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Sunday, January 27, 2008

COMMENTS ON THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE

COMMENTS ON THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE

Most economists would probably agree that a stimulus package is needed to avert the impending recession of 2008 and it might work. But there are some in the political and financial world who think it could have been better. Some people remember the so-called “Great Depression,” and it was great at the time in 1929. We have not experienced such a Depression as that since. President Roosevelt instituted a great recovery program taking our country out of the depression. He created the greatest “Stimulus Package” our country ever knew up until that time. He must be given credit for that. He immediately put people to work on the WPA – Work Progress Administration. It was the largest New Deal Agency putting millions of people to work. Many of the roads and bridges that were they built are still landmarks in our country today. My father worked for the WPA, and he told me that the workers with whom he worked knew how to build good roads and safe bridges.

I wish to examine what happens to $100 given to a person to spend in the economy ostensibly to stimulate growth. The average person will go to a store like Wal Mart and purchase an item most likely made in China or some other place in South East Asia. Or they will put it toward the purchase of a foreign built car or electronic device. So some of this money will wind up in another country. Some money will stay within the country by paying for services or people working. The money will keep the economic wheels turning but it is status quo spending and not upward in its movement. It is my belief that very little will go to purchase capital equipment made in the USA thereby adding to our GNP.

Let us examine another scenario that I saw Mike Huckabee propose this week. Let us now do the math. Suppose that the $100 went to pay for a person constructing a bridge or road on a WPA-like program. The road gets built using American labor or even using an illegal immigrant. The person who has to work for a legitimate company must pay 7.65% for Social Security and Medicare and the employer must match this amount. So the government immediately gets back 15.5% on its investment, not bad as investments go! Additionally, the employee must pay, let us say 29% (rounded to 30%) as a very conservative figure. This brings the total return on the government’s investment to 45.5%. The government will receive almost half of its money back. Where can you get a guaranteed return like that? Eventually, there will be only half of the original drain to the Treasury. And let us remember that we have a road or bridge to somewhere built, if congressional leaders keep their porky hands off and not build another “bridge to nowhere!”

Roosevelt was an amazing man. Although he was not an economist, he must have surrounded himself with good advisors who told him what he needed to do to solve the problem of the “Great Depression.” Additionally he had a cooperative Congress. We need a man like that today. We might have it in President Bush who has guided our country through the great recovery after 9/11. Although the many who will not give him credit for that are now blaming him on the economic downturn. That is politics, folks! Unfortunately, what we do not have today that Roosevelt had was a cooperative Congress. Today we have a schizophrenic Congress who do not want to work with either the Executive Branch nor among themselves. I will give credit to the House who within three days of the President’s speech on the economic package came through with a bill – the first time such cooperation has occurred in the past several years. But, we are now awaiting the truly schizophrenic Senate who say it will take them three weeks. I have carefully watched both the House and Senate especially during the past 20 years. The Senate is full of legislators who do not legislate. They are good at bringing home the pork, however. Many are self serving to the money of special interests. Although the House may also act in a similar manner, they, at least, appear to accomplish more on matters which deal with the economy or solving the problem of illegal aliens. The Senate is full of individuals who want to make themselves a big name so that they might run in the next presidential primary. Sorry if I sound cynical, but I have been watching these guys for too many years now, and my observations warrant my cynicism.

Presidential candidate Ron Paul offers his economic stimulus package for the nation's ailing economy. Paul’s Comprehensive Economic Revitalization Plan has four main areas of reform. Paul offers massive Tax Reform, Spending Reform, Monetary Reform, and Regulatory Reform. In the area of tax reform, Paul calls for the elimination of taxes on savings and dividends, repealing the death tax, cutting taxes for working seniors, eliminate taxes on social security benefits, accelerating Depreciation on investment, eliminating taxes on Capital Gains, eliminating taxes on tips, and he supports Mortgage Cancellation Relief Act. Paul’s proposal may amount to the largest tax cuts in history. He doesn’t stop there. Paul has consistently said that by reducing the size of the federal government to the level it was just ten years ago, federal income taxes could be entirely eliminated. Apparent first steps in that direction are spending freezes.

It is Mike Huckabee who is now suggesting a WPA-like program as an economic booster. The other candidates want to give it to more individuals probably to secure more votes. A WPA-like program makes sense for the reasons I already gave.
Although I like many of Ron Paul’s ideas for the long term, I believe the idea of a WPA-like program would be better as a start initially.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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JOHN BROWNE OF MONEYNEWS.COM

JOHN BROWNE OF MONEYNEWS.COM

On 22 Jan 08, John Browne of MoneyNews.com wrote the following: “This morning the Fed announced an emergency rate cut of 75 basis points to 3.5 percent. It was a great surprise to most investors.
The Fed meeting was the first emergency meeting since Sept. 17, 2001, following 9/11.
But, our readers will not be that surprised. For they will remember that I have been calling for major and urgent Fed rate cuts since the early summer of 2007.”

Just about 5 months ago on 8 August 07, John Browne, in a piece on Financial Intelligence entitled “Fed Cowardice Invites Catastrophe,” said “that the Feds yesterday should have increased the interest rate to 5.5% rather than leaving it the same at 5.25%.”

Is John Browne drinking some of Bill O’ Reilly’s Kool Aid? In January 08 he said he has been calling for a RATE CUT since early summer of 07, but in August of 07 he advocated a RATE HIKE. On August 8, 2007 I wrote a Blog entitled “NEWS MAX HAS IT WRONG TODAY” stating that “John Browne... HAS IT ALL WRONG...”

Although it is human and normal to take credit for what one says, but to take credit for saying something when, in fact, what one said is quite the opposite is disingenuous. Does the man not remember what he wrote? He is the acknowledged expert who has a great forum from which he speaks. But, let’s be honest John Browne!

I have been calling for a rate decrease from the time I began this Blog early in 2007. And if the Feds did it then, we might not be experiencing the potential recessionary problems of today. Additionally, we might have begun to turn the housing debacle around because it was decreasing interest rates so rapidly before the market could adjust that caused the problem. Reversing the situation would have corrected it if it was done early enough. I believed it then. I believe it today. WHY CAN’T THE FEDS GET IT RIGHT? According to John Browne the Fed decreasing the interest rates .75 basis points was not expected by the market. I take issue with John Browne again. The market was expecting it. This is the reason why Bernanke and his people should have decreased it one full basis point. Who is in control here? If you want to be in control and, more importantly, convince the world you are in control, then make the BOLD moves. Then and only then will the world markets move on and upward. Give me one day at the Fed, or if you do not trust me, ask Donald Trump to do it. He recommended a full point move about a week before the Feds moved .75 basis points. That is why Donald makes “the big bucks” and Bernanke has the soft bureaucratic job. If Donald makes a mistake, he loses real money. If Bernanke makes a mistake, he still gets paid.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Friday, January 25, 2008

UNSUSPECTING DANGERS OF SLEEPING PILLS

UNSUSPECTING DANGERS OF SLEEPING PILLS

I am going to share with my readers today something I NEVER told any one else. What prompted me to write about it now is the untimely death of the talented actor, Heath Ledger, and how a person can kill himself with sleeping pills (or tranquilizers and similar drugs) without even knowing it.

Year ago I suffered from insomnia before I entered the practice of natural holistic medicine and before I knew better. One day I went to bed and put a bottle of sleeping pills beside me on the night table – an extremely dangerous practice. I took two pills and tried to go to sleep. Perhaps an hour later, but I will admit not knowing how much time had elapsed, I reached over to take another dose of two pills. Sometime later and very groggy, I awoke and tried to remember whether I had taken one or two doses. I took another dose because I forgot I took the previous dose. As the night progressed I apparently awaked a number of time quite groggy and lamenting the fact that I was unable to fall asleep. I finally collapsed on my way to the bathroom and stayed unconscious for a considerable time on the floor. Upon awakening many hours later, I went to put the bottle of pills away and noticed that the bottle was more than half empty. During the night I had eventually taken almost a half bottle of sleeping pills. I almost died that night. I almost killed myself without even trying. All I wanted to do was go to sleep, but not permanently! I threw the bottle of pills away and vowed never to take them again – and I have not.

I was very lucky. If I had drunk some alcohol earlier in the evening, perhaps the added effect of the alcohol and sleeping pills would have done me in.

After taking sleeping pills or tranquilizers you can enter the groggy state of semi-unconsciousness. I believe this happens to many people who just want to sleep. They take these pills and confuse the situation by combining more than one different kind of medicine – alcohol, tranquilizers, anti-depressives – all depressants of the central nervous system. . This can set up a situation within the body where the taking of more than one such medicine is not additive but rather one medicine enhances the effect of another. We know that alcohol enhances the tranquilizing effects of other sedative drugs.

Extreme care must be exercised when taking such pills to sleep. There are better ways. One cannot expect the doctor to monitor the prescribing of these medications. Many people seek the advice of more than one physician. The patient accumulated the many different medications obtained from more the one physician. If one goes to the same pharmacy, many pharmacies now track the medications given to a particular person. Many of these pharmacy programs detect medicine combinations which are contra-indicated and cannot be taken together.

There are many disreputable physicians who will prescribe all kinds of depressants (downers) or drugs designed to perk a person up ( a so-called “uppers”). We have seen these doctors in the national news in the cases of the deaths of Anna Nicola Smith and Elvis Presley and prescribing other dangerous drugs as in the case of the wrestler, Chris Benoit, who killed his 7 year old son and his wife before killing himself. Such doctors are not real doctors. They are , in fact, drug dealers and should be dealt with accordingly with license removal and prison. Unfortunately, such disreputable doctors have been around for a long time, and they will be here as long as they can make money this way. When people crave things, both medicines and drugs, there will be someone to sell it to them. WE WILL NEVER GET RID OF THE SO-CALLED DRUG PROBLEM IN OUR COUNTRY AS LONG AS THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY THE DRUGS. Money and greed drive the market place.

In the case of Heath Ledger, I would not be surprised that hard drugs are not also involved in this man’s death. He was know to have been addicted in the past, but all his friends now say that he was clean. I have been associated with many drug addicts. Some have repeatedly been through detox programs. In between each admission, these addicts will convincingly state that they are clean when they are not. We tend to believe them because we want to believe them. The average drug addict can be most charming people and they easily con their friends and family. I do not want here to convict Heath Ledger before the fact because, if drugs were not involved, the tragedy is even more serious because an individual usually trusts conventional drugs to help rather than cause his death. We shall wait and see before making judgment.

In summary, be extremely careful with conventional sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and anti-depressants. These are potent central nervous system depressants and the effects of combining more than one can be dangerous because they can be additive in their depressant effects.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

VIOLENCE IN AND OF SPORTS

VIOLENCE IN AND OF SPORTS

I will begin by admitting that, if held to our present day standards, I am not normal, nor do I want to be! I do not like to waste my time watching sports. I know this attitude is against the common wisdom, but is it wisdom? Or is it folly? I will explain what brought me to this point and how I progressed in my thinking as I grew older. With the Super Bowl coming up and all the hoopla which accompanies it, I am prompted to share my thoughts.

First, I carefully selected the title of this Blog to emphasize the facts that the violence IN and OF sports are both the violence caused or perpetrated by the participants (IN) and the violence which innately exists with the practice of a sport (OF). I will deal with each separately.

Second, I admit that I never did well in sports as a young child. This steered me away from sports because I have always had a big Ego even before I realized I had an Ego and I was not able to handle being second best. This may be a quirk in my personality but, what can I do? It is me, and I am what I am. I always excelled in scholastics so I pursued that aspect. It was more Ego nurturing most likely because I did well in this endeavor.

Third, the violence IN and OF sports always bothered me. As a young man I read reports, saw in newspapers, and later observed on television the violence which occurred at European soccer games where, at times, dozens of people died because fans would riot and sides of bleachers would collapse killing the spectators. It was hardly a result which happy people would want to expect to experience from a day at the games. Additionally, many of these European soccer games would result in riots where more people would be injured or killed. Being of Italian descent, watching these tragedies occur in Italy bothered me to see how “my own kind” could be so foolish and stupid.

Fourth, my observations while attending Boston College did little to enhance my view of sports. I was a scholarship student but there were very few of us during the years when I attended. There were many football and basketball scholarships. A Jesuit once told me that it was the belief of Boston college that they wanted to concentrate on sports hoping that what sports did to give Notre Dame a big name could be achieved for Boston College. It took years but, eventually, Boston College achieved their goal. Boston College Alumni would give tons of money for sports scholarships over the years, but very little for academic scholarships. I used to tutor some of the ball players. Eventually, I did a dastardly thing to get my Sicilian comeuppance which after 52 years I still cannot divulge what I did. I am sure the Statute of Limitations is over, but, in case it is not, I will have to keep my mouth shut! If the person against whom I committed this transgression ever finds me, I am dead meat.

I was well known at college as a person very much against the way the football players were afforded all the luxuries which did not extend to those who excelled at academics. After all that is said and done, a University is and should be known for the great minds produced therein and not by the hulks on the team. I was a boarding student as were most of the football players who were on full scholarship – they getting their full board and room paid by the College. Most of the time they ate separately from us. While they got steak at least once a week we were given steak only once during a holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas when most of the regular boarding students were home and there were only a few foreign students still left on campus. When we complained that we were never given steak, the authorities would mention the fact that we were served steak on this or that particular day – days during the vacation holidays.

Every Sunday evening like clockwork we were served cold cuts and a single scoop of cold potato salad. This was fine during those Sunday evenings when the football players did not join us for supper. On the few occasions when they did they would start potato salad fights acting like animals who could not act normally when in public – the scoop of potato salad fits so snugly within the palms of one’s hand almost like a soft baseball. I disliked those Sunday evenings when one could not eat simple cold cuts and potato salad in peace.

I cannot resist telling a story about the late Frank Morze who was drafted to play for the San Francisco 49ers in 1955. The team drafted Morze in the second-round of the 1955 NFL Draft and he served as the team's starting center for five seasons. I recently Googled Frank and discovered that he died 7/1/2006 from long standing heart disease.

We were in the dining room one Sunday evening ready to enjoy our cold cuts a scoop of cold potato salad. The football players were eating with us that evening.
I was sitting with three other pre-med students when Frank who was sitting two tables away stood up and said something like “who can eat this sh**? I have a mind to have a potato salad fight.” Fearing the worst, I yelled to Frank: “Please sit down, Frank, and stop acting like an animal.” He turned around and told me he was going to come over a crush my head. This he could do without any trouble. He was 6'4" and weighed 245 pounds. As he walked over to my table, the three pre-med students who were sitting at my table got up and left. As they were leaving I pleaded not to leave me at the mercy of Frank Morze. My friends told my they did not want to deal with Frank and, perhaps, next time I would learn to keep my big mouth shut – something I have yet to learn. Frank stood behind me with his hands on both sides of my head. I knew he could crush my head with just a flick of the wrist. I was almost ready to go in my pants, if you know what I mean! I sat there and said out loud so the entire dining room would hear: “Frank, you can go ahead and crush my head, but, if you do, you will only prove to the entire dining room what I have said about you that you are the biggest animal on the team.” He moaned and groaned a couple of times and then returned to his table. I ate the rest of my dinner alone.

Several weeks later we were eating breakfast and Frank and I shared a table. I was a junior, Frank was a senior ready to leave the area in several months. Frank said to me that he respected me because I was smart and asked whether I would do him a favor. I responded that I would if I could. He said he just got a job digging trenches at The Liggett Dorms and he was making $5/hour for the summer waiting until he had to go to hook up with his pro team. He added that “You know, Nick, not even College Graduates make 5 bucks an hour” speaking about College Graduates in the “third person.” He told me that since I probably knew many people around the Cleveland Circle area, he wanted me to find a room which he could rent for several months before he left town. He also said all he wanted was that the lady renting the room would give him a good breakfast. He could go all day without eating and eat only in the evening thereby saving a lot of money. I asked what he was willing to pay for the room? He asked: “Do you thing 5 bucks a week would be too much?” I tried to hold myself back from laughing. Frank would eat almost a dozen eggs plus for breakfast! He would bankrupt any landlord in no time. I told him I would try. He thanked me saying what a good friend I was. That was the last time I ever saw Frank Morze.

I was sorry to hear of Frank’s death. Although he was a big rough and tumble guy when I knew him, he seemed to have a good soul. He liked me even though I gave him a lot of grief. He has got to have had some good in him to have tolerated me. I will give him that.

I should say that during college I finally went to a single game. It was the first game we played with Harvard. I remember the day very clearly. When I walked onto the bleachers, the entire side where the Boston College students were stood up to give me a standing ovation. It was my moment of glory. To this day I have not received such an acclimation! Another time I was in a restaurant and someone found out my name was “Tauraso.” Some came up to me asking whether I was or related to a star quarterback for Boston University whose name was “Taurasi?” I said no and proceeded to sink into anonymity again.

Fifth, as I grew older watching older grown adults observing sports in the US did not add anything to my love of sports. Friends of mine hovering around the television, drinking beer and eating chips, yelling at the television when there was a good or a bad play just was not my cup of tea. I was a reluctant partygoer because, if I were not there, I would have to spend the day alone. Later, the parties got better because the food served was going upscale and the beer turned into fine wine. I could have cared less for the game, but I did enjoy the food. Having owned a four-star Italian Restaurant allowed me to cater some of these parties. I will give it to my friends for very few of them watched the game during these parties opting to eat good food and wine.

Sixth, today we have too many players who are admired for their skills on the field but not much can be said for their personal life. Many successful players are involved in fights and killings of both other humans and also of dogs. But, still the public wants to cut these people a break from their bad actions – more so when they kill fellow citizens but less so if they kill dogs. As a society we will forgive individuals of almost anything if they are prominent and successful. This also extends to the Hollywood-types who almost never pay for their crimes like the rest of us poor slobs who must face the music when we are caught doing something wrong. We are asked to pay the price; they may get a slap on the wrist.

Seventh, in my opinion, there are good and bad sports. There is a much more peaceful attitude emanating from golf, baseball, tennis, and, perhaps, to a degree basketball. But football, hockey, boxing, wrestling, and soccer breed violence. Their players exude violence both on, but especially, off the field. It is this behavior off the playing field and in the private lives of the players which serve as a basis of their image. Young children observe this behavior which is not what we would like for them to emulate.

One of the major problems is that these players are making so much money which adds to the corruption of their private lives. Added to this is the fact that when players act badly, we do not ask for an accountability. They receive little punishment except for the few most egregious crimes. More accountability is needed. Perhaps then we might begin to turn this around.

Eighth, but, to get back to the violence OF mentioned earlier, sports are innately violent. It is one man pushing another around for dominance in the game. With behavior like this it is little wonder why violence erupts. In is almost innate in sports to nurture the violent qualities seen in so many players.

Ninth, a bit about the violence many parents teach their children who participate in Little League Baseball and Football where oftentimes we see parents fighting among themselves or punishing their own children when they perform poorly. It is like the proverbial “blind leading the blind” usually into nowhere. Such parents are teaching their children the violence IN sports. After all that is said and done, “an apple does not fall far from the tree.” Children learn their behavior from their parents, and, of course, television.

I will end on a positive note. There are some athletes who do good work and can truly be called professionals in the conduct of their games and in their private and public life off the field. But there are a few who always gum up the works. They should be weeded out quickly, punished, and barred from the games – how about forever?

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Friday, January 18, 2008

DANGERS OF MIND ALTERING DRUGS

DANGERS OF MIND ALTERING DRUGS
The Jesuits taught me that it is worth beginning an argument and discussion with a definition of terms which is what I would like to do. In this Blog I am going to refer to some drugs as “mind altering drugs.” These drugs will include those which a designed to calm a person down, such as sedatives and tranquilizers and those designed to stimulate an individual, such as caffeine. On occasion, a sedative, such as phenobarbital which has a sedative effect upon an adult may have a stimulating effect upon young children. Having known this while practicing Pediatrics, I am now wondering whether the stimulating effect upon children might not have been due to the red dye in liquid preparations of phenobarbital. Also drugs, such as Dexedrine or amphetamine, which have stimulating effects upon an adult might actually act as a tranquilizer in a child. This is why such stimulants were once employed as drugs to treat hyperactive children.

I would like to lump all these type of drugs as mind altering drugs whether their effects are stimulating or tranquilizing. They are drugs designed to alter one’s mood whether it is up or down. The all do this by altering brain chemistry.

It is ironic that the incidence of suicide is markedly increased in many young individuals with depression who are given anti-depressants which supposes to prevent such an event..

I have written before on the dangers of taking Paxil which I consider one of the most dangerous drugs on the market today. From direct personal experience, I have found it most difficult to get individuals off the drug, Paxil. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST ADDICTIVE ANTI-DEPRESSIVES ON THE MARKET TODAY. I wrote a previous Blog on this subject. Some have written to me agreeing with what I had to say. Only one individual said Paxil help him, but he failed to inform me whether he tried to get off the drug. In one patient, I tried for 6 months to take him off and failed. Today on television there was a woman who stated it took he 6 years to finally get off this dangerous drug. I feel so strongly about this that I believe any doctor who prescribes Paxil is practicing bad medicine.

The ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION http://www.ahrp.org and http://ahrp.blogspot.com Reported today in part the following:

The famous New England Journal of Medicine this week published an article “which further documented evidence demonstrating that reports in ‘peer
reviewed’ journals about the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs are
no more credible than marketing hype. Journal reports are merely encased in
a thin veneer that passes for ‘science’ when those reports are in fact,
fraudulent.
The Wall Street Journal reports: Just as the pharmaceutical industry seemed
on the verge of moving past a series of scandals that battered its
reputation earlier in the decade, a skein of new revelations could again
taint the drug makers in patients' eyes and renew pressure for tighter
regulation.

Indeed, the evidence underscores that companies that engage in corrupt
practices tend to be recidivist-repeat offenders--much like serial
criminals.
An analysis of 74 antidepressant trials reviewed by the FDA, 38 were judged
to be positive. Most of the studies found to have negative or questionable
results were not published. Yet, the published literature would have doctors
believe that 94% of the trials conducted were positive. By contrast, the FDA
analysis showed that 51% were positive. Separate meta-analyses of the FDA
and journal data sets showed that the increase in effect size ranged from 11
to 69% for individual drugs and was 32% overall.
According to the findings the worst exaggerations in antidepressant
published reports about the efficacy were made about Bristol Meyers-Squibb's
drug, Serzone (69%) , Pfizer's Zoloft (64%), Schering Plough's Remron
(61%), and GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil (55%). Eli Lilly's published reports
about Cymbalta exaggerated efficacy by 33%.
The authors CONCLUSIONS:
We cannot determine whether the bias observed resulted from a failure to
submit manuscripts on the part of authors and sponsors, from decisions by
journal editors and reviewers not to publish, or both. Selective reporting of clinical trial results may have adverse consequences for researchers, study participants,
health care professionals, and patients. “

The public needs to be aware that most physicians depend upon what is published in reputable journals for their information. But when the so-called reputable journals are contributing to the promulgation of mis-information, we should all be worried.

I one attended a series of seminars sponsored by an alternative medical group on the treatment of allergies through natural means of diet elimination and control and supplements, including vitamins. Several weeks later in Washington, DC, I attended another day seminar which awarded Continuing Medical Education (CME’s) which I needed for re-licensing in my state. This seminar was sponsored by a drug company and every lecturer gave out a sheet of paper listing their association with the drug company sponsoring the seminal. Every one of the lecturers received grants from the drug company. Most importantly, every lecturer was recommending a drug made by the company to treat allergic conditions, including asthma. The difference between the two seminars was like “night and day.” One was oriented towards natural means to overcome a medical condition; the other was completely oriented towards the use of drugs.

We hear so much misinformation, especially on television. One week we are told that coffee is bad for your health; the next week we are told the benefits of drinking coffee. Wouldn’t you really like to know whether the latter information came from a Medical School who gets funding from the coffee industry? I would. If I hear again the benefits of eating dark chocolate, I might even vomit. In order to gain benefits from the anti-oxidants supposedly in dark chocolate, you will soon be 300 pounds being fitted for an oversized casket! So remember the old dictum: Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware. Just be careful what you read and believe, especially from television which likes to shock you into discarding old knowledge and imparting new knowledge like the benefits of coffee and dark chocolate. Recently, I saw on television someone who stated that you can lose weight by eating all you want. Remember we fatten hogs on the farm by feeding them, and feeding them, and feeding them more. One gets fat when one takes in more calories than they burn. It is that simple. It is the First Law of Thermodynamics. Maybe it is the Second Law.

Care must be exercised in interpreting what is published in the medical journals. For 9 years I worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), eventually having become a Branch Chief there as Chief, Laboratory of Virology and Rickettsiology, Division of Biologics Standards ( see Dr. Tauraso’s Curriculum Vitae at www.drtauraso.com. So I know about which I am talking. By and large scientists want to publish results favoring their benefactors. At NIH, the average scientist is not influenced by the desires of a biased benefactor; they are influenced only by their own bias. But be careful about studies coming from even reputable Medical Schools who do receive money from drug companies. Believe me when I say the research grants will dry up if one publishes data against their benefactors. Individuals receiving research grants from the tobacco, milk, oil, and other industries tend to publish data favorable to their benefactors. It is very difficult even for me, a seasoned researcher, to determine the source of one’s funding for a published article. The source of the grant is not always published.

I cringe every time I listen to the quasi-medical information on television. More often than not the information is selected for its shock value, like the information on dark chocolate and coffee mentioned above, and not critically evaluated by the promulgator who has only media qualifications and not real scientific background. Here in Panama, we have very few US television with only CNN and Fox News at our disposal. Since I watch Fox News often I can say that the majority of their health information is nothing more than medical garbage, except for the information coming from the several medical experts on their programming. But the very frequent medical pronouncements made by several lay individual is nothing more than garbage. I have written to them but they do not want to learn. Pity because Fox News is the most popular cable news program out there. The unsuspecting public is getting educated by people who know nothing. Here in Panama, Fox News does not air real commercials as in the US. Instead, the commercial space is used usually to show “medical shorts.” I also cringe when television introduces their medical information by putting up a Caduceus showing a staff with two snakes and a pair of wings, which is the sign of Mercury, the Messenger. The correct Caduceus is a single olive branch bifurcated at the top with a single snake. Interestingly, the US Army uses the incorrect symbol of Mercury, but the more enlightened Air Force employs the correct Caduceus, the true Symbol of Aesculapius.

Please be careful about those Mind Altering Drugs. They are extremely dangerous. I mentioned earlier this week in another Blog that most people are severely magnesium deficient because they do not consume enough truly green leafy vegetables. Magnesium is the natural tranquilizer in nature. Magnesium deficiency also causes constipation. Taking magnesium or eating sufficient amounts of truly green vegetables will prevent blockage at the other end. You will begin to think more clearly and give thought to what we write here!

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

A WELL BALANCED DIET MAY NOT ENOUGH FOR SOME

A WELL BALANCED DIET MAY NOT ENOUGH FOR SOME

As a nutritionist for many yeas now, I thought I would never make such a statement. But hear me out.

If you are not in ill health, and if you are young and healthy, a well balanced diet is necessary to maintain that state of well-ness we all desire. But, what is a well balanced diet and are there circumstances which preclude the adequacy of a good balanced diet? Additionally, it would be important to note that if you ate a good healthy diet 95% of the time, it would probably be O.K. to eat a so-called bad diet 5% of the time. We call this cheating! Quite frequently, people eat a bad diet most of the time and eat a good diet only some of the time.

A good diet is one that includes whole grains as a major source of starch with some protein, legumes (beans, lentils, etc), vegetables the greener the better, very little meat devoid of much animal fats, fruit, and some nuts.

On my web site there is a very restrictive diet for individuals who are ill. This diet should be considered under the supervision of a nutritionist. I have found it very successful in people, suffering from a number of unrelated ailments.

Whole grains provide healthy protein. When combined with the protein in legumes the combined proteins provide all of the essential amino acids required by the human body. Rice is excellent, especially the short grain brown rice. Wheat, initially, may not be the best because many people are allergic to wheat.

Vegetables, the greener the better, because leafy green vegetables is the only source of magnesium in our diet. Magnesium is the center of the chlorophyl molecule as iron is the center of the hemoglobin molecule. It is interesting to me that both molecules have almost similar protein attached to the central magnesium or iron and both have to do with important transport functions: photosynthesis in the plant and respiration in the body of the human. Additionally, magnesium is a natural tranquilizer and counteracts the spastic qualities of calcium. Magnesium deficiency is probably one of the major causes of people being nervous and of constipation.

Very little meat should be the rule. Humans are omnivores and their long digestive tract is designed to process food from the plant kingdom better than the low bulk of meat. I have always liked the way the Oriental Chinese and Japanese use small amounts of meat to flavor their rice, as contrasted to the Occidental who plops a large piece of meat on the plate with a small amount of accompanying grain or vegetables. The Orientals have been noted to live a healthier life, probably because of their dietary practices. Unfortunately, things are changing in the Orient as many there are adopting a more Western diet. It seems that McDonald’s is popular everywhere it goes. Pity!

To round off our diet it is important to include some fruit and nuts.

A source of some fermented food is always good to include because of the important B vitamins these provide. But fermented foods should be avoided if you might have a condition cause by yeast sensitivity.

When I was younger and, especially, when I was going through Medical School where what I was taught about nutrition could be put on the pointed end of a pin, I believed that all of the vitamins we need for a healthy body would be provided in our food, Over the years observing sick people I have come to change my mind. As we get older our systems do not extract everything the body needs to function properly. This, I believe, is complicated by the foods themselves not containing the nutrients they once had. The forced growing conditions deplete the soil of important micro-nutrients. Although with what I call forced farming we easily replace the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus by adding fertilizer each year, but we do not replace the micro-nutrients, such as selenium, copper, zinc, and iron to name only a few. As a result the soil becomes depleted and, hence, the food.

There is also another aspect of modern day farming which disturbs me – that is the extensive use of herbicides and pesticides, many of which are absorbed by the plant being farmed. The practice of no till farming requires the use of herbicides to control the weeds which interfere with the growth of the plant being grown for harvest. Many of these herbicides are absorbed by both the weeds and plants. You eat the plant or a by product of the plant and the herbicide is now within your system.

Similarly, most pesticides are also absorbed by the plant and with this too the pesticide enters your system when you eat it. If the plant is used as fodder to raise animals, these chemicals enter the animal and enter your body when you eat the animal product. Additionally, many animals are fed hormones to make them grow faster. Although it is required that hormones and other chemicals are stopped a certain time before the animal is harvested, the animals were nevertheless fed the chemicals during some phases of their growth.

We are all very lucky, however, because I will say sarcastically that the government determines the safety of the plant or animal product by establishing safe limits of these chemicals. My retort has always been: “Perhaps the safe limits of a chemical which nature has NEVER intended to get into the body is ‘ZERO’ rather than some arbitrary figure set by the Federal Government.”

It must also be remembered that most of these herbicides and pesticides are forms of neurotoxins. It is little wonder, at least to me, why so many people are experiencing nervous system-related health conditions. As a personal side note, since moving to Panama, my health has experienced a “C” change in improvement. I believe this is due to the more natural diet I eat here. And I try to eat items I purchase from local road side vendors selling home-grown produce. The meat grown locally comes from cows fed grass and not grains. Although the meat is not the tender meat we buy in the US – in fact, it is quite hard – I believe it is much healthier.

If you have a serious health condition, a simple multivitamin may not be sufficient to cure you. You may need much more. You might need a specific vitamin or supplement in large doses to counteract a particular deficiency. A case in point.

I had a diabetic patient who developed extensive peripheral polyneuropathy. This is a condition where the peripheral nerves begin to degenerate. It began as a simple foot drop where he would stumble over small items such as a one inch threshold at the base of a door. It soon progressed to where he had to use a cane to walk. W started the man on a series of supplements known to be good for the nervous system, and we gave him rather large doses. Two weeks later he consulted a neurologist who told him his disease was incurable, but that perhaps a physiotherapist might help him. He decided, since he thought he was improving on the supplement program, he would not go to the physiotherapist, but that he would continue with his supplements. Within the next two weeks he was able to get rid of the cane and within another two weeks he was almost back to normal. Although he was not able to jitterbug he was, nevertheless, very satisfied with his response. I would like to note that, if he went to the physiotherapist, he would have had a remarkable recovery which the therapist would have concluded was due to his therapy. The neurologist was wrong. This man’s disease was not incurable.

The man still requires the supplements. If he stops the supplements, the weakness in his legs begin to return.

I cannot explain why he requires such large doses of supplements. The only thing I know is that he does. Perhaps he is unable for whatever reason to absorb the supplements or he lacks the transport systems required to process normal amounts of the supplements within his body. But, the fact of the matter is that supplementation worked in this man and others whom we have treated similarly. There is an old saying: “You cannot beat success.” In the case of this man this was so true.

Consider our experience with Vitamin C. I once went to a nutritional seminar where a doctor was recommending large doses of Vitamin C to treat upper respiratory conditions such as infections and wheezing. He emphasized the importance of using powdered Vitamin C saying that the pills do not work. When I went back to my practice I decided to follow his advice, but not having been able to explain in my own mind and accept the importance of the powdered Vitamin C over pills, I used pills. Well, I did not achieve the results he claimed I would. The following year I confronted this physician telling him of my negative experience. There I was in the middle of a small crowd who surrounded the doctor when he asked whether I was using a powdered source of Vitamin C. Of course, I responded “no.” There in front of all those other people he proceeded to tell me that I was a deaf fool and did I not pay attention the year before when he emphasized the importance and necessity of using powdered Vitamin C. As I was shrinking in my own clothes, I took the punishment.

Upon my return to my practice I began to employ powdered Vitamin C and IT WORKED! Why? I do not know and neither did he. If something works, you do not abandon its use if you cannot explain it? If it works, do it and wait for a possible explanation to come later.

In conclusion, a so-called “good diet” may not be enough for some individuals who are experiencing ill health conditions. The addition of specific supplements in high doses may be necessary for some to help their bodies effect a cure.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE: 01.13.08

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE: 01.13.08

My loyal readers know that I have not joined the hype that Earth is warming, that , in fact, I believe this is going to be one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated upon the world by a few led by that great scientist, Al Gore. This man is making money from the stupidity of his followers, and he is laughing all the way to the bank. For an education, read my previous Blogs on this subject.

The purpose of this Blog is to bring my readers up-to-date. Please consider that North America and Europe is experiencing one of the coldest winters on record. To boot Baghdad got snow this past week – the first time in over 60 years. Take that to the Nobel Prize Committee! What a farce. The next move I am expecting from them is to award the prize to the leader of Iran. They could do no worse than to have given it to Yasser Arafat, to the dumbest US President, Carter, and to Al Gore. Please, Oh Lord, save me from the stupid fools whom I know You love because You made so many of them!

Please pardon me for my intolerance today. Otherwise, I am feeling fine!

nmcT

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DR. PHIL’S STUPIDITY

DR. PHIL’S STUPIDITY

The family of Britney Spears apparently asked Dr. Phil to see Britney in the hospital to see what he might be able to do to help the young lady. What Dr. Phil did next defies explanation and justification. He proceeded to mention some of Britney’s problems to the press and on his television show. What a misguided fool. Does being on television somehow suck out some of one’s brain?

There is such a thing as doctor/patient confidentially. I do not know whether Dr. Phil is licensed to practice medicine in any state. If he is, the least which should be done is that Dr. Phil be censured by the medical state board. What he did is break one of the most sacred trusts we have in our society. Even the courts recognize the almost sacred trust of the doctor/patient confidentiality.

I am afraid that the motivation of television personalities to make a media splash and, subsequently, achieve ratings and make money rules their actions. In this day and age when we have almost completely emasculated the Hippocratic Oath in our medical schools, we should, at least, preserve whatever semblance of dignity our profession has by honoring doctor/patient confidentiality.

Several years ago, I researched what my medical school, Harvard, was doing about the Oath. When I graduated, one of the proudest days I had ever had was when I had to verbally take the Oath before graduating. I took the Oath very seriously. I wanted to be a doctor all my early life, and I took the responsibilities of my profession as part of my dedication to heal others.

What I found out from my research was that my medical school had adopted a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath. I did not like it for it replaced many of the items in the original Oath with modern more politically pleasing thoughts. I am ever grateful I had taken the original version. If my readers desire I can sometime in the future write about the details of the changes which were made.

Back to Dr. Phil, he should have known better. If he is the big man he claims to be, he should, at least, publically apologize both to the family and to Britney whose trust he broke.

Poor Oprah, she has had bad luck picking doctors! In addition to making Dr. Phil the popular TV physician icon that he is, she also promoted that plastic surgeon, Dr. Jan Adams, whose botched surgery was responsible for the death of Kayne West’s mother.
nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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JAPANESE BEETLE AND GYPSY MOTHS ERADICATION

HOW TO GET RID OF JAPANESE BEETLES AND GYPSY MOTHS

I believe my experience with Japanese Beetles is worth telling. I believe this experience could suggest a similar approach to the eradication of the also dreaded Gypsy Moth.

History of Introduction

The Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, was introduced into the United States from Japan in 1916 on infested nursery stock. Since that time it has become established throughout the Eastern United States where it is one of the most destructive plant pests in urban landscapes. Japanese beetles now are an established pest in many areas and attempts to eradicate them has been very frustrating.

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is one of North America's most devastating forest pests. The species originally evolved in Europe and Asia and has existed there for thousands of years. In either 1868 or 1869, the gypsy moth was accidentally introduced near Boston, MA by E. Leopold Trouvelot. About 10 years after this introduction, the first outbreaks began in Trouvelot's neighborhood and in 1890 the State and Federal Government began their attempts to eradicate the gypsy moth. These attempts ultimately failed and since that time, the range of gypsy moth has continued to spread. Every year, isolated populations are discovered beyond the contiguous range of the gypsy moth but these populations are eradicated or they disappear without intervention. It is inevitable that gypsy moth will continue to expand its range in the future.

Experience Eradicating Japanese BeetlesWhen I first bought the property on which I eventually lived for over 30 years, I had intended initially to convert the property into a private botanical garden. The entrance into the property was a 1,000 foot long driveway. While attending Boston College during the 50's I was enthralled at their entrance which was called Linden Lane because both sides wee adorned with those magnificent Linden Trees. My thought was to duplicate the look by planting Linden Trees on both sides along my driveway. I was warned against it by the local garden club because it was known that Lindens were susceptible to Japanese Beetle infestation. The club wanted me to plant Bradford Pear trees instead. I purchased three Bradford Pear trees which were quite beautiful initially. They grew rapidly, but when they were adult trees they were very susceptible to severe wind damage which on occasion would destroy 1/3 of the entire tree. Others who planted the same tree were also very disappointed with the ultimate performance of their Bradford Pear trees.

I had to purchase what was available at the time, the Little Leaf Linden Tree. It was a graft on the root of the large Linden Tree. The Little Leaf Linden Tree was a magnificent pear shaped tree which grew slowly. As they grew each year I noticed some infestation with Japanese beetles. Boy did they love my trees. One year in late July after they did their work I stood beneath my trees which one month before were so dense in foliage that I would not be able to see the sky. Now the Japanese Beetles had defoliated the trees so much that I could not see the sky quite clearly. I thought that with such high degree of damage the trees would not survive such an insult. I had to do something.

I attended many garden shows and attended many botanical seminars. I evaluate the use of a fungal preparation which would infest the grubs which wintered within the ground. I evaluated other methods of control and decided to employ Japanese Beetle traps which contained both a chemical lure and a sex pheromone. Although there were some proponents of the use of traps, other experts said that traps would attract more beetles onto your property. I decided to try the traps. If I attracted beetles from the neighborhood, at least, when they were trapped, that was one less beetle which would breed.

Although the Linden trees lined both sides of the driveway, I placed my traps about 50 feet along the southwest side. I placed 4 traps equally spaced along the 1,000 foot way. The first year I had to empty the traps every 2-3 days. I never saw so many beetles. I dumped the beetles into a bucket of detergent/Chlorox water which killed them. The beetles came about the first week of July and they were gone in 4 weeks. The following year, I had to empty the traps about once per week. The third year I emptied the traps three times during the entire month. Some years the infestation was more than others, but by and large, the infestation decreased each year.

It would be reasonable to assume that by decreasing the numbers of breeding beetles would result in less grubs overwintering each year. The important thing is that using the traps should be a long term commitment to be done each year without missing a year. Predatory insects can never be eliminated entirely. It is not in their nature to just go away. If you are committed to have a healthy garden you should be committed to perform certain functions on a regular basis: fertilize, provide a regular source of water if nature does not provide, prune where and when necessary, AND put in place an insect eradication program. I like the beetle traps because they do not introduce poisonous chemicals into the environment.

Eradication of the Gypsy Moth
Since there is a trap designed to eradicate Gypsy Moths, I believe they can be eradicated in a similar manner. But the commitment should be there and it should be done yearly on a regular basis. Eradication of the breeders is the key. If the traps are as good as the Japanese Beetle traps, success can be achieved. I have no experience with Gypsy Moth eradication, but my experience with Japanese Beetles was worth telling with the hope that similarly applied to Gypsy Moth eradication might be helpful to others.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
Formerly, Director, Taurus Estates Botanical Garden
www.drtauraso.com

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MARKETS JITTERY

MARKETS JITTERY

Every day I watch the markets. Since the first of the year, they have been very jittery. Why. I believe it can be explained. The market is both a leading and lagging indicator of what will happen some months down the pike or they respond to something which has happened a number of months previously.

With regards to interest rates and taxes, the market may take 9 to 12 months before it responds to the change. As I said in the past, President Bush who is a much better economist than the Feds Chairman, Bernanke, knows that the tax cuts would have taken some months before the market responds. And, this is exactly what happened. Bernanke was so slow to respond to the sub-prime debacle that it was too little too late when he finally responded. He needs to do even more now, but I am afraid it is too late. When the damage is so great and the response too little we get what we have now.

It has been my contention that the sub-prime collapse occurred because Bernanke increased interest rates so rapidly during a one year period that the market did not have a chance to respond and adjust. What was needed to correct the problem was to reverse the process by decreasing interest rates. The market would find its own money without the Feds having to increase liquidity by pouring more worthless dollars into the system. In fact, by doing this, the Feds actually worsened the problem because it printed more of this worthless money not backed up by any substantial assets such as gold, which by the way it may not have. As a result the dollar goes down in the world markets. The dollar is essentially worth less.

We should realize that this is only a part of why the sub-prime market collapsed. Have you wondered why, as it is believed, that 5 percent of the lending market which represents the sub-prime market can affect such a large part of the financial markets? It is because the lending institutions and the banks wherein the money resides are playing games with money they do not have creating something akin to a black hole. I have tried to study the situation and, although I consider myself an intelligent man, I have a very difficult time understanding it. I will try to explain the situation and maybe I might get some aspects wrong, but I will try anyway.

The people who write the mortgages, the lending institutions, issue the loans. They now have a loan, let us say a 30 year loan, and the loan is expected to earn a substantial amount of money – the profits -- over the term of the loan. The then sell these profits which do not yet exist to a bank for a sum of money. Remember they are not selling anything substantial. They are selling a promise, a piece of paper. The bank gets a piece of paper, but not the deed. The banks do not own the property nor do they own a document saying they own the property. They have a promissory note not backed up by a real asset. It is backed up only by a promise made by an institution which is playing games. As the property devaluates, the promissory note also devaluates. The house of cards is beginning to unfold because as foreclosures occur, the profit which was to accumulate over the term of the note disappears. The bank who has bought the profit now does not have the profit. They are out the money they paid for the potential profit which did not really exist in the first place and they are out also the promissory note now having no value. What a predicament! One can say that they deserve what they now have for playing with play money. It is almost akin to the funny money to which Teddy Forstman referred when RJ Reynolds was being sold using the shares – the funny money – of another company which I believe was Nabisco.

So to get back to our story of the Jittery Markets, why are they so? We have discussed that the markets are adjusting to something which has occurred or is about to occur. In my opinion the market is beginning to realize that in bout 11 months the Democrats might win the general elections. You do not have to be a rich person to worry. If you are a common working person with a 401K, you should worry. If you have any savings either in cash or property you should worry. The Democrats will begin to redistribute your wealth and your children’s wealth to others who have less for whatever reason. You, the common man or woman in the so-called middle class, will pay as you have always paid. Although the Republicans are no better because they also spend money they do not have in order to ingratiate themselves with their voters to get reelected. They also take your money but the Republicans, at least, still believe it is your money to which you have some entitlement. The Democrats have no such illusions.

If you have nothing including the proverbial pot T* P*** I*, you have nothing to worry about. Think about these things when you go to the polls in November.

A side note about the Death Tax. If you worked hard all your life and were fortunate to have accumulated some wealth, which legally belongs to you, why should you not be able to leave it to your family? Why should the government get it. History has shown that they do not spend it wisely so why should they get it. The Death Tax is wholesale thievery by a guy bigger than you. Resist this with all your might. Always remember the Democrats want to give your money away, because they are the party of the minority and because so they must keep the minorities alive with the hope of their getting your money. If you see it differently, please answer my Blog and educate me.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Monday, January 7, 2008

TALKING HEADS

THE TALKING HEADS

There are never more talking heads than during campaign times. The airways, both TV and radio, and, most importantly, the candidates. Just a few minutes ago I heard a campaign person for Obama in response to a question of how he, Obama, can unite the country, say that “Obama was a new kind of person who could do the job.” The questioner reminded him that Nixon and Bush both promised they could accomplish this feat, but, of course, we know that neither of them ever did.

In my lifetime, who could have been a more charming promise-it-all-to-everybody person than President Kennedy. Eventually, he accomplished less than any other President of our times. Why? In the case of Kennedy, he was too popular and a very popular President is inimical to the Congress. Congress will give nothing to a very popular President. Perhaps, Reagan might have been an exception, but that might have been due to the fact that he had one of the highest popular ratings than most others. But, if one’s popularity is 50-60% or borderline, it will not happen. Kennedy was able to accomplish nothing. It had to be left to his successor, Johnson – a man who came from the Congress, was noted for his strong persuasive personality, and was able to cash in many chips which he accumulated during his many years as a Senator.

Our most recent President, Bush, was noted to have a charming personality and he was able to unite both Democrats and Republicans as Governor of his state of Texas. But he underestimated Washington. In Washington the party who is not in power is not inclined to unite with a President of the opposing party. Let us face it, folks, it is a matter of turf. The party out of power will block most things so the party in power is perceived as being ineffective and unable to do the job. The chant is: “Give us the chance, vote us in, we can do it.” The general public essentially bought into this promise in the last mid-term election. And we have seen what the Democratic party did with their charge. This Congress accomplished next to nothing. If fact, they did the impossible – absolutely nothing. Amazing! The public was duped once again. To be fair, why were the Democrats unable to accomplish anything during this most recent Congress? It is because the opposing party, the Republicans, would not allow it. The Republicans want the Democrats to fail,– and vice versa -- because each want their turn again. It is a never problem with the two party system, not that having more parties is any better, like in many other countries of the world which may accomplish less.

I do not know the solution to the problem, because it has to do with some basic negative human tendencies of selfishness and greed. It is extremely discouraging that when an issue arises, and I do not care what issue it is, both Democrats and Republicans almost always take opposite positions. Can they ever agree on anything, and why can’t they? Recently, during the past week or more, I have to turn the TV off because it has become so sickening to watch both the candidates AND the media people who are no better. The media are great at instigating and creating controversy. I believe it is because negatives sell better than positives. Watch the way the media shows pictures of flooding waters. The more rushing and dangerous the raging waters are the better copy it makes. When was the last time the media showed the sun shining on a beautiful day? Save this image because it will be a collector’s item.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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THE PUBLIC ALWAYS PAYS

THE PUBLIC ALWAYS PAYS
Where in the world can you work where your present employer pays you while you look for another job? Politics, my friend, Politics. Here we have all these public officials running for public office while ostensibly on the public payroll. Yes, it is true that they must use other funds to finance their politicking, but how closely and accurately are these funds accounted? Many of these candidates do not show up while congress in session, but they still get paid.

In my opinion, and I know it will never happen, the candidates should take leave of absence without pay while they campaign. Do you think it will happen? Please do not stay up at night expecting it for it will not happen.

Imagine the enormity of this problem. Almost every candidate in this upcoming election is already on the payroll on their present job, either as a senator, representative, or governor. Only a few are not.

The senators and representatives get paid almost $450/day. The Majority and minority leaders get a bit more and the Speaker of the House gets quite a lot more. Take Hilary Clinton for instance. Is she representing her state of New York while she campaigns? How about John McCain for Arizona, and Ron Paul for his district in Texas? All of them are out on the campaign trail getting paid by the American public for “doing-their-own-thing” – applying for their next job. This is a travesty and should not occur. I know, I know, they will tell you they are spending campaign funds to do their politicking. But, they are still on the public payroll. Are they reimbursing the American public for the time they are not on their real jobs? The answer is a simple “no.”

But the general public is a bunch of dumb people. Andrew Napolitano, a legal analyst for Fox News, recently wrote a book, “A Nation of Sheep.” How true this has become. But, the raping of the public treasuries has been going on for centuries by such people. So, why should it stop now? Thinking about these things, it becomes very difficult not becoming a radical sceptic.

Ever since I was a kid as young as 10 years old, I have asked myself the question of who pays for these people to run for office. I always had to go to work before I got paid, and I had to produce. Even at 8 years old when I got my first job in a cut-flower farm. It was hard then, and it is similarly hard today to work and make money to feed the family, at least, for the so-called “common man.” I am still one of them.

So as you look at all these candidates, remember they are stealing your hard earned money every day they are politicking.

The good thing today is that here in Panama today is a holiday – the Feast of The Epiphany. Forget this holiday in the US. Most there have forgotten Christmas, never mind about The Epiphany. That was when the three Magi visited and brought presents to the Baby Jesus. That was a long time ago. One of the good things about a holiday in Panama is there is very little traffic and you can drive your car without fear, that is almost!

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Friday, January 4, 2008

BROKERAGE FIRM SHINANIGANS: A 2008 UPDATE

BROKERAGE FIRM SHINANIGANS: A 2008 UPDATE

More than 20 years ago, a time which I would like to forget, when I lost 3 million dollars in the stock market, I tried to investigate the so-called firewall which supposed to exist between the trading and analyst desks of banks and brokerage firms – something which really needs to be done.

I was prompted this morning when I read the RBC (and I had to look this up as Royal Bank of Canada for nowhere on the financial news services did they identify it more than RBC) had downgrade SLW (Silver Wheaton, a Canadian silver company). Parenthetically, being a medical doctor, I thought RBC meant red blood cell! Looking up the projected earnings, I discovered than the company is projecting record earnings in the next quarter, so, why the downgrade?

I was taken back some 20 years when I lost so much money. I was heavily invested in CDT, a company which made caller ID’S. A particular analyst was touting the company because they were about to sell their caller ID’S to Verizon, probably the largest of the baby bells. The stock went up initially and, stupid as I was, I kept buying into it. I kept buying a thinly traded stock not realizing what would happen if I ever had to unload the stock quickly. Boy! Was I soon to find out! What I did not know, which, I believe, the analyst should have was that Verizon was making caller ID’S in a sister company and why would they buy from CDT. Obviously they would not and they didn’t. As soon as this was found out by the market, the stock started to go down. As I tried to sell this thinly traded security, it plummeted even more. I just could not catch that falling hot buttered knife! I lost heavily. Stupid as I was at the time, I made several other equally idiotic trades which attributed to my losing so much money. Read my book: “How I Lost Three Million Dollars in the Stock Market – A Primer on Not What to Do” – available on the Order Online store of the web site as an Ebook.

I decided to track down the analyst who worked for a brokerage firm, I believe it was in California – I probably should have known better! I asked the man why he was not aware that Verizon was making the product in a sister company. His response was: “Listen it’s only a job.” He could not have cared less. How many others lost their shirts because the attitude of this jackass?

I observed many companies up and downgrading securities for no apparent reasons. At the time, I knew some individuals working for the Mercantile Trust Company, Baltimore, Maryland, both at the analyst and trading desks. After work these individual would go to the local bars. Now can you imagine what happened to that so-called firewall?

I decided to investigate. I tried to get information about what a particular brokerage firm traded, days and weeks before a published grade change. Are you kidding? I was beginning to feel I was in smucksville on my way to Oz!

I then called the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission). There I spoke with a man who told me such information was kept closely by the companies and that the SEC would investigate if they had a substantial complaint. One sees very rapidly that the “hooker” word is “substantial.” I asked how I could file a complaint. I was told to forget it. It was not possible coming from an individual trader. So there I was. I had arrived at Oz, but the wizard had been replaced by a bureaucrat!

Have you wondered why and how brokerage firms make so much money. It is not because they are any better than we in picking securities. It is because they know critical information BEFOREHAND because they create the next move by their grade changes.

The key to insulating yourself from experiencing a calamity from a grade change especially if it is a downgrade is to buy securities which ONLY make money. NEVER buy a company which is not profitable or a company some analyst says might make money. If you are not protected by a stop loss, eventually a profitable company will recover. If you own a profitable company, keeping it in your portfolio for the long haul is the only way to go. Forget about the dad-to-day garbage put forth by analysts. Remember to them “it is only a job!” The CEO’S are going to get their Christmas bonuses and their stock options whether the company makes money or not.

Pardon me if I appear skeptical about brokerage firms and the people who run them. But even after 15 years losing three million dollars is hard to forget. I have recovered and the added subtitle of the book I mentioned earlier “Recovery from Disaster” gives some very important advice on how to adapt to such a stressful experience – aided by the philosophy described in my earlier book: “How to Benefit from Stress” also available from the bookstore.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

COMMON SENSE – WHERE HAS IT GONE?

COMMON SENSE – WHERE HAS IT GONE?
I am so ashamed at what is happening in my native country, the good ole US of A, I am in a way happy that I have moved away. Incidences of the lack of display of plain old common sense argues to the fact that many people are getting “stupider and stupider” – even though I am aware that it should be “more stupid!” I would not want my readers to think that I might be stupid and cannot write correctly!

As a side light, years ago when I was awarded an United States Public Health Service grant to study staph infections at the Jimmy Fund Building, part of the Harvard complex of institutions. I was speaking one day with one of my mentors, Dr. John Enders, a Nobel Prize Laureate for his work on polio virus. He told me that a problem with Catholics is that when they disagree with the Church, they leave it. Dr. Enders thought that a better thing to do would be to stay in the Church to try to effect a change. I thought that what he said was quite perceptive and had much merit.

I say this in the context that perhaps I should not have left the US and that I should have stayed there to cause a change in my own country. But, being a Medical Man who has been interested in science and mathematics all my life, I consider the numbers of people in the US getting “dumber and dumber” I feel that anything I could do to cause change would be akin to “urinating in the ocean!”

What prompts me to write this Blog is the story of the 10 year old girl who brought a steak knife to school to cut up the steak her mother gave her for lunch. The school powers-at-be over reacted. The teacher confiscated the knife, the 10 year old was suspended from school for 3 days, the police came and officially arrested her, and the incident became part of her permanent school record which is to follow her throughout life. Why were all these things necessary? The reason given is that the school board has a “zero tolerance” on such matters. What a whole lot of garbage! When I was in grammar school, the nuns would have completely ignored the incident thinking that using a steak knife to cut one’s steak for lunch would have been quite reasonable.

There is a bright ending to the story, however. When the incident arrived at the Office of the State Attorney he reacted also. He thought the whole thing was ludicrous and ordered that the entire episode be stricken and the notation in her school record be removed. However, he was able to do nothing about her 3 day suspension which had already occurred. Well, thank God for a reasonable man who demonstrated common sense. But look at all those school officials who preceded him! There were probably at least several –5– levels of authority: the teacher, principal, school board, police, and local states attorney before it got to the level of The States Attorney. Five out of six acting dumb are not good odds.

Why did it have to get to the State Attorney’s office before it was corrected. And what about this often-cited-by-ignorant-school-officials “zero tolerance” business? Everyone from teachers to principals, to school board members want to be amateur lawyers. We have too many lawyers as it is – one of the problems in the US – without a bunch of people without law degrees trying to practice law!

Every time I get into an airplane in the US I must remember to put my penknife in my regular luggage or they will confiscate it from me. A small penknife can do little harm. I know the 9-11 hijackers used box cutters. But let us be reasonable here. They at one time banned small nail files? Have you ever tried to cut someone’s throat with a small fingernail file. No, I have not either. But let’s be reasonable here, or is that too much to ask?

One day I took a 40 minute flight to one of the nearby islands of Panama City. Yes, I should have known better but I had my penknife which was confiscated. I was given a receipt. When I arrived at the island, the penknife was returned. Remember I left the US, the nation which claims to be the “freest nation in the world” to move to Panama, a place many US people consider a third world nation. But do not kid yourself. Being here in Panama for slightly over 20 months, I have seen freedom that I NEVER experienced in the US.

Another incident which was reported two weeks ago was about a 14 year old student who was apparently a female child wonder in skeet shooting and was eligible to enter the Olympics. The authorities found in her car a box of shot gun shells which she forgot was there. She was charged and the incident became part of her permanent school record. This will, most likely, prevent her from competing in the Olympics. What a tragedy. Again “zero tolerance” was given for the harsh punishment. Are we all going nuts?

The US is becoming a nation of “you can’t do this and you can’t do that.” There are so many innocuous things we cannot do. But we can kill a trimester baby.

Take another senseless thing. In my state of Maryland it is against the law for parents to give their children under 21 an alcoholic beverage, such as beer or wine, for dinner – a supervised family event. The parents have no rights. Such rights are usurped by the state who can’t even balance their budget.

Here in Panama, if you go out to dinner with your underage children, allowing them to drink a glass of wine appears to bother no one. My friends, where would you rather be: the US or the free nation of Panama?

All of this foolishness simply boils down to the lack of common sense. I have given up on the good ole USA. Let others try to change the world. Let me live in peace with freedom.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

p.s.: There have been several books written on the subject of the lack of common sense in the US. Google, buy, and read them.

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