Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Eldad Carin
The Journal of the American Medical Association. “Only about 40 percent of approvals included trials in which the new drug was compared with existing drugs on the market.” Opponents of legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes are fond
of arguing that the plant must be subjected to the same standards of clinical study and FDA review as conventional medicines. What they fail to mention is that cannabis and its active components have already been subjected to a greater degree of scientific scrutiny than many FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.
According to a just-published analysis of some 200 newly FDA-approved medications, few conventional drugs are tested in multiple, large-scale clinical assessing safety and efficacy trials prior to market approval. “[A]bout a third won approval on the basis of a single clinical trial, and many other trials involved small groups of patients and shorter durations,” reports theWashington Post in its summary of the study, which appears in the January edition of
By comparison, there exists over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly half of which were published within the last five years, according to a keyword search on PubMed Central, the government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research. Of these, more than 100 are controlled clinical trials assessing the therapeutic efficacy of cannabinoids for a variety of indications.
A 2006 review of 72 of these trials, conducted between the years 1975 and 2004, identifies ten distinct pathologies for which controlled studies on cannabinoids have been published. The review concludes that these trial data “affirm that cannabinoids exhibit an interesting therapeutic potential as antiemetics, appetite stimulants in debilitating diseases (cancer and AIDS), analgesics, as well as in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Tourette syndrome, epilepsy and glaucoma.”
A 2010 review of 37 additional controlled trials, conducted between the years 2005 and 2009, similarly acknowledges the plant’s efficacy, finding, “Based on the clinical results, cannabinoids present an interesting therapeutic potential mainly as analgesics in chronic neuropathic pain, appetite stimulants in debilitating diseases (cancer and AIDS), as well as in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.” The review estimates that some 6,100 patients suffering from a wide range of ailments have taken part in clinical cannabis trials over the past decades – a far greater cohort of subjects than would typically participate in clinical trials for more conventional therapeutics.
Most recently, a 2012 review of more recent clinical trials conducted by the California Center forMedicinal Research, involving several hundred patients, concluded emphatically: “Recent clinical trials with smoked and vaporized marijuana, as well as other botanical extracts, indicate the likelihood that the cannabin ids can be useful in the management of neuropathic pain, spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, and possibly other indications...Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”
The bottom line: Scientists now know more about cannabis as a medicine than regulators know about many of the FDA-approved pharmaceuticals that the plant could replace.
Monday, 27 January 2014
ARE WE ON THE VERGE OF A MASSIVE EMERGING MARKETS CURRENCY COLLAPSE?
A big chunk of the trillions of dollars that it pumped into the financial system over the past several years has flowed into emerging markets. But now that the Fed has decided to begin "the taper", investors see it as a sign to pull the "hot money" out of emerging markets as rapidly as possible. This is causing currencies to collapse and interest rates to soar all over the planet. Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, Ukraine, Chile, Indonesia, Venezuela, India, Brazil, Taiwan and Malaysia are just some of the emerging markets that have been hit hard so far. In fact, last week emerging market currencies experienced the biggest decline that we have seen since the financial crisis of 2008. And all of this chaos in emerging markets is seriously spooking Wall Street as well. The Dow has fallen nearly 500 points over the last two trading sessions alone. If the Federal Reserve opts to taper even more in the coming days, this currency crisis could rapidly turn into a complete and total currency collapse.
A lot of Americans have always assumed that the U.S. dollar would be the first currency to collapse when the next great financial crisis happens. But actually, right now just the opposite is happening and it is causing chaos all over the planet.
For instance, just check out what is happening in Turkey according to a recent report in the New York Times...
Turkey’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Friday, a drop that will hit the purchasing power of everyone in the country.On a street corner in Istanbul, Yilmaz Gok, 51, said, “I’m a retiree making ends meet on a small pension and all I care about is a possible increase in prices.”“I will need to cut further,” he said. “Maybe I should use my natural gas heater less.”
As inflation escalates and interest rates soar in these countries, ordinary citizens are going to feel the squeeze. Just having enough money to purchase the basics is going to become more difficult.
And this is not just limited to a few countries. What we are watching right now is truly a global phenomenon...
"You've had a massive selloff in these emerging-market currencies," Nick Xanders, a London-based equity strategist at BTIG Ltd., said by telephone. "Ruble, rupee, real, rand: they've all fallen and the main cause has been tapering. A lot of companies that have benefited from emerging-markets growth are now seeing it go the other way."
So why is this happening? Well, there are a number of factors involved of course. However, as with so many of our other problems, the actions of the Federal Reserve are at the very heart of this crisis. A recent USA Today article described how the Fed helped create this massive bubble in the emerging markets...
Emerging markets are the future growth engine of the global economy and an important source of profits for U.S. companies. These developing economies were both recipients and beneficiaries of massive cash inflows the past few years as investors sought out bigger returns fostered by injections of cheap cash from the Federal Reserve and other central bankers.But now that the Fed has started to dial back its stimulus, many investors are yanking their cash out of emerging markets and bringing the cash back to more stable markets and economies, such as the U.S., hurting the developing nations in the process, explains Russ Koesterich, chief investment strategist at BlackRock."Emerging markets need the hot money but capital is exiting now," says Koesterich. "What you have is people saying, 'I don't want to own emerging markets.'"
What we are potentially facing is the bursting of a financial bubble on a global scale. Just check out what Egon von Greyerz, the founder of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland, recently had to say...
If you take the Turkish lira, that plunged to new lows this week, and the Russian ruble is at the lowest level in 5 years. In South Africa, the rand is at the weakest since 2008. The currencies are also weak in Brazil and Mexico. But there are many other countries whose situation is extremely dire, like India, Indonesia, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine, and Venezuela.I’m mentioning these countries individually just to stress that this situation isextremely serious. It is also on a massive scale. In virtually all of these countries currencies are plunging and so are bonds, which is leading tomuch higher interest rates. And the cost of credit-default swaps in these countries is surging due to the increased credit risks.
And many smaller nations are being deeply affected already as well.
For example, most Americans cannot even find Liberia on a map, but right now the actions of our Federal Reserve have pushed the currency of that small nation to the verge of collapse...
Liberia's finance minister warned against panic today after being summoned to parliament to explain a crash in the value of Liberia's currency against the US dollar."Let's be careful about what we say about the economy. Inflation, ladies and gentlemen, is not out of control," Amara Konneh told lawmakers, while adding that the government was "concerned" about the trend.
Closer to home, the Mexican peso tumbled quite a bit last week and is now beginning to show significant weakness. If Mexico experiences a currency collapse, that would be a huge blow to the U.S. economy.
Like I said, this is something that is happening on a global scale.
If this continues, we will eventually see looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in emerging markets all over the planet just like we are already witnessing in Argentina and Venezuela.
Hopefully something can be done to stop this from happening. But once a bubble starts to burst, it is really difficult to try to hold it together.
Meanwhile, I find it to be very "interesting" that last week we witnessed the largest withdrawal from JPMorgan's gold vault ever recorded.
Was someone anticipating something?
Once again, hopefully this crisis will be contained shortly. But if the Fed announces that it has decided to taper some more, that is going to be a signal to investors that they should race for the exits and the crisis in the emerging markets will get a whole lot worse.
And if you listen carefully, global officials are telling us that is precisely what we should expect. For example, consider the following statement from the finance minister of Mexico...
"We expected this year to be a volatile year for EM as the Fed tapers," Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said, adding that volatility "will happen throughout the year as tapering goes on".
Yes indeed - it is looking like this is going to be a very volatile year.I hope that you are ready for what is coming next.
SOURCE: MICHAEL SNYDER, GUEST POST
Sunday, 26 January 2014
A natural gas pipeline operated by Transcanada exploded and caught fire outside of Otterburne, Manitoba early Saturday.
Though no injuries were reported, the incident highlights the safety concerns posed by many as the pipeline company awaits a White House decision on whether or not to permit the construction of the Transcanada-operated Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
A spokesman from Canada's National Energy Board said the line was shut down and was depressurized to contain the fire and that they are working with the federal Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the explosion.
Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported:
The trouble began early Saturday when RCMP responded around 1:05 a.m. to a "loud explosion."Witnesses who live close to the scene said it was massive. Paul Rawluk lives nearby and drove to the site."As we got closer, we could see these massive 200 to 300 metre high flames just shooting out of the ground and it literally sounded like a jet plane," he said. "And that's the thing that really got us, was the sound of it."He said it was hard to describe the scale."Massive, like absolutely massive," he said. "The police were by [Highway] 59 and you could just see little cars out there and you could see in comparison how big the flame was. It was just literally two to 300 metres in the air. And bright, I mean lit up the sky."
About 4,000 residents and other customers may be without natural gas for at least a day, said local utility Manitoba Hydro, as reported by Reuters. Temperatures in the province are well below freezing.
While some argue that increasing incidents of pipeline leaks may provide fodder for increased fossil fuel shipment by rail, as Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki wroteearlier this week, "instead [these accidents] indicate that rapidly increasing oil and gas development and shipping ever greater amounts, by any method, will mean more accidents, spills, environmental damage—even death."
"The answer is to step back from this reckless plunder and consider ways to reduce our fossil fuel use," he adds.
SOURCE: COMMON DREAMS
All the wars and attacks, which were started by the U.S. and its so-called allies in the wake of 9/11, have wreaked havoc. You name it, you got it: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and perhaps even Iran. The Islamic Republic is not yet off the hook. There are strong forces in the U.S. and in the Middle East that prefer war to peace at the expense of the U.S. Right now, there is a war going on in Libya against the Western installed puppet government, without notice of the corporate media.
Cynthia McKinney, a former African-American Congresswoman has edited a book, The Illegal War on Libya (Clarity Press, Atlanta 2012), on the illegal war on Libya fought by NATO members with the support of the Arab League and some despotic Arab regimes. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms in the House of Representatives before she was defeated by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. McKinney’s loss was attributed to her support of Arab causes and to her suggestion that George W. Bush had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
Those whom the Western powers and their fawning media wish to destroy must first be demonised. This was exactly what happened to Libya’s leader Muammar al Gaddafi. Just before France, Great Britain and the U.S. started the war against Libya, Nikolas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, and other Western politicians courted Gaddafi. When the Libyan leader visited Paris in 2007, he struck his tent in front of the guest house of the French government. His bizarre conduct and much more were accepted by Sarkozy in order to promote lucrative business with Libya. A few years later, he rewarded him with and his country with a bombing spree.
As a candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Barack Hussein Obama had nice things to say in December 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” After he became U.S. President, he expanded drone attacks to an unprecedented scale. “As the U.S. fires its drones killing innocent Somalis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Afghanis, and others around the world, it is my hope that this book will provide a rare prism of truth through which to view NATO’s illegal war in Libya, current and future events, and US foreign relations as a whole,” says McKinney in her introductory remarks.
In her book, Cynthia McKinney has gathered a large number of renowned authors who offer an alternative perspective of the events in Libya. Some authors even risked their life by reporting live during the war. Among them are Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Julien Teil, Stephen Lendman, Christof Lehman, Sara Flounders, Wayne Madsen, Bob Fitrakis, and many others. All of them illuminate the dark machinations of the U.S. in Libya and elsewhere. Their narrative reminds the readers of the overthrow of the Iranian, Guatemalan or Chilean democracy by the U.S. for corporate benefit. The same apparently held true for Libya.
The essays in McKinney’s anthology describe the horrors caused by the Western bombing campaign and the distorted picture of the events painted by mainstream media. Lizzie Phelan refers to a “full blown media war” and to the silence of Western journalists while Libya was “being bombed into extermination.” Although they witnessed these horrors, they found “all manner of justifications for their self and collective delusion.” Their behavior reminded the author of the riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” The Western media pundits played down the horrendous crimes against the Libyan people by cartooning Gaddafi as a “mad dog.”
Stephen Lendman designated the crimes committed by NATO against Libya as amounting to “a Nuremberg Level.” He added: “The US-led NATO war on Libya will be remembered as one of history’s greatest crimes, violating the letter and spirit of international law and America’s Constitution.” Whereas the “Third Reich criminals were hanged for their crimes. America’s are still free to commit greater ones.” Lendman invokes General Wesley Clark who was told at the Pentagon a few days after 9/11, that the Bush administration had already decided to attack seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and finishing off with Iran. According to Lendman, the U.S. won’t tolerate democratic rule in Libya, for it needs a puppet regime that would follow the dictates of Washington. Beyond that, the U.S. generously used terror weapons in all its wars. Weapons of mass destruction, including depleted and enriched uranium munitions were widely used in the different Iraq wars, leading to miscarriages and severe deformities of newborn babies.
The anthology also reveals that Gaddafi bore no responsibility for the Lockerbie incident. Although he took the blame and had Libya pay millions of U.S. Dollars to the families of the victims in order to have sanctions lifted against his country, the west thanked him by overthrowing his regime. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya suggests that Libya’s main “crimes” – as seen by the West – were “how (Libya L.W.) distributed and used its wealth, its lack of external debts, and the key role it was attempting to play in continental development and curtailing of external influence in Africa. Tripoli was a spoiler that effectively undermined the interests of the former colonial powers.”
Already at the International Security Conference in Munich, 2007, then President of The Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, used the strongest possible language to warn the U.S., saying that “its aggressive expansionism has brought the world closer to a third world war than it has ever been before.” So far, Putin’s diplomacy prevented U.S. aggression against Syria and Iran.
The book contains, inter alia, a scathing speech by Gaddafi, delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2009. A chronology of the NATO-led assault on Libya completes the book.
This book is a must-read. It gives its readers a premonition of things that are yet to come.