30 December 2008

A Short Tribute to Ben Black Elk

Over the past year, I have been blessed to befriend Warfield Moose, Jr., a Lakota Sioux Medicine Man. His father was Warfield Moose Sr., who recorded and translated interviews with Ben Black Elk, son of the famous Black Elk, who was one of the most influential Lakota leaders in history.

Warfield asked if I could produce a short introductory video to assist him as he tells the story of the Lakota people on college campuses and cities nationwide. So for about 12 hours later, with the help of my friend and editor Charles Gilchrist, we found enough powerful images to create what you see above.

Warfield's wonderful music is the soundtrack for this video and was co-produced by singer and Sundance Leader Shilo Clifford. Their CD is called "Ben Black Elk Speaks" and won "Best Historical Recording" at the 2003 Native American Music Awards, and can be purchased on Amazon.

Please support this visionary healer by buying the CD. http://tinyurl.com/a34a7u

25 December 2008


SOMEWHERE IN CLEVELAND, there is a child being born at this very moment. Somewhere, pure spirit is being inspired into form.

For Chase Alan Carter that moment arrived on December 22nd at about 2:35 a.m. at Fairview General Hospital — a stone’s throw away from the city limits. His father, Nick Carter is a 16-year old high school student — a good kid who became a young man that morning, and will forever be charged with the awesome responsibility of fatherhood.

But this is a Christmas tale of two teenaged Nick’s — and a few hours earlier, with the Christmas break finally upon him, 15 year old Nicolas Rauser was anxious to hang out with his friends, so he jumped into the back seat of the 2001 Hyundai and sped off towards the Great Northern Mall. “Free,” he must have thought while cradling himself into the back of the car. “No school for two weeks.”

Ten miles away, Nick Carter’s girlfriend was about halfway home — at 5 centimeters. She was being brave, but she was exhausted. The two had checked into the hospital some 15 hours prior, not knowing, of course, what to expect. My 16-year old son Gabe was by his side; excited for his young friends and determined to be with Nick until the baby was born. They yammered on and on about this profound experience and Nick imagined aloud about how different his life would be from this day forward. He seemed simultaneously calm and hyper — and the two friends were embarking on their vacation together in a new and very unusual way.

NICK RAUSER came from a ‘mixed family,’ and his Dad married the mother of Alicia, a dear friend of my eldest son Jacob. As with so many families brought together through divorce, Alicia and Nick had their awkward moments, but eventually they grew quite close. Nick teased his stepsister often, as teenagers are wont to do, but Alicia would usually giggle or feign anger — and the teasing would subside. Late on December 21st, while Nick and his friends were enjoying their first few hours of freedom from school, they didn’t know they were heading right into the teeth of a classic Lake Erie snowstorm.

AT ABOUT 10:15 p.m., a worried Gabe called home. “Dad, they’re saying that the baby is upside down,” he said with obvious concern. “Nick is kind of worried and the doctors are too.” I did my best to talk Gabe down from his anxiety. “This happens a lot more than you think, Gabe,” I told him. “Be strong for Nick — he needs to know that everything is going to be all right.”

A few minutes later, Jacob called from across town to tell me that the storm was getting bad in North Olmsted, but that he was okay. “I’ve already seen two accidents, Dad. The police blocked off a road near the Mall. I’m coming home.” Unbeknownst to Jacob, he had just witnessed the evolution of a tragedy. Within a few hours he was to receive a text from Alicia, and it was then that he discovered that her stepbrother was in an accident — the very one he saw outside the Great Northern Mall. The crash took place at 10:25 p.m. and Nick Rauser was rushed to St. John’s Hospital in nearby Westlake.
He was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m.

AT 2:56 a.m., THE PHONE RANG AGAIN, this time from Gabe at Fairview Hospital. Chase Alan Carter was born — as the family of Nick Rauser grieved.

And yesterday, on Christmas Eve, 15 year old Nicolas Rauser was buried. . .it was a beautiful remembrance of a life cut far too short. Across the border of North Olmsted, the baby boy of 16-year old Nick Carter was enjoying his second day of life. He is indeed a Christmas child — held in the loving embrace of two teenaged parents.

During this Holiday, in the wake of this nativity and tragedy, we should think to embrace our children more — no matter what age they are. As they open their presents, as they bicker over the Playstation or the new computer and cause parents anguish, we should commemorate the love we had for them as infants.

They may not live the life of Jesus or work miracles, but as this Christmas tale of two Nick’s shows — we should cherish each moment — and take nothing for granted. The Rausers did just that — and the Carters are now following their path.

Today of all days, love your children.

Merry Christmas.


21 December 2008


MMICHAEL CONNELL DIED FRIDAY EVENING and answers to some of the most disturbing questions surrounding modern-day election rigging may have perished in the fiery plane crash with him. Connell was known by many as an important figure in a wide-ranging investigation into election fraud. He was served with a subpoena in Ohio on Sept. 22, 2008, but at least at first, he fought the subpoena claiming that he could not testify because the subpoena "seeks confidential, trade secrets, and/or proprietary information,” among other things.

It has been rumored that he was negotiating a plea deal with Ohio and Federal prosecutors in exchange for unveiling the truth about corruption in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere during the 2004 Presidential election. This claim has not been verified. He is also known to be beloved by many within his circle of family, friends, and business associates.

In what may have been simply a tragic accident, the seasoned pilot died less than three miles from the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio. The weather at the time was cold but otherwise calm.

If the reports are to be believed, Connell was friends with Karl Rove, though some published reports — including from UPI and other mainstream press — broadcast claims from attorney Cliff Arnebeck that the two may have been at odds of late.

Connell founded New Media Communications, based in Cleveland, and was the CEO of GovTech Solutions, based in Akron, Ohio. He was hired in Ohio by Republican Secretary of State Kenneth J. Blackwell, whose infamy as Ohio’s top election official ended when Blackwell was defeated — in a landslide — in the Governor’s race in Ohio in 2006. Connell’s companies also provided Internet strategy for dozens of high-profile political candidates and national organizations including the Republican National Committee, the National Rifle Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, Small Business Survival Committee, Internet Tax Fairness Coalition and many more.

Connell's firm famously served the Bush-Cheney campaign, designed the George W. Bush website in 2000, “as well as the site and online tools of the 2004 campaign,” according to his website. He also was reported to have been involved with the so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” in 2004, and gwb43.com.

The Columbus Free Press reported last evening “various threats have been repeatedly reported involving Connell and other IT experts close to the GOP.” According to the report, while Connell remained the IT supervisor for six Congressional committees, he “was recently deposed by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck for his role in the 2004 vote count. He was also questioned about his involvement in the GOPs IT operations and his access to Rove's e-mail files,” which as you may recall, mysteriously disappeared despite multiple attempts to attain their release. It was never proven that Connell had any involvement with the disappearance of these emails, but one assumes that identifying what happened to the Rove emails would have been one of the major objectives in the lawsuits brought forth by Arnebeck.

According to Op-Ed News, “Connell was close to Karl Rove, but Rove reportedly had threatened him of late.” The article also said that attorney Arnebeck had sent a letter to US Attorney General Michael Mukasey in July of this year, which stated the following: “We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to "take the fall" for election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law violations.”

Judge Mukasey was nominated to be Attorney General by President George W. Bush on September 17, 2007.

Arnbeck had also represented clients who brought suits against Karl Rove in the state of Georgia and sent a letter to Secretary of State Karen C. Handel requesting a public records request, stating, “We are in the process of preparing a racketeering claim under the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act against Karl Rove as the principal perpetrator, and other individuals acting in association with him, to corrupt elections in the United States over the course of this decade.”

UPI also reported on Connell by saying, “He was a figure in an ongoing controversy about alleged vote flipping in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. In October, U.S. Judge Solomon Oliver of Ohio ordered Connell to testify in a lawsuit in connection with charges that electronic voting apparatus in some Ohio districts flipped votes to Bush from Democratic nominee John Kerry.”

They also repeated the claim from Cliff Arnebeck that Connell and his family had been threatened in connection with Connell's possible testimony.

"I have informed court chambers and am in the process of informing the Ohio Attorney General's and US Attorney's offices in Columbus for the purpose, among other things, of seeking protection for Mr. Connell and his family from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness," Arnebeck said.

Whether that happened or not, Connell’s death will likely silence a major investigation of possible voter fraud. It could also put the U.S. election system in grave danger as the threat of technological chicanery menaces the most basic tenet of democracy. It may also end any meaningful investigation into whether Karl Rove planned or executed any alleged voter fraud in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

While it may cause pain to the loved ones and trusted friends he left behind, more questions will likely be raised about the timing of the fiery crash that killed the GOP confidant and insider. We may never know if he was an innocent businessman caught in the fury of anti-Bush sentiment, still a trusted friend on ‘Team Rove,’ — or whether he was about to become one of the world’s most visible whistleblowers.

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19 December 2008


IT WAS LARGELY A BOOK ABOUT GUILT, the power of words and evil, but in 1982, literary critic and essayist George Steiner took his obsession with Hitler and created "The Portage to San Cristóbal of A.H." In the process, of course, Steiner meted out justice to the old man, who was captured looking like a wild-eyed Saddam coming out of his subterranean existence — only to meet his ultimate doom.

The most memorable passage of the book appeared when Steiner addressed the irony of the societal duality that existed in Germany as Nazism began to eviscerate human rights and human lives. Here was a nation, Steiner wrote, that for centuries had been one of the most culturally rich societies on earth. Germany offered the world the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the late Middle Age art of Albrecht Dürer, and technological achievements such as automobiles with gas-powered combustible engines decades before others. They even developed one of the finest university systems in the world, so how, Steiner asks, did these people, rich with wealth, culture, education and technology, allow this horror to occur?

The same people who would “shed tears while witnessing a scene in a tragic play,” Steiner wrote, displayed an odd ambivalence to the tragedies of real people as the Nazi atrocities unfolded.

I am reminded of Steiner’s work once again because as I’ve interacted with the media in the weeks following the release of GENERATION RX, it is absolutely stunning how little Americans understand about the drugs they are forcing down the throats of so many of our young Galileos. There is a real disconnect between what medicine has told us about ADHD and the “plague of mental illness” — and the reality of the harm these drugs often inflict.

JUST THIS MORNING, I received a phone call from one of my dearest friends, Claudia, a health food storeowner and nutritionist from Ohio. Every day, Claudia is approached by parents who are desperate to find help for their beloved children, as the side effects of ADHD drugs, antipsychotics and antidepressants take their toll.

She told me the tragic tale of yet another American male whose health has been stolen from him by the deadly thief called methylphenidate, or Ritalin. One year ago, the young man apparently possessed the good lucks of a Hollywood movie star and teenage girls swooned as he walked the halls of his high school. He was a superior athlete and student prior to being told that he was suffering from ADHD.

Twelve months later, his weight has dropped to around 100 pounds.

Since Methylphenidate was classified under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances as a Schedule II drug, we can’t say we didn’t know what was going on. It was known to be highly addictive and dangerous. In that same year, however, psychiatrists began using methylphenidate for the pre-ADHD condition called “Minimal Brain Dysfunction,” ignoring the potential for abuse, addiction, and atrophy.

IN THE OHIO HEALTHFOOD STORE, the young man was extremely sick by the time his parents finally decided they needed another opinion. Worried to death about their son — and saying they were not sure if he would live to see his next birthday — they pleaded to speak with her. They had followed their doctor and their psychiatrist’s advice, they told her, but their son has continued to decline.

My friend explained that the methylphenidate had taught the boy’s body not to eat. “This child is starving,” she told the mom, as she noted that Ritalin, with its cocaine and speed-like properties, was the obvious culprit. “The psychiatrist diagnosed his lack of appetite as depression,” the mother said. “So they put him on an antidepressant.”

A few weeks after taking antidepressants the young man uttered: “I just don’t want to live like this anymore.”

As of this date, he is still taking an SSRI.

When I produced GENERATION RX, I did so to arm parents with the facts they need in order to make an informed choice. I also produced the film to amplify the ‘cries from the street’ — to give a voice to those who are being ignored by society at large, and the tools to fight back if necessary.

But I wonder — in this age of neuroscience — if we haven’t brought George Steiner’s commiserations to life? Whether we’d shed tears watching "It’s a Wonderful Life" but not for the traumas of a tortured child?

Will future writers ask, “How did these people, rich with culture, education and technology allow this horror to occur?”

I wonder.

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15 December 2008


PROPONENTS OF FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS have often opined that global trade and commerce would transform the social, economic, and political landscape of world — and that this “new global commerce” would be the vehicle of unprecedented economic growth for the poor. When it was presented to the world, Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times reported that GATT (The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) weighed 385 pounds and was over 22,000 pages in length. The trade deal was supposed to “stimulate some $5 trillion in new trade by the year 2005,” in part, according to Friedman, because “it eliminates or freezes so many tariffs around the world.”

In 1994, Mickey Kantor, the top U.S. the trade representative at the time told Friedman that his office had “three independent studies that showed that in the next five years the Treasury would collect about $3 in revenue for every $1 lost in tariffs because of the GATT accord.”

This mantra officially began in 1994 when the Uruguay Round of the GATT treaty was signed and the World Trade Organization (WTO) was born to replace it. In the years that followed, NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) continued the cavalcade of free trade agreements in Canada, Mexico, South America and the United States.

Today, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement mimics the proposed U.S. - Colombia Free Trade Agreement, while additional trade agreements with Peru and Panama await Congressional and Parliamentary approval in both nations.

Rather than heralding a new day for the poor, however, chaos has increased in Mexico and South America, where millions are protesting the effects of the treaties. The biggest beneficiaries of CAFTA and NAFTA were multinational corporations who, after shutting down small farms and businesses that were the lifeline to their communities, have used the trade agreements to create new monopolies on everything from water to food to energy.

The deals are also blamed for massive unemployment in the U.S., particularly in the manufacturing workforce; and in Canada, NAFTA’s affects have hit non-corporate agriculture hardest. The National Farmers Union concluded in 2002 that free trade agreements, “may increase trade, but much more importantly, they dramatically alter the relative size and market power of the players in the agri-food production chain. Free trade helps Cargill and Monsanto, not farmers.”

After NAFTA was passed, former U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter said, “The Canadians don’t understand what they signed. Free trade is just the first step in a process leading to the creation of a single North American economy.” In the years to come, that vision could include a North and South American Union, similar to the European Union. President Bush has already set the wheels in motion, so the world must wait to see what President Obama’s legislative position on “free trade” will be.

One thing is certain: as multinational firms compete fiercely for global market shares, they have increasingly abandoned the national interests of their home country — and have largely disregarded any social obligations in return for their billion dollar tax breaks. Short-term profits rule the day and anything, including displacing or exploiting workers, is fair game. Given that significantly lower wages exist in poor countries, multinational companies have become arbitrageurs with workers’ wages — and workers are treated as just another commodity.

It’s a Zero Sum game — and middle class and poor workers don’t matter. By shifting production to lowest-wage countries, the middle class in the “host” country is often decimated — and the poverty class grows. I see it every day in Ohio, where the labor force has been decimated by so-called free trade, but it is rampant in Michigan and Pennsylvania and the Candian Province of Ontario.

And this is so even though many of these giants of world commerce — pharmaceutical and chemical companies, for example, pay miniscule taxes to the government despite the fact that they are among the richest corporations on the planet. In essence, U.S. taxpayers pay for multinational corporations to export homegrown jobs to lower-wage nations.

Even as opposition to FTAs has grown worldwide, the multinational corporations and their host governments here in North America have fought to pass even more free trade deals. The Bush administration still has five weeks to try to exert their will, and they are not going away quietly. “It would be a mistake to not pass the new free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and Peru,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said recently. “Trade helps new democracies to consolidate their political transitions and to prevent backsliding. It helps them to build the effective institutions of a free society. And trade helps to give citizens a greater stake in the long-term stability and success of their democracy."

But is that truly so — are we really ‘enabling democracy?’ Have free trade agreements been designed to help lift poor nations and level the playing field — or have we long since passed the time when government can actually function on behalf of the common man and woman?

The evidence from the streets of Mexico, the United States and Canada strongly suggests that those questions aren’t really considered any more. “Free Trade” as it exists today is not free at all.

It’s a Zero Sum game — a global playground for big business — while for billions of others, mere survival is the task at hand.

— 30 —

Cartoon by Nicholson from "The Australian" newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au

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12 December 2008


IN AN ERA WHEN SAFETY CONCERNS, conflict-of-interest and the cost of healthcare spiral ever higher, a curious bill surfaced a few months ago in Canada which, if passed, could eliminate both a patient’s medical freedom of choice and their civil liberties in the process. The bill’s acronym is C-51, and its’ intent, it would seem, is to put vitamins and other dietary supplements under further control of the Canadian government.

The question is, “Why?”

Vitamins, herbals and alternative treatments such as Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Chiropractic and Acupuncture have long been the poor stepchild of medicine, and they’ve often been under attack in both Canada and the United States. In the mid-90s, both Canadian and American consumers were forced to fight their respective health agencies — namely the FDA and Health Canada — in order to maintain access to certain natural products like dietary supplements.

The incredibly helpful amino acid-like supplement L-Carnitine, a vital weapon in the battle against heart disease, was removed from health food store shelves by Health Canada in the 90s, only to be doled out later as a “drug” in that country. The result? What once sold for $14 per 100 capsules prior to the government legislation became $80—$190 by prescription.

Again, “Why?”

Numerous studies have shown not only the benefits of this supplement, but also that low levels of L-Carnitine are prevalent in patients who suffer from heart failure. Yet Health Canada increased the cost of this vital and unbelievably safe and inexpensive treatment by 10-15 times, making it impossible for thousands of Canadians to utilize it as an alternative to pharmaceuticals of both questionable efficacy and safety.

Not many in Canada could afford to spend $80-$180 for a dietary supplement — and with the Canadian government’s penchant for playing “big Brother,” news about the curative properties of L-Carnitine was almost nonexistent.

Think about this: L-Carnitine has been used for years in the treatment of cardiomyopathy in infants and children. How many children in Canada — not to mention the general population — could have been saved? It is this kind of myopic public policy that has put the health of the entire world at serious risk, but in Canada, the folly has a long history.

A Maclean’s Magazine story recounted the 1995 federal ban on melatonin and other natural supplements, and how Canadian Maria Pember, who used melatonin for insomnia, was forced travel to the U.S. to attain this safe alternative. "Everything I've read about melatonin says it is safe,” Pember told the magazine, “and I think Canadians should have the freedom to choose. This ban is stupid.”

Under C-51, dozens of products could be removed from the Canadian marketplace for no scientific reason whatsoever; while countless others could be forced to become prescription drugs. According to Vancouver attorney Shawn Buckley, the Act would also give broad discretionary powers to Health Canada to confiscate entire inventories of natural products under the aegis of “safety,” which could literally bankrupt businesses across the land.

The Bill would also give unbridled police state powers to the regulators and huge fines could be levied without any proof of harm.

Just as ominously, C-51 could allow Canada’s parliament to incorporate new laws and restrictions via Codex Alimentarius, the WTO and world trade agreements. Under language already incorporated into C-51, Codex and free trade regulations could circumvent any debate in Parliament be placed directly into Canadian law.

As shown in my film about Codex called WE BECOME SILENT, our commitments under NAFTA further tie Canada and the U.S. to the WTO, the WHO, and Codex Alimentarius. It is a web of solid strands designed to centralize control of healthcare through deals cut in the back rooms, far from the sunlight of public scrutiny. The bold mention of the C-51 “circumventing any debate” and surrendering sovereignty to an International body should send shivers up the spine of North America as a whole.

If it resurfaces in the Canadian Parliament in 2009 as expected, C-51 is a Bill that would test the true will of Canadians in this age of multinational corporate interests. In the extreme, it could make Canadians criminals and fugitives for merely wanting to take control of their own healthcare.

ON JUNE 15, 1993, in the midst of a great public debate in the U.S., the FDA Dietary Supplement Task Force published a report which actually said, “. . .what steps are necessary to ensure that the existence of dietary supplements on the market does not act as a disincentive for drug development?"

Our Canadian brothers and sisters seem to be headed towards the same buzzsaw that America did in 1993, when FDA wanted to make most dietary supplements into prescription drugs. Using history as a guide, it is clear that Health Ministers in Canada have followed the FDAs lead for years now.

In 1997, an extraordinary exchange about the banning of Melatonin — and dietary supplements in general — took place between Dr. Grant Hill, a physician and an MP who served Macleod from 1993-2004, and Health Minister David Dingwall. Dr. Hill strongly challenged the wisdom of the government’s ban on melatonin and other natural products and told those present “Canada's health police are taking away many Canadians' opportunities for natural herbs and vitamins without any evidence of their harm.” Stated Dr. Hill, “I would like to ask the health minister if he could reverse the onus so that his health police would have to produce evidence of harm before they take away those products that Canadians want.”

He hammered incessantly on the Health Minister and insisted that Health Canada respect the rights of consumers. “Melatonin,” he said, “is a natural hormone produced by the body. The health police have decided it is to be banned in Canada. If melatonin is harmful, then produce the evidence that it should be banned. However, if there is no evidence, why not let well informed consumers decide for themselves here in Canada?”

Health Minister David Dingwall, however, didn’t see it that way and his response reflected the philosophy of “the Canadian Nanny state,” where “government knows best.” Said Dingwall, “I think the member has the answer backwards. The onus is on the importer and on the manufacturer of the product to prove to Canadians and to the regulator beyond a shadow of a doubt that the product to come on the market is safe. That is the fundamental raison d'être of Health Canada, to ensure that all products that come on the market are safe for Canadians.”

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt?” Is this Health Canada’s policy with regard to pharmaceutical medicines also?


Still, more than a decade later, this fundamental policy choice by Health Canada still stands — and the agency is looking to expand its power to regulate dietary supplements even further in Canada.

Evidently, the libertarian users of dietary supplements threaten the bureaucratic notions of control — and so the Canadian government is fighting back. Consumer and Health Advocates, however, worry that C-51 is designed to limit their medical freedom of choice and ensure that once and for all, pharmaceutical dominance over healthcare in Canada will be the law of the land.

If C-51 passes, they may be correct.

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08 December 2008


Ed Silverman's work first appeared on my radar a few months ago when I discovered his terrific blog called "Pharmalot." Pharmalot is SO credible because Silverman has made pharmaceuticals his specialty. He is a “big picture” reporter — and his years of experience have enabled him to cut through the bull to report only the facts.

Silverman is a prize-winning journalist who has covered the pharmaceutical industry for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey for 12 years, but his six years with Newsday and another stint at Investor’s News Daily obviously helped shape his journalistic prowess. In the past few days alone, he has reported on the NIH and their own Financial Conflicts Of Interest, how drug maker AstraZeneca “Knew Seroquel Risks For Years,” and perhaps most shockingly, in reports from Australia, that “nearly 4,000 children under the age of 10 were prescribed antidepressants last year, including 553 children under five and 48 babies, even though no antidepressant is approved in Australia for the treatment of depression in children and adolescents.”

According to his website, Silverman has been investigating all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing, including, “drug development; mergers and acquisitions; regulatory oversight; safety and pricing controversies, and marketing issues” — and it shows.

Day after day, week after week, Silverman has revealed the kind of insightful information one really needs to be an informed consumer. On Nov. 26th, Silverman wrote, “we learned that reknowned Harvard University psychiatrist Joseph Biederman pushed Johnson & Johnson to fund a research center at Massachusetts General Hospital that would focus on the use of its Risperdal antipsychotic in children, well before the med was approved for pediatric use.” This is same class of drugs that has been exposed for causing diabetes — a fact documented in GENERATION RX during my interview with another famed Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint.

Recently Silverman posted another article on the site at HealthJournalism.org that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) was upset “when the UK media reported results of a study about the effects of caffeine in pregnancy - before BMJ had a chance to publish online.” This outrage came despite the fact that the subesequent stories only involved caffeine, which is hardly as dangerous as most mainstream medicines. Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) also displayed their anger with the New York Times for publishing a story about measles when the information was supposed to be embargoed. This “gentleman’s agreement” between journalists and the agencies they cover prompted the following reply by me on their website:

“The fact that WHO punished The New York Times after breaking an embargo on a story about measles only points to how far the journalistic community has fallen over the past few decades.

Since WHEN has it been acceptable for journalists to be so closely aligned with WHO? Ditto the BMJ and New England Journal of Medicine!! Too many reporters have lazily become "part of the system" and look at their insider's connection as a competitive edge.

WRONG. What this mentality has fostered is nothing more than an "Inside the Beltway" mentality, where too many health reporters take the PRESS RELEASES doled out by NIH, NIMH, FDA, NEJM, WHO etc etc etc — and print them as Gospel truth!

As Mr. Silverman has pointed out repeatedly, this kind of uncritical acceptance of "the state of healthcare" from those who have financial and vested interests is a big part of the problem.

As I have shown in my recent film GENERATION RX, scores of people are dying — and scores of children are being prescribed drugs that have NEVER been proven to work better than placebo.

It is only recently coming to light, but why aren't there more journalists challenging the drug companies and the aforementioned agencies? Why aren't more of you digging for the truth?

Look in the mirror. Times are tough all over. But if you deliver the Truth after years of lies you will be able to distinguish yourselves from the rest of the pack.

In my opinion that's what Gardiner Harris of the New York Times has done, along with Ed Silverman.”

IN THE CRITICAL QUEST FOR HEALTH INFORMATION, we all face the same obstacles. Without journalists who are willing to dig for information — without the few courageous souls who willingly stand up to government agencies and the drug makers, we are lost. Make no mistake: it is difficult to find — and report on the truth.

Amid the horde of questionable reporting, there are indeed journalists who ooze integrity — men and women who challenge the Press Releases being poured forth into the mainstream media every day.

So do yourself a favor. Visit www.Pharmalot.com and explore the work of Ed Silverman. As I’ve written many times, each of us needs to be armed with the truth so we can make informed choices about healthcare.

Ed Silverman and Pharmalot represent that truth — and the finest journalism has to offer.

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06 December 2008


MY BEST GUESS IS THAT ABOUT THREE MINUTES HAD ELAPSED. I awoke to a surreal din of extraneous audio, a cacophony of murmurs, cars, and even the wind echoing and blending together like the elements of a great soundtrack that had yet to be mixed.

It was very much the stuff of fantasies, and as the darkness slowly lifted, I was still confused and disoriented. Amid the shock and the jumble of thoughts, however, I didn’t realize that I was lucky to be alive.

So many times in my life, perhaps too often to recall, the Angels have been at my side. I have been saved countless times and lived through events I never dreamt possible —and in each case, I felt the hand of a powerful presence beside me.

One such incident came as a young man in my twenties as I returned from a Halloween party. It was late, somewhere around three in the morning, and as I made my way from the party, I approached an entrance ramp to the Expressway outside Boston. After a few seconds I approached a car — on fire and blocking the entrance ramp.

I panicked for a few seconds. Was there someone in the car unconscious or injured? I parked 50 yards away from the burning Chevy and approached the car cautiously.

I wrapped my hands in some rags and inched my way forward. . .frightened but just ignorant enough to continue. As I reached the car, I opened the drivers’ side door and backed off quickly, which allowed some of the smoke from inside the vehicle to dissipate in the chilly October air. Then I lunged into the front seat, yelling “Is anyone in here? Is anyone HERE?” I began by feeling around the front seat and floor, flailing my arms about like a mad man. The smoke and flames were awful, and quickly drove me back outside. I retreated ten feet, took a deep breath and dove into the backseat, frantically searching again.

I found no one, but I did hear a voice saying, “Get out NOW” and I obliged.

As I walked back to my car, coughing and wiping my eyes, the car exploded like something out of Hollywood pyrotechnics display.

That Halloween eve, I was dressed as Clark Kent — but on that night, Superman didn’t rescue anyone. The suit was ruined, singed by fire and smoke, but I had been saved — again.

It is one of probably two dozen times I can recall feeling a spiritual presence directing me away from or warning me of imminent danger.

IN JULY OF 2008, it happened again. I looked up at a dark gray sky, still groggy and filled with ethereal visions, when I heard my son’s voice. I was floating, it seemed, when a wisp of his voluminous hair drifted into my periphery.

“Dad,” he said. “DAD!”

The fact that I had awakend at all had not yet dawned on me, but I felt beautifully calm.

“DAD,” Gabe said again, more determined than ever to get a response. Finally, I could see him clearly and realized what had just happened. I was being loaded into an ambulence.

We had just been in an accident. . .forced into an unmarked, elongated pit. The two of us were on my beloved Yamaha 180cc motor scooter. I had successfully slowed down the bike — well aware of my precious cargo on the back — and had skillfully navigated the road that had engulfed us on the last 100 feet of our journey.

As we hit the back of the pit, I was catapulted from the scooter. My son, as any father would have planned it, landed on top of me, suffering only from some road rash on his forearm and some bruises.

As I lay in the hospital awaiting yet another MRI, the immensity of my good fortune began to overpower the physical pain I felt. I was alone in the room and had no idea that tears were streaming down my cheeks as the nurse entered the room.

“Ohhhh…” she said with obvious sensitivity. “You must be in a lot of pain right now.”

“I am,” I answered. “But I am just so grateful that my son is all right.”

I have rarely been a fearful person, but today I am much less afraid than I used to be. The process of wounding can awaken us to our strength — if we are willing to examine life through the lens of our Blessings, not our challenges. A life- threatening event can re-shuffle our values, and what emerges from our soul searching is scarcely about anything material.

It’s never about perfection or power — or the politics at work. For me, it’s always about love; whom we cherish and whom we can touch.

Knowing that we are vulnerable — and that our time here is limited — we’re free choose a different path for ourselves. We’re free to live more passionately and to question what’s worth fighting for and whom we really are in this world.

To me, our real strength lies buried in the depths of the wounds we have survived. It could be a tragic death, or it could be a divorce, but it need not take a life-threatening event to pursue a more meaningful life.

This time around, all it took for me was to see the wisp of my Gabe’s hair floating by as I was having a conversation with Angels. As I left their embrace, they whispered, “there is more to do.”

And so I thanked God for my son — and for my life — so very grateful that my path was illuminated so long ago.

03 December 2008

'GENERATION RX' Exclusives - Part 2

This weeks’s Exclusive Clip from GENERATION RX features Dr. Julian Whitaker, who compares the rampant drugging of kids to ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST — and tells how ‘drug- free zones at schools have been invaded by ADHD, Bipolar and antidepressant drugs instead.

02 December 2008


BEING A FILMMAKER IS NOT A GLAMOROUS JOB. During the course of my professional career, I have been stranded by a typhoon in Vietnam with no battery power, and I have weathered, quite literally, every kind of malfunction and inconvenience known to electronic gear.

I have filmed at 3 a.m. in a wind-chill of 40 below zero for five days straight. I’ve been in the middle of riots, rallies, and protests — and have been thrown out of my share of offices — from Boston to Glasgow, Scotland. I’ve been kicked, punched, and called names I wouldn’t dare repeat here. I’ve carried a cameraman down a mountain when he was too sick to descend by himself.

I’ve made films about the homeless when I was flat broke, been asked to produce a one hour documentary about race relations in four weeks, and made a film about the abandonment of war veterans for free because I knew the need was great — and that if I didn’t do it, no one else would. I’ve even been sued for refusing to alter the content in one of my films because I knew to do so would undercut the integrity of the work.

As I’ve experienced all of this and more, I’m not too proud to say that I’ve cried a thousand tears along the way. I have felt the pain of countless people in some form or another — and I’ve truly learned the meaning of pain and death and suffering.

In the middle of editing GENERATION RX, I was working on an emotionally vexing section on ADHD when I received a call from my sister telling me “Dad is going to die soon.” I hung up the phone and muddled to my dear friend Charles Gilchrist, “Death is in the air.”

Dad died four days later.

But I kept going. I’m a humanist. This is my chosen profession. There are people depending on me to get it right — and that is a weight I will always carry on my shoulders.

I certainly did during the production of GENERATION RX.

This is my life — producing films that hopefully resonate with truth and make a difference in the world.

As always, now it’s up to you to decide. . .you always have the last vote. It is you who must decide whether GENERATION RX is a success.

The most difficult aspect of being a filmmaker has little to do with the laundry list of challenges listed above. For me, especially with GENERATION RX, it was all about representing those who had died, and making the families of those victims proud to say, "he really gets it." Those are the priceless moments, the ones that make it all worth it.

Over the past few years, as I waded through the corruption of public officials — and forced myself forward through the mind-numbing deaths of Moms and Dads and Brothers and sisters, I kept one poem with me always. I read it every day and it kept me centered on the mission, and helped me maintain my strength through thick and thin. While it was originally written about war, it served me well.

It reminded me every single day why I am a writer and filmmaker — and how blessed I am to be given such gifts. It reminded me whom I fight for — and why. In the wake of all of the deaths and suicides and angst, it helped keep me focused on those who had passed from this world — and those who were left behind.

With a tribute to Archibald MacLeish, here is part of that poem.

"We were young. We have died.
Remember us.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.

We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us."

—Archibald MacLeish