Skip to main content.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

"Elsevier has an entire division to publishing fake advertorial 'peer-reviewed' journals"

Wow. But it may just be a symptom of a much larger, much more insidious problem. THIS is a link you'll reach by clicking through from that Boing Boing item:
Laika?s MedLibLog: In fact, pharma-sponsored trials rarely produce results that are unfavorable to the companies' products ... For instance, none of the published 56 trials of NSAIDs in arthritis ... had outcomes that were unfavorable to the company that sponsored the trials. Another study showed that studies funded by a company were four times more likely to have results favorable to the company than studies funded from other sources ...

Ghostwriters, who write articles that are officially credited to another person, are part of the tactics. Ghostwriters may be hired by companies to write articles for medical journals that appear under the names of scientists who didn?t substantially contribute to the paper. In extreme cases pharmaceutical companies and their agents control or shape multiple steps in the research, analysis, writing, and publication of articles. This so called ghost management can be outsourced to MECC?s, medical education and communication companies. [see source link for references cited]
But what of "studies" appearing in mainline journals?
In my opinion we have to fear more from the strategic publication planning of the MECCs in authentic journals then the fake Australian Excerpta series. Firstly, because the known Journals are far more trustworthy and have far more impact than the throwaways. Secondly because the phenomenon of ghostwriting is widespread, also among "first class Journals". A conservative benchmark for ghostwriting of papers published in biomedical journals is roughly 10% ..., but in particular cases the percentage may be much higher .... This has caused Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ to sigh that ?Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies." [see source link for references cited]
Lesson? When hearing reports on medical research by Katie Couric, on the PBS News Hour, or whatever--whether they cite suspicious publications or mainline ones--treat them very skeptically.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A number of great audio podcasts are available at Here is a list. They all are available for free listening off the web or free downloading to your iPod or other device that can play mp3 audio files (iTunes and rss feeds are available).

Cheri Honkala: Economic Human Rights
Cheri Honkala of the Poor People?s Economic Human Rights Campaign spoke on the University of Maine campus Thursday April 2. The podcast is her 61-minute program and extensive question and answer session. Honkala just left Maine after an extensive tour.

"Organizing in the Obama Era" Teach-In (was on WERU)
This is the podcast for the WERU Weekend Voices/ Special featuring our Active Community Teach-in on New Strategies for Organizing in the Obama Era. This program broadcast Saturday April 4, 2009 on Community Radio WERU. The event was held Saturday March 21, 2009 in Bangor at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

David Roediger: Writing Socialist History
A long-time scholar-activist, his books include The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class and How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. Professor Roediger's main focus is the life and work of his late friend and colleague, the labor activist and historian for the Industrial Workers of the World, Fred Thompson. Thompson died in 1987.

Doug Allen: Gandhi in Times of Terror
Just after returning from India, Doug gave a talk "Recent Reflections from India: the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Gandhi in times of terror." An article related to this topic appears in the new Spring 2009 issue of the Maine Peace Action Committee Newsletter. (The newsletter is print only and not on line. If you'd like to contact me to receive a copy, please log in--first use Create Account if you don't have one--then use the Contact Form to send a message.)

Sarah Bigney: The Two Fair Trade Movements
This podcast features a talk University of Maine graduate Sarah Bigney gave at the U Maine campus last fall, "The Two Fair Trade Movements: Bridging the Divide Between Buying Coffee and Repealing NAFTA." She is organizer at the Maine Fair Trade Campaign, a statewide coalition of 50 organizations for building a just, sustainable, and democratic economy. Check out their site for information on current campaigns, including the one to oppose the Panama Free Trade Agreement.

Do they hate us for our freedoms?
This is a great presentation from this Spring's Thursday Controvery Series at the University of Maine. It features professor of philosophy Shane Ralston on "Do They Hate Us for Our Freedoms? A Deweyan Analysis of the Bush Doctrine." The audio podcast runs about 56 minutes. Professor Doug Allen of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Maine introduces the program.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Find 'em at

Cheri Honkala: Economic Human Rights
Cheri Honkala of the Poor People?s Economic Human Rights Campaign spoke in Orono, Maine on the University of Maine campus on Thursday April 2. At the link is the podcast of her 61-minute program and extensive question and answer session. Honkala just left Maine after an extensive tour.

March 21 Teach-In on WERU
This is the podcast for the WERU Weekend Voices/ Special featuring our Active Community Teach-in on New Strategies for Organizing in the Obama Era that broadcast on Saturday April 4, 2009 at 3 pm. The event was held Saturday March 21, 2009 in Bangor at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

David Roediger: Writing Socialist History
Professor Roediger's main focus is the life and work of his late friend and colleague, the labor activist and historian for the Industrial Workers of the World, Fred Thompson. Thompson died in 1987. I found the discussion of Thompson?s years as a professor at Work People?s College in Duluth, Minnesota personally quite interesting. This was a labor school founded by radical Finns and operated for about fifty years from the 1920s to 1970.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Update: The program has aired. The podcast and additional information is at

This post is a copy of Maine Owl Newsletter No. 12, sent to the regular mailing list this afternoon

Hello Friends of Maine Owl &,

At 3pm THIS AFTERNOON (in 1 hour!), a WERU Weekend Voices/ Special will air featuring our Active Community Teach-in on New Strategies for Organizing in the Obama Era. This was the event held Saturday March 21, 2009 in Bangor at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

There is more information HERE and there are download/rss/iTunes links at The podcast of the full-length keynote is posted in those places, as will be this WERU broadcast after it airs.

The first half of the broadcast is part of the keynote given by Joseph Gerson of AFSC in New England. He is introduced first by Ilze Pertersons of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, then by Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

Four additional speakers from the event then address a wide range of local activism on war & peace, environmental, labor, and foreign policy issues. They include:
  • Mary Beth Sullivan of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space who discusses economic conversion of Bath Iron Works
  • John Banks, Natural Resources Dir. of the Penobscot Nation on local environmental issues
  • Steve Husson of Food AND Medicine in Brewer discussing Labor and the Employee Free Choice Act
  • Professor Doug Allen of the University of Maine, who ties everything together.

Please also visit the marvelous audio archive site at WERU where you also will be able to listen to the show later in case you miss it over the air (or live outside the WERU signal range).

Two additional links that may be of interest are Bruce Gagnon's excellent blog, Organizing Notes, and the Peace and Economic Security Program for the American Friends Service Committee in New England.

HOPE Festival APRIL 25
Click below for exciting information about the upcoming HOPE Festival in poster form, including download links for the flyer and poster in pdf format!

Saturday, April 25th • 11 A.M.-4 P.M.
Student Recreation and Fitness Center, University of Maine, Orono

We'd really like to hear from you, even if it's only just to say you listened to the WERU program. Please use the "comment" link below. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Maine senator has 'em wrapped

Collins Watch opens the pathology lab, dissecting local news coverage of Senator Susan Collins during the recent Maine campaign for U.S. Senate. The results aren't pretty.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fit to print

Saturday July 4th, 2009
Click above for "change"

Update: Please post your favorite short quotes from the YesMen NY Times in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oh, jeebus, they're gonna cover the "controversial" Stephen King remarks on reading and opportunity...

Update: This was worse than expected. An indignant military commentator was given pretty much free reign to bash Stephen King on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Here's how it started, "A deputy undersecretary for the Department of Defense says Maine author Stephen King cruelly perpetuated an incorrect stereotype when he suggested last month that military service is a refuge for the illiterate."

Barbara Cariddi's angle is "repercussions." A. J. Higgins does the meat of the 4 1/2 minute piece, connecting postponement of a planned fund-raiser for Democratic Senate candidate Tom Allen to the "controversy." Higgins does mention that these "repercussions" are sourced from the likes of O'Reilly and Limbaugh. My sense is that MPBN follows the lead of these preachers in the halls of wingnuttia.

I suppose Higgin's angle on literacy problems in Maine is a bit of a counterbalance in Stephen King's favor. But I think you could have done a much better report on this important issue if the dose of "repercussions" for King had not been ladled on top of it.

The Pentagon spokesperson really did not deal with Stephen King's intended point, that lack of literacy limits options in life, instead tacking against what is essentially a red herring, the myth that the military is full of illiterates. I did not hear that at all in King's remarks and I certainly do not believe that to be true.

However, recruiting standards certainly have taken a hit in recent years. This was not investigated at all by MPBN, even though mainstream stories have been available for months, sourced from the Pentagon itself, including this February Bangor Daily News story blogged by Gerald at Turn Maine Blue (thanks, Gerald).

I would note that a problem amongst some troops may be a lower level of thinking skills with respect to understanding the consequences of displayed attitudes and actions, not necessarily "illiteracy." This comes out big time in the Winter Soldier testimony.

These consequences are significant and terrible for people in countries America occupies, and for America itself. See below. Previous posts on this topic HERE and HERE.

Here is the audio I promised (4 1/2 minutes):

NYT General
How's the media follow-up to last month's major New York Times expose on Pentagon propaganda been going? Stone cold silence.

Important as Stephen King remarks? Not so much.

Vet official email
An email "error"? Or a cover-up? It's worth page C8

This is a follow-up to the item I posted Saturday. I literally spent 45 minutes looking for this thing in the paper. I knew I'd seen it in there. This ran in the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday last week, the same day the paper carried it's first story on Stephen King's remarks about limits to opportunity for people with low skills, "...if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don't, then you've got, the Army, Iraq, I don't know, something like that."

Wingnuttia was all over that—the King remark, that is. It does not matter to them if there is any easily-seen evidence—as the BDN did give Mr. King space to explain—that poor reading skills do limit opportunity, and military grunt jobs these days with very high risk for injury and death in this country's wars are often one of those limited options.

None of 'em give a hoot about the human wreckage of the war and they never did. It's a crazymaking. Christ! One thousand attempted suicides per month!? There is a permanent nightmare looming over our future directly because of this war. And they can't see it in wingnuttia. Their only comfort is to latch onto celebrity remarks perceived as "liberal" and wave the flag over them while throwing a tantrum. It's a damn shame that the Bangor Daily News takes this lead and plays along for days on the front page. This administration's real, consequential cover-up of the situation merits only one tiny item on C8.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Scoop! "Super-secret" transcript

Lately I have not been much of a consumer of National Public Radio's Morning Edition. Frankly, I've felt for a long time that NPR news reporting just isn't credible any more. But I did hear this recruiting pitch story about a 56-year-old Vietnam vet who recently has re-enlisted with hopes of being sent to the current wars:

The Impact of War
Vietnam-Era Vet Reports for Duty
Morning Edition, May 9, 2008 ? Army Spc. Tom Owens first joined the military during the Vietnam War when he was 17. He earned two Bronze Stars before leaving the service in 1992.

But nearly two years ago, when the Army raised its enlistment age limit to 42, Owens decided to sell his landscaping business and volunteer to serve his country again ? at age 55.
"Maybe some other guys ? might see this and think, 'You know, the Army, maybe it's not such a bad thing,' and maybe they might come back." --Lt. Col. Dave Johnson
The "scoop" is a "transcript" of a story meeting the reporter, Kathy Lohr, must have had with her producer and "obtained" by NPR Check, a website I've grown to admire. Good blogging, check it out.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weak in Review: Bangor author Stephen King remarks on reading skills and options in life, made "controversial" by wingnut bloggers, carry huge weight over Iraq/Afghanistan veteran suicide issue in Bangor Daily News

It was quite a week of war and veterans issues coverage in the Bangor Daily News. Was it their big, front-page coverage of the U.S.-backed killing and destruction in civilian neighborhoods in Sadr City? Nope, there was no such coverage. Was it their prominent story on the hearings in Congress and west coast court case on treatment of veterans and controversial actions by high officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs? Nope, they had just a tiny AP release buried deep in the paper on that.

What they had was THIS:

Stephen King fires back after blogger attacks remarks
By The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - Bangor Daily News
BANGOR, Maine ? Stephen King has fired back at conservative critics who attacked him over a remark he made a month ago at a writers symposium for high school students.

A blogger jumped on King?s statement at the Library of Congress about the importance of reading in which he suggested poor readers have limited prospects, including service in the Army.

"I don?t want to sound like an ad, a public service ad on TV, but the fact is if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don?t, then you?ve got the Army, Iraq, I don?t know, something like that. It?s not as bright," King said at the April 4 event in which he was accompanied by his wife Tabitha and son Owen.

Blogger Noel Sheppard likened the comment to former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry?s remarks that if you don?t get a good education, "you get stuck in Iraq."

"Nice sentiment when the nation is at war, Stephen," Sheppard wrote.
The BDN continued coverage with an editorial and they did give the spooky author plenty of space to respond, but the angle was on the "controversy" of the remarks.

The story wouldn't quit, as some of the troop greeters at the airport had temporarily removed King items from the terminal area. The group leaders over there came to their senses and had the items replaced.

Meanwhile, consider that THIS outrageous story of officials covering-up the real challenges returning troops face is barely news up here:

An Outrage: V.A. Official Who Covered Up Veterans' Suicides Won't Lose Job
Greg Mitchell - Huffington Post - May 10, 2008
A week of hearings in Washington on the alarming spike in suicides among veterans of the Iraq war, and an official cover-up of the numbers, has ended with both the Veterans Affairs chief and the V.A. mental health director whose advice on the matter was "Shh," still holding their jobs.

Meanwhile, the returning soldiers "are dropping like flies." That's how one soldier characterized the spike in suicides among servicemen coming home from war, according to Greg Dobbs, who is completing a documentary on PTSD for HDNet and wrote an op-ed today for the Rocky Mountain News of Denver.

Dr. Ira Katz, the mental health official who ordered "Shh!" on revelations of the alarming number of suicides among U.S. veterans, won't lose his job over it, his boss told Congress. The poor fellow, like all of us from time to time, just wrote without thinking in an e-mail, V.A. Secretary James Peake testified.

Katz agreed that it was just a bad choice of words when he sent his colleagues an e-mail about suicide data that started out with "Shh!" in the subject line. The e-mail (which I covered in-depth last week) went on to admit that 12,000 veterans a year attempt suicide while under department treatment -- but this number should be kept from CBS News, which was studying the issue. "Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" the e-mail asked.
For a bunch more, please read Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch Diary for today, Real Clear Numbers: 101,000 U.S. Casualties a Year.

All this just shows how loathe to face the truth about this war are many Americans. People would rather pile on Stephen King for what I think is a valid observation: the military becomes one of the few options open to young people who have for whatever reason been ill-served by the educational system.
Some of us who have lived to my age, or maybe even a little older "we were so hopeful that this would never happen again, that we would never do this to another generation of young people?. And we?re doing it right now,? you know,? we?re doing it right now. We?re killing ?em, we?re maiming 'em, we?re sending 'em home crazy. And we?re not doing anything for 'em when they get back. It?s the same thing again.
--Stan Goff, Orono, Maine, November 15, 2005

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's a hell of a problem for a nuclear power....

Matt Taibbi on The Great Derangement

I've appreciated Matt Taibbi's work since I found this column he wrote for New York Press in September 2003, discussing how the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority had hired a figure from the Russian economic "shock therapy" period. At the time, the same thing, something they called "rapid privatization," was on the table for Iraq. Lot's of detail was archived HERE, due to a proposed U.S.-Iraq "business conference" then planned at the University of Maine.

H/T to Jazz from Hell for the video. I'll go along with Taibbi "is the best American journalism has to offer."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On blogging in Maine, with your host and WERU's Amy Browne...