Iran Threatens To Abandon Nuclear Deal If Western Banks Don’t Start Doing Business

By Tyler Durden | 23 February 2018

ZERO HEDGE — Iran says it will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if big banks continue to avoid doing business with the Islamic republic, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said on Thursday, speaking from London.

The Islamic Republic agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of crippling sanctions by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Following the deal, however, major banks have continued to avoid doing business with Iran for fear of violating remaining U.S. sanctions – which Iran says has hampered their efforts to rebuild foreign trade and attract investment.

Most of it is because of this atmosphere of uncertainty which President Trump has created around JCPOA, which prevents all big companies and banks to work with Iran, it’s a fact, and it’s a violation lead by the United States. –Abbas Araghchi

Compounding Iran’s woes are comments from President Trump, who told Europeans on January 12 that they must “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would re-impose the sanctions lifted by the Obama administration as part of the pact. Trump set a May 12 deadline to review fresh “waivers” on U.S. sanctions.

The May 12 deadline represents an opportunity for Trump to pull the U.S. out of another international deal. He has already abandoned the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal. He wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 24-year-old trade pact with Canada and Mexico. USA Today

Trump sees three major defects in the deal; its failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, the terms by which inspectors are allowed to visit suspected Iranian nuclear enrichment sites, and “sunset” clauses on Iran’s nuclear program which expire after 10 years. […]

A Soaring Number of Sephardic Jews Acquired Portuguese Citizenship in 2017

By Cnaan Liphshiz | 23 February 2018

JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY — Nearly 1,800 descendants of Sephardic Jews acquired the Portuguese nationality in 2017 under a law enacted two years earlier, with another 12,000 still in the application process, officials in Lisbon said.

The tally for last year is six times higher than the total for 2016, during which the application of the law hit bureaucratic snags amid political changes.

The increase in naturalization under the law, which Portugal passed in 2013 and enacted in 2015 as a form of making amends for the persecution of Jews during the Inquisition that began in the 16th century, comes amid a host of initiatives by the government to strengthen the country’s ties to Jewish audiences and recognition of its Jewish heritage.

A similar push is underway in Spain, which passed a similar law of return simultaneous to the Portuguese one and which has naturalized more than 5,000 applicants. Spain and Portugal’s economies are heavily reliant on foreign investment and tourism, and both have high unemployment relative to the rest of the European Union — 17 and 8.9 percent, respectively – and especially among young people. […]

Fight Crime With Gardens

By Dr. Mercola

In U.S. cities, about 15 percent of land sits unused, vacant or abandoned. These spaces, which translate to an area the size of Switzerland, are associated with increased crime and stress to residents, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Plots of land with low-lying trees and shrubs, for instance, have been associated with a greater fear of crime, researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), as the vegetation may hide potential attackers and illegal activity.1

Vacant lots that have been cleaned up or “greened” seem to have the opposite effect and are linked with greater feelings of personal safety and lower levels of violence and crime.

Charles Branas, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, and colleagues decided to find out where vacant land restoration could have a citywide impact on crime and resident well-being, so they worked with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development to clean up hundreds of vacant lots in Philadelphia.

‘Greening’ Vacant Lots Reduces Crime and Violence, Increases Feelings of Safety

The researchers specifically chose interventions that were inexpensive, scalable and sustainable, such that one day they could be applied to other U.S. cities. The main intervention involved removing trash and debris from the lots, grading the land, planting grass and trees to create a park-like setting and installing a low wooden fence around the perimeter to signal that the lot was being cared for.

The cost for the intervention averaged about $5 per square meter (3.8 miles) with upkeep coming in at about 50 cents per square meter. The lots were regularly maintained throughout the study period. Another set of lots received a second intervention, which consisted of cleaning the lots of trash and debris and maintaining the cleaning for the duration of the study. A third set of control lots, which received no attention, was also included. A total of 541 lots were involved in the study.

Outcomes were measured over three years via police reports of crime and nuisance as well as surveys of 445 nearby residents. “We tested the effects of these interventions on the commission of violence and crime, as well as perceptions of fear and safety among individual study participants, at a citywide level,” the researchers wrote.2

Significant benefits were reported due to the greened lots, including a significant reduction in gun violence, burglaries and nuisances, with the latter two falling by 22 percent and 30 percent respectively.

Further, in neighborhoods below the poverty line, the transformed lots reduced overall crime by more than 13 percent and gun violence by nearly 30 percent.3 Residents also reported significant benefits, including feeling 58 percent less fearful of going outside due to safety concerns. A 76 percent increase in their use of outside spaces was also reported. According to the study:4

“[S]tructural dilapidation and blight can be key causes of negative outcomes in terms of people’s safety, both their perceptions of safety and their actual, physical safety. When left untreated, vacant and blighted urban spaces contribute to increased violence and fear. The physical components of neglected and impoverished urban environments can be changed in inexpensive and sustainable ways as a direct treatment strategy for violence and fear in cities.

Restoration of vacant spaces using well-delineated interventions … is a scalable and politically acceptable strategy that can significantly and sustainably reduce persistent urban problems like gun violence.”

Gardens Not Only Prevent Crimes but Are Good for Rehab Too

As any avid gardener knows, there’s something intrinsically soothing about getting outside and putting your hands in the dirt. Such productive stress relief, then, would seem to be a natural match for prison systems looking to rehabilitate prisoners while also providing a valuable product: food. Prior to the 1970s, many prisons, including Alcatraz, had gardens. Then came an era when, as The Washington Post put it, “lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key justice took hold.”5

Gardens in prisons disappeared, along with their many profound, yet little-recognized, benefits. Preliminary research in California prisons suggests that among prisoners who participated in gardening programs, less than 10 percent returned to prison.6 Typically, more than 60 percent will be sent back to prison after committing new crimes or violating parole,7 so the simplistic act of gardening seemed to have a significant effect in keeping people out of prison.

That amounts to an approximate savings of $40 million to the state and taxpayers based on the average state cost to incarcerate someone at $47,421, according to the Insight Garden Program (IGP), which helps U.S. prisons establish gardens.8 IGP director Beth Waitkus told the Post, “The demand is huge … Prisons see the value of this. When you have to tend to a living thing, there’s a shift that happens in a person.”9

Some prison garden programs use their harvests to feed inmates, both saving money and adding to the quality and taste of the food. Others donate food to low-income areas, allowing prisoners to give back to areas where many of them were raised. Still other prison gardens generate so much food that they’re even able to donate to churches, nursing homes and schools.

Gardens Lead to Transformations


Gardens have the power to not only transform physical spaces but also the people who tend to them. San Quentin State Prison in California is among those participating in the IGP. Research suggests that prison gardens and other environmental programming “contribute profoundly toward transformative values re-identification, which is integral to a rehabilitative experience that inspires lasting change.”10

In addition, for people who are incarcerated and facing personal crisis, gardening improved the sense of personal control along with deepened environmental understanding. IGP also reported on Waitkus’ master thesis, which looked at the effects of a garden on the physical environment and social climate of the prison yard at San Quentin State Prison. The following benefits were noted:11

  • The garden was the only place where different races could congregate and work in teams without fear of violence from others
  • Gardens invited attention, use and refuge
  • Being in or near a garden reduced stress
  • Gardeners gained benefits from directly working with nature, creating the possibility for hope and further change

Spending time in nature to nurture plants gives people in prisons a chance to learn new information, perform complex tasks and problem solve,12 while at the same time offering mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits. Researchers wrote in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine that interacting with nature positively affects multiple dimensions of human health:13

“Physiological effects of stress on the autonomic nervous system are lessened. Psychologically, deficits in attention can be restored or minimized, and people report feeling greater satisfaction with a variety of aspects of life.

The presence of the natural world promotes social health by encouraging positive social interaction and lessening the frequency of aggressive behavior. Spiritual well-being is enhanced through the experience of greater interconnectedness, which occurs when interacting with the natural world.”

IGP has since expanded, operating in eight prisons in California as well as facilities in Indiana and a re-entry program for people leaving New York facilities. One graduate of the program, a man named Julius, credits IGP with making him a better person:14

“Now that I’m out, I’m more active in the community and in work. When the garden is planted, and the work is done, and the vegetables grow, it brings a lot of people together. That’s the way community grows … Learning about different plants and herbs inspired me. There were a lot of herbs that I didn’t know about. Plants can help you a lot. There’s actually stuff you can grow that can cure the problem.

Knowing that it is actually good for the body, I try to eat healthier and set a good example for others in my community. I was going through a rough time in my life, and IGP helped pull me out of anger issues. I’m more caring than I was in the past. When I’m having problems or having a bad time, I take some time to meditate and try not to stress about it.”

Sustainability in Prisons Project Helps Build Healthy Communities

Another example of how prisons are connecting with nature — with stellar results — is the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), a partnership founded by the Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections. The program offers science, sustainability and environmental education programs in all 12 Washington state prisons, leading to such impressive outcomes as:15

  • Growing about 492,000 pounds of produce for food banks and prison kitchens in one growing season
  • Raising and releasing more than 13,000 caterpillars and adult butterflies onto lowland prairies as part of the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program
  • More than 1,100 students have graduated from a 50-hour environmental course in preparation for environmental careers, resource savings and positive community involvement
  • Since 2009, more than 2 million rare and endangered species were grown and delivered to lowland prairies as part of the program’s prairie conservation nurseries

SPP has more than 180 programs in all, from beekeeping and worm composting to land restoration and plant and animal habitat. Many former SPP participants report forming “environmental identities” that last after they’re released. Participants have, for example, pursued environmental education and environmental careers as well as shared what they learned with their families and communities.16

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Prison System (PSS) also operates a composting program that keeps 685 tons of food waste out of landfills every year, turning it into compost instead. The program also saves Philadelphia $40,000 a year in landfill costs.17 PSS built a composting facility via a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and now creates so much “black gold” that they give it away to the community for free.

There’s also the Philadelphia Prison Orchard Project, which got its start from a donation of 200 fruit trees. The prison-created compost is used to fertilize the orchard, and inmates are able to work in both areas. PPS has partnered with Temple University and inmates can earn a vocational certificate in organic farming after completing the program.

Reaping the Benefits of Gardening in Your Own Backyard

Prisoners are only one population that stands to benefit from gardening. Benefits have also been revealed for older adults. In those who are institutionalized, gardening promotes an “internal locus of control and well-being,” similar to what is experienced by prison inmates. A decrease in sadness and anxiety was noted among institutionalized older adults who gardened, while in general gardening by older adults is linked to:18

  • Feelings of accomplishment
  • Well-being and peace
  • A decrease in depressive symptoms
  • A protective effect on cognitive functions
  • The development of social links

Gardening has also been shown to increase fruit and vegetable intake among school-aged children,19 while offering benefits for veterans, including lower cortisol levels, improvements in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and greater quality of life.20

A study in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports also concluded, “A regular dose of gardening can improve public health,” noting that gardening is associated with reductions in depression and anxiety and increases in life satisfaction, quality of life and sense of community.21 There’s even research showing that people with chronic pain had significant reductions in anxiety, depression and fatigue, and an increase in the ability to manage their pain — all from therapeutic vegetable gardening.22

Of course, growing your own vegetables and fruits is also one of the best ways to ensure ready access to fresh, nutrient-dense and chemical-free food, which is one of the most compelling reasons of all to try gardening. If you’re ready to get started, here are 10 DIY gardening hacks to help you create the perfect garden.

Doctor Wants to ‘Snuff Out’ Pharmaceutical Skeptics

By Dr. Mercola

In the vaccination debate, what happens all too often is notan open, scientifically based discussion but, rather, inappropriate name-calling and threats. It has been suggested by doctors and attorneys promoting forced vaccination policies that experienced and enlightened physicians who question vaccine safety be stripped of their medical licenses, that parents who oppose vaccine mandates be imprisoned and that online discussions of vaccine risks and failures be censored.

It’s also not unusual for doctors to criticize, belittle or refuse to see children whose parents question the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has taken this to another level entirely, going so far as to bully parents of vaccine-injured children and classify the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) as a “hate group.”

“[Anti-vaccine organizations] camouflage themselves as a political group, but I call them for what they really are: a hate group,” Hotez told Duke University’s The Chronicle. “They are a hate group that hates [our] family and hates [our] children.”1 Yet, as explained by Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC president and cofounder:2

In the 21st century, the term ‘hate group’ is most frequently used to describe groups of individuals associated with ‘hate crimes,’ which are defined by state laws and include threats, harassment or physical harm. Hate crimes are motivated by prejudice against someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability …

A child health advocacy group that points out vaccine science research gaps, criticizes paternalism in medical practice and challenges the use of utilitarianism as the moral foundation for public health policy does not qualify as a ‘hate group.'”

Hotez Bullies Parents of Vaccine-Injured Children

In a global health lecture at Duke University, Hotez called on scientists to “engage the public” to counter the “anti-vaccine movement,” which he blamed as a key cause of preventable deaths. He said the movement had been propelled by “anti-vaccine websites” like NVIC.org, which is, unquestionably, the best resource for accessing referenced information on U.S. vaccine policy and law and the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

“The article reported that Hotez castigated politicians from the ‘peace, love, granola’ political left, who believe that ‘we have to be careful what we put into our kid’s bodies,’ and politicians from the political right, who tell doctors like him ‘you can’t tell us what to do with our kids,'” Fisher said, adding:3

“But Dr. Hotez reserved the bulk of his venom for parents of vaccine-injured children. Like a schoolyard bully who engages in name calling when he can’t come up with anything intelligent to say, he slapped the label ‘anti-vaccine’ onto parents of vaccine-injured children speaking about what happened to their children after vaccination.”

Hotez, by the way, is a vaccine developer, a former president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. And this isn’t the first time he’s criticized those who favor vaccine choice and safety. He’s gone so far as to say that the movement calling for increased scientific study into vaccine efficacy and risks, and calling for protection of informed consent, should be “snuffed out,” i.e., crushed or killed. As noted by The Vaccine Reaction, published by NVIC:4

“In March [2017] … Scientific American published an article by Peter Hotez, M.D., of Texas Children’s Hospital, also inciting violence against people who do not agree with current government vaccine policies. Dr. Hotez stated: ‘An American anti-vaccine movement is building and we need to take steps now to snuff it out.'”

In 2015, USA Today published a column by Alex Berezow advocating that “anti-vax” parents should be imprisoned. At the time that seemedto be a draconian proposal, but certainly less so compared to today’s calls by vaccine developers and forced vaccination proponents like Hotez, who use violent imagery to suggest violent suppression of people who object to one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and advocate for the human right to informed consent.

Further, Hotez also serves as a director on the board of The Immunization Partnership (TIP), a Texas-based coalition that supports the universal use of vaccines, electronic vaccine-tracking registries and mandatory vaccination laws.

“During the 2017 legislative session in Texas, TIP representatives directly gave testimony and lobbied for bills that would make it harder for families to decline vaccines or choose to vaccinate their children using a schedule that differs from the CDC’s recommended schedule,” the NVIC advocacy team explained last fall during Vaccine Awareness Week .

A ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Vaccine Policy Isn’t Right for Everyone

No matter where you stand in the vaccination debate, most would agree that in the case of medical care, one size does not fit all. What works for your child (or yourself) may not work for your neighbor’s, but in the case of vaccinations they’re prescribed exactly the same for every child. Today we know, however, that some children, like those with mitochondrial disorders, are at increased risk from vaccinations. Others are as well.

For instance, Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” is a nephrologist who has committed the latter part of her medical career to exposing the truth of vaccinations. She was accustomed to giving vaccinations to her patients with kidney disease, including those on dialysis, until she realized that hospital patients were experiencing worsening kidney function and kidney failure after being vaccinated.

Initially Dr. Humphries thought these may have been anomalies or unfortunate coincidences, but as the number of cases continued to rise, even in those who were previously healthy with no known medical problems, the association became too great to ignore. She uncovered a link between the aluminum adjuvant and mercury in many vaccines and health damage.

For genetic or biological reasons that we don’t yet understand, some people appear predisposed to poor aluminum detoxification, so aluminum accumulates in their tissues and leads to myalgias, fatigue, cognitive deficiencies and other health problems. Aluminum is also known to be toxic to kidney patients on dialysis, which is why the water used for this processed is carefully screened to be sure its aluminum free (as well as free of other toxins).

In addition to aluminum being toxic for some people who are chronically ill, there are also questions as to whether it’s safe to vaccinate babies with aluminum-containing vaccines. When aluminum, for instance, is injected into the body, it’s known to disrupt enzymes, cross the blood-brain barrier, bind to DNA and act as a gene disrupter and act as a cell signaling and membrane toxin. As Humphries said:

“We’re very careful as nephrologists when treating babies because the kidney functions of babies isn’t the same as adults — it’s vastly reduced. But when it comes to vaccines, this reduced kidney function in infants is always left out of the discussion.”

More Research Is Urgently Needed to Uncover Vaccine Safety or Lack Thereof

In 2013, a JAMA Pediatrics study evaluated aluminum levels in 2-month-old infants following the administration of three vaccines at once, which is given per usual according to the infant vaccine schedule. This exposes the child to 1,200 micrograms of aluminum. Urine and blood were collected, but no significant changes in levels of aluminum were seen after vaccination.5 The researchers described the finding as “reassuring,” but as Humphries noted, where did the aluminum go?

If it wasn’t excreted and blood levels didn’t rise, it means it was retained in tissues. Despite this, infants are routinely vaccinated without regard for their immature kidney function. According to Humphries, “Aluminum is also injected into many babies on the day of birth in the hepatitis B vaccine.

That’s 250 micrograms of aluminum at a time when kidney function is even lower than it is at 2 months.” The fact remains that studies are urgently needed to determine if vaccines are safe for sick people, babies and in many other special cases. Further, you can see, then, how vaccine mandates may turn out to be health disasters for some people.

“The doctors operating the mandatory vaccination system with an iron fist, who refuse to acknowledge or address the suffering of people for whom the risks of vaccination turned out to be 100 percent,” Fisher stated, “would do well to reflect upon the primary role they have played in the crisis of public trust in the safety of vaccines and doctors forcing everyone to use them.”6

Indeed, trying to get unbiased, truthful information about vaccines is not easy, and the cards are very much stacked against you receiving the truth, especially when those who dare to question vaccine safety are often ridiculed or threatened.

Yet burning questions exist, like why aren’t efforts being made to identify children who may be at increased risk of vaccine side effects in order to prevent any unnecessary harm? An individual’s response to a vaccine is actually influenced by manyfactors. For instance, an individual’s gut microbes may help determine their immune response to vaccines.

Infants that responded to the rotavirus vaccine had a higher diversity of microbes in their gut, as well as more microbes from the Proteobacteria group, than infants who did not mount the expected immune response.7

Epigenetic science, which now tells us that our genes are not our destiny, is another variable in vaccine safety, because no one knows how vaccines affect your genes (and it’s likely different in every person). Part of the problem is that once you start to epigenetically tinker with the infant immune system, you are basically depositing what Humphries refers to as “little cluster bombs” that will eventually “explode into a big problem.”

As an example, she cites a study by Nikolaj Orntoft, in which African girls were injected with a tetanus vaccine to see which genes might be upregulated or downregulated (basically “turned on” or “turned off”). What they found is that there’s really no way to predict which genes will be affected.

So not only will each individual have a unique response to any given vaccine based on their age, current health status and microbial makeup, but individuals are also epigenetically predisposed to respond differently in terms of the side effects we might develop.

Yet, doctors like Hotez, instead of opening up the playing field for legitimate questions into vaccine safety and efficacy, would rather engage in name-calling (NVIC and other vaccine choice organizations are “exporting … anti-vax garbage” to communities around the world, he said)8 and have parents who disagree with him “snuffed out.”

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in the U.S. stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.

When you ask your physician about vaccine safety, you will most likely get a canned answer, one assuring you vaccines are safe. At the very least, physicians should be explaining to parents that their children can get a blood titer test that measures the level of antibodies in their blood. If the levels are high enough, a person is considered “immune” to that particular disease and no further vaccinations or boosters should be necessary.

If your doctor is unwilling to discuss titers with you, find one who is. From my point of view, there can be little doubt that we need to review the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccination program in the U.S. This review needs to include methodologically sound investigative studies that are not compromised by conflicts of interest within industry and government. As Fisher stated in 2016 when criticizing vaccine orthodoxy and urging everyone to defend civil and human rights when it comes to vaccination:9

“Vaccine injury and death does not discriminate between races or social classes, except when people are kept ignorant, economically dependent and unable to make informed choices.

While we still have freedom of speech, press, thought, conscience and religion in America, please exercise and defend those civil and human rights at every opportunity. If we all stand up for the freedom we have left today, we will not lose more of it tomorrow. Knowledge is the antidote to vaccine orthodoxy because knowledge is power.”

The Big Bad Flu Data — What You Need to Know About Vaccine Effectiveness and Alternatives

By Dr. Mercola

How effective is the flu vaccine, and will getting vaccinated reduce the severity of your illness even if the vaccine is a poor match to circulating influenza virus strains? While public health officials insist vaccination is the best way to prevent the seasonal flu, the evidence calls this assumption into question, and most health care professionals won’t even get the flu shot if it’s voluntary.1

In its 2014 meta-analysis2 of the available research on inactivated influenza vaccines, the Cochrane Collaboration (which is considered by many as the gold-standard for scientific meta-reviews), reviewed evidence related to influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) that people experience during flu seasons and stated:

“Over 200 viruses cause ILI, which produces the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches, pains, cough and runny nose) as influenza. Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot distinguish between ILI and influenza because both last for days and rarely cause serious illness or death. The types of virus contained in influenza vaccines are usually those that are expected to circulate in the following influenza seasons, according to recommendations of the World Health Organization (seasonal vaccine).”

The Cochrane researchers concluded that:

“Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza and ILI (moderate-certainty evidence), as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case, and 29 would need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of ILI. Vaccination may have little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations (low-certainty evidence) or number of working days lost.”

If 71 people have to be vaccinated in order for a single case of influenza to be avoided, this means that flu shots have a rather abysmal effectiveness rating. And it isn’t surprising that flu shots have “little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations or number of working days lost,” considering its ineffectiveness at preventing illness. Similarly, while many assert that getting vaccinated will render flu symptoms less severe — should it fail to protect you after all — there’s really no good evidence for this either.

Interim Estimates of Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Are In

On February 16, the CDC published interim estimates of the 2017/2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s effectiveness for the U.S.3 Based on data from 4,562 children and adults enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network between November 2, 2017 and February 3, 2018, the CDC reports the overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against “influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness” was 36 percent. More precisely, vaccine effectiveness is estimated to be:

  • 25 percent effective against the A(H3N2) virus
  • 67 percent effective against A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses
  • 42 percent effective against influenza B viruses

In 2015, a CDC analysis4 revealed that, between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time, so this year’s low effectiveness rating (36 percent) comes as no great surprise. However, there’s a significant problem with how this effectiveness rating is attained. As in previous years, the 4,562 individuals upon which this statistic is derived were all diagnosed with an acute respiratory illness. No healthy people were included.

To be eligible for inclusion, they had to have developed an acute respiratory infection with cough at least seven days prior to admittance. They also could not have been treated with antiviral medication. Participants were interviewed about their health status, symptoms, and flu vaccination status.

Swabs were taken to identify the virus responsible for the infection. In all, 38 percent of subjects tested positive for influenza virus (the rest had respiratory symptoms that looked like influenza but were actually caused by other types of viruses or bacteria).

The percentage of patients who were vaccinated ranged between 45 and 59 percent, depending on which of the five study sites they belonged to. Of those who tested positive for influenza, 43 percent had received the 2017/2018 seasonal flu vaccine. Of those whose illness was related to another type of viral or bacterial organism, 53 percent had been vaccinated against seasonal influenza.

Ironically, CDC officials continue to “recommend influenza vaccination because the vaccine can still prevent some infections with currently circulating influenza viruses,”5 completely ignoring that simple vitamin D supplementation has greater efficacy and none of the risks associated with flu shots.

If preventing “some” infections is good enough for vaccines, why isn’t preventing more of them with vitamin D a viable alternative? I’ll discuss this further toward the end of this article, as research clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of vitamin D when it comes to prevention of illness during the flu season.

Does Vaccination Really Lessen Flu Symptoms?

While health officials are fond of saying that getting a flu shot will lessen your symptoms should you contract influenza, French researchers disagree, noting that “very few studies have addressed the question of whether the vaccine mitigates influenza severity among those who develop the illness despite being vaccinated.”

Vaccine researchers in France decided to test the hypothesis by looking at data from vaccinated and unvaccinated elderly patients diagnosed with influenza. The results were published in April 2017.6 What they found was a rather insignificant lessening of symptoms, limited to a reduction in initial headache complaints among those who had been vaccinated:

“Compared to non-vaccinated influenza patients, those who had been vaccinated had a slightly reduced maximum temperature and presented less frequently with myalgia, shivering and headache. In stratified analyses, the observed effect was limited to patients infected with A(H3) or type B viruses. After adjusting by age group, virus (sub)type and season, the difference remained statistically significant only for headache, which was less frequent among vaccinated individuals.”

How and Why the Flu Shot Might Make You More Susceptible to the Flu

Not only is substantial scientific evidence for symptom alleviation lacking, there’s reason to suspect influenza vaccine may actually have the ability to make you more vulnerable to infection, and there are plenty of anecdotal reports that for some people it can be more severe than infection acquired from exposure to influenza viruses in the environment.

In a September 2017 Medium article,7 Andre Angelantoni counters claims made by Carol Lynn Curchoe, Ph.D., who in an earlier article8 stated that “Getting the flu shot ‘primes’ your body to recognize and fight all strains of the flu.” This, apparently, has become a commonly accepted myth, even among some health professionals but, as explained by Angelantoni, the vaccines don’t work that way:

“[Your] immune system is being programmed by the flu shot making it ready for the exact strains in the shot. It does not protect against other strains but instead opens you up to other flu strains and infection from other pathogens. It’s called heterologous immunity … an extension of basic immunology. 

After all … Prevnar is superseded by Synflorix and Prevnar 13 because the body was not ‘primed’ to handle all strains of pneumococcus. It’s not clear where [Curchoe] got the idea that the flu vaccine has this magical ability that other vaccines do not and [she] provide[s] no reference for [her] assertion; it appears to be a completely made up ‘fact.’”

Heterologous Immunity and Directional Programming of Your Immune System

Angelantoni goes on to cite research I’ve covered on a number of occasions, such as the 2010 Canadian study9 that found people who were vaccinated against seasonal influenza were more susceptible to the pandemic H1N1 strain; the 2014 ferret study10 in which these effects were replicated; as well as a 2012 Chinese study11 that found a child’s chances of contracting a respiratory infection after getting the seasonal flu shot rose more than fourfold.

“Heterologous immunity roughly means ‘unequal immunity’ and it’s the concept that the immune system is programmed in a directional way,” Angelantoni writes. “This can sometimes work in the body’s favor if a subsequent antigen is similar enough to the one for which antibodies have just been made.

In this case, the directionality means that the body is already prepared to some degree because it has encountered a pathogen ‘similar enough’ to the new one. However, often it works against the body, too, as in the case of the flu vaccines. The body learns how to protect against the strains given in the shot and thereby — by design — becomes less able to handle other strains and other invaders.”

As noted in a 2014 paper on heterologous immunity:12

“Immunity to previously encountered viruses can alter responses to unrelated pathogens … Heterologous immunity … may be beneficial by boosting protective responses. However, heterologous reactivity can also result in severe immunopathology. The key features that define heterologous immune modulation include alterations in the CD4 and CD8 T cell compartments and changes in viral dynamics and disease progression.”

In other words, while influenza vaccine may offer some level of protection against the three or four viral strains included in the vaccine, depending on whether the vaccine used is trivalent or quadrivalent, it may simultaneously diminish your ability to ward off infection by other influenza strains and other types of viral or bacterial infections.

Heterologous immunity is also addressed in a 2013 paper,13 which notes that “vaccines modulate general resistance,” and “have nonspecific effects on the ability of the immune system to handle other pathogens.” It also states that:

“… [O]ur current perception of the immune system is … simplistic. It was, to a large extent, shaped in the 1950s with the formulation of the clonal selection hypothesis. This line of thinking has emphasized the adaptive immune system and the speci?c antigen recognition and speci?c memory, which have been crucial in vaccine development, perhaps at the expense of examining cross-reactive features of the immune system as well as the memory capacity of the innate immune system.

Although tens of thousands of studies assessing disease-speci?c, antibody-inducing effects of vaccines have been conducted, most people have not examined whether vaccines have nonspeci?c effects because current perception excludes such effects.”

Poor Immune Response Blamed for Low Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

Poor influenza vaccine effectiveness is often blamed on viral mutations occurring while the selected influenza viruses are grown in the lab but, according to a team of researchers from the University of Chicago and Harvard University, poor immune responses in individuals appear to be a more likely reason. In their study,14 the flu vaccine failed to elicit a strong immune response in most participants. As explained in the press release:15

“What’s at play seems to be a phenomenon known as ‘original antigenic sin.’ Flu vaccines are designed to get the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the specific strains of the virus someone may encounter in a given year. These antibodies target unique sites on the virus, and latch onto them to disable it.

Once the immune system already has antibodies to target a given site on the virus, it preferentially reactivates the same immune cells the next time it encounters the virus. This is efficient for the immune system, but the problem is that the virus changes ever so slightly from year to year. The site the antibodies recognize could still be there, but it may no longer be the crucial one to neutralize the virus.

Antibodies produced from our first encounters with the flu, either from vaccines or infection, tend to take precedence over ones generated by later inoculations. So even when the vaccine is a good match for a given year, if someone has a history with the flu, the immune response to a new vaccine could be less protective.”

Philip Morris to Produce Next GMO Flu Vaccine Grown in Tobacco Plant

The fact that most flu vaccine viruses are grown in eggs, which allows the influenza virus to mutate ever so slightly, does contribute to mismatches between the vaccine and the most prevalent circulating influenza A and B strains in a given flu season, however. In a study published last year, egg adaptations were found to have caused mismatches in the most commonly used influenza vaccine during the 2016/2017 season. It may be a factor in this year’s low vaccine efficacy rating as well.

Some flu vaccine manufacturers are now starting to switch to vaccine strain viruses grown without eggs, using either genetically modified insect cells or canine kidney cells. The Canadian biotech company Medicago — owned by Philip Morris and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma — has also begun stage 3 clinical trials on a genetically engineered flu vaccine manufactured in Nicotiana benthamiana, a type of tobacco plant known for its ability to make proteins at a high rate of speed.16

Medicago is also using “virus-like particles” in lieu of inactivated influenza viruses. The particles have “the structure of the influenza virus but not its full genetic code.”

The company theorizes that these virus-like particles will “mobilize special immune cells to eliminate flu-infected cells, regardless of the subtype they may have mutated into.” This combination of factors allows Medicago to produce a vaccine in as little as six weeks, compared to the six months it normally takes to produce an egg-based vaccine.

As reported by Forbes,17 “The vaccine is produced by introducing genetic material from the flu virus into the plants, which are then incubated for four to 10 days. The plants act like mini-bioreactors, producing the [virus-like particles] in their leaves.”

Optimizing Vitamin D Effective During Flu Season

One can only speculate, at this point, what the side effects of injecting a genetically engineered tobacco plant-based flu vaccine into your body might be. Fortunately, you don’t have to pin your hopes on such developments — studies have repeatedly demonstrated the excellent track record of vitamin D for preventing respiratory infections. Most recently, a 2017 scientific review18,19 of 25 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin D supplementation cuts rates of acute respiratory infections among all participants.  

The studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries, and showed that people who regularly took vitamin D supplements were less likely to contract acute respiratory tract infections compared to those who did not take supplemental vitamin D. Those with blood levels below 10 ng/mL, which is a serious deficiency state, cut their risk of infection by half.

People with higher vitamin D levels reduced their risk by about 10 percent. According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.20 Another statistic showing vitamin D is a very effective strategy in preventing respiratory illness during the flu season is the NNT.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Cochrane Collaboration concluded in 2014 that the NNT for the flu vaccine is 71. In this 2017 respiratory infection study, the NNT for vitamin D was 33, meaning one person would be spared from acute respiratory infection for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement.

Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. If you’re going to gamble, which odds would you rather have — a 1 in 71 chance of being protected against respiratory infection, or a 1 in 33 chance (or 1 in 4 should you be severely vitamin D deficient)? In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available.

Tamiflu or Quercetin?

Should you or your child get sick and a doctor or pediatrician recommends Tamiflu,21 please understand that this antiviral drug shortens the duration of flu symptoms by less than 17 hours.22,23 It also does not reduce viral transmission and does not lower your risk of complications, such as pneumonia.24,25

Some scientists have also warned that Tamiflu’s serious risks outweigh the benefits.26 These risks include convulsions, brain infections, psychosis and  other neuropsychiatric problems.27,28 The drug is particularly risky for children, and more than half of all children taking Tamiflu suffer side effects from the drug.29,30

Considering Tamiflu’s risks and limited effectiveness, quercetin is safe and effective. Quercetin, a plant flavonol found naturally in apples, plums, red grapes, green tea, elder flower and onions, packs a powerful antiviral punch.31 Some of its mechanisms of action include inhibiting the ability of viruses to infect cells and inhibiting replication of already infected cells. A number of studies have confirmed quercetin’s effectiveness against viral infections, including the following:

A 1985 study found quercetin inhibits infectivity and replication of herpes simplex virus type 1, polio-virus type 1, parainfluenza virus type 3 and respiratory syncytial virus.32

A 2010 animal study found that quercetin inhibits both influenza A and B viruses. Two other important discoveries were made. Firstly, the viruses were unable to develop resistance to quercetin and, secondly, when used concomitant with antiviral drugs (amantadine or oseltamivir), the effect was significantly amplified — and it prevented drug-resistance from developing.33

A 2004 animal study investigating quercetin’s effect on influenza used a strain of the H3N2 virus. According to the authors:34

“In the mice, instillation of influenza virus A/Udorn/317/72(H3N2) intranasally resulted in a significant decrease in the pulmonary concentrations of catalase, reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase … These effects were observed on the 5th day after viral instillation.

Oral supplementation with quercetin simultaneous with viral instillation produced significant increases in the pulmonary concentrations of catalase, reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase … 

It is concluded that during influenza virus infection, there is ‘oxidative stress.’ Because quercetin restored the concentrations of many antioxidants, it is proposed that it may be useful as a drug in protecting the lung from the deleterious effects of oxygen derived free radicals released during influenza virus infection.”

In 2014, researchers noted that quercetin appears to be “a promising treatment for the common cold,” caused by the rhinovirus, adding that “Quercetin has been shown to reduce viral internalization and replication in vitro, and viral load, lung inflammation and airways hyper-responsiveness in vivo.”35

By attenuating oxidative damage, it also lowers your risk of secondary bacterial infections, which is actually the primary cause of influenza-related deaths. Importantly, quercetin increases mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle, which suggests part of its antiviral effects are due to enhanced mitochondrial antiviral signaling.

A 2016 study found quercetin offered protection against influenza A virus H1N1 by modulating protein expression. More specifically, the regulation of heat shock proteins, fibronectin 1 and prohibitin was instrumental in reducing viral replication.36

A second study published in 2016 found quercetin inhibited a wide spectrum of influenza strains, including H1N1, H3N2 and H5N1. According to the authors, “This study indicates that quercetin showing inhibitory activity in the early stage of influenza infection provides a future therapeutic option to develop effective, safe and affordable natural products for the treatment and prophylaxis of [influenza A viruses] infections.”37

Prevention of Respiratory Infections Shouldn’t Be so Risky

Aside from vitamin D and quercetin, maintaining good levels of vitamins B1 and C may go a long way toward keeping you healthy through the flu season and beyond. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,38 and vitamin C also boosts the effectiveness of quercetin. Taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

President TRUMP delivers remarks at the Make America Great Again. March 10, 2018

[Kp note: pardon, I’m reposting as the first was posted without a title…]

I actually listened to this entire speech, and all I can say is, “We are indeed participating in ‘The Greatest Show in the Cosmos’!!” It is actually very refreshing to hear someone speaking as President of the U.S. who is not talking like a pre-programmed robot. I’m not sure if he even used any notes. Yes, there are many talking about what was said in this, and as often happens with DJT, he calls out the MSM, big time (including poor MSNBC Chuck Todd and Maxine Waters). Not my style of doing things, but in my view, this is one reason why he is here… to call out the deep state… BIG TIME!

A few points (hr:min) which I found significant (and/or entertaining) are below.

0:05 Talks about the Olympics, and North Korea. And how he’ll be speaking with Kim Jong Un.
0:40 It’s about “tax cuts” not just “tax reform”.
0:56 We must go after the drug companies.
1:03 Jokes about “being Presidential”.
.

https://youtu.be/C7e5lfzdwEE

Published on Mar 10, 2018
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the Make America Great Again rally in support of GOP candidate Rick Saccone.

Tim Kelly & Russ Winter Discuss Sabbatean Frankism’s Impact on the World

This interview turned out great, in part because I am a big fan of Tim Kelly’s work and knowledge and because of the importance of the topic. Relevant articles are

The Influence of Sabbatean Frankism on the World

The Hellfire Club: Precursor of the Degenerate Luciferian Control Network

Crime Syndicate System Control: Sexual Entrapment Operations

The Parasite Guild

Argentina’s Financial Collapse Documentry

Britain’s Genocidal Starvation of the Irish — or So-Called ‘Potato Famine’ — and Brave Resistance of Nationalist John Mitchel