One of the marketing success stories in the world of herbal pills is the hype and advertising that has made Tebonin one of the big-time sellers. If you believe the ads, popping a Tebonin pill a day will relieve tinnitus (the ringing sound some people have in their ears), dizziness and even improve mental alertness. The promoters claim the drug, which is based on a patented extract from the ginkgo biloba tree, improves "impaired micro-circulation," reduces "free radicals" and "promotes optimum cell function."
According to the German manufacturer, Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co KG, eight million pills are consumed every day. Schwabe, like so many companies in the herbal supplements sector, trades on its feel-good image. "From Nature, For Health," its website claims. That's the story the company wants you to hear. However, when a small group of Australian doctors and pharmacists, AusPharm Consumer Health Watch, drafted a report raising doubts about the benefits of Tebonin, they discovered a company that was not so warm and fuzzy. Soon after sending a copy of their draft report to the company, they were hit with a writ seeking an injunction that may bury their critical assessment forever.
About two weeks ago, on July 26, 2006, the American Bar Association issued a report condemning President Bush's use of "signing statements." These statements are essentially a "P.S." written underneath his signature on a piece of legislation that states how he interprets and intends to enforce the law. (This is part of the Unitary Executive Theory.)
The ABA is not happy about this. From the press release for the report:
"Presidential signing statements that assert President Bush’s authority to disregard or decline to enforce laws adopted by Congress undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers... To address these concerns, the task force urges Congress to adopt legislation enabling its members to seek court review of signing statements that assert the President’s right to ignore or not enforce laws passed by Congress, and urges the President to veto bills he feels are not constitutional."
The ABA asked and it shall receive: two days later Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) filed a bill that would allow the House or Senate to file a lawsuit to have the Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of signing statements.
Here's where Congresspedia comes in. I called Sen. Specter's office and confirmed that while the bill has been referred to Specter's Senate Judiciary Committee, there has yet to be a hearing and no other Senators have signed up to be cosponsors. So, where do members of the Senate stand on Specter's bill? Citizen journalists, help us find out.
"I wondered why [nuclear power] was being pushed and pushed and pushed," said British parliamentarian Dai Davies, in response to news that "key consultants" working on the UK National Energy Review "have strong links to the nuclear industry." The Observer reports that AEA Technology handled public submissions for the review.
Journalist blogger Josh Wolf was jailed for contempt of court after refusing to give a grand jury film footage of a street protest.
The following news updates were among those added to Congresspedia in July 2006:
As conditions in Iraq continue to deteriorate, supporters of the war are casting around for someone to blame, and journalists are becoming an increasingly popular scapegoat — an ironic turn of events, since the mainstream media's uncritical support for the war helped get us into this mess in the first place.
"Next time you see an 'exclusive' tag on a story about state politics, stop and have a closer look. The chances are that the story, far from being a feat of journalistic endeavor, is what we call in the trade 'a drop,'" writes Anne Davies in the Sydney Morning Herald. "You'll be able to tell it's a drop because it's likely to quote one side of politics only. This is often a condition of the drop." Drops, especially those in Sunday papers, help politicians influence the week's media agenda.