NIPPIES® online magazine
Issue #11 - August 13 to October 16, 2003

Welcome to NIPPIES - since 1999!
We take little "nippies" out of every subject.

VIP = (Very Important Person).

NIP = (Not Important Person) - to some.

News about:
celebrities, entertainment, politics, business, finance, health insurance, society, pop culture & more - from a working class viewpoint!


September 12th - Lovely summertime is coming to an end....

October 16th, 2003

Illinois governor is our kinda man...

Goovernor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois takes on the FDA re: Canadian drug imports.

Reuters carried a story yesterday that warmed the heart of the NIPPIES staff. The story, by Kim Dixon, stated that the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich (Democrat), has launched a campaign to urge citizens of this densely populated state to lobby the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop opposing the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada.

We at NIPPIES are constantly reporting, and have been for far longer than the mainstream media has, that Canadians enjoy savings of 20-80% on the same prescription drugs that we U.S. citizens get gouged for. This is because the Cnaadian government cares enough about its sick, poor and elderly to pass and enforce laws which prevent prescription medications from being sold at exorbitant mark-ups, as they are in the U.S.

"I'm launching an electronic petition drive so the people can be heard on this issue," said Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He then announced that the state has "set up a 1-800 phone line and an Internet site to make it easy for citizens to petition the FDA. The web site also compares prices on prescriptions bought here and in Canada.", according to the Reuters article by Kim Dixon.

Many U.S. citizens are not aware, or only vaguely aware, of the drug import issue. If you're healthy, have good health coverage, and plenty of money, you don't need to concern yourself about such issues. But you'd better believe that once everyone here in the U.S. sees how much more we are being charged for prescription meds compared to whatCanadians are charged- well, let's just say that "something" is going to hit the fan.

Major U.S. pharmaceutical companies, who are losing millions of dollars in profits as more and more U.S. citizens travel to Canadian pharmacies to fill their prescriptions or order through internet sites which are the middle-men for Canadian pharmacies, are attempting to frighten U.S. citizens away from the import habit by stating their concern about the "safety" of drug re-importation.

But, as one cynic said on the radio last week, the U.S. allows importation of foodstuffs such as canned goods and fruits and other consumable goods. These items are just as easily tampered with than are prescription meds. He's got a valid point.

But instead of all this pooh-pooh about concern over the safety of re-imported drugs, why not just pass the same laws to protect consumers as the Canadian government has??


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October 15th, 2003

Tis the season for wax paper (or, if you will, waxed paper)...

We at Nippies always have a roll of Cut-Rite® wax paper in our cupboard. It's a must-have in my home. Unfortunately, we don't use wax paper every day - it seems that plastic wrap has taken its place in our home when it comes to covering the tops of bowls or wrapping sandwiches. But wax paper holds a sentimental corner of my heart; wax paper always reminds me of my mother.

Years ago, on a summer's eve, it was not unusual for father to announce that we were going to the drive-in. Immediately, my mother would pull out her roll of Cut-Rite® wax paper, a loaf of bread, some boiled ham (which was already wrapped in wax paper), and the butter. She'd set to work making about ten boiled-ham sandwiches on white Sunbeam bread, which she would individually wrap in wax paper and pack in brown paper bags. Once that was accomplished, and we all had our pajamas on, we'd set off for the old Comerford drive-in movie theatre up the road from our home.

Sometime after the movie started we kids would hear the first crinkling of a wax-paper-wrapped sandwich being fished out from that brown paper bag. My mother would then proceed to dole out the wax paper wrapped snacks. Yum. I can still taste the soft-white bread, salty-sweet ham, and delicious butter that made up those wax-paper wrapped sandwiches. Boiled ham sandwiches never tasted as good at home as they did at the drive-ins.

My mother used wax paper on everything. She'd put it on top of pudding to keep a "skin" from forming. No one in our house liked that thick scum, as we kids called it, that always seemed to form on home-made chocolate or vanilla My-T-Fine® pudding. Mom also used wax paper to cover bowls by putting a rubber band around the bowl after she'd applied the wax paper over the top. Sometimes she used wax paper to line drawers. Often, after she'd opened a jar of pickles or mayonaisse, she'd put a small square of wax paper over the top of the jar before screwing the lid back on. "Keeps things fresher," she always claimed. Mom also used wax paper to grease cookie sheets and cake pans with Crisco®. Nothing else but wax paper would do for these myriad of everyday jobs-Mom had a million uses for the translucent wonder-paper.

I myself have fond memories of wrapping a plastic comb in wax paper and then "playing the comb". My brother and I used wax paper to draw on by scraping it wiah the end of a rat-tailed comb, a dull pencil or any other handy object which would work. Or we'd put the first leaves of autumn between two layers of wax paper, get out the iron, and press the leaves on low heat between the wax paper. In those days, schools gave you extra credit for little things like that.

If there is another brand of wax paper besides "Cut-Rite®", I don't know about it. Mom only bought "Cut Rite®". Today, the color of the box has changed from medium blue to a multi-color, gradiated sort of blue. Cut-Rite® wax paper is now owned by Reynolds and is called "Reynolds Cut-Rite®" wax paper. Wax paper has been around now for 75 years, having debuted in 1927- the same year that Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic.

Recently, when the first leaves began to fall, my little girl ran and got out the wax paper. Ironing leaves and the last flowers of the summer between two pieces of wax paper is an annual event in our home. The ritual comes as naturally to my little one and I as shopping for back-to-school clothes. Yes, 'tis the season for wax paper.


October 9th, 2003

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Is anyone surprised by Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory over all the other wannabes for governor of California? We at NIPPIES are not.

If you've ever watched or read an Arnold Schwarzenegger interview, you know that the man is a formidable opponent. We at NIPPIES have watched such interviews. In one long-ago interview, I clearly remember Arnold telling the interviewer that, on the eve before a Mr. Olympia contest he often "psyched out" his fellow competitors. When pressed to elaborate, Mr. Schwarzenegger said he would say something to them like (paraphrased) "Oh, don't be nervous. Just because I've won __ years in a row, that doesn't mean anything." The ploy worked. Arnold Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Olympia title 7 times: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and in 1980.

So, when Arnold threw his hat into the governor's race in California, I had the feeling he would be victorious. He's got a winning combination of smarts, guts, tenacity, wit, looks, money and fame. He doesn't seem to enter into a contest unless he thinks he stands a good chance of winning. Unfortunately, he had to make it through a California mud-slide of sexual harassment allegations before he could pull off that victory. And whether Arnold was behind the last minute allegations of temper tantrums and staff mistreatment against Gray Davis, we might never know. But the allegations did come at the last minute. And Gray Davis lost big.

It's interesting that Arnold has accomplished what no Kennedy has: he has become the governor of one of the United States of America. Maria Shriver must be very proud of her husband. Maria, by the way, was reportedly against Arnold running for governor at one time, but supported her husband's decision to run once he announced his candidacy. Maria only granted one interview during the entire campaign, and that was on Oprah.

Congratulations, Arnold and Maria. And good luck!

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Slimfast pasta commercial - are they or aren't they?

A current Slimfast commercial for their pasta products shows two men in a kitchen comparing their tummies. The first man lifts his shirt and brags that he lost 10 lbs. by eating Slimfast and the second man lifts his shirt, exposes his considerably taut abdomen, and brags that he lost more. There is an affectionate cheek (facial) pinch at the end of the commercial.

Is this supposed to be a gay couple? In my opinion, they are. So what, you say? Sure, so what. Just thought I'd mention I noticed it.

*************************************************************************************** I Dream of Jeannie - and Farrah!

Farrah Fawcett had several small rolls in television series before hitting it big with Charlie's Angels. Did you know she appeared, in 1969, twice in episodes of I Dream of Jeannie? She played "Tina" (credited as Cindy) in November and again in December, 1969. She was 23 and a full 7 years away from superstardom.


October 6th, 2003

What is in your Kraft Singles?

We at NIPPIES went grocery shopping a few weeks ago. A man sat at a card table in front of the grocery store handing out green flyers. We politely took one. The title of this article is slightly changed from the title of that flyer.

The flyer is distributed by the Family Farmer Defenders, P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701 and the America Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (ARMPA), P.O. Box 134, Waunakee, WI. The following text states (text in italics) exactly what was said on that flyer:

Do you know what is in your Kraft Singles?

On every package of Kraft Singles American cheese slices, you'll find the words "Milk Makes 'Em Taste Great!" Ads for Kraft Singles feature kids describing how much milk goes into every slice. But the fine print of their ingredient list tells a different story - the fifth ingredient on that list is something called "Milk Protein Concentrate." This ingredient, called MPC for short, in an unregulated, untested substance that is far from the wholesome milk Kraft brags about.

What is MPC?

Big food processors, like Kraft - the largest U.S. cheese company, owned by tobacco giant Philip-Morris- use MPC in many popular products: cheese, frozen desserts, and high protein sports drinks, energy bars, and nutritional supplements.

But when it comes to explaining what Milk Protein Concentrate is, it's actually easier to explain what it is not.

MCP is not dry or powdered milk. MPC usually comes in powder form. But unlike dry milk, MPC is what is left after processing to remove more valuable components of milk.

MPC is not produced in the U.S. Dairy farmers here turn extra milk into dry milk, much of which goes to cheese production. But around the world, the leftovers of dairy processing are often mixed together and called MPC, in order to exploit a loophole the U.S. trade rules that allows it to be imported with lower tariffs.

MPC is not an approved food ingredient. There is not enough research on MPC to qualify it for the list of food ingredients that th efederal government classifies as "Generally Regarded as Safe." But even though MPC is not an approved food inredient, it can be found on most grocery store shelves!

MPC has not been defined by the Food and Drug Administration and the agency has no standard for the purity of MPC. The FDA admits that they do "minimal monitoring" of MPC as it enters the U.S. This is important because MPC is imported from around the world - including countries where dairy sanitation and food regulations are less stringent or virtually nonexistent.

So Why is Anyone Allowed to Use MPC?

When it comes to cheese, technically, no one is allowed to use MPC. The FDA has "standards of identity" for most cheeses, including Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food (like Kraft Singles). MPC is not an approved ingredient under FDA's standards of identity. Yet the agency has looked the otehr way as imports of MPC skyrocketed. In 2000 along dairy processors like kraft imported 52,000 metric tons of MPC - that's the equivalent of 4.6 billion pounds of milk!

Who Benefits from Using MPC?

Big food processing companies save money by buying cheap imported MPC rather than paying a fair price to U.S. dairy farmers. In fact, these companies are so anxious to use cheap imports that last year they petitioned the FDA to change the definition of milk! They want to be able to list the liquid form of MPC as "milk" on product labels.

SAVE FAMILY FARMERS! BOYCOTT MPCs

Kraft "Singles" come in many varieties, but they are all considered "Pasteurized Process Cheese Food." The problem is, these "Singles" contain imported Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC). MPC is not a legal food ingredient. Imported MPC has displaced tons of dry milk from the U.S.- reducing dairy farmers' income and denying consumers an honest product.


What Can You Do?

1.) Don't Buy Kraft Singles!! Tell Kraft you think their "American" cheese ought to be made from U.S. milk - not from imported MPC that is unapproved, unregulated, and untested. Call Kraft: #1-800-323-0768 or write them:

Kraft Foods, 1 Kraft Court, Glenview, IL 60025

2.) Be a smart consumer and carefully read labels. If you discover MPC in a food product, don't buy it, and don't hesitate to let the manufacturer and grocery store manager know about this illegal food ingredient.

Tell your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to get MPC out of our food! Call the Congressional switchboard: #1-202-224-3121

3.) Urge teh FDA to enforce the existing laws on using MPC in food. Call the FDA: # 1-888-463-6332 or write them: FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857

Who Gets Hurt by MPC?

Family Farmers - As imports of MPC rise, farmers face even more depressed domestic milk prices and lose opti(sic) fo rselling their product. In dairy states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, three to four family farmers go out of business every day due to such unfair business practices.

Consumers - People who think they're buying a healthy wholesome product need to think again when they buy cheese made from MPC, an un-tested, unregulated dairy waste from other countries.

Taxpayers- As domestic farm prices stagnate and rural communities suffer, the federal government is pressured to help agriculture more. Unfortunately, most of these subsidies are quickly siphoned off by agribusiness corporations like Kraft, who refuse to pay a fair price to farmers while being dishonest with consumers.

For more information, contact:

Family Farm Defenders, P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701 tel./fax 608-20-0900

America Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (ARMPA), P.O. Box 134, Waunakee, WI 53597

1-888-276-7720

Milkweed, P.O. Box 10, Brooklyn, WI 53521

Pro Ag 570-833-5776 (end of flyer)

There are a few things here I feel I should mention.

First of all, my kids don't like Kraft Singles for some reason and won't eat the "toast-a-cheeses" I make when I use the Kraft product. I buy Boar's Head cheese, which they love. And believe me, they know the difference. If I cannot make the trip to the specialty store that sells the preferred brand of Boar's Head, I can sometimes get them to eat Borden's white american. I can find no evidence of MPCs in the Borden's brand, but it does taste similar, in my opinion, to the Kraft Singles.

Secondly, the man handing out the flyers in front of my neighborhood grocery store most definitely looked like a farmer. And I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion. The man's appearance was that of someone who works at hard and long at physical labor for a living; his rough hands, open and weathered face, clean, but faded, plaid shirt and heavy-duty denim pants gave me the impression he'd only taken a few hours out of his long day to sit and give out those flyers. And there was a humble, almost pleading look on his face as he held forth that green piece of paper.

Finally, I found an article on the internet which gives a degree of credence to the anonymous farmer's claim:OBEY INTRODUCES NEW BILL TO CLOSE MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE LOOPHOLE

The first paragraph of the article states:

"We Should Stop Illegal Foreign Imports From Undercutting Milk Prices," Says Obey

WASHINGTON 7th District Congressman Dave Obey today introduced legislation to close a tariff loophole that allows foreign-made Milk Protein Concentrates (MPCs) into the country virtually tariff-free, deflates domestic milk prices, and costs American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Obey and Congressman Don Sherwood, R-Pa., introduced the bill with a bipartisan coalition of more than 50 Members of Congress.

There was also a letter sent to Kraft by the Dept. of Health and Human Services to Ms. Betsy D. Holden, President and CEO of Kraft Foods North America, on Dec. 18th, 2002. The letter was regarding violations of Section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the use of MPCs in some of Kraft's cheese "food"):

Dept. Of Health and Human Services Letter to Kraft Regarding MPC

There you have it. I've passed along the information. If Kraft has something to say about all this, I will give them equal time. This is, after all, America.


September 29th, 2003

This is what happens when...

I first heard about the following incident from a doctor/friend a few days ago. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, so I did some research in the local newspapers (which I don't always have time to read), and found the article which tells this horrible story. This is what happens when winning becomes "everything" in the mind of an athlete. The names have been omitted:

Four __________ High School football players have been suspended from school and kicked off the football team after allegedly assaulting a teammate after Wednesday's practice, according to School Board member _________.

"I'd be surprised if these individuals ever stepped foot in ________ again," ____ said. "Right now it's in the hands of the police and the (district attorney)."

_________, a 15-year-old sophomore quarterback, alleges the incident took place because of his performance during a junior varsity game on Monday against _________; he threw several interceptions.

"They told me this is what happens when you throw interceptions," said ______, who suffered a fractured jaw, a laceration that required nine stitches and a bruised shoulder and elbow in the incident. "Those were their exact words."

______ said the four unidentified players - three seniors and a junior according to several sources - grabbed him in the junior-senior high school locker room while he was changing clothes. ______ and his mother, _____, declined to name the players.

The players taped his hands, feet and head to the chair and proceeded to rub Icy Hot balm on his face, ______ said. Icy Hot is an ointment to ease muscle pain; it can irritate sensitive areas of the body.

______ said the players attempted to push the chair into the gymnasium but the wheels struck the barrier between the hallway and the gym floor, causing ______ and the chair to flip forward.

"My hands were taped down so there was nothing I could do," ______ said. "I landed flat on my face."

The four players ran from the scene after seeing the blood, ______ said.

"I'm pretty angry about everything," said the 5-foot-10, 145-pound ______, whose jaw will be wired for at least six weeks. "My jaw's wired down and I can't eat any solid food."

______ Township Police Chief ______ ______ was at the school Thursday collecting evidence, including a chair and several Icy Hot containers. He did not return several phone calls Thursday.

___________ District Attorney ____________ has assigned a county detective to assist ______ Township police with the investigation. "This matter is being treated very seriously."

___________ School Board member ______ _______said: "I think this started as a hazing incident, then it got worse. This was sort of vicious. But I don't know all of the circumstances and have to try and keep an open mind."

______ was freed from the chair by a senior teammate. _____ commended the player for helping _______ and added, "some great kids stepped forward."

_____ said head coach ___________, who could not be reached for comment, kicked the players off the football team soon after learning of the incident.

"That's the least of their worries," _____ said.

School officials immediately suspended the four players, according to _____. "Nothing is going to be shoved under any rug here," he said. "We don't tolerate this at ______."

______ _______said she saw a large amount of blood on her son's shirt and face when she arrived at the school to pick him up after Wednesday's practice.

"At first I thought he got hurt during practice. When I heard what happened, I couldn't believe it. I'm still in shock. It's been horrible watching my son go through this. It's been hard on our whole family. We've really been through a lot."

Co-Principal/Acting Superintendent ____ _______ and Athletic Director ____ ________ visited ______ and his mother at their house Thursday morning. ____ _____ said he repeated his story to the school officials during the visit.

_______ said an internal investigation was being conducted Thursday by _______ and Co-Principal ____ _______. ________ did not return numerous telephone messages left at the school office.

"This is an isolated incident," _______ said. "We've had minor problems here or there over the years, but nothing like this. We don't tolerate it."

Other than the morning visit, _____ _______ hasn't had much contact with officials at _________, and has had no contact with the _____ ________ police.

"I heard the police were doing their own investigation," she said. "But no one in my family has talked to the police."

_____ _______ says she hasn't spoken to an attorney and isn't sure if she will in the future.

"In all honesty, between the hospital and everything else, I haven't had much time to think about it. I guess we'll just wait and see what the police are going to do."

__________ is scheduled to play _______ at 7 p.m. tomorrow at ________ Memorial Stadium. ______ said the game has not been postponed.


September 28th, 2003

Remembering "Jerry West"...

I went to a wake last week. It was for one of my high school classmates. His name wasn't Joey, but I'll call him by that name for now.

The first thing anyone would say about Joey was that he was a great basketball player. That round orange-and-black ball was like an extension of his hand. Joey could dribble like crazy, run like a deer, and his shots from anywhere on the court were extremely accurate. So accurate, in fact, that Joey scored over 1000 points during his high school career - a feat more difficult to accomplish a few decades ago than it is today because high school basketball seasons were shorter with fewer games. This was an era when sports - and winning - wasn't everything...they were just a nice "extras", as in "extracurricular".

Like most high school kids, Joey had a dream: he wanted to be a professional basketball player like his idol, Jerry West, the legendary #44 player-coach-executive for the Los Angeles Lakers. We even called Joey "Jerry West", a nickname he relished.

Joey wasn't very tall as far as basketball players go. He was only about 5'7". I never learned if his height thwarted his hoop dreams or if it was the tragedy that took place in Joey's life during the beginning of our senior year. At any rate, Joey never achieved his goal of becoming an NBA player. Life, as it often seems to do, took Joey by the hand and led him down another path.

We were only a few months into our final year in high school when that terrible day in Joey's life occured. It was an ordinary, hum-drum autumn day. Suddenly, there was horrible news. My best friend, who was Joey's cousin, pulled me aside between classes and told me that Joey had been picked up by a relative and taken home. There had been an car accident, she said, involving Joey's one-year-older sister, Liz. We later learned that Liz, a beautiful, quiet girl who had just begun her freshman year at a local all-girls college, was sitting in the front passenger seat of her friend's car during their morning commute to the campus when the accident occured. The friend misjudged a turn across traffic. A truck broadsided the car. Liz died instantly.

Joey returned to school the next week. But he was a different Joey. The once ebullient, full-of-fun guy who always had a mischievious smile on his face was now often quiet and noticeably sullen. He still played a great game of basketball, but he seemed to get less joy and satisfaction from his athletic accomplishments. We all noticed that something was missing in the Joey we'd cheered on during so many games. Joey must have felt that something was missing, too, because it was soon after Liz's death he began searching for that "something" in the bottom of a bottle.

I don't know much about what Joey did immediately after high school. I do remember hearing dribs and drabs about his drinking, which he was doing more and more frequently. But we all drank beer at week-end college "keg parties" in those carefree, euphoric, post-high-school days. A story about Joey getting drunk would only make a minor register on my consciousness.

A few years later, when most of us were launching careers and our drinking was limited to week-ends at the fashionable singles' establishments, the phrase "drinking problem" began to be used whenever anyone would talk about Joey. I heard that the beautiful girl he'd married a few years earlier had divorced him.

During the first years after his divorce, I'd often see Joey hitch-hiking on the outskirts of our small town. I'd stop and give him a ride - usually around midnight when I was on my way to meet friends after my 3-11 shift at the hospital - to one of the serious-drinkers-only bars he liked to frequent. We'd ask about the welfare of our mutual acquaintances, laugh over a few old memories, and then go our separate ways. Joey always had alcohol on his breath, but he was always a gentleman and still had that boyish charm. As I watched him pull open yet another saloon door, a silent prayer would go up that he would straighten out soon.

Joey continued his drinking well into his thirties. By now he was a full-blown alcoholic who didn't stick with any job for very long. His now-elderly mother, who had taken him in after his divorce, moved out-of-state to live with one of Joey's elder sisters. His cousin, and still my best friend, told me stories of liver problems and other messes that Joey'd gotten himself into. The family had all but given up hope that Joey would ever stop drinking.

Then one snowy, crisp December 23rd night my husband and I were out on our annual last-minute "Santa's List" shopping expedition. After they'd locked up Toys-R-Us for the night, we drove across the highway and stopped in at Red Lobster for something to eat. And there in a booth was Joey, sitting with a woman about his age, and looking fit as a fiddle and quite sober against the background window of falling snowflakes and dark blue skies.

He recognized me immediately, hopped up from his seat, and came forward to give me a hug. His first words were not "hello" but rather "I haven't had a drink in two years." His face was beaming he was, obviously, very proud of himself. And I felt proud for him. As our companions politely and patiently smiled at each other, Joey and I played catch-up. Joey told me he was attending AA meetings regularly, working steadily and was volunteering his time by coaching a boy's basketball team. He shook his head when he recalled his low point during his drinking years: sitting on an abandoned freight car in the middle of the afternoon and drinking until he'd pass-out. I told him about my young son, himself a dead-eye shot even though he was very young. And that I had inspired my son with stories how great our own "Jerry West" was during his basketball days. Joey really seemed to like that. After a few minutes, we said our farewells and went our separate ways. I never saw Joey again.

Joey stayed sober for the rest of his life. He and his companion had several good years together, and she was with him until the end. He even survived a near fatal esophageal condition and several risky surgeries to remedy that condition. But life again took a wrong - and very unfair - turn. Joey contracted Alzheimer's disease a few years ago, and he passed away after spending over a year in a nursing home. He wasn't even 50.

You had to stand in line to get into the funeral home to view Joey's casket. Everyone loved Joey, and everyone rooted for him both on the basketball court and, many years later, during his continuing struggle to maintain sobriety. His sisters, now very-elderly and frail mother, and his longtime companion had decided to have him dressed in his favorite type of outfit: jeans, a flannel shirt - and sneakers. Near those sneakered-feet was a basketball with many sentiments and signatures on it. I don't know what it said on that ball because the sight of it caused my vision to blur a bit.

The real Jerry West had a street in Morgantown, W.V. named after him on August 14, 2000. The real Jerry West is very much alive and active in basketball: last year he was named "President of Basketball Operations" for the Memphis Grizzlies.

No one has ever named a street after Joey. As far as I know, Joey was never president of anything. But I'm doing what I can to honor this little-known champion who defeated his most formidable opponents - alcohol and himself. I'd like to think that Joey would be pleased about what I've written.


September 21st, 2003

Whatever happened to Peter Kastner?

Chances are you won't remember Peter Kastner, a popular television and movie actor from the 60s 70s, if you are under 40. But we at NIPPIES remember him well and have been unsuccessful in our quest to find out what happened to him! Peter Kastner seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth (at least in relation to his acting career) since 1981, when he appeared in an episode of Simon & Simon.

Peter Kastner was young during his acting heydey. He was born in 1944 and appeared in a number of television series and movies during his twenties and thirties, most notably on the popular weekly series, Love American Style. He had curly brown hair and a rather gravely - yet soft - voice. Peter was not conventionally handsome, but he was interesting to listen to and watch, and you remembered him if you saw him even once.

If anyone out there knows where Peter is now, perhaps you can write to the NIPPIES staff, and we'll pass the word on to our readers.

Thank you!


September 17th, 2003

Flashdance...where did time go? Ohmygosh...we at NIPPIES are sitting here watching the grand finale of Flashdance, and wondering where our youth went? I remember when I actually had a body that looked something like Jennifer Beals' body in that movie.

This was the movie which catapulted plain, grey sweatshirts to the height of fashion. Every young woman, and girl, cut a large swath out of the neckline of their fleece-lined sweatshirt and let that neckline drape over one of their shoulders. This was a fad with function: not only did the sweatshirts look better, but they were infinitely more comfortable to wear with that much-looser neckline. (Three things I've never liked about sweatshirts are the too-high necklines, the banded wrists, and the banded waistlines, which tend to bunch up and make one look pot-bellied no matter how thin one may be.)

How very gorgeous Michael Nouri looked in that movie! (OK, we at NIPPIES still care!) He was something to behold: that dark curly hair, those sensuous, full lips, those eyes! (The guy was, and is, many years older than moi but that mattered not).

Speaking of Michael Nouri...is he or isn't he married to Roma Downey? Neither his nor her official bio on imdb.com tells anything about this couple being married. However, there are many photos of them together on the internet, and one we at NIPPIES just pulled up refers to the couple as "Michael Nouri and his actress/wife Roma Downey".

At any rate, Michael Nouri currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He still is appearing regularly in movies, although he hasn't been in any blockbusters lately (that we know of). But we at NIPPIES are still fans of his and have been since we first set eyes on him on Search For Tomorrow (as "Steve Kazlow") way back in '75 when he was a regular and used to strum the guitar on the show. Michael also sang the theme song for the long-running soap opera during the 1976 season.

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Beanie Babies Galore on Ebay

We were just watching a commercial on TV for Ebay. Before we get into the Beanie Baby subject: guess who stars in what is the first commercial on telelvision we at NIPPIES have ever seen for the auction house? It's none other than the actor from the ice cream man commercial (for Kohn's department stores) that was so popular all summer!

We at NIPPIES still don't know this guy's name. If you do, please let us know! He's also great in the Cingular commericial. No, he's not of the chiseled-chin variety. Instead, he has an interesting and unforgettable face...not unlike Bob (Gilligan Denver's.

Anyway, we have digressed from the our topic, which was Beanie Babies! Remember how hot these little stuffed toys by Ty were a few years back? Well, there are over 6700 auctions on Ebay by folks trying to dump their Beanie Babies - cheap. And most of offerings have no takers. The auctions who do have bidders are only getting about $1 - $3 each. Whole collections of over 400 Beanie Babies are going for $1200.00, while scores of individual auctions have no bidders even though the starting price is under $1.00.

We at NIPPIES never bought into that whole Beanie Baby mania. We have a husband who went through the baseball-card collecting cycle in the 1990s and learned the hard way that when people are buying things as collectibles, they aren't going to be worth much. After all, a true collectible is something that nobody saved or put away safely and there are none but a precious few left! Things being sold as collectibles, on the other hand, are being carefully tucked away with the hope of fetching a high price later on.

It just doesn't work that way, from our experience. God help the poor devils who cashed in their savings to "invest" in Beanie Babies.

Finally...give a celebrity a virtual face-lift online!

We at NIPPIES found the coolest and most fun site and we want to share it with our readers. Go to http://www.wrrv.com/musicallmorning/ and click on "Celebrity Warp" on the menu. You will find a photo of a featured celebrity. (Today's was Corey Feldman). You can then have a blast by dragging and pulling at the picture to give the celebrity a complete "makeover".

It is just so much fun! Try it!


September 15th - 16th, 2003

The Dilemma of the Working Middle Class

On CNN's Minding Your Business this morning (Sept. 15th), there was a very interesting but dismaying report based on a story in USA Today about Dr. Elizabeth Warren's new book. Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard University has written The 2 Income Trap, which focuses on the difficult situation of the 2-income family. Both heads-of-household are working, Dr. Warren says in the book, but these families seem to be getting nowhere due to the very high cost-of-living in the United States.

Consider this fact: in 1973, an income of $20,866 would leave approximately $17,834 in expendible income after fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are defined as mortgage payments, utility bills, healthcare, etc.

In 2003, an income of $50,755, after the same fixed expenses, would leave only $17,045. That indicates that the cost of paying for necessities have risen from about $3000 per year (in 1973) to about $30,000 in 2003.

Even more shocking, 92% of bankruptcies occur in households making between $25,000 - $99,999 annually.

What has caused this rise in the cost-of-living? Elizabeth Warren stated on a follow-up interview (Sept. 16th on CNN) that mortgages have driven many middle-class families into bankruptcy. The cost of a mortgage has risen 70x faster than a father's salary since 1971. Dr. Warren said, during the CNN interview, that many families are unhappy with the public school system where they live and have moved to a better school district where homes are more expensive than in their prior school district. To afford the new home, the mother has gone to work. The mother going to work means a second car and child care - and more expenses.

We at NIPPIES know of many families who have done what Dr. Warren describes. The mothers are frazzled.

However, some of us cannot afford to get a better house in a better school district. Which brings us to the second biggest cause of the middle-class cash crunch: the ever-skyrocketing cost of health insurance and healthcare! The cost of health insurance has risen 40x faster than a father's income, according to Elizabeth Warren.

We at Nippies have harped on the cost of healthcare and health insurance many, many times. No matter what school system you happen to live in (or are stuck in, to put it bluntly) and no matter what your "class", you must have health insurance if you want to provide good healthcare for your children. And the cost of health insurance and healthcare continues to rise.

The number one reason for the rising cost of healthcare in the United States is, in the opinion of the Nippies staff, and in the opinion of many experts, the enormously high cost of pharmaceuticals. And can anyone doubt that the high cost of pharmaceuticals is due to just plain greed in the pricing of prescription medications AND the monstrous amount of money spent by the pharmaceutical industry on advertising?

According to medvantx.com, the pharmaceutical industry spent a record $19.1 BILLION dollars in 2001 on promotion. Promotional spending surpassed R&D (research and development) spending for the first time.

Sit back and digest that statistic. For the first time, in 2001, the pharmaceutical industry spent more on PROMOTING drugs than on DEVELOPING new ones!!. We at Nippies don't know how you feel about that, but it makes us furious. Last time we checked, there was still no cure for cancer, ALS, sickel-cell anemia, and a whole host of other horrendous diseases.

Another stat from medVantx.com: In 2001, Merck spent $176 million promoting Vioxx. This is more than the Coca-Cola Company spent advertising Coke, adn more than Anheuser-Busch spent advertising Budweiser.

Regarding generic drugs: It is estimated that for every 1 percent increase in the utilization of generic drugs there is a corresponding savings of $1.16 billion dollars for health plans and employer groups.

When will our senators and representatives wise up and make it illlegal to advertise prescription drugs? Take all that money spent by pharmaceutical companies for expensive print, radio and television ads and put just a small fraction into sending drug reps into the doctors' offices to educate physicians' about medications instead of pushing consumers into the "Ask Your Doctor About..." mode.

And, more importantly, when will our senators and representatives pass laws, like those in Canada, which limit the mark-up on prescription drugs? Canadians pay 20-80% less than residents of the United States for the same prescription medications. Canadians also have nationalized medicine, which is starting to sound like a better idea every day.

According to an article (by Kathleen Deoul) in the July 2002 newsletter published at cassandrabooks.com (http://www.cassandrabooks.com/articles/0702/printform.htm), prescription drugs spending in the U.S. is rising about 17% annually. In 2001, Americans spent a whopping $154 BILLION dollars on prescription medications, no doubt much of that money spent on unnecessary medications as a result of the "ask your doctor" campaign. 42% of that spending was done by, of course, the elderly, many most likele DO need the medications and who often are lease able to afford their expensive medications. Many senior citizens have to make the choice between medication and food. Think of what we would save if our politicians passed laws, similar to Canadian laws, which would protect us from the high mark-up on prescription drugs. A 20-80 percent savings would mean a reduction in prescription drugs costs of between $31 Billion to over $120 BILLION DOLLARS! or up to $2000 per year annually for a family of four in the U.S. And if advertising for prescription medications was outlawed or severely curtailed, you can add another $100 or so to that savings. WOW.

We at Nippies recommend that we all get active in stoping this runaway gravy-train that the healthcare industry - especially the pharmaceutical industry - has become. Let your politicians know you will put your votes where you see action against rising healthcare and pharmaceutical costs. Write to your congressmen. We at NIPPIES have made contacting your representatives easy by placing a link at the bottom this page which lists the names and addresses you need.

In the meantime, ASK FOR GENERIC DRUGS whenever you can safely do so.

****************************************************************************************************** On the lighter side of commercials: Frankenstein has stiff joints and Michael McDonald has grey hair. But they're doing fantastic...

By now, everyone has seen the commercial for the arthritis medication, Osteobiflex. You know the one where Frankenstein is doing yoga and tooting the benefits of taking Osteobiflex?

Does the actor beneath the heavy Frankenstein look familiar to you? We at Nippies have searched the web and the actor's bio and see no reference to who this famous actor is. But we are about 99% sure it is....well, you tell us. Write to the NIPPIES staff and tell us who you think the arthritic Frankenstein is. No prizes for getting the answer right, but we'll mention your name in one of our articles.

And while we are on the subject of commercials - have you seen Michael McDonald (of Doobie Brothers fame, of course)on the commercial for MCI - The Neighborhood? He looks great, despite the au natural totally grey hair. Hasn't aged a day in all these years, and his voice is still as velvety smooth as every.

Michael McDonald was, in NIPPIES opinion, the catalyst who shot the Doobies to superstardom in the late 1970s - early 1980s. According to his bio on imdb.com, Michael was asked to fill in for another keyboard player in 1979 and the rest is history. He gave the The Doobie Brothers a very distinctive sound.

We at NIPPIES saw The Doobie Brothers in concert in the summer of 1980 at the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown, PA. They were beyond fantastic and, even though they were at the height of their fame, put on a concert that went on and on. They loved the audience, and the audience loved them. No star trips for these fellows.

By the way, Michael sings Ain't No River Wide Enough on The Neighborhood commercials for MCI.


September 14th, 2003

Is anyone really surprised about the breakup of "Bennifer"?

The gossip mills are reporting that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are not only postponing their wedding (which was supposed to take place this week-end), but that Ben and Jen are no longer an item.

How could we be surprised about this news? We at Nippies were almost sure it would happen sooner or later. Thankfully, it happened before the marriage took place, and not after.

Jennifer Lopez seems like a nice enough person. So does Ben Affleck. Both are hot, hot celebrities and have been for quite a few years now. However, the reality is that "J Lo" has been married twice already in the past six years. For whatever reason or reasons, the marriages crumbled. That is not a good track record, in the opinion of Nippies , for marital tenacity.

The flame between Ben and Jen ignited when she and Chris Judd should not, in the conventional way of thinking, have been over their honeymoon period. Ben, no slouch himself in the looks department, was probably overwhelmed at being the object of affection of the woman who was the most overexposed and celebrated celebrity since...well, since we at Nippies can't remember.

ut Ben and Jen then made that ill-fated movie together. It bombed. Some fans thought it was a vanity piece, according to some reports. And there is nothing like a little - or a big - failure to make one sit back and re-evaluate one's life and one's choices. And jumping to a first marriage, even at 31, with someone who is already divorced twice at age 33 may have made Ben think twice about taking marriage vows. Third marriages often do work, but that usually happens when the person is more mature and has had time to figure out what went wrong the first two times. A perfect example of a happy third marriage? June Carter was 39 when she married Johnny Cash (her third husband, his second wife) in 1968. They had 35 happy years together.

But only Ben and Jen know what really happened in their relationship. And we at Nippies are happy that they are taking time to re-evaluate. It is our opinion, for what it's worth, that the decision to not marry was best for both Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.

Now the question remaining is this: Will J Lo give the ice-pond engagement ring, a rare pink diamond valued at about $1M, back to Ben Affleck? *******************************************************************************************************************

Class-y Apes

On American Movie Classics right now there is a documentary about the making of Planet of the Apes. (We at Nippies have never even seen one of these movies, by the way). Charleton Heston made an interesting comment. He said that on lunch breaks, which were taken in full make-up, the apes sat with the apes, the orangatans sat with the orangatans, and the chimps sat with the chimps. There was no explanation for this behavior, Mr. Heston explained, and no one had any idea why this happened every day. But it did.


August 16th, 2003

The Beauty of Roses

Our son has had a paper route for more than six years. And while he's the official paper carrier, I am the adult who signed on as the "overseer". Everyday, sunshine or snow, illness or health, holiday or not, either he or I, and sometimes both of us, must rise at 4:30 AM to roll, bag (in inclement weather), bundle, and deliver newspapers. There are absolutely no days off. We have over 100 customers. If you do the math, that means in the past 73 months we have rolled and delivered over 219,000 newspapers to our customers.

The purpose of the newspaper route was to help finance our son's education. ( He's attended private schools since kindergarten, and recently graduated from high school.) The tuition at these schools, while worth the money, is relatively expensive - especially for a family whose main breadwinner is in the entertainment field. (It's no secret that most entertainers do not enjoy the security of a steady income.) A newspaper route was the only job I could think of where I could work and still be available for my children 24 hours a day during the extended periods of time when my husband, the entertainer, was out of state in Nevada, New York, or wherever, doing a booking.

Recently, we made the decision to give up the newspaper route. There were several reasons for this decision: our son is starting college in the fall; he's now an entertainer himself (he plays the synthesizer and guitar in a band); he has a steady girlfriend, and, last but not least, we discovered that the corporation who bought the newspaper three years ago has been keeping the pre-paid customer tips from not only our son's account, but from the accounts of other paper carriers, as well. Since customer tips are the only thing that make having a newspaper route worthwhile (we only receive 11 cents per paper before expenses, which include rubber bands, plastic bags, our own newspaper, and gasoline), this was a very upsetting discovery.

After more than six months of noticing the drastically declining tip credits (our last bill showed only 10% of the amount of tips received for the same month during the past 5 years), and after getting unsatisfactory answers from our manager ("are you sure you're collecting from all your collect customers?"), we at NIPPIES decided take the humiliating step of actually writing to our pre-paid customers, telling them how much the newspaper said we were being tipped by them, and asking them to verify the amount.

The response from our customers was overwhelming. Nearly all who responded were very upset that the generous tips they'd sent in were not being given to us. Many sympathetic - and outraged - customers offered proof of their generosity via cancelled checks, which we were happy to accept. When we had sufficient evidence of the pilfering, we confronted the management of the local newspaper.

Of course, the management heard about our investigation before we approached them with the evidence: one of our customers has a daughter who works for the paper. On the same day that we sent out a certified letter with our evidence and demand for payment, we received a flyer in our bundle of newspapers announcing the "Great News!" that we would now received all our tips in one lump sum, as opposed to the previous method of doling out the tips over a 13-week period. We were not impressed or fooled by this announcement. The damage had been done.

The circulation manager called me the same day he received the certified letter. He gave me the excuse I knew he would: "there was a computer glitch". I politely told him that I'd been expecting that explanation. After all, I told him, "what else can you say?". He feigned indignation that I doubted his integrity, and I did not feign indignation at the insult to my intelligence. We politely "agreed to disagree" on what had actually happened to our tips.

During the conversation, and in the letter I'd sent, I made it clear that there were other carriers who were aware of the tip pilfering (this is true) but refused to name the carriers. I also told "Tom" that, while I hadn't contacted all of our pre-paid customers, I had no intention of telling him which customers I actually had contacted and who had sent me proof of their tips. Therefore, I explained, the newspaper would be wise to audit every pre-paid customer account for every carrier, credit all accounts properly, and, if their records cross-matched my own, and those of other carriers, I would be satisfied.

Well, sort of.

How could anyone ever trust this company again? My son and I decided we could not. And, although we'd been seriously considering giving up the paper route for some time (last summer we had to acutally pay the newspaper $150.00 for the privilege of a week off. Our manager refused to give us the names of any other carriers to contact as substitutes, as he had during previous summers. This should have been the tip-off for us. We didn't bother asking for any time off this summer), the tip-stealing tipped the scales heavily in the direction of resignation. We have given our required 30 day notice as required by an annual contract all carriers are forced to sign. This contract, which has no benefits for the carrier but covers every base for the corporation, includes a clause wherein the carrier, if he stops delivering for any reason (including illness) without a 30 day written notice, must agree to pay someone else to deliver the newspapers "at whatever rate is necessary".

As an aside, it is important to mention that the current newspaper was started as a worker-owned rebel newspaper some 20 years ago by workers who were fighting the union-busting corporation who bought their original newspaper, which still exists today and still uses underhanded tactics. These men marched back and forth with "strike" signs for years, struggled financially to get their presses paid for and circulation up, and, after two decades, sold-out to another corporation. And the cycle of big-corporation versus workers rights has begun again: among other things, like the price-gouging for vacation time, our newspaper recently fired Saturday night/Sunday advertising-insert stuffers and has made the carriers take on this tedious job with no extra pay. Carriers are paid 18 cents to stuff, roll and deliver the 5 pounds+ (most of which is advertising) Sunday newspaper. The newspapers are loaded with advertisements and coupons (big, BIG revenue for the newspaper) and are extremely difficult to both roll and deliver. Customers pay 75 cents extra to have the Sunday paper home-delivered.

Since all this began, we have been visiting customers who called and offered cancelled checks and payment stubs as proof of their (the customers') generosity and, subsequently, of the corporations's greed and dishonesty. This, we decided, was necessary just "in case" the corporation tries to claim, somewhere down the road, that we have falsely accused them of wrongdoing.

One customer whom we visited is a lovely 84-year-old woman named Rose, and stepping into her living room this morning was like going back in time. Rose's home is a true reflection of her personality and beliefs: it is immaculate yet cozy, and the furnishings are a tasteful combination of old-world mahogany and marble tables mixed with modern over-stuffed plaid sofa and chairs. Gilt-framed photos of family members, including her deceased "he was a good man" husband, adorn the walls of every room. There is a small, arched alcove built into the wall of the hallway to display a 15-inch high statue of Our Lady. Rose is, as you may have guessed, an Italian-American Roman Catholic. (Think Moonstruck). She showed me a special cape for another statue of The Blessed Virgin Mary which she had just finished doing at the request of her church pastor. Pro bono work, of course.

Rose, although now in her ninth decade, does not look her age. Her skin is nearly flawless and her eyes bright, even in the harsh morning light. Clean living and a clear conscience have served her well. Nor has time dimmed Rose's sense of humor, intelligence, or interest in life: on her highly-polished coffee table, next to her reading glasses, was a bookmarked, current best-selling paperback.

Rose lives atop the "corner store", which is now a basement with a freshly painted green door, that she and her late husband, Sam, ran for over 40 years. They worked daily side-by-side in the little store where they offered their customers, mostly people from the neighborhood, lunchmeats, canned goods, bread, cheese, candy, and other staples for reasonable prices. They kept an interest free "tab" for customers who had to pay monthly. Upstairs, in their spacious home, they raised their children on the income from their little business. I have fond childhood memories frequenting Rose and Sam's store to pick out penney candy, bolo bats, yoyos, pea shooters, Pixie Stix, Sen-Sens, and other such treasures.

Rose brought me the book in which she keeps her checking account statements. Not surprisingly, because of her business experience, she is very well organized in this respect as in all others. She showed me proof, which I'd not requested but which she was happy to supply, of the generous 25% carrier tip which she sends to the newspaper each $13 week pay-period. I will copy and return this proof, and keep the copy for my records.

After we'd finished the house tour and business end of the visit, I had a short but pleasant conversation with Rose. We talked about the mine subsidence which occured in the neighborhood just a few days ago where an entire front yard - porch steps, shrubs, everything - plummeted at least 30 feet overnight into the mines. I told her that we delivered papers there daily and often walked up the very same doomed concrete steps to place a paper on the porch when it rained or to collect for the newspaper. I was surprised to hear that a 100x100 foot mine subsidence also occured in her backyard more than 60 years ago when she was still a newlywed living with her in-laws. After a short time, we said our good-byes and then I was off to finish delivering the newspapers.

While driving, and even when I returned home, I kept thinking of Rose, her home, her faith, and her small, family-owned business. And then my thoughts would circle round to the corporation and their dishonest business tactics and lack of concern for their most humble employees - the paper carriers. And naturally I came to the conclusion that bigger is not better.

Rose, to me, represents all that is and was beautiful in this world: honesty, hard-work, concern, compassion, family, faith, and morality. But there are fewer and fewer Roses to be found. I hope she lives to be 100. I hope I have the privilege of meeting Rose again. I am in awe of the beauty of Roses.


August 15th, 2003

Author Phyllis A. Whitney turns 100 on Sept. 9th, 2003!

We at NIPPIES first were introduced to the wonderful writing of Phyllis A. Whitney several years ago. While at our public library with our young son, I asked the librarian to recommend a good mystery author. She suggested I try reading a book by Phyllis A. Whitney. I took the librarian's advice and I'm glad I did. Ms. Whitney manages to write romantic books which combine intelligence with mystery.

Unlike most romance novelists, Ms. Whitney does not write "formula" books. Her books are about bright, independent women who usually find themselves caught up in some sort of intrigue. Yes, there is very often romance, but there is nothing corny or smooth about the relationships in these books.

I read many of Ms. Whitney's books and enjoyed every one of them. Just last week, while digging through the books at a church rummage sale, I uncovered a treasure:Thunder Heights/Window on the Square, a two-novels-in-one book published by Meredith Press of New York back in 1960. I snapped it up immediately, even though I'd read both novels a few years ago.

I'm sorry to say that I'd always assumed that Phyllis had died years ago. After all, I knew she'd have to be well into her ninties if she was still alive. So, imagine my surprise when, on a whim, I looked up "PhyllisAWhitney.com". I didn't expect to find anything. But I did! And I also was shocked to find out this wonderful author was still very much with us!

Next month, Phyllis A. Whitney will celebrate her 100th birthday. Here is a brief exerpt from the biography on Ms. Whitney which I found at her web site, www.PhyllisAWhitney.com:

Phyllis Ayame Whitney was born of American parents on September 9, 1903 in Yokohama, Japan. Her father, Charles Joseph Whitney, was a native of Iowa and worked for an export house in Yokohama. Her mother, Mary Lillian (Lilly) Mandeville, was the youngest granddaughter of Donald MacLeod (later shortened to McLeod) of the Scottish Black Watch. McLeod, a native of Inverness, Scotland, fought in the battle of Waterloo and, in 1837, took part in a rebellion against the Canadian government over citizen injustice. Imprisoned for his actions, he was tried and acquitted in 1838, and pardoned by Queen Victoria who approved of his cause. He settled in Cleveland, Ohio. As young people, Phyllis Whitney's parents were sweethearts, but a quarrel separated them. Lilly married a handsome stage actor, Gus Heege, and left Cleveland to act in his plays. Together, Gus and Lilly had one son, Philip, who followed in his father's footsteps, also becoming an actor. After Gus Heege died, Charles Whitney, still in love with Lilly, sent for her to come to Japan. They married and out of that romance, Phyllis A. Whitney was born. Phyllis Whitney's earliest stories were written when she was a teen in the Orient. However, she really wanted to be a dancer. Her mother, a great influence in her life, encouraged her daughter's dancing as well as her writing. In 1918, after her father's death in Hankow, China, Phyllis and her mother traveled aboard an ocean liner from Japan to San Francisco, California. After spending the first fifteen years of her life living in Japan, China, and the Philippine Islands, this ten-day journey across the Pacific was extremely exciting to Phyllis who was going to see America for the first time! This early travel heavily influenced Phyllis and she would later write novels with settings in America, Europe, Africa, and the Orient...

Please go to Ms. Whitney's web site to continue reading about this fascinating and beloved woman, who has given so much enjoyment for so many years to her many loyal readers - http://www.PhyllisAWhitney.com

And don't forget to sign Ms. Whitney's Birthday Wishes Book!


August 13th, 2003

Seniors take on Pfizer and Glaxo, in a way...

Last month the U.S. House voted to legalize the so-called re-importation of prescription drugs. This happened after Americans discovered that Canadians are paying up to 80% less than we are for the same prescription medications. Americans, especially senior citizens, began crossing the border to buy their medications, or else they ordered them from Canadian pharmacies. The drug companies, specifically Glaxo and more recently Pfizer, tried to stop this practice through various steps, including the recent threat by Pfizer to cut supplies to Canadian pharmacies. Americans retaliated and demanded action from politicians.

Canada protects its citizens against price-gouging on prescription meds with laws that limit retail prices on drugs.

Now the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has entered the arena in a fight against the pharmaceutical companies who are trying to stop the re-importation of prescription meds at deep, deep discounts. Senior citizens, and the rest of us, are completely fed up with paying up to 4 times more than Canadians for the same medications. The AARP will hold a town-hall meeting on Thursday (tomorrow) at a seniors' home in Chicago with Democrat Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Republican Gil Gutknecht.

We at NIPPIES blame the very, very heavy advertising campaigns that pharmaceutical companies utilize to make us all think we need meds that we do not need. And for the meds that we do need, we don't need to see commercials. A good educational program for physicians would cost a small fraction of what the television, newspaper, radio, and magazine ads cost.

NIPPIES, and the rest of America, does NOT buy the pharmaceutical excuses for high prices. First they tried to tell us they are concerned about the safety of imported drugs. Now, after Americans refused to buy that excuse, they are telling us that they must re-coup the high cost of research.


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