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Those who made us FAT & then ROBBED us BLIND

AN evening of "entertainment"

watching a re-run of

"Pure, White and Deadly"

from the BBC - under the

guise of their latest epic 

"The men who made us fat"

Around the world, obesity levels

are rising. More people are now

overweight than undernourished.

Jacques Peretti traces those

responsible for revolutionising

our eating habits to find out how

decisions made in America 40

years ago influence the way we

eat now -

back to back with ...

"The Untouchables" from PBS


This fall will mark the five-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers filing for

bankruptcy, sparking the biggest financial crisis since the Great

Depression. When the anniversary hits, many legal experts agree, any

chance federal prosecutors will have had to hold Wall Street accountable

will have come and gone with the passing of the statute of limitations.

So is Wall Street breathing a sigh of relief ?

In The Untouchables, the FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith

examines why not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted

for fraud tied to the sale of bad mortgages. Many of the same issues

examined in the film will take center stage today during a hearing of a

House Financial Services Subcommittee. Among the questions expected

to come up is which outside experts the Justice Department consults with

when considering whether to prosecute large financial institutions.

That question first drew the attention of lawmakers shortly after the 

The Untouchables premiered. A week after the film, Senators Sherrod

Brown (D-Ohio) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Attorney

General Eric Holder asking whether the “too big to fail” status of some

banks undermines the government’s ability to prosecute wrongdoing.

The letter cited remarks made in the above excerpt from the film by

Lanny Breuer, the former head of the Justice Department’s criminal

division. Breuer told FRONTLINE:

In any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.

Breuer has since left the government to return to private practice with

Covington & Burlington — a firm that counts major Wall Street firms such

as JPMorgan Chase among its clients. Nonetheless, the criminal division’s

track record during his tenure has spurred a war of words between

lawmakers and the Department of Justice.

In February, the department wrote back to Brown and Grassley to say

that, “No corporate entity, no matter how large, is immune from

prosecution.” The senators responded by calling the letter “aggressively 

evasive.  Regulators came under renewed criticism in March, when the

attorney general told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the size of some

banks has become a factor.

I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult to prosecute them,” Holder said. “When we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps world economy, that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large. It has an inhibiting impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate. That is something that you all need to consider.

Last week, Holder sought to walk back his comments, telling lawmakers his

words had been “misconstrued.” “Let me be very, very, very clear,”

Holder said. “Banks are not too big to jail. If we find a bank or a

financial institution that has done something wrong, if we can

prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, those cases will be brought.”

The Justice Department, said Holder, has brought thousands of financially

based cases over the last four-and-a-half years. One of the most recent

cases to be filed is a civil fraud suit brought against Standard & Poor’s 

in February alleging that the credit-rating giant knowingly understated 

the risk behind many of the financial products that caused the 

subprime mortgage meltdown.

With S&P now facing as much as $5 billion in potential liabilities, the case

is one of the largest to come out of the crisis. It may also be one of the

last. In February, the Supreme Court ruled that the SEC cannot extend the

time limit for seeking penalties in civil fraud cases, a ruling that largely

ensures few if any new charges will emerge from the crisis.

MEANWHILE back at the BBC - Peretti travels to America to investigate the

story of high-fructose corn syrup. The sweetener was championed in the

US in the 1970s by Richard Nixon's agriculture secretary Earl Butz to make

use of the excess corn grown by farmers. Cheaper and sweeter than sugar,

it soon found its way into almost all processed foods and soft drinks.

HFCS is not only sweeter than sugar, it also interferes with leptin, the

hormone that controls appetite, so once you start eating or drinking it, you

don't know when to stop.

John Yudkin became internationally famous with his book Pure, White and

Deadly, first published in 1972, and was one of the first scientists to claim

that sugar was a major cause of obesity and heart disease.

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig was one of the first to recognise the dangers

of HFCS but his findings were discredited at the time. Lustig has spent the

past sixteen years treating childhood obesity and studying the effects of sugar

on the central nervous system and metabolism. He is the Director of the UCSF

Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program and also a member of 

the Obesity Task Force of the Endocrine Society. Lustig recently assisted with

the completely revised and updated edition of  Pure, White and Deadly.

Lustig's youtube video - Sugar: The Bitter Truth has registered 3.75 

million hits and his book Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar,

Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease was published in Autumn 2012.

A US Congress report, however, blamed fat, not sugar, for the disturbing  

rise in cardio- vascular disease and the food industry responded with 

ranges of 'low fat', 'heart healthy' products in which the fat was removed -

BUT the substitute was yet more sugar.

Meanwhile, in 1970s Britain, food manufacturers used advertising

campaigns to promote the idea of snacking between meals. Outside 

the home, fast food chains offered clean, bright premises with tempting

burgers cooked and served with a very un-British zeal and efficiency.

Twenty years after the arrival of McDonalds, the number of fast food

outlets in Britain had quadrupled.


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