Steven Higgs

Pediatricians continue denying role in worldwide epidemic
September 19, 2010

As the journal Pediatrics released the latest installment of what can only be called "head-in-the-sand autism science," the U.S. Vaccine Court in Washington D.C. reiterated a previous ruling that a vaccine did cause a Georgia girl's autism. And this time the "Special Masters," as the judges are called, assigned damages for that vaccine-induced injury at $20 million, more or less.

The case involves a girl named Hannah Poling, whose parents in 2002 sought compensation for the autistic symptoms she developed after receiving five shots with nine doses of vaccines in a single visit to her pediatrician when she was 19 months old. Her family -- father Jon is a neurologist -- presented such an airtight case that the government did not contest it.

Candidate Daniels owes his soul to drug kingpin

September 12, 2010

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is seeking a national stage. And those who believe that the flow of mercury into American children's developing bodies should be stemmed and not supercharged should be on guard. "Indiana's very slight, very balding, very unimposing governor" -- Newsweek's words, not mine -- is no typical Hoosier mental mite like Dan Quayle, Evan Bayh or Mike Pence.

From 1987 to 1990, Daniels led the right-wing think tank Hudson Institute, which did then and still does receive generous funding from the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., inventor of and primary profiteer from the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, a component of childhood vaccines suspected of contributing to the worldwide epidemic of autism. He left Hudson for an executive position at Lilly, where he rose to the position of senior vice president for corporate strategy before leaving in 2001 to head George W. Bush's Office of Management and Budget.

August 28, 2010

A common question raised over the past 20 years about the I-69/NAFTA Highway has been, "Who's behind this multi-billion transfer of wealth to the politically connected elite?" Until just a few days ago, the answer among knowledgeable commoners had always been to state the obvious, "The Evansville power structure," which has lobbied for a straight-line route to Indianapolis since the 1960s.

A just-released book on the subject, however, drills the answer down to a specific name and face. And it will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Indiana politics that he was an aristocratic land baron with a 1920s view of the planet, whose personal family fortunes will swell to even greater enormity if and when the highway reaches his town.

Bloomington man says everyone sues, 'right down the line'

August 21, 2010

Randy Paul has a pail of gut-wrenching stories to tell about the brutal realities faced by chronically ill citizens in America's "health care system." Some involve family, others acquaintances. Still others involve pain and suffering. As bad, and usually worse, are the tales about creditors and reputation.

Take, for example, the time when Paul's middle daughter was 3, burning hot with fever, and the family's pediatrician wouldn't see her because mom and dad didn't have $36 to pay off an outstanding bill from another of their six kids. "I said, 'We don't have $36,'" Randy recalls. "'My wife and I together, if we added up all the money we have, it might come up to about 20 bucks.' We were that broke." The woman behind the window told them, "We won't see her."

Age of Autism book explores history of mercury and mental disorders

August 15, 2010

Four researchers from government and academia told a panel of U.S. senators on Aug. 3 that exposures to environmental toxins are a likely cause of autism in genetically predisposed individuals.

"ASDs [Autism Spectrum Disorders] could result from a variety of factors, including combinations of genes, environmental exposures and gene-environment interactions," EPA's Assistant Administrator for Research and Development and Science Advisor Paul Anastas said in a written version of his remarks to the Senate Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Children's Health.

August 8, 2010

Dear friends and readers,

Anyone familiar with Bloomington knows August is a time of transition here. Locals, students and migrants alike move in, move out, take time off, go on vacations and brace for the stunning transformation the community undergoes when the IU student body returns.

That's likewise been the case here at The Bloomington Alternative through the years; back when we had a print edition, we took the month off. And these brief recesses have always been times for reflection on the ever-changing challenges of presenting uncomfortable truths to a world in which unrestrained greed and willful ignorance reign supreme. They also have often spawned changes in the way we do things, as is the case this summer.

August 1, 2010

MOUNT VERNON, IND. -- Lisa Roach is alive with memories of Rozella Stewart. Until she entered Roach’s 26-year-old son’s life, no one quite knew what to do with him. Travis was the first autistic student in the local school system. He could talk and read like the other kids, but he couldn’t sit still and presented all sorts of challenges.

After Travis was finally diagnosed with autism at age 8, Stewart, who in the early 1990s was a staff member the Indiana Resource Center for Autism (IRCA) at Indiana University, delivered the Roach family one of its first glimpses of hope when she brought a team of experts to town to educate the educators about autism. Her tongue-in-cheek predictions of when the family’s life would settle down elicits a belly laugh today from Roach, who laughs long, hard and often when discussing life with Travis.

Retired JAG says livestock should be treated with respect

July 25, 2010

Editor's note: The Bloomington Alternative videotaped CAFO fighter Rick Dove's "Crimes Against Nature" presentation at the Indiana CAFO Watch Conference and posted it in seven short segments on the Alternative Videos page. Links to each segment, with extended excerpts from them, are published below.


MUNCIE -- Watching Rick Dove's multimedia presentation "Crimes Against Nature" conjured up memories of Indiana's feisty old Republican Gordon Durnill, a former GOP state party chair who wrote the 1995 book The Making of a Conservative Environmentalist. In addition to calling for the jailing of corporate executives who knowingly poison the environment with harmful toxins, Durnil debunked the environmentalist caricatures that persist in the American media today. Almost without exception, he said, environmentalists are environmental victims.

July 11, 2010

ROCKPORT, IND. -- Rex Winchell would satisfy just about any conceivable interpretation of the Hoosier colloquialism tough old bird. The 84-year-old Rockport citizen speaks proudly of the decade he spent in the military and working with military outfits in North America and Europe. When relating a story about an unpleasant conversation he recently had with a local public official, he says he's glad it was on the telephone and not in person.

"I probably would have spent a little time in the pokey," he says, "because I would have made a change in his face or some other portion of his anatomy."

Winchell is similarly blunt when talking about those who sanction and operate the 17 coal-fired power plants in what he calls Indiana's "Polluted Triangle," from Terre Haute to Tell City to Evansville and back to Terre Haute.

"If I walked out here on the streets of Rockport, Ind., and blew away as many as 15 people," he says, "... I'd end up either having my hide fried or a term of life in prison. But, to have people poison slowly the entire population of an area." His voice trails off at the notion.

July 11, 2010

When Rick Dove began his crusade against concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in his home of North Carolina in the early 1990s, he was a pioneer in this particular field of citizen activism. When the Vietnam veteran and retired Judge Adjutant General first became alarmed about water quality in the Neuse River that flows past his home in New Bern, few outside the agriculture industry even knew what the term meant.

Among those who did know was Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Riverkeeper Alliance, which in 1993 licensed Dove as a "Riverkeeper" to protect the Neuse and other troubled North Carolina waters threatened and degraded by industrial mega-farm operations and other forces. Since then, his efforts have helped achieve a state-imposed moratorium on new CAFOs and manure-storage lagoons and landed him a starring role in a new book on the subject called Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment by David Kirby.

On July 17, Dove will bring his story, which these days he calls "Crimes Against Nature," to the 2010 Indiana CAFO Watch Conference in Muncie, where he will be among the featured speakers.

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