Friday, July 15, 2011

Is Hollywood Ruining Children's Movies With Adult-Focused Content?

Gone are the days when children’s films were just that – children’s films.
In Hollywood today, movies that are animated or kid-orientated are made and marketed as “family films,” meaning they have become increasingly laced with adult jokes and references to appeal to a more mature audience.

“We’ve always wanted to make the kind of movies that we like to watch. I love taking my sons to the movies, but more often than not, my wife and I would either go to a movie that wanted to see and it was sort of inappropriate for the kids and we would be bored,” director and chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I always wanted to make a movie that played for adults and was great for kids as well.”

Neil Patrick Harris, who stars in the upcoming remake of the 80’s sensation “The Smurfs,” is also “proud” that the family flick targets a broad audience.
“There is a lot of great content you can take your kids to but also enjoy as an adult or a grandparent,” he said. “This covers a lot of demographics in an interesting way.” 
While the highly-anticipated film brings to life the sincerity, or shall we say smurferity, of Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy and their army of little blue figurines, it takes them to the harsh world of New York City where Gutsy Smurf fans his private parts, Smurfette mimics the famous Marilyn Munroe scene of the wide dress being blown up, and the gnome-like creatures exclaim: “Let’s smurf this joint!”
And in modern children’s movies as a whole, there is no shortage of not-so G-rated jabs and gags specifically designed to go over kids’ heads.

In the first “Cars” installment the giggling female vehicles “flash their headlights” at Lightening McQueen, a fishing rod with Barbie legs is referred to as “a hooker” in “Toy Story,” and Johnny Depp’s “Rango” was rife with smoking, gun showdowns, nooses and naughty words (“hell,” “damn,” “tart” and “trollop”.) Meanwhile, Syndrome exclaims that Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl got "biz-zay!" when he notices their children in “The Incredibles,” and “Finding Nemo” cleverly falls short of some explicit language: “Don't you guys realize we are swimming in our own—!" "Shhh! Here he comes.”

But are filmmakers trying so hard to entertain adults that the youngsters are now the ones left in the cold?
“It takes a deft hand not to take the adult-oriented bits too far. If the balance is not handled properly the kids might be the ones glazing over,” said Hollywood entertainment and pop culture expert Scott Huver. “Too much adult-centric content might leave children feeling puzzled and left out, and possibly even prompt some questions their parents would rather not answer just yet. Yet too little material to engage adults may leave parents feeling a film is too tame, simplistic and ‘uncool’ for their kids. But as the pressure for big box office performance and cool cred increases for the often highly lucrative family fare, it’s likely some filmmakers may end up trying too hard to make both the kid and grownup audiences happy and wind up missing the mark for either of them.”

According to Craig Detweiler, film scholar and director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture, these “family” films of the 21st century might be too modernized to become classics.
“The evergreen nature of the early Walt Disney films demonstrates the fact that you don’t have to overload on pop culture references that will not pass the test of time. At this point, I would say the more hip animated films like ‘Shrek’ may not endure because over their overemphasis upon contemporary humor and references,” Detweiler said.
Adult innuendos aside, some experts are also concerned that the morals and messages of these films are now too focused on fueling young, impressionable minds with political arguments.
Last month Pixar’s “Cars 2” pushed the message of alternative fuel and portrayed traditional gasoline as the villain, 2008’s “Wall-E” centered on the dangers of pollution, human destruction and obesity, 2009’s “Astro Boy” was criticized by some for championing Marxist ideologies, and the Oscar-winning “Happy Feet” hawked an obvious stance against global warming and overfishing. 
So is it all becoming a bit much?

“Hollywood has been putting politics and heavy messages into so-called children's animated fare instead of just trying to tell timeless stories like ‘Snow White’ or ‘Pinocchio.’ Directors and studios know that many parents will take their kids to see the films, so it is almost as if they feel obligated to ‘add’ some kind of message so adults will walk away thinking about something,” said Rob Weiner, popular culture librarian Texas Tech University. “Much of the storytelling in ‘classic’ tales has been lost. It is important to remember that classic films had that human element which left the audience uplifted.”
But that seemingly ancient form of simple story-telling is not quite extinct – yet. 
The masterminds behind Disney Animation’s upcoming “Winnie the Pooh,” which opens in theaters this weekend, acknowledged that the classic has indeed evolved to be “a family film this time around,” yet it retains the essence of its original A.A Milne tale without a political charge.

“The pace of life is pretty fast today. We’ve got a lot of things vying for our attention. The nice thing about the 100-acre wood is you can go, sit down with Piglet and have some tea and just enjoy being with friends,” director Stephen Anderson told us. “That’s never going to go out-of-style.”
And it’s without the bells and whistles of the ever-evolving 3D medium.
“The hand-drawn animation is, in my eyes, really refreshing to see. Maybe I’m a cranky guy, but the assaultive nature of the current crop of 3D movies wearies me,” added Tom Kenny, the voice of Rabbit. “People say, ‘it’s great, it’s like a roller coaster ride,’ but I don’t want to be on a roller coaster for two hours. They are supposed to be over in a minute.”

Today In Weird: 19-Foot-Long Fingernails Are This Girl's Best Friend

I really don't know what to say that this video can't say for itself except, "ZOMGWTF THIS IS GROSS" but I'm trying not to judge. Apparently this woman is set to star on TLC's "My Strange Addiction" to show the world what it must feel like to be voluntarily handicapped.

According to the Huffington Post, Jazz Ison Sinkfield has been growing out her nails for 22 years with the longest  nail measuring in at 24 inches.
While she compared her nails to her children, saying, "I just can't stop loving my kids so how could I stop loving my nails....They are a girl's best friend [and] are precious to the heart," her husband isn't so attached. In fact, he sounds kind of bitter when he discusses her obsession, saying, "Sometimes I think she gives her nails more attention than she gives me....She can't tie her shoes. Sometimes I have to help her with her clothes. She's very slow."

US Stocks Waver In Final Hour Of Trading

U.S. stocks wavered Friday as blowout earnings from Google were undercut by concerns of another warning about the U.S.'s credit rating and a depressed reading on consumer sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently was down 15 points, or 0.1% at 12422, after bobbing between positive and negative territory for much of the session. The blue-chip index closed on Thursday at a low for the month after losing ground in four of the previous five sessions.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 2 points, or 0.1%, to 1311, as energy and technology stocks led advancers. The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite Index rose 13 points, or 0.5%, to 2776.
Upbeat earnings results from Google helped boost investor sentiment. The Internet-search giant late Thursday posted a surprisingly robust 36% jump in quarterly profit on record revenue. Google experienced strength in its core search business and gained traction with its newer operations, including its new social network Google+. Shares surged 13%.
Google's quarterly report, which gave a boost to technology stocks, came amid a warning from Standard & Poor's late Thursday on U.S. debt. The ratings agency said there is a 50% chance it would lower the AAA bond rating on U.S. debt within three months.
The threat of a possible downgrade comes as the debate over raising the debt ceiling has lasted longer than expected.
House Republicans said Friday they planned to vote next week on a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, with matching cuts and guidelines to control future government spending.
Financial stocks were among the worst decliners in the S&P 500. Citigroup shares recently slumped 1.9%, reversing an earlier gain. The bank's second-quarter profit jumped 24%, but it struggled to grow earnings in many businesses around the world, which diminished investor appetite for the stock.
"The financials aren't doing much despite some decent reports this week," said Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "That's capping any rally attempts that we see."
Stocks also had a muted reaction to the European bank "stress tests" that were released earlier in the session. Eight banks flunked the European Union's stress tests, according to the European Banking Authority. Analysts and investors were bracing for as many as 20 banks to fail.
"The fact that eight banks failed isn't a huge surprise in either direction," said Rick Bensignor, chief market strategist at Dahlman Rose & Co. "We knew there'd be names that wouldn't pass. This is a moderate number."
On the merger-and-acquisition front, Petrohawk Energy soared 63% after Australia's BHP Billiton agreed to buy the company in a deal valued at more than $15 billion, including debt.
Clorox climbed 6.7% after saying it received an unsolicited bid from Icahn Enterprises to buy the company for $76.50 a share.
"The wall of worry is still there," said Brian Gendreau, market strategist with Cetera Financial Group. "But M&A activity is reviving and earnings are providing a stealth source of support for the market."
The U.S economic calendar was chock full of data. The preliminary Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment moved to 63.8, much weaker than economists expected.
Meanwhile, consumer inflation last month fell 0.2% from May, the first decline in a year. New York-area manufacturing activity weakened again in July, notching a negative reading for a second straight month.
U.S. industrial production increased 0.2% and industries used 76.7% of their capacity last month, according to a Federal Reserve report. Both figures came in slightly softer than economists expected.
Gold capped a nine-day winning streak with a record settlement at $1,590.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude-oil prices settled above $97 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar strengthened somewhat against the euro, but weakened against the yen.
Mattel's second-quarter earnings rose 56% and beat analysts' estimates, due in part to the strong performance of Cars 2 merchandise. Shares of the largest U.S. toy maker by revenue rose 2.6%.
Biopharmaceutical developer Vical said it would get a $130 million upfront payment from Japan's Astellas Pharma in a new licensing deal to develop and sell its TransVax vaccine. Vical shares rose 5.8%.

-By Steven Russolillo, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2180;

Android Market Files Hint At A Google Music Store

Google’s Android Market was just revamped this past week with a new layout, easier navigation, and the addition of books and movies. But still missing, was a music offering. However, delving into the resource files for the updated marketplace revealed evidence of an upcoming Google music store.
After months of delays from unsuccessful negotiations with record label companies, Google seemed to have launched a very incomplete music service, which they aptly labeled as beta. It launched during theI/O conference back in May, but has since generated very little buzz—quite the opposite from itsGoogle+ social platform. Without record label support, the service could only function as a music locker unable to sell music.
But is that about to change? Some files discovered in the Android Market update are either signs that Google may have finally swayed record labels or are simply planning ahead. In the resource files where the Market app calls its graphics, there are various items including shopping bag icons. A red shopping bag represented the Movies section, a green one represented apps, a blue one for books, and an orange one for music, which matches the Google Music Beta scheme.
However, a Google music store launch seems a bit late. Apple’s iTunes is still the largest music download store and soon it’s getting the iCloud. Amazon trails far behind in second place despite their cut-throat pricing and cloud locker service. And now with the excitement for the launch of Spotify and a potential shift of interest towards a music subscription and streaming service it seems unlikely that Google will be able to make much of a splash with whatever music locker and store combination it’s cooking up.
[via Android Community]

Los Angeles Carmageddon: Traffic jams are more fun on film

With "Carmageddon" approaching fast (or slowly) upon Los Angeles, it is time to ponder: Is it better to be stuck in an enormous traffic jam or struck dead by a giant meteor? Although the 1998 disaster film "Deep Impact" was not exactly framed that way, it is a natural question as Southern Californians face a weekend of traffic woes thanks to the temporary shutting down of the 405 Freeway.

Indeed, there's something truly cinematic about the doomsday hype surrounding the closure, which has included movie starstweeting to stay ... off ... the ... road! and led some to wonder whether Carmageddon wouldsteamroll "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" at the box office. (Short answer: It won't. Duh.)
Movies, of course, have long used traffic jam scenes for various purposes. Some heighten the dramatic tension -- what could be worse than trying to escape mortal disaster and get stuck behind that IDIOT in front of you who is leaving that HUGE gap with the car in front of him?
Some are for less tense but more complex, such as the famous eight-minute tracking shot in Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 film "Week End," in which a couple navigate a French highway jam that serves as a commentary on the human condition. The behavior ranges from the absurd to the sublime, with ball-playing children, caged animals that include a llama, overturned cars, a man unfurling a sailboat's flag and ultimately the reason for all the honking, which puts the preceding machinations in a whole new context.
Watch the "Week End" scene below, then click on the photos above for a gallery of some other famous traffic jams on film.
-- Scott Sandell LA Times

Google Plus hit 10 Million users in 2 weeks (VIDEO)

Google's Facebook competitor Google Plus grew to 10 million users in just two weeks, the company announced Thursday.

That's only a bit more than 1 percent of Facebook's 750 million global users, but it still represents staggering growth for Google's infant social network, which isn't yet open to the public. The site remains in a "limited" trial phase.

"Growth on Google has been great," Google CEO Larry Page said on a conference call with analysts. "Over 10 million have joined. That's a great achievement for the team. There has been a ton of activity."

Page said more than 1 billion items are being shared on the network every day. The " 1" button, which populates search results with friends' recommendations, has been clicked 2.3 billion times a day.

Google represents a part of the new CEO's grand vision for the 13-year old company. Despite Google's position as the worldwide leader in search, Page has opted to treat the company as a startup, increasing hiring and starting several new initiatives.

"Today, I see more opportunities for Google than ever before; we're just at the beginning of what we want to do," Page said. "We're only at 1 percent of what's possible. Google's just getting started."

Accordingly, Google continued its hiring spree in the second quarter, upping its headcount by nearly 9 percent, or 2,500 employees -- including 450 from the acquisition of flight data company ITA .

The company also has spent freely, putting more than $900 million into its infrastructure during the quarter, including expanding its massive data centers. The company says it expects to continue to make "significant" capital expenditures going forward.

Google says all that spending will keep the company ahead of its rivals.

The past quarter has been a busy one. In addition to Google , the company started selling its Chromebook line of laptops aimed at current Microsoft corporate clients and launched its Music application to compete with Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Cloud Drive.

The company also unveiled Google Wallet, which will allow customers to pay for items using their smartphones, and it launched Google Offers, a Groupon competitor.

But Google also shut down several products that weren't working, such as Google Health and PowerMeter.

"Our focus is more wood behind fewer arrows," said Page. "I'm very happy with our progress."

Still, the free spending has made some stock analysts cautious. Page lashed back at that criticism, noting that when Google started its search engine, no one believed the company could monetize that besides the occasional banner ad.

"Fast forward to today, it seems like we're playing the same movie all over again," he said.

The world's online search leader said its net income in the second quarter rose to $2.5 billion, up 36 percent from a year earlier.

Results included one-time charges totaling $1.06 per share. Without the charges, Google said it earned $8.74 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time items from their estimates, had forecast earnings of $7.85 per share.

Profit rose as both the number of clicks on Google's ads and the amount that advertising partners pay per click increased substantially: Paid clicks surged 18 percent and cost per click grew 12 percent compared to last year.

Sales for the Mountain View, Calif., company rose 32 percent to $9 billion. Excluding advertising sales that Google shares with partners, a figure also known as traffic acquisition costs, the company reported revenue of $6.9 billion, which topped analysts' forecasts of $6.6 billion.

Shares of Google jumped 12 percent after hours.

Still, not all the news has been positive for Google, which has recently landed in antitrust crosshairs.

The Federal Trade Commission began investigating the company for evidence of abusive practices, and a federal judge rejected Google's planned settlement deal in its attempt to create a universal online book library.

The Department of Justice also heavily scrutinized the company's recent purchase of flight data software company ITA, and Google set aside $500 million for a potential settlement with the DOJ regarding the company's advertising practices. The DOJ is currently studying Google's proposed $400 million purchase of digital advertising toolmaker Admeld.

Late last month, French search company 1plusV said it would seek $423 million in damages from the American search giant over alleged anticompetitive practices.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2′: Review Revue

The eighth and final chapter in the epic Harry Potter franchise has opened to the public. Director David Yates’s 130-minute swan song to the Boy Who Lived corresponds to the last third of author J.K. Rowling’s seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Much of the film is an extended battle sequence, as Harry, Ron, Hermione and their allies battle the evil Lord Voldemort in a final magical struggle.

Thousands of fans packed theaters at midnight, eager to see the closing moments of the Harry Potter saga. Review aggregator gives the film an 87 out of 100, the highest ranking for any of the Harry Potter movies. On that site, the last Harry Potter film to receive marks nearly as high was director Alfonso Cuarón’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in 2004. Yates took over directorial control of the series with 2007′s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
Read some reviews of the final Harry Potter movie here.
  • “The final episode of Harry’s epic journey, part 2 of ‘The Deathly Hallows,’ is the best possible end for the series that began a decade ago…It’s a dark and thunderous pageant that sets its bespectacled hero in the midst of vast forces, yet never loses track of who he is—a brave boy, to borrow both parts of Dumbledore’s fond phrase, on the way to becoming a wonderful man.” [Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal]
  • “For all the movies’ dazzle and flash and Hippogriffs, the characters are more vivid than the special effects. It is our emotional involvement with the three-dimensional heroes and villains, sidekicks and background players that draws us back time after time. The final chapter ends with an epilogue that puts a lump in your throat and makes you want to watch them all again from the beginning. That’s the definition of a classic.” [Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune]
  • “As film undertakings go, the only thing comparable to the Potter series is ‘Star Wars,’ and everyone knows how poorly that played out. ‘Deathly Hallows Part 2′ sends Harry off into the pop culture pantheon on a thrilling high note. Well played. Well played indeed.” [Tom Long, Detroit News]
  • “This outing not only doesn’t disappoint; it surpasses high expectations. This is a terrific, smartly designed adolescent adventure, visually rich, narratively satisfying, and bound to resonate for years to come.” [Liam Lacey, Toronto Globe and Mail]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How Big Pharma got Americans hooked on anti-psychotic drugs.

Mass psychosis in the US
Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.

Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses - primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - to treat such symptoms as delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorder. Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics. Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics at rates that seem to indicate a national mass psychosis.
It is anything but a coincidence that the explosion in antipsychotic use coincides with the pharmaceutical industry's development of a new class of medications known as "atypical antipsychotics." Beginning with Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Seroquel in the 1990s, followed by Abilify in the early 2000s, these drugs were touted as being more effective than older antipsychotics like Haldol and Thorazine. More importantly, they lacked the most noxious side effects of the older drugs - in particular, the tremors and other motor control problems.

The atypical anti-psychotics were the bright new stars in the pharmaceutical industry's roster of psychotropic drugs - costly, patented medications that made people feel and behave better without any shaking or drooling. Sales grew steadily, until by 2009 Seroquel and Abilify numbered fifth and sixth in annual drug sales, and prescriptions written for the top three atypical antipsychotics totaled more than 20 million.  Suddenly, antipsychotics weren't just for psychotics any more.

Not just for psychotics anymore
By now, just about everyone knows how the drug industry works to influence the minds of American doctors, plying them with gifts, junkets, ego-tripping awards, and research funding in exchange for endorsing or prescribing the latest and most lucrative drugs. "Psychiatrists are particularly targeted by Big Pharma because psychiatric diagnoses are very subjective," says Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, whose PharmedOut project tracks the industry's influence on American medicine, and who last month hosted a conference on the subject at Georgetown. A shrink can't give you a blood test or an MRI to figure out precisely what's wrong with you. So it's often a case of diagnosis by prescription. (If you feel better after you take an anti-depressant, it's assumed that you were depressed.) As the researchers in one study of the drug industry's influence put it, "the lack of biological tests for mental disorders renders psychiatry especially vulnerable to industry influence." For this reason, they argue, it's particularly important that the guidelines for diagnosing and treating mental illness be compiled "on the basis of an objective review of the scientific evidence" - and not on whether the doctors writing them got a big grant from Merck or own stock in AstraZeneca.

Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and a leading critic of the Big Pharma, puts it more bluntly: "Psychiatrists are in the pocket of industry." Angell has pointed out that most of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of mental health clinicians, have ties to the drug industry. Likewise, a 2009 study showed that 18 out of 20 of the shrinks who wrote the American Psychiatric Association's most recent clinical guidelines for treating depression, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia had financial ties to drug companies.

In a recent article in The New York Review of Books, Angell deconstructs what she calls an apparent "raging epidemic of mental illness" among Americans. The use of psychoactive drugs—including both antidepressants and antipsychotics—has exploded, and if the new drugs are so effective, Angell points out, we should "expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising." Instead, "the tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007 - from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six. For children, the rise is even more startling - a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades. Mental illness is now the leading cause of disability in children." Under the tutelage of Big Pharma, we are "simply expanding the criteria for mental illness so that nearly everyone has one." Fugh-Berman agrees: In the age of aggressive drug marketing, she says, "Psychiatric diagnoses have expanded to include many perfectly normal people."

Cost benefit analysis

What's especially troubling about the over-prescription of the new antipsychotics is its prevalence among the very young and the very old - vulnerable groups who often do not make their own choices when it comes to what medications they take. Investigations into antipsychotic use suggests that their purpose, in these cases, may be to subdue and tranquilize rather than to treat any genuine psychosis.
Carl Elliott reports in Mother Jones magazine: "Once bipolar disorder could be treated with atypicals, rates of diagnoses rose dramatically, especially in children. According to a recent Columbia University study, the number of children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder rose 40-fold between 1994 and 2003." And according to another study, "one in five children who visited a psychiatrist came away with a prescription for an antipsychotic drug."

A remarkable series published in the Palm Beach Post in May true revealed that the state of  Florida's juvenile justice department has literally been pouring these drugs into juvenile facilities, "routinely" doling them out "for reasons that never were approved by federal regulators." The numbers are staggering: "In 2007, for example, the Department of Juvenile Justice bought more than twice as much Seroquel as ibuprofen. Overall, in 24 months, the department bought 326,081 tablets of Seroquel, Abilify, Risperdal and other antipsychotic drugs for use in state-operated jails and homes for children…That's enough to hand out 446 pills a day, seven days a week, for two years in a row, to kids in jails and programs that can hold no more than 2,300 boys and girls on a given day." Further, the paper discovered that "One in three of the psychiatrists who have contracted with the state Department of Juvenile Justice in the past five years has taken speaker fees or gifts from companies that make antipsychotic medications."

In addition to expanding the diagnoses of serious mental illness, drug companies have encouraged doctors to prescribe atypical anti-psychotics for a host of off-label uses. In one particularly notorious episode, the drugmaker Eli Lilly pushed Zyprexa on the caregivers of old people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, as well as agitation, anxiety, and insomnia. In selling to nursing home doctors, sales reps reportedly used the slogan "five at five"—meaning that five milligrams of Zyprexa at 5 pm would sedate their more difficult charges. The practice persisted even after FDA had warned Lilly that the drug was not approved for such uses, and that it could lead to obesity and even diabetes in elderly patients.

In a video interview conducted in 2006, Sharham Ahari, who sold Zyprexa for two years at the beginning of the decade, described to me how the sales people would wangle the doctors into prescribing it. At the time, he recalled, his doctor clients were giving him a lot of grief over patients who were "flipping out" over the weight gain associated with the drug, along with the diabetes. "We were instructed to downplay side effects and focus on the efficacy of drug…to recommend the patient drink a glass a water before taking a pill before the  meal and then after the meal in hopes the stomach would expand" and provide an easy way out of this obstacle to increased sales. When docs complained, he recalled, "I told them, ‘Our drug is state of the art. What's more important? You want them to get better or do you want them to stay the same--a thin psychotic patient or a fat stable patient.'"
For the drug companies, Shahrman says, the decision to continue pushing the drug despite side effects is matter of cost benefit analysis: Whether you will make more money by continuing to market the drug for off-label use, and perhaps defending against lawsuits, than you would otherwise. In the case of Zyprexa, in January 2009, Lilly settled a lawsuit brought by with the US Justice Department, agreeing to pay $1.4 billion, including "a criminal fine of $515 million, the largest ever in a health care case, and the largest criminal fine for an individual corporation ever imposed in a United States criminal prosecution of any kind,''the Department of Justice said in announcing the settlement." But Lilly's sale of Zyprexa in that year alone were over $1.8 billion.

Turning people into zombies
As it turns out, the atypical antipsychotics may not even be the best choice for people with genuine, undisputed psychosis.
A growing number of health professionals have come to think these drugs are not really as effective as older less expensive medicines which they have replaced, that they themselves produce side effects that cause other sorts of diseases such as diabetes and plunge the patient deeper into the gloomy world of serious mental disorder. Along with stories of success comes reports of people turned into virtual zombies.
Elliott reports in Mother Jones: "After another large analysis in The Lancet found that most atypicals actually performed worse than older drugs, two senior British psychiatrists penned a damning editorial that ran in the same issue. Dr. Peter Tyrer, the editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry, and Dr. Tim Kendall of the Royal College of Psychiatrists wrote: "The spurious invention of the atypicals can now be regarded as invention only, cleverly manipulated by the drug industry for marketing purposes and only now being exposed."
Bottom line:Stop Big Pharma and the parasitic shrink community from wantonly pushing these pills across the population.

James RidgewayBy 

ConocoPhillips, Nation's Third-Largest Oil Company, To Split In Two

ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, said Thursday that it will split itself into two separate publicly traded companies and its CEO and Chairman Jim Mulva plans to retire once the transaction is complete.
Its shares jumped $3.60, or 4.8 percent, to $78 in premarket trading.
"We have concluded that two independent companies focused on their respective industries will be better positioned to pursue their individually focused business strategies," Mulva said in a statement.
Conoco's announcement comes on the heels of the breakup of Marathon Oil first announced in January. On July 1, Marathon Petroleum Corp., the refining company, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the "MPC" ticker symbol. Marathon Oil Corp. kept its ticker symbol of "MRO."
Conoco said its board has approved separating its refining and marketing and exploration and production businesses by spinning off the refining and marketing segment to shareholders in a tax-free transaction.
The split, which is expected to be completed during the first half of next year, will leave Conoco as an exploration and production company.
Mulva will lead the separation efforts, but plans to retire once the split is complete.

'Glee': Lea Michele, Cory Monteith & Chris Colfer Graduating After This Season

In June, Ryan Murphy told Ryan Seacrest that the "Glee" stars entering their senior year at McKinley High would graduate from the show at the end season, instantly stirring massive buzz given that three of the show's biggest names -- Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith -- would be upperclassmen this coming year.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Murphy made clear that there would be no prep years or college plot lines.
Those stars -- Michele, Colfer and Monteith -- are "not going to be back at all for Season 4," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic, or you can be really true to life and say when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year."
Those comments closely matched what he told Seacrest, when he said, "The thing that I wanted to do and the cast wanted to do, we didn't want to have a show where they were in high school for 8 years. We really wanted it to be true to that experience. We thought it would be really cool if we were true to the timeline."
Murphy has aimed to add new stars to the show each year, with the second season bringing aboard breakout stars Darren Criss and Chord Overstreet, among others. Fans erupted in anger when they found out that, while Criss was made a series regular for the third season, Overstreet would apparently not be included in the show very much going forward. Soon after, a seeming reversal of the decision was announced, with Overstreet publicly extended the opportunity to continue on as a guest, with a series regular position possibly being attained as early as midseason.