Iatrogenic tendonitis and peripheral neuropathy: Beware of Cipro, Levaquin, and other Fluoroquinolones

I mentioned in an earlier post that my diabetic blood sugars caused my peripheral neuropathy and tendonitis.  Now I have learned that Cipro may be a contributor.  My travel clinic prescribed Cipro as a remedy for travelers diarrhea, and from about the year 2000 or so I started taking at the end of my trips to Africa.  The antibiotics in the Fluoroquinolone category, including Cipro and Levaquin, by depleting the body of magnesium and destroying cellular mitochondria, have been implicated in tendonitis and peripheral neuropathy.  The “Tendonitis Expert” calls  it “Levaquin Tendonitis”, when Fluoroquinolones have contributed to the the problem, and urges dietary supplements (especially CoQ10) to heal persistent cases.  I am working on this, by increasing the consumption of the magnesium and dietary sources of CoQ10 and by implementing a program of intermittent fasting (to reduce inflammation and to promote the production of human growth hormone).

Global News also did a scathing report on the dangers of Fluoroquinolones:

As mentioned in this report, my physician provided no warning whatsoever about the dangers of Cipro and casually said that he takes it every time he suffers from traveler’s diarrhea (he is himself a frequent traveler to developing countries).  It is so good at killing bacterial flora in the gut, the good with the bad, that some websites recommend reconstituting one’s probiotics after a Cipro treatment (I didn’t know this either).

Recently, since late August, I’ve had recurring quadriceps tendonitis in my left knee, caused in the first instance by merely rising up from a supine position.  This has aggravated my Achilles tendonitis in my left foot.  Also, I seem not to be able to shake the rotator cuff tendonitis, which continues to trouble me somewhat.  My first problems with tendonitis coincide with when I started taking Cipro.  It may have weakened my tendons and made me susceptible to injury.  Uncontrolled blood sugars and improper diet would also have been a factor but I now realize that they are not solely to blame for this debilitating and recurring condition.

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The Carb Bubble: On how the theme “carbs are poison” relates to this blog

The US government promoted carb bubble

A person surveying this blog may find it difficult to understand how the themes of this blog, especially the latest category, “Carbs are poison”, cohere except that they all involve the author’s own concerns.  I started this blog with the idea that a Christian could be an investor, and that there would be right ways to do it and wrong ways.  So it touches upon issues of Christian ethics and praxis, especially in the area of investing and finance.  But does low carb dieting relate to these themes?

Imagine that I was writing instead about the production, marketing and exportation of a substance that causes lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease; many ethical investors would argue that one should not invest in a product that is essentially a dealer of death.  Tobacco, of course, is off the list of many people’s investment portfolio for ethical reasons.  If I started sharing about how I stopped smoking and began to expose how tobacco is a killer; and I began to recommend that others quit smoking and stop listening to all the ads that say that smoking is cool; if I recommended divesting oneself of tobacco stocks, I think it would be easier to see the connection between the this subject of investing and Christian ethics. But people would soon become bored.  We’ve known about the evils of tobacco for decades now.  It would hardly be contrarian to oppose tobacco.

Lately, however, I’ve been railing against carbohydrates.  Unlike tobacco, which carries warning labels about how deadly it can be, carbs market freely in our world with no such  labels.  Here would be an appropriate label for a loaf of whole grain bread:  “Warning: the Minster of Health has determined that this food is high in carbohydrates; the excess consumption of carbohydrates can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, Alzheimers and death.”  In the small print, “Please check your blood sugar level after the consumption of this product; you may be suffering from dangerously high, organ-damaging blood sugars.”

Food is a big part of our economy, and a large part of the population in the world suffers from diseases related to uncontrolled blood sugars that damages, among other bodily tissues, the eyes, the nerves, the kidneys, the arteries, the pancreas and the brain.  Excessive blood sugars can also feed cancerous growths and are likely related to terminal cancer.  Blood sugars spike in normal people after the consumption of high carbohydrate foods.  The person with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or diabetes, however, will have high blood sugars for many hours after such a meal, high enough to cause cause physical damage that can lead to premature death.  These facts are scientifically verified and hardly controversial.  What is controversial are the opinions as to the best way to deal with the problem.  Most doctors, dieticians, and even diabetes specialists and associations (e.g., both the American and the Canadian Diabetes Associations), recommend that diabetics and prediabetics lose weight by avoiding too much red meat, dietary fat and by consuming a low calorie, high carbohydrate diet–i.e., they recommend that people receive the majority of their calories from the very carbohydrates that lead to uncontrolled blood sugars.  If you don’t believe me, google the “diabetic food pyramid” and see that according to official recommendations diabetics should eat a “Standard Western Diet”, high in carbs and low in meat and dietary fat.

Thus, just like my fear of hyperinflation and my investment in silver and gold, oil and gas, my low-carbing is contrarian.  All you have to do is walk into Costco to see how contrarian it is.  While I know a handful of people who have started low-carbing, including other members of my own family, the vast majority of the people you see in grocery stores are carrying about 25-100 lbs too much weight.  Rarely do you see anyone under 30 who looks like they are at a healthy weight, and when you see their grocery carts, they are always buying high carbohydrate food and drinks, such as juice, fruit, and wheat products.  The stores have multiple aisles (essentially all the middle aisles) with high carb foods that I can’t purchase or consume, and I assume they do this because these products sell very, very well.  I’ve also had some folks at my church walk away from me as I tried to explain how I lost weight on a high fat, low carb diet.

The public, it seems, is not at all aware or accepting of this reality and it seems that we are towards the end of the first stage of a low-carb bull market (“shock and fear”–not of carbs but of the good foods: e.g., red meat and dietary fat; see this post for the six stages of a bull market) of what I think is a “bull market” in nutritional change, that begins perhaps with the life work of Dr. Robert Atkins, the quintessential contrarian.

With the seminal work of Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories; the effective diabetes therapy of Richard Bernstein, The Diabetes Solution; and the condemnation of modern wheat by William Davis, Wheat Belly, and finally, many paleo-diets, we are seeing a significant upward trend in low-carbing; however, we are still only at the beginning of the second stage of “guarded optimism” by only a few contrarian dieters.  Eventually, as with well-performing companies, the market may remain irrational for months or even years, but eventually the fundamentals will win out.  Unfortunately, many millions of people will die before this low-carb bull market comes into full swing.  The standard fear of fat and low-carb dieting still prevail.

Thus, good nutrition is like good investing.  The best hope that anyone has is to be contrarian and do the opposite of the what the majority of experts recommend.

In the meantime, we live in a major carb bubble and it manifests many signs of distress, just like the housing bubble.

  1. About one out of every four people in Canada and have diabetes or pre-diabetes.  In the United States it is almost one out of every three people.
  2. I go to an aging church: many parishioners are suffering from diseases related to high blood sugars: obesity, artery disease, cancer and Alzheimers.  However, you would never know this from our table of hospitality at coffee time–full of an assortment of high carb treats. I used to partake handsomely and every Sunday afternoon I would sleep for about three hours to recover.  Thankfully, they sometimes also offer cheese, and the occasional vegi platter and cold cuts:  I can also have the coffee with 10% cream and this contributes to conviviality, the ultimate goal of our coffee time.
  3. When I eat in a restaurant, I usually have to order a large steak (12 oz) in order to not leave the table hungry.  If you ask for more vegetables instead of potatoes and bread, they are unable or unwilling to provide adequate quantities, so the only way to compensate for it is to order a over-large steak.  I haven’t seen a low carb restaurant yet, though some have a few low carb choices.
  4. Marketing promotes low fat products, even when they are loaded with carbs:  e.g., low fat honey.
  5. Marketing promotes “heart healthy whole grains”.  The book Wheat Belly explains how that is actually quite the opposite of the truth.
  6. Some ethicists have promoted the eating of grains instead of meat in order to fight world starvation.  For example, Christian writer Ronald Sider, Rich Christians in an age of hunger (IVP Press, 1977) famously claimed that it takes thirteen pounds of grain to provide one pound of meat, and that Christians should respond by eating grain directly instead of feeding it to livestock (p. 42-43).  We now know that these grains are poisonous to many people.  What are they supposed to eat when meat is off the table?  Didn’t Jesus declare all foods clean (Mark 7.19)?
  7. Sugar and grain industries have had great success in lobbying to the effect of having their products declared safe for human consumption, even for diabetics.  The bacon and egg industries have been far less successful.
  8. Governments have largely promoted high carbohydrate dieting (see USDA food pyramid above).  Thus, like the housing bubble, the carb bubble is a beneficiary of various kinds of government policy and stimulus.  Government literally promote nutrition which destroys the health of the population.

Civil Forfeiture and Boiled Frogs

A cross post with the Isaac Brock Society:

Is it bad in Obama’s America?  Yes it is, very bad.  Monty Pelerin who wrote with me the article “When government turns predator“, has written another post, “Government Extends Its Tyrannical Role As Predator“, in which he features the question of civil forfeiture.  Reading about this subject makes me wonder if God has put me in Canada for the same reason that he put Joseph in Egypt, “You intended it for evil but God intended it for good,” he said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  For Joseph went to Egypt, and as a result, was able to save his entire family–his aged father and his brothers who hated him, their wives, children and all the servants in their households.  Am I in Canada to be able to save my dear dad and my family from a crisis in the United States, when things go really bad there?

In any case, the question of civil forfeiture appeared in a George Will article, “When the looter is government”, which tells the story of man whose family business is being seized by the Justice Department.  Such forfeiture is obviously a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment due process clause, but damn it, we are talking about the United States of America, a country which operates according to the rule of law, and that is why Stephen Dunn would never renounce his citizenship.  Someone asked me yesterday whether Stephen should be added to our Hall of Shame.   No, I think we need a new award–the Boiled Frog Award for American Panglosses that believe that the United States is the best of all worlds. Are you reading this WhoaIt’sSteve?

Monty linked to two videos and I offer them here below. The impression I have is that the rule of law has broken down at all levels.  Not only can MF Global steal money out of client’s segregated accounts and the bankters can commit mortgage fraud with impunity, but now the local police get in on the act with absolute impunity.  America as an ideal is over.  America as a nightmare has only just begun.  We who are living abroad are the lucky ones.  I almost regret feeling so angry at Americans.

Eduardo Saverin: Citizen of the World

I’ve been in contact with a columnist who asked me what I thought about Eduardo Saverin’s expatriation.  I respond as follows:

Eduardo Saverin has exercised his unalienable right to renounce his US citizenship. This right is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence of the United States, the Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Expatriation Act of 1868, the Freedom of Emigration in East-West Trade, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which for its part declares (Article 15, 2):

No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Yet for exercising a fundamental right, some in the media have vilified Eduardo Saverin.  I suppose because he is rich, and the rich today, because of class warfare, are open targets of abuse and defamation.  But I understand why Saverin expatriated. I am not rich, but I sympathize, nay I identify with his desire to shed US citizenship.  I have done it too.

Saverin remains a citizen of his native Brazil.  Brazil doesn’t tax Saverin’s world-wide income; yet the United States was doing that, even though he now lives in Singapore.  Did you notice whether he also renounced his Brazilian citizenship?  Not a chance.  But with US citizenship comes (1) onerous tax filing requirements; (2) invasive bank account reports; (3) the possibility of being locked out of business deals because foreigners don’t want to be partners with an American on account of invasive filing requirements; (4) inheritance tax claims by the IRS when you die and a foreign spouse may have to deal with this unjustly (I think of my own wife).  The only benefit of citizenship to an expat is the right to move back to the United States whenever you want.  But if you omit doing your filings, then you feel like a fugitive anyway.  I will worry about this until the IRS finally decides that my filings are adequate.  It is a chilling feeling that a tax bureaucracy has the final say on whether I am welcome or not in the United States.   A guy like Saverin can afford the tax professionals–most of us can’t–for an increasingly complicated and oppressive set of rules for those who live outside the borders of the United States.  But why bother to continue doing these filings if you don’t really plan to live in the United States again?

Another question we should ask is, “Why did Saverin move to Singapore?” Perhaps it is because the United States expects the rich to pay all the taxes.  According to a 2010 chart, the top 1% of taxpayers in the United States paid 40.4% of all income taxes.  I wrote about this, comparing it to the tax burden in Canada.  The problem is that the 1% pay a disproportionate amount of the taxes while the top 50% of wage earners pay only 3% of the taxes.  Most Americans pay no federal taxes at all.  Jim Rogers also lives in Singapore and speaks frequently to the US media with his Southern US accent.  Why do billionaires live in Singapore?  Perhaps it’s because billionaires are welcome in Singapore.  They sure are welcome in the United States too, provided they pay 40% of the total tax burden.

So Saverin moved to Singapore and the United States pursues him there too.  He’s got to be thinking that his country of birth, Brazil, didn’t do this to him, why should an adopted country place such burdens on him?  And for what?  The right to move back to the US?  That’s a lot to pay when the United States is just one country and not even the best if you are an investor or entrepreneur.

America didn’t make this man rich.  He came from a wealthy Brazilian family.  He didn’t need the United States.  The United States needed him.  He was the one who made Mark Zuckerberg rich with his investment to set up the original servers for Facebook.  Americans like foreign capital.  That’s why there is zero capital gains on foreign investment in the United States.  The tax code is set up such that foreign investors will invest, make their money, and pay no capital gains.  Increase the capital gains on foreign investors, get less of their investment. See the conundrum?

The question of why Saverin renounced his US citizenship is easy to answer.  The response of his spokesman, Tom Goodman, should be accepted as the truth.  I certainly do:

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” Goodman said. Saverin still does hold Brazilian citizenship, Goodman said.

This is also the reason that I relinquished my citizenship:  it is more practical to be resident of Canada without US citizenship.  I plan to live here for an indefinite period of time.

I became a US citizen at birth.  I had no choice in the matter.  My question is why Saverin became a US citizen in the first place.  Many wealthy investors are asking now whether they should become a citizen or Green Card holder and are responding, “No thank-you.”  The tax consequences of such an act has now made becoming an American citizen unattractive.  And the media rhetoric doesn’t help either.  Now that the press has decided to excoriate Saverin with the 1% rhetoric, the US can start kissing foreign investors good-bye forever.  An LA times piece by Yale law professor Bruce Ackermann.   Ackermann wants to turn the United States into the worst place in the world to be an ex-citizen–placing a permanent ban on those who relinquish their citizenship; it is a vindictive, populous article, that doesn’t even take into consideration the ramifications of what it says.  It is the same sort of attitude that caused Britain to fight against the colonists who declared their independence–i.e., such measures would be tyrannical, and it is chilling that a law professor, who is supposed to be a smart guy, would write such a piece of demagoguery, and thus wish to curtail the right to expatriate.

Ackermann’s proposal is a direct contradiction of the Expatriation Act of 1868 which recognizes the right of expatriation as a fundamental principle of the United States government, insisting that naturalized citizens be treated as native-born citizens.  To be sure, this is a rebuke of nations that mistreated naturalized Americans, but now Ackermann wants to abuse those who become naturalized citizens of other countries.  Thus, according to US law and international law, the United States must be consistent towards Saverin and all other emigrants, treating them as all other native-born citizens of their respective countries.  To do otherwise is to abridge “a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

I saw a reader comment accusing Saverin of being like the rats leaving a ship.  The analogy is perfectly suited to explain the corrupt, fiscally unsound ship of the American economy which is sinking into a deep abyss. But it is unjust towards Saverin.  He is no rat.  He has exercised a fundamental right.  He is a citizen of Brazil.  And he is now what Obama once claimed to be, a citizen of the world.  He has only shed his citizenship of the United States because it is an excessive and unreasonable burden upon his freedom as a citizen of the world.

I believe that the American media would do well to take the high road, and instead of rebuking Saverin, they should wish him well and explain to him that if he ever wants to come back again and create another multi-billion dollar company, that he would be more than welcome to do so.  Important investors around the world are watching to see how Americans react.  Don’t screw it up.

Royal Bank’s official response to CFTC’s accusations

If the following responses are true, the CFTC has mud on its face.  The United States markets are a cesspool of corruption, turning a blind eye to MF Global, Jon Corzine, and the other banktsers, but charging a Canadian bank with trumped up allegations.

RBC Vigorously Rejects CFTC Allegations as Unwarranted

TORONTO, April 2, 2012 – In response to the CFTC’s allegations against RBC for trading activity that the CFTC reviewed and had full knowledge of, RBC has these comments:

  • The CFTC has been aware of these transactions since 2005. These transactions were done in accordance with market terms, regulations and process.
  • This is not a financially material event to RBC but we do take this situation seriously and intend to vigorously defend our reputation.
  • Before we made a single trade, we proactively contacted the exchange to seek its guidance. These trades were fully documented, transparent, and reviewed by both the CFTC and the exchanges, and for the next several years were monitored by them. RBC’s trading was permissible in 2005, was reviewed six months later by the CFTC and encountered no objection, and it is permissible today under the CFTC’s published guidance.
  • Given no objection to the trading activity by either the exchange or the CFTC in 2005, it is absurd to now claim these trades were either fictitious or wash sales. This lawsuit is meritless.
  • The block trades in question were entered into by independent RBC legal entities with the intent to establish genuine, bona fide positions, based on the CFTC’s long-standing regulatory guidance. They were executed at competitive market pricing and no market participants suffered any negative impact, nor has the CFTC alleged any pricing irregularities.

For more information, please contact:

Kevin Foster, RBC, 212-428-6902, kevin.foster@rbc.com
Rina Cortese, RBC 416 974-5506, rina.cortese@rbc.com