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Saturday, February 6, 2016 @ 08:02 PM
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Our Belief in Humanity is Enhanced

 

Upon arrival in India, the passport controller at the airport stamped our entry visa and then counted 30 days upon arrival and wrote into our passports that our departure date was for Jan. 27.  When I told him that our flight was leaving Delhi on Jan 29 he became quite agitated and said we had to go to this special office in Delhi and get permission to stay longer.  In my typical Greek way I shrugged him off and said so what is a day too late?? The worst they can do is deport us and we are leaving anyway.  However, after staying with our dear friend Sangeeta Gupta in Delhi and her son Tanmay, they both advised us not to let it go.  So somewhere in the back of my mind was this nagging thought that we really need to take care of this visa issue, but we were heading south into Rajasthan and the villages and new adventures both physical and spiritual.

 

We left the wonderful comfort and hospitality of Sangeetas home in Delhi and boarded an early morning train to Jaipur.  After experiencing our first bit of railroad madness we finally boarded our train and we’re waiting patiently to depart when my eye caught a sudden movement under my feet.  Scurrying backward and forward was a good sized rat..so my instinct was to raise my feet onto the seat and yell RAT!  Pretty soon everyone in our carriage was yelling RAT so finally two men with bi sticks showed up and that was the end of the rat.

Jaipur is a big and bustling city but we stayed in the wonderfully quiet and clean Athiti Guesthouse, our home away from home.  We took a delightful full day tour of the palaces, forts and temples, sights and sounds and got our first taste of what India had in store for us.  After two days, the noise and bustle was too much for us and we chose to head south to the small temple town of Pushkar.  That is where we had our first camel ride into the desert and saw the gypsies who sang and danced for us. Very colorful gypsies living on the fringe of society.

Six years ago I had heard Bunker Roy speak about the Barefoot College on a Ted Talks and his talk left a lasting impression on me. I always wanted to go to his school and meet the solar Mamas.  Here was our opportunity.  The school was located just 100 kms north of Pushkar, we hired a car and driver who after quite a it of sleuthing found the tiny village of Tillonia and the old campus of Barefoot College.  We arrived just in time to join a tour of the various handicrafts which included making wooden toys, cloth bindings for books, sanitary pads and solar cookers. There was a welding shop, carpentry, sewing room in addition to a dental clinic and a hospital.  After a delicious vegetarian lunch we went on to see the solar Mamas who were a group of about 50 grandmothers aged anywhere from 40-60 years of age from different parts of Africa and South America.  They were the heart and soul of the school. They were there for six months to learn how to build their own solar lighting system from scratch.  Most of them were illiterate and only knew how to read by colors.  We arrived about halfway through their course so they were already capable of welding together a mother board which was then hooked into a solar panel which provided three, four or five lights depending on the size of the panel.  They were so excited about what they were learning and the potential of being able to return to their villages and teach this whole process to someone else..but most importantly, their solar lighting had the ability to also charge their cell phones which was a huge blessing as they sometimes had to walk 4-5 hours just to charge their phones.  The following day we had the great privilege of meeting two extraordinary personalities.  After breakfast, we walked over to the old campus with our new friend MJ, a volunteer from Australia.  While we were walking about she mentioned that there was a VIP group visiting and it included the grandson of Gandhi.  So when we saw the group, we introduced ourselves only to discover that Gandhis grandson now lives in Rochester, New York where the Lansdale Family was from originally.  Of course we invited him to. One and stay with us in Greece and he was most interested. After a bit more touring, we were invited into the home of Bunker Roy just as he was lecturing to a group of students from Princeton.  After they all left we stayed on for a bit and absorbed his vast knowledge and charisma.  After learning that I was a potter, he told me about an organization called Potters For Peace which was doing good work in India and also Central America. As it was time for us to catch our train south to Udaipur, we took our leave of this most wonderful school and had just enough time to buy an embroidery of the Tree of Life to hang in our living room in remembrance of such a special visit!

 

Before leaving Greece, we had made contact with Gagan Dadich, a ceramic artist from India.  He lived in the town of Nathdwara where he was an art teacher in the local college.  He also had a studio in the small pottery village of Molela just a 15 minute drive away.  But how to get there from Tilonia?  We decided to catch a direct train to the larger town of Udaipur, considered one of the most romantic towns of India as it is situated on a lovely lake.  When I wrote to Gagan that we were going to Udaipur it was the perfect solution for us to meet as he was attending an art exhibit in a private gallery and we could meet there.  We were invited to the private home of Reikha who was originally from Bratislava but had settled into a beautiful old home in Udaipur which she had converted into a gallery. It was a joy to finally meet Gagan face to face and I could tell from the twinkle in his eye that we were going to be good friends.  We met Reg, the painter from Sweden whose work was on display.  Extremely creative and impressive wall graffiti which he had made on paper and cement from old wall posters from different parts of India.  He also had spent time in Molela with Gagan so was full of great stories.  The next day we got on a very local bus and one hour later we were in Nathdwara where we were very warmly welcomed into the home of Gagan and his lovely wife Sunam.  Their daughter was living and studying several hours away and we subsequently learned that their other daughter had passed away from an illness at the age of 15, and it was quite obvious that Sunam was still grieving deeply her loss.

For the following week we settled into a routine of walking into Nathdwara to experience the local market, followed by breakfast and then heading out to Molela for the day.  It was such a treat for me to watch the very masterful potters at work.  Mostly they were creating ceramic plaques for religious purposes of various Hindu gods and goddesses, always telling a story of their lives.  Some of the larger plaques were two meters long by one meter wide.  I learned so much just by watching these Master artisans as they worked on each piece.  In the meantime, we were making just a few pieces and also trying out the four new Terra Sigillata recipes that we had made ..one was with ball clay that I had brought with me, while the other two were using the local clay on hand.  The fourth recipe we used a yellow ochre color which never really made a Terra sig but had a rich red color in the firing. One afternoon we were joined by a lovely group of children and their teacher and mothers..we all played with clay and they made some very inspiring figurines. Gagan had taken two of the local potters on an excursion to France where they participated in a workshop.  So we were planting the seeds of bringing some potters from Greece to also work in the village and have a creative experience and share their knowledge together.  Later in the week we were joined by two lovely young artists, Abichek and Mahesh who really added a lot of enthusiasm to our group. Our final evening together we fired the kiln with cow dung and wood but I don’t think the temperature went very high. The results were fairly good and at least we saw how some of the Terra colors were looking after being fired.  All in all it was an extremely successful week for me as I gained so many new experiences and new techniques. Makes me curious to see what outcome this will have on my own work when I get home!

 

 

Sunday after the firing, David and I headed off to Mt. Abu, the spiritual center of the Brahma Koumaris, a worldwide organization of highly spiritual and devout people.  After a three hour bus ride followed by 27 kms up a long and winding road we reached the summit of the mountain and the tiny town of Mt. Abu. We settled into the delightful Mushkill Assan guesthouse where we were greeted with hot masala chai.  Our goal was to learn as much as we could about the Brahma Koumaris University and their spiritual university. Our first stop was their spiritual museum where we bought almost every book they published and then we went to their world  headquarters. Someone there pointed us into the direction of a waiting bus so off we went. A 10 minute bus ride took us to Gyan Sarovar where we were invited to join in for lunch. We sat with Margaret from York, England who took the time to tell us her story and what it means to be a follower. We were deeply impressed with their motives and devotion to create a world peace, the independent search for the truth and their communication with God through meditation.  There are two groups of BK in Thessaloniki and we look forward to meeting them and learning more about their faith. After lunch, we had made plans to go on a three hour trek with Dan our guide right up to the peak of Mt. Abu through a wildlife sanctuary.  Dan was the perfect guide for us and also a deeply spiritual and profound thinker.  He and David had a lot in common and I have this sense that we will see him again.

 

 

 

Back at our guesthouse, I went into Google and typed in Potter in Jodhpur and the very first site that came up was the Chhotaram Homestay in Salewas just 20 kms out of the city.  It was the perfect match for us.  Chhotaram came from a family of weavers and had started a cooperative with the fellow weavers in the village to help sell their carpets and wipe out the middle man, so that the profit went directly into the hands of the artisan.  They had built 9 traditional Rajasthani clay huts with thatch roof, exactly what we had in mind for our own dream at La Montanita.  It was the perfect place for us to stay and we cooked and ate with the whole family over their open hearth in the mud floor kitchen.  Not only was the village full of weavers but their was also a good number of potter families who made large clay pots for cooking and storing water. So, I was in seventh heaven just watching them work and fire their kilns with sawdust.  So now we go back to the beginning of our story.  Our visa and why our belief in humanity was enhanced.  I called the visa office in Delhi who said there was a visa office in Jodhpur in the High Court.  It was Thursday morning and we got a ride into town with Sambu, Chhotarams brother.  We found the right office but the lady in charge was out to lunch so we had to return later.  When we returned later we met the lovely lady who said we could extend our visa but the bank was now closed so we had to come back in the morning as there was an $80 fee each. Pretty steep for a one day extension but that is what we had to do. Fortunately for us the #6 bus which went to Salewas left just one block away from the high court so we boarded this very local village bus and were the talk of the town.  I don’t think any foreigners had ever ridden that bus.  But it was fun and got us home. The following morning we caught the bus back to the High Court of Jodhpur and found the bank where I paid in euros and David in Roupees.  With our bank voucher in hand, we returned to the nice lady at the visa office and she sent us out with the local scribe to fill out our application online.  Well, that took an age as we had a young scribe who was very computer literate but not too much English.  He spelled my last name Willsi and my country of origin was St. Bartholomy but we at least had the application in hand and could go back to the visa office where we were assured that the extension had been granted. One last glitch. The visa cannot be granted on the same day that the application is submitted.  So we had to come in the next day which was Saturday and they were closed on Saturday and we were leaving on Sunday.  Not to worry says the nice Visa lady. I will come in tomorrow just for you.  Just tell us what time you can come in.  We agreed on 10 am and after thanking her profusely we caught our # 6 bus.  Not long after we got home, David was having a nap and I was looking for the Internet when someone from the family called me to come quickly.  The Bank manager from where we got our voucher for the visa extension was looking for me.  Now this is where our belief in humanity and Indian generosity of spirit was blown sky high.  It turns out that I had given the bank 4 bills which I thought were all 20’s whereas one of the twenty’s was a 100 euro bill.  So he drove all the way out 20 kms to the village to return 40 euros.  We were blown away and thanked him profusely for his kindness and honesty.  “Just doing my job” was his response! The following morning on Saturday at 10 am we were waiting on the steps of the High Court when our very nice Visa lady showed up.  After a few prayers and some computer glitches we finally got our extension printed, stamped and signed and we were set to go! We said our final goodbyes and set off for our village safari with Chhotaram as our guide.

 

 

With just a few days left in India, we chose to head back towards Delhi by local bus and stop off in Jaipur for a day of rest. We were warmly welcomed back at the Athiti guesthouse where we had started our journey three weeks earlier. It sure was a treat to find a working shower with hot water and a sparkling clean bathroom.  Simple pleasures in life!

The week before while still with Gagan in Nathdwara, he called a fellow potter Rekha Aggarwal, who is a trustee of Delhi Blue Pottery and also editor of the Indian Ceramic Quarterly.  She knows everybody in the pottery world of India and was a terrific resource person.  She arranged for us to spend our final two nights at the Sanskriti Kendra Foundation. What a perfect way to end our pottery tour of India. Sanskriti was the brainchild of a wealthy businessman who chose to build a place of peace and beauty where artists could come to create, workshops could take place and residencies were possible.  It also housed the Museum of Everyday Objects, a very large and comprehensive Museum of Indian Terra cotta and a textile museum.  All three museums were of an outstanding quality and the whole place was a beehive of activity.  During our stay  there was a leadership workshop for young adults looking to find their way in the world, a group of 8 artists from Brazil who were setting up an exhibit of photographs and interactive graffiti and also a young potter from Thailand who was in India for an art residency and was making a foot high Buddha out of clay in the pottery studio. It was great fun sharing meals with this group as we got to share in each other’s creative process. For our very last day we rode the Metro out to Rekha’s house where we had breakfast and she showed us around her house and studio which was a Museum of itself.  There is no doubt that Rekha and I were supposed to meet as our passion in life is to promote Ceramic Art both in our respective countries and around the world.  There are so many workshops happening in different places we just need to network and let people know what’s going on.  That’s where Facebook is really making a difference.

 

 

The icing on the cake was that Sangeeta was back in town for the India Art Fair, so after breakfast we picked up our luggage from Sanskriti and headed back to our familiar digs in the Gupta household.  There was dear Anita who prepared lunch for us and then off we went with our VIP passes to see the largest and one of the most prestigious Art Fairs in the world.  Once again doors magically opened when we are with Sangeeta so we had the opportunity to meet who’s who in the Delhi art scene.  So much to catch the eye and so much talent and scope of expression.  It was a perfect way to end our magical journey of India, where our senses have been heightened, our spirits have been refreshed and our challenge is to move forward with our new knowledge and proceed to make this world a better place!

 

Sunday, February 15, 2015 @ 07:02 AM
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A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 50). This blog is a continuation of the review of The End of Poverty: How We Can Make it Happen in Our Life Time, by Jeffrey Sachs, published in 2005

Chapter 4: Clinical economics
The rich world dominates the training of Ph.D. economists, and the students of rich-world Ph.D. programs dominate the international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which have the lead in advising poor countries on how to break out of poverty. These economists are bright and motivated. I know. I have trained many of them. But do the institutions where they work think correctly about the problems of the countries in which they operate? The answer is no. Development economics needs an overhaul in order to be much more like modern medicine, a profession of rigor, insight, and practicality.

SOME LESSONS OF CLINICAL MEDICINE
Lesson 1 is that the human body is a complex system
Lesson 2 is that complexity requires a differential diagnosis
Lesson 3 is that all medicine is family medicine
Lesson 4 is that monitoring and evaluation are essential
Lesson 5 is that medicine is a profession

DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS AS CLINICAL ECONOMICS
The challenge of making policy recommendations for an economy, especially a poor and unstable economy, shares many of the challenges of clinical medicine. Yet the practice of development economics is not yet up to the task. The five key lessons of clinical medicine have clear counterparts in good economics practice as well.

Economies are complex systems
First, economies, like individuals, are complex systems. Like the circulatory, respiratory, and other systems of a human being, societies have distinct systems for transport, power, communications, law enforcement, national defense, taxation, and other systems that must operate properly for the entire economy to function appropriately. As with a human being, the failure of one system can lead to cascades of failure in other parts of the economy.

Economists need to learn the art of differential diagnosis
Second, economists, like medical clinicians, need to learn the art of differential diagnosis. The IMF has focused on a very narrow range of issues, such as corruption, barriers to private enterprise, budget deficits, and state ownership of production. It has also presumed that each episode of fever is just like the others, and has trotted out standardized advice to cut budgets, liberalize trade, and privatize state-owned enterprises, almost without regard to the specific context.

The IMF has overlooked urgent problems
The IMF has overlooked urgent problems involving poverty traps, agronomy, climate, disease, transport, gender, and a host of other pathologies that undermine economic development. Clinical economics should train the development practitioner to home in much more effectively on the key underlying causes of economic distress, and to prescribe appropriate remedies that are well tailored to each country’s specific conditions.
The entire world community is part of the family
Third, clinical economics, like clinical medicine, should view treatment in “family” terms, not just individual terms. In the case of a country, the entire world community is part of the family. That is an assumption of the Millennium Development Goals, and especially the concept of a global partnership to achieve the goals, but it is not yet part of real clinical practice.

Monitoring and evaluation
Fourth, good development practice requires monitoring and evaluation, and especially a rigorous comparison of goals and outcomes. When goals are not being achieved, it is important to ask why, not to make excuses for past advice. The local priest gives one remedy after another – prayers, potions, oaths – until all of the chickens are dead. “Too bad,” says the priest, “I had so many other good ideas.”

Ethical and professional standards
Fifth, the development community lacks the requisite ethical and professional standards. I am not suggesting that development practitioners are corrupt or unethical; such cases are rare. Rather, the development economics community does not take on its work with the sense of responsibility that the tasks require.

A profound commitment to search for the right answers
Providing economic advice to others requires a profound commitment to search for the right answers, not to settle for superficial approaches. It requires a commitment to be thoroughly steeped in the history, ethnography, politics, and economics of any place where the professional adviser is working. Any IMF or World Bank official, as well as any academic development practitioner, has the responsibility to speak truth not only to the policy makers within the impoverished country, but to the policy makers of the rich and powerful countries as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 @ 08:12 AM
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A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis

LESSONS LEARNED BY THE AUTHOR (Part 19)

THE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE GREEK REPUBLIC MR. CONSTANTINE TSATSOS
This is a continuation of the address by the President of the Republic Mr. Constantine Tsatsos on the occasion of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece on October 27, 1979.

“I have known of cases in which we have made this farmer, this manual worker, into a scientist. Let me tell you of one such incident. Among my many American friends who have come to Greece was a missionary named Packard. He had come in 1959-61 (at that time I was Under-secretary of Coordination). He tried to start the cultivation of rice in Greece. He went to the farmers and told them how it should be done. He met resistance, and then somewhere in Sperchiada, if my memory does not mislead me, he himself personally undertook the cultivation of rice. He took an area and planted rice in a sub-saline soil. Our peasants round about made fun of him. They followed his efforts ironically, saying “Nothing will come of that.” But when the rice began to come up, when he had his first harvest, and the rice went to market, the shrewd eye of the Greek farmer lighted up, and he began to say, “Something good is happening here.” And today, as you know, we have an economic sufficiency of rice throughout Greece. What this American did then you here at the School are learning to do for your village and your home. And that is why I have said to you that the period when you were manual laborers is gone – gone is the period of big hands and small heads. Now are needed both big hands and plenty of brain.
Today we have made for you a Lyceum. You have entered into the area of scientific education. It is a useful thing, I respect it and esteem it and laud it, but I want something more. I want what Bruce has spoken of, and spoken so well. It annoys me a little that I shall not say it so well as he did.
Into this project which ties you to the Greek earth, to your Greek fatherland, to your roots, I want you to put not only your mind which I ask for, not only your hands which Bruce wants – I want you to put into it also your soul. Why have we got ourselves killed for our freedom? Why do we say “NO” to anyone who dares lay claim to a Greek stone or a drop of Greek water? It is because we love this earth, and love is not just theory and thought. It is action, and the action for you is the increase of this earth by cultivation. From now on you will be like the Junkers in Northern Germany in olden times, who from generation to generation for a thousand years carried on the work of the farmer, and thus became feudal lords, the great aristocrats of the world.
From father to son, stay with the land, do not be afraid of it. Love this land and in your villages teach all those who are looking toward the cities and the diplomas making them proletariats of law and medicine that the land is the holy step in Greece.
If you do this you will have done more than any other Greek. I wish you good luck.”

Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 07:03 AM
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INDEX TO POSTINGS IN MARCH 2012

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 13               March 1

Barbarism & Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time

by Bernard Wasserstein                                                                      March 2

Stone Mulching in the Garden by J.I. Rodale Part 3                          March 3

The Whistle Blower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman

By Peter Rost MD Part 2                                                                    March 4          

Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How

 to Keep It From Happening to You by Sydney Finkelstein,

Jo Whitehead, Andrew Campbell                                                       March 5

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 14               March 6

Civilization: A New History of the Western World by Roger

Osborne Part 1                                                                                                March 7

Stone Mulching in the Garden by J.I. Rodale Part 4                          March 8

The Whistle Blower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman

By Peter Rost MD Part 3                                                                    March 9

Leading With Purpose: The New Corporate Realities by

Richard R. Ellsworth                                                                          March 10

The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the

Best in Our Children and Ourselves by Linda Kavelin Popov           March 11

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 15               March 12

Civilization: A New History of the Western World by Roger

Osborne Part   2                                                                                  March 13

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

by Michael Pollan Part 1                                                                     March 14

Leadership and the Quest for Integrity by Joseph L.

Badaracco, Jr. and Richard R. Ellsworth                                           March 15

Responsible Restructuring: Creative and Profitable Alternatives

to Layoffs by Wayne F. Cascio                                                           March 16

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 16               March 17

Civilization: A New History of the Western World by Roger

Osborne Part   3                                                                                  March 18

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

by Michael Pollan Part 2                                                                     March 19

Peace Research: Theory and Practice by Peter Wallensteen             March 20

Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil by

Daniel Hillel Part 1                                                                             March 21

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 17               March 22

Civilization: A New History of the Western World by Roger

Osborne Part   4                                                                                  March 23

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

by Michael Pollan Part 3                                                                     March 24

A Pace of Grace: The Virtues of a Sustainable Life

by Linda Kavelin Popov Part 1                                                          March 25

Harvard Business Review on What Makes a Leader 

by Harvard Business School Press                                                      March 26

Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil by

Daniel Hillel Part 2                                                                             March 27

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 18               March 28

Civilization: A New History of the Western World by Roger

Osborne Part 5                                                                                                March 29

Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing

by Caroline Myss Part 1                                                                      March 30

A Pace of Grace: The Virtues of a Sustainable Life

by Linda Kavelin Popov Part 2                                                          March 31

Friday, March 9, 2012 @ 05:03 AM
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THE WHISTLEBLOWER

CONFESSIONS OF A HEALTHCARE HITMAN

PETER ROST MD

SOFT SKULL PRESS                     2006

www.pgw.com

PART 3

 

Pharmacia’s CEO receives a warning

  • One of the most famous professors in the endocrinology area told me that a group of renowned endocrinologists around the world had been very worried a couple of years earlier about the direction the Genotropin franchise was taking in the U.S. The fact that Pharmacia paid for and included many off-label patients in their data base was of particular concern to them.

They had been so worried, in fact, that they had written a letter directly to Fred Hassan – Pharmacia’s CEO. I asked if I could see the letter. Lo and behold, back on August 21, 2000, one year before I had started my new job at Pharmacia, he and many others had indeed spelled out their concerns to Fred.

KIGS and KIMS were two outcomes databases that tracked patients. GHD was an abbreviation for “growth hormone deficiency,” a condition for which the FDA had approved Genotropin. A competing drug was approved for short stature a year after this letter. So when this professor asked Fred not to include patients with other indications, he was referring to all the indications for which Genotropin was not approved. The professor also wrote in an e-mail to me, “I told them that it was first when you joined that my confidence in Pharmacia returned. I told them about your predecessor’s off-label marketing.”

What I didn’t discover until later when I started to connect many loose documents, was that on January 14, 2000, Fred had received a letter from a prominent anti-aging physician. The letter was written on the “The Renaissance Longevity Center” stationary and invited Hassan to a “strategic alliance” for the “most aggressive ethical campaign ever launched for the marketing of growth hormone injections.”

Fred sent the letter with an annotation in his own handwriting “Please follow-up/ack, etc., FH,” to his direct reports and it ended up on the desk of the person responsible for Genotropin at that time. On February 3, 2000, the same anti-aging physician wrote a two-page letter to the Vice President of Endocrine Care, summarizing a telephone conference they had on January 28, 2000. Among other things he wanted to discuss were the ability for the longevity centers to purchase growth hormone at quantity discount prices and other benefits that Pharmacia could provide them. On May 1, 2000, the US marketing director for Genotropin signed a “$50,000” consulting agreement with the anti-aging physician and the rest is history; sales of genotropin for anti-aging purposes took off.

 

Chapter 5: You’re Fired!

Chapter 6: The Private Detective

Chapter 7: The Investigation

Chapter 8: Sexual Liaisons

Chapter 9: Suicide?

Chapter 10: Phone Surveillance

Chapter 11: Fake Numbers

Chapter 12: The Big Surprise

Chapter 13: The SEC Gets Involved

Chapter 14: You Will Never, Ever Work Again

Chapter 15: An Explosive Book Review

Chapter 16: Risking Everything

Chapter 17: Fanning the Flames on Capitol Hill

Chapter 18: A political Inquisition

Chapter 19: How Corrupt is the Drug Industry?

Chapter 20: FDA Secrets

Chapter 21: Going on the Offense

Chapter 22: The Dirty Little Secret

Chapter 23: What the Government Tried to Hide

Chapter 24: The “Disenabled” E-Mail Account

Chapter 25: Admissions by Pfizer’s CEO

Chapter 26: Fighting a War

 

After word

Pfizer fired me on December 1, 2005.

I was informed of my termination by journalists, not by Pfizer. I was in Costa Rica, lecturing on reimportation of drugs. This was a meeting well publicized in advance and I couldn’t help but feel faintly flattered that Pfizer had waited until I was out of the country to let the ax fall. When I returned home I discovered my termination letter taped to my front door. The person who brought the letter to my house had, apparently, had the foresight to also bring a tape roll.

For Pfizer my termination appeared to be a major event, celebrated by calling every major newspaper and offering interviews about this strategic corporate decision. They even called the producers at 60 Minutes, hoping, that perhaps this would merit yet another segment. In doing so, they may have miscalculated. Instead of doing a show about my humbling termination, 60 Minutes called me and asked me to participate in a new story about the anti-aging industry.

Pfizer didn’t simply terminate my employment – in a carefully orchestrated media strategy they also made the titillating public revelation that I’d file a qui tam lawsuit against the company. The False Claims Act allows private individuals to sue in the name of the U.S. government when the government has lost money based on sales, marketing, and other practices that violate federal laws. The person who files the suit can also collect a substantial share of any fines, which sometimes run into hundreds of millions.

My lawsuit, filed back in 2003, alleged that, from about 1997 until 2003, Pharmacia illegally promoted Genotropin for off-label uses for anti-aging in adults and short-stature in children unrelated to growth hormone deficiency. I had not been allowed to talk about the suit, much less write a word in this book, since it had been filed under seal. The Justice Department in November 2005 declined to intervene in this civil action, leading the court to unseal the suit. The bad part about this development is that my lawyers will now have to do all the legal work on their own. The good news is that my minimum share of any fine has almost doubled, from 15% to 25%.

  • Pfizer, however, didn’t just reveal my qui tam action to the media; they also submitted a motion to have the case dismissed, which they released to the press.
  • I learned that, after many of my coworkers and I had helped Pfizer address the problems in the Genotropin franchise, Pfizer had turned around and tried to paint us all as crooks.
  • “Pfizer has replaced or is in the process of replacing senior sales and marketing personnel in the Genotropin product line and disciplining certain sales representatives. Indeed, due to the merger, Pfizer has placed entirely new senior management in charge of the Genotropin product line.”
  • Not a word that I had been pushing them for months to take action and that in response to this they’d threatened to fire me.
  • Pfizer’s attempt at character assassination didn’t stop there. The American Council on Science and Health on December 30, 2005, announced that they had nominated me to “Whiny Whistleblower of the year.”
  • I felt honoured to be officially nominated ‘Whiny Whistleblower of the Year’ by a front organization paid by Pfizer and Big Pharma.
  • My qui tam complaint hadn’t only resulted in a civil investigation; because of the law that makes it a criminal offense to knowingly distribute growth hormone for off-label usage, the Justice Department’s criminal division, in the summer of 2005, also started an investigation.
  • I was surprised that Pfizer terminated my employment in the middle of this criminal investigation, by terminating a federal grand jury witness in an ongoing investigation.
  • US Congressmen, on September 30, 2004, sent an open letter to Pfizer’s CEO and Board of Directors, stating, “We are writing to express our serious concerns at the intimidation being directed at Pfizer Vice President Peter Rost.”
  • Pfizer has a history of firing Whistleblowers. The Wall Street Journal described how Dr. Juan Walterpiel was fired when he raised ethical issues.
  • There is no question in my mind that Pfizer’s termination of whistleblowers sends chilling signals to honest employees within the company.
  • So why did I start all of this? Why did I ever file the qui tam lawsuit against Pfizer that resulted in this ruckus? Let me give you some background on what I couldn’t write about until now, without violating the seal of complaint…….

An employee faced with illegal corporate behavior has three choices. He can quit, join the conspiracy, or act. My choice was to act. Unfortunately, the end result is that I’m unemployed for the first time in my life. And I’m not alone in that situation.

Today’s system is based on greed. Greed is defined as an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than someone needs or deserves. Greed is not a corporate executive who builds an organization such as Microsoft, creates a lot of jobs, and happens to get rich. Greed is to become CEO for a drug company such as Pfizer, be responsible for a stock price drop of close to 50% over a five-year tenure, twice as much as other companies in the industry, secure a $83 million retirement package while firing 16,385 Pharmacia and Pfizer employees, and get a 72% pay increase to $16.6 million as his reward in 2004.

  • Our CEOs are in a position in which they can use public companies as personal piggy banks.
  • The pharmaceutical industry spends over $100 million on lobbying activities to stop lower drug prices, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
  • During the 2004 election cycle, the drug industry contributed $1 million to President Bush. For an industry that makes $500 billion on a global basis, spending $1 million on a president or $100 on lobbying is pocket change.

This money was well spent. It stopped legalized import of cheaper drugs and bought the U.S. a new Medicare drug program. This $720 billion law includes $139 billion in profits to drug manufacturers and $46 billion in subsidies to HMOs and private insurance plans. The program has been such a disaster for our poor; at least 24 states have been forced to enact emergency measures to ensure access to medications during the implementation of this law. That’s what a million dollars buys in Washington.

So how could this happen? The answer is simple. The American democracy has been stolen by our new class of robber barons – the CEOs of our largest corporations. A political system dependent on charity from rich men in hand-tailored suits with $100-million retirement packages is no democracy. It is kleptocracy. It is not what our founding fathers envisioned.

So, can we change this? Can we build a new future? I believe that we can. I believe this because we live in a country that could rid itself of slavery, a country that finally allowed women to vote; a country that has come a long way in the short time since the civil rights movement began. But early on, each of these incredible changes was fiercely opposed by those in power, and none took place without great sacrifice. To free our corporations from sticky-fingered CEOs, to free our elected representatives from “pay to play money,” and to free our people from these tyrants is going to take sacrifice and time. Perhaps another 100 years. In short, it will require a second American revolution. I believe that, one day, this will happen.

 

Peter Rost writes a daily bog on http://peterrost.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 @ 05:02 AM
posted by admin

INDEX TO POSTINGS IN FEBRUARY 2012

The Organic Gardener’s Complete Guide to Vegetables and

Fruits from the Editors of Rodale Press Part 2                                  February 1

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 6           February 2

The Post-Development Reader Edited by Majid Rahnema with

Victoria Bawtree Part 1                                                                      February 3/

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 16      February 4

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 8                 February 5

Good to Green: Managing Business Risks and

Opportunities in the Age of Environmental Awareness by

John-David Phyper and Paul MacLean Part 1                                    February 6

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 7           February 7

The Post-Development Reader Edited by Majid Rahnema with

Victoria Bawtree Part 2                                                                      February 8

Beyond the Familiar: Long-Term Growth through Customer

Focus and Innovation by Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan

Part 1                                                                                                   February 9

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 9                 February 10

Good to Green: Managing Business Risks and

Opportunities in the Age of Environmental Awareness by

John-David Phyper and Paul MacLean Part 2                                    February 11

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 8           February 12

The Post-Development Reader Edited by Majid Rahnema with

Victoria Bawtree Part 3                                                                      February 13

Beyond the Familiar: Long-Term Growth through Customer

Focus and Innovation by Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan

Part 2                                                                                                   February 14

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 10               February 15

Handbook for the Positive Revolution by Edward de Bono Part 1    February 16

The Mulch Book: A Complete Guide for Gardeners

by Stu Campbell                                                                                 February 17

The Leadership Genius of Alfred P. Sloan: Invaluable

Lessons on Business, Management, and Leadership for

Today’s Manager by Allyn Freeman                                                  February 18

Management Challenges for the 21st Century by Peter F. Drucker

Part 1                                                                                                   February 19

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 11               February 20

Handbook for the Positive Revolution by Edward de Bono Part 2    February 21

Stone Mulching in the Garden by J.I. Rodale Part 1                          February 22

Walking the Talk: The Business Case for Sustainable Development

By Charles O. Holliday, Jr., Chairman & CEO, DuPont,

Stephen Schmidheiny, Chairman, Anova Holding AG,

Philip Watts, Chairman of the Committee of Managing

Directors of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies Part 1       February 23

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and

Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy Part 1            February 24

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 12               February 25

Handbook for the Positive Revolution by Edward de Bono Part 3    February 26

Stone Mulching in the Garden by J.I. Rodale Part 2                          February 27

The Whistle Blower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman

By Peter Rost MD Part 1                                                                    February 28

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and

Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy Part 2            February 29

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 @ 03:01 AM
posted by admin

INDEX TO POSTINGS IN JANUARY 2012

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 6                                                                January 1

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty

Through Profits by C. K. Prahalad Part 1                                           January 2

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 8                                                                    January 3

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 10      January 4

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 2                 January 5

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 7                                                                January 6

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 1           January 7

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 9                                                                    January 8

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 11      January 9

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 3                 January 10

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty

Through Profits by C. K. Prahalad Part 2                                           January 11

Organic Orcharding: A Grove of Trees to Live In By Gene

Logsdon Part 1                                                                                   January 12

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 2           January 13

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 10                                                                  January 14

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 12      January 15

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 4                 January 16

Organic Orcharding: A Grove of Trees to Live In By Gene

Logsdon Part 2                                                                                   January 17

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 3           January 18

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 11                                                                  January 19

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 13      January 20

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 5                 January 21

Organic Orcharding: A Grove of Trees to Live In By Gene

Logsdon Part 3                                                                                   January 22

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 4           January 23

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 12                                                                  January 24

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 14      January 25

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 6                 January 26

The Organic Gardener’s Complete Guide to Vegetables and

Fruits from the Editors of Rodale Press Part 1                                  January 27

Developing a Plan for the Planet: A Business Plan for

Sustainable Living by Ian Chambers and John Humble Part 5           January 28

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 13                                                                  January 29

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 15      January 30

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 7                 January 31

Sunday, January 1, 2012 @ 09:01 AM
posted by admin

INDEX TO POSTINGS IN DECEMER 2011

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 2                                                                    December 1

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 4        December 2

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 6                December 3

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 1                                                                December 4

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 5                                                    December 5

Picking olives at Lakkia: Diseases of the 20th Century                       December 6

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 3                                                                    December 7

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 5        December 8

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 7                December 9

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 2                                                                December 10

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 6                                                    December 11

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 4                                                                    December 12

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 6        December 13

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 8                December 14

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 3                                                                December 15

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 7                                                    December 16

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 5                                                                    December 17

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 7        December 18

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 9                December 19

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 4                                                                December 20

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 8                                                    December 21

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 6                                                                    December 22

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 8        December 24

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 10              December 26

Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

by Stephen C. Smith Part 5                                                                December 27

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 9                                                    December 28

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 7                                                                    December 29

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 9        December30

The Search For a Just Society by John Huddleston Part 1                 December 31

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 @ 07:11 AM
posted by admin

INDEX TO POSTINGS IN NOVEMER 2011

Ethics For the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Part 7                                                                                                   November 1

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting Part 15                   November 2

Where I Lived, and What I lived For by Henry David Thoreau

Part 2                                                                                                   November 3

Seven Tomorrows: The Potential Crises That Face Mankind – and

the Role of Choice in Determining the Future by Paul Hawken,

James Ogilvy, Peter Schwartz Part 2                                                  November 4

The Economics of Innocent Fraud by J.K.Galbraith  Part 2               November 5

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 1                November 6

The Nature of Mass Poverty by John Kenneth Galbraith Part 1         November 7

Where I Lived, and What I lived For by Henry David Thoreau

Part 3                                                                                                   November 8

Seven Tomorrows: The Potential Crises That Face Mankind – and

the Role of Choice in Determining the Future by Paul Hawken,

James Ogilvy, Peter Schwartz Part 3                                                  November 9

The Economics of Innocent Fraud by J.K.Galbraith  Part 3               November 10

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 2                November 11

The Nature of Mass Poverty by John Kenneth Galbraith Part 2         November 12

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 1                                                    November 13

Seven Tomorrows: The Potential Crises That Face Mankind – and

the Role of Choice in Determining the Future by Paul Hawken,

James Ogilvy, Peter Schwartz Part 4                                                  November 14

Seneca: On the Shortness of Life Translated by C.D.N. Costa

Part 1                                                                                                   November 15

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 1        November 16

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 3                November 17

The Nature of Mass Poverty by John Kenneth Galbraith Part 3         November 18

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 2                                                    November 19

Seven Tomorrows: The Potential Crises That Face Mankind – and

the Role of Choice in Determining the Future by Paul Hawken,

James Ogilvy, Peter Schwartz Part 5                                                  November 20

Seneca: On the Shortness of Life Translated by C.D.N. Costa

Part 2                                                                                                   November 21

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 2        November 22

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 4                November 23

The Nature of Mass Poverty by John Kenneth Galbraith Part 4         November 24

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 3                                                    November 25

Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappé

and Joseph Collins Part 1                                                                    November 26

Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific

Reality Can Change Us and Our World by Ervin Laszlo Part 3        November 27

The Earth is But One Country by John Huddleston Part 5                November 28

The Nature of Mass Poverty by John Kenneth Galbraith Part 5         November 29

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell Part 4                                                    November 30

Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 05:10 AM
posted by admin

INDEX TO POSTINGS IN OCTOBER 2011

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting part 9                     October 1

The Story of Man: An Introduction to 150,0/00 years of

Human History Part 13 by Cyril Aydon                                             October 2

Feeding the Ten Billion: Plants and Population Growth by

L.T. Evans Part 12                                                                              October 3

The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern

 States, and the Quest for a Global Nation by Strobe Talbott

Part 2                                                                                                   October 4

Ethics For the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Part 2                                                                                                   October 5

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Part 6                                 October 6

Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply by

Vandana Shiva Part 2                                                                         October 7

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting Part 10                   October 8

Feeding the Ten Billion: Plants and Population Growth by

L.T. Evans Part 13                                                                              October 9

Ethics For the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Part 3                                                                                                   October 10

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Part 7                                 October 11

Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply by

Vandana Shiva Part 3                                                                         October 12

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting part 11                   October 13

Feeding the Ten Billion: Plants and Population Growth by

L.T. Evans Part 14                                                                              October 14

Ethics For the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Part 4                                                                                                   October 15

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Part 8                                 October 16

At the End of an Age by John Lukacs Part 1                                       October 17

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting part 12                   October 18

Feeding the Ten Billion: Plants and Population Growth by

L.T. Evans Part 15                                                                              October 19

Ethics For the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Part 5                                                                                                   October 20

The Real Environmental Crisis by Jack M. Hollander Part 1             October 21

At the End of an Age by John Lukacs Part 2                                       October 22

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting part 13                   October 23

Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad           October 24

Ethics For the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Part 6                                                                                                   October 25

The Real Environmental Crisis by Jack M. Hollander Part 2            October 26

At the End of an Age by John Lukacs Part 3                                       October 27

A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the

Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting part 14                   October 28

Where I Lived, and What I lived For by Henry David Thoreau

Part 1                                                                                                   October 29

Seven Tomorrows: The Potential Crises That Face Mankind – and

the Role of Choice in Determining the Future by Paul Hawken,

James Ogilvy, Peter Schwartz Part 1                                                  October 30

The Economics of Innocent Fraud by J.K.Galbraith  Part 1               October 31