The Opioid Crisis — A Case of Mass Homicide?

The inappropriate treatment approach to back pain is a driving force behind the opioid epidemic, Dave Chase, co-founder of Health Rosetta, reports,1 citing the 2018 JAMA Network Open paper,2 “Opioid Prescribing for Low Back Pain: What Is the Role of Payers?”

One of the reasons for this is the sheer prevalence of back pain. Statistics3 suggest 8 in 10 American adults will be affected by it at some point in their life.

“It’s also a microcosm of all the things that are wrong with the U.S. health care system, including its contribution to the opioid crisis,” Chase writes.4 “Lower back pain puts people in desperate and vulnerable positions, and it puts doctors under pressure to Do Something Now.

From such a confluence arise many poor and potentially devastating treatments and choices. Among the worst is doctors’ decisions to write opioid prescriptions as a treatment for lower back pain and their patients taking these drugs.

Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for an opioid prescription,5 but here’s the kicker: There’s no evidence that opioids are effective at treating this problem.”

Opioids Are Inappropriate for Back Pain

Indeed, according to the JAMA paper:6

“Recent data from the first randomized clinical trial with long-term outcomes demonstrated that opioid treatment did not confer benefit with respect to pain-related function and that adverse medication-related events were more common among patients receiving opioid therapy. In contrast, pain intensity was improved among patients randomized to nonopioid treatment.”

Other research7 published in 2018 also shows opioids (including morphine, Vicodin, oxycodone and fentanyl) fail to control moderate to severe pain any better than over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen.

In fact, those taking nonopioid pain relievers actually fared “significantly better” in terms of pain intensity. Lead author Dr. Erin Krebs with the Minneapolis VA Center for Care Delivery and Outcomes Research (formerly Chronic Disease Outcomes Research), told WebMD:8

“We found that opioids had no advantages over nonopioid medications for pain, function or quality of life in patients with low back pain … This is important information for physicians to share with patients who are considering opioids.”

How Insurance Companies Contribute to the Opioid Crisis

Despite the medical consensus that back pain is best treated with nonpharmacological means, most insurance companies still favor opioids when it comes to reimbursement.

As noted in the American College of Physicians’ guideline9 “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain,” heat, massage, acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments should be used as first-line treatments. When drugs are desired, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or muscle relaxants should be used.

Other key treatments include exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, relaxation, biofeedback, low-level laser therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

In a recent episode of Full Measure,10 Sharyl Attkisson interviewed Eileen Kopsaftis, a physical therapist who uses a combination of diet, connective tissue work, proper body dynamics and body balance to address back pain.

As for opioids, they “should only be considered if other treatments are unsuccessful and when the potential benefits outweigh the risks for an individual patient,” according to the American College of Physicians’ guideline.11

Alas, while clinical practice guidelines call for nonpharmacological intervention for back pain, most insurance plans don’t pay for such treatments. They do pay for opioids, though. In his article, Chase explains:12

“That doesn’t make sense until you look at the reason: For the carriers that administer health insurance plans, there is far more profit in pills than physical therapy. (This also explains why the three largest pharmacy benefits managers have recently merged with insurance carriers.)

Our entire health care system is built on a vast web of incentives that push patients down the wrong paths. And in most cases it’s the entities that manage the money — insurance carriers — that benefit from doing so.

They negotiate prices with health systems and pharmaceutical companies, all of which share the objective of increasing revenues, to craft and sell health plans that offer trumped up ‘discounts.’ As long as carriers negotiate a high price with a provider or a rebate scheme with a drug maker, they can still make a sizable profit even after a 50 percent discount.

This dynamic was accelerated by the Affordable Care Act’s Medical Loss Ratio,13 which requires that 80 percent of insurance premium dollars pay for medical expenses and that carriers pocket only 20 percent. It doesn’t take much to see that the higher the premium, the more they make from that 20 percent …

An estimated 700,000 people are likely to die from opioid overdoses between 2015 and 2025,14 making it absolutely essential to understand the connections between insurance carriers, health plans, employers, the public, and the opioid crisis. We will never get out of this mess unless we stop addiction before it starts the opioid crisis isn’t an anomaly. It’s a side effect of our health care system.”

Doctors and Dentists Also Shoulder Blame

Other situations in which opioids are inappropriately prescribed, and massively so, are for tonsillectomies and wisdom teeth extractions.

Insurance claims data from 2016 and 2017 reveal 60% of children between the ages of 1 and 18 with private insurance filled one or more opioid prescriptions after surgical tonsil removal,15,16 and dentists wrote a staggering 18.1 million prescriptions for opioids in 2017.17

As noted by Ronnie Cohen in a March 2019 article18 in The Washington Post, “until recently, dentists seemed to have had no idea they may have been helping to feed an epidemic that resulted in a record 70,237 U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2017.”19

Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid treatment research at Brandeis University, told Cohen:20 “It’s almost a rite of passage in the United States having your wisdom teeth out. The aggressive prescribing of opioids to adolescents may be why we’re in an epidemic.”

While American family doctors prescribe an estimated 15% of all immediate-release opioids — the type most likely to be abused — dentists are not far behind, being responsible for 12% of prescriptions, according to a 2011 paper21 in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

According to a JAMA report22 published August 2018, opioids are “routinely” prescribed for wisdom tooth extractions. The Washington Post cites a 2004 survey, which found 85% of oral surgeons prescribe opioids after the removal of wisdom teeth.23

This practice is highly questionable, considering there’s no medical reference showing opioid pain relievers are more effective for this kind of post-surgical pain than NSAIDs.24

On the contrary, an April 2018 medical review25 found a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen offered the greatest pain relief, while opioids and opioid combinations had the highest number of adverse events in both children and adults.

Mind you, even though the ibuprofen/acetaminophen combination is less addictive, it can still cause serious potential complications if taken long term, so you also need to be careful when using these drugs and make sure to address the foundational cause of your pain.

Common sense would tell you this practice is putting youth at significant risk for addiction. Research26,27 confirms such suspicions, showing 6.9% of those receiving an opioid prescription from their dentist in 2015 were still using opioids between three and 12 months later. Among those who did not get an initial opioid prescription, only 0.1% sought an opioid prescription in the 12-months that followed.

The American Dental Association now urges dentists and oral surgeons to limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to a maximum of seven days.28 In a 2018 article29 in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Rima Himelstein, an adolescent medicine specialist, urges parents whose children are undergoing oral surgery to:

Be the gatekeeper for medications, including those prescribed after wisdom teeth extraction. Don’t just hand your teen the bottle of pills after surgery. And be sure to properly dispose of leftover prescription drugs …”

Johnson & Johnson’s Role in the Opioid Crisis

While Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family appear to have played a central role in the creation of the opioid crisis, few opioid makers and distributors are free of blame. An August 27, 2019, article in The New York Times30 highlights the influence of Johnson & Johnson, a leading supplier of opioid ingredients.

August 26, 2019, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay Oklahoma $572 million for violating state public nuisance law, thereby causing decades of opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths in the state.31,32 As reported by The New York Times:33

“The judge cited the company’s overly aggressive marketing tactics: Sales representatives were coached to avoid the ‘addiction ditch’ — the negatives associated with drug use and dependence — when encouraging doctors to prescribe opioids for patients with moderate to severe pain …

Its marketing tactics followed a similar playbook to one Purdue and other opioid manufacturers were employing, and also included so-called unbranded promotion, which was not tied to specific products and encouraged doctors to continue to prescribe more opioids.

Like its competitors, Johnson & Johnson sought to persuade doctors that pain was under-treated, training sales representatives to use ‘emotional selling’ to get across the idea that patients were being harmed by undertreatment.

Another concept was ‘pseudoaddiction,’ or the idea that if patients were asking a doctor for higher doses, they were not necessarily addicted but needed more of the drug to treat their pain.”

According to The New York Times, 326 million opioid pills were dispensed in Oklahoma in 2015 alone, “enough for every adult in the state to receive 110 pills.”34 Oklahoma prosecutors also stressed that were it not for Johnson & Johnson, OxyContin would not have become a blockbuster drug.

In 1994, when Purdue Pharma sought Food and Drug Administration approval for OxyContin, Johnson & Johnson’s supplier subsidiary Tasmanian Alkaloids developed a novel type of opium poppy, the Norman Poppy, which produces higher amounts of thebaine, the active painkilling ingredient in OxyContin.

An Important Break in the Kentucky Case Against Purdue

Purdue is still in the news, though, and chances are we’ll hear a lot more about it in coming weeks and months. The reason for this is because the Kentucky Supreme Court has finally ruled that sealed court records detailing the company’s marketing of OxyContin are to be unsealed and made public.

The cache is also said to include internal reports on the results of clinical trials, communications relating to previous legal cases, and a 2015 deposition of Dr. Richard Sackler. All of these documents were obtained during legal discovery in a lawsuit where Kentucky sued Purdue over the illegal marketing of OxyContin.

The case was settled in 2015, with Purdue being ordered to pay the state $24 million. Part of the settlement agreement called for the destruction of 17 million pages of litigation records held by the state attorney general’s office. Copies of some of the files, however, ended up being placed under seal in a Pike County courthouse. On August 26, 2019, STAT news reported:35

The decision is a major victory for STAT, which first filed a motion36 to unseal the records in March 2016. Purdue has fought to keep the documents out of view, but the Supreme Court’s refusal is final and can’t be appealed.

Now, the public stands to get a glimpse of new information about how Purdue promoted OxyContin and what executives knew about the risk of addiction that came with the drug.

‘The case against Purdue was one of our first decisions when we launched STAT, and we’re thrilled that the trove of documents will finally be made public,’ said John W. Henry, the owner and publisher of STAT.

‘As the opioid crisis continues to devastate communities across the country, it is vital that we all have more answers to so many outstanding questions about the genesis of the epidemic and Purdue’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin.’”

FDA Advisory Panel Riddled With Conflicts of Interest

In related news, The BMJ recently published an editorial37 highlighting a recent BMJ investigation38 that revealed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), which advises FDA on opioid policies, has a number of hidden conflicts of interests, and this too may have played a role in the opioid crisis.

Among these undisclosed conflicts of interests was the fact that Victor Dzau, one of NASEM’s presidents, “had financial ties to Medtronic, a company that sells an implantable device to deliver pain medicine, until last year.”

What’s more, 7 of 15 academics serving on the NASEM panel that advised the FDA on opioid prescribing guidelines had ties to industry. On top of that, NASEM itself accepted $14 million from the Sackler family. The BMJ reports:39

“NASEM responded40 to The BMJ’s investigation to say that it was reviewing its conflict of interest policies and its funding from the Sacklers. It said that it considers only ‘current’ financial ties; but past ties, particularly if recent, substantial, or longstanding, are also conflicts of interest, which is why journals like The BMJ ask authors for disclosures going back three years.

NASEM said that Dzau had complied with its policies; but requiring the public disclosure of all competing interests is essential if policy makers, practitioners, and patients are to be fully informed of how NASEM drafts its guidance.

NASEM said that the $1m of shares Dzau held for previous Medtronic board membership while president of the National Academy of Medicine were managed by his bank without his involvement; but still they constituted a substantial and undeclared conflict of interest because Dzau stood to gain if their worth rose.”

Will Justice Be Done?

In an August 29, 2019 article41 in The Atlantic, Dr. James Hamblin addresses the lack of justice currently on the table:

“The role of marketing in the pharmaceutical industry — the apparatus that profits more from maximizing use than optimizing outcomes — is at an inflection point. A reckoning could lead to serious reform.

But a settlement deal currently on the table — in which Purdue Pharma … would pay about $11 billion42 — stands to repeat the mistakes of the past …

Several billion would come in the form of medications to help treat opioid addiction and overdoses. The Sackler family … would give up ownership of the company, which would file for bankruptcy and become a ‘public beneficiary trust’ …

But no new ground would be broken if the justice comes in the form of fines for what amounts to serious crimes. In 2018, President Donald Trump proposed the extreme measure of using the death penalty for certain drug traffickers and dealers …

Trump did not suggest that these dealers simply pay back a portion of their profits. The importance of sending a message is rarely invoked when it comes to white-collar crime. When drug dealing is done by corporations, the punishment is to impose fines, and to debate what sort of punishment would be fair and productive.

In this case, the proposal on the table would require Purdue to pay a fraction of the $35 billion in profits it claims to have made from Oxycontin — and far less than even the conservative estimates of the damage it caused … estimated in a 2017 White House report to be $504 billion.”

A Moral Reckoning Is Needed

I couldn’t agree more with Hamblin’s assertion that a settlement — and especially one that falls so short of the actual cost to society — will do nothing to change the drug industry’s ways.

“It is not a criminal prosecution. It is not a moral reckoning,” Hamblin writes, and indeed, without criminal prosecution of corporate executives who played an active part in the decisions that were made, the current trend of reckless malfeasance is bound to continue.

In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to charges that it misled doctors and patients about OxyContin’s addictive potential and paid $634 million in fines. They knew they were killing people, and the fine did nothing to realign the company’s moral compass. Purdue kept up the same shady practices — putting profits above public health — for another 12 years, bringing us to where we are today. As Hamblin so aptly states:43

“The job of the courts and regulatory apparatus is to help prevent future disaster. This will not happen when penalties are meted out such that loss of life is treated as a cost of doing business.

The Justice Department could impose a criminal framework on concealing information that led to thousands of deaths. There could be consequences … that make it clear to current and future sellers of dangerous products that this can never happen again.”

Little Timmy vs. Google Spies

Children are spending an alarming amount of time watching media on various screens and devices, but among them, Google-owned YouTube is emerging as one of the biggest threats to their well-being.

In fact, Google must pay a record $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general, which claim YouTube collected children’s personal information without parents’ consent. Broken down, Google will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York.

The allegations include that YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by using persistent identifiers, also known as cookies, which track users, on child-directed YouTube channels without parents’ consent.1 According to the FTC, YouTube earned millions of dollars via the cookies by selling targeted ads.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a news release, “YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients. Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”2 The penalty is the largest ever obtained by the FTC in a COPPA case.

A study by Ofcom, the U.K.’s communications regulator, also revealed that YouTube was the most popular platform among children. It was the go-to spot for children to find and watch content, “and the place they did so most frequently — many of them every day.”3

In one of the most ironic findings, children enjoyed watching people pursue hobbies on YouTube that they themselves did not do, or had recently given up.4 They also enjoyed the ability to find whatever content they wanted, whenever they wanted it.

“As YouTube responds to demand, it can offer a seemingly limitless choice of content. YouTube offers everything they could possibly want, and then allows them to easily access more of what they like the most,” the researchers explained5—and herein lies part of the problem.

While collecting information, YouTube is able to tailor content directly to your child, presenting an irresistible stream of digital content that children have a hard time turning off. Like the way food manufacturers engineered potato chips to offer an addictive mix of salt, crunch and unhealthy fats, YouTube has been set up to make your kids crave it.

Autoplay and Other Tactics Keep Kids Glued to the Screen

Apps like YouTube collect data, such as the number of “likes,” and use it to select content your children may be interested in. The content is then played automatically, one video after another, making it difficult for children to look away.

Baroness Beeban Kidron, who is leading a campaign for children’s online rights, told the New York Times, “The idea that it’s O.K. to nudge kids into endless behaviors, just because you are pushing their evolutionary buttons — it’s not a fair fight … It’s little Timmy in his bedroom versus Mark Zuckerberg in his Valley.”6

The personalization aspect is emerging as one of the keys drawing children in. The Ofcom study revealed, in fact, that children were most attracted to content that they could view on their own device, exercise maximum choice over and that directly fed them content of interest, i.e., YouTube.7 They explained how YouTube presents the perfect storm of personalization to capture kids:8

“The way content is presented on YouTube also makes for a very different platform experience. For example, videos on YouTube are recommended to individual users with one of the most personalised experiences on the internet. The content available on YouTube is also refreshed second by second by millions of users worldwide, dynamically responding to what is popular.

Organisations and individuals alike create and upload content with the sole aim of maximising views, and therefore advertising revenues, making use of YouTube analytics to see exactly what is appealing to users and generating more content of that type.

As a result, the videos available on YouTube adapt rapidly in response to what users watch, making it easier and easier for people to find and discover content that appeals to them. In this research, we found that children could easily access exactly what they wanted to watch and were being served with an endless stream of recommendations tailored exactly to their taste.”

Baroness Fights for Children’s Online Rights

Kidron began the 5Rights foundation, which aims to protect children’s digital rights. Just as children are afforded certain protections in the real world, Kidron believes they should be extended to the digital world.

At issue is those pop-up boxes that ask users to click “accept” in order to access content, and in so doing surrender much personal privacy, along with so-called “nudge” techniques that encourage users to stay engaged. 5Rights notes that the very design of these technologies is costing children their childhood, one notification and “Like” at a time:9

“Persuasive design strategies are the hooks and tricks that keep users online; auto-play, auto-suggestion, Likes, re-tweets, notifications, buzzes, pings, typing bubbles, Streaks…

Each on their own offer a small symbol of personal worth or fuzzy reward, together they provide a constant, damaging ecosystem of distraction, competition and invasion that and with it an epidemic of anxiety, sleeplessness and negative impacts on health education family and social life.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in its draft Age Appropriate Design Code, is considering 16 standards that would help to protect children’s online privacy. The Code, which was proposed by Kidron, calls on online services to automatically provide the following protections for children under 18:10

  • Automatically set high privacy settings
  • Collect and retain only the minimum amount of personal data
  • Not share children’s data
  • Geolocation services should be switched off by default
  • Nudge techniques that encourage children to provide personal data, lessen privacy settings or keep using the app longer should not be used

Tech giants aren’t happy with the Code, including defining a “child” as under 18 instead of 13 or 16. Further, the protections are slated to affect all sites in Britain, not just those geared to children — another aspect the tech industry is fighting against.

According to The New York Times, “A children’s online privacy law in the United States, by contrast, applies only to nursery rhyme apps and other services directed at children under 13.”11

This, however, is part of the problem, as while YouTube and many social media platforms state they’re designed for users over 13, many children under this age tune into such sites daily. One Ofcom report found 46% of 11-year-olds and 51% of 12-year-olds have social media profiles, while 90% of 12- to 15-year-olds use YouTube.12

However, as part of the FTC settlement, Google and YouTube must make changes to help protect children under 13 years of age who are using their online services. According to the news release:13

“In addition to the monetary penalty, the proposed settlement requires Google and YouTube to develop, implement, and maintain a system that permits channel owners to identify their child-directed content on the YouTube platform so that YouTube can ensure it is complying with COPPA.

In addition, the companies must notify channel owners that their child-directed content may be subject to the COPPA Rule’s obligations and provide annual training about complying with COPPA for employees who deal with YouTube channel owners.”

Spying on Your Kids in Schools

Google and its parent company, Alphabet, in addition to owning YouTube and Android, one of the most popular operating systems worldwide, are also infiltrating U.S. classrooms via Chromebooks and Google apps.

In 2012, less than 1% of the tablets and laptops used in the U.S. school system were Google Chromebooks. By 2015, 51% of the devices sold to K-12 schools were Chromebooks,14 which come complete with a host of Google apps.

While Google has pledged to protect student privacy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that the company is tracking students’ online habits and even using it to create profiles and targeted advertisements.15 What data is Google collecting about students? According to EFF:16

“When students log in to Google, whether through Chromebooks or through GAFE, Google collects a huge variety of personal data by default: search history and which results students click on, videos they search for and watch on YouTube, usage data and preferences, Gmail messages, G+ profiles and photos, docs, and other Google-hosted content and content that flows through Google’s systems.

Additionally, if students use Chrome (the only browser available on Chromebooks), Google also collects the following information by default: browsing history, bookmarked URLs, passwords, website form entries, and which extensions are installed—and Google stores this information in the cloud (rather than locally on the Chromebook itself).”

Google Is Listening at Home Too

If you use smart speakers in your home, like Google Home smart speakers or the Google Assistant smartphone app, there’s a chance people are listening to your requests, and even may be listening when you wouldn’t expect. When you say “OK Google,” the command to “wake up” the speakers or virtual assistant, the recording starts, according to an investigation by VRT NWS.17

“Not everyone is aware of the fact that everything you say to your Google smart speakers and your Google Assistant is being recorded and stored. But that is clearly stated in Google’s terms and conditions,” VRT NWS reported, after a Google contractor gave them access to 1,000 voice recordings.18 Further, it employs people to listen to the recordings and transcribe them, in order to improve their algorithms.

Personal information, like addresses, names and companies, are often included, raising serious privacy concerns. As VRT NWS noted:19

“Knowing that people who work for Google indirectly are listening to such recordings raises questions about privacy. In order to avoid excerpts being automatically linked to a user, they are disconnected from the user’s information.

They delete the user name and replace it with an anonymous serial number. But … it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recover someone’s identity; you simply have to listen carefully to what is being said.

What’s more, if they don’t know how it is written, these employees have to look up every word, address, personal name or company name on Google or on Facebook. In that way, they often soon discover the identity of the person speaking.”

It’s not only Google’s smart speakers that are recording queries, which are then reviewed by human workers. Apple’s Siri does too, and was accused of being activated by similar sounding phrases to “hey Siri” and recording private moments including discussions between doctors and patients, arguments, business deals, criminal deals, sexual encounters and more.20

Out of the 1,000 Google recordings reviewed VRT NWS, 153 of them reportedly occurred when they shouldn’t have been and “the ‘OK Google’ command was not clearly given.”21

Google ‘Pausing’ Spy Technique While Under Investigation

In response to the investigation, Google announced that it had “paused” its human reviews of queries to Google smart speakers, telling Ars Technica, “Shortly after we learned about the leaking of confidential Dutch audio data, we paused language reviews of the Assistant to investigate. This paused reviews globally.”22

Google stated they would not be transcribing voice recordings starting August 1, 2019 and continuing for at least three months. They also stated that users can turn off audio data storage or choose to have it auto-deleted every three or 18 months.

This represents only a sliver of the assault to your privacy that occurs when you regularly use Google products online, or allow your children to do so, however. To be part of the solution, and help protect your privacy, I encourage you to take the following actions:

Boycott Google by avoiding any and all Google products:

? Stop using Google search engines. Alternatives include DuckDuckGo23 and Startpage24

? Uninstall Google Chrome and use Brave or Opera browser instead, available for all computers and mobile devices.25 From a security perspective, Opera is far superior to Chrome and offers a free VPN (virtual private network) service to further preserve your privacy

? If you have a Gmail account, try a non-Google email service such as ProtonMail,26 an encrypted email service based in Switzerland

? Stop using Google docs. Digital Trends has published an article suggesting a number of alternatives27

? If you’re a high school student, do not convert the Google accounts you created as a student into personal accounts

Sign the “Don’t be evil” petition created by Citizens Against Monopoly

This 1950s Video Demonstrates Where Best Food Comes From

“Where would we be without grass?” It’s a question posed in the video above, titled “Grass: The Big Story,” and released by the USDA circa 1950. Grass farming is emerging as necessary to rejuvenate the soil, produce high-quality food and remedy many of the environmental problems caused by industrial agriculture, but while it’s sometimes viewed as a trendy movement, its benefits have been known for decades.

It’s a prime example of “what’s old is new again,” in that raising cows on pasture has always been the best method of food production. “I don’t think anyone can stay in this business anymore without good pasture. And it makes farming easy all around,” one farmer said in the video. If more farmers had listened to this advice in the ’50s, the U.S. would likely be in a far different state, environmentally.

Even then, the benefits were clear. “I don’t have any weed problems anymore,” one farmer said after switching to grass. “Look how we brought back the soil,” another stated.

Prior to the 1950s, All Beef Was Grass Fed

While grass fed meat is considered a niche market in 2019, prior to the 1950s, all cattle were grass fed. It wasn’t until the post-WWII era that corn production increased, leading to the emergence of grain-fed (largely corn-fed) cattle. As PBS reported:1

“Before World War II, most Americans had never eaten corn-fed beef. Raised on pasture, cattle reared before the 1950s usually took two or three years to be ready for the slaughterhouse. Steers were fed grain only occasionally and in small quantities, and farmers tended to use corn as a supplement — not a staple — of their livestock’s diets.

But as American corn production skyrocketed in the post-War era, and as the economic boom of the 1950s prompted higher consumer demand for meat, farmers and ranchers turned to a new practice: fattening their cattle on corn.”

Corn fattened up cattle faster, allowing them to be ready for the market in about 15 months. It also led to the creation of feed lots, as cows no longer had to be moved from pasture to pasture. The cheap corn feed led to declines in beef prices, which in turn increased beef consumption among Americans.

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which raise thousands of animals in confined spaces, were the inevitable outcome of grain-feeding cattle, as producers sought ways to maximize their profits using cheap feed and by raising the most animals possible in a finite space. As noted by the USDA:2

Feedlots with less than 1,000-head of capacity compose the vast majority of U.S. feedlot operations, but market a relatively small share of the fed cattle. In contrast, lots with 1,000-head or greater capacity compose less than 5 percent of total feedlots, but market 80 to 85 percent of fed cattle. Feedlots with 32,000 head or more of capacity market around 40 percent of fed cattle.”

Problems With Grain-Fed Cattle

In exchange for cheap meat and dairy, we’re paying a hefty price, one that may be infinite in the damage it’s causing via pollution and damage to human health. Further, when cows eat corn and grain, not only does the quality of their milk degrade but they live in a state of chronic inflammation, which increases their risk of infection and disease.

Grass fed beef is better for you, too, with levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) increasing by two- to three-fold when cattle are grass finished as opposed to grain finished.3

This is a significant benefit, as CLA is associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease and optimized cholesterol levels. The ratio of dietary fats is also healthier in grass fed beef. According to Back to Grass: The Market Potential for U.S. Grassfed Beef, a report produced by a collaboration between sustainable agriculture and ecological farming firms:4

“Although the exact physiologic mechanisms behind these benefits are not completely understood, grassfed beef (and dairy) can provide a steady dietary source of CLAs.

The optimal ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is believed to be between 1-to-1 and 4-to-1. Seven studies that compared the overall fat content of different beef types found that grassfed beef had an average ratio of 1.53, while grain-fed beef had a less healthy average ratio of 7.6.

Grassfed meat also contains higher levels of antioxidants, including vitamins E and A, as well as superoxide dismutase and catalase, enzymes that scavenge free radicals that cause oxidation and spoilage. Higher antioxidants are better for meat quality (retarding spoilage from lipid peroxidation) and beneficial to the consumer.”

Grain is not a cow’s natural diet, and as such creates an acidic environment in the animal’s digestive tract, which encourages E. coli formation. At least 73% of large CAFOs also use low doses of antibiotics in their cattle feed, which promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.5

“In contrast, cattle raised on pasture do not need to consume subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics to remain healthy. In a study that sampled over 300 packages of ground beef, grassfed beef was found to be three times less likely than conventional beef to contain multidrug-resistant bacteria,” Back to Grass explained.6

The Benefits of Rotational Grazing

Even in the 1950 video, farmers spoke about rotational grazing and the ease of farming according to the laws of nature instead of against them — plant pastures and “let the cows do the rest,” essentially. The need for synthetic fertilizer and pesticides is greatly reduced if not eliminated.

Back to Grass featured a profile of the James Ranch near Durango, Colorado, where 150 cattle are raised on 340 acres of pasture, featuring a “quick rotational grazing” system. Every one to three days, the animals are rotated onto a fresh area of grass and clover. No artificial fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides are used.

“As they move quickly from one pasture to another, the cattle invigorate the plant root systems and fertilize pastures with manure, simulating the grazing patterns of ancient herds that maintain natural balance in grasslands,” according to Back to Grass, and herein lies the beauty of grass fed farming.7

By mimicking the natural behavior of migratory herds of wild grazing animals — meaning allowing livestock to graze freely, and moving the herd around in specific patterns — farmers can support nature’s efforts to regenerate and thrive.

This kind of land management system promotes the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by sequestering it back into the soil where it can do a lot of good. Once in the earth, the CO2 can be safely stored for hundreds of years and adds to the soil’s fertility.

Regenerative Agriculture to the Rescue

Raising cattle on pasture wasn’t known as regenerative agriculture in the 1950s, but the principles remain the same. A two-crop planting cycle of corn and soybeans, along with CAFOs that raise one type of meat and rely on the intensively produced corn and soy for feed, has become the dominant agricultural model in the U.S. Midwest, thanks to the federal farm policy that subsidizes these crops, with devastating consequences to human health and the environment.

However, slowly some farmers are taking a hint from the ’50s and are exploring other options, including rotational grazing, helping to protect the environment while allowing them to bring in premium prices for their meat by catering to customers who are looking for food raised via natural, environmentally friendly and humane methods.

The James Ranch, for instance, attracts customers willing to pay a high premium for the grass fed meat, which is also sold directly to customers via its farm stand.

So while the business is small, it’s profitable and beneficial to the surrounding community (the opposite of CAFOs, which are typically large and damaging to their communities).8 Additional principles of regenerative agriculture, as described by Joyce Farms in North Carolina:9

Build soil health — By farming without harsh chemicals and tilling, regenerative agriculture allows microbes in the soil to thrive. These microbes are essential for preventing runoff and nourishing plant growth. “Soil doesn’t work without microbes,” they say, as soil should be alive, not dead. “Dead soil cannot hold carbon, so it is released into the atmosphere as CO2.”

Diverse cover crops and plant life — Planting a diverse variety of plants increases microbial populations and organic matter in the soil, while also covering and protecting the earth. “By introducing a diverse variety of plants to the soil, the microbial population in the soil becomes stronger. With soil life, ecosystems thrive,” they say.

No till — Tilling destroys soil structure and reduces soil organic matter while increasing weeds and the release of CO2.

No chemical inputs — The use of chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides kill off beneficial species like pollinators, and pollute waterways with chemical runoff. It’s also a relatively recent practice that traditionally was not part of farming.

“For hundreds of years chemicals where not needed or used in farming because, sensibly, chemical inputs aren’t needed when you are working with (not against) the systems Mother Nature already has in place,” Joyce Farms explains.

Livestock integration — Rather than housing livestock separately from other animals and crops, livestock is integrated into a symbiotic, complementary system that mimics the way nature works.

“The way we do this at Joyce Farms is by mimicking the dense herds of grazing ruminants that used to roam across America, grazing and trampling plants into the soil. This trampling provides an armor of plant life for the soil and feeds the soil microbes.”

Where to Find Grass Fed Meat

Demand for grass fed beef is growing, but it still makes up just 4% of the U.S. beef market.10 Two hurdles for grass fed farmers include CAFOs, which have access to more efficient supply chains and slaughterhouses, and imports of grass fed beef, but despite this, the Back to Grass analysis suggests there is enough land in the U.S. to support “a massive scaling up of grassfed beef.”11

Buying grass fed or pastured animal products, including beef, bison, chicken, milk and eggs, is an excellent start to support both your health and regenerative farming methods that are protecting, not polluting, the planet — the same ones that have been touted since the 1950s.

You can look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, which lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.

Another option is to seek out biodynamic products, as biodynamic farms are, by nature, grass fed farms. In the U.S., Demeter USA is the only certifier for biodynamic farms and products. You may also be able to find grass fed meats at local farmers markets — just get to know the farmers who are using this superior method of food production.

More Red Flags for Fairbanks and Elsewhere

By Anna Von Reitz

More Red Flags for Fairbanks and Elsewhere

A couple days ago, Destry Payne, who has been closely associated with the off-track Michigan General Jural Assembly organization and who has also claimed to have Dual Citizenship in Luxembourg, claimed that President Trump was following his “Orders” by terminating the Act of 1871.  

I pointed out that the Act of 1871 was repealed in 1874. 
And here we have a report that is much, much closer to the mark: 

“it is intended the oath of every serving member of our forces will be cancelled, and they will be required to  undertake a new oath of loyalty to Brussels”

Revenge of the Robber Barons Part Two: Control Mechanisms

By Anna Von Reitz

Yesterday, we discussed how J.D. Rockefeller’s understanding of pipelines and how they control markets and delivery systems of all kinds, was applied in a predatory way to take over functions of government and also, then, to enslave the markets on either end of each “pipeline”.
We observed that any system that transports someone or something from Point A to Point B, can be considered a pipeline —- as in, a pipeline for drugs, a pipeline for commercial banking transactions, or, as it happens — a pipeline for governmental services.
Obviously, then, transportation is a key element to the whole scheme of “privatizing government” and reducing it to a pipeline operation, and so is blocking transportation.
In order to establish a nice profitable little monopoly, it is necessary to be able to keep others out of the pipeline market that you control.
That’s what got J.D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil into trouble in the first place: monopoly business practices.
So it isn’t just about controlling and operating a pipeline, it’s about keeping other service providers from operating their own pipelines in competition with yours. It’s about controlling the “flow” of commerce — not only via conduits, but via the deliberate construction of dams and levies and “shunts” — diversionary structures to manipulate the direction of flow.
In order to pull all this off and attain the kind of control they wanted, the schemers first had to transport you off of the land and soil of your State of the Union, steal your actual identity, and “redefine” you as a thing.
And this had to be done in at least two of the three jurisdictions of the law, because as the saying goes, it takes two to tango and two ends to every pipeline.
So which two jurisdictions of the law did these con artists corrupt?
We have the proof that they corrupted the jurisdiction of the sea (British control) which is represented by Territorial Governments worldwide and the jurisdiction of the air (Pope’s control) which is represented by Municipal Governments worldwide.
The jurisdiction of the air was corrupted first, both in terms of time line and moral depravity. And this is where Kurt Kallenbach’s work plays such a pivotal role of discovery.
If you stop and think about your own genesis as a living being, you will recognize that you came into being when a certain unique egg was fertilized by a certain unique sperm. This moment of fertilization is when your own unique DNA first coupled together to form a zygote, and ultimately, you.
So in actual fact, you came into Being approximately nine months prior to your exit from the womb— an event marked down as a birthday.
A few days or weeks later, the Bean Counters take things a step farther and “register” you as donated public property, which generates a “registration date” also known as a “birthdate”.
Neither the birthday nor the birthdate have anything to do with you, the natural man or woman.
The day of your actual genesis, and your Point of Origin, is the fertilization date; and your fertilization day is forever unknown and can only be approximated.
The birthday doesn’t represent your true origin; instead, the birthday marks your appearance on the land or at sea.
The birthdate marks the registration of your name as a public property owned and operated by the schemers.
So the first artificial separation (“severance”) that the plotters set up as a means to denigrate you and redefine you as a mere Thing, is the birth day assignment and the Given Name.
The second thing that they do to artificially “transport” you into their corrupt jurisdiction is to mistake the fact that you are born on the land.
To do this, they redefined hospitals and courts as “vessels” belonging to the British Territorial Government — howbeit, dry docked on the land of one of the American States.
And they subjected you to their foreign municipal law and the foreign international Law of the Sea, by misidentifying you as a “US Citizen”—- not an American.
So their first pipeline is designed to: (1) sever the Divine Contract between Man and Creator by not recognizing the fertilization date as your true Point of Origin—-and therefore not recognizing you as a natural living man; (2) substituting the birth day as your Point of Origin and a Trade Name for your God-given identity; (3) redefining you as someone born “at sea” instead of on the land; (4) mistaking you as a US Territorial Citizen — as if you were born in Puerto Rico; (5) deliberately misidentifying you as a Ward of the State of State — a pauper and public property in their Commonwealth system; (6) subjecting you to Territorial Statutory Law and Law of the Sea —– all of which amounts to: (1) kidnapping you from your natural jurisdiction on the land and (2) transporting you into the foreign international jurisdiction of the sea so as to (3) subject you to foreign law and (4) seize upon your Lawful Person and assets via unlawful conversion of both.
This whole Turkey Trot Fraud serves to convert your Lawful Person (on the land) to a Legal Person (on the sea) and to convert your assets from private ownership to public ownership, conveniently subject to their administration.
Once you are misidentified as a British Territorial Citizen and as a Ward of their State of State operation, they can move you to Municipal jurisdiction and basically rent you and your assets to the Pope as a Commonwealth property.
To be blunt and explicit, they make “you” into a Public Trust, with the filthy British Territorial Government retaining the “beneficial interest” and the equally filthy Municipal Government retaining the “legal title”.
Read that — the Queen gets the first cut of the cream off this criminal exercise, and the Pope gets all the service contracts and administrative control functions to pad his larder. The Pope’s Municipal Government then seizes upon your Given Name, and sells “you” as a commodity.
They do this by spinning off various kinds of corporations named after you: a Cestui Que Vie Estate Trust named in the form: JOHN ALLEN DOE, a Public Transmitting Utility named JOHN A DOE, a Public Charitable Trust named JOHN DOE, and so on, only using your Given Name as the basis for all this chicanery.
So from one basic identity theft, more forms of identity theft are spawned.
You are not only misidentified in the jurisdiction of the sea as a British Territorial Citizen and as a Ward of one of their failed State of State operations, you are mis-characterized in the jurisdiction of the air as mere corporate entities, which are similarly Wards of their failed STATE OF STATE operations, permanently severed from your Divine Nature as a living man or woman.
The only jurisdiction of the law that remains pure and operable, is the jurisdiction of the land, and you have been kidnapped from the jurisdiction of the land to promote all these profitable and highly criminal abuses of God’s children.
Which brings us back to the pipelines.
As you can see, they diverted the natural pipeline from God to land jurisdiction.
You were created as a unique Being by an Act of God; not a birthday. You are meant to live on the land, not the sea.
You were delivered safely to the land jurisdiction of your State of the Union, but British Agents operating in Breach of Trust deliberately mis-identified you as a British Territorial Citizen, as if you had been born in Puerto Rico.
They severed your time-link and provenance as a Divine Creation when they bypassed and ignored your actual Point of Origin and substituted a birthday for it.
That’s the first shunt.
That denied your identity as a living man owed all the protections of the actual Law, and brought “You” under the State of State Statutory “Law” instead.
They then transported you off the land jurisdiction by a false assumption of Territorial Citizenship. That’s the second shunt.
That unlawfully converted “you” to a foreign political status and removed the guarantees and protections of the Constitutional Agreements.
And then they sold the Territorial Citizen (already converted into a Thing and not recognizable as a man or woman) into slavery to the Pope’s Municipal Government. That’s the third shunt.
Now the pipeline operators have you and everyone else right where they want you —- misidentified as a “Thing” owed no protection or respect, subject to a foreign legal and monetary system that they run, and rendered utterly dependent on a pipeline system they control as a monopoly.
Is this evil? Yes.
Is this criminal? Yes.
Is there anything we can do about it? Yes.
We can expose them and their self-interested lies for what they are. We can expose their “System” and root it out like an invasive weed —- root, stem, and leaf.
The current iteration of this “System” in America started immediately after the Second World War, basically with the signing of the Peace Treaty with Japan in September of 1945.
We were kept in this fictional “wartime status” in order to implement the infamous Marshall Plan to rebuild the rest of the world. We were worked as slaves and leveraged and taxed and our production was subjected to punishing tariffs in order to pay for it.
Once the rest of the world was rebuilt, the slave masters kept us toiling by using the “Cold War” as their excuse for continuing the wartime “emergency” status, continuing to collect the so-called Victory Tax from Americans, etc., etc., etc..
And all this leads us back to a discussion about God, and which “God” we are serving.
A number of things happened immediately before and after the Second World War that reconstructed the pipelines.
Before the war we have the Nationality Act of 1940, codified as Title 31 USC 1321/1322, which affected average Americans in Breach of Trust.
We also have the infamous Buck Act in 1940, which consigned actual US Citizens and citizens of the United States to literal enslavement.
Then, immediately after the Second World War, we have in quick succession:
1. The Lanham Act of 1946 which was supposed to protect our private property interests — but wasn’t enforced in that capacity;
2. The Supreme Court Case of Everson vs. Board of Education which gave teeth to Separation of Church and State—that is, separation between their “nation” operated as a theocracy and our country;
3. The National Security Act which created the National Security Council and identified that unconstitutional, unauthorized, and un-elected body as the de facto government responsible for these outrages;
4. Public Law 107 -293 (see also PL 97-280) which very clearly confirms that the National Motto is “In God We Trust”.
Well, folks, if you have been following along you now know that there is a difference between John Adams and JOHN ADAMS.
And I have in my hand a brand new US Silver Dollar, upon which are emblazoned the words, “IN GOD WE TRUST”.
The God they are referring to when they say—- “In God We Trust” —refers to a foreign “god”, Baphomet.
Just as they have attempted to sever our Sacred Contract with our Creator by substituting a birthday for our Point of Origin, they have substituted Baphomet, the Father of All Lies, for our land jurisdiction God, the Creator.
Similarly, they have converted not only the “God” being invoked, but also the “Trust” being invoked.
As our students now know, “IN GOD WE TRUST” is Dog Latin, unintelligible either as English or as Ancient Latin.
What this really tells us is that in their view, “GOD” is a corporation, and so is the “TRUST” that these pipeline operators are pushing.
All these venal self-interested lies and false legal presumptions have been used to redirect the flow of people, goods, and commodities — out of the pockets and control of the actual people, and into the hands of the pipeline owners and operators, out of private ownership into public ownership, where our assets can be administered by clerks and judges operating private in-house corporate tribunals that are also owned and operated by the same criminals.
Both the fake corporate courts and the private security “Law Enforcement Officers” are used to implement and enforce these crimes upon the people of this country and throughout the world at the behest of the “National Security Council” —-an un-elected, unconstitutional, unofficial, unauthorized committee, which operates to defend the Baphomet-worshiping Municipal Government and studiously neglects to say which “nation” and which “national security” they represent.
When you tear the lid off the patents these cretins have protected under the guise of being “National Security” interests, you very rapidly learn that none of this is being done in the interests of living people. It is all being done to secure corporate advantages over living people, and to make corporations into “gods”.
J.D. Rockefeller would be proud; the Living God, not so much.
Those responsible have been given the Sign of Jonah and the Prophecy of Jeremiah, which is as true today as the day it was first uttered. They can have Chapter 31 or Chapter 51 of the Book of Jeremiah, but one or the other — depending on their own choices — is going to come down on their heads, as sure as I am sitting here writing this.


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Life Without Parole for a Non-Violent First Drug Offense (More Than Robbers, Rapists, Murderers or Even Terrorists)

The following is an article by Craig Cesal, a federal prisoner sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as a first-time offender convicted of conspiring to distribute marijuana.

"I sentence you to a term of natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole."

These were the words I heard in the months after the events of September 11, 2001. You see, at that time, the news was abuzz with theories that drug dealers finance terrorists, and I had just been convicted of my first felony: conspiring to distribute marijuana. This was the newest foray into the War on Drugs.

Guilty Through Association

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Give your WHOLE body the workout it deserves with these 6 exercises

(Natural News) The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) suggests that your exercise routine should include both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening. This can be done by combining a few exercises that work several muscle groups to ensure that every part of the body is worked out. While there are exercises that only work…