Category: Greed


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Thu Dec 03, 2015 3:26

Popular Forces’ Commanders: Ramadi Liberation Operation Blocked by US

Popular Forces' Commanders: Ramadi Liberation Operation Blocked by US

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commanders of Iraq’s popular forces complain that the US is hindering the start of final phase of the operation to free Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, from ISIL control.

“The US bargains and pressures on the Baghdad government have prevented accomplishment of Ramadi liberation operation,” Abu Yousef al-Khazali, a commander of Seyed al-Shohada battalion, told FNA on Thursday.

“The US has long been seeking to force the government to stop using the popular forces in military operations against ISIL, specially in the liberation operations conducted in different Iraqi regions,” he added.

Also, Karim al-Nouri, the spokesman of Iraq’s popular forces, told FNA that the “the Americans’ interference has distorted plans to free Ramadi”.

He added that “the Americans are not serious about bringing the battles to an end”.

A commander of Iraq’s volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) complained in similar remarks that the US meddling in the fight against the ISIL has impeded their victory over the Takfiri terrorist group and prevented them from winning back the strategic cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

“The US meddling prevents the Iraqi army and popular forces from concluding their battles against the ISIL in Ramadi and Fallujah cities,” Commander of Imam Khamenei Battalion Haidar al-Hosseini al-Ardavi told FNA on Sunday.

He noted that the US is doing its best to prevent mop-up operations by the popular forces in Anbar province.

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A woman walking past the outer wall of the former US embassy in Tehran, which was seized by Islamists in 1980

Washington’s Double Life? Iraqis Accuse US of Being in Cahoots With Daesh

© Sputnik/ Grigoriy Sysoev

World

15:06 03.12.2015(updated 15:07 03.12.2015) 

Suspicion that the US is collaborating with Daesh (also known as ISIL/The Islamic State), instead of fighting the military group, is spreading among Iraqis, primarily due to the country’s minimalist approach toward the crisis.

To Americans, accusations that the US government is helping Daesh may seem ludicrous. However, many Iraqi fighters and civilians claim they have seen evidence of collusion between the US and the notorious terrorist group citing, for instance, videos allegedly showing US helicopters airdropping weapons to the militants, The Washington Post reported.

The idea that the US is supporting Daesh is being persistently promoted via social media and voiced in parliament by Shiite politicians in Iraq, US military officials claim. In one popular video, recently released on a Shiite militia group’s Facebook page, a lawmaker with the country’s biggest militia group, the Badr Organization, waves seemingly new US military MREs (meals ready to eat), allegedly found at a recently seized Daesh base in Baiji, saying it is proof that the US supports terrorists.The US military’s Baghdad-based spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said the charges are “beyond ridiculous.”

“The Iranians and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are really pushing this line of propaganda, that the United States is supporting ISIL,” he said. “There’s clearly no one in the West who buys it, but unfortunately, this is something that a segment of the Iraqi population believes.”

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Bombshell: The Turkish Assault on Russia’s SU-24 was Guided by the US Air Force

Turkey ambush su-24

Russia Insider reports that the ambush on the Russian U-24 bomber was guided by the US Airforce. In an interview with the Russian news agency Regnum, a Russian military expert said that “A US Air Force Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS plane took off on 24 November from the Preveza airbase in Greece. A second E-3A of the Saudi Arabian air force took off from the Riyadh airbase. Both planes were executing a common task—determining the precise location of Russian aircraft. It is they that picked the “victim.”

The American E-3A was supposed to determine the activity of the Su-24M2′s onboard targeting radar, to determine if it was in search mode or if it had already locked on to a target and was processing launch-data. It is known that the AWACS can direct the activity of aircraft in battle, conveying information to their avionics and flight computers.

The expert went on explaining the technical details of how the US and Saudi AF planes guided the Turkish F-16s to a sure missile launch in ‘target illumination’ mode, meaning that the radar was turned off as soon as the missile locket into its target.

This elevates the US-NATO war crime on Russia to an even higher level. The leaders involved in this heinous aggression should clearly be subjected to a Nuremberg style tribunal with all its dire consequences. Instead, hypocrite Obama in a side meeting of the Paris COP21 conference laments the event to President Putin, while still supporting Turkey in their right of self-defense.

What self-defense? – At the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, a week before the SU-24 downing, all conference members allegedly unanimously agreed to join forces in their fight against ISIS / Daesh. Therefore, even if the Russian bomber would have overflown Turkish territory – which according to Russian military monitors it did not – it would not have threatened Turkey at all, as they were, Russia and Turkey along with the other G20 attendees, on the same wave length: object eradicating terror in Syria.

Or were they really? – Or was this apparent commitment just another lie, as everything coming from the west is a lie, a deceit? – No agreement, no commitment is honored, no law is obeyed – the west under the leadership (sic) of Zionist-Washington has become a bunch of criminal rogue states.

 

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TASS Russian News Agency

Greek Defense Ministry confirms Russian Su-24M bomber was downed in Syrian airspace

December 02, 16:50 UTC+3

Asked which side Greece should take, as a NATO member, Greek Minister of National Defense Panos Kammenos said – “the truth”
© TASS

ATHENS, December 2. /TASS/. The Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber was brought down by the Turkish Air Force in Syrian airspace, Greek Minister of National Defense Panos Kammenos said in an interview to the Mega TV channel on Wednesday.

“The attack (on Su-24M) took place in Syrian airspace. This is beyond doubt,” he said. “The Turkish side knows that, otherwise Ankara would ask to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter, requesting the Alliance’s help.”

“This is undoubtedly a military action in the territory of another state,” Kammenos said. “But even more important point is the murder of the pilot, who was shot dead by members of the Turkish extremist group Grey Wolves.”

Asked which side Greece should take, as a NATO member, the minister said – “the truth”. “If Russia had violated Turkish airspace, we would support Ankara”, the defense minister said.

An F-16 fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force shot down Russia’s Su-24M bomber on Tuesday, November 24. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish airspace in the area of the border with Syria. However, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory and “there was no violation of the Turkish air space.”

Turkey’s F-16 fighter that shot down the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Sukhoi Su-24M bomber was in Syria’s airspace for 40 seconds and went inside its territory by 2 kilometers, while the Russian bomber did not violate the Turkish state border, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Viktor Bondarev, said on November 27. “In line with air defense means objective control materials, the Turkish plane was in Syria’s airspace for 40 seconds and flew two kilometres inside its territory, whereas the Russian bomber did not violate the state border of Turkey,” Bondarev said. He said the crew of the second Su-24 plane confirmed the launch of the missile from the F-16. After the combat employment at the mentioned target and left turn to 130-degree course “it observed on the left side of it flame and a tail of white smoke, which it reported to the flight operations director,” he said.

 

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Israel buys most oil smuggled from ISIS territory – report

Islamic State

Israel has become the main buyer for oil from ISIS controlled territory, reports “al-Araby al-Jadeed.”

Kurdish and Turkish smugglers are transporting oil from ISIS controlled territory in Syria and Iraq and selling it to Israel, according to several reports in the Arab and Russian media. An estimated 20,000-40,000 barrels of oil are produced daily in ISIS controlled territory generating $1-1.5 million daily profit for the terrorist organization.The oil is extracted from Dir A-Zur in Syria and two fields in Iraq and transported to the Kurdish city of Zakhu in a triangle of land near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Israeli and Turkish mediators come to the city and when prices are agreed, the oil is smuggled to the Turkish city of Silop marked as originating from Kurdish regions of Iraq and sold for $15-18 per barrel (WTI and Brent Crude currently sell for $41 and $45 per barrel) to the Israeli mediator, a man in his 50s with dual Greek-Israeli citizenship known as Dr. Farid. He transports the oil via several Turkish ports and then onto other ports, with Israel among the main destinations.

In August, the “Financial Times” reported that Israel obtained 75% of its oil supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan. More than a third of such exports go through the port of Ceyhan, which the FT describe as a “potential gateway for ISIS-smuggled crude.”

 

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NaturalNews

CDC exposed as private corporation colluding with Big Pharma to defraud American taxpayers: see the evidence

 

CDC corruption

(NaturalNews) The illusory notion that the federal regulatory agency known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is somehow a public entity working on behalf of the people to protect us all from disease is simply laughable.

The CDC, by definition, is a private corporation working on behalf of its stakeholders, which include key players in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries that profit from the spread of disease, not from real prevention and cures.

The first and most obvious clue that the CDC isn’t what it appears on the surface is the fact that this supposed government agency is listed in the official Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) directory as a for-profit corporation.

D&B is a Fortune 500 company based in New Jersey that maintains databases on more than 235 million companies worldwide – it’s a who’s who of the global business climate, and is recognized as one of the first companies to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Here’s a screenshot of the CDC’s listing on D&B, courtesy of the AntiCorruption Society:

image

Big Pharma and the CDC: one in the same

Anyone who tries to argue with you that the CDC is looking out for public safety as its first priority just needs to take a glance at D&B to see that the CDC is actually looking out for its own bottom line, and that of its corporate allies. Which brings us into our second piece of evidence that the CDC is a corrupt, drug-pandering sham – many of the CDC’s top health “experts” have ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

An investigation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found that three key “scientists” who helped develop official swine flu policy for the World Health Organization (WHO), recommending that practically everyone be vaccinated, received cash payments from both Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), two pharmaceutical giants that manufacture swine flu vaccines.

These two companies, as reported by The Guardian in 2010, paid off policymakers in multiple countries, including in the U.S. (at the CDC), to write the WHO’s guidelines for swine flu that pushed dangerous swine flu vaccines on millions of people globally. With the help of the CDC and other corrupt agencies, these pharmaceutical corporations pocketed billions of dollars.

“The tentacles of drug company influence are in all levels in the decision-making process,” stated Paul Flynn, a British Member of Parliament who spoke out against this racket as it was occurring.

CDC pushes fake science promoting deadly drugs, vaccines

The CDC has also been complicit in forging fake science to push other dangerous vaccines like the MMR jab for measles, mumps and rubella. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. blew the lid on this scandal that same year, outing now-shamed scientist Poul Thorsen for stealing $2 million in research money while covering up the link between MMR and autism, which the CDC ate right up in its quest to protect the reputation of MMR.

Top CDC scientist Dr. William Thompson has also since come forward as a whistleblower to expose the CDC for manipulating research findings that showed MMR causes autism at a disproportionately higher rate in young black boys compared to other children – though MMR causes autism in all types of children, this same research found.

“As more and more ‘vaccination’ propaganda appears in the mainstream media, it is crucial that the American people become aware of the outrageous scam the CDC and the medical industrial complex are running,” warns the AntiCorruption Society.

“All that is needed is for folks to educate themselves and join the many good people (professionals and non-professionals) working to get the truth out.”

Sources for this article include:

AntiCorruptionSociety.com

TheGuardian.com

HuffingtonPost.com

NaturalNews.com

 

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About NaturalNews

The NaturalNews Network is a non-profit collection of public education websites covering topics that empower individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity, consumer choices and informed skepticism. The NaturalNews Network is owned and operated by Truth Publishing International, Ltd., a Taiwan corporation. It is not recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit in the United States, but it operates without a profit incentive, and its key writer, Mike Adams, receives absolutely no payment for his time, articles or books other than reimbursement for items purchased in order to conduct product reviews.

The vast majority of our content is freely given away at no charge. We offer thousands of articles and dozens of downloadable reports and guides (like the Honest Food Guide) that are designed to educate and empower individuals, families and communities so that they may experience improved health, awareness and life fulfillment.

Learn More About Natural News Here

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CDC scientists held meeting to destroy autism-vaccine documents, reveals CDC whistleblower

CDC scientists

(NaturalNews) The results of a 2004 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered a significant link between the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) and autism in African American boys vaccinated under or around the age 36 months; however, if it weren’t for one whistleblower, you would not have been privy to any of this, because the evidence was deliberately covered up.

Dr. William Thompson, currently a senior scientist at the CDC, recently made a shocking admission that he and his colleagues specifically arranged a meeting to destroy important documents related to the study in an attempt to withhold information from the public regarding a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

As first reported by Sharyl Attkisson, a former CBS News journalist turned independent investigative reporter, Dr. Thompson and the study co-authors “scheduled a meeting to destroy documents related to the study.

“The remaining four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room, and reviewed and went through all the hardcopy documents that we had thought we should discard, and put them into a huge garbage can.”

“The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.” – CDC Senior Science Dr. William Thompson

However, aware that destroying documents in this manner was both illegal and unethical, Dr. Thompson kept hard copies of all the documents that had been disposed of, as well as maintained all associated computer files.

After securing a whistleblower attorney, Dr. Thompson came forward with his admission, providing relevant documents in August 2014 to the office of Rep. Bill Posey (R-Florida), who presented details of the cover-up on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Posey, who maintains that he is “pro-vaccine,” read the following quote by Dr. Thompson on the House floor:

My primary job duties while working in the immunization safety branch from 2000 to 2006, were to later co-lead three major vaccine safety studies. The MADDSP, MMR autism cases control study was being carried out in response to the Wakefield-Lancet study that suggested an association between the MMR vaccine and an autism-like health outcome.

There were several major concerns among scientists and consumer advocates outside the CDC in the fall of 2000, regarding the execution of the Verstraeten Study. One of the important goals that was determined up front, in the spring of 2001, before any of these studies started, was to have all three protocols vetted outside the CDC prior to the start of the analyses so consumer advocates could not claim that we were presenting analyses that suited our own goals and biases.

We hypothesized that if we found statistically significant effects at either 18 or 36 month thresholds, we would conclude that vaccinating children early with MMR vaccine could lead to autism-like characteristics or features. We all met and finalized the study protocol and analysis plan. The goal was to not deviate from the analysis plan to avoid the debacle that occurred with the Verstraeten thimerosal study published in Pediatrics in 2003.

At the Sept 5th meeting we discussed in detail how to code race for both the sample and the birth certificate sample. At the bottom of table 7, it also shows that for the non-birth certificate sample, the adjusted race effect statistical significance was huge.

All the authors and I met and decided sometime between August and September 2002, not to report any race effects from the paper. Sometime soon after the meeting, we decided to exclude reporting any race effects.

The co-authors scheduled a meeting to destroy documents related to the study.

The remaining four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room, and reviewed and went through all the hardcopy documents that we had thought we should discard, and put them into a huge garbage can.

However, because I assumed it was illegal and would violate both FOIA and DOJ requests, I kept hardcopies of all documents in my office, and I retain all associated computer files. I believe we intentionally withheld controversial findings from the final draft of the Pediatrics paper.

The CDC and Dr. Thompson’s co-author Dr. Frank DeStefano, CDC Director of Immunization Safety, continue to defend the study as originally published.

A July 29 Tweet by Attkisson states:

So far, no hearings scheduled and no known inquiry of the alleged scientific misconduct.

Sources:

SharylAttkisson.com

SharylAttkisson.com

Twitter.com

 

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About NaturalNews

The NaturalNews Network is a non-profit collection of public education websites covering topics that empower individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity, consumer choices and informed skepticism. The NaturalNews Network is owned and operated by Truth Publishing International, Ltd., a Taiwan corporation. It is not recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit in the United States, but it operates without a profit incentive, and its key writer, Mike Adams, receives absolutely no payment for his time, articles or books other than reimbursement for items purchased in order to conduct product reviews.

The vast majority of our content is freely given away at no charge. We offer thousands of articles and dozens of downloadable reports and guides (like the Honest Food Guide) that are designed to educate and empower individuals, families and communities so that they may experience improved health, awareness and life fulfillment.

Learn More About Natural News Here

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‘No way West was unaware of ISIS-Turkey oil trade’

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan © Umit Bektas
 
What will be the reaction of Ankara’s Western allies following Moscow’s revelations that Turkey is involved in ISIS oil smuggling, RT asked experts.

READ MORE: Russia presents proof of Turkey’s role in ISIS oil trade

The evidence presented by the Russian Defense Ministry will be “partly ignored and distorted” by Western MSM, says Foreign Affairs Editor Srdja Trifkovic.

I think that Erdogan will scream ‘blue murder’ and claim that this is all a set-up and a reaction to what he calls ‘justified downing of the Russian plane’. The real issue is what the US will do about this. Because it is quite obvious the Turkish tail has been wagging the American dog for far too long,” he said.

My hunch is that the US will continue to be reluctant to really do something about it. They have had a chance to do so for 15 months prior to the beginning of the Russian air strikes on September, 25. The question of all questions is whether Erdogan will finally be pressed by his Western partners to shape up and to act like a civilized person, which unfortunately he is not,” Trifkovic told RT.

 

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Erdogan & his family involved in ISIS oil trade – Russian MoD

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Published on Dec 2, 2015

Turkish leadership, including Erdogan & his family are involved in ISIS oil trade, Russian MoD announced on Wednesday, showcasing satellites images and footage from oil facilities and Syrian-Turkish border.

RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air

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Russia presents proof of Turkey’s role in ISIS oil trade

© syria.mil.ru

The Russian Defense Ministry has released evidence which it says unmasks vast illegal oil trade by Islamic State and points to Turkey as the main destination for the smuggled petrol, implicating its leadership in aiding the terrorists.

READ MORE: Map, images from Russian military show main routes of ISIS oil smuggling to Turkey

The Russian Defense Ministry held a major briefing on new findings concerning IS funding in Moscow on Wednesday.

According to Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, Russia is aware of three main oil smuggling routes to Turkey.

“Today, we are presenting only some of the facts that confirm that a whole team of bandits and Turkish elites stealing oil from their neighbors is operating in the region,” Antonov said, adding that this oil “in large quantities” enters the territory of Turkey via “live oil pipelines,” consisting of thousands of oil trucks.

The routes of alleged oil smuggling from Syria and Iraq to Turkey © syria.mil.ru

Antonov added that Turkey is the main buyer of smuggled oil coming from Iraq and Syria.

According to our data, the top political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – is involved in this criminal business.”

READ MORE: Russia says Turkey’s Erdogan & family involved in illegal ISIS oil trade

However, since the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria on September 30, the income of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants from illegal oil smuggling has been significantly reduced, the ministry said.

The income of this terrorist organization was about $3 million per day. After two months of Russian airstrikes their income was about $1.5 million a day,” Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy said.

At the briefing the ministry presented photos of oil trucks, videos of airstrikes on IS oil storage facilities and maps detailing the movement of smuggled oil. More evidence is to be published on the ministry’s website in the coming says, Rudskoy said.

 

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‘Great partners’: Pentagon rejects Russian evidence of Turkey aiding ISIS

Col. Steve Warren © Khalid Mohammed
A Pentagon spokesman rejected Russia’s evidence of Turkey’s involvement in oil deals with Islamic State militants, calling Turkey a “great partner” just a day after his boss complained to Congress that Ankara was not fighting ISIS enough.

“Let me be very clear that we flatly reject any notion that the Turks are somehow working with ISIL,” said Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). “That is preposterous and kind of ridiculous. We absolutely, flatly reject that notion.”

Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman Steve Warren: We flatly reject the notion that is working with .

Warren was responding to questions about the evidence presented by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday, including satellite photos and maps pointing the finger at Turkey – and President Recep Erdogan personally – for aiding the militants in smuggling oil.

“The Turks have been great partner to us in the fight against ISIL. They are hosting our aircraft, they are conducting strikes, they are supporting the moderate Syrian opposition,” Warren told reporters during a weekly Pentagon briefing from Operation Inherent Resolve headquarters in Baghdad. “They’ve been good partners here. Any thought that the Turks, that the Turkish government is somehow working with ISIL is just preposterous and completely untrue.”

Just yesterday, however, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was telling the House Armed Services Committee that most of Turkey’s military operations were directed against the Kurds, rather than the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

“Most of their air operations are not directed at ISIL,” Carter told lawmakers. “They are directed at the PKK, which we understand their concern about — it’s a terrorist organization within their borders — but we would like to see them do more against ISIL.”

 

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US-led coalition not striking ISIS oil trucks despite evidence – Russia’s General Staff

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force © Senior Airman Matthew Bruch
Despite mounting evidence of ISIS oil smuggling, the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq is not striking convoys of oil trucks heading to Turkey, Russia’s General Staff has said.

“It’s hard not to notice” the thousands of trucks used by terrorists for oil smuggling, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, deputy commander of the General Staff, said at a briefing in Moscow on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Russia presents proof of Turkey’s role in ISIS oil trade

“However, we see no strikes on those convoys by the coalition – only a tripling in the number of strategic UAVs has been observed,” he said.

With the US and its allies unwilling to act, the Russian Defense Ministry has reported the locations where Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) oil tankers are concentrated, Rudskoy said.

Vehicles parked 8km west of Zakho, Iraq © syria.mil.ru

The deputy commander stressed that defeating IS would be impossible without curbing its main source of income – the illegal oil trade – and urged the coalition to strike IS oil infrastructure.

 

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TPP Deal Finally Revealed

Details of the long-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership are public at last: it will undermine the safety of our food supply, make medicine more expensive, and give power to the biotech monopoly. Action Alert!

A few weeks ago, the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal was finally released after many years of closed-door negotiations between officials from the US and eleven other countries, all of whom border the Pacific Ocean. Its provisions were apparently kept secret from all but the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

Leaked documents during the trade negotiations provided reason to be concerned about the final agreement. And now, a review of the deal’s twenty-nine chapters and five thousand pages proves these early concerns were completely justified. The final package now awaits a vote in Congress, which is likely to take place in Spring 2016.

Here are some of the most pressing concerns for natural health advocates:

It Undermines the Safety of the Food Supply

The TPP contains a number of provisions that threaten current food safety laws.

Generally speaking, passage of the TPP would mean that any US food safety law concerning things like pesticides, food additives, or labeling that is more stringent than “international standards” may be considered an “illegal barrier” to trade, and subject to enforcement. We have learned to beware of such “international standards.” They are largely determined by global special interests.

The TPP expands corporate power in other ways. The deal includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system in which multinational corporations can challenge a host company’s regulations in an international court. ISDS has been a fixture in other trade treaties, including NAFTA (the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), and has been used to challenge countries’ economic policies, anti-smoking efforts, and environmental preservation laws. It is another giveaway to Big Food and other powerful multinational interests—a recurring theme throughout the TPP document.

The trade agreement also undercuts US efforts to inspect food imports. The agreement limits food import inspections at the border “to what is reasonable and necessary,” and if an issue arises, a country must also provide an “opportunity for a review of the decision.” This provision, referred to as the Rapid Response Mechanism, may give exporting countries the right to challenge basic food safety provisions in the US.

It Gives New Patent Protections to Big Pharma

The TPP contains an entire chapter on intellectual property rights, with many provisions relating to pharmaceutical patents. No doubt heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, the trade deal will force signatory countries to accept many of the same patent laws that have kept drug prices so astronomically high in the US.

The deal would extend and broaden certain patent and data protections for the pharmaceutical industry, which Big Pharma can then use to keep prices high and delay competition from generics. It is a wonderful gift to the pharmaceutical industry—but a grave loss to patients in developing countries looking for access to affordable drugs.

The TPP also allows a practice known as “evergreening,” which lets drug companies extend a patent on an old drug when it can be used to treat a new condition—another boon for Big Pharma’s monopoly power.

Even when Big Pharma loses in the TPP, it wins. One of the more controversial topics in TPP negotiations concerned patent and data protections for biologic drugs—medicines derived not from inert chemical compounds but from living organisms. Big Pharma wanted twelve years of exclusivity— they already have this in the US—and US trade officials pushed hard in the negotiations to make this the standard. Instead, the deal grants them at least five years of exclusivity and as much as eight.

It’s Also a Gift to Biotech Seed Companies

Finally, the TPP deal expands biotech’s monopoly over the seed industry. The deal requires all twelve countries to join a number of global intellectual property treaties. One of these treaties is the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV91), which emphasizes the rights of seed companies over farmers. Among other things, UPOV91:

  • Requires intellectual property (IP) protection for all plant species;
  • Provides IP protection for 20 to 25 years; and
  • Stops farmers from exchanging seeds—a common and important practice in many developing nations and indeed throughout human history.

In countries that have not already turned agriculture over to the biotech industry, this could mean a substantial rewrite of regulations meant to protect farmers.

Other treaties that signatory countries are compelled to join make it easier to apply for patents—making it very likely that more plants and seeds will be patented.

If these gifts to industry were not enough, President Obama moved earlier this summer to have the deal “fast-tracked”—that is, Congress will be given a fixed period to review the agreement, after which time legislators must make a yes/no vote without the possibility of amending the deal. Essentially, it’s “take it or leave it.”

We say: leave it. And if the US does reject it, do not worry about losing the reduction of tariffs that is already included. There will just be a second (and, we hope, a better) version to replace it.

Action Alert! Write to your members of Congress and urge them to oppose the TPP deal, which undermines consumers and farmers and extends monopoly rights to major industries. Please send your message immediately.

Take-Action

 

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Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back

By: Pepe Escobar

© AFP

Russia’s and Turkey’s objectives in fighting the Islamic State group are diametrically opposed.

It’s absolutely impossible to understand why the Turkish government would engage in the suicidal strategy of downing a Russian Su-24 over Syrian territory – technically a NATO declaration of war on Russia – without putting in context the Turkish power play in northern Syria.

President Vladmir Putin said the downing of the Russian fighter jet was a “stab in the back.” So let’s see how facts on the ground allowed it to happen.

Ankara uses, finances, and weaponizes a basket case of extremist outfits across northern Syria, and needs by all means to keep supply line corridors from southern Turkey open for them; after all they need to conquer Aleppo, which would open the way for Ankara’s Holy Grail: regime change in Damascus.

At the same time Ankara is terrified of the YPG – the Syrian Kurd People’s Protection Units – a sister organization of the leftist PKK. These must be contained at all costs.

 

So the Islamic State group – against which the United Nations has declared war – is a mere detail in the overall Ankara strategy, which is essentially to fight, contain or even bomb Kurds; support all manner of Takfiris and Salafi-jihadis, including the Islamic State group; and get regime change in Damascus.

 

Unsurprisingly, the YPG Syrian Kurds are vastly demonized in Turkey, accused of at least trying to ethnic cleanse Arab and Turkmen villages in northern Syria. Yet, what the Syrian Kurds are attempting – and to Ankara’s alarm, somewhat supported by the U.S. – is to link what are for the moment three patches of Kurdish land in northern Syria.

A look at an imperfect Turkish map at least reveals how two of these patches of land (in yellow) are already linked, to the northeast. To accomplish that, the Syrian Kurds, helped by the PKK, defeated The Islamic State group in Kobani and environs. To get to the third patch of land, they need to get to Afryn. Yet on the way (in blue) there is a collection of Turkmen villages north of Aleppo.

The strategic importance of these Turkmen lands cannot be emphasized enough. It’s exactly in this area, reaching as much as 35 km inland, that Ankara wants to install its so-called “safe zone,” which will be in fact a no-fly zone, in Syrian territory, ostensibly to house Syrian refugees, and with everything paid by the EU, which has already unblocked 3 billion euros, starting Jan. 1, via the European Commission (EC).

The now insurmountable obstacle for Turkey to get its no-fly zone is, predictably, Russia.

Using the Turkmen

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Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List

Posted: 11/09/2014 11:25 am EST Updated: 11/29/2015 11:59 pm EST
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
IN THE CITY OF NEW YORKINSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF HUMAN RIGHTSResearch Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links

By David L. Phillips

 

Introduction

Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. It is also alleged that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS attacks against Kobani.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu strongly deny complicity with ISIS. Erdogan visited the Council on Foreign Relations on September 22, 2014. He criticized “smear campaigns [and] attempts to distort perception about us.” Erdogan decried, “A systematic attack on Turkey’s international reputation, “complaining that “Turkey has been subject to very unjust and ill-intentioned news items from media organizations.” Erdogan posited: “My request from our friends in the United States is to make your assessment about Turkey by basing your information on objective sources.”

Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights assigned a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to examine Turkish and international media, assessing the credibility of allegations. This report draws on a variety of international sources — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, BBC, Sky News, as well as Turkish sources, CNN Turk, Hurriyet Daily News, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, and Radikal among others.

AllegationsTurkey Provides Military Equipment to ISIS• An ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014: “Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”

• Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), produced a statement from the Adana Office of the Prosecutor on October 14, 2014 maintaining that Turkey supplied weapons to terror groups. He also produced interview transcripts from truck drivers who delivered weapons to the groups. According to Kiliçdaroglu, the Turkish government claims the trucks were for humanitarian aid to the Turkmen, but the Turkmen said no humanitarian aid was delivered.

• According to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, three trucks were stopped in Adana for inspection on January 19, 2014. The trucks were loaded with weapons in Esenboga Airport in Ankara. The drivers drove the trucks to the border, where a MIT agent was supposed to take over and drive the trucks to Syria to deliver materials to ISIS and groups in Syria. This happened many times. When the trucks were stopped, MIT agents tried to keep the inspectors from looking inside the crates. The inspectors found rockets, arms, and ammunitions.

• Cumhuriyet reports that Fuat Avni, a preeminent Twitter user who reported on the December 17th corruption probe, that audio tapes confirm that Turkey provided financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda on October 12, 2014. On the tapes, Erdogan pressured the Turkish Armed Forces to go to war with Syria. Erdogan demanded that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), come up with a justification for attacking Syria.

• Hakan Fidan told Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Yasar Guler, a senior defense official, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a senior foreign affairs official: “If need be, I’ll send 4 men into Syria. I’ll formulate a reason to go to war by shooting 8 rockets into Turkey; I’ll have them attack the Tomb of Suleiman Shah.”

• Documents surfaced on September 19th, 2014 showing that the Saudi Emir Bender Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through Turkey. A flight leaving Germany dropped off arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey, which was then split into three containers, two of which were given to ISIS and one to Gaza.

Turkey Provided Transport and Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters• According to Radikal on June 13, 2014, Interior Minister Muammar Guler signed a directive: “According to our regional gains, we will help al-Nusra militants against the branch of PKK terrorist organization, the PYD, within our borders…Hatay is a strategic location for the mujahideen crossing from within our borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will mostly take place in Hatay…MIT and the Religious Affairs Directorate will coordinate the placement of fighters in public accommodations.”

• The Daily Mail reported on August 25, 2014 that many foreign militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey, but Turkey did not try to stop them. This article describes how foreign militants, especially from the UK, go to Syria and Iraq through the Turkish border. They call the border the “Gateway to Jihad.” Turkish army soldiers either turn a blind eye and let them pass, or the jihadists pay the border guards as little as $10 to facilitate their crossing.

• Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish government has stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkey border into Syria to join ISIS.

• The BBC interviewed villagers, who claim that buses travel at night, carrying jihadists to fight Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, not the Syrian Armed Forces.

• A senior Egyptian official indicated on October 9, 2014 that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS.

Turkey Provided Training to ISIS Fighters

 

Read More Here

 

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SU-24 bomber

Turkey ‘Ambushed’ Russian Su-24 to Protect Its ‘Proxies’ in Syria

© Sputnik
Middle East
21:30 26.11.2015(updated 14:06 27.11.2015)

The shooting down of the Russian Su-24 bomber was a planned attack and a trap set by the Turkish Air Force, Dr. Mark Galeotti, the Professor of Global Affairs at the New York University, told Radio Sputnik.

“What it in fact seems to be, as many are saying, it was more of an ambush than anything else,” Galeotti told Sputnik.

By downing the Russian plane, Turkey had two things in mind. First of all, Ankara wants to assert itself as a powerful regional actor, especially considering Russia’s active participation in Syria. The Turkish government thought that by shooting down its plane Turkey would make Russia take Ankara more seriously in the future.

Secondly, the Turkish government wanted to protect its allies, whom Russia’s currently bombing in Syria, Galeotti, an expert in Russo-Turkish relations, explained.

Turkey intends to protect ISIL, as it has direct financial interests involved in the delivery of oil extracted from ISIL-controlled territories. Various estimates place oil revenues generated by ISIL somewhere between $40 and $50 million a month. A day prior to the downing of the Su-24, Russian airstrikes destroyed over 1,000 semi-truck tankers carrying crude oil to ISIL refineries, a large oil storage facility and an oil refinery in Syria.

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Syrian Turkmen commander who ‘killed’ Russian pilot turns out to be Turkish ultranationalist

© RT / DHA
A Syrian rebel commander who boasted of killing a Russian pilot after Turkey downed Russian jet on Tuesday appeared to be Turkish ultranationalist and a son of former mayor in one of Turkish provinces.

Alparslan Celik, deputy commander of a Syrian Turkmen brigade turned out to be the son of a mayor of a Keban municipality in Turkey’s Elazig province.

He also turned out to be the member of The Grey Wolves ultranationalist group, members of which have carried out scores of political murders since 1970s.

 

Read More Here

 

 

 

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Did Washington just tell Erdogan to ‘man up’?

 By Finian Cunningham
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan © Umit Bektas
 
In the space of a few hours, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went from running scared to defiant belligerence over the shooting down of the Russian fighter jet. It would appear that someone had a stiff word in his ear.

Tough-talking Turkish President? No. More like somebody’s message boy.

When the news first broke on Tuesday that Turkish F-16s had downed a Russian Su-24 bomber near the Syrian border, the Erdogan government in Ankara immediately called for an emergency NATO summit.

Ankara rushed to explain that it was the party that had incurred an act of aggression from Russia. Erdogan was running scared because the facts were such that it was the Turks who had actually carried out an act of aggression against Russia, not the other way around.

And they knew it.

Suspiciously, Ankara did not contact Moscow about the incident, which would have seemed a normal thing to do in the aftermath of a serious incident in which a Russian aircrew was forced to eject and one of the pilots was subsequently killed.

Recall that Turkey claimed that it did not know the identity of the Russian warplane as it allegedly approached Turkish airspace. So if, as it turned out, the Turks shot down a Russian jet in a rapid encounter of uncertainty about its “national security”, then why didn’t Ankara make subsequent attempts to resolve the matter with the Russians as an urgent matter when the circumstances soon became clear? That would have been the expected behavior if the incident was simply an unfortunate, unforeseen confrontation.

Again, the inference is that Ankara knew full well that it was committing a sinister deed.

 

Read More Here

 

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

 

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847 shotguns seized in Italy en route from Turkey to Belgium

© Pupia Crime
A large cargo of shotguns without transportation permits has been seized by the Italian police at the Port of Trieste. The 847 Turkish-made Winchester shotguns worth about €500,000 were on their way to Belgium.

The weapons were declared along with other cargoes destined for Germany and the Netherlands on a Dutch-registered truck driven by a Turkish citizen. Gun shipments from Turkey are nothing new in Trieste, but this time the shipment was missing a key document: authorization for transportation in the EU.

The shipment consisted of 847 pump-action Winchester shotguns: 781 SXP 12-51 and 66 SXP 12-47 models, La Stampa reports.

The Haddad I departed from the Turkish port of Iskenderun and was heading to the Libyan city of Misrata. After intelligence services informed the Greek coastal guards about the ship’s cargo of guns, the vessel was intercepted south of Crete by the Open Sea Coast Patrol.

 

Read More Here

 

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Putin: US knew the flight plan of the Russian jet

https://i1.wp.com/neurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Turkey-Russia-Syria.jpg

EPA/SERGEI CHIRIKOV

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks during a press conference following talks with French President Francois Hollande (L) in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, 26 November 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he expected from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to simply apologise, but the latest ruled out such a move

President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the Su-24 downed by the Turkish Air Force on the Syrian border. The US leads the anti-Daesh coalition, in which Turkey is member.

“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin. ”Why did we give this information to the Americans if they did not pass it along to the rest of the coalition?”

Moreover, Putin dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it didn’t know the nationality of the plane when the Turkish Air Force hit it. “They (Russian military jets) have identification signs and these are well visible,” Putin said and added. “If it was an American aircraft, would they have struck an American?…What we hear instead is they have nothing to apologize for.”

 

Read More Here

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Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market

November 21, 2015  

By Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman

 

chemical_industry_influencing_regulation.jpg_850_593

Scientists are trained to express themselves rationally. They avoid personal attacks when they disagree. But some scientific arguments become so polarized that tempers fray. There may even be shouting.

Such is the current state of affairs between two camps of scientists: health effects researchers and regulatory toxicologists. Both groups study the effects of chemical exposures in humans. Both groups have publicly used terms like “irrelevant,” “arbitrary,” “unfounded” and “contrary to all accumulated physiological understanding” to describe the other’s work. Privately, the language becomes even harsher, with phrases such as “a pseudoscience,” “a religion” and “rigged.”

The rift centers around the best way to measure the health effects of chemical exposures. The regulatory toxicologists typically rely on computer simulations called “physiologically based pharmacokinetic” (PBPK) modeling. The health effects researchers—endocrinologists, developmental biologists and epidemiologists, among others—draw their conclusions from direct observations of how chemicals actually affect living things.

The debate may sound arcane, but the outcome could directly affect your health. It will shape how government agencies regulate chemicals for decades to come: how toxic waste sites are cleaned up, how pesticides are regulated, how workers are protected from toxic exposure and what chemicals are permitted in household items. Those decisions will profoundly affect public health: the rates at which we suffer cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility, and neurological problems like attention disorders and lowered IQ.

The link from certain chemicals to these health effects is real. In a paper published earlier this year, a group of leading endocrinologists concluded with 99 percent certainty that environmental exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals causes health problems. They estimate that this costs the European Union healthcare system about $175 billion a year.

Closer to home, Americans are routinely sickened by toxic chemicals whose health effects have been long known. To cite one infamous example, people exposed to the known carcinogen formaldehyde in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina suffered headaches, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing. Dozens of cancer cases were later reported. Then there are workplace exposures, which federal government estimates link to as many as 20,000 cancer deaths a year and hundreds of thousands of illnesses.

“We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals, and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern,” wrote the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics in a statement released on October 1.

Yet chemical regulation in the United States has proceeded at a glacial pace. And corporate profit is at the heart of the story.

That the chemical industry exerts political influence is well documented. What our investigation reveals is that, 30 years ago, corporate interests began to control not just the political process but the science itself. Industry not only funds research to cast doubt on known environmental health hazards; it has also shaped an entire field of science—regulatory toxicology—to downplay the risk of toxic chemicals.

Our investigation traces this web of influence to a group of scientists working for the Department of Defense (DOD) in the 1970s and 1980s—the pioneers of PBPK modeling. It quickly became clear that this type of modeling could be manipulated to minimize the appearance of chemical risk. PBPK methodology has subsequently been advanced by at least two generations of researchers—including many from the original DOD group—who move between industry, government agencies and industry-backed research groups, often with little or no transparency.

The result is that chemicals known to be harmful to human health remain largely unregulated in the United States—often with deadly results. For chemicals whose hazards are just now being recognized, such as the common plastics ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) and other , this lack of regulation is likely to continue unless the federal chemical review process becomes more transparent and relies less heavily on PBPK modeling.

Here we lay out the players, the dueling paradigms and the high-stakes health consequences of getting it wrong.

The dawn of PBPK simulation

The 1970s and 1980s saw a blizzard of environmental regulation. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act, along with the laws that established Superfund and Community Right-to-Know Programs, for the first time required companies— and military bases—using and producing chemicals to account for their environmental and health impacts. This meant greater demand for chemical risk assessments as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to establish safety standards for workplace exposures and environmental cleanups.

In the 1980s, the now-defunct Toxic Hazards Research Unit at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was investigating the toxicity and health effects of chemicals used by the military. Of particular concern to the DOD were the many compounds used by the military to build, service and maintain aircraft, vehicles and other machinery: fuels and fuel additives, solvents, coatings and adhesives. The military is responsible for about 900 of the approximately 1,300 currently listed Superfund sites, many of which have been contaminated by these chemicals for decades.

In the mid-1980s, scientists at the Wright-Patterson Toxic Hazards Research Unit began using PBPK simulations to track how chemicals move through the body. Known as in silico (in computers) models, these are an alternative to testing chemicals in vivo (in live animals) or in vitro (in a test tube). They allow scientists to estimate what concentrations of a chemical (or its breakdown products) end up in a particular organ or type of tissue, and how long they take to exit the body. The information can then be correlated with experimental data to set exposure limits—or not.

PBPK simulations made testing faster and cheaper, something attractive to both industry and regulators. But the PBPK model has drawbacks. “It tells you nothing about effects,” says Linda Birnbaum, director of both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Toxicology Program (NTP). Observational studies and laboratory experiments, on the other hand, are designed to discover how a chemical affects biological processes.

Even regulatory toxicologists who support PBPK acknowledge its limitations: “[PBPK models] are always going to be limited by the quality of the data that go into them,” says toxicologist James Lamb, who worked for the NTP and EPA in the 1980s and is now principal scientist at the consulting firm Exponent.

The late health effects researcher Louis Guillette, a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina famous for studies on DDT’s hormonedisrupting effects in Florida alligators, put it more bluntly: “PBPK? My immediate response: Junk in, junk out. The take-home is that most of the models [are] only as good as your understanding of the complexity of the system.”

Many biologists say PBPK-based risk assessments begin with assumptions that are too narrow, and thus often fail to fully capture how a chemical exposure can affect health. For example, a series of PBPK studies and reviews by toxicologist Justin Teeguarden of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and his colleagues suggested that BPA breaks down into less harmful compounds and exits the body so rapidly that it is essentially harmless. Their research began with certain assumptions: that BPA only mimics estrogen weakly, that it affects only the body’s estrogen system, and that 90 percent of BPA exposure is through digestion of food and beverages. However, health effects research has shown that BPA mimics estrogen closely, can affect the body’s androgen and thyroid hormone systems, and can enter the body via pathways like the skin and the tissues of the mouth. When PBPK models fail to include this evidence, they tend to underestimate risk.

Because of its reliance on whatever data are included, PBPK modeling can be deliberately manipulated to produce desired outcomes. Or, as University of Notre Dame biologist Kristin Shrader-Frechette, who specializes in human health risk assessment, says: “Models can offer a means of avoiding the conclusions derived from actual experiments.” In other words, PBPK models can be customized to provide results that work to industry’s advantage.

That’s not to say PBPK itself is to blame. “Let’s not throw the baby out completely with the bathwater,” says New York University associate professor of environmental medicine and health policy Leo Trasande. “However, when you have biology telling you there are basic flaws in the model, that’s a compelling reason that it’s time for a paradigm shift.”

A handy tool for industry

That PBPK studies could be used to make chemicals appear safer was as clear in the 1980s as it is now. In a 1988 paper touting the new technique, Wright-Patterson scientists explained how their modeling had prompted the EPA to stop its regulation process for a chemical of great concern to the military: methylene chloride.

Methylene chloride is widely used as a solvent and as an ingredient in making plastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other industrial products. By the 1990s, the U.S. military would be the country’s second greatest user. Methylene chloride was—and remains—regulated under the Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant because of its carcinogenic and neurotoxic effects.

Between 1985 and 1986, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimated that about 1 million workers a year were exposed to methylene chloride, and the EPA classified the compound as a “probable human carcinogen.” A number of unions, including United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers, also petitioned OSHA to limit on-the-job exposure to methylene chloride.

In 1986, OSHA began the process of setting occupational exposure limits. Stakeholders were invited to submit public comments.

Among the materials submitted was a PBPK study by Melvin Andersen, Harvey Clewell—both then working at Wright-Patterson—and several other scientists, including two employed by methylene chloride product manufacturer Dow Chemical. Published in 1987, this study concluded, “Conventional risk analyses greatly overestimate the risk in humans exposed to low concentrations [of methylene chloride].”

Later that year, the EPA revised its previous health assessment of methylene chloride, citing the Wright-Patterson study to conclude that the chemical was nine times less risky than previously estimated. The EPA “has halted its rulemaking on methylene chloride [based on our studies],” wrote Wright-Patterson scientists in 1988.

OSHA, too, considered the Wright-Patterson study in its methylene chloride assessment—and its rulemaking dragged on another 10 years before the agency finally limited exposure to the chemical.

The usefulness of PBPK modeling to industry did not escape the Wright-Patterson researchers. “The potential impact,” wrote Andersen, Clewell and their colleagues in 1988, “is far reaching and not limited to methylene chloride.” Using PBPK models to set exposure limits could help avoid setting “excessively conservative”—i.e., protective— limits that could lead to “unnecessary expensive controls” and place “constraints on important industrial processes.” In other words, PBPK models could be used to set less-stringent environmental and health standards, and save industry money.

So far, they’ve been proven right. The work done at Wright-Patterson set the stage for the next 30-plus years. Results obtained using PBPK modeling—especially in industry-funded research, often conducted by former Wright-Patterson scientists—have downplayed the risk and delayed the regulation of numerous widely used and commercially lucrative chemicals. These include formaldehyde, styrene, tricholorethylene, BPA and the pesticide chlorpyrifos. For many such chemicals, PBPK studies contradict what actual biological experiments conclude. Regulators often defer to the PBPK studies anyway.

A web of influence

At the time that PBPK modelling was being developed, the chemical industry was struggling with its public image. The Bhopal, India, disaster—the methyl isocyanate release that killed and injured thousands—happened in 1984. The following year, a toxic gas release at a West Virginia Union Carbide plant sent about 135 people to hospitals.

In response to these incidents, new federal regulations required companies to account for the storage, use and release of hazardous chemicals. The minutes from a May 1988 Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) meeting show industry was feeling the pressure. Noting the federal scrutiny and the growing testing requirements, the CMA recommended that industry help “develop exposure data” and “explore innovative ways to limit required testing to that which is needed.”

Industry had already begun to do this by founding a number of research institutes such as the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT), a nonprofit toxicology research institute (renamed the Hamner Institutes in an act of linguistic detoxification in 2007). This period also saw the rise of for-profit consulting firms like Environ (1982), Gradient (1985), ChemRisk (1985) and K.S. Crump and Company (1986), with which industry would collaborate advantageously in the following decades.

“Our goal was to do the science that would help the EPA and other regulatory bodies make the policies,” explained William Greenlee, Hamner president and CEO, in an interview for a business website. Indeed, over the past 30 years, Hamner and these consultancies have produced hundreds of PBPK studies, often with the support of chemical companies or trade groups. Overwhelmingly, these studies downplay or cast doubt on chemicals’ health effects—and delay regulation.

“I have seen how scientists from the Hamner Institutes can present information in a way that carefully shapes or controls a narrative,” says Laura Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She explains that Hamner scientists often use narrow time windows or present data in a limited context, rejecting information that does not conform to their models. “These are the kinds of tactics used to manufacture doubt,” she says.

A close look at the authors of studies produced by these industry-linked research groups reveals a web of influence traceable to Wright-Patterson (see chart on following page). At least 10 researchers employed at or contracted by Wright-Patterson in the 1980s went on to careers in toxicology at CIIT/Hamner, for-profit consulting firms or the EPA. About half have held senior positions at Hamner, including the co-authors of many of the early Wright-Patterson PBPK studies: Melvin Anderson, now a chief scientific officer at Hamner, and Harvey Clewell, now a senior investigator at Hamner and principal scientist at the consulting firm ENVIRON. “I’m probably given credit as the person who brought PBPK into toxicology and risk assessment,” Andersen told In These Times.

A revolving door between these industry-affiliated groups and federal regulators was also set in motion. More than a dozen researchers have moved from the EPA to these for-profit consultancies; a similar number have gone in the other direction, ending up at the EPA or other federal agencies.

Further blurring the public-private line, CIIT/Hamner has received millions of dollars in both industry and taxpayer money. The group stated on its website in 2007 that $18 million of its $21.5 million annual operating budget came from the “chemical and pharmaceutical industry.” Information about its corporate funders is no longer detailed there, but Hamner has previously listed as clients and supporters the American Chemistry Council (formerly the CMA, and one of the most powerful lobbyists against chemical regulation), American Petroleum Institute, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow, ExxonMobil, Chevron and the Formaldehyde Council. At the same time, over the past 30 years, CIIT/Hamner has received nearly $160 million in grants and contracts from the EPA, DOD and Department of Health and Human Services. In sum, since the 1980s, these federal agencies have awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to industry-affiliated research institutes like Hamner.

But the federal reliance on industry-linked researchers extends further. Since 2000, the EPA has signed a number of cooperative research agreements with the ACC and CIIT/ Hamner. All involve chemical toxicity research that includes PBPK modeling. And in 2014, Hamner outlined additional research it will be conducting for the EPA’s next generation of chemical testing—the ToxCast and Tox21 programs. Over the past five years, Hamner has received funding for this same research from the ACC and Dow.

Meanwhile, the EPA regularly contracts with for-profit consultancies to perform risk assessments, assemble peer review panels and select the scientific literature used in chemical evaluations. This gives these private organizations considerable sway in the decision-making process, often with little transparency about ties to chemical manufacturers. The upshot: Experts selected to oversee chemical regulation often overrepresent the industry perspective.

These cozy relationships have not gone unnoticed; the EPA has been called to task by both its own Office of Inspector General and by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. “These arrangements have raised concerns that ACC or its members could potentially influence, or appear to influence, the scientific results that may be used to make future regulatory decisions,” wrote the GAO in a 2005 report.

Asked for comment by In These Times, the EPA said these arrangements do not present conflicts of interest.

Decades of deadly delay

PBPK studies have stalled the regulation of numerous chemicals. In each case, narrowly focused models developed by industry-supported research concluded that risks were lower than previously estimated or were not of concern at likely exposure levels.

Take, for example, methylene chloride, the subject of the 1987 paper Wright-Patterson scientists bragged had halted the EPA’s regulatory process. Despite the chemical being identified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the U.N. International Agency for Research on Cancer, a “reasonably anticipated” human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and an “occupational carcinogen” by OSHA, the EPA has yet to limit its use. EPA researchers noted this year that the 1987 PBPK model by the Wright-Patterson scientists remains the basis for the agency’s risk assessment.

Today, methylene chloride remains in use—to produce electronics, pesticides, plastics and synthetic fabrics, and in paint and varnish strippers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, OSHA and NIOSH have issued health warnings, and the FDA bars methylene chloride from cosmetics— but no U.S. agency has totally banned the chemical. The EPA estimates that some 230,000 workers are exposed directly each year. According to OSHA, between 2000 and 2012, at least 14 people died in the United States of asphyxiation or heart failure after using methylene chloride-containing products to refinish bathtubs. The Center for Public Integrity reports that methylene chloride exposure prompted more than 2,700 calls to U.S. poison control centers between 2008 and 2013.

Another telling example of industry-funded PBPK studies’ influence is formaldehyde. This chemical remains largely unrestricted in the United States, despite being a well-recognized respiratory and neurological toxicant linked to nasal cancer and leukemia, as well as to allergic reactions and skin irritation. The EPA’s toxicological review of formaldehyde, begun in 1990, remains incomplete, in no small part because of delays prompted by the introduction of studies—including PBPK models conducted by CIIT/Hamner—questioning its link to leukemia.

If that link is considered weak or uncertain, that means formaldehyde—or the companies that employ the sickened workers—won’t be held responsible for the disease. The chemical industry is well aware that “more people have leukemia … than have nasal tumors,” says recently retired NIEHS toxicologist James Huff.

Some of this CIIT/Hamner research was conducted between 2000 and 2005 with funding from an $18,750,000 EPA grant. In 2010, Hamner received $5 million from Dow, a formaldehydeproduct manufacturer, for toxicity testing, including PBPK modeling. The ACC, which opposes formaldehyde restriction, also supported this research.

Consequently, apart from a few state regulations and a pending EPA proposal to limit formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products like plywood, companies can still use the chemical—as in the FEMA trailers.

Cosmetics and personal-care products can also be sources of formaldehyde exposure. This made headlines in 2011 after hair salon workers using a smoothing product called Brazilian Blowout reported nausea, sore throats, rashes, chronic sinus infections, asthma-like symptoms, bloody noses, dizziness and other neurological effects. “You can’t see it … but you feel it in your eyes and it gives you a high,” salon owner and hair stylist Cortney Tanner tells In These Times. “They don’t teach this stuff in beauty school,” she says, and no one warns stylists about these products or even suggests using a ventilator.

OSHA has issued a hazard alert for these products and the FDA has issued multiple warnings, most recently in September, but regulations prevent federal agencies from pulling the products from store shelves. So, for formaldehyde, as in the case of the paint strippers containing methylene chloride, exposures continue.

BPA rings alarm bells

The chemical currently at the center of the most heated debates about consumer exposure is BPA. The building block of polycarbonate plastics, BPA is used in countless products, including the resins that line food cans and coat the thermal receipt paper at cash registers and ATMs. While scientific evidence of adverse health effects from environmentally typical levels of BPA mounts, and many manufacturers and retailers have responded to public concern by changing their products, federal regulatory authorities still resist restricting the chemical’s use.

BPA does not produce immediate, acute effects, like those experienced by salon workers exposed to formaldehyde or machinists working with methylene chloride. But in laboratory tests on animals, BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. Structurally similar to natural hormones, endocrine disruptors can interfere with normal cellular processes and trigger abnormal biochemical responses. These can prompt numerous health problems, including cancer, infertility, and metabolic and neurological disorders. BPA has also been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

To promote the idea that BPA is safe, the chemical industry routinely lobbies policymakers and “educates” consumers. What has not been widely discussed, however, is how industry has backed PBPK studies that marginalized research showing risks from environmentally typical levels of BPA. Many of these doubt-inducing studies have been conducted by researchers whose careers can be linked to the PBPK work done at Wright-Patterson. In published critiques, health effects researchers—among them Gail Prins and Wade Welshons—have detailed the many ways in which these PBPK models fail to accurately reflect BPA exposure.

PBPK and endocrine disruption

Over the past several decades, our evolving understanding of our bodies’ responses to chemicals has challenged previous toxicological assumptions— including those that are fed into PBPK models. This is particularly true of endocrine disruptors.

Cause-and-effect relationships between endocrine disruptors and health problems can be hard to pinpoint. We now know that early—even prenatal— exposure to endocrine disruptors can set the stage for adult disease. In addition, a pregnant woman’s exposures may affect not only her children but also her grandchildren. These transgenerational effects have been documented in animal experiments. The classic human evidence came from victims of DES, a drug prescribed in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s to prevent miscarriages. Daughters of women who took the endocrine disruptor developed reproductive cancers, and preliminary research suggests their daughters may be at greater risk for cancer and other reproductive problems.

“The transgenerational work raises an incredible specter,” says Andrea Gore, who holds the Vacek Chair in Pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and edits the influential journal Endocrinology. “It’s not just what you’re exposed to now, it’s what your ancestors were exposed to.”

Complicating PBPK modeling further, hormone-mimicking chemicals, just like hormones, can have biological effects at concentrations as low as parts per trillion. In addition, environmental exposures most often occur as mixtures, rather than in isolation. And each individual may respond differently.

“PBPK doesn’t come close” to capturing the reality of endocrine disruption, the late developmental biologist Louis Guillette told In These Times, in part because modelers are “still asking questions about one chemical exposure with one route of exposure.” Even for health effects researchers, understanding of mixtures’ effects is in its infancy.

The debate over how endocrine disruption can be represented in PBPK models has intensified the unease between regulatory toxicologists and health effects researchers. That tension is particularly well-illustrated by a recent series of events that also reveal how some journal editors privilege the industry’s point of view.

A life-and-death debate

In February 2012 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report intended to inform regulation worldwide. The authors were an international group of health effects researchers with long experience studying endocrine disruption.

“There is an increasing burden of disease across the globe in which [endocrine disruptors] are likely playing an important role, and future generations may also be affected,” said the report. These diseases, it continued, are being seen in humans and wildlife, and include male and female reproductive disorders, changes in the numbers of male and female babies born, thyroid and adrenal gland disorders, hormone-related cancers and neurodevelopmental diseases.

The backlash from toxicologists was immediate. Over the next few months—as the EU prepared to begin its regulatory decision-making on endocrine disruptors—the editors of 14 toxicology journals each published an identical commentary harshly criticizing the WHO/UNEP conclusions.

The commentary included a letter from more than 70 toxicologists urging the EU not to adopt the endocrine disruption framework. The letter said that the WHO/UNEP report could not be allowed to inform policy because its science is “contrary to all accumulated physiological understanding.”

This commentary was followed by further attacks. One critique, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, was funded and vetted by the ACC.

These commentaries infuriated health effects researchers. Twenty endocrine journal editors, 28 associate editors and 56 other scientists—including several WHO/UNEP report authors—signed a statement in Endocrinology, saying in part:

The dismissive approach to endocrine disruption science put forth … is unfounded, as it is [not] based on the fundamental principles of how the endocrine system works and how chemicals can interfere with its normal function.

Endocrinology editor Andrea Gore tells In These Times that she and other health effects researchers don’t think the scientifically demonstrated dangers of endocrine disruptors are subject to debate. “There are fundamental differences between regulatory toxicologists and what I refer to as ‘people who understand the endocrine science.’ ”

The outcome of this debate and the structure of future regulatory toxicity testing in the United States and Europe is not yet clear. The EPA appears to be attempting to incorporate endocrine disruption into PBPK models, but many scientists are skeptical the process will produce reliable results, given the models’ limitations and the complexity of endocrine effects.

From science to activism

Although couched in complex language, these arguments are not academic, but have profound implications for public health. Disorders and diseases, increasingly linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors— including metabolic, reproductive, developmental and neurological problems—are widespread and increasing. About 20 percent of U.S. adults show at least three of the five indicators of metabolic syndrome: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Neurological problems, including behavioral and learning disabilities in children as well as Parkinson’s disease, are increasing rapidly. Fertility rates in both men and women are declining. Globally, the average sperm count has dropped 50 percent in the last 50 years.

Scientists typically shy away from activism, but many now believe it’s what’s needed to punch through the machinations and inertia regarding chemical regulation. Shanna Swan, Mount Sinai professor of preventive medicine, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine, notes that some of the biggest reductions in chemical exposures have happened in response to consumer pressure on both industry and policymakers. Or, as the University of California’s Bruce Blumberg says, “I think we need to take the fight to the people.”

The Endocrine Society stressed the urgency of addressing these public health impacts in a statement released September 28. Not surprisingly, industry disagreed, calling this science “unsupported” and “still-unproven.”

Meanwhile, PBPK studies continue to succeed in sowing doubt about adverse health effects of endocrine disorders. Their extremely narrow focus leads to narrow conclusions that often result in calls for more research before regulation. In regulatory decisions, “the assumption is that if we don’t know something, it won’t hurt us,” says University of Massachusetts, Amherst professor of biology R. Thomas Zoeller. In other words, the burden of proof remains on health effects researchers to prove harm, not on industry to prove safety—and proving harm is difficult, especially when other scientists are seeding doubt.

But the clock is ticking. As Washington State University geneticist Pat Hunt told In These Times, “If we wait [to make regulatory decisions] for ‘proof’ in the form of compelling human data, it may be too late for us as a species.”

This investigation was supported by the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting and published originally in In These Times.