Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Investopedia/Donna Fuscaldo: 13 Industries Blockchain Could Disrupt:

Investopedia
13 Industries Blockchain Could Disrupt: Baird

By Donna Fuscaldo | December 12, 2017 — 11:23 AM EST
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Blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, is all the rage but not only because of its pivotal role with digital currency. Companies of all stripes are embracing the software that lets users store and keep track of information in a decentralized digital ledger to grow and improve their businesses. As the technology becomes more mainstream, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian identified 13 industries where it may have the biggest impact. (See also: What Happens to Your Bitcoin If There Is an Apocalypse?)

Take the Internet of Things (IoT) market for starters. In a research report covered by Barron’s, the analyst said that as more devices are developed to talk to each other online, blockchain technology could play a big role in verifying the information being shared. Sebastian pointed to Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) as two technology companies that are already developing a decentralized network of IoT devices via blockchain.

The analyst also thinks blockchain can replace the middleman when it comes to booking services online or accessing music and movies. He said blockchain could enable taxi drivers and customers to connect directly, eliminating the need for services like Uber, while the same can be said of fans and musicians removing the need for Spotify-type offerings. Even social media could be enhanced by blockchain, making it less complicated for content creators to spread the word about their offerings and thus get paid more. (See also: Blockchain Is IBM’s ‘Best Hope for Recovery’: UBS.)
More Change Coming

While Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) has long been a disruptor, entering new markets and completely changing the way business is done, blockchain may do the same to it, predicts Sebastian, if buyers and sellers can connect directly. He said so-called smart contracts in the blockchain could create ratings for buyers and sellers to ascertain the quality of the product and the reliability of the parties involved in the transaction. Online marketing could also be overhauled with companies building platforms that don’t need the help of third parties. It could also potentially lower the amount of click fraud, the analyst said. Retailers could also embrace blockchain to improve their loyalty programs in hopes of boosting sales. Movies and music aren’t the only areas of entertainment that could be impacted by blockchain. Sebastian also pointed to video games, eSports and online gambling as areas that could change because of the technology.

The virtual currencies that are found in digital games could become tokens that are transferable and used to purchase things. The analyst noted that Gameflip and DMarket, the two startups, are already eyeing the ability to make the virtual money into tokens. Meanwhile, blockchain could improve multiplayer video game competitions in the world of eSports while online gambling, which is a popular target for hackers, could get more secure thanks to blockchain.  Other industries that may be impacted include cloud storage, money transfering and digital wallets.

While banks have been leading the charge in blockchain, Sebastian thinks its technology companies that will drive it further.  "While the vast majority of 'Blockchain' related jobs appear to be at start-ups, consultants, and large financial services (IBM, Microsoft, Fidelity, Invesco, Capgemini, Bank of America, JP Morgan are among the top recruiters of blockchain specialists), we expect that technology and Internet companies will quickly become more engaged with the opportunities," he wrote in his note.


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Gulf Business/Robert Anderson: Saudi to increase electricity, fuel prices in Q1

Gulf Business
Saudi to increase electricity, fuel prices in Q1

The announcement coincides with the first payments under a citizen’s account programme to help low earners

By Robert Anderson
Tuesday 12 December 2017

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The Saudi government has announced plans to increase prices of electricity, car and aviation fuel and diesel in the first quarter of next year.

The announcement coincides with the first payments under a citizen’s account programme announced in December last year that is designed to help low and medium-income households cope with austerity measures including price increases and a new 5 per cent value added tax rate.

Read: Saudi Arabia to exempt medicines and medical equipment from VAT

The Saudi Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority said tariffs would gradually increase from January 1 for residential, commercial, agricultural, healthcare, private education and charitable customers but not government or industrial users.

Read: Saudi to increase electricity prices

Other rates for car fuel, jet fuel and diesel will be decided in the first quarter of 2018, the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Industrial Resources said.

Funds saved through the lifting of the subsidies will fund the citizens account programme, which will make its first payment to households on December 21, and to provide private sector stimulus packages.

The reform programme is intended to “enhance economic efficiency” and rationalise the consumption and sustainability of natural resources, according to the announcement.

Payments made under the citizen’s account programme will be made based on household income, the number of dependents and their age. The amount will be reviewed on a quarterly basis based on costs.

Read: Saudi to announce launch of household allowance system – source

Beneficiaries have to be citizens of Saudi Arabia, the son or daughter or spouse of a citizen permanently residing in the country.

Registration for the programme began in February and around 80 per cent of Saudi families had registered by the end of April.

Read: 80% of Saudi families register for social assistance scheme

It and the price increases fall under a domestic reform programme designed to boost government revenues.

Other austerity measures introduced this year include an excise tax on soft drinks and tobacco products and a dependents fee on the family members of foreign workers.

Read: Saudi labour ministry denies reports of increase to dependents fee

Saudi last raised car fuel prices in December 2015 when the price of 95 octane increased from SAR0.60 to SAR0.90 ($0.24) per litre.
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Nikkei Asian Review/Gwen Robinson and Simon Roughneen: Religious extremism poses threat to ASEAN's growth

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December 13, 2017 3:14 pm JST
Cover story

Religious extremism poses threat to ASEAN's growth

Aided by social media, hardliners gain mainstream support

GWEN ROBINSON, Chief editor, and SIMON ROUGHNEEN, Asia regional correspondent

Buddhist monks protest the visit of a U.N. official in Yangon on Jan. 16, 2015. According to local media reports, they were angry that the international organization had urged the government to give members of the Rohingya minority citizenship. © Reuters

YANGON/JAKARTA -- With Mt. Agung billowing volcanic ash into the sky above his home in Bali, Khairy Susanto was unsure if he could fly back after joining tens of thousands of fellow Indonesian Islamists at a rally near the presidential palace in Jakarta.

"Inshallah, we can fly, but it doesn't matter, we will be OK," Susanto said. "We are happy to be here today to celebrate our victory."

The Dec. 2 event marked a year since an estimated half-million people clamored in the rain for the arrest of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the then-governor of Jakarta. Since then, Purnama, a Protestant of Chinese descent nicknamed Ahok, lost the gubernatorial election and was sentenced to two years in jail on the same blasphemy charges that brought massive crowds onto Jakarta's streets late last year.

The episode raised concerns around the world that Indonesia's relatively tolerant variant of Islam -- and its secular democracy -- was under attack. And it was a startling display of the strength of Islamist groups in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population. Among the organizers were the Islamic Defenders Front, known as FPI, and the Islamic Ummah Forum.

Members of the Islamic Defenders Front protest the accession of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama -- an ethnic-Chinese Christian nicknamed Ahok -- as governor of Jakarta in November 2014. The sign reads "Ahok is the enemy of Islam." © Reuters

Those groups do not claim affiliation with the al-Qaida-linked militants who killed 202 people in Bali in 2002, nor the estimated 1,150 Indonesians who traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the so-called Islamic State. But the government has been sufficiently alarmed to ban the local wing of Hizbut Tahrir, another Islamist movement involved in the anti-Ahok protests -- and which hopes to establish a caliphate.

Across Asia, the rise of hard-line religious movements is fueling a macho form of nationalism and creating dangerous new fault lines in communities. Beyond Indonesia with its numerous Islamist groups are Myanmar's zealous Buddhist organizations, which have stoked anti-Muslim sentiment to deadly effect. Bangladesh has seen the rise of Islamic fundamentalists including Hefazat-e-Islam, while Sri Lanka has Bodu Bala Sena, a radical Sinhalese Buddhist group.

Such groups number in the dozens across Asia -- fundamentalist Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus who are adding new fuel on what are sometimes ancient ethnic conflicts. Some boast memberships that run into the hundreds of thousands, powered by zealous social media campaigns, community support programs and effective fundraising operations. The donations, often tiny amounts collected from poor followers, become a source of support for hard-line leaders.

An armored personnel carrier transports troops in the southern Philippine city of Marawi in October. Earlier that month, military forces ended a five-month siege of the city by Islamic State-linked militants. © Reuters

Analysts warn that such ethno-religious chauvinism represents the biggest threat to the economic growth the region has enjoyed in recent years -- and to the dream of greater cohesion over trade and economic issues. "Rapid economic growth over the past three decades has raised standards of living across much of Asia, but left marginal areas, like Mindanao in the Philippines and Rakhine State in Myanmar, untouched and therefore comparatively worse off," said Michael Vatikiotis, Asia director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. "It is perhaps no coincidence that these areas are afflicted by violent conflict."

Vatikiotis warns that rising levels of economic inequality and bitter political divisions could fan a broader conflict in mainstream society. Unlike IS and other jihadist groups, these groups focus more on protests, propaganda and, in extreme cases, physical intimidation. Through networks of community-based leaders, they bring in funding and support from relatively moderate constituencies.

Some hard-line groups are connected to more constructive religious and community-building activities, noted Matthew J. Walton, a Myanmar specialist at Oxford University's St. Antony's College. Myanmar's Buddhist nationalist movement is made up of a complicated mix of people and groups "operating in an opaque environment that blurs religious and political motivations," Walton said.

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Investopedia: What is a 'Nostro Account'?

Investopedia

Nostro Account
What is a 'Nostro Account'

Nostro account refers to an account that a bank holds in a foreign currency in another bank. Nostros, a term derived from the Latin word for "ours," are frequently used to facilitate foreign exchange and trade transactions. The opposite term vostro accounts, derived from the Latin word for "yours," is how a bank refers to the accounts that other banks have on its books in its home currency.
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BREAKING DOWN 'Nostro Account'

Nostro account and vostro account refer to the same thing from a different perspective. For example, Bank X has an account with Bank Y in Bank Y's home currency. To Bank X, that is a nostro, meaning "our account on your books," while to Bank Y, it is a vostro, meaning "your account on our books." These accounts are used to facilitate international transactions and to settle transactions that hedge exchange rate risk.
Locations of Nostro Accounts

Most large commercial banks worldwide hold nostro accounts in every country with a convertible currency. Major examples of convertible currencies are the U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, British pound, the European euro and the Japanese yen. Prior to the advent of the euro as a currency for financial settlements on January 1, 1999, banks needed to hold nostro accounts in all of the countries that now use the euro. Since that date, one nostro for the entire euro zone has been sufficient. If a country were to leave the euro zone, either voluntarily or involuntarily, banks would need to re-establish nostros in that country in its new currency in order to continue making payments. The most commonly discussed potential exit from the euro zone has been Greece, which received multiple bailout packages since the beginning of the 2008 financial market crisis.
Non-Convertible Currencies

The central banks of many developing countries limit the buying and selling of their currencies, which is usually to control imports and exports and to control the exchange rate. Banks generally do not hold nostro accounts in those countries, as there is little or no foreign exchange business.

When a bank needs to make a payment in a country where it does not hold a nostro account, it can use a bank with which it has a correspondent relationship to make the payment on its behalf.
Example of a Payment Using a Nostro

The following example illustrates the process of making a payment using a nostro. Bank A in the United States enters into a spot foreign exchange contract to buy British pounds from Bank B, which is in Sweden. On the settlement date, Bank B must deliver pounds from its nostro account in the United Kingdom to the nostro account of Bank A, also in the United Kingdom. On the same day, Bank A must pay dollars in the United States to the nostro account of Bank B.
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Cross-Currency Settlement Risk
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A type of settlement risk in which a party involved in a foreign exchange transaction remits the currency it has sold, but does not receive the currency it has bought. In cross-currency settlement risk, the full amount of the currency purchased is at risk. This risk exists from the time that an irrevocable payment instruction has been made by the financial institution for the sale currency, to the time that the purchase currency has been received in the account of the institution or its agent.


Also called Herstatt risk, after the small German bank, whose failure in June 1974 exemplified this risk.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cross-Currency Settlement Risk'

One reason for this risk is the difference in time zones. With foreign exchange trades globally conducted around the clock, time differences mean that the two legs of a currency transaction will generally not be settled simultaneously.

As an example of cross-currency settlement risk, consider a U.S. bank that purchases 10 million euros in the spot market at the exchange rate of EUR 1 = USD 1.40. This means that at settlement, the U.S. bank will remit US$14 million and, in exchange, will receive EUR10 million from the counterparty to this trade. Cross-currency settlement risk will arise if the U.S. bank makes an irrevocable payment instruction for US$14 million, a few hours before it receives the EUR10 million in its nostro account, in full settlement of the trade.

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RenewEconomy/Giles Parkinson: What is the Tesla big battery actually selling? It’s not just energy

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What is the Tesla big battery actually selling? It’s not just energy
By Giles Parkinson on 13 December 2017
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The Tesla big battery has been a point of fascination for many in the energy industry since its official opening at the start of the month.

Everyone, from the market operator down to generators, consumers, competitors, the owners of soon-to-be-redundant incumbent technologies and, one suspects, Tesla itself, is keen to know exactly how it will operate.

One of the common inquiries we have received since updating the popular NEM-Watch to incorporate the Tesla battery, and its ability to both charge and discharge in rapid time, has been “why isn’t it doing anything?”

Appearances can be deceiving. One part of the big battery’s function is to do what gas peaking plants do, and fire up in times of peak demand (and high prices) – although firing up is not quite the word here.

Let’s remember that most gas peaking plants operate for just a few hours a year, when prices are really high.

SCADA

The Tesla battery will be able to operate more often than that, because it’s ability to charge at low prices, and then sell into the market at higher prices, means more opportunities for it to be used.

This table above is an example. Charging the battery (HPRL1) with lots of wind blowing and then in the next five minutes offering to discharge (generate).

That also means it doesn’t have to wait for the huge price spikes, the surge in demand and “scarcity” in supply to justify its operation.

But that’s not the only thing it can do. It also plays a less visible role of providing important network services such as frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS). This is a completely different market – in fact, about six markets – and they are not visible on the energy only market.

tesla battery regulationDylan McConnell, from the Climate and Energy College in Melbourne, has helpfully provided these graphs to illustrate exactly what the Tesla big battery is up to in certain times.

The trick here is that Tesla is actually providing a service, it is not necessarily putting this output into the grid. If called on, it will, but most of the time it is there for exactly what these services are called – contingency and regulation.

Contingency, McConnell explains, are for those events when a large power station trips off, and the battery can act quickly to “hold the grid’ together while bigger but slower moving machinery is fired up.

Regulation is basically the throttle controls that the Australian Energy Market Operator wants to be able to deploy to make the minor adjustments needed to keep the grid stable. The battery, like other spinning machinery, offers these services – and is paid for them – but is mostly on standby.

    hornsdale power reserve copy

Seen together, this is what it looks like. The actual generation, (in darkest shade) is actually just a fraction of the total offering, but will be the only one visible on the energy market pages.

 
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RenewEconomy/Giles Parkinson: AGL says batteries are coming, but coal is uninvestable


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AGL says batteries are coming, but coal is uninvestable
By Giles Parkinson on 13 December 2017
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VeseyAGL

AGL CEO Andrew Vesey at the company’s investor day briefing.

AGL says no private investor would invest in new coal plant, but says battery storage is coming and will be major game changer as costs fall – which may not be far away.

Several days after formally rejecting federal government requests that it invest hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the ageing and increasingly decrepit Liddell coal generator open, AGL held an “investor day” where it said no private money would support a new coal generator.

“We do not believe that any private capital will invest in new coal plants,” CEO Andrew Vesey told the assembled analysts. “Someone may say they want to, but that does not mean they will.”

AGL over the weekend unveiled plans to replace Liddell, which include 653MW of wind farms, currently under construction, 300MW of new solar farms, a 250MW gas peaking plant, and small amounts of demand management.

The later stages of the scheme – depending on what else happens in the market, and the make-up of energy policy – could see another 650MW of wind and solar, 250MW of battery storage, or pumped hydro, and possibly more gas peaking plants and more demand management.

The AGL plan made it clear to the government that the cheapest way to provide reliability, and reduce emissions, was to shift from coal to renewables, something the Coalition is finding hard to accept.

But Vesey’s comments were unequivocal, and appeared deliberately aimed at the lingering push from many in the conservative arena to build a new coal-fired generator. “The government may say it wants to … but it is becoming an increasingly risky proposition.”

Instead, AGL used the investor presentation to talk about the significant change that would take place in energy markets, driven by zero marginal cost generation such as solar and wind (and their falling capital costs), and the emergence of battery storage.

AGL noted that all current battery storage installations required the support of government funding (which is not quite true, but true enough of the Tesla big battery and the Wattle Point installation being built near AGL’s wind farm of the same name on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.)

AGL will operate the Wattle Point battery storage, mainly as a provider of grid services, with the ability to “island” or use local wind and solar supply to create a micro-grid, if there are major outages elsewhere.

Richard Wrightson, he is the head of wholesale markets at AGL, said the company had deliberately put battery storage at the “back end” of the plans to replace Liddell from 2022, because that is when they will become economic.

“They’re not quite there yet, but they are coming,” Wrightson said. He said the economics of battery storage would change, driven by the electric vehicle sector rather than the power industry. “That will change, and it will be a game changer,” he said.

agl NEM

Wrightson pointed to North Brown Hill wind farm north of Adelaide, often referred to as Hallett 4. Often, its output is contained because of network limits (see graph above, and the difference between potential generation in blue and actual generation in red.)

“That is wasted energy,” he said. Wind – with a value of zero at this time – could be stored and put back into the grid when prices rose. “That would make good arbitrage,” he said.

Of course, it’s not the only opportunity. Like the Wattle Point facility, it can provide frequency and other network services, and provide islanding services.

AGL also saw opportunities for its household batteries, and learning how to deliver a return on the capital invested in “behind the meter” applications to provide services to the grid, such as flattening demand and smoothing peaks.

AGL nem 2

For the moment, however, AGL saw the best opportunity in reciprocating dual fuel (gas and diesel) gas generators of the type that it is installing in South Australia, and it has planned for NSW.

These are fast reacting, are not wholly dependent on the ability to source gas in Australia’s “opaque” market, and are cost effective, and best placed to deal with the transition to 5-minute settlement periods.

AGL said it would continue to invest in “agile” assets until the layout of future policy became clear. It also reiterated it supported the proposed National Energy Guarantee, and was playing a prominent role in consultations on the policy’s design.

In the meantime, AGL also put the case for an LNG import facility in Victoria, saying it was possibly the best way to deal with a domestic gas market that lacked competition, was opaque, and where obtaining supply was difficult. It will make a final decision in 2019. 
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RenewEconomy/Sophie Vorrath: Renewable interconnectors to “span the globe,” as costs fall, technology improves


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Renewable interconnectors to “span the globe,” as costs fall, technology improves
By Sophie Vorrath on 13 December 2017
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Source: Asian Renewable Energy Hub

The distribution of solar and wind energy from one side of a continent to the other, and even between continents is now “eminently feasible”, a leading energy researcher has claimed, thanks to rapid improvements in technology and falling costs.

Speaking at last week’s APVI Asia Pacific Solar Research Conference in Melbourne, ANU professor Andrew Blakers said high voltage DC transmission technology was “moving ahead in leaps and bounds,” while costs were coming “down and down.”

This was a trend, he said, that was largely being driven by China, where wind, PV and hydro were in the west, while most of the people were in the east: “there’s 3,000km in-between, and the span is being bridged with high voltage DC.”

“Intercontinental and intracontinental-scale transmission is now eminently feasible,” Blakers told the conference on Thursday.

“The really big systems now have voltages of around 1.1 megavolts, they’re traversing 3,000km, (with a capacity of) 12GW – which is a third of the Australian peak demand – for a single (cable)… with a loss of 10 per cent,” he said.

“Within a few years I think you’ll start to hear talk of linking Vladivostok with London, with a 2 mega-volt cable, with a loss of 10 per cent from one side of Asia to the other.

“High voltage DC is basically going to span the globe.”

But it’s not just China that’s pushing the technology forward. Around the world, the wide geographical dispersion of renewables – “many, many generators in many, many different places” – was going to be key to 100 per cent renewable energy powered grids.

“It’s a really important enabling technology for high renewables, because it allows you to spread your renewables over very large areas, with very large capacity in different weather and demand systems,” he said.

“If you spread your PV and wind collectors from Townsville to Adelaide, and across to Tasmania, and everywhere between, then there is zero probability the weather will be bad everywhere,” he said, adding that it would also hugely reduce the amount of storage needed to make systems stable.

As readers of RenewEconomy would know, the idea of installing an undersea HVDC cable from Western Australia’s wind and solar rich Pilbara region to Indonesia has been a hot topic in Australian renewables lately, with two separate groups proposing there own versions of the plan.

The first group, Pilbara Solar, is proposing construction of a 1500km sub-sea cable from the Dampier Peninsula to east Java, to export the generation from three gigawatt-scale solar farms – and is hoping the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will support its cause.
Pilbara_Java_cable

The interconnector cable route proposed by Pilbara Solar

The other, The Asian Renewable Energy Hub consortium (AREH), led by InterContinental Energy, CWP Energy Asia and global wind leader Vestas, has earmarked 7,000 square kilometres of East Pilbara land for solar and wind farms it hopes to connect to West Java via a 2500km HVDC cable, and potentially running it on through to Singapore.

As Simon Holmes à Court wrote in this article on RenewEconomy just over a week ago, the idea of running an ‘extension cord’ all the way from Australia to Indonesia would still considered crazy by some.

But to Blakers, the projects proposed for Western Australia are just the beginning.

“In the future, for Australia, we could imagine …a lot of cables …. including cables heading from Pilbara, north to Indonesia, meeting cables coming down through China and going west to India, and east to the Philippines, and so forth,” he said. 
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Let Us Replicate Brazil's Free H.I.V. Drug Programme To Halt New Infections Amongst Younger Generation Ghanaians

Some of the members of Brazil's most corrupt wealthy elites were  major contributors to the rip-off culture that saw a spike in public procurement road construction contract profiteering during the Mahama administration's years in power.

Perhaps we can change the nature of our relationship with Brazil - now that many of Brazil's wealthiest and most powerful individuals in that nation's intertwined worlds of politics and business have been tried and punished for corruption during the post-Lula period in which Brazil undertook reforms as an anti-corruption wave swept across South America's biggest nation - under President Akufo-Addo to a win-win one based on transparency.

In that regard, Ghana's minister of health, Hon Kweku Agyemang Manu, ought to liaise with his Brazilian counterpart, to replicate a successful free H.I.V. drug programme that is reducing the numbers of new H.I.V. infections amongst Brazil's most vulnerable young people, in Ghana.

We must encourage Ghanaian pharmaceutical manufacturers to collaborate with their Brazilian counterparts to produce generic drugs for such an
initiative in Ghana - which could be paid for simply by closing the loophole that shipping companies are allegedly exploiting to levy charges they don't apparently demand from their clients anywhere else in the world but in Ghana, fior example. Ditto preventing the smuggling of gold from our
shores - and censuring that all exporters pay taxes due the Ghanaian nation-state.

(Incidentally, as news reports filter through  from South East Asia about the emergence of a new drug-resistant super-malaria, Hon. Kweku Agyeman Manu should alert those in charge of public health in our country, to be on the lookout, as it could be brought here by container ships and aeroplanes from that region.)

Finally, to serve as an inspiration to members of our nation's political class, particularly those from the younger generation, such as Hon. Zenator Rawlings, we are posting a culled New York Times article by Shasta Darlington, entitled: " Brazil Fights H.I.V. Spike in Youths With Free Preventive Drug".

Please read on:

"Americas
Brazil Fights H.I.V. Spike in Youths With Free Preventive Drug
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By SHASTA DARLINGTON DEC. 12, 2017
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Piero Mori, right, and a friend both make use of the PrEP program, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis. “Condoms will always be the most complete protection,” Mr. Mori said. “But for those who just can’t or won’t use them, PrEP is a salvation. It protects you against the most serious disease.” Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Seeking to stem a sharp rise in H.I.V. cases among young people, Brazil began offering a drug this month that can prevent infection to those deemed at high risk.

Brazil is the first country in Latin America, and among the first in the developing world, to adopt the pill Truvada, under a program known as PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, as an integral part of its preventive health care policy.

The blue pill — which drastically reduces the risk of contracting the virus when taken daily — will be made available at no cost to eligible Brazilians at 35 public health clinics in 22 cities during an inaugural phase of the program.

The Brazilian Health Ministry is paying Gilead Sciences, the American manufacturer of the drug, about 75 cents a dose, a fraction of the price users pay in the United States, where the pill sells for upward of $1,600 for a month’s supply.

The drug is being rolled out at a crucial time in Brazil, with the country’s health officials particularly alarmed by the rise of the virus among young men and other groups considered at higher risk.
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Between 2006 and 2015, the number of AIDS cases in men aged 15-19 almost tripled, to 6.9 cases per 100,000 people. Among men 20-24, the rate almost doubled to 33.1 cases per 100,000, according to U.N.AIDS, a United Nations agency that coordinates H.I.V. prevention policy around the world.

Approximately 48,000 new cases of H.I.V. were reported in Brazil in 2016 and about 14,000 deaths related to AIDS, the agency said.

While the transmission of the virus from mother to child has been significantly reduced, about one in 10 men who have sex with men in Brazil have H.I.V., the agency said.

“Our hope is that with PrEP and other measures we can reduce the rate of new infections,” said Adele Benzaken, the director of the AIDS department at Brazil’s Health Ministry. “But it’s a big challenge.”

PrEP is being made available to prostitutes, transgender people, men who have sex with men, some drug users and people in relationships with partners who have H.I.V.

Brazil has long been recognized for its strong response to the H.I.V. epidemic. It challenged pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s by producing generic versions of costly antiretroviral drugs, which lowered prices globally. Brazil’s government buys and distributes more condoms than any other country, and in 2013 it started providing antiretroviral therapy free to all H.I.V.-positive adults seeking care.

Proponents of PrEP say Brazil’s experience will show the economic benefits of investing in prevention.

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“With the addition of PrEP, Brazil is using all of the strategies that we recommend,” said Georgiana Braga-Orillard, the director of U.N.AIDS Brazil. “This is a large-scale operation, and Brazil could become an example to all of Latin America that we need to see an integrated approach.”

Since the United States Federal Drug Administration approved Truvada as a prevention drug for H.I.V. in 2012, several countries have sought to make it available and affordable to people at risk of contracting H.I.V.
Photo
Bottles of Truvada, the branded PrEP drug manufactured by Gilead. Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

For the first year of Brazil’s program, the Health Ministry spent $2.7 million for 3.6 million pills. Screening and additional care will be provided at no cost at public clinics.

Ms. Benzaken, the ministry official, said Brazil expected to spend less on this preventive care next year as generic versions of the drug arrive in the market.

“It was a good deal,” she said. “But we need to bring the price down even more.”

She said two pharmaceutical companies, including Mylan, had applied to Brazil’s health regulatory agency, Anvisa, for approval of generic versions of Truvada.
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People have grown less concerned about H.I.V., leading to a decline in the use of condoms, said Jose Valdez Madruga of the São Paulo Health Secretariat, who was one of the coordinators of a PrEP trial in Brazil carried out ahead of its implementation. The drug provides an additional safeguard.

“With PrEP, it puts the decision in the hands of one person, said Mr. Madruga, the head of the secretariat’s AIDS and sexually transmitted disease center. “You don’t need the agreement of the other partner, as with condoms.”

According to a survey in Brazil by the gay-dating app Hornet and U.N.AIDS, 36 percent of respondents said they would probably use PrEP if it were available.

Critics of PrEP have said it incentivizes condomless sex, leading to the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases.

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Marcio Pierezan, 29, a patient who participated in the trial, said those fears were overblown. He started taking the pill two years ago.

“It was at a time when four close friends had tested positive for H.I.V., and I was in an open relationship with someone who had tested positive,” he said. “I was in constant fear that I would be next, even though I used condoms.”

Mr. Pierezan says that the pill is as an added protection, but that he never stopped using condoms. “It became part of my routine,” he said. “I take it with coffee in the morning, and it’s been a huge relief for me, my friends, my mother!”

Piero Mori, 34, a systems analyst who is gay, says he never liked using condoms, which meant new sexual encounters often brought weeks of anxiety as he tested yet again for H.I.V.

“Condoms will always be the most complete protection,” he said. “But for those who just can’t or won’t use them, PrEP is a salvation. It protects you against the most serious disease.”

The new tool in Brazil’s effort to contain the spread of H.I.V. is being deployed as budget shortfalls in some states have led to personnel and medicine shortages that have crippled several hospitals. Additionally, public schools that provide comprehensive sex education have come under attack from conservative politicians.

Still, health officials have high hopes for the impact PrEP can have on keeping people healthy. In order to promote it, they are considering partnering with popular YouTube personalities and advertising on online dating apps.

“We don’t have all the answers yet,” Ms. Benzaken said. “But we are using all the tools at our disposal.”
Correction: December 12, 2017

An earlier version of this article misidentified the H.I.V. prevention pill to be given away in Brazil. The drug is Truvada, not PrEP, which describes the overall treatment strategy, pre-exposure prophylaxis.
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Dr. Mercola: Can a Cocoa Compound Delay Diabetes?


Can a Cocoa Compound Delay Diabetes?

    December 13, 2017 • 554 views

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    Scientists are motivated to find solutions for diabetes, given that more than 30 million Americans are living with the disease and another 84 million are considered prediabetic
    Researchers studying the effects cocoa-based antioxidants have on the pancreas’ beta cells discovered that rats receiving a high-fat diet including the cocoa compound had lower obesity levels and an increased ability to manage higher blood sugar levels
    I continue to recommend diet and lifestyle changes as the best methods to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes; a cyclical ketogenic diet has been shown to help diabetics reduce their dependency on medication

By Dr. Mercola

According to the American Diabetes Association,1 more than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, the majority of whom are Type 2 diabetics. Another 84 million Americans have prediabetes, meaning they could advance to the full-blown disease in less than five years. By 2035, diabetes is expected to afflict 592 million people globally.2

As I have often said, a healthy lifestyle not only can prevent Type 2 diabetes, but is also capable of reversing it. With proper attention to diet and lifestyle, Type 2 diabetes is, in most cases, a curable condition. In the majority of situations, it does not require medication.

Based on its influence on blood glucose levels, research has suggested a compound found in cocoa may help delay the onset of diabetes. If you are diabetic or prediabetic, and also a chocolate lover, this might sound like just the news you need to justify your sweet tooth. After all, cocoa is found in chocolate. Before you get too excited, however, let's take a closer look at the research.
Scientists Strive to Identify Potential Medical Interventions for Diabetes

Due to the growing prevalence of diabetes, scientists are working hard to identify medical interventions for people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Given the statistics presented above, there is good reason for their interest. That said, everything that is proposed may not necessarily be beneficial to you.

One example comes from a team at the University of South Carolina that implanted polymer sponges in the fatty abdomens of obese mice. They suggest the presence of the sponges helped reduce blood sugar and staved off weight gain.3 From a health perspective, it's hard to understand why you'd want to depend on a foreign object implanted in your abdomen to regulate your blood sugar and weight, when you could achieve the same or better results by simply adjusting your diet and lifestyle.

In that context, let's consider the research involving cocoa and diabetes, first by reviewing some basics about diabetes. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your doctor has likely told you your body is less sensitive to insulin, a hormone produced, stored and released by beta cells in your pancreas. Contrary to what you've been told, the primary role of insulin is NOT to lower your blood sugar, but to store the extra energy (glycogen, a starch) for present and future consumption.

Its ability to lower your blood sugar is merely a side effect of this energy storage process. Ultimately, diabetes is a disease of insulin and of a malfunction in leptin signaling. That said, if your blood sugar level gets too high, it can damage your blood vessels and organs, but if it is too low, your body is not able to function properly.

As a Type 2 diabetic who is less sensitive to insulin, your body not only has to produce more of the hormone to achieve the desired effects, but also your beta cells are more susceptible to increased death rates.4 Given the sensitivity of your beta cells to oxidative stress — also known as free radicals — researchers from Brigham Young University and Virginia Tech set out to bolster beta cell performance.

They chose to study the impact of flavanol compounds found in cocoa on beta cells. These compounds contain antioxidants. The study,5,6,7 published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, found that rats receiving a high-fat diet that included the cocoa compound had lower obesity levels and an increased ability to manage higher blood sugar levels.
Cocoa Compounds and Your Mitochondria Team Up to Fight Diabetes

While scientists have investigated the relationship between flavanols and beta cell function for the better part of 10 years, this research is the first to center on a flavanol called catechin. Of all the flavanols tested to date, catechin has produced the most positive results toward enhancing the beta cells' ability to secrete insulin.

Researchers have not yet discovered how catechin, which is a single molecule and the smallest compound tested, actually makes improvements in your beta cells. Study author Jeffery Tessem, Ph.D., assistant professor of nutrition, dietetics and food science at Brigham Young University, explains what has been uncovered thus far:

    "What happens is, [catechin is] protecting the cells, it's increasing their ability to deal with oxidative stress. The catechin monomers are making the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which produces more ATP (a cell's energy source), which then results in more insulin being released."

Because scientists observed an increase in the expression of genes promoting mitochondrial function and the body's response to oxidative stress, they have concluded epicatechin monomers strengthen the mitochondria within the beta cells. Your mitochondria are the "power houses" of your cells. Mitochondria are so vital to your health, I made Mitochondrial Metabolic Therapy (MMT) the central theme of my latest book "Fat for Fuel."

MMT is a complete program that includes eating a cyclical ketogenic diet, and aims to heal not only your mitochondria, but also the root causes of chronic disease and aging. Given my understanding of the significant role they play with respect to your overall health, it makes sense mitochondria would be called out in the diabetes study. About the research, co-author Andrew Neilson, Ph.D., assistant professor of food science and technology at Virginia Tech, stated:

    "These results will help us get closer to using these compounds more effectively in foods or supplements to maintain normal blood glucose control, and potentially even delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes."

That said, both Tessem and Neilson were quick to dismiss any notions that eating sugary, high-fat chocolate will help protect you against diabetes. For sure, if you are diabetic or prediabetic, Tessem notes you would "probably have to eat a lot of cocoa" to intake sufficient epicatechin monomers to achieve the desired effect on your blood sugar levels. "It's the compound in cocoa, [not the chocolate], you're after."8
Seven Steps You Can Take Today to Control Your Blood Sugar

Rather than depend on future scientific developments to improve your health related to diabetes or prediabetes, I suggest you consider the following seven steps you can take today to control your blood sugar.

Increase your fiber: Many whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, naturally contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber, like that found in blueberries, cucumbers and nuts has been shown to be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes because it slows down your digestion.

Insoluble fiber, found in carrots, celery and dark green leafy vegetables does not dissolve and therefore adds bulk to your stool to promote regularity. I recommend getting 40 to 50 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat.

A study conducted at Imperial College London suggested participants with the highest fiber intake (more than 26 grams a day) had an 18 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake (less than 19 grams a day).9

Reduce net carbs: A low-net-carbohydrate diet of 50 grams a day or less will help reduce inflammation, stress on your body and the amount of insulin required to transform the food you eat into energy. You can calculate net carbohydrates simply by taking the total grams of carbohydrates you've eaten and subtracting the number of grams of fiber. A high-fiber diet will help your body lower the amount of insulin it needs to produce.

Eat high-quality fats: When you reduce your carbohydrates, you should replace them with high-quality fats. Your body thrives on healthy fats because they are necessary for mitochondrial health, which affects your entire body, and lowers your disease risk. Healthy fats include avocados, coconut oil, organic grass fed butter and meat, authentic virgin olive oil, organic pastured eggs and raw nuts.

Get more exercise: While exercise does not seem to have any effect on the amount of leptin secreted in your body, it has a significant impact on the resistance your body builds up to this important hormone,10 which is discussed more thoroughly below. The more you exercise, the more sensitive your cells become to leptin. As your body becomes sensitive to leptin, you reduce your potential resistance to insulin, and therefore your risk of diabetes.

Stay hydrated: When you become dehydrated, your liver will secrete a hormone that increases your blood sugar. As you hydrate, blood sugar levels lower naturally. You can easily monitor your hydration by observing the color of your urine during the day. It should be light yellow, unless you take B-vitamin supplements, which renders your urine a bright yellow.

Reduce stress: When you become stressed, your body secretes cortisol and glucagon, both of which affect your blood sugar level. You may be able to lower your stress levels through exercise, meditation, prayer, relaxation techniques or yoga. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is also an effective way to address stress.

Get enough sleep: Sufficient quality sleep is necessary to feel good and experience good health. Poor sleeping habits may reduce insulin sensitivity and promote weight gain.11 Sleep is so important, I will address it again later in this article.
Insulin Is Not the Only Hormone Influencing Your Risk of Diabetes

While you're likely to hear a lot about insulin and its role with respect to diabetes, it's important to become familiar with two other hormones — leptin and ghrelin — that also influence the disease. Beyond having too much sugar in your blood, diabetics struggle with insulin resistance at a cellular level. When your cells become resistant to insulin, glucose (sugar) stays in your blood, raising your blood sugar level.

As mentioned, another component of Type 2 diabetes is the malfunction of leptin signaling. Leptin, also referred to as the "obesity hormone," controls hunger and feelings of satiety. Leptin is a hormone produced by your fat cells involved with energy expenditure, food intake, immune function, metabolism and neuroendocrine function.12

The third hormone intimately involved with diabetes is ghrelin, your "hunger hormone," which is secreted by your stomach lining. This hormone is responsible for telling your brain you're hungry. Ghrelin, it appears, may also act on your brain's "pleasure centers," driving you to reach for another bowl of ice cream simply because you remember how good the first one tasted and made you feel while you were eating it.

These are the three main players in the development of diabetes. With a malfunction of leptin or ghrelin signaling, you may eat too much food for your activity level and the rate of your metabolism, resulting in weight gain and obesity. With obesity often comes resistance at a cellular level to insulin, which translates to you having chronic high blood sugar. Then, it's only a matter of time before you receive a diagnosis of diabetes.
Lack of Quality Sleep Impacts Ghrelin and Leptin

Now that you know how ghrelin and leptin play a role with diabetes, I wanted to mention how these hormones are affected by lack of sleep, mainly because insufficient sleep seems to be a growing problem worldwide. You may not be aware that a lack of consistent, high-quality sleep wreaks havoc on both ghrelin and leptin, thereby putting you at risk for diabetes.

Chronic lack of sleep can cause ghrelin to skyrocket, making you feel hungry when you don't really need to eat. Late-night eating is of particular concern. If you are caught in a cycle of late-night eating, you are very likely tempted to indulge in foods high in carbohydrates, and these extra calories are likely to be stored as fat.

When you eat a sugary dessert your production of insulin increases so the sugar in your blood can be taken to your cells and used for energy. It also increases your production of leptin. Because leptin is secreted by fat tissue, if you are overweight, you likely have higher than normal levels of leptin, which may lead to leptin resistance. High leptin levels have been tied to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and stroke, as well as blood sugar problems.13

If you are leptin resistant, your body will likely receive signals leading you to continue eating even when you've actually had enough. Researchers involved with a sleep disorders study involving more than 1,000 participants, which sought to uncover a link between sleep problems and metabolic hormones, concluded:14

    "Participants with short sleep had reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin. These differences in leptin and ghrelin are likely to increase appetite, possibly explaining the increased BMI observed with short sleep duration."

If you want to help yourself along to better hormone balance among insulin, ghrelin and leptin, one step you can take today is to get better sleep. After reviewing more than 300 studies to determine how many hours of sleep most people need to maintain their health, an expert panel concluded most adults need around eight hours per night to function well. Children and teenagers require even more.
How to Limit Your Sugar Consumption

Sugar, in its natural form, such as that found in fruit, is not inherently bad when consumed in amounts that allow you to burn fat as your primary fuel. However, you should avoid all sources of processed fructose, particularly processed foods and beverages like soda and bottled juices. According to SugarScience.org, 74 percent of processed foods purchased from the grocery store contain added sugar.15 Other sources have suggested it may be as high as 80 percent.

For that reason and more, I advise you to eat a diet composed chiefly of naturally occurring whole foods, with 10 percent or less coming from processed foods. I recommend severely limiting your consumption of refined carbohydrates found in bread, cereal, pasta and other grain-based foods, as they break down to sugar in your body, which increases your insulin levels and contributes to insulin resistance.

As a general recommendation, I suggest you keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including fructose from whole fruit, and as low as 15 grams per day if you have diabetes or other chronic disease. Keep in mind that while fruits are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, they naturally contain fructose. If consumed in high amounts (especially if you are not burning fat as your primary fuel), fructose from fruit worsens your insulin sensitivity and raises your uric acid levels.

Be sure to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose due to the health problems associated with them. In my opinion, the risks associated with those toxic substances are worse than those you may face with corn syrup and sugar. As mentioned above, your best bet is to replace the sugary carbohydrates in your diet with healthy, high-quality fats. Some of my favorites are avocados, grass fed butter, raw macadamia nuts and wild Alaskan salmon.

If you feel you might be addicted to sugar, and many people are, I strongly advise you to consider using EFT to break the grip sugar has on your life. In the video below, Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap your way free from a sugar addiction.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

Simply stated, a ketogenic diet seeks to minimize net carbohydrates, replacing them with healthy fats and adequate amounts of high-quality protein. Almost everyone can benefit from a cyclical or targeted ketogenic diet, where you increase carbs and protein on the one or two days a week you are strength training — once you are able to burn fat for fuel.

By implementing a cyclical ketogenic approach, you can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases. In a study16 published in Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers noted that diabetics who ate low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets were able to significantly reduce their dependency on diabetes medication.

They stated, "The … ketogenic diet was more effective for improving glycemic control than the low glycemic diet. Lifestyle modification using low-carbohydrate diet interventions are effective for improving obesity and type 2 diabetes."

I believe this diet is healthy for most individuals, whether you have a chronic health problem or not. I say that because the ketogenic diet will help you optimize your health by converting from burning carbohydrates to burning fat as your primary fuel. Your body should be able to burn both sugar and fat for fuel, but most people have lost the ability to burn fat, thanks to eating a diet too high in sugars. Regaining this metabolic flexibility is foundational for optimal health and weight.

One of the most common side effects of being a sugar-burner is that you end up with insulin and leptin resistance, which is at the root of most chronic disease, including diabetes. Since your body has lost its ability to burn fat for fuel, you'll also find weight loss is a struggle. Once you regain the ability to burn fat, you'll likely find your weight will normalize automatically.

Adopting the ketogenic diet along with intermittent fasting may further boost your results. Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective strategies I know of to shift your body from burning sugar to burning fat for fuel. While there are many strategies, the one I personally used to become fat adapted involves restricting your daily eating to a six- to eight-hour window. This means you'll be fasting for about 16 to 18 hours each day.

It may take time for you to work up to that period of fasting. Start by pushing your breakfast out a little later until you are able to skip it altogether. You can use intermittent fasting to help you gradually transition to a ketogenic diet. It is especially useful to help you break your body's addiction to glucose. You'll find that eliminating sugar cravings is one of the most welcomed side effects of intermittent fasting.
More Advanced Fasting May Also Be Helpful

Over time, you may be able to fast even longer. I have been doing 14- to 16-hour daily intermittent fasts for 18 months. Over the last two months I increased that to 20- to 21-hour fasts, and I've also started experimenting with four-day water fasts.

In all my clinical experience, I have never seen a more effective intervention than multiday fasts where the only thing you consume is water and mineral supplements, and no other food or drink. I had previously been opposed to fasting if one was already at an ideal body weight. However, I failed to realize that there is metabolic magic that simply won't occur in any other setting.

I now view this type of extreme fast as taking out the trash. It allows your body to seriously upregulate autophagy and mitophagy and remove most of the damaged senescent cells in your body. This, of course, would include premalignant cells. It is a magnificent way to help cancer-proof your body. It is also outstanding for helping you achieve optimal body weight, and it can improve your health and extend your life span.

I will be interviewing experts on fasting in the future to go into more detail of all the benefits that are provided, but until then, I would strongly encourage you to seriously consider increasing your daily intermittent fasting toward the 18- to 20-hour range so you will be able to painlessly do water fasting and then feast like a king afterward.
Getting Started With the Ketogenic Diet

Regardless of whether you're intermittently fasting or not, the following food guidelines will help you regain balance in your eating and shed unwanted weight — two important steps if you are a diabetic. Start by focusing on the following. For more tips on implementing a ketogenic diet, check out "A Beginner's Guide to the Ketogenic Diet: An Effective Way of Optimizing Your Health."

1. Avoid processed foods, refined sugar and processed fructose in excess of 15 grams per day, and grains

2. Eat whole foods, ideally organic

3. Replace grain carbohydrates with:

◦ Large amounts of organic vegetables

◦ Higher amounts of healthy fats (you may benefit getting as much as 50 to 85 percent of your total daily calories from high-quality, healthy fats — saturated and monounsaturated fats from animal and tropical oil sources)

◦ Low-to-moderate amounts of high-quality protein
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With This Healthy Chocolate Truffle Recipe

If the thought of giving up sweets is holding you back from making the dietary changes you know your body longs for and needs, consider this healthy alternative to store-bought chocolate truffles, courtesy of Jennafer Ashley of Paleohacks. It contains healthy, delicious ingredients and is easy to prepare.
Chocolate Fat Bomb Truffles Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

    1 tablespoon Dr. Mercola's vanilla extract
    2 small ripe organic avocados
    1 cup raw cacao powder
    2 tablespoons raw cacao powder for dusting
    3 tablespoons Dr. Mercola's coconut oil, melted
    2 tablespoons Dr. Mercola's raw honey or 1 tablespoon monk fruit sweetener
    1-2 drops of stevia (optional)

Serving Size: 12 truffles

Procedure

    In a mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, avocado, honey and stevia, if you are using it. Use a hand mixer on medium speed to mix the ingredients until they reach a smooth consistency.
    Gradually mix in 1 cup of raw cacao powder until it completely combines with the other ingredients. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
    Using a tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll it into balls. Dust with the reserved cacao powder.
    Store in the refrigerator, then serve once chilled.

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If you want to use an article on your site please click here. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required.

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Dr. Mercola: Nestle Bursts Bubble, Is This the Start of a Marvelous New Era?


The Nutrition Wars and Downfall of Big Food

    December 13, 2017 • 4,619 views

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Story at-a-glance

    People are becoming increasingly cognizant of the connection between food and health, and are seeking out healthier fare. They’re also paying closer attention to labeling, favoring companies that provide clear disclosures
    The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which was found guilty of money laundering and has fought hard against GMO labeling across the U.S., has lost some of its most prominent members, including Nestlé and Campbell’s
    Food industry rifts have also become evident in the field of nutrition, with dietitians who support organics saying they’re being publicly shamed and harassed by their more industry-friendly peers
    Online incivility has gotten so bad among dietitians, the American Dietetic Association published social media guidance for its members and is urging dietitians to sign a pledge of professional civility
    To increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, Partnership for a Healthier America has launched a fruits and vegetable campaign (branded as FNV) to improve public perception and acceptance of real food

By Dr. Mercola

As consumer food preferences are rapidly changing, with more people looking for and buying healthier foods, the food industry is struggling to come up with a coordinated response to win back consumer confidence and recoup sagging sales. As noted by Politico,1 "As legacy brands lag, food companies have two options: Change to compete or buy up the new brands that are already growing rapidly."

Nestlé's recent departure from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the largest and most powerful lobbying group for the processed food industry, is just one piece of evidence signaling the development of a deep rift within the industry. According to the featured article, "Long the attack group for large companies like Kraft and General Mills on legislative and regulatory issues, GMA now has members like Nestlé opposing some of its positions."2 Mars Inc. has also confirmed it will not renew its membership with GMA.3

Leaving the GMA is not the only way Nestlé is changing. The processed food giant recently purchased Atrium Innovations — the Canadian parent company of the organic supplement brand, Garden of Life — for $2.3 billion.4 Garden of Life is said to make up the largest chunk of Atrium’s annual sales. The irony of the buyout is pretty obvious. As noted by Reuters,5 “Nestlé [is] expanding its presence in consumer health care as it seeks to offset weakness in packaged foods.” Atrium will become part of the Nestlé Health Science division, which already sells nutritional products. The purchase reflects Nestlé’s new “strategic priority,” namely consumer health.
GMA Losing Key Members

Other major players have also chosen to part ways with GMA, suggesting Big Food is in fact starting to pay attention to consumers' demand for honesty and transparency. Three years ago, I wrote about how the GMA was suing states for the right to deceive you, and how it got caught laundering money during the Washington campaign to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The association was ultimately fined a record $18 million for its illegal side-stepping of the state's campaign finance laws, but by then the damage was already done and Washington did not get the votes required to enact GMO labeling. (The GMA has contested the guilty verdict, so the legal wranglings are not yet over.)

Around that same time, I also dubbed GMA "the most evil corporation on the planet," since it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who have gone to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights, just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered (GE) and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) also called for a boycott on every single product owned by GMA members, including organic and natural brands, to send a clear message to the industry that we will no longer tolerate being bamboozled by their deceptive and illegal strategies. Since then, some of the heavy-hitters have indeed left — or are considering leaving — the GMA. This suggests your participation in the GMA boycott has indeed been wildly successful. According to Politico:6

    "… Campbell decided to stop fighting and instead embrace GMO labeling early last year, believing that consumers want more information about what's in their food and where it comes from — not less. Other major food companies are also eyeing the door: Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the country, has quietly decided to leave the association. Several others ... are considering it …

    'Companies that get it have said, 'Why are we paying GMA more than $1 million a year to lobby for things that our brands don't support?'' said Jeff Nedelman, founder of the public relations firm Strategic Communications that works with health and wellness brands, and a former VP of communications at GMA during the 1980s and '90s.

    'To me, it looks like GMA is the dinosaur just waiting to die,' Nedelman added … As more millennials become parents, food companies will have to adapt and change even more … as the majority of shoppers will be looking for brands and companies and products with aligned their values."

Changing Consumer Tastes Have Thrown Food Industry Into Disarray

People are becoming increasingly cognizant of the connection between food and health, and are seeking out healthier fare. American consumers are also paying greater attention to labeling, favoring companies that provide clear disclosures. Organics, grass fed meats and products that do not contain artificial colors are all becoming increasingly popular.

Just a few years ago, the industry saw "real food" and organics as a niche market, and there were even attempts to squash it by labeling people who sought out such foods as wealthy food snobs. It's now becoming clear that such derogatory labels don't work (and don't fit the majority of organic consumers). According to a recent market analysis, the top 20 food and beverage companies in the U.S. lost $18 billion of their market share between 2011 and 2017.7

In an effort to stop the bleeding and recapture sales, many started buying up popular organic brands. PepsiCo bought Naked Juice and Coca-Cola snapped up Honest Tea, while General Mills acquired Larabar and Kellogg's bought Kashi. The question is whether these processed food giants really have the "heart," not to mention financial incentive, to maintain the quality and purity consumers came to expect from organic brands.

The food industry is also at odds over the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) updated Nutrition Facts label,8 which will require manufacturers to list added sugars, both in grams and percentage of total daily calories. While Nestlé and Mars supported the change, others vehemently opposed it.

One of the main arguments against listing added sugars on the label is that it will confuse consumers, but in all reality, the only thing that will happen is that it will allow consumers to actually see and compare how much sugar is in their beloved staples, which just might trigger a switch to less health-harming foods.

Food companies have until January 2020 to comply with the label changes, but some have stated they will voluntarily update their labels well before that deadline, all in an effort to appease consumer demand for transparency.
Plant Based Foods Association — The New Kid on the Block

After leaving GMA, Campbell joined the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), which presently claims to have 92 corporate members.9 The association's stated mission is "To ensure a fair and competitive marketplace for businesses selling plant-based foods intended to replace animal products such as meats, dairy and eggs, by promoting policies and practices that improve conditions in the plant-based foods industry, and educating consumers about the benefits of plant-based foods."10

While most people would certainly benefit from eating more plant foods, I can foresee the potential for trouble with such a narrow industry mission. Organic, grass fed animal foods have a unique and valuable place not only in the human diet but environmentally as well, as livestock is an important part of regenerative agriculture.

PBFA also represents manufacturers of meat substitutes, and while the industry claims getting rid of animal meat altogether is the answer to many of our health and environmental problems, the evidence suggests this simply isn't true.

A healthy ecosystem needs grazing animals, and there's very little if any evidence to support the idea that meat substitutes are in fact healthy. For example, the FDA has raised concerns about Impossible Burger's meat substitute made from soy, wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and plant-based "heme" derived from genetically engineered (GE) yeast.

Safety concerns also surround Quorn, another meat substitute made from a fungus-based ferment. I find it difficult to understand how a manufactured food product that has been accused of causing death could ever be sold as a healthier option than grass fed beef raised on a regenerative farm.
Why Junk Food Is Still Advertised to Children

Over the years, it's become increasingly clear that the processed food industry has little concern for public health. It's really all about maintaining sales, even when this means twisting the facts to make a product appear healthy — logic and science be damned. As noted by Scientific American in 2013,11 Congress commissioned the Inter-agency Working Group (IWG) to develop standards for the advertising of food to children in 2009.

Its report, released in 2011, turned out to be a devastating blow to food companies, as foods marketed to children had to contain "at least 50 percent by weight one or more of the following: fruit; vegetable; whole grain; fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt; fish; extra lean meat or poultry; eggs; nuts and seeds; or beans." According to General Mills, the guidelines would bar 88 of the 100 most commonly consumed products in the U.S. from being advertised to children.12

Moreover, General Mills estimated that if all Americans ate a healthy diet, the food industry would lose $503 billion in annual sales.13 If you've been paying attention to what your children are told to eat while watching their favorite program, I'm sure you'll agree none of the items conform to the guidelines suggested by the IWG. That's because the industry fought the guidelines, and won.
Dietitians Lectured on Social Media Conduct

Food industry rifts have also become evident in the field of nutrition. The Washington Post recently ran a story about Rebecca Subbiah, a registered dietitian and organic farmer who recounts being harassed and shamed by other dietitians online.14 According to the article, Subbiah "unwittingly stepped into an online debate about industrial farming practices. She tweeted that she personally prefers organic foods because she believes they're better for the environment."

She describes the responses she received as "terrible" and "very toxic," saying the name-calling and questioning of her intellect made her cry. According to The Washington Post, the conversation about organics has "grown so heated that the country's certifying body for dietitians issued guidance to its members asking them to avoid 'belittling' or 'humiliating' colleagues in online discussions," and to sign a public pledge of professional civility.

Six other dietitians interviewed for the article agree that harassment "has become common in the field," and believe the "hostility reflects deepening ideological divides in both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the professional group — and in nutrition, in general." It's quite sad when an organization has to actually instruct its members to remember to interact professionally when engaging in online discussions about nutrition.

It's also a potent reminder to patients and clients — your dietitian may well be mired in outdated and unhealthy opinions cultivated by the processed food and chemical technology industries. This isn't so surprising when you consider the fact that junk food companies have a hand in educating dietitians on what's healthy and what's not.
Dietitians Have Become an Increasingly Divided Lot

The American Dietetic Association's (ADA) annual conference has long been monopolized by the likes of Coca-Cola, Mars, Kellogg's and General Mills. Rarely if ever will you find organic food experts included in the speaker lineup at these events.

One cannot help but wonder if the harassment of dietitians who support and promote organics and a nonprocessed food diet doesn't originate from junk food purveyors and pesticide companies in the GE seed business. After all, the industry has become expert at secretly employing professionals and academics who then spread the corporate gospel under the cloak of independent opinion and expertise.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, who was attacked on social media for months after giving a public talk about the "unintended consequences of GMOs," told The Washington Post she believes online "incivility is just a symptom of the actual problem: deep divides between dietitians regarding the state of the modern food system."

As noted in the article, dietitians historically did not get involved with issues such as the environmental impacts of food production, but in recent years, such topics have become increasingly important to consumers, and hence the industry of nutrition. The issue was further brought to the fore when, in 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee specifically noted that eating more plant foods would be beneficial for the environment.
Don't Let Your Diet be Dictated by Corporate Agendas

It's really unfortunate that so many dietitians are still under the delusion that you can eat a processed food diet and regain or maintain good health, but such is the power of corporate brainwashing. For instance, many dieticians still believe artificial sweeteners are a sensible alternative to sugar, and that low-fat, low-calorie microwavable meals are a "healthy" dinner, when this could not be further from the truth.

Fortunately, at the forefront of any revolution is knowledge, and that is the stage many are at right now with regard to the food system. Finally, many are beginning to realize that the bulk of the packaged, processed foods found in supermarkets are not real "food" at all, but cheap concoctions of subsidized farm crops and chemicals manipulated to taste and look edible.

The easiest way to break free of this trap through your diet is by focusing on whole — ideally organic, or better yet, biodynamic — unadulterated foods, meaning foods that have not been processed or altered from their original state. I've compiled many tips on how to do this without breaking the bank in these past articles:

    5 Ways to Afford Whole Foods on a Budget
    Could You Eat Healthy on $3.37 a Day?
    Five of the Healthiest and Most Affordable Foods Available

Coming Attraction: Fruit and Veggie Marketing Machine

Also remember that if a food is heavily advertised, there's a good chance it is unhealthy. Real foods like grass fed beef, raw butter, organic cage-free eggs, organic vegetables and the like are not the subject of commercial jingles or billboards, but they are the types of foods that will support optimal health. You can find more examples of real, healthy, non-corporate food in my nutrition plan.

Fortunately, signs of change are evident here as well. In an effort to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) has started a fruits and vegetable campaign15 (branded as FNV16) to improve public perception and acceptance of plant produce. The video above is a preview of FNV's "fruit and veggie marketing machine" — ads that are as enticing as those produced by junk food manufacturers.

According to the PHA, the new campaign is already starting to change behavior. Toni Carey, senior manager, communications and marketing for PHA, told Forbes that "80 percent of people bought or consumed more fruits and veggies after seeing FNV advertising" and that "over 90 percent have a favorable impression of FNV and would engage with the brand in some way."17
Where to Find Healthy Foods

While many grocery stores now carry organic foods, it's preferable to source yours from local growers whenever possible, as much of the organic food sold in grocery stores is imported. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

Demeter USA

Demeter-USA.org provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands. This directory can also be found on BiodynamicFood.org.

American Grassfed Association

The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA-approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

EatWild.com

EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

FoodRoutes

The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com

If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund18 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.19 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.
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If you want to use an article on your site please click here. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required.

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