News Notes

Zip Dobyns

The November-December issue of The Planetary Report includes an extensive description of the planned visit to the asteroid named Eros. The NEAR Mission (Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) will begin a year-long study of Eros in January 1999, mapping its surface features, measuring its composition, and probing beneath its surface. Most of what we know about asteroids comes from studying meteorites, which are usually fragments of asteroids, but space probes have previously managed closer examinations of three asteroids; Gaspra, Matilde, and Ida with its minute moon Dactyl. Six science experiments aboard the NEAR spacecraft will seek to answer basic questions by remaining in orbit around Eros to determine its mass, density, rock types, features, and whether it has a magnetic field.

Asteroids are named by their discoverers, and geological features such as craters are also traditionally named by their discoverers. However, since as many as 100 craters may be found on Eros, members of the Planetary Society have been invited to submit possible names for the new features. Suggested names should not duplicate the names of other bodies. Names should be related to the name of the asteroid, so they can be famous lovers, legendary romantic locales, aspects of love, etc. Names of modern philosophers or with political, military, or religious significance are not allowed, and there are other restrictions.

For members of the general public who have access to the Web, there is a NEAR site ( which will follow the action from around December 27, 1998. Image sequences will offer a movie of the spinning asteroid and will survey the shape, colors, and landforms of all illuminated surfaces. Researchers claim you will be able to see unprecedented views from NEAR through much of 1999, sometimes at distances close enough to show features as small as 1 meter across. It should be fun. Wouldn’t it be nice if the focus on an asteroid called love helped to bring more love to our warring earth? [Late news: rocket trouble December 20 prevented the scheduled orbit. They will now try for an orbit around Eros in February 2000.]

An increasing amount of current information is coming through the Internet, including a report from a friend on the World Environmental Conference. The keynote address by the EPA announced that there was an epidemic of multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus, and they did not understand what toxin was causing this to be rampant across the U.S. Nancy Markle’s talk at the conference offered an explanation for the epidemic, including an explanation for at least part of the mysterious “Gulf War Syndrome.”

Markle explained that aspartame, which is marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, and Spoonful, can be a source of methanol toxicity. When the temperature of aspartame exceeds 86 degrees F, the wood alcohol converts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. (Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants.) The methanol toxicity mimics multiple sclerosis, so people are being diagnosed in error. But methanol toxicity can be more of a death sentence than multiple sclerosis. When the victims stop drinking the Coke and Pepsi, most symptoms disappear, and in some cases, the vision and hearing return and the tinnitus stops.

Markle says systemic lupus has become almost as rampant as multiple sclerosis, especially in diet Coke and diet Pepsi drinkers. 3 to 4 cans a day can produce the symptoms, and when the lupus victims stop drinking the Coke and Pepsi, they usually become asymptomatic, though the disease is not reversed.

Over 5,000 products in over 90 countries now contain this chemical, which may be responsible for fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in the legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, and memory loss. Aspartame changes the brain chemistry, including the dopamine level in the brain. Since the patent on the chemical has now expired, even more products may start including it. Aspartame is especially deadly for diabetics since it makes it impossible to control the blood sugar. It also defeats dieters since it makes you crave carbohydrates and the formaldehyde stores in the fat cells, particularly in the hips and thighs. Dr. Roberts claimed that when he got patients off aspartame, their average weight loss was 19 pounds. Formaldehyde is classed with cyanide and arsenic—it just takes longer to quietly kill you. Parkinson’s, seizures, and birth defects are also included in its possible effects.

The most recent report that I have seen of the Desert Storm health problems suggests that they are largely psychological in origin, similar to the stress symptoms which often follow being raped or mugged. However, the information presented at the World Environmental Conference points to aspartame as a possible cause of the symptoms in some individuals. Heat liberates the methanol from the aspartame at 86 degrees F. Thousands of pallets of diet drinks were shipped to the troops in the war, and sat in the 120 degree Arabian sun for weeks at a time on their pallets. The service men and women drank them all day long, and the reported mysterious symptoms fit aspartame poisoning. In research with animals, aspartame produced brain tumors. A neurosurgeon in the audience listening to the lecture commented that “when they remove brain tumors, they have found high levels of aspartame in them.” Like tobacco, Coke is addictive. Basic advice: if it says “sugar free” on the label, do not eat or drink it. I suspect the same advice will eventually be needed for “fat free.” Better living or a lingering death through chemistry???

As our readers know, the latest research results on fat are contradicting the advice still being given by most nutrition “experts.” The December issue of Second Opinion by Dr. Douglass, one of my alternative health letters, reports on a study done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. 61,000 Swedish women between the ages of 40 and 70 were checked from 1987 to 1990. Saturated fat, the kind found in meat and dairy products, had no effect on breast cancer one way or the other. Monounsaturated fat found in olive and canola oil can cut a woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly in half. But polyunsaturated fat found in most vegetable oils appeared to increase the risk of breast cancer by 69 percent. Since no mention was made of whether the vegetable oils were hydrogenated, this may be another inadequately designed study. Hydrogenated fats have definitely been implicated in cancer. But, as reported in a previous issue of our journal, Dr. Williams reported on work in Australia which found that an excess of Omega 6 (most vegetable oils) over Omega 3 (fish, nuts, avocados, and flaxseed) produced skin cancer in cattle. Dr. Douglass is strongly pro-meat, so he would not mention it, but in addition to flaxseed, a new Omega 3 oil called Perilla is available for vegetarians from a plant in Asia.

Another item in the same Second Opinion newsletter cites a study in France which asked doctors to report all drug reactions to the researchers and then compared this number with the number of reports received by the official monitoring agencies. According to the researchers, only ONE of every 24,000 adverse reactions is reported by doctors to the appropriate monitoring agency! And the FDA gets bent out of shape by the usually rare and mild adverse reactions to herbs and supplements.

Four of my current crop of alternative health newsletters have articles devoted to fat, all of them countering in varying degrees the “official party line” which too often implies that all fat is a threat. Some still think saturated fat is dangerous. Some don’t know how good coconuts are for you. Some have not heard that low fat diets consistently raise triglycerides, which are far more dangerous than high cholesterol. The only agreement is that hydrogenated fat is now known to be harmful, and that there are some “essential fatty acids” which are necessary for life. Omega 3 and Omega 6 must be eaten, since the body cannot make them. The December 1998 issue of Health Revelations by Dr. Atkins has an article on the benefits of GLA (Gamma-linoleic acid), which is found in borage seeds, black currents, and evening primrose oil. Atkins writes that GLA is not called an essential fat because the body can make it from other fats under ideal conditions. But making it requires an enzyme which many people lack and which typically is reduced by aging, stress, and consumption of alcohol, margarine, and sugar. The body’s ability to produce GLA can also be lowered by diabetes, viruses, an underactive thyroid, and inadequate supplies of zinc and magnesium and vitamins C, B6 and B3. Atkins claims that GLA supplements can help arthritis, skin problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, premenstrual problems, arterial health, and possibly cancer, since it strengthens the immune system. He recommends a minimum daily dosage of 240 mg, but arthritis may require at least 1400 mg. Borage oil is the most economical source.

As our readers know, my belief is that illness always has emotional components, but adequate air, water, food, rest, and exercise are certainly necessary. Many information sources survive by scaring people in order to persuade them to buy their products. Almost every health letter is now selling products—vitamins, supplements, juicers, air and water purifiers—in addition to the information. Readers have to take the information with a grain of salt when it arrives with an 800 number for the latest cure-all super-product. I get the publications which cite research reports that I would otherwise not see. I have added three new newsletters to my collection, but so far I have not found them very helpful, so I will probably not renew the subscriptions after the trial period.

One of the most economical additions to my list is a membership in the Dinshah Health Society at P.O. Box 707, Malaga, NJ 08328. Years ago, I saw Neil Michelsen, the founder of ACS, work with light shining through colored glass or plastic filters. Dr. Douglass has been writing about this potential for a couple of years, and I purchased a set of filters from him and a small booklet. More recently, I joined the Dinshah Society and, for $20, I received a year’s membership, a book and a video on the techniques. The society is being maintained by the son of the man who developed what is called “Spectro-Chrome Therapy.” No technique works for everyone. Emotions can counteract anything we can do at the physical level. But I am intrigued enough by the case studies of working with colored light to keep investigating.

I was a bit amused to find a Y2K article in our 4-page little country news flyer, the Deerhorn Valley News. On the whole it is sensible, suggesting that the same preparations which Californians are urged to make for possible earthquakes ought to handle Y2K in case there is a short-term interruption of supplies of food, gas, electricity, etc. Some stored food and water, a way to keep warm, have light, and access to news, are common sense precautions.

The December 1998 issue of the Muse Letter, which I have mentioned previously, carries a more millennial message. Richard Heinberg seems to really believe that our culture is doomed to collapse, and thinks the Y2K challenge might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back or at least contributes to it. Some recent information that came over the “net” does suggest the Y2K is more serious than a lot of authorities would like to admit. The city of San Francisco had a recent major power outage and information from more than once source says that it was due to testing their Y2K compliance. The SF authorities did not want to admit it for fear of lawsuits from people involved in car accidents that took place when the lights went out. Another “net” report described a similar situation in the Tidewater region of Virginia where a local power outage was due to work to upgrade systems for 2000.

I agree with Heinberg that the solution to our social ills calls for moderating our rampant consumerism to attain a sustainable life style, and for more cooperation. But I am much more of an optimist about the capacity to life to cope and grow through challenges. Massive extinctions have occurred in the past, to be followed by new evolutionary life forms. Modern science has created problems, but it can also achieve solutions to those problems. Scientists are working with microbes or viruses which cope with radiation, doing genetic engineering to help them also handle other chemical poisons so they can clean up the wastes from our nuclear programs.

Another potential science breakthrough is described by a newsletter writer who wants to sell information on investments. He does not mention the company, since its name is bait to subscribe to his services, but he describes a new technology developed by an American company that produces clean, cheap oil from abundant natural gas. He claims that the oil it produces is so pure, so clear and free of pollutants, that it is called “white crude,” and that it meets and surpasses all current environment standards. He writes that 6 major oil companies have already licensed the technology, including Texaco, Marathon, and ARCO, that it will produce energy in almost unlimited quantities because natural gas is so abundant, it used to be considered a nuisance and was burned to get to the oil that was near it. He also states that the two main by-products of this process are heat and pure, distilled water which will be boons to the remote, cold regions where natural gas is located. Is he a con-man, just hyping his newsletter? We will have to wait and see, but if the big oil companies are involved, we may not wait long.

With the Internet, we should be able to reach a lot of people to warn them of the danger of chemical poisons like aspartame and hydrogenated oils that are promoted by big businesses like Monsanto and Archer-Daniel Midlands who only care about profits. There are horror regions like Iraq, Kosovo, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and several regions of Africa where power-mad rulers kill their own people or fight rival ethnic or religious groups. But when you read ancient history, humans used to consider such actions normal and acceptable. Slavery still exists, but it is no longer approved of by most humans. We have hundreds of years yet of the Piscean Age, and hopefully many more humans will evolve in the direction of increased empathy and compassion. Astrology does not support the channelers of Armageddon or any other total collapse of the “system.” Growth is a long, slow process.

Copyright © 1998 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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