A time of change, conflicting influences and energies, twists and turns, endings and new beginnings. Established conditions, presumptions, plans, preparations fragmented by the unexpected, smithereened by forces unimagined. Simple shifts, complex rifts, the recognized confused. Nothing what it seems. A time to be in the moment, tolerate the uncertainty, commune.

This site is likely to explore such themes and more, related to the indications and impacts of change on a larger scale, affecting many individuals, while my arts site focuses on individual identity and psychospirituality.

The Right To Die

Carter v. Canada (Attorney General)
Supreme Court Judgments. 2015-02-06. 2015 SCC 5. Case number: 35591.
McLachlin, Beverley; LeBel, Louis; Abella, Rosalie Silberman; Rothstein, Marshall; Cromwell, Thomas Albert; Moldaver, Michael J.; Karakatsanis, Andromache; Wagner, Richard; Gascon, Clément.
On appeal from British Columbia.
[PDF] [Word]

What you need to know about Carter v. Canada: the death with dignity decision in 900 words. A brief synopsis by Grace Pastine. BC Civil Liberties Association. 6 February 2015.

And See:

Findings from largest
genome sequencing study

Whole-genome sequencing of quartet families with autism spectrum disorder.
Stephen W Scherer et al. Nat Med. 2015 Feb;21(2):185-91. doi: 10.1038/nm.3792.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is genetically heterogeneous, with evidence for hundreds of susceptibility loci. Previous microarray and exome-sequencing studies have examined portions of the genome in simplex families (parents and one ASD-affected child) having presumed sporadic forms of the disorder. We used whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 85 quartet families (parents and two ASD-affected siblings), consisting of 170 individuals with ASD, to generate a comprehensive data resource encompassing all classes of genetic variation (including noncoding variants) and accompanying phenotypes, in apparently familial forms of ASD. By examining de novo and rare inherited single-nucleotide and structural variations in genes previously reported to be associated with ASD or other neurodevelopmental disorders, we found that some (69.4%) of the affected siblings carried different ASD-relevant mutations. These siblings with discordant mutations tended to demonstrate more clinical variability than those who shared a risk variant. Our study emphasizes that substantial genetic heterogeneity exists in ASD, necessitating the use of WGS to delineate all genic and non-genic susceptibility variants in research and in clinical diagnostics.

And See:
Largest genome sequencing study finds surprises: siblings' autism may have different genetic causes.
News Release, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). 26 January 2015.

[...] The research highlights the fact that there is significant genetic diversity in autism; it also emphasizes the need to do whole genome sequencing on patients in order to see their complete genetic picture.

"We already knew that there are many differences between autism cases, but our recent findings firmly nail that down. It shows that a full assessment of each individual’s genome is needed to determine how to best use knowledge of their own genetic makeup for autism treatment," says Dr. Stephen Scherer, Senior Scientist and Director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at SickKids. [...]

The Way You’re Born Can Mess With
the Microbes You Need to Survive.

Martin J. Blaser. An article excerpted and adapted from the book., 04.03.14.

In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin Blaser reaches back to the discovery of antibiotics, which ushered in a golden age of medicine, and then traces how our subsequent overuse of these seeming wonder drugs has left its mark on our systems, contributing to the rise of what Blaser calls our modern plagues: obesity, asthma, allergies, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Blaser’s studies suggest antibiotic use during early childhood poses the greatest risk to long-term health, and, alarmingly, American children receive on average seventeen courses of antibiotics before they are twenty years old. At the same time, C-sections deprive babies of important contact with their mothers’ microbiomes. Taking us into the lab to recount his groundbreaking studies, Blaser not only provides elegant support for his theory, he guides us to what we can do to avoid even more catastrophic health problems in the future. → Read more at

Missing Microbes: How The Overuse Of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
Macmillan Henry Holt and Company.

6 May 2014.
CBC's The Current host Anna Maria Tremonti interviews Dr. Blaser, who "argues the overuse of antibiotics has altered the delicate balance of microbes living in all of us, making us vulnerable to a range of new diseases". (23:56)
Missing Microbes: Are we killing off bacteria at our own peril?

Human Microbiota

Bugs 'R Us

On 25 October CBC's Ideas host Paul Kennedy featured a presentation by microbiologist Dr. B. Brett Finlay on the importance of the human microbiota, collectively referring to the vast number of microbes that colonize the body, in health and disease.

Recorded at the Peter Wahl Institute for Advanced Studies on 21 May 2013, the full-length presentation is available on YouTube, with follow-up Q&A.


And See:
•  Metabiotics: novel idea or natural
   development of probiotic conception.

   Shenderov BA. Microb Ecol Health Dis.
   2013 Apr 12;24. PDF

Superbugs, antibiotic resistance, apocalyptic scenario.

Rise of the Superbugs
Four Corners, ABC Australia.
29 October 2012.

Antibiotics are the wonder drugs of modern medicine. They've allowed doctors to save and extend life by killing infection and enabling ground breaking surgery. But imagine a world where antibiotics don't work - that would be a place dominated by superbugs, bacteria that don't respond to antibiotics. Scientists say this would end many modern medical procedures and they claim the threat is greater than we realise.

[...R]eporter Geoff Thompson looks at the rise of superbugs, visiting the hot spots around the world where the misuse of antibiotics is creating a breeding ground for these bacteria and he tells the horrific stories of those who've contracted infections that can't be controlled. [...]

"...Every time we take an antibiotic we're giving the bug a chance to become a superbug ... the more of us that take antibiotics inappropriately, the greater the chance in the community a superbug will come."

And that's exactly what's happening in India, where antibiotics are not restricted in their use. As a result a new superbug, New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM-1, has evolved. Not only is it deadly in its own right, it's also capable of genetically modifying other bacteria to make them superbugs. [...]

And See:
The Rise of Superbugs Called 'Apocalyptic Scenario'. Marc Lallanilla. LiveScience.
25 January 2013.

Food Production and Consumption

This 6-minute clip showing food produc-
tion and consumption is taken from the much broader canvas of a 100-minute 70mm film entitled SAMSARA, a 2011 documentary directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson. SAMSARA was photographed over the course of 5 years in 25 countries. It explores diverse aspects of the human experience.

SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation. Through powerful images, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.*

And See: Overconsumption: A look at how unsustainable our eating habits have become. Mercola. 1 March 2014.

Antiproliferative and antioxidant
activities of common vegetables:
A comparative study.

Boivin D, Lamy S, Lord-Dufour S, Jackson J, Beaulieu E, Côte M, Moghrabi A, Barrette S, Gingras D, Beliveau R.
Food Chem. 112(2):374{380, 2009.
PDF, annotated

Antioxidant and antiproliferative
activities of common vegetables.

Chu YF, Sun J, Wu X, Liu RH.
J Agric Food Chem.
2002 Nov 6;50(23):6910-6.

Antioxidant and antiproliferative
activities of common fruits.

Sun J, Chu YF, Wu X, Liu RH.
J Agric Food Chem.
2002 Dec 4;50(25):7449-54.

Plastic Pollution

Not just bottles and packaging, but synthetic fibers from clothing...

5GYRES – Understanding Plastic Pollution Through Exploration, Education, and Action

Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea
Eriksen M, Lebreton LC, Carson HS, Thiel M, Moore CJ, Borerro JC, Galgani F, Ryan PG, Reisser J.
PLoS One. 2014 Dec 10;9(12):e111913.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111913. [PDF]

Plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the marine environment, yet estimates of the global abundance and weight of floating plastics have lacked data, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere and remote regions. Here we report an estimate of the total number of plastic particles and their weight floating in the world's oceans from 24 expeditions (2007-2013) across all five sub-tropical gyres, costal Australia, Bay of Bengal and the Mediterranean Sea [...] Using an oceanographic model of floating debris dispersal calibrated by our data, and correcting for wind-driven vertical mixing, we estimate a minimum of 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons. [...]

The observations that there is much less microplastic at the sea surface than might be expected suggests that removal processes are at play. These include UV degradation, biodegradation, ingestion by organisms, decreased buoyancy due to fouling organisms, entrainment in settling detritus, and beaching [4]. Fragmentation rates of already brittle microplastics may be very high, rapidly breaking small microplastics further down into ever smaller particles, making them unavailable for our nets (0.33 mm mesh opening). Many recent studies also demonstrate that many more organisms ingest small plastic particles than previously thought, either directly or indirectly, i.e. via their prey organisms [34]–[36]. Numerous species ingest microplastics, and thereby make it available to higher-level predators or may otherwise contribute to the differential removal of small particles from the sea surface, e.g. by packaging microplastics into fecal pellets [37], thus enhancing sinking. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that some microbes can biodegrade microplastic particles [38]–[40]. This process becomes more important as plastic particles become smaller since at decreasing particle size the surface area:volume relationship is increased dramatically and oxidation levels are higher, enhancing their biodegradation potential. Thus, bacterial degradation and ingestion of smaller plastic particles by organisms may facilitate their export from the sea surface. In this manner, incorporation of smaller plastics into marine food chains could not only generate impacts on the health of the involved organisms [17]–[20], but also contribute to the removal of small microplastics from the sea surface [37]. [...]

Plastics Europe, a trade organization representing plastic producers and manufactures, reported that 288 million tons of plastic were produced worldwide in 2012 [41]. Our estimate of the global weight of plastic pollution on the sea surface, from all size classes combined, is only 0.1% of the world annual production. [...]

By generating extensive new data, especially from the Southern Hemisphere, and modeling the plastic load in the world's oceans in separate size classes, we show that there is tremendous loss of microplastics from the sea surface. The question “Where is all the Plastic?” [42] remains unanswered, highlighting the need to investigate the many processes that play a role in the dynamics of macro-, meso- and microplastics in the world's oceans. → Read online

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem
you've never heard of.

Mary Catherine O'Connor. 27 October 2014.

Ecologist Mark Browne knew he’d found something big when, after months of tediously examining sediment along shorelines around the world, he noticed something no one had predicted: fibers. Everywhere. They were tiny and synthetic and he was finding them in the greatest concentration near sewage outflows. In other words, they were coming from us.

In fact, 85% of the human-made material found on the shoreline were microfibers, and matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing...

Mark Browne | LAUNCH
Benign by Design — Finding solutions to the problem.

Clothing fibers are the most abundant form of waste material that we find in habitats worldwide, and the problem is worsening. Ingested and inhaled fibers carry toxic materials and a third of the food we eat is contaminated with this material. In the textile industry, fabrics are generally selected based upon aesthetics, durability, cost, green chemistry and carbon footprints. Still, critical information on their environmental and health impacts is not considered because until now much of the scientific research is unavailable. This has led to the use of unsustainable and hazardous fibers in apparel. [...]

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014.

"Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance" notes that resistance is occurring across many different infectious agents but [...] focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea. The results are cause for high concern, documenting resistance to antibiotics, especially “last resort” antibiotics, in all regions of the world.

What's on Your Plate? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Animal Agriculture in Canada.

ILOs are producing drug resistant super bugs, destroying our planet's life support system and transforming the social fabric of our rural communities.

Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013.

This report, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013 gives a first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health. See graphic, below.

Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance. WHO. April 2014.
This WHO report provides the most comprehensive picture of antibiotic resistance to date, with data from 114 countries.
PDF | Summary | Infographic | Slide Set
News Release. 30 April 2014/Geneva.
Antimicrobial Resistance Fact sheet N°194. Updated April 2014.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Resistance to the treatment of last resort for life-threatening infections caused by a common intestinal bacteria, Klebsiella pneumoniae–carbapenem antibiotics–has spread to all regions of the world. K. pneumoniae is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections, infections in newborns and intensive-care unit patients. In some countries, because of resistance, carbapenem antibiotics would not work in more than half of people treated for K. pneumoniae infections.
  • Resistance to one of the most widely used antibacterial medicines for the treatment of urinary tract infections caused by E. coli–fluoroquinolones–is very widespread. In the 1980s, when these drugs were first introduced, resistance was virtually zero. Today, there are countries in many parts of the world where this treatment is now ineffective in more than half of patients.
  • Treatment failure to the last resort of treatment for gonorrhoea–third generation cephalosporins–has been confirmed in Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom. An estimated 106 million people are infected with gonorrhoea every year (2008 estimates).1
  • Antibiotic resistance causes people to be sick for longer and increases the risk of death. For example, people with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are estimated to be 64% more likely to die than people with a non-resistant form of the infection. Resistance also increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospital and more intensive care required.
Antibiotic Resistance
— ILOs and CAFOs

What's on Your Plate?
The Hidden Costs of Industrial Animal Agriculture in Canada.

A report released 2012 by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), exposing the destructive impacts of ILOs on health, the environment, animal welfare and rural Canada.

Credit: CDC, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013
p.14, CS239559. Click to enlarge.


Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity.
Philippe Grandjean, Philip J Landrigan. Lancet Neurol. 2014; 13:330–38.

Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, we did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants — manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. — Emphasis added.

Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Choi AL, Sun G, Zhang Y, Grandjean P.
Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120:1362–68.

Attorney Michael Connett summarizes 10 basic facts about fluoride that should be considered in any discussion about whether to fluoridate water.

10 Facts about Fluoride, Excerpts from flyer accompanying the video, FAN.TV, Fluoride Action Network. Read online, with references.

[...] According to a recent national survey by the CDC, about 40% of American teenagers have a condition called dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is a defect of tooth enamel caused by fluoride’s interference with the tooth-forming cells. The condition shows as cloudy spots and streaks and, in more severe cases, brown stains and tooth erosion. [...] Today, not only do 40% of American teenagers have fluorosis, but, in some fluoridated areas, the rate is as high as 70 to 80%, with some children suffering advanced forms of the condition.

The high rate of fluorosis in the U.S. reflects the fact that children now receive fluoride from many sources besides tap water. When fluoridation first began, there was not a single tube of toothpaste that contained fluoride. Today, over 95% of toothpastes are fluoridated. Although fluoride toothpastes carry poison warnings on them, studies show that children can swallow large amounts of fluoride when they brush, particularly when using toothpaste with bubble gum and candy flavors.

And there are other sources of fluoride as well, including processsed beverages/foods, fluoride pesticides, tea, Teflon pans, and some fluorinated pharmaceuticals. The concern today, therefore, is not just the safety of fluoridated water by itself, but the safety of fluoridated water in combination with all the other sources to which we're now exposed. [...]

And See:

  • THYROID History — History of the Fluoride/Iodine Antagonism.
    Parents of Fluoride Poisoned Children (PFPC), Vancouver. Part of The Fluoride Education Project → PFPC Public Sites.
  • Human Toxicity, Environmental Impact and Legal Implications of Water Fluoridation.
    Declan Waugh. EnviroManagement Services, Ireland. (February 2012)
  • 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation.
    Paul Connett PhD, Fluoride Action Network (Updated 2012)

    And See: Communities that Have Rejected Fluoridation Since 2010 [see list].

    Most developed nations, including the vast majority of western Europe, do not fluoridate their drinking water. Cities that do not fluoridate their water include: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Copenhagen, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Glasgow, Helsinki, London, Montreal, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Tokyo, Vancouver, Venice, Vienna, and Zurich.

    Since health authorities in North America have refused to let go of the fluoridation paradigm, local communities are doing the work for them. Since 2010, over 70 communities have rejected the practice, including over 30 communities like Calgary, Alberta (pop. 1.3 million people) and Albuquerque, New Mexico (pop. 500,000) that have voted to end their longstanding fluoridation programs.

    As summarized by the New York Times (13.10.2011):

    For decades, the issue of fluoridated water remained on the fringes [...] But as more places, like Fairbanks and parts of Canada, take up the issue in a more measured way, it is shifting away from conspiracy and toward the mainstream. The conclusion among these communities is that with fluoride now so widely available in toothpaste and mouthwash, there is less need to add it to water, which already has naturally occurring fluoride. Putting it in tap water, they say, is an imprecise way of distributing fluoride; how much fluoride a person gets depends on body weight and water consumed.

  • Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards.
    National Research Council, National Academies Press. 1st Ed. (2007:530pp.)
    → Read Online.

    From the online version, p.8/530:
    Endocrine Effects
    The chief endocrine effects of fluoride exposures in experimental animals and in humans include decreased thyroid function, increased calcitonin activity, increased parathyroid hormone activity, secondary hyperparathyroidism, impaired glucose tolerance, and possible effects on timing of sexual maturity. Some of these effects are associated with fluoride intake that is achievable at fluoride concentrations in drinking water of 4 mg/L or less, especially for young children or for individuals with high water intake. Many of the effects could be considered subclinical effects, meaning that they are not adverse health effects. However, recent work on borderline hormonal imbalances and endocrine-disrupting chemicals indicated that adverse health effects, or increased risks for developing adverse effects, might be associated with seemingly mild imbalances or perturbations in hormone concentrations. [...]
  • The Fluoride Deception
    Christopher Bryson. Seven Stories Press (2006:416pp.)
  • Fluoride in water: An overview.
    WATERfront. Issue 13, December 1999:11-13. Unicef.
  • CDC — My Water's Flouride. USA
    Does my municipality fluoridate the water? Regenesis. Canada and US.
    Fluoridation by country. Wikipedia.

Health Risks of Calcium Supplementation

Revised Recommendations

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Calcium in mg/day°
0–6 mos*200200  
7–12 mos*260260  
1–3 yr700700  
4–8 yrs1,0001,000  
9–13 yrs1,3001,300  
14–18 yrs1,3001,3001,3001,300
19–50 yrs1,0001,0001,0001,000
51–70 yrs1,0001,200  
71+ yrs1,2001,200  
Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Calcium in mg/day°
Age MaleFemalePregnantLactating
0–6 mos1,0001,000  
7–12 mos1,5001,500  
1–8 yrs2,5002,500  
9–18 yrs3,0003,0003,000 3,000
19–50 yrs2,5002,5002,5002,500
51+ yrs2,0002,000  

* Adequate Intake (AI) — established when evidence is insufficient to develop an RDA and is set at a level assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy.

° Adapted from NIH Calcium — Health Professional Fact Sheet.

Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010. Jointly commissioned and funded by the governments of the U.S. and Canada, released 30 November 2010. The National Academy Press text is also available here (2011).

Recent studies have challenged the efficacy of calcium supple-
ments in certain conditions, and identified significant health risks associated with high levels of calcium supplementation. Recommended intakes and Tolerable Upper Limits (TLUs) have been revised by Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements provides a comprehensive fact sheet on Calcium, discussing the benefits of calcium in disease prevention and treatment, describing problems associated with calcium excess, listing both the revised Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) [RDAs] and the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs).

Calcium supplementation adds to the calcium ingested from natural dietary sources and fortified products, meaning that consumption may be much higher than thought, reaching levels well beyond necessary or optimal. From the fact sheet on Calcium:

Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich natural sources of calcium and are the major food contributors of this nutrient to people in the United States. Nondairy sources include vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Spinach provides calcium, but its bioavailability is poor. Most grains do not have high amounts of calcium unless they are fortified; however, they contribute calcium to the diet because they contain small amounts of calcium and people consume them frequently. Foods fortified with calcium include many fruit juices and drinks, tofu, and cereals.

Integrative and functional medicine practitioner Chris Kresser, author of Your Personal Paleo Code, suggests that

[i]f you’re concerned about maintaining healthy bones, you’re better off ensuring adequate calcium intake from foods like dairy products, sardines, salmon, dark leafy greens and bone broth. 600 milligrams per day from food (approximately two servings of dairy products or bone-in fish) is plenty to maintain adequate levels of calcium in the body. Healthy bone formation also depends on vitamin D and vitamin K2, both of which regulate calcium metabolism.

Selected references: