Supplements and Safety

supplements_and_safety_1It’s estimated there are 85,000 dietary supplements for sale in the United States today. You might assume that some government agency has approved them before allowing them onto the market. Though the FDA does not do any review of dietary supplements before they come onto the market.

“It almost takes a sacrificial lamb to die of liver injury or some other injury before the Food and Drug Administration can take any action” – Herbert Bonkovsky, M.D.

People with health problems may need additional nutrients. But for most Americans, researchers don’t know for sure whether extra doses really help — and caution that in some cases, they might hurt. It’s incredibly hard to quantify the current problem, how much harm are supplements are doing. There’s no effective system to detect the harm.

It wasn’t until a major league pitcher, 23-year-old Steve Bechler died after taking a weight loss supplements containing an ingredient called ephedra, that sales were halted. By then, more than 160 deaths had been linked to the supplement. In another instance, the FDA has linked dietary supplement OxyElite Pro to more than 70 cases of liver damage. Are you safe?


Power of Dead People

Our lives are controlled by invisible hands from the grave. Trillions of dollars of the US economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who died long ago, rather than satisfying the needs, preferences, and values of those living now. Philosopher Barry Lam follows the story of the Hershey fortune to show how a 19th century industrialist constructed the oddest business structure to ensure that his idiosyncratic wishes would be fulfilled hundreds of years after his death. The story raises questions about why we give the dead so much power over our lives, and what this says about how we find meaning in our own lives given foreknowledge of our mortality.

Hi-Phi Nation

John Thompson vs. American Justice

When police showed up to question John Thompson, he was worried that it was because he had sold drugs to an undercover cop. When he realized they were investigating a murder, he could only laugh: “Shit, for real? Murder?”Thompson was insistent on his innocence, but New Orleans prosecutors wanted a conviction for a high-profile murder, and they were not scrupulous about how they got it. Thompson quickly found himself on death row. Eighteen years later, just weeks before Thompson was due to be executed, his lawyers discovered that a prosecutor had hidden exculpatory evidence from the defense. Thompson had been set up.

The New Yorker Radio Hour

Utopias in History and an Environmental Disaster

Ideas of opening of all boarders, universal basic income and 15 hour workweek apparently have a remarkable history. Writer and thinker Rutger Bregman in his book Utopia for Realists reasons that the time has come to propose them again. He is our guest in this episode. Meanwhile, BBC radio producer Julian May talks about the aftermath of the Torrey Canyon disaster, when a huge oil tanker ran aground in 1967.

Episode’s first set of adverts end at 2:30

History extra

Owning Our Bodies

If we have rights and ownership of anything it is surely of our own body. Yet we cannot dispose of it as we please, intoxicants are outlawed, and selling our body for sexual pleasure or organ donation is restricted. Is our body strangely not our own after all? Should we insist on our rights and freedom or do we need to be protected from ourselves?
Belle de Jour blogger Brooke Magnanti, bioethicist John Harris, and author of “Our Bodies, Whose Property?” Anne Phillips interrogate ownership.

Philosophy for Our Times


Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collide on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport on island of Tenerife. Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collide on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport on island of Tenerife, 1977

The Most Mysterious Air Disasters

The most puzzling airplane crashes, plausible explanations, and corners cut by airline companies. All revealed by a crash investigator, journalist and documentary producer Christine Negroni . Christine has more than fifteen years’ experience participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She is the author of “The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters”.

Little Atoms

Guano Mania

In 2014, President Obama closed 490,000 square miles of largely undisturbed ocean to commercial fishing and underwater mining, and expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, making it the largest marine preserve in the world at the time.
The preserve is nowhere near the mainland United States nor is it all in close range to Hawaii. Still, President Obama was able to protect this piece of ocean in the name of the United States.
To understand how the U.S. has jurisdiction over these waters in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one has to look back to the 19th Century when, for a brief period, the U.S. scoured the oceans looking for rock islands covered in guano. That is: seabird poop.

99% Invisible | 6th December 2016

The Man Inside: Four Months as a Prison Guard

the-man-insideFew people know what life inside prisons is like for inmates and guards. But one journalist cracked the shell of secrecy. Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer gets a job as a guard at Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana. The prison is run by the private company Corrections Corporation of America, and over four months, he investigates how the prison is run. Shane makes it through training and ends up guarding suicide watch on day one of the job, documenting everything he can. He witnesses stabbings, beatings and prisoners threatening to riot inside a private prison on lockdown. The conditions inside Winn Correctional Center and his duties there as a guard are getting the better of him. Shane meets a prisoner who contracted gangrene at Winn and lost his legs and fingers as a result. However, an unexpected offer and a twist of fate change Shane’s status as a guard.


The Portable Cell Phone Booth by Boston based performance sculptor Nick Rodrigues. The Portable Cell Phone Booth by Boston based performance sculptor Nick Rodrigues.

The Bookie, the Phone Booth, and the FBI

The Fourth Amendment doesn’t mention privacy once. But those 54 little words, written more than 200 years ago, are a crucial battleground in today’s fight over digital rights in the United States. That one sentence is why the government can’t listen to phone calls without a warrant. And it’s why they don’t need one to find out who the citizens of the United States are calling.

But now, we share our deepest thoughts with Google, through what we search for and what we email. And we share our most intimate conversations with Alexa, when we talk in its vicinity. So how does the Fourth Amendment apply when we’re surrounded by technology the Founding Fathers could never dream of?

Stories of bookies on the Sunset Strip, microphones taped to phone booths, and a 1975 Monte Carlo. And where the Fourth Amendment needs to go.

With Laura Donohue, director of Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology. Supreme Court audio from the wonderful, under a Creative Commons license.

Note to Self