Thursday, December 1, 2022

Outstanding Documentaries - Unwanted in America: The Shameful Side Of International Adoption (2014)

Unwanted in America: The Shameful Side of International Adoption is a long overdue project that rips the veil off the sick underworld of "rehoming" children in the U.S, a subject I've recently been seeking info on but coming up mostly empty-handed.  This 1 hour 33 minute documentary is hosted by the great Dan Rather & aired on the AXS-TV channel in 2014.  The tragic story of Hana Williams as covered by Slate author Kathryn Joyce was one of the main motivations for Rather to make this film, and I'm so glad he did.  There's no more definitive expose on the topic.  

Unwanted in America focuses mostly on Ethiopian adoptions, which are often conducted on the false premise that the children are just going to America "to get an education" but will be coming back & can communicate freely with their bio parents while away.  This is not the case--these are closed adoptions in which parents sign over all rights to the adoptive families.  These kids often come from dirt poor families looking to give them a better future but not give them away, and the kids are often much older than those placed for adoption in the U.S--adolescents or older teenagers even.  A few of the parents are expecting their kids to send money back home.  This makes for a terrible situation right off the bat.

Adopted child Addie with Kurt & Kayla of Ohio before being rehomed

On top of the culture shock, language barriers & racial differences these kids have to overcome in their new homes, the lies of the adoption agencies make for a volatile situation in which the kids often flip out completely, developing severe attachment issues & failing to live up to the expectations their adoptive parents had for them.  Many, if not most, of these adoptive families already have kids--either biological or otherwise--and are destined to fail from the beginning due to a lack of cultural sensitivity and being spread too thin.  Some families take in huge sets of 5 or more siblings; others split up sibling groups which creates its own problems.  Either way the result is the same--a so-called "failed adoption"... two words that should never be uttered together in a sentence.

Some of the adoptive parents obtain these kids for nefarious reasons ranging from forming personal labor camps to helping boost their Youtube subscriber count to converting them to Christianity & "saving their souls".  The results of these setups can be deadly as in the case of Hana Williams.  Even when death doesn't occur, there are instances of homelessness, sexual abuse between unrelated kids under the same roof, physical abuse by the parents & other horrors as we see in the documentary.  It's the Christian adoption agencies that have some of the most questionable methods of obtaining adoptees (such as lying and saying the kids are "just going abroad to study"). 

"We Truly Do Hate This Boy!"

Julia Hehn of Seattle, adoptive mom of 28, whose kids ended up homeless

So where does one turn when they feel they can't bond with or provide a safe home for their internationally adopted children?  Therein lies the rub.  The adoption agencies wash their hands of these kids (closed adoption means all sales are final) & offer no additional counsel, so parents turn to an unacceptable alternative:  the internet.  They place Want Ads for their children as if they were a stray dog needing a new home.  "We truly do hate this boy!" one ad reads.  These groups exist on Facebook & other well-known sites and it's perfectly legal in the U.S.  No oversight, no vetting of the new "parents" by any independent agency.  The second home could be inhabited by pedophiles, child traffickers or murderers.  As long as they sign the proper documents, they're good to go.  "Rehoming" could just as accurately be called legal child trafficking because that's literally what it is.  

This documentary does an amazing job of exposing this less-discussed side of international adoption, a form of adoption many are drawn to because it's "closed" and they won't have to deal with birth parents.  In the U.S. today, almost 95% of adoptions are open, meaning children are informed that they're adopted & birth parents are allowed to maintain some level of ongoing contact with the family & child before age 18.  Ethiopian adoptions are also far less expensive than domestic, costing around $12,000 per child compared to $20,000-$40,000 per child in the USA (on average).  There's another elephant in the room:  that some wealthy Westerners suffer from White Savior Syndrome & are adopting these kids--either knowingly or subconsciously--with the intention of getting asspats from their church, community or online following.  Myka Stauffer comes to mind but there are others, and some have ended in tragedy.

International adoption agencies share a lot of the blame.  They paint a rosy picture of glowing American couples with their smiling Vietnamese, Ethiopian or Guatemalan child holding "Forever Family" placards which belies the truth: that between 10-25% of all adoptions fail, and the number may be even higher with international adoptions.  Unfortunately that can't be known because nobody's tracking it.  But this much is known:  adoptions involving white children are less likely to "disrupt" than those involving Black children, and those involving emotionally or sexually abused kids have the highest disruption rates of all.  That should trouble everybody, particularly in the case of international adoptions in which white families take in Black children & adoption agencies have a financial incentive to cover up known behavioral problems & past traumas in a child's life.  

Unwanted in America: The Shameful Side of International Adoption is a long & difficult watch but an important one.  It's like stepping into a filthy underworld that's hiding in plain sight.  Politicians talk a good game about "protecting children" when it comes to taking rights away from consenting adults--they arrest us for consuming drugs in private, slap Parental Advisory stickers on music & movies, try to ban gay marriage & adoption, strip women of our reproductive rights & other totally irrelevant things, yet when living, breathing children are ACTUALLY being harmed they look the other way.  This is a perfect example of that.  No other first-world country allows "rehoming" helpless adopted kids in this manner.  The fact that it took an aging (though legendary) reporter on an unknown channel like AXS-TV to make a documentary about this abuse of the system is both disturbing & infuriating.  

To be clear, adoption is a selfless & loving act for most adoptive parents & should be made more affordable for those who wish to access it.  But even with the best intentions, there can be catastrophic outcomes if the adoptive family isn't knowledgeable & realistic about the potential hurdles.  Informed consent is a must; choosing a child because you felt "drawn to" them is not a sufficient reason to commit to becoming their legal guardian for the rest of your life.  This isn't a pet shop where you're picking the cutest puppy--it's a lifelong commitment just like giving birth to a biological child.  Educate yourself on Reactive Attachment Disorder because it looks very similar to what these poor traumatized kids are going through.  Ask the tough questions regarding the child's physical health, past trauma, intellectual challenges, behavioral issues, abuse & neglect.  And for God's sake, take the answers you get seriously.

Thank you Mr. Rather for putting the effort into exposing this issue & being a voice for the voiceless.  If only our lawmakers cared half as much this might be a livable country.  

Sunday, November 27, 2022

If Social Media Had Existed... the days of smallpox and polio, we'd still be swimming in smallpox & polio.  The deadly, disfiguring effects of the variola virus and the crippling poliomyelitis that landed so many in wheelchairs & iron lung machines would've been viewed as "a safer bet" than the vaccines that prevented them due to the same upsidedown world disinformation that's keeping people from taking the COVID vaccine now--the very disinformation that's resulted in the loss of over a million American lives since 2020.  

Click pics to make large...

Child with smallpox

Man with smallpox

Unvaccinated vs. vaccinated child

Children with polio in iron lung

Effects of poliomyelitis on leg

Girl with polio celebrates vaccine... even though it's too late for her :(

After 3000 years of human carnage, smallpox was eradicated via vaccines by 1980 while polio was nearly wiped off the face of the planet--sporadic cases still pop up from time to time but in no way is it the threat it was in its heyday.  Meanwhile the vaccine rollouts were far from sophisticated.  The first smallpox vaccine was made from the pus of a sore from a milkmaid with cowpox--a related virus.  (Imagine how the guy receiving that jab must've felt).  In the case of polio, a bad batch of Jonas Salk's vaccine produced by a company called Cutter Laboratories contained live virus & actually caused polio in a few patients, resulting in 11 deaths.  Thus began a "war" between himself & Albert Sabin over which type of vaccine was safer & more effective. 

But even in the midst of this drama, the lay public understood that the risks of the vaccines were still far lower than taking their chances with the crippling virus & lined up by the millions to take their shots.  The results speak for themselves.

Woodbury Avenue (NY) students line up for polio shot in the 1950's

Since that time, vaccines have only increased in safety & effectiveness while public distrust has sadly grown out of control as a result of disinformation that started around the turn of the millennium thanks to the rise of the internet & Andrew Wakefield's "MMR vaccines cause autism" campaign.  Despite being widely disproven to the point his paper was fully retracted from medical journals, the damage was done:  measles, which was on the verge of being eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, has made a comeback.  And it's not the only disease.  Government health agencies have never attempted to hide or downplay the historical failures & risks of vaccines--in fact you can read about them right on the CDC's website.  Yet the public remains suspicious to the point of paranoia about things like microchips, covert gene therapy & blood clots (if I had a quarter for every time I heard the oh-so-clever term "clot shot" I'd be a quarter millionaire).  In reality, COVID itself is far more likely to cause blood clots than any of the vaccines and the other two claims are too psychotic to even acknowledge.  

People often ask what the possible long-term side effects of vaccines might be, as if to imply that we can't possibly know whether a new shot is safe until it's been on the market for many years.  Let me clear that up right now:  No vaccine has EVER been shown to cause side effects that set in months or years after the shot was administered.  That's simply not how any of this works.  After provoking an immune response, vaccine components are excreted via the kidneys and/or liver just like an oral medication or supplement would be.  (Would you blame a new ailment on a single dose of a medication you took one time many months or years ago?)  On the other hand, countless viruses have been proven to cause long-term complications: 

HPV > oral/genital/anal cancers;
Measles > SSPE;
Chickenpox > Shingles/Ramsay Hunt Syndrome;
Human Herpesvirus-8 > Kaposi's Sarcoma
Epstein-Barr > Oral Hairy Leukoplakia/Burkitt's Lymphoma (Africa)/Nasopharyngeal Cancer (Asia)
Hepatitis B > Liver Cancer;
COVID > Increased Heart Attack/Stroke Risk for 6 months post-infection/Long COVID. 

Asking "what are the long-term risks" is a good question as long as you also ask it about the diseases & not just the vaccines that help prevent them.  

If you're going to have a harmless side effect or a more serious adverse reaction, you can generally expect it within 72 hours of receiving a vaccine.  Taking acetaminophen or an NSAID like ibuprofen immediately after your shot and again before bed, plus avoiding overexertion for the rest of the day can reduce the risk of side effects like soreness, fever & nausea.  Avoiding vaccination while sick with a fever or an acute illness like the flu will help prevent more severe adverse events.  Allergic reactions to ingredients like eggs are the most common and serious complications nowadays--symptoms include trouble breathing, wheezing, hives & throat tightening.  Don't be afraid to share any questions or concerns you have with the person administering the shot, and consult your doctor if you have more serious concerns. 

...your actual doctor.  Not Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz or Dr. Pepper.  💉



COVID patient in 2020 (pre-vaccine era)

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Are the Major Religions A Product of Mental Illness?

(Note:  This article isn't about whether religious people today are mentally ill but whether said religions arose from the delusions, obsessions & tics of mentally ill people thousands of years ago, a question I've rarely if ever seen asked). 

If there's one constant throughout human history, it's mental illness.  Even though they weren't always recognized as such, disorders like bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, OCD, psychopathy/Anti-Social Personality Disorder ("sociopathy") & all the rest have stalked Homo sapiens since we crawled down from the trees & set out on our mission to discover fire & invent the wheel.  As stated, we didn't always identify mental illness as a disorder originating in the brain--the mentally ill were called eccentrics, witches, shamans, hermits & demons and treated in any number of ways... most of which were terrible.  A few Indigenous cultures like the Maori of New Zealand believed schizophrenia to be a generational spiritual gift among other things.  But the proof that these conditions have always been with us exists across time & geographical locations.  

When laypeople think of mental illness, they often imagine a disheveled homeless person mumbling to themselves & pushing a shopping cart.  But this is only a tiny fraction of the mentally ill population.  Some are extremely charismatic, have a magnetic manic energy & great persuasive powers but can turn aggressive & punishing on a dime.  Think Jim Jones or David Koresh.  Others are quiet & introverted with a need for control over their immediate environment (germophobes, OCD, agoraphobics, socially anxious folks).  

There are endless types & severities of mental illness, and you don't always need a degree in psychology to spot them.  Think of mental illness as an extreme form of normal human behavior that interferes with some aspect of a person's life, be it work & finances, health & hygiene, interpersonal relationships or all of the above.  While most symptoms of mental illness cause distress, there can also be a few positive aspects, such as hypomania in bipolar disorder--which can cause increased productivity & euphoria--or depressive realism in those with clinical depression.

Mental Illness as the Seed of Religion

It's okay... Rorschach Jesus can't hurt you.

If you look at the 3 major Abrahamic religions, you see some very obvious threads of mental illness running through them--particularly the need for control, externalized.  In Islam this takes the form of intricate hand-washing rituals which are a textbook sign of OCD, not to mention all the other "purity" rules dictated in the Quran.  The Old Testament of Judaism & Christianity forbids wearing mixed fabrics, eating shellfish or picking up sticks on the Sabbath (punishable by death!), which points to an extreme need for order & control.  Just look how extremely detailed this entry on cleanliness is (Numbers 19:1-22).  

On a more general level, the overarching effect of organized religion on society--creating social hierarchies (God > Man > Woman > Child > Dog) is all about keeping order.  The more conservative or orthodox a religious person is, the more concerned with controlling the behavior of others they usually are.  The freedom of others to use drugs, get an abortion, marry/love any consenting adult they want, dress how they like & enjoy other freedoms greatly bothers these people.  This need for control & order can be part of a larger pathology and is seen in many abusive relationship dynamics.  

Hyper-religiosity is an intriguing symptom of various mental illnesses.  It can take many forms, such as a false belief that an individual is God or that every inconsequential event has a deep spiritual or mystical meaning.  Disorders in which hyper-religiosity has been observed include bipolar disorder (Kanye, you reading this?), schizophrenia spectrum disorders and more serious neurological conditions like Frontotemporal Dementia, temporal lobe epilepsy & Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.  In severe cases it can spin out of control & lead to deadly outcomes.  Child killers Lori Vallow & Andrea Yates both experienced religious hallucinations & delusions in the days/weeks leading up to their crimes.  

The resurrection of Christ sounds a lot like a case of Folie à deux, or "folly of two".  In this bizarre & rare condition, hallucinations or delusions become contagious, spreading from one person to another like an infectious illness.  (Below is a particularly disturbing case caught on tape in which two sisters ran into traffic for no apparent reason).  Whoever saw Jesus raise from the dead was likely experiencing something akin to mania or psychosis, either organically or perhaps due to lack of sleep, dehydration or even ingestion of a hallucinogen.  Perhaps they were bipolar or schizophrenic, or maybe just misinterpreting events like seeing the rock in front of his grave moved.  In any case, the other people who came along experienced Folie à deux when they became convinced by this person's complete & total conviction & the rest is history.  

Motorway Madness - Swedish Twins (Folie à Deux)

There's also the very real (if controversial) possibility that some of these saviors & messiahs were deliberately deceiving their flocks due to a desire for power & adulation.  Ask yourselves why it is that we can identify modern cult leaders as crazed manipulators but religious leaders from ancient times get the benefit of the doubt.  The Rajneesh is a laughable con artist but the Buddha was sooooo enlightened & zen?  Okay.  Mohammad openly slept with children as young as 9 (Aisha), yet Muslims fly into a rage if you so much as question this.  Many so-called moderate Muslims were silent when the fatwa was issued on author Salman Rushdie for his "crime" of writing The Satanic Verses, a book critical of Islam.  Ditto when the horrific attack at Charlie Hebdo happened as a result of another "thought crime" against Islam.  Crickets.

And let's not forget when Fox News host Bill O'Reilly issued his own fatwa of sorts against abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, referring to him as "Tiller the Baby Killer" on 28 episodes of his national TV show in the hopes that some psycho would do what psychos do.  And eventually they did:  Dr. Tiller was shot in the head at church in front of his wife & congregation by a "pro-life" Christian extremist.  O'Reilly suffered no legal or professional repercussions whatsoever.  One of Dr. Tiller's colleagues, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, was targeted by these same maniacs, having his home & barn full of horses burned down by another domestic terrorist acting in the name of their lord & savior.  Two family pets & 21 horses were killed in the terrorist attack on the Air Force-trained physician.  The media was silent.  

Bill O'Reilly issues fatwa on Dr. George Tiller

The negative effects of organized religion on society are endless while the positives are... well, can you think of any?   Aside from causing tribalism/division, reinforcing social hierarchies, promoting scientific illiteracy & spiritually abusing children by sparking fear of eternal damnation, I can think of nothing religion contributes to modern society.  Not one damn thing.  

The fact that so many (I'd even wager most) religious leaders are preaching political topics at the pulpit puts them in direct violation of the Johnson Amendment that forbids such behavior.  This means their tax exemption should be revoked at once according to the law.  Why isn't this happening?  Attempts to influence elections, bully churchgoers into not wearing masks in a pandemic, pass or defeat certain bills & similar behaviors are outright illegal.  Yet damn near every church in the South and Bible Belt is doing it, including many megachurches.  It's not a secret.  Where the hell is our government?  The IRS?  

TL;DR - If you can identify $cientology as a cult but believe Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, Sihkism or Shintoism are legitimate religions, your bias (and ignorance) is showing.   The only difference between a religion and a cult is the number of followers & how long ago it was created.  If you have a need for control in your life, start (and stop) with yourself.  Any relationship with the divine/universe/creator does not require a middleman telling you what God REALLY meant & asking for donations, the majority of which will be used to line their own pockets rather than helping the needy.  You know, the very thing that made Jesus flip the table 2,000ish years ago. 

Hi!  ✌😀  Like this article?  Drop a donation in one of the accounts below.  Google AdSense does not support "drug-related" content so I rely on your contributions to keep this blog running.  It's hard out here for an independent freelance writer in the digital age.  Thank you!



Sunday, November 13, 2022

The FDA's War on Supplements: Beta-Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Banned!

It's happening again:  The FDA has sided with Big Pharma by ruling that a compound already on the supplement market is "not a supplement," thereby freeing pharmaceutical companies up to push it out of the supplement aisle where customers will no longer be able to obtain it for a reasonable price without a prescription.  They tried this with n-acetylcysteine recently & were met with such pushback they had to step off & leave it on shelves as a supplement... at least in the U.S.  It had already been there for 30 years without issue, yet because it's also used in emergency rooms for acetaminophen overdose & was found to have promise in both preventing & treating COVID infection, greedy pharma companies tried to gold rush it & get rich(er).  

The compound in question now is beta-nicotinamide mononucleotide (b-NMN), found naturally in shrimp, tomatoes, edamame, avocadoes & broccoli.  Its purported health benefits include anti-aging effects, increased aerobic performance & neuroprotection, though these benefits remain unproven.  b-NMN was already sold on Amazon by several companies including SyncoZymes Co. Ltd. & Inner Mongolia Kingdomway Pharmaceutical Ltd., both of which were selling the compound without issue until pharmaceutical giant Metro International Biotech sicced the FDA on them.  Because it occurs naturally in food AND was sold as a supplement first, that would seemingly make it a food/supplement, yet the FDA has fallen squarely on the side of pharmaceutical companies & ruled it a drug.  It's now been banned for sale as a supplement in the U.S.  Case closed.

Why Should We Care?

Next time you see b-NMN, it'll be in a prescription bottle.

This matters to consumers because it allows pharma companies to patent the substance, set the (always ridiculous) price, allow doctors/dermatologists/whoever to require in-person visits & written prescriptions for it, bill private insurance companies, send patients to the pharmacy & make us jump through other hoops to obtain it.  All when we could've just logged onto the internet & had it delivered to our door for a reasonable price before.  This is not okay & has far-reaching implications.  

The FDA exists to protect consumers from deadly foodborne disease outbreaks, toxins in pet food & cosmetics and to prevent things like, oh, I don't know... the Sacklers saying "OxyContin is not addictive" for 3 decades while America falls victim to the biggest drug addiction crisis in our nation's history.  Not to aid the upward transfer of wealth into the pockets of those very pharma companies.  

If you've ever wondered why seemingly benign drugs like psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, ibogaine, khat & cannabis (which is still federally illegal) are in Schedule I while "hard" drugs like fentanyl & meth are in lesser Schedules, this is one of the main reasons.  It's also why the FDA has waged an all-out war on kratom.  The goal is to patent the active compounds & market them back to us while banning the whole plant, making themselves filthy rich in the process.  Speciogynine, a kratom compound, is currently being synthesized & studied by researchers at Purdue University's College of Pharmacy to treat alcohol use disorder.  According to their very own Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Richard Van Rijn: 

“The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has not scheduled kratom as a substance of abuse,” he said. “More research is needed to properly establish this, but one hypothesis for their lower risk for abuse is related to their cellular pharmacology.”

No, Rich, they haven't.  But not for lack of trying.  And they haven't stopped trying, issuing constant warnings/import alerts, seizing kratom shipments at the border and refusing to accept it as a New Dietary Ingredient for no good reason.  This, after seeking a GLOBAL ban on it in 2021 (lol).  If the nation's top scientific researchers are saying kratom is safe & has legitimate medicinal uses, why is the FDA still hellbent on banning it?  

For the hard-of-learning who missed it the first 17 times:  Because the FDA's sole purpose is helping pharmaceutical companies profit from any substance with a perceived medicinal or cosmetic benefit.  Duh.  Maybe they started as a legit regulatory agency with good intentions but that's not what they are now.  Like so many other American institutions, the FDA is a benevolent people-centered agency in name only.   In reality it's a revolving door of ex-pharma execs & stockholders that's been corrupted by money.  Speaking of money, pharma companies can't make it off a patented pharmaceutical molecule if everyone can buy the same (arguably superior whole plant) for much cheaper without a doctor's prescription on the internet or at the local GNC.  That's why they want to ban every recreational or medicinal substance under the sun:  so pharma has a total monopoly.  

Nobody's saying supplement companies are faultless here.  In fact, many popular supplements are made by pharma companies & megacorporations themselves.  The supplement market has its own serious safety and purity issues to contend with.  But the FDA has opted not to regulate supplements at all (see: DSHEA of 1994), which, again, tells me they aren't all that interested in protecting the public like they claim.  Absolutely no scientific backing is required for dietary supplements to be sold, & the companies selling them are entirely responsible for monitoring their purity & quality.  Fox guarding the hen house much?   🙄

Yet these very shortcomings leave the pharmaceutical industry wide open to compete with supplement makers fairly on the basis of safety, effectiveness, purity & compiled scientific data of their products.  A side by side comparison of pharmaceutical and supplemental b-NMN, for instance, would likely reveal that the former contains exactly what the label states while the latter does not.  (Supplements are routinely contaminated, adulterated or contain the wrong dose of the active ingredient, if any).  Rather than spending the money to point these things out, Big Pharma would rather twist the FDA's arm & have these compounds removed from the market entirely so there's no competition, and the FDA is all too eager to comply.  

That's corrupt as hell & we're sick of it.  

If there aren't going to be any concrete criteria for what constitutes a food, drug or supplement, the whole system is meaningless & needs to be thrown out.  The deep pockets of pharmaceutical companies are calling all the shots which isn't fair to supplement makers or the public.  As Michael A. Willis, corporate counsel to Metro International Biotech recently whined to the FDA regarding b-NMN: 

“protect the right of companies that have spent significant time and research to develop drug products from competition from dietary supplements that are clearly new dietary ingredients that have never filed a new dietary ingredient notification prior to the institution of substantial clinical trials.”

...and money, Mikey.  Time, research and money.  That's the key actor in this pay-to-play political drama where lobbyists make legislators & regulators jump like manic flaccid puppets while the rest of us go broke & die.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Outstanding Documentaries: The Fight for Water (2022)

"Once politics is dictated by the fight for water, then God help us." --- Thorsten Glauber, Bavarian Environment Minister

This ominous opener kicks off The Fight for Water, Part 1 of a three-part series by the always-gripping DW Documentaries (a German public broadcasting company). This doc has stuck with me more than anything I've watched in a long time. Its sober, fact-based tone tackles this giant topic in a way that makes it both easily digestible and a mobilizing call to action. By collecting a variety of viewpoints & statistics from around the world, DW manages to do what no American media outlet has yet managed to pull off: illustrate how climate change is already causing isolated crises around the world that will soon turn into a major catastrophe for the human race if something drastic isn't done. And probably a lot sooner than we'd anticipated.

Beginning in Mendocino, we're treated to a scene so disturbing you'll wonder why you haven't heard about it yet. Restaurant owners in this quaint beach town describe such a severe water shortage that they've had to have freshwater trucked in since the beginning of 2020. It's so bad that toilets won't flush, which has forced business owners to set up Port-A-Johns & "Bathrooms Closed" signs across a huge swathe of tourist spots like gift shoppes and bars. (I was slightly skeptical so I did some Googling and, yep, at a recent Mendocino Board of Supervisors meeting one member raised the question: "How many books will you be checking out from the library if your neighborhood’s on fire and you can’t flush your toilet?”) 

Mendocino official describes the shituation 

From there we travel around the world to Bavaria to check out the depleted rural wells that (used to) supply entire cities before heading to Phoenix, AZ to assess the crisis at the Colorado River which is at its lowest level in history. Having personally spent time at both of the river's reservoirs (Lake Powell and Lake Mead), I can confirm it's every bit as bad as they're reporting. We visit Las Vegas next, where Lake Mead & the Hoover Dam are at all-time lows from being sucked dry by an ever-growing population of thirsty desert dwellers.

But it's California--home to 40 million people & many water-hogging industries like Silicon Valley--that is faring worst of all. The wildfire crisis requires tons of extra water to contain, and with climate change bearing down, wildfire season is now year-round which makes prescribed burns difficult to carry out safely. A recent study found that the wood smoke pollution from these fires has reversed decades of policy-driven air quality gains in just a few years' time. The West Coast's lack of water has been referred to as a "drought" or "megadrought" for years, but it's become clear to climatologists that the problem is a lot more serious than that. So what's going on here?

Aridification--the long-term transformation of a region to a permanently more arid state--is the new normal for much of the world including the U.S. West Coast. And that's the overarching theme of this documentary, which poses the unavoidable question: What happens when the human race runs out of drinkable water?

The film attempts to answer this daunting question by interviewing a variety of experts including Jay Famiglietti of the Global Institute for Water Security; entrepreneur & engineer of California's de-salination plant Gary Kremen and a number of government leaders & citizens living on the frontlines of this crisis. Their answers aren't reassuring. Eventually we end up at our final and most depressing destination: Afghanistan, a desert region that's dealt with arid conditions longer than perhaps anywhere on Earth. We quickly learn this is different. I won't spoil the climax of the movie but let's just say what they're dealing with now is not sustainable for the maintenance of human life. The sight of children standing around a dry tap with empty water buckets is heartbreaking.

Water report from Afghani on the poor side of town

These thirsty climate refugees will have to go somewhere to survive, a point the film makes near the end. An estimated 3 billion (with a B) people are at risk of losing access to potable water by 2070 (or much sooner according to this counter) & will have to move to more favorable regions. It's already happening as Guatemalans face massive crop loss due to aridification & move northward to the U.S. But of course the mainstream media isn't referring to them as climate refugees. This silence combined with the government's inaction, corporate-funded disinformation about climate change & public apathy could prove fatal to homo sapiens as a species, particularly when combined with the "Four Horsemen of Climate Change" described here.

This is a depressing, doom-inducing topic that nobody likes to think about. But if you watch no other piece on the subject of climate change, let it be this. The Fight for Water highlights the urgency of the issue without injecting a bunch of partisan, emotional editorializing. I haven't gotten around to watching Parts 2 and 3 yet but I'm sure they're excellent companions to Part 1 which stands on its own just fine. DW is what Frontline PBS used to be before they became a glorified mouthpiece for the State Department sometime after 9/11. The fact that a foreign media outlet can come to the U.S. & release a film about our own country that better informs us about the situation here than our own reporters says a lot about the corruption of our corporate-owned media.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

[Review] - Ametifen Codeine Forte

Product:  Ametifen Codeine Forte
Brand:  OPV Pharmaceuticals
Ingredients:  Codeine (30 mg), Acetaminophen (500 mg)
Quantity:  2 boxes; 100 pills per box

I bought this med from my usual vendor, who was out of my regular brand.  Or "brands" I should say.  I usually rotate between 3 that are all the same potency & have never had any issues with any of them.  But this was a totally new one that I hadn't heard of so I decided to do some Google-Fu and couldn't find much about it at all.  The box says it's manufactured by OPV Pharmaceuticals but it's not listed on their official website as a product they sell so I got kinda suspicious.  (OPV is a trusted WHO-GMP certified company that operates internationally).  Counterfeit meds do exist in other countries, though they're more likely to be low quality generics made by corner-cutting pharmaceutical companies than anything deadly like fentanyl.  I decided to email another vendor who sells this product in the hopes he/she could give me some further info.  Unfortunately I got no response, likely because the vendor doesn't speak English.

So I just dove in and took the pill after breaking off a corner to allergy test it.  They appear to be fine, though I've had a bit of diarrhea since starting them.  There might be some weird inactive ingredient in them like mannitol, a common adulterant in street heroin.  Or maybe my IBS is just acting up.  Like Panactol, they're plain white oblong pills with no markings or divides, though they came in boxes with each pill in a blister pack & a fold-out instruction paper with each box.  They definitely look legit; I'm just overly cautious about anything new.  

I paid $120 total for 2 boxes (200 pills) which is a pretty damn good deal these days.  After suffering through a recent period with no pain meds whatsoever, it's great to have these on hand again.  When ibuprofen & other NSAIDs are no longer an option due to chronic gastritis, your options for severe pain are really limited.  Weed works great but is really cognitively impairing, and today's kratom is simply too weak to have anything more than placebo effect for me, unfortunately.  It's a damn shame we can't get meds like these over the counter in the U.S. because they're harmless unless you're careless enough to take such a massive overdose you poison your liver with Tylenol or combine a high dose with a depressant & stop breathing.

To conclude, I'd rank Ametifen 4th out of the 4 codeine meds I've tried from overseas, only because of the lingering questions about its manufacture & whether it's responsible for my bowel issues lately.  But it definitely has the desired effects in terms of pain relief.  

Saturday, October 29, 2022

On Twitter's Newfound "Freedom"

While it's satisfying to watch the liberal tears fall like Niagara as Twitter changes hands, it's not exactly comforting that the pro-censorship Orwellian atmosphere has been replaced by a bunch of anti-vax, climate denialist misogynist Trump worshiping chuds screaming their ignorance into the void as if they've "won".  You haven't won anything; you're still just as overworked, underpaid & uneducated as you were when the other billionaire owned Twitter.  Your government is still controlled by a lying 2-party system whose only purpose is to aid the upward transfer of wealth out of your hardworking hands and into the pockets of people like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos & Mark Zuckerberg--all of whom view you as a nondescript mass of dirty peons.  It would be really nice if Americans were capable of independent thought instead of this tribalistic cult idiocy.  But no.

We won't have "won" until social media giants are considered a public utility like the phone companies of old, when private citizens and CEOs couldn't cut off users' access at will without serious cause & ample evidence.  When the government wasn't allowed to spy on our conversations without a warrant & by the time said companies were able to cut off our access to the utility, we were well on our way to prison for a major crime like terrorism or conspiracy anyway.  

You can claim to stand for free speech all day.  It's a hollow promise if you engage in union-busting, sexual harassment, sending threatening emails & other bullying behaviors toward the very people who made you a billionaire.  There's nothing "free" about that.  Elon Musk's dad is a pedophile who literally groomed his own step-daughter from the age of 4 & impregnated her with his "lovechild".  They now have two kids together.  I dare somebody to try tweeting that.  

I've seen too many websites switch hands only for the new owner to start working with the Feds, resulting in a massive wave of arrests of the site's users.  We have no evidence that won't be the case here.  We don't know what could happen.  These social media sites are a data mining privacy breach by their very nature.  Nothing is free in this world.  Your celebrations are premature.  Stop taking crooked billionaires' words at face value.  They didn't get insanely rich by being generous, honest people.  And you won't become a billionaire by osmosis or brown-nosing these sociopaths. 

The answer to corporate ownership of speech isn't more corporate ownership of speech.  They're playing chess while you're still trying to master checkers & think a Tic Tac Toe win is worth celebrating.  You ride the corporate dick at your own peril.  

Outstanding Documentaries - Unwanted in America: The Shameful Side Of International Adoption (2014)

Unwanted in America: The Shameful Side of International Adoption  is a long overdue project that rips the veil off the sick underworld of &q...