Archive for the ‘Birth Defects’ Category

Capitalist ruling class systems and their political puppets and systems are not your protectors and they never will be. Your taxes build the systems and technologies that destroy working class health and enrich their pockets not yours.

Posting this in loving memory of Jason Johnson. (World’s best euchre partner and dear friend)

Jason was born with a cleft palate. The organochlorine munition technology responsible for that birth defect has precision sniper fire during fetal development. Most are unaware that that particular munition’s sniper fire also often hits other developing organs at the same time. It also struck his wonderful heart. Jason dropped dead of a heart attack while walking across campus. He was only 21-years-old and never got the opportunity to teach his own science class. He was my TA in my Elements of Earth Science class and he befriended me after my fall from grace at our small Lutheran University in River Forest, IL. It’s a hard social fall when you reject the church you were raised in and call off an engagement to one of the most popular men on campus. Jason softened my landing. Playing cards and catch in the courtyard while talking about science and life with Jason made life beautiful again. I didn’t like his favorite music but I tolerated listening to it because his company was what I appreciated more.

“Get out of here! Transfer to the University of Iowa and don’t be afraid. Don’t even be afraid of dying. Study the stars and learn about the world and its history. You’ve already outgrown this small minded place. The university is large but your mind is even bigger than that place because it’s opened wide,” he said. I listened to his wise advice. Jason’s life was struck painfully short. So very thankful that Jason was my dear friend. Friends like Jason make you stronger. I wish he were still here. I am sober and wide awake now, dear friend. I am so very thankful that his voice is still in my mind guiding me through my life. The people I have loved and been loved by have shaped me more than any human created institution. I’ve discovered that the same ruling class capitalists destroying our working class biological health are the ones that also control and destroy the institutions that should be explaining their technologies and systems that destroy our collective health. Our taxes fill their pockets and not the victims of their systems and technologies…

I know he would love knowing that I occasionally listen to Tool because it reminds me of him. I refused to not “rot in an apathetic existence.” I know Jason would be proud of all that I’ve learned.

Those who have cleft palates need to make certain that their hearts are healthy and strong. Infants born with cleft palates only have their hearts checked if they hear something that indicates that something is wrong. It is essential that Infants born with cleft palates have a thorough examination of their hearts as they grow. In a literate working class controlled world, we would not design our habitat systems that mass produce the organochlorine munition technology causes of the defects in the first place. We don’t even need these technologies or our capital ruling class parasites and their community destroying systems either.

An excerpt from Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children by Philip Shabecoff and Alice Shabecoff.

“The small city of Dickson is in the middle of Tennessee, but it could be anywhere in America… (or our world)

Not God’s Fault

The attending physician kept up a cheerful, reassuring stream of talk as he assisted Jenny in her Labor. “Peyton came facedown. When Dr. Booker turned him over, he stopped talking,” Judy recalled. “He had his back to us, but when the nurse gave him a shove, he turned around and had tears running down his cheeks.”

The baby’s face was badly disfigured with a cleft lip and a bilateral cleft palate. And though they did not know it immediately, Peyton also had a damaged heart., a valve that failed to close properly. “I had never seen this defect except after it had been fixed,” Judy said of Peyton’s cleft palate. “My heart was in my throat. My husband walked into the room and put his arm around me, and we went into the hall. The first thing I said was, ‘Why would God do this to me, as much as I love children and worked with them all my life? Why would he do this?’ My husband said, “Honey, this is not God’s fault.’

“ Two weeks after Peyton was born, Jenny was given the name of another mother in Dickson whose child, born a couple months earlier, also had a cleft palate. Then a woman called Judy at her daycare center and asked if she could accommodate children with special needs because ultrasound tests found that her child was about to be born with a cleft palate. “That made three,” Judy said. She and the other mothers kept a tally. Soon they counted six. Judy placed a newspaper advertisement asking families with similar defects to contact her. And, as it turned out, nineteen children had been born in Dickson with a cleft lip and palate in a little over two years. The odds against such a series of identical birth defects were almost certainly too high to be coincidental. In a city the size of Dickson, perhaps as many as two cases of bilateral cleft lip and palate might be expected in the same period. Clearly, something was happening.

Cleft palates were not the only ills afflicting Dickson’s children. Within a brief period, four babies were born with a rare brain malformation, where the two hemispheres of the brain are not connected. There have been a large number of cases of hypospadias, a condition in male children where the urethra is inverted. There also has been a high incidence of heart problems in Dickson babies, as well as childhood leukemia, the families reported.

“When I realized how many children had defects, I called the Dickson County Health Department,” Judy said. “The registered nurse there said, ‘We’ll bring this up and call you back.’ They never did. I’m still waiting six years later. Then I called the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention (CDC)] in Atlanta, but they said, ‘This isn’t what we do.’ ” Finally, on the advice of a public health official in Nashville, she contacted Betty Mekdeci, who runs a nonprofit organization in Orlando, Florida, that monitors birth defects around the nation. Mekdeci told her that there were as many babies with cleft palates born in Dickson during that period as in the entire state of Wisconsin and nine times the national average. Following Mekdeci’s advice, Judy got a map of Dickson County and put an “X” down to mark the location of each family with a cleft palate baby. What she found was surprising. Most of the families lived in the southwest quadrant of the county, where Dickson County landfill is located.

The landfill had opened in 1968 as the Dickson City dump. A decade later, the county brought the property and expanded it for use as a sanitary landfill; though the Tennessee Department of Public Health found the area suitable for use as a sanitary landfill, it recommended that no liquid wastes be disposed of there. Nevertheless, the landfill too began accepting industrial liquid wastes from manufacturing facilities in the area, including Scoville-Schrader, Inc., which made automotive parts. It would be another ten years, however, before tests were conducted to determine if water beneath and around the fill was contaminated, and then only after a nearby resident contacted the county to voice suspicion that a spring on her property might be contaminated.

It was. Tests conducted by private contractors working for the county and state, and later the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), found that a brew of chemicals from the landfill had made its way to the groundwater under the dump and was spreading out through the karst rock, a geological foundation riddled with countless cracks, that underlies much of Dickson County. The pollutants included toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylene, and most ubiquitously, trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent widely used for degreasing machine parts and in the production of other chemicals. TCE had been heavily used and then dumped in the landfill and elsewhere by the Scoville-Schrader plant and other manufacturers in the area, Judy Code and other residents said. TCE is known or suspected of causing a number of chronic illnesses, including several forms of cancer and birth defects. There is evidence that it can be a specific cause of cleft palates, although the available data is limited.

Dumping and Denial

By 1975, the Tennessee Department of Public Health said that no more liquid wastes should be disposed of in the landfill, but Scovill continued to dump “trailer loads” of liquids into the facility, according to local residents. Residents told Judy Cude about the barrels carted away by private contractors and buried on farms in the area. One worker confessed to her, “I buried this shit all over the county.” Lynn Agee, a lawyer representing several of the families in lawsuits against Scovill, said that discovery had produced substantial documentation of dumping….

While there were fluctuations, test after test revealed high levels of TCE and other toxic contaminants in the water, including in wells use by families for drinking and bathing and in at least one well that fed Dickson’s public water supply….

Scovill-Schrader pulled up stakes and moved to North Carolina in 1984, resuming a company history of leaving a community and its workers when local conditions proved unpleasant… Don Corn, a UAW official in Tennesse, contends that “Schrader left the Dickson plant because the heat was on. The state environmental agencies were starting to look into their habits, and they were running out of space to put their industrial waste.” Confirming what Judy Cude had heard, Corn adds, “They filled up the area behind their plant and the county landfill and even contracted out to private firms to bury the TCE. Once the cat was out of the bag, many barrels were dug up and hauled to Emelle, Alabama.” – Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children by Philip Shabecoff and Alice Shabecoff

(Portions from Chapter 1: Inquest.)

Drinking water supplies for 14 million Americans are contaminated with a cancer-causing industrial solvent made notorious by the book and film “A Civil Action,” according to a new EWG analysis of tests from public utilities nationwide. The chemical is trichloroethylene, or TCE.


Most citizens are familiar TCE and W.R. Grace from this film

“A Civil Action is a film based on the true story of a group of families in a small town just north of Boston who sued major US companies in the early 1980s for leukemia deaths and other health problems caused by the dumping of poisonous chemicals that seeped into their community’s water supply. It is also the story of Boston lawyer Jan Schlichtmann, the unlikely hero who took up their cause.

The history of the legal case mounted by residents of Woburn, Massachusetts against chemical giant W.R. Grace and consumer goods conglomerate Beatrice Foods was chronicled in the 500-page 1995 bestseller of the same title written by Jonathon Harr. Twelve children contracted leukemia in the town of 36,000 from the late 1960s to the early ’80s. Of these, eight lived within a half-mile radius of each other and six lived in one east Woburn neighborhood of just 200 families. Cancer deaths in town during the mid-1970s increased by 17 percent.

A new water well had been opened in 1964 near an industrial park. Despite residents’ complaints of “foul, ill-smelling water,” the city refused to shut it down until 1979. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was later found in the well water. In 1979 a half-buried lagoon polluted with toxic chemicals was also discovered, contaminated with arsenic, chromium, lead and animal wastes.”

But few know that Otto Ambros, Hitler’s Director of Chemical Weapons and IG Farben’s Director of Chemical Operations, and J. Peter Grace worked collaboratively. J. Peter Grace worked to protect Ambros repeatedly and the two shared the same business practices of destroying their workers and the communities where their businesses were located as they expanded their munition technology markets.

“Concerning the firms abroad where I am a permanent co-worker advisor,” Ambros wrote, “I won’t name them [publicly] because I don’t want to tip off any journalists who might cause trouble with my friends. You know about W.R. Grace in New York… and I hope I can stay with Hibernia Company.

Concerning the firms in Israel,” Ambros wrote, “stating their names publicly would be very embarrassing because they are [run by] very public, well-respected persons in public positions that have actually been at my home and are aware of my position, how I behaved during the Reich, and they accept this.”

(Keep in mind that these monsters didn’t even use anesthesia when they completed liver biopsies on death camp victims in their research)

The “well-respected” public figures in Israel to whom Ambros referred have never been revealed. That Ambros also had worked for the American company W.R Grace would take decades to come to light. When it did, in the early 1980s, the public would also learn that Otto Ambros worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, formerly the Atomic Energy Commission, “to develop and operate a plant for the hydrogenation of coal in a scale of 4 million tons/year at the former IG Farben industry.” That a convicted war criminal had been hired by the Department of Energy sparked indignation, and congressmen and journalists sought further details about Ambros’s U.S. government contract. In a statement to the press, the Department of Energy insisted that the paperwork had been lost…” – Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobson (page 418.)

Sadly, no capitalist ruling class controlled institution will provide the truth about the biological destruction of their munition technologies and systems created by working class taxes and designed to destroy working class health and profit off that destruction.

A Civil Action Trailer

“Workers exposed to tricholorethylene (TCE), a chemical once widely used to clean metal such as auto parts, may be at a significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.”


Those long hot showers in communities with TCE water contamination have elevated risks for Parkinson’s disease and much more as well. Many tap water supplies are contaminated with over the health based limit (based on ingestion exposure) for Trichloroethylene.

Inhalation and dermal exposures are not factored into the health based limit. A ten-minute shower or thirty-minute bath contributed a greater internal dose than drinking half a gallon of tap water. http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/1996/104-1/weiselabs.html

Intolerance by Tool

A working class that accepts the munition sniper fire of our children’s epigenome and rejects learning the science that explain the destruction of our children’s development for capital ruling class profits have empty minds and hearts and cease having souls… they are willing participants in the extinction of our species!

Our children deserve far better

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Once upon a time I called myself an artist. I’ve learned much through books. I’ve learned the importance of looking far beneath the surface to understand life and the world I live in. There’s so much more beauty in complexity than only examining skin and it provides far more understanding.

An excerpt from “Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shubin – 2008


We begin with an apparent puzzle. Our body is made up of hundreds of different kinds of cells. This cellular diversity gives our tissues and organs their distinct shapes and functions. The cells that make our bones, nerves, guts, and so on look and behave entirely differently. Despite these differences, there is a deep similarity among every cell inside our bodies: all of them contain exactly the same DNA. If DNA contains the information to build our bodies, tissues, and organs, how is it that cells as different as those found in muscle, nerve, and bone contain the same DNA?

The answer lies in understanding what pieces of DNA (the genes) are actually turned on in every cell. A skin cell is different from a neuron because different genes are active in each cell. When a gene is turned on, it makes a protein that can affect what the cell looks like and how it behaves. Therefore, to understand what makes a cell in the eye different from a cell in the bones of the hand, we need to know about the genetic switches that control the activity of genes in each cell and tissue.

Here’s an important fact: these genetic switches help to assemble us. At conception, we start as a single cell that contains all the DNA needed to build our body. The plan for that entire body unfolds via instructions contained in this single microscopic cell. To go from this generalized egg cell to a complete human, with trillions of specialized cells organized in just the right way, whole batteries of genes need to be turned on and off at just the right stages of development. Like a concerto composed of individual notes played by many instruments, our bodies are a composition of individual genes turning on and off inside each cell during our development…

When we compare the ensemble of genes active in the development of a fish fin to those active in the development of a human hand, we can catalogue the genetic differences between fins and limbs. This kind of comparison gives us some likely culprits–the genetic switches that may have changed during the origin of limbs. We can then study what these genes are doing in the embryo and how they might have changed. We can even do experiments in which we manipulate the genes to see how bodies actually change in response to different conditions or stimuli…..We will begin by looking at the structure of our limbs, and zoom all the way down to the tissues, cells, and genes that make it.


Our limbs exist in three dimensions: they have a top and a bottom, a pinky side and a thumb side, a base and a tip. The bones at the tips, in our fingers, are different from the bones at our shoulder. Likewise, our hands are different from one side to the other. Our pinkies are shaped differently from one side to the other. The Holy Grail of our developmental research is to understand what genes differentiate the various bones of our limb, and what controls development in these three dimensions. What DNA actually makes a pinky different from a thumb? What makes our fingers distinct from our arm bones? If we understand the genes that control such patterns, we will be privy to the recipe that builds us.

All the genetic switches that make our fingers, arm bones, and toes do their thing during the third to eighth week after conception. Limbs begin their development as tiny buds that extend from our embryonic bodies. The buds grow over two weeks, until the tip forms a paddle. Inside this paddle are millions of cells which will ultimately give rise to the skeleton, nerves, and muscles that we’ll have for the rest of our lives.

To study how this pattern emerges, we need to look at embryos and sometimes interfere with their development to assess what happens when things go wrong. Moreover, we need to look at mutants and at their internal structures and genes, often by making whole mutant populations through careful breeding. Obviously, we cannot study humans in these ways. The challenge for the pioneers in this field was to find the animals that could be useful windows into our own development. The first experimental embryologists interested in limbs in the 1930s and 1940s faced several problems. They needed an organism in which the limbs were accessible for observation and experiment. The embryo had to be relatively large, so that they could perform surgical procedures on it. Importantly, the embryo had to grow in a protected place, in a container that sheltered it from jostling and other environmental disturbances. Also, and critically, the embryos had to be abundant and available year-round. the obvious solution to this scientific need is at your local grocery store: chicken eggs.

In the 1950s and 1960s a number of biologists, including Edgar Zwilling and John Saunders, did extraordinary creative experiments on chicken eggs to understand how the pattern of the skeleton forms. This was an era of slice and dice. Embryos were cut up and various tissues moved about to see what effect this had on development. The approach involved very careful microsurgery, manipulating patches of tissue no more than a millimeter think. In that way, by moving tissues about in the developing limb, Saunders and Zwilling uncovered some of the key mechanisms that build limbs as different as bird wings, whale flippers, and human hands.

They discovered that two little patches of tissue essentially control the development of the pattern of bones inside limbs. A strip of tissue at the extreme end of the limb bud is essential for all limb development. Remove it, and development stops. Remove it early, and we are left with only an upper arm, or a piece of an arm. Remove it slightly later, and we end up with an upper arm and a forearm. Remove it even later, and the arm is almost complete, except that the digits are short and deformed.

Another experiment, initially done by Mary Gasseling in John Saunder’s laboratory, led to a powerful new line of research. Take a little patch of tissue from what will become the pinky side of a limb bud, early in development, and transplant it on the opposite side, just under where the first finger will form. Let the chick develop and form a wing. The result surprised nearly everybody. The wing developed normally except that it also had a full duplicate set of digits. Even more remarkable was the pattern of the digits: the new fingers were mirror images of the normal set. Obviously, something inside that patch of tissue, some molecule or gene, was able to direct the development of the pattern of the fingers. This result spawned a blizzard of new experiments, and we learned that this effect can be mimicked by a variety of other means. For example, take a chicken embryo and dab a little vitamin A (retinoic acid) on its limb bud, or simply inject vitamin A into the egg. and let the embryo develop. If you supply the vitamin A at the right concentration and at the right stage, you’ll get the same mirror-image duplication that Gasseling, Saunders, and Zwilling got from the grafting experiments. This patch of tissue was named the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA). Essentially, the ZPA is a patch of tissue that causes the pinky side to be different from the thumb side. Obviously chicks do not have a pinky and a thumb. The terminology we use is to the number of digits, with our pinky corresponding to digit five of other animals and our thumb corresponding to digit one.

The ZPA drew interest because it appeared, in some way, to control the formation of fingers and toes. But how? Some people believed that the cells in the ZPA made a molecule that then spread across the limb to instruct cells to make different fingers. The key proposal was that it was the concentration of this named molecule that was the important factor. In areas close to the ZPA, where there is a high concentration of this molecule, cells would respond by making a pinky. In the opposite side of the developing hand, farther from the ZPA so that the molecule was more diffused, the cells would respond by making a thumb. Cells in the middle would each respond according to the concentration of this molecule to make the second, third, and fourth fingers.

This concentration-dependent idea could be tested. In 1979, Denis Summerbell placed an extremely small piece of foil between the ZPA patch and the rest of the limb. The idea was to use this barrier to prevent any kind of molecule from diffusing from the ZPA to the other side. Summerbell studied what happened to the cells on each side of the barrier. Cells on the opposite side often did not form digits; if they did, the digits were badly malformed. The conclusion was obvious. Something was emanating from the ZPA that controlled how the digits formed and what they looked like. To identify that something, researchers needed to look at DNA.


That project was left to a new generation of scientists. Not until the 1990s, when new molecular techniques became available, was the genetic control for the ZPA’s operation unraveled.

A major breakthrough happened in 1993, when Cliff Tabin’s laboratory at Harvard started hunting for the genes that control the ZPA. Their prey was the molecular mechanisms that gave the ZPA its ability to make our pinky different from our thumb. By this time his group started to work in the early 1990s, a number of experiments like the ones I’ve described had led us to believe that some sort of molecule caused the whole thing. This was a grand theory, but nobody knew what this molecule was. People would propose one molecule after another, only to find that none was up to the job. Finally, the Tabin lab came up with a novel notion, and one very relevant to the theme of this book. Look to flies for the answer.

Genetic experiments in the 1980s had revealed the wonderful pattern of gene activity that sculpts the body of a fly from a single-celled egg. The body of a fruit fly is organized from front to back, with the head at the front and the wings at the back. Whole batteries of genes are turned on and off during fly development, and this pattern of gene activity serves to demarcate the different regions of the fly.

Tabin didn’t know at the time, but two other laboratories–those of Andy MacMahon and Phil Ingham–had already come up with the same general idea independently. What emerged was a remarkably successful collaboration among three different lab groups. One of the fly genes caught the attention of Tabin, McMahon, and Ingham. They noted that this gene made one end of a body segment look different from the other. Fly geneticists named it hedgehog. Doesn’t the function of hedgehog in the fly body–to make one region different from another–sound like what ZPA does in making the pinky different from the thumb? That parallel was not lost on the three labs. So off they went, looking for a hedgehog gene in creatures like chickens, mice, and fish.

Because the lab groups knew the structure of the fly’s hedgehog gene, that had a search image to help them single out the gene in chickens. Each gene sequence; using a number of molecular tools, the researchers could scan a chicken’s DNA for the hedgehog sequence. After a lot of trial and error, they found a chicken hedgehog gene.

Just as paleontologists get to name a new species, geneticists get to name new genes. The fly geneticists who discovered hedgehog had named it that because the flies with a mutation in the gene had bristles that reminded them of a little hedgehog. Tabin, McMahon, and Ingham named the chicken version of the gene Sonic hedgehog, after the Sega Genesis video game.

Now came the fun question: What does Sonic hedgehog actually do in the limb? The Tabin group attached a dye to a molecule that would stick to the gene, enabling them to visualize where the gene is active in the limb. To their great surprise, they found that only cells in a tiny patch of the limb had gene activity: the ZPA.

So the next steps were obvious. The patterns of activity in the Sonic hedgehog gene could mimic those of the ZPA tissue itself. Recall when you treat the limb with retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, you get a ZPA active on the opposite side. Guess what happens when you treat a limb with retinoic acid, then map where Sonic hedgehog is active? Sonic hedgehog is active on both sides–pinky and thumb–just as the ZPA does when it is treated with retinoic acid.

Knowing the structure of the chicken Sonic hedgehog gave other researchers the tools to look for it in everything else that has fingers, from frogs to humans. Every limbed animal has the Sonic hedgehog gene. And in every single animal we have studied, Sonic hedgehog is active in ZPA tissue. If Sonic hedgehog hadn’t turned on properly during the eight week of your own development, then you either would have extra fingers or your pinky and thumb would look alike. Occasionally, when things go wrong with Sonic hedgehog, the hand ends up looking like a broad paddle with as many as twelve fingers that all look alike.

We now know that Sonic hedgehog is one of dozens of genes that act to sculpt our limbs from shoulder to fingertip by turning on and off at the right time. Remarkably, work in chickens, frogs, and mice was telling us the same thing. The DNA recipe to build upper arms, forearms, wrists, and digits is virtually identical in every creature that has limbs.

How far back can we trace Sonic hedgehog and other bits of DNA that build limbs? Is this stuff active in building the skeleton of fish fins? Or are hands genetically completely different from fish fins? We saw an inner fish in the anatomy of our arms and hands. What about the DNA that builds it? ….”

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