Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why Obama Chose Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court

President Obama is an effective implementer of his Strategic and Practical Thinking we have seen in the past hundred days by examining his appointments to the White House and Cabinet and his considerable accomplishments.


The quality of the people he has chosen with differences of experience and ideology, but clustered near the center of the country indicates where he is. Not liberal or conservative, but thinks about the things important to the typical voter who wants a good job with security so he or she can provide their children and grandchildren with a good education so their lives might be better than their parents. The Radical Republicans call this liberal. I call it Centrist or closer to what most Americans think, but still tilted towards corporations for obvious reasons. That is where power resides.

After War World II because of the GI Bill and the relatively good Union pay jobs allowed one parent to educate their children, have a comfortable home, with time to enjoy their time off work. Now Americans work longer hours than any developed country in the world, get less individual compensation, pay proportionally a much larger income tax and property tax for schools because corporations pay a measly 12% average than the typical over $40% of the school taxes in the past by having congress pass laws for their benefit while giving crumbs for the rest of us. In Oregon, most of the large corporations pay only $10, the minimum, from a 1930's law which has been hard to change.

President Obama expressed what he believes during the campaign and is now implementing those ideals which veers from the ideology of maximizing profits for the Corporations, Banks, and Wall street with little consideration for important human values important to the rest of us.

His question about the Supreme Court must have been something like this. Who can I choose to change the usual vote by Justice Kennedy with the conservative majority and satisfy most of the country which needs a Justice  to represent the rest of us. 

The practice of law is more difficult for a judge if they don't judge based on their ideology because law has to be applied in the context of the situation to apply it fairly. Judges makes mistakes as Judge Sotomayor has, but overall she is not as  ideological as Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito have demonstrated without question. Kennedy is more thoughtful and in many ways more scholarly than the other conservative Justices who vote corporate close to 100% of the time and have made no attempt to veer from their upbringing and genetics. 

Judge Sonia Sotomayor was picked because the Republicans cannot really accuse her being of being a staunch liberal or deviating from the rule of law. Her rulings are so good on the law that her two Republican Justices usually  concurred with her. She is a leader and is not shy about speaking her mind based on extensive examination of the law. She is said to be always well prepared and scolds either the defendant lawyer or prosecutor or plaintiff lawyer when they are not adequately prepared. She writes very well which allowed her to submit an anonymous essay which won her a editor position of the Yale Law Review, an extremely prestigious position. Sotomayor was at Princeton at the same time as Justice Antonin Scalia. She was granted Summa Cum Laden or best in her class while Scalia got no comparable awards. Who is the dumber one? 

Kennedy admitted during a speech to an up coming law students that there many contradictions between his Catholic religion and what is now known, but he said he has been able to resolved them. Sotomayor is divorced so she too has been able to shape her behavior to the real world verses her Catholicism.

The other four Justices based their decision almost entirely on ideology and assemble supporting facts or arguments while Kennedy, who is conservative, at least does some analysis about what is right and consistent with the Constitution. Many times the Constitution is vague or very broad in interpretation to accommodate changing times, a wise decision. 

But we must not forget that the rich and powerful wrote our constitution soon after the enlisted soldiers rebelled for not being paid while the officers got paid for the Revolutionary War. They were able to overcome many objections by people such as Thomas Jefferson because it gave too much power to the wealthy and powerful. My how things have not changed that much!

Much is made by the Right Wing Republicans that law is just applying logic and nothing else. They might want to read the New York Times article on August 8, 2000 by Erica Goode. 

Here is an excerpt: "We use to think that everybody uses categories in the same way, that logic plays the same kind of role for everyone in the understanding of everyday life that memory, perception, rule application and so on are the same," Dr. Nisbett said. "But we're arguing that cognitive processes themselves are just far more malleable than mainstream psychology assumed."

What is most important of all is that Judge Sotomayor saved baseball by ending the lockout by the billionaires who wanted to extract even more money from television revenues rather than players getting their fair share. No one gets more than their fair share, unless you are a CEO, working on Wall Street, or a corporate Banker who shape our laws to benefit themselves by giving contributions to congress to get their powerful and effective lobbyists to execute their will. Congress is not really being bribed because they give time and consideration to all their constituents equal time or do they?

Jim Kawakami

May 30, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Glenn Greenwald: Justice Sam Alito on empathy and How Judges Rule.  Rodriguez on Hypocrisy of the Catholic and Mormon Churches 

Judge Sonia Sotomayor made 380 decisions on the Appeals Court and  those that made it to Supreme Court, 3 were reversed and 3 were confirmed. Alito struck out with 2 for 2 reversals. We have to assume that all the other decisions were acceptable for the Supreme Court or not relevant for their consideration. They take only one percent of those considered.

From An attorney who has appeared before the Supreme Court over 30 times runs . This is his comment. He said that 75% of the cases appearing before the Supreme Court are reversed. Sotomayor had six opinions considered and only three reversed to give her a 50% record. If all her decisions at the Appeals Court were considered, her record would be 99.2% correct. 

Her ideology based on her rulings indicate that she is very similar to Souter, but is especially tough on criminals. She decided with the Republican judges that the New Haven rejection of the test for hiring was a decision that should be made by the town.

What really bothered me about the coverage is that the radical right Republicans were given free reign in the media on both CNN and MSNBC to tell ties by citing her statements both out of context and even lying about the meaning of what she said by selective deletions.

Olbermann reported on his live program that Lou Dobbs, just like the Republicans, carefully or not, extracted a statement out of context which is read fully on the Olbermann show and found that Dobbs completely distorted the real meaning of her statements. On Hardball the Republican woman kept insisting that the background and ideology of the Justices does not matter as long as they are competent. Code:  It is all right for White people to be influenced by their background, but not minorities!

Court Case: Is it legal to keep the proportion of minorities and White majority in the Seattle schools as balanced as possible? The approach worked very well. 

Here is a quote by Justice Breyer in the New Yorker article on the Supreme Court: "Breyer offered an unusually public rebuke to his new colleagues. (Roberts and Alito) Jeffrey Toobin's article in the May 18th New Yorker Magazine.

"It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much," Remember it was Roberts in the Reagan administration who offered the idea of dictatorial Presidential Power that Bush and Cheney implemented with glee! 

The reason Souter changed his ideology from Republican to moderate is the Supreme Court decision of Gore vs Bush. He could not believe what Scalia and his gang did to the constitution.

Jim Kawakami

May 27, 2009

Glenn Greenwald

WEDNESDAY MAY 27, 2009 11:28 EDT

Justice Sam Alito on empathy and judging

[updated below - Update II (with video)] As is true for any Supreme Court nominee, there are many legitimate questions to raise about Sonia Sotomayor, but the smear attacks on her as some sort of "identity politics" poster child -- which are still being justified largely if not entirely by the Jeffrey Rosen/TNR gossipy hit piece on her -- are nothing short of disgusting.  As Anonymous Liberal put it:  "Apparently, the only way to avoid 'identity politics' is to pick white men for every job."  Both Adam Serwer and Daniel Larison note the glaring, obvious hypocrisy in simultaneously insisting that "empathy" has no place in the law while protesting Sotomayor's decision inRicci on the completely law-free ground that what happened to the white firefighters is so "unfair."  And Matt Yglesias writes that he is "really truly deeply and personally pissed off by the tenor of a lot of the commentary on Sonia Sotomayor" and, in a separate post, notes the wildly different treatment accorded Sotomayor and Sam Alito despite very similar records.

With regard to that last point -- how completely different is the reaction to Sam Alito and Sonia Sotomayor -- just consider this exchange that took place at the beginning of Alito's confirmation hearing (h/t sysprog):

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Judge Samuel Alito's Nomination to the Supreme Court

U.S. SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-OK): Can you comment just about Sam Alito, and what he cares about, and let us see a little bit of your heart and what's important to you in life?

ALITO: Senator, I tried to in my opening statement, I tried to provide a little picture of who I am as a human being and how my background and my experiences have shaped me and brought me to this point.

ALITO: I don't come from an affluent background or a privileged background. My parents were both quite poor when they were growing up.

And I know about their experiences and I didn't experience those things. I don't take credit for anything that they did or anything that they overcame.

But I think that children learn a lot from their parents and they learn from what the parents say. But I think they learn a lot more from what the parents do and from what they take from the stories of their parents lives.

And that's why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it's my job to apply the law. It's not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country."

When I have cases involving children, I can't help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that's before me.

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person. ... 

Proposition 8 and the Sonia Sotomayor nomination expose the hypocritical state of the sexual revolution today.

By Richard Rodriguez

(Rodriguez is Gay.) ...  In 2008 California passed Proposition 8, in no small part due to the defense of traditional marriage by the California Conference of Catholic Bishops and the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is an irony worth remarking that both Roman Catholicism and the Mormon Church are governed by elderly men, and both religions have known more than their share of male sexual scandal.

 Indeed, the Catholic clergy in Europe and the United States has been shamed of late by revelations of clerical misbehavior, often involving unwilling boys. Last week, for example, the Irish government released a nine-year study of sexual abuse and sadism committed by Catholic priests and religious orders of brothers over more than 60 years in state reformatories and orphanages. The misbehavior required the acquiescence of civic as well as church officials.

 American bishops have been anxious to change the subject. And what better strategy -- in an era of sexual scandal -- than a crusade to "preserve" marriage by precluding any but a heterosexual and sacramental definition of marriage?

 To fight the legalization of gay marriage by the California court, San Francisco's Catholic Archbishop George Niederauer enlisted the help of Mormon officials in Utah (where Niederauer, for a time, served as bishop).

 The Church of Latter-Day Saints is the fastest-growing religion in America. But, despite its adherence to Republican "family values," the Mormon Church is haunted by a cowboy polygamy (that often entailed marrying underage girls to overage men).

 It would require a comic talent as large as Mark Twain's to do justice to the hypocrisy that joined California's Catholic bishops with Mormon male elders in their campaign for Proposition 8. ... 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Remarkable Multiple Health Benefits from Greatly Increasing Vitamin D from Sun and Pills

Obama FDA Wrapping Up Sunscreen Label Changes Resisted by Bush for Years

Review of Sunscreen Literature and Melanoma: Best Sunscreens

New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role

Lack Of Vitamin D Could Spell Heart Trouble

Vitamin D Found To Fight Placental Infection 

People Need More Sun, Expert Urges 

Low Levels Of Vitamin D Link To Cognitive Problems In Older People

Low Vitamin D Causes Problems For Acutely Ill Patients


Since the 1980s I suspected that a sudden surge in Melanoma in Australia which has a large population of Irish inhabitants, I suspected that UVA which penetrates deeply into the skin causes mutations while UVB, the burning rays, is blocked out effectively applying the sunscreens available then, however imperfectly.

A few years ago I saw an article point out that light skin individuals can form 22,000 international units of vitamin D in only 15 minutes of good exposure. My immediate reaction was my gosh, vitamin D must be useful for functions other than keeping bones healthy. I did not find a lot of research on this. I also saw a few articles from Australian scientists pointing out that those who used sunscreen liberally all the time got more melanoma and those who just used a hat and other clothing and tried to stay in the shade when possible hardly develop any melanoma at all!

In the last two years, research on vitamin D intensified and now we have strong evidence that vitamin D is crucial to our health, starting at the fetus level for brain and other development. After birth the baby needs vitamin D to grown the brain more and develop synaptic connections at a very high rate. Children and adults also need lots of vitamin D well above the level recommended. Recently the pediatric level of vitamin D at 200 units was doubled and that may still not be enough because the mother who slobs on  sunscreen does not produce much and may not take much vitamin D as a supplement in calcium pills.

More recently research shows how critical it is for the older population’s health!

Take your time and read these articles, preferable in their entirety by following the links for the complete article.

Jim Kawakami, May 27, 2009

Obama FDA Wrapping Up Sunscreen Label Changes Resisted by Bush for Years

Among the Label Changes: SPF Claims of More Than 50+ Won’t Be Allowed

May 21, 2009 -- After years of delay, the FDA is poised to finalize long-awaited sunscreen label changes designed to give consumers a better idea of the sun protection they’re getting. 

For the first time, sunscreen manufacturers will be required to provide information on the amount of ultraviolet A (UVA) screening provided by their products. UVA rays do not cause sunburns, but they do contribute to skin cancer and sun-related skin aging. ... WebMD Health News 

Review of Sunscreen Literature and Melanoma: Best Sunscreens

... To understand how sunscreen can reduce sunburn and at the same time cause melanoma it is necessary to distinguish between direct DNA damage and indirect DNA damage. Genetic analysis has shown that 92% of all melanoma are caused by the indirect DNA damage.[28] Although some people believe that dark-skinned people such as African Americans cannot get sunburns, they are in fact susceptible, and may sunscreen accordingly, as sunscreen has been proven to protect against other cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.[citation needed] ... 

Other factors are mutations in or total loss of tumor suppressor genes. Use of sunbeds (with deeply penetrating UVA rays) has been linked to the development of skin cancers, including melanoma.[citation needed] ...

Good Sunscreens:

Good discussion of cutaneous melanoma: ... 


... Generally, an individual's risk for developing melanoma depends on two groups of factors: intrinsic and environmental.[12] "Intrinsic" factors are generally an individual's family history and inherited genotype, while the most relevant environmental factor is sun exposure.

Epidemiologic studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVA[13] and UVB) is one of the major contributors to the development of melanoma. UV radiation causes damage to the DNA of cells, typically thymine dimerization, which when unrepaired can create mutations in the cell's genes. When the cell divides, these mutations are propagated to new generations of cells. If the mutations occur in protooncogenes or tumor suppressor genes, the rate of mitosis in the mutation-bearing cells can become uncontrolled, leading to the formation of atumor. Data from patients suggest that aberrant levels of Activating Transcription Factor in the nucleus of melanoma cells are associated with increased metastatic activity of melanoma cells[14][15][16]; studies from mice on skin cancer tend to confirm a role for Activating Transcription Factor-2 in cancer progression[17][18]. Occasional extreme sun exposure (resulting in "sunburn") is causally related to melanoma.[19] Melanoma is most common on the back in men and on legs in women (areas of intermittent sun exposure). The risk appears to be strongly influenced by socio-economic conditions rather than indoor versus outdoor occupations; it is more common in professional and administrative workers than unskilled workers[20][21]. Other factors are mutations in or total loss of tumor suppressor genes. Use of sunbeds (with deeply penetrating UVA rays) has been linked to the development of skin cancers, including melanoma.[citation needed]

Possible significant elements in determining risk include the intensity and duration of sun exposure, the age at which sun exposure occurs, and the degree of skin pigmentation. Exposure during childhood is a more important risk factor than exposure in adulthood. This is seen in migration studies in Australia[22] where people tend to retain the risk profile of their country of birth if they migrate to Australia as an adult. Individuals with blistering or peeling sunburns (especially in the first twenty years of life) have a significantly greater risk for melanoma. This does not mean that sunburn is the cause of melanoma. Instead it is merely statistically correlated. The cause is the exaggerated UV-exposure. It has been shown that sunscreen - while preventing the sunburn - does not protect mice, injected with melanoma cells a day after UV exposure, from developing melanoma. [23] Many researchers say that sunscreen can even increase the melanoma risk (see Sunscreens and Cancer by Hans R Larsen).

Fair and red-headed people, persons with multiple atypical nevi or dysplastic nevi and persons born with giant congenital melanocytic nevi are at increased risk.[24]

A family history of melanoma greatly increases a person's risk because mutations in CDKN2ACDK4 and several other genes have been found in melanoma-prone families.[25] Patients with a history of one melanoma are at increased risk of developing a second primary tumour.[26]

The incidence of melanoma has increased in the recent years, but it is not clear to what extent changes in behavior, in the environment, or in early detection are involved.[27]

To understand how sunscreen can reduce sunburn and at the same time cause melanoma it is necessary to distinguish between direct DNA damage and indirect DNA damage. Genetic analysis has shown that 92% of all melanoma are caused by the indirect DNA damage.[28] Although some people believe that dark-skinned people such as African Americans cannot get sunburns, they are in fact susceptible, and may sunscreen accordingly, as sunscreen has been proven to protect against other cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.[citation needed] ...

New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role

ScienceDaily (May 26, 2009) — In studying the preventive effects of vitamin D, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, have proposed a new model of cancer development that hinges on a loss of cancer cells' ability to stick together. The model, dubbed DINOMIT, differs substantially from the current model of cancer development, which suggests genetic mutations as the earliest driving forces behind cancer. 

"The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels," said epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who led the work. "In this new model, we propose that this loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover, allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over." ... University of California - San Diego (2009, May 26). New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from /releases/2009/05/090522081212.htm

Lack Of Vitamin D Could Spell Heart Trouble ScienceDaily (Dec. 2, 2008) — Vitamin D deficiency—which is traditionally associated with bone and muscle weakness—may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). A growing body of evidence links low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels to common CVD risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, as well as major cardiovascular events including stroke and congestive heart failure. ... 

"Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized, emerging cardiovascular risk factor, which should be screened for and treated," said James H. O'Keefe, M.D., cardiologist and director of Preventive Cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO. "Vitamin D is easy to assess, and supplementation is simple, safe and inexpensive."

It is estimated that up to half of U.S. adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers have vitamin D deficiency, which is defined as a 25(OH)D level of <20ng/ml.>

Recent data from the Framingham Heart Study suggest patients with vitamin D levels below 15 ng/ml were twice as likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or other CV event within the next five years compared to those with higher levels. This risk remained even when researchers adjusted for traditional CV risk factors. ... 

Vitamin D Basics

Vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent than once thought, and greater attention to its treatment is warranted, according to Dr. O'Keefe. Although most of the body's vitamin D requirements can come from sun exposure, indoor lifestyles and use of sunscreen, which eliminates 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis by the skin, means many people aren't producing enough.

"We are outside less than we used to be, and older adults and people who are overweight or obese are less efficient at making vitamin D in response to sunlight," said Dr. O'Keefe. "A little bit of sunshine is a good thing, but the use of sunscreen to guard against skin cancer is important if you plan to be outside for more than 15 to 30 of intense sunlight exposure."

Vitamin D can also be consumed through supplements and food intake. Natural food sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, and vitamin D-fortified foods including milk and some cereals.

Major risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include: older age, darkly pigmented skin, increased distance from the equator, winter season, smoking, obesity, renal or liver disease and certain medications.

Treating Vitamin D Deficiency

In the absence of clinical guidelines, the authors outline specific recommendations for restoring and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels in CV patients. These patients should initially be treated with 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 or D3 once weekly for 8 to 12 weeks. Maintenance therapy should be continued using one of the following strategies:

  • 50,000 IU vitamin D2 or D3every 2 weeks;
  • 1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin D3 daily;
  • Sunlight exposure for 10 minutes for Caucasian patients (longer for people with increased skin pigmentation) between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Vitamin D supplements appear to be safe. In rare cases, vitamin D toxicity (causing high calcium levels and kidney stones) is possible, but only when taking in excess of 20,000 units a day.

Vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent than once thought, and greater attention to its treatment is warranted, according to Dr. O'Keefe. Although most of the body's vitamin D requirements can come from sun exposure, indoor lifestyles and use of sunscreen, which eliminates 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis by the skin, means many people aren't producing enough. ... American College of Cardiology (2008, December 2). Lack Of Vitamin D Could Spell Heart Trouble. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from

Vitamin D Found To Fight Placental Infection

ScienceDaily (Dec. 10, 2008) — A team of UCLA researchers reports for the first time that vitamin D induces immune responses in placental tissues by stimulating production of the antimicrobial protein cathelicidin.

The study involved exposing cultured human trophoblast cells to the active form of vitamin D, leading to production of cathelicidin and an increased antibacterial response in the trophoblast cells.

The team, headed by Dr. Martin Hewison, suspects that the ability of the placenta to synthesize cathelicidin varies widely among women. Their discovery suggests that placental innate immunity can be enhanced if pregnant women supplement their diets with vitamin D. ... Society for the Study of Reproduction (2008, December 10). Vitamin D Found To Fight Placental Infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from 

Guidelines Doubling Infant Vitamin D Supplements May Not Be Enough if Mother is Deficient in Vitamin D ScienceDaily (Oct. 14, 2008) — The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is doubling the amount of vitamin D it recommends for infants, children and adolescents. The new clinical report, "Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents," recommends all children receive 400 IU a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life. The previous recommendation, issued in 2003, called for 200 IU per day beginning in the first two months of life. ... 

"Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for infants. However, because of vitamin D deficiencies in the maternal diet, which affect the vitamin D in a mother’s milk, it is important that breastfed infants receive supplements of vitamin D,” said Carol Wagner, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Section on Breastfeeding Executive Committee and co-author of the report. “Until it is determined what the vitamin D requirements of the lactating mother-infant dyad are, we must ensure that the breastfeeding infant receives an adequate supply of vitamin D through a supplement of 400 IU per day.”

The new recommendations include:

  • Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life.
  • All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than one quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day.
  • Adolescents who do not obtain 400 IU of vitamin D per day through foods should receive a supplement containing that amount.

Given the growing evidence that adequate vitamin D status during pregnancy is important for fetal development, the AAP also recommends that providers who care for pregnant women consider measuring vitamin D levels in this population.

American Academy of Pediatrics (2008, October 14). New Guidelines Double Amount Of Recommended Vitamin D For Young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from /releases/2008/10/081013141737.htm

Older People Need More Sun, Expert Urges

ScienceDaily (May 12, 2009) — Spending more time in the sunshine could help older people to reduce their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. 

Exposure to sunlight stimulates vitamin D in the skin and older people are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency due to the natural aging process and changes in lifestyle.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have shown vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical and metabolic disorders that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. ... 

His team found a high correlation between low vitamin D levels and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. They found 94% of people in the study had a vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) deficiency or insufficiency. The results showed 42.3% of these people also had metabolic syndrome. University of Warwick (2009, May 12). Older People Need More Sun, Expert Urges. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from 

Low Levels Of Vitamin D Link To Cognitive Problems In Older People

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2009) — Researchers from the Peninsula Medical School, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan, have for the first time identified a relationship between Vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin", and cognitive impairment in a large-scale study of older people. The importance of these findings lies in the connection between cognitive function and dementia: people who have impaired cognitive function are more likely to develop dementia. 

The study was based on data on almost 2000 adults aged 65 and over who participated in the Health Survey for England in 2000 and whose levels of cognitive function were assessed. The study found that as levels of Vitamin D went down, levels of cognitive impairment went up. Compared to those with optimum levels of Vitamin D, those with the lowest levels were more than twice as likely to be cognitively impaired. ... 

According to the Alzheimer's Society, dementia affects 700,000 people in the UK and it is predicted that this figure will rise to over 1 million by 2025. Two-thirds of sufferers are women, and 60,000 deaths a year are attributable to the condition. It is believed that the financial cost of dementia to the UK is over £17 billion a year.

Dr. Iain Lang from the Peninsula Medical School, who worked on the study, commented: "This is the first large-scale study to identify a relationship between Vitamin D and cognitive impairment in later life. Dementia is a growing problem for health services everywhere, and people who have cognitive impairment are at higher risk of going on to develop dementia. That means identifying ways in which we can reduce levels of dementia is a key challenge for health services."

Dr Lang added: "For those of us who live in countries where there are dark winters without much sunlight, like the UK, getting enough Vitamin D can be a real problem – particularly for older people, who absorb less Vitamin D from sunlight. One way to address this might be to provide older adults with Vitamin D supplements. This has been proposed in the past as a way of improving bone health in older people, but our results suggest it might also have other benefits. We need to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation is a cost-effective and low-risk way of reducing older people's risks of developing cognitive impairment and dementia." ... 

The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (2009, January 24). Low Levels Of Vitamin D Link To Cognitive Problems In Older People. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from /releases/2009/01/090122093918.htm

Low Vitamin D Causes Problems For Acutely Ill Patients

ScienceDaily (May 2, 2009) — A group of endocrinologists in Sydney have observed that very sick patients tend to have very low levels of Vitamin D. The sicker they are, the lower the levels. ... 

"Last year, we published several cases showing that Vitamin D deficiency can cause acute complications in the intensive care unit."

"Recently, Vitamin D has been recognised for its many roles beyond the musculoskeletal system. It has been implicated in diabetes, in the immune system, in cancers, in heart disease and in metabolic syndrome."

"Vitamin D appears to have roles in controlling sugar, calcium, heart function, gut integrity, immunity and defence against infection. Patients in ICU suffer from different degrees of inflammation, infection, heart dysfunction, diarrhoea and metabolic dysregulation – so vitamin D deficiency may play a role in each of these common ICU conditions."

"So we did a preliminary study and found that 45% of people in our ICU were Vitamin D deficient. There may be a bias, in that all patients were referred to endocrinology, so the numbers may not reflect the prevalence in a standard ICU cohort. However 45% is still a significant proportion.

When the team correlated the Vitamin D levels with a disease severity score, there was a direct correspondence between sickness and Vitamin D deficiency. In other words, the sicker someone was, the lower the levels of Vitamin D. Out of the 42 patients studied, there were 3 deaths. The 3 patients who died all had the lowest level of Vitamin D in the cohort. ... 

"But when we are very sick, the "sick organs" draw upon any vitamin D available to function properly, therefore we may need extra Vitamin D to maintain organ function during critical illness. However, at this stage, we don't know whether Vitamin D deficiency is just a marker of ill health, or whether it contributes to disease severity." ... 

"However, Vitamin D is very safe. It's inexpensive and has a very large safety window, making toxicity unlikely, unless there are underlying diseases causing high calcium. Giving vitamin D to severely deficient patients is very unlikely to cause harm. In addition, ICU patients are lying in bed for a long time, and are at risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. So if nothing else, Vitamin D will help protect their bones." These findings will be published as a letter in the April 30, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Garvan Institute of Medical Research (2009, May 2). Low Vitamin D Causes Problems For Acutely Ill Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 2, 2009, from

Monday, May 25, 2009

Are We Moving Closer to Determining the Cause and Cure of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Several aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease have not been well understood. Why do Alzheimer’s patients have days of lucidity, but for unknown reasons slip back to the disease?  Earlier I reported that an Antihistamine drug was taken off the market because it blocked the production of an enzyme that destroys excess proteins in the muscle. That observation combined with the mice study that showed that getting rid of soluble excess protein in the brain stopped the symptoms of Alzheimer's seemed to be a good approach in Alzheimer's Disease research!  Mice studies show that the introduction of an enzyme that destroys excess protein in the mice’s brain made the Alzheimer’s mice normal again! It could be that excess protein in the brain leads to poorer synaptic connections and plaque. (Harper's Magazine, Last page, probably 2007 or 2008.

This approach to curing Alzheimer’s was hinted at by a Harvard Medical School researcher on PBS. He  said during the discussion period that he thinks a new area of study should include the effect of synapse connection and disconnection in explaining the symptoms of Alzheimer's patients moments of lucidity. Perhaps the excess proteins in the brain which leads to plaque and eventual death could interfere with the connection of the synapses causing difficulty in the brain's ability to remember or store memory.

From  Author, Melody Petersen, a former award winning reporter for the New York Times in her book "Our Daily Meds," Pages 36-37 “By early 2006, Detrol (bladder control drug) was selling at a rate that would bring Pfizer an expected one billion dollars for the year ... Neurologists at the University of Florida studies the women's (dementia) cases. They questioned whether the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease had been too swift. They went over the clues and began to understand what connected the two women: they both had lost their memories after beginning to take Detrol. Both women regained much of their memories after they stopped taking the pills. ... (Seniors take about an average of 15 drugs daily. Jim)

Both bladder drugs have what doctors call anticholinergic, which means they block the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Nerve cells release neurotransmitters to send signals to neighboring cells. The anticholinergic medicines block some of these signals. Many drugs, including some used to treat allergies, blood pressure, convulsions, depression, Parkinson's disease, and psychosis, have been found to have anticholinergic effects. So many medicines have anticholinergic effects that some people may be taking two or more of these drugs at the same time. 

Scientists have found what they believe is physical evidence of harm from these anticholinergic drugs in the brain. In 2003 British researchers studied the brains of patients who had died from Parkinson's disease. They found that the brains of the patients who had taken anticholinergic drugs for two years or longer had more than twice the level of abnormal clumps of amyloid plaque and tangled bundles of fibers as those who had not taken the drugs or had taken them for a short time. Such plaque and tangled fibers in the brain are considered the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. 

Doctors have found that this medication-induced dementia often reverses if it is found and the patient stops taking the offending drug. But how many people never learn that it was their medicine that took their minds away? ...” Melody Peterson “Our Daily Meds.”

Benedict Carey May New York Times May 21, 2009 “... So far, scientists here have found little evidence that diet or exercise affects the risk of dementia in people over 90. But some researchers argue that mental engagement — doing crossword puzzles, reading books — may delay the arrival of symptoms. And social connections, including interaction with friends, may be very important, some suspect. In isolation, a healthy human mind can go blank and quickly become disoriented, psychologists have found.

“There is quite a bit of evidence now suggesting that the more people you have contact with, in your own home or outside, the better you do” mentally and physically, Dr. Kawas said. “Interacting with people regularly, even strangers, uses easily as much brain power as doing puzzles, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this is what it’s all about.” And bridge, she added, provides both kinds of stimulation.  ...” 

Tau Proteins in the Brain Go Out of Control and Form Tangles and Plaque Primary Causes of Alzheimer's Disease ScienceDaily (May 23, 2009) — A discovery made by researchers at McGill University and the affiliated Lady Davis Research Institute for Medical Research at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital offers new hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on May 15, Dr. Hemant Paudel, his PhD student Dong Han and postdoctoral fellows Hamid Qureshi and Yifan Lu, report that the addition of a single phosphate to an amino acid in a key brain protein is a principal cause of Alzheimer's. Identifying this phosphate, one of up to two-dozen such molecules, could make earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's possible and might, in the longer term, lead to the development of drugs to block its onset.

The crucial protein, called a tau protein, is a normal part of the brain and central nervous system. But in Alzheimer's patients, tau proteins go out of control and form tangles that, along with senile plaques, are the primary cause of the degenerative disease. ... McGill University (2009, May 23). Alzheimer's Discovery Could Bring Early Diagnosis, Treatment Closer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2009, from 

Agents That Speed Up Destruction Of Proteins Linked To Alzheimer's Discovered

ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2009) — Taking a new approach to the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease, a research team led by investigators at the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida has shown that druglike compounds can speed up destruction of the amyloid beta (A-beta) proteins that form plaque in the brains of patients with the disorder.

Researchers say their study, published in the April 22 online issue of PLoS One, demonstrates that this strategy is a viable and exciting alternative to the approach most drug designers have taken to date.

"Historically, a lot of effort has been made at stopping initial production of A-beta in order to halt development of Alzheimer's disease, but we are interested in what happens to A-beta after it is produced," says the study's lead researcher, Malcolm Leissring, Ph.D., from Mayo's Department of Neuroscience.

The researchers found two chemicals that could speed up activity of a molecule, insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), which helps chew up A-beta proteins produced in the brain.

In laboratory experiments, they found that one agent, dubbed Ia1, increased the activity of IDE by about 700 percent, while the second compound, Ia2, increased it by almost 400 percent. ... Mayo Clinic (2009, April 22). Agents That Speed Up Destruction Of Proteins Linked To Alzheimer's Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from /releases/2009/04/090421205319.htm

Jim Kawakami

May 26, 2009

Workers in 1907 Got 22 cents per hour of labor.  They Should Now Be Getting $20.68/hr

Wow! The dollar then backed by an equivalent amount of Gold. The average Wage was only 22 cents per hour in 1907. Here is a calculation taking into account inflation and growth in our economy. 

Wages compared to 22 cents per hour in 1907 should have gone up to $20.68 in 2007 for unskilled labor. if we measure worker efficiency and a relative share of the GDP, it should be $89.74 indicating that those at the top have greatly increased their share of the GDP growth due to increasing worker efficiency.

What would have happened if Capitalism was not heavily subsidized by tax dollars? Growth would have been substantially less. So the question is, do the CEOs really deserved such high compensation? Should Wall Street and Bankers? Remember they own our Government through "contributions or more appropriately bribes" and much better access to power than the rest of us!


Jim Kawakami

May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to Create Time for an Overcurious Mind!

As a working research chemist trying to solve difficult problems, I had no problems in allocating my time to satisfy my unrequited curiosity. Do it or lose your job!

Now in retirement, I can't find time to do all I want to do! I am trying to Develop a Photography Hobby, read fiction and non-fiction good books, watch television and movies, enjoy classical concerts, museums, and good restaurants, blog on politics, science and health, and read blogs and news articles on the Internet, and most important of all getting enough sleep!

Any suggestions?

Sunday, My 24, 2009