And Notes about World History

By William Olkowski, PhD 

Ronald Wilson Reagan (2011 – 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–89). Prior to that, he was the 33rd Governor of California (1967–75), and a radio, film and television actor. He died of Alzheimer’s Disease, most evident even during his last years as president, but even earlier if you know something about the disease.

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MRSA and GMOs: is There a Connection?

MRSA and GMOs: is There a Connection?

by William Olkowski, PhD


This is a note presenting a hypothesis for further testing and confirmation: that MRSA and GMO’s are linked.

Staphylococcus. aureus is a commensal bacteria found in most people, but with some it gains entry to the blood stream and causes first flu-like symptoms and later full blown fresh eating disease of horrible consequences.  When antibiotics fail to eliminate it the infection it  is called MRSA.  MRSA is short for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus  Aureus (see Wikipedia for history and background).  Although MRSA was first widely connected to hospitals later it was also found in the community.  Which came first is unknown.  See my book review on MRSA on my blog (

For background information in addition to Wikepedia, check the online textbook of bacteriology at:   Each year, some 500,000 patients in American hospitals contract a staphylococcal infection (1).

I think SA  gains entry to the blood stream regularly through the skin, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, and the alimentary tract but in most people, who are healthier,  it is eliminated by their  immune system.  The standard treatment is a short coarse of antibiotics (ABs) but this does not help many people who have long term infections. Others are treated with ABs and eliminate the infection.  When MRSA was found in the US a few years back, in Europe where all people admitted to hospitals are tested the problem was not as severe..  This occurred because the insurance companies in the US did not want to pay for these simple nose swab and culturing tests.  Consequently the problem became prominent and deadly for many people, surely unnecessary.  Hurrah for the almighty buck and our for-profit health care system.

So there might be some basis for the snake oil treatments of all sorts when faced with an incurable MRSA case.  I don’t know and am not pushing any treatments one way or the other.  I am interested in how the bacteria gains entry to the blood stream.  I learned some valuable lessons when caring for my wife Helga who experienced a stroke which eventually killed her.  Stroke victims are universally susceptible to infections.  With her as my patient I learned  that there is something called Leaky Gut. I learned this by reading and by sending saliva samples for antibody analysis.  Lab results come back showing  she was carrying a wide range of anti bodies to most foods.  I did not believe the results at first, but by rotating diet components and repeated saliva samples and other diet changes we got it under better control – meaning fewer and fewer reactive antibodies where previously there was a reaction.  The number of foods she was allergic to went down slowly, but became greatly reduced.

Enter Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Now comes my latest AHA experience.  Since her death I have become very active in passing Proposition 37 here in CA.  My interest was peaked by Jeffrey Smith’s book: Genetic Roulette.  It’s a great book (see book review on blog) summarizing a huge range of studies implicating GMO altered crops in many maladies.  Now I used Bt for many years and know how it kills certain groups of insects: by disruption of the gut walls which allow a bacterial spore to sporulate, and the combination of the proteinaceous toxin and the sporulating microbe kills the bug.  The protein toxin opens the gut so the spore can gain entry to the blood system.  Used an a traditional spray on insecticide it is a superior product because it is highly selective, not killing natural enemies as most other insecticides and  showed no reactions in human feeding tests.  I treated it as virtually harmless solution.  And it was most helpful in reducing unecessary pesticides.

Now that Bt corn has been secretly introduced into the world’s diet by Monsanto et al, blessed by a dysfunctional and compromised regulatory system (gift from Reagan-Bush), we have been eating Bt toxins for many years.  That is if we were eating the altered foods.  And since we don’t know if we are eating them because they are not labeled it is likely to affect most people.

Monsanto is  the same corporation who gave us agent orange, DDT, the herbicide 2,4-D and now the universal contaminant herbicide glyphosate.  All were declared safe and if not banned contaminate all our bodies, air, water, soils and wildlife.  DDT, for example, banned in 1972 still shows up in large samples of human tissues in the US, particularly in umbilicord samples.  Such umbilicord samples mean the embryo, so sacred to our Republican friends, are subject to its carcinogenetic, teratorgenic, mutagenic and hormone disruptors at very low dosages when the new human is just a single cell or just a bunch of cells.  Its better to be borne crippled than to die in utero, right?  Any takers?

Even a few meals of Bt corn, soybeans, sugar (fr. beets), canola oil, and a few other less common foods, can transfer the Bt genes to human gut flora.  Then the gut flora produces Bt toxins on a continuous basis.  This is not the same thing as spraying a Bt insecticide, no way.


Now comes the flash: Leaky gut in humans may be caused by GMO foods.  If not the principle causes they  can certainly make a bad situation worse.  And that can account for the invasion of a normal commensal,  S. aureus, into the blood stream by gut disruption, the very same method the microbe uses against pest insects.  Most people are healthy enough to regularly round up these critters, but the oldies and compromised don’t have this sort of protection any more.

And the kicker is that we don’t need Bt corn, nor any other GMO foods.  These crops are not higher producers but lead to resistance as pollens carried by the wind distribute them across huge sections of the Biosphere.

Now what do you think of that?  Scares me no end.  We already have many epidemics of flu, other viruses like West Nile Virus,  food borne illness caused by mirobial contamination, neurological problems, the key one of which is electing Reagan, Bush and now Romney is on the way.  I am sad for our country.  And note that 50 other countries have labeling laws and once labeled the foods are not selected and consequently are not grown.  Our agricultural policy goes along with our military policy, and our belief’s in a mythical god who will protect us and save us from ourselves.  I wish it were true.  No wonder much of the world hates us.  Can you connect the dots?

Reference cited:

1)  Bowersox, J.  1999.  “Experimental Staph Vaccine Broadly Protective in Animal Studies”. NIH. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2007. (from wikipedia).



Letter from My Mom Found in My Things

Letter from My Mom Found in My Things

July 30, 2012

I found this undated letter by chance and thought it helped explain a great deal about my early life so I wanted to include it with my life series, if I ever get to create it.

I found the letter among the best my mother wrote and she passed a copy to me and my wife.  This one was written to Brian, my brother’s son who asked my mom for some info about his roots.  It also covers some of my roots.  [Slightly edited for clarity].

Dear Brian,

Today I wanted especially to devote my energy and time to make this birthday very special.  I heard you express that you would like to know your roots so I will tell you mine.  I am going to be 85 years old on March 9, 2006 and I am happy to tell you my parents were born in what was divided Poland.  I enclose an article my sister Mary sent to me when her daughter did some work to find her mother’s roots [Not part of my copy].  My father came to Ellis Island before my Mom, received his US citizen papers and never even revisited Poland.  This he said was his country.  My Mom took me (age one) and my sister Blanche (age 4) and my sister Mary (age 5) to visit Poland after WWI and left my father to continue working and saving money.  At the time, 1922, many people returned to their homeland bring many dollars hidden on their person and she used me, baby Frances to carry many dollars.

We were in Poland 2 years and I was a delight to my grandmother Rose Wysocki and the times on the farm were great for my Mom who was enjoying her homeland.  Her mother Rose had at that time a beautiful home built close to her parents.  My grandfather was the mayor of the village.  My memory consists of having no bathrooms and grandmother taking me with her when she had to use the open facility outside.  My Mom loved supervising the building of the house.  My special Uncle who was eventually given the house loved my beautiful sister Blanche and I remember him carrying her everywhere he went on his shoulders.  My sister Mary was given to the nuns who taught her Polish.  She today speaks colloquial Polish.  The nuns would take here for the day and return her back to the farm every evening.

The set up for my young Mom was perfect but my father wanted us back as he missed us and he threatened not to send any more money unless Mom promised to return.  The snail mail communication was all we had in those days.  Two years rapidly flew by as time flies and my Mom made application to return to theUS.  We 3 daughters, because we were born in theUS, could return, but Mom was not a citizen of the US and would have to remain in Poland because Immigration laws forbid her to return.  What a fright she experienced as she was torn between love of her parents, love of her husband Joe and her three daughters.  In those days you married until death and you left your parents despite your love of them.

My father, who was living all alone in the cheapest possible cold flat went to the Democratic elected politicians (Hague and his political machine) probably told him to become a citizen and a Democrat.  All his life my father, from that time, voted for the Democratic party. I followed his example which was good as my father always had a job even during the lean years of the Depression.

My father was educated because he always said that even under German rule the Polish who desired an education were allowed to learn.   HisPolandduring that time was under German rule.  My Mom who had come to Ellis Island when as a young girl about 21 years of age did not have an education as under the cruel czar (he who had many children and I believe you know the movie Anastasia) did not allow the Polish people to be educated.  My Mom always told us how lucky we girls and later my two brothers were to get a free public education here in theUS.

She was so wonderful and told of getting a job taking over household tasks for a rich family inNew York City.

However, a relative whom she visited in Brooklyn asked her to come to live with them. This relative, Ciocia Potocki, got her a job in a rug factory. This aunt and everyone we called aunt (polite way we were taught to refer to her) was related to governor Potocki. This aunt took my Mom into her cold water flat where all the men and women from Poland lived.  There,  some slept nights and some slept days in the same bed (no sex allowed).  The one group worked days and the other group worked nights so beds were always used and this aunt worked endlessly cooking and feeding and having all pay her.  She and “uncle” had many children.  She died early in her 50’s if I remember correctly but we young girls often visited Brooklyn and I remember their involvement in politics.

My father, I believe was an alcoholic as vodka was plentiful after a hard day’s work.  However he was so good looking having brown wavy hair and the most beautiful blue penetrating eyes and Mom fell in love with him.  Aunt and Uncle cautioned Mom against this union but headstrong Pauline would not listen.  My Mom was beautiful, had long brown hair and brown eyes and a slender waist and weighed 100 pounds soaking wet.  We used to have a picture of Mom done by an artist in a gorgeous large picture hat and a lovely dress and her with a narrow bodice.  At the time girls and women wore laced corset to tighten their bodies (RE: Gone with the Wind example) and I as a tiny girls was always clinging to Mom and would gaze at her in our 3 room cold flat.

I loved Mom and my Dad, who would try to take me away telling me I had to be on my own.  He was a wonderful father always buying us new clothes and shoes which we wore on Sundays and special occasions.  The rest of the week we wore shoes he repaired as he had an anvil and bought leather by lot which he cut down for soles for the shoes.  This was, of course, later in our lives.  When Mom had my brothers at home with a midwife doing the honors and a pop a worried mess, Dad left to get drunk.  I did not know this at the time as other then this bad habit he loved us beyond reason.  He and Mom had many fights about his drinking and gambling as Mom was stingy about money.

I have inherited so much from both my parents and I loved them dearly.  My father always worked and he believed in the good life for us while Mom believed in security.  I believe in the good life and Dad is my example, however, from my Mom I remember it is important to rely on yourself.  She was a magnificent example and his and her love cannot be measured.  They came as foreigners and became wonderful Americans.

End letter.

Comments from Bill

I never knew my Mom went back to Poland and was almost trapped there, so that helps explain how she knew so much Polish.  I know very little Polish.  Later in her life she told us how she worked as a translator for new immigrants from Poland.  She commented about these new people as being spoiled already as they did not appreciate the benefits of living here.

I had heard about the drinking of my grandfather and I remember the fights he had with his wife, my grandmother, as for many years we lived above them on 45 Livingston Avenue, Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Consequently I did my best to avoid getting hooked on alcohol.  They owned the house and my family paid rent.  I lived in the attic and occasionally crept secretly down to sit on the stairs and hear my mother and father discussing money matters.  It was always a problem to make it to the end of the month food-wise.

The only significant memory I have of my grandfather was one time I joined him by chance as he was walking toward his house.  We walked in silence for a while and I probed for his thoughts about Poland.  After some brief rather unhelpful responses, he sort of stops and sums up his thoughts like this: “Between here and there, here we don’t have to do what our fathers did”.  This spoke volumes to me at the time and even now I feel it helps me understand why he left Poland.  But he must have lived through WWI so that’s enough reason to flee Europe’s political environments with its constant warfare and stultifying prejudices.  Yet today, Europe seems vastly superior in many ways to the US.  Nothing like the benefits of killing 40 or 50 million.  But it’s still awfully crowded.

The only other comment I have concerns politics.  Politics and religion are the two subjects I can no longer discuss with my brother and sisters, unfortunately.  There is just no discussion possible.  My father was a devoted democrat and always reinforced the idea that the democrats helped the poor and the Republicans helped themselves. Those were the rich, and “the rich always get richer and the poor get poorer”.  That’s the lesson of history for the US and probably the world.

I will never forget that my mother voted for McCain before she died.  I felt like this was a violation of a long standing tradition in our family.  And my father would turn in his grave to know this had happened.  So it’s not true what my mother wrote about being a devoted democrat for her whole life.  My mother had a habit of embellishing the truth, maybe for effect.  As a consequence so much of what she writes I suspect on some of the details.

Further, my parents both reinforced the idea that the way a poor person could rise in this society was through education.  In fact, they would say it was the only way to rise and therefore you must get an education and study hard.  I was smart enough to get through high school without too much study so I never really pushed myself.  But college awakened in me such a strong desire to learn that it leads me even to this day to many distractions.  I want to learn everything, which of course, is impossible.

That aside, I did learn some valuable things and me and my wife pitched in to help make our America a better place.  For that I am proud and am proud to have listened to my parents from that standpoint.  But I am not proud of what I see happening today, politically.

However, in some ways my investments in learning are lost to my living family, certainly it was lost to my mother who remained a stout catholic always trying to convert me back into the fold, so to speak.  She never paid attention to what I was learning so her advice seemed empty of content; it was just a good idea to avoid having to work in dangerous jobs or for long hours, which it was.  But it was much much more.  Aside from the long hours which I loved using, my work life was a great joy, being fully engaged in constant learning, reading, writing and teaching.

A particular case in point to emphasis these statements you must know that when she said she voted for McCain, over Obama, I was aghast.  She was going against her own self, her history, even her own country by her very own declarations.  The Vietnam war was another case in point.  She, being immersed in Polish ideology hated the Russians who were traditional enemies.  So her attitude about the Vietnam war, it was a good thing, as we fought against communism.  Wow, what a superficial view of history.  She swallowed the right wing propaganda hook, line and sinker.  I think my living family suffered as a consequence of these beliefs, particularly from being raised as Catholics.  They just don’t know their own history.  So today, we live in different worlds.

Are We Following Germany’s Pre-WWII Path?

Four major ways we’re following In Germany’s fascist footsteps

By Robert Cruickshank,

Topics: AlterNet, Conservatism, Germany, Nazis, U.S. Economy

(Credit: AP/Al Grillo/Salon)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

What happens when a nation that was once an economic powerhouse turns its back on democracy and on its middle class, as wealthy right-wingers wage austerity campaigns and enable extremist politics?

It may sound like America in 2012. But it was also Germany in 1932.

Most Americans have never heard of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic interlude between World War I and World War II. Those who have usually see it as a prologue to the horrors of Nazi Germany, an unstable transition between imperialism and fascism. In this view, Hitler’s rise to power is treated as an inevitable outcome of the Great Depression, rather than the result of a decision by right-wing politicians to make him chancellor in early 1933.

Historians reject teleological approaches to studying the past. No outcome is inevitable, even if some are more likely than others. Rather than looking for predictable outcomes, we ought to be looking to the past to understand how systems operate, especially liberal capitalist democracies. In that sense, Weimar Germany holds many useful lessons for contemporary Americans. In particular, there are four major points of similarity between WeimarGermany and Weimar America worth examining.

1. Austerity. Today’s German leaders preach the virtues of austerity. They justify their opposition to the inflationary, growth-creating policies that Europe desperately needs by pointing to the hyperinflation that occurred in 1923, and which became one of the most enduring memories of the Weimar Republic. Yet the austerity policies enacted after the onset of the Depression produced the worst of Germany’s economic crisis, while also destabilizing the country’s politics. Cuts to wages, benefits and public programs dramatically worsened unemployment, hunger and suffering.

So far, austerity in America has largely taken place at the state and local levels. However, the federal government is now working on undemocratic national austerity plans, in the form of so-called “trigger cuts” slated to take effect at the end of 2012. In addition, there’s the Bowles-Simpson austerity plan to slash Medicare and Social Security benefits along with a host of other public programs; and the Ryan Budget, a blueprint for widespread federal austerity should the Republicans win control of the Congress and the White House in November.

2. Attacks on democracy. Austerity was deeply unpopular with the German public. The Reichstag, Germany’s legislature, initially rejected austerity measures in 1930. As a result, right-wing Chancellor Heinrich Brüning implemented his austerity measures by using a provision in the Weimar constitution enabling him to rule by decree. More notoriously, Hitler was selected as chancellor despite his party never having won an election — the ultimate slap at democracy. Both these events took place amidst a larger backdrop of anti-democratic attitudes rampant in the Weimar era. Monarchists, fascists and large businesses all resented the left-leaning politics of a newly democratic Germany, and supported politicians and intellectuals who pledged to return control to a more authoritarian government.

Democracy is far older in the United States today than it was in Germany during the early 1930s. But that doesn’t mean that democracy is actually respected in practice today; it only means that attacks on it can’t be as overt as they were in Weimar Germany. From the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling to Republican voter ID laws to austerity proposals that bypass the normal legislative processes (remember the Supercommission?), American democracy is under similar direct threats now.

3. Enabling of extremists. Well before Hitler was made chancellor in 1933, leading conservatives and business leaders had concluded that their interests would be better served by something other than the democratic system established in 1919. During the 1920s, they actively supported parties that promoted anti-democratic ideologies, from monarchism to authoritarianism. Nazis were just one of the many extremist groups that they supported during the Weimar era. In fact, initially, many on the German right had attempted to exclude the Nazis from their efforts; and as chancellor, Brüning had tried to marginalize the Nazi party. However, his successor, the right-wing Franz von Papen, believed he could control Hitler and needed the support of the Nazi members of the Reichstag. Conservative German leaders ultimately decided their hunger for power was more important than keeping extremists at bay — and their support finally gave the Nazi Party control of the country.

Tea Party activists aren’t Nazis. But with roots in the 20th century radical right, the Tea Party’s attack on the public sector, on labor unions, on democratic practices, and on people who aren’t white mark them as the extremist wing of American politics; and they bear many of the hallmarks that characterize fascist movements around the world. In recent years, Republican leaders have been enabling these extremists in a successful bid to reclaim political power lost to Democrats in 2006 and 2008. We don’t yet know where this enabling is going to lead the country, but it’s hard to imagine it will be anywhere good.

4. Right-wing and corporate dominance. One of the the most prominent German media moguls in the 1920s was Alfred Hugenberg, owner of 53 newspapers that reached over a majority of German readers. The chairman of the right-wing German National People’s Party, Hugenberg promoted Adolf Hitler by providing favorable coverage of him from the mid-1920s onward. Major German corporations such as Krupp, IG Farben and others spent money in the 1920s and early 1930s to support the rise of right-wing political parties, including the Nazis, as part of a strategy to undermine democracy and labor unions. Even if Hitler had never taken power, that strategy had already achieved significant returns on their substantial investment.

Here in the United States, one only needs to look at Charles and David Koch, Fox News and other right-wing funders and their media outlets to see the analogy. By funding right-wing politicians who promote austerity, undermine democracy and support extremism, they are active agents in the creation of Weimar America.

The Road Not Taken

None of this means that the United States is about to fall victim to a fascist coup d’etat as Germany did in January 1933. Remember that no outcome is inevitable. Nor would it be accurate to say that the United States is repeating the exact same events and taking the same course as Germany did during the 1930s, because many other important details are different. For example: Germany was a nation saddled with huge debts and lacking the global political power it needed to reverse its situation; but even with today’s high unemployment rates, the United States remains the globe’s largest economy, and therefore doesn’t face the same fiscal constraints Weimar Germany faced. In fact, a better current analogy may be Greece, which is in a far more similar predicament now.

Yet the underlying similarities ought to be troubling — and are enough to give us pause. The combination of austerity and well-funded right-wing political movements hostile to democracy destroyed Weimar Germany. And Spain and Italy both experienced a similar situation in their slide into authoritarianism in the 1930s. In those cases — and in ours — as people saw their own financial position weaken, and as their democratic rights were increasingly limited in favor of giving more power to the large corporations, the future of a democratic society with a strong middle-class was increasingly jeopardized. Fascism is what happens when right-wing plutocrats weaken the middle class and then convince it to turn its back on democracy.

Will Weimar America face the same disastrous fate Weimar Germany did? On our current path, democracy and shared prosperity are both in serious trouble. We owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to our world to look to the lessons of history, find a way to change course, and get to work building something better.

Robert Cruickshank is a political activist and historian, and a senior advisor to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. The views expressed here are his own.