Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ministers' shame on killer salt: Government sabotage of drive to cut intake has cost 6,000 lives, say doctors

This is apparently politically correct but it is utter garbage -- coming from people who prefer theory to facts.   The latest academic study shows that LOW salt in your blood is most likely to lead to heart attacks.  See JAMA. 2011;305(17):1777-1785.  More here and here and here for similar findings.  Salt is harmless but a deficiency of it is not.  We need it.  See also here

Efforts to cut the amount of salt in food have been ‘derailed’ by ministers in a move which has cost 6,000 lives, doctors claim.

Experts accuse the Government of undermining a salt reduction programme which had saved thousands of lives. They say that replacing it with the controversial ‘responsibility deal’ – which focused on health initiatives led by the food industry – was a ‘major step backwards’.

As a result, efforts to reduce the amount of salt in food stalled and thousands of lives may have been lost. The experts’ damning article in the British Medical Journal says a change of policy is ‘urgently needed’ to save lives.

The Mail has previously revealed how the food industry has been given unprecedented access to the heart of government in recent years – with fast-food companies, supermarkets, restaurant chains and chocolate and fizzy drinks firms having dozens of meetings with ministers. McDonald’s, Mars, Pepsi, Nando’s and Tesco are among firms invited to ministerial meetings since the 2010 election.

The Food and Drink Federation, the lobbyist for the industry, has had 16 meetings with ministers and 99 meetings with officials since the Coalition took over, official figures reveal.

Yet health campaigners say they have been shunned.

The latest revelations prompted claims that the Government was keener on listening to the food industry than to those with the interest of people’s health at heart.

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine from Queen Mary, University of London, said the responsibility deal had been ‘responsible for a major step backwards in public health nutrition’.

He said the first voluntary salt reduction targets – set in 2006 – were a major success, resulting in the daily intake of average Britons falling 15 per cent from 9.5g per day in 2003 to 8.1g per day in 2011.

The amount of salt in everyday food products was reduced by up to 40 per cent over five years. This is thought to have prevented 9,000 deaths due to strokes and heart disease a year, resulting in healthcare savings of about £1.5 billion in the UK.

The ultimate aim of the salt targets – set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) – was to reduce intake to 6g per day among the adult population.

But despite their initial success, the Coalition Government formed in 2010 refused to agree on new targets for 2014. And they transferred responsibility for nutrition from the FSA to the Department of Health, which disrupted the salt reduction programme.

In 2011, Andrew Lansley, then health minister, launched the responsibility deal – which made alcohol and food industries responsible for reducing alcohol and improving nutrition. Many companies stopped or slowed down their planned salt reductions from 2011 to 2014, and some failed to meet targets.

Prof MacGregor claims that in this period, up to 6,000 deaths from strokes and heart attacks could have been prevented if the targets had been kept.

He said that although the salt targets were reset after Mr Lansley left his role, four years of the programme had been lost. New salt targets were set in 2014 following the appointment of Anna Soubry as health minister. But these were not as low as originally suggested – due to lobbying by the food industry, the experts believe.

Prof MacGregor was lead author on the BMJ article, which is signed by other medical experts from the campaign CASH – Consensus Action on Salt and Health. He said: ‘The food industry is the biggest and most powerful industry in the world. Robust mechanisms should be set up immediately to control the food industry in a similar way to the tobacco industry.’

The responsibility deal has been likened to ‘putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank’ by charities.

A previous report in the BMJ found that key scientists advising ministers on obesity were receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds for research from companies such as Nestle and Mars.

Barbara Gallani, of the Food and Drink Federation, said voluntary action by companies over the past decade had helped to reduce adult intakes of salt by 15 per cent.

‘It’s common sense food producers should be involved in shaping a salt reduction strategy, as only a thorough understanding of ingredients and recipes can result in stretching but realistic targets,’ she said.


The Wisconsin Left Tried to Criminalize Free Speech

Anyone still wondering how low the American Left will sink in pursuit of its agenda should turn their gaze toward Wisconsin. In a blatant attempt at political intimidation masquerading itself as legitimate investigation, police conducted a series of early morning raids at the homes of several Wisconsin conservatives. Dozens of armed officers showed up for pre-dawn raids with battering rams, swarming into houses and threatening the people inside with arrest if they didn’t cooperate, even as they seized personal property. And on the way out, the invaders gave every person they encountered the same warning: Don’t call your lawyer, and don’t tell anyone about what happened, because a gag order is in place.

How is it that people can be forced to remain silent even as police conducted large, noisy raids more suitable to taking down a drug kingpin right in front of their neighbors? Because law enforcement officials in Wisconsin are allowed to conduct John Doe investigations, defined as "an independent, investigatory tool to ascertain whether a crime has been committed and if so, by whom.” And unlike other investigations that require probable cause to pursue, John Doe investigations are conducted to establish the existence of probable cause itself.

Under the rubric of looking for campaign-finance violations, the investigations were initiated by Milwaukee district attorney John Chisholm, a partisan Democrat — whose wife is a teachers’ union shop steward — and a man determined to find anything that could undermine the political career of rising Republican star Gov. Scott Walker. Walker has thwarted Wisconsin leftists at every turn, winning three elections, including a recall effort, in just four years.

Chisholm’s undertook his first John Doe investigation in 2010, when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive. After three years, it netted all of six individuals who pled guilty to crimes ranging from stealing money from a veterans’ fund, and sending political emails on government time, to violation of state campaign finance laws and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Walker himself? Never even charged.

Undaunted, Chisholm launched a second John Doe investigation shortly after Democrats failed to remove Walker in the recall election in 2012, an act of naked revenge precipitated by the passage of Walker's “budget repair bill” known as Act 10. Act 10 limited the collective bargaining power of unions — including the teachers union to which Chisholm’s wife belonged. The machination surrounding the passage of Act 10 included Democratic state legislators fleeing the state to prevent a vote on the issue, an effort to affect a liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the purpose of overturning the law after it was passed, and the recall election.

The second probe, led by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, targeted Walker and 29 conservative groups. Dozens of subpoenas were issued demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012, campaign, all based on the theory that these groups had illegally coordinated their activities during recall campaigns of Walker and other Republican legislators targeted for supporting Act 10. National Review’s Rich Lowry aptly described what really occurred. "Walker’s opponents weaponized campaign-finance law, literally,” he explains.

One of those groups, Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCFG), and its founder Eric O’Keefe filed suit. In 2014, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa granted a preliminary injunction halting the investigation, and hammered prosecutors "for exercising issue advocacy speech rights that on their face are not subject to the regulations or statutes the defendants seek to enforce.” The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case on appeal, but not because they disagreed with Randa’s interpretation, but because the Anti-Injunction Act prohibited federal courts from intervening in a state criminal investigation based on the cited principles of “equity, comity, and federalism.” Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook characterized the ruling as victory for states’ rights.

Nonetheless it remain clear O’Keefe’s rights were violated and Section 1983 of the U.S. Code allows citizens to be granted relief under federal law if their rights have been violated by state officials. Last Friday, the Supreme Court began deliberations to determine if O’Keefe v. Chisholm will be heard by the highest court in the land. The Wall Street Journal insists such a hearing is critically necessary because the theory of coordination, allowing "vast investigations to be instigated on the thinnest evidence" it is part of yet another leftist effort to undermine the Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that lifted unconstitutional restrictions on spending by corporations and labor unions. That would be the very same Citizen’s United decision that former IRS hack Lois Lerner was bemoaning at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy on Oct. 19, 2010 when she stated that the “Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it; they want the IRS to fix the problem.”

The IRS decided to “fix” the problem by denying or delaying conservative groups' tax-exempt status, and attempting to coordinate with the Eric Holder-led Justice Department to tamp down revelations regarding that scandal. Wisconsin Democrats chose to fix it by conducting two separate witch-hunts replete with dawn raids and gag orders. In a better world, lots of people would be getting disbarred and/or going to jail. In this one, the American Left will continue its attempt to criminalize speech with which they disagree — by any means necessary — until they are stopped.

Stopped from doing what? Try this, courtesy of National Review's David French:

"As I finished an interview with one victim still living in fear, still shattered by the experience of nearly losing everything simply because she supported the wrong candidate at the wrong time, I asked whether she had any final thoughts. 'Just one,' she replied. 'I’m hoping for accountability, that someone will be held responsible so that they’ll never do this again.' She paused for a moment and then, with voice trembling, said: 'No one should ever endure what my family endured.’”

Here’s hoping the Supreme Court agrees — in no uncertain terms.


After Receiving Over $100K in Donations, Bakers’ Crowdfunding Page Shut Down

Less than a day after a donation fund was set up for the Oregon bakers who the state recommended be fined $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, the crowdfunding website, GoFundMe, has shut it down.

“The campaign entitled ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa’ involves formal charges. As such, our team has determined that it was in violation of GoFundMe’s Terms and Conditions,” a spokesman for GoFundMe told The Daily Signal in a statement.

The fundraising page was launched Friday after an Oregon administrative law judge announced the fine. Supporters of Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Sandy, Ore., raised more than $109,000 before the page was removed.

In response to being shut down, the Klein’s wrote on their Facebook page, “We have told GoFundMe that the money is simply going to be used to help our family, and there is no legitimate breach of their terms and conditions. We are working to get the account reinstated.”

On GoFundMe’s terms and conditions, which are available to the public, the company prohibits “campaigns in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”

Anna Harmon, attorney for the Kleins, told The Daily Signal that what happened to the Kleins “is not a crime.”  “It was heard in an administrative court and there has been no opportunity or a jury or even a final order to be issued in the case yet,” she said.

Harmon added that Melissa and her five children, who all stand to benefit from the public’s donations, have been exonerated. Melissa and her children were not present at the bakery at the time of the refusal.

GoFundMe said the money raised thus far “will still be made available for withdrawal,” which means the Kleins will be able to keep the donations. In the meantime, the family has set up a temporary donation page on Samaritan’s Purse.

“For all of you who gave to the GoFundMe account before it was shut down, we so appreciate your love and generosity,” the Kleins wrote on their Facebook page.

A similar donation page for Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist from Washington state who refused to make flower arrangements for a same-sex couple’s wedding, has been operating on GoFundMe for more than two months.

Stutzman, like Aaron Klein, is being held liable for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law.  So far, Stutzman’s page has raised more than $170,000 in donations.


Kentucky Court Says Printing Business Has Right to Deny Service for Religious Reasons

A Kentucky court ruled on Monday that a Lexington printing business does not have to print messages that are in conflict with its religious beliefs.

The decision runs contrary to recent high profile rulings, including ones against Oregon bakers and a Washington florist who were punished for refusing to serve same-sex weddings.

The Kentucky ruling signals that states and local governments are still divided on the question about whether public places have the right to refuse service based on religious objections.

“What this court found in this case is that no one should be forced to promote ideas—or in this case, print ideas—that conflict with their beliefs,” said Jim Campbell, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom representing the printing business. “That protection is for everyone. It’s a protection that’s for the atheist just as much as it’s for the person of faith.”

The printing company, Hands On Originals, is a small business located in Fayette County, Ky.  The company prints custom messages on items such as shirts, hats, bags, cups, and mugs.

The issue began on March 18, 2012, when Aaron Baker, representing the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, alleged that Hands On Originals denied that group “full and equal enjoyment of a service” by refusing to print official t-shirts for the organization’s 2012 Pride Festival.

The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

The Lexington-Fayette County government has a non-discrimination ordinance, which generally prohibits a public place from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The state of Kentucky has not adopted the policy.

The county’s Human Rights Commission originally ruled that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals discriminated against the LGBT group.

But after appealing to the state, Adamson, co-owner of Hands On Originals won the case, when a Fayette County Circuit judge ruled he has a “constitutional right of freedom of expression from government coercion.”

“With all due respect to the Hearing Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission [the plaintiffs arguments] are not factually accurate and are in direct contrast to well established precedent from the United States Supreme Court interpreting the Federal Constitution,” wrote Judge James Ishmael.

The Hearing Commissioner agrees that these cases support a finding that when [Hands On Originals] prints a promotional item, it acts as a speaker, and that this act of speaking is constitutionally protected.

Campbell, the lawyer representing the printing business, says the case signifies that the issue of religious expression in the workplace will continue to be debated in the courts.

And in this case, he said, the judge’s ruling “affirms the right of Americans to live out their faith in the workplace.”



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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