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Who’s Afraid of Supplements? “Do You Believe in Paul Offit?”

by Alison Rose Levy

The Medical Establishment’s “Favorite” Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine

Paul Offit’s new book and media blitz pretend to be objective, but really offer one-sided bashing of natural healthcare.

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at? Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia? has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013 ). Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about healthcare treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last 25 years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do).

“People are systematically choosing to manage their own health in a way that is unprecedented,” points out James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy group with over 100,000 members. “The conventional treatments that Offit champions are often very helpful. The problem is that the industry has oversold them, and more and more people see that now.”

If Offit’s book had aimed to explore all health options even-handedly for their upsides and their downsides, it might have truly advanced the conversation about how to better health and lower healthcare costs. (And ranking below 16 developed nations across the lifespan and for all income levels, while stuck in the midst of a polarized debate over costs and coverage, the U.S. sorely needs that conversation.) But instead, in his book and media tour, Dr. Offit plays the predictable role of debunker, single-mindedly championing his own medical brand. Unfurling an arch skepticism about the use of herbs and other nutritional supplements, for example, Offit presents himself as the stalwart for science. But it’s instructive to see what happens when he encounters someone conversant with the health literature.

Capitol Wellness Expo – February 7, 2013

Capitol Wellness Expo

Exhibits, Speakers, Networking

February 7, 2013

10:00a to 5:30p, Cannon House Office Building, Rooms 121 and 122.

Free Admission. All are welcome.

Please take a moment to forward this flyer to your Representative and Senators. Ask them to send someone from their offices, and to post the flyer.

Click here to find contact information for your Representative and Senators.

 

February 6, 2013  6:30-9pm  Program Opening and Citizen Healer Orientation & Dinner

February 7, 2013  10am-5:30pm  Capitol Wellness Expo 2013 – agenda

February 8, 2013  12noon-5pm  HEALTH on the Hill – Technology Healing Education Fair – more info

The Expo is in tandem with the February 6-8 HOPE on the Hill sponsored by Voice for HOPE.  More at HOPE programs on the Hill

The most convenient hotel is the Capitol Hill Hotel at 200 C Street SE, Washington, DC, 202-543-6000.  See also HOPE accommodations BLOG.

Victory Is At Hand! Bill Passes, Awaits Illinois Governor’s Signature!

By James J. Gormley

The Illinois’ nutrition community bill (SB 2936) we told you about over the last week has passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 102 to 7, with two abstentions. Translation: The bill has passed and now awaits Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s signature!

In an exception to the normal legislative procedures, a second and a third bill reading fortunately occurred on one day, today, after the bill was passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate on November 29th and by the House Licensing Committee earlier this week.

To recap, current Illinois law allows a near-monopoly for dietitians, but, with Governor Quinn’s signature, SB 2936 will open up access to other qualified health professionals. For many years now the American Dietetic Association (now re-named the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or AND) has been working hard to monopolize all communications and information provided to consumers about nutrition and dietary supplements.

The dieticians’ lobby seeks to not just prevent laypeople from providing dietary advice, but non-RD health professionals as well! The heart of the problem is this: Unlike many health professions, “nutrition advice” is not a single profession, but is a tool-set legitimately used by many professionals. Those professionals include nutritionists, medical doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, health coaches, and many more, some of whom are much more qualified to provide such information!

The bill will:

  • Change current law from an RD-only law, to one that permits a wider variety of nutrition education and allows other nutrition exams and credentials (the CNS, CCN, and DACBN).
  • Strengthen exemptions protecting acupuncturists, health food stores and other businesses and employees who respond to consumer questions regarding nutrition and dietary supplement information.

According to the American Nutrition Association (ANA), an organization which represents the majority of the nutrition community: “This bill doesn’t correct every provision of current law we sought to change. However, the significance of rolling back a monopolistic RD practice law to one which includes other nutritionists and exemptions, is immense.”

Governor Quinn will want to consider what is at stake here — will we have only the dietetics version of nutrition advice in Illinois or will The Land of Lincoln have broader access to nutrition advice? The dieticians’ lobby is bringing all the money and forces they can to prevent this good bill from being signed!

We have an excellent chance of winning, but only if Governor Quinn is aware of how important this bill is to Illinois consumers and, by extension, for health freedom.

Those Illinois residents who wish to encourage Governor Quinn to sign SB 2936 can click here.

A special thanks goes out to the following sponsoring Senators: Iris Martinez (the bill’s main sponsor), Michael Noland, Ron Sandack, Jacqueline Collins, Emil Jones III, Mattie Hunter and Donna Trotter. Thanks are also due to the sponsoring Representatives: Angelo Saviano, Michael Zalewski, Michael McAuliffe and Brandon Phelps.

Although it didn’t matter when all was said and done, the following Illinois House members inexplicably voted against this historic bill: Pihos, Chapa LaVia, Northland, Franks, Farnham, Durkin and Sente. Two Representatives took no position (but were present): Connelly and Mussman.

Ending a dietetics monopoly and ensuring protection for a diverse range of nutrition care providers for Americans is underway. This will be a milestone step for Illinois if their Governor signs it.

First Part of Battle Won in Illinois; With the Help of All of our Illinois Supporters, We Can Achieve Victory!

By James J. Gormley

Illinois’  nutrition community bill (SB 2936) we told you about over the last few days has unanimously passed the Illinois State Senate (51 to 0)! This is an important move forward – and thank you for your commitment thus far!

We now have one more, urgent step: the bill must pass the Illinois House of Representatives.

Between today and Monday we need to make a big noise in the Illinois House, where the dietitian association is working hard to thwart our bill. That’s why we’re asking you to make one more push in the form of emails, faxes, and phone calls to your Illinois state representatives.

To recap, current Illinois law allows a near-monopoly for dietitians, but SB 2936 would open up access to other qualified health professionals. The final vote is expected to come Wednesday, December 5. For many years now the American Dietetic Association (now re-named the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or AND) has been working hard to monopolize all communications and information provided to consumers about nutrition and dietary supplements.

The dieticians’ lobby seeks to not just prevent laypeople from providing dietary advice, but non-RD health professionals as well! The heart of the problem is this: Unlike many health professions, “nutrition advice” is not a single profession, but is a tool-set legitimately used by many professionals (and the public). Those professionals include nutritionists, medical doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, health coaches, and many more, some of whom are much more qualified to provide such information!

If you are an Illinois resident, we at Citizens for Health are requesting immediate action from you, once again, to advocate for nutritional health freedom in Illinois and urge passage of Senator Martinez’ Bill No. 2936 in the Illinois House of Representatives.

The bill would:

  • Change current law from an RD-only law, to one that permits a wider variety of nutrition education and allows other nutrition exams and credentials (the CNS, CCN, and DACBN).
  • Strengthen exemptions protecting acupuncturists, health food stores and other businesses and employees who respond to consumer questions regarding nutrition and dietary supplement information.

According to the American Nutrition Association (ANA), “This bill doesn’t correct every provision of current law we sought to change. However, the significance of rolling back a monopolistic RD practice law to one which includes other nutritionists and exemptions, is immense.”

Ending a dietetics monopoly and ensuring protection for a diverse range of nutrition care providers for Americans is underway. This is a huge step in the process.

I urge you to take as many of these actions as possible:

1. Call: Make a call to each member on the House Licensing Committee below expressing your support for “the nutrition community position,” which is to support passage of Senator Martinez’ bill.

Rep. Kelly Burke, 217-782-0515

Rep. Renee Kosel, 217-782-0424

Rep. Marcus Evans, 217-782-8272

Rep. Michael McAuliffe, 217-782-8182

Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, 217-782-8007

Rep. Brandon Phelps, 217-782-5131

Rep. Angelo Saviano, 217-782-3374

Rep. Patrick Verschoore, 217-782-5970

Rep. Michael Zalewski, 217-782-5280

2. Send an email to your State Representative by clicking here and entering your address information.

3. Forward this email to any Illinois person or business who supports nutrition rights.

Please take action on letters and phone-calls between today and Monday!! Legislators must hear strong support for the nutrition community bill. The Dietetic Association (AND) will be at the capitol en masse to try to kill this bill.

Please consider what is at stake here — will we have only the dietetics version of nutrition advice, or will Illinois have broader access to nutrition advice? The Dietetic Association (AND) is bringing all the money and forces they can to pass another RD-only law! We have an excellent chance of winning but ONLY with a strong show of support.

Thank you in advance for taking action for health-freedom and nutrition rights in Illinois!

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Dieticians and Efforts to Monopolize Nutrition

By James J. Gormley

There are many healthcare professionals who provide dietary advice.  One subset is “Registered Dietitians” or RDs, a private credential offered by the private trade association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, or ADA.

RDs typically provide government-sanctioned dietary advice, such as the USDA dietary guidelines.  There is a large other set of professionals – fully 2/3 of the nutrition community!– more commonly referred to as “nutritionists” who typically take a very different approach to dietary advice (not constrained by government-imposed guidelines), and there are many other professionals who use nutrition as part of their practice.

Despite an urgent need for more nutrition therapy and advice (not less), nutritionists claim that the dietician lobby has engaged in a campaign to monopolize nutrition advice through regulatory capture, specifically state nutrition licensing laws and federal regulations.

Regulatory capture of health professions is nothing new.  But this attempt is said by nutritionists to be particularly egregious, because the ‘scope’ of the so-called ‘dietetics and nutrition’ profession is not a set of competencies unique to a particular health care provider (like an MD or a nurse).

It does not involve substances that the law otherwise forbids the public to use (such as a medical license permitting the prescription of pharmaceuticals).  This is the purveying of advice with regard to a substance freely available to all and consumed every day: food.

The dietician lobby seeks to not just prevent laypeople from providing dietary advice, but non-RD health professionals as well!  The crux of the problem is this:

Unlike many health professions, “nutrition advice” is not a single profession, but is a tool-set legitimately used by many professionals (and the public).  Those professionals include dietitians, nutritionists, medical doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, health coaches, and many more.  Thus, it is much more difficult to reduce nutrition to a uniform regulatory scheme than it is for a discrete profession, such as nursing, for instance.  It is like trying to license “exercise advice” – which is a tool used by many professions, not the domain of a single profession.

The dietician licensing bills make it a crime for those who give nutrition advice without a license. These laws prevent the vast majority of non-RDs from providing nutrition advice and artificially constrain the number of nutrition advisers and practitioners.  In over half of states in the U.S. these one-sided licensure laws have passed, and entire segments of nutrition practitioners – such as naturopaths, nutritionists, herbalists and many others – are often barred from providing advice.

The sole beneficiaries of the dieticians’ drive for monopoly are its Registered Dietitians.  And they are by no means the most highly qualified. The RD credential requires a bachelor’s degree, while several other nutrition credentials require a Masters or Doctoral level.  What the dietician lobby does have is far greater financial resources.

According to the American Nutrition Association (ANA), the dietician lobby is acting as legislator, executive, judge, and jury:

1. It has attempted to insinuate itself into federal regulations, so that only members of its professional trade group are permitted to be reimbursed for nutrition counseling.

2. It has been fairly successful at getting state laws passed, substantially similar to North Carolina’s, that criminalize the provision of nutrition advice.  This at a time when their own data show a shortage of nutrition professionals relative to the demand

3. Those dietician-friendly state laws enshrine Registered Dietitians as the dominant force on each of these state licensing boards.

4. The state licensing boards play a large role in determining who can and cannot obtain a license, first by drafting ‘rules’ that spell out the details of licensure requirements (which mimic the dietician group’s requirements), and second by being the gatekeeper for applicants for licensure.

5. The association then encourages its members to file complaints with the state licensing boards

Then the Registered Dietitians in the state, encouraged explicitly by the dietician lobby to police the field, report unlicensed practitioners to the state’s licensing board, which are referred for prosecution.

6. Hearings and settlements during the course of such prosecutions are conducted by or in close contact with the particular licensing board.

Progress in Illinois

While Current Illinois law has been a near-monopoly for dietitians, we’re pleased to announce that the American Nutrition Association’s bill to open up access to nutrition practitioners is up for a vote, likely by tomorrow morning, November 29th. If you are in Illinois or have a family member, friend or colleague in the state, we urge you to pass along the this link asap!

The ANA has approval of the bill sponsor, Sen. Iris Martinez, many other legislators, and the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, on an amended bill that would:

–Change current law from an RD-only law, to one that permits a wider variety of nutrition education and allows other nutrition exams and credentials (the CNS, CCN, and DACBN).

–Strengthen exemptions protecting acupuncturists, health food stores and other businesses and employees who respond to consumer questions regarding nutrition and dietary supplement information.

According to the ANA, “This bill doesn’t correct every provision of current law we sought to change. However, the significance of rolling back a monopolistic RD practice law to one which includes other nutritionists and exemptions, is immense.”

Ending a dietetics monopoly and ensuring protection for a diverse range of nutrition care providers for Americans is underway. This is a huge step in the process, and we at Citizens for Health look forward to working with all of you to roll back these nutrition monopolies in other states.

Chicago Conference Covers Latest Research on Natural Products for Women’s Health

By James J. Gormley

On October 20th, 2012, the Natural Health Research Institute (NHRI) held its 8th Annual NHRI Scientific Symposium, entitled, “The Effectiveness of Natural Products for Women’s Health.”

Presented by the University of Illinois (UIC) College of Pharmacy and the American Nutrition Association (ANA), the UIC College of Pharmacy auditorium was attended by a students and practicing pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors and Certified Nutrition Specialists.

The event featured a stellar line-up of world-class experts in natural products and women’s health. The speakers were:

Tori Hudson, N.D., Clinical Professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and Medical Director of A Woman’s Time.

Richard B. van Breemen, Ph.D., Professor of Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy and Director of the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research.

Harry G. Preuss, M.D., CNS, Professor of Biochemistry, Medicine and Pathology at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Dennis B. Lubahn, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry & Child Health and Director of the NIH Botanical Center, University of Missouri-Columbia.

William Helferich, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition, Diet, Women’s Health & Aging, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, Director of Doctoral Studies & Educational Director, Hawthorn University.

Dr. Hudson’s presentation, entitled “Evidence-based Natural Solutions to Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause” busted some media-fed myths regarding black cohosh, in which she detailed its strong safety record and efficacy for peri-menopause and menopause symptoms.

She also outlined the benefits of ginseng, hops, kava, kudzu, maca, red clover, Pycnogenol, Sibiric rhubarb, St. John’s wort, valerian, omega-3 fats, multi-ingredient combinations and specific treatment protocols she uses for specific symptoms.

Dr. van Breemen’s talk was entitled: “Safety and Efficacy of Botanical Dietary Supplements As Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy.” His presentation detailed research into botanical alternatives to HRT, including promising studies on hops, red clover and black cohosh.

Dr. Preuss’ presentation, entititled “Managing Obesity With Natural Dietary Supplements: Lessons Learned From Clinical Research Studies,” emphasized the importance of reduced body fat, not just overall weight, in improving body composition, and looked at research into chromium, carb blockers, green tea extract, and conjugated linoleic acid.

Dr. Lubahn’s talk was entitled “Using Botanicals, Hedgehogs, and Estrogens in the Prevention of Human Disease,” in which he outlined studies showing experimental benefits against prostate cancer  with high concentrations of genistein from soy, EGCG from green tea, curcumin and resveratrol, and low concentrations with the new botanicals under study, like sutherlandia (Lessertia frutescens), and how these plant compounds are able to hold back unwanted signaling in mouse and human prostate cancer cell lines, which researchers link to estrogen and which may point to benefits for cancers in women.

Dr. Helferich’s presentation, entitled Isoflavones and Breast Cancer Growth and Progression: Insights From Pre-Clinical Models,” pointed to a potentially better safety profile for soy genistein-containing diets (for example, from fermented foods) than from isolated extracts of genistein.

Dr. Lipski’s entertaining talk was entitled “Women and Digestive Issues: Focus on IBS, Constipation and Leaky Gut.” She gave a detailed discussion of the intestine’s impact on virtually every single health area, and covered such as topics as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), dysbiosis and depression, psychiatric symptoms and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, leaky gut and associated conditions, the benefits of bone broths and gut-healing foods, and supplements and dietary approaches to all of these conditions.

With the event having been organized by the NHRI and the American Nutrition Association, and hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, support for the conference was provided by the NOW® Health Group and Kabco Pharmaceuticals. The conference proceedings are available here.

About the NHRI

The NHRI is an independent, non-profit organization that supports science-based research on natural health and wellness.  It is committed to informing consumers, scientists, the media, policymakers and legislators about scientific evidence on the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle to improve health and wellness, and reduce disease around the world.

Press Release: FDA Protects Supplement Consumers From Drug-Spiked Tainted Products

Citizens for Health Supporters Urged to Visit KeepSupplementsClean.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Turner, 202-462-8800
James Gormley, 202-695-2027

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2012 – Citizens for Health (CFH) believes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should provide, and avoid blocking, useful information that consumers can use to make their own health choices.

In this spirit, Citizen for Health calls attention to an effort by the FDA that we support wholeheartedly. When it comes to protecting consumers from products that masquerade as dietary supplements, but that actually contain undeclared drugs, drug analogs, or steroids, by informing consumers FDA is serving as the safety agency that we as consumers urge it to be.

Under U.S. law, dietary supplements may contain a wide variety of ingredients, from nutritional substances such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, to botanical ingredients and a range of other ingredients that are used to supplement the diet. Although we do not always see eye-to-eye with FDA on where the exact boundary for allowable dietary ingredients lies, we agree with the agency that neither pharmaceutical drugs nor steroids are allowed in lawfully marketed supplement products.

Unfortunately, there are marketers who have placed their own profits before the health of those who use their products, and FDA has identified over 400 products since 2008 that were found through the agency’s analysis to be spiked with an undeclared drug or steroid ingredient. Most of these products have been marketed either for weight loss, body building, or sexual enhancement. FDA’s enforcement actions have included consumer advisories, product recalls, and in a few cases criminal indictments, and regulatory agencies in many other countries are also confronting these same illegal products.

In its efforts to combat this problem, FDA has also reached out to the trade associations that represent responsible marketers of dietary supplements to ask for their assistance to educate the industry about this problem and to develop strategies to combat it. One of these organizations, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has developed a website that can keep you informed on this issue.

This site, KeepSupplementsClean.org, links to FDA’s consumer advice on how to avoid these products, and is updated every time FDA, or any international regulator, announces any action against a marketer of an illicit, tainted product.

If you are a consumer of health-promoting dietary supplements, especially those in the product areas most likely to be contaminated with undeclared ingredients (e.g., weight loss, body-building or sexual enhancement) you can protect yourself from inadvertently consuming a hidden drug or steroid by staying informed through the AHPA’s KeepSupplementsClean.org.

From that site you can find the specific names of tainted and drug-spiked products identified by regulators around the world, sign up for an FDA RSS feed for future updates, and learn how to report suspicious products to FDA.

Stay informed and stay healthy! Dietary supplement users can have confidence in the quality of the vast majority of dietary supplement products, but should also be wary when they encounter products with claims that sound too good to be true.

About Citizens for Health

Founded in 1992 Citizens for Health (or CFH), The Consumer Voice of the Natural Health Community,  is one of the nation’s most respected and powerful non-profit consumer action groups dedicated to providing a voice and a platform for informed and effective health activism. CFH provides nearly 100,000 supporters with credible and well-researched consumer news, action alerts, and opportunities to protect and expand access to innovative dietary supplements, healthy food, non-toxic products and integrative healthcare.

# # #

Los Angeles City Council Endorses “Yes on Prop 37”

Cites Overwhelming Public Support; Concerns about Pesticides, Contamination of Organic Fields

Los Angeles — As supporters rallied in front of Los Angeles City Hall today, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Proposition 37, the Right to Know ballot measure that would label genetically engineered foods in California.

 

California would join 61 other countries that already label genetically engineered foods, and Prop 37 would also prohibit such foods from being marketed as “natural.”

“It’s not often that the LA City Council votes unanimously to support a measure, but Prop 37 was a no-brainer. We have the right to know what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding our families,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, the resolution’s author. “I’m proud to be a part of this true grassroots campaign in our struggle against the biggest pesticide and junk food companies in the world.”

“We’re thrilled that the Los Angeles City Council voted to join our people’s movement today,” said Tom Fendley, political director of the Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign. “The Council joins millions of moms, dads, family farmers, doctors, scientists, and grocery store owners in saying, very simply, that we have the right to know what’s in our food.”

The Los Angeles City Council joins the California Democratic Party, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressmen Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, and dozens of other California city and town councils, elected officials and candidates in endorsing Prop 37.

“The Los Angeles City Council clearly did not believe the lies in our opposition’s widely discredited TV ads,” said Dave Murphy, co-chair of the California Right to Know and founder of Food Democracy Now! “They know Prop 37 won’t cost consumers a dime, because Prop 37 only requires a simple label. And they know Prop 37 won’t trigger lawsuits, because food companies will comply with this simple labeling law, just as they already do in 61 other countries.”

The world’s largest pesticide companies, led by Monsanto and DuPont, are the leading funders of the No on 37 campaign, which has raised more than $40 million to oppose Prop 37.

“Prop 37 won’t raise food costs, and most grocery store managers understand that it’s ridiculous to believe we’d be opening ourselves to lawsuits. Food companies will comply with this simple labeling law,” said Bruce Palma, general manager of Co-Opportunity Natural Foods in Santa Monica.

“As a family physician, I see patients trying to make the best food and exercise decisions for their families. At issue is the fundamental right to know what’s in our food,” said Dr. Sandra Salazar. “This is a commonsense measure, and we should promote personal empowerment of families to make healthy food decisions.”

Partial Resolution Text:
“WHEREAS, polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering;…”; and

WHEREAS, without disclosure, consumers of genetically engineered food can unknowingly violate their own dietary and religious restrictions; and

WHERAS the cultivation of genetically engineered crops can also cause serious impacts to the environment; for example, most genetically engineered crops are designed to withstand weed-killing pesticides known as herbicides; as a result hundreds of millions of pounds of additional herbicides have been used on U.S. farms….; and

WHEREAS, organic farming is a significant and increasingly important part of California agriculture. California has more organic cropland than any other state and has almost one out of every four certified organic operations in the nation; California’s organic agriculture is growing faster than 20 percent a year; and

WHEREAS, organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds; nonetheless, these farmers’ crops are regularly threatened with accidental contamination from neighboring lands where genetically engineered crops abound; this risk of contamination can erode public confidence in California’s organic products, significantly undermining this industry; Californians should have the choice to avoid purchasing foods whose production could harm the state’s organic farmers and its organic foods industry;…”

Courtesy of Tom Fendley, 415-622-7843, tom@carighttoknow.org