by cloudier

Olive oil food fraud

Olive oil is far from being the only commonly adulterated food finding its way into British supermarkets. A British trading standards officer said last month that “criminals are moving away from drug offences to counterfeiting [food ingredients], because they are looking at severely reduced jail times. You are looking at 10 years plus for drugs, whereas it’s half that for counterfeiting.” This echoes what one EU investigator told Tom Mueller: “Profits [in olive oil fraud] were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks.”

Appendix isn’t useless at all

“While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed,” said William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of experimental surgery, who conducted the analysis in collaboration with R. Randal Bollinger, M.D., Ph.D., Duke professor emeritus in general surgery.

“Diseases causing severe diarrhea are endemic in countries without modern health and sanitation practices, which often results in the entire contents of the bowels, including the biofilms, being flushed from the body,” Parker said. He added that the appendix’s location and position is such that it is expected to be relatively difficult for anything to enter it as the contents of the bowels are emptied.

“Once the bowel contents have left the body, the good bacteria hidden away in the appendix can emerge and repopulate the lining of the intestine before more harmful bacteria can take up residence,” Parker continued. “In industrialized societies with modern medical care and sanitation practices, the maintenance of a reserve of beneficial bacteria may not be necessary. This is consistent with the observation that removing the appendix in modern societies has no discernable negative effects.”

Several decades ago, scientists suggested that people in industrialized societies might have such a high rate of appendicitis because of the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” Parker said. This hypothesis posits that people in “hygienic” societies have higher rates of allergy and perhaps autoimmune disease because they — and hence their immune systems — have not been as challenged during everyday life by the host of parasites or other disease-causing organisms commonly found in the environment. So when these immune systems are challenged, they can over-react.

“This over-reactive immune system may lead to the inflammation associated with appendicitis and could lead to the obstruction of the intestines that causes acute appendicitis,” Parker said. “Thus, our modern health care and sanitation practices may account not only for the lack of a need for an appendix in our society, but also for much of the problems caused by the appendix in our society.”

Abstruse Goose: I, Cyborg

Wikipedia: Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

The National Council Against Health Fraud, a nonprofit, health agency focused upon health fraud, misinformation, and quackery views the PCRM as a propaganda machine whose press conferences are charades for disguising its animal rights ideology as news events.[21][22]

The American Council on Science and Health, a non-profit, consumer health education and advocacy organization states that the PCRM is unscientific and that it publishes unreliable nutrition information to consumers by emphasizing only data that supports their animal rights agenda. They go on to state that PCRM exaggerate the reliability and importance of data, and that they obfuscate rather than clarify what can be a confusing body of information. The American Council on Science believe that those who purport to represent consumer interests, such as the PCRM should be responsible enough to present accurate and balanced information to the public.[23][21]

The American Medical Association have accused PCRM practices as irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans and that they are blatantly misleading Americans on a health matter and concealing its true purpose as an animal ‘rights’ organization. They have also accused the PCRM of making misleading, false claims and misrepresenting the critical role animals play in research and teaching. Although the PCRM states that as of 2004 there is no longer acrimony between them and the AMA, disagreements have been recorded as recently as 2007[23][24][25][21]

Wikipedia: Williams syndrome

Individuals with Williams syndrome report higher anxiety levels as well as phobia development, which may be associated with hyperacusis (high sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound).[30] Williams syndrome is also strongly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and related psychological symptoms such as poor concentration, hyperactivity, and social disinhibition.[3]

Cognitively, global Intelligence Quotient scores of individuals with Williams syndrome vary widely, but are often low. One study of 306 children with Williams syndrome found IQ scores ranging from 40 to 112 with a mean of 69.32 (an IQ score of 100 is the average in nonaffected populations).[31] IQ scores above this range have been reported in individuals with smaller genetic deletions.[32] In particular, individuals with Williams syndrome experience challenges in visual-motor skills and visuospatial construction. Most affected individuals cannot spatially orient themselves in space, or reconstruct an object from smaller parts. Many adults with Williams syndrome cannot complete a simple six-piece puzzle designed for young children, for example. These visuospatial decificts may be related to damage to the dorsal cortical pathway for visual processing.[33]

Despite their physical and cognitive deficits, individuals with Williams syndrome exhibit impressive social and verbal abilities. Williams patients can be highly verbal relative to their IQ. When children with Williams syndrome are asked to name an array of animals, they may well list such a wild assortment of creatures as a koala, saber-toothed tiger, vulture, unicorn, sea lion, yak, ibex and “Brontosaurus rex“, a far greater verbal array than would be expected of children with IQs in the 60s.[34] The language used by individuals with Williams syndrome differs notably from unaffected populations, including individuals matched for IQ. People with Williams syndrome tend to use speech that is rich in emotional descriptors, high in prosody (exaggerated rhythm and emotional intensity), and features unusual terms and strange idioms.[33]

Among the hallmark traits of individuals with Williams syndrome is an apparent lack of social inhibition. Infants with Williams syndrome make normal and frequent eye contact, and young children with Williams will often approach and hug strangers. Individuals affected by Williams syndrome typically have high empathy, and are rarely observed displaying aggression. The level of friendliness observed in people with Williams is often inappropriate for the social setting, however, and teens and adults with Williams syndrome often experience social isolation, frustration, and loneliness despite their clear desire to connect to other people.[33]

In one experiment, a group of children with Williams syndrome showed no signs of racial bias, unlike children without the syndrome. They did show gender bias, however, suggesting separate mechanisms for these biases.[35]

We Own the World

Then came the “debate.” We are a free and open society, after all, so we have “lively” debates. On the one side were the hawks who said, “The Iranians are interfering, we have to bomb them.” On the other side were the doves who said, “We cannot be sure the evidence is correct, maybe you misread the serial numbers or maybe it is just the revolutionary guards and not the government.”

So we had the usual kind of debate going on, which illustrates a very important and pervasive distinction between several types of propaganda systems. To take the ideal types, exaggerating a little: totalitarian states’ propaganda is that you better accept it, or else. And “or else” can be of various consequences, depending on the nature of the state. People can actually believe whatever they want as long as they obey. Democratic societies use a different method: they don’t articulate the party line. That’s a mistake. What they do is presuppose it, then encourage vigorous debate within the framework of the party line. This serves two purposes. For one thing it gives the impression of a free and open society because, after all, we have lively debate. It also instills a propaganda line that becomes something you presuppose, like the air you breathe.

That was the case here. This is a classic illustration. The whole debate about the Iranian “interference” in Iraq makes sense only on one assumption, namely, that “we own the world.” If we own the world, then the only question that can arise is that someone else is interfering in a country we have invaded and occupied.

Is this feasible? Well, it’s feasible on one assumption, that the United States and Iran become functioning democratic societies, because what I have just quoted happens to be the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the populations in Iran and the United States. On everything that I mentioned there is an overwhelming majority. So, yes, there would be a very feasible solution if these two countries were functioning democratic societies, meaning societies in which public opinion has some kind of effect on policy. The problem in the United States is the inability of organizers to do something in a population that overwhelmingly agrees with them and to make that current policy. Of course, it can be done. Peasants in Bolivia can do it, we can obviously do it here.

About a year ago there was a new rash of articles and headlines on the front page about the “Chinese military build-up.” The Pentagon claimed that China had increased its offensive military capacity — with 400 missiles, which could be nuclear armed. Then we had a debate about whether that proves China is trying to conquer the world or the numbers are wrong, or something.

Just a little footnote. How many offensive nuclear armed missiles does the United States have? Well, it turns out to be 10,000. China may now have maybe 400, if you believe the hawks. That proves that they are trying to conquer the world.