Cold Truth

FDA’s approval of emergency Zika test may ease anguish for pregnant women


With surprising speed that silenced many of its most vocal critics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an “emergency use authorization” for a much-needed Zika virus test. The test, developed by Quest Diagnostics, is the first to be authorized for emergency use from a commercial laboratory provider. Up until now, the only Zika tests authorized by the FDA were available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and were analyzed only in CDC-designated laboratories. Called RNA (ribonucleic acid) Qualitative Real-Time RT-PCR, the molecular test is designed to detect and measure the Zika virus in human blood. Health officials … Continue reading

As Zika dangers become more obvious, Congress balks at releasing needed research money


If they think hard about it, most people can figure out why the Republican-led Congress throws legislative roadblocks in front of almost all demands, requests and pleas coming from the White House. But ignoring an appeal for money to thwart the Zika virus makes sense to few. In March, when President Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds to ramp up the fights against this little-known disease, the White House spokesman said the administration wasn’t worried about Republican roadblocks for the potentially life-saving funds. “This sort of falls in the category of things that shouldn’t break down along party lines,” … Continue reading

Strawberries jump to top of “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide-contaminated fruits

Apple growers may have something new to cheer about. According to the Environmental Working Group, for the first time in five years the popular fruit has escaped the much-reviled position at the top of the list of the most heavily pesticide-contaminated fruit. The apple, which comes in thousands of varieties, was nudged into second place by the burgeoning strawberry. Strawberries made the top of the list after USDA’s most recent pesticide testing of 6,953 produce items. Three-quarters of the ready-for-market produce samples showed residue from several of the 146 different pesticides, reported EWG, a nonprofit organization that says it’s dedicated … Continue reading

Politics and Bullshipping: A tale of a horn heist at Mentzer’s Montana cow lot

We have all been bravely suffering through the presidential silly season for months and watching as the possible heir apparent to the Oval Office appears to change weekly. Some of us look longingly at our neighbor to the north as an inviting refuge come November. But most of us are eagerly seeking stability wherever we can find it. I found a bit yesterday in Drummond, Montana – a five-block stretch of dusty road with cafes promising real home-cooked food on both ends of Front Street, which is wedged between Interstate 90 and the railroad tracks. Almost precisely in the middle … Continue reading

Investigators worry that medevac helicopters are crashing, often killing crew and patients


Federal aviation accident investigators continue to gather evidence into the cause of the March 26 crash of a medevac helicopter which killed its pilot, flight nurse, medic and the patient they were transporting. The aircraft went down in a heavily wooded, marshy site near Goodman, about 30 miles west of Dothan, Alabama, three minutes after picking up a 27-year-old man who had crashed his car into a utility pole. The midnight crash in Alabama was the sixth fatal accident involving a medevac helicopter in the past year. The National Transportation Safety Board says 13 people have been killed and several … Continue reading

Limb-saving diabetic drug still can’t penetrate the Cuban blockade


(Reprinted from Jan. 15, 2015 Fair Warning) HAVANA – President Obama’s efforts to renew relations with Cuba may soon allow Americans to visit this island’s pristine beaches and start lugging home shopping bags filled with long-coveted cigars and rum. But for frustrated American physicians battling to save the feet and legs of tens of thousands of diabetic patients, it may be a long wait before a much-heralded limb-saving Cuban drug can legally make the 90-mile trip to U.S. shores. Because of the Cold War-spawned economic blockade against what Washington has long considered the Communist threat in the Caribbean, the developer … Continue reading

FDA fails to protect consumers from cancer-causing talc.

Photo: Ovarian Cancer Law Center

  As medical studies and lawsuits point to increasing sickness and death from asbestos-contaminated talc, the Food and Drug Administration says it lacks both resources and laws with teeth to protect consumers. In addition to personal care products, talc, a naturally occurring mineral comprised of magnesium silicate, is found in thousands of consumer products and its use is growing, according to government and industry sources. Talc has been used in the manufacturing of tires, paper, thermoplastics, polymers, paints, food products, French chalk, a dry lubricant and, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, often for cutting illegal drugs like cocaine. Pathologists, … Continue reading

Scientists say talc in cosmetics may contain lethal asbestos

Test subject wears protective face mask and air monitors to measure asbestos fibers in talc-based cosmetics.  
                Photo from  MVA Scientific Consultants.

Talc, the fine, powdery mineral used in thousands of consumer products by everyone from newborns to the elderly, can be a killer when it’s contaminated with asbestos _ which some public health experts say happens far more often than miners and manufacturers acknowledge. In an explosive new study, scientists from three different laboratories worked for more than a year to track asbestos-contaminated talc from the mines to a popular body-powder product and then into the lung tissue of a woman who died of asbestos-caused mesothelioma after years of using the product. For years, medical researchers have encountered many reports of … Continue reading

New antidote for cyanide can quickly save victims of a terrorist attack or industrial accident.

An FBI WMD response team

I’ve got three good friends who work for Homeland Security and two other federal agencies. All earn their government-green paychecks trying to protect the citizenry from the worst that terrorists, extremists or saboteurs can inflict upon us. Studying all the ways to quickly kill a lot of people takes its toll on those who anguish over defending the innocent from all the lethal agents from which to choose. They tell me that it’s not just the new designs for weapons of mass destruction – like dirty bombs or nanotech delivery systems – that steal their sleep. Methods centuries old still … Continue reading

Multiple mobs suspected in elaborate scam selling bogus horse meat

Illustration from Humane Care for Animals

There has never been a dearth of controversy over selling and consuming horse meat. But now we’ve got Interpol investigating criminal mobs from Italy, Russia, Romania, Poland and other countries for the sale of the high–profit, tender meat. “When selling any food product, there is always money to be made if rules and laws are skirted, and that’s what we see happening with horse meat,” a consumer investigator for the European Union told The Food Watchdog last week. She explained that consumer fraud involving horse meat usually centers on two scams. The first is selling meat knowingly tainted with heavily-used … Continue reading