Professional Scam Artists – part 14

“The bees have a question… How can Canadian authorities spend five years reviewing virtually the same scientific evidence as the Europeans and come up with a totally different conclusion?” by ? (Friends Of The Earth)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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How can Canadian authorities spend five years reviewing virtually the same scientific evidence as the Europeans and come up with a totally different conclusion?

Since the bees cannot ask the PMRA to explain – you and I have to do it for them…

In February 2018, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its report on the three most widely used neonicotinoid pesticides. After reviewing 1500 studies, EFSA concluded, “overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.” We expect that the European Union will vote to ban all three in the coming month.
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related: “Neonicotinoids: risks to bees confirmed” by ? (European Food Safety Authority)

Who are the scam artists here? Obviously, They are the drug pusher companies, the ‘life science’ companies, selling this life-killing crap and the soulless politicians who they depend on for access to the markets and people who don’t care enough to just say “no.”

Aaron Maté allows Luke Harding to make a fool of himself.

“MUST SEE TV: Real News Presenter Aaron Maté Interviews Guardian Reporter About His ‘Russiagate’ Conspiracy Book” by ? (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the transcript of the exchange between Maté and Harding on The Real News Network follows:

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AARON MATÉ: Okay. Well listen. In terms of the book, I will … I do want to quote you one part that I did read that I found interesting which is where you are talking about the potential connections between Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, and the Russian government. You spoke to a Manafort associate. Hopefully I have his name … Hopefully I can pronounce his name properly. Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik wrote you by email in response to your questions about his relationship with Manafort, and you recount that Kilimnik responded by telling you that the collusion issue was gibberish and then he signed his email off by saying “Off to collect my paycheck at KGB.” Then he has an emoji smiley face with two parentheses. Okay.

You write “The thing which gave me pause was Kilimnik’s use of smiley faces. True, Russians are big emoticon fans, but I’ve seen something similar before. In 2013, the Russian diplomat in charge of political influence operations in London was named Sergey Nalobin. Nalobin had close links with Russian intelligence. He was a son of a KGB general. His brother worked for the FSB. Nalobin looked like a career foreign intelligence officer.” You go on to write “On a Twitter feed, Nalobin described himself thus: a brutal agent of the Putin dictatorship, smiley face.” So are you inferring there that because two Russians used a smiley face that that’s proof that Manafort’s associate was a tool of the Russian government?

LUKE HARDING: No. I mean really what you’re doing is now rather a sort of silly exercise. You haven’t read the book, but you’re taking one small bit and jumping on that.

AARON MATÉ: Because you’re using emoticons as proof of a Russian tie so I’m asking you about it.
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related: “The Steele Dossier or the Hitler Diaries Mark II” by Craig Murray

Luke Harding is a hack and the paper he writes for, namely The Guardian, is pure dreck. I read his poorly written (with David Leigh) book about Wikileaks and Julian Assange and found it to be awful, like the authors. The above link, to Murray’s article, looks at the Christopher Steele-produced dossier meant to implicate Donald Trump. The dossier is fraudulent, as its author, who Harding shamelessly, embarrassingly embraces as legit.

Jonathan Cook

“Apple & the Guardian: Partners in a death spiral” by Jonathan Cook

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

This report on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to a UK school to promote the company’s new coding curriculum for schoolchildren could hardly be a better illustration of the way the Guardian newspaper serves as a key propagandist for aggressive global corporate capitalism, helping to create for it a façade of humanitarianism.

The Guardian presents Cook (no relation) as a concerned global citizen, a gay man who fights for LGBT rights and might have been Hillary Clinton’s running mate if things had turned out differently. The article could just as easily have been a press release straight out of Apple headquarters.

Unchallenged by the Guardian, Cook claims via the article to be promoting coding as a universal language bringing people together and serving as a great leveller of mankind, offering everyone the chance to become … multi-billionnaire Tim Cook.

Or as the Guardian puts it:

The one-year coding curriculum adopted by Harlow college, half an hour north of London, is intended to teach students computing skills through the use of a variety of games, lessons and interactive materials. Every student is given an iPad loaded with coding apps and tools, and the teachers guide them through the concepts of coding.

There is not a hint of scepticism or suggestion that Cook and Apple are using the schools coding programme to promote their products among a captive and impressionable audience, and to counter growing concerns – even among those in the hi-tech industries – that the social media integral to Apple products is designed to be addictive and damaging to children…

Here is the Guardian’s extremely brief and bland summing up of his early career at Apple, the period that presumably proved him worthy of being Jobs’ successor:

He closed factories and warehouses, replacing them with contract manufacturers in Asia. He also kept costs under control and secured long-term deals in soon-to-be-crucial parts for the company, including flash memory storage for the iPod Nano, iPhone and iPad, which locked out competitors.

If one pauses long enough to decode that passage – and the Guardian gives every appearance of preferring you don’t – it reveals Cook (as one might expect of a successful CEO of a global corporation about to become the richest in the world) as a ruthless, cut-throat businessman, who turned large numbers of Apple’s employees out on to the street and left many others in far worse conditions, working for “contractors”.

“RRRoll back the lid” by Greg Perry

related: “Workers strike back: Ontario’s minimum wage” by Christo Aivalis

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

On January 1st 2018, the Ontario government introduced a 14 dollar minimum wage, with a promise to increase to 15 dollars by Janurary of 2019. And while 62% of Ontarians support the policy according to Forum Research, within the restaurant and franchised fast food sector multiple instances branches have tried to balance the increases on the backs of their own employees. While these actions have been coming from many sources, the lion’s share of coverage has been on Tim Hortons…

The first wave hit when a Coburg, Ontario branch owned by children of Tim Hortons founders attacked the minimum wage increase, using it to justify cutting staff benefits and paid breaks. This generated an immediate social media firestorm, which intensified after additional Tim Hortons franchisees were caught in similar acts. One location told workers tips had to go into the till, and another took away the one free Timbit per shift they gave to a 15-year old employee…

But while much of the early coverage was favourable to the government’s newfound progressivism on labour questions, it obscured much of the situation’s reality. When it comes down to it, many of the reprisals against minimum wage workers have only been possible due to the Ontario Liberals’ failure to substantively improve labour legislation over their 14 year reign. Not only are basic things like paid breaks not legally mandated, but the government has refused to address systemic barriers to organizing workers in branch and franchised workplaces. For more than a year in the run up to the minimum wage increase, the Ontario Government ran the Changing Workplaces Review (CWR), which was tasked with studying a suite of labour reforms for the 21st century. Crucially, the government refused to implement key proposals highlighted by groups like the Fight for 15, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and the Ontario New Democratic Party.

Who are the sam artists in the above reported situation? Both the politicians and the companies attacking their workers, clearly. The raise in the minimum wage is a joke. It’s nothing. By the time it is implemented, inflation will have caught up to it. But that’s how it is in this neoliberal era, in which corporations rule and governments are fronts for corporations, pretending to represent the people. Inequality is at the core of neoliberalism. And neoliberalism, like its complement, neoconservatism, is here to to stay (while this godless system of things is with us), since so many people, in and out of power, have self-modified themselves into being believers in inequality, deceit and violence. The world’s operating principle is ‘riches for the strongest’. Tim Horton’s owners are more powerful than its slave workforce. Therefore its slave workforce must be abused and made to know who is abusing it, for that brings glory to the abusers, who, since self-modifying, value glory, especially that which comes from taking the means of survival from others.

Koch Brothers by Donkey Hotey

“Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?” by Joyce Nelson

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

n February 12, Canadian writer Yves Engler extensively documented Hélène Laverdière’s stance toward Venezuela in recent years, and he noted: “In what may be the first ever resolution to an NDP convention calling for the removal of a party critic, the NDP Socialist Caucus has submitted a motion to next weekend’s convention titled ‘Hands Off Venezuela, Remove Hélène Laverdière as NDP Foreign Affairs Critic.’ It notes: ‘Be It Resolved that the NDP actively oppose foreign interference in Venezuela, defend Venezuela’s right to self-determination, reject alignment with U.S. policy in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and beyond, and request the immediate removal of MP Hélène Laverdière as NDP Foreign Affairs Critic.”…

In 2013, investigative reporter Greg Palast told RT’s Abby Martin that the reason Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez became U.S. “enemy number one” in 2001 is that he decided that he wasn’t going to give away the country’s oil anymore. “Big U.S. oil companies were paying a royalty for Venezuela’s super-heavy oil of about 1 per cent – 1 percent! Okay? – And for the regular oil, it was 16 per cent. So the oil companies were keeping 84 per cent, and Chavez said, ‘You’re going to have to pay 30 per cent, you can only keep 70 per cent of our oil …You gotta split off a bit for the people of Venezuela’.”

According to Palast, that change in Venezuela’s royalty rates became a huge irritant to the billionaire Koch Brothers, who own a refinery in Texas that has long imported Venezuelan heavy crude. The Koch Brothers are also a top lease-holder in the Alberta tar sands…

In an Op-Ed for the Financial Post (March 7, 2013), business consultant Ryan W. Lijdsman noted that “Canada and Venezuela are both producers of heavy oil and compete for the limited number of customers that can refine heavy bitumen …A slide in Venezuelan production would be good for Canadian producers, which could meet the additional demand for heavy oil in the U.S. market.”

Unlike Venezuela, Canada had taken no such stand to raise royalty rates for its oil, and as of December 2016 it has the lowest royalty rates in the world…

So when Chrystia Freeland acts to target Venezuela because “this is our hemisphere,” she is acting in concert with the Koch Brothers’ (and oil patch) desires – of course, without ever mentioning the tar sands. Is this the reason why the NDP’s foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière has also been so reactionary towards the Venezuelan government?

The scam artists here: The entrenched, Canadian establishment-supported NDP machine, as well as the Koch brothers. The progressive members of the NDP need to bite the bullit and exit that neoliberal Party. If the fascist Hélène Laverdière and the recent shameful squashing of the Palestine Resolution put forth by pro human rights members doesn’t tell those progressives within the NDP that it’s time for them to go, then they’ll stay and lose their souls for doing so. You can’t slave for God ‘and’ Riches. The NDP is now proudly neoliberal and therefore pro inequality, because it’s okay with prosperity for the 1% and its tools and austerity for the rest of society. It has chosen Riches over God.

Joyce Nelson is a great reporter who edits The Watershed Journal, whose former managing editor Susan MacVittie, saw a comment I had made, attached to an article by Dennis Gruending, about Naomi Klein, and suggested I allow them to publish it. I said “sure.” They then told me to look forward to the issue which my comment/article would appear in. It didn’t appear. And I lost my first proper byline as a result. Did Joyce decide to kill my article, which I blogged about in “Knocked And Bumped? Dots And Elephants”? Probably. Susan clearly thought it was good.

From The Toronto Star website:
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. In his Oscar acceptance speech for playing the role, Oldman said, “I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill.” He might as well have danced on 3 million dead bodies, writes Shree Paradkar. (Jack English / Focus Features)

“When will there be a film on Winston Churchill, the barbaric monster with the blood of millions on his hands?” by Shree Paradkar

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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Powerful men who lacerate the world with tragedies. Adolf Hitler, certainly, but his nemesis Churchill, too.

It was only in 2014 that I first got a glimpse of genocidal mania in the man so lionized for leading his nation through its finest hour.

It was a piece titled Remembering India’s forgotten holocaust, in Tehelka magazine that detailed the ghastly origins of the Bengal famine of 1943 that killed an estimated 3 million people in one year.

Historians have easily traced it back to Churchill who had diverted the bountiful harvest from Bengal to Britain and other parts of Europe. When the locals began starving, he steadfastly refused to send them food. He said no to rerouting food that was being shipped from Australia to the Middle East via India. No to the 10,000 tons of food Canada offered to send to India, no to the 100,000 tons of food America offered. The famine was the Indians’ fault, he told a war-cabinet meeting, “for breeding like rabbits.”

In his Revisionist History podcast, Malcolm Gladwell delves into how the historian Madhusree Mukerjee, author of Churchill’s Secret War, dug into Britain’s shipping archives to uncover evidence that Britain had so much food at the time that the U.S. had become suspicious they were stockpiling it to sell it after the war.

In India, she wrote, “parents dumped their starving children into rivers and wells. Many took their lives by throwing themselves in front of trains.” Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers were fighting alongside the Allied forces.

Yet, what did the actor Gary Oldman who portrayed Churchill in Darkest Hour say last Sunday when he received an Oscar for Best Actor? “I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill who has been marvellous company on what can be described as an incredible journey.”
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What to expect from Hollywood/Pentagon/CIA/NSA? Many, perhaps most, of Hollywood’s employees are either willing tools of the US-led Corporatocracy and its intelligence agencies. Together with Israel (behind, undoubtedly, the over-represented Jewish presence in the upper echelons of Hollywood), the deep state that serves the Corporatocracy serves up, like television, propaganda mixed with entertainment. It’s very smart. Tricia Jenkins and Peter Maass report on how neither Hollywood nor television are the pure entertainment industries that too many folks believe them to be. Peter’s report is important, but he writes for a Nazi-enabling billionaire (Pierre Omidyar) and if he had principles, he just wouldn’t. And there’s a whole world of Hasbara tools out there making trouble on behalf of the US’s Middle East stationary aircraft carrier, Israel, who will say to my comments about Jews that I’m anti-semitic. What is true or logical doesn’t matter here. I’m not antisemitic. Nor are the many good Jews who also slam their fascist government.

Photo by Bjoertvedt | CC BY 2.0

“The Electrical Abuse of Women: Does Anyone Care?” by Bruce E. Levine

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Many Americans are unaware that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)—more commonly known as electroshock—continues to be widely utilized by U.S. psychiatry. In the current issue of the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, psychologist John Read and co-author Chelsea Arnold note, “The archetypal ECT recipient remains, as it has for decades, a distressed woman more than 50 years old.”

In a comprehensive review of research on ECT, Read and Arnold report that there is “no evidence that ECT is more effective than placebo for depression reduction or suicide prevention.” They conclude, “Given the well-documented high risk of persistent memory dysfunction, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT remains so poor that its use cannot be scientifically, or ethically, justified.”

This begs the question of why this brain-damaging electrical abuse of predominantly middle-aged women, unlike the sexual abuse of younger women and girls, is not today addressed by most high-profile feminists.

Who are the scam artists here? Arguably the silent feminists. But for sure the politicians and makers of the devices.

Dan Balz
Click on image for source.

“Dan Balz Pushes Rich People’s Propaganda on “Free Trade”” by Dean Baker

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Okay, I know it was not deliberate, but how about in 2018 we get news reporters and columnists to think seriously about the concepts they are using? After all, at least the ones at elite outlets like the Washington Post are pretty well paid and have prestigious positions.

When Dan Balz discusses the Democrats political prospects for 2018 and asks about their economic policy, what does he mean when he asks:

“What is their response to concerns among many workers about the impact of globalization — more free trade or a rollback?”

The reality is that most formal trade barriers in the form of tariffs or quotas are already zero or very low with US trading partners. There is not much room to lower them further with “more free trade.” The trade deals that have been recently under negotiation, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact, don’t have much to do with reducing traditional trade barriers. Instead, they are primarily about locking in a regulatory structure that is highly business friendly…

And, these trade deals are about having stronger and longer patent and copyright protections. Yes, that is “protections” as in “protectionism.” Only in the loony tune land of Washington policy debates can a policy that is explicitly protectionist be embraced as “free trade.”…

Anyhow, for 2018 it would be great if reporters and columnists did not just use the term “free trade” to apply to an agenda they obviously favor rather than reserving the term for actions that fit its real meaning…

Click on image for source.

“Why Apple Deliberately Slowing Down iPhones Is Harming the Environment” by Lorraine Chow

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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If you ever felt like your iPhone is getting slower over time, Apple has admitted that it deliberately slows down the processing speeds of phones with older batteries to stop them shutting down without warning.

The tech giant is ultimately doing a good thing—even if it’s in a sneaky, backhanded way. Smartphone batteries certainly have a limited lifespan…

But how many of us buy a completely new phone instead of simply replacing the battery? That’s not to mention that Apple makes their phones very difficult to open and fix yourself…

Last year, the amount of electronic waste around the world grew to a record 45 million tons in 2016—equivalent to about 4,500 Eiffel Towers. Most discarded gadgets go into landfills or get sent overseas…

Apple has been recognized for its strong support of climate change action and its positive engagement with a number of climate change policy areas. However, its latest iPhone-kerfuffle certainly does not add to its environmentally friendly image.
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Click on image for source.

“Civic Tech: The City of Toronto must remain a public platform” by Bianca Wylie

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Our city cannot become a privatized digital platform

In the tech world, the word “platform” is used to describe an interconnected set of products and services. Sidewalk Labs has not been shy about using the word to describe the way it sees cities…

To keep with the analogy, Sidewalk Labs should never be our operating system. That’s the role of government. If Sidewalk Labs wants to build some apps, they’re welcome to do so. But these apps will need oversight, especially since they may seek to disrupt the delivery of public services…

Beware the blurring line between private and public sector language

Here’s Rohit Aggarwala, head of urban systems at Sidewalk Labs, quoted in a piece in about the project. It’s an example of a communications strategy that makes Sidewalk Labs sound like the government, an issue that goes persistently unchecked in the press:

Aggarwala also offers assurances that the purpose of gathering so much data is not a commercial one. “This isn’t about trying to figure out how we make money from capturing all this information for advertisers. That’s not our objective,” he says. “Our objective is to build a great neighbourhood. The only reason we want to capture information is to provide better urban services.

Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, doubled down on this line today in his Sidewalk Labs Reddit AMA. Of course the data collection is for commercial purposes – it may not be for advertising, but for the provision of for-profit urban services. Sidewalk Labs is not the government, nor is it a philanthropic arm of Alphabet. It’s a business. And its sister company, Google, recently received a $2.7-billion (U.S.) fine from the European Commission for anti-trust behaviour…

Decision-making on data: Who’s in the driver’s seat?

Sidewalk Labs has said that it will make some of the data from this project available. The problem is that this is not, and never has been, Sidewalk Labs’ decision to make…

Civic data provides critical information to government and residents, to researchers and non-profits and academics and the private sector. So yes, some of it should definitely be open, but determining these details is a task for the government, not Sidewalk Labs…

The ideas for Quayside are not intended to stay in Quayside. As such, Toronto must pay close attention to the core governance issues at the heart of this project. It’s critical to ensure that what’s public and vital to our city’s operation stays under public control.

And when the city’s politicians pays close attention but views the ‘people’ as the possible source of trouble, they will prove to be the scam artists every bit as much as Alphabet and it’s scammy, tax-evading, censorious Google. In fact, A city whose politicians were progressive would already be telling Alphabet to take a hike.

Chemotherapy Bags
click on image for source

“‘Chemotherapy Promotes Inflammation, Causes Cancer to Spread’ – Yet Another Study” by Christina Sarich

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Yet another study has been published proving the link between chemotherapy and aggressive cancer promotion. Do we need any more evidence that the trillion-dollar cancer industry is completely toxic?

Published by the Beth Israel Deaconess Center, an article titled, “Double Edged Sword: Killing Cancer Cells Can Also Drive Tumor Growth” gives us the low-down on these toxic treatments.

The article summarizes a study conducted by researchers at the Center which found that radiation and chemotherapy treatments which seek to treat cancer by killing tumor cells are actually causing cancerous tumors to grow larger and more prolific.

A team that included researchers from BIDMC have shown that the dead and dying cancer cells generated by chemotherapy and targeted cancer therapy paradoxically trigger inflammation that promotes aggressive tumor growth…

With this, and another study that we recently highlighted at Mind Unleashed, titled Neoadjuvant chemotherapy induces breast cancer metastasis through a TMEM-mediated mechanism, which proved that chemotherapy caused breast cancer cells to multiply, it is mind-boggling that we still spend upwards of $107 billion on cancer each year currently.

Despite years of research suggesting that chemo and radiation can cause cancers to metastasize, usually within just six months after treatment, this information has been suppressed.

I’m not surprised at all. Meanwhile, You can’t turn around and not bump into some cashier or bus ad shelter asking you to give or walk or run for cancer research. When it’s a cashier, I sometimes ask – knowing they don’t know but wanting to make a point – whether the monies collected go to the private sector. And I remind the hapless cashier that our health care system is supposed to be government-funded.

From the CBC website:
Rogers employees at this call centre say they’re under extreme pressure to upsell customers, often at the expense of ethics. (Guillaume Lafrenière/CBC)

“Rogers employees say managers turn a blind eye so call centre workers can lie and cheat customers” by Erica Johnson

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Call centre employees working for Rogers Communications say the telecom company is pressuring them to try to make a sale on every call — even to elderly people who don’t understand or need certain products or services.

In emails and interviews with Go Public, dozens of Rogers workers say they’re under “extreme pressure” to hit sales targets or risk termination.

Their claims come on the heels of Bell Canada workers revealing similar pressures to upsell customers, often at the expense of ethics…

“You’re supposed to look at a customer’s account and sell them cable, home phone, home security, a credit card — whatever is missing,” says an employee who currently works at Rogers’ major call centre in Ottawa and has asked CBC to conceal his identity to avoid retribution in his workplace.

He says even when people are off sick, their sales targets aren’t adjusted unless they go on short-term disability, “so you’re at home, trying to get better, but stressing about how you’re going to keep your job.”

People are their own worst enemy. People have known how horrible Rogers is for years. So what do they do? They go and elect a former Rogers exec, John Tory, as Mayor of Toronto! (Of course, in our captured electoral system, at every level, our options are solely Corporatocracy-approved candidates.) As for Bell, it may not be as widely known as it needs to be, partly because people don’t care enough to know, but Bell is in the forefront of companies pushing the government to censor Canadians online activity! I know this because I used to get regular email bulletins from an organization called OpenMedia, until I emailed them to kill my monthly donations and get lost. One of their last emails alerts carried a link to a Toronto Star article which engaged in shameless Russia-bashing. OpenMedia is either the enemy, masquerading as a friend of the people, or those young people are just too buried in their digital world to know what’s going on in the wider world, so that they have succumbed to propaganda from major media. But just because you may have smarts and can speak up to tech companies spokespersons in their own language, that doesn’t mean that you’re a caring, principled person. It might suggest that, but it doesn’t guarantee that that’s the case.

click on image for source

“Your prescription drugs are about to become less safe if Health Canada has its way” by Joel Lexchin

An excerpt from the above linked-to article:

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As a former professor of health policy and a long-time pharmaceutical policy researcher, I would argue that these increased user fees in fact compromise Health Canada’s principal mandate: To protect the public’s health.

Safe drugs or industry profits?

Prior to the introduction of user fees in 1994, Health Canada was solely funded by tax dollars. Its main relationship was to the public.

However, since the advent of user fees, Health Canada has a new funder: The pharmaceutical industry.

The public’s primary concern is to have safe and effective drugs. But the primary goal of the pharmaceutical industry is to get its products through the approval system as quickly as possible, and to sell those products to as wide an audience as possible…

Shortly after Health Canada introduced user fees, a senior official at the agency issued a memo in which he said: “The client is the direct recipient of your services. In many cases this is the person or company who pays for the service.” The one-page document focused on service to industry and relegated the public to the secondary status of “stakeholder” or “beneficiary.”

Faster drug approvals, more safety warnings

The introduction of user fees in Canada in 1994 was associated with a decrease in the time taken for drugs to get through the review process and onto the market. This means drugs now spend longer on the market under patent protection and produce more profits for drug companies.

Health Canada has explicitly denied any relationship between how quickly it reviews drugs and user fees. But a 1998 document clearly states: “Fee regulations would be amended to make this link [between fees and review performance] as soon as possible after the government determines the best way to proceed.”
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“How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science” by Martha Rosenberg (Alternet)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Do you overeat? Did your boyfriend just break up with you? Does no one return your emails? Do you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning? If so, you may be suffering from mental illness! Mental illness is a highly stigmatized, life-long condition, which millions do not even realize they have and only a pharmaceutical drug can fix, claims Big Pharma and its operatives.

Few marketing gambits have been as successful as Pharma’s elevation of everyday symptoms into “mental illness.”… And now it has even infiltrated Boston’s Museum of Science.

Last spring, an exhibit called Many Faces of Our Mental Health debuted at the museum, taking Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill message to museum-goers and the general public. Visitors to the exhibit “might gain new insights and better understand the complex nature of mental health,” said the press release. They might “reflect on how mental health affects their own lives or the lives of friends and family.” Hey, they might have a mental illness, too!

Richard Carver (Oxford Brookes University)
click on image for source

“Academics who serve as Israel’s useful idiots” by Jonathan Cook (Jonathan Cook’s blog via BSNEWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Let’s take the case of Richard Carver, a senior lecturer in human rights and governance at Oxford Brookes University. He has just published a letter in the London Review of Books in which he seeks to discredit support for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – as evidence of what he (like Israel’s supporters) terms “the new anti-semitism”…

In short, he presents the BDS campaign’s positive support for Palestinian rights as if it were intended to be a negative campaign to harm Jews. The illogic of that ought to be obvious to all.

But let’s dig deeper. Here’s Carver in the LRB:

I would be more inclined to respect the bona fides of the BDS movement if it were equally exercised about China, Morocco, Turkey or any other country engaged in long-term illegal occupations – or, for that matter, war in Syria, torture in Egypt or suppression of dissent in Iran. But the Jewish state is judged by a different standard, which is precisely the phenomenon described by the concept of the ‘new anti-Semitism’.

How derisively would we have treated an academic – an expert in human rights, no less – who argued back in the 1980s that those who supported a boycott of apartheid South Africa must have been secretly anti-white or anti-Christian because they did not equally prioritise a boycott of Israel?

Toronto Guardian
click on image for source

“Canadian Journalism Foundation, Google Canada & CIVIX tackle fake news” by Serena Lopez

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The Canadian Journalism Foundation (known for promoting excellence in journalism by celebrating outstanding journalistic achievements since 1990), CIVIX, and Google Canada are announcing a news literacy program called NewsWise. With a 500,00 grant from Google Canada, the CJF and CIVIX will join together in educating over 1.5 million school children aged 9-19 about the deeper understanding of journalism’s role in Canadian society. Aimed to tackle the issue of fake news, NewsWise will be developed by CIVIX, the organization behind Student Vote, and CJF’s network of academics and journalists.

Which tells me something about The Canadian Journalism Foundation and which tells me what kind of news I can expect from Toronto Guardian which I, a resdient of Toronto, had never heard of before.

Jeff Bezos
click on image for source

“Amazon paid no US income taxes for 2017” by Stephen Cohen

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, wrote about Amazon’s tax bill that won’t come due in a Feb. 13 blog post. Without being privy to the company’s tax return, no one can say exactly how CEO Jeff Bezos and Co. avoided what could have been more than $1.3 billion in federal taxes based solely on the annual financial report…

Bezos, a frequent critic – and target – of President Donald Trump, nevertheless earned a windfall from the Trump administration’s U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, passed in December.

Corporations run the show. That’s why it’s called Corporatocracy.

“The Military-Industrial Complex Is on Corporate Welfare” by William Hartung (The Nation)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Imagine for a moment a scheme in which American taxpayers were taken to the cleaners to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and there was barely a hint of criticism or outrage. Imagine as well that the White House and a majority of the politicians in Washington, no matter the party, acquiesced in the arrangement. In fact, the annual quest to boost Pentagon spending into the stratosphere regularly follows that very scenario, assisted by predictions of imminent doom from industry-funded hawks with a vested interest in increased military outlays…

The public reaction to such staggering Pentagon budget hikes was muted, to put it mildly. Unlike last year’s tax giveaway to the rich, throwing near-record amounts of tax dollars at the Department of Defense generated no visible public outrage. Yet those tax cuts and Pentagon increases are closely related. The Trump administration’s pairing of the two mimics the failed approach of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s—only more so. It’s a phenomenon I’ve termed “Reaganomics on steroids.” Reagan’s approach yielded oceans of red ink and a severe weakening of the social safety net. It also provoked such a strong pushback that he later backtracked by raising taxes and set the stage for sharp reductions in nuclear weapons…

The recent budget plans have brought joy to the hearts of one group of needy Americans: the top executives of major weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. They expect a bonanza from the skyrocketing Pentagon expenditures. Don’t be surprised if the CEOs of these five firms give themselves nice salary boosts, something to truly justify their work, rather than the paltry $96 million they drew as a group in 2016 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available).

And keep in mind that, like all other US-based corporations, those military-industrial behemoths will benefit richly from the Trump administration’s slashing of the corporate tax rate.

As far as I am aware, Hartung is solid. I’ve known about him for some time, but have never read any of his books. I know that I have something by him on my ‘to buy’ list. But the Nation is a fake people’s friend. It probably always was. Here’s the latest example, courtesy of Caitlin Johnson: “‘The Nation’ Helps The Establishment, Add’s Massive Editor’s Note To Its VIPS Article.”

Chief Mark Saunders
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“What is Chief Saunders thinking, adding insult to gay community’s injury?” by Edward Keenan

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

It is hard to know sometimes, when police Chief Mark Saunders opens his mouth to make public statements, what might be running through his mind. Like this week, regarding a group of people who are alienated and grieving and traumatized, did he consciously look around for salt he could use to tend to their wounds? Or was insulting the injured here more a byproduct of some instinct to try to throw blame away from himself?

Either way, the headline on the front page of Tuesday’s Globe and Mail, “Toronto police chief says civilians failed to help investigation into alleged serial killer,” seems a pretty unexpected and misplaced kick at the gay community around Church and Wellesley…

It’s pretty clear, however, what he can’t possibly be referring to. He can’t be referring to how, for years, people in the gay community feared there might be a serial killer preying on their community, and circulated information about that fear, while the police insisted they could find no connection between the missing persons cases involved.

How members of that community wrote and talked about their suspicions for years in the queer and alternative press.

Chief Saunders can’t have been referring to how Sasha Reid, a U of T researcher who studies serial killers, reached out to the police force in the summer of 2017 to tell them she thought data analysis of missing persons cases showed there was a serial killer operating. Back then, Reid offered to share a profile of the person they should be looking for (one that seems to match McArthur in many particulars, though not all of them) and share data analysis, she told the Star’s Vjosa Isai. At the time, police basically said thanks, we’ll call you if we need you. And then never did call her.

The chief can’t have been referring to how in December 2017, as the Star reported, when members of the LGBT community expressed their great fear that a serial killer was preying on their community and organized safe-walk programs and community meetings to talk about it, Saunders took the time to hold a press conference in which he and his detectives “dispelled rumours of a serial killer in the village.” There was no evidence, Saunders’ spokesman stressed, that any of the cases were linked. “There is no evidence that a serial killer is responsible for the disappearance of any of the missing males,” one detective said then, and no evidence many of the missing people had even been victims of foul play at all.

I mean all this time, you had citizens, members of the community, telling the police directly that they should be looking for a serial killer — and according to the police, offering hundreds of tips and leads and pieces of information. And you had the police, including Chief Saunders personally, telling the community that their fears seemed unfounded.

Corporate Europe Observatory
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“What the Monsanto Papers tell us about corporate science” by ? (Europe Corporate Observatory)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The Monsanto Papers are a treasure trove of internal documents slowly released since March 2017 as part of a US lawsuit by cancer victims against Monsanto over its ubiquitous herbicide, glyphosate. They tell a lot about how Monsanto actively subverts science, both in the company’s practices and the way it abuses science’s moral authority to push for its interests…

That Monsanto performs research is clear. The corporation spends about 10 per cent of its turnover in research & development to keep developing new agricultural technologies, and “believe[s] innovation has the potential to bring humanity’s needs in balance with the resources of our planet”.

But the Monsanto Papers show the company’s real, and rather troubling, approach to science and evidence. Revelations include confirmation that the company hardly tested the real-world toxicity of its products, actively avoided pursuing studies which might show unwelcome results, and ghostwrote the studies of supposedly independent scientists. The documents also show Monsanto systematically attacked scientists whose research threatened their profits…

‘Regulatory Science’ vs. Science

If science in the usual sense is free inquiry checked by peer review and reproducibility of results (for which data transparency and rigorous procedures are needed), the science practiced by pesticides companies is mostly of a different nature: the ‘regulatory science’ they refer to when defending their products’ safety is largely performed to comply with public regulations and international regulatory toxicology standards.

Pesticides companies spend considerable time and money trying to influence these public regulations and standards. A global science lobby group like the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), for instance, which is funded by dozens of large agribusiness and food multinational companies, and whose purpose is to influence regulatory agencies and their methods to make sure they do not look too closely into the hazards of industry products, received more than 20 per cent of its funding from Monsanto in 2012.1

For pesticides, this has major implications. Currently the public requirements for serious testing only concern the so-called active substance, not the formulations used in the real world (these are only superficially tested). This means that, for glyphosate-based herbicides, only glyphosate is really tested, not formulations such as Monsanto’s Roundup even though there is strong evidence that they are much more toxic than glyphosate alone (glyphosate is never used alone as a herbicide because it is inefficient). Academics, on the other hand, tend to look at the effects of formulations because this is what people and the environment are exposed to in the real world. But their work is usually considered second-grade by public regulators…

What can we conclude from this brief tour through Monsanto’s internal discussions on the science around glyphosate?

First, that working for Monsanto seems to put its scientists in awkward positions. They have access to a lot of resources but need to keep cutting costs, at the risk of committing scientific fraud. They know their product in-depth but cannot publish what they know, and must actively fight others trying to find it. As scientists, it is difficult for them to get credit as co-authors because other scientists do not want to be associated with them. From the moment a product starts to be commercialised, their scientific competence goes into fighting the relevant science rather than advancing it.

Second, that these exchanges are yet another indication that one cannot be judge and jury, and that corporations have too much of a vested interest in the research they perform or sponsor on their products’ safety to be trusted as a reliable source for public decision-making.

click on image for source

“Feds Bust CEO Of Company Providing Ultra-Secure BlackBerries To Sinaloa Drug Cartel” by Tyler Durden

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The owner of a business providing ultra-secure BlackBerries to the Sinaloa drug cartel and other organizations has been arrested following a multi-agency law enforcement operation, according to an Affidavit filed in the Southern District of California located in San Diego.

Working in conjunction with Canadian and Australian authorities on an operation dating back to at least 2015, authorities raided the business and home of Vincent Ramos, 41 – founder and CEO of Canada-based Phantom Secure, who is charged with racketeering conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and aiding and abetting the cartel. Ramos sold over 20,000 phones worldwide, mostly to “the upper echelon members of various transnational criminal organizations.” In fact, investigators were unable to identify “even a single legitimate Phantom Secure user.”

“Law As Farce”

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