It is always a pleasure to receive items for News Notes from our readers. Grace Morris, an expert on financial astrology, sent me a clipping from the July 30, 1999 issue of the National Digest. It described a NASA spacecraft which made the closest flyby ever of an asteroid, passing within 10 miles. Unfortunately, the camera was aimed away from the asteroid and produced only pictures of empty space. Could we consider it a case of synchronicity that the unseen (by the camera) asteroid was named Braille?
The August 14, 1999 issue of Science News has a longer article on the Braille mission. Though the camera missed the desired close-up photos, infrared light reflected from Braille detected the mineral pyroxene. Vesta is one of the few main-belt asteroids with a high concentration of this mineral. Vesta has a giant crater, and astronomers suspect that Braille probably is a fragment gouged from Vesta during the collision that made the crater. Another possibility is that both Vesta and Braille were ejected from a larger body. Vesta is the presumed source of a small class of meteorites that fall to earth, accounting for about 6% if terrestrial meteorites. However, its placement in the asteroid belt prevents Vesta from directly delivering its fragments to earth. A string of small asteroids, including Braille, have similar compositions and are located where they can deliver the meteorites to earth.
A NASA visit to Eros in early 2000 will give a much better photo opportunity, since the spacecraft is designed to remain close to Eros for 12 months.
The same August 14, 1999 issue of Science News offers a controversial theory which suggests that keeping kids too clean might threaten their health. While some major illnesses such as smallpox, typhoid fever, cholera, diphtheria, and polio have declined in today’s world, thanks to better sanitation, antibiotics, and vaccinations, asthma, allergies, and some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and the most severe type of diabetes are increasing. A growing number of scientists suspect that shielding young children from exposure to dirt may be shielding them from exposure to microbes and parasites which do no harm and which are actually a necessary part of developing an effective immune system.
If this theory is valid, it is another example of the danger of excess and the value of moderation. Excess pollution, including an over exposure to pesticides which is a major threat to farm workers, is obviously harmful to health, but excessive sanitation may also be a threat to health. Excessive use of antibiotics, in animals and in humans, is blamed for developing drug-resistant bacteria. The use of growth hormone to force cows to produce more milk may encourage cancer in susceptible individuals using milk products. Plants which are genetically altered to kill their predators such as insects may also threaten desired, beneficial insects. Humans have manipulated plants and animals by selective breeding for thousands of years, as is demonstrated by the evolution of corn which archaeologists have traced in caves in North America. Genetic techniques just speed up the ability to make changes, but this permits the widespread use of the altered food products before there is time to test their safety!
There is enormous controversy in the subject of nutrition, with experts claiming evidence for opposite views. The Quest section of the September 1, 1999 San Diego Union-Tribune has a very lengthy article on the fluoride controversy. California has passed a law requiring the addition of fluoride to all public drinking water, but San Diego County is resisting it. “Experts” testify on both sides, claiming that it helps prevent dental cavities and counter-claiming that it stains the teeth, makes bones more fragile, damages the brain, and may help cause cancer. In light of the controversy as well as questions about the potential harm of chlorine, which is always added to public water supplies, increasing numbers of individuals use filters or buy bottled water. But there are also questions about the purity of the bottled water and the plastics in which it is stored.
When does the fear and avoidance of pollution, including keeping kids from playing in the dirt and maintaining a totally antiseptic home, become excessive and create its own problems, possibly interfering with the development of a normal, healthy immune system? As I have written repeatedly, my bias is the belief that destructive emotions are the primary cause of illness. Faith is a primary healer. Fear and resentment and feeling helpless do major damage. The Internet is full of warnings, and some seem justified. There is accumulating evidence that transfatty acids and fake fat (Olestra) may be harmful and should be avoided. The establishment insists that aspartame is harmless but the “net” is full of claims that it does brain damage, producing the symptoms if not the genuine illnesses of lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Mercury fillings in teeth are another controversial topic. As long as such controversies persist, common sense would suggest avoiding these products, but finding ways to reduce stress and to strengthen faith in yourself and in the Infinite could be even more important.
The May 29, 1999 issue of Science News reported that of 172 children whose parents reported putting them to bed in the dark as infants, only 10% showed nearsightedness when examined at a Philadelphia clinic between the ages of 2 and 16. Of 232 children who had slept with a night-light until they were at least 2 years old, 34% were nearsighted. 55% of the 75 babies who slept in full room light were nearsighted later. Earlier studies in chicks also found a link between night-lights and extra growth of the eye which causes myopia according to Maureen Maguire in the University of PA School of Medicine. As usual, both genetic and environmental factors are probably involved.
’Tis the season to pontificate about politics even though the election is over a year away. Though Bill Bradley is getting increased money and favorable attention, the Democratic nomination is almost certainly going to Al Gore. Up until very recently, the media consensus gave both the Republican nomination and the election to George W Bush. From GW’s chart, I agreed with the consensus, but I am less certain in light of the chart of Al’s grandson (discussed in another article in this issue of The Mutable Dilemma), and the current developments involving both GW and the third political party, the Reform Party.
GW is struggling with questions about his involvement with illicit drugs. He admits early mistakes, presumably during college parties, and according to the polls, a majority of the U.S. public agrees that this should not disqualify him from being president. But conspiracy buffs are claiming that both George W and his brother Jeb, governor of Florida, have not only used cocaine in the recent past, but have been involved with the Medellin Cartel and the political elite of Mexico who are the principle suppliers of drugs to the U.S. Even the far-right, ultra-conservative, anti-Semitic Spotlight newspaper has reported some of the accusations. In their September 6, 1999 issue, the Spotlight reported that Los Angeles Police Department whistleblower Michael C Ruppert in the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a video of George W and Job Bush flying into Tamiami Airport outside Miami, FL, “to pick up a couple of kilos of powder for a party.” Ruppert said he heard about the video from Terry Reed, author of Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA.
A variety of sources have long claimed that Vice President Bush and President Reagan authorized the CIA to bring drugs into the U.S. to raise money to buy weapons for the Contras in Nicaragua, and that the Mena airport in Arkansas was often used while governor Bill Clinton looked the other way. Florida was also said to be a common destination for illegal drugs coming by air and by sea, with Jeb involved before he was elected governor. The family of Jeb’s wife is part of the political elite of Mexico. Reed’s book claims that the FBI had a female undercover agent who was close to Medellin Cartel founder, Pablo Escobar. When Barry Seal and Reed were sent on a drug sting to meet some wealthy Texans, Ruppert says the Texans were George W and Jeb Bush who flew in on the family-owned King Air to pick up the cocaine themselves. Barry Seal thought his tape recordings and surveillance videos were insurance for his safety. But Seal was assassinated and I would not want to be Reed or Ruppert’s insurance company.
The major media mostly ignore the conspiracy stories, but several journalists, both liberal and conservative, have pointed out the hypocrisy and unfairness of Governor George W Bush in pushing for harsh drug laws which try 14 year-old kids as adults and make felons out of first-time offenders, sentencing them to jail for possession of less than one gram (one twenty-eighth of an ounce) of cocaine. Bush is conservative, but hardly compassionate when he had disabled people arrested for demonstrating during the past legislative session in Texas, as was reported to the Paracelsus Health column on the Internet by Angel Cohen on September 1, 1999. In light of the increasing disinterest in politics of the U.S. public, whether it is due to feelings of cynicism and futility or to feeling so stressed by survival needs that nothing else matters, the preceding information may remain unknown to most citizens or it may contribute to increased alienation and avoidance of politics.
With the presidential nominations of both major political parties determined months before the first primary vote is cast, the most interesting show may involve the Reform Party. Currently, Jesse (the body) Ventura, elected governor of Minnesota by the Reform Party, is threatening to take the party away from its founder, Ross Perot. Ross is not pleased at that prospect, and he hates the Bush family, so he might throw his weight behind Pat Buchanan for the presidential nomination. Pat is a social conservative, fighting abortion and preaching family values, but he is an economic nationalist, resisting free trade and any move toward international organizations, including the famous New World Order promoted by former President George Bush. Pat is seriously considering leaving the Republican Party and trying for the Reform nomination. Gary Bauer and Steve Forbes are still challenging GW for the votes of right wing, conservative Republicans. They have no chance at the presidential nomination, but if the fundamentalists were sufficiently disillusioned, they might stay home and cut into the numbers of Bush supporters. It is a slim reed, but if everything worked together; increased awareness of the negative information on Bush, the rhetoric of Pat Buchanan supported by the matching funds from the federal government available to the Reform Party from the last election, and a lot of disillusioned fundamentalists who stayed home, conceivably there could be an upset in 2000. However, I would not bet on it.
An article in the September 10, 1999 issue of The San Diego Union-Tribune describes a millionaire named Robert T Bigelow who has been quietly funding UFO research since 1990. Lack of funds is a perennial problem for people investigating unconventional subjects, including anything considered paranormal. When he was eight, Bigelow’s grandparents told him about seeing a glowing red ball which hurtled toward their car, but then made a sharp turn and disappeared. Three years later, Bigelow was with his grandparents when they spotted a huge glittering cigar-shaped object hovering over a nearby mountain. Though he has never personally had a “close encounter,” Bigelow has put increasing amounts of money into investigating UFO sightings, claimed alien abductions, and animal mutilations. He and his researchers have cataloged hundreds of such claimed experiences. For example, in October 1998, he published a 45 page report on the unexplained death of a cow in northeast Utah. Following the death of his son in 1992, Bigelow and his wife Diane donated $3.7 million to establish the Bigelow Chair in Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. The rotating chair goes to prominent life-after-death researchers. Bigelow now wants to build a hotel in outer space, and says he is prepared to spend as much as $500 million over the next 15 years to make it happen.
An article from the Reuters News Service on the Internet on September 15, 1999 described research at the Yale University School of Medicine which found that repeated use of cocaine triggered the production of a new gene in the brain which stays on after cocaine use has stopped. They theorize that this lasting change in the brain helps to explain addiction. As the gene delta-FosB builds up, there is an increased sensitivity to cocaine. The same gene is also produced in the brain by repeated exposure to heroin, nicotine, alcohol, and PCP or angel dust. Eric Nestler, the lead researcher, added “We know of other genes that do the same thing in different parts of the brain.”
The September 1999 issue of Alternatives, Dr. David Williams’ health newsletter, added another piece to the puzzle. Much of the current issue of Alternatives is devoted to the danger from the increased use of Ritalin to treat ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Prescriptions for Ritalin have increased over 600% in the last decade, with prescription sales over $1 billion a year. The U.S. uses five times more Ritalin than all other countries combined. At the current rate, over 8 million school children in this country will be on the drug by 2000, and increasing numbers of adults are also being diagnosed with the same problem and given the same “remedy”.
The connection to cocaine is that research at Brookhaven National Laboratory found that Ritalin and cocaine had the same pattern of distribution in the brain. When Ritalin was given to cocaine users, they couldn’t distinguish the Ritalin high from a cocaine high. The main difference was that Ritalin took four times longer (90 minutes) to leave the body than cocaine. A study at the University of California at Berkeley found that Ritalin user were three times more likely to develop a taste for cocaine. Ritalin use alters brain chemistry, producing a stronger effect and increasing the danger of addiction. Not surprisingly, Ritalin has consequently become popular as a street drug. Children taking the drug are being approached with requests to sell it, and are having it stolen. George W Bush passed a law in Texas mandating jail time for possession of a fraction of an ounce of cocaine. No wonder Ritalin is becoming more popular.