Archive | May 11, 2016

BRICS Under Attack: Brazilian PM Must Say Goodbye to BRICS and Hello to Washington or Face a Coup*

BRICS Under Attack: Brazilian PM Must Say Goodbye to BRICS and Hello to Washington or Face a Coup*

Brazil’s Senate votes on Wednesday to extend proceedings that have been frequently compared to the Netflix hit series ‘House of Cards.’

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Senate will vote on whether to suspend elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff for 180 days, pending an impeachment trial. The proceedings have been dismissed by Brazilian and international analysts as a political coup intended to implant a pro-business government and implement unpopular austerity measures.

Many believed the proceedings had stalled earlier this week when, in a surprise announcement, acting speaker of the Brazilian congress, Waldir Maranhao, announced an annulment of the April 17 vote to recommend impeachment proceedings to the Brazilian Senate.

Less than 24 hours later, the President of the Brazilian Senate, Renan Calheiros, denounced Maranhao’s call to annul the earlier vote, arguing that the Congress had already abdicated authority to the Senate. Shortly thereafter, Maranhao retracted his own calls to annul the Lower House vote in a historic about-face moment.

Many in Brazil see the impeachment effort as a coup led by the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, a center-right group that includes Michel Temer, who would assume office if the Senate votes to impeach Rousseff, as well as former speaker of the Lower House Eduardo Cunha, who instigated the impeachment proceedings, and the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros.

If the impeachment proves successful, the Workers Party, winner of the past four elections in Brazil by landslide margins, would be replaced by pro-austerity and pro-privatization forces that are supported by less than 2% of the Brazilian population.

With the vote expected to go against Dilma on Wednesday, many expect violent protests within Brazil, only three months ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down on Tuesday with Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar to talk about the social powder keg in Brazil and what to expect if the impeachment goes through.

Will Dilma Rousseff be impeached and what will happen next?

“I suggest that this is the Brazilian House of Cards,” said Escobar.

“Yes, the Senate has the votes and yes impeachment is going to pass the Senate.”

“Nobody on the planet has any clue” what will happen next, Escobar said.

He cited the volatility of the situation in the past week, noting that on Monday the impeachment was off, on Tuesday it was back on again, and on Wednesday it seems all but certain to happen, unless the country’s Supreme Court intervenes – which the Brazilian Supreme Court had declined to do as of Wednesday morning.

“We have a situation where the Senate is now in conflict with the Congress and then the Supreme Court in conflict with both, not to mention the executive branch, it is absolute chaos,” said Escobar.

Will we see violent protest in the streets or the emergence of a military dictatorship?

“There are some similarities with the military coup in 1964, which everyone knows was supported and co-organized by the American embassy in Brazil, but now, instead of a military coup, it is a much more sophisticated hybrid war mutation, it has nothing to do with direct military intervention, it is a sophisticated slow-motion regime change process that includes collusion between Brazilian corporations, big media, parts of the legislature, and parts of the judiciary,” said Escobar.

“These forces, they want a Temer administration because he is part of the group who plotted this slow-motion coup, and the three guys we need to watch all the time are the soon-to-be President Temer, Eduardo Cunha, the corrupt sidelined former speaker of the Lower House, and the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, who will certainly proclaim the impeachment is a done deal,” stated Escobar.

However, Escobar expressed concern about what will happen when the transition of power occurs.

“What happens next is anybody’s guess, because we will have a mobilization by a united Leftist front in Brazil, composed of the Workers Party and the smaller parties on the Left,” said Escobar.

“Lula has been articulating this unity in his meetings for weeks now. We will have demonstrations in the streets, and the big factories throughout Brazil will be paralyzed when the unions tied to the Workers Party strike.”

“Most importantly,” added Escobar,

“Temer’s approval rating floats between one and two percent, nobody trusts him, and everybody knows that it is a dodgy operation in the shadows who carries around the aura of a coup plotter with him at all times.”

“The only good thing that has been talked about these past few weeks is that he may have a relatively good minister of finance, Henrique Meirelles, who is well-respected by Wall Street banks and may be able to spur increased investment in Brazil, but otherwise the whole thing is an absolute mess.”

What will the change of power mean for Brazil’s status within the BRICS alliance?

“The most important angle as far as I’m concerned is the global angle,” said Escobar.

“What will happen in that next BRICS meeting in four or five months, and what happens to the BRICS projects, including the development bank that features collaboration between Brazilian, Russian, and Chinese executives?”

Escobar said that Brazil’s position within BRICS, under a new administration, will likely be muddied by Rousseff’s plan to go on a “world tour” if impeached, including visits not only to Europe but also to China and Russia.

“Right now, there is no BRICS interference about what is going on in Brazil because she has not yet been sidelined, but if she is suspended she will obviously speak to BRICS leadership, she will talk closely with Putin and Xi Jinping, both of whom she has a close relationship to,” Escobar speculated.

Escobar suggested that a conversation between Rousseff and BRICS leaders in the event of her impeachment would likely lead Brazil to re-center toward an Atlantic alliance with the United States. That situation is exacerbated further by Temer’s foreign ministry cabinet appointee, right wing Senator Jose Serra, whom Escobar calls a “neoliberal enforcer.”

“If Jose Serra is the foreign minister in Brazil, say goodbye to close relations to BRICS, and say hello to close relations with Washington, because that is what these folks want,” said Escobar.

“The whole thing is a coup, it is a different form of coup, with a legalistic veneer, initiated by crooks who themselves are under investigation for corruption.”


Related Topics:

BRICS Under Attack: NWO Tentacles Extending into South Africa*

BRICS Under Attack: Western Banks, Governments Launch Full-Spectrum Assault On Russia*

No Silva Lining for NWO in Brazil, Next Step the Elite’s Front-man Neves*

Another Suspicious Plane Crash to Boost Globalist Interests in Brazil*

Historic Ruling in Brazil Bans Business from Funding Campaigns*

The Space In-between: A Journey through Solitude to Spiritual Growth*

The Space In-between: A Journey through Solitude to Spiritual Growth*

By Reza Abbas Farishta

Sitting on a damp crescent of sand next to a lake at the outskirt of the forest surrounding the Mount Tremblant, I found myself contemplating the setting sun while blinking at the rhythm of wave’s caressing the wooden trunk peacefully resting on the shore.

The farewell of the sun to the earth I was experiencing was a beautiful sight and I could not resist taking out my phone in order to immortalize this scenery. Right after I tried taking the best possible shot I could with my smartphone in order to share it with my friends, I realized the sun had almost entirely set and I had missed a significant part of its setting. I turned off my phone and sat there smiling at myself when realizing the bitter truth of the tendencies of the society I had started to reflect through my behaviour.

Reading by the lake


In a society where we are used to sharing every thought and moment of our lives, where we are expected to react on social media almost instantly after anything happens in the world, these moments spent in solitude are a good reminder of the very nature of our creation: the fact that one’s existence on earth does not depend on others and that ultimately the purpose of our creation is to know the Almighty and to experience his light, a purpose that is a personal one, and one that will always prevail over ties that bind us to our social identity for it will exist even if we were the only remaining souls living on earth.

Often when I would find myself in a secluded place in the middle of nature, I would think of a life spent in solitude in a wooden house “à la Henry Thoreau”, a life in which simplicity would prevail over any other state and for some reason, the thought of such a life always brought about a sense of spirituality in me which in turn made me question the link between simplicity, solitude and spirituality.

The idea that solitude ultimately leads towards a simpler life is perhaps tied to materialism. Often, philosophers that have written about solitude and seclusion such as Thoreau or Emerson, have almost immediately experienced a newly acquired taste of simplicity through the negation of the never-ending pursuit of a material life, the only pursuit through which many of us identify ourselves and remain alive.

Spirituality, solitude and simplicity

In other words, it seemed as though seeking simplicity was a reaction to an overstimulation of the senses expressed through materialism in societies whose foundations were built upon consumption and the fulfilment of human desires. The negation of such a life pushes one to search for another balance, one in which spiritual needs are placed above physical ones. Therefore, the link between spirituality, solitude, and simplicity is one that is tied to our own nature. The quest for spirituality leads one to negate materialism, which brings about simplicity and in turn, seeking simplicity often leads one to live away from centres of materialistic societies, in relative solitude.

Another explanation for the spiritual high one experiences when alone in nature, is perhaps tied to the realization of oneself in the scale of the universe. When you end up staring at oceans and mountains, or experiencing the depth of a forest, you often understand better how insignificant your physical reality is in the entire scheme of God’s creation. At this point, your ego flattens and you end up experiencing a shift in your perception of your own reality. It is when you stare at the countless stars that witness your existence from above that you end up identifying yourself with the infinity of your soul more than through the nothingness of your physical being.

This shift in the perception of who we are is a critical one in one’s quest for meaning for it is through this shift that one gains a greater sense of responsibility. It is only when we identify ourselves through our spiritual existence that we can pretend to understand better, words of the great Arif that Imam Ali (pbuh) was, when he mentions that

“‘Human beings should not see themselves as insignificant beings, for within them, is buried an entire universe’.”

When I wrote these thoughts down on a paper in order to make some sense from all of which I had experienced in that little time away from home, I reached out to my copy of Walden and started re-reading Thoreau’s essays on solitude. I found it fascinating that I could connect with some of his words after only half a day spent in nature, a realization that made me think about the universal truth that unites every human being that has ever set foot on earth in the true nature of their creation. This universality in creation not only meant that we shared a common purpose, it also meant that there had to be common realities which regulated every living being’s spiritual quests no matter how different each and every wayfarer lost in the path of God could be. And if this universality was indeed a fundamental truth, one could expect these principles found in western philosophy to be expressed, validated or completed by other schools of thought, especially one as rich and exhaustive as Islamic philosophy.

The idea that solitude impacts one’s spirituality is not a thought that is uncommon within Islamic tradition. On the contrary, it is actually a subject that features in almost every treatise of spiritual wayfaring. Amongst the greatest mystics and modern philosophers that Islam has been blessed to have under its banner and who have written about this topic, Allameh Tabatabaei often stands out as the perfect example of a man who had understood and manifested principles of the Qur’an in his personality and life.

Spiritual Wayfarers

In his book Kernel of the Kernel, Allameh beautifully explains how his journey towards light passed through several stages and how relative seclusion (khalwat) was an integral part of his spiritual ascension. Allameh identifies spiritual wayfarers to be unlike ‘the group of people [who] have no will power of their own, [a group which is] totally submissive to the will of society and follows [it]. On the contrary, according to Allameh, wayfarers seeking spirituality have a tendency to distance themselves from certain people, they busy themselves in ‘dhikr’ and often avoid crowds, attention and noisy places.

There are indeed similarities in both western and Islamic schools of thought when it comes to the role solitude plays in spirituality. But are the two really equal? Can one live a life like Thoreau; a spiritual life spent in the woods, in solitude and silence and still follow Islam in its entirety?

On a train, somewhere between Qum and Mashhad

While I got more and more interested in those topics, and tried to grasp and absorb essays on solitude from western and Islamic philosophers I realized how their writing were starting to profoundly impact my personality. I had always been a lively person, the kind of person that would crack a joke in order to make others feel comfortable and lighten up a conversation. But the more I read Thoreau and others, the more I became quiet. The more I spent time in nature, the more I appreciated silence. Interestingly, others often perceived this newly acquired sense of tranquillity, which expressed itself through silence, as a state of worry, stress or anxiety. It always brought a smile on my face when people thought I was lost exactly when I started to find where my existence laid in God’s entire scheme of creation.

While keeping these thoughts in my mind, and forever seeking the balance required between solitude and society, between simplicity and materialism, this spiritual journey brought me to Qum in Iran where I spent few weeks amongst scholars from the hawza (seminary) and students from the west. I remember having travelled from Qum to Mashhad in a night train accompanied by Agha Amini, a teacher of Akhlaq that Ayatollah Tahriri, himself a student of Allameh had advised to consult for spiritual growth.

In the middle of the night, I asked my question to Agha Amini and tried to understand where the middle ground laid. On the one hand, it is often narrated that Allameh Tabatabaei had reached a certain level of spirituality after successfully detaching himself from materialism while distancing himself from elements of society which were detrimental to his spiritual growth. Other mystics such as Ayatollah Mutahari had also emphasized on the detrimental impact of a materialistically driven society on one’s spirituality. But on the other hand, there were also countless advantages and benefits that could solely be acquired in the presence of other individuals, be it learning from scholars, helping others, teaching and the refinement of one’s morality all of which one could not benefit from if one was to live a life in the woods like Thoreau. And because Islam emphasized so much on social and family ties and responsibilities, one could easily find himself lost, eternally looking for the right balance required to grow spiritually without neglecting its Islamic duties.

A much simpler formula

Agha Amini listened and understood the matter. He gave me an advice, which I engraved in my mind ever since. He acknowledged the fact that temporary seclusion and solitude were indeed practices that were common amongst mystics and that they did bear a spiritual significance. However, despite the relevance of these practices, Agha Amini stressed on another aspect of Akhlaq that was by far the most critical to one’s spiritual growth and that followed a much simpler formula: perform your wajibat (obligatory acts) and avoid your muharammat (forbidden acts). From this perspective, one can only distance himself from certain social elements only as long as it does not lead one to infringe on his/her social duties.

This sentence made a lot of sense to me and I find it interesting that this advice was actually the first one that Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, may Allah give him a high rank in Jannah, mentioned in his book on self building and spiritual growth when he wrote that

monasticism, renunciation of worldly affairs, and unacceptance of social responsibilities are not pre requisite for undertaking a self-purification program, on the contrary, as will be shown in the book later on that seclusion and relinquishment of individual and social responsibilities are inconsistence with the spiritual self-building and self-purification program.’

Allameh Tabatabaei himself draws a sharp contrast between true seekers of spirituality and people who have made solitude, seclusion and the negation of all social customs, norms and responsibilities to be the principles around which their lives are built. Allameh mentions in his book that the true spiritual seeker must always observe moderation and adopt a middle position.

When I think about this quest for meaning and spirituality, this journey seeking the middle ground and how it had impacted my perception of life, I realized how these writings had made me rely on my sole company more than I ever had before. And since I had learnt how to appreciate life through my own existence, I was now able to find a greater sense of satisfaction from my life experiences, for they did not rely on anyone else’s approval or acceptance.

Social media

Pragmatically, this realization made me distance myself from social media. I am not against the use of Facebook or Twitter and I do realize that there are countless advantages of being able to connect and share content with likeminded people within seconds no matter where they live. As a matter of fact, I am not even sure you would be reading this essay if it wasn’t shared on social media.

There are several reasons why one distances himself from these platform, especially while seeking greater realms of self awareness. The first one is a very simple one. When one learns how to appreciate moments of his life for the truth they inherently bear instead of how great they would look once immortalized, one does not feel the need to experience them through the appreciation of others.

The second reason is perhaps a more subtle, and is the fruit of a deeper realization, one that makes one question the miserable value we tend to assign to our thoughts and reasoning.

When one ponders over the matter a little more, one soon realizes that most of us have a tendency to judge the validity of our thoughts and experiences through the popularity they generate on social media. The more likes a post gets, the more one feels he has written something worthy of being read. This reliance on others not only feeds one’s ego, it also makes one to exist solely through foreign eyes. This behaviour not only forces our existence to express itself through likes and comments, it pushes our souls to surrender their most valuable God-given right, the right to be free and to exist through our sole dependence on Allah’s mercy  and justice. And to be fair with all other injustices committed by past and previous societies, I found this caging of our identity to be the greatest form of enslavement of modern times for I don’t think we have ever knowingly, consciously and wilfully belittled our existences any lower.

The greatest challenge

The greatest challenge in this quest of spirituality is to find a balance between the sweetness of solitude, and the tenderness of friends and family, the balance between the soothing tranquillity of silence and the thrill of exchanging with likeminded people. With time I have realized how far greater Islamic mysticism and philosophy are to ideas of Thoreau, no matter how brilliant they are, for Islamic mysticism allows one to attain its true potential without hindering the spiritual growth of others. It allows the likes of Allameh Tabatabaei to enlighten societies they live in, to share their knowledge and train future generations of thinkers, all of which are responsibilities without which they themselves couldn’t have attained the level of understanding and wisdom they have attained. Islamic mysticism lets you enter greater realms of spirituality using a balance that suits the entirety of one’s reality, which is not only a spiritual one, but a social and physical one also. And it is at the junction of these three realities that one can truly fulfil the purpose of its own creation.

One wonders how to call this balance. This place where one is just alone enough to be free yet, present enough to serve others. I guess I’ll just call it the way I picture it in my mind: a place stuck between Muir’s mountain and Thoreau’s house in the woods; a place that offers a tiny bit of flexibility in order to experience silence the way Allamah did. Often, when I think about this place, I think of Frost and the road diverging in a yellow wood. While he chose to take the one less travelled by, I chose to create my own. Somewhere between a path leading to total seclusion and one leading to a complete immersion in society, I decided to walk on my own unpathed trail. And when I stopped after a while in order to observe where I stood in comparison with the two other paths, I found myself exactly where I had intended to be, in the space that lied in between them.


Related Topics:

The Freedom of Silence*

Your Iman is Not Safe in the Hands of Just Your Intellect*

The Heart – An Agent of Transformation*

Waiting for God?*

Einstein’s Letter to His Daughter about the Universal Force of Love*

As I Began to Love Myself…*

The Probiotic Con*

The Probiotic Con*

By Ali Reid

Probiotics (sold by the million as drinks, yoghurts or spreads) claim to have a range of benefits for health – by boosting ‘friendly bacteria’ in the gut. But new research shows there is little evidence probiotics have any effects for healthy adults.

There is a huge market for probiotics, estimated to soon be worth £29 billion globally. Many are marketed at the general population and they are massively popular in the U.K.

A research team from the University of Copenhagen looked at the results of seven trials of probiotic products. Each trial studied the effect of probiotics on the faecal bacteria (microbiota) of healthy adults, as a measure of what was happening in the gut. In only one of the seven studies was there any change. This new review, published in the journal Genome Medicine, concluded there was little evidence they can help healthy adults.

Oluf Pedersen, professor at the University of Copenhagen and senior author of the research said:

“While there is some evidence from previous reviews that probiotic interventions may benefit those with disease-associated imbalances of the gut microbiota, there is little evidence of an effect in healthy individuals.”

There are caveats to this discovery. The studies that the University of Copenhagen analysed had small sample sizes, ranging between 21 and 81 people. Also, while the scientists found no real health benefits for healthy people, previous studies have shown that probiotics can be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome, or diarrhoea.

The trillions of bacteria that live in the gut, part of the human microbiome, are of increasing interest to researchers. The gut bacteria have been dubbed the ‘forgotten organ’ by some. They can have a big impact on health – an unbalanced microbiome has been linked to a range of diseases from obesity, autoimmune disease, colon cancer and diabetes.


Related Topics:

Prophet Muhammad Said It, Now Top Doctors are Saying It*

The Microbiome and the Sacredness of the Womb*

Amazonian Hunter-Gatherers Isolated from Western Medicine Have the Most Diverse Microbiome Ever Recorded*

Counterfeit Foods, and How to Spot Them*

Counterfeit Foods, and How to Spot Them*

By Patrick Allan

That Parmesan cheese is actually wood, that honey has corn syrup, and the cake is a lie. There’s no guarantee the food you’re buying at the store is what it says it is, so keep an eye out for these usual suspects if you don’t want to waste your money on fake, inferior products.

The distribution and selling of counterfeit foods is officially known as economically motivated adulteration (EMA), a subcategory of food fraud. EMA can be anything from altering the weight of the product by adding a lower quality ingredient to tampering with the product’s label. Diluting fruit juice with water, adding chemicals to boost the protein content of a food, and changing the expiration dates on meat labels are all good examples. These acts are illegal, of course, and potential health concerns, but the issue is widespread and hard for the government to control. In fact, according to the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), an estimated 7% of products in grocery stores nationwide contain fraudulent ingredients. Here are the most common offenders.

Parmesan Cheese

If you pay premium prices for decent Parmesan cheese, you’d think that’s exactly what you’d get. But the FDA has been cracking down on fraudulent Parmesan cheese for years now. In multiple instances, the FDA has found companies shilling “100% real” Parmesan with fillers like wood pulp, cellulose, and super cheap cheddar. In fact, an FDA analysis suggests there’s no actual Parmesan cheese in the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese sold at Target. The same goes for the Always Save and Best Choice brands of 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese sold in 30 different states, which mostly contain mozzarella, white cheddar, and cellulose.

If you want the real deal, Liz Thorpe, author of The Murray’s Cheese Handbook and The Cheese Chronicles, recommends you buy a wedge of cheese from a whole wheel with the words “Parmigiano-Reggiano” on the rind:

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a legally protected designation of origin that’s used in Europe only for Italian cheese. The beauty of this cheese is that you can always know that you’re getting the real thing because the name ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ is burned onto its rind in an unmistakable dotted pattern.

That means hitting up the deli at the supermarket or going to a specialty shop, then grating or shredding the cheese yourself. Also, take note of the price. Parmesan is expensive because it takes a lot of time and a lot of milk to make. If it’s super cheap, that’s a red flag. That goes for everything on this list. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is tampered with in a lot of ways so distributors can make money. As Tom Mueller at The New Yorker explains, fraudsters will dilute olive oil with cheaper oils like vegetable oil, mislabel the olive oil as extra-virgin when it’s not, or lie about the oil’s origin, saying the oil was made in Italy when it’s really a mixed batch of oils from all over the Mediterranean. Major Sergio Tirro of the Italian Carabinieri, and one of the top food fraud investigators in Europe, demonstrated how easy it is to fake olive oil for 60 Minutes. A little sunflower oil, a few drops of chlorophyll, and a dash of beta-carotene is it all it takes to make a passable fake. In fact, Mueller estimates that as much as 75% of the olive oil in the U.S. is adulterated or mislabelled, and a two-part study from the UC Davis Olive Center suggests that 73% of samples from the five top-selling imported “extra virgin” olive oil brands in the U.S.—Bertolli, Carapelli, Colavita, Star, Pompeian—failed to meet International Olive Council standards.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do when you’re shopping for olive oil. First, look for a harvest date on the label. Bottles of olive oil without harvest dates may be fraudulent or from extremely old batches that distributors are trying to unload. Second, look for a seal of approval from the local or regional authority where it was bottled. This type of certification proves the oil is from where it says, and that the product isn’t a mish-mash of different oils. Just because a bottle of olive oil has an Italian flag on it, doesn’t mean it was made there. Also, as Guy Campanile explains on 60 Minutes, check to see if the city of origin is mentioned in addition to the country. You can easily check to see if that area is known for its olive oil production with a Google search. Lastly, check the label for the olive oil’s cultivars, or type of olives that were used. If they don’t list them on the bottle, that doesn’t bode well for the quality of olive oil inside.

The Most (and Least) Fake Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brands

Frauds! An estimated 69% of all store-bought extra virgin olive oils in the US are probably fake,…


As explained in the video above from ABC news, the USP found that imported spices like saffron, black pepper, and paprika are commonly cut with cheap fillers. Saffron is incredibly expensive, so fraudsters will often mix in dried safflowers, dyed onions, and turmeric to boost their profits. And because almost all saffron is imported to the U.S., it’s harder to regulate what might be in it. Ground black pepper has been mixed with ground papaya seeds, buckwheat flower, and black pepper plant stems. And paprika imported from Hungary has been cut with white pepper, curuma, and even brick powder in the past.

The most effective way to avoid the fake stuff is by buying spices whole. Look for whole peppercorns, saffron threads, and whole dried paprika peppers, then grind them yourself. Don’t worry, grinding whole spices into common measurements isn’t as hard as it sounds. One teaspoon of whole peppercorns equals one and a half teaspoons ground, saffron can be used whole or ground to taste, and a batch of fresh ground paprika peppers can last you around eight months. Just make sure you skip the questionable pre-packaged stuff at the dollar store and shop with local dealers or online sellers who specialize in bulk spices.


Honey is an easy target for EMA because it’s so sweet. Some distributors add cheap filler like high fructose corn syrup or rice sugar to the mix. Others filter the product to remove pollen, making it harder to tell if a product is pure honey or not. Honey being filtered doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fake, but it’s possible that you’re just eating sugar syrup. There’s also the risk that the cheap honey you nabbed at the market is an export from a country with lax food safety laws, like China. Not all Chinese honey is dangerous, but there have been issues in the past,and you likely have local apiaries that need your support.

If possible, buy honey from a trusted source like a local farmer’s market, community market, or local honey from your grocery store. Otherwise, Bee America recommends a couple simple tests you can do at home to see if that honey from the store is legit. Spread the honey on a piece of bread and let it sit for a few minutes. If the honey crystallizes and the top of the bread gets crunchy, it’s real. If it gets soggy, it’s fake. You can also test the honey in water. Drop a teaspoon of honey into a glass of water and see if it settles at the bottom. If it doesn’t, and it easily dissolves into the water without mixing, it’s not all honey, honey.

Remove Crystals from Honey with a Hot Water Bath

Sometimes, your jar of honey will get crystals forming at the sides because it hasn’t been… Read more

Fish and Seafood

Do you know the differences between king mackerel and grouper? Or how escolar differs from albacore? How about if you can only see the meat? Probably not, and that’s why a lot of seafood in the U.S. is subject to what’s called “species substitution.” It happens in restaurants and grocery stores, where you might think you’re buying some prized wild caught red snapper when you’re really getting cheap, mass farmed tilapia. One study from Oceana and the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory found that around 33% of the fish they sampled was not the species consumers were led to believe. This is problematic when cheap or undesirable species with high mercury levels are substituted for safer or more expensive fish. Not to mention the fact that you’re not getting what you paid for. And it’s even more difficult to tell when all you see is decorated cuts of meat. This type of food fraud is hard to prevent, however, because only 2% of imported fish is inspected by the FDA.

Luckily, you can still educate yourself and make informed buying decisions. The FDA has a regularly updated list of seafood that is safe to eat, along with detailed information about the fish and the names they’re allowed to be called when being sold. As Oceana’s campaign director, Beth Lowell, explains, identifying fish by their fillet alone is nearly impossible, even for experts. That’s why The Environmental Defense Fund suggests you watch for these red flags when you’re shopping around:

  • A price too good to be true for a highly desired fish like red snapper or grouper.
  • Out-of-season fish, like wild salmon from Alaska, being sold “fresh” in winter months.
  • Wacky labels you know not to be true, such as “farmed Chilean seabass” (only caught in the wild) or “wild Atlantic salmon” (an endangered species and not commercially available).

If something about the fish seems fishy, press the chef or fish seller for information. They should be able to tell you what the fish is, where it came from, and answer any other questions you have. If they can’t, or they seem unsure themselves, get your fish elsewhere. You should stick with known safe suppliers, importers, restaurants, and retailers that are members of the Better Seafood Board. Get to know your seafood and where it comes from before you eat it.

Update: Oceana’s statistics are based on the 1,200 seafood samples they took from 674 different retail outlets in 21 states, not necessarily the entirety of all fish sold in the U.S. Small changes were made in this article to clarify that.


Related Topics:

Synthetic Proteins: Cascading Effects of U.S. Unhealthy Food

Food Revolution: Bolivia’s National Model for Food Sovereignty!

The Food Deserts of America

Pricing Us Out of Food

You Don’t Wanna Eat This Chicken!

Baby Formula and Foods that Cause Diabetes

Be Careful with Your Child’s Cough Mixtures!

When Would You Eat Old Food!

Battle to Hide What Goes in Your Food Continues!

Grass- or Grain-Fed Beef…Is there a Difference?

Whole Foods Not So Whole Food!

Food By Permission of the Government Only!*

The Spermicide in Your Food!?

European Food Authority Concludes that “Glyphosate is Safe”

The Spirituality of Food

Nestle Being Sued for $100 Million Dollars over Hazardous Lead in Food*

Criminalizing Healthy Food Paves Way for TPP*

How to Get Free Food (and Other P2P Solutions)*

Italy’s Supreme Court Rules Stealing Food Is Not A Crime If the Person Is Poor and Hungry*

U.S. Giant Dannon Pledges to take GMOs out of its Yogurt*

Quaker Oats Sued for Glyphosate in ‘100% Natural’ Products*

Microsoft Taking Vengeance on Windows 7 Users*

Microsoft Taking Vengeance on Windows 7 Users*

By Gordon Kelly

Earlier this year Microsoft MSFT +0.12%

warned users that Windows 7 has serious problems. I dismissed its claims as a desperate attempt to shift copies of Windows 10 (and I still do), but now Microsoft has warned of a new serious Windows 7 problem that is very real – even though it makes no sense whatsoever

In short: Microsoft has made a seemingly small yet completely bizarre tweak to Windows Update on Windows 7 and confirmed it is crippling many users’ PCs.

Windows 7 users are being pushed to upgrade to Windows 10. Image credit: Gordon Kelly


The tweak? It switched the status of Windows 7 update KB3133977 from ‘Optional’ to ‘Recommended’. The bizarre part? Despite acknowledging the problems, Microsoft knew they would occur in advance and it has no plans to do anything about it.

Ok, let’s put some meat on these bones.

PCs That Suddenly Won’t Start

It all centres around Asus motherboards.

Now 27 years old, Asus is one of the largest PC component makers and supplies motherboards to many of the world’s biggest PC makers. Recently it enabled Secure Boot in UEFI on all its motherboards. This wasn’t a problem for older PCs because Windows 7 didn’t support Secure Boot, that is until KB3133977 came along in March and enabled it.

Initially the fallout was small. Asus confirmed the problem, Microsoft confirmed the problem.  But the best news was KB3133977 was an optional Windows 7 update so it had to be manually installed to take effect. The solution was simple: just steer clear of KB3133977 (aka do nothing) and you’d be fine.

Then last month – for some bizarre reason – Microsoft made KB3133977 a ‘Recommended’ update. The result was every user running Windows 7 and default Windows Update settings (the vast majority) would find the update now installed automatically.

And then everyone with an Asus motherboard was hit.

A Global Problem

As InfoWorld’s Windows expert Woody Leonhard notes

 “I’m now seeing problems reported from all over the globe about Windows 7 machines that suddenly won’t boot”. Affected machines simply show a red box which says:

The Windows 7 warning screen hitting PC owners with Asus motherboards who install update KB3133977. Image credit: Asus

All of which does nothing to pinpoint the problem or solve it for those without a second secured boot device. In short: you’d be screwed.

The Good News and Staying Safe

The good news is Asus has now issued a workaround to get PCs booting up again. Furthermore Asus must take some of the blame for not reacting faster when KB3133977 presented a potential landmine and issuing new updates to its motherboards.

How do you know if you have an Asus motherboard in your Windows 7 PC? Go to: All Programs > Accessories > System Tools and select System Information. This will list your PC’s components, including the motherboard.

One downside: some major PC makers like Dell and HP rebrand the motherboard as the computer’s model number. In which case you should do a web search on your model or call the manufacturer directly.

The Bad News and What Comes Next

As for the bad news? It’s Microsoft’s reaction.

On the plus side, Microsoft did update the support document for KB3133977 with a warning which states:

“After you install update 3133977 on a Windows 7 x64-based system that includes an Asus-based main board, the system does not start”.

But Microsoft also uses the document an opportunity to promote upgrades to Windows 10:

Microsoft’s KB3133977 support page now advises users to install Windows 10 to fix their problems. Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has also done nothing to modify KB3133977 or release a new patch so users with Asus motherboards don’t run into this problem in the first place. Furthermore, at the time of publishing, KB3133977 remains a ‘Recommended’ in Windows Update for Windows 7.

Needless to say, conspiracy theorists will have a ball seeing it as yet another new way Microsoft can push users to Windows 10. Especially with upgrade rates slowing in April. This in itself is remarkable given the increasing number of heavy handed and devious ways Microsoft has been pushing Windows 10 onto Windows 7 and Windows 8 users.

Regardless, the message is clear: life is going to become increasingly uncomfortable for Windows 7 users from now on. Whether they like it or not…


Related Topics:

Microsoft Shifts Spyware Windows 10 to ‘Recommended’ Update, Automatic Download*

Senior Russian Lawmaker Seeks Ban on Windows 10 in State Agencies*

Progressive Professor Urges White Male Students to Commit Suicide During Class

Diversity Chronicle


By Ivan Fernando

“If you are a white male, you don’t deserve to live. You are a cancer, you’re a disease, white males have never contributed anything positive to the world! They only murder, exploit and oppress non-whites! At least a white woman can have sex with a black man and make a brown baby but what can a white male do? He’s good for nothing. Slavery, genocides against aboriginal peoples and massive land confiscation, the inquisition, the holocaust, white males are all to blame! You maintain your white male privilege only by oppressing, discriminating against and enslaving others!” Professor Noel Ignatiev, a tenured professor at Massachusetts College loudly proclaimed to his class last Monday, his final teaching day before retirement.

The good Professor’s sound and reasonable words resonate with every enlightened and progressive mind. They are indisputable and no one can debate them. They should not be controversial in…

View original post 1,270 more words

ISIS Kills it’s Own to Stem Defections*

ISIS Kills it’s Own to Stem Defections*

By Tyler Durden

endless-staircase by Peter BrookerThings are deteriorating fast for the cash-strapped Islamic State.

One month ago we reported that as a result of the collapse of ISIS’ oil trade with Turkey following the relentless bombing of its oil extraction and transportation infrastructure mostly by Russian forces, the money inflows generated by the Islamic State have plunged. “In mid-2015, the Islamic State’s overall monthly revenue was around $80 million” said Ludovico Carlino, senior analyst at IHS, which issues regular reports on IS-controlled territory. Carlino added that “as of March 2016, the Islamic State’s monthly revenue dropped to $56 million.”

While the collapse in oil trading has been the primary reason for this cash crunch, another reason is that the territory held by the organization has been drastically reduced as a result of recent military losses. According to IHS the IS group had lost about 22% of its territory in the past 15 months and now ruled over six million instead of nine million people.

This led to several media reports that in order to boost cash, ISIS was killing its wounded fighters and selling their organs in the black market.

More troubling for the militant state, however, was the tide of war turning against ISIS. This, together with the increasingly bleak long-term “career prospects” for the ISIS faithful, has led to a spike in fighter defections which forced Islamic State authorities to take prompt measures to address the fallout and send an even stronger message to any future potential defectors.

One month ago, it did so in dramatic fashion by killing 45 of battlefield defectors in a gruesome way: by freezing them to death. According Iraqi media agency Al Sumaria News, the 45 defectors attempted to flee the battlefield during recent fights in Iraq. They accused deserters were executed by being locked in morgue freezers in Mosul for 24 hours, left for a slow, presumably agonizing death.  Their bodies were reportedly then stretched out along the sides of the road at city entrances to act as a warning to any other fighter who might have second thoughts.

In retrospect this attempt to “build morale” appears to have failed, and defections have – predictably – accelerated. So to send an even stronger message, the Islamic State has reportedly buried alive dozens of its own militants, after the jihadists refused to fight and fled the battlefield in the face of the Iraqi government’s push to retake ground in northern province of Nineveh controlled by ISIS since 2014.

According to AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA) some 35 fighters died after being buried alive, while Iraqi News reported that Islamic State buried 45 of its members alive on charges of fleeing the battlefield. The executions are said to have taken place on the outskirts of Qayyarah, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of the militant-held city of Mosul. According to reports, those who were buried alive were accused of fleeing clashes with government forces in the village of Bashir, just south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Another source confirmed the slaying to, saying that “ISIS had buried its members, who escaped from al-Bashir battles, inside one grave.”

When ISIS was pressed for time, it took more direct measures: according to Arabic language media, on Monday ISIS command also shot and killed dozens of its fighters in the village of al-Hadar south of Mosul – likewise for escaping from battle in Anbar province.

The Islamic State is best known in the west for its brutal approach when dealing with captives, subjecting them to horrific and elaborate execution methods, which it films them as part of its propaganda campaign; its methods have included drowning men in a cage in a swimming pool, strapping explosives to the heads of kneeling men connected by wires and burning hostages alive in cages.

Perhaps in the best indication that the war against ISIS is now effectively over, the Islamic State, no matter how or why it was created, is increasingly turning on its own.


Related Topics:

ISIL fighters’ Given Death Sentences for Iraq Massacre*

Iraqi Security Forces Find Mass Graves of ISIS Members*

U.S. Supplies ISIS through Turkey*

Turkish Border Guards Shoot and Abuse Syrian Refugees*

U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS Chemical Weapon Facilities to Cover-up their Tracks*

Heavy Fighting in Aleppo Province Results in Victory for Syrian Forces*

Germany in the Poison Gas Business, with ISIS*

Iraq Forces Free Prisoners from Underground ISIS Jail*

France, U.K., and Germany produce the most ISIS Terrorists from Europe*

Fallujah’s Residents Starving, Murdered, Besieged by U.S. Backed Government Forces and ISIS*

29 Former German Soldiers have Joined ISIS*

Saudi Arabia Arrest 9 CIA Agents Working for ISIS*

ISIS Stealing and Selling Ancient Syrian Artefacts to Buyers from the U.S. and Europe*

Hack of Netanyahu Chief of Staff Shows Israeli Control of ISIS*