The United States has a passion for pills, being the world’s biggest users of psychotropic drugs, consuming 60 per cent of them. And pharmaceutical firms are keen to keep cashing in on the multibillion-dollar market, even if it costs people’s health.
America is regarded as a country with a prodigious appetite for consumption. Today, a widespread fondness for pharmaceuticals has turned the US into a nation of pill-poppers.
With over $14 billion in annual sales, antipsychotics remain the top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the US.
Dr. Harriet Fraad believes Big Pharma has manufactured a climate of insanity by manipulating and even creating illness for capital gain.
“One of the things that drives Big Pharma is to find a diagnosis that is very vague, so that everybody can fall into that,” she told RT. “Everybody is sad sometimes. There are good reasons. The point is to market pharmaceuticals. And the advertising strategy is to have vague diagnosis and then find wiggle room so that they apply to everyone.”
The US is the only Western country that allows direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. For example, an ad for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder warns that untreated patients will likely end up divorced. Another commercial promises to make you happier, but side-effects may include dry mouth, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, diarrhea, nausea and sleepiness.”
Critics also say Big Pharma uses its financial muscle to ply doctors with gifts, cash kick-backs and research funding in exchange for endorsing or prescribing the latest and most lucrative drugs.
Harriet Fraad says there is a whole network of doctors hustling these drugs.
“If a patient comes in with a knee injury and says, ‘I’m so sad.’ Oh, are you depressed? Hey write a prescription! They’re given out like M&Ms.”
Last year, prescription drug abuse became the number one cause of accidental death, with more than 30,000 Americans overdosing.
For instance, Seroquel, medication for bi-polar disorder, generated $4.4 billion in sales last year.Listing all its side-effects requires 49 seconds of air-time.
The number of children consuming antipsychotic medication has doubled in the past decade. Millions of American adolescents are taking drugs like Adderall, doled out by doctors to treat hyperactivity.
Author of Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic, psychologist Bruce Levine, told RT that, “All these drugs are very similar to illicit or illegal drugs, except they’re more dangerous. Marijuana is a little safer. But kids have no choice.”
Pfizer, America’s most profitable multinational pharmaceutical company makes anti-depressants not only for people, but also for animals. In 2009, the pharmaceutical giant paid $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations over illegally marketing one of its drugs. It was the largest healthcare fraud settlement and criminal fine in US history.That being said, the fine amounted to less than three weeks of Pfizer’s drug sales.
“The money is so huge that the fines are immaterial. They’re not thinking about the social effects of what they’re doing. They’re thinking about the profits they accrue,” says psychotherapist Harriet Fraad.
The pharmaceutical industry remains the most profitable business in the US. More success and financial gain for the companies will always remain possible as long as more Americans are encouraged to take drugs.
An influential US senator will face federal corruption charges, concluding a two-year investigation into Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), which has scrutinized a Florida eye doctor, underage prostitutes and accusations against the Cuban government.
Department of Justice prosecutors accuse Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey and the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, used his powerful position to advance the business interests of Dr. Salomon Melgen, a close friend and financial benefactor, in exchange for gifts, several media outlets reported Friday afternoon. Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on the requested charges, according to CNN.
The senator has consistently denied wrongdoing since the investigation became public in 2013.
“As we have said before, we believe all of Senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that,” Menendez spokesperson Tricia Enright said in a statement Friday. “Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.”
The investigation began in the fall of 2012, when Menendez was running for reelection. A scandal erupted days before the vote, when he was accused of “inappropriate sexual activities with young prostitutes” on a 2010 trip to the Dominican Republic. Conservative news site the Daily Caller broke the story after GOP political operatives set up several Skype interviews with several women in the Dominican Republic who claimed the senator had paid them for sex.
According to the anonymous tip that launched the probe, Melgen provided the underage women, as well as free flights on his private plane, the Washington Post reported. The women later recanted their stories about meeting Menendez on the 2010 trip.
The New Jersey lawmaker vehemently denied that he employed any sex workers in the Dominican, and accused the Cuban government of hatching a plot to derail his political career; as the son of Cuban immigrants, he is one of several key Latinos in Congress aligned against any relaxation of the embargo on the island-nation.
Despite the women changing their stories, the FBI continued to investigate Menendez’s relationship with the Florida opthamologist.
The investigation began to focus on whether the senator intervened on Melgen’s behalf, asking Medicare to change its reimbursement policies that benefited the eye doctor to the tune of $8.9 million, money that he has since repaid, according to Politico.
Melgen was accused of overbilling the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for his reimbursement for the drug Lucentis, a costly medication used to treat macular degeneration. During the billing dispute ‒ in 2009 and in 2012 ‒ Menendez urged the government agency to change its policy, which he said he considered to be unfair, the New York Times reported.
”The bottom line is, we raised concerns with CMS over policy and over ambiguities that are difficult for medical providers to understand and to seek a clarification of that and to make sure, in doing so, providers would understand how to attain themselves,” Menendez told the Associated Press in 2013.
In 2013, Menendez paid Melgen back $58,000 in return for the 2010 plane trips, and called his failure to disclose the flights ‒ as required by federal ethics laws ‒ an “oversight.” Along with the flights, the Florida doctor donated heavily to the senator’s campaign coffers, including $700,000 to a Democratic super PAC (political action committee) that spent heavily on Menendez’s 2012 reelection bid.
Prosecutors are also looking into whether the senator illegally advocated for Melgen in the Dominican Republic, where the opthamologist had a government contract for port screening equipment, CNN reported. When the US government was considering donating similar technology to the Caribbean nation, Menendez told both the State Department and the Commerce Department that the Dominican government was trying to get out of a contract with an unnamed American company that authorities there “[didn’t] want to live by.”
Melgen’s relationship with the senator isn’t the only one that might be mentioned in the government’s corruption charges against Menendez. The FBI also investigated his ties to the Isaias family. Brothers Roberto and William were banking magnates in Ecuador when they fled to the US after they were accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars from the country’s largest bank before it collapsed, Politico reported. The New Jersey lawmaker is accused of illegally helping the brothers gain permanent residency while fighting their extradition cases, according to CNN. Menendez also assisted Roberto’s daughter Estefania with visa problems.
The Isaias family donated $10,000 to Menendez’s 2012 Senate campaign and more than $100,000 to the Democratic Party. The senator served as the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ‒ the party’s chief fundraiser for upper chamber candidates ‒ from 2009 to 2011.
If Menendez is unable to remain in office due to the corruption charges, it is unclear who might replace him, the Washington Post reported. New Jersey Democrats are focusing on winning the governorship when current Gov. Chris Christie (R) leaves office in 2017, and members of the state’s delegation in the House are not likely to run for the Senate seat.
Hillary Clinton announced in a Tweet that she wants her former employer, the Department of State, to review her emails with an eye toward releasing them. Here, she said it herself, on The Official Twitter:
I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
So accepting the fact that it took Clinton almost three full days’ worth of controversy to get around to saying even that, that’s it, right? Problem solved? Maybe not.
Who Will End Up Holding the Bag?
The key part of what Clinton no doubt feels is some pretty slick sleight of hand is that State only has in its possession some fraction of all of her emails sent while Secretary of State. The emails State does have were hand-picked by Clinton, curated by her staff, from the total.
Clinton, alone in the entire U.S. government, has left herself in the unique position of being the only one to determine what records the American people are entitled to see. Her basis for her decisions? Trust me.
Even at that, she now throws State under the bus, thinking anytime between now and inauguration day anybody asks about a missing email or ten, Clinton will just “refer them” back to State, who of course decided what to withhold from what Clinton personally chose not to withhold. Clinton no doubt thinks herself clever with this bit of political jujitsu, turning the State Department into her campaign spokesperson. But putting the burden on State is a red herring; this isn’t really the State Department’s dog.
Her attempt to use the White House this week in the same capacity has only returned mediocre results. The Counsel’s office there claimed it had no knowledge of Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email system, and quickly mentioned once it found out that it had directed the State Department to make sure all appropriate rules were followed (CYA.) They also made clear that the administration gave “very specific guidance” that employees should use official accounts when conducting government business.
Obama’s spokesman was careful to note “There was not an Obama administration official that was responsible for reviewing those emails.”
While trying to avoid doing political damage to Clinton, the White House has put the onus on her aides to explain exactly what happened. If there is gonna be a bag of sh*t to hold at some point, the White House does not want to get stuck with it.
State, ever the lap dog to the rich and famous, is ready to do its part in dragging its feet. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh Thursday that his department “will undertake this task as rapidly as possible in order to make sure that we are dealing with the sheer volume in a responsible way.” State spokeswoman Marie Harf warned that the review could “take some time to complete” while other officials indicated it could take months. And, surprise! State’s current review personnel are already overwhelmed with nearly 11,000 other pending requests, which for complex cases can take an average of more than 18 months to complete.
Maybe first-come, first-serve will get the Clinton emails reviewed at least in time for her second term.
Perhaps State will want to turn its attention to previous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. More than 75 separate requests for her emails were filed with the State Department between 2009 and 2013 by media organizations and other parties. Associated Press requests for Clinton emails and other documents have been delayed for more than a year — and in one case, four years — without any results. All “answered” FOIA requests were told that the State Department did not have any emails from Clinton to consider releasing, sort of true in that State had no Clinton emails on file; they were all held on her private server. The AP says it is considering legal action against the department to compel responses.
And that all leads deep into another can of worms. FOIA requests are strictly limited to U.S. government documents. You cannot FOIA Michelle Obama’s personal NetFlix viewing list. A very tricky legal question arises about whose emails those are on Clinton’s private mail server. Google and other tech companies have regularly won legal challenges to say that the Gmail you send actually belongs to Google, not you. It resides on their server, after all. Much of the NSA’s quasi-legal ability to gobble up your emails rests on the same premise, as they request “your” email not from you but your internet service provider. Requests for Clinton emails not turned over to State could be refused based on the fact that they are her private property.
The Trouble with Republicans
Meanwhile, Clinton’s troubles with the Republicans are just starting.
The Republican National Committee on Thursday asked the Inspector General of the State Department to investigate Clinton’s use of personal email to conduct government business. RNC Chief Counsel John Phillippe wrote in a letter that the investigation should focus on whether Clinton violated department policies or caused the department to violate the requirement to archive emails. Such inspections can take a long time, but in this case, those delays could easily help keep the email issue alive well into the 2016 campaign, and the Republicans know it. The Inspector General should also look into where State Department management and security were sleeping while all this email fun transpired. One can speculate that if a mid level employee proposed to do all his official work off a personal email server they would have had something to say about that.
The House committee investigating Benghazi also just got a new lease on life. The committee announced Wednesday it has issued a subpoena to Clinton for all of her communications relating to Libya, including emails from her personal server, texts, attachments and pictures. New emails mean new hearings, new questions for Clinton, new demands for in-person testimony and new accusations of information being withheld or scrubbed. This clearly will keep the red-meat-to-the-base Benghazi issue alive well into the 2016 campaign, even if nothing substantive emerges. And if it does…
Clinton, in her own sense of transparency, has issued only the Tweet (above) as her sole public response to all this. Her spokesperson disingenuously claimed Clinton had complied with both the letter and the spirit of the law, a tough one to swallow even for a group of supporters used to swallowing.
Clinton has announced in advance that she will take no questions at her next scheduled public appearance, somewhat ironically the March 23 ceremony celebrating the winner of the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.
But here are a few very simple questions we’d like Clinton to answer:
– Why did you alone in the State Department not use official email and only use private email run off a private server?
– Why didn’t you turn over your full set of emails to State for review?
– Why did you wait until your private server was disclosed publicly to turn over even the subset of emails you did? Why didn’t you turn them over during your tenure as Secretary?
– As president of the United States, will you encourage or condone your Cabinet level officials employing personal email servers in lieu of U.S. government systems?
– Is the way you handled your email at State and now in the aftermath indicative of your approach to public service?
That’ll be a good start.
So the whole Hillary Clinton email story is getting worse and worse for Clinton. We already noted that there was no way she couldn’t have known that she had to use government email systems for government work, as there was a big scandal from the previous administration using private emails and within the early Obama administration as well. This morning we discovered that Clinton also gave clintonemail.com email addresses to staffers, which undermines the argument made by Hillary’s spokesperson that it was okay for her to use her own email address because any emails with staffers would still be archived by the State Department thanks to their use of state.gov emails. But that’s clearly not the case when she’s just emailing others with the private email addresses.
As we noted yesterday, there are two separate key issues here, neither of which look good for Clinton. First, is the security question. There’s no question at all that as Secretary of State she dealt with all sorts of important, confidential and classified information. Doing that on your own email server seems like a pretty big target for foreign intelligence. In fact, Gawker points out, correctly, that Hillary’s private email address was actually revealed a few years ago when the hacker “Guccifer” revealed the inbox of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. So it was known years ago that Clinton used a private email account, and you have to think it was targeted.
Anonymous State Department “cybersecurity” officials are apparently shoving each other aside to leak to the press that they warned Clinton that what she was doing was dangerous, but couldn’t convince her staff to do otherwise:
“We tried,” an unnamed current employee told Al Jazeera. “We told people in her office that it wasn’t a good idea. They were so uninterested that I doubt the secretary was ever informed.”
The AP has a somewhat weird and slightly confused article detailing the setup of the email system, but seems to imply things that aren’t clearly true.
It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.
The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate email server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Mrs. Clinton’s email server. The former president’s full name is William Jefferson Clinton.
While Eric Hoteham may be a mysterious non-entity, as Julian Sanchez points out, an early Clinton staffer was named Eric Hothem. Of course, Stanford cybersecurity guru Jonthan Mayer also notes that Hillary’s old home server is still online and running Windows Server 2008 R2.
However, the AP reports that the email has moved around a bit over the past few years:
In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. It was one of the first instances of a major American corporation openly accusing a foreign government of hacking.
Then, in July 2013, five months after she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton’s private email server was reconfigured again to use a Denver-based commercial email provider, MX Logic, which is now owned by McAfee Inc., a top Internet security company.
That likely means the email was much more secure after July of 2013, but it certainly raises questions about how secure it was for years before that.
Though, we do know that it was secure from one thing: FOIA requests. That is the second of the two big issues raised by this whole thing. By using her own email setup, she was clearly able to hide important documents from FOIA requests. In fact, as Gawker notes, her staff’s defense of the use of her private email, actually now confirms emails as legit that the State Department denied existed back when Gawker made a FOIA request years ago.
That’s because following that Guccifer hack, Gawker filed a FOIA for those emails and was told they don’t exist. Yet, now Clinton staffers point to that old Gawker article to suggest that the private email address is “old news,” thus confirming that the emails were legit, even though the State Department denied them.
The Clinton camp’s claims about the email account being above-board is also contradicted by the State Department’s response to Gawker’s inquires two years ago. After we published the story about Blumenthal’s correspondence with Clinton, we filed a FOIA request with the agency for all correspondence to date between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, specifically including any messages to or from the email@example.com account. The screenshots and other documents released by Guccifer—which have now been validated by Clinton’s spokesman—confirmed that such messages existed.
But the State Department replied to our request by saying that, after an extensive search, it could find no records responsive to our request. That is not to say that they found the emails and refused to release them—it is conceivable, after all, that the State Department might have attempted to deny the release of the Clinton-Blumenthal correspondence on grounds of national security or Blumenthal’s own privacy. Instead, the State Department confirmed that it didn’t have the emails at all.
Which is exactly why Clinton used a non-State Department email server to conduct her official business.
According to the NY Times, the State Department says that it won’t go back to correct the FOIA requests that it responded to in the past, saying that such records didn’t exist. Instead, it will only now search the emails that have been turned over by Clinton’s staff. That is another 50,000 emails, but no one knows what emails the staff removed or refused to turn over.
Either way, there are two huge problems here. Clinton likely exposed her emails to foreign spies, while keeping them away from the American public.
By | February 26, 2015
Despite polls showing overwhelming support for labeling for genetically engineered foods, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed yesterday that consumers should use their smartphones to scan bar codes on food packages to find out whether their food contains GMOs.
Vlisack’s idea is sure to cheer the food industry, while denying Americans the right to know what is in our food.
Why not just enforce our right to know what is in our food? Why does the Obama administration stand up for Big Food and not consumers?
A fancy smart phone and a pricy data plan should not be prerequisites for knowing if your food has been genetically engineered.
In 2007, as a presidential candidate, then-Senator Obama promised mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. He said: “Here’s what I’ll do as president … We’ll let folks know if their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying,” Obama has yet to keep his promise.
In 2001, then-Governor Vilsack was named Governor of the Year for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
A January 24 statement published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe — signed by 300 scientists, physicians and scholars — asserts there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.
Always Film Police
Washington Parish, LA — A man’s 30-second cell phone video has helped to expose an ominously plotted conspiracy within the Louisiana “justice” system.
Two years ago, Douglas Dendinger, 47, accepted an offer of $50 to act as a process server. All he would have to do is hand an envelope containing a lawsuit alleging police brutality to Chad Cassard, a former Bogalusa police officer.
Everything went smoothly. Dendinger handed the envelope off to the former cop in front of a group of police officers and two St. Tammany prosecutors. But then Cassard blew up.
“It was like sticking a stick in a bee’s nest.” Dendinger recalled. “They started cursing me. They threw the summons at me; right at my face, but it fell short. Vulgarities. I just didn’t know what to think. I was a little shocked.”
Although he was shocked, Dendinger was still able to leave and simply drove home.
But things would get worse, much worse.
“Within about 20 minutes, there were these bright lights shining through my windows. It was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I mean I knew immediately, a police car.”
“And that’s when the nightmare started,” he said. “I was arrested.”
According to WWLT,
He was booked with simple battery, along with two felonies: obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness, both of which carry a maximum of 20 years in prison. Because of a prior felony cocaine conviction, Dendinger calculated that he could be hit with 80 years behind bars as a multiple offender.
That kicked off two years of a “living hell,” as Dendinger described it, a period that is now the subject of Dendinger’s federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, attorneys and former St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed.
In a scene described in the lawsuit, Dendinger recounted a nervous night handcuffed to a rail at the Washington Parish Jail. He said he was jeered by officers, including Bogalusa Police Chief Joe Culpepper, who whistled the ominous theme song from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
Dendinger remained optimistic, however, as there were several police officers and the two prosecutors who witnessed the handing off of the envelope. Surely this misunderstanding could be resolved once these public servants testified that nothing happened when Dendinger handed the envelope to Cassard.
Unfortunately for Dendinger, things did not get resolved, instead they got even worse.
The case was given to district attorney Reed who was supported by the two prosecutors at the scene. Both prosecutors, Julie Knight and Leigh Anne Wall, gave statements to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office implicating Dendinger.
Reed presented 7 witness statements, including the two prosecutors, that claimed Dendinger was guilty.
In her statement to deputies, contained in a police report, Knight stated, “We could hear the slap as he hit Cassard’s chest with an envelope of papers…This was done in a manner to threaten and intimidate everyone involved.”
Casssard, in his statement, told deputies, Dendinger “slapped me in the chest.”
Washington Parish court attorney Pamela Legendre said “it made such a noise,” she thought the officer “had been punched.”
Police Chief Culpepper gave a police statement that he witnessed the battery, but in a deposition he said, “I wasn’t out there.” But that didn’t stop Culpepper from characterizing Dendinger’s actions as “violence, force.”
In a deposition taken by Kaplan, one Bogalusa police officer, Lt. Patrick Lyons, said he witnessed a battery that knocked Cassard back several feet.
“I realized even more at that moment: These people are trying to hurt me,” said Dendinger.
And hurt him, they would, except that Dendinger had one critical piece of evidence that would show, without a doubt, that these claims were false.
In order to prove that he had delivered the lawsuit to the former cop, Dendinger asked that his wife and his nephew film the interaction. The two very short and very grainy videos saved Dendinger from spending the rest of his life in prison.
“He’d still be in a world of trouble if he didn’t have that film,” said David Cressy, a friend of Dendinger who once served as a prosecutor under Reed. “It was him against all of them. They took advantage of that and said all sorts of fictitious things happened. And it didn’t happen. It would still be going like that had they not had the film.”
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission and himself a former prosecutor said in regard to the video, “I didn’t see a battery, certainly a battery committed that would warrant criminal charges. And more importantly, the attorney general’s office didn’t see a battery.”
“It’s a felony to falsify a police report. And this is a police report. And this police report was the basis of charging this individual with serious crimes,” Goyeneche said.
The charges against Dendinger were eventually all dropped after the case was referred to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. Dendinger has since retained legal counsel and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Reed, his two prosecutors Wall and Knight, the Bogalusa officers and Washington Parish Sheriff Randy ‘Country’ Seal.
Dendinger said that despite being cleared of all the charges, he’s still very worried about what could happen to him next as he pursues this lawsuit against the ones who tried to lock him up. And he should be worried, as no charges nor punishments have been brought against any of the people involved in this criminal conspiracy to deprive a man of his freedom.
The Cairo Criminal Court overturned prison sentences which had been issued against the Mubarak-era Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy and other petroleum officials on Saturday, clearing them of any criminal charges pertaining to the massive losses incurred in the course of Egypt’s natural gas exports to Israel.
Fahmy had been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2012 on charges of misappropriation and squandering public funds. The court had also ruled that he should be dismissed from all his professional duties. Mubarak’s associate, the fugitive business tycoon Hussein Salem, had also been sentenced to 15 years in absentia on the same charges. Three of their co-defendants had also been issued prison sentences ranging from three years to 15 years imprisonment.
According to state-owned media outlets and news agencies, Saturday’s court-ordered acquittals did not include Hussein Salem.
Fahmy had served as Mubarak’s petroleum minister from 1999 to 2011. He was also a member of Mubarak’s then-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), as well as a member of the NDP’s policy secretariat.
During his tenure as petroleum minister, Fahmy had overseen the sale and export of natural gas to Israel since 2005. The sale of its natural gas to Israel for well below its market value meant that Egypt was incurring hefty losses, along with dwindling national supplies, in the course of this gas export deal.
While the exact extent of losses through this deal are not known, it is estimated that Egypt accumulated several hundred million dollars worth of losses in the six years that it exported its gas to Israel, and perhaps several billions more in light of other sub-market priced deals with Spain and Jordan.
Following dwindling national supplies, and repeated attacks on its natural gas pipeline to Israel, Egypt halted its gas exports to Israel in 2012.
With its subsequent chronic shortage of natural gas supplies, Egypt has recently been considering and discussing the import of natural gas from Algeria, Russia, Cyprus, and potentially even Israel.
Ukraine’s new Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who has become the face of reform for the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and will be a key figure handling billions of dollars in Western financial aid, was at the center of insider deals and other questionable activities when she ran a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund.
Prior to taking Ukrainian citizenship and becoming Finance Minister last December, Jaresko was a former U.S. diplomat who served as chief executive officer of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), which was created by Congress in the 1990s and overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. AID) to help jumpstart an investment economy in Ukraine.
But Jaresko, who was limited to making $150,000 a year at WNISEF under the U.S. AID grant agreement, managed to earn more than that amount, reporting in 2004 that she was paid $383,259 along with $67,415 in expenses, according to WNISEF’s public filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
Later, Jaresko’s compensation was removed from public disclosure altogether after she co-founded two entities in 2006: Horizon Capital Associates (HCA) to manage WNISEF’s investments (and collect around $1 million a year in fees) and Emerging Europe Growth Fund (EEGF) to collaborate with WNISEF on investment deals.
Jaresko formed HCA and EEGF with two other WNISEF officers, Mark Iwashko and Lenna Koszarny. They also started a third firm, Horizon Capital Advisors, which “serves as a sub-advisor to the Investment Manager, HCA,” according to WNISEF’s IRS filing for 2006.
U.S. AID apparently found nothing suspicious about these tangled business relationships – and even allowed WNISEF to spend millions of dollars helping EEGF become a follow-on private investment firm – despite the potential conflicts of interest involving Jaresko, the other WNISEF officers and their affiliated companies.
For instance, WNISEF’s 2012 annual report devoted two pages to “related party transactions,” including the management fees to Jaresko’s Horizon Capital ($1,037,603 in 2011 and $1,023,689 in 2012) and WNISEF’s co-investments in projects with the EEGF, where Jaresko was founding partner and chief executive officer. Jaresko’s Horizon Capital managed the investments of both WNISEF and EEGF.
From 2007 to 2011, WNISEF co-invested $4.25 million with EEGF in Kerameya LLC, a Ukrainian brick manufacturer, and WNISEF sold EEGF 15.63 percent of Moldova’s Fincombank for $5 million, the report said. It also listed extensive exchanges of personnel and equipment between WNISEF and Horizon Capital. But it’s difficult for an outsider to ascertain the relative merits of these insider deals and the transactions apparently raised no red flags for U.S. AID officials.
Bonuses for Officers
Regarding compensation, WNISEF’s 2013 filing with the IRS noted that the fund’s officers collected millions of dollars in bonuses for closing out some investments at a profit even as the overall fund was losing money. According to the filing, WNISEF’s $150 million nest egg had shrunk by more than one-third to $94.5 million and likely has declined much more during the economic chaos that followed the U.S.-back coup in February 2014.
But prior to the coup and the resulting civil war, Jaresko’s WNISEF was generously spreading money around. For instance, the 2013 IRS filing reported that the taxpayer-financed fund paid out as “expenses” $7.7 million under a bonus program, including $4.6 million to “current officers,” without identifying who received the money.
The filing made the point that the “long-term equity incentive plan” was “not compensation from Government Grant funds but a separately USAID-approved incentive plan funded from investment sales proceeds” – although those proceeds presumably would have gone into the depleted WNISEF pool if they had not been paid out as bonuses.
The filing also said the bonuses were paid regardless of whether the overall fund was making money, noting that this “compensation was not contingent on revenues or net earnings, but rather on a profitable exit of a portfolio company that exceeds the baseline value set by the board of directors and approved by USAID” – with Jaresko also serving as a director on the board responsible for setting those baseline values.
Another WNISEF director was Jeffrey C. Neal, former chairman of Merrill Lynch’s global investment banking and a co-founder of Horizon Capital, further suggesting how potentially incestuous these relationships may have become.
Though compensation for Jaresko and other officers was shifted outside public view after 2006 – as their pay was moved to the affiliated entities – the 2006 IRS filing says: “It should be noted that as long as HCA earns a management fee from WNISEF, HCA and HCAD [the two Horizon Capital entities] must ensure that a salary cap of $150,000 is adhered to for the proportion of salary attributable to WNISEF funds managed relative to aggregate funds under management.”
But that language would seem to permit compensation well above $150,000 if it could be tied to other managed funds, including EEGF, or come from the incentive program. Such compensation for Jaresko and the other top officers was not reported on later IRS forms despite a line for earnings from “related organizations.” Apparently, Horizon Capital and EEGF were regarded as “unrelated organizations” for the purposes of reporting compensation.
Neither AID officials nor Jaresko responded to specific questions about WNISEF’s possible conflicts of interest, how much money Jaresko made from her involvement with WNISEF and its connected companies, and whether she had fully complied with IRS reporting requirements.
Despite such ethical questions, Jaresko was cited by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman as an exemplar of the new Ukrainian leaders who “share our values” and deserve unqualified American support. Friedman uncritically quoted Jaresko’s speech to international financial leaders at Davos, Switzerland, in which she castigated Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“Putin fears a Ukraine that demands to live and wants to live and insists on living on European values — with a robust civil society and freedom of speech and religion [and] with a system of values the Ukrainian people have chosen and laid down their lives for.”
However, Jaresko has shown little regard for transparency or other democratic values, such as the right of free speech when it comes to someone questioning her financial dealings. For instance, she has gone to great lengths to block her ex-husband Ihor Figlus from exposing what he regards as her questionable business ethics.
In 2012, when Figlus tried to blow the whistle on what he saw as improper loans that Jaresko had taken from Horizon Capital Associates to buy and expand her stake in EEGF, the privately held follow-on fund to WNISEF, Jaresko sent her lawyers to court to silence him and, according to his lawyer, bankrupt him.
The filings in Delaware’s Chancery Court are remarkable not only because Jaresko succeeded in getting the Court to gag her ex-husband through enforcement of a non-disclosure agreement but the Court agreed to redact nearly all the business details, even the confidentiality language at the center of the case.
Since Figlus had given some of his information to a Ukrainian journalist, the court complaint also had the look of a leak investigation, tracking down Figlus’s contacts with the journalist and then using that evidence to secure the restraining order, which Figlus said not only prevented him from discussing business secrets but even talking about his more general concerns about Jaresko’s insider dealings.
The heavy redactions make it hard to fully understand Figlus’s concerns or to assess the size of Jaresko’s borrowing as she expanded her holdings in EEGF, but Figlus did assert that he saw his role as whistle-blowing about improper actions by Jaresko.
In a Oct. 31, 2012, filing, Figlus’s attorney wrote that “At all relevant times, Defendant [Figlus] acted in good faith and with justification, on matters of public interest, and particularly the inequitable conduct set forth herein where such inequitable conduct adversely affects … at least one other limited partner which is REDACTED, and specifically the inequitable conduct included, in addition to the other conduct cited herein, REDACTED.”
The filing added: “The Plaintiffs’ [Jaresko’s and her EEGF partners’] claims are barred, in whole or in part, by public policy, and particularly that a court in equity should not enjoin ‘whistle-blowing’ activities on matters of public interest, and particularly the inequitable conduct set forth herein.” But the details of that conduct were all redacted.
In a defense brief dated Dec. 17, 2012 [see Part One and Part Two], Figlus expanded on his argument that Jaresko’s attempts to have the court gag him amounted to a violation of his constitutional right of free speech:
“The obvious problem with the scope of their Motion is that Plaintiffs are asking the Court to enter an Order that prohibits Defendant Figlus from exercising his freedom of speech without even attempting to provide the Court with any Constitutional support or underpinning for such impairment of Figlus’ rights.
“Plaintiffs cannot do so, because such silencing of speech is Constitutionally impermissible, and would constitute a denial of basic principles of the Bill of Rights in both the United States and Delaware Constitutions. There can be no question that Plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction, which constitutes a prior restraint on speech. …
“The Court cannot, consistent with the Federal and State Constitutional guarantees of free speech, enjoin speech except in the most exceptional circumstances, and certainly not when Plaintiffs are seeking to prevent speech that is not even covered by the very contractual provision upon which they are relying.
“Moreover, the Court cannot prevent speech where the matter has at least some public interest REDACTED, except as limited to the very specific and exact language of the speaker’s contractual obligation.”
Figlus also provided a narrative of events as he saw them as a limited partner in EEGF, saying he initially “believed everything she [Jaresko] was doing, you know, was proper.” Later, however, Figlus “learned that Jaresko began borrowing money from HCA REDACTED, but again relied on his spouse, and did not pay attention to the actual financial transactions…
“In early 2010, after Jaresko separated from Figlus, she presented Figlus with, and requested that he execute, a ‘Security Agreement,’ pledging the couple’s partnership interest to the repayment of the loans from HCA. This was Figlus first realization of the amount of loans that Jaresko had taken, and that the partnership interest was being funded through this means. … By late 2011, Jaresko had borrowed approximately REDACTED from HCA to both fund the partnership interest REDACTED. The loans were collateralized only by the EEFG partnership interest. …
“Figlus became increasingly concerned about the partnership and the loans that had been and continued to be given to the insiders to pay for their partnership interests, while excluding other limited partners. Although Figlus was not sophisticated in these matters, he considered that it was inappropriate that HCA was giving loans to insiders to fund their partnership interests, but to no other partners. …
“He talked to an individual at U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington D.C., because the agency was effectively involved as a limited partner because of the agency’s funding and supervision over WNISEF, but the agency employee did not appear interested in pursuing the question.”
A Spousal Dispute
Meanwhile, Jaresko’s lawyers mocked Figlus’s claims that he was acting as a whistle-blower, claiming that he was actually motivated by a desire “to harm his ex-wife” and had violated the terms of his non-disclosure agreement, which the lawyers convinced the court to exclude from the public record.
The plaintiffs’ brief [see Part One and Part Two] traces Figlus’s contacts with the Ukrainian reporter whose name is also redacted:
“Figlus, having previously received an audit from the General Partner, provided it to REDACTED [the Ukrainian reporter] with full knowledge that the audit was non-public. Also on or about October 2, 2012, REDACTED [the reporter] contacted multiple Limited Partners, informed them that he possessed ‘documented proof’ of alleged impropriety by the General Partner and requested interviews concerning that alleged impropriety.”
The filing noted that on Oct. 3, 2012, the reporter told Figlus that Jaresko “called two REDACTED [his newspaper’s] editors last night crying, not me, for some reason.” (The Ukrainian story was never published.)
After the competing filings, Jaresko’s lawyers successfully secured a restraining order against Figlus from the Delaware Chancery Court and are continuing to pursue the case against him though his lawyer has asserted that his client will make no further effort to expose these financial dealings and is essentially broke.
On May 14, 2014, Figlus filed a complaint with the court claiming that he was being denied distributions from his joint interest in EEGF and saying he was told that it was because the holding was pledged as security against the loans taken out by Jaresko.
But, on the same day, Jaresko’s lawyer, Richard P. Rollo, contradicted that assertion, saying information about Figlus’s distributions was being withheld because EEGF and Horizon Capital “faced significant business interruptions and difficulties given the political crisis in Ukraine.”
The filing suggested that the interlocking investments between EEGF and the U.S.-taxpayer-funded WNISEF were experiencing further trouble from the political instability and civil war sweeping across Ukraine. By last December, Jaresko had resigned from her WNISEF-related positions, taken Ukrainian citizenship and started her new job as Ukraine’s Finance Minister.
In an article about Jaresko’s appointment, John Helmer, a longtime foreign correspondent in Russia, disclosed the outlines of the court dispute with Figlus and identified the Ukrainian reporter as Mark Rachkevych of the Kyiv Post.
“It hasn’t been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the US Government with information supplied from their US Government positions or contacts,” Helmer wrote. “It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.”
Earlier this month, when I contacted George Pazuniak, Figlus’s lawyer, about Jaresko’s aggressive enforcement of the non-disclosure agreement, he told me that “at this point, it’s very difficult for me to say very much without having a detrimental effect on my client.” Pazuniak did say, however, that all the redactions were demanded by Jaresko’s lawyers.
I also sent detailed questions to U.S. AID and to Jaresko via several of her associates. Those questions included how much of the $150 million in U.S. taxpayers’ money remained, why Jaresko reported no compensation from “related organizations,” whether she received any of the $4.6 million to WNISEF’s officers in bonuses in 2013, how much money she made in total from her association with WNISEF, what AID officials did in response Figlus’s complaint about possible wrongdoing, and whether Jaresko’s legal campaign to silence her ex-husband was appropriate given her current position and Ukraine’s history of secretive financial dealings.
U.S. AID press officer Annette Y. Aulton got back to me with a response that was unresponsive to my specific questions. Rather than answering about the performance of WNISEF and Jaresko’s compensation, the response commented on the relative success of 10 “Enterprise Funds” that AID has sponsored in Eastern Europe and added:
“There is a twenty year history of oversight of WNISEF operations. Enterprise funds must undergo an annual independent financial audit, submit annual reports to USAID and the IRS, and USAID staff conduct field visits and semi-annual reviews. At the time Horizon Capital assumed management of WNISEF, USAID received disclosures from Natalie Jaresko regarding the change in management structure and at the time USAID found no impropriety during its review.”
One Jaresko associate, Tanya Bega, Horizon Capital’s investor relations manager, said she forwarded my questions to Jaresko last week, but Jaresko did not respond.
Further showing how much Jaresko’s network is penetrating the new Ukrainian government, another associate, Estonian Jaanika Merilo, has been brought on to handle Ukraine’s foreign investments. Merilo’s Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA), which is committed to “representing interests of private equity investors to policymakers and improving the investment and business climate in Ukraine,” included Jaresko’s Horizon Capital as a founder.
In a way, given Jaresko’s background of parlaying U.S. taxpayer’s money into various insider investment deals, perhaps she does have the experience to handle the incoming $17.5 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund.
But the question remains whether Jaresko’s is the right kind of experience – and whether the money will go to help the impoverished people of Ukraine or simply wind up lining the pockets of the well-heeled and the well-connected.
–With research by Chelsea Gilmour
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
ABC Australia Investigative Report on Statin Scam Pulled from YouTube
Dr. MaryAnne Demasi’s documentary on the criminal activity of the pharmaceutical industry regarding cholesterol-lowering statin drugs sent shock waves through the mainstream media in Australia at the end of 2013. Published in two parts on the popular news show The Catalyst, the pharmaceutical industry complained loudly after the first show, and requested the network not air the second episode, “Heart of the Matter Part 2 – Cholesterol Drug War.”
ABC Australia aired it anyway, but the pharmaceutical influence was apparently too strong, as they later announced that the network would remove the videos from their website because “they breached its impartiality standards.” All copies found on YouTube were also removed.
Dr. Michael Eades has published them on his Vimeo channel, however, and you can watch them below.
Heart of the Matter – Part 1
Heart of the Matter Part 2 – Cholesterol Drug War
I started a PhD program in Environmental Engineering because I worried about climate change. It didn’t take long for me to become a skeptic.
My first paper, a study about precipitation intensity over the U.S., was rejected by reviewers because it contradicted the climate model projections. Though they could find nothing wrong with the methodology, they decided observational data must be flawed because climate models couldn’t possibly be wrong and wrote that the paper could not be published.
I then started reading the atmospheric science literature about precipitation trends. It was clear to me that the theory about changes in precipitation intensity were designed to explain climate model results that didn’t mesh with observations. When I found that changes in observed precipitation were largest in autumn, and did not find the same patterns of precipitation in climate models outputs, I really became skeptical about the use of climate models. When I started working with climate models and saw how poorly they reproduce precipitation patterns, I was forced into the realization that the “science” was being fit to the models and that the models were not very realistic. From my perspective, this runs contrary to the scientific method.
After finishing my PhD in Environmental Engineering, I earned a M.S. in Atmospheric Science and started working on a PhD. As I learned more about meteorology and atmospheric dynamics, I started to see the contradictions in the climate change discussion.
I had another paper refused by a high profile journal because it showed that cold air is required to produce the conditions that cause storm surges in the western Canadian arctic. That suggestion really seemed to upset the editor (an engineer) who wouldn’t even send it out for review. My later research has shown the importance of strong jets and cold air in building the blocking ridges that cause the extreme weather we’ve seen over the last two autumns/winters. The claims that are being made that a warming of the arctic will lead to warmer conditions in the mid-latitudes because it will cause more blocking are preposterous because strong jets are needed to support the blocking ridges. I received dozens of letters saying my published paper must be wrong because I suggest that strong jets, not weak jets, cause blocking. Most of the claims being made by climate change advocates appear to run contrary to basic meteorology.
As I’ve been attacked personally and professionally for offering contrary views, I decided to leave the field. I will defend my Atmospheric Science PhD thesis and walk away. It’s become clear to me that it is not possible to undertake independent research in any area that touches upon climate change if you have to make your living as a professional scientist on government grant money or have to rely on getting tenure at a university. The massive group think that I have encountered on this topic has cost me my career, many colleagues and has damaged my reputation among the few people I know in the field.
I’m leaving to work in the financial industry. It’s a sad day when you feel that you have to leave a field that you are passionately interested in because you fear that you won’t be able to find a job once your views become widely known. Until free thought is allowed in the climate sciences, I will consider myself a skeptic of catastrophic human induced global warming.
Arms manufacturers currently have dozens of employees seconded to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other British government agencies, an investigation has discovered.
The revelations highlight the close relationship between business and government, especially in highly lucrative industries such as the arms trade.
Employees from BAE Systems (manufacturers of the Eurofighter Typhoon), MBDA (makers of missiles), Babcock (defense contractor working on Trident nuclear submarine replacement), and MSI (gunnery systems producer) have all taken senior level roles within the MoD.
BAE systems, the second largest arms company in the world, has had more than 10 executives seconded to the MoD and the arms sales unit of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in the last year.
The MoD’s Equipment and Support Branch, which has a £14 billion annual budget to buy equipment for the armed forces, hosted nine BAE executives in senior positions, the investigation by the Guardian found.
UKTI Defence and Security Organisation, another government department, had four secondments from BAE, two from MBDA, and two from Detica, a cyber-security specialist acquired by BAE in 2010.
While on secondment, salaries are paid by the company and not by the government department they join.
Personnel exchange between business and government works in the opposite direction as well, with 13 civil servants having been seconded from the MoD to outside organizations, including cyber-security company Templar Executives, Lloyds Banking group, arms firm QinetiQ, defense think tank the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS) and the BBC.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) described the arrangement as “totally inappropriate.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Andrew Smith of CAAT said, “Arms companies already enjoy a significant and totally disproportionate level of government support, and these kinds of secondments only make it more so.
“It is totally inappropriate for arms companies that will be lobbying for extra military spending to be working for departments that buy their wares.”
Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, said the British government’s relationship with arms manufacturers was “uncomfortably close.”
“All too often we’ve seen the government’s actions aligned with the interests of big business, which is particularly concerning when the businesses involved produce weapons,” she told the Guardian.
“For many years, the British government has had an uncomfortably close relationship with arms manufacturers and a shady record of arming dictatorships to match.”
“Secondments like these cast a shadow of doubt over the integrity over the actions of both the MoD and UKTI when it comes to their dealings with arms manufacturers. Our policies should serve the common good and must be free from the influence of vested interests like arms companies.”
The Guardian’s revelations come in the wake of the HSBC tax avoidance scandal in which the revolving door between financial institutions and government has also faced scrutiny.
Lord Green, the former head of HSBC, came under the spotlight for having taken the role of Minister of State for Trade and Investment immediately after leaving the bank.
Leaked documents allege that during Green’s tenure as Chairman of HSBC from 2006 to 2010, he oversaw the orchestration of industrial scale tax evasion for drug dealers, international criminals, dictators and terrorists.
Lord Green stood down from a senior position in the banking lobby group The City UK on Saturday.
RELATED: Pregnant activist crashes glitzy arms industry dinner, urges guests ‘consider career change’
Science has been misused for political purposes many times in history. However, the most glaring example of politically motivated pseudoscience—that employed by U.S. government scientists to explain the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC)—continues to be ignored by many scientists. As we pass the 10th anniversary of the introduction of that account, it is useful to review historic examples of fake science used for political purposes and the pattern that defines that abuse.
An early example of pseudoscience used to promote a political agenda was the concerted Soviet effort to contradict evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance. For nearly 45 years, the Soviet government used propaganda to foster unproven theories of agriculture promoted by its minister of agriculture, Trofim Lysenko. Scientists seeking favor with the Soviet hierarchy produced fake experimental data in support of Lysenko’s false claims. Scientific evidence from the fields of biology and genetics was banned in favor of educational programs that taught only Lysenkoism and many biologists and geneticists were executed or sent to labor camps. This propaganda-fueled program of anti-science continued for over forty years, until 1964, and spread to other countries including China.
In the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe several other examples of the misuse of science, spanning from the 1950s to the present. They show how widely respected scientists participated in clearly non-scientific efforts to promote the agendas of big business and big government. Examples include the tobacco industry’s misuse of science to obfuscate the links between smoking and cancer, the military industrial complex’s use of scientists to support the scientifically indefensible Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and several abuses of environmental science.
As Oreskes and Conway made clear, science is about evidence. “It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research—experiment, experience, and observation—research that is then subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers.” In science, if experiments performed do not support a hypothesis, that hypothesis must be rejected. If conclusions fail to pass peer-review due to a lack of supportive evidence or the discovery of evidence that directly contradicts them, those conclusions must be rejected.
From Lysenkoism through the examples given by Oreskes and Conway, politically motivated pseudoscience demonstrates a pattern of characteristics as follows.
- There is a lack of experiments.
- The results of experiments are ignored or contradicted in the conclusions.
- There is either no peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.
- The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data.
- False conclusions are supported by marketing or media propaganda.
- Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence are ignored.
All six of these characteristics of pseudo-science are exhibited by the U.S. government investigation into what happened at the WTC on September 11th, 2001. That investigation was conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and it had much in common with the examples given by Oreskes and Conway. As with the false science that supported tobacco use, millions of lives were lost as a result—in this case through the “War on Terror.” Like support for the Strategic Defense Initiative, the abuses were focused on supporting the military-industrial complex. And as with the environmental examples, NIST’s manipulations affect everyone on the planet because they prop up a never-ending war.
In terms of historical experience, the destruction of the three WTC skyscrapers was unprecedented. No tall building had ever experienced global collapse for any reason other than explosive demolition and none ever has since that time. In terms of observation, nearly everyone who examines the videos from the day recognizes the many similarities to explosive demolition. Perhaps the most compelling evidence in favor of the demolition theory is that the NIST WTC Reports, which took up to seven years to produce, exhibit all six of the characteristics of politically motivated pseudoscience.
The lack of experiment:
NIST performed no physical experiments to support its conclusions on WTC Building 7. Its primary conclusion, that a few steel floor beams experienced linear thermal expansion thereby shearing many structural connections, could have easily been confirmed through physical testing but no such testing was performed. Moreover, other scientists had performed such tests in the past but since the results did not support NIST’s conclusions, those results were ignored (see peer-review comments below).
The results of experiments were ignored or contradicted in the conclusions:
- For the Twin Towers, steel temperature tests performed on the few steel samples saved suggested that the steel reached only about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than one thousand degrees below the temperature needed to soften steel and make it malleable—a key requirement of NIST’s hypothesis. NIST responded by exaggerating temperatures in its computer model.
- Another key requirement of NIST’s explanation for the Twin Towers was that floor assemblies had sagged severely under thermal stress. Floor model tests conducted by my former company Underwriters Laboratories showed that the floor assemblies would sag only 3 to 4 inches, even after removal of all fireproofing and exposure to much higher temperatures than existed in the buildings. NIST responded by exaggerating the results—claiming up to 42-inches worth of floor assembly sagging in its computer model.
- After criticism of its draft report in April 2005, NIST quietly inserted a short description of shotgun tests conducted to evaluate fireproofing loss in the towers. These results also failed to support NIST’s conclusions because the shotgun blasts were not reflective of the distribution or trajectories of the aircraft debris. Additionally, the tests suggested that the energy required to “widely dislodge” fireproofing over five acre-wide floors—required by NIST’s findings—was simply not available.
There was no peer review and public comments from peers were ignored:
NIST published its own WTC reports and therefore its work was not subject to peer-review as is the case for all legitimate science. The people and companies involved in the NIST investigation were either government employees or contractors dependent on government work and were therefore not objective participants.
In terms of indirect peer-review, the international building construction community has made no changes to building construction standards in response to NIST’s officially cited root causes for the WTC destruction. Furthermore, no existing buildings have been retrofitted to ensure that they do not fail from those alleged causes.
NIST provided a period for public comment on its draft reports but the comments provided by those not beholden to government were not supportive of NIST’s findings. In some cases, as with NIST’s linear expansion claim for WTC 7, independent scientists submitted comments about physical tests they had performed (which NIST had not) that directly contradicted NIST’s findings.
There was one important exception to NIST’s ignoring of public comments. After a physics teacher’s well-publicized comments, NIST was forced to admit that WTC 7 was in free-fall for a vertical distance equivalent to at least eight stories of the building. Structural engineers have since noted that many hundreds of high-strength steel bolts and steel welds would have had to vanish instantaneously for an 8-story section of the building to fall without any resistance.
The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data:
NIST will not share it computer models with the public. A NIST spokesman declared, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, that revealing the computer models would “jeopardize public safety.” Because NIST’s conclusions depend entirely on those computer models, they cannot be verified or falsified by independent scientists.
False conclusions are supported by media or marketing propaganda:
As with the Soviet propaganda machine that supported Lysenkoism and the tobacco industry’s marketing propaganda, NIST’s pseudoscience was fully and uncritically supported by the mainstream media. Hearst Publications, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Skeptic magazine are examples of media that went to great lengths to stifle any questioning of the official account and divert attention from the glaring discrepancies.
NIST depended on that media support as indicated by the timing of its release of reports. NIST’s final report appeared to be scheduled for dual political purposes, to coincide with the seventh anniversary of 9/11 and to give the appearance of finished business at the end of the Bush Administration. The timing of NIST’s other reports coincided with political events as well. These included the draft report on the towers in October 2004—just before the election, the final report on the towers—just before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, and NIST’s first “responses to FAQs”—just before the fifth anniversary. All of them appeared to involve politically motivated release dates.
The report release dates allowed time for the media to quickly present the official story while public interest was high, but did not allow time for critical review. With the report on WTC 7, the public was given just three weeks prior to September 11th, 2008 to comment on a report that was nearly seven years in the making.
Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence were ignored:
Throughout its seven-year investigation, NIST ignored the obvious hypothesis for the destruction of the WTC buildings—demolition. That evidence includes:
- Free-fall or near-free fall acceleration of all three buildings (now acknowledged by NIST for WTC 7)
- Photographic and video evidence demonstrating the characteristics of demolition for both the Twin Towers and WTC 7
The WTC reports produced by NIST represent the most obvious example of politically motivated pseudoscience in history. The physical experiments NIST performed did not support its conclusions. The reports were not peer-reviewed and public comments that challenged the findings were ignored. NIST will not share its computer models—the last supposed evidence that supports its conclusions—with the public and therefore its conclusions are not verifiable.
These glaring facts should be readily recognizable by any scientist and, given the unprecedented impact of the resulting War on Terror, this abuse of science should be the basis for a global outcry from the scientific community. The fact that it is not—with even Oreskes and Conway ignoring this most obvious example—indicates that many scientists today still cannot recognize false science or cannot speak out about it for fear of social stigma. It’s possible that our society has not suffered enough to compel scientists to move out of their comfort zones and challenge such exploitation of their profession. If so, the abuse of science for political and commercial purposes will only get worse.