Welcome to Marinduque-My Island Paradise

If this is your first time in my site, welcome! If you have been a follower, my heartfelt thanks to you, also. Help me achieve my dream, that someday, Marinduque will become a world tourist destination not only on Easter Week, but also whole year round. You can do this by telling your friends and relatives about this site. The photo above is Mt Malindig in Torrijos.
Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in this blog . Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Mainland Marinduque from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on Photo to link to Marinduque Awaits You

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Time for Some Tango Music and Dance

Dancing with my 2 daughters during our 25th Wedding Anniversary in Pinole, California

Tango Music and dance reminds me of my teenagers years in Iloilo, Philippines in the early 1950's. My late father was a good dancer and he taught me how to dance the Tango- The old style Tango, not the Argentine Tango shown in this video. So if you like dance and music, this video( and related vidoes in the set) is a must view for you. Enjoy!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Popular versus Electoral Votes. Are you voting for Romney?

Election fever seemed to be affecting the US this past month. Both sides have been campaigning on what forecasters call the deciding states. To the Philippine voters, there is no such thing as the deciding states( provinces). Election of the President and other Officials are decided by popular votes.

However here in the US, the presidential candidate do not have to get the highest (popular)votes. A candidate will be President of the US if he gets 270 electoral votes. Each state has a designated number of electoral votes depending on its population. California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are assigned a large number of electoral votes. A presidential candidate can be elected if he wins in the above most populous states even if he lost in the other smaller states.

Speaking of election campaigning, I received a chain e-mail from a friend in the Philippines of why Romney is not likeable. I called her why is she campaigning in the US Election, when she can not vote since she is not a US citizen. She told me she received the e-mail from her relatives in US ( voters) and she is just forwarding the E-mail to all her FaceBook friends. I am printing this E-mail because I find it very interesting even if I am not a Republican. I love to hear of your comments.

A lot is being said in the media about Mitt Romney not being "likable" or that he doesn't "relate well" to people. Frankly, we struggled to understand why. So after much research, we have come up with a Top Ten List to explain this "unlikablility."

Top Ten Reasons To Dislike Mitt Romney:

1. Drop-dead, collar-ad handsome with gracious, statesmanlike aura. Looks like every central casting's #1 choice for Commander-in-Chief.

2. Been married to ONE woman his entire life, and has been faithful to her, including through her bouts with breast cancer and MS.

3. No scandals or skeletons in his closet. (How boring is that?)

4. Can't speak in a fake, southern, "black preacher voice" when necessary.

5. Highly intelligent. Graduated cum laude from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School...and by the way, his academic records are NOT sealed.

6. Doesn't smoke or drink alcohol, and has never done drugs, not even in the counter-culture age when he went to college. Too square for today's America?

7. Represents an America of "yesterday", where people believed in God, went to Church, didn't screw around, worked hard, and became a SUCCESS!

8. Has a family of five great sons....and none of them have police records or are in drug rehab. But of course, they were raised by a stay-at-home mom, and that "choice" deserves America's scorn.

9. Oh yes.....he's a MORMON. We need to be very afraid of that very strange religion that teaches its members to be clean-living, patriotic, fiscally conservative, charitable, self-reliant, and honest.

10. And one more point.....pundits say because of his wealth, he can't relate to ordinary Americans. I guess that's because he made that money HIMSELF.....as opposed to marrying it or inheriting it from Dad. Apparently, he didn't understand that actually working at a job and earning your own money made you unrelatable to Americans.

My goodness, it's a strange world, isn't it? What do you think?

With regards to Romney'd running mate (VP), four names are in the front lines today: B. Portman. T.Pawlenty, B.Jindal and C. Rice. If Bobby Jindall gets selected he will be the First American with Indian ancestry to run for VP. I hope he gets it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Slide Show of My Favorite Sunsets of Marinduque

Marinduque Sunsets Slideshow: David’s trip from Sacramento, California, United States to Marinduque, Philippines was created by TripAdvisor. See another Marinduque slideshow. Create your own stunning slideshow with our free photo slideshow maker.
I love sunsets! How about You?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Antibiotic Resistance on the News Again

Before my retirement from FDA in 2002, the problem of antibiotic resistance has already been a hot topic and a big concern in the Division of Anti-Infective Drugs, where I worked as the Chemistry Team Leader. I had not read much publicity on this subject until today. Curious? Please read on..

" A threat to modern medicine-Antibiotic Resistance -From The Washington Post. One of the great medical advances of the last century, the invention of antibiotics, is at risk of being lost. Increasingly, microbes are becoming untreatable. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, warned in March of a dystopian future without these drugs. "A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it," she said. "Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill."

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced the amount of human illness and death and transformed modern medicine, making possible such sophisticated interventions as hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of premature infants. But evidence is mounting that antibiotics are losing efficacy. Through the relentless process of evolution, pathogens are evading the drugs, a problem known broadly as antimicrobial resistance.

Some bacteria, such as those causing tuberculosis and gonorrhea, have become resistant to multiple antibiotics. In the past few years, researchers discovered a new enzyme known as NDM-1 that can confer resistance to antibiotics on bacteria and can easily jump among different species. As the first-line antibiotics are lost, the replacement treatments are often more expensive, and more toxic.

Meanwhile, the pipeline of new antibiotics is drying up. Major pharmaceutical companies have pulled out of the market, unwilling to make the sizable investments in research and development required for new drugs. Since antibiotics are usually taken for a brief period and then stopped, they aren't as profitable as drugs for chronic diseases. The number of new antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration has steadily declined.

For years, antimicrobial resistance has been a secondary issue in public policy. Now Congress has taken a promising step with provisions in legislation President Barack Obama signed last Monday. As an incentive to develop new antibiotics, the FDA Safety and Innovation Act gives pharmaceutical companies an extra five years of exclusivity to the data behind their product, on top of the existing five years. The intent is to keep competitors, including generics, at bay for longer. It is not clear whether this incentive alone will be sufficient to bring new antibiotics to market, but it is a recognition of the problem.

Far more ambitious action will be needed. Europe has launched a $741 million, seven-year, public-private collaborative research effort to accelerate drug development. For new and existing drugs, it is essential that patients and doctors avoid the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics that occurred in the past. For the most serious infections, where few alternatives exist, the FDA should create streamlined regulatory pathways for approval of new antibiotics".

Alarm bells have been ringing for a long time about the march of the microbes. It is time to pay attention. Indeed, as consumers of antibiotic drugs, we should all be concern on this development which can seriously affect our daily lives.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lifeforce-My Favorite Science-Fiction Movie

Lifeforce is a 1985 science fiction film directed by Tobe Hooper, based on the 1976 novel, The Space Vampires, by Colin Wilson. The screenplay was written by Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby. Featuring Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart and Christopher Jagger (Mick Jagger's brother) in acting roles, the film portrays the fictional events that unfold after three mysterious humanoids, discovered in a space shuttle, are taken to Earth.

While investigating Halley's Comet, the crew of the space shuttle Churchill finds a 150-mile long spaceship hidden in the corona of the comet. Upon entering the alien craft, the crew finds hundreds of dead, shrivelled bat-like creatures and three naked humanoid bodies (two male and one female) in suspended animation within glass coffin-like containers. The crew recovers the three aliens and begins the return trip to Earth.

During the return journey, mission control loses contact with the shuttle as it nears Earth and a rescue mission is launched to investigate. The rescuers discover that the Churchill has been severely damaged by fire, with its internal components destroyed, and the three containers bearing the aliens are all that remain intact.

The aliens are taken to the European Space Research Centre in London where they are watched over by Dr. Leonard Bukovski (Michael Gothard) and Dr. Hans Fallada (Frank Finlay). Prior to an autopsy, the female alien (Mathilda May) awakens and sucks the titular "life force" out of a guard. The female then escapes the research facility and proceeds to drain various other humans of their life force, also revealing an ability to shape-shift.It transpires that the aliens are from a race of space vampires that consume the life force of living beings, rather than their blood.

Meanwhile, in Texas, an escape pod from the shuttle Churchill is found, with Colonel Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback) inside. Carlsen is flown to London where he describes the course of past events on the Churchill, culminating in the draining of the crew's life force. Carlsen explains that he set fire to the shuttle with the intention of saving Earth from the same fate and escaped in the pod to preserve his own life. However, when he is hypnotized, it becomes clear that Carlsen possesses a psychic link to the female alien. Carlsen and Col. Colin Caine (Peter Firth), a member of the SAS, trace the alien to the body of a nurse located at a psychiatric hospital in Yorkshire. Whilst in Yorkshire, the two believe they have managed to trap the alien within the heavily sedated body of the hospital's manager, Dr Armstrong (Patrick Stewart); but Carlsen and Caine later learn that they were deceived, as the aliens had wanted to draw the pair outside of London.

As Carlsen and Caine are transporting Dr Armstrong in a helicopter back to London, the alien girl breaks free from her sedated host and disappears. When they arrive back in London it is clear that a plague has overtaken the city — even the prime minister has been infected — martial law is enacted to secure the quarantining of London. The two male vampires, previously thought destroyed, have also escaped from confinement by shape-shifting into the forms of the soldiers guarding them; the pair then proceed to transform most of London's population into vampiric zombies.

Following contact with the male vampires, the victims cycle into "living-dead" every two hours and seek out other humans in order to absorb their life force, thereby perpetuating the zombie virus. The absorbed life force consumed by the zombies is collected by the male vampires to deliver to the female vampire, who then transfers the accumulated energy to a waiting spaceship in Earth's orbit.

Fallada manages to impale one of the male vampires with a sword made of leaded iron and surmises that the space vampire race is actually the origin of the human vampire myth. Carlsen then admits to Caine that, whilst on the shuttle, he felt compelled to open the female vampire's container and to share his life force with her. Carlsen realizes that his psychic connection is being used to lure him back to the alien so she can regain the life force shared with him earlier. She is later found lying upon a church's altar, transferring the energy from infected humans to her spaceship.

Caine follows Carlsen into the church and is intercepted by the second male vampire, whom he dispatches using the leaded iron sword obtained from Fallada (Caine was forced to kill Fallada, who had become infected with the others at the research centre). Caine relocates Carlsen but the colonel manages to impale himself and the female alien simultaneously as a sacrifice for the benefit of Earth. However, the female vampire is only wounded and returns to her ship with Carlsen in tow, releasing a burst of energy that destroys the top of the church building. The two ascend the column of light that leads to the spaceship which then returns to the comet it came from.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Second Diet Pill Approved by FDA

Last month the first diet pill Belviq was approved by FDA after 13 years of hiatus. The pill is manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals of San Diego, California. This week a second weight-loss pill to fight against obesity was approved. This new pill is named Qsymia and is manufactured by Vivus, Inc of Mountain View, California. The news release on this second pill's approval is written by Matthew Perrone of the Associated Press as follows:

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a new weight loss drug from Vivus Inc. that many doctors consider the most effective therapy in a new generation of anti-obesity pills designed to help patients safely shed pounds. The agency cleared the pill Qsymia for adults who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

Patients taking Qsymia for a year lost 6.7 percent of their body weight in one study and 8.9 percent in another study, the FDA said. That was more than two other weight loss pill recently reviewed by the FDA. Despite its impressive performance in clinical trials, Qsymia is not exactly a scientific breakthrough, and its development underscores the slow pace of research for obesity treatments.

The drug is actually a combination of two older drugs that have long been known to help with weight loss: phentermine and topirimate. Phentermine is a stimulant that suppresses the appetite, and has long been used for short-term weight loss. Topiramate is an anticonvulsant, sold by Johnson & Johnson as Topamax, that makes people feel more satiated after eating. Researchers say the innovation of Qsymia lies in targeting multiple brain signals that drive people to overeat.

"We now know there are multiple pathways that determine how much energy we take in every day," said Dr. Tim Garvey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "If you intervene on one pathway it's hard to make much of a difference, you really need to attack multiple mechanisms to get a pronounced effect."

Qsymia is the second weight loss drug approved by the FDA in less than a month, following Arena Pharmaceutical's pill Belviq in late June. Previously the agency had not approved a new drug for long-term weight loss since 1999.

With U.S. obesity rates nearing 35 percent of the adult population, many doctors have called on the FDA to approve new weight loss treatments. But a long line of prescription diet pills have been associated with dangerous side effects, particularly heart problems. In 1997, the popular diet drug combination fen-phen was linked to heart valve damage. The cocktail of phentermine and fenfluramine was a popular weight loss combination prescribed by doctors, though it was never approved by the FDA.

Fenfluramine was eventually withdrawn from the market. Other safety failures for diet pills have continued to pile up in recent years. In 2010, Abbott Laboratories withdrew its drug Meridia after a study showed it increased heart attack and stroke.

The FDA's successive approval of Qsymia and Belviq suggests a new willingness to make weight loss medications available, even in the face of lingering safety issues. The FDA initially rejected Vivus' drug in 2010 over concerns that it can cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. The agency laid out a risk-management plan Tuesday specifically designed to minimize the chance of the women becoming pregnant while using the drug. It recommends that women of childbearing age test negative for pregnancy before starting the drug and take a monthly pregnancy test while taking it.

The agency also said patients with recent or unstable heart disease or stroke aren't good candidates for the drug because its effect on heart rates in those patients is not known. Vivus has to do studies of the heart effects of Qsymia, the FDA said.

Analysts estimate the new pill could garner more than $1 billion in sales by 2016, though Mountain View, Calif.-based Vivus Inc. plans a slow roll out. The pill will launch in the last quarter of the year with a relatively small sales force of 150 representatives. Company executives say their initial marketing efforts will focus on obesity specialists, not general doctors. "We're going to have to grow our sales organization in order to support the primary care market," said Vivus president Peter Tam, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Vivus had originally planned to market the drug under the brand name Qnexa. However, FDA regulators ordered the company to change the name to avoid potential confusion with similar sounding drugs. br />
Rival Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. of San Diego plans to start selling Belviq in early 2013. A third California drugmaker, Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., is still running clinical trials of its product, Contrave, and is working toward an FDA approval date in 2014.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do you Know that Viagra was Discovered by Accident?

Viagra's discovery as an impotence therapy was a happy accident. The manufacturer Pfizer Inc. initially tested the drug as a heart medicine. It turned out to be ineffective for that use, but many of the participants in the study noted a surprising side effect. Men who were impotent were able to have erections.

Before the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in March,1998 studies were conducted on 4,000 men with erectile dysfunction, caused by a variety of medical as well as psychological conditions. Results showed that 64 percent to 72 percent completed intercourse after taking Viagra, compared with 23 percent of men taking a dummy pill. Men were instructed to take the drug about an hour before intercourse.

Common side effects include flushing in the face, headache and upset stomach. Some men reported a blue tinge to their vision while taking the drug. Men are warned not to take Viagra if they are also taking nitrate heart drugs, such as nitroglycerin.

The drug, which goes by the generic name sildenafil citrate, works by causing the release of a chemical found largely in the penis, cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cyclic GMP), that in turn causes the smooth muscle of the penis to relax, allowing the organ to fill with blood and become erect. The drug also suppresses an enzyme that breaks down cyclic GMP, extending the duration of erection.

Viagra is not the only treatment for impotence, though it is the first effective oral medication. Other therapies include drugs that can be injected or inserted directly into the penis. Another oral medication, apomorphine, is being tested and could be available in about a year.

Reference: The Washington Post Company, 1998

Origin: Sildenafil (compound UK-92,480) was synthesized by a group of pharmaceutical chemists working at Pfizer's Sandwich, Kent, research facility in England. It was initially studied for use in hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (a symptom of ischaemic heart disease). The first clinical trials were conducted in Morriston Hospital in Swansea. Phase I clinical trials under the direction of Ian Osterloh suggested that the drug had little effect on angina, but that it could induce marked penile erections. Pfizer therefore decided to market it for erectile dysfunction, rather than for angina.

The drug was patented in 1996, approved for use in erectile dysfunction by the United States Food and Drug Administration on March 27, 1998, becoming the first oral treatment approved to treat erectile dysfunction in the United States, and offered for sale in the United States later that year. It soon became a great success: annual sales of Viagra peaked in 2008 at US$1,934 million.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Romantic Piano Pieces for Relaxation

The Backyard of the Chateau Du Mer Beach House

Time for Music and Relaxation: If you are harassed,tensed and feel you are going to have a bad hair day, take a moment and view this video. I guarantee it will be worth the 30 minutes you have vested for your sanity and peace of mind. The music is not only relaxing but romantic. The photography is stunning and mesmerizing. Some of the sunset photos reminds of Chateau Du Mer in Marinduque, Philippines. Some of the popular pieces in this video are: Autumn Leaves, Secret Garden, Libestraum, Nostalgia and Melodie. This video also includes other piano and guitar music as well as Concertos. Let me know if you enjoy this video and the related videos in this set! Happy Listening!

Monday, July 23, 2012

FDA Approved New Drugs as of June, 2012

A Brain Scan of a Normal Brain versus the Brain of the Person with Alzheimer's

If you been reading my blogs, you probably already know that I am a retired Chemistry Team Leader from FDA, Center of New Drugs. When I retired in 2002, I did not accept any consultancy ( some of my colleagues did) since I wanted to devote my time in building a small beach resort in Marinduque, Philippines. However, I had been watching development of new drugs and had been impressed by the number and high quality of the new therapies approved by FDA since 2002. The following is a list of new drugs approved as of June this year. By the end of the year, I am expecting with high hopes that three more drugs for the cure of Alzheimer's disease will be approved and can be included in this list. Note that there are no anti-infective and anti-viral drugs in this current list.

FDA Approved Drugs as of June, 2012 The following database contains a listing of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale in the United States. Drug information typically includes the drug name, date of approval, indication of use, and the pharmaceutical company sponsor.( www.centerwatch.com).

Dermatology/Plastic Surgery: Erivedge (vismodegib); Genentech; For the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, Approved June 2012, Picato (ingenol mebutate) gel; LEO Pharma; For the treatment of actinic keratosis, Approved January 2012, Sklice (ivermectin) lotion; Sanofi Pasteur; For the treatment of head lice, Approved February 2012.

Endocrinology: Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride); Arena Pharmaceuticals; For the chronic management of weight loss, Approved June 2012, Bio-T-Gel (testosterone gel); Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of hypogonadism, Approved February 2012, Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Jentadueto (linagliptin plus metformin hydrochloride); Eli Lilly; For the treatment of type II diabetes, Approved February 2012, Korlym (mifepristone); Corcept Therapeutics; For the control of hyperglycemia in adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, Approved February 2012, Ultresa (pancrelipase) delayed-release capsules; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis or other conditions, Approved March 2012, Viokace (pancrelipase) tablets; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to chronic pancreatitis or pancreatectomy, Approved March 2012.

Gastroenterology: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Ultresa (pancrelipase) delayed-release capsules; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis or other conditions, Approved March 2012, Viokace (pancrelipase) tablets; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to chronic pancreatitis or pancreatectomy, Approved March 2012.

Hematology: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Omontys (peginesatide); Affymax; For the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, Approved March 2012, Immunology/Infectious Diseases: Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, Approved June 2012, Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012.

Musculoskeletal: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Lyrica (pregabalin); Pfizer; For the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, Approved June 2012, Myrbetriq (mirabegron); Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; For the treatment of overactive bladder, Approved June 2012, Neupro (Rotigotine Transdermal System); UCB; For the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome, Approved April 2012, Stendra (avanafil); Vivus; For the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Approved April 2012, Votrient (pazopanib); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, Approved April 2012.

Nephrology/Urology: Afinitor (everolimus); Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; For the treatment of renal angiomyolipoma associated with tuberous sclerosis complex,Approved April 2012, Inlyta (axitinib); Pfizer; For the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Myrbetriq (mirabegron); Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; For the treatment of overactive bladder, Approved June 2012, Omontys (peginesatide); Affymax; For the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, Approved March 2012, Stendra (avanafil); Vivus; For the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Approved April 2012, Voraxaze (glucarpidase); BTG International; For the treatment of toxic plasma methotrexate concentrations in patients with impaired renal function, Approved January 2012.

Neurology: Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, Approved June 2012, Lyrica (pregabalin); Pfizer; For the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, Approved June 2012, Neupro (Rotigotine Transdermal System); UCB; For the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome, Approved April 2012, Subsys (fentanyl sublingual spray); Insys Therapeutics; For the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, Approved January of 2012.

Obstetrics/Gynecology: Natazia (estradiol valerate and estradiol valerate/dienogest); Bayer HealthCare; For the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding, Approved March 2012, Perjeta (pertuzumab); Genentech; For the first-line treatment of HER2+ metastatic breast cancer, Approved June 2012.

Oncology: Afinitor (everolimus); Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; For the treatment of renal angiomyolipoma associated with tuberous sclerosis complex,Approved April 2012, Erivedge (vismodegib); Genentech; For the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Inlyta (axitinib); Pfizer; For the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Perjeta (pertuzumab); Genentech; For the first-line treatment of HER2+ metastatic breast cancer, Approved June 2012, Picato (ingenol mebutate) gel; LEO Pharma; For the treatment of actinic keratosis, Approved January 2012, Subsys (fentanyl sublingual spray); Insys Therapeutics; For the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, Approved January of 2012, Votrient (pazopanib); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, Approved April 2012.

Ophthalmology: Zioptan (tafluprost ophthalmic solution); Merck; For the treatment of elevated intraocular pressure, Approved February 2012.

Otolaryngology: Dymista (azelastine hydrochloride and fluticasone propionate); Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc.; For the relief of symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis, Approved May 2012, Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012.

Pediatrics/Neonatology: Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012, Sklice (ivermectin) lotion; Sanofi Pasteur; For the treatment of head lice, Approved February 2012, Surfaxin (lucinactant); Discovery Laboratories; For the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants, Approved March 2012.

Pharmacology/Toxicology: Voraxaze (glucarpidase); BTG International; For the treatment of toxic plasma methotrexate concentrations in patients with impaired renal function, Approved January 2012.

Pulmonary/Respiratory Diseases: Dymista (azelastine hydrochloride and fluticasone propionate); Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc.; For the relief of symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis,Approved May 2012, Kalydeco (ivacaftor); Vertex Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of cystic fibrosis with the G551D mutation in the CFTR gene, Approved January of 2012, Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012, Surfaxin (lucinactant); Discovery Laboratories; For the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants, Approved March 2012.

Rheumatology: Stendra (avanafil); Vivus; For the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Approved April 2012.

Trauma/Emergency Medicine: Lyrica (pregabalin); Pfizer; For the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, Approved June 2012.

I hope you find this list useful and informative.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Treatment and Cure for Pancreatic Cancer

The husband of my wife's second cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. He had the whipple surgery and as of today, he seemed to be healthy and enjoying life. I have another friend who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last March. He lasted only for six weeks. This illustrates that survival from this dreadful disease could vary depending on the stage and location of the cancer.

Treatment will also depend on your overall health, age and personal preferences. Treatment and cure include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three. Here's an article about pancreatic cancer from the Mayo Clinic newsletter for your information and reading pleasure.

Pancreatic Cancer is very difficult to diagnose for the following reasons: 1. The pancreas is hidden behind the stomach and cancer cells are hard to detect. 2. Pancreatic cancer is a cancer of epithelial cells, which are both external skin cells and cells that cover internal organs. Cancers of epithelial cells are called “carcinomas” and more difficult to detect than other forms of cancer and 3. To diagnose pancreatic cancer, a tube must be inserted into the stomach to take a picture of the pancreas. With no symptoms, such an invasive procedure cannot be justified in routine preventive health care. By the time symptoms appear, it is usually too late for surgery or successful chemotherapy.

“ The first goal of pancreatic cancer treatment is to eliminate the cancer, when possible. When that isn't an option, the focus may be on preventing the pancreatic cancer from growing or causing more harm. When pancreatic cancer is advanced and treatments aren't likely to offer a benefit, your doctor will help to relieve symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible.”

Surgery may be an option if your pancreatic cancer is confined to the pancreas. Operations used in people with pancreatic cancer include: Surgery for tumors in the pancreatic head. If your pancreatic cancer is located in the head of the pancreas, you may consider an operation called a Whipple procedure (pancreatoduodenectomy).

The Whipple procedure involves removing the head of your pancreas, as well as a portion of your small intestine (duodenum), your gallbladder and part of your bile duct. Part of your stomach may be removed as well. Your surgeon reconnects the remaining parts of your pancreas, stomach and intestines to allow you to digest food.

Whipple surgery carries a risk of infection and bleeding. After the surgery, some people experience nausea and vomiting that can occur if the stomach has difficulty emptying (delayed gastric emptying). Expect a long recovery after a Whipple procedure. You'll spend several days in the hospital and then recover for several weeks at home.

Surgery for tumors in the pancreatic tail and body. Surgery to remove the tail of the pancreas or the tail and a small portion of the body is called distal pancreatectomy. Your surgeon may also remove your spleen. Surgery carries a risk of bleeding and infection.

Research shows pancreatic cancer surgery tends to cause fewer complications when done by experienced surgeons. Don't hesitate to ask about your surgeon's experience with pancreatic cancer surgery. If you have any doubts, get a second opinion.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to destroy cancer cells. You may receive radiation treatments before or after cancer surgery, often in combination with chemotherapy. Or, your doctor may recommend a combination of radiation and chemotherapy treatments when your cancer can't be treated surgically.

Radiation therapy usually comes from a machine that moves around you, directing radiation to specific points on your body (external beam radiation). In specialized medical centers, radiation therapy may be delivered during surgery (intra operative radiation).

Chemotherapy uses drugs to help kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be injected into a vein or taken orally. You may receive only one chemotherapy drug, or you may receive a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy can also be combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation).

Chemoradiation is typically used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas, but only to nearby organs and not to distant regions of the body. This combination may also be used after surgery to reduce the risk that pancreatic cancer may recur. In people with advanced pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy may be used alone or it may be combined with targeted drug therapy.

Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells. The targeted drug erlotinib (Tarceva) blocks chemicals that signal cancer cells to grow and divide. Erlotinib is usually combined with chemotherapy for use in people with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Again, as in other types of cancer, survival will entirely depend on the early detection of this disease.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Penis Size and the Ratio of your Ring and Index Fingers

Is Your Index Finger Shorter than your Ring Finger? Interesting question? If you are curious, read on.. Penis Size: It May Be Written in the Length of His Fingers By Maia Szalavitz | type='application/x-shockwave-flash' width='560' height='345' allowfullscreen='true' allowScriptAccess='always' wmode='opaque'>
Facts about penis size
The ratio of the length of a man’s index finger to that of his ring finger may seem like a strange thing to measure, but new research suggests that it’s linked with penis size. The lower the ratio, the longer the penis.

The new study was conducted on 144 Korean men who were hospitalized for urological surgery. A researcher measured the patients’ penile length — flaccid and stretched — just after they went under anesthesia for their operations. A different researcher measured the men’s finger lengths, in order to prevent knowledge of one measurement unconsciously affecting the other. They data suggested that those with a lower ratio, whose index finger (or second finger, 2D) was shorter than the ring finger (or fourth finger, 4D), had a longer stretched penis length, which is well correlated with erect size. “Based on this evidence, we suggest that digit ratio can predict adult penile size,” the researchers, led by Dr. Tae Beom Kim of Gachon University in Incheon, Korea, wrote.

Previous studies have linked the so-called 2D:4D ratio of finger length with exposure to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone in the womb. So it’s plausible that the same exposure may affect penis length. Higher testosterone levels during fetal development are associated with a lower 2D:4D ratio, while higher estrogen levels are connected with a higher one. Most men have index fingers that are shorter (low ratio) than their ring fingers, while most women’s index fingers are the same size or longer (high ratio) than their ring fingers.

Research has shown, however, that lesbians and female-to-male transgendered people are more likely to have more “male” ratios. Finger-length ratios have been linked previously with a variety of other characteristics: in both males and females, lower ratios are associated with better athletic performance. In men, one study found that a lower ratio was connected with more success at high-frequency financial trading, while another study associated it with better performance on medical school entrance exams; women were not included in those studies.

Men with lower 2D:4D ratios were also more likely to have more “masculine” features, to have more symmetrical faces, and to be considered attractive by women, according to another study. Yet other research links low 2D:4D ratios with higher rates of alcohol consumption and alcoholism itself. Some data suggest that a more “female” finger-length ratio in men is associated with increased risk for oral cancer but reduced risk for prostate cancer.

In both boys and girls, lower and more “male” 2D:4D ratios have also been repeatedly connected with autism; interestingly, a recent study also found that female-to-male transgendered people are more likely to have autistic traits. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the correlation between penis size and 2D:4D ratio holds true in non-Korean men or in Korean men who aren’t having some type of urological surgery.

But if so, digit ratio could be good for more than just a pick-up line at a bar. An easy and non-invasive measurement, it could give doctors a quick way to gauge how much testosterone their patients were exposed to in the womb, wrote Dr. Denise Brooks McQuade of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in an editorial accompanying the study. The study was published in the Asian Journal of Andrology.

Source: http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/06/penis-size-it-may-be-written-in-the-length-of-his-fingers/

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Other Side of Heaven-My Movie of the Week

Overview The Other Side of Heaven is about John H. Groberg's experience as a Mormon missionary in the Tongan islands in the 1950s. It is based on the book that he wrote about his experiences, In the Eye of the Storm. The movie focuses on Groberg's adventurous experiences and trials while serving as a missionary in the South Pacific. While portraying these events, the film discusses little LDS theology, focusing instead on the Mormon missionary experience. Plot The Other Side of Heaven is about John Groberg's mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Tonga. The movie takes place in the 1950s. John Groberg (Christopher Gorham) is playing in the band at a dance being held at Brigham Young University. Jean (Anne Hathaway) is his girlfriend; and she is also at the dance. John and Jean end up dancing with each other, and they leave the dance together. John's family in Idaho Falls receives his mission call. He learns that he is called to serve in Tonga. He says goodbye to his family and leaves from Idaho Falls to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he boards a ship and gets to Fiji where he is detained in a Fijian jail. He is released and sets sail for Tonga. When he gets to Tonga, he meets his mission president. His mission president introduces him to Feki, his companion. Feki is a native Tongan who also speaks English. They are assigned to serve in a remote island of the mission. He expects a warm welcome from the people. Instead, he is greeted with contempt by the island people. He goes through culture shock as he adjusts to the Tongan culture. He has difficulty with the Tongan language. Also, a local minister has told the people not to listen to John or to his message. He begins by learning the Tongan language. He isolates himself and studies the Bible in both English and Tongan. He becomes more familiar with the language. John and Feki build a house for themselves on the island. One morning, John discovers that rats have eaten the soles of his feet. His fellow church members help him as his feet heal. They heal just in time for the Sunday church meetings, and he is miraculously able to walk. This astonishes the people, and they become more receptive to his message. One night, a group of men surround John and Feki to beat them up. They have been sent by the local minister. One of the men, Tomasi, breaks them up and sends them away. Tomasi saves John and Feki, because he was baptised into the church and is Mormon himself. Tomasi begins attending church meetings. A local woman, at the behest of her family, tries to seduce John so that she can have a "half White baby". The woman's mother becomes offended at John's rejection of her daughter. John tells her that he is saving himself for Jean, his girlfriend back home. The woman's mother is satisfied. A hurricane hits the island, and the island is heavily damaged. A supply ship is expected in a few weeks, but the ship is late. The people ration their food and water to survive. Many people on the island die. John is saved when the local minister approaches him, apologizes to him, and gives John his last ration of food. The supply ship arrives. John, Feki, and many others are saved. The local minister passes away and is given an honorable burial. The mission president authorizes John to form a congregation on the island. John is set apart as the branch president and calls two counselors. Feki is assigned to go back to construction. John and Feki part ways, and thank each other for their friendship. The new mission president visits the island and has concerns about the work there. Even though a lot of work has been done, the mission president has no records of the work. John quickly completes the required forms and turns them in to the mission president. The mission president apologizes to John and praises John for his work. He also puts John in for a six-month extension of his mission. While traveling to an outlying island, John and his two counselors are caught in a major storm at sea. All three are tossed overboard and must swim for their lives. John miraculously makes it to shore and finds that his counselors are also safe. Once John returns to the Tongan Island, he finds out the six-month extension is denied, and John concludes his mission to Tonga. The people thank him for all he has done for them, and John heads back home to the United States. Throughout his mission, John and Jean keep in contact by letters. Some of the narrative of the story is told through these letters. They remain faithful to each other and are married after John returns home. They have children and continue to serve in the church. They also visit the Tongan islands several times.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cure for Alzheimer's Disease Coming Soon

As a member of the senior community and formerly involved in the development of new drugs, the following news just released by Associated Press excites me beyond imagination. If this news turns out positive, I feel the discovery of these three Alzheimer's drugs will be a historic event in drug development in the US. It will prolong the lives of millions of senior citizens all over the world. Here's the article for your reading pleasure.

Hopes for the Cure of Alzheimer's Coming Soon? By MARILYNN MARCHIONE(AP) We're about to find out if there will be a way anytime soon to slow the course of Alzheimer's disease. Results are due within a month or so from key studies of two drugs that aim to clear the sticky plaque gumming up patients' brains.

A pivotal study of a third drug will end later this year, and results from a small, early test of it will be reported next week at an Alzheimer's conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

These three treatments are practically the "last men standing" in late-stage trials, after more than a decade of failed efforts to develop a drug to halt the mind-robbing disease. Current medicines such as Aricept and Namenda just temporarily ease symptoms. There is no known cure.

Experts say that if these fail, drug companies may pull out of the field in frustration, leaving little hope for the millions of people with the disease. An estimated 35 million people worldwide have dementia, which includes Alzheimer's. In the U.S., experts say about 5 million have Alzheimer's. The three treatments being tested are not even drugs in the traditional, chemical sense. They are antibodies — proteins made by the immune system that promote clearance of amyloid, the stuff that forms the plaque.

It's a strategy with a checkered history, and scientists aren't even sure that amyloid causes Alzheimer's or that removing it will do any good in people who already have symptoms. But there are some hopeful signs they may be on the right track. "Everybody in the field is probably holding their breath that there is something positive to come out of these trials," said Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

"It may not be a home run" in terms of improving memory and cognition, but if brain imaging or spinal fluid tests show the drugs are hitting their target, "they will be regarded as successes," he said. William Thies, scientific director of the Alzheimer's Association, agreed. Even if there is just a small effect, "that would be a huge finding because that would let you know you had a drug that worked," he said. It then could be tried as a preventive medicine or given earlier in the course of the disease when it may have more impact.

The three drugs and their developers are: _Bapineuzumab (bap-ih-NOOZ-uh-mab), by Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy unit. _Solanezumab (sol-ah-NAYZ-uh-mab), by Eli Lilly & Co. _Gammagard, by Baxter International Inc.

All are given as periodic intravenous infusions; some companies are trying to reformulate them so they could be given as shots. If a major study shows that one of the drugs works, there will be a huge effort to make it more convenient and practical, Thies predicted. Still, it would probably be very expensive.

The first two on the list are lab-made, single antibodies against amyloid. Gammagard is intravenous immune globulin, or IVIG — multiple, natural antibodies culled from blood. Half a dozen companies already sell IVIG to treat immune system and blood disorders. It takes 130 plasma donations to make enough to treat one patient for a year.

Treating Alzheimer's with IVIG would cost $2,000 to $5,000 every two weeks, depending on the patient's weight, said Dr. Norman Relkin, head of a memory disorders program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He consults for some drugmakers and has patents for tests that measure amyloid.

Relkin is also leading a late-stage, 400-patient study of Gammagard that will wrap up late this year. A much smaller, earlier study he led showed less brain shrinkage among people receiving the drug than among those getting dummy infusions. "It was so startling that I sent it to two laboratories for independent verification," Relkin said.

Next week, at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Canada, Relkin will give a three-year progress report on 16 patients out of the original 24 enrolled in that earlier study.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Colorectal Cancer Chemotherapy Drugs

My son-in-law died last April after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2010. Our family were all very devastated, since he was only 51 years old. Several chemotherapeutic regimens were tried by oncologists here in Northern California,in the most prestigious oncology treatment Research Center. The drugs tried did prolong his life for almost 2 years, but at the end, not one of the several experimental drugs saved his life, since he was already in stage IV when he was diagnosed. I had a feeling that my son-in-law could have survived the disease if he was diagnosed earlier, perhaps stage II or even III for the for therapy to be effective. My son-in-law left a 9-year old daughter and a 47-year old widow, because cancer sucks and kills if not diagnosed early. Please have a yearly physical check up even if you are feeling well.

This personal experience inspired me to do some web search on the drugs approved and what is in the pipeline for the treatment of colon cancer here in the US. The article is as follows:

Seven drugs are currently approved by FDA for colorectal cancer chemotherapy:

5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil), which is often given in combination with leucovorin

(Wellcovorin). Leucovorin is a vitamin that helps boost the effectiveness of 5-FU.

Capecitabine (Xeloda)

Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)

Irinotecan (Camptosar)

Bevacizumab (Avastin)

Cetuximab (Erbitux)

Panitumumab (Vectibix)

Capecitabine is a pill form of 5-FU. The other drugs are administered intravenously. Many of these drugs are given in combination with each other. Common chemotherapy combination regimens include: 5-FU / LV (5-FU and leucovorin), FOLFOX (5-FU with leucovorin and oxaliplatin), FOLFORI (5-FU with leucovorin and irinotecan), IFL (Irinotecan, 5-FU, leucovorin), and XELOX (Capecitabine and oxaliplatin).

Side effects occur with all chemotherapeutic drugs. They are more severe with higher doses and increase over the course of treatment. Because cancer cells grow and divide rapidly, chemotherapy drugs work by killing fast-growing cells. This means that healthy cells that multiply quickly can also be affected. The fast-growing normal cells most likely to be affected are blood cells forming in the bone marrow, and cells in the digestive tract, reproductive system, and hair follicles. Nausea and vomiting is a very common side effect, but drugs such as ondansetron (Zofran) can help provide relief. In general, side effects are nearly always temporary, and medications can help manage them. Most patients are able to continue with normal activities for all but perhaps 1 - 2 days a month.

Specific Chemotherapy Drugs

5-Fluorouracil(5-FU) with Leucovorin. Adjuvant (following surgery) chemotherapy using 5-fluorouracil, either alone or with leucovorin (5-FU/LV), is the standard treatment for patients with high-risk colon cancer (Stage III or select patients with Stage II tumors). Leucovorin, also called folinic acid, is a form of the B vitamin folic acid, which helps increase 5-FU’s effectiveness. Patients are given a series of cycles that usually continue for at least 6 months.

There are many different ways of giving 5-FU, including intravenously over several hours once a week, intravenously daily for 5 consecutive days every month, or as continuous infusion with a portable pump. The most common side effects include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, hair loss, swelling of hands and feet, rashes, and mouth sores.

Studies indicate that bevacizumab administered intravenously along with IFL extends survival by about 5 months longer than IFL alone. Common side effects of bevacizumab include nosebleeds, fatigue, diarrhea, and high blood pressure. Less common side effects include stroke, heart attacks, angina, and formation of holes in the colon and stomach (gastrointestinal perforation).

Cetuximab. Cetuximab (Erbitux) was approved in 2004 for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. This monoclonal antibody drug targets epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein required by cancer cells in order to proliferate. It can be used either in combination with irinotecan or alone for patients who have not responded to irinotecan. Studies of the cetuximab-irinotecan combination suggest it can help in tumor shrinkage. It has a modest effect on survival, prolonging patients' lives by about an additional month or two. Recent guidelines recommend that cetuximab, and panitumumab (see below), should be given only to patients with tumors that express the wild-type KRAS gene. Patients with metastatic cancer should have tumors tested for KRAS gene status.

Panitumumab . Panitumumab (Vectibix) was approved in 2006 for treatment of colorectal cancer that has metastasized following standard chemotherapy. Like cetuximab, panitumumab is a monoclonal antibody drug that targets EGFR. In clinical trials, panitumumab helped delay disease progression and prolong survival by about 3 months. About 8% of patients experienced tumor shrinkage. Common side effects of this drug include skin rash, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea or constipation. Serious side effects include pulmonary fibrosis, severe skin rash, and skin reactions at the infusion site.

Investigational Biologic Drugs

One of the most promising recent developments in cancer treatment research has been the emergence of so-called "targeted therapies." Traditional chemotherapy drugs can be effective, but because they do not distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells their generalized toxicity can cause severe side effects. Targeted therapies work on a molecular level by blocking specific mechanisms associated with cancer cell growth and division.

Many targeted therapies are classified as biologic drugs. Bevacizumab (Avastin), cetixumab (Erbitux), and panitumumab (Vectibix) are currently the three biologic drugs approved for colorectal cancer treatment, but other drugs are in development. Targeted therapies involve many different types of drugs and molecular pathways. These include:

Angiogenesis Inhibitors: Anti-angiogenesis drugs inhibit the formation of new blood vessels that supply tumors with the blood, oxygen, and nutrients vital to tumor growth. Angiogenesis inhibitors, such as the monoclonal antibody bevacizumab (Avastin), target vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Cediranib (Recentin), formerly AZD2171, is a new angiogenesis inhibitor that is in Phase III clinical trials for treatment of colorectal cancer.

Tumor Growth Factor Inhibitors: Tumor growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor, stimulate cell growth. Cetixumab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vectibix) are the two currently approved colorectal cancer drugs that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Nimotuzumab (TheraCIM) is currently being studied in combination with irinotecan.

Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors. Tyrosine kinase is an enzyme associated with EGFR that is involved with the signaling mechanisms that prompt cell growth. The EGFR/tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib (Tarceva), which is approved for the treatment of pancreatic and lung cancers, is being investigated as an adjuvant treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer. Sunitinib (Sutent), which is approved for renal cell carcinoma, is another tyrosine kinase inhibitor in trials for colorectal cancer.

Reference: New York Times, Health Section ( www.health.nytimes.com), July 12, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pre-Exposure Pills for HIV Approved by FDA

As a retired FDA chemistry team leader formerly involved in the development of new drugs, any news on new therapies about ant-infective and HIV drugs excite me to the fullest. I have a feeling though that patient's compliance to this new drug will be very, very low. As a new drug it will be expensive, so unless medical insurance covers at least 80% of the cost, Truvada will probably not be a best seller. The news on Truvada as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP) pills for HIV was published recently in USA Today as follows:

Truvada drug trials signal 'turning point' in AIDS epidemic By Liz Szabo, A trio of new studies highlights the promise and challenges of preventing the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS: Giving anti-AIDS drugs to healthy but high-risk patients can dramatically reduce the risk of infection.

Two studies from Africa in heterosexual patients found that the drugs reduced the rate of HIV infection by 62% to 75%, a success rate that's comparable to results from studies of gay men, according to research in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

A third study in African women at high risk of infection, however, was ended early after researchers saw the drugs had no effect on HIV rates, largely because fewer than 40% of study participants took their pills as instructed. Overall, though, the results bolster the notion of giving anti-AIDS drugs to healthy but high-risk people before they're exposed to HIV, says Myron Cohen, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and co-author of an accompanying editorial.

The strategy, known as PREP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is one of several powerful new tools in preventing HIV infection, he says. An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration in May recommended approving the drug used in the studies, sold commercially as Truvada, for prevention. Truvada, which combines the drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine, is already approved to treat the disease. In two of the studies, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo or Truvada.

In the third study, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo, Truvada or tenofovir. In that study, both tenofovir and Truvada worked about equally well. "We're at some sort of turning point in the AIDS epidemic," says Cohen, who will speak later this month at AIDS 2012, an international conference in Washington, D.C., focusing on science and policy. "It's not a single thing going on. It's the culmination of what's happened for 30 years. Each of them is moving the political world to start thinking about an AIDS-free generation." About 34 million people have HIV/AIDS, including 1.1 million in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year.

A key challenge to using these drugs will be finding ways to motivate patients to take them properly, Cohen says. Researchers should find out, for example, whether women stopped taking the pills because of side effects or simply underestimated their risk of getting HIV. In the study of African women, about 3% of women became infected with HIV during the study, whether they took placebos or active drugs. Using pills to prevent HIV is itself controversial.

On one hand, the pills could help protect the healthy partners of HIV-positive patients, says Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. The pills could give people a way to protect themselves, even when their partners refuse to use condoms, a common problem in some countries. But doctors have to be careful to test patients for HIV before prescribing Truvada. If someone already has HIV and doesn't take the pills faithfully, that person could develop and spread a resistant form of the AIDS virus, Cohen says.

Even AIDS activists are divided on the issue, says Guido Silvestri, a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine. Some argue that the pills should be given to everyone at risk of HIV, especially those with high-risk lifestyles. Others worry that the pills could give people a false sense of security and lead them to stop using condoms, which reduce the risk not only of AIDS but of other sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, Silvestri says.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Are You Aging Gracefully?

One of the most popular myths of aging is that senior citizens can no longer contribute to society. However, today I am still aware of many seniors who continue to be outstanding in their former career fields as well as starting new careers. I know of numerous stories on how senior citizens are still contributing for the betterment of society. This is what I call productive aging or aging gracefully. If you are a senior citizen, are you aging gracefully? In my case, I think I am!

Read the following article I found from the Senior Citizen Journal and see if you can identify with the sentiments of the article.

“Productive aging is not something that we are given as a gift. Frankly, it is not something which comes from reading self help books, taking a course in a community college, joining a variety of groups with activities No, productive aging is more than what is outside of you. It is a clear recognition that your life is now at that phenomenal stage when you have the opportunity to do and be what you have always been seeking: yourself.

This phase of life is not largely different than the preceding ones. It is just as full of opportunities and discoveries and pleasures and diversions as all the other periods of existence. It is that time when being an adult is really okay. It is that time when no longer do you need to please everybody else, while offending your own sensibilities. It is that time when you can turn over a new leaf, perhaps the last leaf, and before it falls from the tree to demonstrate your true colors, your sense of why you were created, maybe committing to be the last leaf fluttering in the breeze”.

I know that there is no fountain of youth. But we can discover that there is a source for youth if we are willing and invest some time to look for it. We know that our bodies are not so young anymore, but we can stay young if our attitudes, our behaviors, and our appreciations are motivated by our willingness to grow and to stay, at least in some little ways, forever young. Let us seize the moment, grasp all opportunities, take hold of our life today and tomorrow. Let us live this moment as if it were our last. We are the only one who can find our own source for staying young and staying happy while we are still breathing. Comments anyone?

Comments Received: Efren Katague: This article reminds us to live our lives to the full each moment of the day. Starting each morning with a positive attitude towards keeping our minds, body and spirit active, young and happy. That's aging gracefully. Thanks.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Blog Statistics from April 21 to July 14, 2012

The following is the 3 months statistics based on the number of page views from my eight blogs. The first column was taken on 7/14/12, second column on 4/21/12, the 3rd column the net gain and the last column is the percent increase. Visitors from my eight blogs came from 155 countries.

Blog Name 7/14/12 4/21/12 Net Gain % Increased

1. Life in US 116,370 97,566 18,804 16%

2. MRQ Awaits You 123, 981 109,939 14,042 11%

3. Chateau Du Mer 96,864 83,512 13,352 14%

4 MRQ Isld Paradise 121, 748 104,548 17,200 14%

5.Why Retire in PHL 36,494 31,994 4,500 12%

6.Where Heck is MRQ? 44,504 37,915 6,589 15%

7. Left Heart in MRQ 33,785 28,922 4,863 14%

8.Intellectual Migrant 71,965 62,712 9,253 13%

Conclusion: I have no reason to quit blogging. The number of page views is increasing in the right direction. Hopefully this will translate into more Adsense dollars.

To all my readers from 155 countries, thank you for visiting my sites, especially to those of you who took your time in making comments and clicking on my ads. Have a good summer vacation. I hope you continue supporting my blogs and tell your friends and relatives about my blog sites. Good day to ALL!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Things that my Wife and I Hate and Love about Marinduque

Gorgeous Sunset from the Balcony of the Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Amoingon, Boac

If you have been reading my blogs and my Facebook status updates, you probably know that my wife and I spend our winter time in Marinduque where we have a small beach resort and a retirement home. A lot of our friends here in the US often asked us, which place do we like best, Northern California or Marinduque. Our answer is a definite both Places. But sometimes, I personally do not want to spend time in Marinduque for the following reasons;

1. The Medical facilities, Hospital, Diagnostic Clinics are not to US Standards

2. The frequent brownouts, the littering of the beaches, and poor garbage collections system

3. The noise of barking dogs, loud karoake music in the middle of the night, the constant honking of the jeepneys

4. The hot and humid weather by around March, April and May

5. Transportation services-land, sea and air services to the island could use a major improvement

But there are several things, why my wife and I love Marinduque

1. The gorgeous sunsets, gentle sea breezes and cool temperature during the months of December , January and February

2. The orchids, bougainvillas, hibiscus, euporbias, and other blooming shrubs and fruit trees in my garden

3. The Filipino dishes-such as the kari-kari, grilled sword fish, coconut lobster and fresh mangoes and other fruits

4. The slower tempo of life, the air-conditioned Internet Cafes, traffic-less roads on weekends, blue skies and clear-blue water of the nearby beaches

5. The Antiques homes, Old Churches, white beaches, waterfalls, fringing reefs and breath taking views in some parts of the Islands

There are other things that my wife and I like and love about Marinduque, but the above five are the ones that we will always remember and treasure in our hearts.

How about you? If you are from Marinduque, what are the things that you hate and love about our Island Province. I will be glad to hear from you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Disneyland Amusement Park in the Philippines?

A couple of months ago, there was news on the Internet that Representative Carmelo Lazatin of the First District of Pampanga had sent a letter of invitation to Disneyland CEO to build a Disneyland near the former Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga. The problem is that a 60% Filipino ownership is required for a foreign company to operate legally in the Philippines as mandated in the Philippine Constitution.

Since a Disneyland Park in Pampanga will be a huge economic boost to the country, I am suggesting that Congress either abolish or amend the Constitution on the 60% Filipino ownership requirement or passed a law to give an exemption to Disneyland. Here's the news from Manila Bulletin Online.

Manila Bulletin Online via Yahoo! News reports that Pampanga first district Representrative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin has written The Walt Disney Company chairman and chief executive officer Robert Iger requesting him to consider Clark for their next Walt Disney park.

The solon said Clark’s 4,400 hectare main zone and 27,600-hectare subzone will be “the best place for a new Disneyland,” according to the report. In his letter dated April 11, 2012, Lazatin reportedly said:

“Aside from the huge space it provides, the Clark Freeport Zone can be an attractive destination for Disneyland theme park because of the tax-free privileges given to locators. The airport will be making it easier for tourists to enjoy the amenities and entertainment Disneyland is famous for without the hassles of long travels. Together with our population of more than 90 million Filipinos, a Disneyland theme park in the Philippines could be a major income generating site for your company.”

In Asia, Disneyland theme parks are situated in Hong Kong, Tokyo (Japan), and Shanghai (China)

Netizens were quick to react on the matter. One commenter posted that it is not possible for Disneyland to happen because of the forty percent foreign ownership limit under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, unless Congress will amend or abolish such policy.

What’s do you think of my suggestion?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Enemy of the State-Action and Thriller Film

Enemy of the State is a 1998 spy-thriller film about a group of rogue NSA agents who kill a US Congressman and try to cover up the murder. It was written by David Marconi, directed by Tony Scott, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and it stars Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet and Regina King. The film grossed over $250,000,000 worldwide ($111,549,836 within the USA).

Plot: As a U.S. Congressman moves to pass new legislation that dramatically expands the surveillance powers of law enforcement agencies, Congressman Phil Hammersley (Jason Robards, uncredited) remains firmly opposed to its passage. To ensure the bill's passage, National Security Agency official Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) kills Hammersley, but he is unaware of a video camera set up in a bird hide by wildlife researcher Daniel Zavitz (Jason Lee) that has captured the entire incident. Zavitz discovers the murder, and alerts an underground journalist, at the same time transferring the video to an innocuous computer disc. Reynolds learns of Zavitz's footage, and sends a team from the National Security Agency to recover the video by any means necessary. While fleeing the agents Zavitz runs into a store where an old college friend, labor lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith), is shopping. Zavitz secretly passes the computer disc into Dean's shopping bag. Zavitz continues fleeing and is killed when hit by a vehicle moving in the opposite direction. Reynolds soon has the underground journalist that Zavitz alerted killed to cover any tracks.

When the NSA discovers that Dean may have the video, a special team raids his house and plants surveillance devices. Unable to find the video, the NSA proceeds to falsely incriminate Dean of passing classified information to Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet), a former girlfriend. The subterfuge destroys Dean's life: In one day, he is fired from his job, his bank accounts are frozen, and his wife (Regina King) throws him out of the house. Dean, trailed by the NSA, meets with Banks, who offers to set up a meeting with "Brill", one of her secret contacts. After meeting an NSA agent posing as Brill (Gabriel Byrne), Dean realizes his error, only to have the real Brill, retired NSA agent Edward Lyle (Gene Hackman), ferry him to temporary safety, helping rid Dean of all the tracking devices he is unwittingly carrying. With Dean and Lyle in hiding, the NSA agents kill Banks and frame Dean for the murder. While Lyle is able to find evidence that the NSA executed the murder, it is destroyed during a frantic escape from an NSA raid.

It is then revealed that Lyle was an expert in communications for the NSA. He was stationed in Iran before the Iranian Revolution. When the revolution occurred, the Iranians they had been working with turned on them; Lyle made it out of the country, but his partner, Rachel's father, was killed. Since then he has been in hiding. Lyle tries to coax Dean in trying to run away, but Dean is adamant, saying that he knows what it was like to be without a father and he isn't willing to let his wife and son go through the same experience.

Dean and Lyle blackmail another supporter of the surveillance bill, Congressman Sam Albert (Stuart Wilson) by videotaping him having an affair with his aide. Dean and Lyle "hide" bugs that Reynolds used on Dean in Albert's room so Albert will find them and have the NSA start an investigation. They bug Reynolds' house with video cameras, which is discovered by his daughter saying she's on TV, which makes him aware of the camera. Lyle also deposits $140,000 into Reynolds' bank account to make it appear that he's taking bribes.

Lyle contacts Reynolds to tell him that he has the video of the Hammersley murder and asks to meet. Dean and Lyle are captured by Reynolds and the NSA before the meeting. Dean tells them that the Hammersley murder footage is in the hands of Mafia boss Joey Pintero (Tom Sizemore, uncredited), whom he had been trying to prosecute and whose headquarters are under FBI surveillance. Dean, Reynolds and the NSA team head into Pintero's restaurant, precipitating a Mexican standoff and eventually a full-fledged gunfight that kills all the mobsters, Reynolds, and several of his NSA team.

Dean and Lyle escape, with Lyle quickly disappearing from the authorities. The FBI discovers the plot behind the legislation, causing it to fail to gain passage, though they cover up the NSA's involvement. Dean is cleared of all charges and is reunited with his wife. Lyle escapes to a tropical location, but sends a friendly 'goodbye' message to Dean by bugging his television set.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Obama is still on Track for Electoral Victory

In spite of the recent news on Health care (Obama Care), Immigration Reform, Same Sex Marriage that majority of Americans are not in favor of, President Obama is still predicted to win as of this writing date. Of course his win will depend on the up or down swing of the US economy.

Here's the latest news about his predicted victory. Obama still on track for electoral victory By Charles Riley (June 29, 2012):

President Obama is still on track for an electoral victory this November, according to a forecasting model produced by Moody's Analytics. But his advantage over Mitt Romney is narrowing. According to the model, which produces a state-by-state prediction based in part on the latest economic data, Obama is on track to capture 303 electoral votes. That's more than the 270 required for victory, but if economic growth slows further, the model could easily shift. In May, the economy added just 69,000 jobs. And revisions from previous months showed the economy gained 49,000 fewer jobs in March and April than originally thought.

Moody's lowered its growth forecasts for the year as a result of the dour economy data. In the model, Obama's electoral vote‐weighted share of state popular votes dropped to 51.98%, down from 52.17% the previous month. According to the model, Obama is likely to hold onto the key battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania. But states like Florida (29 electoral votes) and North Carolina (15 electoral votes) are likely to turn from blue to red (Romney).

According to Moody's, Obama's lead is narrowest in Virginia and Ohio, where he is projected to capture 51.6% and 51.9% of the vote. Should those two states flip, Obama's electoral vote count would be released to 272 -- in other words, an extremely narrow victory. Of course, the model is likely to change as election day approaches and more economic data is included. CNN's own interactive electoral map,still rates Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire and Florida as "toss up" states.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Have You Heard of Dr. Michio Kaku?

Michio Kaku (加来 道雄 Kaku Michio, born January 24, 1947) is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, a co-founder of string field theory, a futurist, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science.b> He has written several books about physics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film; and he writes extensive online blogs and articles. He has written two New York Times best sellers, Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). He has hosted several TV specials for BBC-TV, the Discovery Channel, and the Science Channel. Here's another interesting video from several of Dr Kaku's videos.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Relocating to the Philippines Soon?

Sunset over Marinduque Island

Do you have plans on moving to the Philippines in the near future? If so, have you done your preliminary work, research and preparations for the move? Have you decided on a location? Have you contacted or have talked to a local person or for that matter do you have a friend ( boy or girl )or a local contact in the location you have decided to move? Is your expectation of the place matched your prior research of the town or city you are moving into?. Have you find a place to rent? Are your papers and finances in order? Is moving to the Philippines, your dream in life?

My advice to you is only three words: Location, Location, Location. This is the same advice most of us will hear when we purchased a new home anywhere in the world. Also, remember moving is one of the most important life changing event of your life. It will be as stressful as getting married, divorced or experiencing a death in your immediately family.

There are several websites, and electronic and regular books, dedicated to Americans planning to move to the Philippines either short or long term. I know of excellent websites if you want to move to Cebu, Davao or Iloilo. If you are interested let me knew via comments on this posting. I suggest that you plan ahead at least one year prior to your actual move. Here are ten important items to remember once you have arrived in the Philippines.

Item 1 – Learn to live like a Native quickly. The faster you forget you are a Kano, an aussie, a pom or a foreigner the happier you will be.

Item 2 – Learn how to eat like a Native Filipino, but select healthy foods, eat plenty of fruits , vegetables and seafood. In most areas of the Philippines, fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and cheap.

Item 3 – Choose your friends and your woman or man wisely. Assimilate with the locals and learn a few words of the dialect as soon as you can. If you want to stay long term, I suggest you learn the local dialect.

. Item 4- Develop a hobby ( blogging/writing), and an exersize program ( daily walks etc..) to avoid boredom.

Item 5- Budget, and spend your money wisely. Do not flash your cash. Theft is still common in the Philippines.

Item 6 –Remember the three words- Location, Location, Location. Your choice of residence will determine how happy you will be, you can bet on this.

Item 7 – Stay away from the local politics and gossips, but joined a local group involved in charitable projects.

Item 8 – Invest on the best air conditioning unit( assuming your apartment/house do not have one ).

Item 9 - When You Talk Keep Your Ears Open. Don’t talk too loud, you never know whose listening. Do not act like the Ugly American.

Last but not least, Item 10- Have Fun, and Enjoy your stay in the Philippines. If you have the money try to travel to the provinces especially to my island province of Marinduque (http://marinduqueawaitsyou.blogspot.com)

Constant Irritations:Continues crowing of the roosters, barking dogs, wild cats, traffic, ants, flies, mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches and the humid and hot summer season. In addition pollution in big cities and frequent brown outs in Iloilo and Marinduque and other provinces. Sometimes water availability in the summer months is limited in some areas.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sad News for the Economy and Tourism of Marinduque

The other day, I heard the bad news that Zest Air is trimming their daily service from Manila to Marinduque and back after October 28. At first I thought that by trimming, Zest Air will still revert back to their older schedule of every other day. However, today a FaceBook friend in the Marinduque Tourism business confirmed that the word trimming really meant stopping and not reducing their schedule flights. What a sad, sad and depressing news to Marinduque and its tourism business.

Is there a way that the Provincial government and its officials, as well as the office of the Congressman and of course the newly formed Marinduque Tourism Council paved the way and helped encourage other airlines to serve Marinduque? To encourage other airlines ( Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, SEAIR and PAL) to serve Marinduque, a high priority of fixing the airport is needed immediately. I do not want to see Marinduque go back to the dark ages.

To all my Kababayans all over the world and particularly the members and officers of the newly formed Marinduque Tourism Council, let us joined hands in solving this depressing event in the history of modern Marinduque -the province known over the world as the Heart of the Philippines

Let your voices be heard so that our Provincial Officials( Governor and Congressman) place a high priority fixing Masiga Airport immediately. In doing so, it will encourage other airlines to serve Marinduque. Zest Air last flight is scheduled for October, 27, 2012. Any comments on this posting will be appreciated.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo

The Philippines is a nation of Fiestas and Festivals. Every month there is always a fiesta or festival in some place in the Philippines. One of the most popular festivals is the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo. Iloilo is the province where I grew up and finished High school. Today, the festival had been attracting tourists all over the world. The following video is the highlight of this year celebration. Enjoy! The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog In Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis.

Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

In the beginning, the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival.

In 1977, the Marcos government ordered the various regions of the Philippines to come up with festivals or celebrations that could boost tourism and development. The City of Iloilo readily identified the Iloilo Ati-atihan as its project. At the same time the local parish could no longer handle the growing challenges of the festival.

The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.

Today, the main part of the festival consists of a number of "tribes", called "tribus", who are supposed to be Ati tribe members dancing in celebration. It should be noted that no actual Ati are involved nor do they benefit in any way from this event. There are a number of requirements, including that the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to drum music. Many tribes are organized by the local high schools. Some tribes receive a subsidiary from the organizers and recruit private sponsors, with the best tribes receiving the most. The current Ati population of Iloilo is not involved with any of the tribes nor are they involved in the festival in any other way.

Dinagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines. It is the first festival in the world to get the support of the United Nations for the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals, and cited by the Asian Development Bank as Best Practice on government, private sector & NGO cooperations.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Poor Economic Projection for US this Fall

I have been watching closely the economic and other news around the world the last couple of months. I am not a worrier but I have a feeling the worst is not over for the US economy and something will happen this Fall. My personal concern is now amplified by this recent article published at http://the economiccollapse.blog.com.

17 Reasons To Be EXTREMELY Concerned About The Second Half Of 2012

What is the second half of 2012 going to bring? Are things going to get even worse than they are right now? Unfortunately, that appears more likely with each passing day. I will admit that I am extremely concerned about the second half of 2012. Historically, a financial crisis is much more likely to begin in the fall than during any other season of the year. Just think about it. The stock market crash of 1929 happened in the fall. "Black Monday" happened on October 19th, 1987. The financial crisis of 2008 started in the fall. There just seems to be something about the fall that brings out the worst in the financial markets. But of course there is not a stock market crash every year. So are there specific reasons why we should be extremely concerned about what is coming this year? Yes, there are. The ingredients for a "perfect storm" are slowly coming together, and in the months ahead we could very well see the next wave of the economic collapse strike. Sadly, we have never even come close to recovering from the last recession, and this next crisis might end up being even more painful than the last one.

The following are 17 reasons to be extremely concerned about the second half of 2012....

#1 Historical Trends: A recent IMF research paper by Luc Laeven and Fabián Valencia showed that a banking crisis is far more likely to start in September than in any other month. So what will this September bring?

#2 JP Morgan: Do you remember back in May when JP Morgan announced that it would be taking a 2 billion dollar trading loss on some derivatives trades gone bad? Well, the New York Times is now reporting that the real figure could reach 9 billion dollars, but nobody really knows for sure. At some point is JP Morgan going to need a bailout? If so, what is that going to do to the U.S. financial system?

#3 Derivatives: Last week, Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of 15 major global banks. As a result, a number of them have been required to post billions of dollars in additional collateral against derivatives exposures.... The worldwide derivatives market is starting to show some cracks, and at some point this is going to become a major disaster. Remember, the 9 largest U.S. banks have a total of more than 200 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. When this bubble completely bursts it is going to be impossible to fix.

#4 LEAP/E2020 Warning: LEAP/E2020 has issued a red alert for the global financial system for this fall. They are warning that the "second half of 2012" will represent a "major inflection point" for the global economic system....

#5 Increasing Pessimism: One recent survey of corporate executives found that only 20 percent of them expect the global economy to improve over the next 12 months and 48 percent of them expect the global economy to get worse over the next 12 months.

#6 Spain: The Spanish financial system is basically a total nightmare at this point. Moody's recently downgraded Spanish debt to one level above junk status, and earlier this week Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of 28 major Spanish banks. According to CNBC, Spain's short-term borrowing costs are now about three times higher than they were just one month ago....

#7 Italy: The situation in Italy continues to deteriorate and many analysts believe that it could be one of the next dominoes to fall. The following is from a recent Businessweek article. A recent Fortune article detailed some of the economic fundamentals that have so many economists deeply concerned about the Italian economy right now.

#8 Greece: I have written extensively about the financial nightmare that is unfolding in Greece. Unemployment has soared past the 20 percent mark, youth unemployment is above 50 percent, the Greek economy has contracted by close to 25 percent over the past four years and now Greek politicians are saying that a third bailout package may be necessary.

#9 Cyprus: The tiny island nation of Cyprus has become the fifth member of the eurozone to formally request a bailout. This is yet another sign that the eurozone is rapidly falling apart.

#10 Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to promote an austerity path for Europe and she continues to maintain her very firm position against any kind of eurozone debt sharing. In fact, Merkel says that there will be no eurobonds "as long as I live". This means that there will be no "quick fix" for the problems that are unfolding in Europe.

#11 Bank Runs: Every single day, hundreds of millions of dollars is being pulled out of banks in southern Europe. Much of that money is being transferred to banks in northern Europe. In a previous article I included an extremely alarming quote from a CNBC article about the unfolding banking crisis in Europe. How long can these bank runs continue before banking systems start to collapse?

#12 Preparations For The Collapse Of The Eurozone: As I have written about previously, the smart money has already written off southern Europe. All over the continent major financial institutions are preparing for the worst. For example, just check out what Visa Europe is doing.

#13 Global Lending Is Slowing Down: All over the globe the flow of credit is beginning to freeze up. In fact, the Bank for International Settlements says that worldwide lending is contracting at the fastest pace since the financial crisis of 2008.

#14 Sophisticated Cyber Attacks On Banks: It is being reported that "very sophisticated" hackers have successfully raided dozens of banks in Europe. So far, it is being estimated that they have stolen 60 million euros. What happens someday if we wake up and all the money in the banks is gone?

#15 U.S. Municipal Bankruptcies: All over the United States there are cities and towns on the verge of financial disaster. This week Stockton, California became the largest U.S. city to ever declare bankruptcy, but the reality is that this is only just the beginning of the municipal debt crisis.

#16 The Obamacare Decision: The U.S. economy is already a complete and total mess, and now the Obamacare decision is going to throw a huge wet blanket on it. All over America, small business owners are saying that they are going to have to let some workers go because they cannot afford to keep them all under Obamacare. It would be hard to imagine a more job killing law than Obamacare, and now that the Supreme Court decision has finally been announced we are going to see many businesses making some really hard decisions.

#17 The U.S. Election: It is being reported that Barack Obama is putting together an army of "thousands of lawyers" to deal with any disputes that arise over voting procedures or results. It certainly looks like this upcoming election is going to be extremely close, and there is the potential that we could end up facing another Bush v. Gore scenario where the fate of the presidency is determined in court. This campaign season is likely to be exceptionally nasty, and I fear what may happen if there is not a decisive winner on election day. The possibility of significant civil unrest is certainly there.

We definitely live in "interesting" times. Personally, I am deeply concerned about the September, October, November time frame.
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