Thursday, March 06, 2008

"Another child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes." And nobody protests this?
(Photos are of me in my surgical mask while holding baby Mena to keep her from getting the flu that I developed after going without sleep for five days on airplanes and at airports after being denied an embed in Iraq -- and of me at the Shattuck Avenue Marine recruiting center. I support the Marines! I just don't support them being used and abused by globalization profiteers.)

I was driving along Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley the other day when I spotted a giant billboard that read, "Another child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes." My jaw just dropped.

Further down on Shattuck, I drove past the Marine recruiting center where Code Pink is protesting the war on Iraq. Approximately one million Iraqis as well as almost 5,000 American troops have died in "Bush's War," a hecka lot of pointless bloodshed. Oops, my bad. It wasn't pointless. There was a point to "Bush's War" -- to make money for the oil and weapons industry at the expense of our brave troops, the American taxpayer and the people of Iraq.

So. Am I hinting that there might be some sort of connection between these two Shattuck Avenue events? Oh yeah. And the connection is -- business. Small-scale death for profit and large-scale death for profit. "It's not personal. It's business." Yet we protest the small-scale version of death-for-profit in Iraq like crazy yet largely ignore or discount the large-scale version of death-for-profit here at home. What's with that?

We've got death in Iraq on a small scale. "Small scale? No way!" Approximately 5,000 American troops have died. And also approximately one million Iraqis are dead. Over a million dead people? That may seem at first like a really large number -- until you compare it with death on a much larger scale.

Millions and millions and millions of people both here in America and all over the world have taken to the streets to protest "Bush's War" -- as well they should. It is destroying our economy, our democracy and the ability of our military to respond adequately in case of a real attack on our country.

However, it still aggravates me thoroughly that once every 20 minutes, an American baby's entire existence is threatened and nobody even seems to notice. Billboards claiming that "Another child is diagnosed with autism once every 20 minutes" can actually appear on the streets of America and no one even notices this? And if this horrendous rate of decimation applies only to America's children, then what would the death and disaster rate soar to if one were to include the rest of the world's population in one's calculations?

Once every 20 minutes an innocent baby is doomed to a whole lifetime of misery and an early death? And yet there are no massive protests? Don't you find the contrast between the huge amounts of protests against "Bush's War" and the almost total lack of protest against autism a bit lopsided and strange?

When I was a child, autism was unheard of. Now it is an epidemic claiming untold numbers of lives. What caused the change?

And if America lost 3,000 people on 9-11 and Bush used that as an excuse to attack Iraq, then if we are losing the capabilities of one American child EVERY 20 MINUTES, why doesn't he attack the cause of autism too? It's a far greater danger. Why isn't Bush striking back here as well?

"We can't do anything because no one knows the causes of autism, Jane." Yeah but anybody with half a brain can use a little common sense and come up with the causes of "Bush's War" -- all those WMD lies -- but nothing has been done about that either. Bush and Cheney still aren't in jail. But I digress.

For years now, thousands of mothers and pediatricians have claimed that autism was caused by mercury in vaccines given to babies. So the pharmaceutical companies stopped putting mercury in most of their vaccines, several years ago. But it still took them a long time -- and probably a couple of court orders -- to figure out that you don't just shoot up babies with mercury (even though mercury did increase the profit margins on vaccines).

So. There hasn't been any mercury in most vaccines for a while. However. The billboard I saw that read, "Another child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes" was up in public view last week -- not last decade. And a pediatrician recently told me that babies still develop autism around the age of 18 months -- not when they are freshly newborn, come out of the womb healthy, respond nicely to stimulus and register 9 or 10 on the Apgar scale. These babies do not develope autism before they have their first vaccinations. No. They develop autism only after they have had most of their shots.

So. Am I saying that the shots themselves are the cause of autism? That's a pretty heavy-duty statement to make. So I decided to do some research.

First off, I talked with a friend who had raised three healthy children who register in the "genius" category. What did she do right? "I had a wise old pediatrician once," said the friend, "and he told me not to vaccinate my kids until they were at least one year old."

"Because of the mercury?"

"No. Because their fragile little systems simply can't handle the introduction of that much radical change into their bloodstreams at so young an age...." That sounds plausible. But is it REAL research? So I googled. And I consulted my friend Melinda who knows everything. And I discovered an article that read, "After years of insisting there is no evidence to link vaccines with the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the US government has quietly conceded a vaccine-autism case in the Court of Federal Claims.... The claim [was] one of 4,900 autism cases currently pending in Federal 'Vaccine Court'.... The doctors conceded that the child was healthy and developing normally until her 18-month well-baby visit, when she received vaccinations against nine different diseases all at once (two contained thimerosal). Days later, the girl began spiraling downward into a cascade of illnesses and setbacks that, within months, presented as symptoms of autism, including: No response to verbal direction; loss of language skills; no eye contact; loss of 'relatedness;' insomnia; incessant screaming; arching; and 'watching the florescent lights repeatedly during examination.'"

Every 20 minutes, America wastes another precious child's mind due to autism. Think of the costs in terms of medical treatment. Think of the loss in terms of human resources. Think of the anguish and pain for the families of autistic children. "Every 20 minutes...."

But with another child developing autism once every 20 minutes -- only since the mass marketing of vaccines for infants and with this link between vaccines and autism appearing to be so obvious, then why haven't pharmaceutical companies backed off and launched a huge new media campaign such as, "Please Wait to Vaccinate!" They'd still make tons of money, only they'd make it a year later.

"But, Jane," argued another young mother, "what if in the meantime my baby gets diphtheria and dies?" That would be terrible! But the chances of your baby getting diphtheria and dying in this day and age of antibiotics are going WAY down -- while the chances of your baby getting autism are going WAY up. Which one outweighs the other? At this point, I would chose to avoid autism. Diphtheria you can recover from. Autism is for LIFE.

While I was contesting a parking ticket today down at city hall, I ran into another young mother. "Did you get your baby vaccinated," I asked her while we were waiting in line.

"Yes and no. I did the polio vaccine because once you get polio, you're in big trouble and can't get cured. But the tetanus shot? No way! My baby is going to have to be at least a year old and walking before she can step on a rusty nail. And all of the other ones? I figure that if a disease is curable, its vaccine could wait. Plus they have so many vaccines these days that they are always trying to stick needles into my baby. My baby is NOT a pincushion! They even have a vaccination against diarrhea. And hepatitis? Aren't you supposed to be exposed to that by having sex?"

Good grief. If this mother hadn't been holding her baby, I woulda given her a high-five!

Then I went to the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association's monthly luncheon and was telling the attorney next to me over the pasta and poached salmon that there was no autism when I was a child. "Maybe they had another name for it, Jane." What? Village idiot? Nope. That only happens in Texas. "Or maybe it's caused by television." It can't be caused by television. Eighteen-month old babies don't watch that many episodes of "Deal or No Deal".

"But, Jane, why are you so passionate about having babies avoid getting vaccinations?" asked the attorney. When you go to one of these meetings, you always gotta be prepared to get put on the witness stand.

"Well, first of all," I replied, "it totally bothers me that every time a drug company wants to make a bit more extra cash, they just dream up yet another reason to stick needles into our babies. They need to get a life and stop hatin' on babies!"

"And, second, I am passionate about this for personal reasons. Some friends of mine's baby became autistic about twelve years ago and I have watched the pain and hardship and struggle that autism brought to their lives. The couple ended up in divorce court and the child ended up in a nursing home. And both parents were intelligent and accomplished. Their child could have been a genius. But he ended up being a burden and a heartbreak." Sigh.

Did I vaccinate my own children? Heck, no. I practiced what I preached. And they turned out fine.

Bottom line? The losses from "Bush's War" on Iraq are tragic for sure. But in relation to the far heavier losses being endured by America's babies, even they pale in comparison. The war on Iraq was a phony war, a war for profit, a "Bush's War". What if the war on our babies is a phony war too? What if autism is caused by vaccines? And what if the drug companies are hiding evidence of this in order to keep the profits rolling in -- like they have done in several other cases in the past?

What if the tragedy of autism is just another "Bush's War"?

And if it is, then why aren't we protesting this "War" as well? Why aren't a billion mothers out marching in the streets?

PS: Speaking of pushing pills for profit, did anyone else read that article about the phony placebo effect of anti-depressants?

"A study suggesting the widely prescribed antidepressants Prozac, Paxil and Effexor work no better than placebo for most patients who take them does not present an accurate picture of the research as a whole, a leading depression expert says," according to an article in WebMD Medical News.

"The research analysis included published and previously unpublished data submitted to the FDA by the manufacturers of the three drugs, as well as a fourth, Serzone, which is no longer sold in the U.S.... The researchers concluded that when taken as a whole, the data showed that only a small group of the most severely depressed patients benefited from taking one of the antidepressants." That's a hecka lot of profit for just a placebo. 227 million prescriptions were written for anti-depressants in the United States in 2006. And an additional 31 million were written in Great Britain.