A non-profit news blog, focused on providing independent journalism.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Phyllis Schlafly: Campus sex assault is on the rise because too many women go to college

Phyllis Schlafly

© Unknown

Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly is worried that college campuses are populated by too many women, a phenomenon she insinuated has contributed to increased sexual assault on campus.

In a Monday column for the far-right website , the longtime anti-feminist crusader lamented the declining portion of university enrollments accounted for by men. Schlafly - BA and JD, Washington University in St. Louis; MA, Radcliffe College - argued that it may even be time to implement quotas to ensure that men constitute at least half of a college's enrollment.

"Long ago when I went to college, campuses were about 70 percent male, and until 1970 it was still nearly 60 percent," Schlafly wrote. "Today, however, the male percentage has fallen to the low 40s on most campuses."

Never one to shirk victim-blaming, Schlafly proceeded to link the problem of campus sexual assault to the increased enrollment of women in postsecondary institutions.

"Boys are more likely than girls to look at the cost-benefit tradeoff of going to college," Schlafly asserted. "The imbalance of far more women than men at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made news in the last couple of years."

With so many women around, what do you expect a college man to do - seek consent!?

"So, what's the solution?" Schlafly asked. "One solution might be to impose the duty on admissions officers to arbitrarily admit only half women and half men."

"Another solution might be to stop granting college loans," she suggested, "thereby forcing students to take jobs to pay for their tuition and eliminate time for parties, perhaps even wiping out time for fraternities and sororities. I went through college while working a full-time manual-labor job, and I don't regret a minute of it; it was a great learning experience."

While minimum wage jobs once sufficed to pay one's way through college, skyrocketing tuition has created a harsher reality for college students. Absent financial aid and family assistance, the typical college student would now need to work 48 hours a week at a minimum wage job in order to pay for her courses - and that's before accounting for the ever-increasing cost of room and board.

(h/t Right Wing Watch)

Former Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham: Charlie Hebdo shooting associated with U.S. cover-up of Saudi involvement in 9/11 attack

The US government's cover-up of Saudi Arabia's role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are associated with the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman told Sputnik on Wednesday.

"The association is, Saudi Arabia has legitimately received the message by our United States cover-up of their role in 9/11, that they have impunity, that they can act as they want without sanction. It has allowed them to provide financial support first for al-Qaeda, then for groups like al-Shabaab, and now for ISIS [the Islamic State]," Bob Graham told Sputnik.

The cover-up has led Saudi Arabia to promoting the most extreme form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism, former Senate Intelligence Chairman added.

Graham led the 2002 Senate investigation into the 9/11 attacks when he served as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is currently campaigning for a Senate bill to declassify 28 pages of the 2002 Senate report which allegedly documents Saudi involvement in providing material and financial support to the hijackers who attacked the United States.

Three gunmen attacked the office of a weekly French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday morning, killing 12 people. No terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Related articles:

Operation Gladio Redux: At least 11 killed in shooting at Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo

Mind over matter: Thinking about exercise can regulate muscle strength


For some people, having the discipline just to make it to the gym is half the battle in staying fit. But new research suggests that the simple act of about working out without actually doing it may be enough to tone muscle and even promote muscle growth.

Researchers from Ohio University discovered this after testing the power of intentional thought on a group of volunteers. Two groups of participants were given wrist casts for four weeks, immobilizing the use of one hand, with one of the groups told to sit and think intensely about working out for 11 minutes daily, five days a week.

Individuals in this group were specifically told to devote all their mental energy toward imagining flexing their arms, while the other group was given no specific instructions. At the end of four weeks, all participants from both groups were analyzed for muscle growth and atrophy.

Based on this assessment, it was determined that the exercise-thinking group had twice the amount of strength as the non-thinking group, demonstrating the power of mind over matter in achieving physical results.

"What our study suggests is that imagery exercises could be a valuable tool to prevent or slow muscles from becoming weaker when a health problem limits or restricts a person's mobility," said Brian Clark, author of the study and professor of physiology and neurosciences at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Focused thinking promotes improved mental strength

To better understand how this is possible, researchers conducted magnetic imaging tests to look at specific areas of the brain related to arm muscles. They found that a mutual relationship exists between body and brain, and that focused thinking can promote not only improved physical strength but also improved mental strength.

"Participants that imagine exercise not only had stronger arms but also a stronger brain," explains . "[T]heir mental exercises created stronger neuromuscular pathways."

Neuromuscular pathways are the communication channels between the brain and muscles that prime the body for what will be required of it during intense training or exercise. These pathways allow for the sending of nerve impulses that signal heavy lifting, for instance, or cardiovascular movement.

Getting "pumped," or mentally preparing oneself for exercise, is the physical act by which neuromuscular pathways are utilized. And science now shows that these pathways are directly accessed by the brain, which signals to the body and muscles how to behave and react to exercise, even when physical exercise does not actually occur.

This is not to say that a person should just think about exercising -- real gains are obtained by real work. But these findings do illustrate the powerful relationship between mind and body, which act more in singularity with one another than they do as separate entities.

"Even though we treat our mind and bodies as two separate entities (brain vs. brawn; mind vs. matter), they are ultimately and intimately connected," wrote Clayton Mosher for Scientific American.

The takeaway, then, as explained by the study's authors, is more one of recognizing the interconnected nature of the body and the brain, which are merely two components of a single entity that requires the full function of both in order to manifest properly.

"The most impactful finding... is not the direct clinical application but the support that this work provides for us to better understand the critical importance of the brain in regulating muscle strength," added Clark. "This information may fundamentally change how we think about muscle weakness in the elderly."







Unwind by winding - Japan's unique cotton-spinning bar

Contrary to what its name suggests, 'Tokyo Cotton Village' isn't a rural settlement of cotton farmers, but a bar located in the heart of Japan's capital city, in Setagaya Ward. The one-of-a-kind establishment allows its patrons to experience spinning cotton, which is supposedly a relaxing activity.

The service is available for free to anyone who orders a drink - they get to enjoy spinning threads of wamen, a type of cotton that's cultivated in Japan. The airy texture of wamen is believed to calm the mind and relax the body. The concept is a big hit with customers, many of whom visit the bar several times a week.

"Getting absorbed in [spinning threads] lets me forget bad things that happened at work," said Yoshiko Jimura, 32, who visits at least twice a week. "This is a precious time for me to change my mood.

cotton spinning bar

© Yomiuri Shimbun

"It is interesting because seeds turn into threads," added Yoshio Suzuki, 45.

Bar owner Takuya Tomizawa has first-hand experience growing cotton - he has been working with the crop for the past seven years. The 46-year-old was initially into advertising, but in 2007 he participated in an environmental protection campaign where he learnt that the Japanese cotton industry was facing a crisis due to the growing imports of cheaper cotton cloth.

cotton spinning bar

© A Kimama

So the following year he and his friends began growing cotton on a rented farm in Tochigi Prefecture. But they soon realized that spinning cotton made them extremely hungry and thirsty. That's when Tomizawa hit upon the idea for a cotton spinning bar. So he quit his advertising job and opened the bar in November 2012. He continues to grow cotton in a field nearby, and employs mentally impaired workers on his farm.
cotton spinning bar

© A Kimama

The Cotton Village is just one of the many unique bars and cafes found only in Japan. In the past, we've written about other wonderful venues, like the Owl Cafe, the Cuddle Cafe or the Tropical Teahouse reptile cafe.

EU showdown: Greece takes on the Vampire Squid

© Unknown

Greece and the troika (the International Monetary Fund, the EU, and the European Central Bank) are in a dangerous game of chicken. The Greeks have been threatened with a "Cyprus-Style prolonged bank holiday" if they "vote wrong." But they have been bullied for too long and are saying "no more."

A return to the polls was triggered in December, when the Parliament rejected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' pro-austerity candidate for president. In a general election, now set for January 25th, the EU-skeptic, anti-austerity, leftist Syriza party is likely to prevail. Syriza captured a 3% lead in the polls following mass public discontent over the harsh austerity measures Athens was forced to accept in return for a €240 billion bailout.

Austerity has plunged the economy into conditions worse than in the Great Depression. As Professor Bill Black observes, the question is not why the Greek people are rising up to reject the barbarous measures but what took them so long.

Ireland was similarly forced into an EU bailout with painful austerity measures attached. A series of letters has recently come to light showing that the Irish government was effectively blackmailed into it, with the threat that the ECB would otherwise cut off liquidity funding to Ireland's banks. The same sort of threat has been leveled at the Greeks, but this time they are not taking the bait.

Squeezed by the Squid

The veiled threat to the Greek Parliament was in a December memo from investment bank Goldman Sachs - the same bank that was earlier blamed for inducing the Greek crisis. journalist Matt Taibbi wrote colorfully of it:

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

Goldman has spawned an unusual number of EU and US officials with dictatorial power to promote and protect big-bank interests. They include US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who brokered the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000; Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who presided over the 2008 Wall Street bailout; Mario Draghi, current head of the European Central Bank; Mario Monti, who led a government of technocrats as Italian prime minister; and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, chair of the Financial Stability Board that sets financial regulations for the G20 countries.

Goldman's role in the Greek crisis goes back to 2001. The vampire squid, smelling money in Greece's debt problems, jabbed its blood funnel into Greek fiscal management, sucking out high fees to hide the extent of Greece's debt in complicated derivatives. The squid then hedged its bets by shorting Greek debt. Bearish bets on Greek debt launched by heavyweight hedge funds in late 2009 put selling pressure on the euro, forcing Greece into the bailout and austerity measures that have since destroyed its economy.

Before the December 2014 parliamentary vote that brought down the Greek government, Goldman repeated the power play that has long held the eurozone in thrall to an unelected banking elite. In a note titled "From GRecovery to GRelapse," reprinted on , it warned that "the room for Greece to meaningfully backtrack from the reforms that have already been implemented is very limited."

Why? Because bank "liquidity" could be cut in the event of "a severe clash between Greece and international lenders." The central bank could cut liquidity or not, at its whim; and without it, the banks would be insolvent.

As the late Murray Rothbard pointed out, all banks are technically insolvent. They all lend money they don't have. They rely on being able to borrow from other banks, the money market, or the central bank as needed to balance their books. The central bank, which has the power to print money, is the ultimate backstop in this sleight of hand and is therefore in the driver's seat. If that source of liquidity dries up, the banks go down.

The Goldman memo warned:

The Biggest Risk is an Interruption of the Funding of Greek Banks by The ECB.

Pressing as the government refinancing schedule may look on the surface, it is unlikely to become a real issue as long as the ECB stands behind the Greek banking system. . . .

But herein lies the main risk for Greece. The economy needs the only lender of last resort to the banking system to maintain ample provision of liquidity. And this is not just because banks may require resources to help reduce future refinancing risks for the sovereign. But also because banks are already reliant on government issued or government guaranteed securities to maintain the current levels of liquidity constant. . . .

In the event of a severe Greek government clash with international lenders, interruption of liquidity provision to Greek banks by the ECB could potentially even lead to a Cyprus-style prolonged "bank holiday". And market fears for potential Euro-exit risks could rise at that point. [Emphasis added.]

The condition of the Greek banks was not the issue. The gun being held to the banks' heads was the threat that the central bank's critical credit line could be cut unless financial "reforms" were complied with. Indeed, any country that resists going along with the program could find that its banks have been cut off from that critical liquidity.

That is actually what happened in Cyprus in 2013. The banks declared insolvent had passed the latest round of ECB stress tests and were no less salvageable than many other banks - until the troika demanded an additional €600 billion to maintain the central bank's credit line.

That was the threat leveled at the Irish government before it agreed to a bailout with strings attached, and it was the threat aimed in December at Greece. Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis stated in an interview:

The key to . . . our economy's future in 2015 and later is held by the European Central Bank. . . . This key can easily and abruptly be used to block funding to banks and therefore strangle the Greek economy in no time at all.

Europe's Lehman Moment?

That was the threat, but as noted on , the ECB's hands may be tied in this case:

[S]hould Greece decide to default it would mean those several hundred billion Greek bonds currently held in official accounts would go from par to worthless overnight, leading to massive unaccounted for impairments on Europe's pristine balance sheets, which also confirms that Greece once again has all the negotiating leverage.

Despite that risk, on January 3rd reported that the German government believes the Eurozone would now be able to cope with a Greek exit from the euro. The risk of "contagion" is now limited because major banks are protected by the new European Banking Union.

The banks are protected but the depositors may not be. Under the new "bail-in" rules imposed by the Financial Stability Board, confirmed in the European Banking Union agreed to last spring, any EU government bailout must be preceded by the bail-in (confiscation) of creditor funds, including depositor funds. As in Cyprus, it could be the depositors, not the banks, picking up the tab.

What about deposit insurance? That was supposed to be the third pillar of the Banking Union, but a eurozone-wide insurance scheme was never agreed to. That means depositors will be left to the resources of their bankrupt local government, which are liable to be sparse.

What the bail-in protocol does guarantee are the derivatives bets of Goldman and other international megabanks. In a May 2013 article in titled "The Cyprus Bank 'Bail-In' Is Another Crony Bankster Scam," Nathan Lewis laid the scheme bare:

At first glance, the "bail-in" resembles the normal capitalist process of liabilities restructuring that should occur when a bank becomes insolvent. . . .

The difference with the "bail-in" is that the order of creditor seniority is changed. In the end, it amounts to the cronies (other banks and government) and non-cronies. The cronies get 100% or more; the non-cronies, including non-interest-bearing depositors who should be super-senior, get a kick in the guts instead. . . .

In principle, depositors are the most senior creditors in a bank. However, that was changed in the 2005 bankruptcy law, which made derivatives liabilities most senior. In other words, derivatives liabilities get paid before all other creditors - certainly before non-crony creditors like depositors. Considering the extreme levels of derivatives liabilities that many large banks have, and the opportunity to stuff any bank with derivatives liabilities in the last moment, other creditors could easily find there is nothing left for them at all.

Even in the worst of the Great Depression bank bankruptcies, said Lewis, creditors eventually recovered nearly all of their money. He concluded:

When super-senior depositors have huge losses of 50% or more, after a "bail-in" restructuring, you know that a crime was committed.

Goodbye Euro?

Greece can regain its sovereignty by defaulting on its debt, abandoning the ECB and the euro, and issuing its own national currency (the drachma) through its own central bank. But that would destabilize the eurozone and might end in its breakup.

Will the troika take that risk? 2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year.

Web of Debt The Public Bank Solution

Extreme cold, subzero temperatures to blast Eastern U.S.

As the latest blast of arctic air settles southward, many areas in the East will have their coldest day of the winter so far on Thursday.

Throughout the day Thursday, temperatures are forecast to remain below the freezing mark (32 degrees Fahrenheit) from Hatteras, North Carolina, to Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; and Little Rock, Arkansas. The cold will persist despite sunshine.

Frigid temperatures at night into Friday will raise the risk of unprotected pipes freezing and bursting.

While chilly air will reach the Florida Peninsula, temperatures will stop short of a damaging frost or freeze in the central and southern counties.

Farther north, the combination of dry arctic air, wind and temperatures will contribute to AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures remaining below zero much of the time across the Great Lakes to the Ohio Valley, New England and the interior mid-Atlantic. This will occur after RealFeel Temperatures bottom out to start the day at or below minus 30 F in the northern-tier states.

In the northern states, the cold will be severe enough to bring the risk of frostbite and hypothermia to those spending time outdoors without the proper clothing. Waiting at the bus stop can not only be a painful experience, but a dangerous one.

The cold has been hindering construction projects and causing school delays and closures in some locations.

RealFeel Temperatures plunged to minus 40 F at Minneapolis on Wednesday morning, compared to minus 15 F at snowy South Bend, Indiana, where the air was being modified by Lake Michigan.

Meanwhile, it felt colder in New York City Wednesday morning, compared to Anchorage, Alaska, with a RealFeel Temperature of 6 versus 18 F, respectively.

While another wave of arctic air will sweep from the Midwest to the East late this week following an Alberta Clipper with snow, the cold air behind that Canadian storm will not be quite as severe as that of the middle of this week.

Even so, another round of painful and locally dangerous cold will settle eastward across the Northern states Friday into Saturday.

The cold has forced some ski resorts to close due to concerns for low RealFeel Temperatures. However, many resorts will remain busy making snow through this week with hopes of luring masses of skiers to the slopes as temperatures moderate this weekend into next week.

SOTT Exclusive - The ultimate dietary terror threat in 2015: Red meat (again)

Delicious Steak

© stephencooks.com

Don't be fooled by this delicious looking piece of perfection. This is none other than a pan-seared portion of Satan himself!

Where food science and dietetics are concerned, there has been a major hate-on for red meat in the mainstream media and academia since the 1950s. And when you scrutinize the issue, as I have done, you find that there is no (and has never been) solid reasoning behind it. But, with their constant need to acquire grants or sell headlines, or simply justify their own existence, these people need an enemy. Red meat seems to fit the bill, at the moment. Think of it as the ISIS of your dinner plate.

This all goes back to the ridiculous hubub that started in the 1950s when seemingly clear-headed nutritional scientists decided to ignore all their schooling (and rational thought) to lend their support to really shoddy science "showing" how saturated fat was related to heart disease. I won't go into the nitty-gritty of it here (there are ample expositions of this story already).

The public's perception of red meat never really recovered from that, and the "beat 'em when they're down" media continue to relentlessly take shots at their victim. Pair this ancient knack for blaming scapegoats with the politically-correct trending mythology of the necessity of a "plant-based diet" and you've got the perfect recipe for a 'bad guy' to end all 'bad guys'. Truth be damned: red meat is Hitler (props to Fox News for that one).

Hitler.Fox News

© occupyyourlocalmedia.com

Red Meat

Given all this, imagine my complete lack of surprise this Christmas when I learned of yet another "study" whose sole purpose seemed to lie in making everyone petrified of this perfectly healthy and basic component of the human diet. Conveniently timed for release over the holiday season, when most health bloggers and media critics are taking a break from countering the official propaganda, the mass media dutifully plastered their websites with headlines like "Red meat triggers toxic immune reaction which causes cancer, scientists find" or "Why eating red meat raises cancer risk" or - my personal favourite - "Why red meat causes cancer revealed". Blunt, to the point, and the biggest load of BS ever put into print. OK, maybe not the biggest.

The first article, sent to me by a concerned reader, starts off,

"Red meat has been linked to cancer for decades, with research suggesting that eating large amounts of pork, beef or lamb raises the risk of deadly tumours."

And there the clown show begins. You see, right off the bat, this writer has it all hopelessly wrong. Red meat has only been linked to cancer in really terrible studies, conducted by those with an agenda, which the mass media dutifully parrots without looking more deeply into the study, if indeed it even possesses such capability. But, realistically, what else can we expect from today's 'journalists'? To quote Chris Kresser,

In my fantasy world, researchers don't make the most rookie mistake in the book (claiming that correlation is causation) and science reporters actually have a clue how to critically analyze a scientific study, rather than just parroting what they read on the AP newswire. Alas, reality is not so forthcoming.

Back in 1986 there was a Japanese study where the researchers discovered that feeding 'heterocyclic amines' to rats made them develop cancer. These are compounds generated from overcooking meat under high heat. This started the association, repeated so often in our press it has firmly entrenched itself in the collective unconscious, between red meat and cancer. OK, so if you feed rats a large amount of a component found in burnt meat, it gives them cancer. So... don't eat burnt meat, or cut off the burnt parts. No real controversy there. However, since this study was published, some other studies of large populations (epidemiological studies) have tried to back up this connection, suggesting a potential link between meat and cancer. And yet...
Burnt Food

Burnt meat - don't eat it. Thanks Science!

Let me state this plainly: no study has ever found a direct cause-and-effect relationship between red meat consumption and cancer. The population studies are far from conclusive and fail that scientific principle everyone should know from high school: "correlation does not equal causation." And besides, there are other ludicrous, confounding factors. These studies serve to sell headlines and bring attention and grant money to the institutions that produce them. They also serve to entrench the current dietary paradigm. Implying intent there gets us into "conspiracy" territory. Let's just call it a convenient artifact.

One of these studies, published back in April 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, touted as the ultimate 'nail in the coffin' for red meat, was thoroughly dismantled by Denise Minger and Robb Wolf. It's worth reading these linked posts to see what kind of bunk has been proliferated on this subject in the past.

Back to the study at hand. Relying on the precedent previously set by the aforementioned terrible science, which amounts to nothing more than a house of cards, this study out from University of California-San Diego starts from the assumption that red meat consumption causes cancer. The mechanism, they say, is something called "Neu5Gc", a type of sugar molecule (glycan) found in most mammals, but not found in humans. It's also found in relatively large concentrations in - you guessed it - red meat. Yes, meat does have a small amount of carbohydrate in it, but it is negligible. But how did the researchers discover this evil substance is the devil-incarnate of the food-chain? (Hold on to your pants, kids...)

The researchers first genetically modified mice to no longer produce Neu5Gc, then they fed those mice massive quantities of the sugar, far beyond anything a human would ever consume in their daily diet. And then - surprise, surprise - the mice got cancer. This obviously implies, leaving no room for doubt, that eating red meat will give you cancer [/sarcasm].

GM Mouse

© www.pawelmazur.org

"I iz here to determine what iz allowed on your dinner platez."

The mental gymnastics required to make a leap from that to "red meat causes cancer and we know why" is astounding. First of all, the study is performed on mice, not humans. What's more, it's performed on genetically-modified mice, designed to not produce a substance that is a normal part of their physiology. How can one even begin to compare a human to a genetically-altered mouse and think that what affects one could in any way reflect what would affect another? Did the researchers even consider the idea that the genetic alterations in and of themselves may have a detrimental effect on the mice? At the absolute most, this study could be used to indicate an avenue for further research (although even that's suspect). But instead its erroneous conclusions are spread far and wide, leading the public to believe "red meat'll give yuh cancer - science dun prooved it!"

Next issue - feeding an isolated ingredient in large quantities does not, in any way, reflect how that ingredient interacts with human biology when eaten in its natural food form. As Roger Clemens, DrPH, CFS, CNS, FACN, FIFT, FIAFST, Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy International Center for Regulatory Science (you can tell he knows what he's talking about due to all the letters after his name) stated in an interview with foodinsight.org:

Every food contains at least one compound that may pose a health hazard at some level of intake. When eaten in a typical quantity and with other foods, virtually none of these compounds present a health risk. No studies have implicated Neu5Gc as a potential health risk. It is interesting to note that Neu5Gc antibodies appear to be important for humans to combat a variety of viral infections. There is also evidence that without this unique sugar, there is an increased risk of GI infections among humans.

"Virtually none" should really be qualified here. Through the long and steady research we've been doing at SOTT.net over many years, we've seen the kinds of damage substances like gluten, casein, and other anti-nutrients and plant defences can do to a body. But these things all have something that Neu5Gc doesn't have: evidence of a mechanism paired with real-world confirmation. If someone sensitive to their body's reactions eats gluten, he or she will know about it!

But the idea the good professor has put forward here is worth noting. In some situations, the dose really does equal the poison. Even water, as essential as it is for life, can cause illness and even death at high enough quantities.

Plus, comparing the effects of an isolated substance, taken out of its normal food matrix and refined, can have an effect far greater than it would when taken in naturally. Look at sugar - the negative effect of sugar when it's refined and isolated is quite marked in comparison to when it is found in food, with all its other nutrients and fiber to act as buffers to slow digestion (note: sugar is always bad for you, even if it is a natural component of food, but it's being used here to illustrate a point).

So how much can we trust a study that's looking at the effects of ingesting large quantities of an isolated substance, trying to generalize the effects to ingesting small quantities of that substance found in food? Even if this study was done on healthy humans, the results really wouldn't be worth much beyond "this is what happens when we feed people a whole lot of this stuff. Best not to do that again". A Pulitzer Prize in the making.

Note also that the professor has actually cited a couple of beneficial effects of eating Neu5Gc. Let's just brush that aside, however. If we say "cancer" enough times, none of these benefits should be of any concern.

On the website foodinsight.org, Marcia Greenblum, R.D. compares this study to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Study Evaluation Checklist, a checklist created to objectively determine the veracity of scientific studies by testing their rigor. It's a short link and worth a read (SPOILER ALERT: the results for this study, compared against the points in the questionnaire, are deplorable). But from this link we learn a couple of interesting points.

First off, the issue of conflict of interest: "Two authors of this study are co-founders and advisors to SiaMab Therapeutics, Inc., which holds a license with UC-San Diego technologies related to anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in cancer." It's pretty handy for a company that researches anti-Neu5Gc antibodies to suddenly have a study show up that validates Neu5Gc as a cause of cancer, wouldn't you say? Probably some potential for sweet funding to head their way, no?

Also revealed is that only an estimated 10-30% of glycans (of which Neu5Gc is one) are actually absorbed from food and that the food content of these glycans can vary widely depending on "protein and fat content of the food, cooking methods, heat, and processing." None of this was discussed in the study.

Greenblum's investigation into red meat-cancer studies also points out that the previous studies which touted a link between red meat consumption and cancer also found a link with colon cancer. Leaving aside the previously mentioned lack of credibility of these studies, the current study looked at liver cancer. In other words, they're not even looking in the right direction to follow on previous research. But the headlines all simply state "cancer", leaving it to the reader to fill in the blanks and come to erroneous conclusions.

But possibly the most damning point is in response to the question: "Are the conclusions supported by the data?" Greenblum answers:

No. The broad applications that they [sic] authors make regarding human pathophysiological implications are not valid. There was no justification for suggesting that red meat intake at average American intake levels would pose a similar risk nor any results that consider the impact of other foods or nutrients or food preparation methods.

Boom. She goes on to state that the only way the analysis of the results make sense is "as a one-time measurement of inflammation in response to large doses of a foreign substance in a small population of genetically prepared mice." Now where did I put that Pulitzer again?
New Years Girl

© The Guradian

"My New Years Resolution is to eat less red meat so that I can devolve to the brain-state of our simian ancestors."

As was said repeatedly in this piece, studies like this are attention-grabbers, and not much more than that. They serve the interests of the research institutions that put them out and the media who report on them, getting more web hits and Facebook posts. But they're far from harmless because they have a profound influence on those who read them. How many people made New Year's resolutions this year to "eat less red meat"?

Avoiding red meat is one of the worst things you can do for your health. It's usually only spoken of in terms of it being harmful, or at best, innocuous. But it's actually one of the more nutrient-packed components of our diet, especially in terms of fats and fat-soluble nutrients. Think about this - people can and do live indefinitely on meat alone. How nutrient dense must it be to be able to sustain human life on its own?

At the end of the day, the disservice these types of "studies" are doing is beyond calculation. It is, quite simply ,spreading lies. The corruption of science has reached such epidemic proportions that you pretty much have a better chance of getting to the truth by believing the exact opposite of what the media is telling you. This is pretty obvious to most with respect to the political sphere, but it's no less true in regards to food and diet. The more these lies are spread, the further the average citizen gets from adopting an ideal diet for human beings, condemning them to continue their completely unnecessary suffering.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://ift.tt/jcXqJW.

10 key events that preceded the last financial crisis are happening again

© Unknown

If you do not believe that we are heading directly toward another major financial crisis, you need to read this article. So many of the exact same patterns that preceded the great financial collapse of 2008 are happening again right before our very eyes. History literally appears to be repeating, but most Americans seem absolutely oblivious to what is going on. The mainstream media and our politicians are promising them that everything is going to be okay somehow, and that seems to be good enough for most people. But the signs that another massive financial crisis is on the horizon are everywhere. All you have to do is open up your eyes and look at them.

Bill Gross, considered by many to be the number one authority on government bonds on the entire planet, made headlines all over the world on Tuesday when he released his January Investment Outlook. I don't know if we have ever seen Gross be more negative about a new year than he is about 2015. For example, just consider this statement...

"When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over."

And this is how he ended the letter...

And so that is why - at some future date - at some future Ides of March or May or November 2015, asset returns in many categories may turn negative. What to consider in such a strange new world? High-quality assets with stable cash flows. Those would include Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds, as well as equities of lightly levered corporations with attractive dividends and diversified revenues both operationally and geographically. With moments of liquidity having already been experienced in recent months, 2015 may see a continuing round of musical chairs as riskier asset categories become less and less desirable.

Debt supercycles in the process of reversal are not favorable events for future investment returns. Father Time in 2015 is not the babe with a top hat in our opening cartoon. He is the grumpy old codger looking forward to his almost inevitable "Ides" sometime during the next 12 months. Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed.

So why are Gross and so many other financial experts being so "negative" right now?

It is because they can see what is happening.

They can see the same patterns that we saw in early 2008 unfolding again right in front of us. I wanted to put these patterns in a single article so that they will be easy to share with people. The following are 10 key events that preceded the last financial crisis that are happening again right now...

#1. A really bad start to the year for the stock market. During the first three trading days of 2015, the S&P 500 was down a total of 2.73 percent. There are only two times in history when it has declined by more than three percent during the first three trading days of a year. Those years were 2000 and 2008, and in both years we witnessed enormous stock market declines.

#2. Very choppy financial market behavior. This is something that I discussed yesterday. In general, calm markets tend to go up. When markets get choppy, they tend to go down. For example, the chart that I have posted below shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average behaved from the beginning of 2006 to the end of 2008. As you can see, the Dow was very calm as it rose throughout 2006 and most of 2007, but it got very choppy as 2008 played out...

As I also mentioned yesterday, it is important not to get fooled if stocks soar on a particular day. The three largest single day stock market gains in history were right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008. When you start to see big ups and big downs in the market, that is a sign of big trouble ahead. That is why it is so alarming that global financial markets have begun to become quite choppy in recent weeks.

#3. A substantial decline for 10 year bond yields. When investors get scared, there tends to be a "flight to safety" as investors move their money to safer investments. We saw this happen in 2008, and that is happening again right now.

In fact, according to Bloomberg , global 10 year bond yields have already dropped to low levels that are absolutely unprecedented...

Taken together, the average 10-year bond yield of the U.S., Japan and Germany has dropped below 1 percent for the first time ever, according to Steven Englander, global head of G-10 foreign-exchange strategy at Citigroup Inc.

That's not good news. The rock-bottom rates, which fall below zero when inflation is taken into account, show "that investors think we are going nowhere for a long time," Englander wrote in a report yesterday.

#4. The price of oil crashes. As I write this, the price of U.S. oil has dipped below $48 a barrel. But back in June, it was sitting at $106 at one point. As the chart below demonstrates, there is only one other time in history when the price of oil has declined by more than $50 in less than a year...

The only other time there has been an oil price collapse of this magnitude we experienced the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression shortly thereafter. Are we about to see history repeat? For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled "Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This?"

#5. A dramatic drop in the number of oil and gas rigs in operation. Right now, oil and gas rigs are going out of operation at a frightening pace. During the fourth quarter of 2014, 93 oil and gas rigs were idled, and it is being projected that another 200 will shut down this quarter. As this Business Insider article demonstrates, this is also something that happened during the financial crisis of 2008 and it continued well into 2009.

#6. The price of gasoline takes a huge tumble. Millions of Americans are celebrating that the price of gasoline has plummeted in recent weeks. But they were also celebrating when it happened back in 2008 as well. But of course it turned out that there was really nothing to celebrate in 2008. In short order, millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes. So the chart that I have posted below is definitely not "good news"...

#7. A broad range of industrial commodities begin to decline in price. When industrial commodities go down in price, that is a sign that economic activity is slowing down. And just like in 2008, that is what we are watching unfold on the global stage right now. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article...

From nickel to soybean oil, plywood to sugar, global commodity prices have been on a steady decline as the world's economy has lost momentum.

For an extended discussion on this, please see my recent article entitled "Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?"

#8. A junk bond crash. Just like in 2008, we are witnessing the beginnings of a junk bond collapse. High yield debt related to the energy industry is on the bleeding edge of this crash, but in recent weeks we have seen investors start to bail out of a broad range of junk bonds. Check out this chart and this chart in addition to the chart that I have posted below...

#9. Global inflation slows down significantly. When economic activity slows down, so does inflation. This is something that we witnessed in 2008, this is also something that is happening once again. In fact, it is being projected that global inflation is about to fall to the lowest level that we have seen since World War II...

Increases in the prices of goods and services in the world's largest economies are slowing dramatically. Analysts are predicting that inflation will fall below 2pc in all of the countries that make up the G7 group of advanced nations this year - the first time that has happened since before the Second World War.

Indeed, Japan was the only G7 country whose inflation rate was above 2pc last year. And economists believe that was because its government increased sales tax which had the effect of artificially boosting prices.

#10. A crisis in investor confidence. Just prior to the last financial crisis, the confidence that investors had that we would be able to avoid a stock market collapse in the next six months began to decline significantly. And guess what? That is something else that is happening once again...

Investor confidence that the US will avoid a stock-market crash in the next six months has dropped dramatically since last spring.

The Yale School of Management publishes a monthly Crash Confidence Index. The index shows the proportion of investors who believe we will avoid a stock-market crash in the next six months.

Yale points out that "crash confidence reached its all-time low, both for individual and institutional investors, in early 2009, just months after the Lehman crisis, reflecting the turmoil in the credit markets and the strong depression fears generated by that event, and is plausibly related to the very low stock market valuations then."

Are you starting to get the picture?

And of course I am not the only one warning about these things. As I wrote about earlier in the week, there are a whole host of prominent voices that are now warning of imminent financial danger.

Today, I would like to add one more name to the list. He is respected author James Howard Kunstler, and what he predicts is coming in 2015 is absolutely chilling...

Here are my financial forecast particulars for 2015:

  • Early in 2015 the ECB proposes a lame QE program and is laughed out of the room. European markets tank.

  • Greek elections in January produce a government that stands up to the EU and ECB and causes a fatal slippage of faith in the ability of that project to continue.

  • Second half of 2015, the rest of the world gangs up and counter-attacks the US dollar.

  • Bond markets in Europe implode in first half and the contagion spreads to the US as fear and distrust rises about viability of US safe haven status.

  • Derivatives associated with currencies, interest rates, and junk bonds trigger a bloodbath in credit default swaps (CDS) and the appearance of countless black holes through which debt and "wealth" disappear forever.

  • US stock markets continue to bid upward in the first half of 2015, crater in Q3 as faith in paper and pixels erodes. DJA and S & P fall 30 to 40 percent in the initial crash, then further into 2016.

  • Gold and silver slide in the first half, then take off as debt and equity markets craters, faith in abstract instruments evaporates, faith in central bank omnipotence dissolves, and citizens all over the world desperately seek safety from currency war.

  • Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, DeutscheBank, SocGen, all succumb to insolvency. American government and Federal Reserve officials don't dare attempt to rescue them again.

  • By the end of 2015, central banks everywhere stand in general discredit. In the US, the Federal Reserve's mandate is publically debated and revised back to its original mission as lender of last resort. It is forbidden to engage in further interventions and a new less-secretive mechanism is drawn up for regulating basic interest rates.

  • Oil prices creep back into the $65 - $70 range by May 2015. It is not enough to halt the destruction in the shale, tar sand, and deepwater sectors. As contraction in the failing global economy accelerates, oil sinks back to the $40 range in October...

  • ...unless mischief in the Middle East (in particular, the Islamic State messing with Saudi Arabia) leads to gross and perhaps fatally permanent disruption in world oil markets - and then all bets are off for both the continuity of advanced economies and for peace between nations.

Personally, I don't agree with Kunstler on all of the particulars and the timing of certain events, but overall I think that we are going to look back when the year is done and say that he was a lot more right than he was wrong.

We are moving into a time of extreme danger for the global economy. There has never been a time when I have been more concerned about a new year since I began The Economic Collapse Blog back in 2009.

Over the past couple of years, we have been very blessed to be able to enjoy a bubble of relative stability. But this period of stability also fooled many people into thinking that our economic problems had been fixed, when in reality they have only gotten worse.

We consume far more wealth than we produce, our debt levels are at record highs and we are at the tail end of the largest Wall Street financial bubble in all of history.

It is inevitable that we are heading for a tragic conclusion to all of this. It is just a matter of time.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://ift.tt/jcXqJW.

Iran-US partnership? Pure fantasy


© Reuters

Iranians do not buy the argument that a repentant US is waging a real war against ISIL, writes Marandi

Western pundits who blithely assert that the Islamic Republic of Iran can or will cooperate with the United States in Iraq against ISIL ignore a basic problem; how can the US be a serious partner in fighting a terrorist movement that Washington may have played a critical role in creating?

When US Vice-President Joe Biden told an American university audience in October that Turkey, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are responsible for arming al-Nusra, ISIL, and other al-Qaeda-rooted extremists in Syria and that there is no "moderate middle" in the country, there was (as most non-Americans expected) little coverage of this stunning admission in the US mainstream media .

Indeed, what little coverage there was focused on Biden's subsequent apologies to Turkish, Emirati, and Saudi leaders for having made such comments in the first place.

Predictably, there was no follow-up reporting in the New York Times reminding Americans that the US is itself complicit in funding and arming extremists in Syria.

CIA producing weapons

In early 2013, the newspaper reported what many in the region already knew; that since the beginning of 2012, the CIA had been deeply involved in procuring weapons for anti-Assad forces, airlifting arms to Jordanian and Turkish airports, and "vetting" rebel commanders - all to help US allies "support the lethal side of the civil war". Other reports pointed out that these shipments were actually paid for by US allies, at the bidding of the Obama administration.

But, after the Biden revelation, the so-called "newspaper of record" made no reference to how the US, in violation of international law, helped to facilitate the Syrian civil war - and, in the process, to enable the rise of ISIL.

Western-backed extremism is neither a new nor regionally-bound concept. Whether it is the "Contra" rebels in Nicaragua or al-Qaeda-like groups in Afghanistan, the objective has always been to achieve strategic objectives through the infliction of mass suffering - for, in the "free and civilised world" of the US and its allies, the utopian end too often justifies the Mephistophelean means.

More recently, an important footnote to the Libyan civil war was the involvement of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, previously the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group as well as an al-Qaeda member.

He was one of many Libyan militants influenced by a (apostate) ideology; the groups with which he was affiliated were designated as terrorist organisations by the US State Department.

Nevertheless, he, along with other like-minded militants, became central components in the efforts of western and Arab-backed anti-Gaddafi forces to capture Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Western willingness to cooperate with al-Qaeda (or "former" al-Qaeda) militants in Libya was a major turning point. Even the subsequent death of the US ambassador to Libya did not change US policy in this regard. Belhaj became the representative of Libya's interim president after Gaddafi's overthrow (before the complete ruin of the country).

More importantly, the willingness of the US and European and "Middle Eastern" allies to embrace al-Qaeda-like militants took US and western foreign policy in the region back to what it had been before the September 11, 2001 attacks - a policy of cooperation with violent extremists to undermine regional actors the West considers problematic.

Monster they created

This policy quickly expanded from Libya to Syria and the repercussions are being felt today in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, Australia, and China.

After Gaddafi's overthrow, Turkey - a NATO member - allegedly helped Belhaj to meet with leaders of the so-called "Free Syrian Army" in Istanbul and along the Syrian-Turkish border. In the meetings the former al-Qaeda leader discussed supporting the FSA with money, weapons, and fighters, at a time when the CIA was a major conduit for the transfer of weapons from Libya to Syria.

While Belhaj was just one of many al-Qaeda affiliates involved in violent anti-government campaigns in both Libya and Syria, his openly acknowledged role underscores how the supposedly "moderate" FSA was, from early on in the Syrian civil war, as Iran repeatedly warned, deeply associated with and infiltrated by extremists.

US arms sales hit record levels

Over time, the problem grew so large with ISIL's rise that it became impossible to hide the monster that the US and its allies had created. And so, Washington launched yet another chapter in its never-ending post-9/11 "war on terror".

Notwithstanding Washington's professed determination to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy ISIL, Iran remains profoundly skeptical of US intentions.

Even after dramatic gains by ISIL in Iraq and the formation of a US-led coalition of the guilty to fight it, this coalition has, on average, carried out just nine airstrikes per day in both Iraq and Syria .

In comparison, western reports indicate that, in the same period, the Syrian air force alone has at times carried out up to 200 strikes in 36 hours . Even as these largely inconsequential US-led airstrikes are carried out in Iraq and Syria, some regional players continue to provide extensive logistical support to ISIL ; along Syria's borders with Jordan and the Israeli regime , the Nusra Front continues to collaborate with other extremist militias backed by foreign (including western) powers.

In light of these realities, Iranians - who have been indispensable in preventing the fall of Damascus, Baghdad, Aleppo, and Erbil - simply do not buy the argument that a repentant US is now waging a real war against ISIL, the Nusra Front, and other extremist organisations in Iraq and Syria.

Rather, Iranians see the evidence as pointing to a complex (yet foolish) policy undertaken by Washington and its allies for the purpose of "containing" the Islamic Republic.

What, then, would be the justification - under such circumstances and as Iranian allies are successfully pushing back extremists in Iraq and Syria - for the Islamic Republic to cooperate with the US in Iraq?

No matter how much some may try to tempt it, Iran will not play Faust to America's Mephistopheles.

Researchers find that electronics in children's bedrooms negatively affects sleep

Parents concerned about their children not getting enough sleep may want to remove televisions and other small electronics from the kids' bedrooms, according to a new study.

"While more studies are needed to confirm our results, we know that too much screen time is bad for children's health in multiple ways," said Jennifer Falbe, the study's lead author from the University of California, Berkley.

Past studies found that having televisions in kids' bedrooms is tied to less sleep (see Reuters Health story of April 14, 2014 here: reut.rs/1FbfcBj.) Less sleep is ultimately tied to other issues, including obesity and academic performance.

But few studies have looked at the presence of other small electronics in bedrooms, the researchers write in the journal .

For the new study, Falbe and colleagues used data from 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders enrolled in an obesity study in Massachusetts.

They found that kids with TVs in their rooms reported sleeping about 18 minutes less each night than kids without bedroom televisions.

Additionally, children who slept near small screens, such as phones or other portable electronics, reported sleeping about 21 fewer minutes per night than children who didn't sleep near those types of devices.

Kids who slept near small screens also reported feeling as if they didn't get enough sleep, the researchers found.

Watching television and playing video games - including those on a computer - was also tied to worse sleep.

Hispanic and black children were particularly vulnerable to the possible effects of screened devices, but the researchers don't have the data to say why, Falbe said.

It's already known that televisions in children's bedrooms are linked to worse sleep, said Dr. Heidi Connolly, head of sleep medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Golisano Children's Hospital in New York.

"The novel thing in this study is that it's not just TV, it's other screens," said Connolly, who wasn't involved with the new study.

She advises parents to keep televisions and all other electronics outside of children's bedrooms.

"You want your brain to associate being in bed with being asleep, said Connolly. "For kids, the only thing that should be happening in bed is sleeping."

There are a number of reasons why televisions and small-screened electronics may result in worse sleep, such as the bright light of screens before bed, sounds and alerts and more sedentary activity to name a few.

"Parents can keep screen media out of the child's bedroom, limit total screen time and set a screen time curfew," Falbe said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age two years avoid screens. Additionally, it recommends that parents establish "screen-free" zones in the home - including bedrooms - and limit their children's screen time to one to two hours of high-quality content each day.

SOURCE: bit.ly/13TVYyL , online January 5, 2015.

The emergence of Western-controlled ISIS in Syria is about one thing - regime change

The resolution demonizing Syria, A/C.3/69/L.31 is particularly distorted.

The Russian Federation stated: "The text of these resolutions are attempts to turn the Third Committee into a politicized body with the aim of exerting pressure on one of the Member States. That approach is unacceptable.

China stated that "human rights issues should be addressed in an equal and fair manner, without politicization. "Opposing the use of pressure on countries under the guise of protecting human rights," his country voted against the resolution.

Chile stated that: "Armed non-State actors were committing crimes in Syria, and the report should have reflected that in a more detailed manner.

Indonesia expressed "concern about the use of country-specific resolutions"

Singapore stated it: "did not agree with country-specific resolutions, as they are counterproductive."

Belarus "endorsed the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement and underscored the unacceptability of country-specific resolutions. The sponsors of the draft resolution were undermining the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter."

Point "3" of the resolution devotes 13 lines to unsubstantiated allegations of human rights abuses by the Syrian government, and devotes only two lines to gross human rights abuses committed by anti-Government groups, though Syria is now infested with Saudi and Qatari funded terrorist organizations. At no point does the resolution mention the epidemic of beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers by the ISIS terrorist organization, beheadings which were used by US/NATO as an excuse to renew bombings on Iraq, and expand bombings to Syria.

Following the gruesome beheading of James Foley, by a terrorist group called "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," and the group's threats to behead other captives in August 2014, headline on page A19 reads, with Kafkaesque "logic": "U.S. Invokes Defense of Iraq in Legal Justification of Syria Strikes." US/NATO had failed, for three years, to get UN Security Council authorization for military action against Syria, and unilateral military action against Syria would be a violation of international law.

However, the very visible emergence of ISIS, now defined as the most dangerous terrorist organization in the Middle East, or, perhaps, globally, and their widely publicized video beheadings of James Foley, Steve Sotloff and others, appeared to give some form of de facto justification for broader military action, including against Syria. On August 22, 2014, reported, page A6:

"When the United States began airstrikes in Iraq this month, senior Obama administration officials went out of their way to underscore the limited nature of their action. 'This was not an authorization of a broad-based counterterrorism campaign,' a senior Obama administration official told reporters at the time. But the beheading of an American journalist and the possibility that more American citizens being held by the group might be slain has prompted outrage at the highest levels of the American government."

The front page headline states:

"U.S. General Says Raiding Syria is Key to Halting Isis. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria cannot be defeated unless the United States or its partners take on the Sunni militants in Syria,' General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on August 21, 2014. 'This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated. Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no."

Public horror at the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff transformed public reluctance to engage in yet another seemingly endless and futile distant war, paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, into public outrage and support for retaliation against the terrorists who beheaded Foley and Sotloff. US/NATO now had a de facto form of support and legitimacy for attacking Syria. Given little publicity, however, then and now, was the fact that ISIS offered to exchange the lives of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff for $100 million dollars in ransom. Although top U.S. officials used their "outrage" at the beheading of Foley and Sotloff to "justify" a unilateral attack on Syria, they were not sufficiently outraged to do what was necessary to prevent these beheadings, which, once executed, provided a convenient fig-leaf for the attack on Syria for which they had sought and failed to attain legal justification during the preceding three years.

Indeed, it can be asserted that these same administration officials who claimed "outrage" after the beheadings, inflicted the most extreme psychological torture upon the families of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, who were desperately trying to save the lives of their sons and brother.

On September 12, 2014, ABC news reported:

"Obama administration officials repeatedly threatened the family of murdered journalist James Foley that they might face criminal charges for supporting terrorism if they paid ransom to the ISIS killers who ultimately beheaded their son, his mother and brother said this week. 'We were told that several times and we took it as a threat and it was appalling,' Foley's mother Diane told ABC news in an interview. She said the warnings over the summer came primarily from a highly decorated military officer serving on the White House National Security Council staff, which five outraged current and former officials with direct knowledge of the Foley case also recounted to ABC news in recent weeks."

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Diane Foley stated that a military official forbade the family from going to the media and threatened to prosecute them for supporting terrorism if they attempted to raise the $1.32 million dollar ransom demanded by ISIS.

"Three times he intimidated us with that message. We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted. We knew we had to save our son, we had to try," Mrs. Foley told Anderson Cooper.

Foley's brother, Michael noted in an interview that he was 'directly threatened with possible prosecution for violating anti-terrorism laws by a State Department official." Reporter Michael Isikoff states, in a September 12 article:

"The parents of murdered journalist Steven Sotloff were told by a White House counterterrorism official at a meeting last May that they could face criminal prosecution if they paid ransom to try to free their son."

"Sotloff's father, Art, was 'shaking' after the meeting with the official, who works for the National Security Council. Sources close to the family say that at the time of the White House meeting the Sotloffs and Foleys were exploring lining up donors who would help pay multimillion dollar ransoms to free their sons. But after the meeting those efforts collapsed, one source said, because of concerns that 'donors could expose themselves to prosecution.'"

James Nye for MailOnline reported:

"Mrs. Foley poured scorn on the Pentagon's claim they tried to rescue Foley on July 4, only to raid the wrong base...Throughout the 20 month ordeal, Mrs. Foley said she came to regard her and her family's efforts to rescue James as an 'annoyance' to the administration and began to feel that their desperation to bring James Foley home did not 'seem to be in the strategic interest, if you will.'"

Mrs. Foley diplomatically implies that her son's death was in the "strategic interest" and she stops just short of accusing the administration of using her son's beheading as the fig-leaf they needed to justify the administration's unilateral attack on Syria, which was in violation of international law. If saving Foley was not in the "strategic interest," a very frightening possibility exists.

The murders of Foley and Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded by ISIS, were called 'acts of barbarism' by Obama in his speech announcing a military campaign to destroy the terrorist organization.

Frenzied hysteria over human rights abuses in Syria continues to be incited by mainstream media, as the middle east is fragmented and decomposed by US/NATO bombings and internecine warfare so complex that the UN's call for the "diplomatic resolution" of multiple devastating conflicts becomes an increasingly remote possibility. Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue arming the terrorist opposition.

At the same time that the military-industrial complex thrives on huge profits derived from these geo-politically engineered conflicts, it is worth recalling the September 10, 2014 report by Mazzetti, Schmitt and Landler in :

"Washington - "The violent ambitions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been condemned across the world: in Europe and the Middle East, by Sunni nations and Shiite ones, and by sworn enemies like Israel and Iran. Pope Francis joined the call for ISIS to be stopped.

"As President Obama prepares to send the United States on what could be yearslong military campaign against the militant group (ISIS), American intelligence agencies have concluded that it poses no immediate threat to the United States. Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.

"Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department's top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama's first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a 'farce,' with 'members of the cabinet and top military officers all over the place describing the threat in lurid terms that are not justified.' "It's hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic, with claims that the nation is honeycombed with sleeper cells, that operatives are streaming across the border into Texas or that the group will soon be spraying Ebola virus on mass transit systems - all on the basis of no corroborated information,' said Mr. Benjamin, who is now a scholar at Dartmouth College."

Vicky Ward tried to warn about pedophile billionaire Epstein in 2003

© The Daily Beast

"Jeffrey wanted me to tell you that you looked so pretty," the female voice said into my disbelieving ear.

It was the fall of 2002. I was pregnant, uncomfortably so, for the first time and with twins, due the following March. I was besieged by a relentless morning sickness. I was sick in street gutters, onto my desk, at dinners with friends. I suffered severe bloating and water retention.

But here was this faux-compliment coming, bizarrely and a bit grotesquely, from a woman I hadn't met - a female assistant who worked for one Jeffrey Epstein, a mysterious Gatsby-esque financier whom I'd been assigned to write about by my then-boss Graydon Carter, the editor of . (Epstein had caught the attention of the press when he had flown Bill Clinton on his jet to Africa. No one knew who he was or understood how he'd made his money.)

Upon hearing of my assignment, Epstein had invited me to an off-the-record tea at his Upper East Side house (during which I distinctly remember he rudely ate all the finger food himself) and then had his assistant call to tell me he'd thought I was pretty.

At first - it was the early stages of reporting - I was amused at having been so crassly underestimated. For a man who clearly considered himself a sophisticated ladies' man (the only book he'd left out for me to see was a paperback by the Marquis de Sade), I thought his journalist-seduction technique was a bit like his table manners - in dire need of improvement.

If only it had all ended there. This was what it had been meant to be. A gossipy piece about a shadowy, slightly sinister but essentially harmless man who preferred track-pants to suits but somehow lived very large, had wealthy, important friends, hung out with models, and shied away from the press.

But it didn't.

I haven't ever wanted to go back and dwell on that dark time. But then the latest Epstein scandal broke, when Prince Andrew was accused in a Florida court filing of having sex with a 17-year-old girl while she was a "sex slave" of Epstein's.

In the last 48 hours I've had a journalist from the U.K. newspaper put herself inside my foyer. I've been inundated with requests for TV interviews. And Epstein's old mentor, the convicted fraudster Steven Hoffenberg, recently released from jail after a 20-year sentence, has been pestering me and my agent to write a movie.

Separately, Hoffenberg's daughter has gotten in touch - and it's gotten me thinking. There are some injustices that maybe only time can right. And perhaps now is the time. Things happened then that simply shouldn't have, and if I don't talk about them, then probably no one will.


It became obvious as I was reporting his story that you could essentially divide Jeffrey Epstein's biography into two themes. One was the hidden source of his wealth - he claimed he'd fueled a lifestyle of vast homes, a private jet, and endless travel by managing the money of billionaires and taking a commission, a story that no one I spoke to believed - while the second mystery was his unorthodox lifestyle.

Then in his 50s, he'd never been married but had had a string of intelligent, good-looking girlfriends, including Ghislaine Maxwell, the raven-haired daughter of the late, disgraced British newspaperman Robert Maxwell whom he promoted from girlfriend to "friend" when it was over. She remained frequently by his side.

But the New York gossip was focused on the many parties he gave at his house, where he regularly hosted a mix of plutocrats, academics from Ivy League schools, and nubile, very young women. Oh, and also Britain's Prince Andrew, whom he introduced to everyone as just "Andy."

I got to work on all of it - and Epstein kept close tabs on me. He didn't want to be seen to cooperate, but he'd do his best to control me. He phoned regularly. I wasn't altogether surprised to be quickly summoned to the offices of the rich and powerful, sometimes before I'd even asked to meet with them.

James "Jimmy" Cayne, then the cigar-chomping CEO of Bear Stearns, not only phoned me up, he found the time in his busy day to give me a tour of the office. He was on his best behavior, talking up Epstein's alleged supposed great brain, his value to the bank - never mind the fact that Epstein had had to leave it quickly in 1981; this Cayne put down to Epstein's ambition "outgrowing" the place.

I also met with respected real estate developer Marshall Rose; the former Bear Stearns chairman Alan "Ace" Greenberg called me; so too did Leslie Wexner, the founder and CEO of The Limited, who trusted Epstein so much he had given Epstein carte blanche to insert himself into both Wexner's family and business affairs, according to people who saw Epstein's contract; they all chattered on about Epstein's brilliantly creative mind, his intellectual prowess - a mental agility that, to put it bluntly, was simply not evident in the many phone conversations he had with me.

These were conversations that took a fairly grim twist pretty quickly. "What is the nature of the piece?" he kept asking. "Does it have this aspect in it?" "This aspect" would refer variously to his philanthropy, his interest in biological mathematics, his well-known friends, some tycoons, some academic wonks - and yes, the women. "I don't expect there'd be a piece on me without that," he'd said, preening.

The women he directed me to were all respectable. There was a doctor, there was a socialite, there was Ghislaine Maxwell; they were all grown-ups, with the appearance of financial independence.

While Epstein's friends speculated that retailer Les Wexner was the real source of Epstein's wealth, Wexner (who called him "my friend Jeffrey") never commented on this, though he did send me an email praising Epstein's "ability to see patterns in politics and financial markets."

My investigation began to take on unexpected twists. After a bit of digging I found myself not in some plush office setting but going through the metal detectors inside the Federal Medical Center at Devens prison in Massachusetts, where I met with one Steve Hoffenberg, a fraudster who'd been convicted of bilking investors of more than $450 million in one of the largest pre-Madoff Ponzi schemes in history. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Hoffenberg told me that he'd met Epstein shortly after Epstein had been kicked out of Bear Stearns in 1981 for "getting into trouble" and that Hoffenberg had seen charm and talent in him - "he has a way of getting under your skin" - and had hired him as a "consultant" to work with.

Hoffenberg, officially, ran Towers Financial, a collection agency that was supposed to buy debts that people owed to hospitals, banks, and phone companies, but instead the funds paid off earlier investors and subsidized his own lavish lifestyle. Hoffenberg told me had he had been Epstein's mentor and that Epstein had made a terrible mistake in doing something so high-profile as flying Bill Clinton, since that would only draw a spotlight to his business dealings. "I always told him to stay below the radar," he said.

Aware that I was listening to a convicted felon who had lied under oath - he was, after all, sitting before me in an orange jumpsuit - I left the jail determined to get more concrete proof about the source of Epstein's finances. Slowly, I got there.

It took many meetings of the type you see in the movies. There I was, with my growing belly, in the backs of people's chauffeured-driven cars, in out-of-the way hotel bars - and finally, in my sixth month, when my doctor had begun to look dismayed and told me to take it easy, a train ride to a law firm in Philadelphia, where I and a research assistant were shown a room full of boxes with legal files, and the man who brought us there whispered, "Good luck!"

Luck did shine upon me that day. I opened the first box, and there was Epstein's deposition in a civil case explaining in his own testimony that he had indeed been guilty of a "reg d violation" while at Bear Stearns and that he'd been asked to leave the investment firm; it was the nail in the coffin I needed.

I had discovered many other concrete, irrefutable examples of strange business practices by Epstein, and while I still couldn't tell you exactly what he did do to subsidize his lifestyle, my piece would certainly show that he was definitely not what he claimed to be.

I had to put all my findings to Epstein and, bizarrely, he seemed almost unconcerned about the financial irregularities I'd exposed. He admitted to working with and for Hoffenberg but quibbled with some of the specifics of Hoffenberg's allegations, reminding me that Hoffenberg was a convicted felon. Third parties in turn quibbled with his accounts, and he was irritated, but not overly so.

I was a little mystified at how benignly he responded to my questions about his business activities. Now, when I look at my meticulous notes, I notice that his tempo quickened - and he was much more focused - when he himself asked: "What do you have on the girls?" He would ask the question over and over again.

What I had "on the girls" were some remarkably brave first-person accounts. Three on-the-record stories from a family: a mother and her daughters who came from Phoenix. The oldest daughter, an artist whose character was vouchsafed to me by several sources, including the artist Eric Fischl, had told me, weeping as she sat in my living room, of how Epstein had attempted to seduce both her and, separately, her younger sister, then only 16.

He'd gotten to them because of his money. He'd promised the older sister patronage of her art work; he'd promised the younger funding for a trip abroad that would give her the work experience she needed on her résumé for a place at an Ivy League university, which she desperately wanted - and would win.

The girls' mother told me by phone that she had thought her daughters would be safe under Epstein's roof, not least because he phoned her to reassure her, and she also knew he had Ghislaine Maxwell with him at all times.

When the girls' mother learned that Epstein had, regardless, allegedly molested her 16-year-old daughter, she'd wanted to fight back. "At the time I wanted to go after him. I mean, physically, mentally, you know, in every way, shape, and form. And the advice I was given was, you know, he is so wealthy, he can fight you, he can make you look ridiculous, he can make your daughters look ridiculous, plus he can hurt them. And that was the thing that frightened me was that he would know where they lived and could possibly just send somebody when they walk the dog at night or something around the corner, and we'd never hear from them again," she told me.

When I put their allegations to Epstein, he denied them and went into overdrive. He called Graydon. He also repeatedly phoned me. He said, "Just the mention of a 16-year-old girl... carries the wrong impression. I don't see what it adds to the piece. And that makes me unhappy."

Next, Epstein attacked both me and my sources. Letters purporting to be from the women were sent to Graydon, which the women claimed (and gave evidence to show me) were fabricated fakes. I had my own notes to disprove Epstein's claims against me.

And then there was Epstein himself, who, I'd be told after I'd given birth, got past security at Condé Nast and went into the offices. By now everyone at the magazine was completely spooked.

But my sources, my young women and their mother, heroically held firm. They were going to tell their story, consequences be damned. And as for me? My doctor insisted that once I filed this piece I lie down on my bed and not get out. One of my babies had started to grow alarmingly slowly.


I worked through December 2002 like a dog. I worked with three fact-checkers, the magazine's lawyer; I sifted through everything Epstein threw at me and defused it. We were getting ready to go to press. And then the bullet came. "Graydon's taking out the women from the piece," Doug Stumpf, my editor, told me.

I began to cry. It was so wrong. The family had been so brave. I thought about the mother, her fear of the dark, of the harm she feared might come to her daughters. And then I thought of all the rich, powerful men in suits ready to talk about Epstein's "great mind."

"Why?" I asked Graydon. "He's sensitive about the young women" was his answer. "And we still get to run most of the piece."

Many years later I know that Graydon made the call that seemed right to him then - and though the episode still deeply rankles me I don't blame him. He sits in different shoes from me; editors are faced with these sorts of decisions all the time, and disaster can strike if they don't err on the side of caution.

It came down to my sources' word against Epstein's... and at the time Graydon believed Epstein. In my notebook I have him saying, "I believe him... I'm Canadian."

Today, my editor at emailed Graydon to ask why he had excised the women's stories from my article. A spokeswoman responded: "Epstein denied the charges at the time and since the claims were unsubstantiated and no criminal investigation had been initiated, we decided not to include them in what was a financial story."

But this wasn't a financial story, it was a classic profile of a society figure. I don't know - because I never asked him - if Graydon still believed Epstein when in 2007 Epstein was sentenced to jail time for soliciting underage prostitutes. But it has often struck me that if my piece had named the women, the FBI might have come after Epstein sooner and perhaps some of his victims, now, in the latest spate of allegations, allegedly either paid off or too fearful of retribution to speak up, would have been saved.

He has a way of spooking you, does Epstein. Or he did. My babies were born prematurely, dangerously so; he'd asked which hospital I was giving birth at - and I was so afraid that somehow, with all his connections to the academic and medical community, that he was coming for my little ones that I put security on them in the NICU.

When they'd been released home some months later, I went out to my first party. There was Jeffrey Epstein, sucking a lollipop. "Vicky," he said, "you look so pretty."

Vanity Fair The Devil's Casino The Liar's Ball