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FDA approves 1st ‘living drug’ to treat cancer in the US

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever gene therapy to treat cancer in the...

‘Serial killers’: FDA panel recommends approving 1st gene-altering leukemia treatment

A Food and Drug Administration panel has approved the first-ever gene therapy to treat Leukemia. The...

‘No Coko Loko’: Schumer calls on FDA to crackdown on ‘snortable chocolate’

Published time: 9 Jul, 2017 21:16 Edited time: 9 Jul, 2017 22:25 Senate Minority Leader Chuck...

The FDA Is Cancer

The gay lobby was able to overcome the Food and Drug Administration on anti-AIDS “cocktails.” This was one of the few major triumphs of...

Historic 1st: FDA calls for opioid to be removed from market based on risk...

In an unprecedented move, the US Food and Drug Administration has requested a drugmaker withdraw an...

Flint blood tests may be inaccurate, underestimate lead levels, FDA & CDC warn

Federal officials are warning that certain lead tests manufactured by Magellan Diagnostics, which have been commonly...

New opioid painkiller considered too high a risk of abuse – FDA panel

Opana ER, an opioid painkiller redesigned in 2012, still carries too high a risk of abuse...

Trump’s FDA Pick Has Extensive Industry Ties and Dangerous Deregulatory Ideas

WASHINGTON - Note: Today, media outlets indicated that President Donald Trump will nominate Dr. Scott Gottlieb to be the U.S. Food and Drug Administration...

EPA joins FDA to approve 3 types of genetically modified potatoes

Published time: 28 Feb, 2017 21:51 Three types of potato, genetically modified to resist the pathogen that...

‘Gaming the system’: FDA approves old drug with new price – more than 7,000...

A recently FDA-approved drug used in steroid treatments, which has been on the international market for...

Big Insurance, FDA or Pharma as cause of all evil: Sanders and Cruz clash...

Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders debated the merits of Obamacare, whether healthcare is a right...

‘Unnecessary risk’: FDA says homeopathic teething product is toxic, company won’t recall

After the FDA issued a warning about a homeopathic medication for teething infants, the manufacturer refused...

Many Household Products Contain Antimicrobial Chemicals Banned From Soaps by the FDA

This year marks 20 years since Hasbro was fined for false advertising, claiming their Playskool toys laden with the antimicrobial chemical triclosan would keep...

FDA confirms St. Jude heart monitors can be hacked, Abbott Labs to release patch

All medically implanted cardiac devices made by St. Jude have been deemed vulnerable to hackers by...

Texas sues FDA over withheld execution drugs

Texas has sued the Food and Drug Administration over 1,000 vials of a barbiturate the agency...

Antibacterial soap ingredients unsafe and not effective – FDA

There is insufficient evidence to prove that antibacterial soaps are superior to plain soap and water...

All donated blood should be tested for Zika – US FDA

All blood donations made in the US and its territories should be screened for Zika, following the example set in Florida and Puerto Rico,...

FDA extends Zika testing to all blood donations in US

All blood donations in the US and its territories must be tested for the Zika virus,...

Freak of nature: FDA approves genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat Zika virus

Genetically engineered mosquitoes have been approved for field trials in Florida by the Food and Drugs...

At least 570 stem cell clinics operate unregulated by FDA — study

Businesses marketing stem cell therapy are flourishing in the US, where there is no federal approval...

What the heck does ‘natural’ food mean, anyway? Tell the FDA

The word “natural” is often used to describe hundreds of food products from various companies, but...

FDA moves to regulate E-cigarettes for first time, ban sales to minors

Electronic cigarettes and cigars will be regulated by the federal government and their sale will be...

FDA warns-widely used antipsychotic drug causes uncontrollable sex, gambling urges

Aripiprazole, the active ingredient in common antidepressant and antipsychotic medications like Abilify, has been linked to...

US reports first Zika death as FDA approves emergency test for virus

The US has reported its first death linked to Zika virus, while the Food and Drug...
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FDA DOCUMENTS ADMITS VACCINES LINKED TO AUTISM

Document: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM101580.pdf

There is a war between Big Pharma and the American people … and the...

Big Pharma has just scored a big victory with the appointment of Robert Califf as new head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)....

3-in-1 Zika test gets FDA emergency approval, to be sent to labs within 2...

A new real-time 3-in-1 Zika virus test was given the green light from the US Food...

FDA changes drug review rules to challenge Martin Shkreli-like medicine monopolies

The US drug regulator is paving a fast-track for generic remedies to market while also sealing...

FDA opens criminal investigation into urination on Kellogg's assembly line video

A video of a man urinating on equipment used to move Kellogg’s rice cereal products went...

Cosmetic giants pressure FDA into cracking down on homemade soap artisans while ignoring their...

Once again, those who are trying to live a simple, clean life or make a decent living from traditional skills are threatened by the...

Big Pharma Officially Owns The FDA

In February, President Obama’s nominee Robert Califf sailed through the Senate approval process to be approved as the next FDA commissioner. Califf has financial ties...
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Video: Senate Confirms New FDA Commissioner With Close Ties to Big Pharma

Public Citizen's Dr. Michael Carome describes the thousands in consulting fees new FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf received from pharmaceutical ... Via Youtube

FDA’s Ban of Three Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging Comes Too Late, Say Critics

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will ban three grease-resistant chemicals from food packaging materials like pizza box liners,...

New FDA rule bans 3 food packaging chemicals with suspected cancer links

Three chemicals used in pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and other food packages are no longer deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, but...

Ibuprofen, aspirin and OTC painkillers can cause deadly heart attacks and strokes, FDA admits

In July, the FDA announced changes to the labels of nearly every medication in the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) class, warning that those drugs...

FDA: Kind Bars Can’t Be Labeled “Healthy” But Big Food Can Make False Claims

According to the FDA, Kind bars aren't healthy and they must immediately stop claiming that they are.

Eat at Your Own Risk: Flawed FDA Risk Assessments Strengthen Arguments for Labeling GMOs

For the past two decades, developers of genetically engineered (GE) crops and theircorporate allies have maintained that because their products are so obviously safe,...

Marijuana Backed By More Studies Than Most FDA Approved Pharma Drugs

Marijuana and its use has been studied over the course of the last few decades more so than even many leading FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs,...

How Much Pesticide Residue on Your Produce? FDA Doesn’t Know

New GAO report reveals FDA doing scant testing for pesticides Andrea Germanos The Food and Drug Administration is carrying out little testing for pesticide residues on...

Inside the FDA Mafia

Inside the FDA Mafia by Jon Rappoport June 22, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com I post this piece now and then to show how personal things can get inside a terminally corrupt government agency. It’s not all about remote decisions made from a great height. These decisions can come about through the rank intimidation the Mafia exercises with […]

Why the FDA should be charged with murder

Why the FDA should be charged with murder by Jon Rappoport May 16, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com If you worked for a federal agency that was killing people at the rate of 100,000 a year, every year, like clockwork, and if you knew it, wouldn’t you feel compelled to say or do something about it? At the […]

Why the FDA should be charged with murder

Why the FDA should be charged with murder by Jon Rappoport May 16, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com If you worked for a federal agency that was killing people at the rate of 100,000 a year, every year, like clockwork, and if you knew it, wouldn’t you feel compelled to say or do something about it? At the […]

War on Health: The FDA’s Cult of Tyranny

Normal Price: $25.95 Your Price: $19.95 You Save: 20% + Free Shipping War on Health is the first documentary detailing and challenging the FDA agenda and its allegiance with...

Unlabeled GMO Salmon? Groups Call on FDA to Rein In Industry Claims

Food & Water Watch and Center for Food Safety called on FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg today to put an end to erroneous statements by...

FDA Vaccine Insert Lists Autism As Adverse Reaction

By Susan DuclosVindication for those parents that have been criticized and mocked for refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated?  You decide.An insert (PDF here) by the FDA (US Food And Drug Administration) now lists Autism as an ...

New FDA Rules Ignore the GMO Elephant in the Room

Katherine Paul  RINF Alternative News On February 27, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a media blitz to tout the FDA's proposed new rules for nutrition labels on packaged...

Researchers Prove FDA Approved Cancer Drugs Have the Side Effect Of Inducing Stem Cell...

by Lizzie Bennett Originally Published at Underground Medic A University of Massachusetts Amhurst and Harvard Medical School combined research team have found that have found that several FDA approved chemotherapy drugs have the side effect of inducing stem cell tumours. Michele Markstein Of Amherst and Norbert Perrimon from Harvard foundRead the Rest...

Under the radar: prestigious mainstream editor torpedoed the FDA

Under the radar: prestigious mainstream editor torpedoed the FDA by Jon Rappoport February 3, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Seven years ago, Marcia Angell, who, for two decades, edited one of the most famous medical journals in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine, wrote a piece for the Boston Globe. It was titled, Talking Back to […]

Murder at the FDA

Murder at the FDA by Jon Rappoport January 31, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com File this one under: “studiously ignored by major media.” I posted this story in August of 2012. It was based on a Truthout interview of a man who did drug reviews for the FDA. He examined applications to approve new medical drugs for public […]

Obamacare: FDA to Require Calorie Labels on Vending Machines

CBS NewsDecember 28, 2013 Regulations will cause many mom-and-pop vending companies to go out of business.Office...

Is the FDA Really Phasing Antibiotics Out of Meat?

This month's FDA guidance for reducing livestock antibiotics will actually make things worse, animal welfare and food activist groups are saying. “The FDA is...

Decades Later, FDA Takes Action on Safety of Antibacterial Soaps

Commonly used antibacterial soaps are no better at killing germs than washing with plain soap and water, but may harm health and contribute to...

Public Health Still Threatened as Toothless FDA Antibiotic Plan Slammed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's newly unveiled "voluntary plan with industry" to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock does too little, too...

FDA takes first step at eliminating antibiotics in animal feed

Federal regulators in the United States are preparing the country's producers of farmyard animal feed for a change that will make major difference to...

Critics: FDA Plan on Antibiotics a ‘Gift to Industry’ That Fails to Address Public...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's newly unveiled "voluntary plan with industry" to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock does too little, too...

FDA: Many common cooking spices may contain bug parts, rodent hairs

Ethan A. Huff Natural News November 12, 2013 Hiding inside your pepper grinder and cumin shaker could be things like rodent hairs, bug parts and even salmonella,...

Black Sites, Designer Babies, FDA Shutdown — New World Next Week

Welcome to http://NewWorldNextWeek.com — the video series from Corbett Report and Media Monarchy that covers some of the most important developments in open source intelligence news. This week: Story #1: Obama Swaps ‘Black Sites’ for ...

Agribusinss is “Playing Chicken” with our Health: FDA Admits Supermarket Chickens Test Positive for...

Back in March, Tom Philpott wroteabout the “insane” practice of feeding factory-farmed chickensarsenic: The idea is that it makes them grow faster — fast growth...

FDA Policy: Big Pharma Firms Pay to Play

Major pharmaceutical companies are engaging in "pay to play" arrangements that allow them to shape public policy on painkiller testing rules and regulations, according...

US drug firms pay to affect FDA policies

A scientific panel provided FDA officials with advice on how to test the safety and effectiveness of painkillers.A number of pharmaceutical companies have spent...

FDA Finally Admits Chicken Meat Contains Cancer-Causing Arsenic

After years of sweeping the issue under the rug and hoping no one would notice, the FDA has now finally admitted that chicken meat...

Senators Angle for Monsanto-Friendly FDA Voluntary GMO Labeling “Guidance”

While consumers battle on for laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products, some lawmakers are taking the GMO labeling...

FDA deliberately deceiving Americans over arsenic in rice, chicken and other foods; contamination now...

Mike Adams Natural News September 15, 2013 There is arsenic in rice, and it's generally higher in brown rice than in white rice. Consumer...

FDA targets free-range, pastured poultry and eggs with ridiculous new draft guidance pushing for...

Jonathan BensonNatural NewsSept. 11, 2013 America's small farmers are once again under attack, this time by...

FDA Sharing Patients’ Private Medical Records in Order to Harass Integrative Doctors

Alliance for Natural Health September 4, 2013 ANH-USA has learned that the FDA is working with state medical boards behind the scenes–sometimes in...

Scientists, FDA say “don’t worry” about radioactive fish because “the ocean is big”

Anchorage Daily NewsAugust 12, 2013 ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska fishermen and fish consumers shouldn’t be concerned...

The Dangers of Tylenol: Is it Time to for the FDA to Remove it...

photo from Wikicommons IntroductionMost people consider acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) as being an extremely safe pain reliever for both children and adults. The reality is that...

FDA sets rules for ‘gluten free’ food labels

Mary Clare JalonickAZ CentralAugust 3, 2013 A label that reads “gluten free” will now mean the...

FDA ban on gay blood donors outdated, discriminatory – US lawmakers

US lawmakers are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to end the ban on blood donations from homosexual men, a prohibition...

FDA issues new rules on gluten labeling

Elizabeth WeiseUSA TodayAugust 2, 2013 After years of waiting, the Food and Drug Administration released new...

Arsenic In Apple Juice: Under Pressure, FDA Sets New Limits

Matthew Perrone Huffington Post July 12, 2013 Parents who have been fretting over the low levels of arsenic found in apple juice can feel...

Arsenic In Apple Juice: Under Pressure, FDA Sets New Limits

Matthew PerroneHuffington PostJuly 12, 2013 Parents who have been fretting over the low levels of arsenic...

PHOTOS: Secret NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah

Photographer: Rick Bowmerrealclearpolitics.comJune 7, 2013 A set of 13 photos of the NSA Data Center in...

FDA approves first GMO Flu Vaccine containing Reprogrammed Insect Virus

A new vaccine for influenza has hit the market, and it is the first ever to contain genetically-modified (GM) proteins derived from insect cells....

Dispute Flares Inside FDA Over Safety of Popular Blood-Pressure Drugs

Thomas M. BurtonWall Street JournalMay 31, 2013 The top-selling class of blood-pressure drugs is under attack...

War on Health: The FDA’s Cult of Tyranny DVD

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War on Health is the first documentary detailing and challenging the FDA agenda and its allegiance with the international Codex Alimentarius, which hopes to establish a monolithic food and health regime.

FDA Ready to Approve Frankenfish Despite Fishy Science

Some day soon, you might tuck into a plate of salmon without knowing that the fish you are eating was genetically engineered. The so-called AquAdvantage salmon, a salmon genetically engineered to grow faster than normal salmon, just moved one step closer to legalization. If so, (Photo: Andrea Pokrzywinski via Flickr)it will be the first genetically engineered (GE) animal allowed for consumption in the United States. Thus, every part of the regulatory process related to the GE salmon sets a precedent for all future GE animals in the United States – and so far, according to experts, that precedent is a sloppy, inadequate one.

What Is AquAdvantage Salmon?

To create the GE salmon, the Boston-based public company  AquaBounty Technologies inserted DNA from another salmon species and an eel-like fish into the genome of an Atlantic salmon. The new genes make the GE salmon produce growth hormone all year round instead of just for three months a year as they normally would. This helps them grow to market size in 16 to 18 months instead of the usual 30 months required for an Atlantic salmon.

To prevent any GE salmon from escaping into the wild, surviving, and reproducing there, AquaBounty will only produce female GE salmon, each with three sets of DNA instead of the normal two. Triploids, as organisms with three sets of DNA are called, are infertile. Therefore, producing only female, triploid GE fish should provide two mechanisms of preventing reproduction should any fish escape into the wild. (Obviously, it takes a bit of scientific tinkering to create an all-female triploid fish population and the process used to do this might make your stomach turn.)

AquaBounty will produce salmon eggs in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Then it will transport them to an inland facility in Panama, where it will grow the fish, harvest, and process them. The firm claims no live fish will ever enter the United States.

How Are GE Animals Regulated?

The next question one might ask is how the federal government goes about deciding whether or not a GE animal should be allowed in our food supply. Under a 1980s decision, written by anti-regulation ideologues in the Reagan and Bush I era before any GE foods – plants or animals – were ready for commercialization, the government decided that no new laws were needed to regulate GE plants or animals. This decision is called “the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology,” or the Coordinated Framework for short.

Whereas the European Union debated the regulation of GE foods and drafted new laws to address issues such as safety, traceability, allergenicity and environmental impacts, the U.S. never passed any new laws specific to GE animals or had the kind of public debate passing a new law would require. Instead, they decided to regulate GE animals as “animal drugs,” using laws that are not well-suited to the unique, complex issues posed by GE animals. Specifically, the government considers the extra DNA added to the GE animals as the “animal drug.” New Animal Drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and they receive input from the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee (VMAC) – a committee mostly made up of veterinarians, not genetic engineering experts.

When a new animal drug is approved, it is only approved for production in a specific facility. Therefore, if you invent a new pill for cats, you submit data on its production in a specific facility, and you receive approval to produce it only in that facility. If you decide to build eight more factories because your drug is so popular, you must go back to the FDA to receive approval for the eight new facilities.

2010: Sloppy Science on Trial

Back in 2010, the FDA took the first steps to approve AquaBounty’s application to produce the GE salmon. It released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and several hundred pages of safety testing data from experiments performed by AquaBounty on the GE salmon. Then it gave the public a mere two weeks to comment on the data, and it convened VMAC to advise it on the GE salmon.

For watchdog groups, this was the first signal that something was, well, fishy. Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen excoriated the safety data as “sloppy,” “misleading,” and “woefully inadequate.” In addition to using small sample sizes and culling deformed fish and thus skewing the data, AquaBounty only provided data gathered in its Prince Edward Island facility, where it will produce GE salmon eggs. But, by law, it must also provide data from its Panama facility, where it will grow the salmon to full size.

The VMAC committee didn’t give a resounding approval either. The New York Times summarized their findings, saying, “While a genetically engineered salmon is almost certainly safe to eat, the government should pursue a more rigorous analysis of the fish's possible health effects and environmental impact.” However, the committee only advises the FDA, and its decisions are not binding.

2012: FDA Readies Its Rubber Stamp

Following the VMAC meeting and a second, public meeting on labeling issues surrounding the GE salmon, the FDA went silent. Over the next two years, it quietly examined the public comments and the input from the VMAC committee. But despite VMAC’s suggestion for a more rigorous analysis, the FDA moved the application one step closer to approval without really addressing the gaping holes in the AquaBounty’s science. In May of 2012, it produced an ever-so-slightly improved Environmental Assessment (EA) compared to the original draft it made public in 2010, and a preliminary “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI).

The preliminary FONSI and draft EA were not made public until they were published in the Federal Register on December 26, 2012. At that point, the FDA began a 60-day period in which the public could review its findings and submit comments.

What happened between 2010 and 2012 to improve our confidence that the GE salmon is safe for human consumption and for the environment? Nothing. There’s no new data whatsoever. The only changes are a few minor additions to the EA – certainly not enough to inspire confidence that the government heard the critiques made in 2010 and addressed them.

After a group of Senators led by Mark Begich (D-AK) sent the FDA a letter asking for a 60-day extension to the comment period, the FDA agreed to take comments until April 26, 2013.

What’s Fishy About the GE Salmon?

“There are still unanswered safety and nutritional questions and the quality of the data that was submitted to the FDA was the worst stuff I've ever seen submitted for a GMO. There's stuff there that couldn't make it through a high school science class,” reflected Hansen in early 2013, after reviewing the newly released documents.

Almost laughing, Hansen remarks on the obvious flaws in AquaBounty’s scientific justification of the fish’s safety, saying, “That's not science, that's a joke!" Becoming more serious, he adds, “There's allergenicity questions and other health questions. It shouldn't be approved. They don't have any data to show that it's safe."

"There are environmental issues as well,” Hansen continues. “Not so much in Panama, but on Prince Edward Island. That's where they're going to producing eggs. Guess what, to produce eggs, you've gotta have fertile adults." Before the wild Atlantic salmon population was decimated, the waters around Prince Edward Island was salmon habitat. An escaped GE fish could easily thrive there. “Yet,” adds Hansen, “they conclude that even if they get out the water's too cold!”

In an interview with Flash in the Pan, environmental risk scientist Anne Kapuscinski also criticized the FDA’s process. Back in the 1990s, she authored the reports on how to perform environmental risk assessment. But, by 2007, her 1990s publications were so out of date that she led a team of scientists to write an updated book on the subject. Despite the updated scientific methods, the FDA opted to use the old, outdated methods from the 1990s to conduct its environmental risk assessment on the GE salmon.

The 2007 publication was rigorously peer reviewed by reviewers from around the world. Yet, the FDA ignored it. Kapuscinski calls their methods unscientific, adding that if the FDA were a student who submitted this report for a grade, it would fail. “Students would get into serious trouble if they were citing really old methods, and there had been huge advances in the methods since then and they ignored that. That would be a reason to fail them.”

She submitted comments back in 2010, but says, “it looks like either they didn’t read our comments or they just decided to ignore them.” She points out that the Panama facility that AquaBounty will use to grow the fish out of is not large enough for a commercial venture. “It’s at a scale to show proof of concept of the commercial viability of this,” she said. “Once the company scales up to selling millions and millions of eggs, the fish will be farmed by producers with all kinds of facilities.” Those facilities might not be as well protected as the one in Panama. Unless the FDA brings its risk assessment methods up to date, we have no adequate, scientific assurance that GE salmon won’t escape into the wild.

Next Steps

Despite the scientific questions, there’s no sign that the FDA will overturn its preliminary decision to allow commercialization of the GE salmon. The best Michael Hansen is hoping for at this point is a requirement that the GE salmon – one legalized – will be labeled as genetically engineered. He calls this “an outside chance.”

Unfortunately, as Hansen notes, "This is to set a precedent. If they let the GE salmon go through, why would any other company that wants to get a genetically engineered animal through bother” producing rigorous, scientifically valid data to prove its product’s safety?

If you don’t want to see GE salmon in your local supermarket in as little as a few years, you can take action. The FDA is accepting public comments until April 26, 2013. You can write your own message and submit it at Regulations.gov or you can join Food and Water Watch’s campaign against the GE salmon here. You can also write your representatives to let them know your point of view.

© 2013 Center for Media and Democracy

Jill Richardson

FDA Puts Industry Profit Over Public Health — Defends Safety of Controversial Food Additive

CORNUCOPIA, WI - March 18 - The Cornucopia Institute formally requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remove the common food additive carrageenan from the US food supply.

Last year the FDA rejected a 2008 citizen petition, which presented scientific studies linking carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, including cancer. The petition was filed by Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-researcher at the University of Illinois – Chicago College of Medicine, who has been studying food-grade carrageenan for more than a decade.

“The FDA’s justification for denial was based on a sloppy and incomplete evaluation of available published research, and it was riddled with overt bias which appears to protect an industry’s profits at the expense of public health,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based non-profit food policy research group. “We have asked them to reevaluate.”

Carrageenan is a highly processed additive extracted from red seaweed. The controversial material contributes no nutritional value or flavor, but is added to affect the texture of a wide range of foods and beverages.

Scientists have raised concern about its safety for decades, based on research linking food-grade carrageenan in the diet of laboratory animals to gastrointestinal disease, including colon tumors.

“Carrageenan has a unique chemical structure, and research has shown that this chemical structure may trigger an innate immune response in the body,” says Dr. Pradeep Dudeja, Professor of Physiology in Medicine at the University of Illinois – Chicago, who has co-authored nine studies on carrageenan.

“The immune response leads to inflammation, which is a serious public health concern since chronic, low-grade inflammation is a well-known precursor to more serious diseases, including diabetes and cancer,” he adds.

Recent research exploring carrageenan’s effects on the body has been supported financially by National Institutes of Health grants, and was prompted by animal studies showing damage to the gastrointestinal tract from food-grade carrageenan.

More than a dozen animal studies, conducted since the late 1960s, have raised concern about carrageenan’s safety, but the FDA failed to consider the vast majority of these studies in its analysis. The FDA also asserted that these studies have been “disputed,” a claim based on a paper by Duika Burges Watson, a geography professor from Durham University in the UK who appears to have no medical or scientific degree or background.

“It is unclear why the FDA would place higher value on the opinion of a social scientist from the UK than on the medical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health,” observes Vallaeys.

“It is disappointing that the FDA continues to permit carrageenan to be used as a food additive despite clear evidence that it causes inflammation,” says Dr. Tobacman.

Medical specialists in the US are taking these concerns seriously. Dr. Stephen Hanauer, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, states: “The rising incidence and prevalence of ulcerative colitis across the globe is correlated with the increased consumption of processed foods, including products containing carrageenan.”

Dr. Hanauer and Dr. Tobacman are currently conducting a study using human patients with ulcerative colitis, a serious gastrointestinal disease.

“Since carrageenan has been found to cause colitis in animal models of ulcerative colitis we felt it would be important to perform a well-controlled dietary study to determine whether carrageenan causes exacerbations (flare ups) of ulcerative colitis in patients in clinical remission,” adds Dr. Hanauer, who is also the Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

The Cornucopia Institute also just released a report, Carrageenan: How a ‘Natural’ Food Additive Is Making Us Sick, which compiles scientific studies pointing to harm from consuming food-grade carrageenan. Cornucopia also produced an accompanying buyer's guide for avoiding the ingredient. Some well-known physicians, like Dr. Andrew Weil, have been warning consumers about carrageenan for years.

“[Dr. Tobacman] explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer,” stated Dr. Weil. “All told, I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan,” he adds.

Cornucopia already shared an analysis of the scientific data with many organic food and beverage companies. After learning about carrageenan’s harmful effects on human health, some companies are actively reformulating their products to remove the dangerous additive.

The organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm recently joined companies like Eden Foods in committing to remove carrageenan from all its products. “We are pleased to see Stonyfield boldly siding with their informed customers in this debate,” says Vallaeys.

A shopping guide on Cornucopia’s website points consumers to carrageenan-free alternatives for many products. For example, Tofu Shop Specialty Foods, Inc., an organic soy foods producer in Arcata, CA, has for years offered chocolate soy milk without carrageenan. The food industry’s claim is that chocolate milk and chocolate soy milk require carrageenan, because it suspends the cocoa particles. The easy alternative to carrageenan, in this case, is asking consumers to shake or stir the beverage first.

"We couldn't find an organic thickener for our soy milks, and one of our employees had the great idea to simply say "Shake It Up" on the bottle,” says Matthew Schmit, The Tofu Shop’s founder and president. “We're confident that our customers don't mind the minimal effort of shaking the soy milk first and that they prefer a wholesome product free of additives."

Other companies, like Dean Foods, which owns the Horizon organic brand and Silk brand, appear unwilling to part with this convenient additive and are attempting to dispute the science, disseminating misleading claims that food-grade carrageenan is "natural" and therefore safe.

“Natural does not mean safe,” says Vallaeys. “Poison ivy is natural, but you wouldn’t put it in skin lotion. Given that carrageenan appears to do to your gut what poison ivy does to your skin, we urge all companies to remove this ingredient from the foods and beverages they sell.”

“We hope the FDA will act in the public’s interest and perform a good faith evaluation of the science, and revoke the regulations that currently allow carrageenan in food,” says Vallaeys. “But until they do, it is up to individual consumers to take their safety and health into their own hands and avoid any foods and beverages containing this harmful ingredient.”

Will the FDA Crack Down on E-Cigarettes?

An important debate over the safety of the e-cigarette is raging.

January 31, 2013  |  

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Cigarette smokers in the United States have been under steady attack. To smoke is no longer considered glamorous, cool or socially acceptable. Smokers are confronted and shamed by non-smokers and have been banished to huddle and inhale in remote locations far from public view. A series of state laws prohibit smoking in almost all workplaces, restaurants and bars. The most common exceptions to smoking bans are casinos, strip clubs and brothels. Signs outside of buildings order smokers to stand a specific distance away from the entrance. 

Last May, New York City banned smoking in parks, beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas. Mayor Bloomberg said, "When you ask people in our parks and beaches they say they just don't want smokers there." 

Smoking cigarettes, which are still legal, has become as stigmatized as smoking crack. An addiction that was once ubiquitous and promoted is now routinely demonized. 

As a result of public health campaigns waged over decades against the lies of the tobacco industry, the number of smokers in the United States has declined. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 443,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses and secondhand smoke. The World Health Organization reports that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people worldwide every year.

Currently, about 45 million Americans smoke tobacco. Seventy percent say they would like to quit and every year 40 percent do for at least one day. The 80 percent who quit relapse within one month and each year only 3 percent of those who quit are successful.  

To help people quit, a number of nicotine replacement products are available: gums, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays and transdermal patches. 

The electronic cigarette (e-cig) is the newest nicotine delivery device and has been available since 2008. Electronic cigarettes look and feel like cigarettes but with one crucial difference: They don’t contain tobacco. Smoking-caused disease is a consequence of repeated exposure to carcinogens in tobacco smoke, not to the ingestion of nicotine.

About 2.5 million people use e-cigarettes in the U.S., according to an estimate by the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. The number of e-cig smokers is sure to grow as they become more widely available and the cost drops. The price of a starter kit ranges from between $60 to $100. Cartridges of liquid nicotine, one equals one pack of cigarettes, costs about $2. 

Big Tobacco views e-cigarette companies as a threat to its profits and is moving to buy them up. Forbes reports that Lorillard, the third largest tobacco company, just bought Blu Ecigs for $135 million. The company earned $30 million in revenue in 2011 and the electronic cigarette market as a whole, generates between $250 million to $500 million. With a long track record of addicting people to tobacco through aggressive marketing campaigns, deception and disinformation, the danger is that these corporations will do the same with e-cigarettes.  

The battery operated e-cigarette is easy to use. An atomizer heats and vaporizes a cartridge filled with nicotine, which is inhaled by the user. The water vapor that is exhaled has no odor because there is no combustion. The e-cig contains five ingredients: nicotine, water, glycerol, propylene glycol and flavorings like cherry and vanilla. Both glycerol and propylene glycol are used in other nicotine replacement products. 

An important debate has been ignited over the safety of the e-cigarette. 

Several years ago, the Federal Drug Administration found trace amounts of toxic ingredients in several samples and attempted to regulate e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices. A federal judge ruled in 2010 that the FDA lacked the authority. Now the FDA is moving to regulate them as tobacco products. This is nonsensical. The e-cigarette is a drug delivery device and not a tobacco product. And in a confusing move, the FDA has seized shipments of electronic cigarettes on the grounds that they are illegal drug-delivery devices.  

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The Most Dangerous Vaccine

EricksonOn this week’s Real Politik James speaks with Norma Erickson, president of Sanevax Inc. Founded in 2010, Sanevax is an international clearinghouse of information and advocacy concerning one of big pharma’s most corrupt and dangerous profit-generating schemes: the HPV vaccine. Amazingly, the HPV vaccine is recommended by several governments as a preventative to cervical cancer. Yet there is no evidence that HPV is in any way related to such cancer. At the same time the pharmaceutical company’s own studies indicate that 2.5% of women who receive the vaccine–that’s 2,500 for every 100,000–will have one or more adverse reactions. Such figures are corroborated by the number of adverse reactions reported to the Centers for Disease Control since the mid-2000s when Gardasil hit the market.

Sanevax presently has affiliates in over 30 countries, and has been especially influential in educating the public on the HPV vaccine’s dangers while acting as a conduit for medical professionals and policy makers to challenge the pharmaceutical industry’s increased control over official vaccination programs.


https://memorygapdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/5-4-15_norma_erickson_-_the_most_dangerous_vaccine1.mp3 Download

Interview Highlights

Norma Erickson began to research the HPV vaccine as an investigative writer. Her findings led her to the establishment of Sanevax. “The Sanevax team and all of the people that we work with strongly believe that vaccines should scientifically proven to meet four common sense criteria: They should be scientifically proven safe, affordable, necessary and effective prior to their inclusion in any mass vaccination program. We work with doctors, attorneys, scientists, health advocates, injured girls and their families, and handle most anything having to do with the HPV vaccine controversy.”

Sanevax has succeeded in prompting or facilitating policy reforms in several countries concerning the HPV vaccine, yet United States regulators are among the most impervious to information contradicting data they are fed by major pharmaceutical companies. “Probably the first thing we started working on was the discovery of contamination in the Gardasil vaccine,” she notes.

Dr. Sing Hang Lee agreed to test a vial of Gardasil for us because an individual in Canada reported that her daughter had tested positive for HPV in her blood two years after innoculation. This same girl had been diagnosed with rhematoid arthritis 24 hours after her second injection. I knew from my research and speaking with experts that HPV did not remain in the bloodstream for more than 48 hours–at least natural HPV viruses didn’t. The immune system took care of them within that period of time.

We kept researching and researching, talked to Dr. Lee, and we came to the conclusion that we had to rule out the Gardasil vaccine because it had been advertised, promoted, and approved in every country around the world based on the fact that it had no viral DNA in it. So, we felt obligated to rule it out for this parent. [Dr. Lee] tested that first vial, and sure enough there it was: recombinant HPV DNA in Gardasil. We immediately informed the FDA. They brushed it off, changed their website, and indicated that it was no health problem whatsoever. It was a natural part of the manufacturing process.

Merck is releasing a new HPV vaccine despite the fact that the number of vaccine injuries attributable to Gardasil and reported to the CDC’s own Vaccine Adverse Reaction Reporting System have skyrocketed since its introduction in 2006. “As a kind of indication of what one can expect, Merck just got Gardasil 9 approved. During the clinical trials for Gardasil 9 they used Gardasil as the control solution. Normal people would say placebo. (A placebo is an inactive solution.) They used Gardasil during that time and because they had not conducted the safety trials for any great length on Gardasil the FDA required that they follow these girls throughout the course of the study, which was three years. Their new package insert indicates that the serious adverse event rate was 2.5% for Gardasil and 2.3% for Gardasil 9. Now that doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you translate that in to per 100,000 recipients.”

With the above in mind, among Sanevax’s most disturbing observations is the fact that the cervical cancer rate per 100,000 females is far surpassed by the rate of adverse reactions attributable to the HPV vaccine–as evidenced in the manufacturers’ own studies. “When you look at cervical cancer statistics they’re always quoted as x number per 100,000. In the United States there are approximately 12 diagnoses of cervical cancer per year per 100,000 people. If you innoculate that same 100,000 with Gardasil, for instance, you can expect 2,500 adverse events. I can’t see how anyone in their right mind would say that’s a logical tradeoff to avoid 12 cervical cancer diagnoses.”

Further, there is no confirmed link between HPV and cancer. “HPV is associated with cervical cancer. It has never been proven to cause cervical cancer or any other kind of cancer in and of itself,” Erickson explains. “In fact, there’s some very good scientific evidence that’s just been released recently that indicates it may not cause cancer at all.”

Sanevax has produced and participated in the creation of several documentaries highlighting the dangers of the HPV vaccine, many of which highlight how young lives can be destroyed after administration of the HPV vaccine. For example, it brought US high schooler Gabi Swank to the attention of The Greater Good‘s producers following Swank’s extreme adverse reaction linked to Gardasil. Such stories are especially tragic because they involve adolescent girls  stricken with terminally debilitating mental, emotional and physical conditions just as they are about to enter womanhood.

I’m working on a story now that’s going to be published on our website where a girl in Ireland was administered the vaccine in a school program … This was according to her father. She had an adverse reaction straight away. For over an hour she was left lying on a mat on the floor while the rest of the girls were being vaccinated. During this time she had seizure-like jerking, rolling eyes, blurred vision, headache, nausea, etc. That was only the beginning of their journey. The parents were called to the school to pick her up and they were told that they were overreacting when they asked why an ambulance wasn’t called, and that all of these symptoms would wear off. Now, six months later, the little girl is still suffering those symptoms and more.

We have had reports of spontaneous abortions, still births, miscarriages, adrenal failure, severe anxiety and panic attacks, autistic-like symptoms, the whole gamut of auto-immune disorders. There are 70 or 80 recognized autoimmune disorders, and these girls are coming up with any and all of them.

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RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents

It has been such a tough period for the pro-GMO lobby that it’s difficult to know where to begin. But let us start by looking at two pieces of recent research that strike at the very heart of the pro-GMO argument, namely:  

1)      GM crops are needed to feed the world.

2)      The GMO agritech industry is based on sound science and reasoned argument.

GM crops are not needed to feed the world

new report just released by Environmental Working Group has delivered a stinging rebuke to the argument that GM crops are the answer to future global food shortages (also see this, this and this). A thorough analysis of recent research conducted in the US and around the world shows that such crops have not significantly improved the yields of crops such as corn and soy. 

Author of the report Emily Cassidy says:

“Biotech companies and proponents of conventional, industrial agriculture have touted genetically engineered crops as the key to feeding a more populous, wealthier world, but recent studies show that this promise has fallen flat.”

While GM crops have been a mainstay in US agriculture for roughly two decades, they “have not substantially improved global food security” and have instead increased the use of toxic herbicides and led to herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’. 

The report found that over the last 20 years, yields of both GE corn and soy have been no different from traditionally bred non-GM corn and soy grown in Europe. It argues that corn and soybeans account for roughly 80 percent of the global land area devoted to growing GM crops. Both are overwhelmingly used for animal feed and biofuels, not for food. This is unlikely to change in light of increased consumption of meat around the world and the US biofuels policy requiring production of millions of gallons of corn ethanol to blend into gasoline.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It says:

“Biotech companies and their customers in chemical agriculture have been attempting to sell the benefits of GMOs for two decades. Between exaggerated claims about feeding the world and a dramatic escalation in the use of toxic pesticides, it is no wonder consumers are increasingly skeptical.”

The report concludes that traditionally bred varieties have been the major source of improved crop yields in recent years and this trend is likely to continue. 

Emily Cassidy states:

“Seed companies’ investment in improving the yields of GMOs in already high-yielding areas does little to improve food security; it mainly helps line the pockets of seed and chemical companies and producers of corn ethanol. The world’s resources would be better spent focusing on strategies to actually increase food supplies and access to basic resources for the poor small farmers who need it most.”

Consider that by 2012, 59 percent of the area planted with GM crops were those resistant to glyphosate. Some 26 percent consisted of insecticidal Bt crops and 15 percent were crops carrying both traits. The organisation GRAIN says that is just two traits after 20 years of research and mega-millions of dollars invested. The real measure of what this technology has produced is according to GRAIN to be found in damaged ecosystems, potential health harms, farmer dependency and big profits for the companies.

But profits are and were always the bottom line, not addressing world hunger. If anything, the planting of GM crops is displacing peasants from their lands, depriving local communities of access to food production and increasing food insecurity. Any amount of genetic modification will not address the structural nature of poverty, inequality and hunger, including the geopolitical antecedents.

The GMO agritech industry is not based on sound science and reasoned argument

The second piece of research that strikes at the heart of the industry’s other major claim - that the case for GM agriculture is based on sound science and reasoned argument - is debunked in Steven Druker’s new book. Druker pulls the rug from beneath the GMO agritech industry and its apologists in academia and the media who ceaselessly trumpet their allegiance to discourse based on science. 

Altered Truth, Twisted Genes’ exposes the fraudulent basis upon which the GMO agritech sector is based. GM foods first achieved commercialisation in 1992 but only because the Food and Drug Administration covered up the extensive warnings of its own scientists about their dangers, lied about the facts and then violated federal food safety law by permitting these foods to be marketed without having been proven safe through standard testing.

If the FDA had heeded its own experts’ advice and publicly acknowledged their warnings that GM foods entailed higher risks than their conventional counterparts, Druker says that the GM food venture would have imploded and never gained traction anywhere. He also argues that that many well-placed scientists have repeatedly issued misleading statements about GM foods, and so have leading scientific institutions such as the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the UK’s Royal Society.

While Druker’s book serves to expose the sheer hypocrisy of the industry and its supporters who claim critics to be anti-science and ideologues (a case of projecting their own faults and failings on to critics), Emily Cassidy argues that what GMOs have done is to increase the use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. She concludes that, unfortunately, the only things popping up faster than herbicide-tolerant superweeds are the unsupported claims of GMOs’ benefits.

Even more bad news

And that neatly leads us on to glyphosate itself. 

On 20 March, the World Health Organisation reached a decision that strikes at the heart of the company. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate was "classified as probably carcinogenic to humans." This is just one step below the risk designation of "known carcinogen." 

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which was primarily responsible $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenues in 2014.  But that’s not all. The herbicide is used to support Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which comprise the vast bulk of the balance of its revenue stream.

Little surprise that with so much money at stake Monsanto is calling for a retraction of the IARC’s report. It remains to be seen if the WHO capitulates.

While the agribusiness sector has a long history of silencing science and scientistsit has now been alleged that USDA scientists are ordered to retract studies, water down findings, remove their name from authorship and endure long indefinite delays in approving publication of papers that may be controversial. Scientists who are targeted by industry complaints find themselves subjected to disruptive investigations, disapprovals of formerly routine requests, disciplinary actions over petty matters and intimidation from supervisors focused on pleasing stakeholders.

So much for open discourse based on sound science and reasoned argument.

And the bad news just keeps coming.

Bt brinjal has failed for the second year in Bangladesh resulting in hardship for farmers, and Monsanto has been forced to pay out $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals at its eastern Idaho phosphate plant. It also paid out a string of lawsuit settlements totaling $350,000 as a result of its GMOs tainting wheat in seven US states. 

But there is some good news in all of this for Monsanto. Monsanto’s ‘discredit department’  now has more than enough on its plate and will certainly not be closing down any time soon. 

The only thing it will be attempting to shut down are studies that affect the company's profits.

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Author of ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’ Steven Druker recently talked of how back in the seventies a group of molecular biologists formed part of a scientific elite that sought to allay fears about genetic engineering by putting a positive spin on it. At the same time, critics of this emerging technology were increasingly depicted as being little more than non-scientists who expressed ignorant but well-meaning concerns about science and genetic engineering.

This continues today, but the attacks on critics are becoming more vicious. Former British Environment Minister Owen Paterson recently attacked critics of GMOs with a scathing speech that described them as a self-serving, elitist “green blob” that was condemning “billions” to misery. Professor Anthony Trewavas has continued this theme by stating:

Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies.”

According to this, critics of GMOs possess authoritarian personality types, are ignorant of science and unable to convince people of their arguments and thus resort to violence. 

Part of the pro-GMO narrative also involves a good deal of glib talk about democracy. In an open letter to me, Anthony Trewavas says:

“It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward… Whatever their [farmers’] choice is… they must be allowed to make that decision… That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under?”

Pro-GMO scientists have every right to speak on psychology, politics and democracy. However, let a non-scientist criticise GMOs and they are accused of self-serving elitism or ignorance. Indeed, let even a scientist produce scientific evidence that runs counter to the industry-led science and he or she is smeared and attacked.

Let a respected academically qualified political scientist, trade policy analyst or social scientist whose views are in some way critical of GMOs and the corporations promoting them express a coherent viewpoint supported by evidence from their specific discipline and they are attacked for being little more than ideologues with an agenda, or their evidence or sources are described as ‘biased’. Any analysis of the role of the IMF, World Bank and WTO and their part in restructuring agriculture in poor nations or devising policies to favour Western agribusiness is suddenly to be side lined in favour of a narrow focus on ‘science’, which the masses and ideologues could not possibly comprehend; by implication, they should therefore defer to (pro-GMO) scientists for the necessary information.

The pro-GMO lobby talks about choice, democracy and the alleged violence of certain environmental groups but says nothing about the structural violence waged on rural communities resulting from IMF/World Bank strings-attached loans, the undermining of global food security as a result of Wall Street commodity and land speculators, the crushing effects of trade rules on poorer regions or the devastating impacts of GMOs in regions likeSouthAmerica. To discuss such things is political and thus 'ideological' and is therefore not up for discussion it seems.

Much easier to try to focus on ‘the science’ and simply mouth platitudes about democracy and freedom of choice while saying nothing about how both been captured or debased by powerful interests, including agribusiness. By attempting not to appear to be ideological or political, such people are attempting to depoliticise and thus disguise the highly political status quo whereby powerful corporations (and some bogus notion of a 'free market') are left unchallenged to shape agriculture as they see fit:

“Anyone who’s seen the recent virally circulated Venn diagrams of the personnel overlap between Monsanto and USDA personnel, or Pfizer and FDA, will immediately know what I’m talking about… A model of capitalism in which the commanding heights of the economy are an interlocking directorate of large corporations and government agencies, a major share of the total operating costs of the dominant firms are socialized (and profits privatized, of course), and “intellectual property” protectionism and other regulatory cartels allow bureaucratic corporate dinosaurs… to operate profitably without fear of competition." Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society. 

If certain politicians or scientists and the companies they support really do want to ‘feed the world’ and are concerned with poverty and hunger, they should forget about GMOs and focus their attention elsewhere: not least on how the ‘free market’ system that they cherish so much causes hunger and poverty, whether for example through food commodity speculation (see earlier link) by powerful banking interests or a US foreign policy that has for decades used agriculture to trap nations into subservience.

Rather than have the public focus on such things, such people try to mislead and divert attention away from these things with puerile notions of authoritarian personality types who reject some illusory notion of open debate, free choice and democracy.  

Failure is us

Even with this power and political influence at its disposal, the GMO agritech industry is far from being a success.  Much of its profits actually derive from failure: for example, Andrew Kimbrell notes that after having chosen to ignore science, the industry’s failing inputs are now to be replaced with more destined-to-fail and ever-stronger poisonous inputs. The legacy of poisoned environments and ecological devastation is for someone else to deal with. In his book, Steven Druker has shown that from very early on the US government has colluded with the GMO agritech sector to set a 'technical fix-failure-technical fix' merry-go-round in motion.

This system is designed to stumble from one crisis to the next, all the while hiding behind the banners of ‘innovation’ or ‘research and development’. But it’s all good business. And that’s all that really matters to the industry. 

There’s always good PR ground to be made from blaming critics for being ‘anti-science’ and money to be made from a continuous state of crisis management (‘innovation’ and bombarding farmers with a never-ending stream of new technologies and inputs).  Part of the great con-trick is that it attempts to pass off its endless crises and failures as brilliant successes.

For many promoters of the GMO cause, it is a case of not even wanting to understand alternative approaches or the devastating impacts of GMOs when their lavish salary or consultancy fees depend on them not wanting to understand any of it.

When it comes to labelling unsafe and untested GM food in the US, the pro-GMO lobby grasps at straws by saying too much information confuses the public or sends out the wrong message

When it says sound science should underpin the GMO issue, it does everything it can to circumvent any science that threatens its interests.

When it says its critics have a political agenda, it side lines debates on how it hijacks international and national policy making bodies and regulatory agencies.

When it talks about elite, affluent environmentalists robbing food from the bellies of the poor, its private companies are owned by people who form part of a privileged class that seek to turn their vested interests into policy proscriptions for the rest of us.

The pro-GMO lobby engages in the fraudulent notion that it knows what is best for humanity. Co-opting public institutions and using science as an ideology, it indulges in an arrogant form of exceptionalism.

The world does not need GMO food or crops, especially those which have not been proven safe or whose benefits are questionable to say the least. There are alternative ways to boost food production if or when there is a need to. There are other (existing) ways to tackle the impacts of volatile climates. 

However, the alternatives are being squeezed out as big agritech and its captured policy/regulatory bodies place emphasis on proprietary products, not least GMOs and chemical inputs. 

The pro-GMO lobby has a crisis of legitimation. No amount of twisted truths or altered genes, expensive PR or attacks on its critics can disguise this.

Danny Schechter (1942-2015)

Today, we lost a journalist’s journalist, the moral commander of investigative reporters from New York to Johannesburg. Known for bringing the world the story of Nelson Mandela, Danny gave up cushy jobs at ABC and CNN, the big bucks and a steady flow of mainstream awards to blow the whistle on the degradation of American [...]

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Not Science, Just Lies And Propaganda: The Massive Fraud Behind GMOs Exposed

Counterpunch, RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents, The 4th Media, Morning Star

This is not what the GMO industry wanted to see: banner headlines in major newspapers and across the internet exposing the fraud behind GMOs. But this constitutes much more than a PR nightmare. The story behind the headlines shakes the very foundations upon which the industry is built.

‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’ is a new book by the US public interest lawyer Steve Druker. The book is the result of more than 15 years of intensive research and investigation by Druker, who initiated a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that forced it to divulge its files on GM foods. Those files revealed that GM foods first achieved commercialisation in 1992 but only because the FDA covered up the extensive warnings of its own scientists about their dangers, lied about the facts and then violated federal food safety law by permitting these foods to be marketed without having been proven safe through standard testing.

If the FDA had heeded its own experts’ advice and publicly acknowledged their warnings that GM foods entailed higher risks than their conventional counterparts, Druker says that the GM food venture would have imploded and never gained traction anywhere.

He also argues that that many well-placed scientists have repeatedly issued misleading statements about GM foods, and so have leading scientific institutions such as the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the UK’s Royal Society.

Druker states that contrary to the claims of biotech advocates, humans have indeed been harmed by consuming the output of genetic engineering. The technology’s first ingestible product (a food supplement of the essential amino acid, L-tryptophan) caused dozens of deaths and seriously sickened thousands of people (permanently disabling many of them). Moreover, the evidence points to the genetic alteration as the most likely cause of the unusual contamination that rendered the supplement toxic.

He explains that laboratory animals have also suffered from eating products of genetic engineering, and well-conducted tests with GM crops have yielded many troubling results, including intestinal abnormalities, liver disturbances, and impaired immune systems.
Druker says:
“Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.”
Eminent environmentalist and anthropologist Jane Goodall has written the foreword to the book and states that Steven Druker is a hero for exposing this massive fraud and is worthy of a Nobel prize for lifting the lid on the truth about GM.

She goes on to state that the industry worked to:
“convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that the new foods were safe. Yet this, as Druker points out, was clearly not true.”
Goodall adds that the companies have spread disinformation to try and win public support. 

She states:
“Druker describes how amazingly successful the biotech lobby has been – and the extent to which the general public and government decision makers have been hoodwinked by the clever and methodical twisting of the facts and the propagation of many myths. Moreover, it appears that a number of respected scientific institutions, as well as many eminent scientists, were complicit in this relentless spreading of disinformation.”
Jane Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. She holds many awards for her environmental and humanitarian work, including the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, the French Legion of Honour, Japan’s Kyoto Prize and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

She describes Druker’s work as one of the most important books of the last 50 years, and adds:
“It will go a long way toward dispelling the confusion and delusion that has been created regarding the genetic engineering process and the foods it creates. Although this book tells a story that’s in many ways distressing, it’s important that it has finally been told because so much confusion has been spread and so many important decision-makers have apparently been deluded.”
Steven Druker gave a press conference in London on Wednesday and has challenged Britain’s Royal Society to apologise for its pro-GM stance and its part in rubbishing scientists who have safety doubts over the crops and food. (Perhaps the likes of Owen Paterson and Anne Glover should too for their role in dismissing legitimate concerns about GMOs, especially Paterson for his recent tirade against critics see this and this.)

His work highlights research which has found tumours, liver and kidney harm in animals given GM feed in trials. And he complains, that researchers who dare to raise these problems have been pilloried.

He said:
“Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.”
With the TTIP having the potential to open the floodgates to allow GMOs into Europe, Pat Thomas, director of the campaigning group Beyond GM, said:
“Steven Druker’s investigation into the history of fraud and deceit that ushered in the era of GM deserves serious consideration before we take actions that will irreversibly alter the European food supply.”

Not Science, Just Lies and Propaganda: The Massive Fraud Behind GMOs Exposed

This is not what the GMO industry wanted to see: banner headlines today in major newspapers and across the internet exposing the fraud behind...

GMOs And Green Blob Hallucinations: The Twisted World Of Mr Paterson


RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents, The Nation (Sri Lanka, on 8/3/2015)

Speaking last week in Pretoria, former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson described critics of GMOs as comprising part of a privileged class that increasingly fetishizes food and seeks to turn their personal preferences into policy proscriptions for the rest of us. He called them backward-looking and regressive. He claimed their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment because of their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques.

He called them:

“… the ‘Green Blob’ – a reference to a 1950s Sci-Fi movie starring Steve McQueen in which a blob-like alien attacks Earth and swallows everything in its path: the environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interest of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.”

He went on to state:

“There are many impediments standing between the vision of agricultural progress and Africa, of course, but none is more pernicious than the Blob. It is supported by massive funding provided by the EU itself, as well as numerous church and humanitarian groups, and the well-meaning but misguided generosity of the privileged classes in Europe and elsewhere. It has undue influence in the media, government and international institutions. Unfortunately, few question either its credentials or motives.” (see the full text of the speech here)

Paterson then proceeded to proclaim the virtues of GMOs and laid out a series of slurs, falsehoods and cherry-picked proclamations that anyone would be forgiven for thinking had come straight from the pen of a GMO agribusiness employee. But it wouldn’t have been the first time would it? In the case of this bit of poetry that Paterson likes so much, it came courtesy of Syngenta.

No, such practices are commonplace. Indeed, across the globe uncaged corporate parrots seem to be perched on the highest of ledges:

“We have had the National Academies of Science give a clean chit of biosafety to GM crops — doing that by using paragraphs lifted wholesale from the industry’s own literature! Likewise, Ministers in the PMO who know nothing about the risks of GMOs have similarly sung the virtues of Bt Brinjal and its safety to an erstwhile Minister of Health. They have used, literally, 'cut & paste' evidence from the biotech lobby’s 'puff' material. Are these officials then, 'uncaged corporate parrots'?” Aruna Rodrigues, writing about the situation in India here in The Hindu.

Some points to consider for any rational thinking person

What would you do when presented with the option of sanctioning the commercialisation of genetically engineered food that is fundamentally different to conventional food? And have no doubt, it is: see this analysis by Steven Druker. Forget about those will try to confuse you that humans have always been tampering with food and genetic engineering represents more of the same. It doesn’t.

Would you engage in doublespeak about ‘substantial equivalence’ to try to convince people that it is just the same as conventional food in order to prevent public/scientific scrutiny (see this), and (as Druker shows to be the case) would you then ignore any fears, concerns and evidence in order to commercialise it?

You would if you are the US government, which has done exactly that, as described in Drukers new book 'Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government and Systematically Deceived the Public' (Clear River Press, March 2015).  

In fact, if you are among the pro-GMO lobby, you would dream up some ideology about giving consumers and people greater choice by offering them the option of GMOs. You would also forward the myth that the corporations behind GMOs have humanity’s best interests at heart and that critics are anti-science ideologues whose policies and attitudes would leave billions dead or at least impoverished and starving. As part of this deception, you would forward the lie that GMOs are safe, even though there has not been one long-term epidemiological study conducted to show this, and are needed to feed the world. (See these claims debunked here).

And if you are part of this lobby or so gullible to unwittingly become its foot soldier by propagating the ideology in the media or on website comment threads, you would be part of a $100-million-dollar PR campaign (that figure is for the US alone).

And back to Owen Paterson

These powerful and extremely wealthy corporations or their foot soldiers in a display of glaring hypocrisy accuse critics of being part of a lavishly funded conspiracy against them and indeed humanity.

Yes, the same corporations whose financial clout has bought them political influence in so far that they exert huge control over WTO (see this), have captured regulatory bodies and public research institutions (see this and this), have had a key role in driving trade policies (see this) and are the biggest lobbiers (see this) for the world’s largest (secretive, pro-corporate) trade deal, the TTIP, which will constitutionally hand over regulatory and economic policies to a cartel of lawyers, officials and high-level corporate executives (see this).  

So maybe it’s time to slightly rearrange parts of Paterson’s attack on his critics to provide him with a reality check. Paterson would have more truthfully presented the case by stating:

“It is these powerful corporations (not a ‘green blob’), whose owners are part of the privileged class that seek to turn their vested interests into policy proscriptions for the rest of us. It is this backward-looking and regressive class whose policies have already condemned tens of millions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. It is this privileged class (not a ‘green blob’) that has swallowed up everything in its path facilitated by public officials who are well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and ‘green revolution’ rhetoric. This tangled triangle of unelected, unaccountable corporations claims to have the interest of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely. There are many impediments standing between the vision of agricultural progress and Africa, of course, but none is more pernicious than this group that is supported by massive profits often secured from fraudulent practices and by often well-meaning but gullible people who buy into its rhetoric. It has undue influence in the media, government and international institutions. Fortunately, there are many who question its credentials and motives.”

Readers are urged to read this to appreciate why Paterson has got is so wrong.

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The Seven Pillars of the Matrix

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The Seven Pillars of the Matrix

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Contemporary baptized, corporatized and sanitized man rarely has the occasion to question his identity, and when he does a typical response might be, “I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Betty, father of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran.”
His answers imply not only his beliefs but the many responsibilities, rules and restrictions he is subjected to.  Few if any of these were ever negotiated-  they were imposed on him yet he still considers himself free.
But is free the right adjective for him, or would modern domesticated simian be more apt?  He has been told what to do, believe, think and feel since he can remember.  A very clever rancher has bred billions of these creatures around the globe and created the most profitable livestock imaginable.  They work for him, fight for him, die for him, believe his wildest tales, laugh at his jokes and rarely get out of line.  When domesticated man does break one of the rules there are armies, jailers, psychiatrists and bureaucrats prepared to kill, incarcerate, drug or hound the transgressor into submission.

One of the most fascinating aspects of domesticated man’s predicament is that he never looks at the cattle, sheep and pigs who wind up on his plate and make the very simple deduction that he is just a talking version of them, corralled and shepherded through his entire life.  How is this accomplished?  Only animals that live in hierarchical groups can be dominated by man. The trick is to fool the animal into believing that the leader of the pack or herd is the person who is domesticating them.  Once this is accomplished the animal is under full control of its homo sapien master. The domesticated man is no different, originally organized in groups with a clear hierarchy and maximum size of 150-  it was easy to replace the leader of these smaller groups with one overarching figure such as God, King, President, CEO etc.  
The methodology for creating this exceptionally loyal and obedient modern breed, homo domesticus, can be described as having seven pillars from which an immense matrix captures the talking simians and their conscious minds and hooks them into a complex mesh from which few ever escape.  The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can’t accept the ‘complexity of modern life’, i.e. conspiracy nuts.
Plato described this brilliantly in his Allegory of the Cave, where people only see man made shadows of objects, institutions, Gods and ideas:
 “--Behold! human beings living in an underground cave...here they have been from their childhood...necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance...the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets... and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall...”
It began with the word, which forever changed the ability of men to manipulate each other.  Before language, every sensation was directly felt through the senses without the filter of words.  But somewhere around 50,000 years ago language began to replace reality and the first pieces of code were put in place for the creation of the Matrix.  As soon as the words began to flow the world was split, and from that fracturing was born man’s angst and slavery.  The words separated us from who we really were, creating the first screen onto which the images from Plato’s cave were cast.  Gurdjieff said it well, “Identifying is the chief obstacle to self-remembering. A man who identifies with anything is unable to remember himself.”
It’s no accident that in Hesiod’s ages of man the Golden Age knew no agriculture, which appeared in the Silver age, and by the time we reach the Bronze age the dominant theme is toil and strife.  The two key elements to the enslavement of man were clearly language and agriculture.  In the hunter gatherer society, taking out the boss was no more complicated than landing a well placed fastball to the head.  Only since the advent of farming was the possibility of creating full time enforcers and propagandists made possible, and hence enslavement inevitable.
The search for enlightenment rarely if ever bears fruits in those temples of words, our schools and universities.  Almost all traditions point to isolation and silence as the only paths to awakening;  they are the true antidotes to modern slavery.  As Aristotle wrote, “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”
So from the institution from which we are mercilessly bombarded with words and enslaved to time, we begin our descent through the seven layers of the Matrix.


Education



There are things we are born able to do like eating, laughing and crying and others we pick up without much of an effort such as walking, speaking and fighting, but without strict institutional education there is no way that we can ever become a functioning member of the Matrix. We must be indoctrinated, sent to Matrix boot camp, which of course is school.  How else could you take a hunter and turn him into a corporate slave, submissive to clocks, countless bosses, monotony and uniformity?

Children naturally know who they are, they have no existential angst, but schools immediately begin driving home the point of schedules, rules, lists and grades which inevitably lead the students to the concept of who they aren't.  We drill the little ones until they learn to count money, tell time, measure progress, stand in line, keep silent and endure submission.  They learn they aren't free and they are separated from everyone else and the world itself by a myriad of divides, names and languages.

It can’t be stressed enough how much education is simply inculcating people with the clock and the idea of a forced identity.  What child when she first goes to school isn't taken back to hear herself referred to by her full name?

It’s not as if language itself isn't sufficiently abstract- nothing must be left without a category.  Suzy can’t just be Suzy-  she is a citizen of a country and a state, a member of a religion and a product of a civilization, many of which have flags, mascots, armies, uniforms, currencies and languages.  Once all the mascots, tag lines and corporate creeds are learned, then history can begin to be taught.  The great epic myths invented and conveniently woven into the archetypes which have come down through the ages cement this matrix into the child’s mind.

Even the language that she speaks without effort must be deconstructed for her.  An apple will never again be just an apple-  it will become a noun, a subject, or an object.  Nothing will be left untouched, all must be ripped apart and explained back to the child in Matrixese.

We are taught almost nothing useful during the twelve or so years that we are institutionalized and conditioned for slavery- not how to cook, farm, hunt, build, gather, laugh or play.  We are only taught how to live by a clock and conform to institutionalized behaviors that make for solid careers as slaveocrats. 

Government


In the countries that claim to be democratic the concept of a government created to serve the people is often espoused.  Government, and the laws they create and enforce are institutionalized social control for the benefit of those who have seized power.  This has always been the case and always will be.  In the pre-democratic era it was much clearer to recognize who had power, but the genius of massive democratic states are the layers upon layers of corporatocracy and special interests which so brilliantly conceal the identify of those who really manage the massive apparatus of control.
The functions of the state are so well ensconced in dogmatic versions of history taught in schools that almost no one questions why we need anything beyond the bare essentials of government to maintain order in the post-industrial age.  The history classes never point the finger at the governments themselves as the propagators and instigators of war, genocide, starvation and corruption.  In Hollywood's version of history, the one most people absorb, 'good' governments are always portrayed as fighting 'bad' ones.  We have yet to see a film where all the people on both sides simply disengage from their governments and ignore the calls to violence.

The state apparatus is based on law, which is a contract between the people and an organism created to administer common necessities- an exchange of sovereignty between the people and the state.  This sounds reasonable, but when one looks at the mass slaughters of the 20th century, almost without exception, the perpetrators are the states themselves.
The loss of human freedom is the only birthright offered to the citizens of the modern nation.   There is never a choice.  It is spun as a freedom and a privilege when it is in fact indentured servitude to the state apparatus and the corporatocracy that controls it.

Patriotism is pure abstraction, a completely artificial mechanism of social control.  People are taught to value their compatriots above and beyond those of their own ethnic background, race or religion.  The organic bonds are to be shed in favor of the great corporate state.  From infancy children are indoctrinated like Pavlov’s dogs to worship the paraphernalia of the state and see it as a mystical demigod.
What is a country?  Using the United States as example, what actually is this entity?  Is it the USPS, the FDA, or the CIA?  Does loving one's country mean one should love the IRS and the NSA?  Should we feel differently about someone if they are from Vancouver instead of Seattle?  Loving a state is the same as loving a corporation, except with the corporations there is still no stigma attached to not showing overt sentimental devotion to their brands and fortunately, at least for the moment, we are not obligated at birth to pay them for a lifetime of services, most of which we neither need nor want.
Flags, the Hollywood version of history and presidential worship are drilled into us to maintain the illusion of the 'other' and force the 'foreigner/terrorist/extremist' to wear the stigma of our projections.  The archaic tribal energy that united small bands and helped them to fend off wild beasts and hungry hoards has been converted into a magic wand for the masters of the matrix.  Flags are waved, and we respond like hungry Labradors jumping at a juicy prime rib swinging before our noses.  Sentimental statist propaganda is simply the mouthguard used to soften the jolt of our collective electroshock therapy. 

Religion



As powerful as the patriotic sects are, there has always been a need for something higher.  Religion comes from the Latin 're-ligare' and it means to reconnect.  But reconnect to what?  The question before all religions is, what have we been disconnected from?  The indoctrination and alienation of becoming a card carrying slave has a cost;  the level of abstraction and the disconnect from any semblance of humanity converts people into nihilistic robots.  No amount of patriotic fervor can replace having a soul.  The flags and history lessons can only give a momentary reprieve to the emptiness of the Matrix and that's why the priests are needed.
The original spiritual connection man had with the universe began to dissolve into duality with the onset of language, and by the time cities and standing armies arrived he was in need of a reconnection, and thus we get our faith based religions.  Faith in the religious experiences of sages, or as William James put it, faith in someone else's ability to connect.  Of course the liturgies of our mainstream religions offer some solace and connection, but in general they simply provide the glue for the Matrix.  A brief perusal of the news will clearly show that their 'God' seems most comfortable amidst the killing fields. 
If we focus on the Abrahamic religions, we have a god much like the state, one who needs to be loved.  He is also jealous of the other supposedly non-existent gods and is as sociopathic as the governments who adore him.  He wipes out his enemies with floods and angels of death just as the governments who pander to him annihilate us with cultural revolutions, atom bombs, television and napalm.  Their anthem is, "Love your country, it’s flag, its history, and the God who created it all"-  an ethos force fed to each new generation. 

Circus

The sad thing about circus is that it's generally not even entertaining.  The slaves are told it's time for some fun and they move in hordes to fill stadiums, clubs, cinemas or simply to stare into their electrical devices believing that they are are being entertained by vulgar propaganda.  
As long as homo domesticus goes into the appropriate corral, jumps when she is told to and agrees wholeheartedly that she is having fun, than she is a good slave worthy of her two days off a week and fifteen days vacation at the designated farm where she is milked of any excess gold she might have accumulated during the year.  Once she is too old to work and put to pasture, holes are strategically placed in her vicinity so she and her husband can spend their last few dollars trying to get a small white ball into them.

On a daily basis, after the caffeinated maximum effort has been squeezed out of her, she is placed in front of a screen, given the Matrix approved beverage (alcohol), and re-indoctrinated for several hours before starting the whole cycle over again. God forbid anyone ever took a hallucinogen and had an original thought.  We are, thankfully, protected from any substances that might actually wake us up and are encouraged stick to the booze.   The matrix loves coffee in the morning, alcohol in the evening and never an authentic thought in between.
On a more primal level we are entranced with the contours of the perfect body and dream of ‘perfect love’, where our days will be filled with soft caresses, sweet words and Hollywood drama.   This is maybe the most sublime of the Matrix’s snares, as Venus’s charms can be so convincing one willingly abandons all for her devious promise.  Romantic love is dangled like bait, selling us down the path of sentimentally coated lies and mindless consumerism. 


Money



Money is their most brilliant accomplishment.  Billions of people spend most of their waking lives either acquiring it or spending it without ever understanding what it actually is.  In this hologram of a world, the only thing one can do without money is breath.  For almost every other human activity they want currency, from eating and drinking to clothing oneself and finding a partner. Religion came from innate spirituality and patriotism from the tribe, but money they invented themselves-  the most fantastic and effective of all their tools of domestication.
They have convinced the slaves that money actually has some intrinsic value, since at some point in the past it actually did.  Once they were finally able to disconnect money completely from anything other than their computers, they finally took complete control, locked the last gate and electrified all the fences.  They ingeniously print it up out of the nothing and loan it with interest in order for 18-year-olds to spend four years drinking and memorizing propaganda as they begin a financial indebtedness that will most likely never end.  
By the time the typical American is thirty the debt is mounted so high that they abandon any hope of ever being free of it and embrace their mortgages, credit cards, student loans and car loans as gifts from a sugar daddy.  What they rarely asks themselves is why they must work to make money while banks can simply create it with a few key strokes.  If they printed out notes on their HP's and loaned them with interest to their neighbors, they would wind up in a penitentiary, but not our friends on Wall Street-  they do just that and wind up pulling the strings in the White House.  The  genius of the money scam is how obvious it is.  When people are told that banks create money out of nothing and are paid interest for it the good folks are left incredulous.  “It can't be that simple!"  And therein lies the rub- no one wants to believe that they have been enslaved so easily .
“Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology.”
As Terence loved to say, “Culture is not your friend.”  It exists as a buffer to authentic experience.  As they created larger and larger communities, they replaced the direct spiritual experience of the shaman with priestly religion.  Drum beats and sweat were exchanged for digitized, corporatized noise.  Local tales got replaced by Hollywood blockbusters, critical thinking with academic dogma.
If money is the shackles of the matrix, culture is its operating system.  Filtered, centralized, incredibly manipulative, it glues all their myths together into one massive narrative of social control from which only the bravest of souls ever try to escape.  It's relatively simple to see the manipulation when one looks at patriotism, religion or money.  But when taken as a whole, our culture seems as natural and timeless as the air we breathe, so intertwined with our self conception it is often hard to see where we individually finish and our culture begins.

Escaping the Grip of Control

Some might ask why this all-pervasive network of control isn't talked about or discussed by our ‘great minds’.  Pre-Socratic scholar Peter Kingsley explains it well:
“Everything becomes clear once we accept the fact that scholarship as a whole is not concerned with finding, or even looking for, the truth. That’s just a decorative appearance.  It’s simply concerned with protecting us from truths that might endanger our security; and it does so by perpetuating our collective illusions on a much deeper level than individual scholars are aware of.”

Whoever discovered water, it certainly wasn't a fish.  To leave the ‘water’, or Plato's cave takes courage and the knowledge that there is something beyond the web of control.  Over 2,300 hundred years ago Plato described the process of leaving the Matrix in the Allegory of the Cave as a slow, excruciating process akin to walking out onto a sunny beach after spending years in a basement watching Kabuki.

How can this awakening be explained?  How do you describe the feeling of swimming in the ocean at dusk to someone who has never even seen the sea?  You can't, but what you can do is crack open a window for them and if enough windows are opened, the illusion begins to lose its luster. 

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Al-Jazeera – 23 April 2014

A right-wing Israeli settlement group has been put in charge of two controversial new projects to develop the area around al-Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, the compound of holy sites that includes al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

Elad received planning approval this month to develop a huge visitors’ centre, called the Kedem complex, in a former car park just outside the Old City walls in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan. While the visitors’ centre will give Elad a base less than 20 metres from the Old City, a second project could extend its reach to the retaining wall of al-Aqsa mosque itself.

Al-Haram al-Sharif compound has been the most contested piece of territory in the Holy Land since Israel occupied Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Tensions have been heightened recently, as extremist Jews have begun entering the compound in larger numbers, with quiet backing from Israeli officials. The groups have sought to overturn a long-standing rabbinical prohibition on praying on the Temple Mount.

Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel, a hardline settler himself, chose Elad to manage an area known as the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, immediately south of the Western Wall. Renovations there will extend the prayer area for Jews. Last week, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court put Elad’s management of the park on hold until it ruled on the deal.

Yehudit Oppenheimer, director of Ir Amim, an Israeli group advocating fair treatment for Palestinians in Jerusalem, said the Kedem complex was the final piece Israel needed to secure its complete control over the area around al-Haram al-Sharif: “Now tourists will enter from Jaffa Gate [an entrance from West Jerusalem into the Old City], walk through the Jewish quarter, see the Western Wall, visit the City of David and get their information from the Kedem complex,” she told Al Jazeera.

She said the experience would reinforce both the idea of Israel’s physical control of the area and a hardline nationalist narrative associated with Israel’s far right. “The sites and signs will look Israeli; all the information and tours will consolidate an exclusively Jewish narrative,” Oppenheimer said. “Most Israeli and foreign tourists will have no idea that they are in Palestinian territory. It will feel to them like they are still in Israel.”

Israeli authorities have already given Elad large areas of Silwan, even though it is located in occupied East Jerusalem, to excavate an archaeological park called the City of David, disrupting the lives of 35,000 Palestinians. Elad had helped some 300 settlers take over Palestinian homes in the area, creating armed encampments around the park, according to Ahmed Qaraeen, a Silwan community leader.

The City of David is the only example of a private organisation gaining control of a national park in Israel, giving it effectively governmental powers. Normally, an archaeological park would be jointly run by the Antiquities Authority and the Nature and Parks Authority. Israel’s High Court backed the special arrangement with Elad in 2012 after receiving assurances that its work would be closely supervised by the Parks Authority. An internal report from the authority in January, however, revealed the promise was ignored and Elad had unchecked control over the City of David and provided almost all of the information and tours to visitors.

According to Kais Nasser, a Palestinian lawyer who represents “The Islamic Council within the Green Line”, a coalition of Islamic groups inside Israel, allowing Elad to develop the two sites is “outrageous”.

“It is an organisation with a clear agenda to bring settlers into Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem. Now its control will reach right up to the limits of the mosques,” Nasser told Al Jazeera.

Last month, European Union diplomats in Jerusalem warned in an internal report leaked to the Israeli media: “There remains a significant risk that incidents at this highly sensitive site, or perceived threats to the status quo, may spark extreme reactions locally as well as across the Arab and Muslim world.” They were especially concerned that changes by Israel might serve as a prelude to dividing control of the al-Haram al-Sharif compound, or to offering separate prayer times for Muslims and Jews.

That would echo what happened in Hebron, where extremist settlers were given rights over part of the Ibrahimi mosque – or what Israelis call the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The site quickly turned into a flashpoint that is remembered for the massacre of Muslim worshippers by a Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, in 1994.

Daniel Seideman, a lawyer who is an expert on Israeli policies in Jerusalem, said the Israeli government was increasing its efforts to create “settlement enclaves” in Palestinian neighbourhoods and thereby “Hebronise Jerusalem”.

Elad’s visitor centre is expected to substantially increase the number of Israeli and foreign visitors to the City of David. The Jerusalem municipality, which backed the project, has said the Kedem complex was the cornerstone of its efforts to increase the number of tourists to the City of David to “some 20 million annually”. Tourism to the site has grown quickly over the past decade, with the number of visitors rocketing from 25,000 in 2001 to some 500,000 today.

Uniquely, the new visitor centre, which will reportedly be more than 16,000 sq m, is to be built over important archaeological remains that have been excavated over the past decade.

“Elad says the building will protect these remains, but the reality is that they will inevitably be damaged. Nowhere else in the world would you find a site of this importance being treated this way,” said Yonathan Mizrachi, head of Emek Shaveh, an organisation of Israeli archaeologists opposed to using archaeology for political ends.

The Jerusalem municipality was unavailable for comment.

Zeev Orenstein, a spokesman for Elad, denied suggestions that the Kedem complex would promote an exclusively Jewish narrative of Jerusalem. He said it would exhibit the “antiquities of the many civilisations that once inhabited ancient Jerusalem… in a way in which all people will be able to appreciate their significance”.

Community activists in Silwan, meanwhile, warned that their homes were being physically damaged by the excavations, some of which extend under their houses. Qaraeen, who lives a few metres from the intended site of the Kedem complex, said his home – like many in Silwan – was subject to a demolition order.

“The municipality says we cannot have planning permits because Silwan lacks a master plan. And yet this massive visitor centre can get planning approval from the municipality and the planning authorities, even though it is supposed to be in a national park. Elad is like a state within a state – different rules apply.”

He added that Israel was trying to force Palestinians into “ghettos”.

“None of us can get permits to create businesses, such as a restaurant or guest house, to benefit from the tourism. Israel wants to make sure visitors don’t interact with us or hear our stories.”

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Text of UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses

UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses
ADVANCED UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the fourth report of the United States of America

1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (CCPR/C/USA/4 and Corr.1) at its 3044th, 3045th and 3046th meetings (CCPR/C/SR/3044, CCPR/C/SR/3045 and CCPR/C/SR/3046), held on 13 and 14 March 2014. At its 3061st meeting (CCPR/C/SR/3061), held on 26 March 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations.
A. Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high level delegation which included representatives of state and local governments on the measures that the State party has taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4), which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation and for the supplementary information provided to it in writing.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee notes with appreciation the many efforts undertaken, and the progress made in protecting civil and political rights by the State party. The Committee welcomes, in particular, the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:
(a) The full implementation of article 6(5) of the Covenant in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), despite the State party’s reservation to the contrary;
(b) The recognition by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), of the extraterritorial application of constitutional habeas corpus rights to aliens detained at Guantánamo Bay;
(c) The Presidential Executive Orders 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”), 13492 (“Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities”) and 13493 (“Review of Detention Policy Options”), issued on 22 January 2009;
(d) The support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples announced by President Obama on 16 December 2010;
(e) The Presidential Executive Order 13567 establishing periodic review for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who have not been charged, convicted, or designated for transfer, issued on 7 March 2011.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Applicability of the Covenant at national level 
4. The Committee regrets that the State party continues to maintain its position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, despite the contrary interpretation of article 2(1) supported by the Committee’s established jurisprudence, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and state practice. The Committee further notes that the State party has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification. Taken together, these elements considerably limit the legal reach and the practical relevance of the Covenant (art. 2).  
The State party should:
(a) Interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of its object and purpose and review its legal position so as to acknowledge the extraterritorial application of the Covenant under certain circumstances, as outlined inter alia in the Committee’s general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant;
(b) Engage with stakeholders at all levels to identify ways to give greater effect to the Covenant at federal, state and local levels, taking into account that the obligations under the Covenant are binding on the State party as a whole, and that all branches of government, and other public or governmental authorities, at every level are in a position to engage the responsibility of the State party under the Covenant (General Comment. No. 31, para. 4);
(c) Taking into account its declaration that provisions of the Covenant are non-self-executing, ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the Covenant, including those that do not, at the same time, constitute violations of U.S. domestic law, and undertake a review of such areas with a view to proposing to the Congress implementing legislation to fill any legislative gaps. The State party should also consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant providing for an individual communication procedure.
(d) Strengthen and expand existing mechanisms mandated to monitor the implementation of human rights at federal, state, local and tribal levels, provide them with adequate human and financial resources or consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134).
(e) Reconsider its position regarding its reservations and declarations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them. 
Accountability for past human rights violations
5. The Committee is concerned at the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the U.S. Government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program. While welcoming the Presidential Executive Order 13491 of 22 January 2009 terminating the programme of secret detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meagre number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives. The Committee is concerned that many details of the CIA programme remain secret thereby creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies. The responsibility of those who provided legal pretexts for manifestly illegal behavior should also be established. The State party should also consider the full incorporation of the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ in its criminal law and declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention programme.
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
6. While appreciating the steps taken by the State party to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including the enactment in August 2010 of The Fair Sentencing Act and plans to work on reform of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, the Committee continues to be concerned about racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails (arts. 2, 9, 14, and 26). 
The State party should continue and step up its efforts to robustly address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including by amending regulations and policies leading to racially disparate impact at the federal, state and local levels. The State party should ensure the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and reform mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.
Racial profiling
7. While welcoming plans to reform the “stop and frisk” program in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing (arts. 2, 9, 12, 17, and 26).   
The State party should continue and step up its measures to effectively combat and eliminate racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, inter alia by: (a) pursuing the review of the 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and expanding protection against profiling on the basis of religion, religious appearance or national origin; (b) continuing to train state and local law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and inadmissibility of racial profiling; and (c) abolishing all “stop and frisk” practices.
Death penalty
8. While welcoming the overall decline in the number of executions and the increasing number of states that have abolished the death penalty, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing use of the death penalty and, in particular, racial disparities in its imposition that affects disproportionately African Americans, exacerbated by the rule that discrimination has to be proven case-by-case. It is further concerned by the high number of persons wrongly sentenced to death, despite existing safeguards, and by the fact that 16 retentionist states do not provide for compensation for the wrongfully convicted and other states provide for insufficient compensation. Finally, the Committee notes with concern reports about the administration by some states of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information on such drugs (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14, and 26).  
The State party should (a) take measures to effectively ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias; (b) strengthen safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death and subsequent wrongful execution by ensuring inter alia effective legal representation for defendants in death penalty cases, including at the post-conviction stage; (c) ensure that retentionist states provide adequate compensation for the wrongfully convicted (d) ensure that lethal drugs for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution; (e) consider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level and engage with retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium. The Committee also encourages the State party, on the 25th anniversary of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, to consider acceding to the Protocol. 
Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)
9. The Committee is concerned about the State party’s practice of targeted killings in extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also known as ‘drones’, the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks. The Committee notes the State party’s position that drone strikes are conducted in the course of its armed conflict with Al- Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces and in accordance with its inherent right of national self-defense and are governed by international humanitarian law, as well as by the Presidential Policy Guidance that sets out standards for the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned about the State party’s very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an “imminent threat” and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities, the unclear position on the nexus that should exist between any particular use of lethal force and any specific theatre of hostilities, as well as the precautionary measures taken to avoid civilian casualties in practice (arts. 2, 6, and 14). 
The State party should revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks. It should: (a) ensure that any use of armed drones complies fully with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant, including in particular with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict; (b) subject to operational security, disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used; (c) provide for independent supervision and oversight over the specific implementation of regulations governing the use of drone strikes; (d) in armed conflict situations, take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of civilians in specific drone attacks and to track and assess civilian casualties, as well as all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid such casualties; (e) conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of allegations of violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible; (f) provide victims or their families with an effective remedy where there has been a violation, including adequate compensation, and establish accountability mechanisms for victims of allegedly unlawful drone attacks who are not compensated by their home governments.
Gun violence 
10. While acknowledging the measures taken to reduce gun violence, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries and the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children. While commending the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of the discriminatory effect of “Stand Your Ground Laws”, the Committee is concerned about the proliferation of such laws that are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6, and 26). 
The State Party should take all necessary measures to abide by its obligation to effectively protect the right to life. In particular, it should: (a) continue its efforts to effectively curb gun violence, including through the continued pursuit of legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers in order to prevent possession of arms by persons recognized as prohibited individuals under federal law and strict enforcement of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban legislation of 1996 (the “Lautenberg Amendment”); and (b) review Stand Your Ground Laws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self-defence.
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
11. The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers including the deadly use of tasers, which have a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S.-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7, and 26).  
The State Party should  (a) step up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers; (b) ensure that the new CBP directive on use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and (c) improve reporting of excessive use of force violations and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated, alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available, and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation. 
Legislation prohibiting torture
12. While noting that acts of torture may be prosecuted in a variety of ways at both the federal and state levels, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity (arts. 2 and 7).
The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure that the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts, whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, or by private persons. The State party should ensure the availability of compensation to victims of torture. 
Non-refoulement
13. While noting the measures taken to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement in cases of extradition, expulsion, return and transfer of individuals to other countries, the Committee is concerned about the State party’s reliance on diplomatic assurances that do not provide sufficient safeguards. It is also concerned at the State party’s position that the principle of non-refoulement is not covered by the Covenant despite the Committee’s established jurisprudence and subsequent state practice (arts. 6 and 7). 
The State party should strictly apply the absolute prohibition against refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant, continue exercising the utmost care in evaluating diplomatic assurances, and refrain from relying on such assurances where it is not in a position to effectively monitor the treatment of such persons after their extradition, expulsion, transfer or return to other countries and take appropriate remedial action when assurances are not fulfilled. 
Trafficking and forced labour
14. While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in persons and forced labour, the Committee remains concerned about cases of trafficking for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation, including of children, and criminalization of victims on prostitution-related charges. It is concerned about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from the protection of labour laws, thus rendering these categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that workers entering the U.S. under the H-2B work visa programme are also at a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking/forced labour (arts. 2, 8, 9, 14, 24, and 26).
The State party should continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, inter alia by strengthening its preventive measures, increasing victim identification and systematically and vigorously investigating allegations of trafficking in persons, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and providing effective remedies to victims, including protection, rehabilitation and compensation. It should take all appropriate measures to prevent the criminalization of victims of sex trafficking, including child victims, to the extent that they have been compelled to engage in unlawful activities. The State party should review its laws and regulations to ensure full protection against forced labour for all categories of workers and ensure effective oversight of labour conditions in any temporary visa program. It should also reinforce its training activities and provide training to law enforcement and border and immigration officials, as well as to other relevant agencies such as labour law enforcement agencies and child welfare agencies. 
Immigrants
15. The Committee is concerned that under certain circumstances mandatory detention of immigrants for prolonged periods of time without regard to the individual case may raise issues under article 9 of the Covenant. It is also concerned about the mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners without regard to elements such as the seriousness of crimes and misdemeanors committed, the length of lawful stay in the U.S., health status, family ties and the fate of spouses and children staying behind, or the humanitarian situation in the country of destination. Finally, the Committee expresses concerns about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties in access of immigrants to adequate health care (arts. 7, 9, 13, 17, 24 and 26).
The Committee recommends to the State party to review its policies of mandatory detention and deportation of certain categories of immigrants in order to allow for individualized decisions, to take measures ensuring that affected persons have access to legal representation, and to identify ways to facilitate access of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years and their families to adequate health care, including reproductive health care services.
Domestic violence 
16. The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases  (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26)
The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women.
Corporal punishment 
17. The Committee is concerned about the use of corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home, and all forms of child care at federal, state and local levels. It is also concerned about the increasing criminalization of students to tackle disciplinary issues arising in schools (arts. 7, 10, and 24).
The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings. It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects. The State party should also promote the use of alternatives to the application of criminal law to address disciplinary issues in schools.
Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
18. The Committee is concerned about the widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services (arts. 7 and 17).
The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned provided that he or she is unable to give consent, for the shortest possible time, without any long-term impact, and under independent review. The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors.

Criminalization of homelessness
19. While appreciating the steps taken by federal and some state and local authorities to address homelessness, the Committee is concerned about reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas etc. The Committee notes that such criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (arts. 2, 7, 9, 17, and 26).
The State party should engage with state and local authorities to: (a) abolish criminalization of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels; (b) ensure close cooperation between all relevant stakeholders including social, health, law enforcement and justice professionals at all levels to intensify efforts to find solutions for the homeless in accordance with human rights standards; and (c) offer incentives for decriminalization and implementation of such solutions, including by providing continued financial support to local authorities implementing alternatives to criminalization and withdrawing funding for local authorities criminalizing the homeless.  
Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement
20. The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty, including juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances, in prolonged solitary confinement, and about detainees being held in solitary confinement also in pretrial detention. The Committee is furthermore concerned about poor detention conditions in death row facilities (arts. 7, 9, 10, 17, and 24).
The State party should monitor conditions of detention in prisons, including private detention facilities, with a view to ensuring that persons deprived of their liberty be treated in accordance with the requirements of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It should impose strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, both pretrial and following conviction, in the federal system, as well as nationwide, and abolish the practice in respect of anyone under the age of 18 and prisoners with serious mental illness. It should also bring detention conditions of prisoners on death row in line with international standards.
Detainees at Guantánamo Bay 
21. While noting President Obama’s commitment to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and the appointment of Special Envoys at the Departments of State and Defense to continue to pursue the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, the Committee regrets that no timeline for closure of the facility has been provided. The Committee is also concerned that detainees held in Guantánamo Bay and in military facilities in Afghanistan are not dealt with within the ordinary criminal justice system after a protracted period of over a decade in some cases (arts. 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should expedite the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, including to Yemen, as well as the process of periodic review for Guantánamo detainees, and ensure either their trial or immediate release, and the closure of the Guantánamo facility. It should end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial and ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions and that those detainees are afforded the fair trial guarantees enshrined in article 14 of the Covenant. 
NSA surveillance
22. The Committee is concerned about the surveillance of communications in the interests of protecting national security, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) both within and outside the United States through the bulk phone metadata program (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) and, in particular, the surveillance under Section 702 of Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) conducted through PRISM (collection of the contents of communications from U.S.-based companies) and UPSTREAM (tapping of fiber-optic cables in the U.S. that carry internet traffic) programs and their adverse impact on the right to privacy. The Committee is concerned that until recently, judicial interpretations of FISA and rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) have largely been kept secret, thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision. The Committee is concerned that the current system of oversight of the activities of the NSA fails to effectively protect the rights of those affected. While welcoming the recent Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) that will now extend some safeguards to non-US persons “to the maximum extent feasible consistent with the national security”, the Committee remains concerned that such persons enjoy only limited protection against excessive surveillance. Finally, the Committee is concerned that those affected have no access to effective remedies in case of abuse (arts. 2, 5(1), and 17).
The State party should:
(a) take all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to its obligations under the Covenant, including article 17; in particular, measures should be taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;
(b) ensure that any interference with the right to privacy, family, home or correspondence be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise specifying in detail the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted; the procedures for authorizing; the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance; limits on the duration of surveillance; procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse;
(c) reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness, including by providing for judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and considering to establish strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses;
(d) refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;
(e) ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.
Juvenile justice and life without parole sentences
23. While noting with satisfaction the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting life without parole sentences for children convicted of non-homicide offenses (Graham v. Florida), and barring mandatory life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide offenses (Miller v. Alabama) and the State party’s commitment to their retroactive application, the Committee is concerned that a court still may, within its discretion, sentence a defendant to life without parole for a homicide committed as a juvenile and that a mandatory or non-homicide related sentence of life without parole may still be applied to adults. It is also concerned that many states exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions (arts. 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 24). 
The State party should prohibit and abolish all juvenile life without parole sentences irrespective of the crime committed, as well as all mandatory and non-homicide related sentences of life without parole. It should also ensure that all juveniles are separated from adults during pretrial detention and after sentencing and that juveniles are not transferred to adult courts. States that automatically exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions should be encouraged to change their laws.
Voting rights
24. While noting with satisfaction Attorney General Holder’s statement of 11 February 2014 calling for a reform of prisoner disenfranchisement State laws, the Committee reiterate its concern about the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws, its disproportionate impact on minorities, and the lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures. The Committee is further concerned that voter identification and other recently introduced eligibility requirements may impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters, including members of minority groups. Finally, the Committee reiterates its concern that residents of the District of Columbia are denied the right to vote for and election of voting representatives to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (arts. 2, 10, 25, and 26).
The State party should ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have fully served their sentences, provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options and remove or streamline lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures, as well as review automatic denial of the vote to any imprisoned felon, regardless of the nature of the offence. It should also take all necessary measures to ensure that voter identification requirements and the new eligibility requirements do not impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement. The State party should also provide for the full voting rights of residents of Washington, D.C. 
Rights of indigenous people
25. The Committee is concerned about the insufficient measures being taken to protect the sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination. It is also concerned about restricted access of indigenous people to sacred areas essential for preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices and the insufficiency of consultation conducted with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities (art. 27).
The State party should adopt measures to effectively protect sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the communities that might be adversely affected by State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for the potential project activities.
26. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of the fourth periodic report, the written responses that it has provided in response to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations so as to increase awareness among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its fifth periodic report, to continue its practice of broadly consulting with civil society and non-governmental organizations.
27. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 5, 10, 21 and 22 above.

28. The Committee requests the State party, in its next periodic report, due to be submitted on 28 March 2019, to provide specific, up-to-date information on all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole

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By Susan Duclos


Financial gurus, trends forecasters, stock market experts, hedge fund managers and more are all yelling at the top of their lungs, from rooftops, figuratively, with warnings of the devastating and imminent stock market crash and economic collapse, that will make the 1929 crash seem like a walk in the park.


Top names in the financial industry like Celente, Faber, Schiff, Spitznagel and Buffet are just the tip of the iceberg of the latest examples of these dire warnings.


Schiff:


"The crisis is imminent," Schiff said. "I don't think Obama is going to finish his second term without the bottom dropping out. And stock market investors are oblivious to the problems."

Faber:


"I think somewhere down the line we will have a massive wealth destruction. I would say that well-to-do people may lose up to 50 percent of their total wealth."

Celente:


This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere… 
…So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.

Those are just samples and in the first video below, by Gregory Mannarino, more is explained about the upcoming stock market "meltdown."











 Cross posted at Before It's News


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British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of the GMO sector. Despite mounting evidence pointing to the deleterious health, social, ecological and environmental impacts of GMOs, Paterson has a blind spot that lets him ignore reality and allows him to lend unconditional support to the biotech conglomerates, the very concerns that regard Europe as a massive potential cash cow from which their GM crops have till now mostly been barred or restricted.
Paterson recently told the Oxford Farming Conference that Europe is likely to become "the museum of world farming" because of its failure to embrace genetically modified crops. He went on to state that the longer Europe continues to close its doors to GM crops, the greater the risk that the rest of the world will bypass us altogether:
"Europe risks becoming the museum of world farming as innovative companies make decisions to invest and develop new technologies in other markets."
Paterson said there was "compelling evidence" that GM crops could benefit farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy.
Nearly 50 countries around the world have either banned GM crop production outright, or have put in place extremely tight restrictions on the production and use of GM products. However, EU member states will soon vote on whether to allow cultivation of a variety of maize that has been made insect-resistant through genetic engineering. If licensed, it would be the first GM food crop authorised for planting by the EU in 15 years.
Paterson said any decisions must be based on scientific evidence, in contrast to "politically motivated" delays and blocks to GM crops in the past.
He stated:
"I will continue to make the case for a regime that allows fair market access for products once they have passed Europe's rigorous, independent scientific assessment."

Paterson has previously indicated that he wants to relax British regulations on the cultivation of GM crops, and has said they have “environmental benefits”.

Owen Paterson has a track record of lending blind support to the GM sector with his factually incorrect statements. In 2013, he called concerns over the use of GM foods “complete nonsense” in an attack on public concerns about GMOs (1):

“I’m very clear it (GM) would be a good thing… The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods. There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits. Those benefits include a reduction in the use of pesticides because some GM crops are pest-resistant.”

Paterson also said that consumers were already unwittingly eating GM food on a regular basis, so concerns about human health are misplaced and based on “nonsense” and “humbug.”

In another 2013 speech, Paterson stated that “seven million children” had gone blind or died over the past 15 years because “every attempt” to introduce a GM-rice fortified with sight-saving vitamin A had “been thwarted.”

Owen Paterson vs the reality of GMOs and petro-chemical agriculture

Paterson talks emotive, simplistic sound-bite stuff about dead children that might play well to sections of a wider misinformed public. It conveniently overlooks broader, more complex issues related to global poverty, the international system of finance, the ‘structural adjustment’ of local systems of agriculture that have destroyed indigenous food production, world trade policies and the corporate hijack of much of global farming by the West for its agribusiness industry (2).

Paterson’s stance typifies how powerful interests (or their mouthpieces) distort reality when faced with a situation that curtails their interests and profits. It is in their view their opponents who are ideologically or politically motivated and who engage in emotive scare-mongering, while it is they, the immensely rich and politically well connected, who have humanity’s interests at heart and are driven by science and altruism.

If the likes of Paterson are all too dismissive of those anti-GM/anti-MNC “disgusting enemies of the poor,” “ignoramuses” and “scientific jokers” (eg, Professor Seralni in France and Pushpa Bhargava in India) who supposedly engage in “lies,”, “nonsense” and “deceit” to counter scientific facts and the “safe frontier technology” of GMOs (3), perhaps they might be inclined to pay more heed to millionaire MP Zac Goldsmith, who is a member of the Conservative Party to which Paterson also belongs.

Hardly a dyed in the wool, anti-MNC leftie, Goldsmith last year claimed that Paterson is a puppet of the biotech industry and does not understand the dangers genetically modified crops pose to the ecosystem.

Speaking to The Independent newspaper on 3 July 2013, Goldsmith declared:

"He's swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker without talking to anyone with a different view. When designing policy that's a dangerous thing, and I'm concerned big business is framing the debate for the government… The story so far suggests that GM is predominantly about the industry getting greater control over the food chain, rather than alleviating poverty or environmental concerns." (4)

Paterson displays blatant disregard for the political hijack of food and agriculture and its regulatory bodies by powerful agribusiness and the consequent lax regulations governing its activities. His stance indicates he is probably part of that very problem. His claim about the reduced levels of pesticides is but one instance of his ignorance. This can be placed alongside his range of ignorance on the actual documented lack of agricultural benefits derived from GMOs and their deleterious health impacts (5,6,7,8,9).

His outbursts persist regardless of the destruction of indigenous, traditional patterns of agriculture whose productivity is often far better than any petro-chemical based and/or GMO-based ’green revolution’. If he wants to talk about “museums” then he may like to look at historical evidence pertaining to traditional farming in India and its much better levels of productivity compared with modern methods (9).

It is such a travesty that a senior politician, a ‘public servant’, seems content to become part of the problem by kowtowing to the massive well-documented GMO industry pressures and its global PR machine, which receives full and active support from the US State Department (10,11).  

And whether the public wanted them or not in the US, GM crops are prevalent there, despite there having been significant concern from scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to the FDA allowing GM products into the food chain. The concerns of the scientists were ignored, and by the time the public became aware, the GM products were firmly embedded into the US food production chain (12).

FDA scientists had continually warned regulators that GM crops could create unpredictable and hard to detect side effects, including allergies, toxin production, nutritional problems, and new diseases. They recommended that long-term studies were needed to fully assess the effect of GM foods on other crops, the ecosystem, and animal and human health, but these warnings were ignored.

William F Engdahl has written on this and both he and the watchdog body Corporate European Observatory have raised serious concerns about deep-seated conflicts of interests within the European Food Safety Agency as well pertaining to the biotech sector and major food conglomerates (13,14).

As the GM food sector continues to push at India’s door, we should look to what the GM cotton sector has already ‘achieved’ there. The continued use of GM modified cotton has reduced yields, and the cotton bollworm has developed a resistance to the GM crops which contain the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) toxin (15). This is resulting in an ever increasing barrage of profitable ‘innovations’ from the biotech sector. ‘Innovations’ and ‘R&D’ being trendy terms for attempting to keep on top of the damage being done to agriculture as each new 'frontier' product fails the farmer. More destined to fail technology replaces the older destined to fail products under the banner of ‘cutting edge’ developments (16).

The original ‘green revolution’ is now displaying its devastating long-term health and environmental impacts in Punjab (17). What price its potential ‘second coming’ in the form of GM food crops some years down the line? To answer that question, all we need to do is look elsewhere at the emerging outcomes referenced elsewhere in this article, not least five paragraphs further down through a recent article by Helen Paul on the impacts of GMOs in the Americas.    

Paterson’s claims that the use of GM crops reduce the use of pesticides do not hold up. Research by a WashingtonState University team found that the use of herbicides and insecticides has increased dramatically since GM crops were introduced in the US in 1996 (18). And researchers at the University of Arizona found that multi-toxin GM crops (which are the most technologically advanced crops in use) quickly lose their ability to fend off pests, which is likely to lead to a complete failure of the GMO (19).

Moreover, there has been no proper research or monitoring by the companies producing GM crops of the effects on humans consuming products made with GM crops. Scientists like Dr Arpad Pusztai in theUK and Professor Seralini in France, who have published findings critical of GM crops and food, suffered a wave attacks designed to undermine their work (or careers) by supporters of the technology.

Minister Patterson’s pro-GM attitudes come as little surprise, though. The cosy relationship between governments and the biotech companies is well known, especially in the US (20), where there has been legislation passed that allows biotech companies to be totally free of any legal ramifications if their products cause harm (21).

Perhaps Owen Paterson should take heed of mounting concerns about the terrible health impacts of glyphosate and how GMOs drive the sales of this weedkiller and the deleterious impacts of GMOs on plants and humans (22). He could also take note at the provincial government of Chaco province in Argentina issuance of a report on health statistics from the town La Leonesa, which showed that from 2000 to 2009, following the expansion of genetically-modified soy and rice crops in the region (and the use of glyphosate), the childhood cancer rate tripled in La Leonesa and the rate of birth defects increased nearly fourfold over the entire province (23).

Or maybe he should read Helen Paul’s recent piece in The Ecologist (24). She discusses the unfolding social, health, environmental and ecological disasters of GM agriculture/petro-chemical agriculture on a country by country basis in the Americas and argues that a powerful message should be sent to the EU (and Paterson) that GMOs are not wanted there and that Europe should stop buying and importing the products of GM-driven genocide and ecocide in the Americas. She reveals how repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Yet, she argues, we currently face a desperate, almost farcical push for GM crops in the UK and Europe, characterised by hyperbolic and inaccurate claims of which the frequent claims byPaterson no doubt typify.

Far from being a "museum of world farming" as Paterson, likes to claim, Europe could show the way to a rich and varied GM free, organic-based agriculture that provides nutritious, healthy food and jobs. At the same time, Paul argues, we should address the profound degradation of soils and accelerating biodiversity loss, caused to a great extent by the industrial model of agriculture to which genetically engineered crops belong.

Maybe politicians such as Owen Paterson are (unwittingly) content to be fodder for the wider political and economic that GMOs (and big dam, debt-inducing, dollar supporting, oil-dependent chemical agriculture) are tied to. It’s an agenda encompassing an integrated strategy that involves the (near) monopoly ownership and control and ultimate weaponisation of all water, seeds, food and food retail, land and energy, which in turn both fuels and is fuelled by militarism, conflict, debt and dependency (25,26,27,28). Across the planet, we see this agenda being played out via violent conflict, ‘free’ trade agreements (29,30) and the shaping of political agendas (31).


Notes

A Conversation with Vandana Shiva - Question 5 - Patenting Life

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