Archive for April, 2019


economyA cursory assessment might find the United States a less than ideal candidate for the job of managing the planet’s ultimate form of money.
Its public debt is enormous $22 trillion, and growing. Its politics recently delivered the longest government shutdown in American history. Its banking system is only a decade removed from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Its proudly nationalist president provokes complaints from allies and foes alike that he breaches the norms of international relations, setting off talk that the American dollar has lost its aura as the indomitable safe haven.
But money tells a different story. The dollar has in recent years amassed greater stature as the favored repository for global savings, the paramount refuge in times of crisis and the key form of exchange for commodities like oil.
The enduring potency of the dollar gives force to President Trump’s mode of engagement. It has enabled his Treasury to find buyers for government savings bonds at enviously cheap rates, even as his $1.5 trillion worth of tax cuts added to the debt. It has reinforced Mr. Trump’s authority in imposing his foreign policies on an often-reluctant world by amplifying the power of his trade sanctions especially against Iran and Venezuela.
Because banks cannot risk jeopardizing their access to the plumbing of the dollar-based global financial network, they have taken pains to steer clear of nations and companies deemed pariahs in Washington.

There is no alternative to the dollar, We’re stuck with the dollar, which gives the United States astonishing structural power.
In a clear indication that the American currency has been gaining power, dollar, denominated lending to borrowers outside the United States, excluding banks, soared between late 2007 and early 2018, according to the Bank for International Settlements. It increased to more than 14 percent of global economic output from less than 10 percent.
This has played out despite a chorus predicting after the financial crisis that the dollar might finally surrender some of its dominance; that, in an age of pushback to American exceptionalism, it was time for someone else’s money to have a turn.
China has sought to elevate the role of its currency, the renminbi, to reflect its stature as a world power. Over the last decade, it has set up foreign-exchange arrangements with scores of countries, including Canada, Britain and Brazil. President Xi Jinping has championed China’s $1 trillion collection of global infrastructure projects, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, in part as a means of expanding worldwide use of the renminbi. Last year, China set up a trading system in Shanghai allowing oil to be purchased in the Chinese currency.
But China’s unfolding economic slowdown, concerns about its soaring debts and unease from neighbors that its investment is really a new form of colonialism have combined to moderate its infrastructure plans.
The Chinese government’s restrictions on taking money out of the country and its alarming detentions of foreigners often in parallel with geopolitical scrapes have tested the appeal of holding money embossed with the image of Chairman Mao.
“What about China?” I could go there and disappear. This doesn’t inspire confidence. Once you start that kind of politics, you cannot be serious as a global currency.
The most formidable competitor to the dollar has long been the euro. In September, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, devoted part his final State of the Union address to lamenting that the bloc was paying for 80 percent of its energy imports in dollars, though just 2 percent came from the United States.
“We will have to change that,” Mr. Juncker declared. “The euro must become the active instrument of a new sovereign Europe.”
But the most trusted euro-denominated investment, German government bonds, are in chronically short supply. With a deep cultural aversion to debt, Germany has been reluctant to finance spending by selling bonds. As a result, investors seeking ultrasafe places to stash savings have very few options in the euro currency. By comparison, American savings bonds are in virtually limitless supply.
A series of crises within the 19 countries that share the euro has provoked more animosity than unity, revealing a foundational defect: The euro is a common currency lacking a common political structure that can guarantee a robust response when trouble arises.
The problems with the euro are problems with governance, It has been deeply flawed from the outset. It doesn’t look like a very safe haven to go to from the U.S. dollar.

By contrast, the dollar looks like a uniquely rare creature on the global landscape a currency free of existential fears.
In recent years, the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates as it has phased out the cheap money it unleashed to attack the financial crisis. Higher rates have enhanced the appeal of the dollar for investors by lifting the rate of return on dollar holdings. More money has washed up on American shores.
Even with Trump in the White House, and all he has done so far to undermine American leadership in the world, still the dollar is the dominant global currency and doesn’t seem to be waning.
The certain endurance of the dollar has been a foundational truism in global affairs since the end of World War II. Perhaps counterintuitively, that notion was only strengthened by the global crisis that began in 2008.
The conflagration centered on the terrifying possibility that global banks would not be able to find enough dollars to avoid a reckoning with dollar-based debts. The Fed — essentially the central bank for the world, unleashed an unfathomable gusher of dollars. The system survived.
Between the beginning of 2008 and late 2018, the share of reserves that central banks worldwide held in dollars remained roughly constant, dipping to 62 percent of the total from 63 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund. This, at a time when total reserves, the money that central banks hold on their balance sheets, expanded by more than half.
Over the same time, reserves entrusted to the euro have slipped to 20 percent from 27 percent. Much of this shift reflects the euro’s loss of value against the dollar. China’s currency makes up only 2 percent of total reserves, according to the I.M.F.
The supremacy of the dollar has enhanced Mr. Trump’s ability to dictate key foreign policy aims.
His decision to revoke American participation in an antinuclear deal with Iran and resume sanctions has brought consternation from key American allies in Europe. Germany, France and Italy had looked to Iran as a source of new trade, while banking on the deal as a means of preventing its nuclear reach.
Still, Europe abided by the sanctions, for the simple reason that its banks cannot survive the prospect of severing their access to a global financial system dominated by dollars.

For a global bank, the inability to operate in dollars is effectively a death sentence, The United States has been able to leverage that.
A similar power has been applied to Venezuela, as Mr. Trump tries to oust President Nicolás Maduro. The sanctions have been effective, paralyzing oil exports and the banking system in a matter of days.
The supremacy of the dollar has also intensified pressure on Russia. Amid the possible motives for Russian interference in the American election of 2016 was President Vladimir Putin’s eagerness to gain relief from United States sanctions, especially for his cronies. Years of sanctions have restricted their movement of money in the global banking system. The dominance of the dollar has made such limits easier to enforce.
There are no forevers in the global economy, making this era no more permanent than any other. Some see in the Trump administration’s use of the dollar the makings for a backlash.
France, Germany and Britain recently formed a trading company aimed at allowing European and Iranian firms to exchange food and medicine, relying on a barter system to get around sanctions.
In a speech last week, Benoît Cœuré, a member of the governing board of the European Central Bank, accused the United States of wielding the dollar to force its policies on others.
Being the issuer of a global reserve currency confers international monetary power, in particular the capacity to ‘weaponize’ access to the financial and payments systems. Europe had an imperative to raise the “global standing” of the euro, using the currency as “a tool to project global influence.”

China, too, has its own notions about the rightful course of history.
The network of rail, highway and maritime projects it is financing from Asia to Europe is in part about enabling the transport of Chinese goods free of dependence on shipping lanes policed by the United States. Its championing of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is about creating an alternative source of capital.
But while that may be the future, the dollar for now remains what it has long been, the closest approximation to a sure thing in a volatile global economy.


online_money_makingWant to make money online? Want to rake in millions almost effortlessly? Sure, most silver-tongued marketers might lead you to believe that the good life is just a few keystrokes away. They tell you that your path to online riches is just around the corner using this newly discovered, untapped secret. The best part? They’re only sharing it with you as part of their inner circle. Yes, that’s right. You’re the chosen one. Part of the lucky few.

We all know how this story plays out, don’t we? The allure for wanting to generate an income and leave that corporate life-sucking 9-to-5 job is strong. So strong, in fact, that this so-called easy money-making system was just too alluring that you had to pull the trigger and scoop it up. But what happens after the fact? You made the decision and you took action. Now, you have this course just sitting there at the ready. All you need to do is consume and implement.

But that’s often not the case, is it? We don’t consume. And we certainly fail to implement. Yet, we hear most people preach about hustling. Work hard, they say. Toil. Grind. Stay up all hours of the night. Sure. It comes from our well-intentioned parents. They want to equip us with the best tools for success. Yes, they mean well. But hustling and working hard doesn’t equate to success. You might make a bit of money on the internet if you can hustle tirelessly. But will you be truly free from the tethers of corporate life? Probably not.

How to make money online without quitting your day job

For most, the goal is freedom. Financial freedom. Freedom from a job that they no longer love. They want the freedom to go where they want when they want, and with whom they want. Not to be subjected to reports on their every move and behavior. But before you can do that, you need a plan. Sure, you could burn the ships. Just quit your job and remove any possibility of retreat. It might work for some. But for others, there’s a real sense of panic that sets in when you can’t make ends meet.

Yet, here’s the truth. Most people overthink it. Do you need to quit your day job to make a bit of extra money online? Certainly not. And the best part is this: Once you do find a way to tap into the seemingly endless amount of wealth floating around on the internet, all you have to do is scale your efforts. Will you become a billionaire doing this? Likely not. But you can certainly get rich and potentially make millions. All you really need to do is start with a sense of belief in yourself.

All you need to do right now is pick a path. How will you earn money online? And how much time will you devote to the cause. You can’t do this without some level of immersion. But it’s not just about working hard. You have to work smart. We’re talking Four-Hour-Work-Week smart. And that means outsourcing. Pick the primary path and try to outsource the rest. You don’t need to be an expert in everything. You just need to be really good at the main thing you decide to do.

Everyone needs to start somewhere. Although money shouldn’t be your primary objective, if you’re just looking to make some side hustle income, then your objective is clear. Focus on your first $100. If you can make it to $100, then you can make it to $1,000. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the things you need to do. Start small and put in the work. But also expect that it’s going to take time. It won’t happen overnight, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting unlimited riches to magically appear in your bank account with the snap of a finger. 

1. Start day trading online

Start small. Learn the ropes. And follow your passion. You’re not going to be great at anything you start out doing. You’ll be less than average. But over time, you will improve. It takes incremental steps and you have to get in the right mindset. Persistence and action are required in any endeavor, but especially in ones where you’re risking capital and are initially unsure of what you’re doing. It’s not easy making money online by any measure. You have to pay attention and be smart about your moves.

You should open a trading account at one of the big three: E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity. Any of those will suffice. And start small. Be lean. Don’t take massive risks while you learn the ropes. But more importantly, focus on the reason why you’re doing it rather than money. Money is great but we’ll do less for shiny objects than we will for things that truly mean a lot to us. Not only can you make a bit of money without quitting your day job, but you might also actually be able to sever that corporate cord entirely over time.

2. Create an ecommerce business

Some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs that I know have entered into the ecommerce business with eyes wide open. The best part here is that there are so many options. You can literally create a drop-shipping business without ever carrying any product of your own. You can sell on Amazon as an FBA store. You can also set up a Shopify store and sell directly there. Or take numerous other approaches to sell just about anything under the sun online.

3. Enter the networking marketing fray

Network marketing sounds like a bad word to most. But there are people in the network marketing world that are crushing it. I’m talking about eight figures and more annually. Ray Higdon, who owns Rank Makers, is one of the world’s most successful network marketers, running a massive team with tens of thousands of recruits and hundreds of thousands of network marketers served. But Higdon started out like anyone else. All he wanted to do was make a bit of money online without quitting his 9-to-5.

Starting small, he found a good opportunity he could promote. Then, he started using social media as a primary tool for recruiting without ever spending a dime on ads. He tells me that his daily, consistent videos, which he’s been doing for 9 years, have helped him to attract prospects effortlessly. There’s something to be said when you get out there and try to truly serve your audience. That comes after you’ve secured a healthy amount of income for yourself. Afterward, it’s a switch to serving others rather than serving yourself.

4. Become a small business consultant

Online occupations that are taking the web by storm are coaches and consultants. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t take much time to do. You can certainly do it while you have a full-time job. Plus, everyone is familiar with coaches and consultants, and businesses know that they need the help and advice of others to really succeed. The truth is that most businesses are lost when it comes to growing and scaling their companies and making more money. The truth is that they’d much rather someone else help them than make costly mistakes on their own.

Plus, it’s far easier to get businesses to pay you for this than it is for most other things. $1,000 to $5,000 per month contracts are the norm, not the exception. Of course, you’ll need to learn the ropes. And, you’ll need to get a positive ROI for your clients. Businesses are more likely to keep paying you if you can get them results. That’s pretty obvious. So be sure to add value and not just talk your way into something that you can’t deliver on.

5. Build websites or sales funnels

Websites and sales funnels are all the rage. If you’re looking to get into a service-based business, you can definitely do this to earn money online without quitting your corporate job. You will need some element of creativity to do this. And, you have to understand that it’s a competitive field. You might have to take a few low-paying jobs or give some free services away just to collect some reviews in the beginning. But it will be worth it. You could easily generate $1,000 per month or more doing this.

6. Sell digital courses

Digital courses are the future. Most of the successful entrepreneurs out there teach through digital courses. Does that mean you have to be an expert? No. Certainly not. All you need to do is be a couple of steps ahead of the audience you’re targeting. That’s it. Digital courses can be built through a variety of means such as Kajabi, Teachable, Karta and more. But you do need to understand the mechanics of how to market these courses.

Sure, there are platforms like Udemy. But you do risk a large portion of your income and you have no control over their discounts and promotions. They can easily take your $200 course and dwindle it down to $10. While this promotion is great for Udemy, it’s not that great for people who invest hundreds of hours making these courses. Your best bet is to build your course on your own platform and market through things like digital webinars.

7. Start a blog

Blogging is one of the most rewarding fields. And you don’t need to be a professional writer to start a blog. You can start anywhere for that matter. However, you do need to be passionate about it. Especially at the outset. It takes a long time to build a good following on a blog. If you think it’s going to happen overnight, think again. It won’t. In fact, it will take months, if not years, of consistent effort. But eventually, it is one of the best sources for passive income you can find.

How do you start? Pick a topic. Do some research. And make sure you target a healthy niche that has plenty of traction and eyeballs. Don’t follow trends. Focus on something in either health, wealth or relationships. That’s where you’ll find the most income. And you can sell a variety of related products and services through things like affiliate marketing and other native ads placed throughout your content.

8. Start an ad agency

Whether you focus on Facebook ads, YouTube, Instagram or Google, there is plenty of money to be made in starting an ad agency. Plus, you don’t need to leave your day job. And, you can do it from home. Even your smartphone. But you do have to learn the ropes first. There are plenty of training resources out there. You could pick up a course. Or you could just learn from free YouTube videos. As long as you’re committed enough, you could pick up any skill for free online.

All the information is out there for the taking. Most people simply like to buy courses because it’s a highly organized way to digest the information. Often, it’s step-by-step. That is pretty useful when you’re just trying to consume it all. So how much can you make doing this? The sky is the limit. You can charge a flat fee or a percentage. And if you get great results for your clients, who knows just how high that income can skyrocket.


1. A home frozen in time
An enchanting time capsule, the Marion Carll Farmhouse on Long Island has lain empty for years due to a lack of funding and a legal battle over ownership rights that has only just been resolved. Photographer Bryan Sansivero was granted exclusive access by the local school board and district to capture the beguiling Victorian property before its many antiques and curios were removed. Take a peek around the house that time forgot and transport yourself to a bygone era.

2. A faded beauty
Located in the hamlet of Commack in Suffolk County, New York, the nine-acre farmstead dates way back to 1701, while the clapboard farmhouse was built on the eve of the Civil War in 1860. The property takes its name from long-time resident Marion Carll, who was born in 1885.

3. A pillar of the community
Marion Carll was a renowned teacher who taught in the local district and went on to found the area’s first PTA and had a grammar school named after her in 1957. When she died in 1968, she bequeathed the house to the Commack School Board and District with the proviso that it should only be used for educational and historical purposes.

4. A fight for ownership
Occasional classes were offered by the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) but abandoned in the 1990s due to a lack of funding. Since then, the house and surrounding farm have been left vacant. In 2012, Ms Carll’s descendants launched a legal battle with the school board and district which they accused of failing to adhere to the conditions set out in their ancestor’s last will and testament.

5. Period details
A New York State Supreme Court judge recently ruled that the school board and district has a right to retain ownership of the property, ending the protracted legal battle. You can see why they fought over this house. Though crumbling, it still boasts oodles of period charm. Ms Carll was clearly keen to preserve its 19th-century allure and did little if nothing during her lifetime to modernize the farmhouse, which is resplendent with fine antiques and interesting curios.

6. The parlor
Talk about a time warp home! The parlor contains some wonderfully evocative pieces including this ornate piano by New York City company Calenberg & Vaupel. The firm first started making musical instruments in 1864, four years after the farmhouse was constructed

7. Antique medicines
Empty bottles that once contained all sorts of curious concoctions abound in the farmhouse. Note the bottle of paint-stripping potion Pyranzine and the container labeled ‘Laudanum’, a super-potent and extremely addictive tincture of opium that was used to treat pain.

8. Untouched rooms
Although covered in thick dust, the house looks as if she has just left the room. Here, her old sewing machine sits ready for use in what would be a bright spot by the window, if the blinds were open.

9. Locked-up riches
Ms Carll secured her valuables in a safe manufactured by the famous Hall’s Safe Company. The firm, which was established during the mid 19th century in Cincinnati, makes some of the finest safes and locks in the world and is still going strong today.

10. Original features
Beautiful marble fireplaces adorn the rooms in the farmhouse, and though the wallpaper is peeling off, the property’s original features, including the door frames and skirting boards, are in remarkably good condition.

11. Decorative flourishes
Charming touches pervade the property. They range from delicately embroidered cushions and blankets to exquisite china pieces and this enamel chamber pot filled with fabric flowers.

12. A family home
Photographs of the Carll family are captured here scattered on a table in the farmhouse. As you can see from the classy clothing they are sporting, the family members appear to be comfortably well-off and exceedingly genteel.

13. The ravages of time
While some areas of the house look to be in a reasonable state, others are obviously dilapidated and in dire need of restoration work.

14. A snapshot of the past
Education was Marion Carll’s vocation and passion, so it comes as no surprise that the much-loved teacher owned a writing bureau, in front of which she no doubt sat for hours composing letter after letter and marking her students’ work.

15. The dining room
The dining room is just as well-appointed and elegant as the other rooms in the farmhouse. A solid wooden table takes pride of place in the center, while an imposing cabinet off to the side showcases the family’s fancy china and glassware.

16. Some mod cons
The odd relatively modern touch can be found in the house including this attractive Art Deco fan, which contrasts with the Victorian and early 20th-century objects that are dotted around the property.

17. Retro remedies
Another curious bottle in this shot: Humphrey’s “30”, a homeopathic remedy to help prevent incontinence and bed-wetting. Intriguingly, the classic concoction is still available these days and can even be snapped up from Amazon.

18. The farmhouse dresser
This dresser in what appears to be the farmhouse kitchen contains the family’s day-to-day crockery. The chinoiserie Blue Willow pattern was hugely popular in America during the late 19th century and throughout much of the 20th century.

19. Prints from the past
The walls of this room are decorated with several historical prints including a copy of John Trumbull’s iconic Declaration of Independence, which was painted in 1818 and features on the two-dollar bill.

20. Antique furnishings
This photo shows what looks like the bathroom or washroom of the farmhouse. Note the white clapboard walls so typical of nearby New England, as well as the fancy gilded mirror and old-style water pump.

21. Old lace
The master bedroom contains a box of sewing threads and a dressmaking dummy covered with an exquisite lace piece that was presumably hand-tailored by Ms Carll herself.

22. A picture of neglect
This wider shot of the master bedroom shows exactly what years of vacancy and neglect can do to a property that was once meticulously maintained. Paint is peeling off the walls, while the floor and furniture are littered with debris.

23. A 1930s timepiece
Another Art Deco piece, this wind-up Ingraham Meteor alarm clock was manufactured in 1936. It sits next to a dusty empty bottle of C. C. Parsons’ Household Ammonia, an essential cleaning product from way back when.

24. Faded fashions
More dressmaking paraphernalia in this room. Against those starkly cracked walls, this space has a rather dramatic and eerie feel. The dummy is dressed in a corseted bodice and cage crinoline which was used to support the elaborate skirts and bustles of 19th-century dresses.

25. A simpler way of life
This evocative shot shows a chest of drawers that was used as a wash table. Age-old toiletry products feature on the tabletop alongside a jug, bowl and antique towels for daily ablutions.

26. Dancing days gone by
A pair of black ballet-style shoes, which may have been hand-embroidered by Marion Carll or another member of the family, lie on one of the linen-covered beds in the property, placed next to two fabric roses.

27. A glimpse into history
Peering into the long hallway on the upper floor of the farmhouse, you can’t help but notice how rundown parts of the property have become. This wing of the house was used to accommodate slaves before the abolition of slavery in 1865, thereafter it served as the servants’ quarters.

28. A vintage tableau
In contrast to the long hallway, this bedroom is in fairly good shape and doesn’t look like it would need much more than repapering to restore it to its former glory. Silk dresses, straw hats and ballet shoes pack the closet, along with a pretty parasol.

29. The attic
The attic room looks like it was once used for storage or perhaps sleeping quarters for domestic staff. Damp stains the ceiling and a number of rusty old cage crinolines hang from wooden hooks on the wall.

30. A grand inheritance
The beauty of this time capsule home, but for now at least the gates remain closed on the property while the Commack School Board consult the community on its fate. Options include turning it into a public park, a working organic farm and creating an education center, all in the spirit of Marion Carll’s wishes.


cilantroOf course some of this dislike may come down to simple preference, but for those cilantro-haters for whom the plant tastes like soap, the issue is genetic. These people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.

Cilantro (aka the leaves of the coriander plant) is a tasty herb to most people. A pleasing combination of flavors reminiscent of parsley and citrus, the herb is a common ingredient in many cuisines around the world. However, some people find cilantro revolting, including, famously, the chef Julia Child. Of course some of this dislike may come down to simple preference, but for those cilantro-haters for whom the plant tastes like soap, the issue is genetic. These people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.

This genetic quirk is usually only found in a small percent of the population, though it varies geographically. Interestingly, places where cilantro is especially popular, such as Central America and India, have fewer people with these genes, which might explain how the herb was able to become such a mainstay in those regions. East Asians have the highest incidence of this variation, with some studies showing that nearly 20% of the population experiences soapy-tasting cilantro. There is some evidence that cilantrophobes can overcome their aversion with repeated exposure to the herb, especially if it is crushed rather than served whole, but many people simply choose to go with their genetic inclinations and avoid its soapiness altogether.

FAQ

Is liking cilantro genetic?
A. But, just like the flavors of the herb itself, the findings are nuanced: The genes appear to influence our opinion of cilantro but probably not as much as we initially thought. Geneticists at 23andMe in California asked about 25,000 people whether they like cilantro or think it smells soapy

Why does coriander taste like soap?
A. It’s these receptors that determine what we taste when we eat coriander. Depending on your smell receptors, you may experience a soap-like flavour, rather than the herby flavour others experience. Coriander is just one food that may drastically differ in taste depending on your genetic make-up.

What percentage of people do not like cilantro?
A. Somewhere between 4 and 14 percent of people hate the taste of cilantro – though those numbers might seem pretty low to any of us who actually know someone who thinks cilantro tastes like soap because the people who feel that way never want to stop talking about it.

Is cilantro hereditary?
A. Nature News, Soapy taste of cilantro linked to genetic variants. Business Insider Our hatred (or love) of cilantro may be genetic. The Daily Meal — Cilantro-hating apparently genetic. Medical Daily Research has found that genetics is behind your dislike of cilantro.


ground_beefA total of 156 people in 10 states have been infected with E. coli after eating tainted ground beef at home and in restaurants since the beginning of March. No deaths have been reported but 20 people have been hospitalized after they were infected with the strain E. coli O103 since March 1. A investigation is ongoing to determine the source of the contaminated ground beef that was supplied to grocery stores and restaurants.

At this time, no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified. The investigation began on March 28, when officials in Kentucky and Georgia notified the CDC of the outbreak. Since then, some 65 cases have been reported in Kentucky, 41 in Tennessee and another 33 in Georgia.

E. coli cases have also been reported in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia.

People infected with the bacteria get sick two to eight days after swallowing the germ, and may sometimes develop a type of kidney failure. Many of the infected people had bought large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores and used the meat to make dishes like spaghetti sauce and Sloppy Joes.

It is not recommending that consumers avoid eating ground beef at this time, but said that consumers and restaurants should handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid foodborne illnesses.


expirimentstdBeginning in 1946, the United States government immorally and unethically and, arguably, illegally engaged in research experiments in which more than 5000 uninformed and unconsenting Guatemalan people were intentionally infected with bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases. Many have been left untreated to the present day.

Although US President Barack Obama apologized in 2010, and although the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues found the Guatemalan experiments morally wrong, little if anything has been done to compensate the victims and their families.

We explore the backdrop for this unethical medical research and violation of human rights and call for steps the United States should take to provide relief and compensation to Guatemala and its people.

Today, Guatemala has a total population of 14.76 million people; 53.7% live in poverty. The average level of education was 4.1 years in 2011,1 and Guatemala is considered a lower-middle-income country. In 1946, these demographic characteristics were even more dismal and without the benefit of more than 60 years of national, economic, and cultural development.

In the context of these inequalities in 1946, Public Health Service investigators in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, with the cooperation of Guatemalan authorities, engaged in a series of immoral and unethical human medical experiments conducted without the participants’ informed consent. The study involved at least 5128 vulnerable people, including children, orphans, child and adult prostitutes, Guatemalan Indians, leprosy patients, mental patients, prisoners, and soldiers. Between 1946 and 1948, health officials intentionally infected at least 1308 of these people with syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid and conducted serology tests on others. The study originally began in the United States but was moved to Guatemala when researchers were unable to consistently produce gonorrhea infections in prisoners at a Terre Haute, Indiana, prison. The public had no knowledge of the experiments for more than half a century, and even today little is known about these violations of medical ethics and human rights.

It is important to emphasize the facts surrounding the Guatemala sexually transmitted disease (STD) experiments to properly evaluate the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the experiments. The experiments were not conducted in a sterile clinical setting in which bacteria that cause STDs were administered in the form of a pin prick vaccination or a pill taken orally. The researchers systematically and repeatedly violated profoundly vulnerable individuals, some in the saddest and most despairing states, and grievously aggravated their suffering. For example:

Berta was a female patient in the psychiatric hospital. Her age and the illness that brought her to the hospital are unknown. In February 1948, Berta was injected in her left arm with syphilis. A month later, she developed scabies (an itchy skin infection caused by a mite). Several weeks later, [lead investigator Dr. John] Cutler noted that she had also developed red bumps where he had injected her arm, lesions on her arms and legs, and her skin was beginning to waste away from her body. Berta was not treated for syphilis until three months after her injection. Soon after, on August 23, Dr. Cutler wrote that Berta appeared as if she was going to die, but he did not specify why. That same day he put gonorrheal pus from another male subject into both of Berta’s eyes, as well as in her urethra and rectum. He also re-infected her with syphilis. Several days later, Berta’s eyes were filled with pus from the gonorrhea, and she was bleeding from her urethra. On August 27, Berta died.

In 2010, US President Barack Obama apologized to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and the people affected, expressing the United States’ commitment to the ethical and legal conduct of contemporary human medical studies. The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (hereafter the Commission) has since issued 2 reports: “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946–19483 and Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research.

The Commission’s first report condemned the experiments as “impossible” under current ethical standards. The second report acknowledged an inability by the United States to confirm that all federally funded research provides optimal protections against avoidable harms and unethical treatment today; the report also recommended reforms, none of which have been implemented as of yet. No mention of reparation or compensation for the victims was made in either report. In addition, little was said about the violations against human rights, which, when considered in conjunction with medical ethics, should provide protection to vulnerable populations.

By contrast, the Guatemalan government issued a separate report, Consentir el Daño: Experimentos Médicos de Estados Unidos en Guatemala (To Agree to the Harm: Medical Experiments by the United States in Guatemala), which went beyond the US reports to state that the experiments were “a crime against humanity” and that racism and discrimination were present throughout the experiments in an explicit and conscious way.7 The Guatemalan report called for reparation and compensation for the victims. In addition, 2 independent reports, written by the United Nations and the Catholic Church on human rights violations and genocide in Guatemala from the 1950s to the 1990s, bolster the Guatemalan commission’s declarations with respect to discrimination, reparations, and human rights and highlight weaknesses in the US reports. There is little evidence that the US government, the public health community, academic publications, or the media have acknowledged the Guatemalan report.

In spring 2012, when the case against the US government was considered by a federal district court as a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the Guatemalan victims and their survivors, the court dismissed the case on grounds of sovereign immunity. Plaintiffs relied on the Ethically Impossible report in reciting the facts in the class action complaint. The US Justice Department did not dispute the facts in moving to dismiss the case, raising only technical arguments about sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. The district court is required to assume the veracity of the plaintiff’s allegations when there is a motion to dismiss for failing to state a legally cognizable claim. The case was never heard on its merits and was dismissed on June 12, 2012, even though the court had set a hearing on the matter for July 26, 2012.

The court wrote that

the Guatemala Study is a deeply troubling chapter in our Nation’s history. Yet…this Court is powerless to provide any redress to the plaintiffs. The pleas are more appropriately directed to the political branches of our government, who, if they choose, have the ability to grant some modicum of relief to those affected by the Guatemala Study.

To date, the political branches have provided no relief to the plaintiffs.

However, on January 10, 2012, one day after the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case in Gudiel v Sebelius, the Department of Health and Human Services announced funding of approximately $1.8 million to improve treatment and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Guatemala and to further strengthen ethical training on human research protections. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was tasked with developing a case study on the unethical research conducted in Guatemala. The study will include learning objectives focused on scientific and ethical issues in designing a field investigation. Legal training appears to be missing from the Department of Health and Human Services directive. General funding of global human research protections and STI health initiatives in Guatemala is no substitute for treatment of and compensation to the victims.

Despite the Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement and the Commission’s reports, the lack of publicity received by the Guatemalan case is startling. The American public is largely unaware of these experiments and the outrageous treatment of Guatemalans, the reports by the US and Guatemalan commissions, or the victims’ lack of reparations, compensation, and access to justice through the courts. The media has devoted little attention to the case. Unlike other cases in which human rights were violated in human subjects research (e.g., the Tuskegee syphilis experiments), few, if any, organizations have taken up the cause for human justice with respect to this vulnerable Guatemalan population.

The wrongful actions by US officials can be characterized by several facts. First, US officials intentionally infected victims with bacteria that cause STDs without informed consent. Second, they have failed to provide victims with treatment or compensation. Finally, they covered up and did not publish or disclose the experiments, including the intentional infections and their failure to provide treatment.

In summary, the US and Guatemalan commissions have documented many of the facts of the STD experiments and are in agreement on many salient points. Each report has determined that the Public Health Service investigators violated contemporaneous medical research ethics standards, and the Guatemalan report determined that the experiments violated human rights law. Given the state of the records, the few judicial precedents, the increasingly unreceptive attitude of the US Supreme Court toward class actions, and the complicated questions of sovereign immunity, the plaintiffs’ quest for access to justice through the courts will be long and uncertain.

VIOLATION OF CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW

A significant omission of the Commission’s reports is the lack of an explicit discussion of legal responsibility and accountability. The Guatemalan report asserts that the investigation was immoral and constituted a crime against humanity. The report states that it focuses on the moral plane because most of the responsible principals are surely dead. The report refers to international human rights authorities and ethical principles such as the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights (ratified by both the United States and Guatemala), the Interamerican Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Man, the Rights of Man in the Charter of the Organization of American States, the 1978 Belmont report of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, and the Declaration of Helsinki. It also references the Nazi Nuremberg trials and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

The Obama administration has not conducted a public analysis to determine whether the experiments violated US or international legal standards. There is judicial precedent, however, to support the proposition that the Guatemala experiments violated international human rights standards. In the 2009 case of Abdullahi v Pfizer, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that nonconsensual medical experimentation on human beings violates customary international law because, among other reasons, the prohibition is sufficiently specific and focused and is accepted by nations around the world.

The relevant question with respect to the Guatemala STD experiments is “At what point in time did customary international law first prohibit nonconsensual medical experimentation?” The Nuremberg code, prohibiting human medical research without informed consent, was upheld with the conviction of German doctors on August 19, 1947; a case can be made that the intentional STIs in Guatemala violated this code beginning on that date, at a minimum, when US sexually transmitted disease investigators in Guatemala would have known of these developments in human rights law

Whereas US legal standards govern US-led research but do not necessarily protect residents of other nations, international laws protect all citizens of the world and should be closely considered in this case. For example, according to Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.” This covenant, adopted in 1966 and put in force in 1976, is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is part of the International Bill of Rights. Some might argue that the Guatemalan case should be heard by the United Nations governing body to speed up the process of bringing compensation and relief to the victims. Other international human rights authorities and laws, including several articles from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, also provide international standards for human subjects research, standards that surely were violated in the Guatemalan experiments.

Not only should human rights laws have been applied to the Guatemalan experiments; medical research is also governed by principles of biomedical ethics that call for patient safety, respect, beneficence, justice, and nonmaleficence (“first do no harm”). Today’s medical professionals and researchers are trained in these biomedical values and ethics. Most notably, the International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects, promulgated by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, define how the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki can be applied to developing countries in light of their socioeconomic circumstances. Although these guidelines were developed after the Guatemalan experiments, they recognize that, even in developing countries, informed consent and other basic principles of research ethics clearly apply. Surely, the researchers involved in the Guatemalan experiments were not abiding by many of these principles of biomedical research ethics.

International human rights standards provide one avenue to address structural injustice and institutional and national responsibility, including discrimination based on gender, race, and class in Guatemala and the complex of political, economic, military, and social relations between Guatemala and the United States. The actions in Guatemala went beyond domestic crimes such as rape, battery, assault, and conspiracy and violated international law.

UNEQUAL JUSTICE AND DISCRIMINATION

The Commission reports generally allude to the possibility that discrimination played a role in the Guatemala investigations, but the reports do not address the issue adequately or systematically. For example, in Ethically Impossible, the authors discuss why the investigators selected Guatemala as a setting: “A possible remaining but clearly unacceptable explanation for choosing Guatemala would reflect the notion that the Guatemalans were a suitable, if not preferable, experimental population by virtue of poverty, ethnicity, race, remoteness, national status, or some combination of these factors.” The Moral Science report makes only a passing, ambiguous reference to racism in a footnote, stating simply, “The Commission here focuses on the issues of justice.”

By contrast, the Guatemala report discusses discrimination in much stronger terms. The report states that racism and discrimination were present throughout the experiments in an explicit and conscious way. The report recommends strengthening compliance with the constitutional requirements of equality among human beings to combat discrimination and racism.

Ultimately, the nonconsensual human experiments and serology tests conducted, the process of intentionally infecting people with bacteria that cause STDs, and the failure to provide treatment were immoral and unethical and violated both US and international legal standards, regardless of the race, color, national origin, or socioeconomic status of the victims here. Discrimination in the context of the Guatemalan experiments includes discrimination by US officials against Guatemalan people and discrimination within Guatemalan society by elites against lower-class indigenous and nonindigenous people. Discrimination is an aggravating, unacceptable factor that warrants additional review and discussion.

The US equal protection principles and laws are relevant when examining evidence of discrimination and the inferences to be drawn from the facts. The laws also provide guidance on how to address discrimination in other human research contexts with respect to underrepresented, minority, and vulnerable populations. The US Supreme Court and other authorities recognize that the following factors are relevant in evaluating a claim of intentional discrimination based on race, color, or national origin: the impact of the action and whether it bears more heavily on one group than another, a pattern or history of discrimination, departures from substantive norms, departures from procedural norms, and knowledge of the harm discrimination will cause (see, e.g., Village of Arlington Heights v Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp. and Guardians Ass’n v Civil Serv. Comm’n18).

Under these parameters, evidence of discrimination abounds in the Guatemalan experiments. First, these experiments were limited to the Guatemalan people. Second, the United States has a history of discrimination and oppression against the people of Guatemala. For example, the Cold War and the war on drugs by the United States devastated Guatemala’s civic society and economy for decades. In 1954, the United States overthrew the country’s democratically elected government. Military dictatorships, backed by the United States, assassinated almost 200 0008 people in the next 40 years. The Guatemalan government engaged in mass killings of Mayans, obliterating entire villages. Bishop Juan Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in 1998 for publishing a report by the Catholic Church documenting the killings.

Third, the United States and Guatemala reports document departures from substantive and procedural norms in the Guatemala investigations. Fourth, the investigators knew of the harms they caused. Finally, civil rights statutes and federal regulations also prohibit unjustified discriminatory actions without requiring a showing of intent or individual racial animus. These standards of discrimination provide an analytic framework to evaluate evidence of discrimination in the context of the Guatemalan experiments. Indeed, these are the kinds of evidence that the Guatemala commission report cites in concluding that discrimination and racism were present throughout the experiments.

UNEQUAL JUSTICE: GUATEMALA AND TUSKEGEE

The Tuskegee syphilis experiments, involving recompense for past injustice, are directly relevant to the Guatemala injustices. In both the Guatemala and the Tuskegee experiments, directed by the same principal investigator, the US government engaged in concededly immoral and unethical actions: conducting nonconsensual human medical experiments, not treating infected victims, and deceiving victims and the public. In Guatemala, researchers intentionally infected the victims and generally left them without treatment or compensation for the remainder of their lives. In Tuskegee, the nearly 400 victims were already infected but were left without treatment beginning in the 1930s.

The United States eventually provided treatment and compensation for victims, families, and heirs in Tuskegee, including funding to locate the victims and pay attorneys’ fees. The ethical principle of equal justice strongly suggests that similar relief should be provided for the Guatemalan victims. However, reparation in Tuskegee was made only after organizations championed the cause, made the wrongful acts known to the general public, sought access to justice through the courts, and applied pressure on the government to take action. This has not occurred in the context of the Guatemalan STD experiments.

REPARATIONS AND COMPENSATION

Academicians have long noted that, in addition to a duty of justice, an obligation of reparation arises from one’s wrongful acts. Scholars note that such compensatory action is morally essential not only to “repair” the harm but also to render victims their due and thereby acknowledge them as agents worthy of respect and entitled to atonement. The authors of the Guatemalan report also articulated the principles of compensation and reparations (as did Cohen and Adashi), which remain valid and extend to the need to address legal issues. A summary of these principles as they apply to the Guatemalan victims is informative.

First, as a matter of corrective justice, surviving participants or their affected contacts should be compensated in full for injuries sustained. Surviving family members should also be made whole for harm incurred, whether direct (e.g., disease transmission) or indirect (e.g., emotional distress, loss of a family member at a younger age) in nature. A political solution between the US government and the Guatemalan government can make this happen. Second, a compensation and reparations program would more concretely and permanently acknowledge the wrongful nature of the conduct in question, in keeping with the expressive function of both US and international law. Such a program would also reaffirm the legal and ethical standards undergirding human participant research.

Third, compensation and reparations would advance healing and reconciliation and constitute an important, tangible, goodwill gesture to the Guatemalan people and nation. Fourth, compensation and reparations could be tailored to enhance the legal and ethical training of current and future investigators, mitigating potential educational shortcomings and preventing future misconduct. Finally, as a matter of deterrence, compensation and reparations may obviate legal and ethical violations in the future.

History has provided a few models of compensation programs that the US response to Guatemala may do well to emulate. For example, in response to a class-action lawsuit (Allen v United States), the US Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990.24 As of October 2011, more than $1.5 billion had been disbursed to more than 23 000 approved claimants exposed to ionizing radiation during US-based nuclear experiments.

It is this type of compensation that is required to correct the injustices suffered by the Guatemalan people, not the mere $1.8 million set aside for prevention programs and ethical training on human research protections. The Tuskegee payment structure26,27 ($37 500 for each living participant, $15 000 for each surviving dependent, $16 000 for each living control group participant, $5000 to heirs of deceased members of the control group) totaled $10 million in 1974 (approximately $47 million in 2013 currency). A similar payment structure applied to the Guatemalan victims would still be a relatively small amount in comparison with the $1.5 billion already awarded to victims of radiation research.

CONCLUSIONS

In its Ethically Impossible report addressing the Guatemalan experiments, the Commission expressed the need to be ever vigilant to ensure that such reprehensible exploitation of our fellow human beings is never repeated. As such, it is critical to adopt legal and ethical reforms to provide treatment and compensation for individuals involved in improperly conducted human experiments, waive sovereign immunity for federally funded human research in the United States and abroad, ensure that parallel protections apply to privately funded research, and respect autonomy and equality for all. Greater application of legal strategies may promote a stronger structural foundation for preventing such unethical acts in the future.

Viking origins

Posted: April 22, 2019 in Did you know?, History

A Viking Chant: Listen

viking_originsThe Vikings originated in what is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden (although centuries before they became unified countries). Their homeland was overwhelmingly rural, with almost no towns. The vast majority earned a meagre living through agriculture, or along the coast, by fishing. Where did the Vikings come from originally? Scandinavia: Most Vikings originated in Scandinavia, among the Norse population of present day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Some of the most famous Vikings were Danes, who established the Danelaw in England. The Norwegians raided Scotland, and founded Iceland.

 

Viking Leaders You Should Know

1. Rollo: First ruler of Normandy.
2. Erik the Red: Founded Greenland’s First Norse Settlement.
3. Olaf Tryggvason: Brought Christianity to Norway.
4. Leif Eriksson: Beat Columbus to the New World by 500 years.
5. Cnut the Great: England’s Viking King.
6. Harald Hardrada: The Last Great Viking Leader.

Did Vikings really exist?

According to the Icelandic sagas, many Norwegian Vikings also went to eastern Europe. In the Viking Age, the present day nations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark did not exist, but were largely homogeneous and similar in culture and language, although somewhat distinct geographically.

What was the Viking population?

This household size suggests that at the end of the settlement era, Iceland had a population of about 60,000 people. Settlement patterns in late Viking age Iceland suggest there were about 4,000 farms, of which 1,500 were estates and large farms, while the remainder were smaller settlements.

Was Ragnar Lothbrok real?

That man was Ragnar Lothbrok. Ragnar is the first real Viking personality to emerge from the hazy accounts of the period but in many ways he still belongs more in the fable-filled pages of the sagas than amongst the sober entries in the chronicles.

Are Vikings Irish or Scottish?

They emerged in the Viking Age, when Vikings who settled in Ireland and in Scotland adopted Gaelic culture and intermarried with Gaels. The Norse–Gaels dominated much of the Irish Sea and Scottish Sea regions from the 9th to 12th centuries.

Was Ragnar Lothbrok a king?

Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok (Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók, "Ragnar shaggy breeches", contemporary Norse: Ragnar Loðbrók) was a historically dubious Norse Viking hero and legendary king of Denmark and Sweden, known from Viking Age Old Norse poetry and sagas.

Was Ivar the Boneless real?

Ivar the Boneless (Old Norse: Ívarr hinn Beinlausi; Old English: Hyngwar), also known as Ivar Ragnarsson, was a Viking leader and a commander who invaded what is now England. According to The Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, he was the son of Ragnar Loðbrok and Aslaug.

What was the largest Viking settlement?

Hedeby (Danish pronunciation: [ˈheːð̩byːˀ], Old Norse Heiðabýr, German Haithabu) was an important Danish Viking Age (8th to the 11th centuries) trading settlement near the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula, now in the Schleswig-Flensburg district of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Who were the Vikings afraid of?

Vikings were members of tribes, originally from Scandinavia, of Norse ancestry, who gained a reputation for their raids and piracy in many parts of Europe, especially England, Ireland, and Frankish territories. The term "Viking age" refers to the period roughly from 793 AD to the late 11th century in Europe.

Did Vikings have blue eyes?

New research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor. Scientists have tracked down a genetic mutation which took place 6,000-10,000 years ago and is the cause of the eye color of all blue-eyed humans alive on the planet today.

When did Ivar the Boneless die?

873 AD

Did Vikings discover America?

Half a millennium before Columbus “discovered” America, those Viking feet may have been the first European ones to ever have touched North American soil. Exploration was a family business for the expedition’s leader, Leif Eriksson (variations of his last name include Erickson, Ericson, Erikson, Ericsson and Eiriksson).

Where did the Vikings conquer?

The Vikings who invaded western and eastern Europe were mainly pagans from the same area as present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. They also settled in the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Iceland, peripheral Scotland (Caithness, the Hebrides and the Northern Isles), Greenland, and Canada.

Was Bjorn Ironside a real person?

The Hervarar saga from the 13th century tells that Eysteinn Beli was killed by Björn and his brothers as told in Ragnar Lodbrok’s saga, and they conquered all of Sweden. When Ragnar died Björn Ironside inherited Sweden. He had two sons, Refil and Erik Björnsson, who became the next king of Sweden.

Was Lagertha a real person?

Lagertha was, according to legend, a Viking shieldmaiden and ruler from what is now Norway, and the onetime wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok. Her tale, as recorded by the chronicler Saxo in the 12th century, may be a reflection of tales about Thorgerd (Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr), a Norse deity.

Are Irish Vikings?

The history of Ireland 800–1169 covers the period in the history of Ireland from the first Viking raids to the Norman invasion. … Viking ports were established at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick, which became the first large towns in Ireland.

Are the Scottish and Irish related?

Irish-Scots are people in Scotland who are of immediate or traceably distinct Irish ancestry. … However, with centuries of heavy Irish immigration to Scotland, it is generally believed to be over 1.5 million people may have some Irish blood, even if very distantly.

Do shetlanders consider themselves Scottish?

Many regard themselves as Shetlanders or Orcadians first, and then British. They emphatically do not see themselves as Scots. However, if Scotland does become independent, then the islanders will be left attached to a country to which many do not wish to belong.

How did Ragnar Lothbrok really die in history?

This sort of ambiguity pervades much that is thought to be known about Ragnar, and it has its roots in the European literature created after his death. … According to Saxo’s legendary history, Ragnar was eventually captured by the Anglo-Saxon king Aella of Northumbria and thrown into a snake pit to die.

Did Ivar the Boneless have any children?

Sigtrygg Ivarsson
Son
Sichfrith Ivarsson
Son
Ivar the Boneless/Children

What was Viking life like?

There were farmers, who kept animals and grew crops, and skilful craft workers, who made beautiful metalwork and wooden carvings. Everyone lived together in a large home called a longhouse. The Vikings also brought with them their way of life and beliefs.