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The Special Ed Epidemic: Uncovering the Answers (Part 4)

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By Sheri A. Marino, MA, CCC-SLP for Focus for HealthWorld Mercury ProjectPartner

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In this four-part series, World Mercury Project’s partner, Focus for Health (FFH), examined thespecial education epidemic, its crippling effects on the US economy, as well as housing and employment issues for individuals with disabilities once they age out of school. Now, let’s look at what could be causing this epidemic, and unlike the broken regulatory agencies and healthcare system, put an end to this crisis by empowering the public with the knowledge to help make informed decisions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just announced that autism prevalence is up 16% with new data showing that 1 in 59 US children have autism.  Autism, developmental delays, and chronic illnesses including allergies and asthma are at an all-time high, affecting 1 in 6 children across the US. The CDC reports that disability costs our nation $400 billion annually in healthcare expenditures.  Autism alone is on track to cost the US $460 billion dollars annually by 2025. Genetic studies have failed to turn up genes responsible for allergies, asthma, autism, or ADHD, yet funding for research identifying environmental causes pales in comparison to funding for genetic studies.

Although genetics plays a role in many disease processes, environmental influences can be triggers that turn on those genes.  Known as epigenetics,  gene expression can be altered from exposures to environmental toxins which can lead to negative health outcomes.

While we may not be able to control our genetic make-up, knowing how certain genetic conditions may affect us and our offspring allows us to take every precaution possible to manage those conditions. Likewise, we may not be able to avoid all environmental toxins, however, if given essential information, individuals can make choices about what environmental risks they are willing to take to keep their total toxic load at a minimum.

A combination of genetic vulnerability and environmental exposures creates susceptibilities for oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, endocrine disruption, and chronic inflammation ultimately leading to immune dysregulation.

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Toxins are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the products we use, and the vaccines we inject.

If manufacturers like Monsanto (being purchased by Bayer for $62.5 billion) monopolize the food industry, our right to make healthy food choices free of toxins such as pesticides and herbicides is significantly reduced.

If the pharmaceutical industry is not effectively managed by regulatory agencies, we will continue to be manipulated by advertisements for those very same medications which are responsible for poor health outcomes in our children.

If our state governments continue on the path of mandating vaccines, we lose our choice to say no to medical procedures which contain neurotoxins such as mercury and aluminum.

Taking control of our health and the destinies of our offspring starts with having the basic human right to do so. That begins with having essential information which empowers us to make the best decisions for ourselves and our children, and that ends when our basic human rights are taken from us. For all medical procedures, this is the basis of informed consent.

WHAT DOES THE SCIENCE SAY?

Through an extensive review of the research, FFH presents a collection of science-based theories on the causation of chronic disease and developmental disability. Individuals are not always informed of their risks by the medical community. While some risks are unavoidable, FFH believes knowledge is power and with access to information, individuals can learn what their risks are to make better healthcare decisions to potentiate positive outcomes, and ultimately protect vulnerable children.

…children who were exposed to more toxins in the womb had more autistic-like behaviors.

What the Science Says on Environmental Exposures

Toxins exist naturally in the environment, however, toxin exposure has increased in developed countries due to the increased use of pesticides and production of synthetic chemicals to manufacture foods and other products. Studies show environmental toxins result in epigenetic alterations to DNA leading to many chronic health issues and disorders.

Toxins can affect the functioning of the brain, heart, lungs, nervous system, and can also alter the bacteria that compose an individual’s microbiome. Furthermore, some toxins act as endocrine disruptors, meaning that they interfere with the body’s biological signals and hormonal system.

The toxins a mother encounters throughout her life will accumulate in her body. This is known as her “body burden.” A mother’s body burden will affect the environment of her womb, which may have a direct impact on the development of her baby. A fetus is particularly susceptible to toxicity because its organs are developing and it has not yet developed its brain-blood barrier.

One study from the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives, has found that children who were exposed to more toxins in the womb had more autistic-like behaviors. Anotherstudy found that close proximity to certain pesticides during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with autism by 60%. Toxin exposure during pregnancy is also associated with high blood pressure, ADHD, heart disease, and various mental disorders. The Environmental Working Group identified 287 toxins in an umbilical cord. Of these chemicals, 180 are known carcinogens to humans and animals, 217 are toxic to the nervous system, and 208 are known to cause birth defects in animal tests. Studies also show that pesticide exposure impacts sperm quality in men, which can affect pregnancy outcomes.

What the Science Says on Diet

According to the CDC, more than half of children worldwide ages 6 months to 5 years suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies.  Studies have found that micronutrient deficiencies can negatively impact growth, cognitive ability, neurological, and immune system functioning. One study has found that individuals with ASD are more likely to have micronutrient deficiencies. Another study found that children who consume diets high in fats are more likely to have cognitive impairments. Other studieshave found that children who eat more fruits and vegetables have better cardiovascular health compared to those who do not, and they have better health outcomes as adults. Their findings indicate what people eat when they are young is more important for achieving good health outcomes than what people eat when they are older.

Chemical pesticides such as glyphosate are used in agriculture to protect produce against weeds, insects, and other plant diseases.

Pesticides may be toxic to humans, and regular consumption of pesticides from a young age can heighten an individual’s risk for various health problems. Pesticides have been linked to respiratory problems, immune system problems, gastrointestinal issues, impaired cognition and memory, neurological diseases, and various cancers.

There is mounting evidence that suggests gestational pesticide exposure can lead to developmental delays or autism.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are an additional dietary concern for children and adults. Crops which are genetically modified to withstand pesticides, to self-produce insecticides, or to exhibit other desirable traits, are claimed to be harmless to humans, however, comprehensive long-term studies are lacking and some studies show that GMO’s may be hazardous. One study has found that the increasing incidence of 22 different chronic diseases can be linked to the increased use of GMOs in agriculture.

There is a lack of studies that examine the relationship between EMF exposure, autism, and other health conditions. However, some reports suggest that EMF exposure increases the risk for autism and can increase the severity of autism symptoms.

What the Science Says on Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

Electromagnetic radiation exists naturally in the environment. However, the expansion of technology in the 20th Century has introduced an increasing number of manmade electromagnetic field sources into the environment. Today, 100% of the population is exposed to EMF. The 5 most common sources of EMF include electric fields, magnetic fields, power lines, metal plumbing, and wireless communication.

There appears to be a subset of the population that is more susceptible to EMF than the majority of the population. These individuals are proposed to have “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”. They may experience skin conditions (redness, tingling), fatigue, dizziness, nausea, digestive disturbances, and concentration issues. This condition is somewhat akin to multiple chemical sensitivities.

One study suggests there are “remarkable similar biological features between EMF exposure and ASD from cellular oxidative stress to malfunctioning membranes, channels and barriers to genotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, immune abnormalities, inflammatory issues, neuropathological disruption and electrophysiological dysregulation”. This study also suggests the rise in ASD is parallel with the increase in electromagnetic and radio frequency exposures over the past few decades.

There is a lack of studies that examine the relationship between EMF exposure, autism, and other health conditions. However, some reports suggest that EMF exposure increases the risk for autism and can increase the severity of autism symptoms.

…calculations show that the levels of aluminum suggested by the World Health Organization place infants at risk of acute, repeated, and possibly chronic exposures of toxic levels of aluminum in modern vaccine schedules.

What the Science Says on Aluminum

Aluminum is neurotoxic. Aluminum exposure has been associated with disorders including Alzheimer’s and autism. This metal is found in foods we eat, the water we drink, products we use on our bodies, and it is used as an adjuvant in vaccines to enhance immunogenicity. Neurotoxic effects of aluminum are controversial however, a study of human brain tissue from donors with autism showed consistently high levels of aluminum content present in microglia like cells and cells in the meninges, vasculature, and grey and white matter. While regulatory agencies determine how much aluminum is needed to enhance antigenicity and effectiveness of vaccines, they do not take into account safety considerations. In fact, no known published studies have determined levels of aluminum in vaccines based on safety studies.

A new report titled “Reconsideration of the immunotherapeutic pediatric safe dose levels of aluminum” states “When aluminum doses are estimated from Federal Regulatory Code given body weight, exposure from the current vaccine schedule are found to exceed our estimate of a weight corrected Pediatric Dose Limit. Our calculations show that the levels of aluminum suggested by the World Health Organization place infants at risk of acute, repeated, and possibly chronic exposures of toxic levels of aluminum in modern vaccine schedules.”

There is no safe level of mercury exposure.

What the Science Says on Mercury

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mercury is considered to be among the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. It is known to impact the brain, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and immune system. There is no safe level of mercury exposure.

Dental Amalgams

Dental amalgams have been used for the past 150 years by the dental industry to fill cavities. Dental amalgams contain mercury, a known neurotoxin dangerous to humans even in trace amounts. Mercury vapor leaks from dental amalgams and accumulates in various body tissues or organs. Therefore, the fetus of a mother with dental amalgams will be exposed to mercury for the entire duration of the pregnancy. Mercury is known to cross the placenta, and directly impact the fetus, where it can interfere with the development of the fetus’ brain and central nervous system. The child may continue to be exposed after birth through the mother’s breast milk. One study found 6 or more dental amalgams in the mother raises the risk of having a child with autism 3.2-fold. Furthermore, the severity of autistic behaviors increases with the number of a mother’s dental amalgams.

Other sources of mercury include some over the counter medications, personal care products, and certain fishes such as tuna. In addition, some vaccines still contain mercury.

Mercury in thimerosal has been linked to tics, speech delay and language delay in children (Thompson et al. 2007 NEJM, Barile et al. 2013 J Pediatr Psychol, Verstraeten et al. 2003 Pediatrics, Andrews et al. 2004 Pediatrics) and many published studies also show a relationship with autism and ASD (Geier et al. 2013 Translational Neurodegeneration 2:25, among others).

The CDC recommends pregnant women receive the flu shot, however, if the shot comes from a multi-dose vial, it also contains mercury from the preservative thimerosal. Multi-dose vials are often provided to clinics and pharmacies in lower socio-economic areas. It is estimated that during the 2017-2018 flu season, 20-30 million of the influenza vaccines distributed will contain thimerosal. Thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCV’s) may expose pregnant women to 25 micrograms of mercury. With no blood-brain barrier, the fetus is also exposed as the mercury accumulates in the placenta and cord blood. Furthermore, as indicated in the vaccine manufacturer’s product inserts, no safety or efficacy studies have been conducted on pregnant women or their infants.

…women receiving the seasonal flu shot in the first trimester of pregnancy had 25% greater odds of having a child with ASD.

What the Science Says on Maternal Immune Activation (MIA)

During pregnancy, the developing fetus is vulnerable to the mother’s normal biological response to immune challenge. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that prenatal exposure to inflammatory signals from parasitic, bacterial and viral pathogens including the flu, shows significant correlations with neurological and immunological abnormalities, like autism spectrum disorder. Termed maternal immune activation (MIA), the role of inflammatory mediators during critical gestational periods has been shown to have adverse effects on fetal development.

There are many ways in which the maternal immune system can be activated. A study titled “Prenatal Fever and Autism Risk”supports the hypothesis that maternal fever in pregnancy, regardless of trimester and cause of the fever, is associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among offspring. While earlier studies found that prenatal exposure to infectious agents increased the risk of ASD in offspring, this study supports more recent findings that activation of the maternal immune system has deleterious effects on fetal brain development and plays a role in neurodevelopmental consequences. In this study, fever-associated ASD risk increased markedly with fever frequency particularly after 12 weeks gestation. Acetaminophen worked minimally to mitigate the risks for fevers occurring in the second trimester. Of the 538 cases, ASD was five times more prevalent in boys than girls. The authors’ findings support the hypothesis that in a subset of ASD cases, fever and associated immune disturbances may be implicated.

Vaccines are designed and intended to produce the same biological immune response as natural infection.  When a person gets a vaccine, whether during pregnancy or at any other time, an immune response to that vaccine occurs.

Studies show that roughly 5% of the general population will acquire the influenza virus annually, however, if the influenza vaccine does its job, immune activation will occur in 100% of pregnant women who receive the flu shot. Although the Zerbo et al. paper did not show a correlation between the actual flu in pregnancy and ASD, it did show women receiving the seasonal flu shot in the first trimester of pregnancy had 25% greater odds of having a child with ASD.

What the Science Says on Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s own cells, tissues, or organs as opposed to foreign antigens invading the body. These self-destructive antibodies create inflammation processes ultimately causing organ damage. Autoimmunity is a result of defects in the B and/or T cells of the immune system and is believed to result from the interplay of genetics, infections, and other environmental exposures.

Mothers with abnormal autoimmune antibodies have a greater risk of poor pregnancy outcomes.  There is mounting evidence that shows a mother with autoimmune antibodies is more likely to produce anti-brain antibodies that can cross the placenta and attack the fetal brain, inducing fetal brain inflammationOne study shows mothers of children with autism are 4 times more likely to carry brain reactive antibodies than mothers of typically developing children. Mothers with brain-reactive antibodies were also likely to have an increased prevalence of autoimmune diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Mother’s with celiac disease have a particularly high risk of bearing children with autism or other chronic illness. Celiac disease, a genetic disorder of the small intestine triggered by dietary exposure to gluten (a protein found in wheat), is associated with inflammation, diarrhea, malabsorption, and other gastrointestinal issues. Untreated celiac disease may result in impaired fertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes from autoimmune related mechanisms or nutrient deficiencies. According to this study, “Celiac disease, especially if untreated, appears to increase the risk of repeated miscarriages and premature deliveries, and impaired fetal growth with reduced birthweight.”  Additionally, the rate of cesarean delivery was increased if the parents had celiac disease.

Other autoimmune diseases that appear to increase the risk of ASD in offspring include lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 and type 2 Diabetes. Women with rheumatoid arthritis were 80% more likely to have a child with ASD, while children born to diabetic mothers are 4 times more likely to develop autism.

What the Science Says on MTHFR Mutations

Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a gene that is responsible for producing an enzyme that converts folic acid to methylfolate, a bioavailable form of vitamin B9. Nutrient deficiencies of Vitamin B6, B12, and folate increase homocysteine levels which cause inflammation in the body. The ability of this gene to turn this switch on or off is crucial for the production of glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant.

Glutathione plays a major role in the body’s detoxification of harmful, disease causing toxins. When the body’s ability to produce glutathione is decreased, secondary to genetic mutations like an MTHFR mutation, the disease process is enhanced due to the build-up of toxicity in the body. Disorders such as autism, ADHD, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, heart disease, addiction, miscarriages, and neural tube defectshave been linked to MTHFR mutations. Mutations in MTHFR may lead to a condition called homocystinuria, a disorder where there are abnormal levels of homocysteine and methionine in the body which may lead to eye problems, cognitive issues, abnormal blood clotting, skeletal and congenital heart abnormalities.

Glutathione’s key role is the maintenance of intracellular redox balance (oxidation-reduction) and the detoxification of xenobiotics (a chemical or substance foreign to the body). A defective MTHFR gene creates a vulnerability to disease processes as detoxification is impaired, leaving the body more susceptible to oxidative stress, and less tolerant of toxins such as heavy metals.

In children with ASD, the heterozygous allele frequency occurred in 56% of children, whereby the frequency was significantly lower in the control group (41%). This could indicate that there is a genomic vulnerability in the folate pathway to environmental risk factors. Although a review of the research indicates conflicting analysis, some studies show an association exists between MTHFR polymorphisms and an increased risk of ASD, suggesting the modulating role of folate may be affected by the MTHFR genotype. Another study suggests that the enhanced maternal folate status before and during pregnancy may alter natural selection by increasing survival rates of fetuses who have an MTHFR mutation. Presumably, infants with an MTHFR polymorphism cannot maintain the higher folate status after birth, affecting neurodevelopment from the inability to detoxify environmental toxins. For example, individuals with ASD have been shown to have higher levels of heavy metals in their blood, leading researchers to believe that the MTHFR polymorphisms may be partly responsible for increasing their toxicity. While an association is likely, it is unlikely that this mutation is solely responsible for complex neurodevelopmental disorders and more probable that influencing co-factors exist.

Furthermore, only 2 out of the 54 most commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications have enough data available to determine how they can impact a pregnancy.

What the Science Says on Medication Use During Pregnancy

Prescription drugs may impact the fetus through several mechanisms. They can directly damage the fetus by crossing the placenta, alter the functioning capacity of the placenta so that the fetus’ oxygen and nutrient supply is reduced, induce forceful uterine contractions which can injure the fetus, or indirectly harm the fetus by affecting the internal environment of the mother.

The CDC reports that prescription and over-the-counter medication use during pregnancy has increased by 70% over the past 3 decades. Less than 10% of all medications approved by the FDA since 1980 have been studied well enough to assess their risk for birth complications, and, pregnant women are not included in drug safety trials because of liability concerns. Furthermore, only 2 out of the 54 most commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications have enough data available to determine how they can impact a pregnancy.

There have been many studies conducted over the years that have examined how specific prescription medications taken during pregnancy may affect the health outcomes of children. Prescription medications that have been associated with an increased risk of birth defects or other childhood health complications include antidepressants, hypertension medications, mycophenolate mofetil (for treating autoimmune diseases), anti-epileptic medications, clomiphene citrate (to treat infertility), sulfonamide and  nitrofurantoin (to treat infections), and opioids.

A study from JAMA found that taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of a pregnancy increased the risk of having a child with autism by 87%, and that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) taken at any point during the pregnancy were associated with an even greater risk of having a child with autism. These researchers note that SSRIs can cross the placenta and impact the development of the fetus.  There is also evidence that autistic individuals have high levels of serotonin in their blood platelets and that their brains synthesize serotonin atypically.  Another studyfound that the asthma drugs- beta-2 adrenergic receptor (B2AR) agonists taken 90 days before pregnancy or during pregnancy increase the risk of having a child with autism.

Antibiotic use both medically and agriculturally is a major health concern. The CDC states that approximately 29% of antibiotic prescriptions in the United States in 2015 for children 0-19 years of age were unnecessary. Excessive antibiotic use puts the recipients at risk for adverse reactions or infection and can result in long-term alterations to the recipient’s microbiome. A healthy microbiome is essential for regular metabolism, vitamin production, and homeostasis regulation. Furthermore, babies born vaginally receive their mother’s microbiome as they pass through the birth canal. A mother’s microbiome will be altered when she takes antibiotics before or during pregnancy and can pass this altered microbiome to her child during childbirth.

One study has found that the antibiotics amoxicillin and clavulanate specifically may be contributing to the rise of autism. According to the study, after the introduction of these antibiotics in 1987, the state of California reported an increase in the rate of autism by 273% in a single year. The study proposes that the production of these antibiotics may yield high levels of urea/ammonia in the child. Another study found evidence that taking antibiotics during pregnancy can induce neurodevelopmental changes in the fetus in utero.

Agricultural antibiotics account for approximately 80% of all antibiotic usage in the United States. Animals are treated with low dose antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease and to promote growth. These antibiotics are transferred to humans through the meat we consume, as well as through the crops that were fertilized with the animals’ waste. Consumption of food contaminated with antibiotics can induce the same health consequences as prescribed antibiotics.

…acetaminophen use during pregnancy was associated with a 50% increase in the risk of having a child with autism and hyperkinetic disorder.

Specific over-the-counter medications have also been found to impact the health of the fetus. The commonly used drugs Ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen are some examples. Acetaminophen has long been considered relatively safe to take during pregnancy, however, acetaminophen use during pregnancy was associated with a 50% increase in the risk of having a child with autism and hyperkinetic disorder. Also, a longer duration of acetaminophen use resulted in a 2-fold increase in the risk of having a child with autism.

Since pregnant women are excluded from trials, some drugs are tested on pregnant animals instead. However, animal studies should not be considered reliable in determining the safety of a drug, as exemplified by the thalidomide incident in the 1950s. Thalidomide was a drug that was intended to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. Although it did not have any adverse effects on the pregnancy outcomes of rats during animal studies, it was found to cause severe and often fatal birth defects in infants and is now recognized as one of the most hazardous known human teratogens.

Although many studies have found associations between medications taken during pregnancy and poor childhood health outcomes, researchers state in their discussions that the exact mechanism through which the drug impacts the fetus remains uncertain.

What the Science Says on Chronic Ear Infections

Ear infections are bacterial or viral infections that occur in the middle ear. Children who experience chronic ear infections should be treated with caution as this could be an indication of a weak, dysregulated, or overactive immune system.

They may be more susceptible to infections, or their immune systems may respond abnormally to environmental triggers. In addition, ear infections are associated with auditory processing problems, which can contribute to learning disabilities or cognitive impairments. Studies have found that children with autism experience chronic ear infections more frequently than their non-autistic counterparts, which may be because individuals with ASD often have dysregulated immune systems.

Ear infections are typically treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotics can alter a child’s gut flora, which may also result in long-term health consequences. A study by B.E. Haley, suggested that the antibiotics ampicillin and tetracycline, which are used to treat such infections, can increase susceptibility to mercury poisoning. Therefore, there is potential for increased risk of vaccine related adverse events.

One study led by Eileen Curran has found that CD’s increase the risk of autism or autism-related symptoms in a child by as much as 23%.

What the Science Says on Cesarean Deliveries

Cesarean deliveries (CD’s) have risen by 48% since 1996, and now account for 32% of all births in the U.S. The trend of elective CD’s continues to increase. While some CD’s are unavoidable, many are scheduled out of convenience for the family or physician. CD’s are associated with negative health outcomes for the baby and there are multiple mechanisms for these outcomes.

Researchers believe Cesarean deliveries can alter an infant’s microbiome by depriving him or her of the beneficial bacteria he or she receives while passing through the birth canal in a vaginal delivery.  A compromised microbiome can lead to impaired immunity and metabolic dysregulation.

Several studies have found an association between Cesarean deliveries and autism. One study led by Eileen Curran has found that CD’s increase the risk of autism or autism-related symptoms in a child by as much as 23%.

In another study, researchers found approximately 40% greater risk of developing immune defects and a 10% greater risk of developing juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when born by CD. Additionally, the study shows children are more frequently hospitalized due to asthma, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorder, immune system defects, leukemia, and other tissue disorders.

What the Science Says on Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding is important for a baby’s health. It provides the baby with necessary nutrients, helps to strengthen the baby’s immune system, and promotes growth. Various studies have found that children who were breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life were less likely to contract an infection, develop diseases, or develop allergies. Furthermore, breastmilk is more easily digested, promotes digestive health, and helps to establish and maintain the child’s microbiome.

A study from Science Daily has found that breastfeeding reduces the chance that a mother’s child will develop autism. According to this study, a child may develop autism because his brain neurons are unmyelinated. Demyelination may occur because the child has an inadequate supply of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The study proposes that breast milk, which contains IGF, increases deficient IGF levels in susceptible children and helps to prevent the onset of autism.

A mother’s breast milk, however, can also create vulnerability in her child. There is mounting evidence that shows toxins in a mother’s breastmilk increases the chances that a child will develop autism or other health complications. A mother may be exposed to toxins through her environment or diet.

Babies are particularly susceptible to toxin exposure because they are at a stage of rapid physical development and their immune systems are not fully developed. Breastfeeding provides the most health benefits for the child if the mother’s diet is healthy and clean.

What the Science Says on Low Birth Weight

The average baby weighs 8 pounds. Any baby born less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces is considered low birth weight. Low birth weight is associated with various health complications such as poor growth, increased susceptibility to infection, and a higher risk of developing neurological problems.

The two main causes of low birth weight include preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction. Risk factors for low birth weight include poor maternal health, toxin exposure, nutrient deficiency, preexisting chronic or autoimmune disease, and low socioeconomic status. According to the CDC, mothers without a college education are29% more likely to have underweight babies.

One study found that low birth weight was associated with irregular brain structure development and smaller total brain volume. The finding indicates that birthweight can have a profound influence on health outcomes later in life.  Another study found that 5% of babies born weighing less than 4.7 pounds developed autism, while 11% of babies born weighing less than 3.5 pounds developed autism. The researchers believe that the risk for autism increases with decreasing birth weight.

What the Science Says on Chronic Stress During Pregnancy

Since maternal immune response, absent of infection in the fetus, can cause harm to the fetal brain, maternal stress therefore creates vulnerability. Studies have shown that prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) increases the production of stress hormones like cortisol which prepares individuals to deal with stress. Cortisol plays a role in the development of the fetus and in preparing the mother’s body for childbirth. However, attenuations of elevated maternal cortisol from chronic stress can cause immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation which greatly increases the risk of poor health outcomes in the fetus. Research suggeststhat offspring of mothers who experience high levels of stress during pregnancy are more likely to have problems in neurobehavioral development including autism and ADHD and have an increased risk for childhood behavior and emotional problems, language delay, cognitive problems, mixed handedness, and later onset disorders such as schizophrenia.

Additionally, maternal stress as a social determinant of health creates vulnerability in children as it is associated with low birth weight, diminishes innate immunity, and increases the likelihood of neurological dysfunction.

What the Science Says on High Testosterone

Hormones play a central role in body functions and processes, including growth and development, behavior, metabolism, reproduction, and fetal development. Fetal and maternal hormone levels are required in precise amounts at different points during the pregnancy to dictate the migration of fetal cells and mediate fetal growth. Any alterations in these hormone levels can impact the development of the fetus.

Amniotic fluids of mothers whose children developed autism were found to have elevated levels of testosterone, other sex hormones, and cortisol compared to the amniotic fluids of mothers whose children developed normally.

Male fetuses are particularly susceptible to sex hormones, and overexposure to sex hormones in the womb has been linked to reproductive malformations. It has been found that every one-percent increase in reproductive malformations in a given area is associated with a 283% increase in the rate of autism and a 94% increase in intellectual disability.

Testosterone works synergistically with mercury to enhance its toxicity. This may contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes in mothers who receive certain vaccinations during pregnancy or in those who are exposed to mercury from other sources.

What the Science Says on Advanced Parental Age

Researchers believe there are many associations with parental age at the time of conception and its deleterious effects on children’s health. Studies have shown advancing paternal and maternal age were both associated with poor pregnancy outcomes.

In one study, fathers over 50 years of age had a 66% higher chance of having a child with autism. This same study also found mothers over age 40 and under age 20 increased the risk of autism. A second study shows father’s over age 45 at time of conception, when compared with fathers between 20-24 yrs. of age, had a heightened chance of having offspring with autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric and academic morbidities. The effects of advanced paternal age on semen quality are controversial. However, the literature strongly points to issues with spermatogenesis, specifically epigenetic changes, and DNA mutations associated with increased paternal age.

Women, born with a set number of eggs, may be more susceptible to de novo mutations when an older egg is fertilized. These first time mutations are believed to be influenced by epigenetic changes affecting DNA replication, thereby increasing the rate of autism and other chronic health issues in the offspring. Epigenetic alterations associated with age can result from long-term exposures to environmental toxins, substance abuse, prescription medication usage, and diet. While younger moms have had less exposure to environmental toxins, researchers speculate their associated risk may be related to immature reproductive systems. Researchers also suggest disparity of more than 10 years between parents’ ages has also been shown to increase the risk of autism, although the mechanism is unknown.

There is contradictory evidence to support to what extent the age of the parents affects the health outcomes of their children. For example, a study published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, found that while children of older parents are more likely to have autism, they are not more likely to have other neurological disorders such as schizophrenia. However, another study by Nature Genetics, finds older fathers have a higher risk of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.  Furthermore, many studies draw contradictory conclusions as to which age brackets pose the highest risk for poor health outcomes of children. Ultimately, researchers believe there are underlying reasons as to why older parents are more likely to have children with autism, however, the exact mechanisms are unknown.

Many theories above are controversial because scientific studies sometimes contradict each other. This could be due to many factors including sample size, bias, and sometimes interpretation. When studies continue to show evidence supporting both sides, the science is not settled.  When it comes to protecting our children’s health, minimizing risks should be the only thing that is mandatory.

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Alternative News

The Mental Health Morass: Good for Pharma, Bad for Youth

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When several hundred Colorado high school students walked out of a post-school-shooting vigil last May to protest the event’s politicization, their departing chant was, “mental health, mental health.” While this response may have unsettled the event’s organizers, it was unsurprising in the context of widespread media accounts of an “epidemic of anguish” among American youth. According to this narrative, not only is “the increase in mental health issues among [U.S.] teens and young adults…nothing short of staggering,” but around the globe, mental illness is set to become the “next major global health challenge” and “pandemic of the 21st century.”

Without making light of the problem or minimizing anyone’s personal suffering, it is clear that one entity that stands to benefit mightily from a deepening mental health crisis is the pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatric medications have long been “growth superstars”—generating billions in sales for companies like Pfizer and Eli Lilly “as the U.S. became Prozac Nation, antipsychotics also became antidepressants, and ADHD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder] a byword.” Already in the mid-2000s, a Harvard economist reported that spending on psychotropic drugs had substantially outpaced overall prescription drug spending—no mean feat given the drug market’s exponential growth.

Outsized drug company profits and clever marketing tactics have prompted many to question the industry’s “oversized role in determining how mental illness is treated.” Even in conventional medical circles, clinicians acknowledge the need for “radical change in the paradigm and practices of mental health care,” including interventions that emphasize prevention and non-pharmacologic treatment modalities. These sorts of recommendations are urgently needed—not least for the young people for whom there is scant evidence of psychotropic medication safety or efficacy.

Overlapping trends

Modern psychiatry situates an alphabet soup of diagnoses under the broad rubric of “mental, emotional and behavioral” (MEB) disorders. It is no longer uncommon for children and adolescents to receive one or more of these diagnoses: anxiety disorder; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorder; bipolar disorder; conduct disorder; depression; disruptive behavior disorder; drug abuse or dependence; eating disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorder; oppositional defiant disorder; pervasive developmental disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; and schizophrenia.

The proliferation of mental health diagnoses in young people overlaps considerably with trends in diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, mental health diagnoses frequently intersect with physical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, which are more often present in children with mental disorders than in children without such disorders. Pediatric hospital admissions for non-behavioral disorders result in higher costs and longer stays when they are comorbid with behavioral disorders.

One of the few large-scale surveys to focus on MEB disorders in children (rather than adults) was the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), conducted from 2001 to 2004. The NCS-A found that half of U.S. youth (ages 13-18) had been diagnosed with at least one MEB disorder—including one in five with behavior disorders and three in ten with anxiety disorders—with the impairments rated as “severe” in roughly one-fourth of the affected teens. For many of the young people, onset and diagnosis occurred well before adolescence. Reviewing the evidence, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine reported in 2009 that “early MEB disorders should be considered as commonplace as a fractured limb: not inevitable but not at all unusual.”

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The impact

Recent research has documented some of the impact of these “commonplace” diagnoses in young people. Between 2011 and 2015, for example, visits by U.S. youth to psychiatric emergency departments increased by 28%. By age group, the largest increase—54%—was seen in adolescents (as compared to younger children or youth in their early 20s), in whom the researchers also reported a 2.5-fold increase in suicide-related visits. As of 2010, mood disorders (which include both bipolar and depressive disorders) were the most frequent principal diagnosis given to hospitalized children ages 1-17—up 80% since 1997. The hospitalization rate for bipolar disorders increased fourfold between the two time points (1997–2010), especially in the 10-14 and 15-17 age groups.

Researchers describe comorbid ADHD as “nearly universal” among youth with bipolar disorder, with ADHD and anxiety disorders viewed as common precursors of bipolar disorder. The trend toward increased diagnosis of both ADHD and bipolar disorder has prompted increased use by young people of both inpatient and outpatient mental health services as well as an exponential increase in the prescribing of medication. In office-based settings, where mental health care for young people has increased more rapidly than for adults, psychotropic medication prescriptions for younger patients are often provided by physicians with no psychiatric training.

For both ADHD and bipolar disorder, pharmacologic treatment relies heavily on powerful psychostimulants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Reporting on data collected in 2011–2012, researchers noted that a large proportion (44%) of very young children diagnosed with ADHD (2- to 5-year-olds) were taking medication, most commonly central nervous system stimulants. Nationally, a survey of children with special health care needs conducted in 2009–2010 found that 74% of ADHD-diagnosed children ages 4-17 had received medication in the past week.

Both the scientific community and mainstream media have raised questions about whether widespread administration of mind-altering psychostimulants to young children is safe or “meaningfully beneficial.” In 2016, a Washington Post reporter cited CDC findings when noting that “The long-term effects of those [ADHD] drugs on a young brain and body have not been well studied, and the side effects can be numerous, including poor appetite, sleeplessness, irritability and slowed growth.” Other risks of these freely prescribed drugs include the potential to actually worsen mania, foster addiction or lead to further medication. In the push for increased treatment, clinicians have largely ignored these risks.

In some states, special education funding policies create financial incentives to actively identify and medicate children with ADHD. In those states, children are “about 15 percent more likely to report having ADHD and…about 22 percent more likely to be taking medication for ADHD.” As a medical ethicist has commented, these patterns raise questions about the “muddier” aspects of psychiatric diagnosis and the variability “as regards who and what drive [diagnostic] practices.”

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders have also raised serious concerns—particularly about their potential to promote suicidality, aggression or other unwanted outcomes in children and adolescents. In 2016, the Nordic Cochrane Centre systematically reviewed clinical study reports from 70 trials of SSRIs and similar drugs and described substantial under-reporting of harms. Even with the under-reporting, the reviewed evidence linked the drugs to a doubling in the risk of suicidality and aggression in children and adolescents.

Why is this happening?

Researchers have floated many hypotheses about the underlying causes of the burgeoning youth mental health crisis. But while the mainstream media have been more than willing to give airtime to social explanations such as smartphone use and academic stress, the public has seen far less discussion of other plausible factors such as the gut-brain connection. For example, there is a complex interplay between the gut microbiome, the immune response and vaccination—and experimental evidence links vaccines and vaccine adjuvants to adverse mental health symptoms. There is also ample experimental evidence showing that gut microbiota disruptions caused by subchronic and chronic exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides can increase anxiety and depression-like behaviors at virtually any age. Moreover, research findings are suggestive of potential transgenerational effects of both vaccines and glyphosate. Rather than acquiesce to the perpetuation of hair-splitting mental health diagnoses—and the pharmaceutical “solutions” that always seem to follow close behind—it would seem wise to scrutinize these pervasive environmental threats while keeping in mind the age-old question of cui bono.

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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Former Israeli Intel Official Claims Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell Worked for Israel

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by a Whitney Webb, a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. It was originally published at Mintpressnews.com, posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Was Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual blackmail enterprise was an Israel intelligence operation run for the purpose o entrapping powerful individuals and politicians?

Since the apparent death by suicide of Jeffrey Epstein in a Manhattan prison, much has come to light about his depraved activities and methods used to sexually abuse underage girls and entrap the rich and powerful for the purposes of blackmail. Epstein’s ties to intelligence, described in-depth in a recent MintPress investigative series, have continued to receive minimal mainstream media coverage, which has essentially moved on from the Epstein scandal despite the fact that his many co-conspirators remain on the loose.

For those who have examined Epstein’s ties to intelligence, there are clear links to both U.S. intelligence and Israeli intelligence, leaving it somewhat open to debate as to which country’s intelligence apparatus was closest to Epstein and most involved in his blackmail/sex-trafficking activities. A recent interview given by a former high-ranking official in Israeli military intelligence has claimed that Epstein’s sexual blackmail enterprise was an Israel intelligence operation run for the purpose of entrapping powerful individuals and politicians in the United States and abroad.

In an interview with Zev Shalev, former CBS News executive producer and award-winning investigative journalist for Narativ, the former senior executive for Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, Ari Ben-Menashe, claimed not only to have met Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, back in the 1980s, but that both Epstein and Maxwell were already working with Israeli intelligence during that time period.

“They found a niche”

In an interview last week with the independent outlet Narativ, Ben-Menashe, who himself was involved in Iran-Contra arms deals, told his interviewer Zev Shalev that he had been introduced to Jeffrey Epstein by Robert Maxwell in the mid-1980s while Maxwell’s and Ben-Menashe’s involvement with Iran-Contra was ongoing. Ben-Menashe did not specify the year he met Epstein.

Ben-Menashe told Shalev that “he [Maxwell] wanted us to accept him [Epstein] as part of our group …. I’m not denying that we were at the time a group that it was Nick Davies [Foreign Editor of the Maxwell-Owned Daily Mirror], it was Maxwell, it was myself and our team from Israel, we were doing what we were doing.” Past reporting by Seymour Hersh and others revealed that Maxwell, Davies and Ben-Menashe were involved in the transfer and sale of  military equipment and weapons from Israel to Iran on behalf of Israeli intelligence during this time period.

He then added that Maxwell had stated during the introduction that “your Israeli bosses have already approved” of Epstein. Shalev later noted that Maxwell “had an extensive network in Israel at the time, which included [the later Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon, according to Ben-Menashe.”

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Ben-Menashe went on to say that he had “met him [Epstein] a few times in Maxwell’s office, that was it.” He also said he was not aware of Epstein being involved in arms deals for anyone else he knew at the time, but that Maxwell wanted to involve Epstein in the arms transfer in which he, Davies and Ben-Menashe were engaged on Israel’s behalf.

However, as MintPress reported in Part IV of the investigative series “Inside the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,” Epstein was involved with several arms dealers during this period of time, some of whom were directly involved in Iran-Contra arms deals between Israel and Iran. For instance, after leaving Bear Stearns in 1981, Epstein began working in the realms of shadow finance as a self-described “financial bounty hunter,” where he would both hunt down and hide money for powerful people. One of these powerful individuals was Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi arms dealer with close ties to both Israeli and U.S. intelligence and one of the main brokers of Iran-Contra arms deals between Israel and Iran. Epstein would later forge a business relationship with a CIA front company involved in another aspect of Iran-Contra, the airline Southern Air Transport, on behalf of Leslie Wexner’s company, The Limited.

During this period, it is also known that Epstein became well acquainted with the British arms dealer Sir Douglas Leese, who collaborated with Khashoggi on at least one British-Saudi arms deal in the 1980s. Leese would later introduce Epstein to Steven Hoffenberg, calling Epstein a “genius” and describing his lack of morals during that introduction. Thus, there are indications that Epstein was involved with Middle Eastern arms deals, including some related to Iran-Contra, during this period. In addition, Epstein would later claim (and then subsequently deny) having worked for the CIA during this period.

After having been introduced to Epstein, Ben-Menashe claimed that neither he nor Davies were impressed with Epstein and considered him “not very competent.” He added that Ghislaine Maxwell had “fallen for” Epstein and that he believed that the romantic relationship between his daughter and Epstein led Robert Maxwell to work to bring the latter into the “family business” — i.e., Maxwell’s dealings with Israeli intelligence. This information is very revealing, given that the narrative, until now at least, has been that Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein did not meet and begin their relationship until after Robert Maxwell’s death in 1991, after which Ghislaine moved to New York.

Ben-Menashe says that well after the introduction, though again he does not specify what year, Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein began a sexual blackmail operation with the purpose of extorting U.S. political and public figures on behalf of Israeli military intelligence. He stated:

In this case what really happened, my take on it, in the later thing, is that these guys were seen as agents. They weren’t really competent to do very much. And so they found a niche for themselves — blackmailing American and other political figures.”

He then confirmed, when prompted, that they were blackmailing Americans on behalf of Israeli intelligence.

In response to his statement, Zev Shalev replied, But, you know, for most people it’s hard for them to think of Israel as being … blackmailing their leaders in the United States, it’s a very …” at which point, Ben-Menashe interrupted and the following exchange took place:

Ari Ben-Menashe:  You’re kidding? [laughs]…. It was quite their M.O. Sleeping around is not a crime, it may be embarrassing, but it’s not a crime, but sleeping with underage girls is a crime.

Shalev:  It was a crime in 2000 as well, but they let him off that…

Ben-Menashe:  And that it is [why] always so he [Epstein] made sure these girls were underage.

In addition, when Shalev asked Ben-Menashe about the relationship between Jeffrey Epstein and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Ben-Menashe stated “After a while, you know, what Mr. Epstein was doing was collecting intelligence on people in the United States. And so if you want to go to the U.S. if you’re a high-profile politician you want to know information about people.” Ben-Menashe subsequently stated that Barak was obtaining compromising information (i.e., blackmail) that Epstein had acquired on powerful people in the United States.

PROMIS, sex, and blackmail

If Robert Maxwell did recruit Epstein and bring him into the “family business” and the world of Israeli intelligence, as Ben-Menashe has claimed, it provides supporting evidence for information provided to MintPress by a former U.S. intelligence official, who chose to remain anonymous in light of the sensitivity of the claim.

This source, who has direct knowledge of the unauthorized use of PROMIS to support covert U.S. and Israeli intelligence projects, told MintPress that “some of the proceeds from the illicit sales of PROMIS were made available to Jeffrey Epstein for use in compromising targets of political blackmail.” As was noted in a Mintpress series on the Epstein scandal, much of Epstein’s funding also came from Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner, who has documented ties to both organized crime and U.S. and Israeli intelligence.

After the PROMIS software was stolen from its rightful owner and developer, Inslaw Inc., through the collusion of both U.S. and Israeli officials, it was marketed mainly by two men: Earl Brian, a close aide to Ronald Reagan, later U.S. envoy to Iran and close friend of Israeli spymaster Rafi Eitan; and Robert Maxwell. Brian sold the bugged software through his company, Hadron Inc., while Maxwell sold it through an Israeli company he acquired called Degem. Before and following Maxwell’s acquisition of Degem, the company was a known front for Mossad operations and Mossad operatives in Latin America often posed as Degem employees.

With Maxwell — Epstein’s alleged recruiter and father of Epstein’s alleged madam — having been one of the main salespeople involved in selling PROMIS software on behalf of intelligence, he would have been in a key position to furnish Epstein’s nascent sexual blackmail operation with the proceeds from the sale of PROMIS.

This link between Epstein’s sexual blackmail operation and the PROMIS software scandal is notable given that the illicit use of PROMIS by U.S. and Israeli intelligence has been for blackmail purposes on U.S. public figures and politicians, as was described in a recent MintPress report.

Can an ex-spy be trusted?

When dealing in the world of deception and intrigue that defines intelligence operations, it is often difficult to determine whether any individual linked to an intelligence agency is telling the truth. Indeed, in the United States, there are examples of elected intelligence officials committing perjury and lying to Congress on several occasions with no consequences, and of intelligence officials feeding politically motivated and untrue information to agency assets in the media.

So, are Ari Ben-Menashe’s claims regarding Epstein and the Maxwells trustworthy? In addition to the aforementioned, corroborating information for his claims, a review of Ben-Menashe’s post-intelligence career suggests this is the case.

Prior to his arrest in November 1989, Ben-Menashe was a high-ranking officer in a special unit of Israeli military intelligence. He would later claim that his arrest for attempting to sell American-made weapons to Iran was politically motivated, as he had threatened to expose what the U.S. government had done with the stolen PROMIS software if the U.S. did not cease providing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with chemical weapons. Ben-Menashe was later acquitted when a U.S. court determined that his involvement in the attempted sale of military equipment to Iran was done on behalf of the Israeli state.

After his arrest, Ben-Menashe was visited in prison by Robert Parry, the former Newsweek contributor and Associated Press reporter who would later found and run Consortium News until his recent passing last year. Parry remembered that, during that interview, “Ben-Menashe offered me startling new information about the Iran-Contra scandal, which I thought that I knew quite well.”

Israel’s government immediately began to attack Ben-Menashe’s credibility following his interview with Parry, and claimed that Ben-Menashe had never worked for Israeli intelligence. When Parry soon found evidence that Ben-Menashe had indeed served in Israeli military intelligence, Israel’s government was then forced to admit that he had worked for military intelligence, but only as a “low-level translator.” Yet, the documentation Parry had uncovered described Ben-Menashe as having served in “key positions” and performed “complex and sensitive assignments.”

A year later, Ben-Menashe would be interviewed by another journalist, Seymour Hersh. It would be Ben-Menashe who first revealed to Hersh secrets about Israel’s nuclear program and the fact that British media mogul Robert Maxwell was an Israeli spy, revelations that Hersh would not only independently corroborate but include in his book The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy. Hersh was then sued by Robert Maxwell and the Maxwell-owned Mirror Group for libel. The case was later settled in Hersh’s favor, as the claims Hersh had made were true and not libelous. As a result, the Mirror Group paid Hersh for damages, covered his legal costs, and issued him a formal apology.

After Ben-Menashe’s interviews by Hersh and Parry, Israel’s government was apparently concerned enough about what Ben-Menashe would tell congressional investigators that it attempted to kidnap him and bring him back to Israel to face state charges, much like Israeli intelligence had done to Israel’s nuclear-weapons whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. The plan was foiled largely thanks to Parry.

Parry, who broke many key stories related to the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s and beyond, was tipped off by a U.S. intelligence source about a joint U.S.-Israel plan to have Ben-Menashe first be denied entry to the United States on his planned trip to give congressional testimony. Per the plan, Ben-Menashe would be denied entry to the U.S. in Los Angeles and then be deported to Israel, where he would have stood trial for “exposing state secrets.” Parry called Ben-Menashe and convinced him to delay his flight until he secured a guarantee for safe passage from the U.S. government.

Ben-Menashe subsequently gave a sworn statement to the House Judiciary Committee that mostly focused on U.S.-Israel collusion regarding the theft and creation of a “backdoor” into the PROMIS software. Ben-Menashe offered to name names and provide corroborating evidence for several of his claims if he was offered immunity by the committee, which, for whatever reason. declined that request.

Prior to the conclusion of the Hersh “libel” trial, which would later uphold Ben-Menashe’s claims regarding Robert Maxwell’s Mossad activities as true, there was a concerted effort in the U.S. press to downplay Ben-Menashe’s credibility. For instance, Newsweek — in an article on Ben-Menashe entitled “One Man, Many Tales” — claimed that “inconsistencies may undermine Ben-Menashe’s testimony in the British courtroom proceedings,” citing inconsistencies from sources in Israel’s government and Israeli intelligence as well as Ben-Menashe’s ex-wife and Israeli journalist Shmuel (or Samuel) Segev, a former IDF colonel. It goes without saying that such sources had much to gain from any effort to discredit Ben-Menashe’s claims.

According to Parry, this media campaign, which employed American journalists with close ties to Israel’s government and intelligence agencies, was very successful “in marginalizing Ben-Menashe by 1993, at least in the eyes of the Washington Establishment.” After a years-long media campaign to discredit Ben-Menashe, “the Israelis seemed to view him as a declining threat, best left alone. He was able to pick up the pieces of his life, creating a second act as an international political consultant and businessman arranging sales of grain.” The effort to marginalize Ben-Menashe has continued well into recent years, with mainstream news outlets still referring to him as a “self-described ex-Israeli spy” — despite the well-documented fact that Ben-Menashe worked for Israeli intelligence — as a means of downplaying his claims regarding his time in Israel’s intelligence service.

After the conclusion of the Hersh libel trial, Ben-Menashe became an international political consultant who “surrounded his far-flung business activities in secrecy and got involved with some controversial international figures, such as Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe,” and

“conducted his international consulting business … in a wide variety of global hotspots, including conflict zones,” according to Parry. In addition to Mugabe, Ben-Menashe has also recently come under fire for his consulting work on behalf of Sudan’s military junta and Venezuelan opposition politician Henri Falcón.

Ben-Menashe has also maintained ties to several different intelligence services and eventually became a controversial whistleblower whose information led to the arrest of the former head of Canada’s Security Intelligence Review Committee, Arthur Porter.

As far as his character is concerned, Parry noted that Ben-Menashe could often be “his own worst enemy” and that, even though Parry considered his information regarding Iran-Contra and PROMIS reliable and noted that much of it was later corroborated, he “often compound[ed] his media problem by treating journalists in a high-handed manner, either due to his suspicions of them or his arrogance.”

Bill Hamilton, the original developer of the PROMIS software and head of Inslaw Inc., also found Ben-Menashe’s claims regarding the illicit use of PROMIS by U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies to be credible, though he expressed doubts about Ben-Menashe’s character.

Hamilton told MintPress the following about Ben-Menashe:

Ari Ben Menashe was the first source to tell us reliable information about the role of Rafi Eitan and Israeli intelligence vis-a-vis PROMIS but, in the end, of course, he was a clandestine services-type guy whose official duties include the ability and willingness to lie, cheat, and steal.”

A threat revived

While Ben-Menashe may have been viewed as a “declining threat” after the early 1990s, his plans to meet with Robert Parry of Consortium News years later in 2012 to discuss Iran-Contra and other covert dealings of the 1980s appeared to change that. Right before he planned to travel from Canada to the United States to meet with Parry and “finally prove” the truthfulness of his past claims, a fire-bomb was thrown into his Montreal home, destroying it.

Though Canadian media referred to the incendiary device as a “molotov cocktail,” Consortium News reported that “the arson squad’s initial assessment is said to be that the flammable agent was beyond the sort of accelerant used by common criminals,” leading to speculation that the accelerant was military-grade.

Had it not been for the bomb, the origins of which Canadian police failed to determine, Ben-Menashe would have traveled to the U.S. alongside a “senior Israeli intelligence figure” to be interviewed by Parry. The other intelligence-linked individual, according to Parry, “concluded that the attack was meant as a message from Israeli authorities to stay silent about the historical events that he was expected to discuss.”

Though neither Ben-Menashe nor Parry directly blamed Israel’s government for the destruction of Ben-Menashe’s home, Parry noted that the bombing did succeed in “intimidating Ben-Menashe, shutting down possible new disclosures of Israeli misconduct from the other intelligence veteran, and destroying records that would have helped Ben-Menashe prove whatever statements he might make.”

While Ben-Menashe’s post-intelligence associations with controversial governments and individuals have given plenty of fodder to the still thriving media campaign to discredit his claims about covert U.S.-Israel operations in the 1980s, there remain troubling indications that the Israeli government sees his information on decades-old events as a threat.

Now, with the major efforts by powerful Americans and Israelis to distance themselves from Jeffrey Epstein and other figures associated with his depraved sex trafficking operation, Ben-Menashe may soon again find his reputation — and perhaps more — under fire.

Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

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Targeted Individuals All Around The Globe Are Starting To Mobilize

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Targeted Individual activists and targeted individuals themselves are starting to gather across the world to bring attention to a very real phenomenon.

  • Reflect On:

    Can we see how our intentional awareness of matters like the 'Targeted Individuals' phenomenon helps us all move towards creating the world that we all want?

If you attended or have researched into the Global Targeted Individuals Rallies that ran concurrently in 21 cities worldwide on August 29th, 2019, you would at the very least come to realize that this phenomenon is very real, and not the product of a smattering of delusional and paranoid people, as mainstream media would have us believe (on the rare occasion that they even cover the subject at all).

And stoking your awareness that this phenomenon is real, and is a clear and present danger, is the main motivation of the various organizers of these rallies around the world. By and large, Targeted Individuals are not asking for your sympathy, or your money. They are asking you to join them in coming to a greater understanding of how these programs work, who is behind them, and consequently to build a critical mass of everyday people who acknowledge the dangers of the phenomenon. This alone has the power and capacity to put an end to these programs.

These rallies also serve to help the Targeted Individuals themselves find solace and the inspiration to stay alive, fight for sanity, and find ways to defend themselves from these attacks.

Don’t Let The Small Crowds Fool You

Compared to big, heavily funded and promoted globalist-directed rallies like Climate protests and Gun Control marches that draw large numbers of participants, the crowds that gathered for the TI rallies a month ago might not impress you too much, and might even dissuade you from giving the movement much credibility. But I would like you to consider that every Targeted Individual that shows up to and participates in a public rally represents dozens or even hundreds of their brethren who don’t have the means or the energy to do so, or simply don’t know about the rallies, or have not even come to realize that they are Targeted Individuals at all.

As I did in my previous article ‘Why The August 29th Global ‘Targeted Individuals’ Rallies Deserve Our Attention,’ I would again like to quote TI activist and writer Thomas McFarlan, who explained to me why, if there are so many Targeted Individuals worldwide, that so few of them attend these rallies:

The reason so few TIs show up at protests is because most of us end up murdered, suicided, framed to be put in prison, framed to be put in mental wards, homeless with no resources at all and completely psychologically disorientated, or just completely demoralized living with their parents, or in some cheap rental living a life with a demeaning job, next to no money and no hope so no action is taken. The TIs you see out at protests, and doing activism are the cream of the crop, [the most] psychologically strong people that exist.

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In London, activist Mark Williams led a gathering of about 60 people, the most Targeted Individuals ever to gather together in the UK. The video below of Mark speaking over a loudspeaker at the rally outlines the true objective of these rallies: familiarizing the public with the phenomenon, pointing the public to credible evidence and whistleblower testimony that is available on the internet, and basically asking for people’s help to come together with them in order to eventually put an end to these programs through grassroots efforts. Expecting help from our intelligence agencies, government, law enforcement and judiciary is usually pointless, but even more so in the case of the TI phenomenon, since the highest levels of all these institutions are either directly implicated in this or are pressured to turn a blind eye to it.

Mainstream Media Complicity

As I alluded to earlier, an essential prong of the programs that target individuals for gang-stalking, intrusive surveillance, mind-control tactics, and Directed Energy Weapons attacks is the complicity of the mainstream media, which creates a public perception that is crucial to keeping the program hidden, and hence highly effective. You would think that there would be at least a few mainstream journalists who would be willing to ask questions and investigate into these matters. But in my search of the mainstream press I found only outright dismissals of the phenomenon, save a few esoteric pieces that pretended to walk an objective line while making subtle but clear references to schizophrenia and other mental diseases.

In her powerful article ‘9/11/2018: Expose the Treason, Challenge & End Domestic US Fusion Center & Military Terrorism Masquerading as Surveillance,‘ alternative news journalist Ramola D breaks down the mainstream journalistic landscape that continues to give rise to the unchecked proliferation of these programs:

I have witnessed the cavorting and convolutions of numerous bought-and-sold reporters in print and in video as they bent over backwards to accede to the demands of their CIA/and Other Clandestine-Ops-Agencies masters to conceal these crimes of Surveillance Abuse by actively dismissing as “delusional and paranoid” the reports, testimonials, and cries for help from increasing numbers of highly educated and accomplished people of integrity, conscience, and community-mindedness suddenly targeted for apparent assaultive elimination with Stealth Radiation Weapons. I mean reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vice, Wired, and others — classic “mainstream media” mavens run by the CIA, whose paychecks have apparently prevented them from pursuing the truth. And in fact, given them oodles of leisure time in which to write excoriating pieces of vitriol mocking and maligning reporting victims of Surveillance crimes and Military Experimentation abuse, such as in Rational Wiki and Wikipedia, helping the CIA/DOD equate “Targeted Individual” with “Delusional” and that other CIA-Trickster-Term intended to stop all further critical inquiry: Conspiracy Theorist.

Activist Mark Williams in the UK employed a two-pronged strategy: he tirelessly continues to promote this story to mainstream media, politicians, and human rights groups, in the hopes that some individuals will break out of the pack and report on this phenomenon in an objective light. While the response from people who have that kind of power continues to be abysmal, he feels that continuing to seek these people out may eventually bear fruit. At the same time, the rallies are designed to speak directly to the public and get a conversation started:

What I feel was accomplished was a statement that says that the UK is willing to step up and not accept remote torture abuses and Gang stalking abuses. This could set the scene for many larger more successful protests in the future. This in some ways was the first step to doing that but also a success in itself.

It must be noted that a number of people (incl myself)  contacted mainstream media numerous times (I did so 3 times for every mainstream channel) and I emailed every MP in this country and every major UK human rights group (twice each) that would be relevant and other major international human rights groups that would be relevant. So the whole protest has been used as a leverage in a way to raise information generally to those groups just mentioned (and others) that have the power to actually help our cause. This is a major step forward in itself I believe as I do not believe in the UK there has ever been such a coordinated effort to raise awareness like this to those in positions to help.

We informed the public generally and handed out over 4000 leaflets (many of which were to BBC personnel). Most of the public were receptive to taking leaflets and their was discussion with members of the public.

 These activists are highly motivated as their very lives are at stake. As time goes on, it looks like these rallies will continue to get bigger and the message to the public will continue to get clearer.

Putting The Big Picture Together

Recently, some writers and activists have started to see and speak about the TI phenomenon not as a separate and discrete matter, but rather as one of the interlocking pieces in a much larger agenda of eugenics, mind control, social engineering, a weaponized 5G physical infrastructure and elite global totalitarian rulership. Thomas MacFarlan wrote to me that at a recent 5G Conference he became more familiar with China’s social credit blacklist which already contains 13 million names. These people suffer limitations on employment and hence earning potential,  limitations on how, when and where they travel, severe social stigma, all leading to limitations on who they can associate with, limitations on types of purchases, limitations on use of communications technologies and use of the internet and social media, and many others.

This social credit system is another type of targeting, and you can already see the broad strokes of a future dystopian surveillance state that could ultimately come under a single elite global authority. MacFarlan also noted that thousands of Chinese have reported experiencing electromagnetic mind control technologies used on them, as per this Epoch times article. He notes that since getting these testimonies out to Western media is already very difficult for Chinese citizens, the actual number that are effected must be exponentially larger.

Macfarlan has become more active in the ‘Stop 5G’ movement and has made connections between this and the ‘Targeted Individual’ phenomenon. He also sees strong connections between 9/11 and the TI phenomenon, as an increase in covert surveillance powers brought on after 9/11 through the Patriot Act and other legislation saw a great uptick in targeting, which Macfarlan discusses in his article ‘The 45 Days After 9/11 Campaign for 9/11 & Surveillance Abuse Justice.’

The ‘Targeted Individuals’ piece of this puzzle fundamentally resembles experiments done on innocent, unsuspecting citizens to see the way people’s minds and bodies can be controlled, to test limits of endurance and pain thresholds. The 5G infrastructure would greatly facilitate the ability to locate and, as the situation calls for, attack or otherwise control people as though we were animals to be controlled within a virtual electrified fence. Cell phones, smart meters and home monitors play a role in the surveillance and the analysis of behavior. The unchecked development of Artificial Intelligence plays into this as well, along with the Transhumanist movement, which endeavors to get us off of our own natural intuition-guided human spiritual ‘network’ and into an artificial technological one. Eugenics, and its arms of fertility-killing vaccines, the creation of diseases like AIDS and Ebola, severe weather modification, and outright geopolitical war-masked genocide, all contribute to the goal of reducing the population to a size, like the 500 million suggested by the Georgia Guidestones, which the small global elite has the means to openly control.

Despite All This There Is Hope

I believe unfailingly in the human spirit, and armed with the truth and our indestructible underlying connection to one another, I think we are capable of anything we choose. The global elite may have the power, the money, and the dark knowledge that have enabled them to essentially be the masters of humanity since time immemorial, but we are at a time in history where all that is changing.

The Targeted Individuals phenomenon, China’s Social Credit system, the 5G rollout, Vaccine Mandates, Mind Control, Social Engineering, Transhumanism and many other social and economic travesties will ultimately be the source of our grand awakening, if we rise ourselves to the opportunity as a collective. Getting to understand the nature of all of these phenomena individually helps us to put the puzzle together and see how they are all part of one vast and long-sought global agenda of total control over humanity.

The time for activism is now, and acknowledging and sharing what we learn of the struggles that our brothers and sisters are going through is an important part of that activism.

The Takeaway

As we become more aware of this big plan and what is really going on behind the scenes, we will literally find the ‘man behind the curtain,’ like Dorothy and her brave companions found in the Wizard of Oz. Of course the global elite is likely to wildly vociferate their superiority and the beneficence of their agenda once they are first revealed, but we will quickly come to see how empty and impoverished they actually are.

We will come to realize how impotent these people would be without our compliance and our tacit consent to be lorded over by them. We will see that we just need to collectively decide to stop being the foot-soldiers for their agenda. Ultimately, this will allow us to simply brush them aside, as one whisks away eraser debris after correcting a mistake, and take our rightful place as masters of our own destiny.

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