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There is no Commons majority for Boris Johnson's low tax, low regulation Brexit

Friday, November 3 2017

There is no Commons majority for Boris Johnson's low tax, low regulation Brexit

18 September 2017 There is no Commons majority for Boris Johnson's low tax, low regulation Brexit The loss of the Conservatives' majority denied the party the option of pursuing a free market route. Sign up to the Staggers Morning Call email * In his leadership bid Daily Telegraph Brexit article , Boris Johnson resurrected the vision of a low tax, low regulation UK. Many Conservatives have long aspired to use EU withdrawal as a Trojan Horse for a smaller state. Back in January, Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that Britain would change its "[economic] model" if the EU refused to grant the government's preferred deal. But after Hammond later ruled out "unfair competition in regulation and tax", Johnson has sought to claim this mantle. "It [Brexit] means simplifying regulation and cutting taxes wherever we can," the Foreign Secretary wrote. Before the EU referendum, Johnson's ally, International Development Secretary Priti Patel, declared: "If we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3bn boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs." But there is one decisive obstacle to this programme: parliament. Had the Conservatives won the large majority they expected, the possibility of a free market Brexit would remain. But without a majority at all, it is inconceivable. The Tories simply do not have the votes they need to slash taxes and regulation (there would be enough rebels to eradicate the government's slim working majority of 12). Britain will not become the Hong Kong of the West (the oft-cited Singapore is a hotbed of interventionism .) It was precisely for this reason that Hammond retreated in July. Though the hard Brexiteers blame the "soft" Chancellor for repudiating this path, the true blame lies with the voters. Had the Tories stood on the libertarian manifesto proposed by some, they would likely have fared worse, not better. As Labour's performance demonstrated, many voters crave a larger state. Indeed, if the government is ever to raise the revenue required to deliver £350m a week extra for the NHS (as promised by Johnson), it will need to increase, not reduce taxes (indeed, Labour has considered embracing the policy itself). Since the UK's net EU budget contribution was, in fact, £252m a week last year, the government could not meet the £18.2bn pledge simply by ceasing EU payments. Were Johnson, or another Tory, to soon replace May, the Conservatives could of course seek a new mandate from the electorate. But as long as the risk of allowing Labour into power remains, Tory MPs will not vote for an early contest. from just £1 per issue Most Popular More Related articles Close This week’s magazine Photo: Getty 3 November 2017 We need culture change to stop sexual harassment – that’s why we’ve started The Second Source Our support network will help make the media industry a better place for women. Sign up to the Staggers Morning Call email * By Hannah Riding Print HTML “A painful few weeks for women” is the phrase that keeps cropping up in opinion pieces since allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced in the New York Times . As more women have come forward, sharing their #MeToo stories and exposing abuse not only in the entertainment industry and the media but across the political spectrum, it has only become more painful, infuriating and exhausting. Most of us can recall at least one incident, ranging from serious assault to messages from a professional contact that the sender probably considered “flirty”. Such “misunderstandings” are easy to come by in journalism, where boundaries between professional and social are increasingly blurred, networking often takes place over a coffee or drinks, and the need to stay friendly with contacts makes those affected reluctant to confront or report. Whisper networks can help; warnings from other women can make sure you avoid last orders with a man who everyone knows will assume he’s going home with you. They provide a pressure valve for women to vent and a reassuring sense that, if this is happening to you, you are not alone. They help women to navigate the system a little more safely, but they don’t change it. This is the gap The Second Source was created to bridge; using the support of a women’s network and creating a means to take action. Co-Founder Rosamund Urwin explains: “This isn’t – as some have bizarrely framed it – a ‘witch hunt’. What we want is cultural change in our industry – and we hope this call will spread beyond the media to other workplaces too.” Not so much a whisper as a clarion call, the network of female journalists launched today and has significant cross-party support to push for change. This includes that of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who says: "I strongly support the women journalists who have come together to create The Second Source. We must do everything we can to ensure women are able to speak out and have their concerns properly investigated." The Second Source exists to listen to and support anyone in the industry who is experiencing harassment or is concerned about how to address inappropriate behaviour. Women dealing with harassment can feel isolated, especially when the power dynamic is not in their favour, and might feel there is nobody they can confide in. But it is more than that. Media organisations – and eventually all businesses – should have a robust harassment policy in place, one which addresses sexual and gender-based harassment specifically. The Second Source will encourage workplaces to consider their own practices and work with organisations who want to adopt a policy or improve their existing one. Employers need to make it clear that harassment isn’t tolerated, and that women (and men) who report will not be moved to another desk or let go while perpetrators are rewarded with more power and responsibility. Our free mailing list will carry details of the work being done and of upcoming events designed to facilitate women networking with each other, providing alternative sources of advice and mentorship so that one-on-one meetings where they don’t necessarily feel safe are not their only option. In addition to this the network will provide signposting to resources; legal, counselling and therapy and advice on supporting someone who is dealing with abuse. Conservative MP Anna Soubry and Labour MP Lucy Powell have both called for HR structures in Westminster to be revised on BBC Radio 4's Today this week, as MPs’ staff are directly employed by the MP and therefore would need to report harassment to the perpetrator themselves. Soubry points out that an MP directly employs four or five people and is responsible for resolving any HR issues that arise in their team, which cannot be “good or healthy”. Powell also supports establishing an independent body where people can report and seek advice on issues arising at work, where “they will be heard fairly and appropriately and will be treated anonymously”. This could also be rolled out to other professions where, she observes, the power imbalance created by high demand to enter the profession creates fertile ground for established members to take advantage of their juniors who are seeking progression. The problem of harassment is not confined to the media and politics, and won’t be solved in a few months. Cultures take time to change, but we owe it to those who have come forward to make sure it was worth it. Hannah Riding is a freelance writer and founding member of The Second Source. For further information on how The Second Source can help please visit www.thesecondsource.co.uk from just £1 per issue Most Popular

Revealed: how loopholes allowed pro-Brexit campaign to spend ‘as much as necessary to win’ | openDemocracy

Friday, November 3 2017

Revealed: how loopholes allowed pro-Brexit campaign to spend ‘as much as necessary to win’ | openDemocracy

Peter Geoghegan and Adam Ramsay 18 September 2017 New tranche of Electoral Commission emails show how Vote Leave gave a student £675,000 overnight – and the worrying implications for British democracy. Darren Grimes. Image, Channel4, fair use. Last year a young fashion student from County Durham called Darren Grimes registered a pro-Brexit social media campaign, aimed at persuading young people to vote to quit the EU. It was called BeLeave. At first, not many people noticed. In its first ten weeks, BeLeave raised the sum total of £107 for its activities. But in the ten days before the Brexit referendum, Darren Grimes spent more than £675,000 on a pro-Brexit social media campaign. Now, a string of emails released under Freedom of Information laws to WhatDoTheyKnow and seen by openDemocracy demonstrate the full scale of the loophole in Britain’s electoral rules which allowed Grimes and Vote Leave to spend this extraordinary sum – and the worrying implications it has for British democracy. By the usual measures, BeLeave wasn’t much of a social media success. Its launch met with the traditional fate of campaigns aimed too obviously at young people: it was briefly mocked on Twitter, and then ignored. To this day, it has a sum total of 4,139 followers on Twitter . Its Facebook page seems to have been taken down, but was reported on Buzzfeed to have reached fewer than 6,000 fans . We can’t find an Instagram account. Grimes is now deputy editor at BrexitCentral (who controversially got a press pass for the Westminster lobby recently.) Investigations by Buzzfeed, Private Eye and the Observer have all reported on the sudden and extraordinary £675,000 spent by BeLeave in the ten days before the referendum. But here’s another strange thing: Darren Grimes didn’t spend the money at all. All the donations to cover his bills were paid by the official Leave campaign, Vote Leave, directly to AggregateIQ, the controversial data analytics firm linked to Trump-backer Robert Mercer . The firm was used by a range of different Leave campaign groups, who between them paid £3.3m for its services during the referendum. All in this together? In internal emails the Electoral Commission describes Grimes’ spending as ‘unusual’ and also finds that he did break some of its rules. But the commission decided to take the matter no further as there was “no reasonable grounds” to believe that Vote Leave and Grimes had been working together, which would have more tightly limited how much they could spend under UK electoral law. The referendum saw a number of different groups register as campaigns on each side. These campaigns were given spending caps, designed to limit how much the rich can sway our democracy. If one campaign can simply get round its limit by donating to another on the same side, then the cap verges on meaningless. And so Electoral Commission rules are meant to restrict campaigns from getting round spend limits in this way. But legal experts and transparency advocates have questioned the Electoral Commission’s interpretation of these laws on campaigners working together, on the back of the revelations about Darren Grimes and Vote Leave. “In practice, if campaigner X is incurring bills in the knowledge that campaigner Y is going to pay those bills it is quite difficult to see that sensibly as anything but working together,” says Jolyon Maugham QC, one of Britain’s leading barristers . “I find it quite difficult to see how Vote Leave would have paid this student’s bills unless he was incurring expenditure that they were happy with and had been prepared to approve in advance." Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK said: “It is almost inconceivable that campaigners would donate to each other hundreds of thousands of pounds without some assurance or agreement as to what the money would be spent on. The idea that their use of the same principal service provider was somehow not co-ordinated but a mere co-incidence is as implausible as it is convenient for those campaigners investigated.” ‘Spend as much money as needed in order to win the referendum’ As a registered Leave campaigner, Grimes was allowed to spend up to £700,000 during the referendum. Earlier this year a Vote Leave source told a parliamentary committee that it had enlisted Mr Grimes’s BeLeave campaign because it was close to breaching its £7 million spending limit and wanted to ensure all the money it had been given would be used. Under UK electoral law, this is fine. The Electoral Commission has ruled that such donations are allowed – so long as there was no ‘plan or other arrangement’ between Darren Grimes and Vote Leave about how the money was spent. However, if there is coordination in how the money is used, UK electoral law requires campaigns to declare if they are working together. As the Electoral Commission guidance says “Working together means spending money as a result of a coordinated plan or arrangement between two or more campaigners.” If campaigns are working together, they have to declare expenditure together, and their combined spending counts towards the same cap. There were a number of controversies around joint working during the Brexit campaign. In February 2016, four months before the referendum, Steve Baker , the Conservative MP who used to chair the controversial European Research Group and is now a junior minister at the Department for Exiting the EU, told colleagues that Vote Leave could ‘create separate legal entities each of which could spend £700k: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.” A Vote Leave spokesman later had to clarify that “Steve would never encourage anyone to break the law”. (Baker subsequently received fundin g from the Constitutional Research Council, the secretive organisation that gave the DUP more than £425,000 for its Brexit campaign .) In August 2016, Darren Grimes reported his campaign spending to the Electoral Commission on behalf of BeLeave. Grimes told the Electoral Commission that his spending “was done in isolation of Vote Leave Ltd”. He also initially told the commission that Vote Leave and another pro-Brexit donor had given BeLeave the money in cash. However, the true story is in fact more surprising than that. Here’s £675,000 - without conditions As revealed above, Vote Leave didn’t actually give Grimes cash donations. Rather, Vote Leave paid the money directly to his sole ‘supplier’ AggregateIQ, a data analysis company linked to Trump-backer Robert Mercer that is based in small Canadian city, and which Vote Leave and other pro-Brexit campaigners spent more than £3.3m. Grimes also confirmed that another donation – £50,000 from Vote Leave donor Anthony Clarke – was actually paid directly to Aggregate IQ, too. Specifically, on June 13 2016, Vote Leave had paid Aggregate IQ £400,000 for social media work on BeLeave’s behalf. There followed another payment of £40,000 on June 20, and £185,315 on June 21, just 48 hours before the Brexit vote. Grimes told the Electoral Commission that although Vote Leave paid his bills with AggregateIQ, they did not dictate what the social media campaign looked like. “[M]y understanding is that Vote Leave did not buy advertising services to gift to BeLeave but discharged BeLeave’s debt to AIQ by a transfer of cash at our request. It was a not a condition of the donation either that the donation be spent on advertising – but that is what we wanted to do given the limited time left in the campaign period and the nature of our campaign,” Grimes wrote to the Electoral Commission, in one of the emails seen by openDemocracy. Grimes told the Electoral Commission that he had not co-ordinated with Vote Leave, although Vote Leave did directly pay AggregateIQ for social media on BeLeave’s behalf. “We didn’t discuss with Vote Leave how we would spend the money apart from telling them that it was for our digital campaign and that is why we asked for the money to be paid directly to the company were working with Aggregate IQ,” Grimes said. “Vote Leave had no say or input in our strategy or our campaign spending.” The Electoral Commission found that by registering these donations as cash Grimes had misreported on his return “due to lack of understanding”. However, the Electoral Commission decided that there were “no reasonable grounds” for suspecting that Vote Leave knew details of the social media campaign they were paying for on Darren Grimes’s behalf – knowledge which would have constituted ‘joint working’. Last September, the commission decided that a formal investigation was not in the public interest. On November 15, Buzzfeed journalist Jim Waterson wrote to the Electoral Commission asking if the commission was planning to investigate “potential co-ordination” between Vote Leave and Grimes’s campaigns. In response staff said they “found no evidence that Darren Grimes and Vote Leave worked together in a way that broke the law… based upon what you have told us, we are content that there is nothing in the information you have provided below that needs us to re-consider this decision.” In February 2017, the Electoral Commission launched an investigation into referendum spending by Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe .On the back of a series of articles, particularly by Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer, the Commission began looking at the role of AggregateIQ in the referendum campaign. The Electoral Commission wrote to Darren Grimes again, this time asking him to ‘please explain why you chose to commission AggregateIQ in particular to undertake the work you reported in your spending return, rather than another company.’ Replying on March 3, Grimes told the Electoral Commission that he decided to spend more than £675,000 with AggregateIQ after volunteering with Vote Leave and watching the US presidential election process. “I attended some Vote Leave Ltd events during the campaign as a volunteer activist and socialised with some members of staff. I asked and was told that AIQ (AggregateIQ) was running Vote Leave’s digital campaign and I also became aware that AIQ had worked on Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, that I was greatly impressed by. I was therefore confident that they could assist us in putting the proposed donation to effect in the time available,” Grimes said in emails to the Electoral Commission. Grimes told the Commission that before Vote Leave approached him, his BeLeave social media campaign had struggled for funding, and for traction. ‘Until Vote Leave Ltd made me aware that they were in a position to make a donation and asked if BeLeave was able to make use of it we had not been able to put any funds behind pushing our messaging despite previous requests for donations.” Writing in notably formal language, Grimes also reiterated that BeLeave had worked separately from Vote Leave. “Be Leave ran its own independent campaign from the outset and throughout, we did not take any instruction, collaborate with, or indeed discuss any aspect of our digital campaign, or our relationship with AIQ with anyone from Vote Leave Ltd, apart from the fact of the donation itself.” The Electoral Commission also asked AggregateIQ about Grimes’s spending. In March, AIQ president and CEO Zack Massingham told the Commission: “We did not discuss with Mr Grimes any of the work undertaken by AggregateIQ on behalf of Vote Leave Limited nor are we aware of any details being shared with Mr Grimes.” Massingham also told the Commission that he had no reason to believe that Vote Leave and BeLeave were “not separate and distinct”. The Electoral Commission subsequently decided not to launch a larger investigation into Grimes’s spending. A watchdog for our democracy? Vote Leave and Grimes have both consistently said that there there was no coordination between the two campaigns. But barrister Jolyon Maugham QC says the Election Commission needs to do more to investigate potential breaches and enforce its own rules. “I think the British public deserves better than this from the Electoral Commission. It is the watchdog of our democracy. A true watchdog stands sentient and courageous. This looks more like the yearning for a quiet life of an ageing Labrador,” says Maugham in a detailed blog post on the issue of joint working. Commenting on this story, Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK highlighted the role of dark money in the Brexit referendum. “Far from being the people’s plebiscite, the facts show the referendum campaigns were dominated by big money on either side of the debate. Our research found that over half of reported donations to referendum campaigners came from just ten people, with only a hundred donors accounting for almost all of the reported contributions that were made. “Our electoral law is of no use if it is not enforced in practice.” Darren Grimes has not responded to openDemocracy’s attempts to contact him about this affair. Vote Leave no longer exists, but its former staff haven’t responded to our attempts to contact them. The Electoral Commission chose not to comment. The full cache of Election Commission emails about AggregateIQ are available on The Ferret . About the authors Peter Geoghegan is an Irish writer and journalist based in Glasgow. His books include ‘A Difficult Difference: Race, Religion and the ‘new’ Northern Ireland’. Adam Ramsay is the Co-Editor of openDemocracyUK and also works with Bright Green . Before, he was a full time campaigner with People & Planet . You can follow him at @adamramsay . Related Articles

How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety

Friday, November 3 2017

How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety

October 2, 2017 5:00 AM 171009_r30680 Illustration by Stephen Doyle Twenty years ago, Carla Cohen fell mysteriously ill. She couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong; it felt as though some conspiracy between her mind and her body were eroding her capacity to work. Cohen, who was an entertainment executive in Los Angeles, woke up every morning feeling weak and foggy-brained, with a low-grade fever. Her doctors couldn’t make a diagnosis, and suggested antidepressants. “I said, ‘I’m not depressed!’ They just told me to go home and rest.” Disillusioned by Western medicine, Cohen began exploring other options. She studied with multiple healers and shamans; she read books with titles like “The Body Toxic” and pursued a massage-therapy license. As part of her training, she took a class on a massage technique called “raindrop therapy,” which incorporates essential oils—aromatic compounds made from plant material. At the time, essential oils were not well known, but Cohen was drawn to them right away. “From the very first moment with those oils, I noticed something was firing that hadn’t been firing,” she said. “I was deeply moved.” Today, Cohen puts frankincense oil on her scalp every morning; when she feels a cold coming on, she downs an immune-system-boosting oil blend that includes clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary. On days when she has to negotiate a contract on behalf of an organization that she volunteers for, she uses nutmeg and spearmint to sharpen her focus. She earns the majority of her income working as a distributor for Young Living, a leading vender of essential oils. Cohen is middle-aged, with a friendly, open face framed by graying curls. Though her house, in Long Beach, is full of New Age trappings—a statue of Ganesh, huge hunks of crystal—she speaks with the quick clip of someone who once gave a lot of corporate presentations. As we sat at her kitchen table, a glass globe puffed out clouds of tangerine-scented vapor. Cohen offered me a glass of water enhanced with a few drops of an essential-oil blend called Citrus Fresh. “It helps the body detox,” she said. “Not that you’re toxic.” The water was subtly tangy, like a La Croix without the fizz. Cohen went into her treatment room and came back with a small vial labelled “Clarity.” She put a few drops in my left palm. “This is good for getting your mind clear,” she said. “Rub it clockwise three times. That activates the electrical properties in the oil, and aligns your DNA.” Following Cohen’s instructions, I cupped my hands around my nose and inhaled deeply. The smell was heavier than that of perfume, so minty that it was almost medicinal. Cohen looked at me expectantly. “I feel perkier,” I ventured. At first, Cohen sold oils to friends and family; she also drummed up business at local yoga studios, and taught classes at a vintage-clothing store. Most of the people she met were unfamiliar with the product. “Oils were not on the radar,” she said. But, around seven years ago, when she signed up for a booth at a holistic health fair, she arrived to find someone else selling oils, too. She started seeing them mentioned in mainstream women’s magazines. Marie Claire advised rubbing a lavender-oil blend on your pulse points for sounder sleep; Elle suggested slathering your face with a frankincense-oil blend to keep your skin young. More people seemed open to hearing about the medicinal applications of oils as well. “My parents were very much believers in the idea that the doctors were God and the government protects you,” Cohen said. Now, it seemed, people were realizing that typical sources of care weren’t infallible. “We have amazing answers here,” Cohen told me. “Why not try it? What do you have to lose?” Essential oils have long been used to scent products and to flavor foods; Coca-Cola and Pepsi are among their major consumers. But these days, when people talk about essential oils, they’re likely referring to the little vials of liquid essence of lemon or tea tree that you can buy at grocery stores or yoga studios, or from a distributor like Carla Cohen. Oils are touted as something between a perfume and a potion, a substance that can keep you smelling nice while also providing physical and psychological benefits. They are often stocked on the same shelves as herbal remedies such as echinacea and St.-John’s-wort; big-box stores sell aromatherapy diffusers as an alternative to synthetic-smelling products like Febreze. The model Miranda Kerr used oils to help her get over her breakup with Orlando Bloom. The pop star Kesha tweeted that she starts off every day by sniffing essential oils: “They make me feel so peaceful.” Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan, unsurprisingly, but so are RuPaul, Alanis Morissette, and a trainer for the New York Knicks. Oils’ rising popularity is part of the contemporary appetite for wellness, an embrace of holistic healthy-living practices ranging from the low key (meditation) to the wacky (Brain Dust, a forty-dollar jar of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that promises to “align you with the cosmic flow for great achievement”). Wellness is often dismissed as frivolity, another way for wealthy white women to spend money and obsess about their bodies. But you’re just as likely to find essential oils in a small-town drugstore in the Midwest as in an organic market in L.A., and their appeal is often less about indulgence than about anxiety. “I am concerned about antibiotic resistance, emerging viruses, and the risks posed by chronic disease,” the herbalist Cat Ellis writes in her book “Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There Is No Doctor.” For many consumers, essential oils represent a purer and more ancient form of medicine, one with Biblical overtones—all those scriptural references to anointing—and none of the baggage of the contemporary health-care system. (Wellness-focussed Web sites are more likely to cite oils’ centuries of use in Ayurvedic medicine.) Like homeschooling, beekeeping, and canning, the use of essential oils crosses the political spectrum and speaks to a common desire for increased self-sufficiency—or, more darkly, a fear of imminent institutional collapse. Many of the products available from Goop, Paltrow’s posh wellness emporium, are also for sale on Infowars, Alex Jones’s alt-right conspiracy-theory Web site. Much of the oil sold in the United States comes from two companies based in Utah, Young Living and doTerra, both of which have claimed to be the largest seller of essential oils in the world. The two companies have more than three million customers apiece, and a billion dollars in annual sales. While there are cheaper oils—Walmart sells a kit of sixteen “therapeutic grade” essential oils for thirty dollars—Young Living and doTerra have built their brands on claims that they sell completely pure, naturally derived oils. “They have Skittles,” Kirk Jowers, a vice-president at doTerra, said. “We have the real fruit.” In June, I attended Young Living’s “Fulfill Your Destiny” convention for distributors, held at Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace event center. The company, which was founded in 1994, has grown tenfold in the past decade, and the hallways were packed with good-natured, heavily fragrant people heading to workshops with names such as “Yoga: A Business Tool” and “Essential Care for Animals.” They wore T-shirts that said “Essential Oils. Heck yeah” and “There’s an oil for that” and “I’m silently assessing your oil needs.” Never have I sneezed so much; never have I been blessed so enthusiastically when I sneezed. Young Living sells more than a hundred and fifty oils, and a section of the convention center featured samples of them. Some were familiar—oregano, eucalyptus—while others were proprietary blends meant to evoke different physical or spiritual states. Christmas Spirit “taps into the happiness, joy, and comfort associated with the holiday season”; Dragon Time promotes “feelings of stability and calm during cycles of moodiness.” It was early in the day, so I dabbed on a drop of Acceptance, and then some Highest Potential, for good measure. In between sessions, Laura Warford, a stay-at-home mom with a drawl and a shimmer of silver eyeshadow, told me that she had become involved in oils after her daughter, Emmy Grace, died from a heart defect when she was three days old. Warford came home from the hospital, her breasts still leaking milk, and tried to manage her grief while also taking care of her toddler son. Nights were the worst—she had a hard time falling asleep, and when she did she would wake up again minutes later with her mind racing. A friend recommended diffusing lavender oil. The effect was immediate: she felt calmer and was able to sleep through the night. Soon Warford began selling oils. She found a community of supportive friends through Young Living Facebook groups and shared her story with them. She got up every day by reminding herself that she was helping other people. “You can lose yourself outside of being Mommy,” she said. “I can be creative now. I can use my gifts that I didn’t even know I had before this. I can have adult conversations with people. I went from making zero dollars a month to over zero dollars a month. I got to come here because of Young Living’s paycheck. I bought my plane ticket and my convention pass with my money. That’s empowering. That feels good.” Both Young Living and doTerra follow a multilevel-marketing model. Distributors often buy products at wholesale prices and sell them at a retail markup, but the real money comes from recruiting other distributors into your “downline,” and getting a commission on their sales. Young Living divides its sales force into a complex hierarchy stratified partly by sales volume, ranging from Distributor (the lowest level, comprising ninety-four per cent of members) to Royal Crown Diamond (less than one-tenth of one per cent). “Young Living is freedom—spiritual freedom, relationship freedom, incredible financial freedom,” a Diamond-level distributor said at a Young Living panel. (Diamond-level distributors earn a median monthly income of thirty-two thousand dollars.) She told the audience that she had built her oils business while working up to sixty hours a week as a television anchor and homeschooling her special-needs child. “There is nothing holding you back but yourself. We all have the same oils, we all have the same twenty-four hours in the day. The only ones that don’t make it to Diamond are the ones that give up. Anybody in this room can do it,” she said, to huge cheers. On another panel, the featured speaker was a tan woman in a white dress and strappy gold sandals. “As a Royal Crown Diamond, I work only four hours a day. I have a personal chef—my chef is right here,” she said, pointing into the audience. “And I am so blessed. That’s what happens when you get to this level. You get blessed with these things. When I wake up, I don’t look at the Internet. I go outside. I swim every day. I didn’t always have that luxury. But as you advance you get to treat yourself.” Multilevel-marketing companies such as Amway and Mary Kay have long sold people—primarily women—the idea of building a business by working their social connections. A decade ago, that happened through hosting parties or classes; these days, the chatty, relationship-based sales pressure favored by the companies takes place largely on social media, and the industry is attracting a greater share of young people. In recent years, a number of multilevel-marketing companies that target millennials have cropped up, selling everything from leggings (LuLaRoe) to jewelry (Stella & Dot). Marketing pros advise newcomers to “friend” strangers, reach out to acquaintances from high school, and post daily selfies of themselves enjoying the products they sell. (The onslaught of relentlessly sunny product-pushing posts has also led to a backlash, including memes on Facebook and Pinterest: “Someone needs to create a new essential oil called ‘Leave Me the Hell Alone.’ ”) Though the medium may have changed, the sell remains the same—becoming a distributor is a path to independence, flexibility, and “abundance,” the industry’s favorite euphemism for money. The reality for most recruits is quite different. Multilevel-marketing companies are structured in such a way that a large base of distributors generally spend more than they make, while a small number on top reap most of the benefits. It is often expensive to invest in an initial stock of products, as well as to make required minimum monthly purchases—around a hundred dollars for Young Living members who want to receive a commission check. According to a public income statement, more than ninety-four per cent of Young Living’s two million active members made less than a dollar in 2016, while less than one-tenth of one per cent—that is, about a thousand Royal Crown Diamonds—earned more than a million dollars. Everyone in the industry studiously avoids any comparison to pyramid schemes, which are illegal, but the structural similarities are hard to ignore. “You have the two legs of your pyramid,” a doTerra employee told me, as she explained the company’s compensation structure. “I mean, not a pyramid , but, you know, it has a triangular shape.” Despite the workshops on marketing and business-building at the Young Living conference, the subject of money felt vaguely taboo. “I don’t feel like I’m selling, I feel like I’m sharing,” a Canadian distributor told me, a sentiment I heard over and over again. “What’s different with this company is the heart motive.” Turnover is notoriously high in the multilevel-marketing world, but many distributors who don’t make a substantial income nonetheless stick with it, in part because the benefits are more than just monetary. Distributors, many of whom are stay-at-home mothers, find social connections and creative outlets through their oil business. “Some months, I think she spends more than she makes,” the daughter of a Young Living distributor told me. “We moved around a lot, that was hard for her. She’s made a lot of friends through it. She’s happy.” In 2000, Michael Pratt, a professor of management at Boston College, conducted an ethnographic study of Amway distributors. He concluded that the company offered few of the benefits that traditionally inspired loyalty. Its workforce was geographically diffuse; workers had inconsistent income, no benefits, and little job security. What held Amway together was its ability to foster strong feelings of identification, and to get its members to see the company as the embodiment of an idealized life. Young Living’s affection for abstract nouns—purity, abundance, wellness, vitality—helps to define a shared culture that prizes freedom, family, and self-sufficiency, and is suspicious of regulation and Big Pharma. All the ancillary swag for sale at the conference—the T-shirts and bumper stickers and magnets—helped to transmit the message that Young Living’s distributors were not just people who sold oils; they were oil people . Gary Young, the founder of Young Living, made his first appearance at the convention by riding into the arena on a sled pulled by a team of huskies. (Last year, he flew in on a zip line.) An annual highlight is the announcement of a new oil blend. This year’s concoction, Fulfill Your Destiny, was available to distributors for thirty-four dollars for five millilitres and included black pepper, blue spruce, and frankincense, “which opens up your pineal gland,” Young said from the stage. Young is a tall, lean man in his late sixties with a handsome lined face and a penchant for cowboy hats. His origin story is a key part of Young Living lore: how he grew up in Idaho in a cabin with a dirt roof and no running water; how, in his early twenties, he was working as a logger when a tree fell on him, fracturing his skull, rupturing his spinal cord, and breaking nineteen of his bones; how, once he woke up from the coma, doctors told him that he would never walk again. After two suicide attempts, he decided to drink nothing but water and lemon juice. After two hundred and fifty-three days, he regained feeling in his toes. “That he walks today is a miracle that defies his medical prognosis,” according to his biography, “D. Gary Young: The World Leader in Essential Oils,” which was written by his wife and published by Young Living. Young’s recovery spurred his immersion in alternative medicine. In 1982, he opened a health center in Spokane, Washington, that included birthing services. One of the babies he attempted to deliver, his own daughter, died after spending an hour underwater in a whirlpool bath. The death was ruled an accident, but the county coroner said that the baby would likely have lived if she had been delivered under conventional conditions. The following year, Young said in the presence of undercover detectives that he could detect cancer with a blood test; he was arrested for practicing medicine without a license and, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review , pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. Around the same time, Young opened a clinic in Tijuana. John Hurst, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times , submitted a blood sample, posing as a patient, and was told that it showed signs of aggressive cancer and liver dysfunction. A “health educator” suggested that Hurst undergo the clinic’s two-thousand-dollar-a-week detox program. When Hurst revealed that the blood sample had come from a cat—“a healthy 7-year-old, 20-pound tabby cat named Boomer”—she replied that the cat was “not healthy” and “probably has leukemia.” (It did not.) After meeting a French lavender distiller and grower at a Whole Life expo in California, Young became fascinated by the medicinal properties of essential oils. In the early nineties, he travelled to France to study distillation methods. He bought a hundred and sixty acres of farmland in Idaho and planted peppermint, tansy, and lavender. In 1994, he married his third wife, Mary, a trained opera singer and a driven businesswoman. The couple renovated a run-down building in Riverton, Utah, to use as the headquarters of Young Living Essential Oils; Young mixed his Abundance oil blend into the paint he used on the walls. In 2000, Young opened the Young Life Research Clinic, in Springville, Utah, which administered essential oils and other alternative therapies to patients with heart disease, depression, and cancer, among other conditions. The clinic employed a pediatrician named Sherman Johnson, who had recently had his medical license reinstated. About a decade earlier, Johnson had been investigated by the state medical board after a woman had died while he was treating her for cancer. According to the Salt Lake Tribune , after a nurse raised questions about the woman’s death, the body was exhumed. In a subsequent probe, it was determined that she had had multiple-personality disorder but not cancer; that Johnson had believed her story that she had been injected with cancer by a group of witches and gay doctors; and that she had died from an overdose of Demerol, administered by Johnson. Johnson pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In 2005, the Young Life clinic settled a lawsuit with a patient who claimed that infusions of Vitamin C had caused renal failure, almost killing her. Young closed the Utah clinic and opened one in Ecuador. As Young Living grew, former employees told me, reining in Young’s spending became an issue. At the company’s showcase farm, in Mona, Utah, Young built replicas of a Wild West town and a medieval castle. As “Sir Gary,” he hosted tournaments, in which he donned a suit of armor and competed in jousting events. He had plans drawn up for a two-hundred-and-fifty-million-dollar theme park, Mount Youngmore, which would feature jousting, a five-star hotel, and a mountain with Young’s face etched on it. (Young has denied this.) “It was just crazy what they were trying to build out there,” David Stirling, then Young Living’s chief operating officer, told me. Stirling said he was also alarmed by a video he saw of Young, whose only medical degree is a doctorate in naturopathy from an unaccredited school, performing gallbladder surgery and giving essential oils intravenously at the clinic in Ecuador. Stirling attempted to shift Young Living’s focus away from Young to the oils, but he met with resistance from Young—and also from many distributors, who felt a deep loyalty to Gary and Mary. Young eventually fired Stirling, citing, among other reasons, the fact that Stirling kept Young out of the company magazine. (A spokesperson said he was let go for “performance reasons.”) “Satan exercised dominion over you to the point where you started thinking that you had knowledge and ability greater than anyone else, including me, the creator of the company,” Young wrote in an e-mail. Young declined to speak to me, but the spokesperson said, “Successful company founders are often cut from a different cloth than the rest of us, which is true of Gary Young and his pioneering cowboy spirit.” In April, 2008, Stirling and several other former Young Living executives founded doTerra. Their goal was to make essential oils more appealing to a general audience. “At Young Living, we sold to a lot of Reiki masters,” Emily Wright, one of doTerra’s co-founders and Mary Young’s former personal assistant, said. “When we started doTerra, we really wanted to focus on mothers, to teach them to be empowered to take care of their families. We took essential oils out of this weird healers’ niche and into the mainstream.” At first, doTerra’s distributors, whom it refers to as Wellness Advocates, were largely concentrated in Utah. Several doTerra executives are Mormons, and the company’s connection to the Church was an advantage, because distributors could rely on its large number of stay-at-home mothers and its naturally networked communities. Utah has more multilevel-marketing companies per capita than any other state; direct sales are Utah’s second-biggest source of revenue, after tourism. The Mormon Church also has a long-standing mistrust of federal oversight, which has made Utah a friendly home for businesses that operate outside medical norms. Attempts to regulate these industries are often portrayed as threats to individual freedom. In the nineties, during a battle over the regulation of dietary supplements, vitamin advocates paid for a TV ad starring a bewildered, bathrobed Mel Gibson, accosted in his kitchen by a SWAT team for having a bottle of vitamins. More recently, parents have begun refusing in large numbers to vaccinate their children; in Utah County, the hub of the state’s alternative-health industry, forty-three per cent of kindergartners have not received their full suite of vaccinations. DoTerra positions itself as friendly and transparent, selling oils as something between a home remedy and a craft project. The company’s social-media posts encourage a D.I.Y. approach to health: “Rosemary supports healthy digestion and internal organ function. Next time you’re creating a pizza masterpiece, add a drop of Rosemary to gain these benefits!” One of its best-sellers is a kit called Family Essentials, which includes lavender (“take internally to reduce anxious feelings”) and lemon (“to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces”). Where Young Living had emphasized oils’ mystic qualities, with talk of energy fields and harmonic frequencies, doTerra’s marketing made oils seem like a normal part of any family’s medicine cabinet. The company’s friendly tone and Pinterest-ready suggestions were soon the dominant mode for spreading the message about oils. Today, Young Living’s and doTerra’s social-media posts are virtually indistinguishable; both feature empowering slogans (“You are beautiful, inside and out”; “You’re like really pretty”), flower petals, and smiling babies. By 2012, doTerra had pulled even with Young Living in terms of total revenue and number of distributors; a market-research group called doTerra “singularly responsible” for the industry’s rapid expansion. That year, Young Living sued doTerra for three hundred and fifty million dollars, alleging, among other things, that the company’s founders had stolen trade secrets and poached Young Living distributors. At the end of 2015, doTerra claimed that it had surpassed a billion dollars in sales; the following February, Young Living said that it had, too. The court case dragged on for five years, concluding with a civil jury trial this spring. On the second day of the trial, the smells of oils in the courtroom “gave me a bit of a headache and even a stomach ache,” the judge said. “I hope we can keep down on the aromatherapy.” In June, a jury dismissed all charges against doTerra and its executives. During the final week of the trial, I toured doTerra’s headquarters, in Pleasant Grove, Utah. An employee led me through an air-conditioned warehouse full of fifty-gallon barrels of oils with labels identifying their origins: frankincense from Oman; lavender from Bulgaria. Essential oils, which are made by steam-distilling or cold-pressing plant material, are incredibly resource-intensive to produce. It takes more than a million rose petals to make an ounce of rose oil, which doTerra says is good for the complexion. A single barrel of frankincense oil is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The rose oil is so valuable that it was locked in a separate area. As oils have become more popular, sourcing has become contentious. Frankincense, coveted both for its alleged ability to regenerate cells and for its Biblical prominence, is derived from the resin of trees that grow only in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. Anjanette DeCarlo, an environmental scientist who specializes in frankincense, told me, “If the demand keeps up without proper controls, we risk causing an ecological crash of a rare and endangered ecosystem.” Young Living recently pleaded guilty to illegally trafficking in rosewood oil from Peru, which considers rosewood trees a threatened species. Companies in the fragrance and food industries regularly supplement naturally derived oils with synthetic molecules, yielding cheaper products and greater consistency. “An oil that is synthetic in its chemistry won’t work the same way,” David Hill, an avuncular chiropractor who was formerly the director of Gary Young’s Utah clinic and is now doTerra’s chief medical officer, told me. Last year, a former Young Living distributor named Miles Jordens crowdsourced the funds to have several companies’ oils analyzed by an independent lab. He found that two of Young Living’s oils contained synthetic adulterants. “When you start to see the amount of plant material required to produce oils, and when you have millions of people ordering—I just question how the demand can be met without possibly cutting corners,” Jordens told me. A Young Living spokesperson said that the company tested its oils in independent labs and found no evidence of adulteration. Representatives of both doTerra and Young Living like to highlight the medical benefits of their products. “There are literally thousands of studies on the benefits of essential oils,” Hill said. In fact, there have been very few large-scale, peer-reviewed studies of essential oils’ use on humans, and their conclusions have been relatively modest. It appears that lavender may improve sleep quality and duration, and that peppermint may reduce symptoms of headache and irritable-bowel syndrome. Many more studies have looked at oils’ impact on cell cultures in a lab, sometimes with encouraging results. Some oils have been shown to have antimicrobial effects, and to work synergistically with antibiotics. But the conclusions reached by scientists are beside the point for many consumers. “I’ll use my wife as an example,” Hill said. “She’s not going to be able to tell you the first thing about chemistry. Put a research paper in front of her—zero interest. And that’s probably how most people are. What’s real to them is the experience they’re having.” The Food and Drug Administration is charged with preventing sellers of alternative-health products from making unfounded medical claims. Without ample independent testing, companies can’t assert that their products prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure disease. They get around this by relying on abstract words like “vitality” and “balance,” and by talking in vague terms about general body systems or mild issues that don’t rise to the level of disease. Young Living and doTerra have attorneys on staff to insure that product descriptions are within legal bounds. It’s much harder to police the millions of independent distributors. In September, 2014, the F.D.A. sent a sternly worded letter to doTerra, scolding the company for distributors’ claims about oils and conditions including cancer, brain injury, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and A.D.H.D. The agency cited a tweet by a doTerra consultant using the handle Mrs. Skinny Medic that listed “oils that could help prevent your contracting the Ebola virus,” and a Pinterest post by Wellness Empress that recommended peppermint oil for asthma, autism, bacterial infections, and brain injury. (Young Living received a similar letter.) A few weeks later, federal agents appeared at doTerra’s Utah headquarters, and began examining the company’s files. “It’s always fun when the F.D.A. shows up on your doorstep,” Hill said. “And they walk into your office and say things like ‘Dr. Hill, you are personally culpable for every single person using these oils.’ These were scary moments.” DoTerra instituted a fifty-person compliance team to scour social-media posts, looking for noncompliant language, and hosted weekly conference calls, helping distributors translate their stories into acceptable language. “We have a whole team using very sophisticated software, whose whole job is to systematically go through and look for potential claims, like ‘frankincense and cancer,’ or ‘doTerra lavender Ambien,’ ” Kirk Jowers, the doTerra vice-president, told me. “Anything suspect that goes up, we try to get it down within twenty-four hours, and we’re very effective.” But although doTerra supplies educational materials to its Wellness Advocates, there are no requirements that they review or distribute them. “The multilevels have the whole aromatherapy community worried,” Peter Holmes, the author of the textbook “Aromatica,” told me. Both doTerra and Young Living encourage consumers to drink certain oils, a position that’s controversial even among alternative-health practitioners. Holmes said that, while he is unaware of the practices of specific companies, “You hear about completely untrained housewives telling people to ingest up to fifty drops. That is sheer insanity. That is medically dangerous. It’s a crazy situation.” This May, a doTerra representative named Lara held an Essential Oils 101 class at a barbecue restaurant in Waco, Texas. The wood-panelled room had paintings of trains on one wall and of hunting dogs on another. Lara, a bright-eyed woman in chunky jewelry, introduced herself as “the crazy oil lady.” She was in the midst of a doTerra leadership-training program that brought her to a handful of states to lecture about oils. She told the dozen people assembled that she had become interested in oils a few years ago, when her three-year-old son started showing symptoms of autism after receiving the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. “My pediatrician had no help for me,” she said. But diffusing oils made her son as “calm as a kitten.” After a few years of treatment with oils, she said, he is on track developmentally. Lara distributed a handout that listed various ailments and their oil treatments: eucalyptus for bronchitis, lavender for third-degree burns, cypress for mononucleosis, rosemary for respiratory syncytial virus. Diffusion “kills microorganisms in the air which helps stop the spread of sickness,” the pamphlet read. Oils “repair our bodies at a cellular level so when you are not sure which oils to use, don’t be afraid to use several oils and the body will gain a myriad of benefits.” Lara told the people in the room that doTerra had oils that were “very antiviral” and could knock out bronchitis in twenty-four hours. She shared essential-oil success stories—her migraines gone, her friend’s rheumatoid arthritis reversing, a colleague’s mother’s cancer in remission. A blond woman at the back of the room raised her hand. “Cancer?” she said, sounding both skeptical and hopeful. She explained that her sister-in-law had recently been treated for breast cancer, and was taking a pill to prevent its recurrence, but the side effects were terrible. The blond woman was hoping for a more natural solution. “There is an oil for that,” Lara said cautiously. “There is some research. It is an option. It would not have those side effects.” A young man in an orange shirt identified himself as having autism and Tourette’s syndrome. Lara passed him a vial of vetiver. He held the bottle up to his nose and inhaled deeply. “Am I supposed to get chills?” he said. “I’m getting chills.” I thought of a book I’d recently read, “The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest in Molecules.” In it, David Stewart, an aromatherapist affiliated with Young Living, writes that essential oils have a divine intelligence and discernment that allows them to heal without harming, to provide our cells with exactly what we need and nothing we don’t. “The molecules of a therapeutic grade essential oil form a harmonious, coherent, functional family designed and intended to serve us and heal us according to the highest will of their creator and our creator who is one and the same—God,” Stewart writes. The idea could give anyone chills: a better kind of medicine, one that’s pure and uncompromised, derived from nature, sold to you by a friend. A small bottle full of all the good things and none of the bad. ♦ Twenty years ago, Carla Cohen fell mysteriously ill. She couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong; it felt as though some conspiracy between her mind and her body were eroding her capacity to work. Cohen, who was an entertainment executive in Los Angeles, woke up every morning feeling weak and foggy-brained, with a low-grade fever. Her doctors couldn’t make a diagnosis, and suggested antidepressants. “I said, ‘I’m not depressed!’ They just told me to go home and rest.” You have reached your {{exceededMeter.max}} free articles this month.

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Saturday, November 4 2017

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Kitty Roo You act like women are saints who never abuse. They do, but they do it differently to men. Women don't have the power to over ride and abuse men en masse. If they could, they would. As that is human nature - to control. Women tend to abuse family members especially children. Most child abuse is committed by mothers but, sssh, the media doesn't want you to know that as the man (father) is the designated boogie man. breakingthescience.org/SimplifiedDataFromDHHS.php

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Saturday, November 4 2017

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

The police saw no marks or they would have pressed charges. The marks she had on her face were gone in 24 hrs they should not have been. So it is wrong to taint his image for something there is no proof of

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Saturday, November 4 2017

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Kitty Roo. Can't name any famous women in this regard, however in everday life women and men, (mothers and fathers) perpetrate abuse in the home towards their children. And not just as a one-off, but in a 'serial' manner. Also, women that encourage their daughters to have FGM and women who sell their children into slavery. There are children suffering all around the world and it is not always at the hands of men but the common narrative frames men as dangerous / unfeeling and women as caring / safe.

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Saturday, November 4 2017

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Please leave feminism out of this debate feminists have a role to play in making this a more humane world....you didn't like it when she lumped all men into one category, did you?

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Saturday, November 4 2017

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Exactly what I thought after watching the video. It looked like she was trying to set him up.

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Saturday, November 4 2017

In Post-Weinstein Hollywood, The Celebration Of Johnny Depp Is Increasingly Hard To Bear

Utter rubbish! Your attempt to smeer JD by invoking HW's name is very obvious and despicable. There are vast difference between these two characters. One was going through a horrendous divorce and the other was a serial sexual predator as attested to by many many many witnesses. I'm not a big fan of JD or most of his recent movies, but even I could see that AH was blatantly trying to tarnish his name and reputation in the court of public opinion as she knew her false claims would not stand up to legal scrutiny in court. The police found no crimes commited. So she went to the rags and the evidence she provided to them could not stand up to public scrutiny either. They were proven to be fake and or doctored e.g. the infamous moving bruises. Unfortunately for her we saw through the bs and greed then she tried to backtrack by handing over her divorce settlement to charity and made sure the rags heard about it. It meant nothing as we already saw her true colours. Not one objective person supported her claims. Not one person came forward to claim any form of abuse by JD. In fact his exes came out to defend him. If you don't like JD fine. There are plenty of actors I can't stand, but I don't go out and try and tarnish their reputation or get others to dislike them like I do.