SchwartzReport: Toxins That Threaten Brains

Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

This is a very sobering essay. Read this carefully and it will give you information to make informed choices with how a number of chemicals enter your life, or are kept out. Click through to see the many useful graphics that accompany this report.

The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains
JAMES HAMBLIN – The Atlantic

Forty-one million IQ points. That’s what Dr. David Bellinger determined Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides. In a 2012 paper published by the National Institutes of Health, Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, compared intelligence quotients among children whose mothers had been exposed to these neurotoxins while pregnant to those who had not. Bellinger calculates a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphates, the most common pesticides used in agriculture.

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Mar 26

Berto Jongman: Economic Misleading Indicators and Financial Crashes Explained

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

(Mis)leading Indicators

Why Our Economic Numbers Distort Reality

Zachary Karabell

Foreign Affairs, March/April 2014

The indicators invented in the twentieth century were among the most important innovations of their time. But in a world where anyone with a smartphone can access more data than a team of statisticians could in 1950, governments, businesses, and individuals must embrace the power to design their own bespoke indicators. The questions need to be specific, and the answers must take into account the limits of any data. But the result would be a welcome liberation from abstract and misleading notions about the economy.

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Did Hyman Minsky find the secret behind financial crashes?

BBC News Magazine, 23 March 2014

Minsky had a theory, the “financial instability hypothesis”, arguing that lending goes through three distinct stages. He dubbed these the Hedge, the Speculative and the Ponzi stages, after financial fraudster Charles Ponzi. In the first stage, soon after a crisis, banks and borrowers are cautious. Loans are made in modest amounts and the borrower can afford to repay both the initial principal and the interest. As confidence rises banks begin to make loans in which the borrower can only afford to pay the interest. Usually this loan is against an asset which is rising in value. Finally, when the previous crisis is a distant memory, we reach the final stage – Ponzi finance. At this point banks make loans to firms and households that can afford to pay neither the interest nor the principal. Again this is underpinned by a belief that asset prices will rise.

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Mar 24

SchwartzReport: Lies About Food and the One Truth – Processed Food = Poison

Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

This is upsetting news but good news, and excellent science. The strength of science is its capacity for self-correction. And this is a good example. I completely agree with the observation: “The crucial phrase ‘avoid processed food’ appears nowhere in government nutritional guidelines, yet this is the most concise way to sum up in practical terms w! hat is wholesome and healthy to eat. Until this awareness shapes dietetic advice, all government dietary guidance should come with a tobacco-style caution: Following this advice could seriously damage your health.”

Why Almost Everything You’ve Been Told About Unhealthy Foods Is Wrong
JOANNA BLYTHMAN – The Raw Story/The Guardian (U.K.)

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Mar 24

Berto Jongman: Formula for Societal Collapse – Now

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Scientists Say Society Is Doomed, Though Not For Reason You Might Think

There’s never been a shortage of doomsday scenarios. From the dreaded Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 (remember that?) to the havoc wreaked in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” people have been predicting the end of civilization for as long as there has been a civilization.

The trouble is, they’re sometimes correct: The Roman Empire fell spectacularly, as did the Mayan civilization, the Han Dynasty of China, India’s Gupta Empire and dozens of other once-mighty kingdoms.

But how, exactly, do powerful empires collapse, and why? Researchers now believe they’ve found an answer, one that has troubling implications for today — because we’re clearly on the road to ruin. [11 Failed Doomsday Predictions]

Societal collapse — more common than you think

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Mar 22

SchwartzReport: $1.2 Trillion in USG Corporate Welfare

Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

This kind of report should engender outrage. We can not feed little children nor care properly for the poor and disabled. But welfare for corporations knows no bounds. It is absolutely mad, and it is destroying us. Most of us are aware that the government gives mountains of cash to powerful corporations in the form of tax breaks, grants, loans and subsidies–what some have called “corporate welfare.” However, little has been revealed about exactly how much money Washington is forking over to mega businesses. Until now.

New Report: Fortune 100 Companies Have Received a Whopping $1.2 Trillion in Corporate Welfare Recently
AARON CANTÚ – AlterNet (U.S.)

A new venture called Open the Books, based in Illinois, was founded with a mission to bring transparency to how the federal budget is spent. And what they found is shocking: between 2000 and 2012, the top Fortune 100 companies received $1.2 trillion from the government. That doesn’t include all the billions of dollars doled out to housing, auto and banking enterprises in 2008-2009, nor does it include ethanol subsidies to agribusiness or tax breaks for wind turbine makers.

What Open the Book’s forthcoming report [3] does reveal is that the most valuable contracts between the government and private firms were for military procrument deals, including Lockheed Martin ($392 billion), General Dynamics ($170 billion), and United Technologies ($73 billion).

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Mar 20

Eagle: Food Costs Soar – Revolution in the Air

300 Million Talons...

300 Million Talons…

Food Costs Soar Following Severe Worldwide Drought

Food prices are expected to see their biggest annual increase in the past three years thanks mostly to devastating drought conditions all over the world. Dry conditions mean poor crop production; poor crop production means fewer livestock; and fewer livestock means higher prices for meats and dairy at the grocery store. That plus a pinch on products like cocoa, sugar, wheat, rice and especially coffee have the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a big bump in food costs.

Higher meat and dairy prices are mostly the culprits in the United States, thanks in part to ongoing drought conditions in the Midwest and Great Plains that have forced ranchers to cull their herds rather than pay exorbitant prices to feed the animals. Inflation of corn and soybean products could be managed if farmers receive favorable conditions for their crops this summer, in turn driving down prices of animal feed as well as products for human consumption. Still, consumers could pay as much as $1 more per gallon for milk at the store to compensate for low supplies mixed with high demand.

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Mar 19

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Transpacific Partnership (TPP) Screws Everybody Except the 1%

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz

On the Wrong Side of Globalization

By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

New York Times, 15 March 2014

Trade agreements are a subject that can cause the eyes to glaze over, but we should all be paying attention. Right now, there are trade proposals in the works that threaten to put most Americans on the wrong side of globalization.

The conflicting views about the agreements are actually tearing at the fabric of the Democratic Party, though you wouldn’t know it from President Obama’s rhetoric. In his State of the Union address, for example, he blandly referred to “new trade partnerships” that would “create more jobs.” Most immediately at issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which would bring together 12 countries along the Pacific Rim in what would be the largest free trade area in the world.

Negotiations for the TPP began in 2010, for the purpose, according to the United States Trade Representative, of increasing trade and investment, through lowering tariffs and other trade barriers among participating countries. But the TPP negotiations have been taking place in secret, forcing us to rely on leaked drafts to guess at the proposed provisions. At the same time, Congress introduced a bill this year that would grant the White House filibuster-proof fast-track authority, under which Congress simply approves or rejects whatever trade agreement is put before it, without revisions or amendments.

Controversy has erupted, and justifiably so. Based on the leaks — and the history of arrangements in past trade pacts — it is easy to infer the shape of the whole TPP, and it doesn’t look good. There is a real risk that it will benefit the wealthiest sliver of the American and global elite at the expense of everyone else. The fact that such a plan is under consideration at all is testament to how deeply inequality reverberates through our economic policies.

Worse, agreements like the TPP are only one aspect of a larger problem: our gross mismanagement of globalization.

Read full article.

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Mar 18

SchwartzReport: True Cost of Plastics Leaching Poison Into Foods and Bodies Now Emergent…

Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

Here is the latest on plastics, and the potential for harmful substances leeching foods packaged in plastics. This is not a happy story. My counsel is to choose foods, particularly liquid foods, that are not in plastic containers.

The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics
MARIAH BLAKE – Mother Jones

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Mar 18

Winslow Wheeler: Pentagon’s $1 Trillion a Year Budget — We Do Not Make This Stuff Up!

Winslow Wheeler

Winslow Wheeler

America’s $1 Trillion National Security Budget

by Winslow T. Wheeler

March 13, 2014

The Pentagon’s current leadership and most on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in Congress describe President Obama’s 2015 defense budget request as painfully austere, if not dangerously inadequate.  The defense trade press is full of statements from generals, admirals and the other politicians from both political parties that there is not nearly enough money available to buy adequate amounts of new hardware,  maintain current pay and benefits or provide even low amounts of training and equipment maintenance.  As a result, they are looking for ways to relieve the Pentagon from its penury.

Scarcity of money is not their problem.  Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion.  How can that be?  The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is. 

There is much more than $495.6 billion in the budget for the Pentagon, and there are piles of national security spending outside the Pentagon-all of it as elemental for national security as any new aircraft and ships and the morale and well-being of our troops.

The table below details what a careful observer will find in President Obama’s 2015 budget presentation materials.  The amounts for the Pentagon are well above the advertised $495.6 billion, and there are several non-Pentagon accounts that are clearly relevant. 

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Mar 13

SchwartzReport: California Exports Virtual Water to China While Killing Less Influential Farmers

Categories: 03 Economy,12 Water
Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan A. Schwartz

Water is destiny. Here is a view of water you may not have considered. It gets virtually no coverage in the U.S.

California Drought: Why Farmers Are ‘Exporting Water’ to China
ALASTAIR LEITHEAD – BBC News (U.K.)

Phi Beta Iota: “Virtual water” is a vital aspect of true cost economics as pioneered by Herman Daly. Governments that do not do true cost economics are in constant betrayal of the public trust.

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Feb 22