Archive | May 26, 2015

Grassroots Movements Gracing Spanish Politics*

Grassroots Movements Gracing Spanish Politics*

The radically democratic citizen platform Barcelona en Comú wins the municipal elections in a major step forward for the struggle to reclaim the city.

The outcome of Sunday’s municipal and regional elections in Spain is shaking the country. Two activist women connected to grassroots movements and backed by the leftist party Podemos are likely to become the next mayors of Spain’s biggest cities — Madrid and Barcelona — while the ruling right-wing Popular Party has taken a drubbing in cities and regions across the country. Five years of austerity have finally taken their toll on the establishment’s grip on power, effectively shattering the old way of doing politics.

The victory of Barcelona en Comú (“Barcelona in Common,” formerly known as Guanyem) is particularly meaningful in this respect. Led by the 41-year-old anti-eviction campaigner Ada Colau, En Comú describes itself as a citizen platform and a confluence of various social movements and radical political groups. The platform aims to combine the objectives of ending austerity, halting evictions, expanding public housing, improving popular living standards, curbing mass tourism and reclaiming the urban commons with a strong commitment to direct democracy and a new bottom-up politics — transforming existing municipal institutions in line with the spirit of the 15-M movement.

For an indication of the historic significance of En Comú’s electoral victory, just consider the photo below, taken after an occupation by activists of the Platform for People Affected by their Mortgages (PAH) in 2012. That woman in the picture is Ada Colau, Barcelona’s new mayor and the cops’ new boss. In her victory speech last night, Colau pledged to “govern by obeying,” directly citing the Zapatista principle of popular self-governance from below.

En Comú will have the backing of the anti-capitalist and pro-independence Popular Unity Candidates (CUP), who also won big, gaining four seats in the city council. In addition to En Comú’s 11 seats, this will unfortunately still leave the two leftist forces short of a majority in the 41-seat council, requiring further negotiations with other groups in the days and weeks to come.


Related Topics:

Spain Marches for Dignity*

Against Spain’s Gag Law: The First Hologram Protest in History*

Popular Resistance against Privatization Delivers Results in Spain*


Protesting has Gone Flamenco, in Spain at Least*


Spain to Use the Military Where U.K. Used Emotional Blackmail to Stop Secession*

Big Pharma Myth Buster: High Cholesterol Makes You Live Longer*

Big Pharma Myth Buster: High Cholesterol Makes You Live Longer*

Four Japanese researchers published an analysis on cholesterol guidelines and statin drugs in the April 2015 edition of the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, the Scottish doctor who wrote The Great Cholesterol Con recently stated on his blog that he has read the entire 116 page review:

For many years I have told anyone who will listen that, if you have a high cholesterol level, you will live longer. Equally, if you have a low cholesterol level, you will die younger. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a fact. The older you become the more beneficial it is to have a high cholesterol level.

This fact has become more difficult to demonstrate recently as so many people have been put on statins that the association between cholesterol levels and mortality has been twisted, bent and pummelled into the weirdest shapes imaginable. However, Japan, provides some very interesting data.

The entire study can be read free online here.

Here is the Introduction:

High cholesterol levels are recognized as a major cause of atherosclerosis. However, for more than half a century some have challenged this notion. But which side is correct, and why can’t we come to a definitive conclusion after all this time and with more and more scientific data available? We believe the answer is very simple: for the side defending this so-called cholesterol theory, the amount of money at stake is too much to lose the fight.

The issue of cholesterol is one of the biggest issues in medicine where the law of economy governs. Moreover, advocates of the theory take the notion to be a simple, irrefutable ‘fact’ and self-explanatory. They may well think that those who argue against the cholesterol theory—actually, the cholesterol ‘hypothesis’— are mere eccentrics.

We, as those on the side opposing the hypothesis, understand their argument very well. Indeed, the first author of this supplementary issue (TH) had been a very strong believer and advocate of the cholesterol hypothesis up until a couple of years after the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S) reported the benefits of statin therapy in The Lancet in 1994. To be honest with the readers, he used to persuade people with high cholesterol levels to take statins. He even gave a talk or two to general physicians promoting the benefits of statins. Terrible, unforgivable mistakes given what we came to know and clearly know now.

In this supplementary issue, we explore the background to the cholesterol hypothesis utilizing data obtained mainly from Japan—the country where anti-cholesterol theory campaigns can be conducted more easily than in any other countries. But why is this? Is it because the Japanese researchers defending the hypothesis receive less support from pharmaceutical companies than researchers overseas do? Not at all. Because Japanese researchers are indolent and weak? No, of course not. Because the Japanese public is skeptical about the benefits of medical therapy? No, they generally accept everything physicians say; unfortunately, this is also complicated by the fact that physicians don’t have enough time to study the cholesterol issue by themselves, leaving them simply to accept the information provided by the pharmaceutical industry.

Reading through this supplementary issue, it will become clear why Japan can be the starting point for the anti-cholesterol theory campaign. The relationship between all-cause mortality and serum cholesterol levels in Japan is a very interesting one: mortality actually goes down with higher total or low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, as reported by most Japanese epidemiological studies of the general population. This relationship cannot be observed as easily in other countries, except in elderly populations where the same relationship exists worldwide.

The mortality from coronary heart disease in Japan has accounted for around just 7% of all cause mortality for decades; a much lower rate than seen in Western countries. The theory that the lower the cholesterol levels are, the better is completely wrong in the case of Japan—in fact, the exact opposite is true. Because Japan is unique in terms of cholesterol-related phenomena, it is easy to find flaws in the cholesterol hypothesis.

Based on data from Japan, we propose a new direction in the use of cholesterol medications for global health promotion; namely, recognizing that cholesterol is a negative risk factor for all-cause mortality and re-examining our use of cholesterol medications accordingly. This, we believe, marks the starting point of a paradigm shift in not only how we understand the role cholesterol plays in health, but also how we provide cholesterol treatment.

The guidelines for cholesterol are thus another area of great importance. Indeed, the major portion of this supplementary issue (from Chapter 4 onward) is given over to our detailed examination and critique of guidelines published by the Japan Atherosclerosis Society. We dedicate a large portion of this work to these guidelines because they are generally held in high regard in Japan, and the country’s public health administration mechanism complies with them without question. Physicians, too, tend to simply obey the guidelines; their workloads often don’t allow them to explore the issue rigorously enough to learn the background truth and they are afraid of litigation if they don’t follow the guidelines in daily practice.

These chapters clearly describe some of the flaws in the guidelines—flaws which are so serious that it becomes clear that times must change and the guidelines must be updated. Our purpose in writing this supplementary issue is to help everyone understand the issue of cholesterol better than before, and we hope that we lay out the case for why a paradigm shift in cholesterol treatment is needed, and sooner rather than later. We would like to stress in closing that we have received no funding in support of writing or publishing this supplementary issue and our conflicts of interest statements are given in full at the end.

The Statin Scam: Don’t Let it Ruin Your Health!

The statin scam has been exposed, but there are powerful sources at work in the medical system to keep it going.

One of the best documentaries exposing the statin scam and interviewing doctors in the industry who have exposed it, was published in 2013 on ABC in Australia. The medical authorities were not successful in preventing it from being aired on TV, but they have removed almost all copies from YouTube now, and forced ABC to remove them from their website.

We currently are using copies by Dr. Eades posted on his Vimeo account. Take some time to watch these important documentaries produced by medical doctors on the statin drug scam, and be informed!


Related Topics:

Take II on Cholesterol… Doctors Got It Wrong!*

The Trouble with Cholesterol is that You Need It!

Muslims Arrested for Joining Terror Group That Doesn’t Exist*

Muslims Arrested for Joining Terror Group That Doesn’t Exist*

By Carlos Sardiña Galache and Veronica Pedrosa

The government of Myanmar, cracking down on the country’s minority Muslims, has arrested at least a dozen people on charges of belonging to a terrorist group that defense lawyers and security experts say does not exist.

The administration of President Thein Sein has refused to disclose any evidence that the “Myanmar Muslim Army” is real — raising the prospect that the government invented an Islamic terrorist threat to justify a new front in its longtime persecution of Muslims. The exact number of people arrested is unclear, but The Intercept has obtained documents and conducted interviews in Myanmar about three cases — one of them involves 12 people accused of having links to the alleged group, the second involves five people accused of plotting to plant bombs in several unspecified places in the country, and the third is against a man accused of funding the group. All of them were arrested between September and November.

“The accused have received training in Myanmar Muslim Army camps, which has been launched and is operating illegally,” reads one of the court documents obtained by The Intercept.

Officially, about 4 percent of the country’s population is Muslim, but the actual number is believed to be higher, perhaps as much as 10 percent. The largest Muslim population, the Rohingya ethnic group, is concentrated in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, while other Muslims are scattered all over the country. The Rohingya are the most persecuted group: the government has denied them citizenship for decades, and according to several human rights groups, they are the targets of an ethnic cleansing campaign that has helped prompt a desperate exodus by boat in which an estimated 300 people died in the first quarter of this year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

But non-Rohingya Muslims also face discrimination even though they are citizens of Myanmar. In recent years, sporadic explosions of anti-Muslim violence have taken place outside Rakhine State. The Muslims accused of belonging to the “Myanmar Muslim Army” or plotting terrorist actions hail mostly from central and northern Myanmar.

After five decades of military rule, Myanmar launched in 2011 a process of political transition to what its generals have termed a “discipline-flourishing democracy.” A semi-civilian government made up of former generals was established, hundreds of political prisoners were released in successive amnesties, and the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was allowed to be elected to Parliament in by-elections held in 2012 after having spent 15 years under house arrest.

The transition has given the government a degree of international acceptance unthinkable a few years ago. In 2005, Condoleezza Rice, testifying at a Senate hearing to confirm her as secretary of state, included Myanmar in a list of “outposts of tyranny,” but in 2012 Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the country, where he praised the transition process. Hillary Clinton has also visited Myanmar and admitted in her 2014 memoir that it’s “hard to resist getting breathless” about the country’s progress. The Myanmar government has even hired the image-polishing services of Podesta Group, a lobbying firm founded by John Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Nevertheless, improvements in political liberties for the country’s Buddhist majority coincides with a deterioration in conditions for the Muslim minority.

Muslims in Myanmar are widely framed within the Buddhist-majority country as foreigners, because a large portion of them are descendants of migrants from the Indian sub-continent. They are being portrayed by state officials and extreme Buddhist nationalist movements as outsiders and a common enemy, a narrative begun long ago, critics say, in order to distract attention from political conflicts created by the military dictatorship, which lacked popular legitimacy.

It was only when the Bush administration launched its “war on terror” in 2001 that Myanmar’s Muslims began to be presented as a potential terrorist threat; this was seen as a bid to win international favour at a time when the U.S. government was trying to isolate the military regime. Yet there was a glaring problem with the military regime’s portrayal of Muslims: there is no record of any actual terrorist attack by Muslims within Myanmar in recent decades.

Now, with the country in a period of transition applauded by the U.S. and other former foes, and with crucial elections to be held in November, the former generals who make up Myanmar’s government need more than ever to legitimize their grip on power, both in the international arena and among the Buddhist-dominated electorate. The emergence of a new terrorist threat gives new life to long-held claims by the military that they are the only guarantors of security in what they term their “discipline-flourishing democracy.”

Thien Sein, Myanmar’s president (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)


Soe Moe Aung’s whole family was asleep, when late on November 17, about six policemen broke into their house in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second biggest city. His mother, Nwe Ni Aung, recounted in an interview earlier this year that the police demanded the family hand over her 24-year-old son. She said neither the police, nor the soldiers who had surrounded the house, bothered to show them an arrest warrant. She didn’t see her son for about 10 days — he was in police custody and denied access to a lawyer — and learned only when his trial started that he was accused of belonging to the “Myanmar Muslim Army.”

“They accuse him of undergoing training in a camp, but I don’t think that’s possible,” she said in an interview in Mandalay. “He’s sick — he suffers from gout — so how could he have received any training?”

Soe Moe Aung’s lawyer, Nandar Myint Thein, is defending four additional suspects in the same trial in Mandalay; a total of 12 people are accused in the trial of belonging to the “Myanmar Muslim Army,” according to documents obtained by The Intercept. They’re charged under the Emergency Provisions Act, passed in 1950, and according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) “commonly used to arbitrarily detain activists or criminalize dissent.”

Nandar Myint Thein claims the prosecution didn’t submit any “real evidence” and the accused signed confessions after days of torture in custody. She says most of the defendants didn’t even know each other before the trial.

“When I asked the prosecution’s witnesses [from the Police’s Special Branch] for evidence about the Myanmar Muslim Army, they answered that they couldn’t speak about it before the court … that this information came from above,” Nandar Myint Thein said.

In a recent interview for this article, the director of the Myanmar president’s office, Zaw Htay, defended the government’s position.

“The Home Affairs ministry has all the evidence on these activities, but we can’t make it public because this is a national security issue,” he said. When asked how the accused can expect a fair trial when the prosecution’s evidence is withheld in court, he answered,

“They have the right to appeal in upper courts.”

Zaw Htay declined to say how many people are believed to be members of the group — he said national security concerns prevented him from disclosing more information — but claimed

“there are many activities outside the country and they want to promote their terrorist attacks with some people inside the country, so right now we are doing a pre-emptive strike to protect ourselves against any possible attack.” Legal Aid Documentation Team, a civil society organization, claims that as of February, around 100 Muslims had been arrested on charges of terrorism since last year.

The existence of the “Myanmar Muslim Army” has not been confirmed by terrorism experts, human rights groups, or the U.S. State Department. Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, is the only one to have mentioned it, though fleetingly — he wrote in a recent report that “there also have been unconfirmed reports about the emergence of a new group called Myanmar Muslim Army (MMA), which is reportedly using Thai territory for training Myanmar Muslims.”

A State Department spokesperson said in an interview that the U.S. government “does not have any further information” beyond Gunaratna’s reference. Zachary Abuza, a specialist in security issues and politics in Southeast Asia, said he had never heard of the “Myanmar Muslim Army.”

“Sounds completely fictitious to me,” he said.

I would doubt that any group fighting the state would even use the term ‘Myanmar’ as that legitimizes the regime.”

Myanmar is the name given to the country by the military government in 1989, replacing Burma, and the new name is contested by critics of the regime.

“Based on the name and the track record of the Tatmadaw [armed forces], there is a very high likelihood that their ‘confessions’ were extracted through torture,” Abuza added.

One of the three cases involves Khin Maung Shwe, also known as Yusuf, who is accused of helping to establish the “Myanmar Muslim Army.” The 44-year-old businessman was detained in Mandalay in October, but his lawyer, Aung Naing Soe, said the case against his client is founded solely on confessions extracted while in military custody from other detainees who gave his interrogators the name “Yusuf” and little else. Aung Naing Soe says there is no further evidence against his defendant.

The prosecution in these cases has the backing of the minister of Home Affairs, citing the Emergency Provisions Act. The Intercept has obtained the minister’s signed authorization for the case involving Khin Maung Shwe, and defense lawyers say the minister signed the same authorization for the Mandalay case. The Intercept has also obtained the minister’s authorization for a case involving five people accused of planning to make fertilizer bombs.

“That’s a big burden for the accused, because the court is afraid of not following orders from the minister himself,” said Aung Naing Soe.

In the context of Myanmar’s judicial system, the direct involvement of the Home Affairs minister isn’t an innocent matter of oversight, it’s an expression of the overarching power the military continues to exert over all aspects of life in Myanmar. The constitution requires the Home Affairs minister to be a member of the military, nominated by the commander in chief of the armed forces, which are constitutionally shielded from any civilian oversight. As the International Commission of Jurists noted in a report published in 2013, “political and military influence over judges remains a major impediment to lawyers’ ability to practice their profession effectively. Depending on the nature of the case, judges render decisions based on orders coming from government and military officials.”

Sam Zarifi, regional director of Asia and the Pacific at the ICJ, explained that “there’s every reason to fear for the rights of the accused to receive a fair trial” in these cases, noting that “judicial independence has been undermined by the executive branch’s undue influence and interference, in particular, in politically sensitive cases, including criminal ones.”

Another case in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, involves Muslims allegedly planning to wage armed struggle. In September last year, five Muslims were detained over smuggling fertilizer. The prosecution claims the fertilizer was intended to fabricate explosives to plant several bombs in Myanmar. One of the accused is a shopkeeper who bought fertilizer from another defendant, according to his lawyer.

The lawyer, Robert Sann Aung, said the suspects were held by the military for three months and tortured to extract confessions. Like other lawyers interviewed for this article, he claims there is no evidence of a terrorism plot, other than the fertilizer itself and the confessions. When asked about his expectations, Robert Sann Aung gave little reason for optimism.

“I won’t win this case,” he said.

“I would win if the judge applied the law, but law is not going to be applied.”


Related Topics:

The Truth about Dalai Lama

Buddhist Massacre of Rohingya Muslims Continue*

A Tragic ‘Eid for Thai Muslims*

Unholy Trinity United States-Israel- Saudi Arabia Sowing Discord amongst Muslims*

Four Million Muslims Killed and Counting since 1990*

China orders Muslim Businesses to Sell Cigarettes and Alcohol*

Apology to German Muslims from the PEGIDA Movement*

Does Muslim Outrage have a Colour?

The Persecuted Muslims the World Ignores*

Uyghur Muslims Punished for Fasting in Holy Month*

Muslims and Christians March against ISIL*

22 Years of Fake “Islamic Terror”*

Top 10 Ways Islamic Law Forbids Terrorism*