Monday, August 29, 2011
Governor Perry Attacked for Choosing New Medical Treatment

Should Gov. Rick Perry’s choice of medical treatment be between him and his doctor?

Recently, the governor of Texas and presidential hopeful had a bad back treated by injecting some of his very own fat cells, after they had been cultured and treated in a laboratory. The innovative use of a patient’s own adult stem cells is showing great promise in many conditions, including damaged joints.

Even though he is a public figure, Gov. Perry is also a human being and a patient. Should we not wish him well, and thank him for sharing his experience with a treatment that might be of interest to thousands of Americans?

The Los Angeles Times (http://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/aug/19/news/la-heb-rick-perry-stem-cell-back-surgery-20110819) is instead suggesting that he is a hypocrite for opposing embryonic stem-cell research while getting treatment for himself. Apparently, the Times doesn’t see any difference between sacrificing a human life to extract cells for research or for treatment of somebody else, and taking some of a person’s own cells, with his fully informed consent, to use for his own benefit.

“Some think that stem cells…could someday be used to generate soft tissue and bone,” writes Eryn Brown for the Times. In fact, adult stem cells are already being used successfully for some 80 different ailments. Recently reported data show significant benefit in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee; it is likely that 10 percent or more of total knee replacements could be averted by such therapy (http://www.jpands.org/vol16no2/centeno.pdf). Veterinarians are now using autologous stem cells (cells from the same animal) to treat dogs.

But some physicians have expressed concern that “such treatments often have not been thoroughly vetted by researchers or approved by the FDA.”

How much research do we need before physicians can prescribe outside the confines of a study? As of this morning, there are already 15,096 articles listed in the U.S. National Library of Medicine on only one adult stem cell type (mesenchymal stem cells,-the same general type used in Perry), while there are only 12,477 papers published on the most commonly used antibiotic (amoxicillin, for which 52.3 million prescriptions were written in 2010).

While all medical procedures have risks, the use of the patient’s own cells is a one-on-one procedure that is logically part of the practice of medicine. It does not entail the public health risk of products manufactured for a large number of recipients. There is no FDA oversight for procedures like grafting a leg vein into the patient’s own coronary artery, and minimal oversight of transplanting tissues from cadavers. The FDA is always trying to expand its regulatory authority—causing enormous increases in costs and lengthy delays in making new treatments available to patients.

“Vetting” procedures by researchers also costs millions of dollars and stifles and delays innovation. And what do researchers do? Like doctors, they do the procedure on human beings—they differ from doctors in that they follow a protocol in order to collect data on a group of experimental subjects, instead of following the procedure they think is best for an individual patient.

Yes, the procedure used to treat Perry could lead to infection, blood clots, or cancer. Treatment with embryonic cells, if it becomes feasible, would also have these risks, plus more from immunologic effects. Currently available orthodox treatments—drugs and surgery—also have a long list of adverse effects. And if they were very effective, there would not be “desperate patients” seeking costly alternatives.



Powerful vested interests —big universities, big government, big pharma—want to control what patients are or are not allowed to have. A past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research accused Perry of “setting the wrong example for ailing patients.”


On the contrary. Governor Perry is setting the right example for Americans: a patient exercising his own freedom to seek the care he thinks is best, and a physician doing what he believes is best for his patient.

Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Reality Check: How does government spend your tax dollars?
By Gretchen Hamel, Executive Director of Public Notice

How long does it take to rack up a trillion dollars in government debt?

What kind of critical scientific questions are federal research dollars being used to explore?

Should you consider quitting your job and getting certified as a lifeguard?

These are among the pressing questions posed in the second installment of Bankrupting America’s popular web video series, “
Real or Fake.” In this episode, our host hits the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to conduct on-the-spot interviews with Americans to determine how much they know about federal spending and debt.

Best of all, you can play along—just click “play” to test your knowledge of how your tax dollars are spent. (To view the first installment of “Real or Fake,” 
click here.)
Bankrupting America is a project of Public Notice, a nonprofit advocacy organization that’s been a leading voice in the push to bring real budget reform to the nation’s capital.

The “Real or Fake” series shines a light on where the money goes in a fun and lighthearted fashion—but we’re dead serious about the need to get the national debt and government spending under control.

That’s a timely message. With recent events in Washington like the debate over raising the debt ceiling and the S&P downgrade of U.S. government bonds, Americans are taking an increasingly critical look at exactly what they’re getting for their tax dollars. And they don’t like what they see.

“It’s pretty scary, especially when you have children that you know we’re leaving that debt to,” one interviewee says. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way.

Learn more about how we can get the nation back on track through federal spending reform.

Gretchen Hamel is Executive Director of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well being.
Posted at 13:38 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2011
John F. Obama or Cecil Barack DeMille?
By  Mike Gorbell  /  August 11, 2011  /  Exclusive to California Chronicle

Political professionals will tell you that the most important things about an “October Surprise” before a November election are that it be devastating, decisive and, most importantly, a surprise. Thanks to chatty New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Sony Pictures’ plan to release a pseudo-documentary blockbuster on President Barack Obama’s successful mission to kill Al Qaeda terrorist Osama Bin Laden on October 12, 2012 has just been, to put it in a favorite espionage term, neutralized.
Actually, it was Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, that sounded the alarm after Dowd let slip in her Sunday column that Academy Award winning team of director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and screenwriter Mark Boat (also The Hurt Locker) had been granted “unprecedented access” to Pentagon and CIA sources who had been part of the team that hunted Bin Laden down over the past ten years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “unprecedented access,” that’s public relations code language for the White House calling the Pentagon and CIA and ordering them to cooperate with no script review or approval for security and accuracy. Mercifully, I never received such a call during either my Marine Corps or CIA service, but I have friends who have. They’ve told me that cooperation with the media or Hollywood in such cases is not a matter of choice. Rep. King, of course, was concerned that classified identities or techniques that protect our intelligence and special operators when in harm’s way would be compromised. Given the White House’s ham-handed, on-the-fly modification of the Bin Laden operation’s cover story when one of the helicopters unexpectedly went down on the Pakistani Intelligence Service-managed Al Qaeda compound in the heart of Pakistan’s largest, most closely-knit military community, I seriously doubt that there will be any compromise of classified secrets in this film. In fact, the biggest compromise will likely be the truth of what really happened and who the real heroes were. One thing about this “cooperative” effort is for certain—the cooperation goes in only one direction, from the people who got Bin Laden to the filmmakers, Bigelow and Boat. None of the intelligence officers and special operators knew that the film wasn’t going to be released until October of next year until they learned about it over their Sunday morning coffee. And, aside from their normal shyness for publicity and credit (however much the latter may be due), a fair number of them feel betrayed by being ordered to cooperate with what increasingly looks like an Obama campaign advertisement. 
Their cover blown, Bigelow, Boat and Sony Pictures protested that this project had been under development since 2008 (before or after Obama’s nomination and election, I’m wondering?) and was, in Boat’s words, intended to “…focus on the men and women tasked with hunting the guy.” Well, that may have been Boat’s original intention, but Boat isn’t in charge of the film, Sony is. And Sony has made no secret of its political support of Barack Obama, even hosting a glitzy fundraiser for him when he was in Los Angeles last April. Sony claims, weakly, that the timing of the film’s release is so that it will get the best exposure for the May 2013 Academy Awards. Even Hollywood insiders who live and die by Oscar-timed movie releases aren’t buying that one.
I’m sure that the White House, star struck as ever, has visions of the Bigelow/Boat film—starring Will Smith as the President, perhaps?—will do for economically-challenged Barack Obama what some in Hollywood fantasized the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day did for Monica-challenged Bill Clinton. Or maybe it will even be another PT-109. Possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it. A clear path to full employment and the S&P 500 over 1400 would do far, far better for Mr. Obama’s re-election prospects. How stupid to they thing we are?        
Mike Gorbell is a former Marine and retired Senior Intelligence Service officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is currently a financial advisor and business affairs consultant on California’s Central Coast.
Posted at 11:21 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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