Our Latest Issue!

0119cover--large-for-blogI recently received my November/December issue of our comrade publication Current Affairs in the mail (with the witty caption “Our Latest Issue … By Far” at the top of the front cover), so we don’t feel quite so bad that D&S print subscribers were receiving their copies of our January/February issue around the same time.  Solidarity with Current Affairs as we both try to get back on schedule!

We just posted our columnist John Miller’s latest, A Green Job Guarantee, and we posted Jim Cypher’s cover story, Neoliberalism Unchained: Jair Bolsonaro and the Rise of the Extreme Right in Brazil on January 31st.

Here’s the January/February issue’s p. 2 editorial note, including an announcement of our 45th anniversary celebrations:

The Right and Resistance

Brazil had hoped to “unveil its new face to foreign capital,” as Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept put it, at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But the country’s far-right incoming president, Jair Bolsonaro, had to cancel a press conference with his top ministers, including “Chicago Boy” economist Paulo Guedes, in order to avoid questions from the media about an unfolding scandal involving suspicious deposits into the bank account of one of Bolsonaro’s sons.

How did this situation in Brazil come to pass? In his cover story for this issue, economist James M. Cypher explains Brazil’s “steady slither into extreme right-wing rule,” and the brand of corrupt neoliberalism it will usher in. Brazil’s oligarchs, led by big agribusiness’ Bancada Ruralista (rural caucus), were behind the right’s coup against Dilma Rousseff of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party) and its people-friendly “neo-developmentalism.” Bolsonaro, who has praised the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1965 to 1985, promises a brutal neoliberal regime that will allow international capital to plunder and despoil the Amazon. Meanwhile, Trump has had kind words for Bolsonaro, and the two have teamed up to signal support for a coup in Venezuela.

In this issue we also address the rise of the right in the United States. Jerry Friedman’s Economy in Numbers reveals that the unequal—and unrepresentative—U.S. Senate is one key factor. The U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that every state, regardless of population, will have two senators gives disproportionate representation to rural areas over urban, gives white voters more clout than non-white voters, and favors conservatives over liberals. All of this has favored Trump and the GOP, but it is deeply undemocratic and will be hard to change.

But we do offer some rays of hope in this issue: an article on the gilets jaunes and their resistance to rising inequality in France; a feature on the revival of rent control in the United States, and how mainstream economics gets it wrong about rental housing markets; John Miller’s column on how a federal job guarantee could help create green jobs; and more.D&S@45--logoWith this issue we kick off our 45th anniversary year! Our official 45th anniversary issue will be in November/December, but for each issue this year we will include a reprint of an article from the D&S archives.
On p. 27 we have an article on work stoppages from the January 1975 issue—timely given the L.A. teachers’ strike (which recently ended in victory for the teachers), the wave of teachers’ strikes last year (see Ellen David Friedman’s “What’s Behind the Teachers’ Strikes,” D&S, May/June 2018), and the role that slowdowns, “sick-ins,” and threats of a general strike by flight attendants, air traffic controllers, and TSA agents appear to have played in ending Trump’s government shutdown. While it feels as if there’s an upswing in strikes and labor militancy, reading the piece from 1975 is a good reminder of how many fewer strikes there are these days than there were when D&S was founded. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were just seven work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers in 2017 (the most recent year for which the BLS has data), and those stoppages involved some 25,000 workers total. In contrast, 1974, the year D&S was founded (and the year that this issue’s 45th anniversary reprint focuses on), had 424 work stoppages of 1,000 or more workers—involving a jaw-dropping total of 1,796,000 workers.

Keep an eye on these pages and our website in the coming months as we continue to celebrate our 45th anniversary with reflections from readers on the impact of D&S, anniversary events, and a sustainability campaign to support our work for years to come.

Garlic, Cancer, and the Public Funding of Scientific Research

By Polly Cleveland

Four years ago, in The Mouse That Wouldn’t Die, I described how my husband’s colleague Zheng Cui found some mice in his lab that were naturally immune to cancer. Astonishingly, transferring special white blood cells, granulocytes, from immune mice killed cancer in non-immune mice. It turned out that some humans are also super-immune to cancer. Cui managed to help set up two small privately-funded experiments in Florida and in China, giving transfusions of granulocytes from healthy donors to cancer patients. The treatment seemed to be succeeding, including for Cui’s wife. But then … nothing, due to a lack of funds for follow-up and hostility from the medical establishment. The problem: blood transfusions are old medicine and therefore not patentable. The treatment could never be profitable. If ever there was a case for public funding of scientific research, that was it.

Undeterred, Cui plunged into research on another even more unlikely-seeming cancer treatment, injection of filtered raw garlic juice. Garlic does have antibiotic properties, and was once used for treating wounds. When I was a child living in Paris, our nanny fed me and my little sister raw garlic to kill intestinal worms, which maybe it does. Eating raw, cooked or powdered garlic has been widely touted as a preventative or cure for just about anything. There’s a strong stench of quackery to garlic remedies.

But now Cui’s results are in. A novel therapeutic anticancer property of raw garlic extract via injection but not ingestion just appeared in Cell Death Discovery, an open-access subsidiary of the top scientific journal, Nature. Cui injected groups of mice with two strains of rapidly-lethal untreatable mouse cancer cells. Then, unlike any prior researchers, he injected some of the cancerous mice with garlic juice. He fed the juice to others. The cancerous mice that were fed garlic quickly died, but the garlic-injected mice remained healthy. Cui then tested three human cancer laboratory cell lines with garlic juice, as well as with extracts of a number of other fruits and vegetables. Garlic rapidly killed all three cancer cell lines; cauliflower did pretty well too, followed by red grapes, guava and strawberries.

Cui also tested different parts of raw garlic juice, discovering that the anti-cancer activity came from a bunch of as yet unidentified small molecules. He hypothesizes that these molecules work without being toxic to normal cells because cancer cells are metabolic cripples; the mutations that let them grow wildly also leave them unable to metabolize many ordinary food compounds. The garlic molecules may just clog up the cancer cells until they die. In fact, says Cui, more than by uncontrolled growth, cancer cells kill when their busted metabolism spews toxic little bits of protein into the bloodstream. That causes cachexia, the weakness and wasting away of seriously-ill victims. Conventional chemotherapy attacks cancer cells at their strong point, their ability to multiply rapidly, rather than at their weak point, their compromised metabolism. In the process, chemotherapy damages normal growing cells, such as hair follicles.

What now? However promising, Cui’s discovery may not soon lead to a human treatment, certainly not a conventional one provided through the medical establishment. First of all, to identify the anti-cancer molecules in garlic and fully test them in animal and human subjects to meet FDA requirements would take years and hundreds of millions of dollars. Second, garlic juice is an old medicine. It’s not patentable. Hence the pharmaceutical industry may not be willing to invest.

That doesn’t make treatment totally unavailable. Garlic is a food. It’s still routine and legal to feed people intravenously, usually people who can’t feed themselves due to illness. The FDA requires only that intravenous food be free of particles and sterile. Moreover, on May 30 2018, President Trump signed a “Right to Try” law allowing terminally ill patients to use experimental treatments.

As for practicality, I did a back of the envelope calculation. Cui injected lab mice, which weigh about 15 grams, with a tenth of a gram of filtered garlic juice for 21 days. Scaling up to a 150-pound human, that’s about a pound = a pint of garlic juice, requiring a dozen or so heads of garlic a day. However, Cui made the dose as large as possible to test for toxicity; much lower doses over longer periods might be just as effective. It would make sense to start with lower amount and escalate the dose gradually.

Nonetheless, as with blood transfusions, the unprofitability and quacky aura of a garlic treatment means any testing or implementation will happen slowly at best. National Institute of Health funding for biological and medical research, today at about $39 billion, is down in constant dollars from a $43 billion peak in 2003. The Trump administration wants further cuts. While $39 billion may still seem like a lot, the competition is fierce between thousands of established research programs, whose scientists peer-review each other’s proposals. Only a major increase in funding—and probably a major opening in medical minds—might soon leave room for novel, public investment in that humble herb, garlic.