The Peach

Proudly providing the reality-based community with the juice on politics, media, religion and culture

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Breaking News: NIH Whistleblower Seeks Protection

The Peach, in its relentless pursuit of the corrupt NIH, has now discovered that Dr. Jonathan Fishbein, hired by the NIH to improve its research practices after problems in an AIDS drug study surfaced, is seeking whistleblower protection. Apparently, his disagreements with management have left him on the verge of being fired. More on this snowballing scandal to come.

A General Pays the Price for Opposing Torture

The Peach found itself intrigued by a brief Reuters item buried at the bottom of page A14 in today's New York Times, reporting the U.S. Air Force's decision to formally reprimand Maj. Gen. Thomas Fiscus, the Air Force's former chief military lawyer, for "improper relationships with more than a dozen women." According to the Air Force, General Fiscus's habit of engaging in sexual affairs constitutes "conduct unbecoming an officer." General Fiscus has been ordered to forfeit pay, but General Donald Cook, the commander overseeing the investigation, has indicated that he thinks harsher measures should be in order. He has recommended that General Fiscus be forced to retire at a lower rank and is seeking General Fiscus's disbarrment.

Buried at the end of the article is the interesting part. It notes that General Fiscus was among those senior military lawyers who raised questions about American policy toward military detainees. In particular, he opposed the harsh interrogation techniques approved by Donald Rumsfeld (which approval was later rescinded) for use with detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

This set The Peach's fuzzy little brain cells whirring. We found it interesting that the article made no mention of how or why the Air Force came to be investigating General Fiscus's private sex life to begin with. There is no suggestion that General Fiscus is married, for example. The article further notes that the General's "affairs were generally consensual" and makes no mention of any complaint against him that might have touched off what sounds like a fairly extensive investigation over some three months.

Only the article's otherwise inexplicable juxtaposition of the investigation information with the paragraphs on the General's opposition to administration policy seems telling. The SCLM doing its desperate best, in these difficult times, to hint at a causal link? Is Reuters trying to suggest -- without coming out and saying so -- that perhaps, just perhaps the Air Force engaged in a campaign of personal demolition against General Fiscus because he opposed administration policy?

The Peach will leave it to its readers to contemplate the ramifications of an administration policy that seems to call for the systematic, taxpayer-funded personal destruction of its critics. And alas, we must leave it to the likes of Reuters to perhaps, one day, report the connection between investigations such as this one and criticism of the administration, rather than merely hinting at it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Breaking News: The (N)ational (I)nstitute of (H)o's

One day after Bush pulled his support for importation of pharmaceutical drugs, the Los Angeles Times runs this article detailing how members of the National Institute of Health (NIH), while making drug recommendations to doctors in the name of the NIH, were simultaneously working for the companies producing those drugs. According to the story, at least 530 government scientists at the NIH have taken fees, stock or stock options from biomedical companies in the last five years. Some of the more prominent prostitutes were:
Dr. H. Bryan Brewer Jr., who from 2001 to 2003 accepted about $114, 000 in consulting fees, including $31,000 from the maker of Crestor.

Dr. P. Trey Sunderland, a senior psychiatric researcher, took $508,050 in fees and related income from Pfizer Inc.

Dr. Harvey G. Klein, the NIH's top blood transfusion expert, accepted $240,00 in fees and 76,000 stock options over the last five years from companies developing blood-related products.
The Peach has been keeping a close eye on the NIH and actions by the Bush administration and feels that a scandal is brewing. Just over a week ago we reported a government analysis pointing out a flaw in the major AIDS drug being distributed in Africa under the NIH's auspices. Just days later it was discovered that the NIH's AIDS division chief, Dr. Edmund Tramont, knew of the flaw over a year before the most recent analysis was released.

Now, with the revelations about the painkillers Vioxx, Aleve and most significantly Celebrex (produced by Pfizer), it is becoming glaringly apparent that the NIH is sacrificing the safety of the American people in order to pad the pockets of their pharmaceutical pimps.

Top all of this off with the Bush administration's nixing any import of Canadian drugs because of "safety concerns," it becomes clear that there is plenty of drug-company influence going on in this government. The Peach feels that it is imperative the SCLM begin hounding the NIH and find out what drugs are being pushed based on financial influence. The Peach also feels that there must be a more concerted effort to expose what the "litigation reform" agenda actually is: a red herring.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Another "I Lied To Get Re-elected" Bush Moment

In what The Peach feels will become a common event, Bush has rescinded his campaign support for legalizing prescription drug imports, claiming now that it would be too costly to do it safely. According to the administration report, regulating prescription drugs from abroad would wipe away most savings and diminish investments in newer drugs.

Yet, many supporters of drug imports, which include Republicans, claim the report's findings are not suprising considering that many on the task force opposed drug importation from the get-go. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo said the report sounds as if it were written by the PhRMA, the drug industry trade group.

Bush responded by saying before we allow someone to buy a product, we need to make sure it works. What Bush fails to mention is that many of the drugs imported from Canada are purchased by Canadian pharmacies from U.S. drug companies, or that Canadian drug makers are required to follow similar strict standards as American companies. And with all the Vioxx, Celebrex, Alleve, Naproxen controversy going on, The Peach finds it hard to believe that our drugs are that much safer.

To top it off, this grand flip-flop moment was discovered. In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said the president should not veto drug importation legislation because of its political potency. Interestingly enough, this past Tuesday, Thompson stated in a letter that Bush should veto legislation that doesn't address safety concerns and should, instead, urge Congress to address the cost of excessive litigation, a typical Bush administration deflection.

The Peach asks this question. If we go after all those trial lawyers, who's going to protect the regular people from the pharmaceutical giants that lobby the FDA to approve drugs that eventually will kill us? It's obvious this administration isn't.

Inching Towards Vietnam

With Bush finally admitting that Iraqi bombers are having an effect, and this latest front-page report from Al Jazeera claiming that U.S. warplanes launched an airstrike on the town of Hiyt, killing six civilians and wounding nine others, The Peach examines the deteriorating situation and dares to bring up the 'V' word: Vietnam. Each day brings more fantastic moments of disaster, and for this administration's claims of all the good this war has done, the horrific pattern of daily chaos is set and it will not change even with the elections of Jan. 30th.

For even more evidence of similarities with Vietnam, Bush is now threatening Syria with economic and diplomatic sanctions, claiming the Syrian government harbors insurgents and Saddam loyalists, is funding terrorist groups in Iraq, and is now also pursuing WMD's. Will Syria become the next Cambodia? It all sounds strangely familiar.

The current state of the news in America isn't any help either. While soldiers deal with the persistent negative press Americans receive from middle-eastern newspapers on a daily basis, this nation relies on the pro-Bush media to tell us how well the war is going. The Peach firmly believes that the U.S. press won't touch any story on American soldiers killing civilians, or any other reports condemning this war. If they do, they're painted as left-wing, anti-patriotic, terrorist lovers. Granted, Al Jazeera tends to take an anti-U.S. stance, but Americans must recognize that people in the Arab world do not watch Fox-News nor read the NY Post. Al Jazeera is like Brinkley/Cronkite/Huntley combined to Arab readers.

Finally, in what The Peach hopes is a prescursor to mass protests similar to those during the Vietnam era, a recent poll taken by ABC News/Washington Post finds that fifty-six percent of Americans feel the war is not worth it. Maybe Amercans are now realizing that the Iraq plan is a complete fraud and it is destined for utter failure.

With all of this, The Peach is left to ponder, if it walks like Vietnam and talks like Vietnam, is it Vietnam?