Walnuts – Who Knew!

by MICHAEL TENNANT

Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. Because Diamond Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that the FDA didn’t approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, “Your walnut products are drugs” — and “new drugs” at that — and, therefore, “they may not legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug application.” The agency even threatened Diamond with “seizure” if it failed to comply.

Diamond’s transgression was to make “financial investments to educate the public and supply them with walnuts,” as William Faloon of Life Extension magazine put it. On its website and packaging, the company stated that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts have been shown to have certain health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. These claims, Faloon notes, are well supported by scientific research: “Life Extension has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts”; and “The US National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 35 peer-reviewed published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.”

This evidence was apparently not good enough for the FDA, which told Diamond that its walnuts were “misbranded” because the “product bears health claims that are not authorized by the FDA.”

The FDA’s letter continues: “We have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.” Furthermore, the products are also “misbranded” because they “are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes.” Who knew you had to have directions to eat walnuts?

“The FDA’s language,” Faloon writes, “resembles that of an out-of-control police state where tyranny [reigns] over rationality.” He adds:

This kind of bureaucratic tyranny sends a strong signal to the food industry not to innovate in a way that informs the public about foods that protect against disease. While consumers increasingly reach for healthier dietary choices, the federal government wants to deny food companies the ability to convey findings from scientific studies about their products.

Walnuts aren’t the only food whose health benefits the FDA has tried to suppress. Producers of pomegranate juice and green tea, among others, have felt the bureaucrats’ wrath whenever they have suggested that their products are good for people.

Meanwhile, Faloon points out, foods that have little to no redeeming value are advertised endlessly, often with dubious health claims attached. For example, Frito-Lay is permitted to make all kinds of claims about its fat-laden, fried products, including that Lay’s potato chips are “heart healthy.” Faloon concludes that “the FDA obviously does not want the public to discover that they can reduce their risk of age-related disease by consuming healthy foods. They prefer consumers only learn about mass-marketed garbage foods that shorten life span by increasing degenerative disease risk.”

Faloon thinks he knows why this is the case. First, by stifling competition from makers of more healthful alternatives, junk food manufacturers, who he says “heavily lobb[y]” the federal government for favorable treatment, will rake in ever greater profits. Second, by making it less likely that Americans will consume healthful foods, big pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers stand to gain by selling more “expensive cardiac drugs, stents, and coronary bypass procedures” to those made ill by their diets.

But people are starting to fight back against the FDA’s tactics. “The makers of pomegranate juice, for example, have sued the FTC for censoring their First Amendment right to communicate scientific information to the public,” Faloon reports. Congress is also getting into the act with a bill, the Free Speech About Science Act (H.R. 1364), that, Faloon writes, “protects basic free speech rights, ends censorship of science, and enables the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings with the public.”

Of course, if the Constitution were being followed as intended, none of this would be necessary. The FDA would not exist; but if it did, as a creation of Congress it would have no power to censor any speech whatsoever. If companies are making false claims about their products, the market will quickly punish them for it, and genuine fraud can be handled through the courts. In the absence of a government agency supposedly guaranteeing the safety of their food and drugs and the truthfulness of producers’ claims, consumers would become more discerning, as indeed they already are becoming despite the FDA’s attempts to prevent the dissemination of scientific research. Besides, as Faloon observed, “If anyone still thinks that federal agencies like the FDA protect the public, this proclamation that healthy foods are illegal drugs exposes the government’s sordid charade.”

Source: The New American – Like The New American on facebook

from:    http://www.realfarmacy.com/walnuts-are-drugs-says-fda/

Freedom of Speech, Psychics, Lies, and Entertainment

Fortunetelling Verdict Raises Thorny Questions

Analysis by Benjamin Radford
Tue Jul 17, 2012

Psychicblog
Last week a federal judge in Alexandria, Louisiana, overturned a law banning fortunetelling on the basis that it is free speech protected by the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Dee Drell struck down an ordinance outlawing fortunetelling, astrology, palm reading, tarot, and other forms of divination on the grounds that the practices are fraudulent and inherently deceptive. The case involved a fortuneteller named Rachel Adams who sued to overturn the law and won.

About one in seven Americans have consulted a psychic or fortuneteller, and their services are in high demand, especially during hard economic times. This curious case raises issues about the boundary between freedom of speech and fraudulent (or at least unproven) claims.

There are, of course, exceptions to free speech that go beyond yelling fire in a crowded theater. People who lie on their tax returns can be convicted of tax evasion, and those who lie in a court of law can be convicted of perjury, which under federal law is a felony. Companies, also, are legally prohibited from making false statements about their merchandise; Ford cannot claim its cars get 200 miles per gallon, and vitamin manufacturers cannot advertise that their pills cure cancer. But other cases are murkier.

Free Speech and The Right to Lie

Last month the Supreme Court ruled that Xavier Alvarez, a public official who falsely claimed that he had received the Medal of Honor, could not be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act, a 2006 law that made it a crime to falsely claim “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” Alvarez admitted that his statements were false, but claimed that his lies were free speech protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court agreed and overturned the law.

 

The First Amendment freedom to lie and misrepresent matters of fact was even invoked by top Wall Street credit rating companies including Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service, and others. In the months and years leading up to the global financial crash, these companies routinely inflated the ratings of billions of dollars worth of investments they bought and sold. When investors and investigators demanded to know why companies that were given stellar confidence ratings one day went bankrupt the next, the agencies claimed that their investment ratings were merely “opinions” not necessarily based on truth or fact, and as such were protected by the First Amendment.

Psychics and fortunetellers try a similar strategy, often offering their services “for entertainment only,” a tacit acknowledgement that the information they provide may not be reliable. Yet the fact is that—like clients of credit rating companies—the clients of psychics often do take the advice they get seriously, making life, love, and career decisions based upon fortunetelling. If clients truly are seeking only entertainment, for the $40 to $100 per hour psychics typically charge there are far cheaper ways to be entertained.

Some fortunetellers offer readings for fun and pleasure, and for the most part it’s not palm reading per se that police are concerned about, it’s the confidence schemes, theft by deception, and fraud that often accompany fortunetelling. One common scam involves luring clients in with inexpensive readings, then convincing them that a recent misfortune is the result of a curse put on them by an enemy. The imaginary curse can be lifted but it won’t come cheap, and some victims have been robbed of tens of thousands of dollars. In one recent case a “psychic” misused the influence and trust placed in him to sexually exploit several women.

How Stuff Works: Pet Psychics

The issue of fortunetelling is a tricky legal and ethical area. Although psychic powers and prediction have never been proven to exist (and indeed have failed in well-controlled scientific tests), psychics themselves often genuinely believe in their powers. Other professions can at least provide concrete proof of ability: a mechanic can prove to clients he can fix a transmission by doing it; a doctor can prove to patients she can perform heart surgery by being certified (and doing it). Psychics, on the other hand, cannot prove they can accurately predict the future; if they could, they should be making a killing on Wall Street or in highly-paid positions protecting national security.

Is it ethical to accept money for a service you cannot scientifically prove you can provide, even if you believe you can? How is that different than a lawyer who takes on a case knowing she can’t win (but pretending she can), and gets paid either way? Perjury and fraud only make it a crime to knowingly lie or misrepresent matters of fact, and fortunetellers—like Wall Street credit rating firms—can always say that their claim to psychic abilities is their (Constitutionally protected) opinion. Caveat emptor.

Photo Credit: Corbis

from:    http://news.discovery.com/human/fortunetelling-free-speech-120717.html

Holding Up for the First Amendment

Naomi Wolf

Bestselling Author, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

The First Amendment and the Obligation to Peacefully Disrupt in a Free Society

Posted: 10/22/11 04:03 PM ET

Mayor Bloomberg is planning Draconian new measures to crack down on what he calls the “disruption” caused by the protesters at Zuccotti Park, and he is citing neighbors’ complaints about noise and mess. This set of talking points, and this strategy, is being geared up as well by administrations of municipalities around the nation in response to the endurance and growing influence of the Occupation protest sites. But the idea that any administration has the unmediated option of “striking a balance,” in Bloomberg’s words, that it likes, and closing down peaceful and lawful disruption of business as usual as it sees fit is a grave misunderstanding — or, more likely, deliberate misrepresentation — of our legal social contract as American citizens.

Some kinds of disruption in a free republic are not “optional extras” if the First Amendment governs the land, as it does ours, and are certainly not subject to the whims of mayors or local police, or even DHS. Just as protesters don’t have a blanket right to do everything they want, there is absolutely no blanket right of mayors or even of other citizens to be free from the effect of certain kinds of disruption resulting from their fellow citizens exercising First Amendment rights. That notion, presented right now by Bloomberg and other vested interests, of a “disruption-free” social contract is pure invention — just like the flat-out fabrication of the nonexistent permit cited in my own detention outside the Huffington Post Game Changers event this last Tuesday, when police told me, without the event organizers’ knowledge and contrary to their intentions, that a private entity had “control of the sidewalks” for several hours. (In fact, the permit in question — a red carpet event permit! — actually guarantees citizens’ rights to walk and even engage in political assembly on the streets if they do not block pedestrian traffic, as the OWS protesters were not.)

I want to address the issue of “disruption,” as Bloomberg is sending this issue out as a talking point brought up on Keith Olbermann’s Coundown last night: the neighbors around Zuccotti Square, says Bloomberg, are feeling “disrupted” by the noise and visitors to the OWS protest, so he is going to crack down to “strike a balance” to address their complaints. Other OWS organizers have let me know that the Parks Department and various municipalities are trying to find a way to eject other protesters from public space on a similar basis of argument.

Please, citizens of America — please, OWS — do not buy into this rhetorical framework: an absolute “right to be free of disruption” from First Amendment activity does not exist in a free republic. But the right to engage in peaceable disruption does exist.

Citizens who live or work near protest sites or marches have every right to be free of violence from protesters and they should never be subjected to destruction of property. This is why I am always saying to OWS and to anyone who wants to assemble: be PEACEFUL PEACEFUL PEACEFUL. Be respectful to police, do not yell at them; sing, don’t chant; be civil to pedestrians and shop owners; don’t escalate tensions; try to sit when there is tension rather than confront physically; be dignified and be nonviolent.

But the First Amendment means that it actually is not up to the mayor or the police of any municipality, or to the Parks Department, or to any local municipality to prohibit public assembly if the assembly is peaceful but disruptive in many ways.

Peaceful, lawful protest — if it is effective — IS innately disruptive of “business as usual.” That is WHY it is effective.

The Soviet Union was brought down by peaceful mass protest that blocked the streets and filled public squares. Many white residents of Birmingham Alabama in the 1960s would have said it was very disruptive to have all these African Americans marching through Birmingham or protesting the murder of children in churches. The addresses by Dr. King on the Mall were disruptive of the daily life of D.C. King himself marched without permits when permits were unlawfully applied. It is disruptive to sit at a whites-only counter and refuse to move and be covered with soda and pelted with debris and dragged off by police. It disrupted the Birmingham bus system for African Americans in the Civil Rights movement to organize a bus boycott. It is disruptive when people refuse to sit at the back of the bus.

When Bonus Marches — thousands of unemployed and desperate former veterans who had been promised and denied their bonus checks in the Depression, which they needed to feed their families — camped out for months on the Mall in D.C. and sat daily (when this was possible) on the steps of Congress, they won, eventually, because of the disruption. Some of the power of real protest, which is peaceful and patient and civil but disruptive, comes from the emotional power of the human face-to-face: all those Congresspeople had to look those hungry men in the eyes on their way to legislate the decision about the bonus.

Most of us need to remember, or learn for the first time (since this information is usually concealed from us) that the First Amendment, and the Constitution in general, supersedes all the laws of municipalities in violation of the constitution, as stated in the 1925 Gitlow v. New York ruling. So the First Amendment supersedes the restrictive permit laws now being invoked against protesters. The First Amendment was designed to allow for disruption of business as usual. It is not a quiet and subdued amendment or right.

Indeed, our nation’s founding was a series of rowdy and intense protests, disrupting business as usual for tax collectors and mercenaries up and down the eastern seaboard. Even after the establishment of the new nation massive, highly disruptive protests of various laws, Congressional actions, and even of foreign policy were absolutely standard expressions of political speech, and whether they liked the opinions expressed or not, these protests were spoken of by Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Washington and others — some of whom themselves were the subjects of these protests — as part of the system they had set in place working, and the obligation of American citizens.

Dr. King, when asked about disruption, said that the disruption caused by peaceful protest is good and healthy in a society, because it is the result of festering problems that need to be addressed and that are buried being brought into light to be dealt with constructively.

But I would want to remind OWS, and any protesting group, that peaceful and dignified disruption of business as usual is very different from violence, anarchy or rioting, which must always be avoided. This is why I keep telling OWS and others: be peacefulDon’t march in a militaristic way. Don’t cover your faces or let anyone with you cover their faces. Bring old people. Bring kids. Bring instruments, form bands of musicians and singers. Don’t fight. Don’t destroy property.

If neighbors complain about mess, bring brooms (as the Egyptians did) and clean up, not just the park but the whole neighborhood. Bake cookies FOR the neighbors. Be the good examples of civil society that you want to spread. Bring whole families (good job with that family sleepover in Zuccotti Park last night). I would go further: emulate the Civil Rights movement and wear your Sunday best at key times when you protest. Wear suits and dresses when it is practical, or wear red, white and blue when conditions are rougher. Bring American flags. Bring the Constitution. Don’t give the narrators any excuse to marginalize you because of the visuals or because of any individuals’ erratic or anarchic behavior.

to read more, go TO:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/occupy-wall-street-bloomberg-free-speech-right-to-disruption-_b_1026535.html