Friday, April 8, 2011

Drug Company Pleads Guilty to Health Fraud

Life Extension Magazine March 2010 
By William Faloon


Physicians Paid to Illegally Prescribe Drugs

It’s one thing to break the law by paying doctors to prescribe drugs that at least have some degree of documented efficacy, but Pfizer went further than this. 

The government’s complaint describes how Pfizer created new uses for its patented drugs and then engaged in all kinds of devious schemes to illegally promote these “new uses” to physicians. For instance, Pfizer claimed their drug Lyrica® was superior to lower-cost generic medications to treat neuropathic and surgical pain, and then illegally compensated doctors to prescribe Lyrica® for these indications.15

Geodon® is a drug approved to treat schizophrenia or acute bipolar mania, but the government outlined in its complaint that Pfizer was inappropriately and illegally promoting it for use in children and adults to treat autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, and depression. The government contended that Pfizer illegally promoted Geodon® at dosages that were off-label and “offered and paid illegal remuneration to health care professionals to induce them to promote and prescribe Geodon in violation of the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.”16

Zyvox® is an antibiotic Pfizer makes to treat deadly antibiotic-resistant MRSA staph infections. The settlement agreement outlined various alleged misconduct relating to the illegal marketing of this drug, including how Pfizer falsely advertised that Zyvox® was superior to generic vancomycin and then illegally paid doctors to prescribe it.17


Pfizer Gets By with a Slap on the Wrist

In the settlement agreement, Pfizer only has to agree to admit to the Bextra® criminal charge. In exchange for paying a total of $2.3 billion, Pfizer is allowed to claim a denial of the government’s other allegations. 

To give you an idea what a drop in the bucket this payout is to Pfizer, when a one-time tax break was given to corporations that repatriated offshore profits, Pfizer brought back $37 billion of cash stashed away from its foreign operations.18 Pfizer did this because the tax rate was only 5.25% that year. Considering how much more they made in their largest market (the United States), writing a $2.3 billion check to settle these massive fraud claims is pocket change to a company the size of Pfizer.

This is not the first time Pfizer was caught committing these illegal acts. Prosecutors noted that this was Pfizer’s fourth such settlement since 2002.1 In fact, according to the US Attorney, while Pfizer was negotiating deals over past misconduct, they were continuing to violate the same laws with other drugs.19
Contrast Pfizer’s “slap-on-the-wrist” fine to what the FDA does to those who practice alternative medicine. Under far less egregious circumstances, the government seizes everything owned by alternative practitioners and often subjects them to harsh jail sentences.


Drug Companies Pay Ghostwriters

According to a study released by editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association, drug companies pay doctors with prestigious university affiliations to put their name on so-called “scientific papers” that are written by ghostwriters.20

These pharmaceutical company-financed articles, carefully calibrated to sell expensive prescription drugs, slip by the peer-review process and make it into the top medical journals. Not only do these articles influence physician prescribing practices, but the media often picks up on them and runs favorable news articles about these deceptively promoted drugs.

As Life Extension reported last year, drug company Wyeth faces 8,400 lawsuits from women who claim Premarin® or PremPro® caused them to become ill. Court documents from these cases reveal that Wyeth paid ghostwriters to produce 26 “scientific” papers supporting the use of their dangerous female hormone drugs.21

The Wyeth-funded articles extolled purported benefits of these unnatural hormone drugs while downplaying their lethal risks. Nowhere in these articles was Wyeth’s role in initiating and paying for them disclosed.

Court documents show how Wyeth contracted with private companies to outline articles, draft them, and then solicit top physicians to sign their names, even though many of the doctors contributed little or no writing to them. These tainted articles were published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, and helped generate billions of dollars of sales for Wyeth.21

The latest corroboration of large-scale drug company-induced ghostwriting substantiates what Life Extension uncovered decades ago: drug companies manipulate scientific data to deceive doctors into prescribing dangerous drugs.

If you wonder how pharmaceutical companies have been able to defraud the American public for so many decades, look no further than the incestuous relationship they maintain with the FDA. By providing the pharmaceutical industry a virtual monopoly over drug sales in the United States, as the FDA does, consumers have only limited options when they contract a serious illness.

Those who offer alternatives to FDA-approved drugs often find themselves under criminal or civil investigation by any number of federal agencies, thus impeding or outright blocking their ability to compete against pharmaceutical behemoths.


Where to Find Unbiased Drug Information

Not all prescription drugs are fraudulently sold. In fact, some medications confer longevity benefits. The problem is that pharmaceutical companies exert so much control over the FDA that consumers cannot rely on this agency to protect them against dangerous and ineffective drugs.

The Life Extension Foundation is not a patent holder of expensive prescription drugs, nor are we economically beholden to the pharmaceutical industry. Our track record of warning against dangerous drug side effects, while recommending safer and more effective drug uses, exceeds anything that the FDA has ever done to protect consumers.

As a Life Extension member, you obtain unbiased scientific data, free from the scandalous and criminal pharmaceutical company deception most Americans are vulnerable to.

For longer life,
William Faloon
1. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2009.
2. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2009.
3. Roumie CL, Mitchel EF Jr, Kaltenbach L, Arbogast PG, Gideon P, Griffin MR. Nonaspirin NSAIDs, cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors, and the risk for stroke. Stroke. 2008 Jul;39(7):2037-45.
4. Roumie CL, Choma NN, Kaltenbach L, Mitchel EF Jr, Arbogast PG, Griffin MR. Non-aspirin NSAIDs, cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and risk for cardiovascular events-stroke, acute myocardial infarction, and death from coronary heart disease. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2009 Nov;18(11):1053-63.
5. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2009.
6. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2009.
7. Khanapure SP, Garvey DS, Janero DR, Letts LG. Eicosanoids in inflammation: biosynthesis, pharmacology, and therapeutic frontiers. Curr Top Med Chem. 2007;7(3):311-40.
8. Mao JT, Tsu IH, Dubinett SM, et al. Modulation of pulmonary leukotriene B4 production by cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and lipopolysaccharide. Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Oct 15;10(20):6872-8.
9. Snyderman CH, Abbas MM, Wagner R, D’Amico F. Inhibition of growth of a murine squamous cell carcinoma by a cyclooxygenase inhibitor increases leukotriene B4 production. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995 Sep;121(9):1017-20.
10. Cheng Y, Austin SC, Rocca B, et al. Role of prostacyclin in the cardiovascular response to thromboxane A2. Science. 2002 Apr 19;296(5567):539-41.
11. Subbarao K, Jala VR, Mathis S, et al. Role of leukotriene B4 receptors in the development of atherosclerosis: potential mechanisms. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 Feb;24(2):369-75.
12. Leaberry BA. Aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: systematic review. J Nurs Care Qual. 2010 Jan-Mar;25(1):17-21.
13. Lavie CJ, Milani RV, Mehra MR, Ventura HO. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular diseases. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Aug 11;54(7):585-94.
14. Srivastava G, Mehta JL. Currying the heart: curcumin and cardioprotection. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Mar;14(1):22-7.
15. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2009.
16. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2009.
17. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2009.
18. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2009.
19. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2009.
20. Ross JS, Hill KP, Egilman DS, Krumholz HM. Guest authorship and ghostwriting in publications related to rofecoxib: a case study of industry documents from rofecoxib litigation. JAMA. 2008 Apr 16;299(15):1800-12.
21. Available at: Accessed October 29, 2009.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gettin to Know Excitotoxins

EXCITOT0XINS - By Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, MD

(Author of the excellent book: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills)

There are a growing number of Clinicians and Scientists who are convinced that excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders, including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases; a group of diseases which includes: ALS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.

An enormous amount of both clinical and experimental evidence has accumulated over the past decade supporting this basic premise. Yet, the FDA still refuses to recognize the immediate and long term danger to the public caused by the practice of allowing various excitotoxins to be added to the food supply, such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal – the blue packets).

The amount of these neurotoxins added to our food has increased enormously since their first introduction. For example, since 1948 the amount of MSG added to foods has doubled every decade. By 1972, 262,000 metric tons were being added to foods. Over 800 million pounds of aspartame have been consumed in various products since it was first approved. Ironically, these food additives have nothing to do with preserving food or protecting its integrity. They are all used to alter the taste of food. MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and natural flavoring are used to enhance the taste of food so that it tastes better. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener.

The public must be made aware that these toxins (excitotoxins) are not present in just a few foods but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc. Experimentally, we know that when subtoxic (below toxic levels) of excitotoxins are given to animals, they experience full toxicity. Also, liquid forms of excitotoxins, as occurs in soups, gravies and diet soft drinks are more toxic than that added to solid foods. This is because they are more rapidly absorbed and reach higher blood levels.

So, what is an excitotoxin? These are substances, usually amino acids, that react with specialized receptors in the brain in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of brain cells. Glutamate is one of the more commonly known excitotoxins. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate. This amino acid is a normal neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, it is the most commonly used neurotransmitter by the brain. Defenders of MSG and aspartame use, often say: “How could a substance that is used normally by the brain cause harm?” This is because, glutamate, as a neurotransmitter, is used by the brain only in very, very small concentrations - no more than 8 to 12ug. When the concentration of this transmitter rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally. At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of cell death.

The brain has several elaborate mechanisms to prevent accumulation of MSG in the brain. First is the blood-brain barrier, a system that impedes glutamate entry into the area of the brain cells. But, this system was intended to protect the brain against occasional elevation of glutamate of a moderate degree, as would be found with un-processed food consumption. It was not designed to eliminate very high concentrations of glutamate and aspartate consumed daily, several times a day, as we see in modern society. Several experiments have demonstrated that under such conditions, glutamate can by-pass this barrier system and enter the brain in toxic concentrations. In fact, there is some evidence that it may actually be concentrated within the brain with prolonged exposures. There are also several conditions under which the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is made incompetent. Before birth, the BBB is incompetent and will allow glutamate to enter the brain. It may be that for a considerable period after birth the barrier may also incompletely developed as well. Hypertension, diabetes, head trauma, brain tumors, strokes, certain drugs, Alzheimer's disease, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, severe hypoglycemia, heat stroke, electromagnetic radiation, ionizing radiation, multiple sclerosis, and certain infections can all cause the barrier to fail. In fact, as we age the barrier system becomes more porous, allowing excitotoxins in the blood to enter the brain. So there are numerous instances under which excitotoxin food additives can enter and damage the brain.

Finally, recent experiments have shown that glutamate and aspartate (as in aspartame) can open the barrier itself. Another system used to protect the brain against environmental excitotoxins, is a system within the brain that binds the glutamate molecule (called the glutamate transporter) and transports it to a special storage cell (the astrocyte) within a fraction of a second after it is used as a neurotransmitter. This system can be overwhelmed by high intakes of MSG, aspartame and other food excitotoxins. It is also known that excitotoxins themselves can cause the generation of numerous amounts of free radicals and that during the process of lipid peroxidation (oxidation of membrane fats) a substance is produced called 4-hydroxynonenal. This chemical inhibits the glutamate transporter, thus allowing glutamate to accumulate in the brain. Excitotoxins destroy neurons partly by stimulating the generation of large numbers of free radicals. Recently, it has been shown that this occurs not only within the brain, but also within other tissues and organs as well (liver and red blood cells). This could, from all available evidence, increase all sorts of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, coronary heart disease, and atherosclerosis, as well as induce cancer formation. Certainly, we would not want to do something that would significantly increase free radical production in the body. It is known that all of the neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and ALS, are associated with free radical injury of the nervous system.

It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally are not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time. While MSG and aspartame are probably not causes of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, they may well precipitate these disorders and certainly worsen their effects. It may be that many people with a propensity for developing one of these diseases would never develop a full blown disorder had it not been for their exposure to high levels of food borne excitotoxin additives. Some may have had a very mild form of the disease had it not been for the exposure.

In July, 1995, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) conducted a definitive study for the FDA on the question of safety of MSG. The FDA wrote a very deceptive summery of the report in which they implied that, except possibly for asthma patients, MSG was found to be safe by the FASEB reviewers. But, in fact, that is not what the report said at all. I summarized, in detail, my criticism of this widely reported FDA deception in the revised paperback edition of my book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by analyzing exactly what the report said, and failed to say. For example, it never said that MSG did not aggravate neurodegenerative diseases. What they said was, there were no studies indicating such a link. Specifically, that no one has conducted any studies, positive or negative, to see if there is a link. In other words it has not been looked at -.a vital difference.

Unfortunately for the consumer, the corporate food processors not only continue to add MSG to our foods, but they have gone to great lengths to disguise these harmful additives. For example, they use such names as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, caseinate, yeast extract, and natural flavoring. We know experimentally, as stated, when these excitotoxin taste enhancers are added together they become much more toxic. In fact, excitotoxins in subtoxic concentrations can be fully toxic to specialized brain cells when used in combination.

Frequently, I see processed foods on supermarket shelves, especially frozen or diet food, that contain two, three or even four types of excitotoxins. We also know that excitotoxins in a liquid form are much more toxic than solid forms because they are rapidly absorbed and attain high concentration in the blood. This means that many of the commercial soups, sauces, and gravies containing MSG are very dangerous to nervous system health, and should especially be avoided by those either having one of the above mentioned disorders, or are at a high risk of developing one of them. They should also be avoided by cancer patients and those at high risk for cancer.

In the case of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we know that consumption of red meats and especially MSG itself, can significantly elevate blood glutamate, much higher than is seen in the normal population. Similar studies, as far as I am aware, have not been conducted in patients with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. But, as a general rule I would certainly suggest that person's with either of these diseases avoid MSG containing foods as well as red meats, cheeses, and pureed tomatoes, all of which are known to have high levels of glutamate. It must be remembered that it is the glutamate molecule that is toxic in MSG (monosodium glutamate). Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid found in varying concentrations in many foods. Defenders of MSG safety allude to this fact in their defense. But, it is free glutamate that is the culprit. Bound glutamate, found naturally in foods, is less dangerous because it is slowly broken down and absorbed by the gut, so that it can be utilized by the tissues, especially muscle, before toxic concentrations can build up. Therefore, a whole tomato is safer than a pureed tomato. The only exception to this, based on present knowledge, is in the case of ALS. Also, in the case of tomatoes, the plant contains several powerful antioxidants known to block glutamate toxicity.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein should not be confused with hydrolyzed vegetable oil. The oil does not contain appreciable concentration of glutamate, it is an oil. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is made by a chemical process that breaks down the vegetable's protein structure to purposefully free the glutamate, as well as aspartate, another excitotoxin. This brown powdery substance is used to enhance the flavor of foods, especially meat dishes, soups, and sauces. Despite the fact that some health food manufacturers have attempted to sell the idea that this flavor enhancer is " all natural" and "safe" because it is made from vegetables, it is not. It is the same substance added to processed foods. Experimentally, one can produce the same brain lesions using hydrolyzed vegetable protein as by using MSG or aspartate. A growing list of excitotoxins is being discovered, including several that are found naturally. For example, L- cysteine is a very powerful excitotoxin. Recently, it has been added to certain bread dough and is sold in health food stores as a supplement. Homocysteine, a metabolic derivative, is also an excitotoxin. Interestingly, elevated blood levels of homocysteine has recently been shown to be a major, if not the major, indicator of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Equally interesting, is the finding that elevated levels have also been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders, especially anencephaly and spinal dysraphism (neural tube defects). It is thought that this is the protective mechanism of action of the prenatal vitamins B12, B6, and folate when used in combination. It remains to be seen if the toxic effect is excitatory or by some other mechanism. If it is excitatory, then unborn infants would be endangered as well by glutamate, aspartate (part of the aspartame molecule), and the other excitotoxins. Recently, several studies have been done in which it was found that all Alzheimer's patients examined had elevated levels of homocysteine. Recent studies have shown that persons affected by Alzheimer's disease also have widespread destruction of their retinal ganglion cells. Interestingly, this is the area found to be affected when Lucas and Newhouse first discovered the excitotoxicity of MSG. While this does not prove that dietary glutamate and other excitotoxins cause or aggravate Alzheimer's disease, it makes one very suspicious. One could argue a common intrinsic etiology for central nervous system neuronal damage and retinal ganglion cell damage, but these findings are disconcerting enough to warrant further investigations.
EXCITOTOXINS - By Dr. George Grant

The Free Radical Connection

It is interesting to note that many of the same neurological diseases associated with excitotoxic injury are also associated with accumulations of toxic free radicals and destructive lipid enzymes. For example, the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients have been found to contain high concentration of lipolytic enzymes, which seems to indicate accelerated membrane lipid peroxidation, again caused by free radical generation. In the case of Parkinson's disease, we know that one of the early changes is the loss of glutathione from the neurons of the striate system, especially in a nucleus called the substantia nigra. It is this nucleus that is primarily affected in this disorder. Accompanying this, is an accumulation of free iron, which is one of the most powerful free radical generators known. One of the highest concentrations of iron in the body is within the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra. The neurons within the latter are especially vulnerable to oxidant stress because the oxidant metabolism of the transmitter-dopamine- can proceed to the creation of very powerful free radicals. That is, it can auto-oxidize to peroxide,which is normally detoxified by glutathione. As we have seen, glutathione loss in the substantia nigra is one of the earliest deficiencies seen in Parkinson's disease. In the presence of high concentrations of free iron, the peroxide is converted into the dangerous and very powerful free radical, hydroxide. As the hydroxide radical diffuses throughout the cell, destruction of the lipid components of the cell takes place, a process called lipid peroxidation. Using a laser microprobe mass analyzer, researchers have recently discovered that iron accumulation in Parkinson's disease is primarily localized in the neuromelanin granules (which gives the nucleus its black color). It has also been shown that there is dramatic accumulation of aluminum within these granules. Most likely, the aluminum displaces the bound iron, releasing highly reactive free iron. It is known that even low concentrations of aluminum salts can enhance iron-induced lipid peroxidation by almost an order of magnitude. Further, direct infusion of iron into the substantia nigra nucleus in rodents can induce a Parkinsonian syndrome, and a dose related decline in dopamine. Recent studies indicate that individuals having Parkinson's disease also have defective iron metabolism.

Another early finding in Parkinson's disease is the reduction in complex I enzymes within the mitochondria of this nucleus. It is well known that the complex I enzymes are particularly sensitive to free radical injury. These enzymes are critical to the production of cellular energy. When cellular energy is decreased, the toxic effect of excitatory amino acids increases dramatically, by as much as 200 fold. In fact, when energy production is very low, even normal concentrations of extracellular glutamate and aspartate can kill neurons. One of the terribly debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease is a condition called " freezing up", a state where the muscle are literally frozen in place. There is recent evidence that this effect is due to the unopposed firing of a special nucleus in the brain (the subthalamic nucleus). Interestingly, this nucleus uses glutamate for its transmitter. Neuroscientists are exploring the use of glutamate blocking drugs to prevent this disorder.

And finally, there is growing evidence that similar free radical damage, most likely triggered by toxic concentrations of excitotoxins, causes ALS. Several studies have demonstrated lipid peroxidation product accumulation within the spinal cords of ALS victims. Iron accumulation has also been seen in the spinal cords of ALS victims. Besides the well known reactive oxygen species, such as super oxide, hydroxyl ion, hydrogen peroxide, and singlet oxygen, there exist a whole spectrum of reactive nitrogen species derived from nitric oxide, the most important of which is peroxynitrate. These free radicals can attack proteins, membrane lipids and DNA, both nuclear and mitochondrial, which makes these radicals very dangerous.

It is now known that glutamate acts on its receptor via a nitric oxide mechanism. Overstimulation of the glutamate receptor can result in accumulation of reactive nitrogen species, resulting in the concentration of several species of dangerous free radicals. There is growing evidence that, at least in part, this is how excess glutamate damages nerve cells.

In a multitude of studies, a close link has been demonstrated between excitotoxity and free radical generation. Others have shown that certain free radical scavengers (anti-oxidants), have successfully blocked excitotoxic destruction of neurons. For example, vitamin E is known to completely block glutamate toxicity in vitro (in culture). Whether it will be as efficient in vivo (in a living animal) is not known. But, it is interesting in light of the recent observations that vitamin E slows the course of Alzheimer's disease, as had already been demonstrated in the case of Parkinson's disease. There is some clinical evidence, including my own observations, that vitamin E also slows the course of ALS as well, especially in the form of D- Alpha-tocopherol. I would caution that anti-oxidants work best in combination and when use separately can have opposite, harmful, effects. That is, when antioxidants, such as ascorbic acid and alpha tocopherol, become oxidized themselves, such as in the case of dehydroascorbic acid, they no longer protect, but rather act as free radicals themselves. The same is true of alpha-tocopherol.

Taking the vitality pack + Provex Plus (or CV) + Cell Wise is highly recommended to neutralize those free radicals.

We know that there are four main endogenous sources of oxidants:

1. Those produced naturally from aerobic metabolism of glucose.

2. Those produced during phagocytic cell attack on bacteria, viruses, and parasites, especially with chronic infections.

3. Those produced during the degradation of fatty acids and other molecules that produce H2O2 as a by-product. (This is important in stress, which has been shown to significantly increase brain levels of free radicals.) And 4. Oxidants produced during the course of p450 degradation of natural toxins.

As we have seen, one of the major endogenous sources of free radicals is from exposure to free iron. Unfortunately, iron is one mineral heavily promoted by the health industry, and is frequently added to many foods, especially breads and pastas. Copper is also a powerful free radical generator and has been shown to be elevated within the substantia nigra nucleus of Parkinsonian brains.

When free radicals are generated, the first site of damage is to the cell membranes, since they are composed of polyunsaturated fatty acid molecules known to be highly susceptible to such attack. The process of membrane lipid oxidation is known as lipid peroxidation and is usually initiated by the hydroxal radical. We know that one's diet can significantly alter this susceptibility. For example, diets high in omega 3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish oils and flax seed oils) can increase the risk of lipid peroxidation experimentally. Contrawise, diets high in olive oil, a monounsaturtated oil, significantly lowers lipid peroxidation risk. From the available research.The beneficial effects of omega 3-fatty acid oils in the case of strokes and heart attacks probably arises from the anticoagulant effect of these oils and possibly the inhibition of release of arachidonic acid from the cell membrane. But, olive oil has the same antithrombosis effect and anticancer effect but also significantly lowers lipid peroxidation.

And now for a world government

*To view this article without signing in to Financial Times please copy and paste the title into google search and review from the source link. 
By Gideon Rachman
Published: December 9 2008 02:00 | Last updated: December 9 2008 02:00

I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible.

A "world government" would involve much more than co-operation between nations. It would be an entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws. The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force.

So could the European model go global? There are three reasons for thinking that it might.

First, it is increasingly clear that the most difficult issues facing national governments are international in nature: there is global warming, a global financial crisis and a "global war on terror".

Second, it could be done. The transport and communications revolutions have shrunk the world so that, as Geoffrey Blainey, an eminent Australian historian, has written: "For the first time in human history, world government of some sort is now possible." Mr Blainey foresees an attempt to form a world government at some point in the next two centuries, which is an unusually long time horizon for the average newspaper column.

But - the third point - a change in the political atmosphere suggests that "global governance" could come much sooner than that. The financial crisis and climate change are pushing national governments towards global solutions, even in countries such as China and the US that are traditionally fierce guardians of national sovereignty.

Barack Obama, America's president-in-waiting, does not share the Bush administration's disdain for international agreements and treaties. In his book, The Audacity of Hope , he argued that: "When the world's sole superpower willingly restrains its power and abides by internationally agreed-upon standards of conduct, it sends a message that these are rules worth following." The importance that Mr Obama attaches to the UN is shown by the fact that he has appointed Susan Rice, one of his closest aides, as America's ambassador to the UN, and given her a seat in the cabinet.

A taste of the ideas doing the rounds in Obama circles is offered by a recent report from the Managing Global Insecurity project, whose small US advisory group includes John Podesta, the man heading Mr Obama's transition team and Strobe Talbott, the president of the Brookings Institution, from which Ms Rice has just emerged.

The MGI report argues for the creation of a UN high commissioner for counter-terrorist activity, a legally binding climate-change agreement negotiated under the auspices of the UN and the creation of a 50,000-strong UN peacekeeping force. Once countries had pledged troops to this reserve army, the UN would have first call upon them.

These are the kind of ideas that get people reaching for their rifles in America's talk-radio heartland. Aware of the political sensitivity of its ideas, the MGI report opts for soothing language. It emphasises the need for American leadership and uses the term, "responsible sovereignty" - when calling for international co-operation - rather than the more radical-sounding phrase favoured in Europe, "shared sovereignty". It also talks about "global governance" rather than world government.

But some European thinkers think that they recognise what is going on. Jacques Attali, an adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, argues that: "Global governance is just a euphemism for global government." As far as he is concerned, some form of global government cannot come too soon. Mr Attali believes that the "core of the international financial crisis is that we have global financial markets and no global rule of law".

So, it seems, everything is in place. For the first time since homo sapiens began to doodle on cave walls, there is an argument, an opportunity and a means to make serious steps towards a world government.

But let us not get carried away. While it seems feasible that some sort of world government might emerge over the next century, any push for "global governance" in the here and now will be a painful, slow process.

There are good and bad reasons for this. The bad reason is a lack of will and determination on the part of national, political leaders who - while they might like to talk about "a planet in peril" - are ultimately still much more focused on their next election, at home.

But this "problem" also hints at a more welcome reason why making progress on global governance will be slow sledding. Even in the EU - the heartland of law-based international government - the idea remains unpopular. The EU has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in referendums, when plans for "ever closer union" have been referred to the voters. In general, the Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians - and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective, only when it is anti-democratic.

The world's most pressing political problems may indeed be international in nature, but the average citizen's political identity remains stubbornly local. Until somebody cracks this problem, that plan for world government may have to stay locked away in a safe at the UN.

Obama's Transparency Award. Wait, you didn't see the award ceremony?

Obama finally accepts his transparency award...behind closed doors

By Ed O'Keefe

It’s as if the president were to thank environmentalists for an award by serving lunch with paper plates and plastic forks that weren’t recyclable: After a two-week delay, President Obama this week received an award from transparency and good-government advocates in a closed-door Oval Office meeting that wasn’t on his public schedule — a snub that’s angering the folks who met with him.

Obama earned the award, timed to coincide with the recent Sunshine Week festivities, in recognition for his push to open up the federal government by requiring agencies to fulfill more Freedom of Information requests, publicly disclosing White House visitor logs, and posting more government information online for the general public to review. Good-government groups believe Obama has done more in two years than any of his predecessors did to open wide the often-closed doors of government.

The White House canceled the initial meeting two weeks ago amid preparations for the Libyan air strikes and the government’s response to the Japanese earthquake.

Considering the meeting’s focus on transparency, the optics of the rescheduled meeting might not sit well with outside observers: The Oval Office meeting occurred Monday in between Obama’s appearance at a televised town hall on Hispanic concerns and his widely watched television speech on military operations in Libya, according to the advocates. It didn’t appear on his publicly-released daily schedule, there’s been no official White House readout of the meeting, no photos released and no transcript of the exchange.

Yes, the president is entitled to and frequently holds private Oval Office meetings. But it seems counter to the president’s stated priorities, and insulting to the people presenting him with the award for failing to publicly disclose the meeting.

“It’s almost a theater of the absurd to have an award on transparency that isn’t transparent,” said Gary Bass, founder of OMB Watch, and one of five transparency advocates who met with Obama on Monday.

“The irony is that everything the president said was spot-on. I wish people had heard what he had to say.”
Bass was joined at the meeting by Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, Patrice McDermott of and Lucy A. Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Bass, Brian and Dalglish later blogged about the meeting.

All five groups have criticized the Obama White House and previous administrations for withholding government information or failing to disclose it in a timely manner. (Dalglish’s attendance at the private meeting may seem most questionable to the White House press corps, considering her group serves as a legal advocacy group for reporters and includes several prominent journalists on its steering committee.)
Bass insists the group didn’t realize the White House failed to disclose the meeting to reporters. “I think this is a particularly bad situation and I’m not going to try to defend the president on that,” he said.

Brian called it “crazy stupid” for the White House to keep mum about the meeting. “He even made a joke when we walked in the room about how he wanted to make sure we would be listed on the White House visitors logs,” she said in an e-mail. “Someone on the White House staff should get their butt kicked for this one.”

Brian said she isn’t as concerned about the privacy of the meeting because a White House videographer filmed the exchange — but members of the White House press corps have panned the distribution of White House-produced video news releases, arguing they are no substitute for unfiltered, independent press access to the president.

Blanton said that despite the lack of access, the group enjoyed about 20 minutes of discussion with Obama on open government issues and another hour-long sitdown with White House Counsel Bob Bauer about how to ensure agencies continue to work on their concerns.

And despite the snub, they stand by their decision to grant Obama the award, even if, as Bass put it, the president subsequently shot himself in the foot for keeping the meeting private.

If the groups decide to award Obama again for his efforts, perhaps they should insist the White House publicly disclose the meeting and ask that it be open to the press or held at a public event. Perhaps they should also ensure these details before walking into any meeting with him. At the risk of damaging hard-earned reputations, face time with the president shouldn’t trump one’s principles.

The Obama Deception

 No Changes & Zero Hope! This tantalizing video shows how Barack Obama lied to all of us by promising big changes to the US government and it's policies.

America: Freedom To Fascism

This video explains how bankers started the controversial Federal Reserve Bank and why the IRS is unable to provide credible evidence of the law that mandates US citizens to pay income taxes. Where are our taxes going?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whose Really Behind FOX News & Other Various Media Groups

A very compelling interview with Joseph Trento talks about Fox News and the Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Please watch the video interview at the bottom.

By Joseph Trento, on February 3rd, 2010

Last month I appeared on Fox News Network’s morning show, Fox and Friends, to talk about airline security. Normally such appearances end up as clips on the Fox News Web site. Granted, the Steve Doocy interview was hardly groundbreaking, but that is seldom a criterion for feeding the beast that is a major cable network news Web site. Curiously, I was quoted in a written piece on the site that got a fair amount of pick-up, but no video.

It was not until a few days later that I learned what may have been behind the absence of a video clip on the Web site. I had said to Doocy that Saudi Arabian money was still financing Al Qaeda. Doocy did not react to my comment. But ten days later I learned that Fox’s parent company, News Corporation, was, at the time of my interview, negotiating with a Saudi prince to vastly increase his stake in the company.

The notorious Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, nephew to the Saudi king, met with Rupert Murdoch in Hong Kong on Jan. 14. The prince issued a press release after the meeting stating that the prince’s Kingdom Holding Company had discussions that “touched upon future potential alliances with News Corp.”

By the time I appeared on Fox News, Prince Alwaleed was about to become News Corp’s fourth largest voting shareholder (behind the Murdoch family, Liberty Media, and Fidelity Management & Research Co, a mutual fund). The prince has repeatedly defended his homeland as a problem-free place. What he has failed to mention is that he has personally donated huge amounts of money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Alwaleed is the same Saudi prince who made headlines right after 9/11 when he personally went to Ground Zero and offered then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check for the relief efforts. But Alwaleed could not keep his mouth shut. He released a bizarre statement that blamed the attacks – not on the 15 airline hijackers from Saudi Arabia – but on the United States’ support of Israel. Giuliani, “America’s mayor,” saw a political opportunity and, confident that his reaction was appropriate, immediately refused the prince’s donation. He said: “There is no moral equivalent for this attack.”

Giuliani, who is a frequent guest on Fox shows, was widely praised at the time for turning back the prince’s money. Flash forward nine years. Since the prince upped his ante in his Fox/News Corp. holdings, we have not heard much from the normally vociferous Fox hosts.

Don Imus now hangs his hat at the Fox Business News channel. Each day the “I-Man” proves his loyalty to his new network overlords by making certain there are not too many “panty wearing liberals” visiting his glitzy new set. It is true that some of his liberal friends abandoned him after he made racist and sexist statements on his MSNBC show. But when the I-Man’s talented crew was in media exile, his producer, Bernard McGirk, helped pave the way for the show’s move from RFD-TV oblivion to Fox, thus proving that ratings trump behavior.

The prince becoming a player at News Corps is perfect fodder for the normally fearless I-Man. One Imus regular, an explosive ex-New York cop turned security expert and friend of the famous Bo Dietl, used to unload loud and unending tirades against the Saudis. But curiously, in recent appearances, Bo has been uncharacteristically restrained and has not said a word about the Saudis since Murdoch kissed the money frog that is the Saudi prince.

I never figured Imus was someone who would pass up a really easy and cheap joke. But that is just what he has done over the last few weeks. After the Fox Business News’s other top marquee name, Neil Cavuto, did an unbelievably fawning interview with the prince shortly after he increased his shares in News Corp, the Imus show continued the charade.

Remarkably, I find myself agreeing with Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan appointee who is not happy about Murdoch’s new dealings with the prince. He recently wrote:

…Even more troubling than having a Saudi spinmeister, even a lousy one, at the decision-making table of America’s most successful, and conservative, television network is another aspect of Al-Waleed’s deal with Mr. Murdoch. The Australian entrepreneur has reportedly also given the prince the unfiltered ability to broadcast Saudi-produced materials directly into America on Murdoch’s satellite. Here’s how that part of the deal will evidently work: Prince Al-Waleed’s Rotana Audio Visual Company, which operates TV channels in the Middle East, has signed a deal with DirecTV, the TV-satellite firm controlled by News Corp. As a result, it would seem Rotana will be able to beam its programs into U.S. cable boxes without interference from federal regulators, or anybody else…What passes for entertainment in Saudi Arabia mostly looks like jihadist agitprop to the rest of us. Rotana has a huge library of movies, music and television programs. Such programming has to also include vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-American incitement. That is, after all, the only kind of material the Wahhabi religious censors approve for production and broadcast in Saudi Arabia. Could that be what the prince has in mind for DirecTV subscribers?
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal

Then the question occurs: Can we rely on Rupert Murdoch to keep the Saudi prince from abusing his new platforms? Perhaps not. After all, Mr. Murdoch is having succession, financial, and other problems with his business empire. In fact, he was reportedly so concerned about losing control of the News Corporation that he arranged to put a ‘poison pill’ defense in place to stop a hostile takeover bid from one of his rivals, media magnate John Malone. Malone’s Liberty Media had taken an 18 percent share in News Corp’s voting stock. Since the Murdoch family owns only 30 percent of the company’s voting shares, he is likely to be very grateful now that his prince has come. And Al-Waleed seems to understand how to reinforce that sentiment. He has told the press that he is ‘a vocal and open ally of Mr. Murdoch.’ In his inimitable fashion, the prince added that he hasn’t given Mr. Murdoch official control of his vote, but News Corp’s founder can count on him to vote the Australian’s way. ‘He does not have proxy for me, but he has my verbal proxy.’

Could it be that the Saudis’ troubling move on Fox and its sister companies is getting so little attention from the competition because they hope such a step will make them look at Fox News as less ‘fair and balanced’? You decide.”

The thing about the prince that can make us all rest a little easier is that he does not hide his feelings. Our friends at 60 Minutes were invited to do a profile on him in the wake of the return of his 9/11 check. The late Ed Bradley dutifully demonstrated for all to see that the prince is one of the most self indulgent of the Kingdom’s thousands of royal cousins. With a straight face the prince told Bradley: “…Saudi Arabia has no civil unrest, no civil disobedience. Sorry. Saudi Arabia is a very stable country. Sure…we had these bombs here and there, but they were all related to a certain subject.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Your Best Prescription ... May Be Looking Out For Number #1

By John Lustyan 

From Life Extension Blog 

It’s your body and no one will or should care as much about it as you do. Today’s enlightened movement toward integrated medicine (combining natural resources and therapies with modern medical practices) adds a new complexity for most people, including practitioners. So, the responsibility must be yours.

Dismiss the conversations about taking more control of your health management — the time has come to be in charge of it! Even doctors with the best intentions are faced with seeing more patients for less time than ever before and are bombarded with information on new drugs by pharmaceutical reps while being briefed from multiple sources on how those drugs interact with each other.

The fast-swinging door on today’s operating rooms have resulted in shocking stories about patients going in for one procedure, only to come to and discover another had been performed in error ... or worse, the wrong limb was amputated.

If catastrophic errors of this magnitude can occur, we need to recognize that highly frequent medical practices, typically taken for granted, can be more susceptible to error ... with consequences equally as grave.

Two out of every three patients who visit a doctor leave with at least one prescription for medication, according to a 2007 report on medication safety issued by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Close to 40 percent of the U.S. population receive prescriptions for four or more medications. And the rate of adverse drug reactions increases dramatically after a patient is on four or more medications.

Each year, about 106,000 people die from the side effects of prescription drugs, according to David Kekich, author of Life Extension Express. That does not account for the hundreds of thousands of problems from side effects not resulting in death ... and is about three times greater than the number of deaths from car accidents in the U.S. each year.

Just last month, this writer discovered an error missed by three doctors who had separately reviewed and discussed my prescribed medications with me. The first of these physicians had prescribed Diltiazem while I was taking Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium).

Experiencing pain in the area of my right kidney weeks later, I did some searching and found one of the many easy-to-use resources online for checking the interaction risk of drugs. I discovered an interaction warning for the two drugs, stating ... “When combined, they may react causing acute kidney failure.”

Drugs can also interact adversely with healthy foods and supplements. If you are concerned about possible interactions between medications and nutritional supplements, Life Extension offers you a toll free number, 1-800-226-2370 to speak with a Health Advisor.

An Ounce of Prevention ...

One of the most prudent things you can do is discuss natural alternatives to taking prescribed medicines with your healthcare provider. Although more and more doctors are receptive to this type of discussion, only a small percentage have received sufficient, if any, education regarding alternative or integrated options.

Case in point; when I’d asked a physician about the potential value of creatine in improving my heart health; he responded, “You’ll probably find better information about it online than I can give you.” I like and respect that doctor, he just knew he wasn’t equipped to address that question.

As your own advocate, in charge of your healthcare, you can facilitate these discussions by printing information you’ve researched and reviewing it with your doctor. The website, contains thousands of pages of valuable information backed by over 30 years of research as a world leader in uncovering breakthrough approaches for preventing and treating the diseases of aging.

If prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications are a part of your life, there are lots of things you can do to take these in a safe and responsible manner.
  • Always read drug labels carefully.
  • Learn about the warnings for all the drugs you take.
  • Keep medications in their original containers so that you can easily identify them.
  • Ask your doctor what you need to avoid when you are prescribed a new medication. Ask about food, beverages, dietary supplements, and other drugs.
  • Use one pharmacy for all of your drug needs.
  • Keep all of your health care professionals informed about everything that you take.
  • Consult your pharmacist, informing them of:
- Everything you use. Keep a record and give it to your pharmacist. Make sure you put all the prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, herbals, and other supplements you use. Your pharmacist will use this to keep his/her records up-to-date and help you use medicine safely.
- Any allergic reactions or problems with medications, medications with dietary supplements, medications with food, or medications with other treatments.
- Anything that could affect your use of a medication, such as trouble swallowing, reading labels, remembering to use medications, or paying for medications.
- Before you start using something new. Your pharmacist can help you avoid medicines, supplements, foods, and other things that don't mix well with your current medication.
- If you are pregnant, might become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.
  • After you have the medication, and before you leave the pharmacy:
- Look to be sure you have the right medications. If you've bought the medication before, make sure it has the same shape, color, size, markings, and packaging. Anything different? Ask your pharmacist. If it seems different when you use it, tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other healthcare professional.
- Be sure you know the right dose for the medication and you know how to use it. Any questions? Ask your pharmacist.
- Make sure there is a measuring spoon, cup, or syringe for liquid medication. If the medication doesn't come with a special measuring tool, ask your pharmacist about one. (Spoons used for eating and cooking may give the wrong dose. Don't use them.)
- Be sure you have any information the pharmacist can give you about the medication. Read it and save it.
Keep a record of all prescription drugs, OTC drugs, dietary supplements and herbs with you at all times, but especially when you go on any medical appointment. It could also be valuable, in case of a medical emergency. For example:
  • Being unaware of what medications you may be taking could result in an Emergency Room doctor prescribing something that negatively interacts with a current prescription.
  • Coumadin/Warfarin is a strong anticoagulant; should you be in an accident requiring emergency surgery, your risk for excessive bleeding could be dangerously, even fatally, high and you’d want the attending doctor to know.  
For many people, prescriptions represent a significant area of self-advocacy, so hopefully you find this informative and empowering.

You’re invited to answer the question below and “Share” this blog post amongst your social community.

Reducing Cell-Phone Radiation Risks

Gauging the precise dangers these gadgets
pose to our health could take years, so we
all must take precautions now.

From Green America Come Together     March 1, 2011
PACE programs = affordable clean energyAre cell phones having an impact on our brains?
 The answer just got a little clearer when a February study in the Journal of the American Medical Association asserted unequivocally that, yes, cell phones change brain activity.

"This study shows that the human brain is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation coming out of cell phones," study author Nora Volkow told The Wall Street Journal. "Our finding does not tell us if this is harmful or not." Like a similar study backed by the World Health Organization last May, Volkow's study concluded it will take more research to ascertain just how harmful. Regardless, since four in five American adults already own one, it's urgent that we take precautions with cell phones.

Other researchers--especially those whom the cell phone industry didn't finance--have already concluded that cell-phone radiation poses risks, especially to children. Their smaller heads and thinner skulls can allow the radiation to penetrate deeper into their brains. For example:
  • A 2009 analysis of 11 studies, published in Surgical Neurology, found that using cell phones for 10 years or more approximately doubles the risk of "a brain tumor on the same (ipsilateral) side of the head as that preferred for cell phone use."
  • A 2009 analysis of 23 studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that people who used cell phones for 10 years or more had a 10-30 percent higher chance of developing cancer than those who rarely or never used them.
  • Dr. Devra Davis's recently published book Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family, reports that not only do all studies of heavy cell phone users over a 10-year period find an increased risk of brain tumors, but scientists have warned against children using cell phones since as early as 2000.
So, what can be done?

Some governments already mandate cell-phone labeling as a precautionary step. Both the city of San Francisco and the Israeli government require that manufacturers display the specific absorption rate (SAR)--the amount of radiation absorbed by the body--on their cell phones. And the governments of Finland, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Canada, and Russia have also issued warnings advising cell phone users, especially children, to use headsets to minimize exposure to radio-frequency radiation.

Unfortunately, there's not much movement on mandatory point-of-purchase SAR labeling in the United States. Companies like Motorola, T-Mobile, Blackberry, Kyocera, and Apple do include a few words of caution with their products already--in the fine print. If you page through your cell phone's owner's manual, you'll likely find buried precautionary language telling you to hold the phone at least "one inch away" from your head, or to always place the device inside a bag or holster to block radiation into your body.

Still, Davis said, consumers can't rely on cell phone companies for protection, since industry-funded studies often raise doubts about the independently funded studies that highlight radiation risks. She compares the cell-phone situation we face today to the lengthy struggle it took to prove tobacco's health detriments.

"In both of those situations, I noticed a pattern," Davis said. "First you'd have reports of harm to people. And then industry steps in to raise doubt of that harm."

Without a commitment from the companies that make and market cell phones for greater disclosure, or a legislative push for stronger regulation, what should consumers do?

Take precaution. Search the government's cell phone database ( to review SAR levels before you buy one. Then, limit your exposure--and especially your children's exposure--to radiation. Use a headset or speakerphone, text more, and remember the "one inch" rule. Even if it strains your eyes, always read that fine print.
--Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

Scientists Warn: Food Colors Damage Kids

posted by Michelle Schoffro Cook Mar 31, 2011 4:11 pm

A recent study reported in the journal Prescrire International found that artificial food dyes are linked to an increased incidence of hyperactivity in children. Scientists studied 297 children who were representative of the general population to conclude that food colors increase hyperactivity in children, not just children who are sensitive to them.

The scientists also found that children who suffered from hyperactivity saw a worsening of their hyperactivity symptoms when they ingested food colors.  In addition to their placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study, they also conducted an analysis of other existing research prior to concluding “it is best to avoid exposing children to artificial food coloring.”

In another study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the dye tartrazine was linked to behavioural disturbances in normal children.  Still more research from doctors at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom found that food dyes have a significant impact on the behaviour of normal children and boost the levels of hyperactivity.  These doctors also recommended that these additives be removed from children’s diets.

FDA Stalling Tactics

While numerous independent studies link artificial food colors to hyperactivity in normal, non-sensitive, children, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to claim that there is no proven relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity in children.  Beginning yesterday (Wednesday), an FDA advisory committee will attempt to determine whether available research links the dyes and the disorder.  Somehow the experts have known this information for years yet the FDA doesn’t have a clue.
Read on to learn how dyes cross the blood-brain barrier…

The FDA meeting is in response to a 2008 petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, requesting that yellow 5, red 40, and six other dyes be banned.  It is bad enough that the FDA took three years just to initiate a response, but no one knows what the response will be.  It is likely that the FDA will continue to allow these harmful substances to be used in food.  After all, they’ve allowed them for three decades.  Don’t our children deserve better than this?

More Harmful Health Effects Linked to Food Colors

And, what about the many other symptoms linked to food colors?  Doesn’t the FDA think they warrant consideration?  In numerous studies, one particular dye–the yellow color, annatto, has been linked to skin rashes, huge blood-sugar rises and damage to the energy-production sites in the liver and pancreas.  In a case study in the journal Annals of Allergy, severe low blood pressure was linked to a cereal containing this ingredient.

Food Dyes Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier

Further research cited by Jacqueline Krohn, MD, in her book Natural Detoxification, showed that artificial food colors cross the blood-brain barrier.  The blood-brain barrier is a bit of a misnomer because it works more on a lock-and-key-type of mechanism, allowing some substances access to the brain while preventing others access.  However, many harmful chemicals, food colors included, cross this delicate mechanism, where they can cause damage to the brain.  This is of particular concern for children whose brains are in the developmental stage and at a higher risk of damage from toxic substances.
 The Food Additives Pile Up

Currently, the average person eats over 124 pounds of food additives, including artificial colors, EVERY YEAR! There is no testing on the cumulative effects of combining food colors with all these chemicals, not to mention the myriad other chemicals to which we are exposed in our air and water, like pesticides, for example.

Additionally, many toxic substances in our food supply show delayed responses.  In other words, you might eat food additives in your diet today but you may experience the effects years from now.  So, these responses are also possible from food dyes.

There is substantial evidence to ban food colors, particularly from the diets of children.  It’s time the FDA stepped up its efforts to ensure that we, and our children, are not unknowingly harmed by toxic ingredients that should never have been added to food in the first place.

Adapted from Total Body Detox:  The Safe, Easy, and Natural Way to Detoxify Your Body, Balance Your Weight, and Feel Great by Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP.
10 Worst Foods
Common Food Additive Linked to High Blood Pressure
Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and eleven-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme Cure. Check out her natural health resources and free e-newsletter at

Ten Strikes Against Nuclear Power

Coal March 21, 2011
In the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis, some countries, like Germany, have responded with due caution,pulling the plug on several nuclear power plants, and calling their nuclear energy programs into question.
Here in the US, the Obama administration’s response to the crisis has been less encouraging.

A week after the disaster, with brave work crews still risking their lives in Japan to bring the situation under control, Energy Secretary Steven Chu affirmed in congressional testimony that the president’s request for $36 billion in appropriations for the nuclear loan guarantee program remains on the table.

There’s no way US taxpayers should underwrite construction of new nuclear power plants in this country. 

While it’s certainly true that our energy needs require a diversity of solutions, nuclear power shouldn’t be in the mix. Solar, wind, and geothermal power, combined with energy efficiency, can overcome our reliance on fossil fuels, provide energy security, and mitigate the climate crisis. Nuclear power may be low-carbon, but it is not clean energy.

Here are the top 10 reasons why we shouldn’t build any more nuclear reactors:

1) Nuclear waste – The waste from nuclear power plants is toxic for humans and the planet for more than 100,000 years. It's untenable now to secure and store all of the waste from the plants that exist. With nuclear proponents saying we need as many as 3,000 more plants (some say it’s more like 17,00) to scale up to meet the climate challenge, nuclear waste containment is unthinkable.

2) Nuclear proliferation – In discussing the proliferation issue, Al Gore said, "During my eight years in the White House, every nuclear weapons proliferation issue we dealt with was connected to a nuclear reactor program." Iran   and North Korea are reminding us of this every day. We can't develop a domestic nuclear energy program without confronting proliferation in other countries.

3) National Security – Nuclear reactors represent a clear national security risk, and an attractive target for terrorists.

4) Accidents – Forget terrorism for a moment, and remember that accidents – human error or natural disasters – can wreak havoc at a nuclear power plant site. The Chernobyl disaster forced the evacuation and resettlement of nearly 400,000 people, with thousands poisoned by radiation.

5) Cancer – There are growing concerns that living near even accident-free nuclear plants increases the risk for childhood leukemia and other cancers. One Texas study found increased cancer rates in north central Texas since a nuclear power plant was established in 1990, and a recent German study found childhood leukemia clusters near several nuclear power sites in Europe.

6) Not enough sites – Nuclear plants must locate near a source of water for cooling, and there aren't enough worldwide locations safe from droughts, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other disasters that could trigger an accident. Over 24 nuclear plants are at risk of shutting down this year because of drought in the Southeast.

7)Not enough uranium – Even if we could find enough sites for a new generation of nuclear plants, we're running out of the uranium necessary to power them. Scientists in both the US and UK have shown that if nuclear power were expanded to provide all the world's electricity, our uranium would be depleted in ten years.

8) Costs – Some types of energy production experience decreasing costs to scale. Like computers and cell phones, when you make more solar panels, costs come down. Nuclear power, however, will experience increasing costs to scale. Due to dwindling sites and uranium resources, each successive new nuclear power plant will see its costs rise.

9) Private sector unwilling to finance – Due to all of the above, the private sector has largely taken a pass on the financial risks of nuclear power, leading the industry to seek taxpayer loan guarantees from Congress instead.

And finally, even if all of the above didn't exist, nuclear power still can't be a climate solution because there is …

10) No time -- We have the next ten years to mount a global effort against climate change. It simply isn't possible to build enough new plants in ten years.

Solar power, wind power, geothermal, and aggressive energy efficiency are climate solutions that are safer, cheaper, faster, more secure, and less wasteful than nuclear power.

With so many strikes against nuclear power, we should challenge our candidates for higher office to remove it from the table as a climate solution, and turn our energies toward the technologies and strategies that can truly make a difference.
Adapted from a speech by Alisa Gravitz, executive director of Green America. 
An expanded version of this editorial can be found at

Senator Bernie Sanders Slams Tax Avoiding Corporations

Top 10 US Corporate Tax Avoiders Named on Senate Floor

posted by: Nancy Roberts
Despite complaints about the U.S.'s burdensome 35% corporate tax rate, two-thirds of American corporations pay no taxes in a given year. In a speech last week on the Senate floor, Senator Bernie Sanders  (I) of Vermont called out the top 10 corporate tax avoiders:

Among those actually getting money back from the Feds:

  • ExxonMobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009, paid no federal income taxes, received a $156 million rebate.
  • Bank of America received a $1.9 billion IRS refund despite $4.4 billion of profits,
  • General Electric had $26 billion in profits, and $4.1 billion refund (GE made it onto another top 10 list of top corporate lobbyists in 2010, spending $39 million.)
  • Chevron nabbed a $19 million refund after making $10 billion in profits.
Wall Street made the list as well; the Senator's office notes,"Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department."

Spreading the Burden, if not the Wealth
Given the nation's $1.6 trillion deficit, Senator Sanders suggests that the burden of deficit reduction be shared more equally, rather than hurting working people, sick children, and others ill-equipped for optimal lobbying.

Senator Sanders has called for eliminating corporate tax loopholes and getting rid of tax breaks for oil and gas companies. He has introduced a bill that would raise an estimated $50 billion through an "emergency" 5.4 percent extra tax on people with adjusted gross incomes of over one million dollars.

Sharing the pain...not happening
Senator Sanders says that serious times call for shared sacrifice. Those are beautiful words, but sharing sacrifice seems like a fairy tale in a country where the top five percent own nearly two-thirds  of our nation's wealth.

Despite the Supreme Court 's finding that corporations are basically people in the eyes of the law, corporations themselves cannot be moral or immoral -- they are entities, not sentient beings. We have a system that rewards the gamers, where winners take all, and influence peddling is rife; where the defense for a highly profitable company not paying taxes is that it is within the law. As American families face the looming April 15 tax deadline, it is tough to hear corporations claim that mere compliance is enough in a system where laws and loopholes can be bought and sold.

How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

Ed Vulliamy  
The Observer,
 As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignoredAs the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored.

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business.

"Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank's $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement.

The conclusion to the case was only the tip of an iceberg, demonstrating the role of the "legal" banking sector in swilling hundreds of billions of dollars – the blood money from the murderous drug trade in Mexico and other places in the world – around their global operations, now bailed out by the taxpayer.

At the height of the 2008 banking crisis, Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime, said he had evidence to suggest the proceeds from drugs and crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to banks on the brink of collapse. "Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade," he said. "There were signs that some banks were rescued that way."
Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash, just as Wells Fargo became a beneficiary of $25bn in taxpayers' money. Wachovia's prosecutors were clear, however, that there was no suggestion Wells Fargo had behaved improperly; it had co-operated fully with the investigation. Mexico is the US's third largest international trading partner and Wachovia was understandably interested in this volume of legitimate trade.

José Luis Marmolejo, who prosecuted those running one of the casas de cambio at the Mexican end, said: "Wachovia handled all the transfers. They never reported any as suspicious."

"As early as 2004, Wachovia understood the risk," the bank admitted in the statement of settlement with the federal government, but, "despite these warnings, Wachovia remained in the business". There is, of course, the legitimate use of CDCs as a way into the Hispanic market. In 2005 the World Bank said that Mexico was receiving $8.1bn in remittances.

During research into the Wachovia Mexican case, the Observer obtained documents previously provided to financial regulators. It emerged that the alarm that was ignored came from, among other places, London, as a result of the diligence of one of the most important whistleblowers of our time. A man who, in a series of interviews with the Observer, adds detail to the documents, laying bare the story of how Wachovia was at the centre of one of the world's biggest money-laundering operations.

Martin Woods, a Liverpudlian in his mid-40s, joined the London office of Wachovia Bank in February 2005 as a senior anti-money laundering officer. He had previously served with the Metropolitan police drug squad. As a detective he joined the money-laundering investigation team of the National Crime Squad, where he worked on the British end of the Bank of New York money-laundering scandal in the late 1990s.
Woods talks like a police officer – in the best sense of the word: punctilious, exact, with a roguish humour, but moral at the core. He was an ideal appointment for any bank eager to operate a diligent and effective risk management policy against the lucrative scourge of high finance: laundering, knowing or otherwise, the vast proceeds of criminality, tax-evasion, and dealing in arms and drugs.

Woods had a police officer's eye and a police officer's instincts – not those of a banker. And this influenced not only his methods, but his mentality. "I think that a lot of things matter more than money – and that marks you out in a culture which appears to prevail in many of the banks in the world," he says.
Woods was set apart by his modus operandi. His speciality, he explains, was his application of a "know your client", or KYC, policing strategy to identifying dirty money. "KYC is a fundamental approach to anti-money laundering, going after tax evasion or counter-terrorist financing. Who are your clients? Is the documentation right? Good, responsible banking involved always knowing your customer and it still does."

When he looked at Wachovia, the first thing Woods noticed was a deficiency in KYC information. And among his first reports to his superiors at the bank's headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, were observations on a shortfall in KYC at Wachovia's operation in London, which he set about correcting, while at the same time implementing what was known as an enhanced transaction monitoring programme, gathering more information on clients whose money came through the bank's offices in the City, in sterling or euros. By August 2006, Woods had identified a number of suspicious transactions relating to casas de cambio customers in Mexico.

Primarily, these involved deposits of traveller's cheques in euros. They had sequential numbers and deposited larger amounts of money than any innocent travelling person would need, with inadequate or no KYC information on them and what seemed to a trained eye to be dubious signatures. "It was basic work," he says. "They didn't answer the obvious questions: 'Is the transaction real, or does it look synthetic? Does the traveller's cheque meet the protocols? Is it all there, and if not, why not?'"

Woods discussed the matter with Wachovia's global head of anti-money laundering for correspondent banking, who believed the cheques could signify tax evasion. He then undertook what banks call a "look back" at previous transactions and saw fit to submit a series of SARs, or suspicious activity reports, to the authorities in the UK and his superiors in Charlotte, urging the blocking of named parties and large series of sequentially numbered traveller's cheques from Mexico. He issued a number of SARs in 2006, of which 50 related to the casas de cambio in Mexico. To his amazement, the response from Wachovia's Miami office, the centre for Latin American business, was anything but supportive – he felt it was quite the reverse.

As it turned out, however, Woods was on the right track. Wachovia's business in Mexico was coming under closer and closer scrutiny by US federal law enforcement. Wachovia was issued with a number of subpoenas for information on its Mexican operation. Woods has subsequently been informed that Wachovia had six or seven thousand subpoenas. He says this was "An absurd number. So at what point does someone at the highest level not get the feeling that something is very, very wrong?"

In April and May 2007, Wachovia – as a result of increasing interest and pressure from the US attorney's office – began to close its relationship with some of the casas de cambio. But rather than launch an internal investigation into Woods's alerts over Mexico, Woods claims Wachovia hung its own money-laundering expert out to dry. The records show that during 2007 Woods "continued to submit more SARs related to the casas de cambio".

In July 2007, all of Wachovia's remaining 10 Mexican casa de cambio clients operating through London suddenly stopped doing so. Later in 2007, after the investigation of Wachovia was reported in the US financial media, the bank decided to end its remaining relationships with the Mexican casas de cambio globally. By this time, Woods says, he found his personal situation within the bank untenable; while the bank acted on one level to protect itself from the federal investigation into its shortcomings, on another, it rounded on the man who had been among the first to spot them.

On 16 June Woods was told by Wachovia's head of compliance that his latest SAR need not have been filed, that he had no legal requirement to investigate an overseas case and no right of access to documents held overseas from Britain, even if they were held by Wachovia.

Woods's life went into freefall. He went to hospital with a prolapsed disc, reported sick and was told by the bank that he not done so in the appropriate manner, as directed by the employees' handbook. He was off work for three weeks, returning in August 2007 to find a letter from the bank's compliance managing director, which was unrelenting in its tone and words of warning.

The letter addressed itself to what the manager called "specific examples of your failure to perform at an acceptable standard". Woods, on the edge of a breakdown, was put on sick leave by his GP; he was later given psychiatric treatment, enrolled on a stress management course and put on medication.

Late in 2007, Woods attended a function at Scotland Yard where colleagues from the US were being entertained. There, he sought out a representative of the Drug Enforcement Administration and told him about the casas de cambio, the SARs and his employer's reaction. The Federal Reserve and officials of the office of comptroller of currency in Washington DC then "spent a lot of time examining the SARs" that had been sent by Woods to Charlotte from London.

"They got back in touch with me a while afterwards and we began to put the pieces of the jigsaw together," says Woods. What they found was – as Costa says – the tip of the iceberg of what was happening to drug money in the banking industry, but at least it was visible and it had a name: Wachovia.

In June 2005, the DEA, the criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service and the US attorney's office in southern Florida began investigating wire transfers from Mexico to the US. They were traced back to correspondent bank accounts held by casas de cambio at Wachovia. The CDC accounts were supervised and managed by a business unit of Wachovia in the bank's Miami offices.

"Through CDCs," said the court document, "persons in Mexico can use hard currency and … wire transfer the value of that currency to US bank accounts to purchase items in the United States or other countries. The nature of the CDC business allows money launderers the opportunity to move drug dollars
that are in Mexico into CDCs and ultimately into the US banking system.

"On numerous occasions," say the court papers, "monies were deposited into a CDC by a drug-trafficking organisation. Using false identities, the CDC then wired that money through its Wachovia correspondent bank accounts for the purchase of airplanes for drug-trafficking organisations." The court settlement of 2010 would detail that "nearly $13m went through correspondent bank accounts at Wachovia for the purchase of aircraft to be used in the illegal narcotics trade. From these aircraft, more than 20,000kg of cocaine were seized."

All this occurred despite the fact that Wachovia's office was in Miami, designated by the US government as a "high-intensity money laundering and related financial crime area", and a "high-intensity drug trafficking area". Since the drug cartel war began in 2005, Mexico had been designated a high-risk source of money laundering.

"As early as 2004," the court settlement would read, "Wachovia understood the risk that was associated with doing business with the Mexican CDCs. Wachovia was aware of the general industry warnings. As early as July 2005, Wachovia was aware that other large US banks were exiting the CDC business based on [anti-money laundering] concerns … despite these warnings, Wachovia remained in business."

On 16 March 2010, Douglas Edwards, senior vice-president of Wachovia Bank, put his signature to page 10 of a 25-page settlement, in which the bank admitted its role as outlined by the prosecutors. On page 11, he signed again, as senior vice-president of Wells Fargo. The documents show Wachovia providing three services to 22 CDCs in Mexico: wire transfers, a "bulk cash service" and a "pouch deposit service", to accept "deposit items drawn on US banks, eg cheques and traveller's cheques", as spotted by Woods.
"For the time period of 1 May 2004 through 31 May 2007, Wachovia processed at least $$373.6bn in CDCs, $4.7bn in bulk cash" – a total of more than $378.3bn, a sum that dwarfs the budgets debated by US state and UK local authorities to provide services to citizens.

The document gives a fascinating insight into how the laundering of drug money works. It details how investigators "found readily identifiable evidence of red flags of large-scale money laundering". There were "structured wire transfers" whereby "it was commonplace in the CDC accounts for round-number wire transfers to be made on the same day or in close succession, by the same wire senders, for the … same account".

Over two days, 10 wire transfers by four individuals "went though Wachovia for deposit into an aircraft broker's account. All of the transfers were in round numbers. None of the individuals of business that wired money had any connection to the aircraft or the entity that allegedly owned the aircraft. The investigation has further revealed that the identities of the individuals who sent the money were false and that the business was a shell entity. That plane was subsequently seized with approximately 2,000kg of cocaine on board."

Many of the sequentially numbered traveller's cheques, of the kind dealt with by Woods, contained "unusual markings" or "lacked any legible signature". Also, "many of the CDCs that used Wachovia's bulk cash service sent significantly more cash to Wachovia than what Wachovia had expected. More specifically, many of the CDCs exceeded their monthly activity by at least 50%."

Recognising these "red flags", the US attorney's office in Miami, the IRS and the DEA began investigating Wachovia, later joined by FinCEN, one of the US Treasury's agencies to fight money laundering, while the office of the comptroller of the currency carried out a parallel investigation. The violations they found were, says the document, "serious and systemic and allowed certain Wachovia customers to launder millions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics through Wachovia accounts over an extended time period. The investigation has identified that at least $110m in drug proceeds were funnelled through the CDC accounts held at Wachovia."

The settlement concludes by discussing Wachovia's "considerable co-operation and remedial actions" since the prosecution was initiated, after the bank was bought by Wells Fargo. "In consideration of Wachovia's remedial actions," concludes the prosecutor, "the United States shall recommend to the court … that prosecution of Wachovia on the information filed … be deferred for a period of 12 months."

But while the federal prosecution proceeded, Woods had remained out in the cold. On Christmas Eve 2008, his lawyers filed tribunal proceedings against Wachovia for bullying and detrimental treatment of a whistleblower. The case was settled in May 2009, by which time Woods felt as though he was "the most toxic person in the bank". Wachovia agreed to pay an undisclosed amount, in return for which Woods left the bank and said he would not make public the terms of the settlement.

After years of tribulation, Woods was finally formally vindicated, though not by Wachovia: a letter arrived from John Dugan, the comptroller of the currency in Washington DC, dated 19 March 2010 – three days after the settlement in Miami. Dugan said he was "writing to personally recognise and express my appreciation for the role you played in the actions brought against Wachovia Bank for violations of the bank secrecy act … Not only did the information that you provided facilitate our investigation, but you demonstrated great personal courage and integrity by speaking up. Without the efforts of individuals like you, actions such as the one taken against Wachovia would not be possible."

The so-called "deferred prosecution" detailed in the Miami document is a form of probation whereby if the bank abides by the law for a year, charges are dropped. So this March the bank was in the clear. The week that the deferred prosecution expired, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said the parent bank had no comment to make on the documentation pertaining to Woods's case, or his allegations. She added that there was no comment on Sloman's remarks to the court; a provision in the settlement stipulated Wachovia was not allowed to issue public statements that contradicted it.

But the settlement leaves a sour taste in many mouths – and certainly in Woods's. The deferred prosecution is part of this "cop-out all round", he says. "The regulatory authorities do not have to spend any more time on it, and they don't have to push it as far as a criminal trial. They just issue criminal proceedings, and settle. The law enforcement people do what they are supposed to do, but what's the point? All those people dealing with all that money from drug-trafficking and murder, and no one goes to jail?"

One of the foremost figures in the training of anti-money laundering officers is Robert Mazur, lead infiltrator for US law enforcement of the Colombian Medellín cartel during the epic prosecution and collapse of the BCCI banking business in 1991 (his story was made famous by his memoir, The Infiltrator, which became a movie).

Mazur, whose firm Chase and Associates works closely with law enforcement agencies and trains officers for bank anti-money laundering, cast a keen eye over the case against Wachovia, and he says now that "the only thing that will make the banks properly vigilant to what is happening is when they hear the rattle of handcuffs in the boardroom".

Mazur said that "a lot of the law enforcement people were disappointed to see a settlement" between the administration and Wachovia. "But I know there were external circumstances that worked to Wachovia's benefit, not least that the US banking system was on the edge of collapse."

What concerns Mazur is that what law enforcement agencies and politicians hope to achieve against the cartels is limited, and falls short of the obvious attack the US could make in its war on drugs: go after the money. "We're thinking way too small," Mazur says. "I train law enforcement officers, thousands of them every year, and they say to me that if they tried to do half of what I did, they'd be arrested. But I tell them: 'You got to think big. The headlines you will be reading in seven years' time will be the result of the work you begin now.' With BCCI, we had to spend two years setting it up, two years doing undercover work, and another two years getting it to trial. If they want to do something big, like go after the money, that's how long it takes."

But Mazur warns: "If you look at the career ladders of law enforcement, there's no incentive to go after the big money. People move every two to three years. The DEA is focused on drug trafficking rather than money laundering. You get a quicker result that way – they want to get the traffickers and seize their assets. But this is like treating a sick plant by cutting off a few branches – it just grows new ones. Going after the big money is cutting down the plant – it's a harder door to knock on, it's a longer haul, and it won't get you the short-term riches."

The office of the comptroller of the currency is still examining whether individuals in Wachovia are criminally liable. Sources at FinCEN say that a so-called "look-back" is in process, as directed by the settlement and agreed to by Wachovia, into the $378.4bn that was not directly associated with the aircraft purchases and cocaine hauls, but neither was it subject to the proper anti-laundering checks. A FinCEN source says that $20bn already examined appears to have "suspicious origins". But this is just the beginning.

Antonio Maria Costa, who was executive director of the UN's office on drugs and crime from May 2002 to August 2010, charts the history of the contamination of the global banking industry by drug and criminal money since his first initiatives to try to curb it from the European commission during the 1990s. "The connection between organised crime and financial institutions started in the late 1970s, early 1980s," he says, "when the mafia became globalised."

Until then, criminal money had circulated largely in cash, with the authorities making the occasional, spectacular "sting" or haul. During Costa's time as director for economics and finance at the EC in Brussels, from 1987, inroads were made against penetration of banks by criminal laundering, and "criminal money started moving back to cash, out of the financial institutions and banks. Then two things happened: the financial crisis in Russia, after the emergence of the Russian mafia, and the crises of 2003 and 2007-08.
"With these crises," says Costa, "the banking sector was short of liquidity, the banks exposed themselves to the criminal syndicates, who had cash in hand."

Costa questions the readiness of governments and their regulatory structures to challenge this large-scale corruption of the global economy: "Government regulators showed what they were capable of when the issue suddenly changed to laundering money for terrorism – on that, they suddenly became serious and changed their attitude."

Hardly surprising, then, that Wachovia does not appear to be the end of the line. In August 2010, it emerged in quarterly disclosures by HSBC that the US justice department was seeking to fine it for anti-money laundering compliance problems reported to include dealings with Mexico.

"Wachovia had my résumé, they knew who I was," says Woods. "But they did not want to know – their attitude was, 'Why are you doing this?' They should have been on my side, because they were compliance people, not commercial people. But really they were commercial people all along. We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the biggest money-laundering scandal of our time.

"These are the proceeds of murder and misery in Mexico, and of drugs sold around the world," he says.

"All the law enforcement people wanted to see this come to trial. But no one goes to jail. "What does the settlement do to fight the cartels? Nothing – it doesn't make the job of law enforcement easier and it encourages the cartels and anyone who wants to make money by laundering their blood dollars. Where's the risk? There is none.

"Is it in the interest of the American people to encourage both the drug cartels and the banks in this way? Is it in the interest of the Mexican people? It's simple: if you don't see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 30,000 people killed in Mexico, you're missing the point."

Woods feels unable to rest on his laurels. He tours the world for a consultancy he now runs, Hermes Forensic Solutions, counselling and speaking to banks on the dangers of laundering criminal money, and how to spot and stop it. "New York and London," says Woods, "have become the world's two biggest laundries of criminal and drug money, and offshore tax havens. Not the Cayman Islands, not the Isle of Man or Jersey. The big laundering is right through the City of London and Wall Street.

"After the Wachovia case, no one in the regulatory community has sat down with me and asked, 'What happened?' or 'What can we do to avoid this happening to other banks?' They are not interested. They are the same people who attack the whistleblowers and this is a position the [British] Financial Services Authority at least has adopted on legal advice: it has been advised that the confidentiality of banking and bankers takes primacy over the public information disclosure act. That is how the priorities work: secrecy first, public interest second.

"Meanwhile, the drug industry has two products: money and suffering. On one hand, you have massive profits and enrichment. On the other, you have massive suffering, misery and death. You cannot separate one from the other.

"What happened at Wachovia was symptomatic of the failure of the entire regulatory system to apply the kind of proper governance and adequate risk management which would have prevented not just the laundering of blood money, but the global crisis."