Cold Truth

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


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

FDA fails to protect consumers from cancer-causing talc.

Photo: Ovarian Cancer Law Center

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

Scientists say talc in cosmetics may contain lethal asbestos

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

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

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

An FBI WMD response team

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

Multiple mobs suspected in elaborate scam selling bogus horse meat

Illustration from Humane Care for Animals

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

FDA agents hunt for poisonous food at inaugural fete

Food inspectors checking the temperature of chilled salads at President Obama inaugural.        FDA released photo

To the best of my knowledge, U.S. presidents don’t have official food tasters protecting them from poisons as ancient Roman emperors did. The Secret Services has a so-far successful (and undisclosed) system for picking the president’s rubber chicken from several hundred others being plated up for a banquet. Nevertheless, the government says it’s doing its best to prevent the food poisoning of the enormous crowds clogging the the officials and street cart eating venues in Washington for the upcoming inaugural events. It’s not intentional poisoning of tourists that the feds are protecting against. It’s pathogens, the food-borne bugs that have … Continue reading

The FDA moves to ensure food safety, especially from overseas.


The Food and Drug Administration wasted little time in 2013 in implementing changes that should protect consumers from pathogens that can enter our food supply anywhere along the ever-lengthening path from farm to the kitchen table. The two new proposed food safety rules “will protect American families for years to come,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said at a press briefing Friday. One rule would require makers of food to be sold in the U.S., whether produced at a foreign- or domestic facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing illness. In addition, growers, producers, … Continue reading

Chinese finally outlaw shark fin soup. Was the reason really splurging bureaucrats?

say no to shark fin soup

Lovers of tradition and Chinese culture said it would never happen, but last week, the legislature in Beijing banned the serving of the highly venerated shark fin soup. The glutinous concoction has long been the pricey, must-serve centerpiece of lavish government gatherings, business banquets and wedding parties. The vote by the National People’s Congress, China’s supreme power, surprised many who worry that little attention is paid to environmental concerns, such as the estimated 77 million sharks that are finned and left to die each year. As The Food Watchdog reported in a lengthy investigative piece last year, the most powerful … Continue reading

The magic and secrets of building fireworks


We have all stood and watched fireworks turn the blackened summer sky into a palette for wonderful colors, sounds and motions. Many of us have often wondered how they get the pyrotechnics to explode at the right altitude and display the specific colors the fireworks designer desired. Every year I try to run something on Cold Truth that stands a chance of answering some of these questions.  Today, thanks to the American Chemical Society, I offer you a video of Prof. John Conkling from Washington College in Chestertown, Md. Conkling, the author of “The Chemistry of Fireworks” and one of … Continue reading

Public opinion be damned, Quebec funds restart of controversial asbestos mine

asbestos warning

  Ignoring years of fervent pleas by physicians, scientists and international public health experts, the provincial government in Quebec last week approved  money to reopen one of the last  asbestos mines in Canada – the Jeffrey Mine, in the aptly named town of Asbestos. The U.S. may be outsourcing hundreds of thousands of its jobs to India, but with the $58 million (CD) loan, our Canadian neighbors have provided the funds to reactivate the mine and launch much-criticized plans to send millions of pounds of cancer-causing asbestos to building materials factories being built in small, poor, villages across India. Many … Continue reading