The Daily Show – Nativists Want English as the Official Language By Manila Ryce (video link)

Dandelion Salad

By Manila Ryce
Published Tuesday, July 17th, 2007, 5:05 am

Like the Constitution, we’re told that American culture is meant to change as time passes. Our country is a melting pot, incorporating the cultures of various waves of immigrants into the collective. Of course, this ideal has always been a bit of a lie, as minority groups have always been exploited and treated like outsiders for not sharing supposed “American values”. Only now, as such groups threaten to become the majority, have white nativists felt it necessary to make laws preventing this cultural shift. As John Oliver points out, the bill would cause many life-threatening problems, while benefiting no one. Not surprisingly, Our good friend Jim Inhofe has a hand in this one.

Continue reading

No More Mister Nice Guy: Newsweek’s Kremlin Fairy Tale by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Putin’s Dark Descent.” That’s the minatory headline on the latest Newsweek International Edition. (I’m not sure what’s on the current cover of the Stateside edition: “Did Jesus Raise Puppies From the Dead? Theologians Weigh In,” or some other burning topic, I imagine.)

In any case, Newsweek International draws up a bill of indictment against the Russian president, who is not at all a nice guy, it seems. The big whopping article is by Owen Matthews (who, as it happens, was once a colleague of mine at the Moscow Times, more than 10 years ago, although aside from his patented “young fogey” look and jaded aristo mannerisms, I don’t recall that much about him.) Matthews’ story is a standard rehash of recent low points in Russia’s relations with the United States. (Oddly enough, Matthews entirely ignores the far more interesting — and turbulent — turn in Russia’s relationship with Britain, which has just expelled four Russian diplomats over the Litvinenko affair. Britain wants Moscow to extradite the man that UK police believe was behind Livenenko’s fatal radiation poisoning; Russia wants Britain to stop sheltering exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who has lately been using his safe London perch to call for armed revolution in Russia. UK experts say that Moscow-London relations are now at their lowest point since the 1970s.)



Alexander Litvinenko/Ex-KBG Spy

“What are we supposed to do with our Dead” – Odds n’ Ends in the War on Terror By Mike Whitney

This is a piece with several parts going into many different issues, I highly recommend reading the rest of the story at the original source. ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/17/07 “

Observations on unrelated facts from the weekly news

Part 1: Bush to Putin: “Let them eat cake”

Much has been made of the chummy relationship between George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin. An incident, which was reported last week in the “UK Spectator”, shows that this so-called “man-to-man” friendship is a complete fraud created by the Washington press corps to conceal the real issues and to perpetuate the illusion that Bush is a normal guy.

You be the judge:

“Six years ago, when George W. Bush first hosted Mr Putin at his ranch in Texas, he famously claimed to have seen into his soul. At the time he phrased it slightly differently to an adviser, unaware that his microphone was still live and his remarks were being broadcast over the speaker system in the next room. ‘I’ve got him eating out of my hand,’ the President whispered. ‘You give these Russkies some cake and they’ll give you their souls.’ (Fraser NelsonThe Cold War is back” UK Spectator)

Spoken like a true friend, eh?



One in a Million: More on the Killing of Khalid Hassan by Chris Floyd

Cindy Sheehan plays Hardball (video; impeachment)

Dandelion Salad

July 17, 2007


On a Journey for Humanity By Cindy Sheehan

Strange Bedfellows By Cindy Sheehan

Sheehan-Cindy (newer posts)

Cindy Sheehan (older posts)

TPMtv: The New Al Qaeda Bamboozle + Al Qaeda = Al Qaeda in Iraq + Does Iraq Make Al Qaeda Stronger? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

July 17, 2007
From: Veracifier

The Bush administration has really been pushing the Al Qaeda in Iraq line recently, constantly citing 9/11 in reference to the enemy that we face in Iraq, an enemy that essentially all military and intelligence experts agree is far more complicated and heterogenous a force than simply Al Qaeda. Will the media start drawing the distinction?

Al Qaeda = Al Qaeda in Iraq Part I

Frances Townsend on The Situation Room July 17 2007

Al Qaeda = Al Qaeda in Iraq Part II

Frances Townsend on The Situation Room July 17 2007

Does Iraq Make Al Qaeda Stronger?

Al Qaeda NIE Report Press Conference, Frances Townsend, July 17 2007

Al Qaeda NIE Report Press Conference (video)


Full Text: National Intel Estimate: ‘Terrorist Threat to the Homeland’ [pdf]

New intelligence report: Al-Qaida may use Iraqi network to attack homeland

h/t: ICH

Canadians Completely Unaware of Looming North American Union by Kevin Parkinson

Dandelion Salad

by Kevin Parkinson

Global Research, July 17, 2007

In just over a month’s time, on August 20, the most powerful president in the world will be arriving in Montebello, Quebec for a two-day conference. President George W. Bush will be meeting with Stephen Harper and their Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon. So far, the silence from the Canadian and American media has been deafening.

Talk to 90% of people on the street and they won’t know about this upcoming conference, and if by a slim chance they do, they won’t know the purpose of the meeting or why the leaders of Canada, United States and Mexico are meeting in the dog days of summer under what amounts to a veil of secrecy.

So, what’s this upcoming conference all about, and why are the newspapers, radio and television keeping silent about it?

The purpose of the upcoming conference is to ratify the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which was initiated by Bush, Martin and Fox in 2005 in Waco, Texas. Essentially, this so-called ‘partnership’ will result in what the politicians refer to as ‘continental integration’-newspeak for a North American Union- and basically a harmonization of 100’s of regulations, policies and laws.

In layman’s terms, it means that once this ‘partnership’ has been ratified which is a fait accompli; we will be following in the footsteps of the European Union. It will mean that Canada will become part of the North American Union by 2010, and that our resources, agricultural, health and environment issues, to name a few, will be controlled not by Canada, but by the government of the North American Union.

A huge ‘NAFTA’ highway, one quarter of a mile wide, is already being built in Texas, where private land is being expropriated, and will eventually reach the Manitoba border.

Water will be the ‘issue’ of this century, as more than 25 states in the U.S. are currently in desperate need. Where do you think they will get the water they need?

The United States is already guaranteed 60% of our natural gas resources from NAFTA, which mean that even during emergencies when we need energy, we will have to import it, while we are forced to export gas to the U.S. This is just one example of how Canada is being shortchanged, and it’s only going to get worse.

Why has there been absolutely NO public consultation on the biggest issue (North American Union) facing Canadians since Confederation? Why isn’t Guy Lauzon, our local MP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, holding town hall meetings, bringing in cabinet ministers and explaining how the emerging North American Union will affect our Canadian way of life? Ask the citizens of Canada for their feedback. Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?

Folks, I suggest that Mr. Lauzon isn’t even aware of the SPP or the North American Union, which explains why the Conservative government has denied all Canadians information to which they are entitled. If he does have something to say about it, then let him raise the issue in our riding.

Furthermore, the example of the North American Union illustrates that our government claims to be democratic, but in fact, does it act like one, or does it prefer to make the big decisions at committee level behind closed doors, while masking its real intentions?

The ratification of the SPP, and the emergence of the North American Union have been organized entirely by government committees and private enterprise. I refer readers to my website at

for further information on the North American Union.

If our citizenry allows the North American Union to come into existence, then our way of life will change drastically, for the years to come. With privatization of our resources, increased foreign ownership, and a Canadian government with less and less authority, our children and grandchildren will be come ‘North Americans’ and our quality of life will drastically decline.

The founding fathers of Canada must be rolling over in their graves.

Global Research Articles by Kevin Parkinson


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North American Union (NAU)

Debunking the North American Union Conspiracy Theory  (thanks to Daniel for the link) 

A Free Press or a Ministry of Truth? By Paul Craig Roberts

A Free Press or a Ministry of Truth?

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts

07/17/07 “ICH

In his novel 1984, George Orwell portrayed a future time in which the explanations of recent events and earlier history are continually changed to meet Big Brother’s latest purpose. Previous explanations disappear down “the memory hole.”

Sound familiar? Any American who pays attention can observe the identical phenomenon occurring in the US today.

Think about the Bush Regime’s changing explanations for the failed US occupation of Iraq. Shortly after Bush’s May 2003 announcement of “mission accomplished,” the mission revealed itself to be very much unaccomplished. Americans were told that the cause of the snafu was a small Sunni insurgency of two or three thousand at the most inspired by “die-hard Baath party remnants.” Remember the propagandistic deck of cards identifying the most wanted down to the less wanted? Americans were assured that once Saddam Hussein and his relatives and henchmen were rounded up, our troops would be pelted with the promised flowers instead of roadside bombs.


07.16.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad


This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Monday, July 16, 2007

“Abbas and Olmert Meet in Jerusalem,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Israel Gives Amnesty to 178 Wanted Fateh Members,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Simon Peres Assumes Israel’s Presidency,” IBA TV, Israel
“UNIFEL Forces Targeted in Lebanon,” Saudi TV, Saudi Arabia
“No Breakthrough Brokered by French Foreign Minister,” Future TV, Lebanon
“Suicide Attack in Kirkuk,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Fatwa Banning Fishing in Tigris,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Iraqi Forces Arrest Al Qaeda Terrorist,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Iraq Places 2nd on Failed States Index,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Science without Religion is Disastrous,” IRIB2 TV, Iran


Just Another Day in Iraq – 100 More Fathers, Mothers, Sons and Daughters Killed By Patrick Cockburn

Dandelion Salad

By Patrick Cockburn
July 17, 2007

Khanaquin, Diyala Province, Iraq.

The United States surge, the use of the American troop
reinforcements to bring violence in Iraq under control, is bloodily failing across northern Iraq. That was proved again yesterday when a suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives in Kirkuk killing at least 85 people and wounding a further 183. The truck bomb blasted a 30ft-deep crater in a busy road full of small shops and booths near the ancient citadel of Kirkuk, setting fire to a bus in which the passengers burned to death and burying many others under the rubble. Dozens of cars were set ablaze and their blackened hulks littered the street. Some 25 of the wounded suffered critical injuries and may not live.

In Baghdad, at least 44 people were killed or found dead across the city, police said. They included the bullet-riddled bodies of 25 people, apparent victims of sectarian death squads.

The attack is the latest assault by Sunni insurgents on Kurds who claim Kirkuk as their future capital.

Adnan Sarhan, 30, lost both his eyes and had his back broken in the blast. He lay on the operating table as his anguished mother, Mahiya Qadir, sat nearby with her daughter-in-law. “Will I ever see my son alive again?” she asked.

Two more car bombs blew up later in Kirkuk but caused few casualties.

The dispatch of 28,000 extra troops to Iraq starting in January, and the more aggressive deployment of the US army in the country, is not working. At best it is moving violence from one area of Iraq to another. The US is allying itself to local tribes and militias against guerrillas but that is angering the government in Baghdad and deepening the violence.

In Diyala, a mixed Shia-Sunni-Kurdish province south of Kirkuk and north-east of Baghdad, the US launched an offensive against al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent forces three weeks ago. It claimed to have killed many guerrillas and forced others to flee.

Hamdi Hassan Zubaydi, the Sunni leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Diyala, painted a very different picture. He described how some of the Sunni tribesmen had joined US troops to storm al-Qa’ida-held villages and had killed 100 insurgents. But when the US withdrew, al-Qa’ida returned and drove the tribesmen out.

Mr Zubaydi, who was jailed by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, quivered with disgust as he explained the bloody complexities of sectarian war in Diyala.

The tough-looking former teacher in his fifties said 20 Sunni students on a bus had been abducted and he feared they would be killed. He said he knew who had carried out the kidnapping: “It was the emergency police forces led by Captain Abbas Waisi and Lt Zaman Abdul Hamid. I told the American special forces but they have done nothing.”

We met Mr Zubaydi in the office of the Mayor of Khanaqin, a Kurdish enclave in northern Diyala, where he had come to ask for help. We had reached there through Kurdish-controlled territory along the right bank of the Diyala river that runs parallel to the Iranian border. Kurdish control ends at a dishevelled town called Khalar where we crossed the river over a long, rickety metal bridge with old tyres marking places where metal slats had fallen into the waters below. We picked up armed guards and then circled round behind Khanaqin to enter from the east.

Mr Zubaydi had a shorter but more dangerous route to Khanaqin from a town called Muqdadiyah, a few miles to the west of Khaniaqin, which he accurately described as “the most dangerous place in Iraq”. His house had been attacked five times in the past month.

He was beset by the Sunni insurgents of al-Qa’ida on one side and the Shia militia of the Mehdi Army on the other. He gave an impressive list of the Iraqi security forces available in Muqdadiyah, in addition to a US battalion, including 1,200 police and 1,600 army.

The problem is that nobody is quite sure on which side the Iraqi security forces are planning to fight. Often they do nothing: “The house of the deputy police chief is just 10 metres from a police station but somebody blew it up,” Mr Zubaydi said scornfully. He ran through a list of police and army commanders in Diyala, all of whom were Shia and unlikely to help the Sunnis.

There are at least three different wars being fought in northern Iraq: Sunni against Americans; Shia against Sunni; Arabs against Kurds. Alliances can switch. The Kurds are the Americans’ only sincere ally in Iraq but many of them are also convinced that the Americans in Kirkuk city have a tacit understanding with the Arab insurgents not to attack each other.

The US does not want to be seen as siding with the Kurds in their struggle to join Kirkuk and its oil fields to their semi-independent enclave, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in a referendum due at the end of the year. The US is restraining the Kurds but this may be more difficult after yesterday’s bombings. “If we wanted to do so, we [Kurds] could secure as far as Khalis,” a town far to the south of Kirkuk in Diyala Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani president of the KRG, told me.

The US is caught in quagmire of its own making. Such successes as it does have are usually the result of tenuous alliances with previously hostile tribes, insurgent groups or militias. The British experience in Basra was that these marriages of convenience with local gangs weakened the central government and contributed to anarchy in Iraq. They did not work in the long term.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006.

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Inside Bush’s FDA – When Regulators Become Enablers By Evelyn Pringle

Dandelion Salad

By Evelyn Pringle
July 17, 2007

Americans need to stop and consider how many consumers will be killed and injured by dangerous drugs by the time George Bush heads back to Texas at the end of his Presidency, as a direct result of his allowing the interests of the pharmaceutical industry to take control of the FDA.For nearly 70 years, the common-law tort systems in the individual states have provided a remedy for citizens injured by prescription drugs. However, in one of the most blatant paybacks for political contributions in US history, in January 2006, Bush-appointed officials at the FDA announced that the agency’s approval of a drug and its labeling acts to preempt product liability lawsuits filed by patients against the pharmaceutical giants.

On February 23, 2006, Democratic lawmakers Rep Henry Waxman, of the Committee on Government Reform, and Reps John Dingell and Sherrod Brown of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and voiced their outrage.

“The announcement,” the lawmakers wrote, “provides unfortunate evidence that the Bush Administration is more committed to protecting drug industry profits than to building a sound system for ensuring drug safety.”

“The FDA’s preemption announcement,” the letter said, “is particularly troubling at a time when FDA’s own ability to protect Americans from unsafe drugs has been called into question by a series of cases in which the FDA was slow to warn consumers of significant drug risks.”

The new rules went into effect on June 30, 2006, and preemption is now being used in litigation all over the country in an attempt to dismiss lawsuits filed by private citizens against drug companies.

Unbeknownst to average Americans, the administration’s gift of preemption is not limited to industries regulated by the FDA. Bush-appointed officials in all federal regulatory agencies are working in concert to ensure that major corporations subject to product liability lawsuits can claim that federal regulation of their products preempts any recovery for consumers harmed, whether the injury involves defective automobiles, pesticides or whatever.

In return, the major corporations are ganging up on private citizens by filing amicus briefs in support of pharmaceutical companies involved in litigation. For instance, the drug giant Wyeth is arguing preemption in a petition currently pending before the US Supreme Court in a case involving one lone woman in Vermont, in an attempt to overturn a jury verdict that was affirmed by the Vermont Supreme Court.

Amicus briefs to support Wyeth’s preemption argument are piling up, including one filed by the Product Liability Advisory Council on behalf of just about every major product manufacturer in America.

The plaintiff, Diana Levine, a professional musician, has the support of the Public Citizen Litigation Group. Ms Levine went to the hospital to seek treatment for a headache and left with injuries that led to the amputation of her arm after the drug Phenergan was administered by IV to alleviate the nausea associated with a migraine headache.

Specifically, her arm had to be amputated because the drug reached Ms Levine’s arteries, and the lawsuit alleges that Wyeth was aware of the risk of arterial contact when the drug was administered by IV and failed to warn against using a method to administer Phenergan that caused the injury.

In the petition, Wyeth does not dispute that Ms Levine’s arm was amputated because the company failed to warn about using this method. Its sole argument is that she is not entitled to damages because the FDA did not require Wyeth to warn about the danger of administering the drug this way.

The Vermont Supreme Court rejected this argument. The agency’s claim of conflict with federal law, the Court held, did not warrant deference because it was flatly at odds with both the FDA’s regulation permitting manufacturers “to add or strengthen a warning ‘to increase the safe use of the drug product’ without prior FDA approval,” and with Congress’ express directive that state law concerning prescription drugs be superseded only when it poses a ‘”direct and positive conflict’ with federal law.”

On May 21, 2007, the Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief to express the views of the government, which will no doubt add support for a favorable preemption ruling for Wyeth, potentially affecting tens of thousand of private citizens with cases pending all over the country.

A favorable ruling on preemption could provide an escape hatch for GlaxoSmithKline in lawsuits filed by patients injured by the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), even though the FDA is aware of the fact that Glaxo concealed the serious cardiovascular risks known to be associated with the drug for years.

Medical experts are now predicting another Vioxx-like disaster with Avandia. In May 2007, prominent cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen, of the Cleveland Clinic, reported a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found the drug to be associated with a 43% increase in heart attacks and possibly a 64% increase in cardiovascular death.

In a May 26, 2007, speech on the Senate Floor, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said that the actual number of heart attacks possibly linked to Avandia may be as high as 20 a day.

Since the drug came on the market about 8 years ago, he said, tens of millions of prescriptions have been written, and Medicare and Medicaid have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the drug.

At a June 6, 2007, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to review the FDA’s failure to warn the public about Avandia, Chairman Waxman (D-Cal) began the meeting by pointing out: “It is not Congress’ role to adjudicate these medical issues.”

“But it is our role,” he noted, “to ensure that the Food and Drug Administration is taking these concerns seriously and providing doctors and patients with the guidance they need to make informed decisions.”

“Although Avandia has been on the market for eight years and has been used by millions of Americans,” Rep Waxman said, “the post-market studies have not been done to say conclusively whether Avandia increases or decreases the risk of heart attacks.”

“That’s a major failure of our system,” he said. “And it is what is causing so much confusion and worry among the patients who are taking Avandia today.”

Another FDA failure that will surely lead to many lawsuits was allowing Permax (pergolide), a drug used by Parkinson’s patients, to remain on the market until March 29, 2007, long after its link to valvular heart damage was known.

Eli Lilly gained approval for Permax in 1988 but, at the time of the recall, the drug was manufactured by Valeant Pharmaceuticals and generics were sold by Par and Teva.

As early as December 2002, doctors at the Mayo Clinic reported that 3 Permax patients had developed heart valve disease similar to that caused by the Fen-Phen diet combination. In 2004, HealthDay News reported that a study had confirmed earlier findings that Permax was linked to heart valve damage which required surgery to correct.

On January 4, 2007, two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine said that the number of patients developing valve damage was higher than expected. One study found moderate to severe valve problems in more than 23% of the patients on Permax, compared to less than 6% in the comparison group.

The second study found Permax users were 5 to 7 times more likely to have leaky heart valves than patients taking other Parkinson’s drugs, and patients taking the highest doses of Permax were at a 37 times greater risk.

The FDA’s preemption policy has the potential to benefit every major drug company. Johnson & Johnson’s SEC filings show that the company is currently facing hundreds of lawsuits over the deaths and injuries linked to the Ortho Evra birth control patch in women all over the country who have suffered blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Legal analysts predict that many more lawsuits will be filed due to the wide use of the device and as women realize that their injuries are due to the patch. In 2005 alone, there were more than 9.4 million prescriptions issued for the Ortho Evra patch, according to IMS Health, an industry-tracking firm.

A preemption ruling in this litigation would be especially onerous in light of the fact that the injuries are clearly due to the patch, because blood clots, heart attacks and stroke are almost unheard of in the age group of women who use this device.

This is another case where FDA officials knew of the health risks before the drug was approved. Agency records show that in 2000, the FDA scientist in charge of reviewing the preapproval trials submitted, warned that blood clots could occur and recommended that the information be included in the prescribing information for the patch.

The new drug application for the antibiotic, Ketek, marketed by Sanofi-Aventis, was rejected twice, in 2001 and 2003, before FDA management approved the drug on April 1, 2004, based on fraudulent studies, and over the objections of the FDA’s own scientists.

Many patients have been harmed because doctors trusted the FDA’s approval of Ketek. According to a review of the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System, by the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, between July 2005 and September 2005 alone, there were two deaths, 35 liver adverse reactions, 44 cardiac events, and 80 visual events in Ketek patients.

In addition, internal FDA emails obtained by staffers, prove that top FDA officials were aware of the problems with Ketek before it was approved, and that FDA scientists, Dr David Ross, Dr David Graham, Dr Charles Cooper, and Dr Rosemary Johann-Liang, all warned FDA management about the serious adverse effects associated with the drug.

A May 16, 2006, FDA memo authored by safety reviewers said Ketek was linked to 12 reported liver failures including 4 deaths, 23 reports of serious liver injury, and a higher rate of adverse reaction reports than other antibiotics on the market, and the reviewers recommended a black box warning for the Ketek-related liver injury.

However, Sanofi-Aventis and FDA officials disregarded the recommendation and announced that only a new bolded warning would be added.

In addition to the massive Vioxx litigation, Merck is facing a large number of plaintiffs in lawsuits over the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, alleging the drug causes jaw-bone death, which is an extremely rare condition.

Kenneth Hargreaves of the University of Texas, discussed the increasing cases of ONJ in the April 3, 2006 LA Times. “We’ve uncovered about 1,000 patients in the past six to nine months alone,” he said, “so the magnitude of the problem is just starting to be recognized.”

Oral surgeon, Dr Salvatore Ruggiero, one of the first doctors to notice the increase in 2001, told the Times, “Even though the chances of getting this are small, considering there are 23 million women taking this drug, we could be talking about a significant number of people.”

The FDA approved Fosamax in 1995, and because it is a relatively new drug, unreported cases OJN may be higher than expected because doctors may attribute the pain caused by the condition to osteoporosis, according to Diane Wysowski of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety in the Times.

Here again, the FDA and the drug maker were aware of the link between OJN and Fosamax but failed to warn the public until after the drug was prescribed to tens of millions of patients.

The man most credited for the creation of the preemption policy is the FDA’s former Chief Counsel, Daniel Troy, who plays for the opposite team in private practice. Prior to his appointment as Chief Counsel, Mr Troy was a partner at Washington’s Wiley Rein & Fielding, where he filed lawsuits against the FDA on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry to loosen restrictions on off-label prescribing and advertising of prescription drugs.

In fact, critics say, it was Mr Troy’s loyalty to the industry, demonstrated by years of legal battles against FDA regulations, that earned him the appointment by the Bush administration as the industry’s inside legal counsel.

Mr Troy himself bragged about his part in implementing the preemption policy in an article he wrote in the October 9, 2006, Legal Times stating: “I was also at the FDA while January’s Physician Labeling Rule, which contains a statement in its preamble about the FDA’s pre-emption authority, was written.”

“And I now,” Mr Troy states, “advise and represent companies confronting state-law claims that implicate the pre-emptive effect of FDA requirements.”

But the fact is, Mr Troy was testing the viability of the preemption argument with judges in state and federal courts long before the new policy was announced in January 2006, by filing amicus briefs on behalf of drug companies and against private citizens in cases involving the new class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRI’s) back in 2002.

Critics say it’s a toss-up between Vioxx and the SSRI’s when it comes to the number of deaths and injuries that could have been prevented if the information about the serious health risks known to the drug makers had not been concealed.

Over the last 2 decades, SSRI’s, which include Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Luvox and Lexapro, have been prescribed off-label for uses not approved by the FDA more often than any other drugs in history. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that 75% of SSRI prescriptions were written for unapproved uses in June 2005.

Critics say that the profits that have resulted from the massive off-label use of SSRI’s, and especially with children, are a direct result of their illegal promotion by the drug makers. The success of the off-label marketing of SSRI’s is evidenced by a June 29, 2007, report by Reuters that found the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US are antidepressants.

While most of the focus has remained on the risk of suicide, SSRI’s have also been linked to extreme violence, including homicides, several life-threatening birth defects, abnormal uterine or gastrointestinal bleeding, a decrease in bone mineral density, sexual dysfunction, fertility problems and a severe withdrawal syndrome.

In September 2002, Mr Troy filed the FDA’s first brief in support of preemption in the Zoloft suicide case of Motus v Pfizer, based on a request by Pfizer attorney Malcolm Wheeler. In the brief, Mr Troy claimed that warnings of a causal relationship between Zoloft and suicide would have misbranded the drug and that “any warning, no matter how worded, that could reasonably have been read as describing or alluding to such a relation would have been false or misleading, and therefore in conflict with federal law.”

Baum Hedlund partner, Attorney Karen Barth Menzies, has been battling the SSRI makers in the legal arena for more than a decade in representing plaintiffs with claims involving Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.

Ms Menzies says Mr Troy’s argument is absurd because Wyeth strengthened the warning about suicidality on the label of Effexor in August 2003, without obtaining prior FDA approval, and the FDA did not sanction Wyeth or claim the label was false and misleading.

Ms Menzies has defeated the preemption arguments by Mr Troy offered in support of Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline in a number of cases. The court never reached the preemption issue in Motus because the case was resolved on other grounds, but in September 2002, Mr Troy tried to use the same argument in a lawsuit that alleged Glaxo had failed to warn about the withdrawal effects of Paxil, and the judge stated the argument “contravenes common sense” and “vitiates, rather than advances, the purpose of protecting the public.”

Pfizer also submitted Mr Troy’s brief from Motus to support a preemption in the case of Witczak v Pfizer. In rejecting the argument, the court pointed out that: “State consumer-protection law compliments, rather than frustrates, the FDA’s protective regime.”

“This is especially apparent,” the court said, “when one considers that prescription drugs were once marketed primarily to trained health care providers — sophisticated and discerning intermediaries.”

“Today, on the other hand, pill-rolling apothecaries and the mortar and pestle have disappeared,” he stated. “They have been replaced by drug manufacturers who urge the use of their drugs in mass-market print and television advertisements targeted directly at the public,” he said.

As an example, the judge noted that Glaxo had advertised the drug Paxil, “by personifying it as a happy, bouncing-oval cartoon character.”

After effectively allocating the power of FDA to drug companies, in 2004, Mr Troy went back to representing the pharmaceutical industry with the preemption policy tucked in his back pocket.

But his departure did not stop Pfizer from trying to use the FDA preemption argument in the Zoloft suicide case of Cartwright v Pfizer, decided in 2005, in which the court rejected Pfizer’s preemption argument, finding that Texas tort law “compliments and is parallel to the FDA’s regulations regarding safety warnings and, thus, does not interfere with the objectives of the FDA.”

The court further noted that the FDA mandates that “manufacturer[s] issue a warning whenever there is ‘reasonable evidence of an association of a serious hazard with a drug; a causal relationship need not have been proved.'”

The truth is that the FDA knew about the risk of suicidality in children taking Zoloft, because the agency’s review of Pfizer’s clinical trial data in 1996 showed the risk to be five times that of adults on Zoloft and caused enough concern that FDA reviewer Dr James Knudsen wrote to Pfizer asking for an explanation.

The FDA’s new preemption policy also purports to immunize doctors. “Pre-emption would include not only claims against manufacturers,” the FDA states, “but also against health-care practitioners for claims related to dissemination of risk information to patients beyond what is included in the labeling.”

Critics say this language is absurd because it extends protection to all the doctors who are boosting sales for the drug makers by prescribing drugs off-label, and the FDA labeling carries no prescribing information for an unapproved use and no warnings about the risks that may be associated with a drug in treating patients for an off-label condition.

“The unqualified language of this statement,” Mr Waxman’s letter states, “would appear to preempt cases against physicians for failure to warn a patient of risks associated with an off-label (unapproved) use, since, by definition, such risks rarely appear in the approved drug label.”

However, drug companies have been immunizing doctors who prescribe their drugs off-label for years. For instance, in Eli Lilly’s first out-of-court settlement with 8,000 plaintiffs in litigation involving the off-label marketing of the antipsychotic Zyprexa in late 2004, the settlement agreement included a ban on suing the doctors who prescribed Zyprexa off-label, according to a plaintiff involved in the case.

A July 7, 2003, Lilly document entitled, “Diabetes Update,” recently made public as a result of litigation, describes a plan to immunize doctors so they would continue to prescribe Zyprexa off-label when Lilly learned that the warning about high blood sugar levels and diabetes was about to be announced by the FDA and the American Diabetes Association.

“We must embrace the fact that many physicians are curtailing their use of Zyprexa (particularly in the moderately-ill patient and in the maintenance phase),” the Lilly memo states, “solely on the basis of personal fear (of being sued).”

“Indemnification,” the document notes, “represents the most meaningful demonstration of confidence in Zyprexa–both with our customers and with our employees.”

The memo brags about the success of the scheme when used with doctors prescribing the company’s SSRI. “Our experience with Prozac,” it states, “confirms the impact and goodwill of such an initiative.”

The drug makers are well aware that the steady flow of profits from off-label marketing schemes would come to a screeching halt without the participation of the prescribing doctors. However, the termination date for the immunization coverage extended to the doctors prescribing Zyprexa by Eli Lilly or the FDA is right around the corner, because the fraudulent billings that have resulted from off-label prescribing of the new class of antipsychotics are bankrupting state Medicaid programs all over the US.

Also, state officials are zeroing in on the money paid to the prescribing doctors. On June 26, in the New York Times, Gardiner Harris reported that states are finding that psychiatrists earn more money from drug companies than doctors in any other specialty, and the psychiatrists who receive the most money from antipsychotic makers prescribe antipsychotics like Zyprexa to children most often.

In the Times, Mr Harris noted that Vermont officials reported that drug company payments to Vermont psychiatrists more than doubled last year, from an average of $20,835 in 2005, up to $45,692 in 2006, and that antipsychotics were among the largest expenses for the Vermont Medicaid program.

He also reported a similar pattern in Minnesota where psychiatrists earned the most money, with payments ranging from $51 to $689,000, and the psychiatrists who took the most money from the makers of antipsychotics prescribed the drugs to children most often.

The atypical antipsychotic makers are currently under investigation by congressional committees and federal and state law enforcement agencies for defrauding public health care programs by marketing the drugs off-label to kids as young as toddlers, as well as elderly citizens in nursing homes, and causing serious injury and death to many patients.

However, Lilly recently purchased a new insurance policy of sorts to keep federal regulators at bay, in hiring Alex Azar II, the former Deputy Secretary of the US Health and Human Services Department, who quit his government job in February 2007 and became a senior vice president at Lilly in May 2007.

According to Lilly’s press release, Mr Azar formerly supervised all operations at the HHS, and one of the agencies under his direction was the FDA.

When considering the tens of thousands of lawsuits that have been filed by plaintiffs injured by the new antipsychotics, a favorable ruling on preemption could be worth billions of dollars to the drug makers.

Persons seeking legal advice regarding Avandia can contact the Baum Hedlund Law Firm at: (800) 827-0087;

Evelyn Pringle is an investigative journalist. She can be reached at:

(Part of a series on Avandia sponsored by Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Goldman & Menzies’ Pharmaceutical Litigation Department)


(1) Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa Safety of Avandia
Monday, May 21, 2007

(2) Henry Waxman Web site, Avandia Hearing and letters to FDA, Nissen and Glaxo
(3) Avandia Critic Claims FDA Smear Campaign, ABC News, May 30, 2007

(4) Merck Press Release, April 20, 2007, Merck Says Ruling Could Apply to Other Texas Cases

(5) Diane Levine, Brief in Opposition to Wyeth Petition to Supreme Court
(6) Psychiatrists Top List in Drug Maker Gifts, Gardiner Harris, New York Times, June 27, 2007

(7) U.S. hospital, doctor visits balloon, survey finds, Reuters, June 29, 2007

(8) SENATOR SAYS FDA SHOULD STOP CITING A FRAUDULENT KETEK STUDY, SEEKS ACCESS TO INFORMATION, May 16, 2006 Press release, letters and press releases from Senator Grassley’s Web site

(9) Ketek documents and articles, The Corporation Citizens For Responsible Care and Research Inc (CIRCARE),

(10) Bone Drugs’ Reverse Damage, LA Times, April 3, 2006

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Of Battered Wives and the US Congress by Stephen P. Pizzo (impeachment)

Of Battered Wives and the US Congress

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen P. Pizzo
Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Is it just me, or have you noticed it too? Something is afoot — maybe. All of a sudden I am reading and seeing on TV individuals who wear suits and can quote the US constitution from memory, talking about the impeachment of George W. Bush and his sidekick.

My first clue was when I read last week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a radio station, “We can’t take impeachment off the table.”

Holy whiplash, Batman, isn’t that exactly the opposite of what she’s been saying since crowned Speaker last January?  What happened there?

Then there was the extraordinary interview Bill Moyers did last week with John Nichols of The Nation magazine and Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official during the Reagan administration who drafted articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

(If you missed it, you shouldn’t have. Here is the video.)

Neocons may dismiss Nichol’s views as those of a “known liberal,” but what about Fine? No lib there. Fine is the guy conservatives tapped to craft and pen the case against Clinton. Now he wants to do the same thing for Bush – and for precisely the same reasons.

Both men explained that impeachment, always framed by mainstream media as a “constitutional crisis,” is actually precisely the opposite. Impeachment, they explained, is the solution to a constitutional crisis. The real constitutional crisis occurs when Congress fails to protect and maintain the balance of power the Founders enshrined in the constitution.

“The Founders gave congress the power to impeach as the remedy to an imperial presidency,” Fine noted.

Of course those on the right will claim that any talk of impeaching Bush and Cheney is purely political – as though that were something bad. Hello! Of course it’s political. It’s a political process created and delineated by the cornerstone political document – our US constitution. You remember that the document, the user manual for our democracy. (Maybe it would be more popular if the Founders had entitled it, “Democracy for Dummies.”)

Back when Republicans pushed to impeach Bill Clinton for perjury Democrats screamed, “politics,” too. But Fine explained that Bill Clinton got himself in that jam by trying to put himself above the law.  Never mind that what he lied about was hardly a matter of national security, all Fine cares about it that he lied, committed a crime – perjury. The rest is simply back-story.

Fine says that there is now plenty of evidence that Bush and Cheney too have lied — more than once and about matters far more serious than Clinton’s little walk on the wild side. Fien says that is why Congress should have begun impeachment hearings long ago. Not so much to remove Bush and Cheney from office, but as way of laying down constitutional markers, lines in the sand over which Congress was not about to allow the executive branch to simply ignore.

Fien adds that even now that their term in office is short, Congress should still proceed with impeachment hearings in order to reestablish and reinforce the constitutional balance – the whole “co-equal branches” business – as the Founders intended.

But Congress still has not done so. Will they?

Democrats worry that trying to impeach Bush and Cheney would blow back on them in the 2008 elections, by making them appear petty and politically motivated. A perception which is, of course  their own damn fault. If they hadn’t spent the last six years acting like such a pack of conniving little weasels maybe we’d be less likely to jump such a conclusion.

Now that they’ve richly earned that reputation they’ll have to undo it. And the only way to do that is to start talking to us straight from the heart. Believe me, we do know the difference. We can feel it, even more than we hear it. We know when you’re just jerking us off – again. We and, while far and few between, we know immediately when a pol has had it and suddenly starts blathering truth. And we love it when that happens.

If Congress proceeds with impeachment hearings all they need to do is honestly explain why they’ve come to that point. That they are not attacking a Republican administration, but rather circling the wagons around the US Constitution, under attack by that administration.

Republicans too need to sober up and get on the right side of this fight – just as they did when another Republican president, Richard Nixon, believed he could do whatever the hell he wanted to do, legal or otherwise – too often otherwise.

The sobering agent for Republicans should be evident. In about two years the next occupants of the White House will likely be Democrats. Do Republicans want to have to face four or eight years of being dissed, ignored and further marginalized by a Democratic administration, simply because they allowed Bush and Cheney to set such precedents?

Some also warn that the US Supreme Court, now in conservative hands, could actually validate the Bush administration’s expansive view of executive powers. Not likely. While the Supreme Court may have been able to fix one national election for conservatives they can’t count of being handed the same extraordinary opportunity again, any time soon. Therefore the Supremes, like Republicans in congress,  are not going to want to hand a Democratic president imperial power. (Besides, once congress is neutered, might not the Court itself be next?  Sure, why not. A compliant congress might be asked by the president to pass a constitutional amendment clipping the wings of the judges all the way up to the Supremes themselves. “Mission Accomplished.”)

While it’s refreshing to see and hear accomplished, articulate and sane adults suddenly talking right out   loud about impeachment, nothing is going to happen unless the idea catches fire in Congress. So far it has not, and I have a theory why. Since last November’s switch of control in Congress to Democrats, Congress been treated by this administration like the classic battered wife.

For the first six years of the Bush presidency he hardly had to raise his voice. During that period Congress was a perfect Stepford wife, obedient, deferential and which spoke only when spoken to. Then came the 2006 elections and the new Congress got restless. (Call it the Seven Year Itch.) Congress suddenly started talking back, demanding her “rights” and questioning the head of the household.

That’s when the real abuse began, and it’s gotten progressively worse ever since. Like most abusive relationships the abuser  in this case, Bush, et al, have succeeded in keeping the abused off balance, scared, confused and, most important, powerless.

If called to investigate, here’s how the police report might read:

Police Report

Incident: Domestic Violence

Suspect(s): George W. Bush, Richard “Dick” Cheney.

Victim(s): US House of Representatives, US Senate


1. Suspect GB has consistently refused to allow victims H and S to participate in decisions involving  family matters. GB perpetrated this offense through the use of extra-legal instruments he refers to as “Presidential Signing Statements.” (Claims that GB’s associate, DC, shouted at victims, “Shut up bitch, we decide the rules under this roof,” could not be immediately confirmed.)

2. GB and associate, Alberto Gonzales, have repeatedly lied when victims inquired into their actions.  (“There hasn’t been a single violation of US law in the application of the Patriot Act.”) Said lying appears to have begun almost seven years ago and has continued and expanded to include a broad sweep of issues, including but not limited to possible perjury. These matters include lying about issues critical to the health, safety and security of the family, including but not limited to science, the environment and national security.

3. Possible obstruction of justice and/or destruction of evidence: GB, DC, AG and a number of unnamed associates, when made aware of this investigation, began hiding and destroying evidence and other community property, rather than sharing it with victims as the law requires.  (“Oops, seems we deleted a 5 million – executive branch emails.”)

4. Refusal to communicate and/or obstruction of justice: When victims H & S tried to make inquiries into suspects’ abusive behavior, suspects GB, DC and others in their employ, refused to communicate with victims, claiming they didn’t have to. This extraordinary claim was later extended to cover friends, associates and former employees of suspects as well.  (“Harriet Meirs has been told to ignore the Congressional subpoena.”)

5. Alienation of Association. When asked to follow certain laws that cover suspects GB and DC, DC claimed he was not member of that branch of the family after all, and therefore did not have to follow said laws. DC’s accomplice, GB, subsequently backed DC’s alibi. DC continues to maintain this position, continues to violate said laws and rules and continues to refuse to communicate with victims regarding this ongoing abuse.

The result of all the above abuse of congress and the constitution by this administration has rendered Congress cowed, confused and afraid to act in it’s own interest or that of the family as a whole. The remaining Stepford Republicans continue making excuses for their abusive leaders, while Democrats fain action through procedural, “non-binding,” symbolic legislation.

What do we need to do in order to empower these poor, pathetic battered representatives of the people? Are they afraid to act because they no longer feel safe in their own houses? Must we set up a safe house for them somewhere somewhere on Capitol Hill where their batterers can’t get at them?

Are members of congress so far gone that we need some kind of national intervention? Do “we the people” need to descend on Washington en mass, drag these legislative basket cases out of their offices one at time and give them the “remember us,” lecture?

Wait! Come to think of it we don’t have to go to Washington to intervene after all. Because they are coming to us this August. They’ll be back in their home districts (at least when not playing golf or raising money) and that’s the perfect time for us to let them know that, if they stand up to their abusers, we’ll stand with them.

And, if they won’t then we won’t be there for them come November 2008.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Bill Moyers: Tough Talk on Impeachment (video link; Fein; Nichols)

My Call to Speaker Pelosi Demanding Impeachment by Ratman (video)