You are browsing the archive for 2015 January 02.

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Say Bye to Your Money: Detoxification Is Nothing More Than a Scam

January 2, 2015 in Blogs

By Dara Mohammadi, The Guardian

The pushers of these detox products are preying on our ignorance.

Whether it’s cucumbers splashing into water or models sitting smugly next to a pile of vegetables, it’s tough not to be sucked in by the detox industry. The idea that you can wash away your calorific sins is the perfect antidote to our fast-food lifestyles and alcohol-lubricated social lives. But before you dust off that juicer or take the first tentative steps towards a colonic irrigation clinic, there’s something you should know: detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.

“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions. “The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”

If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, he says, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. “The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” he says. “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”

Much of the sales patter revolves around “toxins”: poisonous substances that you ingest or inhale. But it’s not clear exactly what these toxins are. If they were named they could be measured before and after treatment to test effectiveness. Yet, much like floaters in your eye, try to focus on these toxins and they scamper from view. In 2009, a network of scientists assembled by the UK charity Sense about Science contacted the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to detoxify. The products ranged from …read more


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5 Studies That Show How Wealth Warps Your Soul

January 2, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Inequality 'triggers a chemical reaction in the privileged few. It tilts their brain.'

“Money can't buy happiness,” the old adage warns, although poverty is hardly a day at the beach. But according to several recent studies, excessive wealth not only fails to bring contentment, it warps your soul. (Or brain, for the skeptics among you.)

That's the thesis of a Michael Lewis essay on how being rich can make you both more “selfish and dishonest.” Opening with an instructive lesson drawn from youthful days at a summer tennis camp, Lewis cites a broad array of studies showing the deleterious impact of excess wealth. But he does not think the problem is inborn, or that genetically nasty people are more apt to make big bucks. No, he writes: “The problem is caused by the inequality itself: It triggers a chemical reaction in the privileged few. It tilts their brains. It causes them to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the moral sentiments needed to be a decent citizen.”

It's not just his impression. Here are five studies he cites that illustrate and quantify the moral and psychological deficits of the wealthy.

1.  Too Much Money Can Make You Greedy: Researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute interviewed 30,000 people and found that richer Americans are more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study at UC Berkeley found that the “richer the person was,” the more likely they'd pilfer candy from a jar labeled only for children.

2.  Too Much Money Can Make You A Cheater: UC Berkeley's Paul Piff had participants of different income levels play a game that offered a $50 cash prize. He found that people with incomes of $150,000 a year cheated four times more than those who made $15,000 a year. This is striking because $50 makes a much bigger difference in your life if you make $15,000 a year than $150,000  year. It could mean the difference between paying a bill or not, having lunch or going without, or buying a friend a beer.

3.  Too Much Money Can Make You More …read more


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Prince Andrew Named in Underage 'Sex Slave' Case

January 2, 2015 in Blogs

By Paul Lewis, James Ball, The Guardian

Woman alleges investment banker Jeffrey Epstein lent her to the duke to have repeated forced sexual relations.

A woman who claims that an American investment banker loaned her to rich and powerful friends as an underage “sex slave” has alleged in a US court document that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with Prince Andrew.

The accusation against the Duke of York is contained in a motion filed in a Florida court this week in connection with a long-running lawsuit brought by women who say they were exploited by Jeffrey Epstein, a multi-millionaire convicted of soliciting sex with an underage girl after a plea deal.

The woman, who filed the motion anonymously, alleges that between 1999 and 2002 she was repeatedly sexually abused by Epstein who, she also alleges, loaned her out to rich and influential men around the world.

The document – a motion to expand an ongoing lawsuit relating to prosecutors’ handling of Epstein’s case with two new plaintiffs – alleges that the woman “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor” in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.

The prince is not a named party to the legal claim, which is directed against federal prosecutors. He has not had any opportunity to respond to the allegations in the legal claim.

The woman is said to have been 17 at the time, considered to be a minor in Florida.

In a 2011 Vanity Fair article, Prince Andrew denied any sexual contact with young women associated with Epstein.

Contacted on Thursday, Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the allegations contained in the court document. A palace spokesperson said the royal household would “never comment on an ongoing legal matter”.

However following publication of this article on, Buckingham Palace issued the following statement: “This relates to long-running and ongoing civil proceedings in the United States to which the Duke of York is not a party. As such we would not comment in detail. However, for the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with underage …read more


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Our Terrifying New Congress: Meet 5 Tea Party Extremists Taking Office this Month

January 2, 2015 in Blogs

By Luke Brinker, Salon

Climate deniers, anti-abortionists and gun nuts, yikes!

Come next week, a few of Congress’ most notorious Tea Partyers will no longer be in office. Rep. Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican who once declared evolution and the Big Bang Theory “lies straight from the pit of hell,” lost a U.S. Senate primary this year and won’t be returning to the House. Neither will Michele Bachmann, who needs no introduction.

But the departure of such inflammatory conservatives hardly means that the 114th Congress will be a more sober one. Indeed, the crop of Republicans taking power next month is even further to the right than the current House GOP conference. The newly Republican Senate, too, will feature more than its fair share of ultraconservative hard-liners. Today, Salon looks at five of the most extreme Republicans taking power in Washington this month.

Joni Ernst

What do you call someone who supports arresting federal officials for implementing healthcare reform, champions “personhood” legislation that would ban abortion and some forms of birth control, believes there’s a secret elite plot to steal farmers’ land, keeps a gun as protection against “the government,” and thinks President Obama is a “dictator“?

You call her “Senator” — as in soon-to-be-Sen. Joni Ernst, the Iowa state lawmaker who defeated congressman Bruce Braley in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. Polls indicated that most Iowans agreed with Braley’s positions on the issues, but in a midterm election that largely focused on the candidates’ personalities — Ernst is charismatic, Braley most definitely is not — Ernst secured six years in the U.S. Senate.

Glenn Grothman

In Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District, Tom Petri, an establishment Republican who may or may not be seriously ethically challenged, opted not to seek a 19th term in the House this year. When voters in Petri’s district replaced him with state legislator Glenn Grothman, it marked a political shift from the right to the far right.

You can’t spell “Grothman” without some of the letters you need to spell “troglodyte,” and his views on issues like race, gender and LGBT rights make him one of the most incendiary incoming House Republicans. …read more


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Paul Krugman: How Soaring Inequality May Lead the World Down the Path of Fascism

January 2, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

The esteemed columnists sees disturbing parallels to 1930s Europe.

We live in scary times, Paul Krugman writes in his Friday New York Times column. So scary that they put the esteemed economist in mind of 1930s Europe.

The rising inequality problem, well established by Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, has concentrated so much wealth in the hands of so few, while millions of other live in what Krugman poetically calls the “Valley of the despond.” 

The only other group that is doing well, besides the global elite, says Krugman, is “what we might call the global middle — largely consisting of the rising middle classes of China and India.” For a crystal clear view if what is going on he suggests consulting a remarkable chart of income gains around the world produced by Branko Milanovic of the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Of course, there is a huge plus side to rising incomes for those living in those developing nations where hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of terrible poverty. But in advanced countries, there are also worrisome signs on the horizon:

Between these twin peaks — the ever-richer global elite and the rising Chinese middle class — lies what we might call the valley of despond: Incomes have grown slowly, if at all, for people around the 20th percentile of the world income distribution. Who are these people? Basically, the advanced-country working classes. And although Mr. Milanovic’s data only go up through 2008, we can be sure that this group has done even worse since then, wracked by the effects of high unemployment, stagnating wages, and austerity policies.

Furthermore, the travails of workers in rich countries are, in important ways, the flip side of the gains above and below them. Competition from emerging-economy exports has surely been a factor depressing wages in wealthier nations, although probably not the dominant force. More important, soaring incomes at the top were achieved, in large part, by squeezing those below: by cutting wages, slashing benefits, crushing unions, and diverting a rising share of national resources to financial wheeling …read more