Category Archives: Health

Here Are the Campaign Promises Trump Breaks with His Health Care Plan

President Donald Trump gathers with congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden after the House passed the AHCA. May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Donald Trump had a party yesterday in the White House Rose Garden — while cases of beer were wheeled into the Capitol Building — to celebrate the just-passed Republican health care bill through the House of Representatives. If this bill passes the Senate and is signed by President Trump, the core elements of the bill will create conditions in which 24 million fewer people will have health insurance by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act, which is, for the time being, still the law of the land.

But it’s much worse than that: This will would allow states to let insurance companies refuse to cover maternity care, mental health care, coverage for substance abuse treatment, and many more basic functions of health insurance that people have been able to rely on since 2010. In addition, this bill will end the federal guarantee that health insurance companies cannot charge exorbitant premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, which includes everything from asthma and depression to pregnancy, cancer, and in a few states, most outrageously, conditions that result from sexual abuse. That’s right — under the bill the House Republicans passed yesterday, if you live in a state that opts out of these protections and need to buy health insurance, and you happen to be a rape survivor, insurance companies may be able to charge you more for health insurance than if you had not been a victim of this trauma.

This bill is the definition of putting the interests of the wealthy ahead of the most vulnerable members of society. Trumpcare would strip away health insurance from the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled via $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid, in order to finance a tax cut north of a trillion dollars for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Trumpcare is a violation of several of Trump’s key campaign promises. He promised to provide insurance for everyone, and that he would never cut Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, and no one who has coverage under the ACA would lose coverage under his plan. These are all lies. Trump savored his victory in the Rose Garden among a crowd of overwhelmingly middle-aged white men and was reportedly “radiant” for the rest of the day. Watching President Trump and House Republican celebrate passing a bill that would cut millions of people off of their health care to give a tax cut to the richest 2 percent will be a picture that we will all remember for a long time.

Jesus said, “I was sick and you didn’t come to see me.” The new health care bill shows how little its sponsors see the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled whose health care is set to be stripped. They only see themselves and their fellow millionaires and billionaires who will reap the “rewards” of leaving the least of these to fend for themselves.

By Jim Wallis/SOJO

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The House Votes to Repeal Obamacare

Republicans overcame an embarrassing early failure to pass their replacement for the Affordable Care Act with few votes to spare. Now, they await the political fallout.

For House Republicans, the burden of an unfulfilled campaign promise had simply become too much to bear alone.

And so on Thursday, after an embarrassing early failure and weeks of fits and starts, a narrow GOP majority passed legislation to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that even many of its supporters conceded was deeply flawed. The party-line vote was 217-213, with 20 Republicans voting against. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain at best.

The American Health Care Act scraps the Obamacare mandates that people buy health insurance and that employers provide it, eliminates most of its tax increases, cuts nearly $900 billion from Medicaid while curtailing the program’s expansion, and allows states to seek a waiver exempting them from the current law’s crucial prohibition against insurers charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives complained that the bill did not fully repeal the 2010 law, while moderates blanched at its cuts to Medicaid and its weakening of its most popular consumer protections.

But after a week of cajoling, last-minute amendments, and untold private assurances, President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and their top lieutenants were able to persuade a vast majority of Republicans to sign on. The vote, politically risky though it was, revives the president’s legislative agenda after it appeared to stall in March.

“We’re going to get this passed through the Senate, I feel so confident,” an exultant Trump declared in a victory ceremony at the White House, as dozens of House Republicans stood behind him in the Rose Garden. In his characteristic style, the president described the bill in broad terms and devoted most of his comments to patting both himself and Republican congressional leaders on the back. “I think most importantly, yes, premiums will be coming down,” he said. “Yes, deductibles will be coming down. But very importantly, it’s a great plan, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about.”

Hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus, who had denounced the original version of the bill as “Obamacare-lite,” dropped their opposition after securing an amendment allowing states to opt out of key insurance mandates. Moderates and even some leadership loyalists balked, but they secured an 11th hour sweetener of their own: an extra $8 billion to help people with pre-existing conditions who might not be able to afford higher premiums that insurers could charge them in high-risk pools. The modest sum was no more than a political fig leaf, as policy analysts said it would not come close to making the new insurance pools work. But it gave some lawmakers who wanted to vote yes a reason to do so, and it won over enough holdouts to put the vote over the top.

Though they had barely enough time to read the revised bill, Republican House members voted on Thursday fully aware of the political peril that might await them. Progressive activists had jammed town-hall meetings much as Tea Party conservatives had done to Democratic lawmakers eight years ago. Supporters of Obamacare weaponized a finding by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that the GOP bill would result in 24 million fewer people having health insurance after a decade. Premiums would spike in the first two years after enactment. And Democrats won even more ammunition for the 2018 midterms when Republican leaders rushed the revised measure to the floor without a final estimate from the CBO and barely half a day after the legislative text of last-minute amendments became public. “I would prefer to have it scored, but more than that I want it to pass,” a conservative convert to the AHCA, Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, admitted to The Washington Post.

Democrats were at once rueful and gleeful. They denounced Republicans for voting to rip health insurance from millions by cutting Medicaid, and for breaking their repeated pledge to uphold protections for people with pre-existing conditions. “God have mercy on your soul,” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas declared on the House floor. “Make no mistake, people will die as a result of this bill,” said Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the former Democratic Party chairwoman.

But they also recognized the potential of a political gift, readying attack ads against GOP lawmakers who voted to strip health benefits from their constituents in service of an unpopular president. Republicans won no cover from leading health-care industry groups, who opposed the bill en masse. A widely-cited Quinnipiac University poll in March found that just 17 percent of respondents backed its passage, and that was before Republicans amended the measure to allow states to weaken popular consumer protections. And by holding a vote after limited public hearings, back-room deals, and without fully understanding the impact of the bill, the GOP opened itself up to the same criticisms it leveled (falsely, in some cases) against Democrats in 2010.

“They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar they will carry,” warned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who as speaker in 2010 shepherded the Affordable Care Act to passage. “Whatever happens down the road, the members of the House Republican caucus will be forever identified with the worst aspects of the bill they have passed.” As the vote ended on Thursday, Democrats waved to Republicans and chanted, “Nah nah nah nah, hey hey, goodbye.” It was a taunt Republicans tossed at Democrats back in 1993 when they voted for a tax increase until President Bill Clinton and saw their House majority disappear the next year.

Under intense pressure from the White House, Republicans cast their effort as a rescue effort to save Americans from a “collapsing” health-care law. They cited state after state in which insurers had pulled out of the individual market, leaving few choices and higher premiums for consumers. “This is a crisis, and it is happening,” Ryan said in an impassioned closing floor speech that drew cheers from Republicans. He called for lawmakers to “end this failed experiment” in health policy. “A lot of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote.” As he wrapped up, Republicans chanted “Vote! Vote!” while Democrats shouted, “Where’s the score?” in reference to the missing budget projection. Meanwhile, Trump watched the vote from the White House, tweeting criticism at Democrats and preparing to welcome Republicans lawmakers for a celebratory press conference in the Rose Garden “if victorious.”

For House Republicans, the dozens of votes to repeal or roll back Obamacare they took over the years had been relatively easy, free of political or substantive consequences because the bills had no chance of becoming law. But this year was different. With control of Congress and Trump in the White House, they were, as more than one member acknowledged over the last several weeks, “shooting with live bullets.” (Their critics put it another way: They were “the dog that caught the car.”)

And yet, what pushed some reluctant members to vote yes in the final days was the growing realization that this bill, too, would not become law. Not as it is currently written. As many hurdles as the American Health Care Act has overcome among Republicans in the House, it faces even more among the considerably narrower GOP majority in the Senate, where party leaders must win over 50 out of the chambers 52 Republicans. Numerous senators have criticized aspects of the legislation, and shortly before the House vote on Thursday, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned that the bill should be “viewed with caution.” Afterwards, top senators said they would work on drafting their own legislation, suggesting that the House bill might not even see a vote in the upper chamber.

Conservatives and moderates alike said they based their votes at least in part on the assurance that the Senate would change the bill. “I have a little bit of faith—not a lot—but a little bit of faith that it’s actually going to improve in the Senate,” Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, a member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Wednesday. Labrador is relying on conservatives like Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ted Cruz of Texas to push the AHCA to the right and to stretch the bounds of what Republicans can pass with a simple majority under the Senate’s budget reconciliation procedure.

Moderate Republicans, meanwhile, are betting that senators like Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio will ensure that some of the cuts to Medicaid are restored and protections for people with pre-existing conditions are strengthened. And that’s if the Senate can pass anything at all. Gone are the GOP’s earlier hope, voiced by party leaders in March, that the Senate would simply ratify what the House passed and send it on to Trump for his signature. Senators will now wait up to two weeks for CBO to review the House-passed bill, and then it could take several weeks to agree on revisions, or a new bill entirely, that would then either be sent back to the House or to a conference committee for more negotiations. “The Senate will now finish work on our bill, but will take the time to get it right,” said Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

The repeal of Obamacare took a big step forward on Thursday, but it is by no means guaranteed.

With their votes, House Republicans are risking the possibility that they’ll have opened themselves up to political attacks for a bill that will die in the Senate. But the alternative, they determined, was just as bad. Failure to so much as vote on their core campaign promise had already humiliated the party, set back their agenda, and threatened to demoralize their conservative base. They needed to unload their burden, and on Thursday, with little margin to spare, they did. Repealing Obamacare is the Senate’s problem now.

By Russell Berman/TheAtlantic

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Three Years Later, Water Specialist Says Broken Pipes, Not Lack of Water Treatment, Was Real Cause of the Flint Crisis

Although it’s been three years, the struggle for Flint, Mich., is far from over as the lead-tainted city is still in need of new water pipes.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved a $100-million grant for the city to fix its broken water system earlier this year, but the agency now faces a potential budget cut of 31 percent, as ordered by President Donald Trump. With that and other financial hurdles in place, it likely will be years before Flint’s pipes are repaired.

Now, new information has surfaced from a specialist claiming that the spike in water main breaks during the Polar Vortex winters of 2014 and 2015 was one of several overlooked factors that ultimately led to the Flint water crisis, according to a retiring Michigan environmental official.

Bryce Feighner, a water specialist and director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, claims that broken pipes were the primary cause of the water contamination crisis, arguing that treating the city’s water with orthophosohates wouldn’t have fixed the problem.

Feighner, who’s retiring to become a minister this summer, made the remarks on Thursday, April 27, during a talk at Grand Valley State University titled “Flint: What Really Happened?” MLive reported.

The outgoing official argued that an “excessive” number of water main breaks was just one of many “confounding factors that you never hear anyone talk about” in regard to the crisis. Feighner pointed to the fact that Flint experienced a total of 312 water main breaks in 2014 and 277 in 2015, but only 153 in 2013 and 138 in 2016.

Though elevated numbers of water main breaks are common in Midwestern cities facing back-to-back harsh winters, Feighner said Flint was hit especially hard on account of its overburdened water system and general lack of upkeep over the past 20 years.

The exclusion of a corrosion inhibitor when the city switched its water source from Detroit’s system to the highly contaminated Flint River in 2014 is what many officials believe led to the leaching of toxic chemicals into the water system, causing the contamination crisis. But Feighner disputed this claim during his talk Thursday, arguing that a phosphate might have helped control the corrosion, but “I don’t believe it would have prevented this event.”

“You can have the most perfect, noncorrosive water in world — however you choose to define that — and if you have water main breaks, extreme velocities, changes in flow directions, it’s going to strip every coating you’ve created off those pipes over the last several decades,” he said.

“This was a major cause of the event,” he continued.

April 25 marked the three-year anniversary of Flint’s water crisis, a public health disaster triggered by a state-appointed emergency manager’s decision to switch the city’s water source. The bitter holiday was marked with protests, as hundreds of angry demonstrators marched to Flint City Hall to make their voices heard.

Last week’s rally was hosted by organization FlintH2OJustice, MLive reported, during which members shared their demands: a Medicare extension to all current residents and those displaced by the water crisis, an end to resident water bills and the abolition of the state’s emergency manager system altogether.

“Through our banner from Standing Rock, people all over our country, all Americans, they love Flint, also,” said Pastor Bobby Jackson of Mission of Hope, who attended the protests carrying a large white sheet that read “From Standing Rock to Flint.” “We’re not invisible.”

“Everybody thinks they had it fixed … If there’s anything called fake news, the news that everything is fine in Flint is the fakest of fake news,” said CNN moderator Van Jones, who’s also the founder of Green For All, an organization aimed at building a more inclusive green economy strong enough to bring people out of poverty. “Things aren’t fine in Flint, and we’re going to deal with it ourselves.”

The organization has since launched a funding campaign for the residents of Flint titled, “#FixThePipes,” which hopes to raise $500,000 to replace pipes in hundreds of Flint homes, according to Fast Company. The estimated cost of fixing a single home’s water system is about $10,000.

Green For All’s director, Vien Truoong, said the group’s fundraising goal is not a glass ceiling. He told the tech news site that their aim is to bypass the bureaucratic process, which, in his opinion, is void of an awareness for the urgency of the situation.

Through our#FixThePipes campaign, “we thought it was important to remind people that not only are the pipes in Flint not fixed, but that the environmental justices are deeply profound in Flint, and in so many communities around the country that look like Flint,” Truong said.

During his lecture, Feighner repeatedly deflected blame for the crisis away from the state, pointing the finger at the city although multiple reports have showed the DEQ was primarily to blame. In fact, a task force assembled by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder concluded that the department’s mishandling of the crisis actually prolonged its devastating effects. Michigan’s Civil Rights Commission also issued a scathing a report in February, contending that “systemic racism” was largely to blame.

Feighner, a former chief of the waste management and radiological protection office, got involved in the city’s water crisis in late 2014, replacing Liane Shekter Smith, who was ousted as head of the drinking water office, according to MLive. Shekter Smith is one of several DEQ employees facing criminal charges in connection to the crisis.

So far, investigators have charged 13 current and former state and local officials.

When it comes to the people of Flint, Truong said, “Green For All is working to ensure that they won’t be forgotten.”

By Tanasia Kenney/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The new reality on health care: Some Republicans don’t want Obamacare repealed

WHERE THINGS STAND, HEALTH CARE EDITION — Republican efforts on health care can be summed up pretty simply: two steps forward, one step back. After reviving what seemed like a dead health care package, President Donald Trump’s White House and House Republicans’ efforts to try to pass a compromise package are once again on life support. Speaker Paul Ryan and House leaders decided to postpone a vote on the package to next week at the earliest, but it is unclear if they’ll be able to find enough votes. Republicans can lose roughly 22 votes. There are 15 House Republicans who solidly oppose the measure and another 20 that are leaning against voting for it. See Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan

IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER — Whatever the House does with Obamacare is only an opening salvo. Senate Republicans haven’t been engaged in the effort and they would make major changes to whatever the House passes.

More from Politico

Posted by Libergirl

Drinking Four Cups of Coffee Is Probably Safe

The most comprehensive review of evidence on health consequences of caffeine use has just been published.

“Bring it!”

That’s what a Los Angeles news anchor said earlier this month, in response to the announcement that “the world’s strongest coffee” is now available in the United States. The product is called Black Insomnia, a playful nod to a potentially debilitating medical condition that can be caused by the product.

The anchor’s tone took a dramatic decrescendo as she read from the teleprompter: “The site Caffeine Informer says Black Insomnia is one of the ‘most dangerous caffeinated products.’” Her smile faded. “Oh. I’ll have to have this one sparingly.”

Black Insomnia is actually in competition for the title of “world’s strongest coffee.” Another, similar purveyor sells coffee grounds called Death Wish. They come in a black sack with a skull and cross bones. On its Amazon page, Death Wish claims to be “the world’s strongest coffee” and promises its “perfect dark roast will make you the hero of the house or office.”

How much caffeine is required for heroism? At what point does the drug (known technically as 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) actually become unsafe?

Caffeine occurs in plant leaves and seeds as an insect repellant and herbicide. It is used in hospitals to revive newborns who stop breathing. It can be given intravenously to induce seizures. CNN cautioned against Black Insomnia: “Just one cup could spill you over the daily caffeine limit.”

Multiple news outlets referred to this “limit.” For healthy adults, the number is 400 milligrams per day, and it comes from sources like the Food and Drug Administration and the International Food Information Council. Four hundred milligrams amounts to around four cups of coffee in the old-style sense of the phrase, an eight-ounce mug in a diner. It’s more like one Starbucks venti.

When it comes to caffeine, a drug that’s part of the everyday lives of 90 percent of Americans and a source of great joy—sometimes the actual best part of waking up—that limit can seem less like an admonition than a challenge. Black Insomnia claims to have 702 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce cup. That’s around five times as much as a home-brew, and three times as much as Starbucks’s dark roast. And no serious coffee drinker would stop at 12 ounces. Fill two venti cups with Black Insomnia and you’re at 2,340 milligrams, or about six times the “limit.”

With options like this before us, where does the 400 milligram limit come from, and how seriously should it be taken?

Esther Myers says seriously. She is a specialist in systematic research reviews, and over the past year she and colleagues at the International Life Sciences Institute have been working on the most exhaustive review of evidence on the safety of caffeine to date. This week the team is presenting the findings in Chicago at a conference called Experimental Biology.

Myers explained that the oft-cited 400-milligram limit has been out of date for a while. It came from the last research review, which was done in 2003 by Health Canada. Her colleagues were surprised to learn it had been that long, and that even at the time the review wasn’t really comprehensive. So they did a systematic review, meaning they followed a comprehensive, transparent protocol defined by the Institute of Medicine.

The team scoured more than 700 studies on the safety of caffeine at various levels and noted whether adverse health effects occurred above, below, or at 400 milligrams. Those health effects ranged spanned cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and behavioral domains. And it seems that for healthy adults, 400 milligrams is indeed a safe daily limit. For pregnant women, it’s safer to use 300 milligrams or less.

Above those levels the team found evidence of links to everything from depression and dysphoria (general unhappiness) to anxiety to hypertension to higher proportions of sperm with DNA damage.

So does that mean that 500 milligrams a day is definitely unsafe?

“No,” said Myers. “There’s a great deal of inter-individual variability in how people respond to caffeine. That’s one of the research gaps. We need to better identify differences and identify people who are more sensitive.”

The most important finding of this research was, apparently, how little we know for certain about this drug that’s all around us. Myers’s team highlights a particular need for a better understanding of how caffeine affects less-than-healthy adults. There is also much more to be determined about how the health effects of caffeine vary depending on how, when, and with what frequency it’s consumed. No matter how much we learn about caffeine, even as one of our most studied and consumed drugs, there will always be more questions.

And this research review also didn’t look at the oft-reported health benefits of caffeine at low to moderate doses. So the best dose-guidance for now is this broad estimate about what not to do. For most people, 400 milligrams is almost certainly safe, but not necessarily good. The average American comes very close to that already, consuming around 300 milligrams daily.

My takeaway is that when a product is calling itself Black Insomnia or Death Wish, listen more and bring it less. Note doses in all caffeinated products and consider keeping track. Treat caffeine generally more like a drug than a challenge. In a food environment saturated with caffeine, the surest route to being a “hero of the house or office” is as an exemplar of moderation.

By James Hamblin/TheAtlantic

Posted by The NON-Conformsit

The Nerve Gas Attack Described in White House Report Did Not Occur, Expert Says of Syria Incident

  Video frames from the location in Khan Shaykhun where mass casualties either occurred or were being treated. (The wording below some of the images is embedded in the original recordings.)

Theodore A. Postol is professor emeritus of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a specialist in weapons issue. At the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, he advised on missile basing, and he later was a scientific consultant to the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon. He is a recipient of the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society and the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he was awarded the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for uncovering numerous and important false claims about missile defenses.

This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack on April 4 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. The conclusion assumes that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 meters to the east-southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space, and the sarin cloud would have had to travel a long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

READ: A Critique of ‘False and Misleading’ White House Claims About Syria’s Use of Lethal Gas

Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated for sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (the dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.

The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious—the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:

1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.

2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

This raises troubling questions about how United States political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the U.S. government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.

Methodology Used in This Analysis

The construction of the time of day at which particular video frames were generated is determined by simply using the planetary geometry of the sun angle during the day on April 4. The illustration below of the sun-angle geometry shows the Day/Night Sun Terminator at the location of Khan Shaykhun on April 4. The angle of the sun relative to local horizontal is summarized in the table that follows the image of the planetary geometry along with the temperature during the day between 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The next set of two side-by-side images shows the shadows at a location where a large number of poison victims are being treated in what appears to be the aftermath of a poisoning event. The shadows indicate that this event occurred at about 7:30 a.m. This is consistent with the possibility of a nerve agent attack at 7 a.m. on April 4, and it is also consistent with the allegation in the WHR that an attack occurred at 6:55 a.m. on that day.

The timing sequence of the attack is important for determining the consistency of the timelines with the allegations of a sarin release at the crater identified in the WHR.

Assuming there was enough sarin released from the crater identified by the WHR to cause mass casualties at significant downwind distances, the sarin would have drifted downwind at a speed of 1 to 2 meters a second and for several minutes before encountering the only location where mass casualties could have occurred from this particular release. The location where these mass casualties would have had to occur will be identified and described in the next section. If there was a sarin release elsewhere, mass casualties would have not occurred at this location but would have occurred somewhere else in the city.

Assuming the victims of the attack were exposed to the plume, the symptoms of sarin poisoning would have expressed themselves almost immediately. As such, the scene at 7:30 a.m. on April 4 is absolutely consistent with the possibility of a mass poisoning downwind of the sarin-release crater.

The next figure shows the earliest photograph we have been able to find of an individual standing by the sarin-release crater where the alleged release occurred. The photo was posted on April 4, and the shadow indicates the time of day was around 10:50 a.m. Thus the individual was standing by the crater roughly four hours after the dispersal event.

If the dispersal event was from this crater, the area where this unprotected individual is standing would be toxic, and this individual would be subjected to the severe and possibly fatal effects of sarin poisoning. As a result, this throws substantial suspicion on the possibility that the crater identified by WHR would be the source of the sarin release.

At the time of the sarin release, the temperature of the air was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sun was at an angle of only 8 degrees relative to local horizontal. This means that liquid sarin left on the ground from the dispersal event would remain mostly unevaporated. By 11 a.m., the temperature of the air had risen to 75 degrees, and the angle of the sun relative to horizontal was at 66 degrees. Thus, one would expect that the combination of the rise in air temperature and the sun on the crater would lead to significant evaporation of liquid sarin left behind from the initial dispersal event. The air temperature and sun angle are such that the area around the crater should have been quite dangerous for anybody without protection to operate.

This is therefore an important indication that the crater was probably not a dispersal site of the sarin.

The final set of three photographs shows arriving victims seeking treatment at a hospital at some location in Khan Shaykhun. The arrivals at the hospital are between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on the day of the attack. This is perhaps late since victims were seriously exposed by 7:30 a.m., but victims could have been trailing in after the initial arrival of severely affected victims. This time is considerably earlier than the time at which WHR alleges that a hospital was attacked while treating victims of the poisoning attack.

In the next section, we discuss the location where mass casualties would have occurred if the sarin release occurred at the location alleged by the WHR.

Sun shadows at about 7:30 a.m. on April 4 at a location where large numbers of victims from a poisoning event were being treated.

A man without protective equipment standing next to the crater at 10:50 a.m. on April 4—roughly four hours after the sarin release alleged by the WHR.

Victims arriving at a hospital in Khan Shaykhun between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on April 4 following the mass casualty event observed at 7:30 a.m.

An image from about 10:30 a.m. in Khan Shaykhun suggesting a possible additional location where casualties were generated from a poisoning attack.

Identification of the location of the mass casualties.

The figure on the next page shows the direction of the toxic sarin plume based on the assumption that the alleged release point was the crater identified by the WHR. The wind conditions at the time of the release, which would have been at about 7 a.m. on April 4, would have carried the plume across an empty field to an isolated hamlet roughly 300 meters downwind from the crater. Pages 2, 3

By Theodore A. Postol/Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Diet soda triples stroke & dementia risk compared to normal daily cola habit – study

Diet soda triples stroke & dementia risk compared to normal daily cola habit – study

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Diet soft drinks might not actually be better for you, as a recent study finds drinkers face a higher risk of stroke and dementia just for the taste of the real thing.

A team of scientists from Boston University School of Medicine studied nearly 4,400 adults and found those who consume one artificially-sweetened beverage (ASB) a day have three times the risk of stroke and dementia than those who consume sugar sweetened beverages (SSB), according to a study published Thursday in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

The study used data provided by the Framingham Heart Study, which had the participants fill out a detailed questionnaire on their food and drink intake in the 1990s. Ten years later, scientists found that the adults who had one more diet drink a day were 2.9 times more likely to develop dementia and three times more at risk of strokes compared to those who consumed less than one a week.

Excessive air pollution may be cause for a fifth of dementia cases – study 

We found that those people who were consuming diet soda on a daily basis were three times as likely to develop both stroke and dementia within the next 10 years as compared to those who did not consume diet soda,” Matthew Pase, lead author of the study, told NBC News.

ASBs typically contain synthetic sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin. These substances are much more potent than sucrose sugar and only need a small amount to generate the sensation of sweetness.

The study did not find any link between sugar-sweetened beverages and stroke or dementia, although they did not recommend those drinks should be consumed either.

Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option,” Pase said, according to the Daily Mail. “We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages.

Pase said that they did find other health factors associated with those who regularly consumed sugar-sweetened beverages, such as accelerated brain aging and low memory function.

The study also found that those who regularly consumed ASBs were also more likely to have diabetes, although the scientists were not able to form a cause-and-effect link between the two. It is possible, they said, that “people with diabetes mellitus were simply more likely to consume diet beverages.”

In response to the study being published, the American Beverage Association issued a press release, stating that extensive studies have shown that ASBs are “safe for consumption.

While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not – and cannot – prove cause and effect,” the press release reads. “And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many risk factors can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing stroke and dementia including age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics.

The study was not able to draw a concrete causal link between ASBs and a heightened risk for stroke and dementia, however scientists were able to find a strong association between the two.

We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population,” Pase said, according to CNN.

More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health,” he said.

The scientists said they do not understand the mechanisms yet and reported several inconsistencies in the study. However, they speculate that artificially sweetened beverages could be affecting the blood vessels, eventually triggering strokes and dementia.

Ralph Sacco, a co-author of the study, released an editorial published alongside the study in the journal Stroke on Thursday, saying that both ASBs and SSBs are “hard on the brain.

Sacco says that ASBs “may impact cerebrovascular health,” adding that “ASB consumption may occur because of weight gain but could also exacerbate these conditions.

This marked the first study to report any association between daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and an increased risk in dementia.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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