram per kilogram body weight per day, you’re safe. I asked them, how do you know that, when I don’t know it? I’ve been working on aluminum for 30 odd years, trying to understand it, you know this. I asked them for the details, how did you work this out, and who did it?

They have people that I call the aluminum ambassadors…Usually, good scientists all around the world, who are paid by the aluminum industry to say that aluminum is not a problem, but these are not individuals who work on aluminum. Most of them have absolutely no background in aluminum whatsoever. They are individuals, who for example, work on Alzheimer’s disease, and then they, whenever someone with the Alzheimer’s society, a major charity, asks for advice, they ask this well-known person in Alzheimer’s disease, what’s the role of aluminum? No, there’s nothing to worry about. They don’t ask me.

“It’s the Calcium Phosphate, Stupid, That’s What We Need!”

Fact Two: A small proportion of vaccinated people present with delayed onset of diffuse myalgia, chronic fatigue and cognitive dysfunction, and exhibit very long-term persistence of aluminum-loaded macrophages at site of previous intra-muscular (I.M.) immunization, forming a granulomatous lesion called Macrophagic Myofasciitis (MMF). Clinical symptoms associated with MMF are paradigmatic of the recently delineated “autoimmune/ inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants”. Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndromes Adjuvants (ASIA).

Here we have aluminum hydroxide dating back to 1927. The same compound used in vaccines in 2018. Yet, in 1974, the Insitut Pasteur developed calcium-phosphate adjuvant, and the president of the French vaccination committee admitted that the calcium phosphate adjuvant was no less effective than aluminum salts. That adjuvant could be brought back. It takes a political decision. “Then our vaccines would be safe,” says Didier Lambert.

Aluminum salts are identified as neurotoxic by many health authorities and organizations. Count Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Crown’s, Sarcoidosis, development of allergies, cases of chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism and many more as the unintended side effects of aluminum, according to Professor Exley and many more.

The evidence in the documentary mounts minute by minute, and the interviews are clear but not charged with emotions or with a music track overlay.

Professor Jérôme Authier, a neurologist and coordinator of the Centre of Reference for Neuromuscular Diseases at H. Mondor Hospital, states the aluminum stays at the injection site for months, and migrates to the liver, spleen and brain. He sees unique conditions/factors that slow down or speed up the migration:

• The injection site: faster migration if the injection is administrated by subcutaneously rather than intramuscularly
• Genetics: faster migration on some people more than others
• The dose: a moderate dose of aluminum adjuvant forms small aggregates of particle. It migrates in the brain faster than a significant dose which in turn forms larger aggregates, long stored in the periphery.
• It also accumulates in the lymph nodes and spleen, which are organs related to the immune system.
• Patients with Macrophagic Myofasciitis (MMF)suffer from cognitive disorders such as brain dysfunction, associated with persistence extended aluminum in their body at the injection site.

Even the so-called godfather of autoimmunology, Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, was brought forth by Poyet to discuss aluminum adjuvant; and he lists MMF as one of the Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndromes Adjuvants, also known as ASIA. Shoenfeld founded the Centre for Autoimmune Diseases in Israel and has written 25 books about autoimmunity.

The Israeli doctor is clear about this injecting aluminum question: How Toxic Are Our Vaccines?

Aluminum is foreign to our body. It is one of strongest adjuvants. It can cause toxicity to the brain, ovaries and the immune system. We should avoid it from our lives.

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

Studying Cause and Effect in Vaccine Use, Ingredients and Frequency Makes Us Smart, Not Antivax

It’s clear that researchers calling into question the prevailing “norm” or the current baseline, aluminum adjuvants, are called charlatans, and the media (paid for in large measure by Big Pharma) go on the attack. But, again, the godfather, Shoenfeld, submits a counter to that propaganda:

I have to say that, for my experience, both in Israel, as well as in Denmark, for instance, one of the countries where we have a large number of subjects who suffer the severe side effect, especially from the HPV. People see these cases in which, immediately after the vaccine, or very close to the vaccine, healthy girls who were apparently athletic, and suddenly, they find themselves wheel chaired or bed ridden.

The issue of primary ovarian failure, which means young women can’t get pregnant, and the reason is that the aluminum destroyed or affected the maturation of the eggs in the ovaries. Shoenfeld:

It [ovarian failure] has been reported in several cases, it’s still under reported, because many of those girls are on contraceptive pills, and therefore, they delay the diagnosis only after they will stop or discontinue to take these contraceptive pills, but it has been shown that if you inject aluminum into mice, you destroy or you affect the maturation of the eggs in the ovaries.

Exley points out that aluminum is a “silent visitor.” We do not get the sudden sickness from aluminum as we do lead, cyanide, or cadmium. It would take a huge amount of single exposure to cause immediate and profound ailments or even death. “Now, there is a proviso for that, an exception, and I believe the exception to that can be vaccination,” he states.

Oh No, Show Me the Money (again?)

The film exposes many aspects of why this 91-year-old aluminum salt is still in use. In addition, we find out why the French government isn’t doing anything to take aluminum out of vaccines. Think Sanofi, L’Oreal, and Nestle. We know the French multinational, Sanofi, is the world’s largest producer of vaccines. Ironically, the majority shareholder in that Titan of Vaccines is L’Oréal, which is the world’s largest cosmetics company. Now, following the tangled web of multinationals, we see that the principal shareholders of the cosmetics company L’Oreal is the Bettencourt family and Nestlé. Moreover, Nestlé is the world’s largest food-industry corporation.

Didier Lambert is blunt about the entanglement and special interests the corporations have, and the power they wield to control regulators and governments:

These three corporations have a special interest in aluminum. Sanofi uses aluminum in vaccines. L’Oréal uses it in cosmetics, and Nestlé, in food packaging, infant formula, etc. Note that the people who oppose the research by Drs. Gherardi and Authier are mainly financed by either Sanofi or the Bettencourt Foundation. Is that a coincidence?

Bunnies and then the Big Guns of Injecting Aluminum

Ironically, two German scientists in 1891 looked at aluminum, seeing how it breaks down and dissolves in food and therefore deemed it toxic. To settle court cases, manufacturers of products aluminum was used in hired scientists on both sides of the argument. In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt appointed a commission to look into the safety of aluminum. The stakes were high, and those researchers incriminating aluminum had little funding, whereas the special interests backing aluminum eventually got the green light from a book two decades later written by a recognized scientist, Ernest Ellsworth Smith, that was biased and in favor of aluminum and omitted findings from other scientists showing aluminum was harmful.

The key study cited as the main reference on how the body absorbs the aluminum adjuvant in a vaccine was done in 1997. It was carried out by an American researcher named Richard Flarend and his co-author Stanley Hem. Their study involved two New Zealand white rabbits being injected with radioactive aluminum hydroxide. We are talking about 28 days of monitoring the elimination rate of radioactive aluminum through urine samples. Their findings? Elimination, 28 days after injection, was 6%. So 94% of the aluminum stayed in the animals’ bodies. Even with this scrawny one study, scientists still claim that it only takes a few weeks to eliminate aluminum injected into humans.

“Aluminum, Vaccines and the Two Rabbits” was the original title of this documentary in France. The director, Marie-Ange, did not go with that moniker:

In a nutshell, aluminum’s pharmacology is founded on a study based on two rabbits only. And their bones have been lost. That study lasted only 28 days. So, all what you hear about aluminum in vaccines is based on that incomplete work. We hear that the illnesses linked to aluminum are not dramatic, and it’s based on this study. It’s unbelievable. Since the vaccine market represents billions of dollars, we can say that the industry makes all this money thanks to these two rabbits. The original title of the film was a funny and dramatic wink to that story.

Those not winking are the big guns of the documentary, Professor Jérôme Authier, a neurologist and coordinator of the Center of Reference of neuromuscular diseases of the Henri Mondor Hospital, and Doctor Romain Gherardi, the Director of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Gherardi has written more than 100 articles in refereed journals including topics tied to the physiopathology and therapeutics of adult neuromuscular diseases, as well as the cellular and molecular mechanisms of postnatal myogenesis and post-lesion regeneration.

Three sources stand out:

(a) “Macrophagic myofasciitis lesions assess long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide in muscle” (Brain – 2001) by both Authier and Gherardi.
(b) “Macrophagic myofasciitis: characterization and pathophysiology” (Authier and Gherardi) .
(c) Gherardi recently wrote a book about his experiences with aluminum and vaccines called, Toxic Story – Two or Three Embarrassing Truths about Vaccines and their Adjuvants.

Here is a compelling example of “throwing caution and verified facts to the wind” by Dr. Romain Gherardi:

The guiltiest act is that once it has been pointed out that the aluminum persists for much longer than a month, that it remains in the immune system for many years, no watchdog agency sat up and said, ‘Stop. Back to the laboratory, guys.’ That should have been done in the early 2000s. And it was not. So we’re fifteen years late, in terms of the natural reaction elicited by the normal application of intellectual discipline.

The entire case for aluminum adjuvants being safe is based on a 28-day rabbit study where the animals’ bones were “lost” by researchers. Hmm, bones are one area of the body that stores aluminum. The muscle that was injected was never examined.

This is not science as I have known it starting in 1975 as a marine biology major. We can’t determine whether the injected aluminum stayed at the muscle site. A 28-day study is for bean plant germination in kindergarten, not for vaccines. The aluminum adjuvant stays in the body for years, as the experts interviewed in the film attest. Amazingly, that the entire world of vaccinology takes this two New Zealand rabbit study from 20 years ago as proof of aluminum’s safety? This begs the question why this study has not been done over and over (maybe using some of the pro-aluminum adjuvant hominids as rabbits)?

“Not one of the experts who has studied the material we have compiled on MMF… and I am speaking of experts in their own capacity,” Gherardi states. “I’m not talking about … experts from public agency staff. I really mean independent experts we’ve asked to assess our research and give an opinion. Not one of them is free of strong connections to the vaccine industry. That’s all I can say.”

While the scientists and public policy people make compelling arguments around the toxicity of aluminum and the genetic variations some people possess, disallowing their bodies to “dissolve” mineralized aluminum, it’s also the individuals and married couples in the film that tell a story of life-changing medical issues that have plagued them, causing debilitating chronic pain and illness, necessitating complete life changes.

In the film: Laurent Lehrer and Marie-Christine Lehrer — patient with Macrophagic Myofascitis and wife; Nathalie Etienne and Patrice Nicosia — patient with Macrophagic Myofascitis and her partner; and Didier Lambert — patient with Macrophagic Myofascitis.

Their stories juxtaposed to the science and policy make this film compelling documentary viewing. We learn about all those genetic and cellular variations on a theme, including:

• autophagic xenophagy
• macrophage fusing with an organic killer, lysosome
• lysosome contains highly destructive enzymes and they only operate at acidic pH, so it has an acidic pH and the enzymes kill living organisms like bacteria
• They can also kill proteins or old mitochondria – any cellular waste material, but the pH, or acidity, is capable of corroding or dissolving mineral substances

In simpler terms, though, we know that some children and adults are more predisposed to vaccine injuries and adverse effects; we all are products of our epigenetics, when it comes to cancer, obesity, depression and thousands of other bio-physiological issues.

Again, the words of wisdom from Dr. Gherardi:

We know there are 34 genes which code for this highly complex machinery. So we looked for 109 variants; that is, genetic variations on each of these genes. They are ‘normal.’ That means the mutations do not cause disease in and of themselves. But they do predispose the system to dysfunctions. Of the 109 variants we checked out, we found 7 variants, located on six different genes, which are significantly found more frequently in patients with MMF, as compared to the general public. There are international consensus guidelines indicating normal ranges. It is interesting to note that these genetic mutations are cumulative. That is, our MMF patients present more than one variation. They have three, four, or five, and their effects probably combine. As a result, in a normal situation, when the macrophage just performs standard duties, it works fine.

If the job makes extra demands on the macrophage, most people overcome the difficulty, with a struggle. But a small minority will be totally unable to secrete the enzyme, and the toxin will remain. If 10, 20, or 25 vaccines are administered, regardless of genes, everyone will be overcome by the toxic burden. The cause of the system breakdown will be the toxicity itself.

The researchers and injured patient groups in France, USA and the other 20 countries looking at MMF and the connection to the adjuvant aluminum hydroxide have a universal battle to wage against the industries that make profit off of their mistakes, and who have utilized billions of dollars in marketing, which is another term for “covering up” or “falsifying data” or “burying the maimed or killed” or “denigrating truth-seekers and truth-tellers.”

Why is it that public and civil society proponents and social justice warriors are the ones crushed by the boulder of Sisyphus when it was the king of Corinth who was punished by the gods for “chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action forever.”

This film explores the truth around that deceit and maleficence and arrogance, and we, the viewer, have to decide who pays the ferryman, who pushes that boulder back up the hill of Capitalism. I sure as hell do not want to be responsible for the deceit and the outright felonies of the harbingers of capitalism at any cost.

We have too many examples in recent history around the failures of US medicine and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to believe these people with the slick advertising departments and extra sleazy lobbyists and sales people.

• See movie trailer here.

The Exsanguination of Medical Ethics

For thousands of years physicians took oaths to always act in the patient’s best interest when providing care. At the heart of medical ethics, this moral code was passed down through the centuries and reaffirmed by The World Medical Association (WMA) in 1949 and again in 2006. Additionally the WMA specified: “A physician shall not allow his/her judgment to be influenced by personal profit or unfair discrimination,” and “shall not receive any financial benefits or other incentives solely for referring patients or prescribing specific products”.

Medical ethics ran head long into The HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) Act of 1973.  The passage of this act set the stage for the undermining of long established medical ethics. The HMO Act was designed specifically to reduce costs, by charging patients a monthly fee for a set package of health care.  The Act was passed with the knowledge that there had been no systematic analysis done to show that it would not negatively impact health care.  Nonetheless, the Government gave millions of dollars in direct financial assistance to develop the HMO which was designed to be a profit making business.

This HMO economic arrangement put the physicians and other health care providers’ financial interest into conflict with the needs of their patients. The monthly pot of money must provide for profit, salaries, wages and health care.  If too much is spent on the patients, there is less available for profit and wages. So began the Health Insurance, Corporate Medicine assault on medical ethics.

Did the Medical Profession fight to hold on to its ethics so as to always “act in the patient’s best interest when providing medical care”?  No. Tragically the Medical Profession succumbed to the rise of Corporate Health Care by betraying their core medical ethic and became complicit “stewards” of an economic system that puts profits before people—The AMA’s (American Medical Association) Principles of Medical Ethics: V11, gives the following ethical guidelines for physicians:

Mitigate possible conflicts between physicians financial interests and patient interests by minimizing the financial impact of patient care decisions and the overall financial risk for individual physicians.

We have experienced four decades of HMO’s negative effect on health care while they became the darlings of Wall Street earning billions of dollars for investors as health care was rationed by denial of service, restricted benefits, cost cutting, patients dumping, overworked and underpaid staff, and plunging physician’s incomes.

The author D.H. Lawrence (1880-1930) appears to have anticipated these horrors, when he wrote:

The mosquito knows full well, small as he is he’s beast of prey. But after all he only takes his bellyful, he doesn’t put my blood in the bank.

Fast Forward to the ACA (Affordable Care Act) of 2010. One of its chief goals was to “reduce the cost of health care” by giving “financial incentives” to providers for the “Value” they provide in health care. A value-based payment incentive was to be established by bundling payment for certain types of care. Forbes Magazine, advertised as ‘The Capitalist Tool’ stated:

Bundled payments are just price controls by another name—and as such will yield subpar care by encouraging insurers and providers to put their own financial interests above the medical needs of patients.

The ACA was passed with very little known about its effectiveness or risks to Patient Care. Once again it is all about cost cutting. But now with the so called “Value Based Purchasing”, it is no longer about making profits for corporations, but spending less government money — it is about getting more for the Government’s shrinking dollars going to health care spending for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability.

The politicians want to “save” money, which, in reality, means to redistribute money, but the economics is similar. With some ten trillion dollars in tax cuts for the rich over the last seventeen years, the US treasury has less available for social services as politicians continue to redirect a trillion dollars per year to the military war industry without concerns that it is “costing the government too much”.

The latest Republican Tax Reform Bill of 12/17 will suck out of Medicare an estimated thirty billion dollars. Bundled payments will shrink and the giant vice of shrinking payments, combined with rising costs (hospital profits, rising prices for supplies, drugs, medical equipment, etc.) will inevitably squeeze the life blood out of both the patients and the health care providers.

The exsanguination of medical ethics has helped bring us to this dangerous moment in history.  We have witnessed a craven transformation of medical ethics when physicians, nurses and other health providers are clamoring to sign up for “Value-Based Bundled Care”. The AMA has betrayed their ancient oath as healers, in service to an economic system that puts profits before people.  While deadly epidemics of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, violence and addiction haunt the nation, we have been led into a partnership with Dracula.

When Patient Rights Do Not Exist

American health care is in a truly deplorable state. Along with virtually everything else in our collapsing society, the American people are increasingly held captive to the barbaric whims and dictates of a ruling establishment, which holds nothing sacred, and which has acquired unprecedented amounts of wealth and power. Consequently, it was inevitable that in our health care system, the patient would become a mere commodity, to be used solely for purposes of research and profit maximization.

In any discussion regarding the current state of health care in America, it is illustrative to use as benchmarks, two of the most prestigious medical institutions in New York City: Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Each institution regularly engages in behavior, which should be regarded by any sentient being as unequivocally criminal. Yet most Americans are scarcely able to muster a yawn, and insouciant liberals and neocons alike, evidently find the subject quite boring, in comparison with starting World War III.

Both Memorial and Cornell regularly commit egregious violations of patient privacy, by inviting college students, interns, residents, and fellows to sit in on a patient’s session with their physician, without first seeking the patient’s consent. As Edward Snowden has eloquently pointed out on numerous occasions: Freedom and liberty cannot exist once privacy has been lost. Is inviting unwanted interlopers, into what should otherwise be a private session between a doctor and a patient, indicative of a respect for patient privacy?

Evidently, this subject isn’t taught in medical school.

For many patients, it is humiliating to have a third person in the room, and a fourth person going in and out of the room, as they meet with their physician. Medical institutions defend this unconscionable practice, in the name of educating the younger generation of doctors, but this argument is rooted in base sophistry: For what lesson is being imparted, other than the one which declares that the patient is a commodity, and has no right to privacy whatsoever?

Sloan Kettering is a deeply authoritarian institution, and in many respects represents a microcosm of a police state, complete with the euphemistically named Patient Representatives, who are there not to represent the patient at all, but to bully and harass patients who complain, and who are deemed insufficiently docile and submissive.

Except in extremely unusual circumstances, where there is a change in diagnosis, Memorial refuses to allow patients to change their oncologist. To do so, would be to empower the patient, and the only people that Memorial wishes to empower, are their oncologists and their corporate Leadership Team.

Once a patient has been admitted into the hallowed halls of Sloan Kettering, and allowed to mingle with the Gods on Mount Olympus, they are given a specialist in colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc., and this essentially constitutes an arranged marriage that one cannot extricate oneself from, except by leaving the institution, dying, or being fortunate enough to have your oncologist retire. At first glance, this might seem a trivial matter. So why not get another oncologist at a different institution? many would ask. This is not an easy thing to do, as Memorial has hundreds of cancer specialists, some of whom have a specialized knowledge of cancers so rare, that doctors working outside of oncology have sometimes never even heard of them. Moreover, this argument erroneously assumes that the specialists you would be interested in working with at Cornell or NYU – the two other leading cancer centers in New York City – will also take your insurance.

Not allowing a patient to change their oncologist – when they vehemently wish to do so – while also knowing full well that cancer patients will be reluctant to leave such a specialized institution, results in a power imbalance, where many patients end up as punching bags for their abusive oncologists. A lamentable omission from the Sloan Kettering Patient Bill of Rights, and which incidentally, negates the entirety of the document.

Diabolical health insurance companies are already placing extraordinary restrictions on which specialists patients can and cannot see, and this problem is then exacerbated by this base and authoritarian practice. In any humane health care system, the patient’s right to choose between a variety of specialists, is deemed inalienable and sacrosanct.

All fields of medicine have made astounding leaps forward over the past century – all that is, except the field of oncology – which remains, with certain notable exceptions, mired somewhere in the Middle Ages. In spite of this rather lamentable state of affairs, oncology produces some of the most arrogant and egotistical people ever to walk the face of the earth. A peculiar phenomenon, which one is no doubt constantly reminded of at Memorial. The field is also evidently a magnet for bullies and sadists, who delight in tormenting patients, who are often physically, psychologically, or emotionally too weak to fight back.

Since Memorial places tremendous value on cutting edge research – as this is where the dollars lie – and regards the patient as the least important aspect of the institution, an abusive oncologist who repeatedly receives complaints from his patients, yet who produces good research, will continue to be enthusiastically backed by the institution.

Many of these young oncologists are also a product of our universities, which increasingly function as vocational job training facilities, utterly devoid of intellectual inquiry. These young doctors have typically done an enormous amount of study in their field, yet often lack a basic humanities education, making it exceedingly difficult for them to establish a harmonious rapport with their patients. Due to their lack of a liberal arts education, they are often unable to feel compassion and empathy for their patients, without which a doctor cannot be successful and effective.

Cornell delights in their two tier health care system, where patients with “good insurance” are allowed to meet with experienced specialists that teach at Cornell Medical School, while patients with “bad insurance” are given a resident or a fellow. The hypocrisy of this unconscionable practice is simply nauseating and beyond belief.

In the Cornell Oncology Fellows Clinic, unsupervised fellows are allowed to treat even the most difficult and challenging cancers, and are essentially given the green light to perform medical experiments on live human beings. This is deemed perfectly acceptable to those who run Cornell, since in their eyes, the destitute and unemployed are beneath contempt, and not deserving of good care.

In a deep and fundamental sense, both Memorial and Cornell regard good health care as a privilege, and not a right, which is precisely the same way in which affluent Americans and the upper middle class regard education.

The arrogance of these institutions can reach such outrageous proportions, that physicians will sometimes not even deem it necessary to fully disclose all of what is known regarding a patient’s disease. Sloan Pathology debunked Cornell’s controversial pathology report of my disease, yet was unable to replace it with a diagnosis of their own. Embarrassed to have failed at determining even so much as the lineage, a senior Sloan pathologist lied to me over the phone, and gave me an imaginary diagnosis, which I discovered several days later when meeting with my oncologist. As the patient is regarded as merely a piece of useless flotsam, what difference does it make, if they even learn the truth of their diagnosis?

And this disdainful treatment of patients at Memorial, often communicated with much sneering and snarling, is administered by oncologists, who without intended jest or irony, proudly refer to themselves as The Best In The World.

The fact that any American hospital – let alone two of our most prestigious – can regularly engage in such abusive and unethical practices, underscores the lack of humanity, compassion, and ethics; as well as the unbridled arrogance and greed, which continue to serve as the mildewed decaying heart of our satanic health care system. For it is a system which regards patients not as human beings with a soul, but as things to be mocked, exploited, discarded and thrown away.

Nationalization or barbarism? That is the question.