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Archive for February 20th, 2019

Wow: John Harris warned his father about legal red flags involving Bladen operative

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Brian Murphy, Jim Morrell, and Ely Portillo report in the Raleigh NC News & Observer:

Contradicting his father’s previous denials, the son of Republican Mark Harris testified Wednesday that he told the candidate multiple times that he had concerns about the political operative hired to run an absentee ballot campaign in Bladen County.

The testimony from John Harris rebutted suggestions by Harris and his campaign that they’d seen no red flags about McCrae Dowless, who is now at the center of allegations into voting irregularities in the 9th Congressional District.

John Harris’ dramatic testimony came on the third day of a hearing by North Carolina’s State Board of Elections that could decide the nation’s last unresolved congressional race and has drawn national attention — and it left his father in tears.

“I love my dad and I love my mom,” John Harris said as his father cried. “I certainly have no vendetta against them, no family scores to settle, OK? I think they made mistakes in this process, and they certainly did things differently than I would have done them.”

His parents did not know he was going to testify.

John Harris, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina, first raised concerns about ballot collection in Bladen County on the night of the Republican primary in 2016. Mark Harris finished second in that race, but third-place finisher Todd Johnson collected 221 of 226 mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen County in the race.

John Harris again raised concerns in April 2017, a day after Harris first met with Dowless about running an absentee ballot program in Bladen and Robeson counties. First in a phone call and then in subsequent emails, the younger Harris warned his father of both political and legal ramifications of hiring Dowless. Harris said his father told him McCrae assured them he operated legally.

“They believed what McCrae had assured them,” Harris testified. “I didn’t because I had done a deep dive into the numbers. … I was right, unfortunately for all of us.”

John Harris cut off most communication with his parents after Dec. 3, but has talked to them about his father’s recent health problems.

Earlier witnesses have testified that Dowless paid them to collect ballots — a felony — and even filled out some absentee ballots himself. John Harris said he noticed that absentee ballots from the 2016 primary had come to Bladen elections officials on the same day, evidence to him of “batching,” that is, collecting and mailing groups of absentee ballots.

He had also noticed an odd pattern in the 2016 GOP primary. In Bladen County that year, Todd Johnson received 221 mail-in absentee votes to four for Mark Harris and just one for incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger.

John Harris said he thought it was a counting error at first, but learned in a conversation with his father later that night that someone was working absentee ballots in Bladen County for the Johnson campaign.

He spoke to his parents on April 7, 2017, a day after the candidate met with Dowless.

“I told him that collecting absentee ballots was a felony,” John Harris said, “and I would send him the statute that collecting ballots was a felony.”

Later that morning, he emailed his father the statute that makes such actions a felony in North Carolina. He also emailed his fears abut Dowless, saying he believed the Bladen County operation was on “thin ice.”

“The key thing I am fairly certain of they do that is illegal is they collect the completed absentee ballots and mail them all at once,” he emailed his parents.

In still another email that night, he said, “Good test is if you’re comfortable with the full process he (Dowless) uses being broadcast in the press.”

“I raised red flags at the time the decision was made to hire Mr. Dowless,” John Harris testified. . .

Continue reading. Video of the son’s emotional statement at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 7:48 pm

Trump’s environmental policies are putting the health of American children at risk.

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Stephen Hall writes in New York:

Monterey County, in Northern California, is one of those places that appear to tell a tale of two Americas. The part that runs along the Pacific coastline, from Pebble Beach and Carmel in the north [well, no: from Monterey and Pacific Grove in the north – LG] down to Big Sur, is breathtaking and breathtakingly affluent. Travel 20 miles inland, over a narrow ridge of mountains, and you end up in the Salinas Valley, informally known as the Salad Bowl of the World, which is greened by endless rows of lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli erupting out of rich brown soil and tended by a predominantly immigrant and poor community of farmworkers. Some of those fields run practically up to the main entrance of Natividad Medical Center in the town of Salinas, where, more than two decades ago, an environmental epidemiologist named Brenda Eskenazi came to study the effects of pesticides on children’s brain development. If there is a comforting illusion that barriers — be they a ridge of mountains or sheer wealth or a “wall” — can somehow seal off the dangers of modern life, the data that Eskenazi and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, have produced tell a different story.

Sitting in an office on the grounds of the Natividad center recently, Eskenazi, by turns caustic and conscientiously precise, jokes that she could not have picked a more inconvenient group of experimental subjects. More than half of the primarily Latina mothers she and her team began studying in 1999 lived at or below the poverty level, 85 percent of them came from Mexico (some of uncertain immigration status), almost none of them spoke English, and they were scattered across 100 miles of rich agricultural real estate — “in a place,” says Eskenazi, a native New Yorker, “where there’s no public transportation.” Despite the inconvenience, these women and their children helped the Berkeley group make a series of alarming discoveries: Elevated levels of pesticide exposure in the womb were linked to neurological delays and autismlike symptoms in 2-year-olds; by age 7, the children with the highest exposures showed behavioral problems and a loss of IQ; by age 14, the link to autism-spectrum traits persisted; and researchers continue to assess these problems in older teens who return for assessments at 18 years old. Other research has found traces of the same pesticides to be ubiquitous in the U.S. population, and no one yet knows what a safe level of exposure might be.

It’s a cliché to say children are the most vulnerable members of society, but over the past three decades, scientists have established this as a physiological fact. Children eat more food and drink more water per unit of body weight than adults. They breathe more rapidly (and tend to breathe that air close to the ground). Those facts alone make children particularly susceptible when they are exposed to chemicals and pollutants. But that is especially true in the prenatal period and during early childhood, when the brain undergoes tremendous development.

Eskenazi’s project — the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study — was part of a wave of epidemiological studies launched in the late 1990s to explore the possible effects of environmental chemicals and toxins on fetuses and children. Eskenazi and her fellow scientists across the field have amassed an increasingly consistent, grim picture of possible neurological harms from a variety of environmental poisons, including chemicals found in agricultural pesticides (that also turn up in food), microscopic particles of carbon and other pollutants in the air, barely detectable levels of lead in the water — all are toxins that travel across state lines and abide by no barriers, socioeconomic or otherwise. In 2012, David Bellinger of Harvard’s school of public health published an eye-popping analysis of the impact of just three toxins — lead, methylmercury, and organophosphate pesticides — on neurological development, concluding that American children between the ages of 0 and 5 had suffered a collective loss of more than 41 million IQ points because of their environmental exposure. That may not sound like a lot when spread across 24 million children, but Bellinger analyzed only three types of toxicants out of an estimated 40,000 chemicals currently in use, many of which have not been studied in children to the same extent.

It’s hard to underestimate the impact of this research. Until the mid-1990s, regulatory agencies had calculated health risks based on studies of adult males; children didn’t become part of the calculus until 1996, when Congress mandated they be considered. And not until 2016, after years of “hotly debating” the issue, according to a former EPA official, did the agency finally embrace epidemiological studies, for the first time, in its decision to ban virtually all uses of chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide among the chemicals in use during Eskenazi’s Berkeley study. It was a huge moment for the scientists who study children’s environmental health.

The celebration was short-lived. Almost immediately after taking office, Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, overturned the proposed ban on chlorpyrifos — a decision that Columbia University scientist Virginia Rauh, in a commentary for The New England Journal of Medicine, said “may be putting an entire generation of young brains in harm’s way.” Since then, the EPA has relaxed air-pollution standards, proposed rolling back regulations on mercury emissions, and introduced a plan for lead poisoning that critics say turns back the clock 20 years — all acts concerning toxins that epidemiologists have flagged as harmful to children. At the same time, the agency overhauled the regulatory process to diminish scientific input. Beginning last summer, the EPA requested raw data from Eskenazi and other scientists whose research has shown adverse neurological effects in children; public health experts view the move as a hostile act meant to either discredit or exclude the findings from consideration in setting federal health standards. And in September, the EPA abruptly placed Ruth Etzel, its highest-ranking (and most tenacious) advocate for children’s health, on administrative leave. It was, writ large, an attempt to purge the science that has established compelling evidence of environmental harms to the neurological development of children throughout the country.

The story of how epidemiology has revealed “silent epidemics” in children, and how the Trump administration is systematically denigrating that child-centric science, begins and ends with lead poisoning. In 1979, in The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard scientist Herbert L. Needleman published the results of the first study laying out the public-health implications of minuscule lead exposures — cognitive delays, behavioral anomalies, and lower IQ. Those results highlighted a debate that has roiled environmental science ever since: Epidemiology had revealed that low levels of lead exposure caused brain damage in children, whereas most traditional toxicology experiments — conducted on animals — had not.

After Needleman’s work, laws requiring reductions of lead in gasoline and paint led to dramatic declines in the amount of lead in the blood of virtually every American child. The Flint water crisis notwithstanding, reduction of environmental lead is widely considered one of the public-health triumphs of the past half-century. But Needleman paid dearly for it.

Gasoline and chemical companies like E.I. DuPont, Dutch Shell, and the Ethyl Corporation of America attacked the lead studies as inconclusive and poorly conducted; one scientist allied with the gasoline industry argued that the loss of IQ in children was due not to lead but to their parents’ low IQs. Needleman, who had moved to the University of Pittsburgh, later faced allegations of scientific misconduct from industry-associated researchers, prompting a two-year investigation by the National Institutes of Health, in which he was ultimately exonerated. In a bid for “transparency,” recalled Philip Landrigan, who headed children’s environmental health research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine for three decades, lead-industry representatives gained access to Needleman’s raw data and tried to use it to discredit his findings.

The lead findings were debated for more than two decades, and Needleman, denied access to his own research files for two years, emerged a bruised and embittered figure. In a 1992 article for the journal Pediatrics chronicling his travails, Needleman made clear he felt like the victim of a witch hunt; the title was “Salem Comes to the National Institutes of Health.” “Needleman was hounded,” said Lynn R. Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. “But by the time it was all done, there were a dozen other studies showing exactly the same thing.” By 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded there was no safe level of lead exposure, in part because its deleterious effects were irreversible.

In April 1979, in the same week the New England Journal paper on lead poisoning came out, Eskenazi interviewed with Needleman for a job at Harvard. Eskenazi — a proud alumna of Flushing High School, Queens College, and Woodstock Nation (she attributes her original interest in neuropsychology to watching a young man at the music festival who dove headfirst into the pavement while tripping) — had just gotten a Ph.D. at the City University of New York, and one of her first research projects focused on lead. She didn’t get the job, but she and a new generation of environmental epidemiologists considered Needleman’s paper revolutionary. “It was like the first really good study to do what we were doing,” she recalls.

Eskenazi went on to join the faculty at UC Berkeley. In 1998, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA began to fund ambitious research projects on children’s health, and her CHAMACOS study was among the first. The Berkeley researchers chose the Salinas Valley, which generates some $4.4 billion worth of lettuce, produce, and fruit each year, in large part because the mild, Mediterranean-like weather extends the growing season to 11 months. “We might lose families more easily in the Central Valley, whereas in the Salinas Valley they were more likely to stay put,” Eskenazi explains. As is standard in human-subject research, the Berkeley group baked in absolute privacy protections, including a “certificate of confidentiality” from the NIH pledging that the researchers could not “be compelled to reveal to anyone outside of the study the identity of study participants or information about them.” By 1999, the group had recruited 601 pregnant women to join the study; in 2000, the first children were born.

Since then, the Berkeley group has collected upwards of 350,000 biological and environmental samples — blood, urine, breast milk, saliva, and even household dust — from participants and has published more than 150 papers on the health effects on children of environmental toxins, including elevated levels of organophosphate (or OP) pesticides, which account for roughly 70 percent of all pesticide use in the U.S. There was good reason to study OP pesticides: They block an enzyme in nerve cells, essentially causing a synaptic stutter of hyperstimulation. That nervous-system frenzy makes for a highly effective insecticide, but in animal experiments, researchers have shown that this class of chemicals disrupts the formation and proper function of synapses, which are crucial to brain function. The Berkeley group found an association between in-utero exposure to OP pesticides and adverse neurological effects, including loss of IQ, cognitive deficits, behavioral issues like lack of attention, and respiratory problems. The effects are long-lasting, Eskenazi said, “from early age into the teens.”

Other research groups from that era . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 4:57 pm

Low-carb from a doctor’s perspective

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I urge you to watch this video. I wish I had seen it years ago. (And, BTW, I never knew that about skin tags.)

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 2:57 pm

Jared Kushner and the push to give nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

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Judd Legum writes at Popular Information (and has a newsletter to boot):

Multiple whistleblowers say there is an effort within the Trump administration to illegally transfer “highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.” Their claims were revealed in an explosive report released Tuesday by the House Oversight Committee.

The allegations center around a company called IP3, which is pushing a multi-billion dollar plan to build 40 nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. Using American nuclear technology is strictly controlled by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and requires the approval of Congress. The protections are intended to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

But the whistleblowers claim there is an aggressive effort to get the Trump administration to approve the plan unilaterally.

IP3’s leadership includes former General Jack Keane, former Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend, and former National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane. IP3 also enlisted Tom Barrack, a personal friend of President Trump with extensive financial ties to Saudi Arabia, to champion its plan.

The Committee is concerned that IP3’s proposal is under active consideration by the Trump administration. Just last week “the President met with nuclear power developers at the White House about sharing nuclear technology with countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.” The meeting included Keane and another top executive from IP3.

One senior official quoted in the report described IP3’s proposal as “not a business plan,” but “a scheme for these generals to make some money.”

The Kushner connection

Jared Kushner bought the tower at 666 5th Avenue for $1.8 billion in 2008, at the height of the real estate bubble. The aging tower soon started losing tenants and hemorrhaging millions. Worse, the Kushner family faced a balloon payment on its $1.4 billion mortgage that would have been due this month.

But last August, a company called Brookfield bailed the Kushner family out of Jared Kushner’s billion dollar boondoggle. According to reports, Brookfield paid the Kushners $1.1 billion upfront for a 99-year lease of the building, allowing the family to pay down its debts.

Why was Brookfield interested in the aging property which failed to attract a buyer for more than two years?

We don’t know for sure, but a nugget buried in the House Oversight Committee reportmay provide a clue. In January 2018, Brookfield “announced its plans to acquire Westinghouse Electric for $4.6 billion.” Westinghouse Electric “is the bankrupt nuclear services company that is part of IP3’s proposed consortium to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia.”

Jared Kushner is seen as a key player in getting IP3’s plan approved. He is extremely close to Saudi leadership, especially Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The strategy to get Trump to approve IP3’s plan, according to one whistleblower, was for Kushner to “present it to the President for approval.”

Is 666 5th Avenue a bad investment for Brookfield? Maybe. But if it ultimately helps Westinghouse, its new acquisition, score a multi-billion dollar deal to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, it will be worth it.

The Flynn connection

IP3’s inside man was Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who is currently awaiting sentencing for lying to the FBI. Flynn signed on as an adviser for IP3 while he was advising Trump on national security issues during the 2016 campaign. Once he became national security adviser, he continued to advocate for the plan.

Flynn’s point man for the project was Derek Harvey, who Flynn put in charge of Middle East issues on the National Security Council (NSC). Career NSC staff told Harvey that he needed to follow the procedures of the Atomic Energy Act, but Harvey ignored them. After Flynn was fired in February 2017 for lying about his contacts with Russia, Harvey continued to advocate for the IP3 project.

Harvey was fired by Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMasters, in July 2017.

The Barrack Connection

IP3 enlisted Tom Barrack, Trump’s longtime friend and the chairman of his inaugural committee, to push its plan to build dozens of nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. Barrack has deep ties with the Saudis. . .

Continue reading.

There’s much more. Later in the post:

The Khashoggi Connection

The pursuit of a multi-billion dollar nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia may help explain the administration’s muted response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the orders of Saudi leadership.

Barrack, appearing on a CNN panel, said that “whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse, to the atrocities in Saudi Arabia.” He said the controversy over Khashoggi’s murder is an example of “the West misunderstanding the East.”

After an uproar, he apologized for his comments and called Khashoggi’s murder “atrocious,” immediately adding, “I feel strongly that the bad acts of a few should not be interpreted as the failure of an entire sovereign kingdom.”

The Trump administration, meanwhile, failed to produce a report about Khashoggi’s murder within 120 days of a request by Congress, which is required under a law known as the Magnitsky Act. That deadline passed earlier this month.

The administration said it was within Trump’s “discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate.” It did not explain why it didn’t produce a report. . .

At the end, an interesting note:

. . . The Oversight Committee called what it released on Tuesday an “interim report.” It will now launch a full investigation. The Committee will request more information from several entities, including IP3 and Colony NorthStar.

Next week, “Kushner will be embarking on a tour of Middle Eastern capitals—including Riyadh” — and the plan to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia may be discussed.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 10:36 am

Some good news on civil asset forfeiture

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Robert Barnes reports in the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Constitution’s prohibition on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, limiting their abilities to impose fines and seize property.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on just her second day back on the bench after undergoing cancer surgery in December, announced the decision for the court, saying that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause protects against government retribution.

“For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” Ginsburg wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. . . . Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence.”

The court ruled in favor of Tyson Timbs of Marion, Ind., who had his $42,000 Land Rover seized after he was arrested for selling a couple hundred dollars’ worth of heroin.

He drew wide support from civil liberties organizations who want to limit civil forfeitures, which they say empower localities and law enforcement to seize property of someone suspected of a crime as a revenue stream.

Some justices, too, had become worried about the state and local efforts.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a recent opinion that civil forfeitures have “become widespread and highly profitable.”

“This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses,” Thomas wrote, referring to reporting by The Washington Post and the New Yorker.

At oral argument, Timbs’s lawyer said the case was a simple matter of “constitutional housekeeping.”

The Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects against actions of the federal government. But the Supreme Court over time has applied it to state and local governments under the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment. In 2010, for instance, the court held that the Second Amendment applied to state and local government laws on gun control.

The Eighth Amendment states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Two of those commands — regarding bail and cruel and unusual punishments — have been deemed to apply to state and local governments. But until now, the ban on excessive fines had not been.

And the Indiana Supreme Court noted that when overturning a lower court’s ruling that the actions taken against Timbs were excessive. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 10:12 am

When our guardians fail: FDA, drug companies, doctors mishandled use of powerful fentanyl painkiller

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Lenny Bernstein reports in the Washington Post:

The Food and Drug Administration, drug companies and doctors mishandled distribution of a powerful fentanyl painkiller, allowing widespread prescribing to ineligible patients despite special measures designed to safeguard its use, according to a report released Tuesday.

The unusual paper in the medical journal JAMA relies on nearly 5,000 pages of documents that researchers obtained from the government via the Freedom of Information Act, rather than a more typical controlled scientific study.

After reviewing the data, the researchers concluded that prescribers, pharmacists, drug companies and the FDA — all of whom had agreed to special rules and monitoring for use of the powerful opioid — had allowed it to fall into the hands of thousands of inappropriate patients. Over time, the FDA and drug companies became aware this was happening but took no action, the researchers found.

Using five years of insurance claims data, the researchers found that between 34.6 percent and 55.4 percent of patients shouldn’t have received the drugs.

“The whole purpose of this distribution system was to prevent exactly what we found,” said Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and one of the leaders of the study. “It should never happen. It’s a never event. And yet we found it was happening in 50 percent” of the cases.

The researchers looked at the distribution of pharmaceutical fentanyl for cancer patients experiencing “breakthrough pain” despite receiving opioids round the clock. The fentanyl, administered via lollipops, lozenges or nasal spray, marketed under several names by different companies, is about 100 times as powerful as morphine. According to the FDA, about 5,000 people in the United States receive such prescriptions at any one time.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the FDA said the agency “shares the concerns” about how the drug is being prescribed and whether its safeguards are working.

“These products are medically important for a small group of patients who are opioid-tolerant but also pose serious risks. That’s why the agency has sought to ensure that the. . . program is achieving its public health goal of assuring safe use and mitigating the risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and complications due to medication errors.”

The JAMA paper comes during the trial in Boston of Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor, who is accused of racketeering. Prosecutors say that the company paid doctors kickbacks to increase the use of its product Subsys, a form of fentanyl that is sprayed under the tongue for pain relief, and encouraged them to offer higher doses.

The strength of pharmaceutical fentanyl products and their quick absorption through the mucosal linings of the mouth and nose pose a serious risk of overdose, abuse and addiction for anyone who hasn’t already built up a tolerance to opioids. To guard against prescribing to such patients, the FDA created a “risk evaluation and mitigation strategy” for the products.

Under the plan, drug companies, doctors, pharmacists and patients themselves received special instruction on the use of the drugs and signed up to be part of the small, closed group allowed to prescribe, dispense and take them. Drug companies and the FDA monitored prescribing.

But the report contends that those safeguards didn’t work. In an assessment of claims data after four years, the drug industry told the FDA that 12,916 of 25,322 patients who took the drugs, or about 51 percent, had not built up tolerance to opioids, according to FDA standards.

A report after 60 months determined that 34.6 percent to 55.4 percent of patients were ineligible, depending on the product, the Hopkins researchers reported. The FDA concluded that its primary goal of keeping the drug out of the hands of ineligible patients was not being met.

The FDA responded to a few complaints that the rules tied the hands of clinical decision-makers by making the definition of opioid tolerance more specific, the report shows. Doctors have authority to prescribe medications “off-label” — for problems other than those spelled out on the drug packaging. But in this case, the drugs were specifically prohibited for patients who weren’t already tolerant of other opioids.

Drug companies were supposed to boot doctors and others who wrongly prescribed the drugs. But after two years, and in subsequent analyses, the researchers found “no reports” of the medications “being prescribed to an opioid non-tolerant individual.” No prescriber was cut from the program despite the results available in the claims data, they said. . .

Continue reading.

Outsourcing regulation to companies whose profits increase if they ignore regulatory responsibilities is the acme of stupidity. It’s equivalent to paying manufacturing quality control inspectors based on how many items pass inspection: stupid, stupid, stupid.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 9:56 am

Is the President’s liver failing?

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Interesting question posed on DailyKos:

I had just read the far less than informative letter President Trump’s physician Sean Conley when I watched the President declare a National Emergency. I think there is a National Emergency all right. I believe the President is desperately ill.

Not that you would know that from anything his doctor has said. According to Conley the President is in very good health overall.

Fox News would like us to move on. Nothing to see here.

Not so fast.

What you need to know is 40mg of rosuvastatin is the maximum dosage allowed of this medication.

I bet you thought I was going to talk about his weight. Don’t worry I will get there.

Rosuvastatin is a drug that reduces total cholesterol by lowering low density lipoprotein and raising levels of high density lipoprotein which is protective against heart disease. Most doctors in the US start patients at 10 to 20 milligrams once a day. Conservative doctors and those in Canada and Germany start at 5. Or go 10 every second day. That is because there is such a thing as rosuvastatin intolerance.

This is a very useful drug with some serious but rare side effects and even after all these years physiological effects that aren’t well understood.

What the authors are saying is that by some uncertain means rosuvastatin reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure. You will notice Trump’s BP is listed in the letter as 118/80 which is very low for a man his age and that may well be a positive side effect of his rosavustatin prescription.

Some of the better known side effects of rosuvastatin are:

-jaundice which can cause your skin to be yellow or yellowish
-stomach pain

And more seriously:

-diminished liver function
-onset of type II diabetes

There is by the way little data on side effects of long term use of 40mg of rosuvastatin. But what we know for sure is that this dosage is contraindicated for patients over 70. There is a real danger of it building up in the patient’s liver and causing liver failure.

So why risk it? What are these doctors seeing in the President’s blood work that requires such a huge dosage. And why aren’t they sharing that data with the American public?

There are only three possible reasons for upping the dosage. The first is that the patient’s total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein levels were rising despite his earlier dosage. Rising cholesterol in a 72 year old obese man on 20 mg of rosavustatin screams ticking time bomb.

The second reason for such a high dose would be an elevated reading on a high sensitivity C Reactive Protein (hsCRP test). This test just tells the doctor if you have inflammatory responses going on anywhere in your body. But high levels of inflammation are predictive of heart disease and thus so is hsCRP. Again ticking time bomb.

We do know the drug doesn’t work anywhere near as well on patients who won’t consume less fat and less calories, get more exercise, and lose weight. In other words it is not an optimal choice for President Trump.

So again I ask why is an obese, lazy, 72 year old man with a multi hamburger a day taking a drug not intended to be used in this situation since it’s effectiveness will be reduced by his behaviors? And in a dosage that could well be a death sentence and an ugly death at that. And where in this report is the essential liver function test we need to know if this dosage is destroying the President’s liver.

The third reason you might be on maximum dose of rosavustatin is because there is a growing off label use of rosavustatin. To delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. I think the question has to be asked. Does the President have dementia. If not why is he on rosavustatin?

Now ironically we have to ask if the former dose caused the cognitive issues that we have seen the President exhibit over the last few years and if those symptoms are going to be worse on the increased dosage. There is certainly research that suggests this could be the case.

There are other questions I’d like answers to such as

-why are the President’s doctors describing a man who is either racing up on a heart attack, suffering a major inflammatory disease, or in the grips of dementia as healthy

-why are the media not pushing back hard on this absurd medical?

Now as to the President’s weight. I don’t want to fixate on this other than to say there is a body of research that suggests obese people may be more likely to suffer liver damage while on rosavustatin.

This again suggests rosuvastatin is contraindicated for the President.

Two final thoughts:

The mental issues the President is suffering in full view of the public are those you would expect during liver failure. It is called hepatic encephalopathy. This was particularly evident during today’s announcement.

Hepatic encephalopathy is a very likely outcome of what we know about the Presidents overall health and the medication he is on.

Fox News is wrong. Even the data the President has made public indicates a man in failing health and raises new, critical concerns. Today’s events just bring the urgency of dealing with the President’s health back into focus.

In my next diary I am going to talk about my long (40+) year career as a scientist. Most of that has been as a medical scientist doing research on humans.

I realized reading the comments that I assumed a degree of knowledge about human physiology that some of you may not possess. And in the process missed a chance to include a public service announcement. I would like to redress that here and now.

What I am about to say is simply a fact. There are no rhetorical tricks involved.

As you age your bodies ability to process drugs changes. There are no hard and fast rules about when these changes begin to occur. And it isn’t the same for any two patients or for that matter any two drugs.

You need to work with your primary care physician and your specialist to make sure that these changes are detected and your medications adjusted appropriately as you age. I always recommend starting with your annual physical at age 60. If you are the caregivers to elderly parents or a professional care giver you need to be especially vigilant and ask both the person you are caring for and their physicians questions about verifying appropriate dosages and making necessary changes.

Please look after you and yours!

And I would offer President Trump and his family the same advice. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2019 at 8:11 am

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