Daily Archives: December 16, 2013


FDA Scrutinizes Antibacterial Products for Hormonal Disruption, Bacterial Resistance 1

CBS News had the story FDA gets tough on antibacterial soaps.  For a long time we have been fans of liquid soap, but have been worried that all of them seem to be antibacterial.  We had worried that the use of these soaps would promote the growth of resistant bacteria.  There was no mention of this in the CBS report.  In comments from a soap industry representative the CBS interviewer never raised the issue and the spokesman never addressed it.

I began to wonder if I had been confusing antibacterial with antibiotic.  I found an article that settled it for me.

Wired has the article FDA Scrutinizes Antibacterial Products for Hormonal Disruption, Bacterial Resistance.  In the discussion, the aricle quoted the FDA report.

    Since publication of the 1994 TFM, there is new information raising concerns about the impact of widespread antiseptic use on the development of antimicrobial resistance. Bacteria use some of the same resistance mechanisms against both antiseptics and antibiotics. Thus, the use of antiseptic active ingredients with resistance mechanisms in common with antibiotics may have the potential to select for bacterial strains that are also resistant to clinically important antibiotics, adding to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Laboratory studies of some of the antiseptic active ingredients evaluated in this proposed rule demonstrate the development of reduced susceptibility to antiseptic active ingredients and some antibiotics after growth in nonlethal amounts of the antiseptic (i.e., low-to-moderate concentrations of antiseptic). These studies provide ample evidence of bacterial resistance mechanisms that could select for antiseptic or antibiotic resistance in the natural setting.

The impact on bacterial resistance in the natural setting (rather than in the laboratory) has not been extensively evaluated. The existing data are very limited in scope. (pp. 37-38)

So who at CBS was assigned to their coverage of the story?  They have a medical doctor on staff to cover health issues.  Perhaps Scott Pelley isn’t aware enough about the ramifications of this issue to even know which reporter to assign it to.  Apparently the reporter didn’t know either.

I left the comment at CBS News:

What about the promotion of antibacterial resistant bacteria?  How could you leave out that concern from your report?  How could you let the industry spokesman off without his addressing this issue?  Without addressing this issue, the FDA concern almost seems minor.

Maybe there is an object lesson for advertisers here.  The same CBS show did attack vitamins with a story that says that they are mostly useless.  Perhaps the vitamin manufacturers have been cutting back on their advertising spending on CBS, and this is a shot across their bow as to what can happen to them compared to the people who do spend a lot on advertising.


The End of the Assault on Social Security and Medicare 1

Truthout has the article The End of the Assault on Social Security and Medicare by Dean Baker.

Third Way is one of a long list of organizations that have received Wall Street funding to go after Social Security and Medicare under the guise of protecting the young from their greedy parents and grandparents. This list includes Lead or Leave, the Concord Coalition, The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, America Speaks, Fix the Debt and the Can Kicks Back.

At a time when we are seeing the largest upward redistribution in the history of the world these organizations have attempted to divert attention from the class war on the nation’s middle class and poor. Instead they are trying to convince young people that their financial difficulties stem from the size of their parents’ Social Security checks.

I’ll have to go back and reread the article to see how the headline fits the content.  I don’t see where the end of the assault comes in.

I left the comment to Dean Baker and the other readers:

Are you aware of the work by Arun Muralidhar? His latest paper is:

Saving Social Security: A Better Approach by Thomas K. Philips and Arun Muralidhar.

I have managed to connect him up with people in the Elizabeth Warren office in Washington. I expect great things from this collaboration.

I am hoping for another article by Arun Muralidhar soon.  The country can stand the benefit of all that he knows about various attempts around the world to try different ideas for funding Social Security programs and pension programs.  He has a good knowledge of what fails and what succeeds.


On Anarchism: Book Discussion 2

C-Span recorded the November 18, 2013 discussion by Noam Chomsky on his book On Anarchism.

Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talked about his book, On Anarchism, in which he examines the political ideology of anarchism, from its history and early proponents to the author’s thoughts on its current usage and practicality. Noam Chomsky spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I cannot embed the video here, so you’ll have to use the link above.  There are many startling and useful revelations in the video.

In answer to a question at the end of the video, Chomsky explains why preserving slavery was an important factor for the American Revolution.  Not that this is the most startling nor most useful part of the discussion, but I did find it interesting.  The preceding link is to the clip of only a couple of minutes of the talk.

Thanks to MardyS for pointing me to this discussion.


Juliette Kayyem – Democrat for Governor 1

This is not an endorsement.  It is just an attempt to give some coverage to a candidate who may not have received the coverage she deserves.

Her web site Juliette Kayyem – Democrat for Governor gives some background on who she is and what her qualifications are.

An appointee to both Governor Deval Patrick and President Barack Obama’s Administrations, she has made government work for citizens when it matters the most. As a homeland security expert, Juliette knows what it means to bring together every facet of society and work towards common solutions with a clear path forward. Her career is proof that progressive politics and safety and security policy strengthen one another.

I am looking forward to meeting her in Sturbridge on Wednesday.


Rep. Clyburn too conservative? Signs of emerging Democratic divide

McClatchy DC has the article Rep. Clyburn too conservative? Signs of emerging Democratic divide.

The founders of that think tank, Third Way, attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., last week for pushing tax hikes for the rich and increases in Social Security benefits and for taking other stances that they said represented risky fiscal approaches and bad political strategies.

Allies of Warren, a freshman lawmaker who’s a rising star in Washington, struck back quickly. Four liberal groups asked Clyburn and 11 other Democratic members of Congress who are “honorary co-chairs” of Third Way to repudiate the condemnation of Warren and to sever their ties with the organization.

“We’re calling on James Clyburn to do the right thing and immediately drop his affiliation with the Wall Street-backed Third Way for attacking Elizabeth Warren’s agenda,” Adam Green, a leader of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told McClatchy. “Third Way had little credibility to begin with. If Clyburn dumps Third Way, it will deal them a major blow.”

Clyburn declined the demand.
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And like so much that happens in Democratic Party circles, the dispute traces back to Bill and Hillary Clinton and their presidential ambitions.

Third Way, a research center established in 2005 as a counterweight to several well-known liberal groups closely tied to the Democratic Party, advocates some fiscal and social views that are more conservative than the ideas promoted by many members of the party’s activist base.

Those centrist notions were championed by former President Bill Clinton, who ran for the White House in 1992 as a “New Democrat” and, once there, embraced welfare restructuring, deregulation, capital punishment and other policies at odds with traditional liberal stances.

I am glad to see that this issue is rising to this level of notoriety.  I have been urging everbody I can think of to deliver a message to Hillary Clinton as she contemplates running for President in 2016.  Publicly divorce yourself from the thinking of groups such as Third Way, or there will be electoral consequences for your failure to do so.  I have even asked Elizabeth Warren to pass this message on to Hillary.


401(k) Plan Abuses Finally Coming to Light

Naked Capitalism has the post 401(k) Plan Abuses Finally Coming to Light. The post starts with the following:

I doubt that I’m unusual in being a finance type who has heard about 401 (k) abuses and bad practices for a very long time. So it’s gratifying to see the Financial Times that something is finally being done to try to curb this behavior. But that is hardly the full extent of what is rotten in retirement fund land.

I have also known about some 401(k) abuses for a long time, but I hadn’t known about all the details of what can be done to turn a company’s 401(k) plan into a profit center for the company itself.

Perhaps it is time for a new Greenberg’s Law of Capitalism – “If there is an unfair advantage to be wrung from the capitalist system, then some capitalist will wring it.”