Archive for the ‘ scams that work ’ Category

Writer Elisabeth Rosenthal has worked as a physician and says it’s far more lucrative in the U.S. health system to provide a lifetime of treatments than a cure. Her new book is An American Sickness.

Health care is a trillion-dollar industry in America, but are we getting what we pay for? Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, a medical journalist who formerly worked as a medical doctor, warns that the existing system too often focuses on financial incentives over health or science.

“We’ve trusted a lot of our health care to for-profit businesses and it’s their job, frankly, to make profit,” Rosenthal says. “You can’t expect them to act like Mother Teresas.”

Rosenthal’s new book, An American Sickness, examines the deeply rooted problems of the existing health-care system and also offers suggestions for a way forward. She notes that under the current system, it’s far more lucrative to provide a lifetime of treatments than a cure.

“One expert in the book joked to me … that if we relied on the current medical market to deal with polio, we would never have a polio vaccine,” Rosenthal says. “Instead we would have iron lungs in seven colors with iPhone apps.”


Interview Highlights

On what consolidation of hospitals is doing to the price of care

In the beginning, this was a good idea: Hospitals came together to share efficiencies. You didn’t need every hospital ordering bed sheets. You didn’t need every hospital doing every procedure. You could share records of patients so the patient could go to the medical center that was most appropriate.

Now that consolidation trend has kind of snowballed and skyrocketed to a point … that in many parts of the country, major cities only have one, maybe two, hospital systems. And what you see with that level of consolidation is it’s kind of a mini-monopoly.

What happens, of course, when you have a mini-monopoly is you have an enormous sway over price. And so, what we see in research over and over again is that the cities that have the most hospital consolidation tend to have the highest prices for health care without any benefit for patient results. So consolidation, which started as a good idea in many places, has evolved to a point where it’s not benefiting patients anymore, it is benefiting profits.

An American Sickness

How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back

by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Hardcover, 406 pages

purchase

On the ways the health-care industry stands to profit more from lifetime treatment than it does from curing disease

If you’re a pharmaceutical manufacturer and you have a problem like diabetes, for example, if I invented a pill tomorrow that would cure diabetes — that would kill a multi-billion dollar business market. It’s far better to have treatments, sometimes really great treatments … [that] go on for life. That’s much better than something that will make the disease go away overnight.

On how prices will rise to whatever the market will bear

Another concept that I think is unique to medicine is what economists call “sticky pricing,” which is a wonderful term. It basically means … once one drugmaker, one hospital, one doctor says “Hey we could charge $10,000 for that procedure or that medicine.” Maybe it was $5,000 two months ago, but once everyone sees that someone’s getting away with charging $10,000, the prices all go up to that sticky ceiling. …

What you see often now is when generic drugs come out … the price doesn’t go down to 20 percent of the branded price, it maybe goes down to 90 percent of the branded price. So we’re not getting what we should get from a really competitive market where we, the consumers, are making those choices.

On initiating conversations early on with doctors about fees and medical bills

You should start every conversation with a doctor’s office by asking “Is there a concierge fee? Are they affiliated with a hospital? Which hospital are they affiliated with? Is the office considered part of a hospital?” In which case you’re going to be facing hospital fees in addition to your doctor’s office fees. You ask your doctor always … “If I need a lab test, if I need an X-ray, will you send me to an in-network provider so I don’t get hit by out-of-network fees?” …

Often that will be a little hard for your doctor, because they may have to fill out a different requisition, but it’s worth asking. And any doctor who won’t help you in that way, I think, isn’t attuned to the financial cost that we’re bearing today.

On getting charged for “drive-by doctors” brought in by the hospital or primary doctor

You do have to say “Who are you? Who called you?” and “Am I going to be billed for this?” And it’s tragic that in recovery people have to think in this kind of keep-on-your-guard, somewhat adversarial way, but I think if we don’t push back against the system in the way it bills, we’re complicit in allowing it to continue.

On how to decipher coded medical bills

Don’t be alarmed by the “prompt payment discount.” Go back to the hospital and say, “I want a fully itemized bill. I want to know what I’m paying for.” Some of it will be in codes, some of it will be in medical abbreviations. I’ve discovered you can Google those codes and find out what you’re being charged for, often, and most importantly, you might find you’re being charged for stuff that obviously you know you didn’t have.

Elizabeth Rosenthal is editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and a partner of NPR’s. Neither KFF nor KHN is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Radio producer Sam Briger and web producers Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper contributed to this story.

Source: Elizabeth Rosenthal Explains How U.S. Health Care Became Big Business : Shots – Health News : NPR

Some stupid person wants to kick their straight A daughter out of the house when she turns 18 while she is still in high school.

What a piece of _______ .

Listen up Shawn you foolish idiot.  That tiny little man that is running your life is going to drop you like a turd when his kids don’t need a nanny anymore.  Then who will you have?  You are burning this bridge.

Source: 2012 California Codes :: FAM – Family Code :: DIVISION 9 – SUPPORT [3500 – 5616] :: PART 2 – CHILD SUPPORT :: CHAPTER 1 – Duty of Parent to Support Child :: ARTICLE 1 – Support of Minor Child :: Section 3901

Chicago police were questioning four African-Americans Wednesday evening over a Facebook Live video that showed a mentally disabled white man being tied up and tortured while someone yelled F— white people! and F— Donald Trump!

Source: Four arrested after Facebook Live video shows man being tied up, beaten

The ads started popping up about a decade ago on social media. Instead of selling alcohol with sex and romance, these ads had an edgier theme: Harried mothers chugging wine to cope with everyday stress. Women embracing quart-sized bottles of whiskey, and bellying up to bars to knock back vodka shots with men.

In this new strain of advertising, women’s liberation equaled heavy drinking, and alcohol researchers say it both heralded and promoted a profound cultural shift: Women in America are drinking far more, and far more frequently, than their mothers or grandmothers did, and alcohol consumption is ending their marriages, alienating them from their children and killing them in record numbers.

White women are particularly likely to drink dangerously, with more than a quarter (25%) drinking multiple times a week and the share of binge drinking up 40 percent since 1999, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data. In 2013, more than a million women of all races wound up in emergency rooms as a result of heavy drinking, with women in middle age most likely to suffer severe intoxication.

This behavior has contributed to a startling increase in early mortality. The rate of alcohol-related deaths for white women ages 35 to 54 has more than doubled since 1999, according to The Post analysis, accounting for 8 percent of deaths in this age group in 2015.

“It is a looming health crisis,” said Katherine M. Keyes, an alcohol researcher at Columbia University.

Although independent researchers are increasingly convinced that any amount of alcohol poses serious health risks, American women are still receiving mixed messages. Parts of the federal government continue to advance the idea that moderate drinking may be good for you. Meanwhile, many ads for alcohol — particularly on social media — appear to promote excessive drinking, which is universally recognized as potentially deadly. These ads also appear to violate the industry’s code of ethics, according to a Post analysis of alcohol marketing.

For example, when girl-power heroine Amy Schumer guzzled Bandit boxed wine in the movie “Trainwreck,” Bandit’s producer, Trinchero Family Estates, promoted the scene on social media. Young women responded with photos of themselves chugging Bandit. Within months, Trinchero said, sales of boxed wines — sometimes called “binge in a box” — jumped 22 percent.

“We saw it first with tobacco, marketing it to women as their right to smoke. Then we saw lung cancer deaths surpass deaths from breast cancer,” said Rear Adm. Susan Blumenthal, a former assistant surgeon general and an expert on women’s health issues. “Now it’s happening with alcohol, and it’s become an equal rights tragedy.”

Alcohol marketing is regulated primarily by industry trade groups, but dozens of studies have found lapses in their record of enforcing the rules. As a result, an international group of public health experts convened by the World Health Organization’s regional office in Washington, D.C., plans to call in January for governments worldwide to consider legislation similar to laws adopted a decade ago to sharply curtail tobacco advertising.

Officials with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, one of the largest U.S. trade groups, defend their record of oversight, saying it has received high marks from federal regulators.

DISCUS tells members that ads should not “in any way suggest that intoxication is socially acceptable conduct.” The Beer Institute tells members that their “marketing materials should not depict situations where beer is being consumed rapidly, excessively.” And the Wine Institute prohibits ads that make “any suggestion that excessive drinking or loss of control is amusing or a proper subject for amusement” or that directly associate use of wine with “social, physical or personal problem solving.”

But these rules appear regularly to be flouted, particularly on alcohol companies’ websites and social-media feeds, which are soaking up a growing share of the more than $2 billion the industry is expected to spend on advertising this year. And the trade groups acknowledge that they do not investigate or act on possible violations unless they receive a formal complaint.

Some of the edgiest ads appear on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — where they can be narrowly targeted toward the inboxes and desperate little lives of the most eager consumers.

Jokes about becoming inebriated are common.

Women also are frequently shown drinking to cope with daily stress. In one image that appeared on a company website, two white women wearing prim, narrow-brimmed hats, button earrings and wash-and-set hair confer side by side. “How much do you spend on a bottle of wine?” one asks. The other answers, “I would guess about half an hour …” At the bottom is the name of the wine:

Mommy’s Time Out.

Another ad on a company website features a white woman wearing pearls and an apron. “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink,” it says above the name of the wine:

Mad Housewife.

This spring, Mad Housewife offered a Mother’s Day promotion: a six-pack of wine called

Mommy’s Little Helper.

“The rise in hazardous drinking among women is not all due to the ads. But the ads have played a role in creating a cultural climate that says it’s funny when women drink heavily,” said Jean Kilbourne, who has produced several films and books about alcohol marketing to women. “Most importantly, they’ve played a role in normalizing it.

Source: Booze causing ‘crisis’ for women | TribLIVE

Financial companies have NOT paid at least $164 billion in more than 100 mortgage-related settlements since 2009 the headlines have been lying to you:

Where Does the Mortgage Settlement Money Go?

Image
In 2014, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. led a news conference about Bank of America’s $16 billion settlement. It was attended by such a large group of investigators that there was masking tape on the stage to show them where to stand. CreditLauren Victoria Burke/Associated Press

Since the 2008 housing crisis, federal regulators have touted billion-dollar settlements, which, by giving certainty to investors, are often accompanied by a jump in the bank’s stock price.

Financial companies have paid at least $164 billion in more than 100 mortgage-related settlements since 2009, according to an analysis by the law firm of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Below, we examine the eight banks that have paid the most and explain how the largest payments were divided up.

1. Bank of America: $71.23 billion in 24 settlements

The bank has settled mortgage-related cases with a plethora of federal and state regulators as well as investors from the Justice Department and the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio. A number of these settlements are tied to Bank of America’s purchase of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch.

In 2014, the bank paid the single largest government settlement by a company in American history: $16.65 billion. Some of this is in the form of “soft money,” or help for borrowers. The bank also gets credit for writing down loan balances. And the pain is significantly reduced by tax deductions.

“The real financial cost to the bank could be considerably lower,” said Laurie Goodman, a specialist in housing at the Urban Institute. “This is helping consumers, but it may not be costing the bank.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Related

Settling for $16 Billion, Bank Knows It Will Pay Much Less (Aug. 22, 2014)

2. JPMorgan Chase: $31.07 billion in 13 settlements

JPMorgan’s largest payout — $13 billion — centered on the sale of troubled mortgage securities to investors in the run-up to the crisis. The only fine in that 2013 case came from federal prosecutors in Sacramento, who took $2 billion of the penalty and deposited it into a fund at the United States Treasury. The next chunk, roughly $7 billion, went a range of federal and state authorities.

The Justice Department earmarked $4 billion to help struggling homeowners in hard-hit areas like Detroit.

Related

Where Does JPMorgan’s $13 Billion Go? (Nov. 20, 2013)

3. Citigroup: $12.26 billion in nine settlements

Federal prosecutors got creative in holding Citigroup accountable. As part of a $7 billion settlement in 2014, the bank agreed to provide $180 million in financing to build affordable rental housing.

The deal also includes $2.5 billion in so-called soft dollars for the financing of rental housing, mortgage modifications, down-payment assistance and donations to legal aid groups.

Related

Citi Settles Mortgage Securities Inquiry for $7 Billion (July 15, 2014)

4. Wells Fargo: $10.56 billion in eight settlements

In 2012, state and federal authorities announced a $26 billion mortgage settlement with big banks. The bulk of the settlement, about $20 billion, went to one million American homeowners who would have their mortgage debts reduced or their loans refinanced at lower interest rates.

The settlement also includes $1.5 billion for roughly 750,000 people who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and 2011, with each receiving between $1,500 and $2,000.

Millions of mortgages owned by the government’s housing finance agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, weren’t covered under the deal, excluding about half of the nation’s mortgages.

Related

Mortgage Plan Gives Billions to Homeowners, but With Exceptions (Feb. 10, 2012)

5. Deutsche Bank: $9.13 billion in two settlements

Germany’s largest bank reached a $7.2 billion deal this week to resolve a federal investigation into its sales of toxic mortgage securities. The civil settlement requires Deutsche Bank to pay a $3.1 billion penalty and provide relief to American consumers valued at $4.1 billion. The bank said the consumer portion is expected to be “primarily in the form of loan modifications and other assistance to homeowners.”

Related

Deutsche Bank to Settle U.S. Inquiry Into Mortgages for $7.2 Billion (Dec. 23, 2016)

6. Morgan Stanley: $7.92 billion in nine settlements

The bank paid $3.2 billion to strike a settlement this year with federal and state authorities over its creation of mortgage-backed bonds. About $400 million went to consumer relief.

Related

Morgan Stanley Will Pay $3.2 Billion Over Flawed Mortgage Bonds (Feb. 12, 2016)

7. Goldman Sachs: $7.26 billion in seven settlements

The bank paid $5.1 billion to settle with state and federal officials this year. But Goldman will be able to reduce its bill by as much as $1 billion through government incentives and tax credits.

“They appear to have grossly inflated the settlement amount for P.R. purposes to mislead the public, while in the fine print enabling Goldman Sachs to pay 50 to 75 percent less,” said Dennis Kelleher, the founder of the advocacy organization Better Markets, referring to the government announcement. And that is before the tax benefits of the deal are included.

Related

Goldman’s Settlement on Mortgages Is Less Than Meets the Eye (April 12, 2016)

8. Credit Suisse: $6.28 billion in three settlements

The Swiss bank agreed this week to pay $5.3 billion to settle an investigation by the United States authorities into the packaging and sale of mortgages. Credit Suisse said it would pay a civil penalty of $2.48 billion and provide unspecified relief to American consumers valued at $2.8 billion over five years.

Related

Credit Suisse to Pay $5.3 Billion to Resolve Mortgage Inquiry (Dec. 23, 2016)

 

Source: Where Does the Mortgage Settlement Money Go?

She also said many people contact her to purchase positive pregnancy tests, some even traveling from as far as Orlando, but she added that she makes it a point to never ask what the buyers do with the positive pregnancy tests.WJAX-TV’s “law and safety expert” Dale Carson disagreed. “Fraud is the first thing that comes to my mind,” he stated. “This is the kind of thing that makes legislators go ‘we need to pass a law that says you can’t do this.’”

Source: Florida woman earns middle class salary selling positive pregnancy tests on Craigslist – TheBlaze

Letting the kids drink is a tough subject for parents: To give a tipple or not?

on this the 30th anniversary of the national drinking age being raised to 21, I’m asking myself the following question: Am I better off never letting my girls drink around me, at home or at family celebrations, until they reach the legal drinking age or does it make drinking less taboo and alluring if I let them start drinking at home, maybe with sips of wine and beer, during their teenage years?If you look at the scientific evidence, it seems more studies point to a negative consequence of parental offers of even a small amount of alcohol.
A recent report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (PDF) highlighted two such studies: One in 2011 in Sweden of 13-year-olds found that when children were offered alcohol by a parent, it was associated with a higher likelihood of heavy episodic drinking in girls, but not in boys; and a 1997 study of fourth- and sixth-graders in the United States found that when parents offered children a small amount of alcohol, the children were more likely to initiate alcohol use on their own.
Alcohol and teens

Alcohol and teens 01:08
In addition, another study compared seventh-graders in the United States with Australia, where adult-supervised drinking for teens is allowed. Some 36% of the Australian teens had problems with binge drinking compared with only 21% of American teens, according to the 2011 study.
“I think the evidence would suggest to me you are not playing your best hand if you provide alcohol to your kids,” said Dr. Ralph Hingson, director of the division of epidemiology and prevention research for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“It may be that nothing’s going to happen, but it’s like if you’re driving a car too fast in a residential neighborhood that the likelihood of being in a car crash is increased because you are taking an unnecessary risk.”
But at least one study shows that drinking with parents can lead to positive results.
The study, published in the 2004 Journal of Adolescent Heath and showcased in a 2008 Time magazine story, found that children who drank with their parents were about half as likely to say they had alcohol in the past month and about one third as likely to admit to binge drinking (having five or more drinks in a row) in the previous two weeks.
Stanton Peele is a psychologist, addiction expert and author of several books on addiction, including “Addiction Proof Your Child.”
The New York City father of three said he allowed his children, now in their 20s and 30s, to have a few sips of alcohol during meals in their teenage years and then, around 16, let them have a full glass of wine.
“The chances that children are going to go to college … and not consume alcohol are infinitesimal,” said Peele, who also provides online addiction treatment and support.
“And so the question every parent has to ask themselves (is) … ‘Who is going to teach them how to drink?’ “
Brian Gresko of Brooklyn, New York, a Babble.com contributor, says he and his wife are already teaching their young son about drinking.
In their house, alcohol is part of the family culture, said Gresko, who says he and his wife always have a cocktail, glass of wine or beer while cooking dinner and during the meal.
“We don’t hide this from our 5-year-old son. Felix knows the guys at our local wine store, and he sometimes asks me to make him ‘mocktails’ when we drink cocktails,” said Gresko, editor of a recent anthology of 22 novelists writing about fatherhood called “When I First Held You.”
“Alcohol is a part of life, and I would rather he begin to form a relationship with it under my supervision instead of in secret with his friends, where who knows what could happen.”
Elena Sonnino, a wellness writer, social media strategist and founder of the site Live.Do.Grow., also wants her 9-year-old to feel comfortable enough to talk with her about anything, but she takes a different approach.
She recently scaled back from having a nightly glass of wine to having one just once a week for wellness reasons and doesn’t believe she’ll let her daughter have sips of alcohol until she can legally have them.
“We won’t offer her tastes because we’re trying to show her that drinking wine is a responsibility,” said the northern Virginia mom. “You have a responsibility when you start drinking anything, wine or whatever it is, and you need to be able to make good decisions and until you’re 18, 21, your brain isn’t fully formed.”
Melissa Moog, a mom of three and founder of Itsabelly Baby Planners, a new parent and baby safety consulting service, also won’t be letting her kids enjoy sips of wine and beer.
“I think a legal drinking age was established for a very good reason,” said Moog of Portland, Oregon. “If I allowed my daughter at 16 to try a sip, I would be nervous that she’d think subconsciously that I was OK with her drinking before the legal age limit because I let her take a sip of my drink.”
While I admit I am still as confused as ever about what I will do when my girls get older, there are a few things I am pretty certain of that are backed by strong evidence.
I won’t ever get drunk in front of my kids, with studies showing that children who see their parents drunk are more likely to get drunk themselves.
And I will talk to my girls about alcohol as they get older. That’s the focus of the #TalkEarly online campaign by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, encouraging parents to have conversations early so as children get older, the topic of drinking is not taboo.
A big focus is also encouraging parents to watch what they say and do in social media, including making jokes about needing a glass of wine.
“Avoid transmitting the ‘I need a drink’ message after a long day or stressful situation, and talking about what it feels like to get drunk,” said Micky Morrison, a mom of two and founder of BabyWeight TV.
Michelle Staruiala, a mom of three in Saskatchewan, who said her kids rarely see her have a drink, is proof good communication can lead to positive results.
She has always talked with her kids about everything, she said, and recently asked her 16-year-old son why he sometimes doesn’t go out with his friends.
“He’s like ‘Mom, some of them are drinking. … I don’t feel comfortable being around those situations.’
Join the conversation

See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

“He’s really, really listened to our talks and he, to this day, never has had a drink in his life. So being 16, nowadays that’s kind of a rare thing,” she added with a laugh.

Source: Is drinking with your kids at home a good idea? – CNN.com

The digestive tract of the ‘future of food’ does not always run smooth… The startup behind drink-your-dinner powder Soylent has issued a product recall. Not..

Source: Soylent Bars recalled after some customers get sick | TechCrunch

Astronomy.com is for anyone who wants to learn more about astronomy events, cosmology, planets, galaxies, asteroids, astrophotography, the Big Bang, black holes, comets, constellations, eclipses, exoplanets, nebulae, meteors, quasars, observing, telescopes, NASA, Hubble, space missions, stargazing, and more

The universe seems a little less lonely today.

Astronomers from the University of Nottingham conducted a new survey of the universe’s galaxy population and concluded that previous estimates lowballed the census by a factor of about 20. Using data from Hubble and telescopes around the world, as well as a new mathematical model, they estimate that there are two trillion galaxies in the observable universe; previous estimates put the number of galaxies in the universe at around 100 billion.

Looking Through Time and Space

To understand how the researchers accomplished their task, we first need to understand what they mean by the “observable universe.” Because the speed of light is fixed, we can never get a true picture of what the universe looks like right now. As we look further and further away, we must necessarily look further back in time as well.

So, in discovering how many galaxies exist in the observable universe, the Nottingham researchers haven’t discovered how many galaxies exist right now, they’ve found out how many galaxies we would be able to see if our instruments were good enough. This may seem like a big caveat, but it’s the only way can observe the far-flung universe. Being able to look back in time has its advantages, however.

To reach their conclusion, the researchers looked at the rate of galaxy mergers throughout the universe. Most galaxies likely started small, and grew through a series of mergers with other galaxies as time went on. Because the researchers could see clusters further and further back in time as they looked deeper, they could compare the concentration of galaxies long ago to more recent times — relatively speaking.

They found that galaxies appear to clump together as time goes by, forming larger structures while also reducing the total number of galaxies present. By running this rate backward, and extrapolating beyond what we can currently see, the researchers concluded that around 90 percent of the galaxies out there are too faint and too far away to view with current telescopes. This is what allowed them to drastically increase our estimation of the number of observable galaxies.

The researchers released their paper Tuesday on the preprint server arXiv, it is set to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Why Can’t We See Them?

This new galaxy census gives us an answer to a decades-old question known as Olbers’ paradox. If there are so many stars and galaxies out there, why can’t we see them all? Given the nearly unimaginable number of stars and galaxies out there, the night sky should be awash in light.

The solution, say the researchers, lies in the huge distances that separate us from most galaxies. Because the universe is expanding, the light that reaches us is subject to a phenomenon called “redshift.” Similar to the Doppler effect that alters the pitch of a passing ambulance, as distant celestial objects move away from us, the wavelengths of light they emit appear to stretch out. Go far enough, and the light will redshift below the level discernible by the human eye, and eventually telescopes. In addition, galaxies and interstellar space between them is filled with tiny particles of dust that absorb and filter out light.

Some of this radiation shows up as background light, a faint diffuse glow of light that appears to have no source. The rest, however, disappears before it ever reaches us.
The James Webb Telescope, set to launch in 2018, may be able to pick out some of these elusive stars. Until then, we’ll just have to believe

Source: Astronomy.com

February 13, 2013

Shocking Alien Fears Force Pope From Office

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers

 

A stunning Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) report prepared for President Putin, which is circulating in the Kremlin today, states that Pope Benedict XVI was forced to resign this past week over Catholic Church fears that this 85-year-old leader of over 1 billion Christians was “mentally and physically unprepared” to deal with the coming revelation about the truth of alien beings.

In our 22 January report, Russia Orders Obama: Tell World About Aliens, Or We Will, we detailed how the issue of extraterrestrial beings was brought to the forefront of the World Economic Forum (WEF) with the naming in their 2013 Executive Summary of the danger posed to our world over the discovery of alien life with their stating: “Proof of life elsewhere in the universe could have profound psychological implications for human belief systems.”

Also noted in our previous report were Prime Minister Medvedev’s 7 December 2012 off-air comments to reporters which were recorded and wherein he stated: “Along with the briefcase with nuclear codes, the president of the country is given a special ‘top secret’ folder. This folder in its entirety contains information about aliens who visited our planet… Along with this, you are given a report of the absolutely secret special service that exercises control over aliens on the territory of our country… More detailed information on this topic you can get from a well-known movie called Men In Black… I will not tell you how many of them are among us because it may cause panic.”

Spurring Pope Benedict XVI to become the first leader of the Catholic Church to resign in nearly 600 years, this MFA report says, was the appearance over Los Cristianos, Spain on 21 August 2011 of the long prophesized “bird of prey” interplanetary spacecraft, and which was followed nearly 3 weeks ago with a fleet of them appearing in the skies over Mexico City.

To fully understand the significance of these “bird of prey” UFO’s, this report continues, files relating to the 27 September 1989 Voronezh Incident must be studied in length, especially as it relates to the “messages” delivered to eyewitnesses from the “giants”.

In an 11 October 1989 New York Times article about the Voronezh Incident titled U.F.O. Landing Is Fact, Not Fantasy, the Russians Insist it says:

“It is not a joke, nor a hoax, nor a sign of mental instability, nor an attempt to drum up local tourism by drawing the curious, the Soviet press agency Tass insisted today in discussions of what it called an extraterrestrial visit to southern Russia.

Residents of the city of Voronezh insisted today that lanky, three-eyed extraterrestrial creatures had indeed landed in a local park and gone for a stroll and that a seemingly fantastic report about the event carried Monday by the official press agency Tass was absolutely true.

The three-eyed creature, about nine feet tall and fashionably dressed in silvery overalls and bronze boots and with a disk on its chest, disappeared, then landed and came out for a promenade with a companion and a robot.

The aliens seemed to communicate with each other, producing the mysterious appearance of a shining triangle, and activated the robot with a touch.”

Regarding these “messages” from the Voronezh “giants”, this MFA report says, was the warning to human beings that when these “bird of prey” UFO’s descend upon Earth the whole planet will be in peril.

The Voronezh “giants” further related, this report says, that the alien beings associated with these “bird of prey” UFO’s were the cause of the 14 April 1561 massive “sky battle” over Nuremberg, Germany which was depicted in a famous 16th century woodcut by Hans Glaser [photo 3rd left] and described by the residents as: “A very frightful spectacle.” “The sky appeared to fill with cylindrical objects from which red, black, orange and blue white disks and globes emerged. Crosses and tubes resembling cannon barrels also appeared whereupon the objects promptly began to fight one another.”

Important to note is that the Catholic Christian faith headed by Pope Benedict XVI, as well as nearly every other religion on Earth, all prophesize in their teachings a time when the “gods” will return to our planet and engage in a battle that could very well bring our entire planet to the brink of destruction.

Equally important to note about Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation is how it eerily compares with Saint Malachy, who as an Irish saint and Archbishop of Armagh, in the 12th Century, received a vision of 112 Popes later attributed to the apocalyptic list of Prophecy of the Popes. He was the first Irish saint to be canonized by Pope Clement III in 1199.

American authors Tom Horn and Cris Putnam in their 2012 book “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here” about Saint Malachy’s prophecies told interviewers last Spring that Pope Benedict XVI would resign by late 2012, or early 2013, and described the next Pope to follow as “Petrus Romanus,” or “Peter the Roman,” writing: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock among many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.”

Though the masses of people reading of the things this report contains will, undoubtedly, ridicule them, the same cannot be said of the elite moneyed classes who, even at this writing, are protecting themselves from “something” at such a fever-pitched pace it is destabilizing the entire global economy, and as exampled by the highly respected Zero Hedge news service in their article titled “What Do They Know That We Don’t?” and which, in part, says:

“Friday evening when no one was supposed to pay attention, Google announced that Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt would sell 3.2 million of his Google shares in 2013, 42% of the 7.6 million shares he owned at the end of last year—after having already sold 1.8 million shares in 2012. But why would he sell 5 million shares, about 53% of his holdings, with Google stock trading near its all-time high?

“Part of his long-term strategy for individual asset diversification and liquidity,” Google mollified us, according to the Wall Street Journal. Soothing words. Nothing but “a routine diversification of assets.”

Routine? He didn’t sell any in 2008 as the market was crashing. He didn’t sell at the bottom in early 2009. And he didn’t sell during the rest of 2009 as Google shares were soaring, nor in 2010, as they continued to soar. In 2011, he eased out of about 300,000 shares, a mere rounding error in his holdings. But in 2012, he opened the valves, and in 2013, he’d open the floodgates. So it’s not “routine.”

Mr. Schmidt isn’t alone. Corporate insiders were “aggressively selling their shares,” reported Mark Hulbert. And they were doing so “at an alarming pace.” The buy sell-to-buy ratio had risen to 9.2-to-1; insiders had sold over 9 times as many shares as they’d bought. They’d been aggressive sellers for weeks.

Instantly, soothing voices were heard: “don’t be alarmed,” they said. But Mr. Schmidt and his colleagues at the top of corporate America, multi-billionaires many of them, are immensely well connected, not only to each other but also to the Fed, whose twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks they own and control.”

To why Google Chairman Schmidt did not attend this years World Economic Forum, where the danger of aliens was being discussed, opting instead for a visit to North Korea (who announced yesterday that they had exploded another nuclear weapon) and when coupled with the information contained in this MFA report, is far from being “soothing”, and is, instead, something well all should be very alarmed about as the end is much nearer than the beginning as those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” already know.

February 13, 2012 © EU and US all rights reserved. Permission to use this report in its entirety is granted under the condition it is linked back to its original source at WhatDoesItMean.Com. Freebase content licensed under CC-BY and GFDL.

[Ed. Note: Western governments and their intelligence services actively campaign against the information found in these reports so as not to alarm their citizens about the many catastrophic Earth changes and events to come, a stance that the Sisters of Sorcha Faal strongly disagrees with in believing that it is every human beings right to know the truth. Due to our missions conflicts with that of those governments, the responses of their ‘agents’ against us has been a longstanding misinformation/misdirection campaign designed to discredit and which is addressed in the report “Who Is Sorcha Faal?”.]

You May Already Be To Late…But It Has Begun!

They Are Going To Come For You…Why Are You Helping Them?

Source: Shocking Alien Fears Force Pope From Office

According to Daniel Sheehan, the Catholic Church is now actively preparing for the discovery of Alien contact with highly a advanced alien species. Speaking at contact in the desert, he told of a what will be a historic papal encyclical decree calling for nothing less than the disassembly of the power structures that are destroying our civilisation and preventing us from joining an enlightened galactic community.Pope Francis previously caused quite a stir last year when he announced that he would baptise Aliens, quite a statement and a timely one at that given the fact the Vatican owns the biggest telescope on the planet.Former Minsitry Of Defence Nick Pope Told Neon Nettle: “It’s no secret that the Catholic Church has been repositioning themselves on this issue over the past few years. Do they know something? I doubt it. I think they’re just trying to ensure that if the scientific community announces the discovery of extraterrestrial life, the church is prepared.”Sheehan’s talk began with a summary of his previous work as an advocate for alien disclosure which, he says, also included classified sections from Project Bluebook (a study into UFO’s by the American airforce). He went on to say that his access to Bluebook gave him exposure to photographic evidence of crashes UFO’s that had Alien symbols on them.daniel p sheehan a harvard college trained american government foreign policy scholar talks about alien disclosure through the vatican © pressDaniel P. Sheehan, a Harvard College trained American Government & Foreign Policy Scholar talks about alien disclosure through the vaticanhttp://www.neonnettle.com/news/1447-pope-francis-to-announce-church-prep…

Source: Pope Francis To Announce Church Preparing For Alien Contact This Week (their-we are already here billions of years – CNN iReport

Vatican Approves UFOs

Vatican officials affirm the existence of UFOs and calls the aliens brothers, interviews with Msgr. Corrado Balducci and Fr. Gabriel Funes, News reveal secret talks with the UN on aliens and UFOS and agreement of possibility of the existence of extraterrestial life

Vatican Approves UFOs

‘The Aliens Are Our Brothers’

Dear Atila,

Salve Maria!

I believe you and TIA readers will be interested to know that the Vatican now is supporting the UFOs, according to the news reports below. I made a little research on the Internet and found these documents, whose value you may judge for yourself.

I gave the links to the sources so that you or anyone else can check the original documents. I also added links to the two principal Youtube interviews on the topic: one by Msgr. Corrado Balducci, a Vatican consultant on these matters; another by Fr. Gabriel Funes, the Chief Vatican Astronomer, whose Observatory is in the papal palace of Castelgandolfo.

Receive my best regards,

In Jesu et Maria,

Manoel Ricardo Fiuza, Brazil

______________________

News report from 2000

Monsignor Balducci is a Vatican theologian and an insider close to the Pope. He has been featured on national Italian television numerous times stating that extraterrestrial contact is a real phenomenon and “not due to some psychological impairment.”

In this testimony he explains that not only the general populace but also highly credible, cultured and educated people of high status are increasingly acknowledging that this is a real phenomenon. He goes on to speak about the extraterrestrial people as part of God’s Creation and affirm that they are neither angels nor devils. However, he affirms, they are probably more spiritually evolved.

Source here

______________________

News reports from April 7, 2012

The Vatican tries to get a step ahead on Extraterrestrial issues before announcements by major world governments

The Vatican is playing a leading role preparing the world for disclosure about extraterrestrials.

There are few things that are sure bets in this life and one of them is that the Vatican would never have stepped out to tell the world that they believe extraterrestrials are real without emphatic proof or advance knowledge that some type of disclosure is imminent.

The Vatican is not a cutting edge group; it generally moves so slow that it is painful to much of the world’s congregation. After all, this is the same organization that to this day does not allow women to be priests or any form of contraception. This is the same organization that forced Galileo to recant his findings and put him under house arrest for the remainder of his life for telling the world that the earth is not at the center of the universe.

Msgr. Corrado Balducci 

Msgr. Corrado Balducci

For the most part, the Vatican is stodgy, archaic, slow to move on major issues and generally behind the times. So what prompted them to move at lightening speed on the difficult issue of extraterrestrials life and full disclosure?

Well, they have been receiving information from their embassies that is hard to deny and they have attended a series of secret meetings in NYC at the UN that changed everything. Shortly after that, the Vatican gave the “Aliens Are My Brothers Interview,” which should have made worldwide headlines, but it was typically played down by the mainstream media.

The Vatican’s new openness on extraterrestrial life is consistent with reports of secret discussions held at the United Nations that began in February 2008 and are still ongoing today. The Vatican’s permanent representative to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, was reported to have attended these meetings along with a number of other prominent government officials to discuss increasing UFO sightings and the implications of extraterrestrial visitations.

Significantly, Migliore’s position requires that he maintain close relations with the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. At the time of the secret UN discussions, Migliore made a presentation on moral issues associated with scientific problems such as climate change. Most importantly, the UN discussions reportedly led to a new policy of openness on UFOs that is being adopted by approximately 30 nations beginning in 2009 and culminating with a full disclosure of information to the world. This is extremely significant as there are approximately 22 nations that have begun full or partial disclosure!

For a full list of countries that have partially disclosed significant UFO or alien information, click here.

The meetings that the Vatican took part in with the UN in New York City were also attended by a host of US government agencies that downplayed the announcement. We can only speculate about the agencies involved and the content discussed. You can be sure it was blockbuster news because, shorty afterwards, both the UN and the Vatican came out with their startling announcements.

Source here

______________________
Vatican Official Declares on National Television:
Extraterrestrial Contacts Are Real

Some things simply cannot be debunked as much as people would like, no matter how hard the debunkers try. Sometimes the truth just keeps rising to the surface, and this is one of those times.

Monsignor Corrado Balducci, a theologian member of the Vatican Curia, the governing body, and highly placed Vatican official who is close to the Pope, has been on Italian Television no less than five times stating that extraterrestrial contact is a real phenomena.

Balducci provided an analysis of extraterrestrials that he feels is consistent with the Catholic Church’s understanding of theology. Monsignor Balducci emphasized that extraterrestrial encounters “are not demonic. They are not due to some psychological impairment. They are not a case of entity attachment, but rather these encounters deserve to be studied carefully.” Since Monsignor Balducci is a demonology expert and consultant to the Vatican and since the Catholic Church has historically demonized many new phenomena that were poorly understood, his statement that the Church does not censure these encounters is all the more remarkable.

The bottom line is that the Vatican has moved lightening fast on the extremely difficult issue of extraterrestrials and religion; they have attended secret meetings at the UN on exactly this subject. They have also met in secret with a host of US officials, and, after evaluating all the information, they made their astounding announcement.

It really makes no difference if you believe that the Vatican and UN announcement is a prelude to a false flag event or that it is real. One thing is for certain, some type of disclosure (probably partial or limited) is imminent and coming soon. It will be up to each person to decide on the authenticity of the actual announcement. The question becomes: Are we paying attention or are we asleep at the switch? We are all in for a Galileo Moment and those only come along every 200 to 300 years. Are you ready?

Source here

______________________
Vatican States: ‘Aliens Are Our Brothers,’
Interview with Religious Leaders on Aliens

In an interview entitled “Aliens Are My Brother” granted to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Father Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, stated: “In my opinion this possibility (of life on other planets) exists.” He also stated that “intelligent beings, created by God may exist in outer space” and “some aliens could even be free from original sin,” concluding that “there could be (other beings) who remained in full friendship with their creator”.

Fr. Gabriel Funes, Vatican Astronomer

Speaking about the search for Earth-like worlds about to be embarked upon with the Kepler Space telescope, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, another astronomer working at the Vatican Observatory, told the BBC, “We Jesuits are actively involved in the search for Earth-like planets.”

He continued, “The idea that there could be other intelligent creatures made by God in a relationship with God is not contrary to traditional Judeo-Christian thought. The Bible has many references to, or descriptions of, non-human intelligent beings; after all, that’s what angels are. Our cousins on other planets may even have their own salvation story – including other examples of the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity. We are open to whatever the Universe has for us.”

Source here

_________________

Source: Vatican Approves UFOs

1. Your partner shows up unannounced

Showing up at work unexpectedly is one of the signs your partner doesn’t respect you Surprising you with flowers on a random Wednesday is a welcome treat; showing up unannounced when you’re clearly busy or have a lot going on is not. If you find your partner repeatedly popping up at inopportune times, at inconvenient places, there’s a problem. As mentioned in The Frisky, if he or she shows up at your work, class, or home unannounced and uninvited, causing a scene, they don’t respect you.

2. Your partner uses gaslighting techniques

If you often find your partner using sneaky techniques to keep you in check, he or she doesn’t respect you. According to Your Tango,

“Gaslighting is a phrase assigned to an emotional abuse technique that has one partner convincing the other that reality is an illusion.

If your partner is denying they said and did things or blaming you for saying and doing things you didn’t, it’s abusive.” Have you ever known a person who, no matter how at fault they may be, somehow seems to vaguely skate over the issue, turning around on you? Dealing with a person like this is infuriating. If this is your partner’s norm, it’s likely it will never change.

 

3. Your partner treats sex as a transaction

A partner should never use sex as a tool Anytime a person expects sex in exchange for something, the most basic form of respect is tossed out the window. Sex should never be used as a method of coercion or a form of payment. It’s your body, and it certainly doesn’t belong to anyone else, no matter how committed two partners may be. If your partner does the chores, is it your job to owe them a sexual favor? No. Sadly, though, not everyone takes the same stance on the issue. Case in point — this article from The Stir that calls out Pat Robertson, host of a call-in show, who has claimed that wives should thank their husbands with sex each time they do chores around the house. No, just no.

4. Your partner isn’t proud of you

As you’ve strived for your parents’ approval throughout your life, seeking those heavily-weighted words of acceptance, you want the same from your partner. To hear “I’m proud of you,” from someone you respect is a big deal, and it’s important that both partners take pride in the relationship. When your partner is proud of you, and proud to be with you, Bustle says, there’s a mutual respect for one another. Could you imagine being in a relationship in which your significant other doesn’t really think you’ve worked hard for your career? Without a partner who’s genuinely proud of you, your accomplishments, and your overall contributions to your relationship, they clearly don’t realize or value your worth, and you shouldn’t stand for that. Ever.

5. Your partner refuses to compromise or negotiate

It is only natural the person closest to you will get under your skin, and part of a relationship is being able to discuss life’s major challenges as a team. But when one person in a relationship isn’t willing to act as a team, there’s bound to be long-term issues. A big part of respecting someone is being able to reach a compromise in which both parties are satisfied with the outcome. The Centers for Family Change says, “Respect is established when you consistently: consider and value the feelings and opinions of your partner; talk to and treat your partner in ways that you would want to be treated; and compromise and negotiate with your partner.” If you and your partner aren’t doing this, you’re not getting the respect you deserve.

Source: 5 Signs That Your Partner Doesn’t Respect You

“Remember, our nonviolent ETI from the contiguous universe are helping us bring zero point energy to Earth,” Podesta was told. “They will not tolerate any forms of military violence on Earth or in space.” The reference to ETI – extraterrestrial intelligence – set off alarm bells. So did mention of zero point energy, which its fans claim could be harnessed as an inexhaustible power supply.

How aliens and Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell got tangled up in WikiLeaks emails

Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard
Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard
Galatians 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Image result
Image result
Image result

WikiLeaks’ purloined emails cover a wide range of issues that were handled by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, in them are clear references to issues that have to do with E.T., alien energy sources and Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell’s efforts to educate the public (DISCLOSURE) about Aliens from outer space before he died.

While GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump focused his fire on what the WikiLeaks file had to say about Clinton’s Wall Street speeches as a way to distract the public from the larger issue, UFO fans dwelled on what Mitchell was telling Podesta as he made the transition from the Obama White House to the Clinton campaign in 2015.

In an email from January of that year, Mitchell asked for an urgent meeting with Podesta about “(DISCLOSURE) and zero point energy,” and promised that a colleague named Terri Mansfield would “bring us up to date on the Vatican’s awareness of ETI.”

Mitchell sent another plea via email that August.

“Remember, our nonviolent ETI from the contiguous universe are helping us bring zero point energy to Earth,” Podesta was told. “They will not tolerate any forms of military violence on Earth or in space.”

The reference to ETI – extraterrestrial intelligence – set off alarm bells. So did mention of zero point energy, which its fans claim could be harnessed as an inexhaustible power supply.

“Hillary Clinton Leaked E-Mails Reveal Shocking Discussions on SPACE WARS, UFOs and ETs,” one of the more breathless (and search-optimized) headlines read.

But in fact, Mitchell never met with Clinton – or with Podesta, for that matter. “The meeting with Podesta, sadly, never took place,” Carol Rosin, one of Mitchell’s longtime collaborators, told GeekWire today in an email.

Rosin and Mansfield confirmed that Mitchell was indeed the author of the two emails, even though they went out via Mansfield’s email address, terribillionairs@aol.com. They said they worked with an aide to Podesta in hopes of arranging a meeting with him to discuss a treaty to ban weapons in outer space.

Rosin noted that Mitchell and Podesta shared an interest in extraterrestrial (DISCLOSURE).

“As you know, Dr. Mitchell was courageously educating people about the fact that ‘we are not alone,’ that there is no evidence of there being any hostile ETs here or coming to control, intervene or harm us, that we can have zero point energy, that there are no weapons based in space and that this is the unique time in history when our leaders can sign and ratify the ‘Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space’ that has been introduced by the leaders of Russia and China,” Rosin said.

So, what about Podesta? When he left the White House in February 2015, he said in a tweet that his biggest regret of the previous year was “once again not securing the disclosure of the UFO files.”

“I’ve talked to Hillary about that,” Podesta told KLAS-TV this March during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “There are still classified files that could be declassified.”

Podesta hasn’t discussed what might be in those files, but Clinton has vowed to “get to the bottom” of any mystery that still surrounds the UFO phenomenon.

Two other emails in WikiLeaks’ Podesta file were sent by Tom DeLonge, a veteran of the rock band Blink-182. Those emails refer to a UFO-related documentary project – perhaps the “Sekret Machines” multimedia project that DeLonge kicked off this year.

In an email from last October, DeLonge told Podesta that he’s “the one who interviewed you for that special documentary,” relating to “our sensitive topic.” In the other email, sent this January, DeLonge referred to Air Force Maj. Gen. William McCasland in connection with the 1947 Roswell UFO incident.

Roswell was of interest to Mitchell as well. When I interviewed him in 2014, he acknowledged that he relied on the claims that others have made about Roswell and other UFO sightings. That secondhand perspective also probably applies to Mitchell’s reference to the Vatican connection.

Even if Clinton (or Trump) comes across new revelations, it’ll be too late for Mitchell. He passed away this February at the age of 85. Nevertheless, there may yet be more to come from the late moonwalker. “The book Edgar and I wrote decades ago will soon be published,” Rosin said in her email.

Remember when they come:

Image result

More from GeekWire:

Source: How aliens and Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell got tangled up in WikiLeaks emails

Bride lets guests pull down dress and grope her breasts to raise money for honeymoonThe woman is seen accepting cash from men and women as they pose for a picture while touching her et daily updates directly to your inboxA queue of people lines up to grope a bride’s breasts…so that she can afford a honeymoon.

This bizarre clip, which was filmed in China , shows men and women paying to touch the bride, apparently so that she and her new husband can pay for their post-wedding trip.The woman and those groping her appear to pose for pictures as she takes the money and pushes their hands to her chest.Meanwhile, the wedding party continues around them.Bride allows wedding guests to grope her breasts in exchange for honeymoon funds(Photo: YouTube)The first in line in the clip is a woman who spends some time posing for a photo with the bride, who is still wearing her wedding outfit.Her dress is pulled down to expose her breasts, which are then manhandled for cash.Read More Bride left screaming as groom nearly dies at wedding when prank goes horribly wrongNext in line is a man who gets even closer when the bride pulls his head down to her chest.Bride allows wedding guests to grope her breasts in exchange for honeymoon funds(Photo: YouTube)Finally, another man takes his turn while the bride blows a kiss to the camera.The strange custom is said to take place at weddings in China and other parts of Asia.Also common at Chinese weddings is tradition of “nao dongfang”, which sees both bride and groom subjected to pranks throughout their wedding reception.

Source: Bride lets guests pull down dress and grope her breasts to raise money for honeymoon – Mirror Online

Solar Physicists finally get the message: Landscheidt was right after all Posted: June 14, 2011 by tallbloke in Astrophysics, climate, Solar physics, solar system dynamics After years of pooh poohing Theodor Landscheidt’s methods, work and predictions, mainstream solar physics has made an announcement of the strong possibility of a protracted solar minimum with consequences for Earth’s climate. At a workshop in New Mexico today, the AAS brought the work of Livingstone and Penn into the spotlight and

Source: Solar Physicists finally get the message: Landscheidt was right after all | Tallbloke’s Talkshop

Human-made climate change is, by its nature, difficult for the average person to witness since it is a fabricated lie by the ultra rich as a method to tax and corral the unwashed masses.

Even if you lived for a century, you may not physically notice two extra degrees of warmth or have the capacity to monitor sea-level rise as it creeps, inch by inch, up a beach. An individual person certainly will not measure the pull of Jupiter on the sun causing the cycles we call solar cycles.

But…  fucking morons aside…  that can not figure out cause and effect without the boob tube telling them what is the cause and what is the effect…..

like:

The  climate modelers at the University of Idaho and Columbia University’s Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). The researchers found – human-made — anthropogenic — climate change doubled the expansion of forest fires in the western United States over the last 36 years. The hardest-hit locations include places in the Pacific Northwest, such as the Cascade Mountains in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington, and the northern Rocky Mountain territories that cross Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

It appears that findings like this help attract funding for folks that want to stay in universities instead of venturing out into the world and producing something of value in a competitive environment.  Or is it just me….

No, No there are those with a different view.  Just look up Landsheidt cycles and really spend some time with what the chart below is telling you.  It is telling you we may now be able to predict the future.

The latest sunspot number progression plot

 

Source: Without human-made climate change, U.S. forest fires would be half the size | PBS NewsHour

Let insiders easily cash in stock options, as Enron did, and you risk seeing executives abandon a failing company. Encourage contractors to sacrifice quality to cut costs and you might cause problems like those that led the U.S. Justice Department to phase out privately run prisons.

Source: For Showing How Contracts Work Best, 2 Economists Win Nobel

Much of the book is devoted to explaining why we can’t turn to the experts for guidance, or at least, why we should expect no more from them than from parents or grandparents. As one of the world’s leading developmental psychologists, Gopnik is in a position to state, with authority, that no one knows what’s best when it comes to raising kids. That goes for co-sleeping as well as for screen time and making your kids do homework or take music lessons. Not that there aren’t good reasons for you to choose one course of action for your child, in the context of your situation. But science isn’t going to validate your decision for you.

Source: Alison Gopnik’s New Book Talks Of Science And Parenting : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR

Two officers were killed and a third was injured responding to a reported disturbance at a residence in Palm Springs a city in the desert in California.

Police said Felix fired through a closed door without provocation as Palm Springs officers attempted to resolve a domestic disturbance call Saturday.

Two officers — one a new mother, the other close to retirement — were killed. A third officer was injured but expected to recover.

Felix is eligible for the death penalty, and prosecutors will make a decision in the next few weeks, District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a news conference Sunday.

“I will tell you that I consider a brutal murder of a police officer to be a very heinous crime,” Hestrin said. “So I’ll leave it at that.”

Twelve hours after the shooting, Felix surrendered to a SWAT team from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The suspect reportedly had told his father moments before the shooting that he wanted to kill police officers.

Authorities said Sunday they would not address any of Felix’s criminal history and confirmed only a few details of the shooting, citing an active investigation.

Felix was wearing “soft, concealable body armor” and had several high-capacity gun magazines when he was captured early Sunday morning, Chief Deputy Ray Wood said at the press conference. He was not armed with a weapon when he was taken into custody, Wood said.

Wood said sheriff’s deputies “used a number of tools at our disposal” to try to draw Felix out during the standoff, including searching the house with a remote-controlled robot and then deploying tear gas.

“We attempted for several hours. There were many, many attempts to establish communication with him,” Wood said. “There was no mistaking that we were present.”

The officers killed were Lesley Zerebny, 27, and Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega, 63.

Zerebny had recently returned from maternity leave and was the mother of a 4-month-old. She was married to a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy. A SWAT team from her husband’s department participated in efforts to capture the suspect and ultimately did so after an exchange of gunfire early Sunday morning, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department.

Vega, a 35-year veteran, was scheduled to retire in December. He had chosen to work overtime Saturday.

They were the first Palm Springs police officers to die in the line of duty since 1962, according to the Palm Springs Desert News.

“Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers,” Reyes said. “They go out every day with their boots on the ground. They gave their all for you.

” . . . I am awake in a nightmare right now. … If ever there was a time to pray for the Palm Springs police department, it is now.”

The third officer who was injured was expected to be released from the hospital Sunday, police said.

Reyes choked back tears throughout a a news conference Saturday as he recounted the domestic disturbance call his officers had tried to resolve.

The officers were called to the home just after an occupant had rushed across the street in a panic, telling a neighbor that his son had a gun and wanted to shoot police. “He came over and asked for help,” neighbor Frances Serrano told reporters.

“He said: ‘Help. I need help. My son is in the house and he’s crazy. He has a gun. He’s ready to shoot all the police.’”

The man walked back to his house and shortly afterward, Serrano said, she heard repeated gunshots “starting with a loud, I mean really loud, bang.”

As officers were attempting to talk to the man behind the door, he “threatened to shoot the officers” through it, Reyes said. Then the man opened fire, gunning down the officers.

Dozens of officers from surrounding jurisdictions responded to an emergency call about 10 minutes after the first one, surrounding the house and sealing off a four-block perimeter, uncertain as to the whereabouts of the shooter and warning residents to stay inside.

“There were police everywhere,” Serrano told reporters. “I looked out the window and saw police with rifles.”

Juan Graciano, 67, who lives a block away, told the Los Angeles Times he saw police attempting to revive Zerebny. “I saw a woman officer who had been laid down in the trunk of a police cruiser. I watched as they picked her up and laid her down on the street and began administering CPR.”

Another neighbor told reporters of hearing more rounds of gunfire that continued for up to 20 minutes. “We stayed indoors,” Georgie Eden told the Times. “It was kind of, pretty scary.”

The Palm Springs Desert Sun described the suspect as a “known gang member,” who spent four years in prison for a 2009 attempted murder plot. He was also arrested in 2013, the paper said, after fighting with police at the same home where Saturday’s shooting took place.

Authorities on Sunday did not address the suspect’s criminal history or detail the type of weapon or weapons used.

“At this point of time it is very premature for us to be talking about the all the details of the investigation,” said Wood said. “Right now it is still way early. We are still in the front end of the investigation.”

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the shooting.

The Palm Springs incident also comes on the heels of other high-profile police officer deaths. Last week, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s sergeant was shot and killed while responding to a burglary call in Lancaster, Calif. In July, five police officers in Dallas were killed and seven others were wounded by a lone gunman.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 67 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year as of July 20, an increase over the 62 officers killed in the same period last year. The nonprofit group’s mid-year report noted a troubling increase in some of those deaths occurring in “ambush” attacks.

This post has been updated.

Read more:

Two officers — one a new mother, another close to retiring — dead after Palm Springs shooting

‘Unprovoked, violent, intentional act’: Video shows car plowing into Phoenix police officers

Mother of three survives car crash — only to be gunned down by the other driver, police say

Source: Man who killed two Palm Springs officers had body armor and gun magazines, officials say – The Washington Post

Anyone who has spent any time on the gridiron — even at a young age — likely knows the typical punishments a coach will dole out if his rules aren’t followed. There are “suicides,” a grueling running exercise in which participants have to run to the 20-yard line, touch it, then run back to the end zone (then the 30, then the 40, etc.). If you’re in “Friday Night Lights,” there’s running up a muddy hill in the rain then walking back home. And then there are typical, old-fashioned laps around the field,

Source: Volunteer football coach dismissed for making boy run laps after he bullied teammate – The Washington Post

Psychologists say being unable to find a job can change your personality

When you’re out of work, you may become less friendly, less hard-working, and less open to new experiences.

Source: How unemployment can change your personality – Business Insider

A prominent local media executive fired from Yahoo last year has filed a lawsuit alleging the firm’s CEO Marissa Mayer led a campaign to purge male employees and replace them with women.

Misandry at work by the man haters again!

A prominent local media executive fired from Yahoo last year has filed a lawsuit accusing CEO Marissa Mayer of leading a campaign to purge male employees.

“Mayer encouraged and fostered the use of (an employee performance-rating system) to accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo’s male employees,” said the suit by Scott Ard filed this week in federal district court in San Jose.

Ard, who worked for Yahoo for 3 ½ years until January 2015, is now editor-in-chief of the Silicon Valley Business Journal. His lawsuit also claims that Yahoo illegally fired large numbers of workers ousted under a performance-rating system imposed by Mayer. That allegation was not tied to gender.

Yahoo spokeswoman Carolyn Clark said Yahoo couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but she defended the company’s performance-review process, which she said was guided by “fairness.”

“Our performance-review process was developed to allow employees at all levels of the company to receive meaningful, regular and actionable feedback from others,” Clark said. “We believe this process allows our team to develop and do their best work. Our performance-review process also allows for high performers to engage in increasingly larger opportunities at our company, as well as for low performers to be transitioned out.”

In addition to Mayer, two other female executives — Kathy Savitt, former chief marketing officer, and Megan Liberman, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News, identified in the lawsuit as Yahoo’s vice president of news at the time — are accused in the lawsuit of discriminating on the basis of gender.

“When Savitt began at Yahoo the top managers reporting to her … including the chief editors of the verticals and magazines, were less than 20 percent female. Within a year and a half those top managers were more than 80 percent female,”

the lawsuit said. “Savitt has publicly expressed support for increasing the number of women in media and has intentionally hired and promoted women because of their gender, while terminating, demoting or laying off male employees because of their gender.

“Of the approximately 16 senior-level editorial employees hired or promoted by Savitt … in approximately an 18-month period, 14 of them, or 87 percent, were female,” the lawsuit said.

Ard, who was hired at Yahoo in 2011, stated in the suit that until Savitt and Liberman took over management of the firm’s media section in early 2014, he had received performance reviews and stock options reflecting “fully satisfactory” work. But in June 2014, Liberman told him that his role as head of editorial programming for Yahoo’s home page was being given to a woman Liberman had recently hired, the suit said.

Then in January 2015, during a performance review phone call, Liberman told Ard he was fired, effective that day, because “his performance was not satisfactory.”

“Liberman stated that she was terminating (Ard) because she had not received a requested breakdown of (his) duties. (Ard) had already provided that very information as requested, however, and reminded Liberman that he had done so,” the lawsuit said. “Liberman’s excuse for terminating (Ard) was a pretext.”

Right after the call, Ard requested a copy of his performance review and said he wanted to appeal his firing, the suit said. “Both requests were denied and (Ard) was ordered to turn in his laptop and depart the premises immediately.”

Ard’s suit also takes aim at the performance-review process he said Mayer imposed. The process allowed high-level managers to arbitrarily change scores of employees they had no contact with, and it “permitted and encouraged discrimination based on gender or any other personal bias held by management.”

Liberman, he said, once “unilaterally lowered” the scores of three men whose performance Ard had evaluated, while she maintained the scores of two women.

Yahoo’s use of this review system to fire many workers individually in a short time period broke the U.S. and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) acts, which mandate advance notification of mass layoffs, the suit alleged. “Marissa Mayer became CEO on a wave of optimism and then engaged in a sleight of hand to terminate large numbers of employees without announcing a single layoff,” the suit said.

Yahoo’s diversity reports indicate that the percentage of women in leadership positions at the company rose slightly to 24 percent in 2015 from 23 percent in 2014.

Source: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer led illegal purge of male employees, lawsuit charges

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

Source: Exclusive: Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence – sources

Sex doesn’t end as you age, so keep on using “it.”

Source: Use It Or Lose It: How Age, Hormones, And Masturbation Predict Sexual Health

The Costs of Teacher Collective BargainingBy Rick Hess on October 4, 2016 9:10 AMChicago’s teachers are on the verge of striking—for the third time since 2012. Median teacher pay in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is over $78,000 a year. CPS spends another $27,500 per teacher on benefits. And CPS is offering its teachers an 8.7 percent pay boost over the next four years. So why are Chicago’s teachers threatening to strike?Well, Illinois teachers are supposed to contribute nine percent of their salary towards their defined benefit pension; CPS teachers currently contribute two percent, with the district picking up the rest. The city is asking that teachers contribute the requisite amount—hence, the uproar.CPS is already looking at a shortfall of $300 million in 2017. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed a $250 million property tax hike to help address the underfunded pension system, which has about $10 billion in liabilities. If teachers picked up their full nine percent pension contribution, it would save CPS about $130 million a year. As Emanuel put it in August, he was asking teachers to “be part of the solution, of a fair deal to strengthen our classroom and secure their position.”Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is angry that CPS has been forced to cut staff and is demanding that the system hire more nurses and counselors. That would obviously be easier to do if unions worked with the district to control things like pension costs.This all brings to mind an intriguing Cornell University working paper recently published by Michael Lovenheim and Alex Willen. Titled “The Long-Run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining,” the 2016 paper is a pioneering look at the impact of teacher collective bargaining on long-run labor market and educational attainment outcomes for students. Using the fact that states have adopted “duty-to-bargain” laws at different points in time, Lovenheim and Willen explore how the presence of collective bargaining affects long-term outcomes.Lovenheim and Willen find that collective bargaining leads to worse labor market outcomes. They report that students who live in a state with a “duty-to-bargain” law for all 12 years of their schooling have two percent lower earnings and work 0.50 fewer hours per week by the time they’re 35-to-49. Using the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors also find that collective bargaining leads to sizable reductions in mastery of cognitive and non-cognitive skills.As they write, “Our results suggest laws that support collective bargaining for teachers have adverse long-term labor market consequences for students.” Regular readers know that I’m always inclined to treat this kind of sweeping scholarship with a lot of caution. That’s not because of any particular concerns about the quality of the data or the analysis. It just seems self-evidently prudent to be cautious when drawing clear causal conclusions from complex econometric models that use sprawling data sets to address complex social interactions.That said, I find the logic of the analysis pretty compelling. Chicago is a case study in how teachers’ unions have siphoned vast sums out of classrooms and into retirement and health benefits that do nothing for students—and that frequently, I’m afraid, aren’t configured to help attract or keep terrific teachers. We’ll see how Chicago’s latest drama plays out, but it sure seems like the CTU is bent on demonstrating the costs of collective bargaining.

Source: The Costs of Teacher Collective Bargaining – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week

Just weeks after ITT Tech’s demise, The Department of Education removed recognition from ITT’s accreditor.

Source: Department of Education ITT accreditor ACICS – Business Insider

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any individual. For your individual planning and investing needs, please see your investment professional.

Jonathan DeYoe has been a financial advisor in San Francisco for the past two decades, giving him a first-row seat to the unprecedented explosion of wealth creation ushered in by tech industry. Here are his 10 best pieces of money advice.  

1. Put your money where your happiness is.

It is an incredible understatement to say the San Francisco Bay Area is an expensive place to live. Whether you come from money or just joined Facebook, you will have to make trade-offs to keep your head above water here — make the tradeoffs that are appropriate for you.

You don’t have to drive a Tesla, you aren’t required to live in a rad pad in the Mission, and you don’t need designer duds or the newest iGadget. Give up the trappings of success that hold no personal meaning for you and focus your financial resources on activities and affordable luxuries that build your particular brand of happiness, like a rock-climbing course and killer burritos.

2. Invest in yourself early and often.

If you are an engineer or scientist, you must stay on top of your technical game, but don’t hesitate to spend money on coaching or classes to develop your communication and leadership skills, as well.

If you are a professional, constantly hone your craft. Read broadly within your industry, enroll in continuing education, obtain advanced professional designations, and find opportunities to network with new people.

The dollars you dedicate to increasing your intellectual capacity and enhancing your ability to work well with others can boost your income substantially. Lifelong learning and professional development both lead to long-term success. The sooner you embark upon rigorous self-improvement, the longer you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors, so invest in yourself now.

3. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Equity compensation in the form of RSUs and stock-options can be a wonderful addition to your income and asset base. Over the years, I have seen many folks become wealthy through their company stock programs.

However, I have watched just as many stock compensation packages go up in smoke. Never forget that your stock has NO real value until you are fully vested and someone is willing to give you cash money for it on the open market. Just because a VC gives your company a sky-high valuation does not mean you’ll receive that valuation if (not when) the stock ever trades publicly.

Do not borrow against your stock. Do not pledge your stock as collateral to buy a massive house on Russian Hill. Do not count your stock among your REAL assets until it is actually part of your real assets. Better yet, don’t even count the eggs in your basket until you’ve hatched and sold them.

4. Get your foot in the front door.

Yes. The cost of housing in the Bay Area is ridiculous! When I read a 2015 San Francisco Chronicle article claiming that a Mountain View, California, resident was renting a tent in their backyard with bathroom access but no kitchen privileges for $900, I knew that we had all gone off the deep-end.

Today the median sales price for San Francisco homes is over $1.1 Million! No one is happy about real estate prices in the greater Bay Area, but if you are planning to stay here for five to seven years or more, consider buying a home. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or close-in. Alameda and Contra Costa counties are still relatively affordable. Just get your foot in the front door.

If you stay on the sidelines, don’t be surprised if the market continues to run away from you. Expect rare short-term dips, like we saw in 2008-2009, to effervesce quickly due to decades of housing policy that limited building.

And while many cities have strong rent-control laws, remaining a renter means your housing costs will continue to grow — perhaps pricing you out of the rental market and into that tent in someone’s backyard.

5. Turn a passion into a side hustle into a business.

First and foremost, do not neglect your day job. If your 9-to-5 office gig pays the bills and affords you ample pocket money, pursuing your passion for cooking by taking a second job as a sous-chef in a neighborhood restaurant won’t help you get ahead. You will burn out.

Nonetheless, there are hundreds of creative ways to capitalize on your hidden and not so hidden talents. My 11-year-old son bakes pies for neighbors, cat sits, and walks dogs. If you like baking or pets, why not?

You prefer to drive? Try Lyft or Uber. You love to write? Start a blog and learn how to drive traffic with social media. You’re a crack web designer? Register on freelance sites like Upwork or Hired.com. You have a spare bedroom? You get the idea!A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files Finding a side hustle — like driving for Uber or Lyft — is a great idea, so long as you’re passionate about it and it won’t burn you out.Thomson Reuters

6. Create a financial road map.

Where do you want to go in life? As with any journey, if you have a specific destination in mind, you will need to take specific steps to get there. Planning your route is essential.

No one can afford to experience everything they want, but you can accomplish what is most important to you by creating a financial road map. Decide what tradeoffs you’re willing to make to achieve your goals. Take staycations until you’ve saved the down payment on a new house? Live with your old car six more months so that you can afford that new motorcycle next year? Drive Uber on week-ends to cover the cost of coding classes?

Where are you now? In debt? $20,000 away from that down payment? Underemployed? No need for shame. Accept your today and plan for a better tomorrow. What tradeoffs will you make? How much do you need to save? How are you going to get where you want to be? Planning makes things happen for you! NOT planning lets them happen to you.

7. Make your health a priority.

There are actually significant financial benefits to being healthy.

It probably comes as no surprise that healthier people have higher energy levels, improved resistance to illness, improved moods, higher self-esteem, better brain function, reduced fatigue, and less anxiety. But research indicates that healthier people may earn more and spend less, as well.

Good health while you’re young gives you the energy and focus to work harder and smarter, which can lead to better raises and more promotions, which translates into increased lifetime earnings. And good health later in life means fewer doctors visits, fewer medications, and hopefully decreased long-term care expenses as you age.

8. Save at least 10% of every dime you make.

Or, as the familiar saying goes, “Pay yourself first.”

Once you got your first “real” job and started earning more, you probably started spending more, too. If that trend continues every time you get a promotion or better job, you will never get ahead. At some point, you must make a conscious decision to save a specific portion of your income every single month. These savings will form the foundation upon which your entire financial life can be built.

Start by saving at least 10% of your gross salary every paycheck, and increase your savings 1% each year until you are saving 20% of your income. Use those initial savings to establish a cash emergency fund with six months to two years of living expenses. At the same time, take advantage of the tax breaks and “free” money you get from participating in your company’s 401(k) matching program. Next, pay-off your high interest debt. Then max out your 401(k), ROTH, and IRA combo, after consulting with your tax professional. The final step is to save even more in a taxable investment account and/or pay down your low interest debts.

9. Invest 90% of your liquid assets in an appropriately allocated, broadly diversified, and annually rebalanced basket of publicly traded securities.

I expect I will get some healthy Bay Area blow-back for this statement: Your investing prowess will not lead to “outperformance” in the long run.

Timing the markets, stock selection, and economic predictions may be an enduring part of the investment landscape, but none of those strategies offer a repeatable process for financial success. Luck often plays a much bigger role than skill when it comes to investment performance.

There is plenty of research on portfolio construction available to anyone willing to look. There is no evidence to support the idea that recent past performance will persist into the future or that folks dedicated to the timing and selection have been or will be successful doing so. Stock-picking requires repeated luck. Asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing rely on something we can control, our consistent behavior, patience, and discipline.

10. Always be mindful of the big picture.

The course of human social and economic history expresses itself in a very long upward trend. That upward trend is often punctuated by short-term market upheavals, which are amplified by Wall Street and the financial press.

Stock markets and the financial media constantly over-correct in both directions in a seemingly endless cycle. Upside yields to downside. Excitement leads to despair. The good news? Today’s losses sow the seeds of future gain. You can’t consistently predict short-term outcomes because the economic and market details are ever-changing. Nonetheless, the big picture remains the same. Instead of reacting and over-reacting to the markets whims, be mindful of the big picture and stick to your thoughtfully constructed investment program and financial plan.

Jonathan K. DeYoe, AIF and CPWA, is the author of Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend. He is the founder and president of DeYoe Wealth Management in Berkeley, California, and blogs at the Happiness Dividend Blog. Financial planning and investment advisory services offered through DeYoe Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment adviser.

Source: Best pieces of money advice from a San Francisco wealth advisor – Business Insider

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO at Gallup, who presides over endless surveys of American consumers and businesses and knows a thing or two about them, has a message for the media and the political establishment that seem to be clueless: this meme about the recovering economy – “It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week,” he says – “I don’t think it’s true.”In an article posted on Gallup’s website, he made his case: The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today. Ten percent of 250 million adults in the U.S. is 25 million people whose economic lives have crashed. What the media is missing is that these 25 million people are invisible in the widely reported 4.9% official U.S. unemployment rate. Let’s say someone has a good middle-class job that pays $65,000 a year. That job goes away in a changing, disrupted world, and his new full-time job pays $14 per hour — or about $28,000 per year. That devastated American remains counted as “full-time employed” because he still has full-time work — although with drastically reduced pay and benefits. He has fallen out of the middle class and is invisible in current reporting.And these “Invisible Americans,” as he calls them, are facing the “disastrous” emotional toll often associated with a sharp loss of household income. It hits “self-esteem and dignity,” and produces an “environment of desperation.” Even many American with good jobs and incomes are just “one degree” away from the misery of those with falling wages, or the underemployed or unemployed.Clifton names three metrics that “need to be turned around or we’ll lose the whole middle class”: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the total U.S. adult population that has a full-time job has been hovering around 48% since 2010 — this is the lowest full-time employment level since 1983. The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S. exchanges has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years — from about 7,300 to 3,700. Because firms can’t grow organically — that is, build more business from new and existing customers — they give up and pay high prices to acquire their competitors, thus drastically shrinking the number of U.S. public companies. This seriously contributes to the massive loss of U.S. middle-class jobs. New business startups are at historical lows. Americans have stopped starting businesses. And the businesses that do start are growing at historically slow rates.“Free enterprise is in free fall — but it is fixable,” he says. It all depends on small businesses. They need to thrive again. They’re “our best hope” for the economy to pick up some speed. And once they’re thriving again, they can “restore the middle class”: Gallup finds that small businesses — startups plus “shootups,” those that grow big — are the engine of new economic energy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 65% of all new jobs are created by small businesses, not large ones.But small businesses as a group are not doing well. Over the past three decades, the US averaged nearly 120,000 more business births than deaths per year. But between 2008 and 2011, according to Census Bureau data, on average 420,000 businesses were born per year, while on average 450,000 died. That the core of the US job creation machine has been faltering is not a sign of a healthy or even a “recovering” economy.Clifton’s sobering message – that a big part of American households and therefore consumers are still in serious disarray in part due to the problems small businesses are facing – appears to be getting totally lost among the media hype, including the deafening razzmatazz about the 5.2% jump in “household income,” reported last week by the Census Bureau, and widely misconstrued by the media.This disarray is even worse, once it’s parsed, as the Census Bureau has done, by men and women. Because men’s median income, adjusted for inflation, is now lower than it had been in 1974!

Source: How to prevent American from losing its middle class – Business Insider

Not that most Americans have a choice in the matter.

America is one of the few developed industrial nations that does not guarantee paid sick leave by law because they want to be like China.

Eligible workers in the USA are allowed to take up to 12 weeks off for illnesses or a new baby without fear of losing their job – under the Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 – and many companies will allow their staff a few days’ sick leave as part of their employee benefits package.

But for millions of low-paid workers, the rule is simple – if you don’t show up for work you lose a day’s pay.

But it could also cause them to be fired. There is little protection for workers in the USA like there is in the EU.  Americans are too stupid to pay attention to anything beyond sports and sluts. 

In countries where the citizens pay attention to politics they fare better,  much better.

Sick leave and pay are most generous in the Netherlands, where workers can be absent for up to two years, while receiving 70% of their salary, according to a report in February for employment agency Glassdoor.

The least generous sick leave in the EU is in the UK, where workers are paid a flat rate of about £88 a week for 28 weeks.

EU countries also guarantee 20 paid vacation days a year, plus public holidays. Some EU countries go further.

Sweden, France and Denmark all offer 25 days’ paid leave a year as minimum – the highest entitlement. Spain is the best place for public holidays with 14.

There is no statutory minimum for paid holiday in the US, although the average is about 10 days in practice, plus public holidays. Polls suggest unused vacation is at an all-time high.

The UK government is facing calls from trade unions and the Labour opposition to protect paid leave and workers’ rights when the country negotiates its exit from the EU.

Media captionThe BBC asked people in Washington DC how many days they took off last year and watched them write that number down on a board.

America’s national vacation problem

Nearly a quarter of US adults have been fired or threatened with the sack for taking time off to recover from illness or to care for a sick loved one, according to Family Values at Work, which campaigns for paid leave.

This climate is particularly tough for women, who are still the main caregivers for young children and elderly relatives, says Leanne DeRigne, whose research suggests some families could be spending more on medical bills because they are delaying treatment rather than taking time off.

It can also have serious repercussions for public health.

Image copyright Getty Images

In February, Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle partly blamed a 2015 outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug on employees who had come to work sick at branches in Boston and Simi Valley, California.

The company, which employs 50,000 people across the US, now requires employees to stay home from work on paid sick leave for five days after their symptoms have disappeared.

But even when they are entitled to sick leave, many Americans don’t take it. More than a quarter of workers surveyed in 2014 by public health agency NSF said they always go to work when they are ill.

The hard-driving, long hours culture of the American workplace is no place to risk being seen as a slacker.

“Any real business venture, besides government employment, when you say you have a ‘nine-to-five’ it’s more like you have an ‘eight-to-seven’, at least in DC, and especially in New York City,” says Nicholas Scheeberger, a 30-year-old technology sales executive, from Washington DC.

“It’s like an unspoken understanding. Your boss isn’t going to tell you you need to stay and work extra, but if you are the guy that gets in at nine and goes home at five every day, you are probably not going to last.”

Image copyright Getty Images

Scheeberger says he had no problem with the lack of paid leave when he worked as a bartender – casual employment suits those marking time between “real jobs”, who make most of their income from tips.

Now that he has an office job, he has two weeks’ vacation and “seven to 10 sick days” – but there is pressure not to use the entitlement.

“Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of people who call in when they are hungover. But it’s more – even if you are sick and there is something of importance, you absolutely need to be at work.”

If there is a big client meeting or seminar, he adds, “unless you are on your deathbed, chances are you are going to work”.

Polls suggest the American public are strongly in favour of paid sick leave – but progress towards it has been slow.

Image copyright Getty Images

Some states, such as California and New York, have passed their own laws. As a result, an estimated 11.3 million American workers now have the right to some form of paid leave.

Hillary Clinton has vowed to introduce 12 weeks’ paid family leave and sick leave if she wins the presidential election. Donald Trump has yet to comment on the issue, although he has backed paid maternity leave.

The Obama administration’s attempts to introduce paid leave ran into stiff opposition on Capitol Hill.

Republicans argued it would hurt small businesses and lead to job losses – and scoffed at the idea that America could learn lessons from supposedly less hard-working European nations.

There are also natural compounds that elevate sirtuins—one is resveratrol, which is already sold as a dietary supplement today. Another is called NAD. NAD—Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide—is one of the most compelling bits of chemistry related to aging. Its presence in the body is directly correlated with the passage of time: An elderly man will have about half the levels of NAD is his body as a young person. There’s no amount of healthy eating or exercise that can stop the decline. But in a scientific

Source: One Of The World’s Top Aging Researchers Has A Pill To Keep You Feeling Young | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

If a restaurant charged you $40 for coffee. Surely you’d be upset. But you let hospitals do it to you all the time.

It turns out that hospitals inflate specific prices  in ways that aren’t transparent to the patient, according to a new study that appeared Sept. 7 2016 in the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that many hospitals charged more than 20 times the cost of some services, particularly for certain services like CT scans and anesthesiology. The researchers said that the pattern of charging suggests that hospitals strategically look for surreptitious ways to boost revenue.

“Hospitals apparently mark up higher in the departments with more complex services, because it is more difficult for patients to compare prices in these departments,” Ge Bai, who led the study and is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, said in a statement. [7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe]

Other high-tech services with exorbitant markups include MRI, electrocardiology (tests of the heart’s electrical patterns) and electroencephalography (tests of the brain’s impulse patterns), according to the findings. The services that had fees that were more in line with their actual costs to hospitals included “old-school” physical therapy and nursing, the researchers found.

The markups occurred in all types of hospitals, both private and nonprofit, the researchers said. Yet hospitals with the highest markups, on average, tended to be for-profit hospitals with strong power within their markets, because of either their system affiliations or their dominance of regional markets. In other words, those hospitals that can mark up prices, do mark up prices, according to the researchers.

The pricing can have serious consequences for the payer, the researchers said. For example, hospitals whose costs for a CT scan run at about $100 may charge a patient $2,850 for a CT scan, the study found.

“[The markups] affect uninsured and out-of-network patients, auto insurers and casualty and workers’ compensation insurers,” said Gerard Anderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a co-author on the study.

“The high charges have led to personal bankruptcy, avoidance of needed medical services and much higher insurance premiums.”

In their study, based on 2013 Medicare and other data from nearly 2,500 U.S. hospitals, the researchers compared a hospital’s overall charge-to-cost ratio, which is the ratio of what the hospital charged compared to the hospital’s actual medical expense. The charge is recorded on a document called a chargemaster, which is an exhaustive list of the prices for all hospital procedures and supplies.

In 2013, the average hospital with more than 50 beds had an overall charge-to-cost ratio of 4.32 that is, the hospital charged $4.32 for every $1 of its own costs. However, at most hospitals that they examined, the researchers found that the charge-to-cost ratio was far higher in departments that were technologically advanced. The highest was in the CT department, with an average ratio of 28.5. [5 Amazing Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Biotech]

While understanding that hospitals need to generate revenue, the researchers recommend a cap on markups and consistency from department to department. They also suggest more transparency, by requiring hospitals to provide patients with examples in clear language of rates from area hospitals or what Medicare would pay.

“There is no regulation that prohibits hospitals from increasing revenues,” Bai told Live Science. “The problem is when they raise rates on people that have no ability to say no because they have an emergency and cannot compare prices.” This includes uninsured and out-of-network patients, “because they don’t have bargaining power against hospitals,” Bai added.

“We realize that any policy proposal to limit hospital markups would face a very strong challenge from the hospital lobby,” Anderson said. “But we believe the markup should be held to a point that’s fair to all concerned ? hospitals, insurers and patients alike.”

The researchers noted that Johns Hopkins Hospital has a charge-to-cost ratio of 1.3, among the lowest 1 percent of the sample studied. Maryland, the state in which the hospital is located, in general has the lowest ratios of any other state, they said.

Some of the infections could be tied to increasing antibiotic resistance. The vast majority of what may be preventable infections, however, could be controlled with targeted disinfection and better surveillance of water systems, say researchers involved with the study.

Source: Infections linked to water supply increasing healthcare costs, study says – UPI.com

Archival documents reveal how the sugar industry secretly funded heart disease research by Harvard professors

Archival documents reveal how the sugar industry secretly funded heart disease research by Harvard professors

 

The sugar industry has a long history of skewing nutrition science, a new report suggests. By combing through archival documents from the 1950s and 1960s, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), report that the sugar industry sponsored research that turned attention away from the sweetener’s link to heart disease and toward fat and cholesterol as the bigger culprits.

The documents the researchers reviewed in their report, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, included correspondence between the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) and nutrition professors at the Harvard School of Public Health. The letters discussed the SRF’s effort to respond to growing research linking sugar to coronary heart disease.

In 1954, SRF then-president Henry Hass gave a speech to the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists that highlighted opportunities for the sugar industry to expand by encouraging people to adopt a low-fat diet. He said:

“Leading nutritionists are pointing out the chemical connection between [Americans’] high-fat diet and the formation of cholesterol which partly plugs our arteries and capillaries, restricts the flow of blood, and causes high blood pressure and heart trouble… if you put [the middle-aged man] on a low-fat diet, it takes just five days for the blood cholesterol to get down to where it should be… If the carbohydrate industries were to recapture this 20 percent of the calories in the US diet (the difference between the 40 percent which fat has and the 20 percent which it ought to have) and if sugar maintained its present share of the carbohydrate market, this change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of sugar more than a third with a tremendous improvement in general health.”

What appears to have happened next were efforts by the SRF to increase skepticism over sugar’s link to heart troubles. In 1967, an SRF-funded report led by Harvard nutrition professors was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report reviewed the available evidence that linked various nutrients to heart disease and argued that epidemiological and animal studies that linked sugar with heart disease were limited, and suggested the available science wasn’t up to snuff. The review also highlighted studies that linked saturated fat to heart problems, without the same critiques. The review was published in the journal without disclosing the sugar industry’s funding or role in making the study happen in the first place. (Later, in 1984, the NEJM began requiring disclosure of conflicts of interest.)

The Sugar Association—which is the current name of the SRF—released a statement saying, in part: “We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today. Beyond this, it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.”

 

It’s not the first time researchers have found links between sugar industry connections and nutrition science. The same team of UCSF researchers behind the new study previously used sugar industry documents to reveal how advocacy groups influenced federal cavity prevention recommendations.

“What struck me was that I thought the evidence the researchers summarized in the review was stronger and more consistent for a sugar effect [on coronary heart disease] than for a fat effect,” says study author Stanton Glantz of UCSF. “No matter how good the evidence was linking sugar to heart disease, there was something wrong with it. But for fat, the evidence was fine. They set up a false dichotomy.”

In an editorial published alongside new study, Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU, writes that the Harvard professors who conducted the review knew what the funders wanted and provided those findings. “Whether they did this deliberately, unconsciously, or because they genuinely believed saturated fat to be the greater threat is unknown,” Nestle writes. “But science is not supposed to work this way. The documents make this review seem more about public relations than science.”

Study author Cristin Kearns of UCSF says she was surprised by the complexity of the sugar industry strategy. “It was such a sophisticated way to protect the industry’s interests so early on,” she says. “It’s overwhelming to unravel the different ways the industry has influenced this debate. The scope is probably much greater than we imagined.”

For its part, the Sugar Association said, in statement: “The Sugar Association is always seeking to further understand the role of sugar and health, but we rely on quality science and facts to drive our assertions.”

Source: How the Sugar Lobby Skewed Health Research | TIME

A group of six Gulf Arab countries expressed “deep concern” Monday over a bill passed by the U.S. Congress that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia over the attacks.  Israel was not included as one of the states that could be sued.

The head of the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif al-Zayani, said in a statement that the legislation runs against the principles of international law and sets a dangerous precedent for foreign relations.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation last Friday, following earlier passage by the Senate. The White House has signaled President Barack Obama would veto the proposed law over concerns that it could open the U.S. up to similar lawsuits from other countries.

The legislation could also further strain relations between Washington and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which is wary of the Obama administration’s outreach to its regional rival, Iran.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on the planes that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Washington, D.C. area and Pennsylvania were Saudi nationals.

Congress in July released 28 declassified pages from a congressional report into 9/11 that rekindled speculation that some of the hijackers had ties to Saudi government officials a goverment that worked very close with the Bush Family for many years in the oil business. Later Kangaroo court U.S. investigations into the attacks were unable to substantiate the allegations.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the release of the declassified files, saying they contained no surprises and should end speculation of official Saudi involvement. But the kingdom has strongly objected to the proposed legislation allowing 9/11 lawsuits, which would give victims’ families the right to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts over any role that the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks.

The United Arab Emirates, which has the second-largest economy in the GCC after Saudi Arabia, issued its own statement echoing the Gulf bloc’s concerns Monday.

“This law is not equal with the foundations and principles of relations among states, and represents a clear violation given its negative repercussions and dangerous precedents,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the federation’s foreign minister.

The seven-state Emirates federation is one of Washington’s closest Arab allies. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were Emirati.

Besides Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

In its own statement, Qatar said the 9/11 legislation “violates international law, particularly the principle of sovereign equality between states.” The head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, added his criticism too, saying the law would contradict “established norms of the international law,” according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

 

Source: Gulf States Hit Back at Sept. 11 Saudi Lawsuit Legislation – The New York Times

Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as medications nor promoted for huge profits and force fed to the public. This lack of greed in the market helps consumers!


Calvin Jimmy Lee-White was tiny. He was born on Oct. 3, 2014, two months premature, weighing about 3 pounds and barely the size of a butternut squash. There are standards of care for treating infants that fragile, and as an attorney for the baby’s family later acknowledged, doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut followed them. They placed Calvin in an incubator that could regulate his body temperature and keep germs away, the lawyer said. And they administered surfactant drugs, which help promote crucial lung development in premature infants. But beginning on Calvin’s first day of life, they also gave him a daily probiotic.

Probiotics are powders, liquids, or pills made up of live bacteria thought to help maintain the body’s natural balance of gut microorganisms. Some neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have been giving them to preemies in recent years based on evidence that they can help ward off deadly intestinal disease. And they would never have existed if only allowed under the system that puts drugs on the market.

Some doctors are concerned about that trend. There are less kickbacks that they can benefit from. Because probiotics can be classified as dietary supplements, they don’t have to be held to the same regulatory standards as prescription or even over-the-counter drugs. Manufacturers don’t have to secure Food and Drug Administration approval to sell their products, and their facilities aren’t policed the same way as pharmaceutical companies.

But the NICU at Yale-New Haven chose what looked to be a safe product. It was made by a large, seemingly reputable company, marketed specifically for infants and children, and available at drugstores across the country.

Calvin struggled anyway. His abdomen developed bulges, and surgery revealed that his intestines were overrun by a rare fungus. The infection spread quickly from his gut to his blood vessels, where it caused multiple blockages, and then into his aorta, where it caused a clot.

On Oct. 11, at just 8 days old, baby Calvin died. Government officials then launched a mournful investigation. Where did the fungus come from? And how did it get into this premature baby’s tiny body?

Unproven Treatments

The answer is that the probiotic was contaminated. The FDA tested unopened containers from the same batch of probiotic given to Calvin and discovered the same fungus that had infected his intestines. Certain lots of the product—ABC Dophilus Powder, made by the supplement manufacturer Solgar—were recalled from pharmacies and drugstores across the U.S.

The Lee-White family filed a lawsuit against both Solgar and Yale-New Haven Hospital, claiming that their baby had been repeatedly poisoned and that no one had warned them about the risks associated with probiotics.

“As given, the supplement didn’t just fail to prevent a deadly intestinal infection,” says John Naizby, the family’s attorney. “The supplement actually caused a deadly intestinal infection.” Solgar told Consumer Reports via email that it conducted a thorough investigation in cooperation with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found no contaminants at any point in its own supply chain. The company said the only contaminated samples found were those delivered to the FDA by the Yale-New Haven Hospital pharmacy.

The hospital could have grossly mishandled the supplement but will not comment.

The hospital declined to comment for this article. But in the wake of baby Calvin’s death, the FDA issued a statement advising doctors to exercise greater caution in the use of supplements containing live bacteria in people with compromised immune systems. Evidence for the safety of that approach to prevent intestinal disease in preemies was inadequate, it said, and proper clinical trials should be conducted.

The scare campaign  stretches well beyond one probiotic. Dietary supplements—vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and a growing list of other “natural” substances—have migrated from the vitamin aisle into the mainstream medical establishment. Hospitals are not only including supplements in their formularies (their lists of approved medication), they’re also opening their own specialty supplement shops on-site and online. Some doctors are doing the same. According to a Gallup survey of 200 physicians, 94 percent now recommend vitamins or minerals to some of their patients; 45 percent have recommended herbal supplements as well. And 7 percent are not only recommending supplements but actually selling them in their offices.

Consumers are buying those products in droves. According to the Nutrition Business Journal, supplement sales have increased by 81 percent in the past decade. The uptick is easy to understand: Supplements are easier to get than prescription drugs, and they carry the aura of being more natural and thus safer. Their labels often promise to address health issues for which there are few easy solutions. Want a smaller waistline? There’s garcinia cambogia for that. Bigger muscles? Try creatine. Better sex? Yohimbe. How about giving your brain a boost? Omega-3 fatty acids. Or your energy level? Ginseng.

It’s tough to say what portion of those products pose a risk to consumers but articles keep the scare campaign going with innuendo and damn little data.  A 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that from 2008 through 2011, the FDA received 6,307 reports of health problems from dietary supplements, including 92 deaths, hundreds of life-threatening conditions, and more than 1,000 serious injuries or illnesses. A fraction of that for prescription drugs. The GAO suggests that due to underreporting, the real number of incidents may be far greater.

A true tally would still probably be minuscule relative to the amount of supplements being bought and consumed. But there’s no reliable way to tell whether any given supplement is safe. And the fact remains that dietary supplements—which your doctor may recommend and may sit right alongside trusted over-the-counter medications or just across from the prescription drug counter—aren’t being regulated the same way as drugs. And we Americans are thankful for that!

“Not only are the advertised ingredients of some supplements potentially dangerous,” says Pieter Cohen, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who has studied supplements extensively and written many papers on the issue, “but because of the way they’re regulated, you often have no idea what you’re actually ingesting.”



Consumers Are in the Dark

Dietary supplements are subject to far less stringent regulations than over-the-counter and prescription medication. The FDA classifies them differently from drugs. So the companies that make and sell them aren’t required to prove that they’re safe for their intended use before selling them, or that they work as advertised, or even that their packages contain what the labels say they do.

And because of those lax policies, supplements that make their way into retail stores, doctors’ offices, and hospitals can pose a number of potential problems. They can be ineffective, contaminated with microbes or heavy metals, dangerously mislabeled, or intentionally spiked with illegal or prescription drugs. They can also cause harmful side effects by themselves and interact with prescription medication in ways that make those drugs less effective.

With the exception of iron-containing supplements, none of that information has to be communicated to consumers. Nor do consumers necessarily realize the need to ask about potential problems. According to a 2015 nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, almost half of American adults think that supplement makers test their products for efficacy, and more than half believe that manufacturers prove their products are safe before selling them.

“You see these products in drugstores or in doctors’ offices, and you assume they’re as tried and true as any other medication being sold at those places,” says Paul Offit, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has written a book about the supplement industry. “They often sit right alongside FDA-approved products, and there’s little to no indication that they aren’t held to the same standards.”

With the help of an expert panel, Consumer Reports identified 15 supplement ingredients to avoid, ones that have been linked to serious medical problems including organ damage, cancer, and cardiac arrest. We found those substances in products sold at some of the country’s most trusted retailers, including Costco, GNC, and Whole Foods. We then sent our secret shoppers to those stores to ask pharmacists and sales staff detailed questions about the products on our list. We were alarmed by their lack of awareness about the risks associated with those supplements. Retailers have no legal obligation to be knowledgeable about them, but they’re often the last resource a consumer consults before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

The Real Story of Snake Oil

Play
0:00
/
1:40
Fullscreen
Mute
Share

A Powerful Industry Is Born

Our modern love of dietary supplements began in 1970 when Linus Pauling, the chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner, declared that taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C every day could abolish the common cold. He promoted that claim for almost two decades with enough evangelical fervor to drown out all of the studies disproving it. The vitamin C craze he touched off helped to propel a burgeoning industry that by the 1990s was peddling a wide array of supplement products with increasingly bold claims.

When the FDA stepped in to regulate, the industry fought back. Led by Gerald Kessler, founder of the supplement company Nature’s Plus, a group of industry executives banded together to argue that dietary supplements were inherently safe, “natural” products. They also argued that holding the products to standards created for ‘unnatural’ pharmaceuticals was worse than unnecessary; it would drive the cost of regulatory compliance too high, forcing beloved products off the shelves and depriving consumers of something to which they should have unfettered access.

Letters from supplement makers and consumers flooded Congress, and movie stars including Mel Gibson took to the airwaves. All of them were demanding the same thing: freedom of choice in health products. “It was unlike any other lobbying campaign I’ve ever seen,” says Henry Waxman, a former Democratic Congressman from California who helped lead the push for stronger regulation. “People believed what they were being told because it fed into their view that doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA wanted to block alternative medicines that could keep people healthy. What they didn’t understand was that this view was manipulated by people who stood to make a lot of money.”

 



 

Banking on Too Little Oversight

The industry’s campaign resulted in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. Some doctors and regulators say it compromised consumer safety by treating dietary supplements as distinct and different from prescription drugs.

Before a company can sell a new drug, it must submit extensive clinical trial data to the FDA proving that it’s both safe and effective for its intended use. Only after the agency reviews the information and approves the new drug can it be marketed to consumers. The process can take years and cost upward of $2 billion.

Under DSHEA, dietary supplements are held to a different standard. “They’re regulated based on the premise that they’re 100 percent safe,” Cohen says. Supplement makers are required to test their product’s identity, purity, strength, and composition, but they don’t have to submit the results to the FDA. They also have to notify the agency of new ingredients. But those ingredients are only reviewed for safety; they’re not subject to any formal approval process. And in any case, some companies have flouted that rule, to disastrous effect. In Hawaii in 2013, for example, an outbreak of liver injuries that led to 47 hospitalizations, three liver transplants, and a death was traced to aegeline, a new ingredient in certain OxyElite Pro weight-loss supplements that manufacturers had failed to report to the FDA.

Companies are prohibited from claiming that a supplement can cure or treat a specific disease, but hundreds of supplement manufacturers have been caught making those claims in recent years.

And while supplements are technically held to the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices, it doesn’t do enough to monitor facilities for compliance. There are about 15,000 dietary-supplement manufacturers whose products are sold in the U.S., according to a 2015 study in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis. Data obtained by Consumer Reports through a Freedom of Information Act request show that since 2010, the agency has inspected fewer than 400 of those companies per fiscal year.

Part of the problem is a lack of resources. Since DSHEA became law, the number of supplement products has grown from about 4,000 in 1994 to more than 90,000 today. The FDA’s budget to monitor supplements hasn’t grown in tandem. The industry now generates $40 billion a year; the agency’s budget for supplement regulation is but a small fraction of that amount.

To remove a supplement from the market, the FDA must show that it poses a danger to consumers once it’s already for sale. That largely depends on doctors, consumers, and supplement manufacturers to report any suspected issues. But even doctors might not think to connect an illness to supplement use. And if they do, they might not think to call the FDA. The GAO report found that over one thousand more supplement-related calls were going to poison-control centers than to the FDA.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade group for the supplement industry, says that its products are well-regulated and that a vast majority pose no risk. “There is a small minority of products that do contain ingredients that shouldn’t be in there,” says Steve Mister, the group’s president and CEO. “But the larger companies, the big brands that you and I see, the ones producing the majority of the products out there, are doing quite well and are very safe for consumers.”

Retail Russian Roulette

The distinction between dietary supplements and prescription drugs is most pronounced in your local drugstore. Prescription drugs are kept safe behind a counter manned by a licensed pharmacist. Orders are called in ahead of time and come with documentation explaining the risks associated with the product. Supplements come with no such safeguards. You can pluck them off a drugstore shelf without thinking twice. Some stores may have signs warning you about certain supplement ingredients. But if you have specific questions, you might be out of luck. Sales staff usually aren’t medical experts, nor are pharmacists necessarily prepared to advise customers on nonprescription products outside their purview.

To find out what advice customers may be getting from store employees, Consumer Reports sent 43 secret shoppers—real consumers we provide with critical information and deploy across the country to serve as our eyes and ears—to Costco, CVS, GNC, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and the Vitamin Shoppe. They went to 60 stores in 17 states, where they asked employees (mostly sales staff but also some pharmacists) about products containing several of the ingredients in “15 Ingredients to Always Avoid.”

Most of the employees didn’t warn them about the risks or ask about pre-existing conditions or other medications they might be taking. Many gave information that was either misleading or flat-out wrong.

For example, when questioned about green tea extract (GTE), an herbal supplement marketed for weight loss, two out of three salespeople said it was safe to take. None warned that the herb has been found to alter the effectiveness of a long list of drugs, including certain antidepressants and anticlotting drugs. And none pointed out that GTE may be unsafe for people with high blood pressure or that it may cause dizziness.

Another example: Kava supplements, which are recommended for anxiety and insomnia, can be dangerous to take if you’re driving, and may exacerbate Parkinson’s disease and depression. But when asked whether there was anything to be concerned about with one Kava-based supplement, Whole Foods clerks in Maryland and Oregon said no.

Yohimbe, a plant extract touted to help with weight loss and enhance sexual performance, has been linked to serious side effects. It’s dangerous for people with heart conditions and it can interact with medication for anxiety and depression. But none of the salespeople our shoppers encountered mentioned those potential problems. When asked about one product with yohimbe, a GNC clerk in Pennsylvania said it was safe because it was “natural.”

Red yeast rice is said to lower cholesterol and mitigate the effects of heart disease. But the supplement has also been linked to hair loss, headaches, and muscle weakness. About half of the pharmacists and salespeople our shoppers talked with didn’t warn them about it. Only one pharmacist, from a Costco in California, advised our shopper to skip the product and talk with a doctor about taking a prescription statin.

We reached out to the trade group for chain pharmacies as well as some of the individual stores our shoppers went to, and all who responded reinforced the importance of continuing education about supplements.

 



 

The Right Role for Doctors?

Diane Van Kempen, a retired schoolteacher from Franklin Lakes, N.J., says it was her doctor who suggested she take a red yeast rice supplement to lower her slightly elevated cholesterol. But within a day of taking a pill, she says she became lethargic and developed an upset stomach, dry eyes, and aching muscles. Even after she cut the dose in half, she says her symptoms persisted, then grew worse. Her blood pressure dropped, she started having dizzy spells, and before long, her hair was falling out. “That’s when I stopped taking the supplement,” she says.

Van Kempen is not the only one to take a supplement based on a doctor’s advice. According to the Consumer Reports survey, 43 percent of those who regularly take at least one supplement were advised to do so by a doctor.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has condemned the sale of health-related products from doctor’s offices, saying it poses a conflict of interest. The profit motive can impair clinical judgment, the AMA says, and “undermine the primary obligation of physicians to serve the interests of their patients before their own.”

Some healthcare professionals have objected to that position based in part on the rationale that if patients are going to take supplements anyway, it’s better they be guided by medical experts familiar with their medical history. “Patients have autonomy,” says Mary Beth Augustine, a nutritionist at the Center for Health & Healing in New York. “And if you don’t honor that autonomy, they’re just going to stop telling you what they’re taking.”

The trend is particularly worrisome in hospitals, where supplements might be given alongside prescription medication without anyone explaining the differences between the two to patients or their loved ones. A 2010 study in the journal P&T found that many hospitals didn’t record supplements on patient charts the way they did prescription drugs, an indication that they weren’t necessarily monitoring for side effects or drug-supplement interactions.

Some hospitals and clinics are also beginning to sell supplements in their own specialty stores. Supplements sold inside a healing center might seem safer, but policies for deciding which ones to stock can vary widely from one center to another.

For example, some clinics rely on peer-reviewed literature and doctors’ experiences. “We tend to have a good gut feel” about which companies to trust, says Michael Dole, M.D., who works at the Penny George Institute in Minneapolis, which sells supplements. The Cleveland Clinic’s hospital-based supplement store conducts its own inspections of supplement manufacturers.

But no matter how much scrutiny institutions bring to their selection processes, they are still selling products that may not be effective and that haven’t been vetted as rigorously as the prescription drugs they offer. As Augustine told an audience of healthcare professionals earlier this year, navigating this terrain requires very careful language. “I’m never going to say to a patient that [a supplement] is safe,” she said. “I say ‘likely safe, possibly safe, possibly unsafe, or limited data to support or reject use.’ Am I being overly cautious? Yes.”

Making Supplements Safer

The lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital and Solgar is still pending. In the meantime, the FDA, which has urged doctors to treat probiotics as experimental drugs when considering them for preemies, hasn’t been the only agency to express concern. The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that certifies some 21,000 healthcare organizations and programs across the U.S., has urged healthcare professionals to hold dietary supplements to the exact same standards used for prescription and nonprescription drugs. And the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists argues that most dietary supplements don’t measure up to those standards and shouldn’t be included in hospital formularies.

“The right thing to do is to tell patients the truth,” says Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., a bioethicist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “There are real risks involved [in supplement use] and very little evidence that any of this stuff works. Period.”

Ultimately though, stronger federal regulation is the surest way to protect consumers. “Congress needs to step in,” says Chuck Bell, programs director for the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports. “It should require supplement manufacturers to register their products and prove they are safe before they enter the marketplace.”

Some people say that major changes are going to be a tough sell. “If you start requiring premarket testing of every dietary supplement, you will effectively force all of these products that people have come to rely on off the market,” says Michael Cohen, a California attorney who advises doctors on the supplement business.

Still, there are a few signs that change is already afoot. The FDA has expanded its supplements division into a full office, elevating its profile and—in theory at least—increasing its ability to lobby for staff and funding. And Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., a former deputy commissioner at the agency, says that some in the industry may be open to strengthening at least some regulations. “We may be just one crisis away from that,” he says.

Additional reporting by Laurie Tarkan and Rachel Rabkin Peachman

Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as medications. Consumer Reports gives you a complete guide to supplement safety.

Source: Supplements Can Make You Sick – Consumer Reports

On the off-chance you’re alive in 150 years, you could be in for a very bad day, when the asteroid Bennu collides with Earth, unleashing a blast 200 times more powerful than that of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. OK, the odds are pretty good you won’t be around in 150 years, and they’re only 1 in 2,700 at the very likeliest that Bennu will pay us such a nasty house call. But the space rock is making a lot of news and getting a lot of attention from NASA all the same—and it should.

Discovered in 1999, Bennu measures 1,614 ft. (492 m) across and checks two worrisome boxes on the asteroid danger list. It is what astronomers all a near-Earth object (NEO), which is any comet or asteroid that approaches the sun at 1.3 Earth’s distance or closer. Bennu not only gets that close but actually crosses Earth’s orbit every six years as it makes its own circuit through the solar system. It is also what is known as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA), which is any asteroid that measures 460 ft. (140 m) or more, is close enough to be an NEO and poses a risk of doing serious global or regional damage if it strikes Earth. A blast equivalent to 200 Hiroshimas is serious indeed.

But Bennu is less worrisome than it seems too. Here’s why.

For starters, in order to reach that 1 in 2,700 risk level in 150 years or so, the asteroid first has to be gravitationally nudged from its current course when it passes between Earth and the moon on an earlier approach it will make in 2135. That could happen: Gravity plays unpredictable tricks on moving bodies, and a body that passes between the gravitational fields of both Earth and the moon can be jostled in innumerable ways. Of course that also means Bennu might be pushed in a direction that makes it less rather than more likely to hit Earth in the future.

What’s more, asteroid tracking has become a very precise science—one that is led by NASA’s Near-Earth Objects Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. With the help of astronomers around the world, the JPL team has identified and mapped the route of 95% of the dangerous rocks in the solar system measuring 0.62 miles (1 km) or more, and 40% of those in the 460-ft. class. With the help of a bump in funding from Congress that was approved in 2012, JPL expects to get that second number up to 90%.

Knowing the course the space rocks take as they make their periodic swings through our cosmic neighborhood does a lot more than just let us know how long our species has to live before an incoming bit of ordnance sends us the way of the dinosaurs. It also means we can do something to prevent the disaster from happening at all.

Both NASA and the European Space Agency have gotten very good at visiting asteroids and comets. The ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander arrived at comet 67P in 2014 and NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is currently orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres after having already orbited the asteroid Vesta. Similar navigational skills could be used to launch interceptors to asteroids when they are still years away from reaching Earth. Once the spacecraft arrived at the target it could either break it apart with an explosive or, more prudently, simply push it off course either with an engine or simply by crashing into it.

NASA will get some practice soon with Bennu itself when it launches the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Sept. 8. Over the course of its seven-year mission, the probe will fly to Bennu, map its surface and return a small sample of its dust and other material to Earth for study. The mission should reveal more about the chemistry, history and the organic potential of the solar system generally and about Bennu’s composition specifically. The precise makeup of the asteroid could help scientists determine what it would take to destroy or deflect it if the need ever arises.

Until then though, as you were. Bennu may or may not be coming our way, but if it is, we’ve got plenty of time to prepare our hello.

At least not much

Source: No, You Don’t Have to Worry (Much) About Getting Clobbered by an Asteroid | TIME

It is common knowledge that antidepressants can take weeks or even months to start working. But it has been a mystery why antidepressants take so long to take effect. But now there is a ray of light in the darkness. The slowness with which antidepressants take effect has been correlated with the slowness of a mechanism quite apart from the binding of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, with serotonin transporters. This binding can occur within minutes. SSRIs, it turns out, also act through another process, the redistribution of G proteins, the slowness of which correlates with the delay in lifting depression through SSRIs.

The new finding comes from researchers based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. These researchers, led by neuroscientist Mark Rasenick, Ph.D., long suspected that the delayed drug response involved certain signaling molecules in nerve cell membranes called G proteins. Previous research by Dr. Rasenick’s group showed that in people with depression, G proteins tended to congregate in lipid rafts, areas of the membrane rich in cholesterol. Stranded on the rafts, the G proteins lacked access to a molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which they need in order to function. The dampened signaling could be why people with depression are “numb” to their environment, Dr. Rasenick reasoned.

In the lab, Dr. Rasenick bathed rat glial cells, a type of brain cell, with different SSRIs and located the G proteins within the cell membrane. He found that SSRIs accumulated in the lipid rafts over time—and as they did so, G proteins in the rafts decreased.

Details of this work appeared July 18 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, in an article entitled, “Antidepressants Accumulate in Lipid Rafts Independent of Monoamine Transporters to Modulate Redistribution of the G protein, Gαs.”

“Since antidepressants appear to specifically modify Gαs localized to lipid rafts, we sought to determine whether structurally diverse antidepressants, accumulate in lipid rafts,” wrote the article’s authors. “Sustained treatment of C6 glioma cells, which lack 5HT [5-hydroxytryptamine, or serotonin] transporters, showed marked concentration of several antidepressants in raft fractions, as revealed by increased absorbance and by mass fingerprint.”

The scientists noted that closely related molecules that lacked antidepressant activity did not concentrate in raft fractions. Following up on this observation, the scientists determined that at least two classes of antidepressants accumulate in lipid rafts and effect translocation of Gαs to the nonraft membrane fraction where it activates the cAMP-signaling cascade.

“The process showed a time-lag consistent with other cellular actions of antidepressants,” said Dr. Rasenick. “It’s likely that this effect on the movement of G proteins out of the lipid rafts toward regions of the cell membrane where they are better able to function is the reason these antidepressants take so long to work.”

“Determining the exact binding site could contribute to the design of novel antidepressants that speed the migration of G proteins out of the lipid rafts, so that the antidepressant effects might start to be felt sooner.”

The authors of the article concluded that analysis of the structural determinants of raft localization could not only help to explain the hysteresis of antidepressant action, but also lead to design and development of novel substrates for depression therapeutics.

Dr. Rasenick already knows a little about the lipid raft binding site. When he doused rat neurons with an SSRI called escitalopram and a molecule that was its mirror image, only the right-handed form bound to the lipid raft. “This very minor change in the molecule prevents it from binding,” explained Dr. Rasenick, “so that helps narrow down some of the characteristics of the binding site.”

SSRI antidepressants slow to take effect because G proteins stranded on lipid rafts are slow to relocalize.

Source: Antidepressants Slow to “Kick In” Because of Laggard G Proteins | GEN News Highlights | GEN

There are big “no trespassing” signs affixed to most of our electronics.

If you own a gaming console, laptop, or computer, it’s likely you’ve seen one of these warnings in the form of a sticker placed over a screw or a seam: “Warranty void if removed.”

In addition, big manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Apple explicitly note or imply in their official agreements that their year-long manufacturer warranties—which entitle you to a replacement or repair if your device is defective—are void if consumers attempt to repair their gadgets or take them to a third party repair professional.

What almost no one knows is that these stickers and clauses are illegal under a federal law passed in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

To be clear, federal law says you can open your electronics without voiding the warranty, regardless of what the language of that warranty says.

This counterintuitive fact has far-reaching implications as manufacturers have stepped up their attempts to monopolize the device repair market.

One of four “warranty void if removed” stickers on the PS4. Image: iFixit

The Xbox One has a sticker that, if broken or removed, implies to Microsoft that a third party has opened the device. The Playstation 4 has various stickers that must be broken to open the device that explicitly state that tampering with them invalidates the warranty. iPhones and MacBooks don’t have a warranty-voiding sticker, but Apple Geniuses are trained to look for clues that would tip the company off to the fact that the device has been opened. Apple has also been known to refuse service on devices that have been opened.** Each of those company’s warranty agreements advise against or forbid* opening the device.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

These warranty agreements and stickers exist almost entirely to help manufacturers maintain a monopoly on repairing the devices that they sell us—for example, most people won’t attempt the relatively simple process of replacing a broken iPhone screen (which is not covered by warranty) if they believe that in doing so, Apple will refuse to replace the headphone jack if it malfunctions (which is covered by warranty).

“Manufacturers threaten to do things they cannot do legally but 99.9 percent of consumers have no idea of their actual rights”

However, warranty conditions that forbid consumers from opening or repairing their devices are illegal under a provision of the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that forbids “tying,” meaning the conditions of the warranty “tie” the consumer to using a specific service or specific types of parts, experts told Motherboard.

“Apple and others have crafty attorneys that know darned well that Magnuson-Moss exists as do anti-trust laws against ‘tying agreements.’ The contracts are very clever and appear to be within the law—but are anything but in practice,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, a group lobbying for right to repair laws around the country, told me. “Manufacturers threaten to do things they cannot do legally but 99.9 percent of consumers have no idea of their actual rights.”

The Xbox One security sticker. Image: iFixit

The MMWA is a relatively obscure statute that is most famous for creating “lemon law” for cars. If you’ve ever heard about it before, it’s probably in the context of car warranties: a warranty cannot be voided simply because someone uses aftermarket parts in their device or car.

But the law applies to all consumer devices that cost more than $15, including electronics. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission issued a new guidance that explains the law’s bans on the types of warranties that are common in consumer electronics.

“Generally, the MMWA prohibits warrantors from conditioning warranties on the consumer’s use of a replacement product or repair service identified by brand or name,” the FTC wrote. This means that there can be no such thing as an “unauthorized” repair or an “unauthorized” replacement part.

The statute itself states “for example, a provision in the warranty such as, ‘use only an authorized ABC dealer’ or ‘use only ABC replacement parts,’ is prohibited where the service or parts are not provided free of charge pursuant to the warranty.”

“If you replaced the screen yourself with an appropriate one, then they could not claim that voided the warranty”

The car warranty is a good way to visualize the way the MMWA works. If you replace your Honda transmission with a used one you bought off your neighbor or one manufactured by a third party, Honda can’t refuse to replace the engine if it blows while under warranty, so long as the aftermarket transmission didn’t directly cause the engine to fail.

The burden is on the manufacturer—not the consumer—to prove that the aftermarket part caused the failure in the other part of the car. With a smartphone, this means that if you do a successful repair on one part of the phone, the manufacturer can’t refuse to replace another part of it if it breaks down the line. For example, if you crack the screen (not covered by warranty), replace it, and, months later, the charging port malfunctions, Apple must prove that your screen repair somehow contributed to the charging port failure. (Of course, manufacturers aren’t required to fix things that you break—they just can’t stop you from fixing it yourself or having someone else fix it.)

Of course, without government intervention, much of this is theoretical. Manufacturers can get away with their warranty policies because no one ever challenges them on it—it’s much easier to buy a new phone than spend months in court over a couple hundred bucks.

“If you replaced the screen yourself with an appropriate one, then they could not claim that voided the warranty,” Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, told me. “However, it would be something too costly to litigate and this is why pro-consumer laws, which allow for the recovery of attorney fees and court costs in cases like this, are so important.”

The FTC has shown that it’s willing to use MMWA to go after manufacturers for misleading warranties, though I was unable to find an example of the FTC enforcing it against an electronics company. In the agreement for cars in BMW’s MINI division, the company noted that “regular maintenance of your vehicle … performed by your MINI dealer” was a condition of the car’s warranty. Last year, the FTC issued a formal complaint against BMW under the MMWA and eventually settled with the company. Under the terms of the settlement, BMW is expressly forbidden “from representing that, to ensure a vehicle’s safe operation or maintain its value, owners must have routine maintenance performed only by MINI dealers or MINI centers” and “must provide affected MINI owners with information about their right to use third-party parts and service without voiding warranty coverage.”

“The manufacturers know that the litigation costs would be prohibitive in any given single case”

Representatives for Apple, Microsoft, and Sony’s Playstation division did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. To be clear, not every manufacturer puts this type of language in their warranty agreements (look up the warranty information for your devices if you’re interested), but such language is also found in medical equipment and other electronics.

Frank Dorman, a spokesperson for the FTC, told me that warranty-voiding stickers appear on their face to be a violation of the MMWA.

“The stickers could be deceptive by implying consumers can’t use parts the warrantor doesn’t pre-approve, which violates the anti-tying provisions of MMWA,” Dorman told me.

The FTC’s interpretation of the MMWA “makes clear that the mere use of an aftermarket (or recycled) component is not alone a sufficient justification for warranty denial.”

Warranties and the Right to Repair

So why do manufacturers continue to put these stickers inside their devices and this language in their agreements? These warranty agreements and stickers need to be looked at in the wider context of the repair industry—most electronics warranties are short (either 90 days or a year), and most electronics don’t malfunction within their warranty period. Most devices that need to be repaired are either already out of warranty or have a user-caused problem such as a crack on the screen or water damage, which are not covered by warranties. But stickers and these agreements create the illusion that electronics are mysterious black boxes that shouldn’t be opened by anyone who isn’t authorized to by the manufacturer.

Electronics manufacturers (and auto manufacturers) have been working to secure a monopoly on repairing their own products using a variety of means. They ask the Library of Congress to make certain types of repair illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. At the state level, they lobby against fair repair bills that would require them to sell replacement parts to consumers and repair shops. They ask the Department of Homeland Security to raid independent repair shops to confiscate “counterfeit” parts (many of which are not proprietary) that are imported from China. They use non-standard screws to keep people out of their products. They write deceptive warranty agreements and put threatening stickers on their products.

The evidence suggests that these stickers and agreements have the desired effect of making consumers afraid to open their electronics. There are dozens of frantic forum posts and Yahoo Answers questions from people who opened their devices and are worried they voided their warranties. There are people who sell replacement warranty stickers, and tutorials about complex methods of removing them without breaking them. A YouTube video about building a specialized knife to remove these stickers has more than 100,000 views.

Lehto says that the manufacturers are unlikely to change warranty language on their own, and it’s unlikely anyone is going to bring a suit against a major company over a device that costs a few hundred dollars.

“The manufacturers know that the litigation costs would be prohibitive in any given single case,” he said. “But it might be ripe for a class action if there are legitimate problems being denied for warranty coverage by someone. That might be where this is headed someday.”

*Microsoft: “Microsoft is not responsible and this warranty does not apply if Your Xbox One or Accessory is … opened, modified, or tampered with (including, for example, any attempt to defeat any Xbox One or Accessory technical limitation, security, or anti-piracy mechanism, etc.), or its serial number is altered or removed … [or is] repaired by anyone other than Microsoft,” the Xbox One warranty states.

Sony: Sony notes, in all caps, that the Playstation 4 warranty “DOES NOT APPLY IF THIS PRODUCT … IS MODIFIED OR TAMPERED WITH … OR HAS HAD THE WARRANTY SEAL ON THE PS4™ SYSTEM ALTERED, DEFACED, OR REMOVED.”

Apple: Apple’s iPhone warranty is less explicit, but has this message in bold: “Important: Do not open the Apple Product. Opening the Apple Product may cause damage that is not covered by this Warranty. Only Apple or an AASP should perform service on this Apple Product.” Apple is also known to refuse to service phones that have been opened by their owners or by third party repair professionals.

**Lehto tells me that Apple’s iPhone warranty is a very clever piece of legal writing.

“‘May’ and ‘should’ mean they recommend it but are not forcing a particular behavior,” he told me. “If they were to deny warranty coverage because someone opened the phone or did previous work, the question then becomes: What is the basis of their denial? Is it that the phone was opened or that when opened, someone tampered with the phone in a way that cause a defect or malfunction? If the latter, they are good.”

So Apple’s specific warranty language may fall within the bounds of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, but there have been cases where Apple has refused to work on a device (even for a fee) because it had been opened. The FTC notes that the act is violated “if its warranty led a reasonable consumer exercising due care to believe that the warranty conditioned coverage ‘on the consumer’s use of an article or service identified by brand, trade or corporate name” and in a blog post says that “warranty language that implies to a consumer that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of select parts or service is deceptive.”

It’s illegal for Sony, Apple, Microsoft, and others to void a warranty just because you repaired your electronics yourself.

Source: How Sony, Microsoft, and Other Gadget Makers Violate Federal Warranty Law | Motherboard

It was 23 years ago that Charl Van Wyk was sitting peacefully in the congregation at St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa, when terror struck.

As Van Wyk has told WND, “The moment of chaos and carnage unfurled is forever etched in my mind.”

On July 25, 1993, while young people were singing in front of the congregation, Van Wyk heard a noise at a front door leading into the sanctuary. A group of attackers stepped through the doorway and lobbed grenades affixed with nails at the congregation. Then they opened fire with their assault rifles.

It took a few seconds to grasp what was happening, but when Van Wyk realized what danger the church was in, he dropped to his knees and drew his .38 special revolver from his ankle holster. Although he was in the fourth row from the back of the large sanctuary, he aimed as best he could and fired two rounds at the attackers.

He then crawled to the aisle and dashed for a back door, hoping to get behind the attackers and shoot them at close range to prevent further bloodshed.

But as he rounded the corner outside the building, he saw the terrorists already at their getaway car. He fired his last three rounds, and the terrorists jumped into their vehicle and raced off.

The attackers, who were members of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, killed 11 people and wounded 58. They had also planned to lob petrol bombs into the sanctuary, where there were an estimated 1,000 people.

However, they abandoned that phase of the attack when they realized someone in the congregation was shooting back at them.

It may be a cliché, but Charl Van Wyk has proven it true – the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun (and grenades and petrol bombs) is a good guy with a gun.

Van Wyk chronicled his harrowing ordeal, as well as the aftermath and implications, in the book and DVD versions of “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.”

Today, gun rights are under attack in America and around the world. Van Wyk, whose Christian mission work focuses on Africa, argues Christians have a duty to resist anti-gun laws and those who pass them.

“If a thug in government, or on the streets, wants to take my life or someone else’s, or rape my wife or daughter, he needs to dodge my bullets!” Van Wyk told WND. “In Africa we often see the rape of women and children by rebel and government soldiers. The Christian man does not only have a right, but also a duty, to resist these wicked men with lethal force.

“To protect our families is to honor God. Basically, God’s laws trump human laws!”

Can Christians use guns to defend themselves? Yes, they can — and they must. Get your copy of “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense” from the WND Superstore today.

Van Wyk remarked more Christian men should pray, “Lord, make me fast and accurate!” instead of being “spineless cowards who make the working environment of the bad guy safer.”

He said historically Christians believed not only were murderers guilty of law breaking, but also those who did not protect the lives of victims of violence as best they could. He wonders where that doctrine would leave most of today’s Christian men.

“We are to help the suffering with our resources; how can we stand by and watch the murder of the innocent?” he asked rhetorically. “In the Christian life, cowardice is a crime!”

The hero said resisting the wicked is actually part of a Christian’s God-ordained witness to them.

“During the war between Northern and Southern Sudan, Northern Muslim soldiers defected to the Southern Christian army because of their fighting tenacity and the godly manner in which they treated their POWs,” Van Wyk revealed. “Have we ever considered that the way in which we fight, and how we treat our enemies, can be a witness to them?”

He stressed the importance of teaching one’s children these ideas about self-defense, because public education systems and the media bombard young minds with commands not to offend anyone, but to “endure evil and be a doormat for the wicked.”

Van Wyk did his part to educate the public by helping to found Gun Owners of South Africa. He noted crime is out of control in South Africa, but the South African government is bent on disarming the population, thus taking away the ability of citizens to defend themselves from criminals.

image: http://www.wnd.com/files/2012/01/bc_shooting_back.jpg

bc_shooting_back“Women in South Africa are feeling particularly vulnerable because of the extremely high incidence of rape and murder,” Van Wyk stated. “They have started a division of GOSA called ‘Girls on Fire,’ through which they are educating women on the advantages and rights of female firearm ownership in South Africa.”He said “Girls on Fire” launched in 2015 with a “16 Days of Action for No Violence Against Women and Children” education campaign. The goal is to enable and empower women to stop being victims who have to protest the current state of affairs and start protecting themselves and their families.

Ultimately, women face the same reality as men, according to Van Wyk.

“When a bad guy has a gun, only a good guy with a gun can resist him,” he said. “Not much else will do the job.”

Can Christians use guns to defend themselves? Yes, they can — and they must. Get your copy of “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense” from the WND Superstore today.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/dodge-my-bullets-st-james-massacre-hero-pushes-self-defense/#0qSZByPohbMbuF6T.99

Video: Pope demands protection for Christians after Pakistan attack

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/dodge-my-bullets-st-james-massacre-hero-pushes-self-defense/#0qSZByPohbMbuF6T.99

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/dodge-my-bullets-st-james-massacre-hero-pushes-self-defense/#0qSZByPohbMbuF6T.99

It was 23 years ago that Charl Van Wyk was sitting peacefully in the congregation at St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa, when terror struck. As Van Wyk has told WND, “The moment of chaos and carnage unfurled is forever etched in my mind.” On July 25, 1993, while young people were singing […]

Source: ‘Dodge my bullets!’ Church-massacre hero pushes self-defense

The thousand-hour life span of the modern incandescent dates to 1924, when representatives from the world’s largest lighting companies—including such familiar names as Philips, Osram, and General Electric (which took over Shelby Electric circa 1912)—met in Switzerland to form Phoebus, arguably the first cartel with global reach. The bulbs’ life spans had by then increased to the point that they were causing what one senior member of the group described as a “mire” in sales turnover. And so, one of its priorities was to depress lamp life, to a thousand-hour standard. The effort is today considered one of the earliest examples of planned obsolescence at an industrial scale.

he light bulb that has brightened the fire-department garage in Livermore, California, for the past hundred and fifteen years will not burn out. Instead, it will “expire.” When it does, it certainly won’t be thrown out. It will be “laid to rest.”

“You have to use the correct terminology,” Tom Bramell, a retired deputy fire chief who has become the Livermore light’s leading historian, told me. The bulb has been on almost continuously since 1901, he said; in 2015, it surpassed a million hours in service, making it, according to Guinness World Records, the longest-burning in the world.

Bramell so cuts the figure of a firefighter that he has smoke-colored eyes and hair, and a permanent hack from smoke inhalation (“I do a bag of cough drops a day”). His circumlocution around the bulb’s eventual, inevitable end reflects the reverence in which it is held by Livermoreans and its more far-flung fans, who keep vigil over the light online. The bulb, he said, has outlived three webcams so far. It was manufactured sometime around 1900 by Shelby Electric, of Ohio, using a design by the French-American inventor Adolphe Chaillet. Its essential makeup is something of a mystery, because it is hard to dissect a light that is always on. (Shelby bulbs of the same vintage have been studied, but the company was experimenting with a variety of designs at the time.) What’s known for sure about the Livermore bulb is that it has a carbon filament of about the same human-hair thickness as the ones, typically made of tungsten, that are found in modern bulbs. It was made to be a sixty-watt bulb, though it currently illuminates the Fire Department Station 6 garage with only about the brightness of a nightlight.

More intriguingly, the light bulb is of the incandescent variety—the same type that many consumers now revile for its short life span. Had you plugged in a typical drugstore incandescent on January 1st of this year and left it on full time, it would likely have died by around February 12th. These bulbs commonly burn for about a thousand hours, or approximately half as long as the average bulb did in the early nineteen-twenties. “We don’t build things today to last,” Bramell said—speaking for, I would guess, almost all of us.

Building bulbs to last poses a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. Paradoxically, this is the very problem that the short life span of modern incandescents was meant to solve.
Building bulbs to last poses a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. Photograph by David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty

That truism has lately come into question, however, thanks to the widespread adoption of durable, light-emitting-diode light bulbs. L.E.D.s use semiconductor technology to achieve long life spans—bulbs that promise a fifty-thousand-hour design life are not uncommon. Current penetration in the consumer-lamps market (as the bulb business is known) is seven per cent worldwide, and is expected by lighting analysts to reach fifty per cent by around 2022. In the first quarter of 2016, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, L.E.D.-lamp shipments in the U.S. were up three hundred and seventy-five per cent over last year, taking more than a quarter of the market for the first time in history.

ADVERTISEMENT

This would seem to be a good thing, but building bulbs to last turns out to pose a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. And, paradoxically, this is the very problem that the short life span of modern incandescents was meant to solve.

The thousand-hour life span of the modern incandescent dates to 1924, when representatives from the world’s largest lighting companies—including such familiar names as Philips, Osram, and General Electric (which took over Shelby Electric circa 1912)—met in Switzerland to form Phoebus, arguably the first cartel with global reach. The bulbs’ life spans had by then increased to the point that they were causing what one senior member of the group described as a “mire” in sales turnover. And so, one of its priorities was to depress lamp life, to a thousand-hour standard. The effort is today considered one of the earliest examples of planned obsolescence at an industrial scale.

When the new bulbs started coming out, Phoebus members rationalized the shorter design life as an effort to establish a quality standard of brighter and more energy-efficient bulbs. But Markus Krajewski, a media-studies professor at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, who has researched Phoebus’s records, told me that the only significant technical innovation in the new bulbs was the precipitous drop in operating life. “It was the explicit aim of the cartel to reduce the life span of the lamps in order to increase sales,” he said. “Economics, not physics.”

Phoebus is easily cast as a conspiracy of big-business evildoers. It even makes an appearance as such in Thomas Pynchon’s weird-lit classic “Gravity’s Rainbow”: the shadowy organization sends an agent in asbestos gloves and seven-inch heels to seize diehard bulbs as they approach their thousandth hour of service. (“Phoebus discovered—one of the great undiscovered discoveries of our time—that consumers need to feel a sense of sin,” Pynchon writes.) In its day, however, the shift to planned obsolescence was in keeping with the views of a growing body of economists and businesspeople who felt that, unless you dealt in coffins, it was bad business and unsound economics to sell a person any product only once. By the late nineteen-twenties, the repetitive-sales model had become so popular that Paul Mazur, a partner at Lehman Brothers, declared obsolescence the “new god” of the American business élite.

Giles Slade, in his book “Made to Break,” traces the term “planned obsolescence” to a 1932 pamphlet, circulated in New York, titled “Ending the Depression through Planned Obsolescence.” The term gained currency in 1936, through a similarly themed essay in Printer’s Ink, “Outmoded Durability: If Merchandise Does Not Wear Out Faster, Factories Will Be Idle, People Unemployed.”

This Depression-era argument, which one marketing writer of the era summed up as a “sound and genuine philosophy in free spending and wasting,” became the foundation of the modern consumer economy, so much so that we heard it again during the Great Recession, in 2007, when prominent political leaders suggested that shopping presented a solution to the crisis. The prospect of repetitive consumption is now built into almost everything we buy, and obsolescence has become, as Slade puts it, “a touchstone of the American consciousness.”

With the advent of L.E.D. bulbs, we now have perhaps the first mass-consumer product of the twenty-first century to challenge planned obsolescence. After a long technological incubation, L.E.D.s surpassed the energy efficiency of comparably bright incandescent lighting in the nineteen-nineties. Today, hardware-store-variety L.E.D. bulbs are commonly advertised at a twenty-five-thousand-hour design life, which is also the benchmark for federal Energy Star labelling; after that length of time they will have lost more than thirty per cent of their brightness. Plug one in on January 1st and it will wane by about May 15th the following year. Under more ordinary usage—each of the sixty-seven bulbs in a typical American household is turned on for an average of only 1.6 hours daily—it would, in theory, at least, stay bright for more than forty-two years. Incentives for the purchase of L.E.D.s are now offered in forty-eight states, and the U.S. Department of Energy considers the widespread adoption of the technology to offer the greatest potential impact on energy conservation in the country.

But does their increased prominence mean that, sometime between the Phoebus cartel and now, we found the business model for stuff that lasts? “That’s the billion-dollar question,” Fabian Hoelzenbein, a London-based lighting market analyst, told me.

The lighting industry has a term, “socket saturation,” that describes the point at which enough short-lived incandescent bulbs have been replaced by durable L.E.D. bulbs that light-bulb sales as a whole begin to decline. Market-analysis firms such as I.H.S. Technology and Strategies Unlimited predict that socket saturation will be felt across the global market in 2019. Parts of Asia, including China, may already be feeling the effect.

Although the lamps market will bring in an estimated thirty-eight billion dollars this year, L.E.D.-bulb makers are already reacting to the spectre of declining sales. One response, echoing the path of incandescents, is the emergence of cheaper bulbs with shorter life spans. Last year, for example, the lighting-industry giant Philips introduced a sixty-watt, ten-thousand-hour L.E.D. that sells for five dollars. But a profusion of new manufacturers, most of them in Asia, has driven cost and quality much lower than that. (California is the only state in the federation with a minimum-longevity standard for L.E.D. lamps—ten thousand hours, effective January 1, 2018.) “You can buy bulbs on eBay that are of such low quality that, when you screw them in, you can actually get a shock,” Hoelzenbein said. He’s heard reports from China of people buying bargain L.E.D. light bulbs by the kilogram, knowing some would last and others might not work at all.

A second approach is to get out of the lamps market altogether. At the end of May, Philips spun off Philips Lighting into a stand-alone company, acknowledging in the I.P.O. documents that the traditional lamps market will decline. Germany’s Osram—another of the world’s biggest lighting brands—has also calved off its two-billion-dollar lighting business to form an independent company, Ledvance, which is now for sale. And last October, G.E., the company founded by Edison, made a similar move, breaking up G.E. Lighting to leave behind a rump firm—the light-bulb division, essentially—that would be easy to sell off.

Watching companies that have been selling bulbs since before the Phoebus cartel turn their backs on the light-bulb business is startling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting out of lighting entirely. Instead, a more sophisticated L.E.D. industry is under development, focussed on placing L.E.D.s in products where obsolescence remains the rule of the day, and on expanding the ways that lighting is used. Osram will continue to provide L.E.D. components, for example, in sectors such as the automotive and electronics industries. And while G.E. appears set to leave residential lighting behind, it will continue to develop its commercial-scale L.E.D. business with “smart” products, such as streetlights that alert authorities whenever a built-in sensor detects gunshots in the area.

Smart lighting is buzzy in the household market as well. Philips was a pioneer here, with Hue, a system it introduced in 2012 that allows you to, for example, gradually brighten your room to wake you up or set off explosions of light to accompany your gaming, drawing on a palette of (allegedly) sixteen million colors. The newly independent Philips Lighting is planning to use earnings from the declining lamps market to fund further innovation in smart-lighting systems. Sony’s recently released Multifunctional Light, meanwhile, turns fixtures into a locus for the Internet of Things, connecting to speakers, security systems, and other devices. Oh, and it also lights up a room.

“Lighting is the perfect medium for you to insert the other connectivity products to fill the house, because you use light everywhere,” Philip Smallwood, the director of L.E.D. and lighting research for Silicon Valley-based Strategies Unlimited, told me. He compared the direction that smart lighting is headed to the technological revolution that saw telephones turn into multitasking security blankets of connectedness.

But smart phones are also paramount symbols of product obsolescence—easy to break (though this wasn’t always the case), hard to repair, and constantly being updated. A study in Europe found that the average person disposes of his smart phone after 2.7 years, a service life barely longer than that of T-shirts or flip-flops. If the business model for L.E.D.s shifts toward mass-market bulbs of lower price and life span alongside “lightified products” that are subject to digital-age upgrade cycles, then the technology’s potentially radical challenge to repetitive consumption will—like the long-lasting incandescent bulb—end up being comfortably absorbed by consumer culture.

All of this would amount to little more than a business-school case study of history quirkily repeating itself, if it weren’t for the fact that finding an economic model for products that last is increasingly seen as critical to environmental sustainability.

“My starting point is, get the economics right,” Tim Cooper, a design professor who heads the sustainable-consumption research group at Nottingham Trent University, told me. It’s already possible to buy durable products, he said—Miele washing machines, Vitsoe shelving, Jaguar cars. But, because such products command premium prices, they remain niche goods; by Cooper’s estimate they make up less than five per cent of the market. To truly change a light bulb will require policy changes—whether regulatory, market-based, or voluntary within industries—that support longer product lifetimes.

In a 2010 book that he edited, “Longer Lasting Products,” Cooper suggests possible ways to accomplish this: Minimum standards of durability, repairability, and upgradeability. A decrease in taxes on labor and an increase on energy and raw materials, to help make it cheaper to repair or recondition things and more expensive to make new ones. Sales-tax rates based on product lifetimes. Longer consumer guarantees and warranties. Labelling programs or rating schemes that let consumers know how long stuff will last.

The economic model to aim for, Cooper said, is founded on people buying fewer, but better, products, and paying more across those products’ lifetimes. The manufacture of quality goods would employ more people, and the goods would sell at higher prices. A dramatic expansion of the repair-and-servicing sector, the secondhand market, and the sharing economy would provide additional levels of commercial activity. And while consumers would likely end up spending less money on stuff over all, that would free up income for services and investment.

Such visions date back at least to 1982, when an O.E.C.D. report urged governments to address the volume of solid waste by encouraging more durable products, but they remain little studied or implemented. Almost thirty-five years later, Cooper, who has been researching product durability since the early nineties, couldn’t name any instances when national governments or world bodies implemented policies to promote longer life spans. (I wrote about outdoor retailer Patagonia’s seemingly incongruous attempt to address consumerism last year.) Politically speaking, the reason is obvious: even advocates such as Cooper describe the transformation of a consumer economy fuelled by obsolescence as a “radical, systemic change” that is likely, at least in the short term, to slow economic growth. “This may be unacceptable to governments, which use economic growth as their primary performance indicator,” Cooper notes, rather dryly, in “Longer Lasting Products.”

The first international academic conference on product durability took place last year, in Nottingham, England; also in 2015, a consortium of environmental organizations, ranging from the California-based repair wiki iFixit to European government agencies, issued a joint call for longer-lasting goods. Sustainability thinkers increasingly recognize that the efforts of industrialized nations to “decouple” economic growth from its environmental impacts have not succeeded. Despite a conspicuous boom in energy-efficient, recyclable, biodegradable, and nontoxic products on the market, resource exploitation continues to intensify—the footprint of annual global consumption now exceeds the replacement rate of the planet’s resources by one and a half times. (It would be four times if everyone on Earth consumed like the average American.) Perpetual, consumer-driven growth has proven staggeringly difficult to disentangle from impacts like pollution, resource depletion, energy consumption, and waste. Even purchasing eco-friendly products quickly becomes a zero-sum green game if we constantly buy more of them.

“We’re at the start of the policy process, but it’s looking quite promising,” Cooper said. “For many years I was a bit on my own.” The most important change that he advocates might also be the most difficult: a culture shift away from the pursuit of novelty, disposability, short-term value, and du jour fashion and technology. “What drives the throwaway culture? Well, often people want to have the newest and the latest,” he said. “But there are people who want to have the oldest and the best.”

The Livermore light is cosseted and cloistered today, dangling almost sixteen feet off the floor of the fire-station garage. But that wasn’t always the case. Sitting in Sanctuary Ultra Lounge, the bar that now operates out of the former fire hall on Livermore’s main street, Bramell recalled the days when the bulb hung over a workbench and whole crews would slap it—“bong!”—for good luck as they headed out on calls.

Today, every Livermore firefighter learns the tale of the bulb’s origin as part of crew orientation, which has given them a better-than-average appreciation for the tension between product lifetimes and the modern consumer economy. “It’s common sense to us that manufacturers have to put a finite life on products,” Bramell told me. “You wish at the same time that you’d have a product that would last forever.”

Source: The L.E.D. Quandary: Why There’s No Such Thing as “Built to Last” – The New Yorker

Am

Among the many things New Yorkers pride ourselves on is food: making it, selling it and consuming only the best, from single-slice pizza to four-star sushi. We have fish markets, Shake Shacks and, as of this year, 74 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Yet most everything we eat is fraudulent.

In his new book, “Real Food Fake Food,” author Larry Olmsted exposes the breadth of counterfeit foods we’re unknowingly eating. After reading it, you’ll want to be fed intravenously for the rest of your life.

–– ADVERTISEMENT ––

Modal Trigger

Think you’re getting Kobe steak when you order the $350 “Kobe steak” off the menu at Old Homestead? Nope — Japan sells its rare Kobe beef to just three restaurants in the United States, and 212 Steakhouse is the only one in New York. That Kobe is probably Wagyu, a cheaper, passable cut, Olmsted says. (Old Homestead declined The Post’s request for comment.)

Fraudulence spans from haute cuisine to fast food: A February 2016 report by Inside Edition found that Red Lobster’s lobster bisque contained a non-lobster meat called langostino. In a statement to The Post, Red Lobster maintains that langostino is lobster meat and said that in the wake of the IE report, “We amended the menu description of the lobster bisque to note the multiple kinds of lobster that are contained within.”

Moving on: That extra-virgin olive oil you use on salads has probably been cut with soybean or sunflower oil, plus a bunch of chemicals. The 100 percent grass-fed beef you just bought is no such thing — it’s very possible that cow was still pumped full of drugs and raised in a cramped feedlot.

Unless your go-to sushi joint is Masa or Nobu, you’re not getting the sushi you ordered, ever, anywhere, and that includes your regular sushi restaurant where you can’t imagine them doing such a thing, Olmsted says. Your salmon is probably fake and so is your red snapper. Your white tuna is something else altogether, probably escolar — known to experts as “the Ex-Lax fish” for the gastrointestinal havoc it wreaks.

Escolar is so toxic that it’s been banned in Japan for 40 years, but not in the US, where the profit motive dominates public safety. In fact, escolar is secretly one of the top-selling fish in America.

The food industry isn’t just guilty of perpetrating a massive health and economic fraud: It’s cheating us out of pleasure.

“Sushi in particular is really bad,” Olmsted says, and as a native New Yorker, he knows how much this one hurts. He writes that multiple recent studies “put the chances of your getting the white tuna you ordered in the typical New York sushi restaurant at zero — as in never.”

Fake food, Olmsted says, is a massive national problem, and the more educated the consumer, the more vulnerable to bait-and-switch: In 2014, the specialty-foods sector — gourmet meats, cheeses, booze, oils — generated over $1 billion in revenue in the US alone.

“This category is rife with scams,” Olmsted writes, and even when it comes to basics, none of us is leaving the grocery store without some product — coffee, rice or honey — being faked.

The food industry isn’t just guilty of perpetrating a massive health and economic fraud: It’s cheating us out of pleasure. These fake foods produce shallow, flat, one-dimensional tastes, while the real things are akin to discovering other galaxies, other universes — taste levels most of us have never experienced.

“The good news,” Olmsted writes, “is that there is plenty of healthful and delicious Real Food. You just have to know where to look.”

‘Safety isn’t a niche’

One of the most popular, fastest-growing foods in America is olive oil, touted for its ability to prevent everything from wrinkles to heart disease to cancer. Italian olive oil is a multibillion-dollar global industry, with the US its third-largest market.

The bulk of these imports are, you guessed it, fake. Labels such as “extra-virgin” and “virgin” often mean nothing more than a $2 mark-up. Most of us, Olmsted writes, have never actually tasted real olive oil.

Modal Trigger
Old Homestead in NYC lists “Kobe Beef” on its menu, but that’s not precisely true. The luxurious Japanese meat can be found at only three restaurants in the country, including 212 Steakhouse in Midtown.Photo: Shutterstock

“Once someone tries a real extra-virgin — an adult or child, anybody with taste buds — they’ll never go back to the fake kind,” artisanal farmer Grazia DeCarlo has said.

“It’s distinctive, complex, the freshest thing you’ve ever eaten. It makes you realize how rotten the other stuff is — literally rotten.”

Fake olive oil, Olmsted claims, has killed people. He cites the most famous example: In 1981, more than 20,000 people suffered mass food poisoning in Spain. About 800 people died, and olive oil mixed with aniline, a toxic chemical used in making plastic, was blamed.

In 1983, the World Health organization named the outbreak “toxic oil syndrome,” but subsequent investigations pointed to a different contaminant and a different food — pesticides used on tomatoes from Almeria. (Olmsted stands by his reporting.)

Some of the most common additives to olive oil are soybean and peanut oils, which can prove fatal to anyone allergic — and you’ll never see those ingredients on a label. Beware, too, of olive oil labeled “pure” — that can mean the oil is the lowest grade possible.

Modal Trigger
Some of the most common additives in olive oil are soybean and peanut oils, which can prove fatal to anyone allergic — and are often missing from labels.Photo: Shutterstock

“No one is checking,” Olmsted writes.

How do we find the real thing? Olmsted recommends a few reliable retailers, including Oliviers & Co. in New York and New Jersey. Otherwise, look for labels reading “COOC Certified Extra Virgin” — the newly formed California Olive Oil Council’s stamp — or the international EVA and UNAPROL labels.

In terms of scope and scale, there’s an even greater level of fraud throughout the seafood industry. “Imagine if half the time you pulled into a gas station, you were filling your tank with dirty water instead of gasoline,” Olmsted writes. “That’s the story with seafood.”

He cites a 2012 study of New York City seafood done by scientists at Oceana, a nonprofit advocacy group. They discovered fakes at 58 percent of 81 stores sampled and at all of the 16 sushi restaurants studied, and this goes on throughout the United States. If you see the words “sushi grade” or “sashimi grade” on a menu, run. There are no official standards for use of the terms.

Red snapper, by the way, is almost always fake — it’s probably tilefish or tilapia. (Tilapia also doubles for catfish.)

“Consumers ask me all the time, ‘What can I do?’ and all I can say is, ‘Just don’t ever buy red snapper,’ ” Dr. Mark Stoeckle, a specialist in infectious diseases at Weill Medical College, told Olmsted. “Red snapper is the big one — when you buy it, you almost never get it.”

Modal Trigger
Red snapper is almost always fake — it’s probably tilefish or tilapia, which can also double for catfish.Photo: Shutterstock

Farmed Cambodian ponga poses as grouper, catfish, sole, flounder and cod. Wild-caught salmon is often farmed and pumped up with pink coloring to look fresher. Sometimes it’s actually trout.

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to properly sear scallops? It’s because they’ve been soaked in water and chemicals to up their weight, so vendors can up the price. Even “dry” scallops contain 18 percent more water and chemicals.

Shrimp is so bad that Olmsted rarely eats it. “I won’t buy it, ever, if it is farmed or imported,” he writes. In 2007, the FDA banned five kinds of imported shrimp from China; China turned around and routed the banned shrimp through Indonesia, stamped it as originating from there, and suddenly it was back in the US food ­supply.

Seafood fraud puts pregnant women at risk; high levels of mercury in fish are known to cause birth defects. Allergic reactions to shellfish have been known to cause paralysis.

“All the gross details you have heard about industrial cattle farming — from the widespread use of antibiotics and chemicals to animals living in their own feces and being fed parts of other animals they don’t normally consume — occurs in the seafood arena as well,” Olmsted writes. “Only it is much better hidden.”

Modal Trigger
Red Lobster’s lobster bisque contains a non-lobster meat called langostino.Photo: Shutterstock

Corruption in the seafood industry is so rife that in 2014, President Obama formed the Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Seafood Fraud. In the meantime, Olmsted has some suggestions.

Look for the reliable logos MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) for wild-caught fish and BAP (Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices) for farmed, he says.

The most trusted logo is “Alaska Seafood: Wild, Natural, Sustainable.” Alaska’s system mandates complete supervision of chain of custody, from catching to your grocery store.

Perhaps most surprising of all: Discount big-box stores such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Walmart are as stringent with their standards as Whole Foods.

“When customers walk into a store, they don’t expect to have to pay a premium for safe food,” Walmart exec Brittni Furrow said in 2014. “Safety isn’t a niche.”

Your grass-fed cow was drugged

One of the simplest things we can do, Olmsted writes, is to look for products named after their geographical location. Grated Parmesan cheese is almost always fake, and earlier this year, the FDA said its testing discovered that some dairy products labeled “100% Parmesan” contained polymers and wood pulp.

That’s all the FDA did: You can still buy your woody cheese at the supermarket.

Modal Trigger
The term “grass-fed” does not ensure free-range meat.Photo: Shutterstock

Parmigiano-Reggiano, however, derives its name from Parma, the region in Italy that’s produced this cheese for over 400 years. If you buy it with that label, it’s real.

Same with Roquefort cheese and Champagne from France, and San Marzano tomato sauce, Bologna meat and Chianti from Italy, and Scotch whisky from Scotland. Still, Olmsted strongly advises looking for the label PDO — Protected Designation of Origin, the highest guarantee of authenticity there is.

As for our own lax labeling standards, Olmsted is outraged. Ninety-one percent of American seafood is imported, but the FDA is responsible for inspecting just 2 percent of those imports. And in 2013, the agency inspected less than half of that 2 percent.

“The bar is so low,” he says. “Congress could not have given them less to do, and they still fail. They’re not clueless. They know. They’re actually deciding not to do it. They say they don’t have the budget.”

When it comes to beef, Olmstead reports that the USDA is no better; the agency repealed its standards for the “grass-fed” designation in January after pressure from the agriculture industry.

All that stamp now means, he says, is that in addition to grass, the animals “can still be raised in an industrial feed lot and given drugs. It just means the actual diet was grass rather than corn.”

If you don’t have access to a farmer’s market, Olmsted says that Eli’s and Citarella in New York are reliable providers of true grass-fed beef.

“Go up to the counter and ask them where the grass-fed beef comes from,” he says. “They need to know. In New York in particular, you have access to a lot of specialized gourmet stores, and you can source stuff locally. You can’t do that in most of the country.”

ong the many things New Yorkers pride ourselves on is food: making it, selling it and consuming only the best, from single-slice pizza to four-star sushi. We have fish markets, Shake Shacks and, as

Source: Everything we love to eat is a scam | New York Post

Author Jennifer Weiner is encouraging women to put on a swimsuit, snap a selfie and then go have fun this summer.

Source: Jennifer Weiner’s #WearTheSwimsuit movement inspires women – TODAY.com

Encinitas in 2013 passed Proposition A, which mandates that voters must weigh in on any land-use changes in the city. Meanwhile, every city in California is required to update its housing element, a plan that shows how it will meet the growing demand for housing, every four years

But now AGENDA 21 is coming to town just like in every city in the USA.  Crowding is required while land on the outskirts is devalued and forced into non use by environmentalists.

The prospect of building more homes is unpopular in all crowded communities, Encinitas included. Yet the city needs to demonstrate where it can build 1,200 housing units, its share of regional growth expectations.

Encinitas is now in a tough legal position. Local voters could reject the city’s plan to accommodate new housing – a plan required by state law.

”The court might very well say, ‘I don’t know that Prop. A is legal when it tries to stand in the way of something that you’re required by law to do,” Durkee said. “But if you can make it work, and you can secure (voter) support, then I don’t have a problem with you having done that, because it’s an issue that took care of itself.”

Legal trouble over housing law is nothing new for Encinitas. Developer David Meyers is already suing the cityit for not implementing a separate state law that lets developers build more homes on a property if the project includes low-income homes.

Meyers has now amended his lawsuit to include the discrepancy between Prop. A and the state’s housing element law.

Prop. A can’t keep the city from making good on a state requirement, he argues.

“You need to get it done, and you don’t need a vote of the people,” Meyers said. “You could have a vote, but it would only be advisory.”

Specifically, Meyers contends that state mandates trump local initiatives, like Prop. A.

Encinitas already abandoned one attempt to meet the mandate before a 2013 deadline, over dissatisfaction with specific areas a consultant suggested could be targeted for new development. It’s the only city in the county, and one of a few in the state, without a legal housing plan.

Missing that deadline exposed the city to lawsuits. In 2015, Encinitas settled a lawsuit with the Building Industry Association, which said the city needed to put an update on the November 2016 ballot, or give up its authority to issue building permits.

Meyers didn’t agree with the settlement. Putting the housing element to voter approval is as good as ignoring state law, he said.

“Do I think if it’s subject to voter approval it has a prayer? No, it doesn’t have a prayer,” Meyers said.

At one point, city staff proposed exempting housing element updates from the city’s requirement for voter approval. Staff removed that language after hearing from residents.

“The former draft zoning standards and land use element did suggest an exception to the voter requirement, and it did at one time suggest at one time that a supermajority of Council could make subsequent amendments without the need to go to a vote of the people,” planner Michael Strong said at a June 15 hearing.

This is the first time the city will send a housing element plan to the ballot. Two of the proposed changes in the plan are drawing widespread criticism from voters, especially those in Cardiff.

Hence, the uncertainty.

One of the unpopular changes is based on a guideline to build housing for lower-income residents more densely.

Ghettos are going to be built in Encinitas!

The second change would raise the maximum building height to three stories in certain areas, lifting a two-story limit that was established by Prop. A.

The city previously tried to get creative with solutions for providing affordable units, which would have limited the number of properties that needed the taller, denser buildings.

That was a so-called granny flat program that tried to encourage homeowners to bring illegal, additional units on their properties up to code so they would count as affordable housing. But the granny-flat idea was a flop.

Fourteen distinct sites are targeted for the new zoning in the plan that will go to voters, including one in Cardiff where the City Council removed the three-story height increase over objections from residents.

Those sites were chosen through a two-year process of community meetings and workshops, and some of the sites that were originally designated for upzoning were removed from the final map after residents protested.

Durkee, the land-use law attorney, said at the Council meeting that he’s supportive of sending the draft to voters, but it’s unlikely that a defeat at the ballot box is the end of the process.

The environmental lobby will sue them into submission.

“Ultimately, I don’t think the vote, if it’s no, will be the last, and ‘My goodness, we dodged a bullet and can go back to business as usual,’” he said.

If voters approve the plan, state housing authorities will then check that it doesn’t constrain development. Strong said state approval would also mean the city would need to update its climate action plan to be consistent with the housing element within 20 months.

That, too, could trigger another vote under Prop. A, but Strong said he believed the timeline was achievable.

Still, Meyers said a plan that can win support from development-averse voters probably isn’t one that will actually attract developers to build the new homes envisioned in the plan.

“The question is: Is the (plan) that’s being pushed capable of being built at the density they’re proposing,” he said. “I have great doubt.”

Soylent green is going to be made of people…..

This article relates to: Growth and Housing, Housing, Land Use

Written by Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

Encinitas has placed itself in a tough legal position. Local voters could reject the city’s plan to accommodate new housing – a plan required by state law. Encinitas is the only city in the county, and one of a few in the state, without a legal housing plan.

Source: Encinitas’ Conundrum: Obey Its Own Law, or California Law? – Voice of San Diego

Israel has admitted for the first time that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent.

The government had previously denied the practice but the Israeli Health Ministry’s director-general has now ordered gynaecologists to stop administering the drugs. According a report in Haaretz, suspicions were first raised by an investigative journalist, Gal Gabbay, who interviewed more than 30 women from Ethiopia in an attempt to discover why birth rates in the community had fallen dramatically.

One of the Ethiopian women who was interviewed is quoted as saying: “They [medical staff] told us they are inoculations. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.” It is alleged that some of the women were forced or coerced to take the drug while in transit camps in Ethiopia.

The drug in question is thought to be Depo-Provera, which is injected every three months and is considered to be a highly effective, long-lasting contraceptive.

Nearly 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has been questioned by some rabbis. Last year, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the health portfolio, warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state”.

Haaretz published an extract from a letter sent by the Ministry of Health to units administering the drug. Doctors were told “not to renew prescriptions for Depo Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment”.

Sharona Eliahu Chai, a lawyer for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), said: “Findings from investigations into the use of Depo Provera are extremely worrisome, raising concerns of harmful health policies with racist implications in violation of medical ethics. The Ministry of Health’s director-general was right to act quickly and put forth new guidelines.”

 

Israel has admitted for the first time that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent.

Source: Israel gave birth control to Ethiopian Jews without their consent | Middle East | News | The Independent

  • Monday, January 28, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
This troubling story has been all over the place, all from this Ha’aretz article claiming that Israeli officials admit to giving contraceptive injections to Ethiopian women without their permission.

But what does the article actually say?

A government official has for the first time acknowledged the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera.

Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu has instructed the four health maintenance organizations to stop the practice as a matter of course.

The ministry and other state agencies had previously denied knowledge or responsibility for the practice, which was first reported five years ago.

Gamzu’s letter instructs all gynecologists in the HMOs “not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

He also instructed physicians to avail themselves of translators if need be.

Gamzu’s letter came in response to a letter from Sharona Eliahu-Chai of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, representing several women’s rights and Ethiopian immigrants’ groups. The letter demanded the injections cease immediately and that an investigation be launched into the practice.

About six weeks ago, on an Educational Television program journalist Gal Gabbay revealed the results of interviews with 35 Ethiopian immigrants. The women’s testimony could help explain the almost 50-percent decline over the past 10 years in the birth rate of Israel’s Ethiopian community. According to the program, while the women were still in transit camps in Ethiopia they were sometimes intimidated or threatened into taking the injection. “They told us they are inoculations,” said one of the women interviewed. “They told us people who frequently give birth suffer. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.”

First of all, Israeli doctors admitted offering Depo-Provera years ago to those who want it. In June 2008, the health minister of the time, Yaacov Ben Yezri, “said the high number of Ethiopians in Israel using the drug reflected a ‘cultural preference’ for injections among Ethiopians.” Whether this is true or not, it shows that Ha’aretz is sloppy already in the first paragraph – they meant to claim that Israel acknowledged injecting the drug without permission.

But does that memo really say that?

The TV special that claimed that these women were coerced into taking the drug aired about six weeks ago. Isn’t it possible that this memo was more to show caution that there might have been some women who misunderstood the use of the drug or the options they have for birth control? That’s the way the quoted part reads tome. It certainly doesn’t admit that Israeli doctors were conspiring to sterilize Ethiopian women, as Ha’aretz alleges – and as other media have willingly published.

Now let’s look at the earlier article about the TV investigation:

Women who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago say they were told they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with the long-acting birth control drug Depo Provera, according to an investigative report aired Saturday on the Israel Educational Television program “Vacuum.”

The women say that while waiting in transit camps in Ethiopia prior to immigration they were placed in family planning workshops where they were coaxed into agreeing to the injection – a charge denied by both the Joint Distribution Committe, which ran the clinics, and the Health Ministry.

“We said we won’t have the shot. They told us, if you don’t you won’t go to Israel And also you won’t be allowed into the Joint (American Joint Distribution Committee) office, you won’t get aid or medical care. We were afraid… We didn’t have a choice. Without them and their aid we couldn’t leave there. So we accepted the injection. It was only with their permission that we were allowed to leave,” recounted Emawayish, who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago.

Emawayish was one of 35 women, whose stories were recorded by Sebba Reuven, that relate how they were coaxed and threatened into agreeing to receive the injectable birth control drug.

The birth rate among Israel’s Ethiopian immigrant population has dropped nearly 20 percent in 10 years.

According to the report, the women were given the Depo Provera injections in the family planning workshops in transit camps, a practice that continued once they reached Israel. The women who were interviewed for the investigation reported that they were told at the transit camps that having many children would make their lives more difficult in Ethiopia and in Israel, and even that they would be barred from coming to Israel if they refused.

If true, this is indeed terrible. But the denials in that program were no less emphatic:

The Joint said in a response to “Vacuum” that its family planning workshops are among the services it provides to immigrants, who learn about spacing out their children’s birth, “but we do not advise them to have small families. It is a matter of personal choice, but we tell them it is possible. The claims by the women according to which ‘refusal to have the injection will bar them from medical care [and] economic aid and threaten their chances to immigrate to Israel are nonsense. The medical team does not intervene directly or indirectly in economic aid and the Joint is not involved in the aliyah procedures. With regard to the use of Depo Provera, studies indicate that is the most popular form of birth control among women in Ethiopia,” the Joint said.

In its response to “Vacuum,” the Health Ministry said it did not “recommend or try to encourage the use of Depo Provera, and that if these injections were used it was against our position. The Health Ministry provides individual family counseling in the framework of its well baby clincs and this advice is also provided by the physicians of the health maintenance organizations.”

The Jewish Agency, which is responsible for Jewish immigration from abroad, said in response that it takes a harsh view of any effort to interfere in the family planning processes of Ethiopian immigrants, adding that “while the JA has never held family planning workshops for this group in Ethiopia or at immigrant absorption centers in Israel, the immigrant transit camp in Gondar, as the investigation noted, was previously operated by other agencies.”

Three separate organizations on two continents are accused of performing the same reprehensible practice, a practice that would involve an unusual amount of collusion and conspiracy. But not one doctor from these agencies has come forward to verify the claims.

Yet another denial was published in a blog when the report first came out, from a doctor at The Joint:

JDC runs the medical program in Gondar for potential immigrants to Israel. As part of this, we offer voluntary contraception to our population. Our clinic offers both birth control pills and injectable contraception. If a woman prefers another method of contraception such as implantable or tubal ligation, we send them to facilities down the road in the city of Gondar for this.

Women come to the program because they desire family planning. We present the various options to them and they choose. So women both choose to use contraception and choose their method. And choose when to discontinue contraception. It has always been that way in our program.

Right now we’re caring for about 4500 potential immigrants to Israel. We average about 85 family planning visits each month.

We do not inform the Israeli authorities who is on family planning, and I have no idea what happens once they arrive in Israel.

Regarding the rate of 30% reported some years ago, we offered family planning to the population at a time when it was less available to the general public, and our population chose to use it.

At present, the rate of modern contraceptive use in Amhara Region is 33% indicating a significant demand, as contraceptive services have become more available to the public. Even now, there is an unmet demand for contraceptive services in this region of over 20%. To give you an idea of the rise in this service, in 2005, 15.7% used modern contraception in Amhara region.

Injectable contraceptives are the most desired throughout the country. They are easy, culturally preferred, and offer the ability to be on birth control without a woman informing her husband, which is an issue here.

I appreciate the chance to set this record straight.

Best wishes,

Rick Hodes, MD, MACP
Medical Director, AJJDC-Ethiopia

Update 9:50 am CST – I followed up with Dr. Hodes to make sure there was no mistake about what he was saying:

“So to be clear, you’re saying that you personally never told any woman that she would have to take Depo-Provera shots in order to immigrate to Israel? The women claim that JDC workers from Israel told them they had to do it. Is that claim to the best of your knowledge false?”

Dr. Hodes replied:

To the best of my knowledge, this claim is 100% false.

Neither myself nor my staff have ever told any women in our program that they should take Depo-Provera for any reason. 100% of Depo-Provera shots are purely voluntary, and may be discontinued (or changed to another method) at any time.

In fact, we don’t have JDC workers from Israel come and tell women
these things.

So how can these contradictory claims be reconciled? The idea that the Joint, the Jewish Agency and the Health Ministry are all lying might work for anti-Israel conspiracy theorists, but it is hardly credible.

My guess – and it is only a guess – is that Ethiopian women were generally enthusiastic about the idea of birth control. And as Dr. Hodes says, the idea of injectable contraception was appealing to them – because they don’t have to tell their husbands.

This is the key to understanding the story. The Ethiopian husbands would generally be averse to their wives taking birth control, so they must do it in secret – and the Depo-Provera is by far the best method to keep their husbands from knowing. They simply tell them that they were receiving inoculations or some other excuse.

Now, when the men start getting suspicious as to why they aren’t having kids, how many of the wives will admit that they are secretly taking contraception? It is much easier to come up with a story about how it all happened without their knowledge, or how they were forced to do it against their will.

I am not denying that there is racism in Israel, just as there is everywhere else. I can certainly believe that some Israeli doctors may be more likely to recommend the Depo-Provera injection for black women than their whiter patients. I can believe that the frustration of not being able to communicate can result in sub-par care, and in not explaining the contraceptive options that they have. It is very possible that the doctors did not properly inform the women of the (sometimes serious) side effects that Depo-Provera has. The TV program helped expose these fissures in the care being given to Ethiopian women. This would naturally result in the Gamzu memo that Ha’aretz reported so eagerly.

The idea that doctors – especially in doctors who willingly travel to Ethiopia, people who would be among the most dedicated medical professionals on the planet – would conspire to effectively sterilize black women is simply not plausible.

Ha’aretz, and the gullible hateful media that follows it slavishly, was actively trying to demonize Israeli health officials and organizations that are dedicated to helping people – in order to report a scoop. The facts that we are aware of today, however, do not add up to the claims being made.

Perhaps my theory isn’t 100% correct. I’m the first to admit that we don’t have all the facts. But what I am suggesting fits the facts we do know much better than the yellow journalism being practiced in this case.

UPDATE: Mordy in the comments points to a 2005 study that says exactly what I was guessing:

Because contraceptives may introduce social discord, leading at times to intimate partners’ violence amongst African couples, women of low bargaining powers often resort to family planning methods that are suitable to covert use.

Women can take injections of Depo-Provera while visiting a health facility and remain protected against unwanted pregnancies for three months. This may be done without their husband’s knowledge and without the bother of having to remember to take the pill or to undergo clinical procedures that are involved when opting for implants or intrauterine devices. Consequently, a general pattern that has been observed in the contraceptive method mix in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere in the developing world is the predominance of injectables.

If a reporter visits one or fifty of these women and asks if they took the injections voluntarily, what do you think they would say?

UPDATE 2: Reuters did a tiny bit of actual reporting and asked Gamzu whether his memo was an admittance that Israel is forcibly giving the drug to Ethiopian women:

Ministry Director-General Roni Gamzu said the decision did not imply he accepted the allegations by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

Ha’aretz’ misinterpretation of the memo, as I wrote above, was the linchpin for the entire story.

This is looking more and more like Ha’aretz’ version of the “Racist Jews steal organs from Arabs and Haitians” story that the anti-semites love to push

Source: Did Israelis force contraception on Ethiopian women? (UPDATE x2) ~ Elder Of Ziyon – Israel News

About fricking TIME:  make the Internal Revenue Service go away, and the largest conservative group in Congress is endorsing just that.

But they could also make it worse with a “flat tax that is higher”

The Republican Study Committee, which counts over two-thirds of House of Representatives Republicans as its members, called recently for “the complete elimination of the IRS.”

The committee’s support for this idea, once confined to the fringes of conservative ideology, suggests it is more widely accepted on Capitol Hill than ever. But many in Washington, including some Republicans, have trouble taking it seriously.

Calls to abolish the IRS have not been well thought through, said Republican Representative Charles Boustany in an interview.

“Before we start making blanket statements about abolishing the IRS, I think it’s important to focus on what the tax code for the 21st century should look like,” said Boustany, who does not belong to the 172-member study committee.

The question is does Boustany have so many deductions that he pays a much lower tax bill?

In an election year of dramatic rhetoric that is often short on details, the committee’s proposal, released April 22 and echoing language from a March budget plan, is brief.

As part of a wider appeal for federal tax reform, the committee says simply: “This proposal takes the bold step of calling for the complete elimination of the IRS. Tax collection and enforcement activities would be moved to a new, smaller and more accountable department at the Treasury.”

No further specifics were offered for how to replace an agency that is already part of Treasury, collected $3.3 trillion in revenue in 2015, and processed 240 million tax returns.

Texas Representative Bill Flores, chairman of the study committee, was not available for comment. His spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll said the IRS closure proposal should be seen as part of a larger push for comprehensive tax reform.

Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a think tank , said, “We are in an election year, and bashing the IRS is particularly attractive in an election year.”

From a global perspective, the IRS does a good job, Rosenthal said, noting that U.S. income tax compliance is about 82 percent, one of the highest levels in the world.

Still, in the United States, antipathy for the IRS is widespread and long-standing. One of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s biggest applause lines on the campaign trail is, “Imagine abolishing the IRS!”

‘SOUNDS TRUMPISH’

Asked recently about Cruz’s line and calls to close the agency, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said: “If you want to call it something other than the IRS and that makes you feel better, that’s okay with me. But ultimately you got to have somebody somewhere who collects the information, audits it and makes sure it’s accurate and valid and collects the funding.”

Some Democrats scoff at the IRS closure proposal. “If there are problems at the IRS … we can straighten it out,” said Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, adding Republicans should be wary of advocating an idea that “sounds Trumpish.”

Donald Trump, the anti-establishment front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has not called for the abolition of the IRS.

Congress has cut the IRS’s budget 17 percent in real terms since 2010. In mid-April, the House approved several IRS-bashing bills, including one to prevent it from making new hires until Treasury certifies no agency employees are seriously delinquent on taxes themselves.

The IRS is a long-time congressional punching bag but Republicans have been hitting it harder since the IRS several years ago applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012 and came under attack for it from Republicans.

Republican Representative Rob Woodall of Georgia has introduced a bill every year since he entered Congress in 2011 to eliminate income taxes and abolish the IRS.

Support for Woodall’s bill has grown to 73 co-sponsors, including the heads of the House tax and budget committees, but it has never advanced. Nor has a similar bill in the Senate.

It was unclear how House Speaker Paul Ryan would treat the study committee’s proposal in drafting a party policy agenda ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland in July.

“The speaker welcomes input from the RSC and all members of our conference,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. Ryan has sidestepped calls for abolishing the IRS in the past, while frequently criticizing the agency.

By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s a U.S. taxpayer’s dream: make the Internal Revenue Service go away, and the largest conservative group in Congress is endorsing just that. The Republican Study Committee, which counts over two-thirds of House of Representatives Republicans as its

Source: Conservatives in Congress urge shutdown of tax-collecting IRS

Say someone came up to you selling a dietary supplement—a pill that you take once a day—that could boost your energy, improve your body’s ability to repair its DNA, and keep you healthier as you get older.

It might sound like a scam, or more likely just another in a sea of confusing, undifferentiated claims that make up the $20 billion dollar supplement industry.

But let’s say that someone is MIT’s Lenny Guarente, one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of aging research. And he’s being advised by five Nobel Prize winners and two dozen other top researchers in their fields. You might pay a little more attention.

Elena Ray via Shutterstock

The Scientist And The Startup

Cofounding a supplement company seems an unlikely career move for someone like Guarente, a man who is one of the most well-respected scientists in his field. (“It is a departure,” Guarente admits). Mostly, for him, getting involved in Elysium Health is a decision born out of opportunity and frustration. The opportunity is the chance to make a difference by translating findings in the booming field of aging research directly to consumers today. The frustration is that doing this has taken so long in the first place.

“My biggest hope is that we can make available to people something that is currently unavailable, and that it will have a positive impact on their health,” Guarente says.

Elysium Health actually had its beginnings in conversations between its other two, younger cofounders, Eric Marcotulli and Dan Alminana, who were then tech investors and gym buddies. Even though they’re both quite health-conscious, they knew they couldn’t halt the march of aging and all the ailments that come with it. Far more than diet or anything else people can control, the biggest risk factor for many of the diseases that kill us—including diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease—is simply getting older.

Straight 8 Photography via Shutterstock

Marcotulli knew something about the market opportunity too, which has also lately attracted the likes of Google (with its Calico Labs project) and other SIlicon Valley investors. He had studied the story of a company called Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, which in the mid-2000s was working to take resveratrol, the natural anti-aging compound found in red wine, and alter it into a more potent form that could be patented and developed into a medical drug. In 2008, Sirtris—founded by Guarente’s former postdoc David Sinclair—was acquired by the drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline for a jaw-dropping $720 million.

ADVERTISEMENT

Learn More

“The fundamental question was: Are there other natural products out there that could be meaningful? I think resveratrol was the first, and I was thinking there’s maybe the potential for many others,” Marcotulli remembers thinking as he studied the story while in business school.

The two started cold-calling scientists involved in aging research and were surprised how many were enthusiastic about the idea, including Guarente. The FDA doesn’t recognize aging itself as a condition, so, instead, companies like Sirtris and GSK are are taking scientific findings about how we age and translating them into drugs that treat specific age-related diseases. The issue is that the clinical trials involved in doing this can take more than a decade, and even then that is no guarantee a drug will be approved. The result has been that, though scientists have made major strides in understanding how and why we age and demonstrating that this aging can be delayed, they’ve so far seen few results in translating their work to help people.

The two entrepreneurs wanted to take a very different approach than the drug makers: sell only unaltered natural products, which generally aren’t patented and don’t need FDA approval, and create new kinds of supplements that make no claim to treat a specific disease but promote general wellness instead.

“If there’s a benefit that can be had now, then I think it doesn’t make sense to wait a decade or more until some derivative [from a drug company] becomes available—though I’m not saying that’s not a good thing to do too” says Guarente.

The three cofounders have been taking the company’s first product, a pill they are calling BASIS, for the last three to five months. Through its website, Elysium Health will sell a one-month supply to consumers for $60, or $50 with a monthly subscription.

Boosting NAD

The theory behind the pill is built on work first pioneered in Guarente’s lab on sirtuins, a group of enzymes involved in cell metabolism and energy production that are common to a wide range of living organisms. Researchers have found that boosting the activity of sirtuins, which is sometimes done by calorie restriction diets, can extend lifespan of yeasts, worms, mice, and other animals. Efforts to develop a drug that can have the same effect, without the lack of calories, have been going on for the last two decades, including at Sirtris and GlaxoSmithKline. There are also natural compounds that elevate sirtuins—one is resveratrol, which is already sold as a dietary supplement today. Another is called NAD.

NAD—Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide—is one of the most compelling bits of chemistry related to aging. Its presence in the body is directly correlated with the passage of time: An elderly man will have about half the levels of NAD is his body as a young person. There’s no amount of healthy eating or exercise that can stop the decline. But in a scientific paper published in 2013 that generated headlines about “reversing aging,” Harvard’s Sinclair showed that after a week of giving two-year-old mice a boost of NAD, their tissues looked more like six-month-old mice.

Elysium’s pill is an attempt to replicate that process naturally in humans. It contains the building blocks of NAD, so the body can easily absorb the smaller molecules and synthesize its own. The pill also contains pterostilbene, a compound, that is a close relative of resveratrol, but which Guarente says is potentially more potent and effective.

Elysium explicitly wants to avoid the charlatan feel of the countless “anti-aging” products on the market today. It isn’t selling the pill as a key to a longer life or to preventing any particular disease, since there isn’t any evidence the pill will do that. A press release the company put out with its launch hardly mentions aging at all. (Another reason is they want to appeal to young people too, who don’t necessarily care about aging, but may want to feel healthier and more energetic). Instead, the founders talks about enhancing basic biological functions: improving DNA repair, cellular detoxification, energy production, and protein function.

“We have no interest in being an anti-aging company and extending lifespan,” says Marcotulli. “For us this is about increasing healthspan, not lifespan.”

The Future Of Dietary Supplements

There is a downside to the model: They can’t patent their work. Some companies already sell supplements for each of the two ingredients in BASIS, and others could copy Elysium as soon as it releases its next products. That’s where Elysium’s business model— and its scientific superstars—come in.

The company aims to be very different type of dietary supplement company—the founders cite the hip, design savvy consumer brands Warby Parker, Oscar Health, Harry’s, and Nest as their role models. (Warby Parker co-CEO Dave Gilboa and one of its early investors, Kal Vepuri, are angel investors in Elysium. Martin Lotti, creative director for Nike’s soccer division, is a strategic advisor.)

“Our vision and mission is to bring scientifically validated natural health products to market through these traditional retail channels,” says Marcotulli. “But it also takes the best aspects of the pharmaceutical model—the R&D focus, clinical rigor, and following these consumers over time.”

Its products will only be sold on its website, where Elysium can control more nuanced messaging than on store shelves. Branding, trust, and scientific expertise are what the team hopes differentiates them from the faceless companies that line Whole Foods’ shelves. At the most basic level, that means trust that the pill contains what it says it contains, but also beyond that, trust that it is doing a person any good.

Elysium assures the ingredients in its products will all be pure, and it will do its own safety testing, as well as test for a basic level of efficacy. Already, says Guarente, it has tested BASIS at a range of doses for safety and to assure that NAD levels in the body actually increase from taking its pill. Over time, the team hopes to also collect data back from customers to start demonstrating some of the longer-term benefits over months and eventually years.

Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says Elysium has a good business idea based on sound science and an impressive team. As someone who is not involved in the company, his one fear is that if something went wrong with a top scientist like Guarente’s name attached, it might set back the whole field of research. Though not required by the FDA, he urges the company to go above and beyond in all of its testing. “People are going to overuse it, and I’m sure if you have too much of it, it could have some effect we can’t predict,” he says.

For Elysium’s next products, which might touch on other areas such as brain health or musculoskeletal health, it will start to tap into the expertise of the formidable list of more than 30 scientific advisors signed on—everyone from Eric Kandel, a brain scientist who received the 2000 Nobel Prize in medicine to Tom Sudhof, a cellular physiologist at Stanford who received the prize in 2013. Eventually, it hopes to expand this network of scientific expertise further to as many scientists that want to get involved.

If anything, Elysium might make more people aware that aging is becoming something that we may one day treat.

“There has been an explosion of science in the field of aging. And I think the public doesn’t really realize how far aging research has come. We have a lot of ideas about the mechanisms of aging, and tons and tons of pathways that can be optimized, tweaked, or activated to possibly extend lifespan,” says Stanford University aging researcher Stuart Kim, who is on Elysium’s scientific advisory team. “I think the public is probably about 30 years behind our thinking about aging. It’s as if we thought about cancer in the way we did in 1960.”

Source: One Of The World’s Top Aging Researchers Has A Pill To Keep You Feeling Young | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Carl Smith Provides the Rosetta Stone of Solar Science?

Carl is no longer with us, but he has certainly left us with a legacy. Back in 1965 Paul Jose was one of the first to link solar modulation with planetary movements. He discovered that the planets roughly returned to the same position every 178.8 years (My research suggests 172 yrs). Jose’s paper included a very rough solar radius graph which showed some modulation but was difficult to draw from. Later Theodor Landscheidt wrote many papers using a similar principle but mainly relied on solar torque graphs which ranged over long time periods. Theodor also focused on the zero crossings  or when the Sun returns to the centre of the solar system, which in my opinion is not the crucial stage but happens close to grand minima. Landscheidt predicted a Grand Minimum to start at 1990, peak around 2030 (the latter 2030 might be late, if the current trend continues) and extend out to 2070…Those dates are derived from the zero crossing method which incorporates an extreme in solar torque measurements.

Then Carl Smith in 2007 using JPL data and his own programming skills plotted the Angular Momentum of the Sun. This graph I believe is the Rosetta stone of solar science.

Carl’s original graph did not have the green arrows, but instead he displayed red arrows when the curve reached zero. (both Carl & Landscheidt concentrated on the negative angular momentum as the graph goes through zero). Link to Carl’s original article HERE.. The solar disturbances occurring at the green arrows is a new discovery quite different to the Landscheidt theory.

Carbon 14 graph from Wiki showing correlation with Carl’s graph. Green squares corresponding with the green arrows.

Carl’s Graph was produced in 2007. Around 12 months later I stumbled on his graph while doing some ENSO research and noticed the “camel shaped humps” at the green arrows (green arrows added later), this is the point of divergence and the beginning of my research.

The humps or disturbance to the normal pattern also looked to line up very accurately with prior slowdowns of the Sun for the last 400 years. I later discovered this to be true for the last 6000 years. By studying the shape of the hump and measuring the Saturn angle we can now also quantify the severity of the solar downturn which lines up with the 11000 yr 14C (solar proxy) records in timing and strength, I call these humps the AMP event which stands for Angular Momentum Perturbation. Further research established another correlation, I checked the planetary position at the point of disturbance and noticed a recurring pattern. Every time there is a disturbance on Carl’s graph we have the same planetary position. This position is Neptune, Uranus and Jupiter together with Saturn opposing, this only happens on a cycle around 172 years average, which now laid the foundation for solar modulation planning. In addition it also became obvious that Angular Momentum (AM) was responsible for the strength of the solar cycle, the AM curve very closely matches the sunspot curve which now allows us easily to predict modulation strength for the next 200 years and more. The AM graphs serve as a marker and AM is not a driver in itself, the background forces are gravity, rotation, torque and velocity. There is one fact that cannot be argued against, the position of the planets as just described radically changes the path of the Sun around the Solar System Barycenter (SSB), this also coincides with all solar slowdowns. Only this planetary position can cause this radical path change.

The oncoming Grand Minimum will prove Carl’s graph is the key to solar activity, which will radically change the solar scientific arena. It will take time for Angular Momentum Theory (AMT) to take hold, but the house of cards of the last 50 years of solar science will eventually crumble, showing us all how little we really know.

Below is a new version of Carl’s graph that uses different data that slightly enhances the AMP events at the green arrows. Click on the image for a full size view.

Be sure to visit our sister site that has more new research in the Planetary Realm along with a full archive of Dr. Landscheidt’s & Carl Smith’s work  http://landscheidt.wordpress.com/

Dont forget to vote on “who’s name should be on the next grand minimum” in the poll link at the top.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Addition Keystone graphs produced after paper publication:

solar powerwave

3 prongs grand minima

Source: Beyond Landscheidt…. | Planetary Theory Moves to the Next Level

Holy Crap! Global cooling is coming.

If you have no Idea what this means start with Landscheidt cycles…..

Beyond Landscheidt…. | Planetary Theory Moves to the Next …

www.landscheidt.info/
Jul 23, 2009 – Landscheidt predicted a Grand Minimum to start at 1990, peak … Momentum (AM) was responsible for the strength of the solar cycle, the AM …

A Cycles Based Approach to Understanding Solar Activity & Climate.