Outrage grows over AIG bonuses

Outrage grows over AIG bonuses News that the troubled insurance giant AIG has paid multimillion dollar bonuses to its staff as the company was being bailed out by taxpayers has prompted calls for an investigation.

According to newly released information by New York Attorney General Drew Cuomo, AIG paid 73 employees bonuses of more than $1 million. The largest bonus paid was $6.4 million and seven more people received more than $4 million each.

In total, the company paid $165 million in bonuses and compensation, including to traders at its financial products division whose activates contributed to the near-collapse of the financial system.

In the last few days, Congress and President Obama have been firing a barrage of criticism at the AIG management and publicly discussing ways of blocking the bonuses.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that he will propose a tax on the money so that the "recipients of those bonuses will not be able to keep all their money – and that’s an understatement," according to CNN.

To date, American taxpayers have provided some $170 billion dollars in bailout funds to keep the company from collapsing. AIG also received an $85 billion loan from the Federal Reserve.

AIG lost $62 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2008 while holding more than 74 million insurance policies in 130 countries, which suggests the possibly catastrophic impact of the company’s troubles for the financial security of its customers and the economy at large

Taxpayers’ coalition: Obama’s first 50 days ‘devastating’

Taxpayers' coalition has called Obama's first 50 days 'devastating'Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) has set out to systematically expose the Obama administration’s failure to live up to his campaign promises on taxation.

It pointed out that although the president had promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year, on February 4 he signed into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack, to take effect April 1.

Furthermore, on February 26 the White House released its draft budget outline which raises taxes on individuals, capital gains, dividends, and foreign source profits of corporations while eliminating several energy tax credits.

In particular, the group estimated that two-thirds of small business will see a higher tax burden.

The coalition also blasted the administration for maintaining that the $787 billion stimulus package does not contain any "pork barrel" spending provisions.

Finally, the organization noted the tax problems of many of the new administration’s officials or nominees, in particular Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who was confirmed despite having failed to pay over $30,000 in taxes.

ATR is a non-partisan coalition of taxpayers and taxpayer groups who oppose all federal, state and local tax increases


Vitamin B may prevent atherosclerosis

Vitamin B may prevent atherosclerosisScientists believe that B vitamins have the power to lower the blood level of homocysteine, a compound that contributes to atherosclerosis.

A group of Taiwanese researchers recently conducted a study in which they divided 506 healthy people 40 – 89 years old into two groups: one which took a combination of folic acid, B12 and B6, and the other that took a placebo.

They observed that among the group that took the vitamins, the individuals with highest levels of homocysteine benefitted the most and lowered their risk of developing clinical-stage atherosclerosis.

The researchers believe that high levels of homocysteine are dangerous even in those who have normal levels of vitamin B in their blood, and suggest that those individuals use nutritional supplements.

However, they also admit that more studies need to be done to examine the exact nature of this association.

The results of the study were published in the December issue of the journal Stroke.

According to the National Institutes of Health, heart attack, to which people with atherosclerosis are particularly prone, is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.

Medical Privacy Lost in Stimulus

With the banging of the gavel in the U.S. Senate on the vote for the “Economic Stimulus” bill, your right to medical privacy vanished completely. For hidden in the minutia of the economic boondoggle was a provision to create electronic health records for every U.S. citizen. And under the law you can’t opt out.

This means that people and corporations—including insurance companies and the government—will be electronically linked together to share any information in your health records. This includes the most personal information about you like mental health treatment, surgeries and abortions, as well as whatever complaints you’ve discussed with your physician.

This moves beyond the privacy hit you took when the spuriously named Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule was passed in 1996.

Without the ability to opt out of the database “Americans’ electronic health records could be shared—without their consent—with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network,” said Sue A. Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom.

An equally egregious provision in the bill would require your physician to clear with the government any treatments he would prescribe to determine if they are cost-effective based on your health condition and age. Similar laws are in place in the U.K., and seniors or those with serious health problems are often denied treatment for their ailments.

For instance, at one time a person with macular degeneration was required to wait until he is blind in one eye before treatment on the other eye could begin. After a loud hue and cry by the British masses, that particular regulation was changed. But there are other similar ones in existence.

This is what is wrought when Big Brother is in charge. Nothing is private and nothing—not even your own body—is yours.

U.S. teens at risk of vitamin D deficiency, scientists warn

U.S. teens are at risk of vitamin D deficiencyA new study has suggested that one in seven American adolescents is vitamin D deficient.

To perform their analysis, researchers from the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College used the recent recommendation that the minimum acceptable serum vitamin D level be raised from 11 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to at least 20 ng/mL.

They concluded more than half of African-American teens are vitamin D deficient and girls had more than twice the risk of deficiency compared with boys.

In addition to that, overweight teens had almost double the risk of their normal-weight peers.

"These are alarming findings," says Dr. Sandy Saintonge, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and assistant professor of clinical public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. "We need to do a better job of educating the public on the importance of vitamin D and the best ways to get it."

She suggest that a diet rich in vitamin D would includes salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified cereals. Alternatively, vitamin supplements containing 400 IU of vitamin D may be used.

Vitamin deficiency in children can lead to bone problems, including rickets, and in adults it has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, impaired immunity and hypertension.

Vitamin C may prevent some types of arthritis

Vitamin C may prevent some types of arthritis Researchers believe that higher intake of vitamin C may reduce the risk of developing gout, a type of arthritis, in men.

Dr. Hyon K. Choi, currently at Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues surveyed 46,994 men between 1986 and 2006 from the point of view of vitamin C intake.

Over the 20-year period, they found that men with a daily intake of 500 to 999 milligrams had 17 percent less chance of developing gout compared to those who took less than 250 mg. Those who took more than 1,000 mg reduced their risk by 34 percent.

A daily intake of 1,500 mg was associated with a 45 percent decrease.

It is believed that the mechanism behind vitamin C’s beneficial effect lies in its ability to reduce the level of uric acid in the blood, preventing a buildup of crystal deposits in and around joints which leads to the pain, inflammation and swelling associated with gout.

"The identification of the risk factors for gout that are modifiable with available measures is an important first step in the prevention and management of this common and excruciatingly painful condition," says Dr. Choi.

The report was published in the March 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Moderate alcohol consumption may still raise cancer risk

Moderate alcohol consumption may still raise cancer risk British scientists have found evidence that even moderate alcohol intake may be associated with a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer.

During the study nearly 1.3 million women were survey by Oxford University researchers about their alcohol consumption habits, and their health was subsequently tracked for seven years.

The women reported an average of one drink per day, and when the researchers compared that to those who have more than two drinks per day, they found that each extra drink increased the risk of breast, rectal and liver cancer.

In all, the researchers concluded that 13 percent of those cancers in Britain may be attributable to alcohol.

The study was reported in the March 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, but fails to settle the debate on the overall health benefits (or damage) resulting from alcohol.

For example, it found that moderate consumption in fact lowered the risk of thyroid cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and renal cell cancer.

Moreover, it did not address the conclusion of many other studies which have found heart benefits from the consumption of certain alcohol types, in particular wine.

Two Body Acids—One in Your Stomach and One In Your Cells

Excess of acidity, or acidosis, has two meanings, depending on where the acidosis is. The pharmaceuticals have made billions leading the public to believe that “acid stomach” means we have too much stomach acid. Instead, “acid indigestion” means lack of stomach acid—not too much stomach acid. So we are persuaded, through advertising, to buy acid neutralizers (very high priced calcium tablets under many names). They destroy stomach acid and create digestive problems. The Catch-22 is that these antacids give temporary relief—confusing cause and effect.

Further, there are now super antacid pills (high priced) that actually shut down the acid pump in the stomach for 24 hours. All acid is neutralized giving symptomatic relief, but destroying the digestive capacity of the stomach. If this antacid consumption continues, assimilation of food ceases and stomach cancer eventually occurs. We might think of this tragedy as pharmaceutical chemistry.

Our stomachs are created as acid machines, which is nature’s requirement to digest food and assimilate nutrition. Any violation of this acid balance can lead only to deterioration of general health. I might add that there is a multi-trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry that gains its profits on the destruction of stomach acid. This is a crime of manipulating people to destroy their health for big pharma profits. They propagandize us to dump calcium in an all-acid functioning stomach. The human stomach was designed to function without alkalinity.

Now where is the second acidosis? This second acidosis has to do with lack of diffusible calcium in the body cells. Lack of diffusible calcium simply means that the body—as opposed to the stomach—is too acidic. We would live less than a minute if our bodies were as acid as our stomach is by nature.

Our body tissues, to be healthy, have to be slightly alkaline or plus or minus 7.2 on the pH scale of 0 to 14. Most people who enter the hospital are low in tissue calcium. Low tissue (cell) calcium means sickness and disease. Adequate calcium in the body is anti-pathogenic.

You remember that in “The Calcium Wave: A Miracle for Me!” (Jan. 9, 2009 Personal Liberty) I revealed how I had discovered a health miracle after taking 3 tablespoons of calcium lactate powder a day in a desperate attempt to cure a long-term sub-clinical infection. In addition to curing my infection, the collateral benefit of taking large amounts of calcium lactate was a total disappearance of all symptoms of “acid indigestion,” or “heartburn.”

I should have known that these symptoms meant that my body tissues were starving for calcium. In other words, I was in a state of acidosis. Since most of our refined food diets are acid, I suspect that most people are in a state of acidosis. Our pH has to balance in favor of alkalinity for there to be health. Are we a sick people?

Death is the end result of the progressive saturation of acid in the body.

Calcium is the body’s main acid buffer. This is precisely why there is a health crisis in America. Here is the formula: Low pH=High Acidosis=Lower Oxygen in the blood and in the cells=more calcium loss (to buffer the acidosis). All the water we drink should be slightly alkaline. Tap water and bottled water are usually acidic. An easy way to correct the acidity of water is to use alkaline supplement drops to make it alkaline. It is a natural way to neutralize acidity and help the body rid itself of acidic wastes.

High acidity levels in the body lead to disease and illness. Most packaged commercial foods and drink contribute to high acidity.

Strawberries may help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol

Strawberries may help reduce cholesterol New information has emerged about the cholesterol-fighting properties of strawberries.

The sweet fruit is a known source of antioxidants which have anti-cancer benefits. But, according to a study conducted at the University of Toronto, they also help improve and maintain the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering diets.

The study looked at 28 men and women with high cholesterol who were on a diet to lower it. One half of the group was asked to add three cups of strawberries per day.

The researchers found that those who consumed strawberries showed evidence of reduced oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol. LDL is the ‘bad’ cholesterol that is even more damaging when it becomes oxidized.

It is responsible for arteriosclerosis which can lead to a heart
attack, the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.

"As more Americans embrace healthy eating trends to promote their own health and guard against illness, these types of findings are important," says Dr. David J.A. Jenkins, the author of the study.

"Diet plays a crucial role in lowering cholesterol and including antioxidant-rich strawberries in a healthy diet is a behavior change that’s simple and delicious to make," he adds.