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.