Monday, December 29, 2014

Experimental treatment uses immune system to fight Cancer - Immunotherpy coming in US in 2015

Experimental treatment uses immune system to fight cancer -  Immunotherpy finally coming to US.  Clinical trials coming in 2015 through Avaxis for metastatic Cancers.

Scanning electron micrograph of a human T lymphocyte (also called a T cell) from the immune system of a healthy donor. Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The immune system’s natural capacity to detect and destroy abnormal cells may prevent the development of many cancers. However, some cancers are able to avoid detection and destruction by the immune system. They may produce signals that reduce the immune system’s ability to detect and kill tumor cells, or they may have changes that make it harder for the immune system to recognize and target them.

Immunotherapies are treatments that restore or enhance the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. In just the past few years, the rapidly advancing field of cancer immunology has produced several new methods of treating cancer that increase the strength of immune responses against tumors. These therapies either stimulate the activities of specific components of the immune system or counteract signals produced by cancer cells that suppress immune responses.

The journal Science designated "immunotherapy of cancer" as its Breakthrough of the Year in 2013 to recognize the progress made in this area. These advances are the result of long-term basic scientific research on the immune system.

Additional research is underway to:

  • increase our understanding of what enables immunotherapy to work in some patients but not in others who have the same cancer
  • expand the use of immunotherapy to more types of cancer
  • better understand how to use immunotherapies in combination with targeted therapies and other standard treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Immune Checkpoint Modulators

One immunotherapy approach is to block the activity of certain proteins that limit the strength of immune responses. These proteins normally keep immune responses in check to prevent overly strong responses that might damage normal cells as well as abnormal cells. In cancer cells, these "checkpoint" proteins may be abnormal and may help tumors to evade the immune response.

Blocking one of these checkpoint proteins could lift the brakes on the immune system, enabling it to destroy cancer cells. The first immune checkpoint modulator to gain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval is called ipilimumab (Yervoy). This immunotherapy drug, a monoclonal antibody, blocks the activity of a checkpoint protein called CTLA4 and has been approved to treat advanced melanoma.

Immune Cell Therapy

An experimental form of immunotherapy is adoptive cell transfer (ACT). In one form of ACT, cytotoxic T cells that have invaded a patient’s tumor, called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), are harvested. The cells with the greatest antitumor activity are selected, and large populations of these cells are grown in the laboratory and activated with cytokines. The cells are then infused back into the patient.

The idea is that TILs already have the ability to target tumor cells but may not be present in sufficient amounts to exert an antitumor effect. If the activity of the TILs is being suppressed by the tumor cells, it may be possible to overcome that suppression by exposing the tumor to massive amounts of activated TILs.

In another form of ACT, often referred to as CAR therapy, a patient’s T cells are collected from their blood and genetically modified to express hybrid proteins called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) before they are expanded and infused into the patient. The CAR allows the cells to attach to specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells, which activates the T cells to attack those cells.

Cancer Treatment Vaccines

The use of cancer treatment (or therapeutic) vaccines is another approach to immunotherapy. These vaccines are usually made from a patient’s own tumor cells or from substances taken from tumor cells. They are designed to treat cancers that have already developed by strengthening the body’s natural defenses against the cancer. Treatment vaccines may act in any of several ways:

  • to delay or stop the growth of cancer cells
  • to cause tumor shrinkage
  • to prevent cancer from coming back
  • to eliminate cancer cells that have not been killed by other forms of treatment

Developing effective cancer treatment vaccines requires a detailed understanding of how immune system cells and cancer cells interact. To be effective, cancer treatment vaccines must stimulate specific immune responses against the correct target. The immune responses must also be powerful enough to overcome the barriers that cancer cells use to protect themselves from attack by B cells and killer T cells.

Recent advances in understanding how cancer cells escape recognition and attack by the immune system are now giving researchers the knowledge required to design cancer treatment vaccines that can accomplish both goals.

In 2010, the FDA approved the first cancer treatment vaccine, sipuleucel-T (Provenge), for use in some men with metastatic prostate cancer.

Immune-Modifying Agents

Yet another type of immunotherapy uses immune-modifying agents, such as cytokines, antibodies, and growth factors, to enhance the body’s immune response against cancer. Cytokines are signaling proteins that are produced by white blood cells, and they help regulate immune responses. Two types of cytokines are used to treat patients with cancer: interferons and interleukins.

Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute, developed the first effective immunotherapies and gene therapies for patients with advanced cancer.

Immune-modifying agents may work through different mechanisms. A type of interferon, for example, enhances a patient’s immune response to cancer cells by activating certain white blood cells, such as natural killer cells and dendritic cells. Recent advances in understanding how cytokines stimulate immune cells could enable the development of more effective immunotherapies and combinations of these agents.

Research at NCI

Immunotherapy research at NCI is done across the institute and spans the continuum from basic science discoveries to clinical research applications.

The Center of Excellence in Immunology (CEI) brings together researchers from across NCI and other NIH institutes to foster the discovery, development, and delivery of immunotherapy approaches to prevent and treat cancer and cancer-associated viral diseases.

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Related Resources

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Simpler Times, A Groetzmeier Christmas – 2014

The 1950’s and early 1960’s were simpler times allowing holidays, family traditions and faith to take their full and proper place in the hearts and minds of children, leaving fond and enduring memories for a lifetime.

Although we had a small extended family that we would see for an American style Christmas Day Dinner of ham or turkey and fixings (from where I still make my Grandmother’s (Oma’s) meat stuffing to this day), when we were young, holidays for us were primarily built around our small nuclear family… first the three of us, then four of us after a couple of years in America and ultimately the five of us.

December 24th and 25th are obviously special days for Christians and for Christian children of all ages as well as for most children in America and the western world, no matter what their faith. The traditions and heritage wrapped around those days and the Christmas Season have been interwoven into the fabric of the United States and a good part of the world. Yet each family and person has their own special memories and traditions attached to that festive season. And so it was with us. Our parents tried to combine their old world ways and traditions with the new ones of this land we now called home plus those of their European Catholic upbringing.

Putting lights up on the outside of your house was something that wasn’t done in Germany and Austria before we left there, but going to see the lighted houses in the evening after dinner was a new tradition we all enjoyed and that we built into our Christmas Holiday ritual. By the mid to late 1950’s the displays of lights and other decorations had reached their zenith having become bigger and greater every year. Whole neighborhoods would decorate in themes while others would compete between neighbors. Some neighborhoods had such spectacular decorations that there would be lines of cars for blocks or more just to drive past the houses or to find parking to walk the neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods were even sponsored like one of the favorites in the Los Angeles area where each home had Disney displays; agreeing to take part yearly was part of the real estate agreement when purchasing a house there.

A few miles from our house was an oversized corner lot with a ranch style home that went all out. It had seemingly endless lights everywhere, moving elves and reindeer, a playhouse turned into Santa’s workshop and a huge sleigh filled with wrapped presents. There were two large pine trees dripping with painted glass globes and other shaped ornaments, icicles and branches thick with snow. You could hear the Christmas music at least a block away and Santa would be out every night for the entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to talk to the children after which Mrs. Santa handed out candy canes to all who came by. It really was something to see and we never tired of going by there, throughout the season, year after year. It was always part of our last light viewing tour each Christmas Season.

Most children think their memories and their parents were the greatest, as it should be. But I have to say that my parents did an amazing job of making the holidays, especially Christmas, and other traditions like trips to yearly regular vacation spots and trips to amusement parks something very very special… much more magical than I hear in recounts from others or than I managed to create with my own children, even though I tried.

My father worked for Pacific Bell, part of the largest utility company in America at the time before the government broke it up, and my mother was a stay at home mom, like most moms in those days. On Christmas Eve my father would always come home from work early after a half day. Traditionally half of the employees would work a half day, but were paid in full, which consisted primarily of a company paid Christmas party on Christmas Eve and the other half would work half day on New Year’s Eve. People with children usually got Christmas Eve off and the young and single people tended to want New Year’s Eve.

By the time our dad got home, we were all more than anxious for the Christmas Festivities to begin. We, the kids, would have wrapped our gifts for our parents and put them under the tree; the only packages that were ever set under the live Christmas tree in our living room before Christmas Eve when Santa came. It wasn’t until sometime in the 1960’s that artificial trees popped up, and by the mid-60’s a few of the modernists were putting up silver trees made out of the same material that tinsel is made of, usually decorated with all one color round ornaments and using a color wheel to light the tree instead of strings of lights. We only ever knew one family that had one. In fact they were the only people we ever knew, growing up, that had a fake tree. We preferred the stories of trees with real candles, homemade and traditional ornaments with meaning told from our parents’ upbringing, over the idea of a futuristic Christmas.

Going to get our Christmas tree was always a family event, as were most Christmas related activities, but since we were city kids we did go to a tree lot which was attached to a nursery and garden shop covered with a permanent canopy in aviary fashion. Once inside the sounds and smells of Christmas were everywhere. They played non-stop carols and had somehow piped in the smell of gingerbread. Yet we were almost overcome with the smell of fresh wreaths and rows of trees which seemed to go on forever. We always seemed to look at each and every one of them in our size range before choosing, in the ultimate search for the perfect tree. About the time I turned ten or eleven, flocked trees became popular; for a few years some were even flocked in pink and light blue. We always got an unflocked Noble that our father had to trim down after we got home, because somehow it always ended up being just a bit too tall for the room. And each year on our way to the register to pay for the tree, we got to pick one new ornament from the racks where they had them individually displayed. Years later, after I was already out of the house, the family made it out to the wild a few times to actually chop down a tree, like my parents did in the old country.

Getting a tree and putting it up several weeks before Christmas was one of the changes that our folks made. In Germany, the Christ Child (das Christkindl) comes on Christmas Eve and brings the tree already decorated for the children to see for the first time the next morning. In Austria, the family puts it up, but not on until Christmas Eve Day. In Germany and Austria, Santa (St. Nicholas) comes on December 6th and brings slippers, fruit, nuts and candy. In the country areas he often brings a dark character with him, der Krampus, who threatens to take the bad children and stick them into his sack, or he leaves them just a lump of coal. My dad grew up after World War I in a small town in Austria without a father. They got lots of snow and used cross country skis to get to school. Many of the women raised four, five , six or more children on their own with very little money or help after losing their husbands in the war. My father said he remembered more than once, knowing of a pre-teenage boy that was giving his mother a hard time that was picked up by the Krampus and taken on a scary ski ride at night in a big sack. Those are among the traditions and memories my parents left behind, but kept alive by telling stories of their childhood and having an Advent Calendar that included a story or telling of a memory with each day’s opening.

One of our favorite stories was always about the Kaufladen. It was a homemade storefront or kiosk type set-up made completely out of wood for my mother and her sister to play store. It was made with dozens of small apothecary type drawers that were filled every year with new dried beans, peas and lentils, candies, and other items that they could sell, taking turns being the merchant and the customer. It actually survived and went on to our cousins in Germany, and then to their children.

Getting the tree and decorating it was always a special day. Although my parents left pretty much everything behind when we moved here after having already lost virtually everything they had from their childhoods during the destruction of the war (WWII), they managed to pick up some European style decorations here and there that were interspersed between those purchased primarily at Sears and Roebuck, whose Christmas Wishbook was tattered and tagged throughout by us kids for months before Christmas. I remember going to a German store or special exhibit a couple of times that had handmade wooden and glass German ornaments; each crafted and painted by hand, so they were special, but not cookie cutter perfect like those that came out of the boxes here. I remember buying a little skier and a couple brightly colored mushrooms. They were always my favorites. In Germany many people still put real candles on their trees or the spritzers, where the colored water bubbles in the middle of each light; both only impressions in my memory from the stories my parents told.

As we decorated we would play both German and English Christmas carols on my parents hi-fi on vinyl singles or 45’s, as they were called, that you constantly had to change. We sang along enthusiastically to White Christmas by Bing Crosby and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, as well as to Silent Night and O Tannenbaum in both English and German. My mom always had a batch of her homemade spiked egg nog made-up that we were allowed a sip of and there were always a few special German chocolates and marzipan piglets, as well as cookies and stolen from the German butcher shop. And some years there were goodies out from our Aunt Lisbeth and family in Frechen, Germany, like Printen or Speculatius, plus a fresh homemade batch of American style chocolate chip and sugar cookies. My dad would have a variety of shelled nuts out, that always included walnuts, that he would open for us with his nutcracker. There would also always be a platter of figs and dates, persimmons, pomegranates, tangerines and some type of fruit cake, rum cake or special bread, which he and his brothers and sister considered special treats as they grew up. Those were the days of the strings of lights that would not work if one or more were burned out, so sometimes it could be a huge project just to get the lights working. And after all the ornaments and garland were hung, the tinsel would go on last one strand at a time, so it would shine and sparkle without unsightly lumps scattered about the tree. We always had a big star as the topper with a spot in the middle for a light. Placing the topper was Daddy’s job. Tinsel duty and later supervision as we became older and helped to put it on, was Mom’s. We would end the day with a light German style meal and then go for a Christmas light viewing drive after dinner, as we would several more times during the season and one last time on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve we would all be dressed up a bit more than usual for dinner. And dinner would always be traditional German or Austrian fare. Many years it was a variety of sausages: Bratwurst, Weisswurst, and Blutwurst, mashed potatoes and red and white cabbage (rot kohl and sauerkraut) or cucumbers in vinegar and oil. Some years it would be Weiner Schnitzel with white asparagus instead of the sausages and kraut. We kids, of course, would be squirming around in our seats, much too excited to eat.

As soon as we were done eating, my father would say, “How about we get into the car and go look at the lights one last time? And who knows, maybe Santa will stop by while we are gone?” …same exact words every year, even when we were teenagers. At the last minute, as we were putting on our sweaters, my mom would always say, “You know, maybe I won’t go and get this kitchen cleaned up?” We would always protest and Dad would say, “Yah Maria, that is probably a good idea and we won’t be gone long anyway!”

We would pile into the car. I would get to sit in front because I was the oldest and we would head out. We would basically take a tour of our favorite lighted houses, which normally ended way too soon for us. But on Christmas Eve, it always seemed like we were gone forever, even though I’m sure it wasn’t nearly long enough for Santa! ;-)

We would get back and run to the back door where we entered from the garage. My mom would be changed from what she was wearing at dinner, have the kitchen completely cleaned up and as we entered the kitchen we’d all be asking, “Was he here? Was he here?” She would always respond with, “No I don’t think so. I didn’t hear a thing in there!” We lived in a small two bedroom duplex until I was a junior in high school and she certainly would have heard!! We would open the sliding door into the living room and in that short span of a time it had been transformed into what seemed to us like Santa’s workshop: packages everywhere, with at least one or more items that had to be assembled ready to go, platters of homemade goodies and goodies sent from Europe with Christmas Carols playing in the background. To us it was a miracle!! And now looking back it was even more of a miracle than we realized, that our mom could have done all of that in such a short time! My sister and I tried to duplicate all of that with our kids and pass those traditions along. And with two of us playing Santa and usually not having a whole kitchen to clean, we were barely able to get it done! And then there is the question of where was all that stored before that night in that little place?!?

Our parents wrapped every pair of socks separately and we loved every gift (no electronics then). After all, we had spent months leafing through the Sears Christmas Wishbook Catalog hoping and making out our lists and letters to Santa. By the time we were through unwrapping and sampling the goodies it seemed like there was barely enough time to put on our new outfits, that were part of our gifts, and head to mid-night mass where we met up with family friends whose kids were all wearing their newly unwrapped Christmas outfits as well.

Both our parents grew up poor in a one parent home between World War 1 and World War II and although their parents did their best, their childhoods were tough and their Christmases and holidays were scant with gifts so they went out of their way to make ours extra special.

My mother grew up living in a small apartment with just her mother, until she remarried, above the town movie theatre where our mom fell asleep listening to the soundtrack seep up through the floorboards. She had a doll with a porcelain face and a real hair wig. Each year the doll would get a new head for Christmas because every year our mother would take the doll downstairs to play with other kids from the neighborhood and invariably she would allow someone to hold the doll after endless prompting, and the next thing she knew someone would drop and break her, after which the doll (one of her main gifts) was put away until next Christmas.

By the time we got home from church it was always very late so after another look at our stash we all went to bed and everybody could get up as early or as late as they wanted to play with and organize their gifts. Then by noon or so we’d head off to Oma and Opa’s (Grandma and Grandpa’s) each year, until they moved up North, for Christmas dinner with our cousins and family.  After that our mom would fix a Christmas goose at home each year since we had turkey for Thanksgiving.

Now that my kids and nieces and nephews are grown and my Christmas experience is made up of generations of tradition and varied experiences intertwined, I realize that those growing up years and then the ‘early years’ with my own children and nieces and nephews, who are all about the same age, were the best and are the years that come to mind first when Christmas and Christmas Eve are mentioned. I am grateful for the love my parents put into those holidays and other special events and occasions, and although I tried my best to pass on those special traditions and create new ones along side them, I can only say, “Thanks, Mom and Dad, I wish I could have done as well…”

By Marion Groetzmeier Algier from her book in progress (Working title: The Groeztmeiers) – Originally Posted at Ask Marion in 2010.

That was then… And this is now:

The Digital Story of the Nativity – Video: The Digital Story of the Nativity  and Video: The History of Christmas Tree Lights on the Internet

Plus NORAD Tracks Santa on Christmas Eve

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born. LINK: NORAD tracks Santa on Facebook

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa’s journey.

Santa Tracker Christmas or Santa Tracker

Merry Christmas! : Celebrating America’s Greatest Holiday

A great book on Losing Our Religion by atheist S. E. Cupp, who says she is he perfect person for this book because she has no dog in the hunt, takes on the all too often avoided question and discussion of religion in America…

The Battle for Christmas & The War on Christmas

The Snow Angel

Also check out:

The Reason For the Season 

Ben Stein on Christmas

 Merry Christmas 2014 From Just One More Pet

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cannabis Oil is a Highly Efficient Natural Cancer Cure - Natural News

(NaturalNews) Ever since the mid 70s, medical scientists have been well aware of the beneficial effects of cannabinoid compounds over cancerous cells. Thanks to modern science, over a dozen studies conducted during recent years have been able to partially reveal just how it works. Yet cannabis is still not endorsed by pharmaceutical companies as a cancer cure, and since it is not promoted through mainstream channels, very few people are aware of its benefits. Consequently, it is not sought after as an alternative to disfiguring chemotherapy and other harmful drugs.

Laboratory tests conducted in 2008 by a team of scientists formed as a joint research effort between Spain, France and Italy, and published in The Journal Of Clinical Investigation, showed that the active ingredient in marijuana, known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, can function as a cure for brain cancer by inducing human glioma cell death through stimulation of autophagy.
The study concluded that via the same biochemical process THC could terminate multiple types of cancers, affecting various cells in the body. Other studies have shown that cannabinoids may work by various mechanisms, including inhibiting cell growth, inducing cell death, and inhibiting tumor metastasis.

What is amazing is that while cannabinoids effectively target and kill cancerous cells, they do not affect healthy, normal cells and may actually protect them against cellular death. Moreover, cannabinoids are also researched for their pain-modulation and anti-inflammatory abilities as they bind to special receptors in the brain, much like opioid derivatives that are commonly prescribed today.

Further evidence to support the effects of cannabis extract on malignant cells comes from the real life experience of individuals who have successfully overcome cancer by using cannabis oil. Examples include a patient, who managed to completely cure his skin cancer by simply applying cannabis oil onto the affected areas of the skin, as well as another, who recovered from a severe head injury with the aid of hemp oil.

One of the cannabinoids that has displayed amazing medical properties is cannabidiol, or CBD - a non-psychoactive compound that is regarded by some as the medical discovery of the 21st century, and with good reason. Research indicates that CBD can relieve convulsions, reduce inflammation, lower anxiety and suppress nausea, while also inhibiting cancer development. In addition, CBD has exhibited neuroprotective properties, relieving symptoms of dystonia and proving just as effective as regular antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia.

What stands out is that from the vast amount of research and data available, as well as the personal experiences of cancer survivors, is that no chemotherapy currently being used medically can match the non-toxic anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumorigenic effects of these natural plant compounds.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Breakthrough! Have The Israelis Developed A Cure For Cancer?

By Rob Miller – Originally posted at Joshua Pundit  –  Cross-Posted at Ask Marion

Israeli researchers have developed an  entirely new approach towards fighting cancer – and a brand new drug that uses this approach with what appears to be amazing success.

The new approach is called immunotherapy and involves enhancing the body’s natural immune systems to destroy the cancer cells. This is a 180 degree turn from contemporary methods like chemotherapy and radiation therapy,that seek to destroy the cancer cells and unfortunately usually end up destroying useful cells and even damaging organs, and producing harmful side effects as well.

Known as Keytruda, the drug that halted Ben-Shabbat’s aggressive cancer is viewed today as the great hope for patients with metastatic melanoma, and just recently received US Food and Drug Administration approval. According to many experts in the field, Keytruda is likely to lead to a significant breakthrough in the treatment of cancer.

Unlike in the past, the innovative treatment does not focus on trying to destroy the malignant tumor by means of dangerous chemical drugs that come with serious side-effects. Instead, it serves to initiate gentle and sophisticated manipulations of the body’s natural immune system, with the purpose of spurring it on to attack and destroy the cancerous cells itself. If the new treatment mechanism, known as immunotherapy, lives up to expectations, the world of oncology could undergo a real revolution within just a few years.

“The new drug creates real potential for curing one of the deadliest forms of cancer, at the negligible cost of light and tolerable side-effects,” says Prof. Jacob Schachter, head of Sheba Medical Center’s Ella Institute for Melanoma. “Moreover, it completely alters the working assumptions in oncology treatment, as its working mechanism is effective in the war against other types of cancer too. There’s no doubt today that the holy grail of oncology lies in immunotherapy, which helps the body’s immune system to destroy the tumor’s cells itself.

“At this stage, we can only imagine the therapeutic potential of a combination of a number of such drugs, each acting on a different system, and some of which are already at an advanced stage of development. Among doctors, too, the scope of the breakthrough has yet to be digested.”

And it’s a breakthrough that is likely to revolutionize oncology:

Unlike chemotherapy, which is designed to destroy the malignant cells by means of chemical drugs, immunotherapy does not go to work on the tumor itself, but rather the healthy cells of our immune system. The new therapy centers on the knowledge that cancer cells are produced in our bodies all the time, and are immediately destroyed by the immune system. In other words, our bodies have the ability to destroy such cells, but sometimes lose this ability for some reason. Immunotherapy is designed to act in various ways to restore this lost ability.


“Every second, our bodies produce defective cells that do not follow the regular rules of the body,” says Dr. Gal Markel, chief scientist at Sheba’s Ella Institute. “One of the jobs of the immune system is to locate these defective cells and to destroy them. This process occurs on a daily basis in each and every one of us, but sometimes things go wrong. For various reasons – genetic or environmental – irregular cells that are a little more durable can be produced.”

According to Dr. Markel, the immune system studies the new cell and adapts itself in an attempt to destroy it, but the cells, too, respond accordingly, and thus survive. This process, in which cancerous cells remain under the control of the immune system in some kind of mutual balance of terror, can continue for years.

This means that when I, as a doctor, see a patient who has just been diagnosed, his immune system has already lost the ability to control the cancer. When a woman feels a lump in her breast, it’s a sign that her cancer cells have already defeated her immune system, and that the delicate balance between the system and the rogue cells has been upset. The moment this happens, the cancer begins to run rampant.”

Cancer research up until now has always focused on trying to destroy the cancerous cells and/or find out what causes the immune system stop destroying the dangerous cells.

What the Israelis found out is how to overcome the immune system’s natural restraint mechanism and get it to focus on the cancer cells that have managed to fool the immune system into not attacking them as it would a virus or infection.

“The efforts to activate the immune system by force failed because the fundamental problem does not lie with the system itself, but in the fact that the cancer can withstand it,” says Dr. Markel, who delivered an address on the subject last week at the TEDMED conference on innovativeness in the field of medicine. “An instance in which a cancerous tumor develops is not an instance in which the immune system has stopped functioning, as was thought in the past, but rather a case of the cancer managing to effectively avoid it. The big revolution offered by the new drugs, some of which are still in the developmental stage, is that they help the immune system in various ways to snare the cancerous cells that try to slip under the radar.”

Keytruda, the drug that was recently FDA approves has the ability to neutralize the immune system’s natural brakes and rev up its cancer fighting ability.

“There are other elements that help the cancer cells to survive in the body, but the brakes are a critical element,” Prof. Schachter explains. “Once they are out the way, the system begins to function like crazy. The new drug is more effective than the old one; it has fewer side-effects; and it works very quickly. Within weeks, the tumors shrink and the patients go back to living normal lives.”

Not the end of the tunnel, as Dr. Markel says, but the light at the end can already be seen.

I demand that every BDS screecher, every Hamas and ‘Palestine groupie’ and every ‘anti-Zionist’ avoid this drug. Just boycott it, along with all the other innovations that have come out of this amazing country.

What a paradox – that a nation that has brought so much good to the world and humanity is the one that is regarded as illegitimate and worthy of destruction by so many people.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Republican-Controlled House Passes Continued Complete Funding for ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood

God help us!!

Republican House Leaders John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise

Republican House Leaders John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise

TPNN: September 18, 2014 By Matthew Burke

House Republicans, led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, joined with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution late Wednesday that will continue to fully fund Obamacare, which has never had majority support in any poll since its passage, as well as funding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion factory which also teaches sadomasochism to girls as young as 15-years-old

Additionally, the bill to fund the government through December 11, provides funding for Obama’s request to “train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition,” i.e., “Syrian rebels.”

Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Republicans in voting for the bill, which passed 319 to 108. Four members did not vote.

Among Republicans who voted against the bill included Trey Gowdy, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Michele Bachmann, Dana Rohrabacher, and John Fleming, while several far-left Marxist Democrats voted in favor of the Republican leadership sponsored bill, including John Conyers and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“The truth is that, if you look back under this president as commander-in-chief, we trained people in Libya,” said Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX). “We provided weapons to Libya that were then used against us in Benghazi. There are Americans dead because this administration felt compelled to go in and take out Qadhafi.”

“One of the big problems, too, when we go in and train, as this President wants to do for the Syrians, they learn our tradecraft,” said Rep. Gohmert. “They use it against us, as they did at Benghazi,” Gohmert predicted.

“If we are going to degrade and destroy them [ISIS] it will not happen through an indecisive strategy that relies on unreliable and largely unknown help from Syrian rebels, whose own motivations and goals are mixed, and almost impossible to be certain of,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-LA).

Republican currently hold a majority in the House of Representatives and are led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.  

Palin: I Do Not Want to Leave the Republican Party, But If They Leave Me… 

EXCLUSIVE: Chris McDaniel: ‘People Need to See the Ugly Under Belly of Some Elements of the Republican Party’

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gluten, Celiac Disease and the Bigger Picture

“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”  -  Henry Kissinger

In 1974, Henry Kissinger suggested using food as a weapon to induce targeted population reduction in a previously classified 200-page report, National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.

By Marion Algier

The American food supply has been tainted with genetically modified corn, wheat and soy; antibiotics and steroids given to our meat supply, chemical fertilizers, frightening food additives and flavor enhancers and the list goes on.  Many countries around the world will not by our agricultural products or package foods because of it.  But many Americans are just finding out about what affect Big Agri and Big Business are having on their food and in turn their health.

10-years ago virtually nobody had heard for gluten, GMO’s or Celiac Disease.  Now it seems to be the health topic of the year. So where did this come from and what really is Celiac Disease?


Through the process of creating  genetically modified wheat, the protein gluten has increased 10 fold.  Our bodies are good a adapting but not to such large quantities in such a short time.

Celiac disease, also known as coeliac disease, is an autoimmune disorder that affects around 1 in 100 Americans. The disease is caused by gluten intolerance. Gliadin, a protein in wheat, causes the afflicted persons immune system to attack its own bowel tissue. This causes villous atrophy, or the erosion of the nutrient absorbing villi that line the small intestine. Other grains, like barley and rye, have similarly shaped proteins which can cause the same reaction in sensitive individuals.

Celiac disease can cause irreversible damage.

Testing for celiac disease is done through blood tests and endoscopy. It is important for the afflicted person to continue eating gluten while they are tested for celiac disease. When they remove gluten from their diet, their body starts to repair itself, giving a false negative for the tests.

Celiac disease can cause a multitude of problems. The major ones come from malabsorption of nutrients. This can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and stunted growth in children. Those who suffer from celiac disease are also  more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma when compared to the general population. The best way to protect yourself and minimize your risk is early diagnosis and strict diet.

The symptoms can range from no symptoms at all to excruciating pain, chronic fatigue and deterioration of the sufferers body in many areas including the development of various cancers.

!0 major symptoms of Celiac Disease:

1. No Symptoms

Unfortunately, many people who suffer from celiac disease have no symptoms. This is particularly dangerous as intestinal damage can occur even when no symptoms are present. With new screening techniques, people are being diagnosed without ever suspecting they have the disease. It is important for people with no symptoms but a positive diagnosis to eat properly, as they are still at risk for serious complications of celiac disease, such as cancer.

2. Bloating

Celiac DiseaseMany people who have celiac disease suffer from painful bloating. For days after consuming gluten, the stomach may be distended and filled with gas. This can be quite painful. Many people complain of intestinal pain and the feeling of being “6 months pregnant”. They may also suffer from excessive gas and flatulence. Bloating can be symptoms of other dietary conditions, so look for it in conjunction with the consumption of gluten. The pain can radiate to other organs and down the extremities making diagnosis difficult without testing.

3. Diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea is a common symptom of those afflicted with celiac disease. The episodes may be smelly, explosive, and painful. The color of the stool may be pale or white, and typically floats on the surface of the water. Even solid stools may present these conditions. Related symptoms to chronic diarrhea include hemorrhoids. These can occur when there is not enough substance in the stools.

4. Constipation

While diarrhea is common in celiac sufferers, some people may be afflicted with constipation. This if from the body sluggishly moving the contents of the bowels. The body may be trying to pull all the nutrients possible from the food as the damaged villi will not work as efficiently. The constipation may be marked by periods of heavy diarrhea as the person consumes gluten. The constipation may cause pain and bloating.

5. Weight Loss or Gain

Many people who suffer from celiac disease lose weight as their body reacts to the missing nutrients. The diarrhea caused by gluten may stall the absorption of calories from the food, purging the body from its fuel. Conversely, a sufferer may in fact gain weight instead of lose it. Their bodies may be screaming for nutrients, so they eat in excess to achieve proper nutrition. They may have a hard time losing weight until they restrict gluten from their diet.

6. Fatigue

Fatigue is a common complaint of those affected by celiac disease. Undiagnosed celiac suffers may have their bodies suffer from malnutrition caused by absorption issues. Their body will respond with extreme fatigue and malaise in response. They may crave sugary foods and drink excessive caffeine just to stay energized. After diagnosis and the removal of gluten from the diet, fatigue may be the first symptom to be eliminated

7. Trouble Concentrating

People who suffer from celiac disease may experience something called a “brain fog” in relation to the consumption of gluten. This symptom exhibits immediately after eating gluten and can persist for days. The feeling that it gives is confusion, trouble concentrating, and short term memory loss. A sufferer may forget to pick your children up from school, or even forget what they are writing mid sentence. Thankfully, this symptom does not persist as a person removes gluten from their diet. It may even make them feel finally awake after years of fogginess.

8. Problems Falling and Staying Asleep

Recent studies have found that patients with celiac disease  commonly suffer from disordered sleeping, regardless of if the rest of their diet is healthy or not. Sleep disorders are more common to those suffering from celiac disease vs. the rest of the general population. The disordered sleeping can be shown through an inability to fall asleep, and being unable to stay asleep. The study found that the causes of the inability to sleep well include depression, fatigue, and anxiety.

9. Numbness and Tingling

Many celiac sufferers exhibit neuropathic symptoms. Problems with the neuropathic system can affect gross and fine motor control and sensory nerves. An undiagnosed celiac disease sufferer my find their extremities exhibit nerve problems. This can include a tingling sensation in the hands and feet, ranging from mild to “fallen asleep”. Conversely, they may not feel anything in their hands and feet, as numbness is a common complaint. Other parts of the body may be affected, such as the facial muscles and body nerves.

10. Depression

Unfortunately, depression and suicide rates are higher in people with celiac disease. Studies have found that even eating a gluten free diet, the rates of depression are much higher than the general population. One study found a connection between disordered eating and depression in women who suffer from celiac disease. As they closely monitor their foods for gluten, disordered and restrictive eating can develop. For suicide risk, it seems that once diagnosed and with dietary changes, the suicide risk is greatly reduced.

Other symptoms include:

Celiac Symptons

Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Intolerance

More people have undiagnosed gluten intolerance than any other disorder, according to the nonprofit support organization Gluten Intolerance Group.  It is a hidden epidemic. The symptoms of celiac disease, which affects an estimated 2 million Americans, and gluten intolerance are similar but vary from person to person. Many experience abdominal discomfort, nausea and diarrhea. If you suspect you are gluten intolerant, ask your doctor to do blood work and a diagnostic analysis to rule out celiac disease. Always follow your doctor's dietary recommendations and restrictions.

Although celiac disease and gluten intolerance have similar symptoms, the primary difference between the two conditions is that celiac disease involves your immune system and causes long-term damage to the villi that line your small intestine, according to the National Institutes of Health. In contrast, gluten intolerance is a digestive tract reaction that causes you to experience a variety of gastrointestinal discomforts. Your doctor will likely run an antibody test to determine whether you have celiac disease. If the test results are negative, it is likely that you have a gluten intolerance rather than celiac disease. As with celiac, removing gluten from your diet can ease the uncomfortable symptoms often associated with gluten intolerance.

Foods to Avoid:

Celiac disease involves a systemic reaction to gluten. For patients diagnosed with Celiac disease, the ingestion of any product that contains gluten causes immediate harm to the intestines. The warning includes not only food, but anything that may have come into contact with gluten: utensils, bowls, toasters, storage contains, shared knives, cutting boards and even crumbs for products that contain gluten.

The number 1 rule for sufferers of celiac disease and gluten intolerance is no wheat products and rye and barley also contain higher levels of gluten.

Gluten is most commonly found in both white and wheat flour and is therefore used in a lot of different food products including breads, baked goods, cereals, pastas, and pizza dough. You will need to begin a habit of reading all labels to ensure that it is gluten-free. Just because something is packaged as wheat-free, does not necessarily mean it is gluten-free. You can substitute all of the above mentioned food items with any that are made with rice or almond flour.

You can substitute all of the above mentioned food items with any that are made with rice or almond flour.

Other food items that you need to avoid include: barley (including malt), rye, bulgur and spelt. Substitutions in your diet can include: rice, corn, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, tapioca and quinoa. Many dairy products contain gluten, so again, read the labels for consuming.  Almond Breeze is a good substitute for milk. If you enjoy the occasional beer, you need to be extra careful because many beers and spirits are made with rye and malt. Look for those that are gluten-free.

If you enjoy gravies, condiments and dressings, examine the label for contents and instead use oils, vinegars and any gluten-free substitutes. When it comes to the topics of meats, stay as far away from any processed meats as possible. Substitute with fresh meats that include, chicken, turkey, pork, fresh fish, lamp and shellfish.

Don’t be drawn in by the healthy look of granola and energy bars, they also are packed with gluten.

Manufactured FOODS List  generated by Fox Valley Celiacs (FVC); is intended for the benefit of its members and other interested parties. Some celiacs may have other sensitivities (e.g. corn or soy).

(This a safe list for sufferers of celiac disease and gluten intolerance but some of the products below may contain ingredients not good for other conditions or general health.)

Bacon― Oscar Meyer, Hormel
Baked Beans― B & M, Bush’s
Baking Chips― Nestle, Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Baking Powder― Calumet, Rumford
Barbecue Sauce― Saz’s, Sweet Baby Rays (all)
Beans― Bush’s (not chili beans or chili starter)
Beef Stew― Dinty Moore
Broth/Soup Base― Kitchen Basics, Progresso, Swanson’s
Cold Cuts (packaged) ― Boar’s Head (Bologna, Ham, Roast Beef, Turkey), Buddig Sandwich Meats, Oscar Mayer, Hormel Natural Choice Deli meats
Bouillon Cubes― Herb-Ox
Candy Bars― Snickers, Almond Joy, Mounds, Payday, M & M’s - plain & peanut, Baby Ruth, Reese�s Peanut Butter Cups (except when in holiday shapes), Hershey Kisses, Butterfinger
Catsup― Heinz & Del Monte
Cheese― Frigo String, Hard Cheeses
Chili― Hormel with Beans
Chips― Cheetos, Cool Ranch Doritos, Corn Tostitos, Fritos (except Chili Cheese), Ruffles, Lundgren,
Coffee & Tea― (flavored may contain gluten, check labels)
Cottage Cheese― Morning Glory, Kemps
Crab― Leg-A-Sea Imitation
Cream Cheese― Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Cream Style Corn― Green Giant
Dips― Okedoke Chili Con Queso, Kemps, Simply Organic Ranch
Dry Cereal― Erewhon’s Crispy Brown Rice; Health Valley Rice Crunch Ems, Corn Crunch Ems; General Mills Rice Chex (12.8-oz. only); Nature’s Path Cornflakes, Amaranth Flakes; Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, Amazon Frosted Flakes, Koala Crisp, Gorilla Munch; Perky O’s
Dry Soup Mix― Lipton Dry Onion
Fruit― Canned, fresh
Gelatin― Jell-O, Knox
Gluten-Free Frozen Dinners― Amy’s Enchilada
Ground Beef ― 100% Pure
Ham Slices― Cook’s, Oscar Meyer
Hot Dogs― Hillshire, Oscar Meyer
Ice Cream (no cookie dough) ― Blue Bunny, Edy’s, Breyers
Jams, Jellies & Preserves― Smucker’s, Welch’s
Mayonnaise― Hellmann's Real, Kraft
Mustard― French’s, Gulden’s, Grey Poupon
Nuts― Plain
Oil― Olive, Peanut, Canola, Safflower, Corn
Pasta― Tinkyada, De Boles, Lundgren
Peanut Butter― Jif, Peter Pan, Skippy
Pepperoni― Hormel
Powdered Drink Mixes― Country Time, Crystal Light
Pudding― Jell-O Instant, Cook & Serve
Pasta Sauces― Prego, Ragu, & Pace are being tested for gluten-free certification. Check labels.
Pickles― Vlasic
Pie Fillings― Comstock & Wilderness
Pizza Sauce― Contadina, Dei Fratelli
Popcorn― Plain
Raisins― Dole, Sun Maid
Rice― (plain) Basmati, Jasmine, white, brown, wild
Rice Cakes― Lundgren
Rice Noodles― Thai Kitchen Instant
Salad Dressings― Kraft (label will state allergens)
Salads in a Bag― (with no croutons or dressing)
Seasoned Salt― Lawry’s
Seasoning Packet― Original Chex Mix
Soda― Barq’s Root Beer, Coke & Pepsi Products
Soft Serve Ice Cream (in a cup) ― McDonald’s (all flavors), Dairy Queen (vanilla and chocolate)
Soups― Progresso (many are gluten-free. Ingredient label will state allergens), Thai Kitchen Soups
Sour Cream― Daisy, Kemps, Morning Glory
Soy Sauce― La Choy
Spices― McCormick Pure
Spreads― *Butter, (the best option unless you can’t eat butter for another reason) Brummel & Brown, Blue Bonnet, Country Crock, Fleischmann’s, Imperial
Summer Sausage― Johnsonville, Old Wisconsin, Hillshire
Syrups― Karo
Taco Sauce― Chi Chi
Taco Shells― Ortega Tostada, White Corn
Tomato Products― Red Gold
Tuna― Chicken of the Sea, StarKist (but watch out for the mercury)
Vegetables― Fresh, canned (plain)
Waffles― Van’s Gluten-Free Frozen
Worcestershire Sauce― French’s
Yogurt― Yoplait, Stonyfield Farms, Dannon (plain), several of the Greek yogurts are gluten free
Wal-Mart Great Value brand items produced in a gluten-free facility will be labeled gluten free.

Toothpaste― Colgate, Crest
Lip Balm― Blistex, Burt�s Bees, ChapStick
Lipstick― Burt’s Bees

There is a great cookbook by Elizabeth Hasselbeck:  Deliciously G-Free: Food So Flavorful They'll Never Believe It's Gluten-Free

Also see: The Gluten-Free Bible, Celiac Disease, Second Edition: A Guide to Living with Gluten Intolerance, Real Life with Celiac Disease and Celiac Disease For Dummies.

Reproduction of this material is allowed to facilitate the exchange of celiac information. Food manufacturers' products are subject to formula change at any time. If you cannot confirm, by the label, that a product is gluten free, call the company's toll-free number. Many company websites will list their gluten-free products. A more inclusive list of gluten-free items can be found at , which is also associated with CSA. ALWAYS read labels.

Jennifer Espisito from the TV show Blue Bloods was fired because she suffered from Celiac Disease.  She wrote: Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease -- What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again 

It is also becoming ever clearer that gluten, GMO’s and vaccines are part of the AD, ADD, ADHD, Autism, Aging… Inflammation and Nutrition Connection


Monsanto Battle Continues After Suing Midwest Farmers for Saving Seeds 

Whole Foods Market Takes Huge Stand Against GMOs: Mandatory Labeling by 2018

GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food on Humans

Codex Alimentarius – How The Global Elite Will Control Your Food Supply…

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Dear Girl… Please Remember


Cycle of Life

AARP  -  January 9, 2013

My dear girl, the day you see I'm getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I'm going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don't interrupt to say: "You said the same thing a minute ago"... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don't want to take a bath, don't be mad and don't embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?
When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don't look at me that way ... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life's issues every day... the day you see I'm getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I'm going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we're talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can't, don't be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don't let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don't feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I'll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I've always had for you, I just want to say, I love you ... my darling daughter.

Original text in Spanish and photo by Guillermo Peña.  Translation to English by Sergio Cadena

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Depression and Suicide Re-Visited in the Aftermath of the Death of Robin Williams

Robin Williams… Humble Hero and Comic Virtuoso Dead at 63

Goodbye Robin Williams… May you rest in peace!!  Thank you for all the joy and laughter you brought into all our lives!!  For the talent you shared and for all your good works!!  May you find the joy, peace and laughter that you were looking for in the next life!!  Read more here

Robin Williams 

By Marion Algier  -  True Health Is True Wealth (THITW)  -  Cross-Posted at AskMarion

The world was shocked to hear of the death of Robin Williams and even more shocked to hear about the details of his death… his suicide after a life of depression.

Two movies that Williams made come to mind when thinking about the events surrounding his death: Dead Poets Society and What Dreams May Come.

How the lessons of ‘Dead Poets Society’ can help us understand suicide and depression:

By Alyssa Rosenberg – Washington Post: As we have absorbed the news that Robin Williams committed suicide at the age of 63, the conversation about his life and legacy has starfished in any number of directions, some of them outrageously ghoulish, many of them thoughtful. I have been struck by many of the pieces that focus on two ideas: the greatness of Williams’ performance in the period private school drama “Dead Poets Society” and attempts to render suicide and depression more comprehensible.

(Credit: Buena Vista Pictures)
(Buena Vista Pictures)

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way,” John Keating (Williams) told the boys in his high school English class in “Dead Poets Society.”

But poetry does more than give us unique perspectives on familiar subjects. It can be a powerful pathway into the mind-sets of profound depression and suicidal ideation that are difficult to render rational to people who are trying to understand them from the outside, and that are flattened by all but the most incandescent prose writers. If we are to truly take Keating’s advice, we ought to examine the same medium that explains to us why we live for insight into why some people choose to die.

Keating teaches his boys Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” with its injunction from the Greek hero, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, / To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!”

He might have reached back to Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” and the story of Ajax’s suicide. In Sir Samuel Garth and John Dryden’s translation, the mighty fighter, furious that Odysseus has been awarded a prize that Ajax believed rightly his, and unable to understand the logic that permits such a decision, commits suicide. “He who cou’d often, and alone, withstand / The foe, the fire, and Jove’s own partial hand,  / Now cannot his unmaster’d grief sustain, / But yields to rage, to madness, and disdain.”

Or what about the “Aeneid,” which gains so much of its power from a seeming contradiction. When Aeneas meets Queen Dido, he is in awe of her. In Robert Fitzgerald’s marvelous translation, Aeneas marvels “What age so happy / Brought you to birth? How splendid were your parents / To have conceived a being like yourself!”

But Aeneas’s hope that “your name and your distinction / Go with me, whatever lands may call me” carries with it the promise that he will leave. When he does, Dido’s understanding of the laws that are meant to govern gods and men cracks and she becomes fixated on a vision of her own death. Virgil captures the moment before her suicide in stunning verse: “Dido’s heart / Beat wildly at the enormous thing afoot. / She rolled her bloodshot eyes, her quivering cheeks / Were flecked with red as her sick pallor grew / Before her coming death. Into the court / She burst her way, then at her passion’s height / She climbed the pyre and bared the Dardan sword– / A gift desired once, for no such need.”

I sometimes wonder if Keating read the work of Weldon Kees, who disappeared in 1955. Kees’s fate is a mystery, but even if he did not kill himself, his vanishing act is a kind of self-murder.

Kees’s work captures the flatness of depression beautifully. In a series of poems about a character named Robinson, Kees describes the man’s “sad and usual heart, dry as a winter leaf.” Ultimately, Robinson vanishes, his absence throwing a pall over the world: “The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,” Kees writes, “Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.  / Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.”

Many of Kees’s other poems seem to suffer from infections similar to the ones that ravage Robinson’s spirit.

In “For My Daughter,” he darkly speculates about the fates that a woman can meet, “Parched years that I have seen  / That may be hers appear: foul, lingering  / Death in certain war, the slim legs green. / Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting  / Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel / Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.” The poem ends in a surprising place. “These speculations sour in the sun,” Kees admits. “I have no daughter. I desire none.”

In “The Upstairs Room,” he uses that same sense of surprise to talk cruelly about “The floor my father stained,” not with varnish but with “The new blood streaming from his head.” The characters in “Five Villanelles” are paralyzed, prevented even from acting to protect themselves: “Here in the kitchen, drinking gin, / We can accept the damndest laws. / We must remain until the roof falls in.”

“Dead Poets Society” is set in 1959, at the same moment that the confessional poets were emerging as a significant force in American letters.

If Keating’s teaching took, I can imagine the young men of that film encountering Anne Sexton’s sharp observation in “Wanting to Die” that “But suicides have a special language. / Like carpenters they want to know which tools. / They never ask why build.” Or maybe they would be touched by Robert Lowell’s report of his stay in a mental health facility in “Waking in the Blue” that “We are all old-timers, / each of us holds a locked razor.” Lowell himself recalled Dido in “Falling Asleep over the Aeneid.” His character dreams that he is Aeneas, holding the sword that Dido used to kill herself, when he is visited by a bird who counsels him “Brother, try, / O Child of Aphrodite, try to die: / To die is life.”

Sexton and Sylvia Plath captured the grinding drive towards annihilation in “The Double Image” and “Lady Lazarus.” In the former, Sexton watches leaves fall off the trees with the daughter she has failed to parent because of her suicide attempts and stays in institutions. “I tell you what you’ll never really know,” she tells the little girl, “all the medical hypothesis / that explained my brain will never be as true as these / struck leaves letting go.”

“This is Number Three.  / What a trash / To annihilate each decade,” Plath writes in an expression of extreme weariness.

In Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” she counsels readers that ” It’s evident / the art of losing’s not too hard to master / though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.” It is good advice. But poetry can help us see that while we are supposed to recover from losses like Bishop’s, or John Keating’s loss of a student and a job, not all of our brains work the same way.

What Dreams May Come also deals with depression, death and suicide and attacks the religious stance that there is not escape from suicide, that once you go down that path you will spend all eternity in Hell.

What Dreams May Come - Special Edition

There is such a profound sense of drama, magic and emotion behind the story in "What Dreams May Come," a film based on the novel by Richard Matheson. There is a strong story with which anyone who loves someone else can identify, as well as an ostentatious and elegant scope of visual and auditory imagery that jumps right for your eyes onscreen. Matheson's visions of heaven and hell are magnificently realized here, as well as the love between two people that is unbreakable, even after death. 

The movie begins with the chance meeting of two American tourists traveling in Switzerland. Soon after, Chris and Annie become inseparable, and after their wedding, they bear two children. Many years later, Ian and Marie are killed in a car collision, leaving their parents distraught yet overcoming. Another couple of years later, Chris dies in a car accident as well, on his way to celebrate the "Double D" anniversary of his wife's emotional recovery from their childrens' deaths. This begins his trip into heaven, which is rocky at first during his attempts to console his living wife, then graduating into his acceptance of his immortality and ascemding into heaven, which turns out to be the creation of his own thoughts and settings. When he realizes that he is not completely happy without Annie, he becomes depressed, so it is no surprise that when Annie commits suicide and is sent to hell, he readies himself to rescue his wife from her emotional confines that keep her in her prison of eternal darkness.

The story for this movie is very ambitious, as are the filmmakers who bring it to life. There is an abundance of vivid memories in the form of flashbacks, many of which are precisely used to move the plot along and keep the story moving. Instead of becoming bored with the ongoing story of Annie and Chris's married and parental life, I found myself becoming more and more entranced as their lives unfolded, and say what you will, but the only way to tell a story like this is through flashbacks. If you were to take all of the memories and place them in order at the beginning of the movie, the audience would forget about the important moments that have an effects on the actions and events that take place in later instances of the film. Each one is a separate piece of the puzzle, and they all fit together quite well.

This film is one of those movies that showcases the possibilities for filmmaking in the future. Really, when you think about it, there is no way that the movie could have been made thirty years ago and still have the same impact as it does now. The settings and scenery play the most important role of the movie, for they provide the reason for the emotion and action that affects our characters. The beginning shots in Switzerland show us beautiful vistas of mountains and lakes, which will later become the inspiration for Chris's heaven, as well as many of the paintings Annie creates. Their home bursts forth with color and brightness, proving that color plays a big role in the film. When everyone is alive, everything seems light and airy. After Chris's death, all is dark, and the walls of the home seem dismal and gray. One scene in particular is a scene in which Chris watches his children being driven away in their van down a long line of lilac trees, a slight fog covering the scene. Their is that brilliance of color, yet the dark fog makes us uneasy, hence the accident that kills their children.

Heaven is elegantly portrayed in this film, and is done so with a new twist: that each person has their own private heaven created in the image of their own personal desires and thoughts. Chris's heaven is based on the paintings of his wife, from the mountains of Switzerland to a small island in the middle of a mountain lake with an opulent, airy house. The filmmakers give each scene the precise look of a painting, even after the special effects fade, using vivid colors, lots of flowers and mountainous backdrops, to transport us into Chris's new world. This is one of the most incredible film achievements ever, taking us to a special place that is warm, inviting, and personifies every thought we, as an audience, have ever had for beauty and vision.

Hell is given a truly horrifying and intense treatment, displaying visions of suffering as well as the personal and emotional pain of life that haunts us all. Somewhat like the way in which Heaven is created, Hell is seen as a persons's "life gone wrong," which allows for the creation of their pain-driven eternity. The gateway to hell is a stunning visual image, a vast, smoky graveyard of smoldering shipwrecks that creak and groan. There is also a dismal, endless sea of decrepit faces of hell's inhabitants, that groan and scream at one another. The most striking of all the settings is the overturned cathedral, where Annie resides. The columns rise from the ceiling and go on forever into the darkness, which gives the whole place a sense of the neverending.

There is a unique chemistry between the two leads that carries on the film's emotion and power. Robin Williams is charming, humorous and bold as Chris Nielsen, and through his acting and talent, he is able to make us believe in the love that Chris holds for Annie. Annabella Sciorra is moving as Annie, embodying all of the emotions and grief that set the stage for the second half of the story. When the two are together onscreen, they are happy and in love, and we buy it because they make it appear very authentic. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the angel that brings Chris to heaven, doing well in his performance of helping Chris through his struggle to realize his death. Max von Sydow, whose part is not as big as others he has had, is the tracker who takes them all to hell, and his words of wisdom keep the film's informative angle moving.

"What Dreams May Come" will go down in history as one of the most innovative and spectacular films ever made, full of ambition and inspiration. In its story, we are taken on a journey of the human heart, as well as a striking vision of what may lie in store for everyone under God's eye.

When I hear ridiculous statements from people like '”Robin Williams’ suicide or any suicide was a cowardly act,” it shows me how little progress we have made in this realm and how uninformed people really are.

I lost my Mother to suicide after a long bout with depression that also involved the shooting of My 21-year-old brother; all ultimately caused by the untimely death of my father from colon cancer and the events that followed.  It is a story for another time.  But as Dennis Miller said on the O’Reilly Factor, “If a gentle and cool cat like Robin Williams could be lost to this disease, we all can!” 

Who should you be calling today that can use your help?

Depression: Approximately 21.5 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder. Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 13.7 million women and 7.8 million men in the U.S.

  • Pre-schoolers represent the fastest-growing market for antidepressants. At least four percent of preschoolers—more than one million—are clinically depressed.
  • The rate of increase of depression among children is 23%.
  • In most developed countries, 15% of the population suffers from severe depression.
  • An estimated 30% of women are depressed.
  • 41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.
  • 80% of depressed people are not currently receiving any treatment.
  • An estimated 15% of depressed people commit suicide.
  • By 2020, depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease. Furthermore, studies indicate that depression is a contributing factor to fatal coronary disease.

340 million people in the world suffer from depression and rising. 1 in 4 women will suffer from depression. Postnatal depression affects 14 per cent of new mothers. 1 in 10 men will suffer from depression (this statistic is not absolutely correct because more women are apt to see their doctor for depression than men do.) Depression strikes all races, rich and poor.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 121 million people worldwide have some form of depression, although less than 25 percent have access to effective treatment [source: WHO]. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 14.8 million adult Americans experience clinical depression in any given year — or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population over 18 [source: NIH Depressive]. Women are more likely to have major depression than are men, and the average age for a bout of clinical depression to set in is 32 years old. Older adults also are depressed, however. In fact, people 65 years and older commit suicide at a higher rate than the national average [source: Senior Health]. The good news is that NIH statistics show that the percentage of all adults in the U.S. who are depressed went down a full percentage point from 2007 to 2008… but something tells me that the figures from 2008 to 2014 will have gone in the other direction!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Obama Administration Lied About Insurance Company Bailouts

A Damning Report

By: Dan McLaughlin (Diary)  |  August 5th, 2014 at 02:00 PM – RedState

Ocare Age Mix

It can be difficult to keep track of all the untruths the Obama Administration has told in the process of selling Obamacare to a disbelieving public, and it is tempting to write these all off as history, more than four years later. But the untruths have never stopped coming. A House oversight report released last week reveals that the Administration has been misleading the public about the likelihood that it will have to bail out insurance companies that sold policies under Obamacare. I highly recommend you read both the report and Jeffrey Anderson’s excellent story in the Weekly Standard summarizing it, as well as Phil Kerpen’s blow-by-blow of the emails over at The Federalist. The upshot is that, even after the Administration’s hard sell and coercive mandates forced millions of Americans to buy policies from the big health insurance companies, we should expect a billion-dollar bailout of those companies because the mix of people buying them is older and sicker than projected (unexpectedly!), and we should expect going forward to face a choice between premium increases and even bigger bailouts.

The Oversight Report covers a variety of close contacts between the Administration and the insurance companies, which in and of themselves are an eye-opening up-close look at corporatism in action and the sheer hypocrisy of an Administration that loves to bash insurers publicly while working hand in glove with them and catering to their needs behind the scenes – an Administration where, by President Obama’s own account, he commonly asks CEOs why they aren’t spending more of their shareholders’ money lobbying for his policies on immigration, the environment and education. The quid pro quo in that arrangement is that Administration carrot-and-stick control over the big insurers has kept many of them publicly on the reservation, parroting pro-Obamacare talking points and shying away from public criticism, all so that the Administration can tout their silence as proof the program’s critics are all wet. There’s only so much you can blame the insurers, who after all are for-profit companies that by now have no real choice but to do business with Leviathan. But we’ve come a long way from the idealistic “new politics” rhetoric of 2008 to the grubby details of bailing out big corporations from a mess entirely of this President’s own making.


The bailouts are at the heart of this web of deceit. Pre-Obamacare, insurers had to price their policies mainly by reference to market forces (albeit in an already heavily-regulated market): charge enough to cover the actuarial cost expected for each enrollee, but not too much to lose business. Guess wrong and you lost money. But under Obamacare, consumers no longer have the choice whether or not to buy policies, and insurance companies no longer face any risk of losing money, because they’ve been promised a bailout. Money will still be lost, but it will be taxpayer money, and you never run out of that, do you?


    Obamacare Enrollees Older and Sicker Than Projected

Obamacare has three separate programs (the “3Rs”) that make up this bailout: Reinsurance, which pays companies to subsidize particular policies; the Risk Corridor program, which taxes companies that end up with less-expensive mixes of policyholders and subsidizes those that have more-expensive mixes; and the Risk Adjustment program, which does the same at the insurance plan level. The mechanics of these are all more complex than that (but trust them, they have top men working on all these details), but the general idea is that, if Obamacare works as projected, the Reinsurance program will provide a subsidy of up to $20 billion over the next three years, but the other two programs will be budget-neutral. In other words, there will be an equal balance of winners and losers subsidizing their fellow comrades in glorious workers’ paradise without pestering the taxpayers.

But the data provided by the insurers – insurance companies and co-ops covering about 80% of the market, from which the overall numbers are extrapolated* – makes clear that the Administration’s public stance of no-net-bailouts is at odds with what those insurers expect and have been telling the White House:

As of May 2014, twelve of the 15 traditional health insurers expect to receive payments from the Risk Corridor program, one of the insurers expects to make payments into the Risk Corridor program, and two insurers expect no net payments. These 15 insurers project they will receive approximately $640 million in net payments through the Risk Corridor program for the 2014 plan year.

As of May 2014, of the 23 co-ops, seven expect to receive payments from the Risk Corridor program, two expect to make payments into the Risk Corridor program, and 14 expect no net payments. These 23 co-ops expect to receive approximately $86 million in net payments through the Risk Corridor program for the 2014 plan year.

Although the Risk Adjustment program is required to be budget neutral, many more insurers expect to receive payments than make payments. As of May 2014, the companies surveyed by the Committee expect net payments through the Risk Adjustment program of about $346 million. Moreover, insurers expect to receive nearly twice as much in net Risk Adjustment payments than they did on October 1, 2013. This provides additional evidence that insurers expect enrollees in ObamaCare-compliant plans to be less healthy than originally anticipated. In fact, enrollment information provided by insurers show that insurers enrolled a much older risk pool, on average, in their ObamaCare-compliant plans than they anticipated.

While the exchange plans were always susceptible to adverse selection because of how expensive the law made insurance for younger and healthier individuals, several delays and modifications to the law by the Obama Administration worsened the adverse selection problem….Insurers directly lobbied the White House for the Administration to make the 3R programs more generous to insurers, and the Administration obliged. Insurers and co-ops now expect a third more from the Risk Corridor taxpayer bailout than they did on October 1, 2013. It is impossible to know how much of the increase in the industries’ expectation for the size of the bailouts is the result of a less healthy exchange population than originally anticipated and how much of the increase is from the Administration’s rule changes to make the bailouts more generous…

This is, as the Oversight Report notes, dramatically different from the February 2014 CBO analysis that Democrats uniformly trumpeted as evidence that there would be no net bailout; the House went straight to the insurers because “the CBO estimates were inconsistent with widespread sentiment among actuaries and health policy experts”. The actual insurance company data paints a picture quite different from the CBO’s report, in part because (as set forth in the graph at the top of this post), the mix of enrollees has turned out to be older and likely sicker than projected, mainly due to a drastic shortfall in the enrollment of families with children (always a demographic overlooked by this Administration). In other words, as usual, reality has failed to conform to the assumptions provided to the CBO. As the report notes:

The large increase in insurers’ expectations for Risk Corridor payments and Risk Adjustment payments between October 1, 2013, and the present are consistent with recent media reports about a high degree of adverse selection in exchange plans. An April report from Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager, showed that early exchange plan enrollees were spending much more money on drugs than individuals in group plans. On June 24, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that exchange enrollees are about 70 percent more likely to have significant health issues than people enrolled in the individual market in 2013. According to an analysis of the early claims data, healthy individuals largely chose to keep their existing non-ObamaCare-compliant plans while those with greater health concerns have opted for exchange coverage. Patrick Getzen, chief actuary for Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, told the Wall Street Journal, “[i]t’s even worse than what we thought. … We’re seeing more chronic conditions than we would have expected.”

The Committee has obtained two pieces of information that further demonstrate that people enrolled in exchange plans are significantly older and less healthy than initially expected by insurers. The first is that insurers anticipate much larger payments through ObamaCare’s Risk Adjustment program than they did on October 1, 2013. The second is that insurers have reported to the Committee that they have enrolled a substantially older population in their exchange plans than they projected prior to October 1, 2013.

    Obama White House Is Warned But Downplays The Risk

The Oversight Report details the communications between insurance company executives concerned about potential mounting losses and Valerie Jarrett and other White House officials who were eager to keep them singing from their script, and who eventually agreed to a more generous bailout package in order to tamp down pressure to raise rates even further than planned. Anderson summarizes a key exchange:

[T]he administration declared that the risk-corridor program would be budget-neutral. In reply, according to the Oversight report, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Chet Burrell emailed Jarrett and then talked on the phone with her later that same day. The next day, he emailed her again, attaching a memo that said, “Until very recently, the position of the Administration had been that the law requires the Federal government to fully fund the Risk Corridor payments if amounts paid in by the ‘winners’ turn out to be inadequate — as they likely will.’” Otherwise, he added, “carriers will have to increase rates substantially (i.e., as much as 20% or more beyond what they would otherwise file) to make sure that premiums adequately reflect expected costs.” In other words, the administration had a choice: provide a bailout, or face the unpleasant prospect of having insurers price their products honestly.

…Soon thereafter, the Obama administration abandoned the claim of budget-neutrality, writing in a release from Health and Human Services (HHS), “In the unlikely event of a shortfall for the 2015 program year, HHS recognizes that the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary to make full payments to issuers. In that event, HHS will use other sources of funding for the risk corridors payments, subject to the availability of appropriations.”

So, the Administration was continuing to call a bailout “unlikely” as insurance company CEOs were warning the White House that the industry believed it was in fact “likely,” and were pressuring the White House to guarantee a bailout precisely for that reason. As the Oversight Report details, the expected bailout has increased significantly since the October 2013 launch of Obamacare, and now tops $1 billion. And as Anderson details, there is no way Congress will appropriate money for such a bailout, and the Administration’s basis for claiming it can be funded without an appropriation is exceptionally shaky. But then, this White House won’t be stopped by such minutuae as Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution.

    Rate Hikes A-Comin’

All of this matters because rate hikes are on their way, and the bailout appears to be the only thing holding them back from getting even worse. We just saw the Florida insurance regulators project a 13% increase in premiums for 2015, some of which will hit policyholders and the rest of which will – like the bailout – be absorbed by taxpayers. This is in line with other states as well:

According to officials in the State of California, insurance premium increases in the first year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, ranged from 22 percent to 88 percent….According to press reports, they will rise by an average of 15 percent in Indiana, 12 percent in New York, 11 percent or more in Arizona, 11 percent in Iowa, 5 percent in Delaware…by double digits in Tennessee and Louisiana, and as much as 15 percent in Virginia. More and more states are likely to announce rate increases in the weeks ahead.

The Administration’s fear of unpopular rate hikes seems to have motivated the bailout, as the insurers were pointedly warning Jarrett that she needed to move to reassure them on bailouts before the next set of deadlines for publicly filing their next year’s rates. There’s an election coming, after all.

As the Oversight Report notes, even with all of this governmental support, a number of the co-ops and at least a few insurance companies seem to be underpricing policies in a way that will be unsustainable and lead to ever-growing demands for bigger bailouts down the road, creating a fiscal death spiral for the program:

[T]axpayers appear to be on the hook for bailing out co-ops that significantly underpriced their plans in 2014. Moreover, policyholders with coverage through these co-ops should expect large premium increases in future years when the co-ops can no longer rely on taxpayers to heavily subsidize their revenues.

In addition to the co-ops, many other insurers also appear to have underpriced exchange plans for the 2014 plan year, likely due to their expectation of receiving a taxpayer bailout. The Committee has learned that, as of October 1, 2013, many large insurers expected to receive payments through the Risk Corridor program. Of the 15 insurers, six expected payments through the Risk Corridor program prior to the start of open enrollment while none expected to make payments into the Risk Corridor program.

Obamacare is the gift that keeps on giving – from you to a big industry that President Obama only pretends to hate.

* – The Oversight Report’s estimates are based on the White House’s frequently touted figure of seven million Obamacare enrollees, although it expresses skepticism about that as well, see page 15 of the Report.