Tag Archives: drug

Happy 420! ~ A Brief History of Weed

Posted by: Audiegrl


HP/Ryan Grim~When it’s finally written — if it’s finally written — the history of the American drug war will begin and end in the same town: San Francisco. The city passed the first anti-narcotics law in 1878, specifically targeting not opium, but opium dens, and aimed at their Chinese proprietors.

Other towns, counties and states liked San Francisco’s new law, and found others to pile on top — it was a way to satisfy voters’ anti-immigrant moods, hostility to people of a different race and that fundamental American desire to control the behavior of our compatriots. That impulse has been strong since the first colonists settled here — as has been a rival desire — that for liberty and rugged, individual expression. The two strains have been at war with each other since before the founding of the nation and we have seen the tension expressed most violently in the war against drugs — or, more accurately, the war against drug users.

A little less than a year ago, I wrote about the battle between these foundational American influences in the book This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America. Judging by America’s relationship with drugs and drug policy over the years, I wrote that if we as a people ever did legalize drugs, the laws would be undone the same way they were done, city by city, state by state.

The pace has quickened since Obama took office.

The arc of American drug policy began to bend in the 1970s, with 13 states decriminalizing marijuana, but even as that arc bent back up again in the 1980s, San Franciscans were at work reversing the history they had sparked. In 1991, city voters passed Proposition P, which ushered in the medical marijuana movement. Five years later, the state passed its now-famous medical marijuana law.

Thirteen more states have followed and even the nation’s capital is writing final rules to allow legal marijuana dispensaries that members of Congress will walk past on their way to work. Maryland, New York, Illinois and a host of other states are considering similar legislation, and the momentum is thanks to Obama’s announcement that he would not raid shops or patients operating within state laws.

The next stage is in process, too: California voters, in 2010, will be asked to legalize marijuana for all adults, not just the ill. The potential for tax revenue and job creation have become central to the debate, just as they were when Americans repealed alcohol prohibition. Meanwhile, activists in Oregon and Washington state are gathering signatures for similar ballot initiatives.

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Cancer Treatment and Health Care Reform

Blogged by: BarbaraOBrien1

One argument you may hear against health care reform concerns cancer survival rates. The United States has higher cancer survivor rates than countries with national health care systems, we’re told. Doesn’t this mean we should keep what we’ve got and not change it?

Certainly cancer survival rates are a critical issue for people suffering from the deadly lung mesothelioma cancer. So let’s look at this claim and see if there is any substance to it.

First, it’s important to understand that “cancer survival rate” doesn’t mean the rate of people who are cured of a cancer. The cancer survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually five years after diagnosis.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the survivor rate of prostate cancer in the United States is 98 percent. This means that 98 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later. However, this statistic does not tell us whether the men who have survived for five years still have cancer or what number of them may die from it eventually.

Misunderstanding of the term “survivor rate” sometimes is exploited to make misleading claims. For example, in 2007 a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug used to treat colon cancer released statistics showing superior survival rates for its drug over other treatments. Some journalists who used this data in their reporting assumed it meant that the people who survived were cured of cancer, and they wrote that the drug “saved lives.” The drug did extend the lives of of patients, on average by a few months. However, the mortality rate for people who used this drug — meaning the rate of patients who died of the disease — was not improved.

But bloggers and editorial writers who oppose health care reform seized these stories about “saving lives,” noting that this wondrous drug was available in the United States for at least a year before it was in use in Great Britain. Further, Britain has lower cancer survival rates than the U.S. This proved, they said, the superiority of U.S. health care over “socialist” countries.

This is one way propagandists use data to argue that health care in the United States is superior to countries with government-funded health care systems. They selectively compare the most favorable data from the United States with data from the nations least successful at treating cancer. A favorite “comparison” country is Great Britain, whose underfunded National Health Service is struggling.

It is true that the United States compares very well in the area of cancer survival rates, but other countries with national health care systems have similar results.

For example, in 2008 the British medical journal Lancet Oncology published a widely hailed study comparing cancer survival rates in 31 countries. Called the CONCORD study, the researchers found that United States has the highest survival rates for breast and prostate cancer. However, Japan has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in men, and France has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in women. Canada and Australia also ranked relatively high for most cancers. The differences in the survival data for these “best” countries is very small, and is possibly caused by discrepancies in reporting of data and not the treatment result itself.

And it should be noted that Japan, France, Canada and Australia all have government-funded national health care systems. So, there is no reason to assume that changing the way health care is funded in the U.S. would reduce the quality of cancer care.

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Filed under Austrailia, Cancer, Culture, England, France, Health, Health Care Reform, Japan, Medicine, Mesothelioma, News, Opinions, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, World

Great Britain: Tamiflu-Resistant Strain of Swine Flu Spreading

Posted by Audiegrl

Resistant strain discovered in Cardiff hospital, prompting concern among health officials

guardian.co.uk/Owen Bowcott—Doctors in Wales have discovered a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu that has been spreading from patient to patient in a Cardiff hospital.

The emergence of an easily transmissible, resistant strain is a worrying development for health officials and appears to be the first documented case in Europe.

Five patients at University Hospital Wales, in Cardiff, were infected and isolated for treatment. All had severe underlying conditions that left them with weakened immune systems. At least three had acquired the infection in hospital.

There have been a handful of reported cases from around the world of Tamiflu-resistant strains of the H1N1 virus. Only one previous case, at a US summer camp, however, involved person-to-person transmission.

The Cardiff patients have been treated with an alternative anti-viral drug. Two have recovered and been discharged and three others remain in hospital, one in intensive care.

Dr Roland Salmon, the director of the communicable disease surveillance center in Wales, said: “The emergence of [H1N1] viruses that are resistant to Tamiflu is not unexpected in patients with serious underlying conditions and suppressed immune systems, who still test positive for the virus despite treatment.

In this case, the resistant strain of swine flu does not appear to be any more severe than the swine flu virus that has been circulating since April.

For the vast majority of people, Tamiflu has proved effective in reducing the severity of illness. Vaccination remains the most effective tool we have in preventing swine flu so I urge people identified as being at risk to look out for their invitation to be vaccinated by their GP surgery.

Any spread of a Tamiflu-resistant strain of the virus into the community would constitute a serious public health concern. The government recently reminded those who caught swine flu to take Tamiflu as a first line of medical defense.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/17/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised the progress that has been made on health insurance reform, and spoke out against those who defend the status quo in order to score political points and protect their profits. With reform the closest it has ever been to becoming law, the insurance companies are rolling out deceptive ads, paying for misleading studies, and flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists. Now, Washington needs to serve the American people, not the special interests.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 17, 2009

Over the better part of the past year, a great debate has taken place in Washington and across America, about how to reform our health care system to provide security for people with insurance, coverage for those without insurance, and lower costs for everyone. From the halls of Congress to the homes of ordinary Americans, this debate has helped us to forge consensus and find common ground. That’s a good thing. That’s what America is all about.

Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history.

But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost. The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses, and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us.

We know that this inaction has carried a terrible toll. In the past decade, premiums have doubled. Over the past few years, total out of pocket costs for people with insurance rose by a third. And we know that if we do not reform the system, this will only be a preview of coming attractions. A new report for the Business Roundtable – a non-partisan group that represents the CEOs of major companies – found that without significant reform, health care costs for these employers and their employees will well more than double again over the next decade. The cost per person for health insurance will rise by almost $18,000. That’s a huge amount of money. That’s going to mean lower salaries and higher unemployment, lower profits and higher rolls of uninsured. It is no exaggeration to say, that unless we act, these costs will devastate the US economy.

This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

Of course, like clockwork, we’ve seen folks on cable television who know better, waving these industry-funded studies in the air. We’ve seen industry insiders – and their apologists – citing these studies as proof of claims that just aren’t true. They’ll claim that premiums will go up under reform; but they know that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that reforms will lower premiums in a new insurance exchange while offering consumer protections that will limit out-of-pocket costs and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. They’ll claim that you’ll have to pay more out of pocket; but they know that this is based on a study that willfully ignores whole sections of the bill, including tax credits and cost savings that will greatly benefit middle class families. Even the authors of one of these studies have now admitted publicly that the insurance companies actually asked them to do an incomplete job.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Now, I welcome a good debate. I welcome the chance to defend our proposals and to test our ideas in the fires of this democracy. But what I will not abide are those who would bend the truth – or break it – to score political points and stop our progress as a country. And what we all must oppose are the same old cynical Washington games that have been played for decades even as our problems have grown and our challenges have mounted.

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I believe we can. I believe we will. And I urge every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business.

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44-D’s True Crime: UK Wife ‘lured husband to woods for drug-fueled sex… then slit his throat so she could meet internet lover for first time’

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Joanne Hale

Joanne Hale

UK Daily Mail Online/Luke Salkeld—A poet lured her husband into woodland for a drug-fueled sex session and then slit his throat, a court was told yesterday.

Joanne Hale, 39, left him for dead so she could see a man she had met on the internet, a jury heard.

Peter Hale

Peter Hale

Hale gave her 43-year-old husband Peter a dose of a natural aphrodisiac called ‘horny goat weed‘ before she blindfolded him and led him into local woods to act out her fantasy, it was alleged.

The couple kissed and ‘rolled about on the leaves‘ as part of a ‘playful game‘.

Then Hale sat astride her husband as he lay face- down on the ground and slit his throat with a knife, before plunging it into his neck and chest several times, a jury was told.

The woods near the M32 in Bristol

The woods near the M32 in Bristol

It is alleged that she abandoned his bleeding body when she was disturbed by a passer-by, and drove to a nearby railway station for her first meeting with a man she had befriended on the internet. But police arrested her when she returned home.

She denies attempted murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Hale publishes her poetry on the internet and, according to her website, likes to write verse about ‘people, animals, love and everything that people care about‘.

She worked part-time as a sales assistant for a DIY firm. Bristol Crown Court heard how the bizarre events unfolded last Christmas.

Horny Goat Weed

Horny Goat Weed

The couple, who married in February 2000, were watching television on December 27 when Mrs Hale suggested her husband take ‘horny goat weed‘.

Made using extracts from a leafy wild plant, the herbal drug is legal and is widely available to buy in capsule form.

It is used to treat erectile dysfunction and increase sexual desire.

Legend has it that its qualities were first noticed by a Chinese shepherd who observed an increase in promiscuous behaviour among his goats after they ate the plant.

It is said to have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/10/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised past and current political leaders from across the spectrum who have come forward to support reform. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and drug companies have already expressed their support. In the past several days Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, former Senate Major Leader Bob Dole, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, among others, have all come forward to say that the status quo is unsustainable and that now is the time to reform the system. They see that this is a not a Democratic or a Republican problem, but an American one in need of a solution.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 10, 2009

The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees.

After evaluating the Finance Committee’s bill, the Congressional Budget Office – an office that provides independent, nonpartisan analysis – concluded that the legislation would make coverage affordable for millions of Americans who don’t have it today. It will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections. And, by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits.

This is another milestone on what has been a long, hard road toward health insurance reform. In recent months, we’ve heard every side of every argument from both sides of the aisle. And rightly so – health insurance reform is a complex and critical issue that deserves a vigorous national debate, and we’ve had one. The approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats, and people across the political spectrum.

In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers.

And earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist, himself a cardiac surgeon. Dr. Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform. As does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.

Still, there are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo. A status quo of rising health care costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our government. A status quo of diminishing coverage that is denying millions of hardworking Americans the insurance they need. A status quo that gives big insurance companies the power to make arbitrary decisions about your health care. That is a status quo I reject. And that is a status quo the American people reject.

The distinguished former Congressional leaders who urged us to act on health insurance reform spoke of the historic moment at hand and reminded us that this moment will not soon come again. They called on members of both parties seize this opportunity to finally confront a problem that has plagued us for far too long.

That is what we are called to do at this moment. That is the spirit of national purpose that we must summon right now. Now is the time to rise above the politics of the moment. Now is the time to come together as Americans. Now is the time to meet our responsibilities to ourselves and to our children, and secure a better, healthier future for generations to come. That future is within our grasp. So, let’s go finish the job.

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