SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 30, 2012

DuPont dragging “Imprelis” pain out

More than a year after DuPont pledged to pay homeowners for trees damaged by herbicide Imprelis, many say they’re waiting for their checks

ERIC ALBRECHT DISPATCH PHOTOS Paul Spencer of Five Seasons Landscape Management cuts down a tree damaged by DuPont’s herbicide Imprelis on Alum Creek Drive.

When will DuPont pay up?

By Jim Weiker | THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

More than a year after DuPont announced that it would reimburse homeowners for damage caused by its herbicide Imprelis, Janet DaPrato is still waiting. • She and others have now spent two summers gazing at brown skeletons where healthy trees once stood.

“We have not heard anything yet,” said DaPrato, who said Imprelis damaged six trees at her Northwest Side home. “I really don’t care as much about the money. I just want to change my trees out.”

Homeowners and landscapers worry that time may be running out. If they don’t receive payment soon, they will miss the fall planting season.  “Our clients are getting fed up,” said Mark Wehinger, a partner in Environmental Management Inc., a Dublin landscaper. “Why is this taking so long?”

  • DuPont launched Imprelis in the spring of 2011, billing it as “the most advanced turf herbicide in over 40 years.”

But a month or two after landscapers sprayed Imprelis, nearby trees — especially Norway spruce and white pine –— started browning at the tips. Some withered altogether.

Trees that were near the spots where Imprelis was sprayed began turning brown at the tips within a month or two. DuPont says it received 33,000 requests for compensation.

Last September, the company acknowledged that the herbicide was to blame and agreed to pay for the damage, which the company said was concentrated in seven Midwestern and Eastern states, including Ohio. DuPont gave homeowners and landscapers until Feb. 1 to file claims.

Central Ohio landscapers spent weeks documenting damage to clients’ trees. Each tree was given a claim number, photographed and ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 according to its damage.

  • DuPont said it received about 33,000 claims for reimbursement.

The company said it has sent compensation offers to more than 75 percent of those and expects to send the remaining offers this fall. The offers detail the amount DuPont is willing to pay; if the homeowner accepts the offer, the company will follow with a check. The company said it has begun sending checks but would not say how many.

  • “Resolution of Imprelis damage is a top priority,” Rik Miller, president of DuPont Crop Protection, said in a prepared statement. “This is a complicated process and it takes time to prepare accurate and fair assessments of each property.”
  • DuPont has accrued $490 million in costs from Imprelis problems and expects total charges to reach $575 million, according to the company.

DuPont is not disclosing its compensation rates, but local landscapers say it is a formula based on the size of a tree. Because trees taller than 15 feet are rarely planted, damaged ones that were larger receive premium compensation.

  • Trees with extreme damage (a 4 or 5 on the 1-to-5 scale) would be replaced by a landscaper. Owners of trees with lesser damage would be compensated for fertilizing, pruning and watering in an effort to restore the trees’ health.

Central Ohio landscapers who sprayed Imprelis say their clients have begun receiving offers, though rarely checks.

“We’ve had 30 or so clients who have been contacted by DuPont, but none who have received any money yet,” said Bill Leidecker, president of Five Seasons Landscape Management in Reynolds-burg. “This is a freaking mess.”

Chris Ahlum, an arborist with Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation in Hilliard, said a handful of his clients are just now starting to receive offers.

Landscapers say DuPont’s offers appear fair, with one caveat: They are based on damage estimates from last fall before the full extent of the damage was known.

“Last year, we saw it mainly on evergreen trees, especially white pines and spruces,” Ahlum said. “This year, we’re seeing it a lot more on deciduous trees such as honey-locusts. But I’ve seen it on red maples, on pears, on pretty much any deciduous tree where it was applied.”

Some landscapers have started removing or replacing damaged trees for irate customers, hoping DuPont will eventually pay them.

Homeowners and landscapers frustrated with DuPont have turned to lawyers to seek reimbursement. Thousands have joined a Pennsylvania class-action case against DuPont while others are pursuing different legal avenues.

Richard Schulte, a partner in the Dayton-area firm of Schulte Wright, represents about 300 clients, about 50 of them in Ohio, who are not in the class-action suit. He believes landowners are entitled to more compensation than DuPont is offering.

  • “None of our clients are participating in the settlements because the offers are inadequate,” Schulte said.

Leidecker turned to his insurance company for help after running up a big tab trying to placate his clients.

“We got jerked around like everybody else by DuPont,” Leidecker said. “Our clients were very disturbed; they were really adamant that they might take their maintenance elsewhere. I called my insurance company and said, ‘I’ve got a problem.’”

The insurer agreed to pay Leidecker to replace about 4,000 trees, which Leidecker estimates will cost more than $3million.

Complicating the process is a host of unanswered questions about Imprelis. How long will the soil remain poisoned? Will damaged trees recover? Will problems continue to surface on trees that appeared healthy last fall?

DuPont has asked homeowners to leave the trees alone until they reach a settlement.   If owners must replant, the company says Imprelis is now so diluted in the soil that it is safe.

  • However, Purdue University scientists who have studied Imprelis concluded that the only safe method of replacing trees this year is to remove all roots and soil around the dead tree.

Bernice and Jeffrey Marshall of Delaware left five dead pines along the back of their Delaware property as they waited for a settlement from DuPont.

After repeated calls to DuPont, the couple received a check in August to replace the trees.

The couple consider the settlement fair, although they worry about whether new pines will thrive in the soil.

“Will these trees be damaged? I don’t know what the half-life of this chemical is,” said Bernice Marshall. “But after a year of looking at dead trees, I just want to move on.” jweiker@dispatch.com

(Wouldn’t one think that DuPont would have moved on this miserable problem in a more timely manner?    Had Public Relations been just a tad more important to them,  somehow the paperwork could have been shuffled just a little swifter.   After all, public companies are required to carry liability insurance – – right?      Agreed it’s not like losing a loved one, but this is people’s  homes which they  generally do love very much.  Sad for everyone including the company – – it is a given that a grave error occurred someplace.   Jan)

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FL GOP Voter scandal

(I don’t generally get into stuff like this. . . we are so inundated with all the political ins and outs.  Who isn’t sick of it all?     But when I think of all the turbulence this has caused in almost every state in the union;  all the effort and money spent to steal off this election by making it hard or impossible for many to even vote -primarily those with pigmented skin, because as the thinking goes – – they’re just gonna vote for Obama – – we’ll fix that!  That may be the cause area, but the justification has been because of “voter fraud”.  It has been well concluded – there is no or hardly any voter fraud found anywhere,  til now.     And, it’s just too sad,  it’s coming from what used to be our Grand old Party, now the radical right.    I’m gonna be so glad to see this year close.    Jan)

FLORIDA GOP

Scandal of voter signups widens

By Gary Fineout ASSOCIATED PRESS

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county now has spread statewide, with election officials in nine counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter-registration forms filled out on behalf of the state Republican Party.

Republican officials already have fired the vendor hired to register voters, and they took the additional step of filing an election-fraud complaint with state officials against the company, Strategic Allied Consulting.    “We are doing what we can to find out how broad the scope is,” said Brian Burgess, spokesman for Florida’s GOP.

The Florida Democratic Party called on the state to “revoke” the ability of state Republicans to continue to register voters while the investigation continues. The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election is Oct. 9.

“It is clear that the Republican Party of Florida does not have the institutional controls in place to be trusted as a third-party, voter-registration organization,” said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.

The state Republican Party has paid Strategic Allied Consulting more than $1.3 million, and the Republican National Committee has used the group for work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.

  • The company said this week that it is cooperating with elections officials in Florida. It said the suspect forms were turned in by one person, who has been fired.
  • In Florida, it is a third-degree felony to “willfully submit” false voter-registration information, a crime punishable by five years in prison.

In recent years, Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature — citing suspicious voter-registration forms turned in by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN — has cracked down on groups holding voter-registration drives.

The League of Women Voters filed a federal lawsuit against some of the restrictions, and Florida agreed this month to drop a new requirement that registration applications be turned in within 48 hours after they are signed. The state has reinstated a 10-day deadline.

The questionable forms tied to the Republican Party have showed up in southern Florida, including Miami-Dade County, and in counties in southwestern and northeastern Florida and the Panhandle.

Serving the “flock”

Epistle by Chicago pastor a must-read

BOB RAY SANDERS

A recent column about black preachers who won’t vote for President Barack Obama because of his stance on same-sex marriage stirred up a storm of discussion about ministerial leadership, gay marriage and the separation of church and state.

Without trying to reignite the debate, there is an eloquent treatise on the subject that every preacher, congregant and voter ought to read.

A prominent pastor in east Fort Worth called my attention to the open letter to black clergy written by the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

If the name of that church rings a bell, it is because it’s the one Obama attended for 20 years before withdrawing his membership in 2008 after an uproar over statements by then-Pastor Jeremiah Wright. And, no, I’m not going to talk about Wright except to say that most of his remarks were taken out of context.

In his letter urging people not to stay away from the polls in November, Moss begins with a pointed thesis:

“Tell your brethren who are part of your ministerial coalition to ‘live their faith and not legislate their faith’ for the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of all.

“We must learn to be more than a one-issue community and see the beloved community where we may not all agree, but we all recognize the fingerprint of the Divine upon all of humanity.”

  • Written in May after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex unions, Moss’ letter goes on to say: “The question I believe we should pose to our congregations is, ‘Should all Americans have the same civil rights?’

“This is a radically different question than the one you raised with the ministers, ‘Does the church have a right to perform or not perform certain religions rites.’ There is a difference between rights and rites.”

  • The minister proclaims: “The institution of marriage is not under attack as a result of the president’s words.

“Marriage was under attack years ago by men who viewed women as property and children as trophies of sexual prowess.

  • “Marriage is under attack by low wages, high incarceration, unfair tax policy, unemployment and lack of education.

“Marriage is under attack by clergy who proclaim monogamy yet think nothing of stepping outside the bonds of marriage to have multiple affairs with ‘preaching groupies.’”

Noting the long struggle for freedom and civil rights, and the fact that his father never had the chance to vote, Reverand Moss said that “it is my sacred duty to pull the lever for every member of my family who was denied the right to vote.

  • “I will not allow narrow-minded ministers or regressive politicians the satisfaction of keeping me from my sacred right to vote to shape the future for my grandchildren.”

Moss said that Obama is expected to be president of all the people in the country, “not the president of the Baptist Convention or bishop of the Sanctified or Holiness Church.

“He is called to protect the rights of Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, gay and straight, black and white, atheist and agnostic.”

He added, “If we dare steal away from the noise of this debate we will realize as a church we are called to ‘Do justice, live mercy and walk humbly with God.’

“Gay people have never been the enemy, and when we use rhetoric to suggest they are the source of our problems, we lie on God and cause tears to flow from the eyes of Christ.”

Amen, and amen.

Bob Ray Sanders writes for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. bobray@star-telegram.com

(I agree,  this is a concept worth honoring.  And very beautiful.   Jan)

September 29, 2012

Hip Pain (osteo) gone 3 mos

(Donna Eden’s e-letter of 9-23-12 contained this account of one lady’s marvelous conclusion of three months of Eden Energy Medicine (exercises) which successfully rid her of years of suffering with a pain which was contained, but wouldn’t go away or get better, with this simple, easy to do few exercises.     It shames me.  I have this same problem only I won’t take BIG PhRMA’s meds for it – I just tap using EFT.  This keeps me moving  and I can generally offset pain to one degree or another.  Sometimes, it worries me when it interferes with getting up and down.   
But,  I have both of these books and I can’t help but think  – –  that could be me..  Donna Eden is a veritable Goddess who helped so many people.  Why on earth don’t I take the time to just go do it?    Well,  I think it’s time old girl. .  .  .  Jan)

Complete Reversal of Osteoporosis after Three Months of Daily Energy Exercises

Energy Medicine by Donna Eden

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 Francine Weigand was diagnosed with osteoporosis in her left hip. The disease was controlled with medication for the next three years, with no improvement, but also no further deterioration. At that point, Francine attended a five-day Basic Eden Energy Medicine (EEM) Training in Santa Fe, NM. Donna gave her specific recommendations, which Francine did on a daily basis. Three months later, a new bone density scan showed no signs of the disease and no problems at all with the hip bone.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones lose mass and deteriorate structurally, becoming fragile and more likely to break. There is no medical cure, though there are medicines that can be used to stop or slow the progression of the deterioration. Any bone can be affected, but the increased susceptibility to fracture is especially noticeable in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Francine was diagnosed with osteoporosis in her left hip at the age of 41.  She’d gone to the doctor because she’d received a notice that bone density scans were now available through her insurance plan. While she did not realize that she had osteoporosis, she did occasionally have trouble sleeping due to pain in her hip, which she attributed to an earlier sports injury.

The primary care physician she saw ordered the bone density scan and, based on the results, made a preliminary diagnosis of osteoporosis. This was unusual because of Francine’s young age and the fact that the osteoporosis only presented in one hip. At the suggestion of her doctor, she went to see a specialist at Mass General in Boston. He ordered another bone scan to verify the diagnosis. He confirmed that Francine did, indeed, have osteoporosis in her left hip.

The only treatment available was medication–either Alendronate (brand name Fosamax) or Risedronate (brand name Actonel). She had a bad reaction on Fosamax and reluctantly started the Actonel.

One year later, a follow-up bone scan showed that progression of the disease had been arrested, but there was no improvement in the density of the bone. Francine returned annually for two more years and got essentially the same report: no deterioration, but no improvement either.

In November 2006, Francine attended the five-day EEM seminar in Santa Fe and was brought up on stage. Donna demonstrated the impact of Triple Warmer, showing how not only Spleen but other meridians can be depleted by too much Triple Warmer. In Francine’s case, there was a weakness in Kidney meridian. Donna also showed her how the Nine-Hearts exercise can energize the Radiant Circuits to help strengthen Spleen meridian.

But there was more. As Francine describes it: “With a quick glance from Donna, she asked if I had problems with my bones on the left side of my body. As you can imagine, I was shocked that she knew this just by looking at me!” Francine described her condition to Donna and after the demonstration, Donna suggested that Francine do the following homework at least once a day: Daily Energy Routine, flush Kidney meridian, flush Circulation/Sex meridian, flush Lung meridian, and do the Nine-Hearts exercise.

Francine did routines daily. In February 2007, just three months later, she had another bone scan. This time, the scan revealed no signs of the disease, so her primary care physician advised her to get off the medication right away. However, the doctor was not open to the suggestion that EEM may have had something to do with the reversal, suggesting instead that it was probably a misdiagnosis from the beginning. But after Francine asked her to review the original scans, her physician did admit that the earlier scans had shown evidence of the disease. The doctor just “shrugged her shoulders,” Francine said, unable to offer any explanation for the sudden change.

Needless to say, Francine is elated. No more drugs, and the pain in her hip was gone! In her words: “I wish more doctors and nurses were open to working with energy instead of jumping to medications that give little hope.”

(Compiled by Jeff Armstrong, June 2008)

 (Eden Energy Medicine is so powerful that I have put up several of her monthly letters to share because I am so impressed with what she does. But until I get a better organized system, guess we all have to suffer together.  Was able to find one of my favorites about a Mystery Headache (5-07-12) and how one of her advanced practitioners handled it.  I was so taken with it that  went to that practitioners site and bookmarked her site so that I could return daily and practice the routines which interested me.    Then of course,  YouTube is loaded with Donna’s video snippets as well.  If others are somewhat like me,  You kinda need to SEE stuff in order to effectively do it.  . . just sayin’. . .    .   Jan)

September 28, 2012

Pill Abuse on Foster-kids

PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS

State is tackling pills for foster kids

By Catherine Candisky THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Nearly 1 in 4 foster children in Ohio has been prescribed mind-altering drugs.

In Ohio and across the country, foster children are more likely than other youngsters to be prescribed psychotropic drugs, which can bring serious health risks and side effects. The medications also are expensive, costing millions to the tax-funded Medicaid program that insures foster children.

Yesterday, state officials announced a $1 million initiative to improve psychotropic-drug management by closely monitoring prescriptions and improving coordination of physical and mental-health care for Ohio’s 12,000 children insured through Medicaid.

  • “The rate of prescribing has gone up, but it’s not clear that the rate of mental illness has gone up to the same extent,” said Dr. Mary Apple-gate, medical director for Ohio’s Medicaid program.
  • “We are seeing kids who are taking two or three or four of the same type of drug at the same time.”

The effort comes about a year after a federal report based on a two-year investigation found higher prescription rates among foster children.

Psychotropic medications are used to treat mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder. Although foster children tend to have a higher prevalence of such ailments because of a greater likelihood of trauma and stress, usage still appears too high.

Pam Harris of Greene County said her 13-year-old son was on eight medications at one point, and she was overwhelmed trying to coordinate care by pediatricians and psychiatrists while she looked after him.

“The pediatrician wants to prescribe to help keep everyone safe, and then we may wait six weeks to see the psychiatrist. They don’t coordinate, and it’s frustrating to see the side effects,” Harris said. “I asked the psychiatrist about side effects and he said ‘Ask the pediatrician.’ I asked the pediatrician and he said ‘Ask the psychiatrist.’” Then 5, her son suffered tremors and other problems after he started taking medication for what doctors believed was an attention-deficit disorder. When his behavior turned aggressive, he was given more drugs and immediately gained 10 pounds. Problems persisted, and he had to move out to ensure the safety of his siblings.

“Any parent or caregiver of a child with severe emotional disorder facing the prospects of having their child or foster child placed on psychotic medications struggles with very mixed feelings,” said Terry Russell, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio.

“On one hand, knowing that such medications can literally be lifesaving … and improve their child and their family’s quality of life. … On the other hand, parents are also fearful because they know such medications can cause serious side effects if they are not properly used or monitored.”

Advocates for children and the mentally ill joined state officials at a Statehouse news conference yesterday to support the initiative, saying it will help ensure safe use of psychotropic drugs and improve overall care.

“Through the initiative, the state will determine which children are receiving more than two psychotropic drugs at a time, their ages and their diagnosis, the maximum dosage, dosage for children,” said Crystal Ward Allen, executive director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

  • “These are all big unknowns, and it’s often a challenge in the child-welfare system to be the custodian without the medical expertise.”

State officials said they will monitor prescriptions of such drugs and inform doctors when multiple medications have been prescribed or when safe dosage has been exceeded. Often,   Applegate said, more than one doctor is involved in a child’s care because a child moved, and the physician is unaware of other prescriptions.

Last year, taxpayers spent nearly $37.7 million on prescription-drug costs for foster children, with some prescriptions costing as much as $500 a month. Officials have not projected any savings through the initiative, but avoiding duplicative prescriptions, lowering usage of such medications and increasing use of alternative treatments such as counseling will reduce costs.

ccandisky@dispatch.com

(This is so tragic, that helpless children can be the victims of “poor treatment” and what I think of as “abuse”/    Emotional and mental processes are disrupted and damaged by the use of drugs like this.  It is a tragedy.  Genuine care and concern – real help is missing.    Jan)

@ccandisky

Lake Erie’s Euclid Beach alert

Second Lake Erie beach has toxic algae

By Spencer Hunt THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Summer-like weather might be behind us, but toxic, blue-green algae are still sticking around.

State officials posted a new warning at Cleveland Lakefront State Park’s Euclid Beach this month.

A Sept. 17 water test detected a liver toxin in the water, prompting officials to issue a warning four days later that swimming and wading are not recommended for older people, young children and those with weak immune systems.

Euclid is the second Lake Erie beach to get an algae warning this summer, following the beach at Maumee Bay State Park.

  • Similar warnings have been posted at Grand Lake St. Marys and three Buckeye Lake beaches.
  • Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, are common in most Ohio lakes and streams but grow thick in water polluted with phosphorus from fertilizers, manure and sewage. Heat and still conditions also help them grow.

The algae can produce as many as four liver and nerve toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

shunt@dispatch.com

(Jan’s Comment:   

This problem has known causes and we are all aware of it, but the causes are not faced or dealt with in an honest, straight-forward manner. It is the way “Agribusiness is done in these advanced, modern times.  Progress, sadly,  is not always better.   Certainly one can’t blame the rains this year as the lack of rain has been a destructive influence to our farmers with many destroyed crops.  It IS THE CHEMICALS.

Traditional farming techniques – the way  farming has always been done back throughout recorded history has survived very well through all kinds of weather with the simplest of methods globally practiced.   Farming was never meant to be dependent on chemicals.  Observation of the way things works can easily be seen  – – Nature wastes nothing, everything  is recycled.   The soil remained rich because  spent crops were tilled back into the earth;    crops were rotated keeping bacterial variety and quantity varied and high – HEALTHY.  The soil was fragrant and rich, teeming with life, the worms adding to the overall economy.  With such a fertile environment, the food produced was totally organic and loaded with dense nutritive value which sustained life of all species, most especially, our own.  Now, we must pay extra to buy “Organic” food if we wish to have a chance at having a healthy life or to enjoy great taste.

This is not some ancient history I speak of here – just 50 years ago – all food was organic.  Likewise with our meats.  Cattle and chickens etc were not “factory farmed,” but meadow  raised and grass fed.  Corn was never a proper food for animals.   The manure generated by these animals was also a welcome and useful part of farming.  It was rich in fertile texture and content and was a vital part of the organic farming scene.   Corn changes the animals body structure and debases their health.  The fat of beef as an example was healthy for us to eat as it contained much higher rates of Omega 3 fats which was far better for humans for this is the kind of fat we need to maintain good health.  Modern man is getting far too much of the Omega 6 fats from both the animals fat (chicken included because of the corn), and the processed oils found in most of any prepared foods which Americans are prone to eat.    We would be so much better off if we would limit our fat intake to fish oil,  extra virgin Olive Oil (check out the post on Olive Oil),  or coconut oil.

With regard to the pollution of our waterways and the elegant Great Lakes, one of our greatest treasures,  they seem to be stuck in permanent deterioration.   Probably no amount of further “chemical addition” will fix this massive problem, because it will still be more chemicals which do not sustain life.  They are synthetic, not life enhancing.  I appear to be hammering on Monsanto etal once again.  They are a large part of what is wrong with our American way of life.   But then, I feel the same way about pharmaceuticals.  Laboratory made synthetics, not life sustaining nutriment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Corporations should not be allowed to mess things up, create havoc or harm – and just ignore the consequences.  They should be forced to pay to correct their errors.  Monsanto’s desire to control the food sources of the world has been wrong-headed from the beginning.  Yet they have been allowed to get away with it.  Genetic Modification is one of the most frightening concepts to cross into reality in my life time.  It has made me give up many of my favorite foods and corn is one – – I love corn.  Almost all Soy is GMO – – I won’t touch it – even fermented, because its genetically altered and dangerous.  Mostly the corn is also G. E. food.  Then of course, there’s the seeds – again, genetically modified.  Hard to find any legitimate “heritage” seeds.   No one in the world should be allowed to do to people what Monsanto has done.  No-one.     Jan)

September 27, 2012

Jessica, one more time

It’s true that a post was done on this young lady Jessica Bowen September 14, 2012  laying out her experience.   It was good to hear her story, it was certainly meaningful.   I am putting this one up also because it is Jessica relating in person almost face to face over  the kitchen table what she actually went through.   In truth, so little “choice”  was given to her, even though she pointedly asked about her options.  It breaks your heart.  

Any who have read my thinking on why I blog, will understand that my preference is always first and foremost, natural ways to use Nature’s own herbs and potions – the wonders of the plant kingdom.  .  .   that which is organic and totally natural, for herein, there is not toxic aftertaste or side effect,  no scarring or missing parts to mourn.  Not overly complicated;  just stop doing what is harmful, give the body what it needs to function harmoniously and allow the body to heal itself, for it always will.   Bounty, harmony, beauty and joy. . . all part of the whole.    Jan

Star McDougaller: Jessica Bowen

Fluoride debate Heats Up

The Fluoride Debate Heats Up and Finally Gets Some Media Attention

(I have droned on about Fluoride  til I’m sick of it, yet it won’t go away – there are too many vested interests, obviously.   From the highest echelons right down to the dentists and doctors – sorry, I’m not as charitable as our guest speaker.  Why do I keep doing this?  Because  we ALL must resist being poisoned. . . it is the collective voices of us all which will not be ignored.   This is a contributor to Alzheimer as well folks, and most of us do care a lot about that.  The babies and all our children for so many decades now.  Gotta stop.    Jan)

Oregon Water Fluoridation The Sad Truth About a Beverage You “Should” Drink Every Day   Oregon Water Fluoridation
This contentious issue is now in the media around the world — but will you really learn the truth there? Discover how their studies mask the real truth, how it increases your taxes and decreases your health, and much more. Is there a way to escape its pernicious effects?

Story at-a-glance

  • On September 12, the City Council of Portland, Oregon approved the plan to add fluoride to the water supply, despite opposition from a clear majority of the residents
  • The debate about water fluoridation has heated up on multiple fronts, and discussions have finally spilled into the media. In September, Dr. Paul Connett debated a forced-fluoridation lobbyist
  • In New Zealand, the Council of the Royal Society made a sudden about-face, declaring it would not include water fluoridation in its current work program after initially issuing a call for relevant research to be included in a new risk-benefit analysis
  • Citizens in Cornwall, Canada, and Phoenix, Arizona are currently pressuring their city councils to re-evaluate the issue of water fluoridation

Toxic floors for Kids

Floors that Can Make You and Your Children Sick

Story at-a-glance

  • Soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as vinyl or those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens, too), are typically made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contain dangerous phthalates
  • A new study conducted by Swedish researchers found levels of certain phthalates were higher in the urine of babies that had PVC flooring on their bedroom floor
  • PVC flooring has been linked to chronic diseases, including allergies, asthma and autism
  • The phthalates emitted from PVC floors are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive “gender-bending” effects that are particularly dangerous to infants and children
  • When choosing flooring materials for your home, and especially for your child’s bedroom, avoid PVC whenever possible
play-mat floors health risks
September 26 2012 | 109,527 views
By Dr. Mercola

You’ve probably given careful consideration to the food your children consume on a daily basis. But what about the other environmental influences they’re exposed to on a near 24/7 basis, such as the materials in their living space and, more specifically, your flooring?

It is likely no one in your home is more familiar with your floor than young children or toddlers living there, as this is where they spend a good deal of time – exploring, playing and learning the ropes of life.

As they crawl, their hands (that will later end up in their mouths) sweep across the surface, and their faces are in close proximity to the material itself, and any emissions that have accumulated in household dust.

Toxic chemicals, including some that are so dangerous to children they have been banned from toys, are widely used in popular flooring materials, and new research shows that these chemicals can be taken up by infants’ bodies as they crawl along on the floor.

Serious Risks from PVC Flooring Revealed

If your home contains soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as vinyl or those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens, too), there’s a good chance it is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One of the main problems with PVC is that it contains phthalates, or “plasticizers,” which are a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like PVC more flexible and resilient.

They’re also one of the most pervasive endocrine disrupters so far discovered. A new study conducted by Swedish researchers found levels of certain phthalates were higher in the urine of babies that had PVC flooring on their bedroom floor.1

Researchers concluded:

“The findings indicate that the use of soft PVC as flooring material may increase the human uptake of phthalates in infants. Urinary levels of phthalate metabolites during early life are associated with the use of PVC flooring in the bedroom, body area, and the use of infant formula.

This study shows that the uptake of phthalates is not only related to oral uptake from, for example, food but also to environmental factors such as building materials. This new information should be considered when designing indoor environments, especially for children.”

This is not the first time PVC flooring has made headlines. Past research has linked it to increased levels of phthalates in household dust, which in turn is linked to chronic health conditions like allergies and asthma. One study also found that infants who lived in bedrooms with vinyl floors were twice as likely to have autism as infants with wood flooring.2

What You Need to Know About PVC Flooring Chemicals

Along with common uses in PVC flooring, phthalates are also commonly found in toys, food packaging, shower curtains, plastic medical equipment, household cleaners, cosmetics and personal care products.

According to a report by Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), studies have shown women of childbearing age have significantly higher phthalate exposures than other adults (could this be because they also use the most cosmetics?), and the chemical has been detected in 100 percent of pregnant women tested.3 It’s known that fetal exposure to phthalates is closely related to maternal exposure, so many, if not all, babies are starting out with exposure in the womb.

In childhood, children are further exposed to phthalates in consumer products ranging from toys, pacifiers and food packaging to personal care products and crawling on vinyl flooring. The chemicals are known to be a major source of indoor air pollution as well, as they are emitted from numerous household goods, including not only flooring but also furniture, upholstery, mattresses and wall coverings.

Phthalates have even been detected in infant formula and baby food, likely because they migrated from the packaging materials. This likely explains why the Swedish researchers found that certain phthalate levels were lower in 2-month-old babies if they were exclusively breastfed, with no supplements.

It’s alarming that children are being exposed to so many phthalates, from so many sources, as these are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive “gender-bending” effects, including:

Disturbed lactation Decreased dysgenesis syndrome: A syndrome involving cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), hypospadias (birth defect in which opening of urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the end), and oligospermia (low sperm count), and testicular cancer
Interference with sexual differentiation in utero Enlarged prostate glands
Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS) Numerous hormonal disruptions
Early or delayed puberty Breast cancer and uterine fibroids

Why Premature Babies May be Most at Risk

The sad truth is that most babies are likely starting off with a toxic chemical load due to their mom’s chemical burden. However, premature babies get a particularly rough start due to the high concentrations of phthalates they’re exposed to in the plastic medical equipment used during neonatal intensive care. With each plastic tube that a newborn is hooked up to, the rate of phthalate exposure increases. And for those premature infants who spend weeks and months in the neonatal intensive care unit, the exposure levels can be extraordinary.

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned, DEHP can be found in:4

IV tubing and IV bags Nasogastric tubes
Umbilical artery catheters Tubing used in cardiopulmonary bypass procedures (CPB)
Blood bags and infusion tubing Ventilator tubing
Enteral nutrition feeding bags Tubing used during hemodialysis

In fact, these medical devices can contain 20 to 40 percent Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP, a type of phthalate) by weight – and IV tubing can contain up to 80 percent! DEHP is not bound to the vinyl. It readily leaches out of these medical devices (the tubing or bag) into the solutions that come into contact with the plastic, where it then goes directly into you or your child.

The degree of this leaching depends on the temperature, the lipid content of the solution, agitation of the solution, and the duration of its contact with the plastic (i.e., storage time). Of course, the more medical procedures your child requires, the higher the exposure to this chemical. So, babies who are seriously ill and hospitalized have the greatest risk of exposure, as well as being the most vulnerable to its effects.

EHHI found that male infants exposed to phthalates through medical procedures are most at risk of suffering health effects,5 which include excessive inflammation.

Inflammation is known to trigger a number of diseases in premature babies, including a chronic lung disorder known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious intestinal condition. After their initial onslaught with chemicals in the hospital, they will then go home, where, unfortunately, the chemical exposure often continues.

September 26, 2012

Debt collector targets innocent

LINK TO ADULT WEBSITES

Debt collector targeted innocent

DeWine: Firm used nasty tactics to collect on fraudulent charges

By Jill Riepenhoff and Mike Wagner THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The Ohio debt-collection company now in the cross hairs of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has been squeezing victims of credit-card fraud for years for illegal charges racked up by others on adult websites.

The victims include a 74-yearold Virginia lawyer, a 90-year-old Missouri grandmother and a university administrator who needed help from attorneys general in two states to clear his name.

More than 400 consumers across the country have complained to DeWine’s office and the Better Business Bureau since 2009 about Collection and Recovery Bureau, based in the Toledo suburb of Sylvania.

  • All told identical stories: They were harassed, cursed at and threatened with ruined credit, lawsuits or jail if they didn’t pay debts they didn’t owe.

Those consumers likely represent just a fraction of people who have fallen prey to the company. A man who said he worked for CRB posted on an Internet complaint board in 2011 that the company collected on 20,000 accounts each month.

Consumer advocates fear that many people paid the debt just to make the problem go away because they didn’t want to be associated with pornography.

The Dispatch discovered CRB’s suspect business practices during an investigation into rogue debt collectors who are using the nation’s flawed credit-reporting system to place fraudulent, erroneous and questionable debts on consumers’ credit reports. At the same time, DeWine’s office was closing in on the company.

  • DeWine sued CRB on Thursday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, charging that its practices have violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.
  • “Their methods with consumers have been unfair and deceptive,” DeWine said. “And these kinds of practices have to be stopped.”

In a telephone interview with The Dispatch on Wednesday, President Ron Burnard said he closed the company and fired its seven employees on Aug. 31 because it had become too expensive to operate in the current regulatory climate. He also said that the attorney general’s investigation had no bearing on his decision.

“We decided to get out of the collection business after 10 years. For a small business, the regulatory environment is too tough,” Burnard said.

The CRB website also was shuttered. However, a recording at its phone number last week says “ERS,” and gives extensions for Burnard and others who worked for CRB. Burnard had no explanation for the new phone greeting.

  • Burnard founded the debt-buying and -collecting company in 2002 and carved a niche in the marketplace: buying debt from adult websites for pennies on the dollar.
  • CRB bought portfolios of debt that had been charged back — or returned — to adult websites by credit-card companies because they were fraudulent purchases. CRB then pursued the consumers who were defrauded.

The Dispatch spoke with dozens of consumers who said they were harassed relentlessly by CRB. Most were embarrassed that their names were connected to sex websites.

“(CRB) has committed unfair, deceptive acts or practices by engaging in any conduct to harass, oppress or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt,” the state’s lawsuit charges.

  • CRB is not the only debt-collection company that buys charged-back debt, but no one really knows how widespread the practice is.

DeWine and consumer advocates are alarmed by the business model because innocent people are finding the fraudulent, charged-back debts in their credit reports.

“It’s a concern. The practice is unconscionable,” DeWine said.

Robert J. Hobbs, deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center, put it bluntly: “It’s basically a blackmail tactic.”

The CRB story is part of the Dispatch’s ongoing investigation into problems with the U.S. credit-reporting system. The first installment of Credit Scars, a three-part series on Dispatch.com/credit,  found that mistakes on credit reports have inflicted widespread damage on consumers. Errors range from misspelled names to mixed reports in which multiple people are blended into a single credit profile.

In the past 2 1/2 years, the Ohio attorney general’s office has logged more than 11,300 consumer complaints against 3,101 debt-collection companies, a Dispatch analysis shows.

CRB has received more complaints than any other Ohio-based debt collector and trailed only Minnesota-based Allied Interstate, which last year paid a $150,000 fine to DeWine’s office for pursuing consumers who did not owe debts.

Nearly 85 percent of the complaints against Allied were received before DeWine sued the company in August 2011. By comparison, two-thirds of the complaints against CRB have been logged since January 2011.

The Better Business Bureau of Northwest Ohio also frequently heard complaints from consumers about CRB — 163 of them in the past three years.

When contacted by the attorney general’s office or the BBB on behalf of a consumer, the company almost always said they had made an innocent mistake and would cease collections.

“They are smart enough to know to respond,” said Dick Epstein of the Toledo-area BBB. “They know if they just keep their nose clean with the AG and the BBB … they can operate with impunity.”

While CRB employees communicated often with officials, they virtually ignored federal lawsuits consumers filed against the company.

A Colorado man won a $3,437 default judgment against the company for pursuing him on a chargeback to an online dating website called Adult Crowd. “They bully people and most just pay it,” said Jill Gookin, the man’s attorney. “The whole debt-collection industry is just nasty.”

  • Gookin’s client fought back and won last year but has yet to see a dime from CRB.

Hundreds of other consumers turned to DeWine.

Joshua Morgan was among them.

About once a week, a quiet dinner with his wife would be interrupted by the same phone call, one that would make Morgan lose his appetite.

A woman representing CRB would leave a message at the speed of an auctioneer’s voice claiming the Pittsburgh man owed $64.95, including a $25 fee, for using some type of web-based porn service.

“They were trying to scare me into paying,” Morgan said. “That charge didn’t belong to me and was a fraud on my account. No way was I going to just pay.”

Morgan, 31, a university computer administrator, first noticed the $39.95 charge on his Bank of America credit card in August 2009. He called the bank and explained that the charge was fraudulent. Someone had accessed an email address created back when he was in high school. Morgan signed an affidavit with the credit-card company, which agreed that the charge was phony and removed it from his account.

Morgan thought the ordeal was over until May 2010, when he received the first of many phone calls from CRB. It was around the same time that he and his new wife were on the verge of buying their first home.

“My heart sank, and it made me sick,” he said. “I feared this thing would end up on my credit report and cause me to lose my mortgage or have to pay more.”

He explained to CRB that the charge was deleted from his account by Bank of America and that he had an affidavit from the credit-card company.

But CRB ignored the explanation and continued to hound him for months with calls and letters.

Investigators from Bank of America’s fraud unit advised Morgan to not pay the charge. He filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, which got directly involved in the case but was unsuccessful in getting the company to stop contacting Morgan.

The dispute was then transferred to the Ohio attorney general’s office, which also intervened.

The letters and calls finally stopped, and Morgan hasn’t heard from the company since the summer of 2011. The charge never made it on to his credit report.

Morgan said he was thrilled when he learned that CRB was being targeted by DeWine’s office.

“I hate that company with everything I have,” Morgan said. “I would tell the world this story if it meant they can’t keep doing this to other people.”

In most cases, one letter from DeWine’s office was all that was needed to halt the harassment.

The consumers who challenged CRB said they initially didn’t know where to turn or how to defend themselves, until they found online a consumer-protection notice from DeWine’s office.

“I kept that letter from Mr. DeWine in my pickup truck,” said Charles McCall, an offshoreman for an oil company in Acme, La. “I about had a seizure when I saw the porn charge on my credit card. I figure that letter brought me luck with getting rid of it, so I kept it.”

Francis Biros, a retired contract attorney from Vienna, Va., credits DeWine’s office for keeping him out of trouble with more than a collection agency.

“I never used that sex service or whatever that thing was, but what if my wife had seen that false claim before I did?” said Biros, 74. “If I even thought about doing something like that, I’d be in big trouble. It’s not right people have to go through all that trouble.” jriepenhoff@dispatch.com   @JRiep mwagner@dispatch.com   @MikeWagner48

• Read the full Dispatch series at Dispatch.com/credit  .

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