'Disappointing, Backwards Step': Critics Blast U.S. Exit From Global Oil, Gas Anti-Corruption Effort
The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international anti-corruption initiative that requires member nations to report their oil, gas and mineral revenues, and for such extractive companies to report payments made to obtain these publicly owned natural resources.
The EITI Standard is implemented in about 50 countries around the world and provides the public information about how much government leaders receive in taxes, royalties and lease payments from such natural resource companies, as Bloomberg explained. For instance, this information would help ensure that revenue goes towards building or fixing roads and schools, rather than hiding away in foreign bank accounts.
“This is a disappointing, backwards step," EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt said. “The EITI is making important gains in global efforts to address corruption and illicit financial flows. Our work supports efforts to combat transnational crime and terrorist financing. It's important that resource-rich countries like the United States lead by example. This decision sends the wrong signal."
Gregory J. Gould, the director of the U.S. Office of Natural Resources Revenue, sent a letter to the EITI board on Thursday saying the decision was “effective immediately."
“It is clear that domestic implementation of EITI does not fully account for the U.S. legal framework," Gould wrote.
US pulls out of #EITI implementation. EITI Chair Reinfeldt: "This is a disappointing, backwards step." See more: https://t.co/FrJ4DDHaHD— EITI International (@EITI International)1509637844.0
Bloomberg reported that the withdrawal comes after the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. lobbied against a similar regulation compelling U.S. energy and mining companies to disclose those payments, which President Donald Trump rolled back earlier this year.
"It's pretty disgraceful for the United States," Jana Morgan, director of Publish What You Pay, a coalition that urges financial transparency in the extractive industry, told Bloomberg. "Chinese state-owned oil companies and Russian state-owned oil companies" are disclosing payments.
"So you literally have American companies that are less transparent than Russian and Chinese state-owned enterprises," she said.
Democrats also criticized the decision. The Hill reported that the U.S. joined the agreement in 2011 after a joint effort from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).
In a joint statement, the Senators called the move an example of “Big Oil and Gas' money and influence" and “a painful abdication of American leadership on transparency and good governance."
Disturbing that @Interior is withdrawing from oil/gas transparency initiative #EITI. We should be embracing, not ab… https://t.co/IJdcxVvVOu— Senator Ben Cardin (@Senator Ben Cardin)1509639422.0
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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