Friday, September 22, 2017

The Stages of Fasting: What Happens to Your Body When You Fast?

This is a useful bit.  we get plenty of how tos but mapping actual changes is usually left out.
 My own experience caught me getting dehydrated and that must be avoided.

All good though.
The Stages of Fasting: What Happens to Your Body When You Fast?

While fasting is nothing new, it is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as many discover its health benefits. If you are planning your first fast or looking for ways to improve your next one, there are a few things you should do to prepare. The first step is learning about the different stages of fasting. This knowledge helps you mentally and physically prepare for what happens to your body when you fast.
The stages of fasting outlined below are based off a water fast, a traditional fast in which you abstain from any food and only drink water for 12-48 hours or longer. Personal experiences can vary depending on the type of fast, age, or health of the individual, but these should give you a general idea of what to expect when you fast.

Stage 1: Day 1-2

Stage one lasts for the first couple of days of the fast or about 12-48 hours from your last meal. Usually, it is a good idea to put some planning and preparation into how and when you will start a fast. Try selecting a start day and time and then make preparations in your schedule for the duration of your fast.
How You Feel: Hungry

This stage is when your body transitions into fasting mode and, for many people, it’s the most challenging part of their fast. This stage is where you start to feel the hunger pains as you skip your regular mealtime routine. Most first time fasters start to feel a reduction in their energy levels. These effects can induce a negative mood or irritability for most fasters. It’s wise to prepare yourself for the possibility of being short on patience during this stage.
What’s Happening With Your Body: Battery Save Mode

Several things happen at the cellular level that cause hunger and fatigue during this first stage. When you’re eating regularly, your body breaks down glucose to get the energy it needs to function properly. While you’re fasting, your body needs to produce sugar for energy, so it begins a process called gluconeogenesis. During gluconeogenesis, your liver converts non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose. As your body goes into “battery save mode,” your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, becomes more efficient and uses less energy. This power saving process includes lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. At this stage, you may feel drained. However, if you stick it out for a little longer, some of that lost energy will return.[1]
Benefits: Mental Strength and Heart Health

Fasting these first few days can be difficult, but there are mental and physical benefits. Mentally, the act of fasting is an excellent way to exercise your willpower. Similar to the strength runners might feel after pushing their body to run that extra mile, people who choose to fast can feel strength as they fight through those natural urges to eat. Physically, there are incredible cleansing and heart health benefits taking place, too. As BMR lowers, fat in the blood starts to disappear as it’s metabolized for energy. This process promotes a healthy heart, and for some, improves cholesterol levels by boosting HDL levels.[2]

Stage 2: Day 3-7

Stage two starts around the end of day two and lasts until day seven. A lot of changes begin to happen at this stage, and you may start to notice changes in your physical appearance, as well as how you feel.
How You Feel: Less Hungry and More Energetic

By stage two, ketosis has begun. Ketosis is a critical phase of the fast where your body starts to burn stored fat as its primary power source. As the processes of ketosis are carried out inside your body, you might stop feeling hungry and tired. The practice of putting your body into ketosis has a growing movement behind it. It is ideal for weight loss, balancing blood sugar, and more. Best of all, you don’t even have to fast to put your body into ketosis. Eating the right foods at the right time can be enough to start this fat burning process. There are even vegan ketogenic diet plans available so you can still eat health-promoting foods to stay in ketosis.
What’s Happening With Your Body: Fat Burning Mode

When you consume a typical diet of carbohydrate rich foods, your body breaks down sugars and starches into glucose. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body. However, when you fast or go into ketosis glucose becomes limited, and your body must turn to fat stores for the energy it requires. Your body breaks fat down into glycerol and fatty acids. The liver synthesizes ketones using glycerol. The glycerol is broken down by the liver for additional glucose, and finally, those ketones are used by your brain as glucose becomes less available.[1]

Benefits: Weight Loss and Cleansing

Burning fat has several benefits for your health—the first being weight loss. Ketosis is a predictable way to target fat stores that otherwise remain untouched even with a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, getting rid of that extra fat has a detoxifying effect on the body. Your body’s natural defenses use fat stores to store toxic metals and other toxins so they can’t wreak havoc on your system. However, during ketosis, these toxic metals and toxins are safely expelled from your body as fat reserves get used up.[3] This cleansing effect may temporarily alter some people’s complexion or cause other signs of a healing crisis.

Stage 3: Day 8-15

Stage three typically falls between day eight and 15. This stage includes dramatic improvements in mood and mental clarity and is the stage seasoned fasters look forward to the most.
How You Feel: Clear Minded

By the third stage a sort of “fasting high” begins. This boost happens when your body fully adjusts to fasting. While not everyone reaches this stage, those who do report a dramatic improvement in how they feel. These improvements include an elevated mood, increased energy levels, and a type of clear mindedness unique to fasting.
What’s Happening With Your Body: Healing Mode

During stage three, your body starts to enter into a “healing mode.” This healing process begins as your digestive system takes a rest from the common stressors and toxins it endures on a daily basis. As a result, your body has fewer free radicals entering the mix, and oxidative stress decreases.[4]
On the flip side, fasting causes a stress that provides an added benefit. This is a kind of mild stress that is comparable to the stress caused by exercise, which ultimately makes you stronger and your immune system more resilient.[5]
Benefits: Healthy Aging

When the cumulative effects of this stage add up, they can be the catalyst for significant health improvements. Anytime you limit free radicals and oxidative stress you are encouraging healthy aging and positioning yourself for fewer health complications.[6] While less researched, this healing process seems to improve health for some.

Stage 4: Day 16 and Beyond

Stage four occurs sometime around day 16 and continues through the duration of your fast. While there may be some changes moving beyond this juncture, there is a daily balance that starts to set in.
How You Feel: Balanced

If you make it to stage four, you are at a place most have never gone. This stage, while doable, should only be attempted under close supervision from a trusted health care professional. For those that do make it this far, there are not any drastic shifts that occur in how you feel. Instead, a steady balance seems to set in.
What’s Happening With Your Body: Healing Mode Extended

Stage four is the extension and completion of the healing and cleansing processes that began during the earlier stages. The longer you fast, the more time and opportunity your body has to heal and cleanse itself.
Benefits: Personal Goals and Growth

If you make it this far, the benefit becomes personal. Fasting, especially beyond the first seven days, takes steadfast dedication. What you get out of the fast in these later stages can be a culmination of all the earlier stages or an accomplishment of a personal health goal. For some, it is weight loss, for others, it is a strategy to heal a particular health complication.

 Stage 5: Breaking the Fast

Stage five may come sooner or later, depending on your fasting goal. While we don’t assign a specific target day, you may want to make breaking your fast a planned event you can look forward to and celebrate when it’s all done.
How You Feel: Accomplished

Whether you fasted for half a day or a full month, you should feel accomplished. Taking deliberate action to improve your health or testing your limits is something worth celebrating.
What’s Happening With Your Body: Easing Out of Fasting Mode

How you choose to end your fast is critical. Depending on how long you fast, you may need to ease your way back into eating solid food. Fruit juices, cooked vegetables, and broths can help acclimate your body and digestive system to eating as internal mechanisms come back online.
Benefits: Start Something New

With careful planning and thought, fasting can be an incredible springboard into a healthier lifestyle. One suggestion is to make plans before you even start your fast. Write down what you’re hoping to get out of it and what you want to accomplish. If done correctly, the end of a fast is the perfect time to begin a dramatically healthier diet and lifestyle.
Additional Fasting Tips

Bowel movements and bad breath are two subjects that most people usually avoid discussing, but when fasting, you need to be aware of both.
During stage one and two of the fast, your body will still be expelling toxins and damaged cells every time you go to the bathroom. Using an intestinal cleansing product, like Oxy-Powder will help more thoroughly cleanse and detoxify your body.
Bad breath will be a concern throughout every stage of a fast. Slightly offensive breath is completely natural and part of the detoxing processes. If you are worried about your breath while you fast, I have created an all-natural solution. It’s called Fresh Mouth, and it comes in a convenient spray bottle that fits in your pocket. Just a few sprays and your mouth will feel fresh and smell great!
Do you have any experience with fasting? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook, and share your insight with us!
  • Fung, Jason, and Jimmy Moore. “The Complete Guide To Fasting.” 1st ed. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing. Print.

About the author:

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer. Heading up the research and development team, Dr. Group assumes a hands-on approach in producing new and advanced degenerative disease products and information.
Dr. Group has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the internet.

Anatomy of terror: What makes normal people become extremists?

This is not a difficult question.  You start with boredom and perhaps social isolation.  Then you self brainwash yourself to the point in which you finally drink the Koolaid.

The cure is even simpler. A low guilt  threshold for the application of Summary Castration. This makes reading Jihadi propaganda deeply unpopular and stops self brainwashing.

Put all that in place and it is no trick to make it all go away.

None of this ever had anything to do with religion at all, except to provide  useful idiots.  The inclination has been a fringe phenomena for centuries and includes neo Nazis, anarchists and communists as well..


Anatomy of terror: What makes normal people become extremists?

16 August 2017

It takes more than religious fanaticism or hatred to make someone take innocent lives, but recognise the true roots of ISIS-inspired terror and they can be addressed

VERA MIRONOVA rides Humvee shotgun through Mosul’s shattered cityscape. It is late January 2017. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has just declared east Mosul liberated from three years of rule by Islamic State, or ISIS. Most jihadist fighters are dead or captured, or have crossed the Tigris to the west, digging in for a final stand. Left behind, biding their time, are snipers and suicide bombers.

Much of the population has fled to refugee camps on the outskirts. Those who stayed look lost and dazed. Men pull corpses out of houses destroyed by air strikes. Others cobble together street-corner markets, selling meat and vegetables imported from Erbil, 80 kilometres and another world away.
Few women are visible. Mironova stands out, dressed in combat trousers and a Harvard sweatshirt, wisps of blonde hair escaping her blue stocking hat. Despite travelling in an armoured car, she’s clearly not a combatant. She’s a social scientist, and her job is not to fight, but to listen, learn and record.

We stop for breakfast at My Fair Lady, a ramshackle restaurant that was a favoured eatery of ISIS fighters. The Iraqi special forces soldiers accompanying us say it has the best pacha in town – steaming bowls of sheep brains and intestines stuffed with rice, with slices of black, fatty tongue and boiled oranges. Mironova orders a pizza.

A week later, a suicide bomber detonates himself at the entrance to the packed restaurant, killing the owner and several customers.

“The United States does not have a real counter-terrorism strategy,” says Martha Crenshaw. Faced with continued waves of jihadist terror attacks, in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq but also closer to home, the West seems at a loss to know what to do. Crenshaw is something like the doyenne of terrorism studies, with a half-century career studying the roots of terror behind her. She occupies an office at Stanford University just down the hall from Condoleezza Rice, the former US national security advisor who was an architect of the “global war on terror” declared after the attacks of 11 September 2001. “There is a vast amount of money being thrown into the counter-terrorism system and nobody is in charge,” Crenshaw says. “We do not even know what success might look like. We are playing a dangerous game of whack-a-mole: terrorists pop up. We try to beat them down, hoping they will give up.”

In July, al-Abadi was back in Mosul, this time to declare the final liberation of Iraq’s second city. Near-saturation bombardment of the centre by the US Air Force and a casualty-heavy, house-by-house offensive led by Iraqi forces had eliminated most of the fighters holding the city where the leader of ISIS, Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, had proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. The liberation came at a huge price. Mosul lies in ruins, and tens of thousands of civilians are dead or wounded. Almost one million residents have been displaced from their homes.

The price has been paid not just in Mosul. In June, 206 civilians were killed in bombings and other attacks carried out or inspired by ISIS in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Australia, Pakistan and the UK, where radicalised ISIS supporters murdered eight in an attack near London Bridge on 3 June. A couple of weeks earlier, on 22 May, a 22-year-old British Muslim named Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated an improvised bomb laden with nuts and bolts at the entrance to the Manchester Arena, killing himself and 22 others, many of them children.

Why? Religious fanaticism? Groundless hate? Perverted ideology? Victory in the war on terror requires us to know what and who exactly we are fighting.

After breakfast, we accompany Iraqi commandos into abandoned houses that had been used by ISIS, wary of booby traps. We stare into darkened, steel-barred rooms used as jails for sex slaves and “kafirs”, Muslims who fell afoul of ISIS. We inspect the labels on tin cans, torn cookie packaging and empty bottles of Scotch whisky.

The soldiers scoop up photographs, checkpoint passes and slips of paper with names and phone numbers. Mironova bags religious tracts written in Arabic and Russian. Many of ISIS’s foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria are Chechnyans and Tajiks. Someone hands Mironova a diary written in Russian. She reads out loud, translating a letter written by a woman to her jihadist lover.

“We are made only for each other, our marriage is sealed in heaven, we are together in this life and the afterlife, God willing. When you left, I counted the days until I got you back, my beloved. Now you are going to the war again; you may be gone forever. I will count the days until we meet again, my beloved Zachary.” Following the letter, the woman had penned a recipe for a honey cake that requires a creamy milk not obtainable in Iraq. Jihadists dream of comfort food, too.

During the 1980s, Marc Sageman worked as a case officer for the CIA, operating armed cells resisting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Now a forensic psychiatrist specialising in criminality and terrorism, he has been investigating what makes a terrorist for decades.

In his 2004 book Understanding Terror Networks, Sageman examined the motivations of 172 jihadist terrorists as revealed primarily in court documents. His conclusions fitted with decades of jail interviews and psychological studies showing that terrorism is neither solely reducible to ideological or religious motivations, nor to personality disorders. “Terrorism is not a personality trait,” says Sageman. “There is no such thing as a ‘terrorist’, independent of a person who commits an act of terror.”

That presents a problem for efforts to profile, identify and interdict individuals at risk of turning to terrorism, a central plank of anti-radicalisation programmes such as the UK’s “Prevent” strategy (see “Nip it in the bud“). Democratic societies cannot keep an eye on everyone, and what they are looking for may not even give any obvious sign of its existence.

Crenshaw’s influential paper “The causes of terrorism”, published in 1981, summed up decades of observations of terrorists and their organisations, ranging from 19th century Russian anarchists to Irish, Israeli, Basque and Algerian nationalists. The outstanding common characteristic of individual terrorists, she concluded, is their normality. In her 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem, political theorist Hannah Arendt noted the same thing about the “banal” Nazi concentration camp bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann.

Adolf Eichmann

The unremarkable Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann embodied the “banality of evil”
People who commit terrorist acts are usually embedded in a network of familial and friendship ties with allegiance to a closed group, be that tribal, cultural, national, religious or political. Historically, the conditions for the murder of innocents by terrorism or genocide have occurred when one group fears extinction by another group. Ordinary people are motivated to “kill people by category” through their own group identity.

Viewed from inside the group, that can seem rational: terrorists are brave altruists protecting the group from harm by powerful outsiders. Terrorist acts are warnings to the out-group, demanding that certain actions be taken, such as withdrawing a military occupation or ending human and civil rights abuses. Terrorism is a militarised public relations ploy to advance a grander scheme – a political tactic, not a profession or an overarching ideology.

But the vast majority of people who might share the same sense of grievance or political goals are not motivated to kill and maim the innocent. Criminologist Andrew Silke at the University of East London has conducted many interviews with imprisoned jihadists in the UK. “When I ask them why they got involved, the initial answer is ideology,” he says. “But if I talk to them about how they got involved, I find out about family fractures, what was happening at school and in their personal lives, employment discrimination, yearnings for revenge for the death toll of Muslims.”

Yet this is not a popular view with counter-terrorism agencies, he says. “The government does not like to hear that someone became a jihadist because his brothers were beaten up by police or air strikes blew up a bunch of civilians in Mosul. The dominant idea is that if we concentrate on, somehow, defeating the radical Islamicist ideology, we can leave all of the messy, complicated behavioural stuff alone.”

Mironova trained as a mathematician, game theorist and behavioural economist. A fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, she is one of few researchers to venture directly into combat zones to examine the roots of jihadist terror. Her work has been funded variously by the US National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the United Nations and the World Bank.

During extended stays in Syria, Iraq and Yemen over the past five years, Mironova has built up trust networks in a politically diverse spectrum of insurgents, including “radical” and “moderate” jihadists and ISIS members and defectors. She moves easily through the clogged frontline check points surrounding Mosul with the permission of the Iraqi military. She stays close to her protectors, careful not to cross the ethical line of “doing no harm” that separates academic research from intelligence gathering.
“We are playing a dangerous game of whack-a-mole with the terrorists”
By seeing things through the eyes of the fighters, Mironova aims to model what drives them, and how their individual motivations affect group behaviours and vice versa. She reads Arabic, but employs local translators in the field. She interviews fighters and civilians in hospitals, refugee camps and on the front lines face to face and via telephone or Skype.

Iraq as a whole is mainly Shia, but Mosul is largely Sunni; ISIS practices an apocalyptic form of the Sunni faith in a region wracked by social and economic catastrophe. Many civilians in the areas under their control collaborate, willingly and unwillingly, with ISIS. Some share their houses with fighters. Some work in ISIS factories, building homemade rockets, cutting and welding steel for jail bars and armour plates for tanks. Some escape into refugee camps. Some marry fighters. Some join sleeper cells.

In “The causes of terrorism”, Crenshaw observed that it is often the children of social elites who first turn to terrorism, hoping to inspire the less-privileged masses to approve a radical change in the social order. Many Jihadist organisations are led by upper middle class intellectuals, often engineers. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is a medical doctor; Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly has a doctorate in Islamic studies.

But the work of Mironova and others shows that the local ISIS rank and file is more down-to-earth: disenfranchised people struggling to eke out a living for their families in war zones. Foreign fighters tend to be more ideologically driven, and most motivated by factors beyond group identity to make the ultimate sacrifice (see “Devoted to the cause“).

mosque street scene

Militants may be motivated by revenge or the promise of heavenly rewards – but some just treat jihad as a job

Some militants seek to avenge the deaths of friends and relatives from US drone attacks, Shia militias, Iraqi police or US and British special operations forces. But as the sex slaves and Scotch suggest, jihadist fighters do not focus exclusively on heavenly rewards, or even hatred or revenge. Not everyone wants to die. Jihadist brigades in Iraq seize oil and vehicles, which they transport to high demand markets in Syria seeking to maximise profits. They often distribute gains from their looting and business operations communally.
Many of their adherents are purely economic actors, recruited with offers of competitive salaries, health insurance and benefits paid to their families should they be killed in battle. Mironova surveyed a cohort of Iraqi women who had encouraged their husbands and sons to join ISIS in order to get better family living quarters. Some recruits just need a job.

In Iraq and Syria, there are more than 1000 radical Islamist, moderate Islamist, and non-sectarian brigades seeking to recruit militants to their brand of insurgency. In Mironova’s models, their behaviour is determined by resource constraints, much as capitalist enterprises thrive and die. Groups compete to attract the best fighters. Those with low budgets may choose a radical religious line to attract foreign fanatics who are not as professional as fighters motivated by money, but will work for just room and board. Such models suggest that although the roots of violent jihadism might be expressed as religious fervour, they are anchored in more mundane, utilitarian – and perhaps solvable – causes.

“When the politicians demonise ISIS as evil, hormones flood the brain with danger signals,” says Hriar Cabayan. “We forget how to think scientifically. We need to get inside the heads of ISIS fighters and look at ourselves as they look at us.”

Cabayan runs the Pentagon’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) programme. His counter-terrorism unit taps the expertise of a volunteer pool of 300 scientists from academia, industry, intelligence agencies and military universities. They convene virtually and physically to answer classified and unclassified questions from combatants, including special operations forces fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The result is a steady stream of white papers largely concluding that the US counter-terrorism strategy – decapitating insurgency leadership, bombing terrorist strongholds – is counter-productive.

Reliable information on terrorist attacks and the effectiveness of counter-terrorist actions is hard to find. START’s Global Terrorism Database, based at the University of Maryland, records details of terrorist incidents as reported by English-language media. It does not record counter-terrorist actions. Crunching event-based data from START’s media sources can reveal statistical patterns in terrorist attacks, including how frequently certain groups attack, numbers of fatalities and types of targets and weapons involved. The Mapping Militant Organizations database, hosted at Stanford University, includes data relevant to the political environments that nurture terrorism, but also relies on English-only news reports and selected academic journals.

Neither database includes acts of terror committed by states, except for Islamic State. The definitional boundaries between insurgency and terrorism and state repression are vague. Militant actions directed against soldiers can be recorded as terrorism, while lethal police actions or government-initiated attacks on civilians are regarded as acts of war, or collateral damage, and so ignored.

Classified data is no more comprehensive: about 80 per cent of top-secret intelligence is drawn from open sources, including media reports. Raw data that contradicts policy or that tarnishes the military is often under-reported or ignored by field officers who are more concerned with living to fight another day. There is censorship, too: a recent investigation by Military Times reports that since 9/11, the Pentagon has failed to publicly report about a third of its air strikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, omitting an estimated 6000 strikes since 2014.

Relying on such imperfect sources can obscure the real motivations and root causes behind events. “The problem is that the press usually has a completely wrong narrative about the perpetrators that is only corrected in the evidence presented at the trials,” says Sageman. National Security Agency files leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has trouble hiring Arabic and Pashtu speaking intelligence analysts who understand the cultures they monitor. Military intelligence agencies focus more on locating and killing terrorist suspects than on understanding sociological motivations.

Cabayan praises Mironova’s “brave” style of research, and the data from the ground that it brings. At the SMA meeting in March this year, the question was whether the physical defeat of ISIS in Mosul would eliminate the threat. Sixty scientists, including Mironova, examined the problem from a variety of perspectives. Their unequivocal answer was no. Events so far bear out that prediction.

There is no easy solution to the problem of terrorism, says Cabayan, because neither terrorists nor counter-terrorists are entirely rational operators. “The words ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ make no sense,” he says. “People behave emotionally, illogically. Human societies are complex, adaptive systems with unpredictable, emergent properties.”

Many strands of evidence now suggest that terrorist and counter-terrorist systems are a single system governed by feedback loops; the actions and tactics of one side continually evolve in response to the actions of the other, as in a wrestling match. From this perspective, ISIS’s trajectory can be calculated only retrospectively, in response to events.

It is an agile trajectory. Statistical models built around what is known of the frequency and casualty counts of insurgent and terrorist incidents in Syria and Iraq show the jihadists as Davids and conventional armies as lumbering Goliaths. The extremist groups can fragment and coalesce with relative ease: they are “anti-fragile”, strengthening under attack. They are not wedded to charismatic leaders, but are self-organising networks that can operate independently of a single node of control, and have a ready source of new personnel.

The complex, evolving nature of the groups suggests that the US strategy of increasing troop numbers in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan won’t protect against jihadism. That conclusion is borne out by studies of the effects of troop “surges” in Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan in 2012, both of which appear to have increased terrorism. “Real complex systems do not resemble static structures to be collapsed; they are… flexible, constantly respun spider webs,” in the words of a 2013 SMA study of insurgency.

Drone strikes aimed at decapitating terrorist cells are likely to fail too. A 2017 study by Jennifer Varriale Carson at the University of Central Missouri concluded that killing high-profile jihadists is “counter-productive, if its main intention is a decrease in terrorism perpetrated by the global jihadist movement”. In July 2016, The Georgetown Public Policy Review reported a “statistically significant rise in the number of terrorist attacks [in Pakistan] occurring after the US drone program begins targeting a given province“.

“Human societies are complex, unpredictable, adaptive systems”
The drone strikes follow laws of unintended consequences, says Craig Whiteside of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. “Killing a charismatic leader may inspire a potent posthumous charismatic appeal, or cause splintering that results in otherwise suppressed extreme factions rising in prominence.”

The effects are felt in Manchester as well as Mosul. In her most recent book, Countering Terrorism, Crenshaw writes, “Western military engagement has reinforced the jihadist narrative that Muslims everywhere are targeted. It may have made ISIS more determined to inspire rather than direct terrorism. Nor has military action blocked jihadist organisations [in Iraq and Afghanistan] from regrouping, regenerating, and expanding.”

The evolving nature of the message means it is difficult to combat by broadcasting counter-narratives. Social networks ensure the message feeds back rapidly to disenfranchised sympathisers in the West (see “Network effects“). Data scientists from the Naval Postgraduate School have studied Twitter feeds from ISIS strongholds before and after the US began bombing them in late 2014. Before the bombing campaign, the tweets focused ire on near enemies: local mayors, imams, police and soldiers. As the bombs dropped, the tweets went international, calling for the destruction of Western governments and civilians.

During the next three years, ISIS fighters or ISIS-inspired lone wolves targeted innocents in Brussels, Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino, Nice, Manchester and London. Atmospheric changes in social media reflect changes in the ground-level politics of insurgency, and specifically a willingness to export terrorism abroad. In the words of the sister of Abedi, the Manchester attacker, he “saw the explosives America drops on [Muslim] children in Syria, and he wanted revenge”.

Terrorist groups are seldom defeated by military force; they either achieve political solutions, or they wither away because grievances are solved or dissipate, or they alienate their supporters through excess brutality. Conversely, the US-led bombings of civilians in Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and the atrocities now being committed by the Iraqi liberators against ISIS suspects and their families, risk creating a new round of Sunni grievances.

The grievances of local populations inspire terror attacks around the world

The grievances of local populations inspire terror attacks around the world
Peter Byrne
police street scene
According to a Pentagon-funded meta study of public opinion polls taken during 2015 and 2016, the “vast majority” of Muslims in Iraq and Syria do not support ISIS. But those who do cite religion or ideology far less than social, economic and governance grievances. And in Mosul, the study said, 46 per cent of the population believed coalition air strikes were the biggest threat to the security of their families, while 38 per cent said ISIS was the greatest threat.
If Iraq’s economic and social infrastructure continues to deteriorate, a global war on terror that has to date cost $4 trillion will continue – and more civilian lives will be lost to jihadist attacks in the countries involved and the West. “The Sunnis in Iraq have a genuine grudge,” says Cabayan. “They were left out of the Shia-dominated government that we set up; they are under attack, nobody is protecting them. We can and should provide off-ramps for defeated ISIS members – safety, jobs, civil rights. If not, after the fall of Mosul, we will be facing ISIS 2.0.”

The counter-productive strategies go both ways. The immediate effect of civilian casualties in terror attacks is generally to undermine the ability of the attacked population to perceive the grievances of the attacking group as genuine, and to strengthen the political desire to hit back militarily. Retired US Navy captain Wayne Porter was naval chief of intelligence for the Middle East from 2008 to 2011. He is convinced that the “only solution” to terrorism is to deal with its root causes.

“The only existential threat to us from terrorist attacks, real or imagined, is that we stay on the current counter-productive, anarchically organised, money-driven trajectory,” says Porter, who now teaches counter-terrorism classes to military officers at the Naval Postgraduate School. “Our current counter-terrorism strategy, which is no strategy, will destroy our democratic values.”

When ISIS is driven from west Mosul in July, Mironova is back on the battlefield, gathering more data about the fate of families accused of collaborating. Extrajudicial punishment of Sunnis by Shia and Kurdish forces is causing fear and resentment, and fuelling ISIS, which is far from defeated.

“ISIS is like H2O. It can be in several states: ice, water and vapour,” she says. “In Mosul, it was ice. We melted it. Now it is water, flowing into the countryside, seizing towns. It can vaporise to live and fight another day.”

Devoted to the cause

masked terrorist

Jihadists fuse their individual identity with that of the group
What makes someone prepared to die for an idea? This is a question that concerns anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflicts. Research he has led in some of the most embattled regions of the world, including in Mosul, suggests the answer comes in two parts. Jihadists fuse their individual identity with that of the group, and they adhere to “sacred values”.

Sacred values are values that cannot be abandoned or exchanged for material gain. They tend to be associated with strong emotions and are often religious in nature, but beliefs held by fervent nationalists and secularists, for example, may earn the label too. Atran has found that people in fighting groups who hold sacred values are perceived by other members of their group as having a spiritual strength that counts for more than their physical strength. What’s more, sacred values trump the other main characteristic of extremists: a powerful group identity. “When push comes to shove, these fighters will desert their closest buddies for their ideals,” he says.

Atran argues that individuals in this state of mind are best understood, not as rational actors but as “devoted” actors. “Once they’re locked in as a devoted actor, none of the classic interventions seem to work,” he says. But there might be openings. While a sacred value cannot be abandoned, it can be reinterpreted. Atran cites the case of an imam he interviewed who had worked for ISIS as a recruiter, but had left because he disagreed with their definition of jihad. For him, but not for them, jihadism could accommodate persuasion by non-violent means.

As long as such alternative interpretations are seen as coming from inside the group, Atran says, they can be persuasive within it. He is now advising the US, UK and French governments on the dynamics of jihadist networks to help them tackle terrorism. Laura Spinney

Nip it in the bud

Deradicalisation programmes are the bedrock of counter-terrorism strategies in many countries. They aim to combat extremism by identifying individuals who have become radicalised, or are in danger of becoming so, and reintegrating them to the mainstream using psychological and religious counselling as well as vocational training.

In the UK, some 4000 people are reported to the government’s anti-terror programme Prevent every year. The majority – 70 per cent – are suspected Islamic extremists, but about a quarter are far-right radicals, and that number is growing.
Critics fear that these programmes criminalise and stigmatise communities, families and individuals. In addition, there are questions about who governments collaborate with for information and whether public servants should be obliged to report potential radicals.

There is also very little evidence that the programmes work. Most fail to assess the progress of participants, and rates of recidivism are rarely studied. In a recent report, the UK parliament’s human rights committee warned that the government’s counter-extremism strategy is based on unproven theories and risks making the situation worse.

The key to combating extremism lies in addressing its social roots, and intervening early, before anyone becomes a “devoted actor” willing to lay down their lives for a cause, says Scott Atran at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflicts (see “Devoted to the cause“). “Until then, there are all sorts of things you can do.” One of the most effective counter measures, he says, is community engagement. High-school football and the scouts movement have been effective responses to antisocial behaviour among the disenfranchised children of US immigrants, for example.

Another promising avenue is to break down stereotypes, says social psychologist Susan Fiske at Princeton University. These are not necessarily religious or racial stereotypes, but generalised stereotypes we all hold about people around us. When we categorise one another, we are particularly concerned with social status and competition, viewing people of low status as incompetent, and competitors as untrustworthy. Throughout history, violent acts and genocides have tended to be perpetrated against high-status individuals with whom we compete for resources, and who therefore elicit our envy, says Fiske.

Fiske’s group has found ways to disrupt stereotypes by making people work together to achieve a common goal, for example. Trivial contact involving “food, festivals and flags” won’t cut it, she says. It has to be a goal people care about and are prepared to invest in, such as a work project or community build. Here, success depends on understanding the minds of your collaborators – “rehumanising” them.

Changing perspectives Tania Singer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, thinks brain training could achieve similar effects. Social neuroscientists have identified two pathways in the brain by which we relate to others. One mobilises empathy and compassion, allowing us to share another person’s emotions. The second activates theory of mind, enabling us to see a situation from the other’s perspective.

Singer’s group recently completed a project called ReSource, in which 300 volunteers spent nine months doing training, first on mindfulness, and then on compassion and perspective taking. After just a week, the compassion training started to enhance prosocial behaviours, and corresponding structural brain changes were detectable in MRI scans.

Compassion evolved as part of an ancient nurturing instinct that is usually reserved for kin. To extend it to strangers, who may see the world differently from us, we need to add theory of mind. The full results from ReSource aren’t yet published, but Singer expects to see brain changes associated with perspective-taking training, too. “Only if you have both pathways working together in a coordinated fashion can you really move towards global cooperation,” she says. By incorporating that training into school curricula, she suggests, we could build a more cohesive, cooperative society that is more resilient to extremism. Laura Spinney

Network effects

A key feature of jihadist groups is their use of social networks to propagate their ideas. “If you can disrupt those connections, that’s probably your best shot at stopping people from becoming terrorists,” says J. M. Berger at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague and co-author of ISIS: The state of terror.

He believes that the advent of social media has not only increased the number of people extremist groups can reach, but also the potency of their message, because it allows them to circumvent safeguards against revisionism and hate speech. Those most susceptible to the propaganda, his research suggests, are not the chronically poor or deprived, but people experiencing uncertainty in their lives – recent converts, young people who have just left the family home, those with psychiatric problems.

Extremist groups are adept at fomenting collective uncertainty, for example by provoking hostility between ethnic groups. At the same time, they present themselves as upholders of clear and unwavering values, an attractive message to individuals who are undergoing potentially destabilising transformations. Through social networks, those experiencing uncertainty can learn about and even enter into contact with extremist networks.

The G7 recognised this with its recent statement that it will “combat the misuse of the internet by terrorists”. But this is easier said than done, says Berger. “It’s easy to demand social media companies do something about extremism, but much harder to define what they should do in a way that is consistent with the values of liberal democracies.” Laura Spinney

Why would there be Peruvian DNA in Towns County, Georgia?

Why would there be Peruvian DNA in Towns County, Georgia?

I look forward to when we simply DNA every child upon birth.   The Mega Stats will be well worth extensive mining in order to pin down origins and likely generational auras in the data.

We already know that movement existed.  After all the waters involved are no move difficult than the Mediterranean with ample large islands along the way that naturally allow mostly short hops.  The largest span which is the Gulf of Mexico can even be skirted if deemed too late in the season.
As always defeated communities did take sail to escape their enemies and head out for fertile under populated areas elsewhere known by traders.
Add in the mining in Georgia and you even have a natural magnet that surely brought everyone sooner or later....
Why would there be Peruvian DNA in Towns County, Georgia?

A realtor in Hiawassee, GA, who I befriended while living for a year in nearby Union County,  called me last night with that question.  She is partially descended from the Town County Indians, who lived along Hightower Creek in the eastern part of the county.   She was aware that outsiders called her people “Cherokees,” but in their family tradition, knew that their heritage was different and much older . . . but they could not figure out who they really were.  She said that they also could not figure out why they were not forced to go on the Trail of Tears.   Until after World War II there were several families in the county, who were full bloods or at least looked full blooded Native American.  There still might be some full bloods living in remote mountain coves.  

To answer her question without qualifications one would have to own a time machine.  However,  it is possible to interpolate the observations of Georgia archaeologists with what the People of One Fire knows about the ethnological history of the Lower Southeast to come up with some fairly reasonable theories.  

During 2011, before I stumbled upon the Track Rock Terrace Complex,  I talked with some young men and women at the KFC restaurant in Murphy, NC .   They were card-carrying Cherokees, living just across the state line from Georgia, who looked just like Itsate Creeks and in fact, call themselves the Tamatly or Tomatly Cherokees.   They were shocked when I told them that Tama-tli was a Chontal Maya word, which means “Trade – Place of.”    It combines the Totonac word for trade with the Nahuatl (Mexica) word for “place of.”   Most also looked at me like I was some crazy outlander.   However, sure enough,  in late 2012 several Tamatly Cherokees sent me emails that their DNA tests had showed them to be part Maya.  There is a long low mound in the community of Tamatla, NC northeast of Murphy, which apparently marks their mother town.   

Maya DNA does not show up in Qualla Cherokee DNA tests.  Qualla Cherokees typically have more Middle Eastern, North African  and Iberian DNA than Asiatic DNA.

We will answer the second question first. 

How did the Towns County Indians avoid the Trail of Tears?

Part of the answer comes from geographical place names in the area.  “Hightower” is the Anglicization of Etalwa, the Muskogee-Creek word for a principal town.   This lady’s ancestors considered themselves to be Creek Indians.  Downstream a bit was a town named Itsa-yi,  which in Cherokee means “Itza Maya – Place of.”   Between Itsayi and Etalwa was an ancient town named Quanasee in Cherokee, which would be Konasi in Creek.  The ruins of a large mound builder town is located south of where the Cherokee village of Quanasee is situated. 

Konasi means Konas – descendants of.   Konas was a important city and province in Peru before the rise of the Moche Empire around 100 AD.   The Konibo People were driven eastward from Konas.  Apparently, some also migrated northward until they reached what is now Georgia. 

The young people in the Murphy KFC restaurant told me that their ancestors had hid out in the remote parts of the Georgia Mountains to the east of the boundary of the Cherokee Nation.  In fact, several thought that they were actually from Georgia.  Whatever the case, their ancestors had slipped into North Carolina several years after the Trail of Tears because there were very few whites in western North Carolina then and they didn’t bother the Indians.   

Towns County is immediately north of the Nacoochee Valley.   In an earlier POOF article, we discussed how the handful of Native Americans in the Nacoochee Valley sold their land to a real estate speculator from Burke County, NC in 1821 without seeking the approval of the Cherokee Tribal Council then moved to the Creek Nation in Alabama.  

Like the Nacoochee Valley,  Towns County in the 1800s was on the extreme eastern edge of the Cherokee Nation.  As far as ethnic Cherokees from Tennessee, but now living in northwest Georgia, were concerned, these people on the eastern edge of their territory didn’t exist.  They certainly had no role in tribal government. 

The Town County Indians considered themselves to be Creeks and therefore felt no cultural obligation to accompany Cherokees on the Trail of Tears.   The Upper Creeks, living in present day Union and Fannin Counties, Georgia had that same attitude.  They hid in the Coosa and Cohutta Mountains until the soldiers were gone.

So, it is likely that being virtually invisible, the Towns County Indians were able to take refuge in the rugged mountains to the east . . . outside the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation . . . and remain hidden from soldiers patrolling within its boundaries.   That strategy didn’t work for some refugees though.  The famous Cherokee hero, Tsali, lived in Rabun County, GA among whites.  Nevertheless, soldiers came to arrest and deport him. Legally, he was a citizen of Georgia and the soldiers were wrong in evicting his family.

The Peruvian Connection

Swift Creek style pottery was being made by the Conibo People of Peru long before it appeared in present day Georgia.  It seems to have originated with the Polynesian-style boards used to apply tattoos being slapped against damp clay pottery.  The earliest known Swift Creek pottery appeared at the southern tip of proto-Creek cultural territory around 100 AD at the Mandeville Site.  One of my mentors, Archaeologist Arthur Kelly, found that at first, it representing a minuscule percentage of the pottery made at Mandeville then the percentages steadily increased to be the predominant style produced.  It also began appearing at other proto-Creek towns in Georgia.  This suggests that the Panoans arrived from Peru in small groups then the immigration swelled as the Moche city states began ruthless military campaigns of conquests against the Panoan peoples of Peru. 

Around 539 AD,  a catastrophic tsunami, caused by an asteroid or comet hitting the ocean wiped out the Native American peoples on the Georgia and Florida coasts then spread water far inland.  All of the Swift Creek villages in southeast Georgia below the Fall Line were instantaneously abandoned.   Archaeologists have found that Swift Creek style pottery began appearing at increasingly northern latitudes until some was also being made in present day western North Carolina.  Swift Creek pottery was being made in Towns and Union Counties long after it disappeared from the remainder of Lower Southeast.   Thus, it appears that the hybrid Panoan-Muskogean peoples arrived in Towns County around 540 AD. 

A second wave of Peruvian style pottery arrived in Georgia around 600 AD.  It is called Napier Style pottery and is identical to the art of two other Panoan peoples of Peru . . . the Shipibo and Chiska.   Of course, the Chiska were a fierce tribe of northeastern Tennessee when Spanish explorers Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo explored the Southeast’s interior.   The original name of the Holston River in NE Tennessee was Shipi-sipi, which means “Shipibo River.”    

The original province of the Napier pottery makers was located in a territory that stretched from the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia down to the Macon Area.   The making of Napier pottery ceased around 800 AD with the arrival of Woodstock Culture peoples. The appearance of the Woodstock Culture coincides exactly with the eruption of a massive volcano,  El Chichon, in Chiapas.  The Itza capital of Palenque was incinerated by the falling ashes from this eruption. 

The Natives of Union and Towns County ceased making Swift Creek pottery around 1000 AD. The date 1000 AD is highly significant.   About that time Mayapan conquered Chichen Itza.  Until that time, the suburbs of Chichen Itza, where the commoners lived, was filled with an unusual style of corner door house.  After 1000 AD,  these corner door houses began appearing in large numbers at such locations as the Ocmulgee River near Macon, GA,  Etowah Mounds near Cartersville, GA, the Nacoochee Valley of Northeast Georgia and slightly later the Upper Hiwassee River in Towns County, GA, Clay County, NC and Cherokee County, NC.   Right now, the earliest radiocarbon date for an agricultural terrace at Track Rock Gap is 1018 AD.

Apparently, the Itza immigrants either became the elite along the Upper Hiwassee River or else they and the Konasi People lived in separate villages.   The latter theory would explain why even in the 1700s, there were villages in Rabun, Towns, Union, and Fannin Counties in Georgia and villages in Clay, Cherokee and Graham Counties, North Carolina representing several ethnic groups . . . most of them being branches of the Creek Indians.  Much archaeological work needs to be done along the Upper Hiwassee River before these theories can become facts.

Trump's Historic Opportunity with the Federal Reserve

 Remarkable that this is so.  Better yet he has been a student of sorts of the Fed most of his adult life as noted in comments from times past. Can this lead to something is another matter altogether.  It is hard to see that it can.

Real change must actually be bottom up.

Time will tell and it is noted that change here has become possible.


Trump's Historic Opportunity with the Federal Reserve

by Tho Bishop

And then there were three.

Today Stanley Fischer submitted his letter of resignation from the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, effective next month, the second such resignation of Donald Trump’s presidency. While Fischer’s term as Vice Chairman of the Fed was set to end next year, he had the ability to serve as a governor through 2020. Along with Trump’s decision next year on whether to replace Janet Yellen as the Fed’s chair, this means Trumps will have the opportunity to appoint five of seven governors to America’s central bank.

Given that the position holds a 14-year term, it is unusual for a president to have the opportunity to make so many appointments. As Diane Swonk of DS Economics noted, “It’s the largest potential regime change in the leadership of the Fed since 1936.”

Of course the question is now whether a change in personnel will lead to a change in policy.

Trump has already taken steps to fill one of the vacancies, nominating Randal Quarles earlier this year. Quarles, a former Bush-era Treasury official turned investment banker, will be taking the specific role of Fed vice chair of supervision. As a vocal critic of Dodd-Frank, and the Volker Rule in particular, Quarles may help relieve some of the regulatory burden on financial institutions, but his views on monetary policy are less clear. He has also voiced his support for rules-based monetary policy, though he has distanced himself to the specific proposal of the “Taylor Rule.” Given the growing consensus building for NGDP-targeting, and Republicans in Congress advocating for rules-based Fed reform, Quarles could become a supporter from within the central bank. All in all though, Quarles is seen by many observes as a bland Fed-appointment.

More concerning are the views of Marvin Goodfriend, who has been reported to be a front runner for one of the Fed vacancies. An economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University and former director of research at the Richmond Fed, Goodfriend has a traditional central banker background and the dangers that comes with it. In 2016, Goodfriend made an impassioned plea for the Fed to consider negative-interest rates:

The zero interest bound is an encumbrance on monetary policy to be removed, much as the gold standard and the fixed foreign exchange rate encumbrances were removed, to free the price level from the destabilizing influence of a relative price over which monetary policy has little control—in this case, so movements in the intertemporal terms of trade can be reflected fully in interest rate policy to stabilize employment and inflation over the business cycle.

Since negative interest rates usually coincide with greater use of cash (and personal vaults), Goodfriend went so far as to suggest the Fed should consider devaluing the value of printed bank notes. A $10 bill would buy less than a $10 debit card transaction, opening up a new front in the ongoing war on cash.

Given his radical views on monetary policy, it’s not hyperbole to suggest that Goodfriend’s nomination would represent a genuine danger to the economic wellbeing of every American citizen – or at least those outside of the financial services industry.

Unfortunately, even if Goodfriend doesn’t get the nod, it’s unlikely Trump will nominate anyone who understands the negative consequences of our artificially low interest rate environment. Though Candidate Trump demonstrated remarkable savvy when it came to how the actions of Bernanke and Yellen hurt Americans, as President Trump he has consistently indicated a desire to keep the “big fat bubble” going. Such a desire obviously fits the self-interest of the White House, but with long-term consequences for the base that elected him.

The only hope for a change in direction from the Administration is for Trump to stop listening to his Goldman Guys and instead lean on the team that helped get him to the White House. As Tommy Behkne noted last November, Trump had managed to surround himself with a number of Fed skeptics during his campaign, and even considered Austrian-friendly John Allison for Treasury Secretary.

Given the historic opportunity he has with the Fed, if Trump chooses to return to those roots, he could do severe damage to the swamp — all without passing a single piece of legislation through Congress.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why you should care about the meat industry

What is so wrong about the meat industry is the attempt to subject it to mass production.  So far the results have been unsatisfactory in a number of ways. This is a pretty good list.

I do think that we have to abandon the whole protocol generally and focus on establishing land and human friendly herds.  That does mean small pastured cattle herds which the land can bear.  It means free range chicken growing that also specializes in soil turning as well; as egg production.  Both methods sharply lowers the use of grains except to late fatten for slaughter.

We already know how to do this using modern  power equipment as well to assist.

The whole butchering enterprise needs to also be sharply scaled back to a size where an operator can avoid throughput thinking...



September 6, 2017

Wes Annac, Contributor

You don’t have to be a vegetarian or animal activist to be angry with what’s happening in the meat industry. Corruption and abuse litter an industry that provides food in inhumane ways for the sake of profit.

In this article, we’ll be discussing things I wish weren’t happening and am therefore doing my part to help stop. Some parts of this article might be tough to read, but by sharing this difficult information with you, I hope to help you see why you should care.

Vegetarians and meat eaters can work together to effect much-needed change in the industry if we can learn the facts and commit to this common goal. The cause is important for those who want to protect animals and those who want to ensure meat is produced ethically (and is thus safer for consumption).

The first reason you should be concerned is that despite recent changes in regulation, the industry remains the same.

Recent Regulation Changes Have Not Solved the Industry’s Biggest Problems

Henry Imhoff Helena wrote in 2013 that the USDA introduced a “meat inspection program” that failed miserably to stop meat contamination. Under the program, meat producers could increase their processing lines’ speed and replace safety inspectors from the USDA with people who work for them.


“Some of the worst health and safety violations” were discovered in factories under the program, Henry writes, including “fecal matter and partly digested food”. Unsurprisingly, the meat produced as a result may have contained E. coli and listeria. (1)

This exemplifies that changes in the industry don’t always mean it’s improving. We need genuine positive change before we can be sure the industry is safe for animals and consumers.

This brings us to our next point.

The Industry Keeps Secrets from Consumers

It might sound like a typical conspiracy theory, but the meat industry does not want people to know what goes on behind closed doors. They’re dedicated to masking the truth from an unsuspecting public and silencing anyone who tries to expose them.

As an example of the misleading nature of the meat and dairy industry in the United States, Dr. Joseph Mercola writes that eggs from caged hens in Europe are marked “battery eggs” whereas in the U.S., they’re labeled “farm fresh’ or “country fresh”. Through lobbying, he writes, companies have even pushed “gag laws” that consider the videotaping of animal cruelty or any other damning evidence a felony. (2)

If it’s at all shocking to you that the industry is keeping secrets and using the legal system to fight for its apparent right to do so, keep reading. There are plenty more reasons to be concerned.

Pink Slime Is Still Very Much a Thing

Do you remember pink slime? This additive surprised and disgusted the public when news first broke about it. Those who were already aware of the problems in the meat industry, however, were likely unsurprised.

Adam Voiland and Angela Haupt at U.S. News write that what we know as “pink slime” are scraps of butchered meat cleansed with ammonia. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a while back that school districts could receive beef with or without the “trimmings”, and plenty of grocery stores and fast food restaurants have ditched or distanced themselves from the slime. It’s still USDA approved, however, with the food industry free to use it as they please. (3)

Sam P.K Collins at Think Progress writes that two years after it was exposed and food manufacturers ditched it, pink slime made a comeback. Beef prices have been “soaring”, which has led some companies to resume using the slime so they can lower their production costs. (4)

The process of creating the pink slime, Sam writes, is one of separating the fat from the meat in beef trimmings and exposing what’s left to ammonia and citric acid. Despite that the ammonia in pink slime can cause “long term damage to parts of the human digestive system, blood vessels, liver, and kidneys”, schools in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas have once again embraced it. (4)

According to the Huffington Post, some school systems stuck by it when the controversy erupted in 2012, apparently having never removed it at all. (5)
Industrial-Scale Farming Is Riddled with Problems

Dr. Mercola writes that some of the biggest problems with industrial-scale farming are safety and quality of food, which is reportedly deteriorating. Diseases in humans, wildlife, and livestock can be traced to poor industrial farming practices. They include antibiotic-resistant diseases, mad cow disease in cows, and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. (2)

Proteins causing mad cow and chronic wasting disease, Dr. Mercola writes, could be responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s in up to 13% of people who suffer from the disease. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS), “contaminated chicken parts” are responsible for around 133,000 illnesses a year. The USDA also estimates that contaminated chicken and turkey are responsible for around 200,000 illnesses a year. FSIS wants to bring down the number of illnesses caused by tainted meat 25%. (2)

“Factory-farmed chicken”, Dr. Mercola writes, is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning. Beef is no exception to this rule: the USDA has been considering labeling beef that’s tenderized mechanically because during the process, pathogens are compressed from the surface down into the meat. Once there, the pathogens can potentially survive being cooked. This is why it’s been to blame for “at least” 5 E. coli outbreaks in 6 years (2003-2009). (2)

Here are some more fun facts about industrial farming Dr. Mercola shares:
It’s responsible for loss of water quality, as it causes phosphorous and nitrogen contamination in streams, rivers, and groundwater. This can contribute to “dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones” (2) 

It may be responsible for making crops less nutritious, with the focus on harvesting a high yield over crops high in nutrients (2)
It’s responsible for the emission of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases (2)
It negatively impacts soil quality (2)

With these problems that plague industrial-scale farming, it seems sensible to make the switch to more sustainable farming practices on a national level. In a society as advanced as ours, we should be able to get our meat and dairy without worrying about our groundwater being contaminated or our food being less nutritious.
Slaughterhouses Can Be Dangerous for Workers

Luke Runyon at NPR reports that Ralph Horner (also known as Ed), a worker for a beef plant in Greely, Colorado, tragically died at his job in June 2014. The plant in which he died is owned by JBS, the “world’s largest meatpacker”. (6)

Luke reports that Ed died when a piece of equipment he was working on pulled him in by catching his hair and shirt sleeve. His sleeve bunched up around his neck and mouth, suffocating him. Ed was 54 and married, with three sons and a grandkid. (6)

Meat and poultry processing plants are safer than they used to be, Luke writes, but they can still be a dangerous environment for workers. In the plants, workers disassemble chickens, hogs, and cattle with hydraulic saws, industrial blenders, marinade pumps, steel hooks, metal chains, and conveyor belts, with mats on the floor to “avoid slips on blood or water”. (6)

Luke writes that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2004 to 2013, 3,737 deaths occurred on the job at manufacturing facilities. Meat and poultry plants report higher injury rates than the rest of the manufacturing industry. Also, U.S. Department of Labor data suggests beef and pork workers are injured and become ill more than poultry workers. (6)

Fines for regulation violations are “embarrassingly low”, Luke writes; even when the violations lead to death. By the end of it all, the JBS only ended up paying $38,500 in fines for the violations that caused Ed’s death. (6)

Ed’s story gives us all a reason to care about the industry’s lax regulations, the injuries and deaths those regulations can cause, and the pathetically low penalties that result.
The FDA Makes Raising Grass-Fed Beef a Headache for American Farmers

Dr. Mercola writes that most grass-fed beef sold in the U.S. (potentially 85% of it) is imported from Australia and New Zealand. Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Brazil are a few other countries we get our beef from. (2)

Chipotle recently began receiving its beef from Australia to keep up with the demand for grass-fed, Dr. Mercola writes, as American suppliers don’t have enough and are unable to match Australia’s lower prices. Founder Steve Ells said in a Huffington Post op-ed that the cattle that become Chipotle’s meat spend their lives on pastures eating grass and roaming freely. (2)

This sounds much better than being subjected to horrific factory conditions.

He also said he hopes for Chipotle’s decision to influence American ranchers to “adopt a grass-fed program”. He would like to see grass-fed beef go mainstream. (2)

Dr. Mercola writes that the climate in Australia and New Zealand supports grazing year-round. There’s also an abundance of grassland in these countries, making it easier for 70% of all cattle in Australia to be “pasture-raised and finished”. Then there’s the fact that, according to Dr. Mercola: “Australians can sell their meat for less than American grass-fed cattle ranchers can”. (2)

One reason it’s so difficult for American ranchers to keep up with Australia and New Zealand’s rate of grass-fed beef production, Dr. Mercola writes, is that the USDA has effectively put in place a “stranglehold”. Laws in our country restrict grass-fed slaughtering to a degree; such as the restriction that a grass-fed rancher can’t stay in business if he has no access to a slaughterhouse. (2)

According to Dr. Mercola, large slaughterhouses can refuse small jobs from humble ranchers. If they are accepted, these small-time ranchers have no control over the way the animals are treated once handed over to the slaughterhouse. Citing The Carnivore’s Dilemma, Dr. Mercola explains that the grass-fed beef from these small ranchers cannot be considered humane if the animals’ deaths are inhumane. Only some slaughterhouses do their job humanely. (2)

Small U.S. slaughterhouses in business for grass-fed ranchers have had to close due to being “pushed out by larger processors”, Dr. Mercola writes. This is all because of USDA regulations that severely restrict the production of American grass-fed beef despite the clear demand for it. (2)

Why not make it easier for small farmers to produce grass-fed beef and ensure the process is humane? It seems like common sense, but apparently, the USDA disagrees.

And finally, the elephant in the room.
The Industry Subjects Animals to Horrible Conditions

Ed’s story might have been a little hard to swallow, but this section will disturb anyone with the slightest bit of empathy.

The following section details the injustice and abuse the animals who become our food are subjected to. If you don’t think you can stomach it, feel free to read on. I have, however, left out many of the most disturbing facts so I could retain some semblance of the lightheartedness this guide is usually known for.

With that said, let’s get into it.

The ASPCA reports that over 99% of U.S. farm animals are raised in factory farms. (7)

The industry, they report, makes animals suffer by subjecting them to (among other things): 

Physical alternations like teeth clipping without anesthetic (7) 

Confinement indoors with “poor air quality and unnatural light patterns” (7) 

The general inability to do things normal animals do (7) 

Breeding, either for “fast growth” or higher yields, which risks the animals’ safety (7) 

Carelessness and neglect toward animals that are suffering, which is an apparent result of the “higher ratio of animals to workers” (7) 

Improper use of antibiotics to make up for unclean and unsafe conditions (7) 

Roughness and abuse from workers (7)

We’ll focus on what one animal, the chicken, typically goes through. We won’t be learning what other animals endure here, because the subject matter is difficult enough as it is. Although I recommend educating yourself on what all animals raised on factory farms experience, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much depressing information.

I’ll leave it up to you to learn more if you’re interested and want to help make a change.

The ASPCA reports that chickens bred for meat are raised indoors in “large sheds” that contain more than 20,000 of them. In these sheds, the chickens are “crammed together” on the floor. They live in their own excrement and are constantly irritated by high ammonia levels that burn their throat, eyes, and skin. (8)

Factory-farmed chickens, the ASPCA reports, are nothing like the wild chickens that preceded them. Selective breeding, low-dose antibiotics, too much feeding, and too little exercise cause factory chickens to “grow unnaturally quickly and disproportionately”. Their breasts grow large, meeting market demand, but their organs and skeleton don’t follow the same pattern. As a result, some of them become crippled and “unable to reach food and water”. Heart failure, trouble breathing, chronic pain, and leg weakness are also common. (8)

According to the ASPCA, factory farms keep the lights on in the sheds nearly 24-7 to restrict the chickens’ sleep patterns, which ensures they continue to eat and grow. As you can probably imagine, the space becomes crowded as they grow. Thus, they’re forced to compete for space in what are already extremely difficult living conditions. (8)

Fortunately, animal activists are inspiring some companies to change.

The ASPCA reports that companies are developing policies and committing to addressing the problem of fast growth. Some companies and consumers are also committing to certification programs requiring proper space and natural lighting cycles. You can help too. With the Change Your Chicken Challenge, you can change this grotesque system by changing the chicken you purchase to those raised humanely. (8)

Dr. Mercola cites animal welfare activist Philip Lymbery, who believes in a solution rooted not in vegetarianism, but a return to old-school farming methods over mass industrial farms. He believes that as consumers, we can make a change by choosing what we eat carefully. We can help by ensuring we eat meet and eggs from farms free of the cruelty for which the meat industry is well-known. (2)

Lymbery’s idea is simple: return animals to a natural farm setting.

“This is not, in any way, a call to vegetarianism. This is a call to put animals back on the farm. Pasture is one of the most ubiquitous habitats on the planet, covering 25 percent of the ice-free land surface.

“This is about using that ubiquitous habitat to produce great food in a way which is environmentally friendly and kinder to animals, leaving much-scarcer arable to grow crops directly for people…

“Three times a day, through our meal choices, we have an opportunity to change our lives and thereby help change the world.

“It’s as simple as buying free-range eggs, pasture-raised beef and chicken, and looking for milk that has come from cows that have been able to graze… We’ll start to support family farms, will help to support a better environment, and will help to feed the world in a more humane and efficient way.” (2)


If this information doesn’t convince you that you should care just a little about the meat industry, I recommend digging deeper. This is a basic introduction to the subject with the implied encouragement to learn more and ultimately do more about it.

Like any industry, the meat industry would like us to believe they’re doing nothing wrong. Otherwise, we won’t give them our money. It’s true that they’ve improved since the early 1900s when factory conditions were much more appalling, but their modern-day treatment of animals is still far from humane.

The public can directly address the problems with the meat industry by buying our meat from humbler sources that, simply put, don’t have these problems. Responsible farmers that raise animals humanely and treat them with decency from the time they’re born until the time they die.

I think we can all agree – those who love meat and those who’ve sworn off it – that these animals’ suffering is preventable and unacceptable.

Do you care now?
About the Author

Wes Annac is the author of Openhearted Rebel and Culture of Awareness, which feature daily spiritual and alternative news, as well as original articles and more. Its purpose is to awaken and uplift by providing material that’s spiritually inspired and/or related to the fall of the planetary elite and our entrance into a positive future.

Wes can also be found on Facebook at Wes Annac and Twitter.


(1) Henry Imhoff Helena, “Problems with the Meat Industry”, Independent Record, September 17, 2013 –

(2) Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Shocking Facts About the Meat Industry”, November 25, 2014 –

(3) Adam Voiland and Angela Haupt, “10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”, U.S. News, March 30, 2012 –

(4) Sam P.K. Collins, “Pink Slime Is Making a Comeback”, ThinkProgress, August 20 2014 –

(5) Joe Satran, “‘Pink Slime’ Ground Beef Product Returns To School Lunches In 4 States: Report”, Huffington Post, September 10, 2013 –

(6) Luke Runyon, “Fines For Meat Industry’s Safety Problems Are ‘Embarrassingly Low’”, NPR, August 10, 2016 –

(7) “Farm Animal Welfare”, ASPCA –

(8) “Chickens – Farm Animal Welfare”, ASPCA –
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