Category Archives: Hypocrisy

Sugar not only fattens you, it makes you older


In the upcoming election, both Berkeley and San Francisco voters will decide ballot measures to impose a tax on sugared drinks designed as a public health measure to combat obesity and all its attendant ills.

Big Ag is resolutely opposing both measures, and supersizing the fight with millions of dollars earned by fattening us up.

Now a new study from the University of California, San Francisco, adds weight [as it were] to their arguments, exposing yet another medical threat posed by sugar [or high fructose corn syrup, in the case of most commercial soft drinks].

From Newswise:

Sugared Soda Consumption, Cell Aging Associated in New Study

  • UCSF Scientists Find Shorter Telomeres in Immune Cells of Soda Drinkers

Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging.

The study revealed that telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — were shorter in the white blood cells of survey participants who reported drinking more soda. The findings were reported online October 16, 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The length of telomeres within white blood cells — where it can most easily be measured — has previously been associated with human lifespan. Short telomeres also have been associated with the development of chronic diseases of aging, including heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues,” said Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UCSF and senior author of the study.

“This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness,” Epel said. “This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

Chart of the day II: Subsidizing what’s killing us


And taxing us to do it. . .

A stunning graphic from a new Oxfam report, Food, Fossil Fuels, and Filthy Finance [PDF]:

Post-tax fossil fuel subsidies in a sample of the world’s largest economies

Post-tax fossil fuel subsidies in a sample of the world’s largest economies

A rebuff to Japanese revisionism: Iris Chang


The militarists of the Shinzo Abe government in Japan have let it be known that they may order the renunciation of  the apology to the so-called “Comfort Women,” women forced into sexual slavery in nations conquered by Japan in World War II.

Also up for their campaign of historical revisionism is the Rape of Nanking, one of the greatest atrocities committed during World War II, in which 300,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered and countless women raped were raped.

In light of that, we offer this talk by the Iris Chang, a brilliant journalist whose seminal 1997 book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II broke new ground a revealed the true scope of atrocities committed by Japanese troops during the six weeks after the city fell on 13 December 1937.

The book landed like a bombshell, in part because Chang had written not only a piece of brilliant journalism; she had written a notable work of serious historical scholarship as well, a book that impacted world politics roiled Sino/Japanese relations.

The book also had a profound impact on survivors.

Chang was passionate, and like so many brilliant writers, her life was to end at her own hand on 9 November 2003 as she was working on another grueling work on wartime atrocities committed during the Bataan Death March.

On her website is posted this statement:

I want the Rape of Nanking to penetrate into public consciousness. Unless we truly understand how these atrocities can happen, we can’t be certain that it won’t happen again.

If the Japanese government doesn’t reckon with the crimes of its wartime leaders, history is going to leave them as tainted as their ancestors. You can’t blame this generation for what happened years ago, but you can blame them for not acknowledging these crimes.

Denial is an integral part of atrocity, and it’s a natural part after a society has committed genocide. First you kill, and then the memory of killing is killed.

Please believe in THE POWER OF ONE.  One person can make an enormous difference in the world. One person — actually, one idea — can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure. One discovery can cure a disease or spawn new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race. You as ONE individual can change millions of lives. Think big. Do not limit your vision and do not ever compromise your dreams or ideals. — Iris Chang

In light of the epidemic revisionism sweeping Japanese right wing politics, we offer this talk by Chang, delivered 0n 22 November 1998 at Miami-Dade Community College and aired on C-Span’s Book Channel.

Via the Film Archive:

The Nanking Massacre: Iris Chang on the Controversy, Causes, Casualties, Denial

John Oliver, at it again: Civil asset forfeiture


Yep, the ongoing assault on malicious hypocrisy that is HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is at it again, this time with a takedown of rapacious looters acting under the color of authority provided by those Bill of Rights destroying provision of the PATRIOT ACT and its subsequent enabling acts:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Civil Forfeiture

Program notes:

Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it’s involved in a crime? They can!

It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order.

See?

And some outtakes with Jeff Goldblum:

Oliver’s singular skill in employment of the reductio ad absurdum is particularly devastating in exposing the single-minded arrogant greed and entitlement assumed by too many cops in the wake of 9/11 and their ennoblement by the mainstream media because of the unquestionably heroic actions of so many police officers [and firefighters, lest we forget] on that dreaded day.

We seem to have forgotten that abuses by armed officers of the state fueled the American Revolution itself and gave rise to the Bill of Rights, with its checks on precisely such abuse.

But the carefully stoked fear of terrorism blinded too many to the inevitable consequences of empowering poorly educated men and women [mostly men] with powers seize loot for their own enrichment and for the enhancement of their own sense of power.

The one question is, will it take another revolution to end it?And, gee, wouldn’t a nice chilly margarita be nice right about now?

Jerry Seinfeld: Biting that hand that fetes him


The Clios are advertising’s version of the Oscars, and since celebrities are always a crowd-pleasers, the Clio crowd decided to give one to Jerry Seinfeld.

And while we’ve never been partial to his peculiar sense of humor, we were delighted to find his remarks when he was given an honorary Clio last week.

And the fact that the audience roars approval at certain moment is ipso facto proof of the cynicism and rapacity that lie at the heart of an industry substantially shaped by Edward Bernays, a propagandist who helped sell Americans on World War I, only adds to event.

Via vlogger Affan Khokhar:

Jerry Seinfeld’s Clio Acceptance Speech

Program notes:

Last night, comedian Jerry Seinfeld deadpanned at the CLIOs: “I love advertising because I love lying…”

The 55th annual CLIO Awards, the most prestigious international advertising awards, were held in NYC. Whoopi Goldberg hosted the event, which also featured a performance by Aloe Blacc and lively acceptance speeches from CLIO Honorary winners Blondie (Debbie Harry and Chris Stein) and Jerry Seinfeld.

Quartz has posted a transcript. of the speech.

An excerpt

I love advertising because I love lying.

In advertising, everything is the way you wish it was. I don’t care that it won’t actually be like when I actually get the product being advertised because, in between seeing the commercial and owning the thing, I’m happy, and that’s all I want. Tell me how great the thing is going to be. I love it. I don’t need to be happy all the time. I just want to enjoy the commercial. I want to get the thing. We know the product is going to stink. We know that. Because we live in the world, and we know that everything stinks. We all believe, hey, maybe this one won’t stink. We are a hopeful species. Stupid but hopeful.

But we’re happy in that moment between the commercial and the purchase, and I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.

Our takeaway: The whole event could’ve come from a Seinfeld episode.

EnviroWatch: Fire fears, critters, chemicals


Another short compendium today, though not for lack of searching. We begin with this from the Ecologist:

California burning points to more intense wildfires

As the forest fires burn on in the western US, writes Kieran Cooke, a new report predicts that climate-led temperature rise will lead to millions more acres across the world being burned to the ground, especially in southern Europe and Australia.

Smoke from fires burning at present in northern California has been detected as far north as Canada.

Thousands of firefighters are battling to contain blazes that together cover nearly 300,000 acres of forest and shrub wood. And it looks like things are going to get worse.

And now a new report by the US-based Cost of Carbon Pollution project forecasts that such fires are going to become ever more intense in the years ahead – not just in the western US, but elsewhere round the world, and particularly in areas of southern Europe and in Australia.

Next, an overdose from the Atlantic Monthly:

The FDA Says Farmers Are Giving Animals Too Many Antibiotics

Overuse of the drugs has increased over the past few years. That’s not good for human health.

A piece of bad news from the Food and Drug Administration: In the war against antibiotic overuse, the antibiotics are winning.

The amount of antibiotics given to farm animals in the United States increased by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, the agency announced in a new report, and nearly 70 percent of those used are considered “medically important” for humans. That’s trouble for us as much as it is for our four-legged friends, who consume the majority of antibiotics in the U.S.—as much as 80 percent are given to the chickens, pigs, and cows bound for our grocery-store shelves, both to spur more rapid growth and to proactively protect them from disease.

Such widespread use of antibiotics has led to bugs that are getting tougher and tougher to treat. Worldwide, strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis and gonorrhea are on the rise. In the U.S., antibiotic resistance caused more than two million illnesses in 2013, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an estimated 23,000 deaths, adding up to more than $20 million in healthcare costs.

From the Guardian, beguiled by the long green?:

WWF International accused of ‘selling its soul’ to corporations

  • Pandaleaks writer says conservation group has forged links with business which is using it to ‘greenwash’ their operations

WWF International, the world’s largest conservation group, has been accused of “selling its soul” by forging alliances with powerful businesses which destroy nature and use the WWF brand to “greenwash” their operations.

The allegations are made in an explosive book previously barred from Britain. The Silence of the Pandas became a German bestseller in 2012 but, following a series of injunctions and court cases, it has not been published until now in English. Revised and renamed Pandaleaks, it will be out next week.

Its author, Wilfried Huismann, says the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.

The Independent sounds a death knell:

Elephants and rhinos ‘could be extinct within two decades’ because of ivory poaching

Elephants and rhinos could be extinct within the next two decades, conservation campaigners are warning.

Wildlife campaigners say an estimated 35,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos are killed each year as demand for ivory and rhino horn drives increasing poaching rates.

This demand means both species could potentially be wiped out within the next 20 years.

From the Jakarta Globe, capital critter conservation:

US Reduces Indonesian Debt in Exchange for Wildlife Protection

The United States has struck a deal to reduce Indonesia’s debts in exchange for Jakarta pledging about $12 million for programs to protect endangered species and their habitats on Sumatra island, conservationists said Friday.

The move adds to a similar agreement in 2009, under which the Indonesian government pledged $30 million for increased protection of Sumatra’s forests, said NGO Conservation International, which helped broker the deal.

The agreement, which was inked this week, will provide additional funds for environmental groups to improve programmes aimed at protecting the Sumatran low-land rainforests as well as efforts to increase populations of threatened animals.

The New York Times looks at the C-word in Brazil:

Clashing Visions of Conservation Shake Brazil’s Presidential Vote

From the podium at the United Nations to declarations on the campaign trail, President Dilma Rousseff is celebrating Brazil’s protection of the Amazon. But satellite data released last month shows that Brazil’s annual deforestation rate in the Amazon has climbed again after years of declines, rising 29 percent, leaving her vulnerable to attacks in this nation’s acrimonious presidential race. The vote is on Sunday.

“The mantra in Brasília is that they have deforestation under control, but the evidence on the ground shows this is not true,” said Philip M. Fearnside, a prominent researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research in Manaus, the Amazon’s largest city.

Beyond alarming scientists, who note the importance of the vast rain forest to the world’s climate and biodiversity, the sparring over the Amazon symbolizes clashing visions of Brazil’s future. Both Ms. Rousseff and her top rival, Marina Silva, an environmental leader, say they want forest conservation, but the president’s model seeks economic growth by tapping into the Amazon’s natural resources, including huge mining projects and dams.

And our final item, via the Mainichi, mutating munchies:

Food safety commission recognizes snack food compound can cause gene mutations

The Cabinet Office’s Food Safety Commission called acrylamides, a chemical compound found in snack foods like potato chips, a carcinogen that can cause gene mutations, in a draft it released on Oct. 3.

The draft marks the first official evaluation of acrylamides’ alleged carcinogenic properties by Japanese authorities. In other countries, these properties have been recognized since the early 2000s based on various research studies, and those countries have been warning consumers about them. The Japanese food safety commission team has been independently looking into the substance’s properties since December 2011.

Based on animal experiments in Japan and in other countries, the team determined that acrylamides are carcinogens that can mutate genes and chromosomes and therefore even have effects on the subsequent generation.

Moyers & Company: Too Big to Jail?


Bill Moyers talks to former federal banking regulator and University of Missouri-Kansas City law and economics prof William K. Black [previously] about the Obama administration’s abysmal record in [not] prosecuting the arrogant banksters who brought the global economy to brink to ruin.

From Moyers & Company:

Too Big to Jail?

Program notes:

Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation last week reminds us of an infuriating fact: No banking executives have been criminally prosecuted for their role in causing the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression.

“I blame Holder. I blame Timothy Geithner,” veteran bank regulator William K. Black tells Bill this week. “But they are fulfilling administration policies. The problem definitely comes from the top. And remember, Obama wouldn’t have been president but for the financial contribution of bankers.”

And the rub? While large banks have been penalized for their role in the housing meltdown, the costs of those fines will be largely borne by shareholders and taxpayers as the banks write off the fines as the cost of doing business. And by and large these top executives got to keep their massive bonuses and compensation, despite the fallout.

But the story gets even more infuriating, the more Black lays bare the culture of corruption that led to the meltdown.

“The Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations all could have prevented [the financial meltdown],” Black tells Moyers. And what’s worse, Black — who exposed the so-called Keating Five — believes the next crisis is coming: “We have created the incentive structures that [are] going to produce a much larger disaster.”