I don’t like organized sports but I have been an athlete all my life and I pay respect. These shots are awesome.
I used to focus on the defense part of the game. No one would go pass thru me. Well, that’s the idea and it only works half the time. You know why? Because there is always someone bigger, smarter, and better than you. That’s what I learned from sports.
While the buffoons play politics in Washington the humans in Syria are suffering.
With permission from
July 24, 2017
The catastrophic number of civilian casualties in Mosul is receiving little attention internationally from politicians and journalists. This is in sharp contrast to the outrage expressed worldwide over the bombardment of east Aleppo by Syrian government and Russian forces at the end of 2016.
Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish leader and former Iraqi finance and foreign minister, told me in an interview last week: “Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the Federal Police, air strikes and Isis itself.”
The real number of dead who are buried under the mounds of rubble in west Mosul is unknown, but their numbers are likely to be in the tens of thousands, rather than the much lower estimates previously given.
People have difficulty understanding why the loss of life in Mosul was so huge. A good neutral explanation of this appears in a meticulous but horrifying report by Amnesty International (AI) called “At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul”.
It does not give an exact figure for the number of dead, but otherwise it confirms many of the points made by Mr Zebari, notably the appalling damage inflicted by continuing artillery and rocket fire aimed over a five-month period at a confined area jam-packed with civilians who were unable to escape.
However, even this does not quite explain the mass slaughter that took place. Terrible civilian casualties have occurred in many sieges over the centuries, but in one important respect the siege of Mosul is different from the others. Isis, the cruellest and most violent movement in the world, was determined not to give up its human shields.
Even before the attack by Iraqi government forces, aided by the US-led coalition, started on 17 October last year, Isis was herding civilians back into the city and not allowing them to escape to safety. Survivors who made their way to camps for displaced people outside Mosul said they had to run the gauntlet of Isis snipers, booby traps and mines.
Determined to hang on to its hundreds of thousands of human shields, Isis packed them into a smaller and smaller space as pro-government forces advanced. Isis patrols said they would kill anybody who left their houses; they welded shut metal doors to keep them in, and hanged people who tried to escape from electricity pylons and left the bodies to rot.
“Consequently, as IS lost territory during the course of the battle, IS-controlled areas became increasingly crowded with civilians,” says the AI report. “Mosul residents routinely described to Amnesty International how they sheltered in homes with relatives or neighbours in groups of between 15-100.”
It was these groups that became the victims of the massed firepower of pro-government forces. In many streets, every house is destroyed and I could not even enter some badly damaged districts because access was blocked by smashed masonry, craters and burned out cars.
Outside Mosul, people tend to assume that most of this destruction was the result of airstrikes – and much of it was – but Mr Zebari is correct in saying that it was shell and rocket fire from pro-government ground forces, particularly by the Federal Police, that caused the greatest destruction and loss of civilian life.
How this happened is easily explained by a look at the types of ordnance used by pro-government forces: these include 122 mm and 155mm howitzers, but also notoriously inaccurate 122mm Grad rockets and locally made Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions (IRAMs) that might land almost anywhere.
The Grad is a Soviet weapon that dates back fifty years, and consists of 40 rockets mounted in a vehicle which can be fired in volleys over a half minute period. Earlier versions of this weapon had a devastating effect on dug-in German infantry in fortified positions in World War II. Civilians crammed together in fragile houses in west Mosul would stand little chance.
The US-dominated coalition said that it tried to avoid carrying out air strikes where civilians were present, and its planes dropped leaflets telling them to move away from Isis positions. People on the ground in Mosul regarded this as a cruel joke, because they had nowhere else to go to and Isis would shoot them if they tried to run away.
In addition, the Isis system of defense was based on quickly moving its fighters from building to building through holes cut in the walls in the newer parts of Mosul; meanwhile in the Old City, where most houses have cellars, Isis linked these by tunnels so they could fire and retreat before the building they were in was destroyed, most commonly by 500 lb bombs.
“There were very few Daesh [Isis] in our neighbourhood, but they dropped a lot of bombs on them,” Qais, 47, a resident of Mosul al-Jadida district told me. He reckoned that between 600 and 1,000 people in the district had been killed, and he showed me pictures on his phone of a house that had once stood beside his own but had been reduced to a heap of smashed-up bricks.
“There were no Daesh in the house,” he said. “But there were seven members of the Abu Imad family there, of whom five were killed along with two passersby.”
A further reason for the devastation caused by the battle for west Mosul was the outcome of the fighting for east Mosul between 17 October and 24 January. The Iraqi government and the Americans had expected a hard fought but relatively swift victory, perhaps taking about two months to seize the whole of the city (in fact, it took nine months).
The attack on the part to the east of the Tigris River was primarily undertaken by the highly trained and experienced Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), fighting house to house. Air strikes were usually against carefully selected targets, and not called in at will by ground troops at the first sign of resistance.
These tactics of the pro-government forces did not work. True, they eventually captured east Mosul after three months of heavy fighting and at the cost of casualties to the CTS reported as being between 40 and 50 per cent. But they could not afford this scale of losses repeated in west Mosul, where Isis was even more deeply entrenched.
When the assault on west Mosul began on 19 February, the pro-government forces were therefore using artillery, rockets and airpower much more freely. And in addition to the CTS, they fielded the Federal Police and Emergency Response Division, both of which were far less well-trained and deemed more sectarian than the CTS. As they in turn suffered heavy casualties, they lost all restraint in use of their firepower.
Why has there not been more outcry over the destruction of west Mosul? There should be no question about the massive civilian loss of life, even if there are differences over the exact numbers of the dead.
The biggest reason for the lack of outrage is that Isis was seen as a uniquely evil movement that had to be defeated – whatever the cost in dead bodies to the people of Mosul.
It is an understandable argument, but one that in the past has meant Iraq never finds peace.
With permission from
July 27, 2017
The crumpled heap of stones, all that is left of the minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo, asks questions of us all. How do we “restore” or “repair” or “rebuild” a jewel of Seljuk civilization from which millions of Muslims – perhaps even Saladin himself – were called to prayer five times each day for 900 years in one of the oldest cities of the world? I run my hands over these great blocks of masonry, chipped, gashed, some perhaps reusable, others hopelessly broken, fitted together with infinite care in 1090, less than 25 years after the Battle of Hastings. I notice others doing the same.
Mustafa Omran Kurdi has a face so deeply lined and expressive that it might be a map of ancient Aleppo, marks of mourning for both his lost brother and for the minaret of the mosque also known as the Ummayad. The Syrian war has destroyed other shrines, religious and profane. Isis blew up bits of Palmyra, the Syrian army and its enemies fought each other in the glorious souks of Homs and Aleppo. The Syrians say the rebels destroyed the Aleppo minaret, just as the Iraqis blame Isis for detonating the “leaning” minaret of Mosul. The Islamist cultists of Aleppo and Mosul, of course, both blame their opponents; rare indeed is it that the Iraqi regime and the Americans and the Syrian regime end up on the receiving end of the same accusation.
Given the surviving eyewitnesses in Aleppo, the Ummayad seems to have collapsed during a storm of shellfire, although several soldiers and civilians close to the structure say they felt the vibration of its fall when the rest of the city lay in momentary silence. The rebels of the time dug deep beneath the streets of Aleppo to advance their forces and dynamite their opponents. Did they simply undermine the Ummayad minaret in the north-west corner of the mosque? It wouldn’t have taken much of a vacuum amid the underground foundations to shift this gentle, 114-foot high stone creature off balance. The stones are covered today in a benevolent white dust, untouched since they fell more than two years ago. The dust clings to your hands. You can’t do much with dust.
But Mustafa Kurdi is the Great Mosque’s reconstruction supervisor – and if energy alone could restore history, he is the man to do it. His hands move around him like construction equipment, as fast as the Bobcat earth-shifter carries rubble from the colonnades five hundred feet away, sandbags and stones and rotting food bags, the detritus of war. “We are preparing now to bring the equipment to move the stones of the minaret and put them together and start to build as close as possible as the original minaret was,” he says. “Maybe some of the stones cannot be used again because they are broken. We shall have to find new stones from perhaps other old sites. If needs be, we can make new stones look like old ones. This is a vast task but we consider our main work is the rebuilding of the minaret.”
The black and white geometrical stone concourse of the mosque has largely survived, and although Kurdi and his men were forced to wall up part of a colonnade temporarily and support two collapsing pillars with iron bars, much of the structure is – dare one use the word? – “restorable”. There are wicked bullet gashes in the magnificent bronze chandeliers with their Koranic script in the colonnade, and stone walls pitted with holes crueller than any smallpox epidemic would leave on the human face. Once, this had been a pagan temple and then a Roman basilica, a Byzantine church – the pattern is familiar in Syria’s heritage – and then, under the Ummayads in 715 AD, a mosque.
Is there, perhaps, some comfort in the knowledge that the destruction of the Aleppo Great Mosque and its minaret is a recurring feature of ancient history? It was constantly attacked, restored after fire in 1159 by Nureddin and then totally destroyed by the Mongols in 1260. But we are supposed to be better than the Mongol hordes. Besides, there are fewer caliphs to provide the money for such work in the 21st century. And thus we come to the mysterious generosity of Chechnya.
All who work on the mosque say they have heard of this. None admits any contact with Chechens. It’s all up to the Syrian Ministry of Religious Affairs, they say. But Russia’s recalcitrant province has much to do with the Aleppo mosque these days. Chechnya’s chief mufti, Salakh Mezhiyev, arrived here to lead prayers for a delegation of Chechen officials. The Kadyrov Foundation, run by the family of Ramzan Kadyrov, the rebel-turned-loyalist Chechen leader, is apparently funding the reconstruction of the Aleppo mosque for £5.5m within one year – a snip if you believe the figures which, according to more architecturally-minded foreign experts, is far less than half the money needed for restoration. But, needless to say, it makes Russia look good. If Moscow can destroy Syria, as the Americans claim, it can also help to rebuild it. Russian reports that the Kadyrov Foundation publishes no financial data save for a 2015 asset statement of £19m – and that Chechens are forced to subscribe to the Kadyrov projects from their earnings – have not made their way into the Syrian press or television.
It is happier to return to Mustafa Kurdi and his love of the Great Mosque. “When we first entered the mosque [after the fall of eastern Aleppo last winter], the library of the mosque was full of stones and debris and pieces of iron and broken wood,” he says. “We have now cleared 95 per cent of this. Aleppo University made a three-dimensional topographical survey of the sites and the eastern colonnade is now under repair. This will open the way to the eastern souk. You must understand that the difficulty of all this is heritage, historical ‘value’. This is a living structure – a place to pray – and you cannot leave it in this condition. If my house looked like this mosque, I would not live in it.”
But Kurdi’s argument is more subtle than it might seem. “We have the materials and the experience in dealing with damage of this sort but we must remember that when the mosque is restored, everything else will return – not only those who pray but people shopping who stop in the colonnades to rest – because the mosque is the heart of this area. This is not just a religious symbol. It is a social place, part of our culture.”
He was at home in western Aleppo, he says, when he heard of the minaret’s collapse. “My wife’s tears ran down her face,” he says. “Later, these past few months, I saw young people of 16 or 17 come here to learn what happened. Some of the older people were crying. The younger ones were silent. I used to bring my daughter here when she was much younger – she was only eight or nine years old when this happened, but now she says, ‘I remember this place.’”
There is no doubt where Kurdi places the blame. “It is all these fighters who attacked this place. How can you make people leave their houses and their homes? I myself left my home in the Saef al-Dowla area and didn’t know where to go. Why did the militias attack our houses and our homes? Islam says you are forbidden from entering a home without permission. And this mosque is more important than that. After four days, I left my home in Saef al-Dowla with only the clothes I was wearing.”
By chance, I was in Saef al-Dowla on the very day that Kurdi fled his home. I don’t remember him, but I saw other men and women leaving their homes and asking the soldiers there if they would be protected if they stayed. Gunmen were attacking the soldiers too. It was a middle class area, now back under government control, although Kurdi’s imprecations about “entering a home without permission” did raise other questions in one’s mind. Should these same Islamic instructions not also apply, for example, to the state security police? This was not a question which Mustafa Kurdi asked. He took his family to his aunt’s home in western Aleppo, originally living in just one room. “We all lived there. Then my brother one day went to see our mother and on the way to her a bullet hit him and he was killed and he left four children.”
And each child’s soul, surely, was worth more than a mosque. No, this was not a question to ask Mustafa Kurdi. “We need a soul,” he said. “When Aleppo is rebuilt, it will be because of the love of its people. I have seen people in the destroyed streets putting chairs in front of their shops today, even though the shops have been destroyed. They gradually clean everything away. Aleppo will be rebuilt by its people. We need to see Aleppo again – all of it, because otherwise we will go on missing it. A poet once wrote that the ‘spirit of eagerness to see’ was sufficient for one person in just a glance at a city – but that for those who live there, even if we look constantly at it, it is not enough.”
With permission from
July 27, 2017
Like too many nations, the United States likes to think of itself as a chosen nation and a chosen people. Presidential inauguration statements are typically an exercise in proclaiming American exceptionalism, and this mentality has far too much influence in the United States. It’s particularly regrettable when individuals who should no better indulge the kind of hubris and triumphalism associated with American exceptionalism.
An excellent example of our exceptionalism appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post in the form of an op-ed by Tom Malinowski, the former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the Obama administration. In a fatuous display of ignorance, Malinowski lambasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for stating that the United States frequently meddles in the politics and elections of other countries. Malinowski argued that it is Russia that interferes in democratic elections, such as the U.S. presidential race in 2016, but that the United States consistently “promotes democracy in other countries.”
One of the reasons why the United States has so little credibility in making the case against Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election is the sordid record of the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency in conducting regime change and even political assassination to influence political conditions around the world. In 1953, the United States and Great Britain conspired to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran; the following year, the Eisenhower administration backed a coup in Guatemala that led to the introduction of Central America’s most brutal regime in history. Similarly, Eisenhower’s willingness to pursue the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo led to the installation of the worst tyrant in the history of Africa, Sese Seku Mobutu.
The Bay of Pigs is the “poster child” for American operational failure, and the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General put the blame squarely on what it described as “arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence” within the CIA. Ten years later, however, another American administration and the CIA tried to prevent the election of Salvador Allende, a leftist, as president of Chile. After Allende’s election, the CIA moved to subvert his government. CIA director Richard Helms was given a two-year suspended prison sentence for lying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the operation in Chile. But it was national security adviser Henry Kissinger who ordered the operation and explained that he couldn’t “see why the United States should stand by and let Chile go communist merely due to the stupidity of its own people.”
The revelation of assassination plots in Cuba, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam finally led to a ban on CIA political assassination in the mid-1970s. Nevertheless, when Libyan leader Muammar Qadafi was killed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boasted that “we came, we saw, he died.” In an incredible turn of events, the United States invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, although it was a CIA-sponsored coup against Colonel Abdul Kassem that led to the emergence of Saddam Hussein in the first place.
Vladimir Putin is certainly aware of CIA intervention of behalf of the Solidarity movement in Poland to destabilize the communist government there in the early 1980s; to bolster the regime of former president Eduard Shevardnadze in the Republic of Georgia in the 1990s; and more recently to undermine the regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.
Putin’s intervention in Syria in 2015 was designed in part to make sure that the U.S. history of regime change didn’t included another chapter in the Middle East.
Before former U.S. officials such as Tom Malinowski decide to lambaste Putin for cynicism and treachery, it would be a good idea to become familiar with U.S. crimes and calumny. Forty years ago, former senator Frank Church said the United States “must never adopt the tactics of the enemy. Each time we do so, each time the means we use are wrong; our inner strength, the strength that makes us free, is lessened.” Malinowski should ponder William Faulkner’s admonition about the land of his birth: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
In this article, we take a look at some of these places which have left scientists bewildered.
Situated on the 27th parallel north are the Bermuda Triangle, you know the place that allegedly swallows boats, cargo ships, and even airplanes, the Pyramids of Giza, which according to many were built as massive energy machines by an unknown civilization, and the Himalayas, the Himalayas are really cool, but in addition to those three places, there another once which baffled experts.
Referred to as the zone of Silence or “Zona de Silencio,” this area of land located in Mexico is one of the most anomalous places on Earth.
According to reports, nothing seems to properly function here as scientists have failed to understand how clocks stop, radios go haywire, and the compass spins out of control.
Located some 2,000 meters above sea level, the Zone of Silence strangely coincides with the enigmatic Bermuda Triangle and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
The oldest temple on the surface of our planet is located in modern-day Turkey and is referred to as Göbekli Tepe. This fascinating ancient structure is considered to be 6,500 years older than Stonehenge and around 7,000 years older than the oldest of the Pyramids—meaning that it was created around 12,000 years ago by a mysterious civilization. This ancient temple is referred to as the Stonehenge of the desert, and experts are still trying to understand what its true meaning was.
Located in India we come across the infamous Gravity Hill, a place where if you decide to take your car for a ride and decide to park it for an awkward reason on the hill and decide to put it out of gear into neutral, the car will start moving UPWARDS, almost as if some mysterious force you can’t see was pulling the car upwards.
Located in the USA is a strange phenomenon that looks almost as if there’s a fire burning in the middle of a waterfall. This unusual waterfall is the product of mother nature, and scientists say that it’s perfectly explainable as there are small fissures in the rock which emit natural gas, causing to burn. At times the flame extinguishes and needs to be reignited. Legends say that whoever manages to reanimate the flame will be blessed with fortune.
The short-term policies of the now discredited Netanyahu government that are aligned towards ensuring another war with Hezbollah and Hamas, treat the future of the next generation of both Israelis and Arabs, with complete contempt.
Netanyahu and his cabinet know full well that they are on a deliberate trajectory towards an escalating conflict with the blockaded peoples of Gaza and the West Bank who are forced to exist with virtually no electricity, or power, whilst Israelis in Tel Aviv’s affluent marina playground, in Herzliya, cavort about in their power boats as they plan their next luxury vacation to New York and the capitals of Europe.
Former Palestine is a land where shashlik salad and pitta fill the bellies of soldiers who strut their stuff in the coffee bars fronting Tel Aviv beach whilst the indigenous Arab population continue to live and work, often in darkness, under the heel of the Israeli military occupier.
The incomprehensible factor in this smouldering cauldron of religious, economic and cultural disparity, is the apparent unlimited support from the Diasporas of New York and London, and indeed from the US Congress and the British Parliament, who continue to send money and weapons, by the shipload and plane load, to shore up the occupying regime.
When the war does start: when the nuclear warheads are deployed: when the clouds of deadly radiation are released – they won’t, of course, stop at the Eastern Mediterranean. They will automatically continue north and west to darken the skies over Europe, bringing sickness and inevitable death and suffering to all who will breathe in the cancer of the contaminated air from the Negev-based, nuclear weapons facility in the Israeli desert. Inevitably, the trade winds will eventually push the irradiated rain westwards across the Atlantic, to poison even those who mistakenly thought they would be immune. [Of course, by that time, nobody in NY or London will still be importing diamonds; eating oranges or trying to use a dead cellphone .. they’ll be trying to build nuclear- fallout shelters – unaware that every Israeli family already has one].
That will be the terrifying consequence of today’s unqualified Western support for the occupation of the Holy Land, and the 10-year, inhuman blockade of essential supplies to over half a million Arab families in Gaza, by the Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Featured image is from Adeyinka Makinde.
The reason I am posting this is simple. Do not patronize any company, any website, that does not include comments. Comments are for the masses, not the corporations, it’s the only power us little pawns have in dealing with these non-human entities. We are not here to suffer what corporations think we should think.
By Sophia Harris
July 26, 2017
After getting flooded with angry comments about its treatment of laid-off workers, and by calls for a boycott, Sears Canada is no longer allowing public posts on its Facebook site.
The retailer also appears to be in the process of removing all current comments.
When CBC News first checked out Sears’ Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, we could still view posts from early July such as: “Still no severance pay for your employees huh, you know Canadians won’t stand for that” and “Joining the boycott of Sears Canada.”
However, a couple of hours later, those posts too disappeared.
On Sunday, CBC News noted that Sears Canada’s Facebook page was riddled with comments from Canadians protesting what was happening to its employees.
The retailer announced last month that, as part of a court-supervised restructuring process, it’s closing 59 of its 255 stores and laying off 2,900 workers — none of whom will get severance pay.
Sears has also requested court permission to stop topping up the underfunded retiree pension plan. The retailer recently agreed to postpone that matter until Sept. 30.
Many Canadians have voiced their anger on Sears’ Facebook site and said they will no longer shop at its department stores, adding to what one retail analyst called a “PR nightmare.”
“I will not spend one red cent in your store… no severance, no sale,” one person posted.
Most of the bitter comments are now gone from the site, but according to Sears Canada, they were not what motivated it to prevent people from making public posts.
Sears says it has instead decided to focus on communicating with Canadians via Facebook’s private messaging option where only the retailer can view and respond to comments.
“In order to listen and hear from our customers most effectively, we’re opening Facebook Messaging to our customers and all Canadians with inquires,” Sears said on its site.
“We will, for the time being, close comments on our [public] feed to concentrate on responding to messenger inquiries.”
The retailer also encouraged people to continue with their comments — using the private messaging format.
“We are focused on making Sears Canada a successful business, and so much of that relies on your feedback,” it stated.
But the new messaging policy may only serve to further agitate some Canadians.
“It just adds insult to injury,” says Tracy Brown in Stratford, Ont. She informed Sears last week on Facebook she’ll no longer shop at the retailer, “in light of your decision to cheat your faithful employees.”
On hearing that Sears is removing comments and shutting down public posts, Brown finds herself even more upset.
“Makes me angry if they took my comment down,” she says. “It wasn’t a rude comment. It was just me stating my opinion.”
Sears Canada told CBC News that deep financial troubles left it with no choice but to seek court protection from its creditors while it restructures.
As part of the court proceedings, the company said it’s not able to make payments to a number of stakeholders, including laid-off workers owed severance.
No worries, as Ukraine is a fascist-Nazi state propped up by the nefarious USA, and it does not require sympathy from the world. Ukrainians bought the US propaganda, now let them live with it. I give it two years before the smart Ukrainians wake up from this fiasco and start rebelling. It will be too late as most of their natural resources will have been sold to the lowest bidder. Eejits.
Almost 900 state companies will be privatized in Ukraine before the end of 2020, including large banks, industrial plants and three film studios. Their list was promulgated by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the country.
“Out of 3444 state enterprises, 893 are subject to privatization in 2017-2020” – the press service of the ministry said.
Among the largest assets to be privatized are the State Food and Grain Corporation of Ukraine, Oschadbank, Privatbank, the State Export-Import Bank of Ukraine, the company Centrenergo, the Agrarian Fund, Ukrgazbank and Turboatom.
The companies of Ukraine’s Medicines, Electrotyazhmash Plant, Electronmash, a number of mines and trading seaports, salt plants (State Enterprise Genichesky Solezavod and State Enterprise Artemsol) are planning to privatize over the next three years. The same goes for the National Circus of Ukraine and circuses in such areas as Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Odessa, Lviv.
National film studio of feature films named after Alexander Dovzhenko, Ukrainian studio of documentary films and Ukrainian film studio of animated films are similarly looking for a buyer.
The list also includes the Ukrainian state construction corporation Ukrbud, Aerosvit Airlines, and others.
Absolute obscene greed! Good example of crapitalism. No wonder the USA does not have a health care plan, as all profits are pilfered away from those at the top. Greedy bastards. If we send those useless crapitalists to planet Mars, would America have a health care plan, like the rest of the civilized world? Americans are dumb asses for letting this happen.
You know all those health industry lobbyists who say that the American healthcare industry will go broke if it has to take care of the health of Americans?
Every year since 2011 — when ACA became law — the CEOs of US health companies have averaged an 11% raise. Remember, that’s 11 percent, every year.
Topping the list is John Martin who helmed Gilead Sciences to the tune of $863M since Obamacare’s passage.
American health care is indeed dangerous and unstably expensive, and to fix that, America’s health CEOs should be focusing on lower prices, eliminating unnecessary expenses, and coordinating care. Instead, America’s health care industry is booming at the expense of American health, thanks to a focus on selling more drugs, performing more procedures and tests, raising prices and engaging in gimmicky stock-inflating tactics.
* Pharmaceutical and drug-related company CEOs made up 11 of the top 20 highest earners.
* Gilead’s Martin made the most since the ACA became law. Several other executives — including John Hammergren of McKesson ($587 million), Leonard Schleifer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ($338 million) and Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group ($279 million) — each took home more than a quarter-billion dollars on their own.
* A handful of lesser-known health care CEOs were among the highest earners. For example, Michael Mussallem of the medical device company Edwards Lifesciences collected $246 million since the ACA went into effect. Last year, for every dollar Mussallem’s company brought in as revenue, two cents went toward his pay.
* The analysis still underestimates how much wealth health care CEOs have. It did not include vested stock after CEOs retired, nor did it include the value of stock CEOs still hold. For example, Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina owns more than 13% of Walgreens, which equaled about $12 billion as of June 2017.
The sky-high pay of health care CEOs [Bob Herman/Axios]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Jeffrey Beall, CC-BY)
Written by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou
Written by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou
This article was written by Joe Jarvis and originally published at The Daily Bell
Did you know that doctors and scientists can be corrupt or simply wrong?
People seem to give doctors and scientists the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their findings and opinions on things like global warming, genetically modified organisms, pesticides, chemicals, and how unhealthy certain foods and habits are.
But like any other humans, scientists and doctors are, well, human. They can be misguided, confused, corrupt, and stubbornly opinionated.
According to Natural News, as many as 20,000 doctors once recommended smoking cigarettes to aid digestion. In 1940’s Camel ran an ad campaign that claimed “More Doctors Smoke Camels.” They even handed out packs of Camels to doctors at a medical convention and then polled the doctors on their way out the door, asking what their favorite cigarette brand was, or what kind they had in their pocket at that moment.
Unfortunately, money has corrupted industries like big pharma who pay doctors and scientists to take a position and prescribe particular drugs and treatment. Many peer-reviewed studies have predetermined outcomes which basically find the facts to fit their narrative. It is more a marketing ploy to publish in scientific and medical journals than proof of the actual findings.
Sugar was long considered fine to dump down children’s throats because in the 1960’s a handful of scientists were paid off.
The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.
But even absent actual corruption, basic mistakes are being made in scientific conclusions.
Correlation is not causation. This is a basic foundational tenet of science. Two things may be very strongly correlated, but that does not prove that one causes the other.
According to Reason Magazine:
When it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff of studies that are mediocre or just plain bad, Albert Einstein College of Medicine epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat is a national treasure. “Most research findings are false or exaggerated, and the more dramatic the result, the less likely it is to be true,” he declares in his excellent new book Getting Risk Right.
Kabat discusses how “the dose makes the poison,” in that saying something doubles your risk of a disease could actually be statistically irrelevant.
For example, you may have heard that eating bacon increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Technically, this is true. If you eat two slices of bacon every day of your life the risk of colorectal cancer increases from 5 to 6 percent. That is not exactly the same risk as smoking cigarettes, which increases the risk of lung cancer by 20 to 50 times over.
And then, of course, you must consider the editorial bias. You’re Risking Your Life Eating Bacon is more likely to get a click than Everyday Bacon Eating Increases Cancer Risk by 1%.
Kabat suggests that the precautionary principle–“better safe than sorry”–is largely an ideological ploy to alarm the public into supporting advocates’ policy preferences. He also decries “the simplistic notion that ‘consensus among scientists’ is always correct.” He notes that scientific consensus once held that ulcers were caused by spicy foods and stress instead of bacteria…
Here’s the thing, I like to be healthy, and I personally often follow the better safe than sorry principle. But it is a huge miscarriage of authority to push this view on others through fear. It is the idea of I know better than these silly peasants that unfortunately seems to permeate the scientific and medical communities.
Are GMOs, pesticides, and chemicals like BPA really as bad as they say? I personally avoid them, but I honestly haven’t done enough of my own research to know for sure.Salt and fat have gone back and forth as being considered healthy
Salt and fat have gone back and forth as being considered healthy then unhealthy, then healthy again by experts.
People look to doctors and scientists for guidance and too often are brainwashed with those individuals’ own biases and unsubstantiated opinions.
If an expert cannot or will not answer questions about their work, that is a red flag. When people talk about consensus among experts instead of the actual facts, that is another red flag.
There have been too many times in recent history when the experts, the scientists, and the doctors were willfully or mistakenly wrong.
Sometimes, yes, we must defer to experts, since it is simply impossible to research it all on your own. But that doesn’t mean we should forgo the due diligence in critical thinking that goes along with it.
Fear sells. We are used to it in the media but don’t usually expect it from doctors and scientists. But they are humans too, and just as likely to push their agenda instead of the truth.
Always follow the money.
“The IMF is NOT under the control of the so- called “American empire”, it is under the control of international financiers with no loyalty to any particular country…“
This latest IMF announcement falls exactly in line with the issues I warned about in my article ‘The New World Order Will Begin With Germany And China’; the globalists WANT a diminishing and destabilized US economy. Their plan is to supplant the dollar as the world reserve currency and replace it with a new global centralized system dominated by the IMF and BIS. The IMF is NOT under the control of the so called “American empire”, it is under the control of international financiers with no loyalty to any particular country…
The world is leaning less on its biggest economy to sustain the global recovery, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The fund left its forecast for global growth unchanged in the latest quarterly update to its World Economic Outlook, released Monday in Kuala Lumpur. The world economy will expand 3.5 percent this year, up from 3.2 percent in 2016, and by 3.6 percent next year, the IMF said. The forecasts for this year and next are unchanged from the fund’s projections in April.
Beneath the headline figures, though, the drivers of the recovery are shifting, with the world relying less than expected on the U.S. and U.K. and more on China, Japan, the euro zone and Canada, according to the Washington-based IMF.
The dollar fell to its lowest in 14 months last week as investors discounted the ability of President Donald Trump’s administration to deliver on its economic agenda after efforts by the Republican Senate to overhaul health care collapsed.
The IMF estimated U.S. growth at 2.1 percent this year and again in 2018, consistent with what the fund said June 27 in its annual assessment of the U.S. economy. In the April world economic outlook, it had forecast U.S. growth of 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, in 2017 and 2018. The economy expanded by 1.6 percent in 2016.
READ MORE HERE:
by: Rhonda Johansson
July 25, 2017
An opioid that is 50 times stronger than pure heroin (and 100 times more potent than morphine) is being over-prescribed by physicians nationwide as the delineation between medical ethics and personal gain fades even further. Fentanyl, a powerful prescription pain medication, is an entirely synthetic opioid initially meant to ease cancer patients to death. Even with its intended purpose, health regulation groups repeatedly warn of the drug’s deadly side effects and caution doctors to only prescribe it as a last resort. That being said, recent data reveals that more doctors are prescribing fentanyl to their patients, even for cases such as tonsillitis.
An explosive report on NJ.com showed that the number of fentanyl dispensed in the state since late 2011 is enough to allow every person who has died of cancer in New Jersey to fill a prescription for the drug eight times. Similarly, between 2013 and 2015, the number of fentanyl-related deaths in New Jersey rose from 42 to 417.
Nationwide awareness on the dangers of this prescription drug began last year, when pop music icon, Prince, died of a fentanyl overdose. Unlike other opioids listed under the same category (such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodonne), fentanyl is highly-addictive and easier to source (the drug is supposedly a favorite in the black market trade other than it being readily available as a prescription). This has led to a worrisome trend of fentanyl-related deaths increasing nationwide. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data showed that from 2014 to 2015, fentanyl-related death shot up by around 73 percent. In the same period, deaths related to other legal prescription drugs rose by only four percent.
While controlling the illegal sale of fentanyl could prove to be challenging, what is more troubling is that licensed doctors are freely distributing the drug to their patients — seemingly without care or concern of the health risks involved. (Related: Toxic Pharma: Fentanyl overdose deaths doubled in just one year.)
In the same NJ.com expose, it was suggested that doctors are colluding with pharmaceutical companies to increase fentanyl sales. Arthur Caplan, head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University has been quoted as saying, “There’s enough money going around that if you saw this in the abstract, you’d think there was a drug cartel happening.”
Reporters at the news site claim to have looked at financial records of major drug maker, INSYS Therapeutics and their fentanyl drug, Subsys (a lingual spray marketed to cancer patients to treat intense pain). It was revealed that INSYS had made numerous payments to doctors under the vague reason of “speaker programs.” These speaking engagements, according to a lawsuit filed against an employee of the company, were a ruse to influence physicians to start prescribing the drug. It had been alleged that these repeated payments to medical practitioners (which, incidentally, the doctors would bill as “educational events”) was directly linked to the number of prescriptions filled for Subsys in New Jersey, which jumped from 400 in 2012 to around 1,800 in 2013, and 3,000 in 2014. The lawsuit further claimed that if a doctor appeared hesitant to participate, they would receive bullying emails.
Apart from receiving single payments of $1,000 for each “speech” given, doctors were treated to fancy dinners in high-end restaurants. All that was asked in return was to keep prescriptions for Subsys running, according to the plaintiff.
INSYS is not the only pharmaceutical company being implicated in this disturbing phenomenon. NJ Advanced Media found in acquired pharmaceutical payout data between 2013 to 2015 that marketing companies of fentanyl released at least $1.67 million to state doctors. Broken down, it appears that dozens of New Jersey doctors each received more than $10,000 from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe fentanyl.
The Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, Dr. Andrew Kolodny said that pharmaceutical companies would pay off even legitimate doctors looking for advice on specific medicine with the “understanding” that such a consultation should raise prescription numbers. “It’s an indirect way of incentivizing them to prescribe the drug,” he said.
Dr. Iqbal Jafi, who used to lead the pain management program at JKF Medical Center has stated, “I’m really very much concerned. I need to see more response from the medical community, more vigilance. We are losing people. Families are losing loved ones. So I’m concerned, not for me, but for the entire United States.”
You can read more stories like this on BigPharmaNews.com.
The world is turning against the USA and its hypocrisy and lies.
Erdogan made a speech against western and, in particular, EU countries that he believes are treating Turkey unfairly, while addressing his party’s lawmakers in Ankara on Tuesday.
“The West wants Turkey to bring about their demands no questions asked… I am sorry to say that Turkey no longer exists,” the Turkish president said, as cited by AP, while his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu was preparing to meet with the EU top foreign officials in Brussels.
Relations between Turkey and the EU have been on the rocks since the Turkish authorities launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent in wake of the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016.
A brewing diplomatic row between Germany and Turkey worsened in March after several German states refused to host rallies in support of the Turkey’s constitutional referendum that eventually granted the Turkish president more powers in April. The refusal infuriated the Turkish leader, who likened it to the policies of Nazi times. Most recently, the war of words between Ankara and Berlin reignited after Erdogan was denied permission to stage a rally on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg.
The arrest of 10 human rights activists, including the head of Turkey’s branch of Amnesty International and German and Swedish citizens on July 5 in a hotel on the Sea of Marmara, soured strained relations even further, with human rights advocates calling on EU leaders to raise the issue with their Turkish counterparts during the talks.
During his speech, Erdogan lashed out at his critics, referring to the detained activists as “agents” and warning European countries against meddling in Turkish internal affairs.
“You’re going to prevent Turkey’s president and ministers from speaking in your country, but your agents are going to swarm in, come to hotels here and break my country up into pieces?” he said, as cited by Bloomberg, vowing retaliation to the countries that infringe upon Turkey’s sovereignty and refuse to do business on equal terms.
Following the meeting in Brussels, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner in charge of European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, reminded Turkey of the obligation to respect human rights and core democracy values, including the freedom of the press, calling them “basic imperative requirements for any progress toward the European Union.”
Responding to the criticism, Cavusoglu labeled reporters currently on trial in Turkey as “pseudo-journalists who help terrorist activities,” arguing that their actions, as well as that of the arrested soldiers and politicians, contributed to the coup.
“They need to also face the sentences that are necessary,” he said, as cited by Reuters.
In an apparent reference to concerns of the US military over a looming purchase by Turkey of Russia’s advanced S-400 anti-missile defense systems, Erdogan reiterated he was looking forward to the deliveries.
“God willing, we’ll see them [missile systems] in our country soon,” the Turkish leader said, as cited by Bloomberg.
He noted that Ankara at first attempted to secure the deal on similar conditions with Washington, but it was never agreed.
“If we can’t get what we want from America, we have to look elsewhere,” he said.
Erdogan has already responded to remarks by Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who said Saturday that the reports of the S-400 purchase are “incorrect” and “would be a concern, were they to do that.”
“Why would it be worrying? Every country needs to take certain measures for its own security,” the Turkish president told journalists at Ankara airport on Monday, as cited by Anadolu news agency.
Russian and Turkish officials have been negotiating the purchase since November 2016 and have repeatedly confirmed that the deal is practically secured save for some financial aspects. Earlier this month, reports emerged that $2.5 billion was agreed as the sum of the contract.
Perhaps the US government should investigate itself and find where did the missing 1.3 trillion dollars went?
“The US Department of Defense has been caught out selling large amounts of military supplies to a fake police department. The fake department was created by the US government itself to sniff out waste and fraud.”
The Government Accountability Office issued a revealingreport last week showing that the Pentagon sold more than 100 controlled items valued at $1.2 million to a fake police department set up by the government watchdog agency through the 1990s-era 1033 program, according to a report released by the GAO. The 1033 program allows local and state law enforcement to apply for excess equipment from the US military.
The gear that the GAO received from the DoD included night vision goggles, simulated M-16A2 rifles and pipe bomb equipment.
The government watchdog set up a fake website with a fake address that led to an empty parking lot and gave the information to the DoD in their application for the supplies. The GAO then received the fake items in less than a week after applying.
“They never did any verification, like visit our ‘location,’ and most of it was by email,” Zina Merritt, director of the GAO’s defense capabilities and management team, which conducted the operation, told the Marshall Project. “It was like getting stuff off of eBay.”
Following the fallout from this report, the Pentagon has now promised to tighten its procedures for verification, which include going to the police department in question to verify its location and obtain valid identification when law enforcement comes to pick up supplies.
The GAO sting operation’s groundwork was laid after the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The response to people protesting the death of the young man was met with military tanks and weapons as the Ferguson police department tried to break up the protests.
Further, it was confirmed that much of the equipment used by the Ferguson department in the protests was the same that was dispensed by the 1033 program, after the Marshall Project and others uncovered the connection.
Following the Ferguson protests, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order that prohibited the US military from giving away their equipment and made them deem other specific pieces of equipment “controlled,”according to the Marshall Project.
The order also established training requirements and strict oversight for law enforcement looking to acquire the military materials. Most importantly, the order ensured oversight from a Pentagon and Justice Department working group.
However, the group has not convened since President Donald Trump took office, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan think tank participating in the meetings.
Trump previously said that he would revoke the limitations set forth by Obama’s executive order, but as of yet, he has not repealed it.
The Department of Defense has also promised to conduct an internal fraud assessment by April 2018.
Pope Francis’ top financial adviser, Cardinal George Pell, made his first court appearance on Wednesday to hear historical charges of sexual abuse.
An Australian court has begun the trial of the most senior Vatican official that has ever been charged in Catholic Church sex abuse scandals.
Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis’ top financial adviser, Cardinal George Pell, made his first court appearance on Wednesday after being charged last month with sexual abuse of multiple individuals years earlier in his Australian home state of Victoria.
While the details of the charges against the 76-year-old cleric — who has maintained his innocence — are yet to be revealed to the public, police have described them as historical sexual assault offenses, which means the alleged crimes happened years ago.
The development came after Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed earlier this year that seven percent of Catholic priests were accused of having sexually abused children across Australia over the past several decades.
Pell said nothing during his court appearance on Wednesday, and although he has still not entered a plea, his lawyer Robert Richter said at the brief hearing that the cardinal intended to formally plead not guilty at a future court date.
“For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has,” Richter told the court.
Though many Catholic clerics have faced sex abuse allegations in recent years, Pell is by far the highest-ranking church official ever charged, and his case has rocked the Vatican.
Pope Francis has famously pledged a “zero tolerance” policy for sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The pontiff has said he would not comment on Pell’s case until it is over.
Advocates for abuse victims had long criticized the Pope’s decision to appoint Pell to the high-ranking position in the first place since, at the time of his promotion in 2014, the cardinal was already facing allegations that he had mishandled cases of clergy abuse during his time as archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney.
Pell conceded in testimony to the commission last year that he had made mistakes by often believing priests over alleged abuse victims, and vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued such victims in his hometown of Ballarat.
Over the past year, however, the allegations against Pell moved beyond his conduct in handling cases of child abuse by priests to accusations that he himself had committed abuse.
Last year, Australian investigators flew to the Vatican to interview Pell and formally charged him last month.