Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why Science Matters

Why Science Matters

words and photos by Cindy A. Matthews

Picture this imaginary conversation everyone should be glad never took place in 1796:

Edward Jenner: I don't know, Pete. I thought about inoculating people with a small amount of pus from a cow pox lesion to prevent them from coming down with smallpox, but it's a lame idea.

Pete: What makes you say that, Ed? It's been noted by several scientists how milk maids who've contracted cow pox never come down with smallpox. Something about them developing immunity to smallpox because cow pox is a weaker version of it? You inoculation theory sounds like a great idea. We don't need yet another smallpox epidemic, do we?

Edward Jenner: No, we don't. Smallpox can be deadly, but why bother? People--especially children--will hate me for making them suffer through a scratch in order to prevent them from becoming sick later. Who wants to suffer some momentary discomfort for the prevention of an even worse sickness or death? Not me!

Pete: You can't allow people to get sick and possibly die because you want them to like you. The facts are the facts: Smallpox is deadly, and you have a good theory to test which, if successful, could save thousands--no millions of lives. We can't ignore the facts, Ed.

Edward Jenner: Can't we? Let's pretend we never had this conversation. I know--let's open a funeral parlor. We can make a lot of money burying the dead. Why cure people when you can make money off their suffering instead?

Smallpox was completely eradicated by 1980. Millions, perhaps billions, were saved. This is why science matters. 

Ignoring the facts about how we're destroying our biosphere through pollution, or causing climate change  (causing floods and droughts and, consequently, food shortages), or preventing cures for diseases from being developed and given freely to every human being who suffers (because profit is seen as more important than people) is why science matters--because science is all about facts.

Not alternative facts, but the actual facts. Science is about proving and repeating positive results, proposing theories, and testing hypotheses. Without the study of the sciences, our world would be filled with superstition and a lot of unnecessary suffering. The fact our world is still filled with superstition and a lot of unnecessary suffering further proves why science matters. Now is not the time to give up on science.

Denying the facts is a denial of problems. Mature, rational individuals know  denying problems doesn't make them go away. The problems just get bigger and harder to solve.  This week's March for Science focused the public's attention on the fact that our country needs to face facts. We can't allow selfish and greedy billionaires and corporations to continue to destroy our national parks and forests, pollute our air and waterways, poison our land and crops, and take advantage of our sick and elderly neighbors/loved ones by denying them adequate health care. It's time for us to stand up and speak out for our fellow travelers on spaceship Earth and protect the planet which gives and sustains our life.

I attended a  March for Science held in Findlay, Ohio. It was small in numbers but not in spirit. Marches for Science were held all around the US and around the world with hundreds of thousands in attendance. This coming week brings a Week of Action, leading up to the People's March for Climate, Jobs and Justice in Washington D.C. on April 29. I encourage you to take part in as many activities you can this week and to invite your friends to join you. Together, we can make an impact by sticking to the facts and by using science for the common good, not evil.

Take a stand for science today and put superstition behind you. A  more compassionate, safer, and healthier world awaits us. To quote a sign and popular meme: "There is no planet B." In other words, this is the only Earth we got. Let's keep it intact by sticking with the facts.

Here's a video compilation of March for Science-Earth Day 2017 events from Washington DC: https://youtu.be/S4i2N42TVRo

From the official March for Science web site about the Week of Action:

What an incredible day – thank you. Together, we showed the world that science matters. We sent an important message to our leaders: we will not sit still and let science be attacked. We know that science and its role in our lives is important. Because of you, they know, too.

Here's the good news: our movement is just starting. We want to tap into the incredible success of this event to continue defending science, with your help.
The March is just the beginning. Join the movement.

In the week following the March for Science (April 23-29), we will promote daily actions that serve our mission for supporters around the world to engage in together. This Week of Action will continue the momentum from the march and promote sustained, coordinated science advocacy.

The Week of Action is just one more step toward building a global movement that champions science for the common good. We will grow the network of local chapters around the world and partnering organizations, providing tools and sharing resources, and encouraging science and civic literacy outreach efforts.

We will also give you the tools to reach out to your elected officials so you can tell them why you marched for science.

Together, we will #keepmarching to defend and strengthen the role of science in society to better serve all of our communities.

Share the Week of Action.

We heard from a wide range of participants about why they marched for science. Now we want to use these stories to fuel a movement that protects science and its role in society. We know science has improved, and even saved, lives. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we keep marching forward.
Thank you for your support.   
-- The March for Science team

The Global Green Gathering 
a report by Dr. Jill Stein

I just got back from Belgium, the Netherlands and the Global Greens gathering in Liverpool, England, where nearly 2,000 Greens from over 100 countries came together to learn, connect, and get inspired to build our movement for people, planet and peace over profit!
The good news from Western Europe and Liverpool is that the Green movement is growing worldwide. From recent successes in countries like the Netherlands and Austria, to struggles for real democracy in places like Rwanda, South Korea and Russia, members of the global Green family are in the middle of the action.

And it does feel like a family, because Greens from all over the world share the same values and are eager to help each other succeed in solving the problems we all face and creating the better world we know is possible.

Here are some highlights from my time in Liverpool:

Green successes in the Netherlands and Austria

We were invigorated hearing about the recent success of the Dutch Greens, who nearly quadrupled their seats in parliament in the recent election, and the Austrian Greens, who helped Alexander Van der Bellen defeat the far right to become the first Green President!  Both campaigns were strongly pro-refugee and pro-human rights, inspiring young people and members of oppressed communities to vote and stop the racist, xenophobic far right from gaining power.

Global Alliance for Real Democracy and Proportional Representation

Many of the countries where Greens have been most successful, such as Germany, have proportional representation voting systems. (For example, a party that gets 15% of the vote gets 15% of seats in parliament). But others are still struggling with the obsolete first-past-the-post system, including Canada, England, and the US. I took part in a panel discussion on the global fight for real democracy, where we heard from New Zealand Greens about the successful campaign to move from first-past-the-post to proportional representation, and shared ideas about how we can fix our broken voting systems and bring about real democracy.

South Korean Greens oppose US-led nuclear arms race

I heard from South Korean Greens about how the US is installing an unwanted, destabilizing "missile defense" system, based on an agreement with the corrupt, recently impeached South Korean president. This missile defense system, known as THAAD, is widely believed to enable a potential nuclear first strike by the US. THAAD is therefore escalating nuclear tensions between the US and both North Korea and China. Watch our conversation about this nuclear arms race and how we can work together for peace in the Korean peninsula on our Facebook page.

Russian Greens struggle for democracy against official repression

I had a fascinating conversation with Olga Tsepilova, a member of the Green Russia faction of the party Yabloko, one of the only democratic opposition parties in Russia remaining from the 1990s. She told how politicians who oppose the Kremlin are kept out of power by ballot access laws, hostile bureaucracy, and media blackouts, painting a picture not unfamiliar to US Greens. Watch our conversation about the Russian Greens’ valiant struggle for democracy on our Facebook page.

Rwandan Greens challenge dictatorship in the heart of Africa

One of the most  amazing stories I heard was that of Dr. Frank Habineza, who worked for years to register the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, now the country’s only opposition party. Even after their vice presidential candidate was brutally assassinated in the last election, he is running for President this year to give a choice to Rwandans who don’t support the current president, who has been in power since the 1990s. Watch our conversation about the Rwandan Greens’ courageous stand for democracy on our Facebook page.

These are just a few highlights from what was a truly inspiring gathering of Green family from across the globe. One thing was clear: for a better world to be possible, a better US is necessary. I left the Global Greens gathering more committed than ever to building an America, and a world, that works for all of us.

Bringing the fight for voting justice to federal court

From the beginning of the recount effort, we made it clear that we were committed to ensuring the integrity of the election. Our goal was not to change the outcome or to help any one candidate, but simply to verify that the official results matched the will of the voters. In that spirit, we are continuing the fight for voting justice in federal court, challenging the unfairness of Pennsylvania’s election system as a whole.

Pennsylvania’s system forces voters to use unreliable machines that frequently fail and which leave no paper trail of the vote - making it impossible to hold the system accountable to a standard of accuracy and honesty. The system also prevents voters from taking meaningful action to ensure that their votes are counted. This is simply not fair. We have not only a right to vote, but a right to have our votes counted.

For these reasons, we continuing the litigation original begun during the recount on behalf of voters who swear that they were disenfranchised in this year’s election by the state of Pennsylvania. See our latest brief here.

The political establishment doesn’t want anyone to raise the question of whether our election system is fair. But that has never deterred us before, and it won’t stop us now.

We are proud of the campaign that we ran. We are proud of the recount demands that we made. And we are proud to continue the fight for voting justice in federal court.

It’s in our hands,

Jill Stein

At the end of the day, I think we all understand why science matters--it matters for those who come after us.
Protect our future by supporting the scientists who work hard to make tomorrow a better place for all of us. After all, you can't live and grow on "alternative facts" and expect to be healthy, can you?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017



The Pavlic family received assistance from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to fix their deteriorating home in 2015. Mr. Pavlic can no longer work due to his advancing multiple sclerosis, and Mrs. Pavlic can't make enough money to keep the roof from leaking over their family members' heads. These Trump voters discovered this popular federal program--which helps folks like them, the working poor, the low income elderly and disabled--is to be cut so the defense budget can be expanded. They essentially voted away any help they could expect to receive in the future to keep their home safe and livable.

The Pavlics, by voting for the tangerine tyrant, may have planted the seeds of their own homelessness. Trump did the Pavlics and the millions of struggling American families like them no favors. They don't owe him blind loyalty at the cost of their families' health and safety. It's high time for them to #TrumpExit.

If domestic policy doesn't scare off these Trump supporters, consider the dangerous position the orange commander-in-chief has placed the U.S. by dropping a Massive Ordinance Air Blast or MOAB (better known as a "mother of all bombs") on Afghanistan.  Yeah, it could wipe out a scattering of ISIS fighters, but more than likely it was dropped to cover the CIA's tracks in that war torn part of the world. After all, we helped the mujahideen fighters in the 1980s build the very same tunnels where ISIS and other terrorists have been living for the last few years. ISIS fighters have been using our arms against us, too, as we're the number one supplier of armaments in the world. It's not a list where any so-called peace-loving people want to be number one, either. We're already number one in defense spending over all--we spend more than the rest of the top ten nations combined. Can you imagine all the good we could do with the taxpayers' dollars if we even halved or quartered our defense budget?
Trump and others invested in the Military Industrial Complex are growing wealthier by the second, all the while allowing (maybe even encouraging?) the "War on Terror" to grow and flourish and reap a P.R. bonanza for terrorist groups at our expense. We've become the most despised and feared nation on the planet, the big bully on the playground. Why shouldn't these groups fight back with any and all methods at their disposal? Even if they don't, the Pentagon propaganda machine will make its own videos to paint the picture they want low-info voters to have.

Starting a war isn't likely to bring back our country's reputation or our dead and wounded soldiers or our jobs, but who cares, right?  If you're heavily invested into arms manufacture, you know it's where the real profits are to be made. It's fun to watch people suffer, particularly if they're of a different race, creed or ethnicity, huh? (Read this piece on how Afghan villagers and farmers are dealing with the trauma of the bombing.)

 So, supporters of the spray-tanned man in the Oval Office, if the thought of profiting off the suffering of others makes you feel just a little bit queasy, it's time to for you to #TrumpExit. Get out now before you're labeled a racist war hawk by the decent folk you're trying to convince you're not before you convince yourself you are. 

It's easy to #TrumpExit. Read the article below about how Trump's "pro-business policies" will further hurt you and your loved ones. Then take down that faded Trump/Pence sign in your window and call up your friend or neighbor who posted the Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein sign in their front yard last year. You know the one. Ask them how you can join the political revolution and when is the next town hall or rally event you can attend.
Attend the event and find out more about grassroots democracy, or as we like to call it, "government of the people, by the people and for the people. After you've experienced democracy the way the founders envisioned it, you won't want to go back to the tyranny of the tiny-handed.  You'll realize all we need to do in order to make America truly great is to #TrumpExit and become informed and involved citizens. 

If you can't do it for yourself, then do it for the next generation. The world we leave behind is how our children will judge us. Let's leave it better than we found it. #TrumpExit today.


Will Trump’s Pro-Business Policies Hurt Consumers?
by Bridget Stack

Donald Trump has been a businessman for far longer than he has been a politician, so it’s no surprise that he sees government regulations as the enemy of business. One of his first acts of business since in office has been to “streamline” multiple United States Government Agencies.

“I will ask each and every federal agency to prepare a list of all of the regulations they impose on Americans which are not necessary, do not improve public safety, and which needlessly kill jobs. Those regulations will be eliminated.” — President Donald Trump. The areas that will be most affected are food safety, drug safety, legal rights, and environmental safety.

Food Safety

Every year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans get sick, over 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. There is no question that food safety regulations like testing and supply chain tracking encumber efficiency and profit margins for farmers and businesses, but it’s important to remember that they are in place to protect consumers. For example, in 2010, we saw a salmonella outbreak linked to peanuts that resulted in 9 deaths and caused over 700 people to get sick. Without the government’s regulatory shields, incidents like this could become commonplace. 

Drug Safety

Since Congress toughened the drug approval process in the wake of the worldwide crisis over thalidomide, the F.D.A. has come to be viewed as the world’s leading standard on food and drug safety. With President Trump vowing to overhaul the Food and Drug Administration, companies may not have to prove that their drugs work in clinical trials before selling them to consumers. This could have long-lasting impacts on patients’ health. The FDA recently published a study on 22 drugs that were promising in the early studies but failed the final, large-scale trials. Deep cuts in funding and staff at the F.D.A. could impair the department’s ability to evaluate these studies properly, and may result in ineffective or dangerous drugs making their way into consumers’ hands.

“When you have a drug, you can actually get it approved if it works, instead of waiting for many, many years,” Trump told pharmaceutical executives. “We’re going to be cutting regulations at a level that nobody’s ever seen before.”

Congress passed legislation in 1962 requiring companies to provide “substantial evidence” of a drug’s efficacy and safety before it can be sold. This law has forced drug manufacturers to rigorously test their products, run clinical trials, and submit them to the F.D.A. for approval. Ninety percent of drugs that enter the final stages of clinical development fail these trials, which means they are essential to protecting consumers.

Legal Rights

Budgets and regulations aren’t the only thing on Trump’s chopping block. He’s also taken aim at consumer rights. Government laws may seem burdensome to businesses, but they’re designed to protect consumers’ legal rights by allowing them to seek damages from companies and manufacturers that have put profits ahead of their customers’ safety. Fines don’t mean much to billion dollar companies, but a public lawsuit resulting in hundreds of millions in damages and loss of public opinion can be enough to force action.

The most powerful examples include litigation around asbestos, used in construction and even cigarette filters. Once touted as a miracle material for its insulating properties, asbestos is now the subject of lawsuits linking it to a deadly form of lung cancer called Mesothelioma. The current government has stated they will look into lawsuit reforms specifically around asbestos exposure claims—which will impact everyone from veterans to firefighters, and could send the wrong message to companies profiting from products that result in serious injuries.

If you look on the label of a pack of cigarettes, there are warnings of how smoking can lead to lung cancer. Even though the first studies suggesting a link between tobacco and lung cancer emerged in 1950, the tobacco industry refused to admit that smoking caused cancer. It took over 33 years for the first court victory, and another decade before any damages were awarded.

The threat of harmful materials in common products is once again making headlines with the possible connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Though evidence has been around since the early 1970’s, the first guilty verdict was only handed out to Johnson and Johnson in 2013. After evidence surfaced that J&J knew about the risks, but decided not to warn consumers, three more women won talcum powder lawsuits against the company in 2016.

These cases are all tell the same tale. Companies cut corners and denied facts until there was enough proof to hold them accountable. The most powerful weapon consumers have to wield against corporations is litigation. So while it may be good for business to remove barriers to growth and profits, consumers will pay the price with their health and safety.

Environmental Rights

In one of the most stunning victories for protecting the environment, The Paris Agreement on climate change was agreed upon by 197 countries, including the United States under President Obama’s presidency. This agreement is the first international, voluntary deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from both rich and poor countries. One of Donald Trump’s first acts in office was to back out of the Paris Agreement and appoint Scott Pruitt to the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a climate change denialist.

Trump campaigned on rolling back most, if not all, President Obama’s environmental protection acts. In late March, Trump signed his 19th executive order: “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” This order consisted of one terrifying sentence: a sentence directing Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, to “review the rules which regulate oil and gas drilling in national parks and to repeal, suspend, or rescind them if they are found inconsistent with the president’s energy goals.” In other words, we could soon have oil rigs in Grand Teton National Park.

In his first few weeks in office, President Trump signed an executive order placing a hiring freeze on all national parks, directed the Army to issue the final permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and invited the company behind the Keystone XL to reapply for the permit denied under President Obama’s presidency. 

The formation of the EPA, FDA, and CDC were to protect environmental and consumer rights. Government regulations are a safety net to keep corporations in check, and they provide people with a means to force compliance when companies put profits before safety. Deregulation would result in a rise in illness and deaths from products. Even more than the danger of personal health deregulation promises, the greater risk would be removing consumers’ rights to sue when they are harmed

by products. The loss of legal rights against companies and products is a real threat under Trump’s administration.
BIO: Prior to joining ConsumerSafety.org Bridget worked in marketing, social media, and journalism. She previously worked for numerous national brands, and she now focuses her passion for research on protecting consumers.
 Trump supporters...