You can’t trust anybody in authority. At the top of my list of untrustables are politicians, universities, and the food/health/drug industries. A long time ago, someone told me that if you give money to a disease, your money will likely be spent in that disease’s perpetuation—and I believed it. Such is the way of the world.
Here are just three stories which I found recently that make my blood boil. If you’ve got a better story, please post the link as a comment. Let’s all go crazy.
Former Mayor Claims Four-Year-Old “Initiated Sex”
by Jonathon Turley, jonathanturley.com
September 16, 2016
In what must be the singularly worst defense ever in the annals of criminal law, Richard Keenan, 65, the former mayor of Hubbard, Ohio, confessed to raping a four-year-old girl but insisted that she was a “willing participant” and initiated the sex.
Keenan was mayor from 2010-2011 and billed himself as a devout Christian. He has now confessed to three years of sexual contact with the child starting when she was only four. He can now face life imprisonment.
The interesting legal element is that the abuse came to light during group discussions at a hospital. He later checked himself into a psychiatric clinic because he was suicidal. The question will now be whether the statements are admissible in court. There is a good chance that they are admissible since this was not a police or government agent eliciting the statements and it was the basis for someone to call the police. It is also hard to maintain privilege in a group settings and there is a crime/fraud exception to privilege claims.
In addition there are accounts of Keenan discussing the issue with a minister and with family members. The minister conversion would be privileged. The assaults occurred in September 2015.
Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.
$1 million of frugal librarian’s bequest to NH school goes to football scoreboard
by Bill Chappell, National Public Radio
September 15, 2016
News that late librarian Robert Morin left the University of New Hampshire $4 million has been hailed as a symbol of Morin’s dedication and generosity. But the school’s decision to spend $1 million of that money on a new video scoreboard for the football stadium is being criticized.
“A life lived in frugality, spent frivolously” on a million-dollar scoreboard, one commenter wrote on a local newspaper site, calling the decision “an assault” on Morin’s life. Others say it’s simply a shame that more of the money didn’t go to the university’s Dimond Library, where Morin spent much of his life.
On the library’s website, a message next to a button reading “Make a Gift” explains that the library “depends on gifts to improve our collections, facilities, services, and programs for students, faculty, staff, and New Hampshire residents.”
Here’s how the university says it’s spending Morin’s millions:
$2.5 million toward an expanded career center for students and alumni;
$1 million toward a video scoreboard for the new football stadium;
$100,000 to Dimond Library, to provide “scholarships for work-study students, support staff members who continue their studies in library science and fund the renovation of one of the library’s multimedia rooms.”
In response to that allocation, New Hampshire graduate Claire Cortese wrote a critical blog post for the Odyssey website that was highlighted by Inside Higher Ed. In it, Cortese writes, “I doubt any student will look back in ten years and say ‘man, that video scoreboard—that really impacted my experience at UNH in a meaningful and beneficial way.’ ”
Cortese also notes that the school’s football stadium recently reopened after a $25 million renovation.
School officials say the money for the library was the only “dedicated gift” in Morin’s bequest, meaning that the rest of the estate was unrestricted; Deborah Dutton, vice president for advancement and president of the UNH Foundation, says, “Unrestricted gifts give the university the ability to use the funds for our highest priorities and emerging opportunities.”
When we asked a university representative if the bequest will result in anything being named for Morin, Erika Mantz, the school’s director of media relations, noted that “a bench in the courtyard outside the library was inscribed with his name.”
Mantz added, “At this time a decision has not been made as to how we will further recognize Mr. Morin’s incredible generosity.”
Morin was 77 when he died in the spring of 2015. For nearly 50 years, he had worked as a cataloger at the university’s main library. It seems that both Morin’s wealth and his gift to the school took people by pleasant surprise.
“I’m so impressed with his commitment to UNH, both in his years of service as well as this donation,” one person wrote on the school’s Facebook announcement about the bequest. “Speaking as a university librarian myself, it isn’t easy to accumulate that much money!”
In another sign that the scoreboard issue seems to have struck a sour note with some members of the university community, consider that in a caption contest on the school’s Facebook page — in which readers are invited to subtitle a photo of two students on campus — the leading entry Thursday afternoon reads:
“Did you hear about the scoreboard?”
“Yeah. I’ll be paying my student loans off until I’m fifty, and they spent a million bucks on a fucking SCOREBOARD?”
A New Hampshire native, Morin was known for his affection for movies and books; according to his obituary, his job entailed writing short descriptions of DVDs, entering CDs into the library system, and cataloging “book after book of sheet music.”
The only association between the librarian and the football program that was mentioned by the university was the observation that Morin had spent the past 15 months of his life in an assisted living center — and that there, “he started watching football games on television, mastering the rules and names of the players and teams.”
As for the money he left to UNH, Morin’s financial adviser, Edward Mullen, tells the Union Leader that the librarian had a knack for not spending what he made. From the newspaper:
“Mullen said Morin had an older vehicle and, despite being a millionaire, he ate frozen dinners.
” ‘He never went out,’ Mullen said.
“Mullen said Morin decided to give all of his money to his alma mater because he did not have any relatives he wanted to leave it to. Morin trusted UNH to spend the money wisely for students.”
Morin’s only living relatives when he died were his two brothers, Ronald and Lucien, according to his obituary. He requested that there not be a public service for his funeral; he was buried in the family plot in St. Louis Cemetery in Nashua.
Bill Chappell is a writer and producer who currently works on “The Two Way,” NPR’s flagship news portal. In the past, he has edited and coordinated digital features for Morning Edition and Fresh Air, in addition to editing the rundown of All Things Considered.
Sweet deal? Sugar industry blamed fat in fake studies
by RT Staff (Russia Today)
September 13, 2016
The sugar industry paid Harvard researchers in the 1960s to bury research linking sugar intake to heart disease and to instead make fat the culprit, according to a study of archival documents.
“These internal documents show that the Sugar Research Foundation initiated coronary heart disease research in 1965 to protect market share and that its first project, a literature review, was published in the New English Journal of Medicine without disclosure of the sugar industry’s funding or role,” stated the study.
The internal sugar industry documents were found in public archives by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.
UCSF researchers analyzed more than 340 documents indicating the relationship between the sugar industry and Roger Adams, then a professor of organic chemistry who served on the scientific advisory boards for the sugar industry, and Mark Hegsted, one of the Harvard researchers who produced the literature review.
The documents showed the sugar industry was aware of evidence in the 1960s that linked sugar consumption to high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and was thought to be risk factors for coronary heart disease.
The sugar industry commissioned Project 226, a literature review written by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Nutrition Department, which concluded there was “no doubt” that the only dietary intervention required to prevent coronary heart disease was to reduce dietary cholesterol and substitute polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat in the American diet.
The sugar industry paid the Harvard scientist the equivalent of $50,000 in 2016 dollars.
The study found the NEJM review served the sugar industry’s interests by arguing that studies “associating sucrose with coronary heart disease were limited” and that sugar should not be included in assessments of risk of heart disease.
Researchers found the sugar industry would spend $600,000 (the equivalent of $5.3 million in 2016 dollars) to teach “people who had never had a course in biochemistry…that sugar is what keeps every human being alive and with energy to face our daily problems,” according to a UCSF press release.
Among the documents was a speech from 1954 by Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) president Henry Hass, which showed that they recognized that if Americans adopted low-fat diets, then per-capita consumption of sugar would increase by more than one-third. The trade organization represented 30 international members.
“The literature review helped shape not only public opinion on what causes heart problems but also the scientific community’s view of how to evaluate dietary risk factors to heart disease,” said lead author Cristin Kearns, who discovered the industry documents.
Other documents showed the sugar industry became concerned in 1962 with evidence showing that a low-fat diet high in sugar could elevate serum cholesterol level. In 1964, the SRF vice president and director of research, John Hickson, said new research on coronary heart disease found that “sugar is a less desirable dietary source of calories than other carbohydrates,” and referred to the work since 1957 of British physiologist John Yudkin, who challenged population studies singling out saturated fat as the primary dietary cause of coronary heart disease “and suggested other factors, including sucrose, were at least equally important.”
“Hickson proposed that SRF ‘could embark on a major program’ to counter Yudkin and other ‘negative attitudes toward sugar,’” stated the study.
It found that Hickson recommended an opinion poll “to learn what public concepts we should reinforce and what ones we need to combat through our research and information and legislation programs,” a symposium to “bring detractors before a board of their peers where their fallacies could be unveiled,” and recommended the sugar industry fund coronary heart disease research to “see what the weak points there are in the experimentation, and replicate the studies with appropriate corrections. Then publish the data and refute our detractors.”
The analysis Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
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