Monday, August 2, 2010
In response to reports that the ingredients may pose health risks, McDonald's China claims that additives in its chicken McNuggets are "harmless".
They said that the use of tertiary butylhydroquinone meets Chinese food safety standards. However, "the chemical is toxic to some extent," according to Liu Qingchun, a nutritionist at the General Hospital of Armed Police Forces.
"McNuggets served in the U.S. also contain tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product, and dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent used in cosmetics and other goods.
McDonald's Holdings Co. Japan also serves chicken with the additives".
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The objectivism of the scientific method seems to have been hijacked by corporations who often pay for scientists to support their products, as well as politicians who move through the revolving door between the private and public sector. Even worse is that sometimes the consumer protection agencies themselves are complicit.
The trust placed by consumers in scientific studies and Federal oversight committees has been violated in service to profit so that products are allowed to enter the marketplace with reduced safety standards. The synthetic chemicals we encounter on a daily basis in our food, water, and environment are increasingly shown to be disastrous to our physical and mental well-being. Volumes can be written -- indeed have been written -- by experts in both mainstream and alternative medicine who have documented the sleight of hand used to hoodwink consumers and threaten our health. The categories below are worth deeper investigation as prime examples of what we might face as a species if this chemical bombardment continues.
* GMO foods -- Monsanto started as a chemical company that brought the world poisons like Agent Orange and Roundup. Now they are more well known for their domination of Genetically Modified agriculture, owning nearly 90% of staple GMO crops such as corn, soy, and cotton. In independent studies GMO "frankenfood" has been linked to organ failure, and a recent Russian study has concluded near-total sterility in GMO-soy-fed hamsters by the third generation. Despite these and many other legitimate health concerns, it is unlikely that the Monsanto-controlled FDA will curb the growth of GMO foods, while the USDA's biotechnology risk assessment research arm has a paltry $3 million at its disposal. Of course the industry-funded studies show that the effects GMO on human health are "negligible."
* Food additives -- When most of us think of harmful food additives we think of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) which is still in many processed foods, but unfortunately MSG appears to be the least of the poisons now found in our food. In 2008 Melamine was found in infant formula and some food products from China; the FDA went on record to say it was OK, despite sickening tens of thousands. Dangerous food additives appear in nearly all processed foods with even the most common food dyes Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 being linked to cancer. Most recently 92,000 pounds of frozen chicken was recalled because it contained "blue plastic pieces," while McDonald's Chicken McNuggets have been found to have "silly putty" chemicals in them. In fact, some researchers estimate that today's chicken is so full of chemicals that it only contains 51% actual meat.
* Fluoride -- Not all fluoride is bad; only the type promoted by dentistry and added to our water and food supply. Calcium fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, while its synthetic counterpart, sodium fluoride (silicofluoride), is an industrial-grade hazardous waste material made during the production of fertilizer. It's past history includes patented use as rat poison and insecticide. There are many blind- and double-blind studies that show sodium fluoride has a cumulative effect on the human body leading to allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, bone weakening, cancer, and neurological problems. In this case, the EPA's Union of scientists issued a white paper condemning fluoridation of drinking water. However, as a hazardous waste, it is extremely expensive to dispose of as such. And here might be a clue as to why this chemical, more toxic than lead and almost on par with arsenic, has been disposed of for our consumption.
* Mercury -- A dangerous heavy metal in its natural quicksilver form, but more so as the neurotoxin, methylmercury, released into the environment by human activity. In both organic and inorganic form, mercury wreaks havoc with the nervous system -- especially the developing nervous system of a fetus. It penetrates all living cells of the human body, and has been documented most as increasing the risk for autism. This calls into question mercury's use in dental fillings, vaccines, and just about anything containing high fructose corn syrup -- a near staple in the American diet . . . including baby food. But the Corn Refiners Association naturally supports this chemical that is "dangerous at any level."
* Aspartame -- The king of artificial sweeteners was allowed to the market in 1981 when the U.S. Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Arthur Hull Hayes, overruled FDA panel suggestions, as well as consumer concerns. Aspartame is a neurotoxin that interacts with natural organisms, as well as synthetic medications, producing a wide range of proven disorders and syndromes. So who installed this commissioner that would rule against scientists and the public? Donald Rumsfeld, CEO of G.D. Searle; the maker of Aspartame. Rumsfeld was on Reagan's transition team, and the day after Reagan took office he appointed the new FDA Commissioner in order to "call in his markers" with one of the most egregious cases of profit-over-safety ever recorded. Aspartame is now nearly ubiquitous, moving beyond sugarless products and into general foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and even products for children. It recently has been renamed to the more pleasant sounding AminoSweet.
* Personal care and cleaning products -- Everyday household items and cosmetic products are applied directly to the skin, absorbed through the scalp, and inhaled. The Story of Cosmetics uses an animated video to tell a haunting tale of industrial violations and complicit "public safety" groups . . . and still only tells half of that story. The list of common products and their chemical components is encyclopedic. The sum total of the overwhelming presence of these chemicals has been linked to nearly every allergy, chronic affliction, and disease known to man. Most recently, household cleaning products have been linked to breast cancer and ADHD in children.
* Airborne pollutants -- In a NASA article titled "Airborne Pollutants Know No Borders" they stated that, "Any substance introduced into the atmosphere has the potential to circle the Earth." The jet stream indeed connects all of us. There is one category of airborne pollution that has been conspiracy theory despite a voluminous number of unclassified documents from 1977 Senate hearings: chemical spraying (chemtrails) by both private and commercial aircraft. Recent admissions by public officials strengthen the case. Fallout from these chemical trails has been tested and shows very high levels of barium and aluminum. Interesting to note that Monsanto announced that they recently developed an aluminum-resistant gene to be introduced. Chemtrails might seem like abject paranoia, but there is a current example of chemical spraying that is undeniable: the spraying of Corexit oil dispersant over the Gulf. This process of aerial application can be likened to crop-dusting, which we know has been going on for nearly 100 years. Wars abroad even seem to be affecting global air quality, as military munitions such as depleted uranium have entered the upper atmosphere, spreading around the planet. The observable effects of depleted uranium are not pleasant. Airborne pollutants have been linked to allergies, genetic mutations, and infertility.
This is all leading to scientific, governmental, and medical management of the health and rights of the individual. It is ironic (or coincidental) that when one becomes sick due to the unnatural products listed above, the mainstream medical establishment aims to treat the afflictions with more unnatural chemicals. Furthermore, some of the people at high levels of American government and academia such as John P. Holdren, the current White House Science Czar, have advocated population control via "pollution particles" as far back as 1977 in books such as Ecoscience. Holdren's views of humanity could make one question the intentionality of the poisons in our environment.
Monday, July 19, 2010
European governments are turning their backs on Goldman Sachs, the all-conquering investment bank that has suffered a series of blows to its reputation, capped by the biggest ever fine imposed on a Wall Street firm.
According to data from Dealogic, Greece, Spain, France and Italy have all denied the bank a lead role in their recent sovereign bond sales.
Last Thursday, Goldman agreed to pay a $550m fine to settle US regulators' claims that the bank misled investors in a mortgage-backed security. Goldman admitted that its marketing materials were incomplete, because they failed to state that the same third party that helped choose the assets had taken a bet against them.
But governments have also been shocked at the emergence of past transactions between Goldman and Greece and Italy, where products the bank helped to sell aided both in hiding government debt. Greece, which used Goldman in a bond sale this year, is practically at war with the bank. A sharp contrast with the situation months before, when Goldman bankers dined with the prime minister in a private meeting overlooking the Acropolis. The relationship broke down, though, after news leaked earlier this year that Goldman was about to strike a bond sale deal with China's sovereign fund – which never materialised.
Spain, which used Goldman among its top 10 bookrunners last year, has not done so in 2010, while Italy has not given the bank a leading role since 2007. France has not used Goldman in any lead position over the past three years, and it seems doubtful that it will do so in the near future. "French people would riot in the streets if we chose Goldman," said a person familiar with the French treasury.
The French government has said it will only use banks that cap management and traders' bonuses. This year, Goldman limited the pay and bonus compensation to its London partners at £1m, though other bankers and traders can receive much more, provided they are not partners. Goldman has also been criticised of for taking short positions, or betting on a price fall, against some European sovereign bonds – after taking part in a bond sale, a person involved in sovereign debt sales said. The bank says it has presence in the European sovereign bank market and that it has recently participated in deals in Britain, Portugal and Belgium.
Countries such as Spain and France have also shied away from Goldman because their traditionally conservative treasury departments prefer to steer clear of risky investments. The French treasury, for instance, only issues debt in euros, staying away, like Spain, from the complex foreign exchange or swap deals that brought trouble to Greece and Italy. "The Spanish treasury can't justify in parliament why, if things go wrong, they have a multimillion-euro position in Indian rupees, for example," a sovereign bond banker said.
Governments also stick to plain-vanilla deals, with little complexity, in order to keep their prized AAA rating, reducing their borrowing costs as much as possible, a source familiar with the French Tresor said.
IKB, the failed bank bailed out by the German government, recently considered suing Goldman because of its exposure to the structured products sold by the US bank. Following the settlement between Goldman and the SEC, the US securities regulator, last week, IKB said the German lender was "reviewing the settlement documents".
Germany has only made one syndicated bond sale in the last three years, in 2009, when it appointed Deutsche Bank, Citibank, HSBC and BofA-Merrill Lynch as lead managers.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Webster G. Tarpley
May 28, 2010
On the most important stop of last week’s desperate mission to make the world safe for derivatives, US Treasury Secretary Geithner has been dealt a decisive rebuff. Geithner’s obvious attempt to sabotage the recent prohibition enacted by the German government against naked credit default swaps (among the most toxic of derivatives) was rejected in Berlin on Thursday by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
At their joint press conference, Geithner and Schäuble could hardly hide the atmosphere of tension and hostility, even though both were determined to mask the clash for domestic political reasons. A Handelsblatt blog pointed to the language of mutual dislike, and this newspaper headlined that the transatlantic conflict was escalating. The Washington Post published a photograph on Friday, May 28, 2010 showing the German minister scowling at the feckless featherweight Geithner. Geithner assured the journalists that there was a “broad agreement on regulatory reform,” but in reality there was no such common ground.
Schäuble has now emerged as the strongman Continue reading Wall Street Operative Geithner Rebuffed in Berlin on Mission to Make World Safe for Derivatives
Monday, May 17, 2010
Webster G. Tarpley
April 27, 2010
Today’s Senate hearings, carried on CNBC, Bloomberg, and C-SPAN, represent the first major exposure of the American people to the scandalous frauds of the derivatives casino, including synthetic collateralized debt obligations (synthetic CDOs or CDO²). These are things most people have heard very little about. They begin to open up the shocking reality behind such shopworn euphemisms like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and “troubled assets.” Reactionaries in general and Republicans in particular have done everything possible to hide the role of derivatives, which must be considered the main cause of the financial panic of September 2008 which brought down Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG, after felling Bear Stearns in March of the same year. The reactionary legend, repeated yesterday on the Senate floor by financier minion GOP Sen. Gregg of New Hampshire, is that the crisis was caused by poor people taking out subprime mortgages and then defaulting, bringing down the entire Anglo-American banking system and triggering the bailouts. Either that, or too much government spending was too blame.
A mass of kited derivatives blew up in September 2008
This Big Lie has come from such propaganda sources as the Limbaugh Institute of Retarded Reactionary Ranting. But the $1.5 trillion in subprime mortgages were dwarfed by the $15 trillion US residential real estate market, to say nothing of the $1.5 thousand trillion world derivatives bubble. But, starting with Bush-Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the talk has been of a “housing correction,” not a derivatives panic. It must be pointed out that derivatives are nothing but wagers, bets placed from a distance on securities which themselves are often not mortgages, but rather other derivatives. The bettor buying a synthetic CDO or CDO² does not own the underlying mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, any more than someone who bets on a racehorse owns part of the horse. Blankfein and others tried to portray derivatives as a service to hedgers and end-users, but it’s clear that the vast majority of derivatives involve neither hedgers nor users, but only bettors on both side of the transaction. It is in any case this mass of kited derivatives which blew up in 2008, bringing on the present world economic depression.
Goldman Sachs executives are babbling cretins
The mystique of Goldman Sachs is based in large part on their reputation as the smartest financiers on Wall Street. After today’s hearings, this mystique has permanently dissipated. The Goldman executives babbled. They sounded dumb. They stalled and stammered and went into contortions to avoid giving straight answers to simple questions. They were mendacious and evasive when they did speak. Financial powers around the world will note carefully the refusal of three out of four Goldman executives on one panel to state that they had a duty to defend the interests of their clients. Who will want to do business with such a gang? Goldman Sachs got $10 billion of taxpayer money in low-interest loans under the Bush-Paulson TARP. Part of that money went to pay for obscene bonuses for Goldman executives like the ones on display today. The argument for bonuses is that they must be paid to retain the highly talented personnel, virtual geniuses, who are indispensable for Wall Street speculative success. But these are no geniuses, they are imbeciles. No more bonuses should be paid by banks saved through public money.
Don’t buy any used cars from Lloyd Blankfein
Sleaziest of all was Goldman’s risk-monger in chief, Lloyd Blankfein, who pretended not to know that derivatives are often kept hidden off balance sheet. The morally insane Blankfein testified that his role was to provide the firm’s clients with “the risk they wanted.” Other GS witnesses represented the firm’s role as “distributing risk.” But it turned out that they were manufacturing risk through the very existence and activities of Goldman Sachs, which had the result of pyramiding the total risk of the US financial system into intergalactic space. It is time to regulate much of that unbearable risk out of existence with appropriate regulatory legislation. In the meantime, no sane person would buy a used car from Blankfein. Nor should they believe his assurance that the “recession” has ended.
But when at the end of the day Blankfein finally suggested to Sen. Tester that synthetic CDOs might be outlawed, we should accept his proposal immediately.
Today’s hearings reveal the Goldman Sachs gunslingers and whiz kids as ignorant gangsters and con artists, notable only for their ability to practice massive fraud with impudence. These sleazy mediocrities do not deserve bonuses paid for by taxpayers. Rather, it is time to shut them down and put them in the dock.
If Goldman Sachs had cared about is clients, it would have urgently warned them to unload their subprime risk by late 2006 or thereabouts. Instead, Goldman was busily increasing its clients’ risk by selling them more toxic CDOs out of its own inventory warehouse.
Goldman Sachs: bookies who stack the deck and fix the games
As the philandering Sen. Ensign pointed out, comparing Wall Street to Las Vegas is a slander on the croupiers of Las Vegas, where everyone knows or should know that the game is rigged so that the house always wins. To use the comparison introduced by Sen. McCaskill, Goldman Sachs was operating as the gambling house, or the bookie. At the same time, Goldman was betting for their own account. But much worse was the fact that Goldman was stacking the decks, loading the dice, fixing the games on which the bets were placed, and bribing the umpires.
As Ensign put it in a rare moment of lucidity, the subprime mortgage was bad. But the collapse of subprime would not have had anything like its actual destructive effect on the US economy if it had not been compounded by the mass of synthetic derivatives that were piled on top of subprime.
No national or social purpose served by Goldman Sachs and toxic derivatives bets
The broader issue raised by today’s hearing is: what human purpose is served by the existence of Goldman Sachs, which concocts toxic synthetic CDOs for the purpose of allowing speculators, who are often lied to and duped, to bet for or against them. Goldman Sachs can only be described as a speculative parasite which promotes the activities of other speculative parasites, such as the John Paulson hedge fund at the expense of the public and of its other clients. It was a crime to inject $10 billion of Treasury money into Goldman Sachs. It was another crime for the Fed to lend Goldman untold billions (just how many billions Bernanke still refuses to disclose) to keep them afloat and enable more predatory profits. These crimes must stop, and the public money must be clawed back. Most important, it is time to shut down the derivatives rackets.
Goldman got $12.5 billion from taxpayers for AIG credit default swaps
Useful questions from GOP Sen. Coburn pointed to another kind of derivative: the infamous credit default swap (CDS). These CDS are what brought down AIG, whose London hedge fund had issues $3 trillion in derivatives. When the government bailed out AIG, part of that $180 billion of taxpayer money was used for payouts to the CDS counterparties of AIG, biggest among them Goldman, which got $12.5 billion from the US taxpayer. That was 100 cents on the dollar on a mass of toxic CDS. Coburn wanted to know why Goldman got all their money back, while GM bondholders took a bath as GM went bankrupt. That was, of course, a matter of Goldman’s political clout through GS alum Henry Paulson and Obama Car Czar Steve “The Rat” Rattner, backed up by the historic preponderance of finance capital over industrial capital in this country since Andrew Carnegie sold out to JP Morgan over a century ago.
Derivatives and zombie banks: the toll
Thanks to Goldman Sachs, the other Wall Street zombie banks, and their derivatives, the financial panic of 2008 has turned into a world economic depression of unimaginable proportions. The unemployed and underemployed in the US alone are surely in excess of 20 million. Five to six million home foreclosures are already done or in the pipeline, throwing tens of millions of Americans out of their homes. World trade has been seriously impacted. The budgets of California, New York, Illinois, and many other states are in crisis, with massive layoffs of teachers and other state employees. An entire generation is being destroyed. Now, Greek bonds are trading at junk levels under the attack of speculative predators including Soros, Greenlight Capital, SAC, and the protagonists of today’s hearings – Paulson and Co and Goldman Sachs itself. The attack on Greece and the euro represents the leading edge of the second wave of the depression, which is now arriving in much the same way that the second wave of the 1930s depression was unleashed by the Vienna Kreditanstalt bankruptcy in May of 1931, about 79 years ago and just a year and a half into that depression.
The goal of the Republicans is to portray themselves as stern judges of Wall Street, even as they line up in a unanimous phalanx to protect the finance jackals from any meaningful regulation whatsoever — as seen in yesterday’s vote to block cloture on derivatives re-regulation and reform. The goal of the Democrats is to expose the sociopathic evil of Goldman Sachs and the rest of Wall Street while preening themselves as defenders of the public interest, without however banning credit default swaps, banning synthetic CDOs, and imposing a Wall Street sales tax on all remaining derivatives and asset transactions.
To this degree, today’s hearings are being conducted in bad faith by both major parties. However, the dynamic of the resulting spectacle has the result of educating and mobilizing public opinion against the predatory practices which are the essence of Wall Street, even a year and a half after the banking panic of September 2008 and the monster bailout of zombie banks which soon followed. What is required is a new edition of the anti-banker sentiment set off by the Senate Banking Committee hearings conducted from January 1933 to May 1934 by committee counsel Ferdinand Pecora, which unmasked the corruption of Wall Street. Persons of good will need to get active now to push this process as far as possible while these social dynamics are working. It is time to hit the zombie banks, the hedge funds, and their derivatives as hard as possible, before the second wave of the depression hits. The program necessary to fight the depression and break the strangle-hold of Wall Street on the US economy and political system is given on my web site.
Mitch McConnell on the bailout: “Harry, I think we need to do this, we should try to do this, and we can do this.”
During a break the senators filed out, and the GOP reactionary lockstep once again blocked cloture for a final debate on the Wall Street reform bill, weak as it is. Many activists of the Tea Party naively believe that they have been fighting for a year and a half that they have been fighting to take back the Republican Party. If that is what they believe, today’s second cloture vote proves that they have gotten nowhere in their efforts. Despite their charades, the GOP are the bodyguards of the Wall Street predators. Tea baggers who think they can break the Wall Street grip on the Republicans are pathetic dupes, and they need to wake up, pronto.
When Paulson went to the leaders of Congress to demand a $700 billion bailout for Goldman and his Wall Street cronies, GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was “deeply frightened” by the apocalyptic briefing delivered by Paulson and Bernanke. When Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid started talking about how difficult it would be to get so much money in a hurry, McConnell urged an immediate bailout, saying: “Harry, I think we need to do this, we should try to do this, and we can do this.” (Andrew Ross Sorkin, Too Big to Fail [New York: Viking, 2009], p. 442) The GOP was the original party of the bailout, and they have not repented, as best seen through the continuance of McConnell, one of the key midwives of the bailout, as Republican Senate Majority Leader. This is the same McConnell who went to Wall Street recently to meet with zombie bankers and hedge fund hyenas, pledging to block derivatives reforms in exchange for big bucks contributed to the GOP’s campaign coffers. Tea baggers who think the GOP has changed or is moving to their side are sadly deluded.
Today, the market fetishism of the crackpot Austrian school has taken a severe blow. Now that Blankfein‘s public image has been soiled by Goldman’s scurrilous and scatological emails, the time is ripe for the radical reform of derivatives and the zombie banks. This is a matter of national survival.
Now that Goldman Sachs is masquerading as a bank holding company, it is subject to FDIC rules. If Goldman’s derivative hoard is marked to market, it is bankrupt. The FDIC should therefore seize Goldman and liquidate it under chapter 7 of the US Code. Sheila Bair should not wait for Friday.
(NaturalNews) Psychiatrists have been working on the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and, in it, they hope to add a whole slew of new psychiatric disorders. Unfortunately, many of these disorders are merely differences in personality and behavior among people.
The new edition may include "disorders" like "oppositional defiant disorder", which includes people who have a pattern of "negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures." Some of the "symptoms" of this disorder including losing one's temper, annoying people and being "touchy".
Other "disorders" being considered include personality flaws like antisocial behavior, arrogance, cynicism or narcissism. There are even categories for people who binge eat and children who have temper tantrums.
Children are already over-diagnosed for allegedly being bipolar or having attention-deficit disorder (ADD), which results in their being prescribed dangerous antipsychotic drugs. To categorize even more childhood behaviors as psychiatric disorders will only further increase the number of children who will be needlessly prescribed antipsychotic drugs.
Each new revision of DSM has included controversial new additions, and this newest version is no exception. In fact, the manual has increased considerably in size over the years. What is most disturbing about the current proposed revisions is the blatantly brave, new way in which so-called medical professionals are viewing individual characteristics.
Children who exhibit unique eccentricities in accordance with their unique personalities, in general, would be categorized as having a mental illness. If this criteria had been used in past centuries to diagnose illness, there may have never been people like Mozart or Einstein who ventured outside the norm and came up with new or unique ideas.
A Washington Post article captured the essence of this concept perfectly in the following quote:
"If seven-year-old Mozart tried composing his concertos today, he might be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and medicated into barren normality."
The perception that character differences are somehow a psychic illnesses not only absolves individuals of personal responsibility, but it takes away their unique personhood. It reduces people into subjects that cannot think for themselves, but rather have to be controlled through drugs.
Which brings us to perhaps the biggest thrust behind the DSM revisions: the drug companies. Pharmaceutical companies stand to gain a lot for having virtually every person categorized as mentally ill and in need of drugs.
A more accurate approach to the situation is to assess the psychiatrists and drug lords who are contriving such nonsense as being the true possessors of mental illness. Perhaps these people are the ones that need to be institutionalized
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
(NaturalNews) When a government panel of experts finds the courage to tell the truth about cancer, it's an event so rare that it becomes newsworthy. Late last week, a report from the President's Cancer Panel (PCP) broke ranks with the sick-care cancer establishment and dared to say something that natural health advocates have been warning about for decades: That Americans are "bombarded" with cancer-causing chemicals and radiation, and if we hope to reduce cancer rates, we must eliminate cancer-causing chemicals in foods, medicines, personal care products and our work and home environments.
In a directive to President Obama, the report states, "The panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives."
When I first read that, I just about fell out of my chair. Government-appointed experts are really saying that there are cancer-causing chemicals in our food and water? That simple fact has been vehemently denied by the cancer industry, processed food giants, personal care product companies and of course the fluoride lobby -- all of which insist their chemicals are perfectly safe.
The company is MarsaPlay of Almería, Spain who manufacture and distribute a range of coin-op equipment from darts games to jukeboxes. Now though, they have started to build pinball machines and their first is a remake of the 1986 Inder game Canasta '86', using modern technology to bring it into the 21st century.
Called New Canasta (basket), the new game retains the basketball theme and the same basic layout from Inder's original, but includes a number of significant new innovations.
For starters, underneath the playfield you won't find the usual bird's nest of cables to be seen on nearly all electro-mechanical and solid state pinballs. Instead, a number of large printed circuit boards (PCBs) with short ribbon cable interconnects provide all the switch, illumination and solenoid connections.
Incandescent lamps are replaced by LEDs to prolong their life and reduce both the heat and the power consumption, while solenoids have their own protection system to prevent damage to other components in the case of a short circuit.
The new game is clearly designed to be easy to maintain by non-pinball specialists, with a simple playfield layout, contactless switches and LED lighting. It also incorporates a new menu system for testing or setting the game's features and pricing.
Although built in Spain ostensibly for the home market, the playfield artwork is all in English which would suggest MarsaPlay has export sales in mind as well.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
That is, of course, an outright lie.
This video features myself (the Health Ranger) talking with Jeffrey Smith about the health dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at the recent Health Freedom Expo. NaturalNews staff filmed the segment, and we used intro music legally licensed from a music production company. There was no violation of the YouTube terms of agreement.
There was, however, some straightforward discussion about the dangers of genetically modified foods. Jeffrey Smith (www.SeedsOfDeception.com) explained in the video how GM foods have been proven in animal studies to damage internal organs, cause infertility problems and increase rates of death among those who consume such foods.
This was all just too much for YouTube to handle, apparently. The truth isn't welcome on YouTube. While the network can host any number of idiotic videos in the form of street fights, traffic accidents, personal video blogs and profanity-filled flame wars, it has no ability to stomach the simple truth that GMOs are dangerous for your health.
The YouTube agenda exposed
Let there be no question about the YouTube agenda. Owned by Google, this video network is playing right into the hands of the big corporate agenda in America -- an agenda that demands consumers be kept in the dark about the dangers of GMOs.
U.S. government representatives, in fact, are right now attempting to force a new global rule at the CODEX meetings taking place this very week. They're trying to outlaw all "no GMOs" labeling and food claims, thereby making it illegal for a food company to tell consumers that its products are non-GMO. (http://www.naturalnews.com/028716_G...)
NaturalNews to launch its own UNCENSORED video network
This YouTube censorship is one of the main reasons why we at NaturalNews have decided to launch our own uncensored video network.
The network is under development and will be launched this June. To learn more about the upcoming NaturalNews video network, read this story: http://www.naturalnews.com/028717_v...
The video interview with Jeffrey Smith will be re-launched on our own video network where the whole world will soon be able to hear what Jeffrey Smith had to say about GMOs that YouTube desperately wants to silence.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Fight the Derivatives Cancer with a Wall Street Sales Tax, Plus Bans on Hedge Funds, Credit Default Swaps, and Synthetic CDOs
The Obama administration has been posturing this week about the life and death issue of Wall Street reform. Obama’s predicament is that of a Wall Street puppet who has been put into the White House thanks among other things to almost $1 million of contributions from the infamous Goldman Sachs – but who now needs to make a show of fighting his own Wall Street patrons for political reasons. Of course, Obama’s health-care reform was largely a bailout of insurance companies, which are themselves a key part of Wall Street. But Obama is now pretending to quarrel with Wall Street to shore up his waning credibility, partly because many House Democrats are desperately seeking anti-banker, economic populist street creds in order to avoid defeat in November. So far, the results have been largely feckless and inadequate.
The urgent problem raised by all this is the $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble. The financial crisis which struck the United States and the world in September and October 2008 was in fact a world a derivatives panic. This panic marked the first phase of a world economic depression caused by derivatives speculation. The second phase of this depression, which is now beginning, can also be attributed in large part to derivatives, since derivatives are the main tool being used in the speculative attacks on Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and other nations, building up towards a chaotic collapse of the euro.
Derivatives are the Cause of the World Depression of Our Time
Far from being some arcane or marginal activity, financial derivatives have come to represent the principal business of the financier oligarchy in Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt, and other money centers. A concerted effort has been made by politicians and the news media to hide and camouflage the central role played by derivative speculation in the economic disasters of recent years. Journalists and public relations types have done everything possible to avoid even mentioning derivatives, coining phrases like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and – most notably – “troubled assets,” as in Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP, aka the monstrous $800 billion bailout of Wall Street speculators which was enacted in October 2008 with the support of Bush, Henry Paulson, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the Obama Democrats.
Derivatives can be defined as any financial paper which is based on other financial paper. In other words, they are financial instruments whose value depends upon or is derived from the value of other financial instruments. Any kind of securitization results in the creation of derivatives. If individual mortgages are wrapped up and packaged together as a mortgage-backed security (MBS), that is a derivative. Any asset-backed security (ABS), be it based on car loans, credit card debt, or anything else, also qualifies as a derivative.
Beyond this, there are generally speaking two kinds of derivatives. The first type includes the derivatives which are traded more or less openly on exchanges like the Chicago Board Options Exchange, etc. These include options, futures, and indices, plus all the combinations of these. These are what expire in each quadruple witching hour in the markets. This type of derivative has generally amounted to about $600 trillion of speculation in recent years.
Then there are the so-called over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, otherwise known as structured notes, counterparty derivatives, or designer derivatives. These often take the form of contracts which are kept secret by the counterparties, and which are often not included on the balance sheets of banks and other institutions which enter into these contracts. This type of derivative is currently not reportable to any regulatory agency. This secrecy is a result of the successful effort by Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Alan Greenspan to block the modest proposal of Brooksley Born of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to bring the OTC derivatives into the sunlight during the second Clinton administration. Since these derivatives are not reportable at the present time, we must guess at their amount, and the best guess is that OTC derivatives make up almost $1 quadrillion of ultra-toxic speculation.
CDOs, CDS, and SIVs
OTC derivatives include collateralized debt obligations (CDOs),which often represent the packaging together of large numbers of mortgage backed securities, along with other debt instruments. A CDO can also be concocted out of other CDOs, in which case it qualifies as a synthetic CDO or CDO squared (CDO²). Notice that a synthetic CDO is not really an investment, but rather a form of gambling, in which a speculator in effect places a bet on the performance of some other financial instruments. This fact exposes the big lie inherent in the widespread reactionary myth that the current depression was caused by poor people taking out subprime mortgages on slum properties and then defaulting on these loans, thus bringing down the US and British banking systems. This fantastic story ignores the fact that derivatives were only a wager placed by speculative bettors from afar on mortgage backed securities which included some subprime notes.
Credit default swaps represent bets on whether a given asset or company will go bankrupt or not. As such, they can be used as insurance against such an eventuality, or else they can be used to make money on the insolvency. CDS are therefore a form of insurance, but they are issued by counterparties who have not registered as insurance companies and who have not met the legal and capital requirements which are necessary to function as an insurance company. It ought therefore to be clear that CDS have been totally illegal all along, and have flourished only because of an outrageous failure by state insurance regulators to enforce applicable laws against the privileged class of financiers.
Structured investment vehicles (SIVs) are another type of derivative, commonly used to wrap up masses of CDOs and synthetic CDOs and then to park them off-balance sheet, where they can be hidden from regulatory and public scrutiny.
All Derivatives Illegal under the New Deal, 1936-1982
All kinds of derivatives, be they exchange traded or over-the-counter, were strictly banned and outlawed in the United States between 1936 and 1982 thanks to a wise measure enacted under the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the wake of several attempts by predatory and sociopathic speculators to manipulate the prices of wheat and corn during the First Great Depression, the Commodities Exchange Act of 1936 outlawed the selling of options on agricultural products. This law had the effect of blocking most derivative speculation, until the counterattack of free-market fanatics gathered steam under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, an ideological zealot of the Austrian and Chicago schools. The very existence of derivatives today and their resulting ability to bring on a new world depression are thus directly attributable to the reckless and irresponsible dismantling of the New Deal regulatory regime. It should be added that derivatives were also banned in many states as a result of laws prohibiting gambling or forbidding bucket shops, which were betting parlors in which side bets could be placed on stock market fluctuations.
If Obama wants to pretend to have something in common with Franklin D. Roosevelt, he ought to be proposing measures to ban at least the most poisonous types of derivatives, and to discourage the others. Notice that he does nothing of the kind. Obama’s Cooper Union speech of April 22, 2010 approvingly cites Warren Buffett’s remark that derivatives represent financial weapons of mass destruction. But Obama then says that derivatives nevertheless have an important and legitimate role to play. So which is it? Some years back, French President Jacques Chirac rightly referred to derivatives as “financial AIDS.” What useful purpose can these toxic instruments possibly serve?
Again: in his 1936 re-election speech in Madison Square Garden in New York City, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously noted that the forces of organized money hated him, and that he welcomed their hatred. Obama, in sharp contrast, called on the Wall Street predators to join him in his efforts, compounding this with the monstrous thesis that Wall Street and Main Street are in the same boat. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The recent Goldman Sachs scandal has underlined once again that the Wall Street investment houses serve no useful social purpose whatsoever. They exist solely for the purpose of pursuing speculative profits through a process of looting and pillaging the rest of the economy. The Wall Street zombie banks are monopolizing US credit, while Main Street goes broke.
Thanks no doubt to the efforts of certain House Democrats, the reform bill is likely to contain two points which can qualify as positive half measures.
Force Derivatives Out in the Open
The first is the effort to end the secrecy of OTC derivatives by forcing these instruments to be traded on public exchanges or through clearing houses. This is a step in the right direction. But this provision needs to be strengthened by making all derivatives of any type whatsoever reportable to a central regulatory authority. This would include, for example, the derivatives held by hedge funds. In 1998, the Connecticut-based hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management went bankrupt with more than $1 trillion worth of derivatives, blowing a huge hole in the international banking system, and causing Greenspan to rush in with a crony bailout. Nobody has any idea of the amount of derivatives held by hedge funds today. Highly leveraged hedge funds are perfectly capable of causing a worldwide systemic crisis with derivatives, so they must emphatically be made to report their holdings.
This reporting requirement should also include the derivatives held by non-financial corporations, whose shareholders deserve to know if and when management is dabbling in these toxic instruments. Some years back, the Gibson Greeting Card Company took a huge loss on derivatives, so this is no theoretical danger.
In addition, all derivatives must henceforth be clearly listed ON the balance sheets of banks and all other financial institutions. The intolerable practice of hiding derivatives off-balance-sheet must be immediately brought to an end.
The other positive half measure which might survive Obama’s usual quest for a “bipartisan” sellout is the so-called Volcker Rule, which specifies that commercial banks with insured deposits are not allowed to engage in proprietary speculation with their own money. Depending on how this is worded, this may include a long overdue ban on derivatives speculation by commercial banks. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, the chair of the Senate Agriculture committee—who is fighting for her political life against a primary challenge this spring—has been backing a provision that would explicitly prohibit commercial banks from engaging in derivatives speculation. These ideas go in the right direction. But we need to do much more. We need to go back to the full New Deal regulations embodied in the Glass-Steagall Act. This law stated that a financial institution could be either or a commercial bank, or an investment house, or an insurance company, but never more than one of these. In other words, the suicidal folly of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which repealed Glass-Steagall, must be rolled back.
Outlaw Credit Default Swaps
Beyond this, we must urgently address the catastrophic effects and obvious illegality of credit default swaps. More than a year ago, Senator Warner of Virginia asked Fed boss Bernanke about the advisability of creating a “bright line prohibition” against these CDS. Remember that CDS are already illegal, because they always involve an investor masquerading as an insurance company without having fulfilled the legal and capital requirements that would be demanded from a real insurance company. Credit default swaps have cost the US taxpayer almost $200 billion in the case of AIG alone, because of the bankruptcy of the AIG London-based hedge fund which had issued more than $3 trillion of derivatives – a total greater than the gross domestic product of France.
Credit default swaps are also a clear and present danger today, since they are the principal tool being used by wolf packs of banks and hedge funds against Greece and other nations, accelerating the arrival of the dreaded second wave of the world economic depression. Unless credit default swaps are banned now, they will be increasingly used for speculative attacks against the bonded debt of American states like California, New York, Illinois, and all the others. Before long, credit default swaps will be used by international speculators to attack the value and integrity of United States Treasury securities, threatening our country with the calamity of national bankruptcy. If the United States fails to shut down credit default swaps with timely legislation now, credit default swaps will be used to help destroy the United States and human civilization in general.
Ban Synthetic CDOs
The synthetic CDO or CDO² must also be outlawed. These are the toxic instruments which brought down Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers in the great derivatives panic of 2008. What are we waiting for to ban this kind of highly destructive derivative? Such a ban is easy to formulate: “Any collateralized debt obligation which contains other collateralized debt obligations is hereby prohibited.” End of story. This language recalls the approach of the very successful Public Utility Holding Company Act of the New Deal. One layer of CDO is more than enough risk, and it must not be further compounded.
Another ban which is long overdue and which should be included in the current legislation is the outlawing of the Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM). The ARM is another catastrophic innovation of recent decades which inherently carries with it an intolerable risk for any homeowner. No American family should be deprived of a roof over their heads because of the unpredictable and volatile fluctuations of interest rates over the life of a mortgage. These ARMs shift an unacceptable risk to the mortgage buyer. Fixed-rate mortgages should be the only legal kind, and any reset or change in interest rates on a residential mortgage should be strictly outlawed. While we are at it, we also need to outlaw the high-interest payday loan, a type of devastating usury to which the poorest and most defenseless parts of our population are now exposed. The outlawing of payday loans should take the form of a de facto federal usury law establishing an upper limit of no more than 10% on any promissory note or credit card. This was the limit traditionally set by state usury laws before the coming of the Volcker 22% prime rate three decades ago, and it should be restored. This simple prohibition of adjustable rate mortgages and payday loans will be far more effective than the proposed creation of an inefficient and unwieldy consumer protection bureaucracy, especially one that is located inside the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve has repeatedly struck out when it comes to recognizing systemic risk, when it comes to preventing financial bubbles, and when it comes to protecting ordinary Americans. The Federal Reserve failed in the run-up to the crash of 1929, in the run-up to the banking crisis of 1933, in the run-up to the stock market crash of 1987, in preventing the dot com bubble of 1999-2000, and in regard to the financial derivatives which caused the banking panic of 2008. Locating any consumer protection bureaucracy inside the privately owned Federal Reserve is simply to guarantee that such a bureaucracy will be subject to regulatory capture by Wall Street at the earliest possible moment.
Wall Street Sales Tax of 1% on All Financial Transactions
Derivatives which escape prohibition under these blanket bans on credit default swaps and synthetic CDOs must then be subjected to their fair share of the tax burden. In a time when haircuts, bowling alleys, and restaurants are threatened with new taxation, it is simply inconceivable that the financial turnover of US financial markets should remain immune to all taxation, rather like the French aristocrats of the pre-1789 old regime. Rather than crush the US economy under an ill-advised and oppressive Value Added Tax (VAT) or national sales tax, we must institute a Wall Street sales tax of 1% on all financial transactions and turnover, including derivatives. This is the levy known as the Tobin tax, the Wall Street sales tax, the financial transactions tax, the trading tax, the securities transfer tax, or the Robin Hood tax. A low-ball conservative estimate of US financial turnover (including derivatives) in any given year might be about one quadrillion dollars. In that case, a 1% Wall Street sales tax would yield $10 trillion, $5 trillion of which could be used to confront the federal budget deficit, the costs of entitlements, and the various unfunded liabilities of the federal government. The other $5 trillion would be available for revenue sharing with the states, who could use these funds to deal with their own budget crises, which currently threaten police, firemen, health services, and other indispensable parts of the fabric of civilization itself. One of the main causes for budget deficits of all levels of government in the United States is the glaringly obvious exemption of financial turnover from all taxation, while financial speculators use various tricks to escape paying the corporate income tax. The proceeds from such a Wall Street sales tax would almost certainly decline as speculation became less attractive, but in the meantime they would provide much-needed relief for the public treasury. Needless to say, any idea of paying the proceeds of such a tax to the International Monetary Fund is out of the question. Many other countries are in the process of instituting a Tobin tax on financial turnover, so the inevitable objection that a Wall Street sales tax would represent a crippling competitive disadvantage for US financial markets is increasingly untenable.
Additional Safeguards: Bankruptcy Triage, Reserve Requirement, Hedge Fund Ban
Further safeguards against the derivatives plague are also in order. Current bankruptcy law gives special privileged treatment to derivatives. These poisonous instruments continue to exact their claims even when protection against other creditors has been provided by the federal courts. This abusive and unwarranted favoring of derivatives must be reversed. Derivatives must be made to wait their turn in bankruptcy court, and sent to the end of the line after all other creditors and claims have been satisfied. If bankruptcy triage becomes necessary, it should be at the expense of derivatives.
Another needed measure is the establishment of a reserve requirement for anyone issuing derivatives. We have seen how Goldman Sachs is accused of designing their notorious ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO, colluding with hedge fund speculator John Paulson to load this CDO with all kinds of super-toxic paper with the intent of designing an instrument which would have the best possible chances of going bankrupt in the short run. A reserve requirement for those issuing derivatives would mean that they would have to buy and hold on their own books for the life of the investment at least 20% of any derivatives they issued. This would represent an additional deterrent against the deliberate concocting of toxic derivatives with the intention of then allowing a speculator to short them with the help of credit default swaps.
A final necessary change involves the grave risk inherent in the existence of hedge funds. Despite their name, the main business of hedge funds is pure predatory speculation. Hedge funds are currently allowed to fly below the radar of the Securities and Exchange Commission, escaping regulation because they have only a limited number of super-rich investors. It is high time that this loophole came to an end. Once a hedge fund is regulated, it is no longer a hedge fund, so the call to regulate hedge funds is for all practical purposes a call for their abolition. Hedge funds should have been subject to regulation no later than the immediate aftermath of the Long-Term Capital Management debacle of 1998. The hedge fund loophole in the SEC rules must be closed now.
Seize and Liquidate the Zombie Banks
Obama’s $50 billion resolution fund for bankrupt banks is unnecessary. What we need most of all is to have the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of the Currency, and other regulators enforce the applicable laws. Every Friday, Sheila Bair of the FDIC shuts down a number of small town banks because of insolvency. In her interview yesterday on CNBC, Ms. Bair blatantly admitted that she has no intention of enforcing these same public laws against the large Wall Street and other money center banks. She covers this malfeasance and nonfeasance with her opinion that bankruptcy does not work for the big banks. But there is little doubt that, if their massive derivatives holdings were priced according to mark to market rules, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, and Bank of America would all be thoroughly insolvent candidates for Chapter 7 liquidation. Unless and until this is done, these zombie banks will continue to block any real economic recovery in the United States. Ms. Bair’s policies showed the destructive folly of the current administration’s illegal policies, which are all based in the final analysis on the discredited doctrine of Too Big to Fail.
Any Wall Street reform bill should also deal with the public scandal of the ratings agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s. These agencies enjoy a quasi-governmental status when it comes to certifying the quality of certain investments. But the failure of these agencies to provide timely warnings during the onset of the derivatives panic was nothing short of spectacular. During that crisis, the ratings agencies were certifying investments as AAA investment-grade until mere hours before they collapsed. Senator Carl Levin’s investigation of the ratings agencies has now unearthed horror stories of corruption and incompetence. The ratings agencies need to be stripped of any special role in relation to the United States government. Senator Levin’s findings merit criminal referrals to the Justice Department for prosecution of these agencies and their executives. In short, the United States government should take this opportunity to shut down these rating agencies, before these corrupt entities join in the looming speculative assault on the US Treasury, which is being prepared by George Soros and the other hedge funds.
Wall Street speculators will certainly howl that the measures outlined here represent a vindictive policy of discrimination against derivatives, which they will attempt to portray as a beneficial innovation serving the public interest. But no serious analysis of the banking panic of 2008 can ignore the obvious role of financial derivatives as one of the principal causes of this disaster. As for the charge of discrimination, it should be clear that the proposals made here generally represent nothing more than ending the privileged special treatment which has been granted to derivatives so far. Derivatives have been exempted from the gambling laws. Derivatives have been given special status in bankruptcy proceedings. Derivatives have been made non-reportable, and carrying them off balance sheet has been allowed. Derivatives have been exempted from the usual laws governing the operations of insurance companies. Hedge funds have been exempted from the scrutiny of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Wall Street derivatives banks have been exempted from the usual bankruptcy laws and probably from the antitrust laws as well. Finally, derivatives, like all financial instruments, have been exempted from state sales taxes. This distorted treatment amounts to a systematic pattern of facilitating and fostering derivatives speculation under US laws and regulations. This pattern might be defensible if derivatives represented a public good. But all experience shows that derivatives are just the opposite – they are a public menace which now threatens to destroy our civilization and way of life.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
BRASILIA, Brazil, April 20, 2010 (ENS) - Today's bidding for electricity generated by Brazil's planned Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon rainforest has been marked by protests and legal confusion. A court injunction issued late Monday suspended the dam auction overnight, throwing the bidding process into a state of chaos.
Just moments before the auction was set to begin, a second injunction overturned Monday's suspension, reinstating the auction by the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency, ANEEL. The auction is being conducted electronically from the agency's headquarters in the capital, Brasilia.
When the bidding was concluded, the tender was awarded to Norte Energia, a consortium led by the utility Cia. Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco, CHESF, a subsidiary of the state electricity company, Electrobras. The consortium also includes eight private companies.
The generating capacity of the R$19 billion Belo Monte dam would be the world's third greatest behind China's Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border. ANEEL says energy is expected to start flowing from the Belo Monte dam in 2015.
In Brasilia, Greenpeace and indigenous peoples today blockaded the main entrance of the ANEEL office building to protest the dam.
The most recent round of legal battles over the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River took a new twist on Friday, April 16, when a regional appellate court overturned an April 14 decision by Federal Judge Antonio Carlos de Almeida Campelo to suspend the preliminary license for the dam and cancel the auction.
Sitting in the city of Altamira, which will be partly flooded by the dam's reservoir, Judge de Almeida ruled that the dam project presents a "danger of irreparable harm."
Judge de Almeida's decision is based on the lack of a specific law allowing the use of hydraulic potential on Indian lands as required by the Brazilian Constitution.
"It remains proven unequivocally that the Belo Monte hydroelectric will exploit the hydro energetic potential in areas occupied by indigenous people who will be directly affected by the construction and development of the project," Judge de Almeida wrote in his decision.
Today, as the auction proceeded in Brasilia, indigenous, environmental and social groups organized protests in more than nine cities in eight Brazilian states.
Thousands of people including indigenous people, the Brazilian Movement of Dam-Affected People, the Landless Workers Movement, and environmentalists are engaged in simultaneous protest actions in the state capitals of Fortaleza, Florianopolis, Porto Alegre, Porto Velho, Belo Horizonte, Belem, Campina Grande, and the city of Altamira.
Boatloads of indigenous people are arriving on the proposed dam site located on Pimental Island on the Xingu River's Big Bend to establish a permanent village to block dam construction.
In Belem, 700 local people occupied the offices of Electronorte. And near the town of Altamira, the Landless Workers Movement and the Movement of Dam-Affected People blockaded the TransAmazon Highway.
"The Lula government is clearly pressuring the courts to approve Belo Monte against the rights and interests of indigenous people and the local populations of the Xingu, and it's our lives at stake," said Sheyla Yakarepi Juruna of the Juruna people, who met with judges on Monday urging the President of the Appellate Court for Region 1, Jirair Meguerian, to uphold the injunction.
"Even so, the people affected by this dam are united and determined to stop the project, we will not give up this fight," Juruna said.
The Belo Monte controversy attracted worldwide attention earlier this month when "Avatar" director James Cameron and actors Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore visited the Volta Grande area of the Xingu River and joined protests by indigenous and locally affected populations in Brasilia against the dam project.
After that visit, Cameron wrote a letter to Brazilian President Lula in which he said, "I met with 80 leaders representing 13 different Indigenous communities that are directly or indirectly threatened by the dam in the Lower Xingu. These leaders had traveled for up to five days by boat to meet at an Arara village on the Volta Grande, and I was privileged to hear their concerns first hand."
"They deeply fear the impact this dam will have on their lives, and are certain that it will end their way of life. They are prepared to do whatever they can to fight the dam, including lay down their lives if necessary. It was a highly emotional meeting, and I felt compelled, from that moment on, to do what I could to prevent the dam from being built," Cameron wrote.
The Belo Monte dam will inundate over 500 square kilometers of land, and divert nearly the entire flow of the Xingu River through two artificial canals to the dam's powerhouse. This river diversion will leave indigenous and traditional communities along a 100 kilometer (60 mile) stretch of the Volta Grande without water, fish, or a means of river transport. Conservationists and indigenous communities fear that if the dam is built, the rainforests in this region would be completely destroyed.
"The violation of indigenous rights is a matter of national and international concern. Brazil doesn't need the Belo Monte Dam. By investing in energy efficiency Brazil could avoid the need for as many as 14 Belo Monte dams and save billions of dollars in the process. Belo Monte Dam just doesn't make sense," said Aviva Imhof, campaigns director of International Rivers, a nonprofit organization based in California.
Two consortia vied for the rights to build the project: Norte Energia, which includes the state-owned CHESF and eight private companies; and Belo Monte Energia, which includes the state-owned Eletrosul, in addition to five private companies, including mining giant Vale.
To build Belo Monte, the winning consortium would dig two canals that would involve moving more earth than was dug for the Panama Canal to divert water from the river to an artificial reservoir.
Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch, who accompanied Cameron and the Avatar actors in Brazil, says if the river diversion takes place, the Big Bend or Volta Grande, home to the Paquicamba indigenous territory of the Juruna people and the Arara people, would be dried out, gravely affecting the livelihoods of indigenous and riverine families who depend on the water for subsistence.
In total, some 45,000 people are directly affected by the either flooding or diversion of the river.
International groups, such as Amazon Watch and International Rivers, support their counterparts in Brazilian civil society in pressuring the Brazilian government to suspend Belo Monte, as organizations and individuals around the world called local Brazilian embassies to protest the government's plan to build the project despite widespread violations of indigenous rights.
Financially, the conservationists say the Belo Monte Dam is a risky project, which will generate only 10 to 30 percent of its 11,233 megawatts installed capacity during the dry season, and an annual average of 4,462 MW.
To make the project viable in a context of financial uncertainties and pressure from private investors to lower the auction's price ceiling, the government has had to draw from public pension funds and issue US$4 billion of credit from the public Brazilian National Development Bank.
The conservationists warn that to meet the project's 11,233 MW generating capacity, additional costly dams would need to be built further upstream, "threatening a vast area of tropical rainforests and affecting many of the 24 indigenous groups along the Xingu River."
(NaturalNews) Mainstream health care isn't based on "health" or "caring." It's actually based on an engrained system of medical mythology that's practiced -- and defended -- by those who profit from the continuation of sickness and disease. This system of medical mythology might also simply be called "lies", and today I'm sharing with NaturalNews readers the top ten lies that are still followed and promoted under mainstream health care in America today.
Lie #1) Vaccines make you healthy
Vaccines have emerged as the greatest and most insidious mythology yet fabricated by western medicine. The idea that vaccines protect you from infectious disease is blatantly false in the long term because this year's flu shot actually makes you more susceptible to next year's influenza (http://www.naturalnews.com/028538_s...).
On top of that, even the theoretical short-term effectiveness of vaccines is dwarfed by the far more effective protection offered by vitamin D and other immune-modulating nutrients. (http://www.naturalnews.com/027385_V...)
Lie #2) Pharmaceuticals prevent disease
The big push by Big Pharma is now focused on treating healthy people with drugs as if pharmaceuticals were nutrients that could somehow prevent disease. This is the new push with cholesterol drugs: Give 'em to everyone, whether they have high cholesterol or not!
But pharmaceuticals don't prevent disease, and medications are not vitamins. Your body has no biological need for any pharmaceuticals at all. People who believe they need pharmaceuticals have simply been the victims of "fabricated consent" engineered by Big Pharma's clever advertising and P.R. spin.
Lie #3) Doctors are experts in health
Doctors don't even study health; they study disease. Modern doctors are taught virtually nothing about nutrition, wellness or disease prevention. Expecting a doctor to guide you on health issues is sort of like expecting your accountant to pilot a jet airliner -- it's simply not something he or she has ever been trained in.
That's not to say doctors aren't intelligent people. Most of them have high IQs. But even a genius can't teach you something they know nothing about.
Lie #4) You have no role in your own healing
Doctors, drug companies and health authorities all want you to believe that your health is determined by their interventions. If you believe them, you have virtually no role in your own health or healing -- it's all managed by their drugs, their screening, their surgeries and their interventions.
Lie #5) Disease is a matter of bad luck or bad genes
Western medicine wants you to believe in the mythology of spontaneous disease -- disease that strikes without cause. This is equivalent to saying that disease is some sort of voodoo black magic and that patients have no way to prevent disease through their own diets or lifestyle choices.
It's funny, actually: Western medicine claims to be driven by scientific, rational thinking, and yet the entire industry still fails to acknowledge that chronic disease always has a cause and that most of the time, that cause has everything to do with nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxic chemicals and a lack of exercise.
Disease is almost never a matter of bad luck or bad genes.
Lie #6) Screening equals prevention
Western medicine doesn't believe in disease prevention. Rather, the industry believes in screening while calling it prevention. But screening isn't prevention by even the wildest stretch of the imagination. In fact, virtually all the popular screening methodologies actually promote diseases.
Mammography, for example, emits so much radiation that it causes breast cancer in tens of thousands of women each year (http://www.naturalnews.com/027558_m...). Imaging dyes used in radiological scans can cause horrific side effects, and psychiatric "disorder" screening is little more than a thinly-disguised patient recruitment scheme disguised as medicine.
Real prevention of disease must involve disease prevention through nutrition, patient education about the causes of disease and lifelong changes in eating habits. Yet western medicine teaches absolutely none of these things. Heck, it doesn't even believe in such ideas.
Lie #7) Health insurance will keep you healthy
This is a favorite lie of those who recently pushed for the Big Pharma-sponsored health care reform that has swept across America. The lie supposes that merely having health insurance will provide some sort of magical protection against disease. But in reality, health insurance doesn't make you healthy! It is only YOU and your choices about foods, exposures to toxic chemicals, pursuit of exercise and time in nature that can make you healthy.
Health insurance is, in effect, a wager that you will get sick. How does gambling on your sickness provide any protection whatsoever for your health? It doesn't. Personally, I'd rather bet on health than sickness, and the way to do that is to invest in nutritional supplements, organic produce, superfoods, physical fitness and non-toxic personal care products.
Lie #8) Hospitals are places of health and healing
If you want to stay healthy or get healthy, a hospital is the very last place you want to find yourself: They are unhappy, unhealthy places that are infested with antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Hospitals usually serve disease-promoting foods and lack health-enhancing sunlight, and potentially deadly mistakes with pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures now appear to be frighteningly common in U.S. hospitals.
Certainly, emergency rooms in hospitals play an important role in urgent care for injuries and accidents -- and emergency room physicians do an amazing job saving lives -- but for people with chronic, degenerative disease, a hospital is a very dangerous place to be. Unless you really need immediate critical care, try to avoid hospitals.
Lie #9) Conventional medicine is "advanced" state-of-the-art medicine
Even though doctors and health authorities try to pass off western medicine as being "advanced" or "modern," the whole system is actually pathetically outdated and stuck in the germ theory of disease. Western medicine has yet to even acknowledge the role of nutrition in preventing disease -- something that has been scientifically documented for at least the last several decades. Western medicine fails to acknowledge mind-body medicine and hilariously believes the mind plays virtually no role in healing.
Neither does western medicine acknowledge the bio energy field of living systems, nor that organ transplants carry memories, nor that living food is qualitatively different from dead food. Seriously: Conventional doctors still believe that dead food is exactly the same as living food! (And the USDA food pyramid still makes no distinction between the two...)
"Modern" medicine isn't so modern, it turns out. It is, in fact, hopelessly outdated and desperately needs to upgrade its approach to health and wellness if it hopes to survive the next hundred years.
Lie #10) More research is needed to find "cures"
This lie is especially hilarious because western medicine does not believe in any "cure" for any disease. They aren't even looking for cures! This lie has been repeated since the 1960's, when cancer scientists claimed they were only a few years away from curing cancer. Today, four decades later, can you think of a single major disease that western medicine has cured? There aren't any.
That's because drug companies make money from sick people, not cured people. A patient cured is a patient lost. It is far more profitable to keep patients sick and pretend to "manage" their disease through a lifetime of pharmaceuticals. So when drug companies and disease non-profits claim to be searching for a "cure," what they're really doing is taking your money to fund more drug research to patent more medications that don't actually cure anything.
Remember this the next time you're asked to donate to some search for "the cure." The cures already exist in nutrition, herbal remedies and naturopathic medicine, but Big Pharma and the conventional medicine cartel isn't interested in real cures -- they only want to promote the idea of a cure while pumping patients full of drugs that don't cure anything.
Beyond the ten lies
When it comes to western health care, there are more than 10 lies, of course, but these big 10 lies are perhaps the most relevant to your own health decisions. By avoiding being suckered in by these lies, you can take charge of your own health and avoid the health care scam by staying healthy!
Staying healthy isn't as difficult as you think, and it doesn't require health insurance or disease screening. It only requires making informed, intelligent decisions about what to eat, what to put on your skin and how to get more sunshine and physical exercise. Once you do these basic things, you'll find that you are no longer held victim by a western medicine health care system based on lies and outdated medical mythology.
It's time for a revolution in medicine... a revolution that finally advances past the mental roadblock of a system of medical mythology stuck in the 1940's. Don't get me wrong, 1940's medicine was great in the 1940's. But this is no longer the 1940's, and the germ theory of disease is hopelessly outdated when it comes to the primary diseases that are striking the population today. Yet the profiteers of our dishonest, outmoded health care system are doing everything in their power to keep us all stranded in the past, a past based on treating the body like a chemical battleground and attacking every disease with a patented pharmaceutical.
That whole approach to health care is so far outdated that it's hilarious it can still be pushed with a straight face. No wonder doctors only spend an average of two minutes with patients these days. That's the limit of how long they can hold their faces without breaking out in laughter at how stupid this whole "treat the symptoms and forget the causes" approach to health care really is. Even they know it! That's why most doctors actually eat superfoods and take vitamins themselves, even if they never dare suggest it to patients.
True fact: It is illegal in every U.S. state for a doctor to recommend any vitamin, nutrient or food for the prevention or treatment of any disease. Doing so can cause a doctor to have his medical license permanently revoked. How crazy and outdated is that?
Monday, April 19, 2010
I just discovered on The Dreamcast Junkyard blog spot that the brand new, independently developed, Sega Dreamcast game - Rush Rush Rally Racing has completely sold out on Play-Asia.com. The only copies that are left for purchase there are the deluxe limited edition sets.
I couldn't help feeling that this is very reminiscent of another independently developed Sega Dreamcast game from 2009 called Wind & Water Puzzle battles. This game also sold out at Play-Asia.com on it's first print. What this means to me and I assume many others as well is that there is a very healthy Sega Dreamcast fan base out around the world that refuses to allow the little white wonder to go quietly into the night. It truly moves me that there are so many great people out there that share the same amount of respect for older consoles and independent developers. I for one am sick and tired of seeing newer games that are all flash and cut scenes but contain little to no entertainment value.
As I stated in my previous posts about Retro-Gaming, I believe wholeheartedly that gamers young and old are rebelling against the status quo, the social norm, and the established paradigm. I feel that more and more gamers will break free from this expensive and wasteful treadmill and go on to spend their cash and time on games that are actually fun and require some kind of skill to beat.
(NaturalNews) Did you ever wonder how health insurance companies drum up future business? It's easy: Just invest in companies whose products cause chronic degenerative disease, driving people towards more health care needs and therefore more health insurance.
And that's exactly what the health insurance industry is doing. A new article published in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that U.S. and Canadian health insurance giants own nearly $2 billion worth of stock in fast food giants like McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell and others.
So profits made by health insurance companies are reinvested in industries that make people sick and diseased, bringing them back to buy more health insurance down the road. It's a pretty clever business model for an industry that seems focused on the almighty dollar and obviously has no concern whatsoever for the actual health status of its customers. If anything, these health insurance companies hope you get sicker!
Corporate conspiracy to keep you sick and diseased
These unholy alliances among corporate giants that conspire to keep you sick are more common than you think. In addition to health insurance companies owning billions of dollars worth of shares in fast food companies, pharmaceutical companies now own major shares of popular vitamin companies -- the ones that produce the cheap, useless chemical vitamin supplements sold at places like Wal-Mart and Walgreens.
Investors in the mainstream media are some of the same companies that own medical imaging equipment manufactures that produce mammography machines and CT scans, too. And did you know that the American Dental Association owns patents on materials used in mercury fillings, which is one of the reasons why the ADA continues to push for installing toxic mercury into the mouths of children? (http://pnwf.org/Dentistry_Mercury_C...)
This ownership of fast food companies by the health insurance corporate giants demonstrates a deeply disturbing fact about the entire sick-care industry: It really is about profits rather than health. If they can make an extra buck feeding you the very junk foods that are causing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and strokes, they will absolutely jump on that profit bandwagon no matter what the cost in human lives, pain and suffering.
The bigger picture: What are YOU invested in?
There's an even bigger story to all this, by the way. While it seems altogether contradictory that health insurance companies would invest in fast food chains, the disturbing truth is that many institutional investors hold billions of dollars worth of shares in pharmaceutical companies. Your very own mutual funds may hold large positions in Big Pharma. Even your employer may be investing your pension funds in vaccine-pushing corporations.
Right now might be a good time, in fact, to review whatever investments you might have and make sure you're not inadvertently investing in the types of corporations whose actions you oppose.
Personally, I don't have a single dime invested in any drug company, oil company, junk food company or fast food chain. I prefer to focus on "green" investments that support the things I believe in: Renewable energy, nutrition companies, etc. Did you know that Cyanotech, the Hawaii company that makes spirulina, is a public company? You can actually own stock in Cyanotech (I don't, but only because I don't want a conflict of interest when I write about them). Vitacost.com is also a public company, as are many companies in the natural products space.
If you own mutual fund shares, you might be surprised to find out where your money is being invested. You actually have to research it a bit to find out where these mutual funds redirect your money. Most of them invest in Big Pharma in one way or another.
Remember that every dollar pumped into the pharmaceutical industry is another dollar that will be used to further expand the medical enslavement of the population through vaccines, medications, chemotherapy and other dangerous chemical treatments. The best way to protect the health of future generations is to starve Big Pharma of investment dollars and revenue by refusing to buy their products or stock shares.
Friday, April 9, 2010
ARLINGTON, Virginia, April 8, 2010 (ENS) - Millions of sea turtles are thought to have died over the past 20 years because they were caught accidentally in fishing nets or snagged on longlines, according to the first ever global study of unintended capture on marine turtle populations.
Unintended capture of non-target species, called bycatch, happens when fisheries use gear such as longlines with thousands of baited hooks, or nets that kill animals other than those they are intended to catch.
As a result, six of the world's seven species of marine turtles now are categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the authoritative Red List of Threatened Species complied by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN.
They are loggerheads, leatherbacks, hawksbills, olive ridleys, Kemp's Ridleys and green sea turtles. The conservation status of the seventh marine turtle species, the flatback, endemic to Australia, is currently unclear due to lack of data.
These ancient species, believed to have become distinct from all other turtles at least 110 million years ago, are now being wiped out by irresponsible fishing practices, the study shows.
(NaturalNews) Proposed updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are prompting many to question whether or not the psychiatric profession itself has gone crazy. The latest additions to the alleged "mentally ill" could include hoarders, people who get angry every now and again, lazy people, and even those who get outraged over things like sex and violence on television.
Since its first publication back in 1952, the DSM has grown exponentially larger with each subsequent edition. Many people are lambasting the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for trying to establish virtually all behavior as some sort of mental disorder that should be treated with psychiatric drugs.
"For this latest revision they've set up a special task force to decide if behaviors like bitterness, extreme shopping or overuse of the internet should be included," explained Professor Christopher Lane to a reporter from the the U.K.'s Daily Mail. "The science underlying all this is very shaky to non-existent."
Dr. David Kupfer, chairman of the APA's special task force, has come out in defense of the additions. He claims that each one is grounded in science, despite the fact that no biological markers can definitely identify any of the additions as actual disorders. In order to identify things like excessive shopping and extreme laziness as mental disorders, the team will simply call them as such and provide a description of the each one's symptoms.
If the additions themselves are not loony enough, the APA is actually recommending the inclusion of what it calls "risk syndromes", or early warning signs that could lead to one of its supposed mental disorders. By catching these "risk syndromes" early, doctors can begin prescribing medication for conditions that people do not even have.
The entire DSM charade is a ploy to characterize an ever-increasing segment of the population as being "sick" and in need of pharmaceutical drugs. There can be no variations in personality and individual characteristics; if a person does not live, think, and react in prescribed fashion, then he or she is sick and in need of treatment, according to the APA.
The latest DSM draft, which is set to be published in 2013, has already been posted on the internet for public viewing. Since being posted, there has been widespread outcry against many of the proposed additions. It remains to be seen what will be included in the final edition and whether or not people will continue to take the DSM and the APA seriously.