Author Archives: Martha Rosenberg

A job behind bars

A prison mental health specialist talks about the myths and realities of providing psychological care to detainees

At least two million people in the United States are incarcerated in 122 United States prisons. Little is known about the prisoners themselves. Did their background condemn them to bad behavior or did they just make grievous mistakes? Do they suffer from mental illness sometimes masquerading as criminal behavior? Can they change their life path? A mental health specialist with 25 years of direct experience provided counseling services to pre-trial detainees in Chicago’s notorious Cook County prison system, agreed to this interview. Continue reading

A bird flu depopulation method so cruel, veterinarians yell foul

More than 77 million poultry birds have been killed in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America to contain the spread of bird flu, a pandemic that few are even aware of thanks to light news coverage. There are few photos of dumpsters and landfills brimming with dead birds nor is there mention of how the mass killing is often done. It is accomplished with “ventilation shutdown” (VSD) and “ventilation shutdown plus heat” (VSD+) in which steam heat and CO2 are added to the oxygen deprivation/suffocation to facilitate heatstroke. Continue reading

New mental health book hides institute director’s sordid past

It has been several years since Dr. Thomas Insel left his post as director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to collaborate on mental health solutions with Google Life Sciences, an arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now known as Verily. Insel is not the first or last government official to treat himself or herself to the riches of the industry revolving door (Louisiana Rep. Billy Tauzin surfaced at PhRMA after overseeing Medicare legislation; CDC director Julie Gerberding surfaced at Merck ). But Insel has a disturbing former cronyism record that should not be forgotten. Continue reading

Four factors contributing to a generation of obesity

While obesity is growing around the world, it is especially evident in younger generations, who used to be thinner than their thick-around-the-middle elders. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 1 in every 3 college-age Americans is now obese—the “freshman 15” has morphed into the “freshman 30.” Continue reading

Will Biden resurrect the conflict-ridden Robert Califf as FDA commissioner?

In 2011, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, an Obama nominee, lamented that the government could not find enough experts who were not funded by drug makers to serve on advisory committees and recommended that the FDA’s conflict of interest rules be loosened. Continue reading

Are you making these medication mistakes?

Drugs can help us, but not when we use them too long, for the wrong things, or when better treatments are available.

Americans might be the most medicated people in the world thanks to aggressive drug-maker marketing and favorable regulation. But drugs can be over-prescribed, conditions over-diagnosed, and less expensive non-drug treatments slighted. Here are common dangers to watch for in your and your family’s medication use. Continue reading

Have we learned nothing from the COVID-19 pandemic?

New animal epidemics ignored

You would think as COVID-19 has now killed 5.54 million, there would be greater vigilance about other brewing zoonotic epidemics. Yet even as 41 countries now have outbreaks of avian influenza, called HPAI or H5N1, including the US, there is little to no reporting on the threat in the US press. The attitude still seems to be “wait and see” as it was with COVID-19 though cases surfaced six months before any action was taken; have we learned nothing? Continue reading

Humor: Who’s afraid of the joke police?

In addition to not being able to take a joke (thanks to the woke times: see “microagression”) most people cannot tell a joke. Halfway through the joke they get stage fright and panic that maybe it’s not even funny or that they’ll forget the punch line, wasting people’s time. Continue reading

Biden nominates two industry shills to “regulate” their industries

In 2011, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, an Obama nominee, lamented that the government could not find enough experts who were not funded by drug makers to serve on advisory committees and recommended that the FDA’s conflict of interest rules be loosened. Continue reading

Treat “early and often” and other drugmaker ruses

I have often reported on the drugmaker ruse of “disease mongering” or “selling sickness”—floating symptoms of scary diseases that you may have right now with convenient online, “symptom quizzes” for you to self-diagnose and verify. Long gone are the days when the medical establishment assured you that you were well (“take two aspirins and call me in the morning”) thanks to direct-to-consumer advertising. Continue reading

Don’t call “slaughter-free” meat, “fake meat”

What PR genius came up with the catchy, dismissive moniker “fake meat”? The term, along with the euphemistic “protein plants” for slaughterhouses, shows just how threatened meat producers have become by the legions now embracing plant-based meat….and the prospect of cultured meat coming up the rear. Continue reading

Ted Nugent testifies for hunting bills in Wisconsin

GOP legislators want to establish a hunting season for sandhill cranes.

Where is cancel culture when you need it? Ted Nugent’s racist remarks got him banned from performing in Muskegon, Michigan, Fort Knox and removed from Long Island’s “Back the Blue Demonstration” performing line-up just last year. Though he claims to be a patriot, he has bragged about being a draft dodger and pedophile (later recanting the claims). Continue reading

Prescription drug safety risks hidden; hypochondria created by marketing

If you’re like most people, you never heard of the prescription drug Humira until 2013. That’s when Abbott Laboratories spun off AbbVie, to aggressively market the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug which went on to become the top selling drug by 2019. Continue reading

Baby food alert: Interview with Asian-based food processing consultant

Last year, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation found almost 6,000 food items contaminated with microbes, excessive food additives and agricultural/veterinary drugs –– and memories of melamine in milk and U.S. pet food heighten concerns. Continue reading

Have drug makers created a generation of hypochondriacs?

A month before the COVID-19 shutdowns, the Wall Street Journal reported that many young people are seeking “accommodations” such as greater time allotments at work for their anxiety, PTSD, depression and other mental conditions. Of course there is much less anxiety zooming from your couch but the issues will no doubt return when workers do. Continue reading

How animal rights moved from soggy leaflets and skateboards to a movement

In the 1980s, the animal rights movement was a sorry sight. In Chicago, it consisted of three to five activists handing out soggy leaflets in the rain outside a fur store on a Saturday, one also holding his skateboard. No one remembered to bring the signs and no one could agree whether to protest carriage horses or captive whales at the Shedd Aquarium on the next Saturday. Continue reading

COVID’s lab leak theory obscures zoonosis and progression

Even as COVID-19 is found in apes, big cats, minks, domestic cats, other small mammals, and now in U.S. deer, some don’t want to let go of the insultingly simplistic “lab leak” theory. Do they really think the 1918 influenza and AIDS pandemics (or Ebola, MERS, and SARS ) needed lab mendacity to exist? We won’t even talk about the prehistorical plagues! Continue reading

Lab accidents from animal disease research raise fears

A French laboratory worker has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) leading to an immediate moratorium on the prion research the worker and others conduct at five public research institutions in France. Lab accidents are as common as they are dangerous. Continue reading

These journal ads could not run today

Many drug ads in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s would offend today. Continue reading

With covid shutdowns over, can class reunions be far off?

We love to hate class reunions and hate to love them. First of all, they are not a true cross section of the class because only people who did well in life show up–a concept called “survivorship bias” in science. Where are the people who failed economically, professionally, socially, romantically and bodily? They don’t show up! And that’s not counting the people who really can’t show up because they are listed in the In Memoriam section of class handbook. “Those no longer with us” are a wakeup call to how old we are that no one wants to think about. Continue reading

Drug advertising has helped create victim politics

“How dare you suggest I/my son is not sick?” “Stop invalidating the lived experiences of millions of people!” “Able-bodied people like you have no right to report this.” “How dare you suggest my medication has risks?” “You’re not taking my drugs!” Continue reading

The story of how two sisters hurt, hindered, and healed each other

“When my nose was so clotted with blood [from cocaine] that I could not breathe—something that happened routinely—I went to the hospital.” So writes Lisa Scott, half of the sister duo who have authored the new book Hindsight: The Story Of How Two Sisters Hurt, Hindered, And Healed Each Other But this is more than an addiction story. It includes the raw emotions of the non-addicted sister, Sharon Bonanno, who is also buffeted by the forces that cause and result from addiction. Continue reading

Will brick and mortar shopping survive devastating odds?

Brick and mortar stores and shopping malls hit the trifecta in 2020. Internet competition, Covid-19 and looting caused by social unrest. In Chicago, affluent shopping areas remain boarded up while Amazon delivery trucks float down deserted residential streets—stopping at almost every home. Think about that. Continue reading

Was there cancel culture before social media? Yes but it was slower

The cancel culture, rampant today, is defined as punishing public figures for their offensive behavior, whether boycotting their products and franchises or getting them fired. Today, when the Woke, virtuous and outraged demand the head of a miscreant on a platter it not only works, it works quickly thanks to social media. Continue reading

Look at pharma’s recent record before bestowing a crown

The vaccine “halo” that drug makers are currently wearing obscures their track record of selling addictive drugs, overpriced drugs and drugs with dangerous side effects hidden from the public. Continue reading

Trump was on controversial baldness drug

In 2018, President Trump’s doctor disclosed that the president takes finasteride, a drug marketed as Propecia to treat male pattern baldness. While it is tempting to make jokes about Trump’s hair and even the sexual side effects that accompany the drug, it also has many disturbing adverse effects and probably no other men should risk taking the hair drug. Continue reading

Diet drug pulled after red flags

By now, most people are aware of the US obesity statistics. In 2016, almost 70 percent of US adults were obese of overweight says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means normal sized people are in the minority. (Some are even considered “anorexics.”) Continue reading

More brave new food: FDA approves an “innovative animal biotechnology product”

This month the FDA approved the first “intentional genomic alteration” (IGA) in pigs. The “animal biotechnology product” is called a “GalSafe” pig. It is designed to eliminate a substance called “alpha-gal sugar” found on the surface of pigs’ cells that could cause people with Alpha-gal (AGS), syndrome to have allergic reactions to red meat. The recently identified condition of AGS usually begins with a tick bite that sensitizes someone to later allergic reactions to beef, pork, and lamb. Continue reading

Does the chicken price fixing scandal surprise anyone?

The modern chicken industry is among the most egregious in the world. Worker abuse, animal abuse, abuse of small farmers, pollution of waterways, contaminated food products and financial wrongdoing regularly appear in the news. Big fines have no effect on an industry in which one company can make as much as $41 billion a year. Yes billion. Continue reading

Mink strains of COVID show the potential folly of a vaccine

The role of China’s wet markets in producing COVID is ignored for two reasons. Vaccines that Pharma is developing with $1 billion of our tax dollars would be shown to be a fool’s errand as new animal strains erupt from the markets. And wild-eyed conspiracists, when they aren’t exposing Satanic cultists who eat babies, call the virus a “bioweapon” not an outgrowth of animal practices. (Were the animal originated SARS, MERS, Ebola, Avian Flu and HIV also bioweapons conspiracists? How about malaria?) Continue reading

Is Pharma our COVID savior?

The COVID pandemic has given Pharma a temporary halo. Who cares about its prohibitively expensive drugs, the way it hides drug risks, the way that it “sells” diseases through TV ads and “symptom checkers” and the opioid epidemic it created? We need a vaccine and we need it now! Already Pharma has received $1 billion of our hard earned tax dollars to develop COVID vaccines. Continue reading

How concentrated animal feeding operations fuel pandemics

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may be the worst in recent memory but another pandemic occurred just a decade ago. During 2009 and 2010, the world was stricken with H1NI, a novel virus hosted by pigs. Continue reading