October 2005 Archives

« September 2005 | Weblog | November 2005 »

Another Reason to Keep the Troops in Iraq (Cindy Sheehan)

By Michael Fumento

Cindy Sheehan, who may be the only American more desparate for attention than Jesse Jackson and recently compared Hillary Clinton to Rush Limbaugh, says she plans to tie herself to the White House fence to protest the 2,000th death of an American serviceman in Iraq.

"I'm going to tie myself to the fence and refuse to leave until they agree to bring our troops home," Sheehan said in a telephone interview last week. "And I'll probably get arrested, and when I get out, I'll go back and do the same thing."

Arrest her? Goodness, no! That's her exit plan from the fence. Leave her there and maybe the crows will do the world a favor and eat her tongue out.

October 25, 2005 01:41 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq

Mosquitoes, DDT, and repellent bloggers

By Michael Fumento

Deltoid's Tim Lambert, a blogger whose ranking has been dropping dramatically over the last year, has a vendetta against me because I've repeatedly made him look like a fool. That's so unfair; after all, making him look like a fool is like shooting blue whales in a coffee cup. His latest attack goes back to my piece at the beginning of year regarding the awful South Asian tsunami in which I noted the possibility of pestilence and said that, using the section Lambert lambastes, "The best answer would be spraying with DDT. Unfortunately, environmentalists have demonized DDT based essentially on unfounded accusations in a 1962 book, Silent Spring. DDT should be sprayed on water pools, tents, and on people themselves -- as indeed was once common in Sri Lanka and throughout most of the world."

Lambert quotes from a WHO report that, "Endemic sporadic malaria close to the affected areas transmitted by [the mosquito] An.culicifacies, which has been considered DDT-resistant for many years, but is still sensitive to organophosphates, such as malathion, and pyrethroids." Comments Tiny Tim, "Yes, the mosquitoes in Sri Lanka have evolved resistance to DDT. It doesn't work any more."

Being a little insect himself, you'd think he'd know a bit more about this. Resistance doesn't mean "immunity." Often it simply means using more insecticide in the spray than you would otherwise. It's the same with antibiotic resistance. Further, because resistance is a drain on an insect's physiology, after a time that resistance begins to fade. It has certainly been long enough since mosquitoes in those areas were sprayed with DDT that many will have lost resistance. But there's more yet.

Mosquitos "are almost certainly not going to become immune to DDT's most valuable attribute: its repellency," writes DDT expert Paul Driessen. Even in tiny quantities "DDT keeps up to 90% of the mosquitoes from even entering a home. It irritates those that do come in, so they don't bite; and it kills any that land on the walls, before they can infect another person. No other insecticide, at any price, can do that or do it for six months or more with a single application."

He knows whereof he speaks: The Journal of Vector Borne Diseases last June concluded: "The overall results of the study revealed that DDT is still a viable insecticide in indoor residual spraying owing to its effectivity in well supervised spray operation and high excito-repellency factor."

Now, you'd think that if there were one thing Lambert would know about it would be repellency.

October 19, 2005 10:57 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Tysabri Update

By Michael Fumento

Makers of the MS drug Tysabri, Elan and Biogen Idec, have announced that no new cases of multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) have been found in patients, formerly on Tysabri, in clinical trials for the treatment of Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. This completes the review of all 3,000 patients on Tysabri. The companies had already requested permission from the FDA to return the drug to the market and are now awaiting the agency's response to their request for a priority review. I wrote one column asking for a sane, compassionate approach to the appraisal of Tysabri and another, after more data had come in, calling for the drug's return. This is exciting stuff for those with MS, other autoimmune disease like Crohn's and rheumatoid arthritis, and anybody who has loved ones who have or will develop these diseases. That makes just about all of us.

October 17, 2005 09:44 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Pharmaceuticals

Encouraging on-the-scene look at "The Emerging Iraqi Army"

By Michael Fumento

The emerging Iraqi army

By Robert H. Scales

Published October 14, 2005

I traveled to Iraq this week with a group of military analysts. From my visit I concluded that the greatest change in the military balance over since last summer has been achieved by the Iraqis Security forces. Their story is only partially told by the recent spike in numbers of Iraqi army battalions from only a few a year ago to 117 today. But soldiers know that the effectiveness of a fighting force is better measured by intangibles such as courage, will to win, skill at arms, leadership, cohesion and allegiance to a higher cause. These are factors that media amateurs and Washington insiders have difficulty comprehending.

We visited the Iraqi 9th Mechanized Division located in Taji a few miles north of Baghdad in one of the hottest and most contested regions of Iraq. The unit was activated last October and has yet to form completely. It is commanded by Gen. Bashar, a thirty-year veteran and, like many patriotic, innovative and self-reliant officers, a victim of Saddam Hussein's brutality. The general created the division by calling up many of his old regular-army comrades. Three quarters are veterans who have been recruited from every province and ethnicity in Iraq. The division's motto is, appropriately, "Iraq first." Gen. Bashar built his division from a junkyard. In less than a year his soldiers picked through acres of destroyed Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers to patch together a fleet of over 200 operational fighting vehicles.

Read on.

October 14, 2005 06:30 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq

Vaccines and the luck o' the Amish

By Michael Fumento

After I wrote recently about the lack of evidence connecting childhood vaccines preserved with thimerosal to autism, here and here, I received a slew of nasty letters from angry parents. Several cited "studies" showing that while the autism rate is 1 in 166 among the general public, there is no autism among the Amish who refuse vaccinations. Actually not all Amish do refuse vaccinations and there were no such studies. That assertion came from a single UPI story in which reporter Dan Olmsted pretended to have done his own survey. Muy scientifico. In the event, an Amish community has now suffered from the first U.S. polio outbreak in five years. That's what you get from not vaccinating your kids.

October 14, 2005 06:07 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Vaccines

If you don't think Iraq is integral to the war on terror . . .

By Michael Fumento

. . . Al Qaeda's Number Two man Ayman al-Zawahiri disagrees with you. From his letter of July 9, 2005 to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to the head (and headsman, as in "decapitator") of Al Qaeda in Iraq:

"I want to be the first to congratulate you for what God has blessed you with in terms of fighting in the heart of the Islamic world, which was formerly the field for major battles in Islam's history, and what is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era . . . "

Further:

"Al Qaeda's ambitions do not stop at Iraq's borders. Establishing the political dominance of Sunni militants in Iraq is only a first step -- a means to an end -- in realizing Al Qaeda's ambitions of imposing its control over the broader Middle East. Under Al Qaeda, Iraq will serve as a terrorist haven and staging ground for attacks against Iraq's neighbors and quite possibly Western nations."

Oh, and by the way, no he did not sign his letter "Just kidding."

October 12, 2005 10:01 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq

Marrow Stem Cells Transformed Into Living Human Liver Tissue

By Michael Fumento

British scientists report in The New Scientist that they have repaired patients' damaged livers by using bone marrow stem cells painlessly collected from their own blood. Patients were first injected with a drug that stimulates their bone marrow to produce extra stem cells, which are then injected into a vein or artery leading directly to the liver.

The scientists said the adult stem cells from the marrow appeared to home in on damaged portions of the liver and affect repairs. This could lead to regenerating diseased livers, avoiding both rejection problems from donors -- not to mention that there aren't nearly enough such donors and many people die each year awaiting this critical organ.

Both liver function and overall health of three out of five treated patients improved significantly within two months of treatment, according to the researchers. The two patients whose health did not improve were no worse off for having received ASCs. The researchers are now planning a follow-up trial on 18 more people with liver disease, using an improved technique.

Actually, the rebuilding of human liver tissue was first observed over five years ago in autopsies of persons who had received bone marrow transplants for other reasons. Notwithstanding this, Science Magazine, a notorious advocate of embryonic stem cell research, later published a paper by Irving Weissman, himself a notorious advocate of ESC research, claiming that in a rodent study an infusion of marrow stem cells "did not contribute appreciably to [such tissues] as brain, kidney, gut, liver, and muscle." He smugly presented this single animal study as the end of the line for tissue building from marrow stem cells and the media bought it. Similarly, virtually no American publication (and only a few British ones) covered the revelation in The New Scientist. Making therapeutic progress with adult stem cells isn't easy, but making progress with the media is almost impossible.

October 10, 2005 05:34 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Stem Cells

What did they expect when they bought a diet from a fat man?

By Michael Fumento

"Dr. Phil" McGraw has been slapped with a lawsuit from three Los Angelenos over his "Shape Up!" diet plan. They're seeking to expand it to a class action and are demanding refunds and additional damages. The suit alleges that the plan is worthless. It included taking 22 herbal supplements and vitamin pills a day (vitamins, unfortunately, have become the modern snakeoil) and cost about $120 a month. The plan did also advise dieters to adopt a low-calorie diet and to exercise. Duh!

The plaintiffs claim the only thing they lost was money, and that after listening to McGraw they believed they could lose weight by taking the pills alone. That WOULD be the part of the plan he would emphasize, wouldn't it? The diet, promoted through a book and television special, has since been discontinued.

So okay, Dr. Phil is a shyster but what's new among something-for-nothing diet hawkers? What's more, what the heck were these people thinking in buying a diet plan from a fat guy? Haven't they ever heard the expression: "TV Guru: Heal thyself!" Case dismissed. Now get on a calorie-restricted diet and start exercising something other than your jaws.

October 5, 2005 11:21 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Obesity