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23 Apr 14:40

Supreme Court upholds Michigan decision to end ‘racial profiling,’ ‘affirmative discrimination’ in college admissions

by Mark J. Perry

In a landmark decision yesterday in favor of advancing equal treatment for all and moving towards a colorblind society, the Supreme Court voted 6-2 to support Michigan voters’ decision in 2006 to end the discriminatory practices of affirmative action discrimination and racial preferences profiling for admissions to the state’s public universities.  Here’s from today’s front page WSJ article “Court Backs Affirmative Action Discrimination Ban“:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan’s decision to end affirmative action discrimination at its public universities in a 6-2 ruling, but the justices were divided in their reasoning, suggesting continued uncertainty over the broader issue of racial preferences profiling.

The ruling leaves in place a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative where voters ended race-based admissions at state schools, and means racial preferences profiling won’t soon return to the University of Michigan—or any other public university in states that have chosen to end the practice.

The court’s ruling didn’t alter the ability of universities in states without bans to consider race as one factor among others in admissions. Instead, the court chipped away at affirmative action discrimination by giving its blessing to one path for foes to challenge admissions policies: ballot initiatives. Opponents have also gone to courts and state legislatures to end affirmative action discrimination practices in a decades-long battle over university policies.

I’ve made this argument before, and will make it again today following the Supreme Court decision, that to understand why it’s time to end racial preferences profiling in higher education, we should consider the following hypothetical scenario of race-based grading.

A university professor walks into class at the beginning of the semester. After a review of required texts, assignments and examinations, the professor discusses the grading policy. The professor explains that there is a new university policy that applies a double standard for grading and is an extension of the university’s race-based admissions policies.

The professor explains that a standard grading scale will apply to all white, Asian and Arab students. African-American and Hispanic students will automatically receive extra points for all assignments and will receive a final letter grade based on a preferential grading scale. Most people would find this blatant form of discrimination objectionable for many reasons.

1. The students receiving academic favoritism might justifiably complain that they are being stereotyped as a homogeneous group. It would be offensive to many of those students to assume automatically that they all need preferential academic treatment.

2. This form of academic profiling creates a disincentive for preferred minorities (black and Hispanic students) to study as hard as they would otherwise.

3. The racially advantaged students could face a special-preference stigma when they enter the job market or apply to graduate school. If a student graduates from college with a 3.5 grade point average, a prospective employer or graduate program would justifiably question the academic credentials and potential abilities of those students who received race-based adjustments in all of their undergraduate course work.

4. Finally, most everyone would object to the fundamental unfairness of giving preferential treatment to certain groups of students. The students who didn’t receive special grading preferences would rightfully feel they were being treated unfairly and being discriminated against. Why should an Asian student with an 85% score in an accounting class get a letter grade of B if a black or Hispanic student with the same percentage score gets an A?

These and many other reasons explain why the only acceptable practice in the classroom is the equal treatment of all students as individuals, without regard to race, sex, ethnicity or religion. And yet the hypothetical classroom-based discrimination is exactly the type of admission-based discrimination that prevails today at many American universities. And it is the obvious objections to academic favoritism in the classroom that explain why racial favoritism profiling in college admissions has been legally challenged.

Students are treated as individuals without regard to race by university professors once they enter college. Treating all students as individuals when they first apply to college will ultimately move us further along toward the ideal of a colorblind society than maintaining the current admissions practices of double standards, special preferences and racial profiling.

President John F. Kennedy said: “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races and national origins contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial discrimination.” Fortunately, President Kennedy’s vision prevails in Michigan, now that the Supreme Court has voted to support the state ban on state-sponsored racial discrimination in admissions to public universities in the state.

Bottom Line: How can it be logically and legally consistent for somebody to support affirmative action discrimination when practiced by a staff member in the admissions or financial aid office of a university in one building on a college campus, but object to “affirmative action grading” when practiced by a college professor on that same college campus in another building? If race-neutral grading is the accepted standard for the treatment of college students IN the classroom, then race-based preferences cannot be justified when selecting students for admission to the university in the first place.

Note: I think that substituting the term “racial profiling” for “racial preferences” and the term “affirmative discrimination” for “affirmative action” also help to understand why those practices are objectionable. Words and terminology matter. As George Carlin said, “Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.”

23 Apr 14:39

7 Things You Had No Idea Gut Bacteria Could Do

by Mark Sisson

gutbacteriaIf you’re a regular Mark’s Daily Apple reader, you probably have at least a generally accurate if somewhat vague notion of the important functions performed by our gut bacteria. They’re a “big part” of our immune systems. They “improve digestion” and “eat the fibers and resistant starches” that our host enzymes cannot digest. Yeah, gut bacteria are hot right now. Everyone’s talking about them. And, since our host cells are famously outnumbered by our gut bacteria, 10 to 1, we need to be apprised of all that they do.

We don’t know everything yet – and we probably never will – but here are some of the most interesting and unexpected functions of our gut bacteria:

They learn from each other.

Bacteria are simple, straightforward organisms. They don’t have all the hangups that we mammals do, all the middle men and physiological bureaucracy between “us” and outside information. Bacteria can directly exchange genetic material – defense mechanisms, enzymatic functions, and other characteristics – from other bacteria they come into contact with in the gut. They’re very quick learners operating on an entirely different time scale.

One example: in most Japanese people, certain strains of gut bacteria have picked up the genes for seaweed digestion from the bacteria found on seaweed. The seaweed bacteria itself didn’t colonize the Japanese guts; only the genetic material transferred. Other groups whose gut bacteria weren’t exposed to the seaweed-digesting strains and never picked up the relevant genes have more trouble digesting the seaweed polysaccharides.

They improve our bone mineral density.

Feeding fermentable fibers to our gut bacteria isn’t just about the short chain fatty acids they produce in response. It’s also about the improved bone health, which occurs through numerous gut bacteria-mediated mechanisms: “increased solubility and absorption of minerals because of increased bacterial production of short-chain fatty acids from prebiotic fermentation; the enlargement of the absorption surface by lactate and butyrate; increased expression of calcium-binding proteins; improvement of gut health; degradation of mineral complexing phytic acid; release of bone-modulating factors such as phytoestrogens from foods; stabilization of the intestinal flora and ecology, also in the presence of antibiotics; stabilization of the intestinal mucus; and impact of modulating growth factors such as polyamines.”

They nullify anti-nutrients.

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in seeds, grains, legumes, nuts, and many other foods. It binds to and prevents the absorption of various minerals, and high phytic acid diets have the potential to cause nutrient deficiencies. Unless you have the right gut flora.

Certain gut flora can actually turn phytic acid into inositol, preventing mineral-binding and releasing a nutrient involved in mood regulation and insulin sensitivity. The more phytate-rich foods you eat, the better your gut bacteria get at breaking it down (they learn, remember?).

There’s also evidence that the right gut flora can reduce the allergenicity of gluten and dairy proteins.

They manufacture vitamins.

When gut bacteria consume substrates, they produce various metabolites, the most famous of which are the short chain fatty acids butyrate, acetate, and propionate. But they also produce vitamins in the process, particularly vitamin K and the B-vitamins. According to Dr. Art Ayers, an optimally-outfitted human gut biome given sufficient dietary substrates can manufacture all the vitamins a person requires.

It seems Vitamin K2, that sweet little variant of vitamin K we love so much, can also be made in the gut. There’s very little direct evidence of this, but broad spectrum antibiotic usage leads to lower levels of vitamin K2 in the human liver. What we do make in the gut can absolutely be absorbed and utilized.

They form a large physical barrier against pathogens.

Bacteria are made of matter, even though they’re invisible to the naked eye. They take up physical space on the gut lining. They plug holes, fill nooks. They cross arms and stand together, steadfast against encroaching pathogens seeking residence. Sheer brute force is one of, if not the most primary immune function of our gut bacteria.

They represent a “second brain.”

The enteric nervous system, found in the gut, has more neurons than the spinal column or central nervous system. Long thought to be only concerned with directing digestive contractions, the enteric nervous system has a direct conduit to the brain: the vagus nerve, 90% of whose fibers are dedicated to communication from the gut to the brain. If you’ve ever gotten butterflies in your stomach from young love or anxiety (or both), or felt like you knew something “in your gut,” that may have been your gut brain relaying the message to your, um, brain brain.

Here’s where the bacteria come in: gut flora produce a ton of neurotransmitters, about 95% of our serotonin and half of our dopamine. Imagine if those voices in our head that seem to originate elsewhere are the result of your gut bacteria coming to a consensus position and delivering it via a chemical slurry of neurotransmitter secretions directly up to your brain? After all, the thoughts we have, the desire we feel, and the words we form come from chemical chatter between neurons. It’s possible that the brain can’t tell where the chatter originates, from “us” or the gut flora. Is there even an “us”? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe “us” is closer to the truth than “me.”

They can make us depressed, anxious, obsessive-compulsive, and even autistic.

Researchers have long noticed that people with disorders “of the mind,” like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and autism, tend to also have gastrointestinal issues. It’s becoming clear that these aren’t chance correlations. The emergence of the gut-brain axis, the knowledge that gut bacteria manufacture neurotransmitters, and direct clinical evidence (albeit mostly with non-human animals) suggests that the gut bacteria disturbances are mediating the disorders. We see this in:

Gut bacteria help determine the nutrient content of our meals. They mediate our subjective interpretation of everyday life and our interpersonal dealings with others. They’re constantly learning new things and defending us from interlopers and communicating with and perhaps even telling us what to think and how to act. It’s almost overwhelming to even imagine.

Hopefully you’re beginning to understand why the gut biome is shaping up to be the biggest health story of the century and why we ignore it at our peril.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What’s the most surprising thing gut bacteria can do, in your opinion?

23 Apr 00:03

Guest Post: Piketty's Gold?

by Tyler Durden

Originally posted at The New York Sun,

With all that has been written in respect to Thomas Piketty's new book, “Capital,” you would think that someone — Paul Krugman, say, or Jonathan Chait or David Brooks or Hendrik Hertzberg; we’re not worried about who it might be so much as someone among the liberal intelligentsia — would have remarked on an odd coincidence of timing. We’re speaking here of the timing of the rapid rise of the blasted inequality over which Professor Piketty is so upset. After all, this inequality has become the cause celebre of the season for President Obama and his entire political party. It’s the issue of the hour. Yet when it comes to the timing at which this phenomenon presented itself, nada. Omerta.

Well, feature the chart that Professor Piketty publishes showing inequality in America. This appears in the book at figure 9.8; a similar version, shown alongside here, is offered on his Web site. It’s an illuminating chart. It shows the share of national income of the top decile of the population. It started the century at a bit above 40% and edged above 45% in the Roaring Twenties. It plunged during the Great Depression and edged down in World War II, and then steadied out, until we get to the 1970s. Something happened then that caused income inequality to start soaring. The top decile's share of income went from something like 33% in 1971 to above 47% by 2010.

Hmmm. What could account for that? Could it be the last broadcast of the “Lawrence Welk Show?” Or the blast off of the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon? Or could it have something to do with the mysterious D.B. Cooper, who bailed out of the plane he hijacked, never to be seen again? A timeline of 1971 offers so many possibilities. But, say, what about the possibility that it was in the middle of 1971, in August, that America closed the gold window at which it was supposed to redeem in specie dollars presented by foreign central banks. That was the default that ended the era of the Bretton Woods monetary system.

That’s the default that opened the age of fiat money. Or the era that President Nixon supposedly summed up in with Milton Friedman’s immortal words, “We’re all Keynesians now.” This is an age that has seen a sharp change in unemployment patterns. Before this date, unemployment was, by today’s standards, low. This was a pattern that held in Europe (these columns wrote about it in “George Soros’ Two Cents”) and in America (“Yellen’s Missing Jobs”). From 1947 to 1971, unemployment in America ran at the average rate of 4.7%; since 1971 the average unemployment rate has averaged 6.4%. Could this have been a factor in the soaring income inequality that also emerged in the age of fiat money?

This is the question the liberals don’t want to discuss, even acknowledge. They are never going to get it out of their heads that the gold standard is a barbarous relic. They have spent so much of their capital ridiculing the idea of honest money that they daren’t open up the question. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. from MIT or Princeton, however, to imagine that in an age of fiat money, the top decile would have an easier time making hay than would the denizens of the other nine deciles, who aren’t trained in the art of swaps and derivatives. We don’t belittle the skills of the top decile. We tend to view them the way we view great baseball players or violinists — heroic figures. Neither do we make a totem out of economic equality; in inequality, after all, are found incentives.

In terms of public policy, though, we favor honest money. It works out better for more people. And there is a moral dimension to the question of honest money. This was a matter that was understood — and keenly felt — by the Founders of America, who almost to a man (Benjamin Franklin, a printer of paper notes, was a holdout), cringed with humiliation at the thought of fiat paper money. They’d tried it in the revolution, and it had been the one embarrassment of the struggle. They eventually gave us a Constitution that they hoped would bar us from ever making the same mistake.

There is an irony here for Monsieur Piketty. It was France who gave us Jacques Rueff, the economist who had the clearest comprehension of the importance of sound money based on gold specie. He was, among other things, an adviser of Charles De Gaulle. It was De Gaulle who in 1965, called a thousand newspapermen together and spoke of the importance of gold as the central element of an international monetary system that would put large and small, rich and poor nations on the same plane. We ran the complete text of Professor Piketty’s book “Capital” through the Sun’s own “Electrically-operated Savvy Sifter” and were unable to find, even once, the name of Rueff.

22 Apr 16:24

Gas Prices Are Pinching Again, and You Can Thank U.S. Trade Policy For Some of the Pain

by Scott Lincicome

Scott Lincicome

The summer driving season is still weeks away, but rising U.S. gas prices are already back in the news.  Last week, the average price for regular gasoline at U.S. gas stations hit $3.6918 a gallon – the highest since March 22, 2013 and up 43 cents this year.  Much of this price depends on global supply and demand, but certainly not all of it.  In fact, two archaic, little-known U.S. policies – vigorously defended by the well-connected interest groups who benefit from them – restrict free trade in petroleum products and, as a result, force American consumers to pay considerably more at the pump.

First, the Jones Act - a 94-year-old law that requires all domestic seaborne trade to be shipped on U.S.-crewed, -owned, flagged and manufactured vessels – prevents cost-effective intrastate shipping of crude oil or refined products.  According to Bloomberg, there are only 13 ships that can legally move oil between U.S. ports, and these ships are “booked solid.”  As a result, abundant oil supplies in the Gulf Coast region cannot be shipped to other U.S. states with spare refinery capacity.  And, even when such vessels are available, the Jones Act makes intrastate crude shipping artificially expensive.  According to a 2012 report by the Financial Times, shipping U.S. crude from Texas to Philadelphia cost more than three times as much as shipping the same product on a foreign-flagged vessel to a Canadian refinery, even though the latter route is longer.

It doesn’t take an energy economist to see how the Jones Act’s byzantine protectionism leads to higher prices at the pump for American drivers.  According to one recent estimate, revoking the Jones Act would reduce U.S. gasoline prices by as much as 15 cents per gallon “by increasing the supply of ships able to shuttle the fuel between U.S. ports.”

Some of these costs could potentially be mitigated if it weren’t for the second U.S. trade policy inflating gas prices: restrictions on crude oil exports.  As I wrote for Cato last year, current U.S. law – implemented in the 1970s during a bygone era of energy scarcity and dependence – effectively bans the exportation of U.S. crude oil to any country other than Canada.  Because U.S. and Canadian refinery capacity is finite, America’s newfound energy abundance has led to a glut of domestic oil and caused domestic crude oil prices (West Texas Intermediate and Louisiana Light Sweet) to drop well below their global (Brent) counterpart.  One might think that this price divergence would mean lower U.S. gas prices, but such thinking fails to understand that U.S. gasoline exports may be freely exported, and that gasoline prices are set on global markets based on Brent crude prices.  As a result, several recent analyses – including ones by Citigroup [$], Resources for the Future and the American Petroleum Institute - have found that liberalization of U.S. crude oil exports would lower, not raise, gas prices by as much as 7 cents per gallon.

Thus, the Jones Act and the crude oil export ban – each implemented decades ago – together inflate U.S. gasoline prices by as much as 0.22 per gallon – or about 6% of the current price at your local gas station.  Not everyone in the United States, however, is harmed.  In the case of the Jones Act, the American shipping unions and shipbuilders that benefit from the law have long opposed any type of reforms, regardless of the pains imposed on the American economy and U.S. consumers.  The crude oil export restrictions, on the other hand, have found new support from a small group of U.S. refiners who profit handsomely from depressed domestic crude prices and the lack of any legal limits on their exports.  As is always the case with protectionism, these groups win and U.S. consumers lose.

Given this political dynamic, reform of either law appears unlikely in the near future, regardless of how dramatically the U.S. trade and energy landscape has changed since the laws were imposed.  So the next time you fill up the tank, note that about 6 percent of your bill pads the bottom lines of a few well-connected cronies.

22 Apr 21:21

#myNYPD Backfires as TWITTER Users Share Photos of Police Brutality...


#myNYPD Backfires as TWITTER Users Share Photos of Police Brutality...


(Second column, 3rd story, link)

21 Apr 23:12

Revisiting Resistant Starch: Part Three

by Tom Naughton

Here’s the third and final installment of my interview with Richard Nikoley, Tim “Tatertot” Steele and Grace Liu on the subject of resistant starch.  They’re writing a book on the topic, and I will of course let everyone know when it’s available.

Fat Head: Several of your readers have reported that after adding resistant starch to their diets, they finally broke through a weight-loss stall.  Any idea why that happened?  Do we understand the mechanism?

Grace: RS is one of the bionic fuels that feed and replenish our ancestral gut bugs, and we need these for not just optimal gut health but for optimal body fat, hormones and brain function. In human and animal trials, RS improves body composition (higher lean mass, lower body fat). The co-owner of the Australian Mt. Uncle green banana farm told me the story how he became inspired to sell green banana flour after having to trash 40% of his delicate ladyfinger banana crop each year because, darkening so easily, a high percent failed to meet grocery specs. Rob Watkins gave the cows and steers on his farm the reject green bananas and noticed within weeks that they appeared healthier, stronger, and more muscled. In other words, they appeared to have less body fat and better hormones!

And this is the case in the fiber clinical trials. RS alone rarely induces net weight loss, however RS combined with soluble fiber or as a whole food or supplement (green banana flour or green plantain flour) leads to significant weight loss. Additionally, we have many anecdotal stories at  Free The Animal about overcoming weight-loss stalls. The mechanisms behind this may include: fixing tight junctions and intestinal permeability, improved whole-body insulin sensitivity, improved adrenal/thyroid health, lower inflammation, and improved testosterone and progesterone levels.  For my case, which I discuss here on my Animal Pharm blog, I also had a tremendous weight-loss stall after many gut disruptions (mercury, titanium, antibiotics, Tetanus vaccine) but resolved it after the gut microbiota improved.

Tim: RS by itself isn’t generally a great weight loss tool, but it is known to repair broken metabolisms.  In the short term, RS can lead to weight gain as your intestines get healthier and harbor more friendly microbes, but in the long run, the increase in signaling of hunger hormones and insulin sensitivity should lead to long-term health consequences and weight loss for the overweight or weight gain for the underweight.  Best bet for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance is a diet with ample food that feeds gut microbes.

Richard: Debates over things always seem to get framed in terms of “it’s either this, or it’s that—or maybe it’s something else, but it’s got to be some one thing.” Then people align themselves with one theory or the other and prepare for the cage match to the death, looking for every opportunity to become even more entrenched.

Many times in the past, over various issues across the board, I’ve always said, “Well, what if it’s both?” Or what if some aspects of all these “opposing” ideas have some parts that are true, and if you put all the true parts together, then you have a kind of Hegelian dialectic where you’ve synthesized something closer to the truth.

I recently put up this post to advance just such a thing in the obesity debate. So there are all these competing theories out there like it’s the calories, no it’s the carbs, no no no it’s all genetic, or everyone is all wrong because it’s clearly food engineering and the reward value of stuff.

I happen to think there’s some truth in all of those ideas, but I think the unifying one is the genetic theory — only I’m not talking about our 25,000 genes; I’m talking about the other 3 million genes in our gut biome, evolving to the tune of six generations per day. Chewing on it in those terms, understanding the influence gut microbes have on our behaviors, feelings, mood, sleep and hormonal regulation, and all of a sudden you might begin to understand that all these theories weren’t just arrived at by stupid people — except for the one you hold, of course — but that they saw one part of the whole truth, but didn’t have that unifying piece that brings them all together.

Anyway, that’s my pet theory and I plan on defending it to the death against all the “stupid ideas” out there.

[Note:  Richard assures me has was smiling in a self-deprecating sort of way when he wrote that last part -- Tom.]

Fat Head: I’ve lost weight when my ketone levels were low, so I don’t think ketosis is necessary for weight loss and I don’t aim for ketosis with my diet.  For me, it’s more about keeping blood sugar in a healthy range and maintaining my ability to efficiently release and burn fat for fuel.  But for people who feel better and lose weight more quickly in ketosis, does resistant starch kick them out of it?

Tim: We’ve done quite a few experiments.  Potato starch will not kick anyone out of ketosis, probably no matter how much you take.  It’s 66% to 87.5% RS, depending on which method you use to measure it, with the remaining fractions being mostly water and some slowly digested starch.  Other isolated RS sources like banana flour or tapioca starch may have varying results, since they are not as concentrated as potato starch, ranging from 30 to 50% RS.

Richard: In the post I previously linked above dealing with the Inuit and ketosis, I have to pretty much conclude that chronic ketosis is not a good thing. Ketosis is wonderful as a survival adaptation to starvation, ensuring glucose is available for the brain. But in order to pull this off, your metabolism has to essentially say “Hey, we don’t give a flying @#$% about your cellular insulin sensitivity. What good are insulin-sensitive cells to someone who’s brain dead?” And I think ketosis ought to be exercised just like you might do with sprints to get your heart rate up — intermittently. So, yeah, put yourself in ketosis now and then via a fast, like 24 to 48 hours. There are probably beneficial hormesis and autophagy involved.

But if you’re going to do LC, then I think follow the Inuit model, which is high (very high) in protein. Yeah, it’s high fat too, but keep in mind fat has twice the energy density, so 135 fat grams can come to 50% of calories, whereas twice as many grams in protein might be 35% of calories. Guaranteed it will be a lot tougher to get down the 250 grams of protein. And unless you’re getting glycogen and prebiotic glycans from fresh raw animals, then you’ll need to get your 50 to 60 grams of carbs from something like a safe starch, some fruit maybe. Then get some prebiotics like resistant starch. Now you’ll be closer to what the Inuit actually did instead of the folklore, and you might find that LC actually works better for you.

Fat Head: If resistant starch preferentially feeds the good bacteria in our guts and improves gut integrity, then it’s almost certainly been part of the human diet for a long, long time.  But I’m pretty sure Paleo Man wasn’t buying bags of Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch at Whole Foods.  So what does that tell us about the notion that the paleo diet was all meat, fish, eggs, low-sugar fruit in season and some leafy greens now and then?

Tim: Tiger nuts and yams have been man’s staples since Day One in Africa and are full of RS.  When we started cooking, we developed a second kind of resistant starch, RS3, the retrograded kind from cooling cooked starch.  Man didn’t cook on-demand like we do now.  He built a big fire, laid roots in and around it and ate them for days after the fire went out.  We evolved for millions of years alongside raw starch and cooked and cooled starch (RS2 and RS3).  As man spread North and East, he found cattail roots, sago palms, rice, beans, corn, potatoes, and numerous other foods full of starch.  Where there was little starch, such as in the deserts of America, Paleo-Indians ate loads of inulin containing plants … cactus pads, onions, agave and others that we would be hard-pressed to eat today.

Richard: Coprolites are also often full of small bones, hair, connective tissues of small animals. Many of these bits are resistant to our digestion, but food for gut microbes. Offhand, I’d also imagine that the carcasses and outer shells of various bugs and insects that were eaten also served a role in feeding the gut.

Grace: Coming from an Asian background, no doubt my ancestors ate plenty of underground storage organs leaving Africa and migrating across Eurasia. Cordain et al in 2000 wrote that underground storage structures (tubers, roots, and bulbs) represented 24% of the current worldwide hunter-gathers’ diet. Last December Brown et al discussed the paleo nutriscape and the role played by RS-containing carbohydrate sources including plants, particularly those with underground storage organs such as reed mace, common reed, water chestnut and yellow water lily. Most of our common ancestral foods are very low glycemic index, high fiber, and contain greater than 10g RS per 100g-cooked serving.

Fat Head: So for those who want to get some resistant starch into their diets without stirring potato starch into a yogurt smoothie, what foods are good sources of resistant starch?

Tim: RS from foods is easy to do with a bit of planning.  Pre-cook potatoes, rice and beans and freeze them in serving-sized containers.  Thaw as needed.  Potatoes don’t freeze well, so keep them in the fridge.  Preparing these foods in this manner turns them into the starches our ancestors ate, full of retrograded RS.  Potatoes for instance, will go from 0 grams of RS in a small potato to 10 grams … just from cooling it down!  It’s even OK to reheat it; in fact the RS fraction will grow a tiny bit more if you quickly fry it in some oil or butter.  For another quick blast of RS, eat a slice of raw potato when you are cleaning them up to cook.  A half-inch slice has about 5 grams of RS.  Green bananas are another great source.

Richard: Tim compiled a 7-page PDF of the RS content of foods that’s diet-agnostic, so there’s even something there for your vast cadre of grain-eaters, Tom.

Fat Head: My grain-eating fan club, yes.  I met him once.

Grace: I’m actually very fortunate that in Asia, RS-rich purple potatoes, white mountain yams, taro, sweet potato, yams, cellophane mungbean noodles, heirloom corn, water chestnuts, lotus roots, green bananas, and whole grains and beans (adlay, sorghum, purple rice, black rice, red rice, brown rice, millet, red beans, green beans, kidney, adzuki, etc) are all readily available. Often I cook rice or tubers then eat them later at room temperature or re-heated by steaming or with hot bone broth. After a workout, I’ll eat a few purple potatoes for a snack. There’s some protein, plant antioxidants, and it’s low net carb. Each potato has  about 20 grams of RS.

Fat Head: You’ve been adding potatoes and other starches back into your diet and ending up with lower fasting glucose levels and better tolerance for starch than when you were on a very-low-carb diet, thanks at least in part to the resistant starch.  I’m finding similar results so far in my own n=1 experiment.  I had a small baked potato with my meatloaf and broccoli for dinner recently, and my glucose peaked at 126 mg/dl.

But in Denise Minger’s latest book, she makes the case that some people really and truly do have a genetically low tolerance for starches.  They get blood-sugar spikes beyond what the glycemic index would predict and their glucose stays high for hours.  For them, consuming resistant starch and then reintroducing rice or potatoes to their diets might be a bad idea.  Would they benefit from supplementing with resistant starch even if they skip other starches entirely?

Tim: Our gut bugs deserve a chance to thrive.  They can’t do it on steak and eggs.  If someone is truly ‘carb sensitive’ then a diet filled with non-starchy plants and some supplemental RS, such as potato starch or banana flour, may do them a world of good.  They could also go with inulin, glucomannan, or the other prebiotics we discussed.  RS is just an easy source.  If you were eating zero starch or RS, I would highly, highly suggest looking into inulin and glucomannan!

Richard: Don’t discount the possibility that poor gut health may be the root cause of this starch insensitivity. Recall some of my previous answers where for some people, myself included, there was a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy going on. On the other hand, everybody is a snowflake (nobody has precisely the same gut microbes, or in the same proportions), so the only way to tell if your starch insensitivity is real or induced is to get your gut healthy over some months with the supplemental RS and SBO probiotics while remaining LC, and try again.

However, give yourself a chance to not freak yourself out. A week of BG spikes isn’t going to kill you, so toss the meter for a week or two, introduce the starches slowly, like maybe a half cup per meal for few days, three-quarters per meal, up to a cup per meal. Two weeks later, check your sugars. See where you are. Note, I would not suggest anyone clinically diagnosed as diabetic to ever do this. You could still try, but under your normal monitoring. I’d just give yourself a little leeway.

Incidentally, many diabetics, both type 1 and type 2, have reported the need to reduce their doses of insulin once commencing potato starch supplementation in order to not go hypoglycemic. But that also presents an opportunity. They could simply remain on their same insulin dose and make up the difference with a few tasty starches, instead of reducing insulin. After all, last I heard, the pancreas actually produces insulin, so long as blood levels are in the normal range, I doubt insulin is the Satan’s spawn it’s sometimes made out to be.

Fat Head: Name any food, and somebody somewhere will have a bad experience from eating it.  Are there any downsides you’re aware of from consuming resistant starch?  Any concerns about feeding the wrong kind of gut bacteria in people who have intestinal issues?

Tim: There are people with guts that are truly jacked.  Yeasts and microbes that are perfectly fine and harmless in the large intestine become mean and nasty in the small intestine.  If they are there, they can theoretically digest RS in the small intestine and cause all sorts of problems.

Richard: In a world with this many people, you will get all kinds. The other day I was reading a forum post by a guy somewhere and the title was something like “Potato Starch Made Me Crash!” I expected to read this account about how he’s been pounding the stuff to the tune of 16 tablespoons per day with massive fartage, heartburn, autoimmune flair ups, etc.

Turns out he had “built himself up” to ONE ENTIRE TEASPOON per day over a period of weeks, and all of sudden he was too fatigued to get out of bed. Now, I don’t want to make fun of anyone’s experience (though one commenter did remark “Hell, that’s less than I spill on the counter when preparing my mixture!”), only point out that there are some folks seemingly bulletproof out there, and others who may be truly sensitive for any number of reasons. Over many months reading thousands of anecdotes, it does seem like there are some folks who, once they begin talking potato starch, will instinctively assign it as the cause of any bad thing that subsequently happens or that they perceive to have happened.

Fat Head: So let’s suppose some of the people reading this interview want to start experimenting with resistant starch in their diets.  How would you recommend they get started, and what markers, if any, should they track as they go?

Tim: Start slow.  Start with real foods…the cooked and cooled starches, green bananas, and also start looking at the inulin contents in food.  Eventually you’ll want to be getting 20 to 40 grams per day of prebiotics.  The easiest source is RS, either from real food or a raw starch supplement.  Start eating just a serving or so of RS-rich food per day, which will get you probably 10 grams of RS — twice the U.S. average.  Hardly anyone sees issues at this level.  Double it again by eating a green banana every day.  Learn to fix all your starches in a manner that maximizes the RS, and on days when you aren’t getting much RS, take a few spoonfuls of potato starch or banana flour in a glass of water or smoothie.   Lots of people jumped straight into this by taking 4TBS a day of potato starch.  This is a good therapeutic dose, approximately 25 to 30 grams, but few people are able to tolerate this dose in the short term.  Work your way up to it, do it through real food.  Cook your starches like our ancestors did.  If you experience discomfort…farts, bloating, pain…stop, get on some probiotics, and resume slowly — you need it worse than anyone!

Richard: What Tim said; but also, I have a Resistant Starch Primer for Newbies, and for those interested in also bringing in or back the Safe Starches, my Resistant Starch-Based Dietary Guidelines.

Grace: I think everyone should first start with probiotics in order to ‘seed’ the gut. Even if you are a barefoot hippie in Berkeley, everyone seems to have had at least a single course of antibiotics. The average is more like 10 to 20 courses. Studies are showing more and more how even a single course of antibiotics ravages the gut populations, leaving them extinct where the core beneficial species never resume abundance or diversity even two years later.  The markers to track are any health marker someone is interested in — HgbA1c, mood, sleep, skin, hair, libido, hormones, reversal of inflammatory conditions and digestive disorders, etc. Functional medicine labs are the best ones to track I believe.

Fat Head: Okay, one final question:  like many other people have reported on your blog, after adding potato starch to my diet, I started having long, complex, Technicolor dreams.  I may have even dreamed the entire sixth season of The Walking Dead, which I hope to transcribe and sell to the producers.  What the @#$% is up with these dreams?

Tim: It’s the neurotransmitters, Dude! (said with a California surfer accent).

One of the biggest factors in our overall health is sleep.  Deprive yourself of it and your health deteriorates rapidly.  One convincing demonstration of the brain-gut connection is a molecule secreted by gut bugs known as “Factor S.”  One phase of our sleep cycle is known as slow-wave sleep.  This cycle is known as “deep sleep” and is the time when the brain recovers from its daily activities and new thoughts are “cut and pasted” into the long-term memory drives of your brain.  This is also when human growth hormone is secreted, and disruptions in this cycle can result in bedwetting, nightmares, and sleep-walking.  In other words—it’s a very important part of our 40 winks.

Gut bugs have a massive hand in ensuring we get a good night’s sleep, and in turn, our entire physiology.  They want us to remember where that wonderful patch of microbe-encrusted wild onions is, and they want us to have the strength to get there again.  Factor S is how they do it.  As animals get sleepy, Factor S accumulates in their brain and promotes sleep onset and the shift into slow-wave sleep.  Additionally, other brain chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin are generated by gut bugs and contribute further to our dreams, rest and recuperation.

Richard: When I first reported this early in my own experimenting on the blog, I was almost reluctant to do so, because it seemed so outlandish and implausible. “Wait, so you’re telling me that if I go to the supermarket and pick up a bag of Bob’s for 4 bucks, take 2 TBS before bed, that I’m going to have the most amazing, complex dreams of my life?”

But once I did, the anecdotes began pouring in. Perhaps others were just as reluctant. Interestingly, it seems to be the females reporting having the X-Rated ones. Form your own opinions!

There’s also a weird time dilation sometimes. Just last night, I had this amazingly involved dream that went on and was long and complete, and for some reason, I woke up. I thought at once it was probably soon time to get up, so I looked at the clock. I’d been asleep for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Grace: Tom, I believe the microbes synergized your gut-brain axis! Thank you so much for exploring and opening conversations about the gut and having us!

Fat Head: Many thanks to all three of you for taking the time to answer so many questions about an important topic that I initially overlooked. My gut thanks you too.

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22 Apr 16:00

Obama and the Most [REDACTED] Administration in History

by Gene Healy

Good news: thanks to a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, the "most transparent administration in history" is going to have to tell American citizens when it believes it's legally entitled to kill them.

The lawsuit arose out of Freedom of Information Act requests by two New York Times reporters for Office of Legal Counsel memoranda exploring the circumstances under which it would be legal for U.S. personnel to target American citizens. The administration stonewalled, asserting that "the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified," and a federal district judge upheld the refusal in January 2013.

A month later, however, someone leaked a Justice Department "white paper" on the subject to NBC News, forcing a re-examination of the question in light of changed circumstances. On Monday, the three-judge panel held "it is no longer either 'logical' or 'plausible' to maintain that disclosure of the legal analysis in the Office of Legal Council-Department of Defense Memorandum risks disclosing any aspect" of sensitive sources and methods.

In matters of transparency, the Obama Team can always be counted on to do the right thing — after exhausting all other legal options and being forced into it by the federal courts.

When "peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room" after then-press secretary Robert Gibbs floated the "most transparent administration" line at an April 2010 presser, the administration should have taken the hint. But it's one soundbite they just can't quit. Gibbs' successor Jay Carney repeated it just last week, as did the president himself in a Google Hangout last year: "This is the most transparent administration in history…. I can document that this is the case."

Actually, any number of journalists and open government advocates have documented that it's not. As the Associated Press reported last month: "More often than ever, the [Obama] administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act."

It wasn't supposed to be this way. In the hope-infused afterglow of his first inauguration, President Obama declared, "for a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city," and ordered his attorney general to issue newly restrictive standards for government use of the "state secrets privilege," which allows the government to shield national security secrets from civil or criminal discovery. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that the administration would not "invoke the privilege for the purpose of concealing government wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment."

Easier pledged than done, apparently. Earlier this year, in a case involving a Stanford graduate student erroneously placed on a no-fly list, we learned that the government had cried "state secrets" to cover up a paperwork error. Holder himself assured the court that assertion of the privilege was in keeping with the new policy of openness. When the presiding judge found out the truth, he said: "I feel that I have been had by the government."

In fact, the Obama administration has driven state secrecy to new levels of absurdity. We're not even allowed to know who we're at war with, apparently, because letting that secret slip could cause "serious damage to national security."

Over the last year, thanks in large part to illegal leaks, we've learned that we're living in a [REDACTED] republic. In the president's version of "transparency," the Americans have no right to debate even the most basic public questions–like the legal standards for spying on or killing American citizens–unless, of course, that information leaks, at which point the administration "welcomes" the debate.

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

22 Apr 16:01

Obamacare vs. Flexible Insurance Plan Design

by Peter Suderman

Obamacare is often described as an attempt to make sure that most everyone has, or at least has access to, health insurance. But it's more than that: It's an attempt to make sure that everyone has a specific kind of health insurance. It's not enough for the law's authors and administrators to tell you that you need to be covered. They also want to tell you how.

Case in point, a regulation proposed last month by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which would prohibit people in most states from purchasing standalone fixed indemnity insurance. Fixed indemnity coverage is a form of limited, low-cost insurance that pays out a flat rate in response to certain prescribed events—say $75 for a doctor's visit or $15 for a prescription—regardless of the cost. Because the coverage payouts aren't variable, and because some major medical costs aren't covered at all, monthly premiums are often quite low, meaning that it offers a way for people to have some coverage at relatively affordable rates.

It may not be an option for much longer. The proposed regulation would essentially outlaw standalone indemnity policies, making it illegal to sell them except as an addendum to the more robust, more expensive plans that meet the law's minimum essential benefits requirements.  Under the proposed rules, indemnity insurance sold by itself would be classified in such a way that it has to meet all the requirements for "major medical coverage."

It's as if regulators suddenly decided that anyone selling scooters had to make sure those scooters were as powerful (and thus expensive) as motorcycles. Otherwise, scooters could only be sold as sidecars to people who already owned motorcycles.

The result is that scooters probably won't be available at all. Basically, the indemnity policies would have to meet a slew of Affordable Care Act requirements that would increase their cost and, in the process, make them too expensive and troublesome to sell.

In some ways it's really sort of bizarre. Prior to this proposal, the expectation was that individuals would be able to pay the mandate penalty and then purchase fixed indemnity insurance on the side. If this proposal goes through, that won't happen. Which would likely mean fewer people with some kind of coverage.

In other ways, of course, it makes a certain sort of sense. If you understand that the goal of the law is not merely to drive people into some form of health coverage, but also to specify what type of coverage they have, then this certainly fits the bill.

It's another example of the many ways the law attempts to control and limit the flexibility of insurance carriers to offer a variety of plans and coverage types. The health law's supporters have regularly sold it as a market-based system that promotes private insurer competition. But as we see with these sorts of rules, it in fact ends up heavily restricting the kinds of insurance market competition that is acceptable, and transforming the individual insurance market into what is effectively a quasi-public regulated utility. 

22 Apr 13:14

More Drinking Hours, Fewer Accidents

by Jeffrey Miron

Jeffrey Miron

Does restricting access to alcohol reduce traffic accidents? Not necessarily, according to a recent study by economists from the University of Lancaster: 

Recent legislation liberalised closing times with the object of reducing social problems thought associated with drinking to “beat the clock.” Indeed, we show that one consequence of this liberalization was a decrease in traffic accidents. This decrease is concentrated heavily among younger drivers. Moreover, we provide evidence that the effect was most pronounced in the hours of the week directly affected by the liberalization; late nights and early mornings on weekends.

The authors also suggest that the restrictive closing times caused more traffic congestion (everyone left the pubs at the same time), increasing the scope for accidents.

So more freedom seems to generate better outcomes, presumably because most people use increased freedom sensibly.

22 Apr 00:04

18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year

by Mark J. Perry

On the 30th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970, Ronald Bailey wrote an excellent article in the May 2000 edition of Reason Magazine titled “Earth Day, Then and Now.” In that article, Bailey noted that around the time of the first Earth Day, and in the years following, there was a “torrent of apocalyptic predictions” and many of those predictions were featured in his Reason article.  Well, now that more than 40 years have passed, how accurate were those predictions around the time of the first Earth Day? Wrong, spectacularly wrong, and here are 18 examples:

1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in his 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out.

14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

MP: Let’s keep those spectacularly wrong predictions from the first Earth Day 1970 in mind when we’re bombarded tomorrow with media hype, and claims like this from the official Earth Day website:

The fight against climate change is at an impasse and life on Earth hangs in the balance. Help us save polar bears and other wildlife as their habitats disappear and their food sources become scarce. Like the polar bear, human life is under threat, too. Storms are becoming stronger, droughts are becoming more severe, and rising sea levels encroach on our cities. We need an active informed public to stand tall, stop and reverse climate change and protect our children’s future!

Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day in 2030: “There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak.” In other words, the hysteria and apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the “environmental grievance hustlers.”

21 Apr 16:00

Stop Attacking Charter Schools

by A. Barton Hinkle

Try a little thought experiment. Suppose somebody invented a new kind of hospital. At first, nobody—not even the inventors—knew whether these new hospitals would work. But gradually the evidence came in—and it showed the new hospitals working better than the old ones. Not all of them, and not all the time. But most of them and more often than not.

In the new hospitals, the patients got better faster. Not only that: The new hospitals worked special wonders with the sickest patients—the poor and minority cohorts traditional hospitals often wrote off as hopeless. And just to put a cherry on top of the sundae, the new hospitals usually charged less. Sometimes much less.

Naturally, word got around. More and more of the new-format hospitals began opening. Yet demand for space in them grew even faster. People joined lotteries and waiting lists, hoping they could get in. They held rallies demanding new-format hospitals and wrote to politicians, asking for help in getting a new-format hospital in their neighborhood.

Well, you could imagine what would happen next. The old-fashioned hospitals would start raising heck. They would complain that the new hospitals were cherry-picking patients. That they were kicking out patients who didn't heal fast enough. That they were in the hospital business to make money, not to help cure the sick.

And when those claims turned out to be false, the old-fashioned hospitals would accuse the new ones of stealing patients and dollars from them in order to destroy the traditional-hospital system. The new hospitals, they would argue, had to be stopped in order to protect the traditional ones.

Confronted with an argument like that, most people would scratch their heads. Just whom is a hospital supposed to be for, anyway—the patients or the employees? If the old hospitals don't want to lose business, then why don’t they do what the new hospitals are doing? 

This, essentially, is the story of the charter-school movement. In the past decade the number of charter schools in America has more than doubled, and the number of students enrolled in them has more than tripled. That growth has been driven by one simple factor: success. Although charter schools are not working miracles, they frequently are leaving traditional public schools in the dust.

For instance: A 2013 study by Stanford University, examining charter schools in 27 states, found that charter-school students did roughly as well as their public-school peers in math and considerably better in reading. "The results reveal that the charter school sector is getting better on average and that charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students," Stanford reported.

A follow-up study of charter schools in Los Angeles found that the typical charter student made gains equivalent to about 50 extra days of instruction in reading and 79 extra days of instruction in math. The biggest gainers: black and Hispanic students, students in poverty and middle-school students.

It's the same story in New York. Nicholas Simmons, a teacher at one of the city’s Success Academy charters, notes that while 29 percent of sixth-grade students in the regular public schools passed a state math test—and only 15 to 17 percent of blacks and Latinos—83 percent of his school’s sixth-graders did. (Nearly all of Simmons' students are black or Latino, and three-fourths are low-income.)

Moreover, while only 7 percent of special-needs students in New York's traditional public schools passed the state math exams, 56 percent of those at his Success Academy did.

Well, maybe Simmons is biased. But even The New York Times editorial page has cited research showing "the typical New York City charter student learned more reading and math in a year than his or her public school peers."

And Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently noted that "some of the most successful schools in the inner cities have been charters in the Knowledge Is Power Program, showing what is possible even in troubled cities."

Then there's New Orleans, which handed over operations of most of its schools to charter organizations after Hurricane Katrina. The result? According to the Christian Science Monitor: "The academic gains have been dramatic. The city has surpassed the state average for high school graduation by several points. . . . Yet another bright point: the percentage of students qualifying for college scholarships from the state based on ACT scores and grade-point averages. Prior to Katrina, less than 6 percent of students in 14 high schools later taken over by the [Recovery School District] qualified for these scholarships. . . . In 2013, 27 percent did."

Naturally, traditional public school interests have not taken any of this lying down. In New York, Mayor Bill DeBlasio has waged a strident campaign against charters. In Illinois, the state legislature has been considering almost a dozen bills meant to restrict the growth of charters. "Charter schools are being used to destroy traditional public schools," says Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, who sees "no reason to open more of them." Chicago parents feel differently; hundreds of them recently flocked to the State Capitol's Rotunda to denounce the anti-charter legislation.

In Massachusetts, friends of the traditional school system also have tried to stop the charter-school movement because it ostensibly drains resources. "In Boston," noted The Boston Globe last month, "the school system is losing $87.5 million in state aid to about two dozen charter schools this year." And in Nashville, where the number of charter schools has grown from four to 21 in just five years, nine more have applied—provoking a backlash over the same "fiscal concerns" as those in Massachusetts. But if a student goes to a different school, why should the money stay with her old one? Shouldn’t the dollars follow the pupil?

Here in Virginia—which has all of six out of the country’s 6,440 charter schools—lawmakers have imposed high hurdles to the creation of new ones, and in recent years have quashed efforts to lower the barriers.

Legislators from suburban areas with good school systems see little reason to rock the boat, and some legislators from urban areas remember the grim days when "school choice" was just a cover for white supremacy.

Those days are long gone. Yet like yesteryear's Massive Resistance, today’s defense of the status quo still does considerable harm to minorities. Instead of standing in the way of progress, the defenders should take the same advice most people would give to our hypothetical old-fashioned hospitals: Physician, heal thyself.

This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

19 Apr 14:53

The ‘Collected Works of Milton Friedman’ project

by Mark J. Perry

miltonThe thousands of Milton and Rose Friedman fans out there will be happy to know about the Hoover Institution’s “Collected Works of Milton Friedman” project showcasing the lifetime work of Milton and Rose Friedman. Maybe “happy” would an understatement, and “ecstatic” would be a better adjective, to find such a well-organized (searchable and sortable) treasure of Milton and Rose Friedman’s archived books, columns, photos, quotations, audio and video materials, tributes and accolades, congressional testimonies, all of his academic articles, etc. For example:

1. Milton Friedman wrote 121 op-eds that appeared in the Wall Street Journal between 1961 and 2006, here is a complete list (with full text) of those op-eds that can be sorted by title and date.

2. Between 1966 and 1984, Milton Friedman wrote more than 300 op-eds for Newsweek, and those are available here (full text), sortable by date and title.

3. Friedman wrote 22 op-eds that appeared in the New York Times between 1964 and 2002, and those are available here.

4. Here’s a comprehensive list of more than 800 of Milton Friedman’s popular and public policy columns and articles that appeared between 1943 and 2006.

5. Here is a database of Milton Friedman quotations, conveniently organized by 29 different topics with the following description:

It’s a testament to Milton Friedman’s influence and legacy that many contemporary politicians, economists, and academicians still ask, “What would Milton say?” Rather than attempting to put words into Milton’s mouth, why not let Milton answer that question himself? Click on a topic to see Milton’s thoughts on issues ranging from bureaucracy to taxes.

6. Here is a list and database of Milton Friedman’s congressional testimony starting in 1942.

7. Here is a list and database of 250 articles of Milton Friedman that appeared in academic journals and other publications between 1935 and 2005.

8. Here’s a database of thousands of photographs and slideshows of Milton and Rose Friedman through the years, including the one above taken at the Nobel Ball in 1976.

And the resources above are just a fraction of what’s now available online at the Hoover Institution’s “Collected Works of Milton Friedman.” Enjoy!

18 Apr 19:39

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, It is Now Past Time to Google "the Streisand Effect"

by admin

The Peoria, IL mayor used the city police to raid and shut down the owners of a Twitter account that mocked the mayor.  The original twitter feed probably had about 12 followers when it was shut down.  I suggest that it is now past time for him to Google the "Streisand Effect"

Streisand_Estate

Too bad she didn't have a police force.

Update:  Told you so.  Popehat has a go

 

18 Apr 11:00

Friday Funnies: Modern Debate

by Chip Bok

Modern debate

15 Apr 00:08

blazepress: Volcanic eruption from space.



blazepress:

Volcanic eruption from space.

17 Apr 15:35

Revisiting Resistant Starch: Part Two

by Tom Naughton

Here’s part two of my interview with Richard Nikoley, Tim “Tatertot” Steele and Grace Liu about resistant starch.  Given how many questions I asked and the comprehensive answers, I decided to divide the interview into three parts.

Fat Head: What do you think of the high-maize resistant starch the corn refiners are promoting? From some of your comments, I get the feeling you consider it yet another industrial food we can do without.

Tim: I’m very disappointed in the direction that the makers of Hi-Maize have taken it. Here they have a substance with the potential to help billions, yet they only want to put it in bakery goods and snacks so they can promote them as “high fiber foods.” The people who make Hi-Maize are the same ones who make High Fructose Corn Syrup. Since that bubble burst, they are looking for ways to refill the coffers of the corn producers. The studies in which Hi-Maize, or High Amylose Maize Starch (HAMS) was used to show marked metabolic improvements required approximately 20-40g of RS per day. This level makes most people fart, so when they put it in food, they are very careful to get it in at a level that ensures nobody “squeaks one off” in church, God forbid. This fart-proof level is the same issue that inulin and other prebiotic supplement makers had to deal with. A level of RS that produces no farts in 90% of the consumers is a level that does no good for 100% of people eating it for its “high fiber” benefits.

Grace: Movies like Fat Head, and others — King Corn and Future of Our Food — brought awareness and enlightenment for me about the dangers of the greed and perversions of industry interests including USDA collusion and GMO Big Agriculture. Part of the reason industrialized nations have epidemic gut problems, many experts believe, is secondary to GMO foods in the food supply that make up 80-90% of the American SAD food pyramid: GMO grain and GMO Bt corn fed livestock (pork, poultry, beef), GMO grain crops, GMO Bt corn, GMO soy, GMO sugar beets, etc. We have moved away from sustainable, organic, heirloom and biodynamic farming and livestock production and all its abundant life, including the soil organisms and other gut-preserving probiotics that live on the roots, tubers, shoots, fruits and leaves of our crops.

Fat Head: Lower glucose levels are a nice benefit, but I wasn’t getting the high fasting glucose levels that you and other people have reported on a very low-carb diet – perhaps because I’m low-carb but not zero-carb, and I usually have a high-carb Saturday night meal. So reports of lower fasting glucose levels didn’t persuade me to run out and buy potato starch. But when you wrote several posts about resistant starch and gut bacteria, you got my attention. Describe how resistant starch affects our gut microbiome.

Tim: RS is ALL about the gut bugs –100%. The first studies on RS in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s didn’t take the gut microbiome into account, and lots of their studies made it look like RS was not all it was cracked up to be. However, give a person RS for a couple weeks and allow their gut bugs to grow and change, then try the same studies — big difference. If most people had really good gut flora and all that was lacking was some fermentable fiber, then RS would be HUGE on its own.

Unfortunately, with widespread overuse of antibiotics, sanitized food and living conditions, and a disconnect from the microbes that live in the dirt, most people just don’t have the right set of gut bugs to take full advantage of simply adding RS to their diet. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when they first started looking into prebiotic fibers, they noted that about 75% of test subjects could not tolerate RS or inulin over 30 or so grams per day, causing them excessive gas, bloating, and pain. Now I suspect it’s even higher. The folks who can’t tolerate RS are the ones who need it most! For them, a good program of probiotics and fermented food should get them back on track.

Richard: It’s really been quite a deal for me. Unlike you, Tom, I’d had high fasting numbers for years and recently had seen a post-meal spike as high as 194 after a carby meal. Thing is, as I already said, my carb intake was very sporadic. Now, someone’s gonna say “Well, then you’re diabetic, or pre-diabetic, by clinical definition.” Well, that’s the rub. I just did a post about the Inuit and how in three studies, 1928, 1936 and 1972, they found no ketosis in the Inuit (To Reiterate, Just In Case You Missed It: No Elevated Ketone Levels in the Inuit), even though they are low carb, about 55g per day on average, mostly from the glycogen in fresh, raw animals (liver, meat, skin and surprisingly enough, whale blubber—the most carby of all). So researchers give them a glucose tolerance test and they passed with flying colors, with max spikes right to about 140. Keep in mind that nowadays in LC forums and comment threads all over, people have convinced themselves that they literally cannot have carbs. Why? Because they have physiological insulin resistance, high fasting BG, and so when they go eat a piece of their kid’s birthday cake and get 160-180, they self diagnose as diabetic or pre-diabetic and the prophesy is self-fulfilled.

So then how come the Inuit eating low carb can handle a bolus dose of glucose? The secret is in two things: 1) all the prebiotic fibers they get from the glycans in fresh raw blood, organs and meat, so they have healthier guts than your average modern LC dieter and 2) they have a massive protein intake, 250g and up. Try eating 250g protein daily without drinking it. So, they had plenty of dietary protein to fuel gluconeogenesis without causing insulin resistance. But what happens if you fast them for 82 hours, putting them into no-shit ketosis and forcing physiological insulin resistance? Give them the same bolus dose of glucose and they spike to 280-300 and 3 hours later, they’re still above 230.

Interestingly enough, some negative reaction to that post focuses more on measuring methods for ketones, insisting that it’s a LCHF diet — missing the point that it’s the very high protein that’s making the difference — and for some inexplicable reason, continuing to insist that they just must have really been in ketosis in spite of three studies spanning 44 years finding no ketosis amongst Inuit eating their traditional LC diet. For some reason, perpetual, chronic ketosis just simply has to be a very healthful thing to do, beyond it being proven therapeutic for certain medical conditions, and in spite of the very unhealthful thing that happened to their BG numbers when there’s no dispute about them being in deep ketosis after an 82 hr fast.

There’s much work to be done.

Fat Head: You’ve written that living on a very-low-carb diet might even starve our gut bacteria in the long term. Is there evidence for that, or is it more of a concern that warrants more research?

Tim: Well, here’s my stance on that…a VLC diet, such as an Atkins induction-type keto diet, isn’t going to completely kill off all your gut bugs, but what will happen is that the ones that do all the “good stuff” we’ve been talking about — for instance, producing butyrate and stimulating gut health — will be relegated to the minority. The majority of your gut bugs on a VLC diet are ones that can eat any old plant matter, animal scraps, and the lining of your intestine — the mucus layer. A gut thus populated has a high pH, pathogens thrive, and colonocytes starve. The good gut bugs are more than likely still there, just hiding and waiting for enough food for them to once again flourish. These populations change fast, even on a “by-meal” basis. Long-term eating habits set up long-term health patterns. We can eat however we want in survival situations, or any short-term diet intervention, but in the long run, a colon with ample butyrate and populated with beneficial microbes such as those that eat RS and the ones that benefit from the RS feeding frenzy is best.

Another thing to consider, Tom, is your lifestyle on the farm … your close association with chickens, animals, dirt, trees and fresh foods give you a leg up compared to most people. Your gut is most likely populated with all the soil-based organisms and lactic acid producers that folks are paying dearly for. I’d guess that for you, a big slug of RS gave your gut bugs a real treat and they were trying to tell you something: FEED US! What do your chickens do when you miss a day of feeding them? They cluck and fuss and let you know they are hungry. When well fed, they lay eggs and grow big juicy breasts and drumsticks. It’s the same with your gut bugs. Treat them like your farm animals or crops, feed, fertilize, and treat them well and they will pay it back in spades.

Grace: I love VLC and LC diets. They will always have a place therapeutically and clinically, I believe. My problem is that for some or many, these diets compromise or will eventually compromise 1) the gut and 2) adrenal/thyroid/gonad health. In four different LC or VLC short-term studies, prominent core gut microbial populations were dramatically reduced. These gut populations are important for health because not only do they serve vital functions such as expelling pathogens, vitamin processing and production (A, K2, B) and maintaining healthy immunity, they are also huge butyrate factories, pumping out butyrate which keeps gut tight junctions tight, immunity intestinal integrity intact, pathogens low and insulin sensitivity appropriate via the GPR41/43 receptors.

In one study, the researchers examined the shifts in gut populations during an Atkins induction diet (24 g carb/day) for 4 wks. With the VLC diet, they observed an enormous drop in butyrate to a fraction (about one-quarter) of the maintenance diet level. Four very significant subpopulations of gut bugs were decimated by the VLC low fiber and RS-deficient diet: Bifidobacteria, Ruminococci, Roseburia, and F. prausnitzii.

The study groups ate salads, but this was not apparently enough to sustain the important core gut communities. Salads may provide about 10 grams of non-starch fiber, but zero RS or oligosaccharides for them to feed on. These prominent populations are also highly correlated to longevity and robustness in centenarian and aging studies. In more and more gut microbiota studies, these populations are found missing in disorders and disease, yet found in great abundance and diversity in the healthy. Their favorite substrate to feed on is resistant starch.

Strict paleo diets that eliminate legumes, GF grass grains, roots and tubers may also exert the same detrimental gut effects as RS-deficient Atkins because the gut has to contend with the same conflict: a deficiency of RS and soluble fibers from starchy ‘plant babies.’ Without RS and other fiber, fecal carcinogens are not diluted, N-nitroso compounds occur at higher amounts, stool pH increases (allowing more pathogenic growths), and microbial-derived antioxidants such as ferulate and other phenolic compounds decrease.

Fat Head: If we do starve our gut bacteria, what would be the negative health effects?

Tim: Look at America…the modern, dyspeptic gut we’ve created: Frequent heartburn, loose stools or constipation, indigestion, smelly gas, GERD, IBS, or worse. You may even have one of the many autoimmune diseases that are running rampant, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or cancer. Digestive diseases affect over 70 million people in the US alone! These diseases required 48.3 million ambulatory care visits, 21.7 million hospitalizations, and caused 245,921 deaths in 2009. Total cost for digestive diseases was estimated at $141.8 billion in 2004. And, these stats are getting worse, not better. It’s estimated that over 90 million Americans use antacids or other digestive upset medicines. Upset stomachs are the number one cause of self-treatment. These are all caused by “hungry gut bugs.”

Richard: Most people actually have both E. coli and C. difficile in them, but they are kept at bay by our symbionts and commensals. C. difficile causes about a half million sicknesses annually in the US, hospitalizes 250,000 and kills 15,000. Guess when the most common time is for an infection to occur? Immediately following a round of antibiotics. Now, connect them dots.

[On that topic, folks, you may want to listen to this NPR interview about the effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiome -- Tom]

Fat Head: To experience the benefits of feeding our gut bacteria, we need gut bacteria to feed. Is it worth taking probiotics while adding resistant starch to the diet? Or do probiotic supplements just create expensive poop?

Richard: This was the last puzzle piece for me personally. I pounded three brands of soil-based organism probiotics that Grace recommends. I did this for a week or so but by about day three, it was very clear this was a huge benefit. Very notable was energy and sleep. Very interesting because I seemed to be relieved of this sort of regimented thing where you have to get 7-8 hours. It quickly became way different. Some nights 4-5 hours and others, 8-9 but less on average and when it was one of those 4-5 hour deals, I wasn’t just getting up at 4 a.m. because of insomnia. I was ready to hit it and felt great.

But the biggest deal of all was airborne allergies or, for all I know, food allergies. Anyway, I’ve had perpetual congestion, sneezing, runny nose and cough virtually all my life. Used to be on meds year round. LC Paleo did wonders for that initially. Got rid of the meds, felt a lot better. But it was creeping back and I’d always have to have tissue on hand, have to shoot Afrin some nights to get to sleep, and now and then, have to pop an OTC. Within 3 days on the SBO probiotics and for the first time ever, I’m breathing clearly through my nose 80-90% of the time. Seems to be getting even better, even though I’m down to just taking one or the other of those three products every day or two. They are pricey, so after pounding them the first week or two, I’d recommend stretching them out like that.

Lots of folks have now introduced these and many positive reports are beginning to come in. Clear breathing seems to be a common one.

Grace: Since you are a farmer, Tom, I am envious of the natural probiotics you and your family encounter daily! My family and I are suburbanites with no garden and the only healthy dirt I encounter is the few that rim our carrot tops or the little dusting on my organic greens that haven’t been blasted off by triple filtered water rinsing. Also I’ve had plenty of antibiotics in my lifetime which likely decimated my gut little did I know.

What I see anecdotally and clinically is that many people’s guts are missing core ancestral species (which is my AHS14 topic this year). Our gut bugs have taken a hit and the damage is immeasurable. By using functional medicine lab testing of stools and urine organic acids, I can see the damage. By talking to people, the damage is often evident as well. This is the same advanced testing that is bringing us rapid information about the gut microbiota over the last 10-15 years.

I can’t tell you how often I see Bifidobacter, Lactobacilli and other core ancestral species missing. I advocate a few good soil based organisms (SBO) probiotics such as Prescript Assist and AOR Probiotic-3, which do an excellent job of filling in nicely for now for the lack of soil exposures that our ancestors were immersed in, and we now have challenges in obtaining.

Modern, industrialized societies consume 100% of food, vegetables, and packaged beer that is sterile, dead, or hyper-hygienically clean. By contrast, our ancestral gut strains Bifidobacter, Lactobacilli, Clostridium, Bacilli, and wild yeasts all naturally co-exist on farm livestock, children, chickens, eggs, raw dairy, legumes, grass grains, tubers, roots and other plant sources.

Tim: In the ancient past, no one needed probiotics because we got all the new microbes we needed from dirty food, dirty fingers and a close connection with the Earth. In the more recent past, probiotics worked like migratory farm workers. As long as you used them, they gave you some benefits, but as soon as you stopped, they were gone because they had no incentive to stick around. With RS, that all changes. Probiotics now have a reason to stick around a while. If you are one of the 25% of people who cannot ferment RS, or even one of the 75% who can, you should take probiotics when first healing your gut or switching to a high RS diet. Most if not all of us are missing key gut bugs that are found in several probiotic supplements. In a diet filled with RS, inulin, glucomannan, and other prebiotics in the 20-40 gram per day range, these probiotics will not only survive, but kick ass on the pathogens and set the stage for stability and resilience in your gut’s ecosystem.

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17 Apr 17:12

Colorado County Bullies Couple into Handing Over Land for Non-Use

by Ed Krayewski

government's just us, gimme!The Barries, Ceil and Andy, of Summit County, Colorado, have been fighting their local government, which was trying to use eminent domain to seize their land and keep it "open space." The Barries bought 10 acres and a cabin just outside Breckenridge in the White River National Forest in 2011. The sale came with an all-terrain vehicle, but the U.S. Forest Service told the Barries they couldn't use the old mining road to get to the cabin from their home in the sub-division below.

The county got involved when the Barries petitioned it to declare the road a county route, which would permit them to use it. Instead, the county offered to buy the land. The Barries refused.

Then the county condemned the cabin over plumbing and electricity issues (the cabin has neither and a prior owner didn't get permits to remodel it) and then tried to use eminent domain to take it.

The Barries finally agreed to a sale, or "voluntary settlement" according to the county, this week, for $115,000. That amount, they say, barely covered the legal bills and a portion of the land value. It got too expensive to fight the government, and court-ordered mediation indicated they weren't going to win, as Fox News reports:

The Barries said the slim odds laid out by a mediation judge also influenced them to settle.

"The judge, who was the mediator, basically told us, 'You're fighting Summit County, in the Summit County Courthouse with a Summit County jury and a Summit County judge that has to be re-elected by Summit County voters in November, you're not going to win'," said Ceil Barrie.

The county cited "motorized travel" (the Barries say they've never gone off-road on their property) and "commercial activity" (Andy Barrie says he collected pinecones for his Christmas wreath business) in the area as reasons for trying to take the land from the Barries.

h/t Raven Nation

17 Apr 15:09

State Attorneys General to Google: Censor or Be Censored

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

If you have to ask Google how to rob a house or become a drug dealer, you probably aren't going to make a terribly superb robber or drug dealer. In other words: Search engine inquiries into how to start a life of crime are probably harmless. But that's not really the point—were eHow and Ask.com the premier way of learning the drug trade, it still wouldn't make it right for the government to intervene. The government is intervening, however, with state attorney generals (AGs) pressuring Google to obscure sites that promote illegal activities or sell "dangerous" or illegal materials. 

In a December 2013 letter, published by The Washington Post this week, attorneys general from 23 states and Puerto Rico "expressed concerns" about "Google's monetization of dangerous and illegal content," "the promotion of illegal and prescription free drugs," and general intellectual property violations on the Internet. The gang proposed a meeting in Denver in January, to which Google agreed.

A subsequent letter from the AGs, sent in February, calls the meeting a "valuable first step" but stresses that "much work remains to be done." Summarizing requests made at the meeting, the AGs ask Google to enhance content screening systems and place increased "human scrutiny" on content uploaded to YouTube and Google Drive; to delist sites that sell illegal drugs or any other illegal materials, and prevent these sites from using paid search or ads; and to provide "swift responses" to law enforcement officials about this content. 

"What can Google do to encourage a culture worthy of its 'Don't be evil' motto?" they ask. Oh, I don't know, perhaps not censor the Internet based on the whims of a group of paternalistic prosecutors or use its massive reach to be a spy for the state?

Google, to its credit, wanted no part of the AGs' evil schemes. The company explained that it already has initiatives in place to identify and address copyright violations or prohibited content, and it has (since 2010) barred illegal pharmacies from placing paid ads via Google.

It also, at the request of the AGs, recently removed more than 1,200 phrases from its auto-complete predictions, such as "how to become a drug dealer," "how to get away with robbing a house," and "how to buy slaves" (note that these search terms are still perfectly possible, you'll just have to type the whole phrase yourself). Additionally, it added hundreds of search terms (such as "buy foreign women") to a list of things that will not return ads on YouTube and AdWord.

However, Google patiently explained to the AGs, it does not own or run everything on the Internet nor have a desire to be censor in chief (emphasis mine): 

In contrast to our hosted platforms, our search index reflects existing content on the web, and the sites linked in Google search results are created and controlled by those sites' webmasters, not Google. Given the First Amendment and free-expression issues at play, search is the least restrictive of our services ... It is our firm belief that Google should not be the arbiter of what is and is not legal on the web.

Hell yeah. And Google also rejected (as it has many times before) the idea that it should remove entire sites from search results for copyright violations. Whole-site removal "sends the wrong message internationally, by favoring over-inclusive private censorship over the rule of law," it said. "This would jeopardize free speech principles and the free flow of information online globally and in contexts far removed from copyright." 

The state AGs aren't satisfied, of course. If Google won't fall in line, they've threatened to pursue legal action, according to The Washington Post. Jim Hood, Mississippi AG and the one leading this crusade, explained to the Post that they were merely "trying to make (Google) do right." 

16 Apr 21:51

Emails: IRS Lerner Contacted DOJ About Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups...


Emails: IRS Lerner Contacted DOJ About Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups...


(First column, 10th story, link)

15 Apr 17:30

Larry F. Correia, International Lord of Hate

by correia45

So I got slandered in the Guardian last Friday. I would have responded sooner, but I don’t normally blog on weekends, and yesterday was the highly successful Book Bombing of John C. Wright’s latest book. We got him into the 200s overall, #2 on three different bestseller list, onto the Movers and Shakers list, and the top of Hot New Releases. Side note, it is kind of funny how I’m not a *real* writer, yet I somehow manage to routinely manipulate the sales rankings of the world’s biggest online book seller once a month for my friends. Go figure.

Anyways, my name showed up as the poster child for hate mongery and villainy in the Guardian (a liberal tabloid that passes for a major newspaper in Britain). I’ve been in a lot of American news things but this was a first for me, so on Friday afternoon I had to discuss with my fans on Facebook what I should put on my new business cards. We finally decided on Larry F. Correia, International Lord of Hate. Almost went with The Hatemaster because of the 70’s super villain vibe, but that looks too much like The Hamster when you’re reading fast.

So here is the article written by Damian Walter. It turns out that Tom Kratman knew him back when Asimov’s had a forum, and remembered him as a shrill little libprog, and that if Damian was at the Guardian a village somewhere in England was missing their idiot.

Somebody else told me that Damian is an “aspiring” author, and that he’d recently been given a grant by the British government to write a novel. I have no idea if this is true, and don’t care enough to look it up, but man, if it is… your government actually pays people to write novels? BWA HA HA HAW! Holy shit. As an actual novelist, that’s funny. And I thought my government was stupid.

Unlike Damian, I’m not a huge pussy, so I will include the link to the thing that I’m about to insult. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/11/science-fiction-needs-to-reflect-queer-fluid-gender-identity

As usual, the article is in italics, my comments are in bold.

Science Fiction Needs to Reflect that the Future is Queer

You’re probably thinking, oh, not this shit again. Don’t worry. I’m not going to fisk the whole thing. I’m skipping the first few paragraphs. It is just more of the usual whiny ass demands for more message fic catering to Special Topic of the Day X. Tomorrow the X will be different, but the lectures will be exactly the same.

Though you should read it for tidbits like how male gamers play female characters in video games because they are curious about gender roles… Uh huh… And not because if you’re going to be staring at your character’s ass in Skyrim for 200 hours, it might as well be an attractive ass. The new Tomb Raider spent millions of dollars to perfect 3D boob jiggle for the next generation consoles because male gamers really want to hear Laura Croft’s feelings about the dangers of cismale patriarchy.

All of the other dumb shit he threw out there has been taken apart by other authors already:

Dave goes through why gender roles actually exist for things beyond hurting Damian’s delicate lilac scented feelings: http://madgeniusclub.com/2014/04/14/cow-manure-and-truth/ (and this one is especially good, because as he talks about punching cows. That back breaking, filthy, dangerous job is how I grew up. No wonder every other job in my life has seemed easy in comparison. I must have “privilege”)

Sarah explains how Damian having to cut his hair isn’t the worst thing to ever happen, while trying to steal my title of International Lord of Hate: http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/04/13/i-need-a-secret-lair-and-minions-and-piranhas/

And while the libprogs are tring to poison the awards well against other conservative writers, Amanda explains the modern literati libprog’s concept of fairness: http://madgeniusclub.com/2014/04/15/so-much-for-fairness/

I just want to focus on the part where he comes after me.

When author and historian Alex Dally Macfarlane made a call earlier this year for a vision of post-binary gender in SF, her intelligent argument was met with predictably intractable ignorance from conservative sci-fi fans.

First off, it wasn’t intelligent at all. It was a petulant demand for authors to end the default of binary gender in their fiction, and how she never wanted to see the default of binary gender again. Please, go ahead and read it. Don’t take my word for it.

For writers and fans like Larry Correia, whose virulent attack on MacFarlane

Interesting… Notice how Damian doesn’t ever link to what I actually said and never uses any actual quotes from me. Here is my “virulent attack”. If you’ve not read it yet, read it for yourself and decide if it matches anything Damian goes on to accuse me of: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/

was excellently dissected by Jim C Hines, sex is a biological imperative and the idea of gender as a social construct is a damn liberal lie!

If Jim’s pathetic slap fight attempt at taking me down strikes you as “excellently dissected” I’d hate to live in your sad little Everybody Gets a Trophy world. It was more of an attempted playground hair pulling, so then I responded by metaphorically knocking his fucking teeth in. Here is an actual dissection of excellence, where I take Jim Hines out and kick him around like a soccer ball. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/29/5687/

Unlike Damian, I don’t need to put words in people’s mouths. Libprogs want conservatives to be silent. Conservatives want libprogs to keep talking so the world can see just how full of shit they are. The links are all there. Judge for yourself.

There are so many distortions that I can’t even take this line by line, I’ve been forced to responding to fragments.

But Correia boils it down to a much simpler argument.

Not even close. None of what he goes on to say is even close to my argument, which was story first, message fic WAY later.

However accurate a queer future might be,

Uh… Wow… No. I never made that argument either. First, “however accurate a queer future might be” – Nope. Whatever sexuality floats your boat, it is no skin off my nose, but only about 2% of the population is gay, so I definitely don’t think it is accurate that we are going to have a queer future, or that mankind is going to ever end the default of binary gender.

That’s just wishful thinking on Damian’s part. Even if Earth went full Sparta in the future, most of us would still think that Damian is a pussy. As for the future, western nations have become more forgiving of homosexuality, true, but once again, while a libprog is quick to lecture us all on white privilege, their usual soft racism overlooks the rest of the world, where cultures that despise and persecute homosexuals are common. I would assume that those cultures have a future too. Demographically those cultures are making babies and growing while the permissive euro-socialists have quit having kids. Yes, I’m sure in the future the Space Caliphate is just going to love it some gay folks.

SF authors must continue to pander to the bigotry of conservative readers if they want to be “commercial”.

So that was my argument? Hmm… Interesting. Since Damon couldn’t be bothered to link to my actual article or use any quotes from me except for the ones he made up, let’s take a look at some of the things that I really said in the article:

“Now, before we continue I need to establish something about my personal writing philosophy. Science Fiction is SPECULATIVE FICTION. That means we can make up all sorts of crazy stuff and we can twist existing reality to do interesting new things in order to tell the story we want to tell. I’m not against having a story where there are sexes other than male and female or neuters or schmes or hirs or WTF ever or that they flip back and forth or shit… robot sex. Hell, I don’t know. Write whatever tells your story.

But the important thing there is STORY. Not the cause of the day. STORY.

Because readers buy STORIES they enjoy and when readers buy our stuff, authors GET PAID.”

Hmm… Write whatever tells your story… That sure sounds like me telling people to not write about gay people to satisfy conservative bigotry. Let’s see what other vile hate speech I spewed in those articles he was too chicken shit to link:

“Robert Heinlein had stories where technology allowed switching sex. Great. That’s actually a pretty normal sci-fi trope where in the future, there’s some tech that allows people to change shape/sex, whatever, and we’ve got grandmasters of sci-fi who have pulled off humans evolving into psychic space dolphins or beings of pure energy. If that fits into the story you want to tell and you want to explore that, awesome for you. I’ve read plenty of stories where that was part of that universe. If your space whales that live inside the sun have three sexes, awesome (that one was my novella push on Sad Puppies 1).”

Yeah. Wow. There I go again… Could it be that it is the libprog Social Justice Warriors who are bossing people around and trying to push conformist group think, and that they suffer from projection issues? Naw… That’s impossible. Let’s keep going, surely this simple idea that I boiled it all down to can be found in there somewhere!

You want a truth bomb? Readers hate being preached at. Period. Even when you agree with the message, if it is ham fisted and shoved in your face, it turns you off. Message fic for message fic’s sake makes for tedious reading. Yet, as this stuff has become more and more prevalent, sci-fi has become increasingly dull, and readership has shrank.

Nope. That can’t be it either. I warn writers not to bore the shit out of their audience for commercial reasons, but where’s the part where I tell writers not to write about gay folks?

Which is of course nonsense.

Yes, you fucking twatwaffle, it would be nonsense because you made it all up. When you can’t actually debate somebody libprogs go for Make Shit Up. And once you’ve hit that check box, they can go for Dismiss. For my new readers, here is a handy checklist for when you are arguing with morons like Damian. http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/09/20/the-internet-arguing-checklist/

Ironically, as this little ass clown was putting words in my mouth about how writers shouldn’t write about gay folks in order to assuage our homophobic red state audience, my book of the week was Sarah Hoyt’s novel with a gay narrator. My last Book Bomb was for a Michael Z. Williamson novel where the main character was a bisexual. You know why? Because the stories were entertaining and they were enjoyable books from talented authors.

The science fiction novels of Iain M Banks were bestsellers many times over, in part because the future they explored was openly queer.

In part? In fucking PART? By that logic Tolkien is a bestseller because some people really like books with trees in them.

Citizens of Banks’ future society the Culture have the ability to change their sex at will, and frequently shift between sexes and gender roles. Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 became both a bestseller and multiple award winner with a vision of the future that included fluid non-binary gender.

I like how he throws these out there like he’s proving me wrong or something… I suppose if I was the imaginary straw man he’d constructed I’d be all sorts of outraged or something.

And Nicola Griffith’s historical epic Hild, nominated for this year’s Nebula awards by members of the SFWA, is built around a bisexual protagonist.

Anybody who wants to be a writer really needs to separate “award winning” and “best selling” in their mind. They are not synonyms. Sometimes a book will be both. Usually they are not, and prestigious awards don’t pay shit. To most readers “award winning” is more of a synonym for “boring and preachy” because they’ve learned the hard way that over recent years awards are more likely to go to whatever preaches about Special Topic X than what is actually the enjoyable. This is a leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness.

And if members of the SFWA like it? Whoop. SFWA doesn’t represent the book buying public that actually pays the bills. The SJW crowd of SFWA will love whatever preaches about Special Topic of the Day X, and then they’ll write blog posts about how it was too bad more left handed transsexual Eskimos haven’t won awards, then they’ll lead a lynch mob against one of their fellow libprogs for slightly deviating from proper goodthink. SFWA is useless and their Social Justice contingent is tedious.

Now I want to raise a question, why is the Guardian brining me up now? If you look at the dates, I pissed off the left half of the internet clear back in January. That’s like ten million years in internet time. Since then the Social Justice Warrior crowd has moved on and been outraged by Jonathan Ross for possibly telling fat jokes in the future, then they got outraged at Neil Gaiman for his being surprised at how easily they get outraged, then they got outraged at Robert Silverburg and a couple dozen other prominent writers for saying that they didn’t want a soviet style editorial board to prosecute thought crime, then they got outraged at liberal Patrick Rothfuss for saying maybe they shouldn’t be so easily outraged all the time, then they got outraged at liberal Wil Wheaton for agreeing with Rothfuss, and I think I’m forgetting some other outrages in there too.

So there’s been plenty of outrage since their outrage over me saying that their message fic is annoying. (if only I could figure out a way to harness the friction energy of liberal hand wringing, I’d have a source of limitless free energy… then I’d then sell the patent for this device to Big Oil for a zillion dollars, because I’m a greedy capitalist 1%er)

So why now, months later, does a British newspaper feel the need to mention me and make up some shit that I never said? Hmmm… What could possibly be going on in, oh… let’s say, London… Could they have been counting up Hugo nominations maybe? Naw… Surely this is just a coincidence.

Well, Damian, as a libprog it is never too early for you to start poisoning the well. Though if you’re going to make it as a journalist maybe you shouldn’t be so ham fisted in your timing. You might inadvertently reveal that somebody leaked information to you early or something.

Personally I look forward to the next few months of nonstop character assassination about me by the Social Justice Warriors. It will be just like when I was nominated for the Campbell. If I can generate enough infamy in Britain, maybe I will be invited to go on Top Gear to drive the reasonably priced car. Then Jeremy Clarkson and I can go over to Piers Morgan’s house and toilet paper his trees.

 

EDIT: John C. Wright has chimed in, and holy moly, Damien gets whooped on. :) http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/04/a-marvel-from-a-d-801702/


14 Apr 20:44

The Washington Post Quietly Corrects Justice John Paul Stevens's Grievous Error about Gun Laws

by Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

Last week, former Justice John Paul Stevens penned an op-ed for the Washington Post on “The Five Words that Can Fix the Second Amendment.” The piece is actually an excerpt from his new book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the ConstitutionIn the book, Stevens suggests some changes that would ratify his view of cases in which he stridently dissented, such as Citizens United and Heller

Stevens’s dissent in Heller, the case in which a 5-4 Court held that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to own guns even for those not part of a militia, is largely re-hashed in his Washington Post op-ed. In addition, there is, or was, a glaring error that the Post has since corrected sub rosa, that is, without acknowledging at the bottom that the piece was edited. As Josh Blackman originally reported, and thankfully preserved by excerpting, the first version contained this error:

Following the massacre of grammar-school children in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, high-powered automatic weapons have been used to kill innocent victims in more senseless public incidents.

As Josh and others noted, not only were automatic weapons not used at any recent high-profile mass shooting, they’ve been essentially illegal in the U.S. since 1934 and since 1986 they’ve been almost impossible to come by. Justice Stevens also repeated his error a few paragraphs down: 

Thus, even as generously construed in Heller, the Second Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the ownership or use of the sorts of automatic weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado and Arizona in recent years.

When you view the piece now, however, the words have magically disappeared. But they have not, apparently, disappeared from Justice Stevens’s book, which went to press with those errors. I don’t have a copy, but I checked by searching the inside of the book on Amazon for the word “automatic.” 

Why is this omission important? Well, for one it is part of a long series of mistaken statements by many gun-controllers, including President Obama, who made a similar statement in a speech last spring. More generally, the gun control crowd often shows a pronounced ignorance of how guns work and which guns are actually illegal, which certainly doesn’t help when they try to make their case for more strict controls. For just two famous examples, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) once described a barrel shroud as the “shoulder thing that goes up” (it’s not), and Rep. Diana Degette (D-CO) once remarked that after high-capacity magazines are emptied they would not be reusable (they are). 

It seems reasonable to conclude that, based on the prevalence of these errors by people who should know better, they don’t care too much whether their statements are accurate. To them, the fact that someone used a weapon to commit a mass shooting is enough to ban that weapon. Unfortunately for them, there is nothing about the weapons used in those atrocious crimes that meaningfully distinguishes them from weapons used every day by responsible, law-abiding Americans. The AR-15, for example, used by the shooter at Newtown, is the most popular rifle in the U.S. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time it is used responsibly, including for self-defense. Ipso facto, it is not just for “spraying death.”  

A better argument can be made that actual automatic machine guns “spray death.” And if those are what Justice Stevens believes were used at Newtown, then that seems relevant to his position on guns. I imagine, however, that his views wouldn’t change if he understood the truth. At the very least, however, the Washington Post should make clear that the piece was edited. 

14 Apr 23:39

Revisiting Resistant Starch: Part One

by Tom Naughton

I should file my next few posts under Stuff I Got Wrong, or at least Stuff I Wish I Hadn’t Ignored.  One is resistant starch.  The other is “safe starch” as prescribed in Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet.  Revisiting resistant starch led to me to revisit safe starch, so I’ll start with resistant starch.

I dismissed resistant starch because of how it came to my attention.  Some articles hit the media praising resistant starch as a means of controlling blood sugar.  Reading those articles, it was clear to me that resistant starch was being promoted by the makers of high-maize resistant starch – an industrial corn product.  When I looked up the studies mentioned in the articles, it turned out researchers had replaced white flour with high-maize resistant starch in baked goods, and lo and behold, people who ate the resistant-starch versions ended up with lower blood sugar.

So it looked like the “Whole grains are good for you!” story all over again:  replace total crap with less-than-total crap, and people have better health outcomes.  That doesn’t mean less-than-total crap is good for you.  If you want to convince me resistant starch lowers blood sugar, show me the studies where it’s added to the diet, not used to replace white flour.

Oops.

Turns out those studies exist and have been around for decades.  I only became aware of that after Richard Nikoley took up the subject of resistant starch with a vengeance on his Free The Animal blog.  He’s become so passionate about the subject, he created a permanent, top-level page on the blog called A Resistant Starch Primer for Newbies.

That page includes this brief video, which offers a clear explanation of what resistant starch is, so give it a look:

Mark Sisson also wrote a nice summary of the benefits of resistant starch on Mark’s Daily Apple.

The bottom line is that despite being labeled as “starch,” resistant starch doesn’t turn to glucose in your body.  It resists digestion (thus the term) until it reaches your colon, where it feeds your gut bacteria – and that’s where the benefits kick in.  The good gut bacteria digest the resistant starch and release butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, as a result.  Yup, eating a “starch” produces good fats in your colon.

And although the exact biological mechanism isn’t known (at least according to the research I’ve read), something about the process increases insulin sensitivity and leads to lower blood sugar, both before and after meals.  Let’s see … glucose control, insulin control, gut health … isn’t that what drew most of us to a low-carb paleo diet in the first place?

So after Nikoley had posted enough articles to overcome my resistance to the subject of resistant starch, I finally ordered some Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch, which is almost pure resistant starch, and started experimenting.  (I’ve since learned I can just buy the stuff at our local Whole Foods.)

I started out with two tablespoons per day and didn’t experience any of the explosive-gas problems some people reported on Nikoley’s blog, so I upped it to four.  I just stir it into some warm water (warning:  hot water will turn it into starch, not resistant starch) and drink it.

Like many of Nikoley’s readers, I found that my fasting glucose dropped, from around 100 in the morning to around 90.  Not bad, but the more impressive result has been post-meal glucose levels.  As an experiment, I ate about 3/4 cup of white rice without consuming any resistant starch for the preceeding 24 hours.  My glucose peaked at 150.  The next day, I swallowed two tablespoons of resistant starch around 10:00 AM and consumed the same amount of rice around noon.  This time my glucose peaked at 118 and dropped to 95 an hour later.  In another experiment, I pre-loaded with resistant starch and then had a baked potato with dinner.  My glucose peaked at 126.  Lots of Free the Animal readers have reported similar results.

I was early in the experimenting phase when Jimmy Moore invited me to participate in the 100th episode of Low-Carb Conversations, so that’s what I talked about:  resistant starch.  My part begins at around 1:27:00 into the episode.

Jimmy, in fact, has invited Richard Nikoley to host The Livin’ La Vida Low Carb show later this month and interview his partners in crime about resistant starch.  The partners are Tim “Tatertot” Steele and Grace Liu, who together with Nikoley are writing a book on the subject.

I enjoy podcasts, but I’m also a fan of written interviews, so I asked all three of them if I could submit a long list of questions, and they graciously agreed.  You’re probably familiar with Nikoley already.  Here are brief bios on Steele and Liu before we get to the Q & A:

Tim Steele lives in the small town of North Pole, Alaska where he is the electrical systems supervisor of a local hospital.  He retired from the Air Force in 2004 after 21 years of service as an electronics technician and combat engineer. In his spare time he hunts, fishes, gardens, and studies health and food science for simple solutions to modern problems.

Grace Liu, PharmD, AFMCP, is a functional medicine practitioner with an international functional medicine practice. In addition to hormone and digestive disorders, her clinical areas of interest are autoimmune disorders, diabesity, heart disease, cancer prevention, toxins, and nutrition. As science editor, she has an upcoming book being published on evolution, the gut microbiota and how to fuel it.  She also writes about gut health and other topics on her AnimalPharm blog.

On to the interview.  Like I said, I asked a lot of questions and the answers are very comprehensive, so I’ll post this in two or three parts.

Fat Head: Richard, you’ve become known as the resistant-starch blogger in the past year or so.  In fact, most of your posts recently fall into one of three categories:  1) resistant starch, 2) people who piss me off, and 3) people who piss me off about resistant starch.

Richard: Heh, never really thought of it that way but it does have a nice ring to it. I suppose I might add to that, those entrenched about anything, where it becomes more about the entrenchment than whether it still makes complete sense.  I’d use the word iconoclastic, but I think that’s something others call you and not something you call yourself — like being humble, or something. One just doesn’t say, “I’m so humble.”

Fat Head: True, if you call yourself humble, people tend not to believe you, especially if you’re proud of being humble.  Anyway, as you’ve pointed out on your blog, research pointing to possible benefits of resistant starch has been around for 30 years.  There was a bit of buzz about resistant starch three years ago, but since the articles hitting the media were about replacing white flour with high-maize resistant starch, most of us in the low-carb camp dismissed it as an attempt to sell more corn products.  So what prompted you to take such a passionate interest in the subject last year?

Richard: It was also dismissed out of hand because it had the word “starch” in it, and but for Paul Jaminet — who was only coming online around that time as I recall — we’d probably still be entrenched against starch. One prominent member of the overall community even called resistant starch an “anti-nutrient,” and even though he has since admitted he was unaware of it and has expressed a willingness to look at it again, that post from way back was referenced dozens of times in various forums and comment threads all over as justification to not even bother looking.

I think that’s a bad thing and I hope I never see anything anywhere like “Well, Richard (or Tim, or Grace) said this, so that settles it for me.”  Nobody deserves to be taken as an authority like that.  On the other hand, take a guy like Mark Sisson who, in his Definitive Guide on Resistant Starch, just plain comes out and admits he was wrong and regrets not taking a harder look.

As for me, RS didn’t cross my radar back then, for whatever reason. I was probably too busy soaking in ice cold water whilst engaging in Internet warfare or something, and when at war, things get serious in a hurry.  Pansy stuff like “resistant starch” just isn’t going to cross the attention threshold.

So, when I did begin blogging about this last April — so a year ago now, or nearly 100 blog posts and over 10,000 comments ago — it was a completely new thing for me. Tim Steele, a.k.a. “Tatertot,” brought it to me and we’d just had a pretty good run with “the potato hack,” where people were essentially doing Chis Voigt’s “20-Potatoes-a-Day” deal and virtually everyone was dropping weight very rapidly.

I tried it but stopped at about a week or so. I happen to love potatoes and don’t want that to ever change. But it was very instructive and once again, caused me to begin questioning entrenched “wisdom.” So Tim had creds with me and I heard him out. He shot me enough info to take it seriously, and there was this point where I thought that if half of this stuff is true, it’s going to be huge; and moreover, this goes way beyond resistant starch. This is about the human gut biome, so you have these news things you’re seeing every day and you have all these researchers studying resistant starch, but for the purposes of better livestock, or to help a big company get their franken-RS product into every baked good on the planet — but not for gut health, but because it’ll essentially lower GI and cause 1% fewer cases of diabetes, colo-rectal cancer, or both, or something.

But I knew the Ancestral community had a very good appreciation for gut health, was paying attention, knew why it was important, had the evolutionary context in terms of probiotics and prebiotics, and really, we’re just looking at another in a set of prebiotics. All I had to do was overcome the hurdle of the “S-word.” And that was tough. We were dismissed essentially by everyone. Ridiculed, etc. But of course, ridicule is like high-octane fuel for a true iconoclast…oops, there I go again, being all humble.

Fat Head: We appreciate your humility.  For those who don’t already know, what is resistant starch?  How is it different from other starches?

Tim: Normally when we think of “starch,” we think of the blood-glucose spiking stuff that is one step away from pure sugar.  The “bad calories” of Good Calories, Bad Calories fame.  Of course, Paul Jaminet made some of the starches “safe” for us in his Perfect Health Diet, but resistant starch is something entirely different.  RS was discovered in the ‘80s when scientists were trying to measure fiber in food.  Under microscopic examination of the effluent of human and animal small intestines, they kept finding a confounding element that they weren’t expecting—undigested starch granules.  They termed these “resistant starch.”  Resistant in this case meaning resistant to enzymes that digest food.

Grace: During my schooling and training for diabetes education, no one was aware of resistant starch or how it blunts blood sugar increases just as other fibers do — psyllium, pectin, hemicellulose, and oligosaccharides.  Resistant starch is consumed by the vast majority of the ‘core members’ of the gut microbes. It is a core fuel for the core gut bugs. The evolutionary purposes of fiber and resistant starch may be threefold:  1) store carbohydrate energy from the sun and photosynthesis, 2) provide structure, and 3) act as anti-freeze and stress protectors to safeguard the plant and ‘plant babies’ against environmental extremes such as frost, acid, moisture, dryness, mold/fungi, pests, and pathogens.

What I mean by plant ‘babies’ are the progeny that contain genetic material that will be passed on to the next generation of plants: tubers, underground storage organs, legumes, grass grains, fruits, and seeds and nuts. All of these contain some degree or a lot of RS and oligosaccharides that resistant human digestion. By shielding the genetic material, the fiber and RS buffered and protected the tuber, root, legume and grain from freezing and bursting open. Plants and microbial bugs were here on Earth billions of years long before Homo sapiens emerged. It is actually speculated that the extreme Ice Ages are what largely shaped the carbohydrate and fiber content in plants and their survival. To us mammals, the vast majority of these carbohydrates are indigestible; however, for the gut critters, these carbs are their favorite feasts and fuel. Our co-evolution was inseparable. Now, perhaps our de-evolution is imminent because we are suspiciously lacking our co-evolved microbial appendages. Antibiotic over-utilization, C-sections, and phobic attempts to be sterile and super-sanitary has perhaps amputated our collective guts.

Resistant starch will not raise blood glucose, unlike starch. It behaves like other fiber. The plants that have more RS also have more protein (again protecting and nourishing future ‘plant babies’) and a lower glycemic index. All of these contribute to a lower impact on blood sugars.

Fat Head: If resistant starch isn’t digested and converted to glucose, what happens to it?

Tim: Resistant starch ends up in the large intestine where it gets fermented by gut bugs into fat (short chain fatty acids=SCFA). Sounds simple, but it’s anything but! RS is the substrate for fermentation by the prime gut bacterial players, but one of the few fibers that require numerous ‘actors’ to degrade it into its final end stages. The gut is truly an ecosystem and the apex predators take first dibs on the prime rib, then the bottom feeders and scavengers get their turns eventually. The byproducts of all these interactions feed other microbes and create an entirely different structure in the gut than when simpler fibers are eaten. Inulin, legume oligosaccharides, and glucomannan are other fibers that behave the same way. The fibers found in human breast milk (Human Milk Oligosaccharides or HMOs) also share this trait. Unfortunately, when we are weaned we usually never get a good taste of these type prebiotics again, except for the tiny bits found in a few foods and snacks.

Richard: What’s cool beyond this is that we live mostly in a symbiotic relationship with the vast majority of these gut microorganisms. Keep in mind we’re talking big numbers, 100 trillion to our 10 trillion human cells. About the size of a football if packed together. People can have up to about 1,000 different species, and while the human genome is comprised of about 25,000 genes, the total genome of all the different microbial lines in our gut are about 3 million, over 100 times more. There’s more. A human generation is about 30 years while on average, bacteria go through 6 generations in a day, and they’ve been evolving for 2 billion years longer than we have.

It makes you wonder in a chicken or egg kinda way, are we just a nice house that bacteria built for themselves? And then it takes on sci-fi alien invasion proportions when you consider that via the brain-gut connection—with more neurons outside the brain than anything, including the spinal cord—it influences behavior, mood, sleep, satiety and more. I’m just guessing, but I’ll throw out there that you want to keep your mind-control aliens well fed and content.

Fat Head: If we’re talking about NSA mind-control aliens, I’d rather keep them starved and cranky, but I see your point.

Grace: It’s great you bring up breast milk, Tim! Since the dawn of breasts and breast milk, babies have received carbs (lactose) and over 100 oligosaccharides (fiber) from mom’s milk. The lactose is for the baby, but the fiber feeds the neonate’s burgeoning societies of microbes colonizing its gut and other organs. Another misconception about breast milk was recently busted as well. Mom’s breast milk contains over 700 species of probiotics (entering the mammary glands via the gut lymph circulation). On Day One of life, our superorganism symbiosis starts. Richard loves the cyborg and Matrix motifs, and rightly so!

Fat Head: “The Dawn of Breasts” sounds like a movie I might have rented when I was single, but I digress.  So as counter-intuitive as it sounds, when we consume resistant starch, the stuff is converted to short-chain fatty acids in our colons.  What happens to those fatty acids?  Do we burn them for energy, or do they mostly feed our gut bacteria?

Grace: The SCFAs made are butyrate, propionate (metabolized by the liver) and acetate (muscle, kidney, heart and brain). Approximately 30% of butyrate is burned for host energy and the remaining 70% is rapidly absorbed to feed the intestinal cells, which are as enormous in surface area as that of a tennis court. The gut also houses a hidden brain which is innervated by over 100 million neurons, bigger than our spinal cord. Additionally the entire gastrointestinal tube is lined by immune cells; therefore, the gut is one long lymphoid organ. For an extremely large and often overlooked organ, studies demonstrate what happens when it is not properly fueled or fed. In sterile, germ-free animals, their immunity and immune organs are blunted and intestinal organs atrophied when the gut bugs are absent.

Richard: Another thing to keep in mind is that you basically have three types of these critters:  1) the symbionts, i.e., we cut a deal and it’s win-win, 2) the commensals, those who do nothing for us, but don’t harm us, either, and 3)  the parasites or pathogens. The commensals are an interesting lot, because while they may not do anything directly for us and so don’t fit technically the definition of symbiosis, some do stuff for the symbionts who do, such as produce stuff they need to eat.

Keeping the whole thing in balance by feeding them fermentable fibers, primarily, is the ideal way to keep the pathogens in check. It’s chemical warfare down there, and it’s far better to have a specifically targeted antibiotic, manufactured in a 3 billion-year-old chemical plant, than to have to resort to carpet bombing or nuking the whole thing with broad spectrum antibiotics.

Tim: The end-result with the biggest impact does seem to be the creation of SCFAs, especially butyrate.  A colon flooded with butyrate has a lower pH and healthier colonocytes.  The lowered pH creates an environment that favors beneficial over pathogenic microbes and the increased butyrate serves as fuel for the special cells that line the colon.  When these cells are fueled by butyrate, they behave normally, self-destructing when they need to and regrowing as they should.  Colonocytes can also run off glucose, but when fueled by glucose, they behave completely differently.  They don’t self-destruct and they are at higher risk for cancer.  A low carb/high fat diet for you is a low fat/high carb diet for your gut.

Fat Head: When the makers of high-maize resistant starch sent out press releases announcing that resistant starch doesn’t raise glucose levels, my thought was “Whoop-de-do.  Neither does cardboard, but that doesn’t mean eating it will improve my health.”  But resistant starch doesn’t just have a neutral effect on blood glucose; it seems to have actual positive effects.  Describe what you’ve heard from people about how resistant starch affects their fasting blood sugar levels.

Tim: If you replace 50% of the wheat in white bread with sawdust, the glycemic index will be cut in half! — this is how most people read those reports.  But with RS, it’s a bit different.  Some of the immediate blunting of blood-sugar spikes is definitely from the same action as in the sawdust and cardboard analogies, but RS is also acting as a powerful prebiotic in your large intestine, making long-term changes that affect hormones that stimulate insulin among others.  Usually within a few days, many people who have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes notice lower fasting blood glucose in the morning and post-prandial spikes that are lower than normal after a carby meal.

Some really neat experiments were done by Steve Cooksey (the Diabetes Warrior) involving a dose of RS before exercising, and he clearly demonstrates that RS increased his insulin sensitivity while exercising — which is something that diabetics struggle with continuously.  RS has been shown to increase whole body insulin sensitivity … that’s huge!

Richard: For me personally, RS alone wasn’t enough to get me all the way there. For some low carbers, even clinically diabetic ones, RS just works like a champ, right off. Steve Cooksey, as Tim mentioned, is one of those. Then there are others for whom it seemingly does nothing, or works for a while then nothing. I was in the middle. So, instead of 110-120 fasting, it brought me to 100-110. And in terms of post meal, I was seeing spikes maybe 20 points less but still in the 140-160 range, often.

But I had been so used to eating low carb so much of the time that it was difficult, and I had to really force myself to eat the rice, potatoes or legumes with almost every meal. As it turns out, I now prefer a bowl of my pinto beans with a couple of over-easy eggs on top to my bacon and eggs; and anyway, I was getting pretty tired of the most Paleo food on the planet: bacon. It began tasting like a salt lick to me (just guessing) a long time ago, but I digress. So, yeah, some days it’s the beans and eggs, some days “refried wok potatoes” from previously baked and tossed in the fridge to form retrograde RS that resists degradation with mild reheating.

Long story short, by getting my starchy carbs (“safe” in every sense) up to the 100-200 range, maybe 150 average, BANG!, my BG normalized, both in terms of fasting and post meal. I understand that this is hugely inconvenient for a lot of folks to hear, entrenched in low carb doctrines, but it is nonetheless true, and I’m far from the only one to report it.

Grace: What is impressive to me is how RS and other fibers improve insulin sensitivity anecdotally and in clinical trials. We have seen a huge number of improvements in fasting BGs reported at Free the Animal. If a person has noticed fasting BGs > 125 mg/dl in the mornings, then with consumption of  RS, they may report that their fasting glucoses return to the 80s range. Many of these folks at FTA noticed trending of higher glucose readings the longer that they were adapted to chronic VLC. With no other changes to diet, they noted that after eating RS, their BGs began to shift downwards. It’s not uncommon to see high fasting sugars in regards to VLC diets. It is related to normal feedback mechanisms of the body to preserve circulating glucose for the high energy organs — liver, brain and muscles — by ratcheting up insulin resistance in peripheral tissues. Under perceived starvation, insulin resistance can occur at even the muscle level — exactly where you don’t want it.  If one is trying to lose body fat, this physiological insulin resistance may strongly hinder your efforts. The best ways to improve insulin sensitivity in my opinion is to not starve insulin-regulating organs of what they need (gut, fiber + RS; muscles, carbs) and use the organs that use insulin — muscles. Studies demonstrate that weight loss can depend on the glycemic index of diet, but even more predominantly the insulin-resistant status of the individual.

Fat Head: People are also reporting that if they consume resistant starch, they get less of a rise in glucose levels after eating starchy foods like beans or rice or potatoes.  Is there a timing issue involved?  Do we need to consume resistant starch shortly before consuming other starches for that blunting effect to occur?

Richard: It was actually first called “the lentil effect” because they noted that legumes yielded less of a spike in glucose than one would expect for the amount of carbohydrate ingested, and that the blunting persisted, often into the next day, for other starches or sugars a person ate. They had unwittingly discovered what RS and other fermentable fibers do when the gut critters get fed.

Tim: What you are referring to is the “second-meal effect.” This has been studied for many years and is a normal part of our physiology.  When you embark on a diet that incorporates RS at every meal or at least every day, then every meal is a ‘second meal’ and you see long term reductions in HgbA1C as well as postprandial glucose spikes.

Grace: This effect is one of the coolest side benefits. It appears to last 2-4 hours depending on the study. Many other fibers like glucomannan, psyllium and pectin have it as well. In a way it provides even further shielding from potential high-glucose damage, because one study demonstrated for a high glycemic meal with sufficient fiber and resistant starch, glucose tolerance was maintained at the next meal. Ultimately what impacts the second meal effect is the fermentability of the indigestible carbohydrates and fiber, and this is contigent upon the right species being located in the gut, which ultimately do the magic.

Fat Head: Do researchers understand how resistant starch ends up lowering glucose levels?  What’s the mechanism?

Tim: Well, it’s not so much that it lowers glucose, it’s more about increasing insulin sensitivity.  Remember all those hormones that people have been talking about…Peptide YY, Glucagon-like Peptide-1, Ghrelin, and Leptin?  These are all modulated by the microbes in your gut.  When the right microbes are present and they are being fed enough fermentable fiber such as RS, they start producing these hormones that act together with them to increase insulin sensitivity.

Grace: In the gut, pancreas and immune system are fatty acid receptors called GPRs 41 and 43. The selective fats that bind these are the SCFAs (butyrate, etc.) made from the gut microbes metabolizing RS, oligosaccharides and other indigestible complex carbohydrates.

When GPR41/43 are activated by butyrate, they decrease body fat, increase satiety (PYY), increase insulin sensitivity and other anti-diabetic effects, reduce inflammation, power immunity, suppress and shrink cancer cells, divert oxidative DNA damage, maintain tight barrier and gut function, and many other beneficial host activities. We even double our butyrate from the gut microbiota with exercise.

Butyrate from microbial production also binds the ketone receptors known as GPR109a (formerly known as HM74A in humans and PUMA-G in animals). This was a surprising and recent discovery. I suspected butyrate would bind it, but no confirmatory studies occurred until recently. It makes sense, no? We are cyborgs and controlled in symbiosis with our microbes. Microbes maketh who we are and what we burn and store. Earlier the research showed only niacin (vitamin B3), nicotinic acid, and ketone bodies could bind HM74A with fidelity and duration. Therefore many of the health benefits that short-term ketosis affords overlaps with what is achieved by optimal gut health. This is what I observe clinically as well as anecdotally at my blog Animal Pharm and Richard’s blog Free the Animal.

Tim: Thanks, Grace…you had to go there didn’t you?  As if this stuff isn’t boring enough!  Now you kind of see our problem, Tom: this stuff is just so complex that everyone’s eyes sort of glaze over when we talk about the magic of RS.  These GPRs that Grace talks about are an incredible piece of the puzzle, but just so hard to work into conversation or even write about.  GPR stands for G Protein-coupled Receptors (the G doesn’t even seem to stand for anything).  And, we haven’t even mentioned Peyer’s patches, Treg cells, and defensins!  Seriously, you could write an entire book on the deep science of RS. People spend their entire lives studying it, but sometimes it’s best if we answer questions like this with, “It just works…who cares how?”

Okay, I admit it:  Tim’s right — my eyes did glaze over a bit with all the chemical names.  I don’t like words without vowels.  But I agree … if it works, it works.  So far it’s working nicely for me.

More Q & A in my next post.  We have a ways to go yet.

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13 Apr 21:27

Guest Post: If It's Such A Privelege, Why Do They Have To Stick A Gun In Your Face?

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

Two. Billion. Hours.

That’s how much time people in the Land of the Free waste each year preparing and filing their tax forms to the IRS– roughly 13 hours for each of the ~150 million individual returns filed.

And if you’re doing your own taxes this weekend, it may certainly seem like you’ve spent that 2 billion hours yourself just preparing your 1040.

To put this number in perspective, two billion hours is roughly the time it would take to walk to Uranus and back… which is a bit ironic given where you’d probably like to tell Mr. Obama to go stick his tax forms right about now.

Now, I’m not going to tell you today that taxes are illegal. Nor will I tell you that you don’t have to file.

I think taxes are morally reprehensible. Taxes rob an entire population of its financial resources in favor of a tiny political elite that has a long-term track record of incompetence and deceit.

Unfortunately, though, this humiliating exercise is forcibly perpetrated at gunpoint. So not filing your taxes can lead to very bad consequences. Just ask Richard Hatch.

As you may recall, Richard was the very first winner of the reality show Survivor.

What you probably don’t know is that Richard spent several years in prison on charges of “attempted tax evasion.”

I was astounded when he told me that ATTEMPTED tax evasion is a crime in the Land of the Free. It sounds more like Thoughtcrime.

People are brainwashed into believing that taxes are a ‘privilege’, and the “price we pay for civilized society.”

But if the society is so civilized, and it’s such a privilege, then why do they have to threaten people at the point of a gun?

It’s because the value proposition is completely upside down. Whether in the US, France, England, Spain, or Italy, people pay out the nose for taxes… and get very little in return.

It’s like forking over fifty bucks for a Big Mac– it doesn’t make any sense. There has to be a balance between how much you pay and the value that you receive.

And everywhere you look these days, that value is in serious decline.

Increasing chunks of governments’ budgets are going just to pay interest on the debt… not to mention absurd domestic spying programs, or destructive wars to go (as George Carlin joked) “drop bombs on brown people” in foreign lands.

Think about it as you write that check to the government– are you getting any value?

A few hundred years ago, the Founding Fathers certainly didn’t think so. As Samuel Adams summed up in 1764, taxes made the colonists “tributary slaves” to the British government.

And the taxes that they were paying were almost nothing compared to what people pay today. They would be astounded to find citizens in “free societies” paying 40%, 50% of their -income-, plus property, estates, sales purchases, imports, etc. to a massively bloated government.

Let’s go back in time together and explore this further in this week’s Podcast Episode: Taxation without Consideration.

You can listen to or download it here:

http://www.sovereignman.com/podcast/005-taxation-without-consideration-14089/

11 Apr 16:57

Attkisson: When I'd Begin Investigating an Obama Scandal, CBS Would Pull Me Off...


Attkisson: When I'd Begin Investigating an Obama Scandal, CBS Would Pull Me Off...


(Third column, 3rd story, link)

11 Apr 16:00

California Demands $55 Million from Microprocessor Inventor

by Steven Greenhut

SACRAMENTO—Business owners who have fled California often say their decision to leave wasn’t just about tax rates, but about the punitive attitudes sometimes found among tax and regulatory authorities here. A new wrinkle in a high-profile, 22-year-old tax case gives fodder to those who make such claims.

In 1970, a young Southern California electrical engineer and inventor named Gilbert Hyatt filed a patent application for an innovative microprocessor chip. That was a year before Intel patented its chip, which led to the personal-computer revolution.

Twenty years later, after a complex legal battle over the origins of that technology, the U.S. patent office awarded Hyatt the patent for a microprocessor — a shocking and still controversial decision (that was later partially overturned) that would provide Hyatt with a multimillion-dollar windfall. He moved to Las Vegas, where he said he was a full-time resident before he received the earnings.

California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB) saw a newspaper article congratulating Hyatt for his patent and decided to seek $7.4 million in back taxes, claiming that he was still a resident of California when the money came in. That sounds like a simple enough dispute that could quickly be resolved, but what followed has been an ordeal that has consumed a good bit of Hyatt’s adult life.

On Friday, Hyatt, now 76, filed a federal lawsuit accusing the state of violating his constitutional rights in pursuit of a sum that now tops $55 million as interest and penalties have accrued. He’s asking for an injunction forbidding the state from pursing its claim any further. After all these years and legal expenses, he just wants California to leave him alone already.

The tax authorities have been pursing him through its administrative process. Tired of the endless investigations, Hyatt filed suit in Nevada court in 1998. California officials said they weren’t subject to an out-of-state tort lawsuit. California lost that argument in the Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court and the high court decision sent the case back to a Nevada district court, which awarded Hyatt nearly $400 million in damages after finding that the California authorities abused their power and invaded his privacy. That case is on appeal.

Hyatt believes that California officials are purposefully delaying. “Specifically, because of the 20 year delay Hyatt can no longer obtain a fair and full adjudication of whether he owes state taxes to California,” according to his lawsuit. “During this time, material witnesses have passed away, memories of witnesses have faded, and documents relevant and important to Hyatt are no longer available.” The board keeps assessing penalties, so he says it has every reason to keep delaying. He suspects the tax board is waiting for him to die so that it can go after his estate.

Under California law, the Franchise Tax Board has the “presumption of correctness,” meaning that the onus always is on Hyatt to disprove what the tax officials say. And, he argues, they keep changing their stories and their allegations, thus resulting in more years of legal expenses and disputes.

“It’s ruined my life. They keep coming up with these intensive positions, many hundreds of pages of allegations and such that we have to try and disprove decades later and it’s just very consuming,” Hyatt told me in an interview last week. “The FTB is out to get taxpayers’ money and it will go to extreme ends to get money whether it is entitled to it or not....”

The state controller’s office has yet to review the newly filed lawsuit. But former Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard, a former Republican Assemblyman, believes the state government is abusing rules designed to give taxpayers every opportunity to appeal a judgment to drag out a case against a taxpayer. The Legislature could fix the problem with a law granting a right to speedy trial on tax matters, he added.

It’s hard not to conclude that California’s tax agency is out of line as it continues to run up administrative and legal fees — not to mention risking potential multimillion-dollar liabilities — to pursue a decades-old dispute over where a taxpayer lived for six months. There’s a troubling lesson here for wannabe entrepreneurs, who might want to think carefully about their residency before they hit the big time.

11 Apr 14:58

Obama Announces Kathleen Sebelius Resignation

by Tyler Durden

... Because the sheer success of Obamacare was too great for her to handle.

11 Apr 12:48

Sen. Coburn Offers To Put An Outdated Agency Out Of Its Misery With His 'Let Me Google That For You' Bill

by Tim Cushing

No entity highlights the ridiculous amount of bureaucratic inefficiency and ineptitude of government agencies better than the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Its reports are loaded with the sort of damning evidence that would lead those unfamiliar with how government actually works to assume that heads will be rolling. In reality, the agencies investigated by the GAO soldier on from scathing report to scathing report with little to no sign of improvement.

Tom Coburn, a long-time combatant of government waste and fraud who publishes a yearly report exposing the worst of worst in terms of senseless government spending (the "Wastebook") is now using the GAO's own words to craft a bill targeting the money pit that is the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

Here's the leadup:

(3) NTIS is tasked with collecting and distributing government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business-related information and reports.
(4) GAO found that NTIS sold only 8 percent of the 2,500,000 reports in its collection between 1995 and 2000.
(5) A November 2012 GAO review of NTIS made the following conclusions:


(A) 'Of the reports added to NTIS's repository during fiscal years 1990 through 2011, GAO estimates that approximately 74 percent were readily available from other public sources.'
(B) 'These reports were often available either from the issuing organization's website, the Federal Internet portal (http://www.USA.gov) or from another source located through a web search.'
(C) 'The source that most often had the report [GAO] was searching for was another website located through http://www.Google.com.'
(D) '95 percent of the reports available from sources other than NTIS were available free of charge.'

(6) No Federal agency should use taxpayer dollars to purchase a report from the National Technical Information Service that is available through the Internet for free.
And here's the punchline:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the 'Let Me Google That For You Act.'
Someone had fun cranking out this "Short Title."

As the bill points out, it was suggested by the Secretary of Commerce in 1999 that the NTIS would eventually outlive its usefulness. According to the GAO's 2012 findings, that sell-by date was reached more than a decade ago.
NTIS product expenditures exceeded revenues for 10 out of the past 11 fiscal years.
The "Let Me Google That For You" Act calls for the repeal of the 1988 National Technical Information Act and the disbandment of the agency itself, with the redistribution of whichever of its duties are still deemed essential to the Commerce Department.

It's not often you get the chance to watch an extraneous government agency be put down and even rarer still under a snarky, incisive, short title. This is for the best. As we've seen all too frequently, time marches on, swiftly distancing itself from the glacial pace of government innovation.

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11 Apr 14:03

Police accused of dragging teen onto train tracks to cover up beating that left him paralyzed...


Police accused of dragging teen onto train tracks to cover up beating that left him paralyzed...


(Third column, 11th story, link)

10 Apr 20:10

Autopsy Shows Cops Shot Miriam Carey Five Times From Behind

by Ed Krayewski

"active shooters" by another nameSix months ago, Capitol police shot and killed Miriam Carey after the mother, accompanied by her one-year-old daughter, allegedly tried to ram a checkpoint at the White House before speeding off and leading cops on a chase toward the Capitol building. Reports of shots fired on Capitol Hill resulted in media coverage focusing on a potential shooting in the nation’s capital. A photo of an officer being loaded into a helicopter was captioned by the Associated Press as a “victim from a shooting.” The photo was actually of a Capitol police officer being medevac’d after crashing into a barricade while chasing Carey. Carey was the only victim of a shooting on October 3, 2013.

Initial reports indicated police fired at Carey’s vehicle five to ten times. An autopsy now reveals she was hit five times, all from behind. Via CNN:

The office of the District of Columbia medical examiner said in the autopsy that one round struck Carey in the left side of the back of her head, and she was also hit three times in the back and once in her left arm. The report didn't determine in what sequence Carey was hit.

Toxicology tests determined Carey didn't have alcohol or drugs in her blood.

Her family has questioned since the day of the incident whether shooting Carey was the only way to end the chase, which went through the heart of the nation's capital.

[Family attorney Eric] Sanders said on Tuesday that Carey's family members still feel police should have considered other options. The autopsy only "confirms what we said. It was unjustified."

Carey’s sister filed a $75 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Secret Service and the Capitol Police earlier this year.

Court documents related to the killing of Carey largely remain sealed. According to a public information officer with the Capitol Police, the shooting remains under investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.

10 Apr 03:15

Meet Rep. Mike Rogers: Crony Capitalist & Warfare State Benghazi Blowhard

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

For those of you who don’t know Congressman Mike Rogers, he is the Representative hailing from Michigan’s Eighth District. He is also one of the biggest blowhard, chicken-hawk defenders of unconstitutional NSA spying in all of Washington D.C.

Back in 2012, he gave his support to internet spy bill CISPA by proclaiming: “Stand for America! Support this bill!” Naturally, this clown would also serve as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Rogers is notorious for being one of the staunchest critics of Glenn Greenwald. For example, earlier this year he made up all sort of lies about Greenwald in an attempt to smear the journalist. In response, Greenwald had the following to say about Rogers back in February:

“First is that he’s not only lying, and he is lying, but he not only is lying but he knows that he’s lying. This what is Mike Rogers is notorious for in Washington is literally making things up and smearing political opponents and journalists he doesn’t like.

 

I defy Mike Rogers, if he wants to make that accusation, to come forward and present actual evidence that any journalist has stolen, has sold documents or stolen material or engaged in any kind of criminality. He has no evidence, he’s just making things up.”

You’d think a guy like Rogers who aggressively lobs untrue accusations against a journalist trying to inform the American public about government criminality would have a squeaky clean background himself. After all, he was a former FBI agent. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

Incredibly, Dick Morris points out that until recently Mike Rogers’ wife was the president and the CEO of the company that was contracted by the State Department to provide intelligence-based and physical security services. While this sort of crony capitalism is seen as “business as usual” in the cesspool that is D.C., the really crazy part of this story is that as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rogers is charged with investigating the adequacy of security at the Benghazi compound prior to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack.

You can’t find a bigger conflict of interest than that…

Dick Morris writes:

Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is charged with investigating the adequacy of security at the Benghazi compound prior to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack.

 

His wife, Kristi Clemens Rogers was the president and the CEO of the company that was contracted by the State Department to provide that security!

 

Mrs. Rogers, until recently, served as president and CEO of Aegis LLC, the contractor to the United States Department of State for intelligence-based and physical security services.

 

Aegis, a British private military company with overseas offices in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kenya, Nepal and the U.S., won a $10 billion, 5-year contract with the State Department to provide security for U.S. diplomatic posts around the world.

 

Aegis describes itself as “a leading private security company, provides government and corporate clients with a full spectrum of intelligence-led, culturally-sensitive security solutions to operational and development challenges around the world.”

 

Congressman Rogers, who abruptly announced his intention not to seek re-election, has been criticized for dragging his feet in the Benghazi investigation. Only when pressure from back benchers on his committee became intense did he agree to hold last week’s hearing at which former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morrell testified.

 

How on earth can the Rogers family justify having a husband who chairs a Congressional committee charged with reviewing the performance of his wife’s company in guarding the Benghazi compound?

Is this the reason Rogers just abruptly announced his retirement to become a talk radio host?

Full article here.