Caribbean leaders call on Obama not to destroy offshore industry

Caribbean leaders call on Obama not to destroy offshore industry At the Summit of the Americas, representatives of Caribbean countries have called on America and Britain not to threaten their financial services industry during difficult economic times.

The prime minister of Belize, and chairman of the Caribbean Community and Common Market, Dean Barrow stressed the importance of financial services to the well-being of Caribbean nations, many of which can rely on few other sources of economic growth.

Pointing out that the global financial crisis should not be blamed on Caribbean jurisdictions, the prime minister suggested it would be a mistake to destroy "a critical component of the very service area into which we were encouraged to diversify."

During last month’s G-20 meeting in London, the U.S president was joined by many Western leaders in calling for a crackdown on what they see as tax havens where wealthy citizens can hide their assets.

In a sign that the clampdown may be imminent, the Justice Department asked a federal court earlier this week to allow the IRS to obtain information about taxpayers who use offshore accounts, while Swiss banks have announced they will be scaling down their discreet banking services.

According to Forbes, Obama has said he supports the proposed Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act which would make it harder to hide assets in more than 30 countries including Belize, the Bahamas and Panama.

Western diet raises risk of colon cancer, says expert

Western diet raises risk of colon cancer, says expert According to a University of Pittsburgh researcher, the typical Western diet – rich in meat and fats and low in complex carbohydrates -increases the risk of colon cancer.

Professor Stephen O’Keefe from the University of Pittsburgh presented his conclusions to the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate, UK, on March 31.

They are based on growing evidence that the composition of the diet influences the diversity of intestinal microbes, supporting the link between diet, colonic disease and colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in adults in the West.

In particular, those whose diet is rich in complex carbohydrates have significant populations of bacteria in their gut called Firmicutes which use undigested residues to synthesize short-chain fatty acids and vitamins such as folate and biotin that maintain colonic health.

By contrast, meat digestion produces sulphur, which decreases the activity of ‘good’ bacteria and increases the production of hydrogen sulphide and other possible carcinogens.

"Our investigations to date have focused on a small number of bacterial species and have therefore revealed but the tip of the iceberg," says Professor O’Keefe, adding that the colon harbors more than 800 bacterial species and 7,000 different strains.

"The characterization of their properties and metabolism can be expected to provide the key to colonic health and disease," he adds.

The study also demonstrates how simple dietary changes may prevent a serious illness that requires medical intervention.

Modern America Is Fat, Overweight and Obese

From 14 percent overweight in 1994 to 33 percent in 2008. What’s happening? We know for sure that we have an epidemic and a crisis.

Billions of dollars of diet plans are being touted to the American people—most of them worthless and giving false hope. I have bought a few myself. This is a disgrace, and there is little promise of help.

Like everything else in America, the fat epidemic is going from bad to worse. So goes the American diet—so goes obesity.

Most of the American diet is bad, but there is one thing in particular that is turning the whole population into diabetics. It’s fructose corn syrup. The food cartel is using millions of tons of this non-food as a cheap filler. This is more dangerous to the American people than a standing army.

Obesity is far more serious than most of us can imagine. It is inconvenient, to say the least. It is deadly to say the most.

My recent study on this subject has me in shock. Obesity is far, far more serious than I suspected.

There is a definite connection between gaining weight and getting sick. If we could feel the silent sickness that goes along with the weight gain, most of us would be afraid to death to gain an ounce. Now that we are already fat, what’s the story?

I hope that I can shock you with the following statement:

According to my study, obesity is related to and causative of every illness documented, including the degenerative diseases of cancer and heart disease!

Obesity, besides disrupting the immune system, creates chronic and silent inflammation which sets in motion a chain of biochemical events that result in a hormonal imbalance called leptin or insulin resistance, which makes it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy weight.

As many believe, fat is not an inert storehouse of calories. It is an active organ that produces its own hormones. In fact, fat regulates itself. When we gain weight, our fat produces the hormone leptin which is supposed to speed up our metabolism and suppress our appetite causing weight to remain stable. Research has shown that extra weight or fat is not just an extra load to carry. As stated above, it is another of the body’s internal organs. Moreover, it is an endocrine organ—the only organ with an almost unlimited ability to increase in size.

This is one organ that we don’t want. And after it appears this is a definite signal that we already have a chemical imbalance and a high probability of low-grade whole-body inflammation that may have already triggered a disease process.

If we don’t feel anything or see evidence of a medical problem, the extra weight that we carry is not yet symptomatic of disease. But obesity upsets our chemical balance by tipping the scale toward very destructive inflammation.

This is not visible inflammation as seen with a surface injury. This is inflammation at the cell level, completely hidden.

We can detect evidence of the disease process caused by this obese condition. One sign is an apple shape and lower abdominal fat. Those with this shape are almost certain to have what we call metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance. Abdominal obesity is generally considered to be a waist circumference, as measured around the middle, of greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

Another indicator of metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance is the C-reactive protein blood test. This test has become very well known as an inflammatory marker. Elevated C-reactive proteins is an almost certain indicator of cardiovascular risk factor, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, maybe diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer and age-related cognitive decline and premature death. In fact, aging is now considered to be a process of ongoing inflammation.

All this comes out of being obese or fat. Few people are aware of all the complications of weight gain, especially abdominal weight gain.

Fat by itself produces inflammation but diet is also a huge factor. The proper diet can reverse obesity and inflammation.  As I will tell you below, it is a simple diet, but a very rewarding one.

Unfortunately most American diets are rich in inflammatory ingredients which are red meat, white flour, sugar and hydrogenated or transfats such as french fries. On the other hand, berries and cherries, walnuts and almonds, cabbage, broccoli, garlic and fish are super foods that will restore health. This is not complicated and these are very delicious healthy foods.

Bad food got us into this very critical inflammatory syndrome. Good food will get us out. The simplicity of the cause of fat, overweight and obesity does not seem to match the critical illness that results. It all points to how devastating the wrong food is for health.

It is as if to say—and many writers do—that food is more powerful than drugs.

What is the nitty gritty cause of this silent inflammation and the destruction to our health that it brings? Yes, I said that it is bad food, but let’s be more specific.

It is actually unbalanced fatty acids, mainly Omega 3s and Omega 6s.

Simply stated, there are some Omega 3 foods and there are some Omega 6 foods. The American diet is predominantly Omega 6s, and Omega 6s are way out of balance with Omega 3s. This causes silent inflammation, obesity and serious and terminal diseases and illness.

The action to take is to rebalance our Omega 3s with our Omega 6s with diet.

First, we must learn what Omega 3s are and what Omega 6s are so that we can reduce our Omega 6s and raise our Omega 3s. Actually, it may be mostly reducing our Omega 6s. An ideal ratio would be three Omega 3s to five Omega 6s. Your body will tell you.

For more exciting details read our references: The Fat Resistance Diet by Dr. Leo Galland, Win The War Within by Floyd H. Chilton, PhD, and The Anti Inflammation Zone by Barry Sears, PhD. All three books are available.

PEMA issues advice for flash floods

PEMA issues advice for flash floodsOn the heels of devastating floods which hit North Dakota last month, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has issued safety recommendations to residents who live in areas prone to flash flooding.

The agency’s website offers downloadable materials, including home and car emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates.

Stressing the importance of preparing in advance, PEMA Director Robert P. French says, "[Residents should check their] insurance policies to ensure appropriate coverage including content and flood insurance, since it normally takes 30 days for new policies to become effective."

According to French, basic survival tips include memorizing more than one evacuation route, regularly reviewing a family’s emergency plan so that everyone knows where to go when flash flooding occurs and where to reunite afterwards.

Each household should also have an emergency preparedness kit and keep it within easy reach in case of an evacuation.

It is also important to understand the difference between a flash flood warning and a flash flood watch.

The latter means flooding may occur, so residents should stay alert and watch rivers and streams.

By contrast, flood warning is issued when flooding is under way, and residents should move immediately to high ground.


Assault on offshore assets begins

Assault on offshore assets begins The Justice Department has asked a federal court to allow the IRS to obtain information about taxpayers who use offshore accounts, and Swiss banks have announced they will be scaling down their discreet banking services.

Banks such as UBS are acting in response to the crackdown on tax evasion which has intensified since the recent G-20 meeting in London.

"UBS is currently conducting a review of its policy and compliance framework for its international wealth management offering," said the bank’s spokeswoman as she announced a worldwide travel ban for wealth management client advisors.

Meanwhile, The Department of Justice has asked a federal court in Denver to approve service of a John Doe summons on First Data Corporation.

"John Doe" summonses allow the IRS to obtain information about U.S. taxpayers whose identities are not yet known to help the authorities identify merchants who use offshore accounts to evade U.S tax liabilities.

"Some U.S. taxpayers are evading billions of dollars per year in taxes through the use of offshore accounts," says John DiCicco, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

"The Department of Justice will ensure that the IRS obtains all the necessary information to identify these taxpayers, whether they are individuals or businesses," he adds.

Despite this, representatives of the so called ‘tax havens’ gathered at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad have vowed to lobby President Obama against the crackdown.


Vitamin D may be linked to chronic pain

Vitamin D may be linked to chronic painAccording to a new study, chronic pain may be associated with inadequate levels of vitamin D.

This study conducted at the Mayo Clinic found that patients who were prescribed narcotic pain medication, and who also had inadequate levels of vitamin D, required medication doses nearly twice as high as those who had adequate levels.

Moreover, it found a correlation between increasing body mass index – a measure of obesity – and decreasing levels of vitamin D.

"Vitamin D is known to promote both bone and muscle strength," says Dr. Michael Turner, lead author of the study and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the Mayo Clinic.

He adds that the deficiency is "an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning," and that by recognizing this fact, physicians can substantially improve their patients’ quality of life.

Recent research has also found that in addition to the benefits of strong muscles and bones, vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, helping fight inflammation and certain types of cancer.

Report reveals many health benefits of soy foods

Report reveals many health benefits of soy foods According to the April issue of the Journal of Nutrition, soy products play an important role in promoting heart and bone health.

This conclusion is based on a comprehensive review of available medical literature which was presented at the 8th International Soy Symposium recently held in Tokyo.

It details studies which have shown soy protein reduces total and LDL cholesterol by approximately 5 percent, which is associated with a reduction in the risk of heart disease from 10 to 15 percent.

"The cholesterol-lowering effects of soy protein are similar to those of soluble fiber and certainly relevant from a public health perspective," says Dr. Mark Messina, professor of nutrition at Loma Linda University and author of the report.

"Integrating a variety of heart-healthy foods – like soy, beans, nuts and certain vegetables – together into a healthy lifestyle is really the best approach to heart health," he adds.

Other research discussed at the symposium provided evidence that soy foods promote bone health.

One study, conducted in Italy, found women taking soy extract experienced an 8 to 9 percent increase in spinal and hip bone mineral density, whereas those a placebo saw their bone density decrease at those sites by an average of 10 percent.

According to the article, the bulk of research on the health impact of soy has been inspired by the low rate of hip fractures among Asians, a population known to have a high rate of soy consumption.


Government Seeks to Grab Guns to Aid Mexico

A lucrative criminal enterprise is growing in Mexico and being exported across the border in the United States.

No, it’s not the sale of drugs, although that activity continues unabated despite the running battles between drug cartels and the Mexican government. Battles that are growing so intense that Mexican officials—like mayors and police chiefs—are beginning to live across the border in Texas to stay safe.

The new enterprise is kidnapping, and the incidents are growing in frequency and becoming more and more violent by the day.

According to the Stratfor Global Security and Intelligence Report, Mexican gangs have begun targeting people in different socio-economic levels: from the very wealthy to the common man or woman, and even foreign tourists. And just as the targets vary, the reasons for the kidnapping vary as well.

Some are kidnapped by drug gangs to intimidate, to extract information or just to “have fun” at the expense of a rival drug gang through torture and murder. Still others hold the victims for weeks in order to extract large ransoms. And sometimes the thugs just grab and hold a victim off the streets—whether a Mexican citizen or a foreign tourist—long enough to use his ATM card to clean out the bank account.

It’s gotten so bad that Stratfor calls Mexico the kidnapping capitol of the world, and gangs are beginning to use something called a virtual kidnapping: calling people and telling them they have kidnapped a family member and collecting a ransom without actually having kidnapped anybody.

And it’s begun to spill across the border with reports of kidnappings for ransom or murder—usually illegal immigrants so far—occurring in Texas and Arizona.

So how does the administration of President Barack Obama respond? Attorney General Eric Holder called for a ban on so-called assault weapons. Holder said in a February news conference that such a ban would help cut down the flow of guns going across the border.

But the types of weapons that would be banned are not the type commonly being used by gangs and drug cartels. In their battles with police the criminals are employing fragmentation grenades, fully automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. After a recent battle in which five cartel gunmen were killed and several more wounded, police even recovered a 60-mm mortar—all weapons that are unavailable to average citizens in the U.S. under existing laws.

Yet Holder believes that disarming Americans, as violent drug cartels battle along the border and kidnapping gangs sneak into America, is the right course of action.

And Holder and Obama aren’t the only ones trying to disarm U.S. citizens. Currently in Congress is H.R. 45 which will “prohibit a person from possessing a firearm unless that person has been issued a firearm license under this Act or a state system certified under this Act and such license has not been invalidated or revoked.”

In Albany, NY, lawmakers are considering legislation that would tightly regulate the sale of all ammunition. The new law would require anyone “buying rounds or shells, even .22s, would have to show identification, declare the gun and have its serial number registered with the ammo seller. The buyer would have to state his intent of use, and could be refused the purchase. The ammo seller, at the same time, would be required to keep records for 10 years.”

Never mind the Second Amendment, which guarantees that the right to keep and bear arms will not be infringed. Never mind the 10th Amendment, which restricts the U.S. Government from taking over powers not specifically enumerated by the Constitution.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that those in Government who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution are more interested in shredding it to remove any obstacles to their seizing more and more power.

Officials release Bush-era memos, rule out prosecutions

Officials release Bush-era memos but rule out prosecutionsThe Department of Justice released four previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel opinions yesterday that were issued to the CIA in 2002 and 2005 to guide the treatment of prisoners apprehended in connection with the war on terrorism.

According to Bloomberg, the documents show that Justice Department lawyers authorized CIA to use techniques such as sleep deprivation, slapping, nudity and waterboarding.

Attorney General Eric Holder said officials who acted in good faith based on the legal advice from the Justice Department, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not be prosecuted.

"It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department," Holder said.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed a lawsuit earlier this year to obtain the memos, said in a statement that those who "gave legal blessings to acts of torture" should be prosecuted.

Amnesty International, while welcoming the release, expressed a similar opinion to that of ACLU.

In the view of executive director Larry Cox "The Department of Justice appears to be offering a get-out-of-jail-free card to individuals who … were involved in acts of torture."