Ryan here. In case you don’t know who I am, I’m the founder of this hugely popular and culturally significant website Underground Newswire. I am also the Managing editor over at Stillness in the Storm and cofounder/cohost at Vigilant News.
On top of running 2 websites, writing up show notes and filming vigilant news, cold calling congressional candidates for interviews, trying to get a nonprofit up and running, and attending events across the country, I’ve now taken on a side gig writing scripts for an upcoming TV series.
The scriptwriting deal is going to fund the Vigilant News website (which is looking sexy and will be going live in a matter of weeks) and the creation of another show (to be named) which will be more goofy and fun although still informative. All that being said, it is extremely time-consuming writing an entire season of a show with a rapidly approaching deadline, and on top of that, we’ll be in Myrtle Beach with the People’s General Michael Flynn, Clay Clark, Kash Patel, and others between now and the deadline.
So, it pains me to say this, but the Underground Newswire will be on hold until this storm of time-consuming projects and events blows over. Not only that, but Vigilant News will be going down to 2 shows a week TEMPORARILY.
If all goes well we will be back in full swing by mid-June. Of course, if something insane happens between now and then (which seems highly likely considering all of the things happening presently ) then I’ll pop in and make some posts, OR you can check Stillness in the Storm, which will be chugging along unhindered through all of this.
In the meantime, you can still catch Vigilant News over @ Rumble until the website’s finished.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been a great amount of misinformation coming from Russia, Ukraine, US, and Western media. It is difficult to unwind what is true and what is not. But one thing we know – the ‘Ghose of Ukraine’ didn’t recently die. We know this because he never lived.
We’ve seen great thinkers like Adam Kinzinger get embarrassed by the information coming out of Ukraine. Kinzinger was fooled into believing that the name of the ‘Ghost of Ukraine’ was revealed and it was none other than Samuyil Hyde (an Internet meme).
Kissinger famously fell for an internet prank back in February.
But the real problem with Kinzinger’s identification of the Ghost of Ukraine, is that this fearless fighter is not real. Kinzinger was fooled here as well. The Gateway Pundit identified parts of the imagery used in this story were from a 2019 article published in Ukraine at Censor.net. Other parts of the imagery come from a video game.
But the story of the Ghost of Ukraine lives on.
Sadly, the Ghost of Kiev reportedly died in March. The London Times reported that Major Stepan Tarabalka died in March during a dog fight with Russians. Daily Caller reported:
After the American public spent more than five long years being relentlessly assailed with the narrative that Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign [and it’s subsequent presidency] was compromised by Russian agents, not only has the truth emerged about the vicious dirty trick operation launched by the Hillary Clinton team, the September 2020 declassification of CIA briefing notes created in July of 2016 raised very real questions about which campaign it actually was that had Russian agents embedded within it.
But none of those questions were even asked, much less answered at the time by the mainstream press or anyone in either party in Washington DC.
I have been asking the pertinent questions ever since former CIA Director John Brennan’s briefing notes were declassified and publicly released by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. I wrote entire columns about the issue, both at The Epoch Times and at Uncover DC.
Now, if you haven’t heard about the Brennan briefing notes, what was in them, who he briefed and when, you’re probably not going to believe it at first when I lay this out, but this is all verified with evidence. It’s not speculation or wish-casting.
For dramatic effect, I’m going to go over the boring version of the timeline that leaves out just one crucial detail. When the briefing notes have been covered in the news media, this is the version everybody sees:
On July 26, 2016, a strategy meeting of the top level of the Hillary Clinton for President campaign took place.
During that strategy meeting, Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor presented her with a plan for her approval.
The plan involved paying political operatives in the campaign’s employ to manufacture fake Trump/Russia collusion scandals in order to distract the American public from her ongoing email server scandal.
After having the plan explained to her, Hillary Clinton gave her approval
The CIA soon learned about this top-level Clinton campaign strategy meeting, and CIA Director John Brennan went to the White House to brief President Obama and several members of the National Security Counsel about both the plan to vilify President Trump with fake Russian scandals and Clinton’s approval of the plan.
More than a month later, the CIA sent an investigative referral to the FBI about the Russian intelligence analysis to James Comey and Peter Strzok.
OK now I’m going go through that same timeline again. See if you **spot** what I added in.
On July 26, 2016, a strategy meeting of the top level of the Hillary Clinton for President campaign took place.
During that strategy meeting, Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor presented her with a plan he and others had come up with for her approval.
The plan involved paying political operatives in the campaign’s employ to manufacture fake Trump/Russia collusion scandals in order to distract the American public from her ongoing email server scandal.
After having the plan explained to her, Hillary Clinton gave her approval.
Russian intelligence agents very quickly learned what was discussed at this Clinton campaign strategy meeting, and created their own intelligence analysis of the meeting.
The CIA soon learned about this top-level Clinton campaign strategy meeting when it intercepted the Russian intelligence analysis, and CIA Director John Brennan went to the White House to brief President Obama and several members of the National Security Counsel about both the plan to vilify President Trump with fake Russian scandals and Clinton’s approval of the plan
I said none of that above is speculation. I’m going to show you the documentation that supports the claims. You’ll see every one of the 6 points above is supported with documentary evidence.
The Brennan handwritten notes from his briefing with President Obama and members of the NSC at the White House either very late in July 2016 or early August 2016:
The September 2020 investigative referral that the CIA sent to the FBI:
The Ratcliffe letter to Congress in September of 2020 announcing the declassification of both Brennan’s briefing notes and the CIA investigative referral:
Ratcliffe’s letter to the US Congress that accompanied the declassified documents when they were made public:
As you can see, all six points in the timeline are fully supported by the documentation that was declassified, even down to the fact it was Hillary Clinton’s chief foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan that presented her with the plan to target Trump with fake Russia scandals.
How Did The Russians Find Out So Fast?
The one thing **everybody avoids discussing** for the past two years is exactly how Russian intelligence agents were able to so quickly create a detailed analysis of this key Clinton campaign strategy meeting where the dirty trick operation targeting Trump with fake Russia scandals was presented to her and she approved it.
The one question nobody dares ask is: how did the Russians find out almost instantly what was discussed at this meeting and get an analysis of it created, which allowed the CIA to intercept it and then quickly go brief Obama and members of his NSC about it?
IF that Russian intelligence analysis was real, then that means the Hillary Clinton for President campaign either had a Russian agent embedded at a high level or someone at the highest level of the campaign was unwittingly handing the details to a Russian agent.
“That’s Just More Russian Disinformation!”
The one objection that’s going to be immediately raised when this question comes up of how Russian intelligence got this info so quickly is that the intelligence analysis the CIA intercepted was just Russian propaganda; it wasn’t real. The Hillary Clinton campaign never held a strategy meeting in July of 2016 where Jake Sullivan presented her with a plan to vilify Trump by manufacturing fake Russia scandals. It never happened.
The problem with this objection is that Brennan and the CIA took the Russian intelligence analysis they’d intercepted so seriously that Brennan went to the White House to brief the President and the NSC about it.
And then more than a month later, in September the CIA was still taking the Russian analysis seriously when they sent the investigative referral to both then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok.
While two years ago back in September/October of 2020 it was pretty darn easy to dismiss the new declassification as just ‘Russian disinformation’, a whole lot more evidence has surfaced since then about the fact that the Clinton campaign did indeed launch a dirty trick operation that targeted the Trump campaign with fake Russia scandals.
If the Russian intel analysis that the CIA intercepted and briefed Obama about is fake, it just so happens it was an amazingly accurate fake.
Two years ago several key facts about the manufacture of the fake Steele Dossier and Alfa Bank hoaxes by Clinton’s private operatives had not yet been made public. For that reason the mainstream press had to expend little effort in simply dismissing the Ratcliffe declassification as ‘mere Russian disinformation’.
John Brennan himself, when braced with the implications of his own briefing notes in October of 2020, had this to say to Jake Tapper on CNN:
So when asked about these notes and what they say, Brennan obfuscates and lies about his own briefing notes.
The CIA intercepted a Russian intelligence analysis of a very key top level Clinton campaign strategy meeting in which her top foreign policy advisor presented her with a plan to vilify Trump with fake Russia scandals as a way to distract the public from her own email server scandal. And Clinton approved the plan. THIS IS WHAT BRENNAN’S OWN NOTES SAY.
What the former CIA Director artfully dodges in this video above is the real reason the CIA sent an investigative referral to the FBI: they wanted to know who at the very top of the Clinton campaign was either a Russian agent or blabbing details to a Russian agent.
People miss the mark when they think what the CIA was asking the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division to do was to investigate to see if Hillary Clinton’s campaign had indeed approved and launched a dirty trick operation targeting Donald Trump. NOTHING ABOUT THAT HAS TO DO WITH COUNTERINTELLIGENCE.
No, what then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok were being asked to investigate and find out was **who in the Clinton campaign was compromised by Russia**. THAT is the kind of thing a counterintelligence investigation looks into.
How did a foreign intelligence service get all the details of this Clinton meeting?
And I watched 2 years ago as nobody cared to even ask these questions, much less answer them.
But I have hope that someday these important questions will be addressed. Because I suspect Special Counsel John Durham is very interested in how Russian intelligence so quickly got an analysis of the meeting.
I believe Durham’s very interested in anything having to do with the Clinton dirty trick campaign targeting Trump for fake Russia scandals, and that would include how Brennan came to the White House in mid-2016 to brief both President Obama and key members of the NSC about it.
It is **extremely likely** that current President Joe Biden was in the room when CIA Director Brennan briefed Obama and other NSC members in mid-2016 about the coming Trump/Russia hoaxes that the Clinton campaign was preparing to release.
They all knew. By mid-2016. Long before any FISA warrant application was presented to spy on Carter Page.
They all knew, nobody was fooled by the Clinton private operatives coming to them with the Steele Dossier hoax or the Alfa Bank hoax.
And they played along anyway and pretended they didn’t know anything at all about a dirty trick campaign using paid operatives being sent to them by Hillary Clinton. So they could spy on and investigate and sabotage Donald J. Trump.
Just days after Hillary Clinton emissaries Christopher Steele and Michael Sussmann approached the FBI in September 2016 with dirt that would infuse the Russia collusion probe, the campaign’s opposition research firm sent some of the same information to New York Times journalists.
“Gents good to see you yesterday,” a Fusion GPS executive wrote the reporters. “Sounded like you might be interested in some of the attached russia-related material. these are internal, open source research drafts, as agreed, pls treat this as background/not for attribution. as you’ll see it’s all easily replicated anyway.”
The invitation to further dirty up Donald Trump continued: “Can also send you a [name]/Toronto memo once i dig it out. I’m skipping over [name] and [company name]. believe your guys have done that up … leave it to you to distribute internally, or not, as you see fit. don’t believe sunny isles/hollywood or panama or toronto have been touched by brands xy or z. amazingly, don’t think anyone has done up the trump tower poker ring story either. pretty vivid color there.”
The missive is one of hundreds of emails that Special Counsel John Durham has obtained between Clinton campaign operatives and journalists that spread “unverified derogatory information” about Donald Trump, spawning the false Russia collusion narrative shortly before Election Day 2016. They’ve now been made public in court filings.
Durham recently disclosed several communications with reporters in a filing designed to reject the Clinton campaign’s claim that its Steele dossier and other research should be shielded from public view at an upcoming trial because it was covered by attorney client privilege.
Durham’s argument is straightforward: Attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply to materials the campaign distributed widely to third parties.
But his filing also puts the traditional media on notice that when Sussmann’s trial on a charge of lying to the FBI begins next month, the unholy alliance between traditional media reporters and the Democrat machine will be laid bare for the world to see.
And it is clear prosecutors have a clear theory that much of the information spread and then reported by the news media was glaringly weak if not outright false. Durham’s filings refer to the Clinton opposition research alternately as a “red herring,” “unverified” “too obvious” to be true, or containing a “very weak link.” In some cases, those were words used by the very researchers helping assemble the materials.
Yet the traditional media reported it and re-reported it for nearly two years before Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded there was no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy to hijack the 2016 election.
“One of the famous fake news outlets likes to say, ‘Democracy dies in darkness.’ They’re exactly right,” former Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman who helped uravel the Russia collusion narrative, told Just the News. “They’re the ones who have created the darkness, and democracy does die. It just happens to be the fake news media that’s actually creating this.”
Kash Patel, Nunes’ former chief counsel on the committee, said traditional news media outlets are ignoring or downplaying much of the bombshell revelations in Durham’s filings because “the mainstream media, the fake news media, cannot stand how right we were and how wrong they are.”
Whatever the coverage, Durham’s filings make abundantly clear the Clinton campaign used the media to spread uncorroborated Russia allegations to dirty up Trump at the same time its emissaries were trying to get the FBI, the CIA and the State Department to investigate the same dirt.
The Clinton campaign and its opposition research team “triggered a sizeable outflow of unverified derogatory information into the media, the government, and the public,” Durham wrote in one filing.
In another he added: “The documents produced by Fusion GPS to date reflect hundreds of emails in which Fusion GPS employees shared raw, unverified, and uncorroborated information — including their own draft research and work product — with reporters. And they appear to have done so as part of a (largely successful) effort to trigger negative news stories about” Trump.
Durham said the flooding of the news media was so egregious that it obliterated any claim by the Clinton campaign that Fusion’s work was attorney-client privileged work designed to advise on libel issues.
“One would expect contemporaneous emails and documents to reflect that Fusion GPS and/or its clients exercised some degree of caution and care before publicizing unverified or potentially inflammatory materials,” but they did not, Durham noted.
The most recent Durham filing lays out several contacts Fusion GPS and the Clinton team had with news media, including The New York Times, ABC News and Slate magazine.
The first media contact noted by Durham dates to May 2016, well before the Steele dossier was crafted or the FBI contacted.
“On May 14, 2016, a Fusion GPS employee emailed a Slate reporter who would publish an article about the Russian Bank-1 allegations several months later,” the court fling noted. “In the exchange and subsequent emails, the employee shared portions of research that Fusion GPS was conducting regarding a Trump advisor.”
By July, the campaign research team expanded its contacts, including to the Wall Street Journal, to which it “conveyed information Fusion GPS had gathered regarding, among other things, Trump Advisor-1, Russian Bank-1, and a purported board member of Russian Bank-1 who later would appear in the Fusion GPS white paper that the defendant provided to the FBI.”
Some of Durham’s newly released information shows how the Clinton campaign pointed reporters to elected officials who would confirm or react to the Russia information.
For instance, the prosecutor noted that a Fusion GPS executive urged a reporter at the Wall Street Journal to “call [a named U.S. Representative] or [a named U.S. Senator],” stating, “I bet they are concerned about what [Trump Advisor-1] was doing other than giving a speech over 3 days in Moscow.”
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, told Just the News on Friday that Durham is showing just how closely the media, the Democratic establishment and some rogue elements in U.S intelligence worked together to perpetrate the false Russia story in 2016 — a pattern he said was repeated when the same forces falsely portrayed the Hunter Biden laptop as disinformation in 2020.
“What we all suspected all along is that the Clinton campaign was really pushing this,” he said. “And we didn’t know that they just made it up out of whole cloth. But that looks like exactly what they did.”
A Colorado man has tested positive for an H5 bird flu virus, the first such case in the U.S., health officials said April 28.
The Colorado health department saidthe man, who is younger than 40, had been working on a commercial farm with poultry that, according to the CDC, was presumably infected with H5N1.
He reported fatigue as his only symptom and is now in isolation and being treated with the flu antiviral drug oseltamivir.
It’s unclear whether the exposure resulted in an infection, according to statements from the health agencies. Officials from the Colorado health department said a positive test result came from a single nasal specimen. The CDC confirmed that result April 27, though it said repeat testing has been negative.
“Because the person was in close contact with infected poultry, the virus may have been present in the person’s nose without causing infection,” the Colorado health department said. The CDC said whether the positive test was the result of “surface contamination of the nasal membrane” cannot be determined now.
“The appropriate public health response at this time is to assume this is an infection and take actions to contain and treat,” the CDC said, adding risk to the general public remains low.
The CDC has been monitoring H5N1 outbreaks among wild birds and poultry since late 2021.
The agency said it has been tracking the health of more than 2,500 people with exposure to infected birds, and this marks the only detected case. The first such human infection caused by the predominant group of H5N1 viruses now circulating was reported in the U.K. in December.
“So it’s definitely not from nature and it’s definitely not an accident come out in a lab. Also, it starts from Wuhan and the Wuhan Institute of Virology get involved but I need to tell people that this is not an accident. Because I work in that lab I know how safe it is and the lab actually can never cause big pandemic world-wide and this is intentionally bring out of the lab and released in the community. And there are a lot of motives behind that but the most important thing is Chinese Communist Government develop this and they want to use it to destroy the world order. And I think that because it’s out of control we never saw it out of control in Wuhan.”
The Chinese virologist came to several conclusions about the virus, chiefly that it could, despite claims, travel between humans, that it had no animal host, and that it was lab-created.
She fled China after her discovery that the virus was produced in a lab and that Beijing was covering it all up.
What would China have to gain from this virus? Disruption of the western world order.
The western world was brought to an absolute stall by COVID-19, as economies shut down and elections were disrupted. When the virus was first released, we had a booming economy and a fantastic president, and many other western nations were doing well. Within a year, the “leader” of the US is an incompetent fool and the economy was a wreck. The rest of the free world experienced similar levels of disruption.
China, did, however, overestimate their ability to control the virus. Or perhaps, they simply didn’t care how many of their own citizens it affected.
Yesterday, April 27, there was a pre-trial hearing in the Michael Sussmann case relating to various evidentiary issues. For the uninitiated, Sussmann a former Perkins Coie partner, and former attorney for the DNC/Clinton Campaign (and Rodney Joffe), has been charged by Special Counsel John Durham with providing false statements to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in the fall of 2016. Here is more background on his indictment.
We have the full transcript of yesterday’s hearing (link at the bottom). Here are some of the most notable disclosures:
The Special Counsel’s “ongoing investigation” into Rodney Joffe. The Special Counseltold the court that while Joffe and Sussmann pushed the Alfa Bank/Yotaphone hoax to the CIA in February 2017, this false information was also pushed “to another branch of government, to the legislative branch” at a later time. According to the Special Counsel:
The Special Counsel’s statement reminds us of this letter we discussed from Rodney Joffe’s attorney to the attorneys for Michael Sussmann, stating the Yota phone-related allegations percolated “through various branches of the government and around the private sector after that date, in various forms.”
Rodney Joffe’s exposure and 18 U.S.C. 1031. The Special Counsel was understandably hesitant to get too deep into what they have on Rodney Joffe. However, when Sussmann’s attorneys brought up the fact that Joffe couldn’t be charged due to the 5-year statute of limitations, the Special Counsel responded that “certain statutes of limitations are longer than five years.”
The court asked for an example, and the Special Counsel referenced 18 U.S.C. 1031, “which involves defrauding the government in connection with procurement and contract matters.” This has to do with the Georgia Tech/DARPA contract. In the Special Counsel’s own words:
Laura Seago from Fusion GPS will (likely) testify at trial. We previously reported that Seago was identified as the “tech maven” the government expected to call at trial. At this hearing was the first time we saw Seago’s name explicitly mentioned as the Fusion GPS witness.
Christopher Steele will not be a witness. Sussmann’s lawyer informed the court that the Special Counsel stated on April 26 that Steele is “out of the country and isn’t likely to be a witness.”
In fact, Steele is not cooperating with the Special Counsel.
Should the fact that the U.S. economy actually contracted during the first quarter actually surprise any of us? Since the start of 2022, there has been crisis after crisis, and now the war in Ukraine is depressing economic activity all over the planet. What we are facing could most definitely be described as a “perfect storm”, and the truth is that this storm isn’t going to go away anytime soon. But where do we go from here? Will the U.S. economy bounce back, or will this new economic downturn soon become even worse? Most economic optimists are assuming that the former will be true, while many economic realists are issuing dire warnings about what is ahead.
I was actually thinking of writing about something else today, but I knew that my regular readers would want me to talk about this…
Gross domestic product unexpectedly declined at a 1.4% annualized pace in the first quarter, marking an abrupt reversal for an economy coming off its best performance since 1984, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The negative growth rate missed even the subdued Dow Jones estimate of a 1% gain for the quarter, but the initial estimate for Q1 was the worst since the pandemic-induced recession in 2020.
So what caused this “sudden” downturn? According to CNN, there are quite a few factors that can be blamed…
A push by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and combat high inflation. Supply chain shortages. An ongoing global health crisis. And of course, the geopolitical earthquake caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is also threatening to create a world food crisis.
If the U.S. economy shrinks again in the second quarter, that will officially meet the definition of a “recession”.
But as John Williams of shadowstats.com has pointed out, if honest numbers were being used the U.S. economy would still be in a recession that started all the way back at the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
Everybody pretty much realizes that economic conditions are not great right now.
So are brighter days just around the corner? That is what some pundits seem to think…
The US economy will return to growth during the second quarter, according to RSM chief economist Joe Brusuelas. “Without a doubt,” he said.
“This is noise; not signal,” Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson wrote in a report. “The economy is not falling into recession.”
Last month, 33,333 properties across the U.S. faced foreclosure, a 181 percent jump from March 2021 and 29 percent pop from February, according to a report by foreclosure tracker Attom. The first quarter saw 78,271 properties with a foreclosure filing, a 39 percent from the previous quarter and 132 percent from last year.
Needless to say, there are other experts that have a much more negative view on what is ahead.
For example, Nancy Lazar is warning of a “synchronized” global recession…
Piper Sandler chief global economist Nancy Lazar warned on Monday that the world is in the early stages of a “very significant” and “synchronized” recession.
In an appearance on “Mornings with Maria” Monday, Lazar noted that a recession is expected outside of the United States.
“It’s going to be a global recession pulling down [the] Euro zone in particular,” she told host Maria Bartiromo. “It looks like China GDP [Gross domestic product] in the second quarter could also be negative.”
Actually, if all we suffer is a significant global recession that will be really good news.
Because right at this moment inflation is dramatically spiking all over the globe, we are witnessing the largest land war in Europe since World War II, and the UN is telling us that we are heading into a horrific worldwide food crisis.
An increasing number of Americans are starting to realize that things are moving in the wrong direction. In Gallup’s April survey, only 18 percent of Americans rated economic conditions as “good”, and only 2 percent rated them as “excellent”…
The GDP news comes on the heels of newly released polling data from Gallup that suggested that economy confidence is extremely low among the American public.
More than four in ten (42%) of Americans said that economic conditions in America were “poor,” while another 38% said that they were only “fair” in Gallup’s April survey. Just 2% said economic conditions were “excellent,” while 18% said they were “good.”
Those are terrible numbers, and they have very serious implications for the Democrats in the fall.
But instead of focusing on fixing the economy, Joe Biden wants Congress to give him another 33 billion dollars for the war in Ukraine…
President Joe Biden is asking Congress for another $33 billion to help Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion and provide humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people.
The proposal, which the White House will send to lawmakers on Thursday, includes $20 billion in additional security and military assistance for Ukraine, another $8 billion for economic assistance and $3 billion in humanitarian aid.
This is complete and utter madness.
To put this in perspective, the military budget for Ukraine is normally about 6 billion dollars for an entire year.
And much of the equipment that the U.S. is sending to Ukraine is being blown up by the Russians before it can even get to the fighters on the frontlines.
With each passing day it is becoming clearer to everyone that this conflict is really a proxy war between the United States and Russia.
And nuclear war is increasingly becoming one of the hottest topics on Russian television. For example, the following is a recent exchange between two Russian television personalities that is making headlines all over the globe…
“Everything will end with a nuclear strike is more probable than the other outcome,” she continued. “This is to my horror, on one hand, but on the other hand, with the understanding that it is what it is.”
It was at that point Solovyov chimed in, “But we will go to heaven, while they will simply croak.”
“We’re all going to die someday,” Simonyan agreed.
“We’re all going to die someday”?
I certainly don’t like the sound of that.
Unfortunately, many Russians are now entirely convinced that nuclear war is coming.
But instead of pushing for peace, Joe Biden and his minions just keep escalating the conflict.
If we continue to go down this path, it will end in a nightmare.
Our current economic problems pale in comparison to the possibility of a nuclear conflict, but most Americans still don’t understand the implications of the decisions that our leaders are making.
Because if they did understand, there would be giant protests in the streets of every single major U.S. city right now.
For decades, some health influencers have waged what’s practically amounted to a PR campaign against soy products. Because soy contains phytoestrogens, which are structurally very similar to the estrogen produced by the human body, these influencers argue that soy is a dangerous food that can cause cancer and other diseases by upsetting our natural hormonal balance. Recent research, however, increasingly shows that phytoestrogens may actually be good for you. So what’s the truth about phytoestrogens? What foods, in addition to soy, contain them? And should you include or avoid them in a balanced, healthy diet?
The 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors starred Audrey II, a Venus flytrap that feasted on human flesh and incited a flower shop clerk to murder two people to satisfy its ravenous appetite.
And the roots of the idea (pun semi-intended) go back much further. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke penned “The Reluctant Orchid” in 1956, a story about a houseplant that tries to murder and consume its owner. H.G. Wells’ 1894 short story “The Flowering of the Strange Orchid” imagines a jungle plant that grows spider-like tentacles and emits an intoxicating fragrance that almost lures an adventuring orchid collector to his death.
In short, literature has sometimes convinced us that plants are out to get us.
Phytoestrogens as Antinutrients
And there has been no shortage of contemporary nutrition writers who have, in their own way, also advanced that narrative. They point to what they consider harmful compounds in the plants we eat, which they ominously term “antinutrients.” Phytates, lectins, and oxalates often get such negative press.
But the reigning plant-derived nutritional villain, going back decades now, is phytoestrogens. While these compounds are in many plants, the main concern has always been about soy. From cancer to male feminization, nutrient deficiencies to female infertility, some would have us believe that the soybean and its phytoestrogens pose a grave threat to any population that embraces soy products as plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy.
But is it true that the phytoestrogens in soy are harmful? Is soy a real-life analog of Audrey II and the human-destroying orchids imagined by Clarke and Wells? Should you avoid phytoestrogens at all costs? Or is the hype overblown, and might phytoestrogens actually benefit your health as part of a balanced, whole-food-based diet?
What are Phytoestrogens?
Phytoestrogens — literally “estrogens from plants” — are a type of polyphenol found in plant-based foods. There are two main types: flavonoid and non-flavonoid. The difference, as I just discovered when I looked it up, is that non-flavonoids have one phenol ring while flavonoids have two. (I’ll see you on Jeopardy! — “I’ll take ‘mesomeric effect of hydroxyl groups’ for 200, Mayim!”)
Some of the more prevalent flavonoids include isoflavones, coumestans, and prenylflavonoids, among others. The non-flavonoids we tend to hear the most about include lignans and resveratrol. These and other phytoestrogens occur in over 300 different plant species.
Here’s the thing about all phytoestrogens — their structure is close to that of estrogens, a class of human hormones with myriad effects on male and female reproduction, and estradiol, in particular. Because of this similarity, the plant compounds can mimic or otherwise affect the action of estrogens in the body. Sometimes phytoestrogens act just like estrogen and at other times they can actually block estrogenic effects.
If that were the whole story, it’s easy to see why you might be wary of consuming foods high in phytoestrogens. But it turns out that plant estrogens are weaker than estrogens from other sources.
In the interest of comprehensiveness, I’ll mention in passing that there’s another form of estrogens, in addition to the ones produced by the human body (by both women and men) and the ones you get from plants: xenoestrogens. They’re what you get when you add the Greek prefix for “foreign” — xeno.
Xenoestrogens are entirely synthetic chemicals that you can ingest from industrial chemicals such as solvents and lubricants, as well as their byproducts, including plastics, plasticizers, and flame retardants. You can also get exposed to xenoestrogens from pesticides and pharmaceutical agents.
The thing about xenoestrogens is, well, avoid them if you can. They don’t do a body good, and there’s a huge body of evidence that they can disrupt healthy functioning on many levels.
And now back to our regularly scheduled article about phytoestrogens.
Foods That Contain Phytoestrogens
Here’s a not-so-fun article with tables showing the amount of phytoestrogens, in micrograms (abbreviated μg which means one-millionth of a gram), in various plant foods. When you study these tables, perhaps in preparation for your Jeopardy! appearance (“I’ll take ‘fascinating things you didn’t know about cabbage’ for 400, Ken”), you’ll quickly discover that while soy may be the poster child for phytoestrogens in food, it’s far from the only source.
Among plant foods, fermented and whole soybeans contain the highest concentrations of phytoestrogens, and those appear to be the healthiest ways to consume soy. Fermented soy products include miso and tempeh (the latter boasts whole soybeans). Edamame and tofu are also generally healthy ways for most people to enjoy soy. To avoid GMOs, choose organic soy products. (For more on why, read our article on GMOs.).
In addition to soy, other legumes also tend to be high in phytoestrogens — especially garbanzos and green beans.
You’ll also find phytoestrogens in many commonly sprouted plants, including alfalfa, clover, soybean (there it is again!), and mung bean sprouts.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also foods with phytoestrogens. Pound for pound (or kilogram for kilogram, if you want to get all metric about it), flaxseeds are actually higher in phytoestrogens than soybeans. Also scoring high on the list of foods with phytoestrogens are pistachios, chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews.
You can get phytoestrogens from some popular whole grains, including oats, wheat, barley, and rice.
Representing the allium family, garlic and onion are no phytoestrogen slouches either.
You can also find phytoestrogens in fresh fruit, including blueberries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and dried fruit such as dates and apricots.
Why Do People Think Phytoestrogens are Bad?
So what’s going on here? I mean, that list of foods containing significant amounts of phytoestrogens is also a list of some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Are they good for us in spite of their phytoestrogen content? Or is it possible that the phytoestrogens in food may offer benefits? Let’s first explore the widespread idea that phytoestrogens are bad for us and we should avoid them whenever possible.
Estrogen vs Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are structurally similar to estradiol, the main form estrogen takes in the human body. As such, they can bind to estrogen receptors in our cells and thus have the potential to increase or block estrogenic activity.
Because of this, critics tell us that phytoestrogens disrupt endogenous hormones and keep them from working properly in the body. In particular, critics argue that people with hormonal cancers, and specifically estrogen-sensitive ones, should avoid the estrogen-boosting effects of phytoestrogens.
That’s one of the reasons soy has been singled out for demonization. Eating large quantities of soy-based veggie burgers or downing gallons of soy milk, the theory goes, can trigger breast cancer in women, and can cause men to grow breasts.
That would all be pretty alarming if it was true. But there’s almost no evidence to support it.
How can that be? Estrogen vs phytoestrogen studies show that while phytoestrogens do bind to estrogen receptors in the body, their estrogenic activity is much weaker than true estrogen, and they may actually block or even oppose the effects of estrogen in some tissues.
Think of a piece of gum fitting into a keyhole; as you cram it in, it takes on something of the shape of the key, but it doesn’t open the door. And it makes it harder for a real key to open the door, too. Phytoestrogens, which are about 1,000 times less potent than the estrogen your body produces, can bind with estrogen receptors and thereby prevent actual estrogen from exerting its effects.
Are There Any Health Benefits of Phytoestrogens?
In study after study, we find that the foods that are highest in phytoestrogens tend to also be good for heart health and brain health, help to fight obesity and cancer, and promote longevity.
Heart Disease and Phytoestrogens
It’s known that low estrogen levels are a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. Phytoestrogen consumption — particularly that of isoflavones — has been associated with lower CVD incidence in both Dutch and Japanese women.
Isoflavones appear to reduce CVD risk by, among other things, helping to dilate blood vessels and thereby lower blood pressure in hypertensive women. And soy and alfalfa extracts, combined with acerola cherry extract, can reduce the harmful effects of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Phytoestrogens and Cancer
While trials conducted in the 1990s focused on the question of whether phytoestrogens increased breast cancer risk, later studies reversed the hypothesis and began asking whether diets rich in soy could actually prevent the disease. A 2014 meta-analysis found that soy isoflavones lowered the risk of breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women. The twist was that the researchers found this effect only in Asian populations — women in Western countries did not appear to benefit. Whether this is due to the fact that Asian women eat a lot more soy than Western women is still an open question.
Breast cancer surgeon Kristi Funk, MD, is the author of Breasts: The Owner’s Manual. She examined the extensive research about soy consumption in humans and concluded: “Not only is soy safe, it literally drops breast cancer rates by 60% for soy consumers. And if you have breast cancer, it drops recurrence by 60%.”
Soy consumption has also been shown to suppress the development of prostate cancer. Two soy phytoestrogens, in particular, genistein and daidzein, are being studied for their effects on cancer development.
Other studies have found that consuming soy may also reduce your risk of developing lung, thyroid, ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancer.
Alleviating Menopause Symptoms with Phytoestrogens
Some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause occur as a woman’s body decreases the production of estrogen. In addition to hot flashes and sweating, menopause is also linked to an increased risk of obesity and osteoporosis.
Because phytoestrogens can increase estrogenic activity, they have been shown to reduce symptoms of menopause, including decreases in bone density that can lead to osteoporosis. And they have the added benefit, unlike synthetic hormone replacement therapy, of not contributing to blood clots.
Weight Management and Phytoestrogens
There’s a robust body of evidence that phytoestrogens can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This is at least in part because phytoestrogens inhibit the life cycle of fat-storing adipocyte cells and can lower concentrations of adipose (fatty) tissue in the body. They can also help you lose weight by reducing the levels of the “starvation” hormone leptin in your body, so you can lose fat without triggering that “OMG I need a giant donut this very minute or something terrible is going to happen!” feeling. This conclusion was supported by a 2013 study that confirmed soy’s appetite-suppressing ability in estrogen-deficient female mice. (Our view on the use of animals in medical research is here.)
Phytoestrogen Impact on Skin Health
Phytoestrogens also appear to confer anti-aging benefits on the skin. They have been shown to increase the body’s production of collagen production and other compounds that are crucial to skin health. They also block some of the damaging effects of UVB radiation and increase blood flow to skin tissue. Clinical trials have shown that oral phytoestrogen supplementation increased both dermal (skin) thickness and collagen production in postmenopausal women.
Immune System Support
Science is just beginning to explore the role phytoestrogens might play in supporting immune function. Genistein, from soy, appears to keep hypersensitive immune systems from overreacting in unhelpful and potentially dangerous ways.
Phytoestrogen Impact on Cognitive Function and Alzheimer’s
The phytoestrogen resveratrol, found in abundance in red grapes, appears to protect against Alzheimer’s by triggering the destruction of certain proteins in the brain that can form plaques. It has also been shown, in mouse models, to inhibit the development of Parkinson’s Disease. And several observational studies of humans have found that consumption of lignans is associated with higher cognitive functioning.
Who Should Avoid or Limit Phytoestrogens?
As I hope the above section makes clear, the bulk of evidence suggests that phytoestrogens in whole plant foods are beneficial for most people when eaten as part of a balanced diet. But there are still some situations where some people may want to limit their intake.
In the past, it was thought that people with estrogen-positive breast cancer should avoid phytoestrogen, but a growing body of research indicates that the opposite may be true. In fact, many studies show that soy isoflavones are protective against breast cancers because the phytoestrogens attach to the estrogen B cells, blocking the A cells that cause cancer.
Some researchers urge caution, however — especially about the consumption of processed soy protein products, as these have not been studied as extensively as the whole soy foods traditionally eaten in Asian cuisines. Additional unknowns include the cumulative effect of all the phytoestrogens a person has eaten over their lifetime, and how early these foods were introduced.
People with the rare lung disease LAM may also want to limit phytoestrogens, since the LAM cells have estrogen receptors on them, and may proliferate in the presence of high levels of the hormone and potentially of estrogen mimickers, as well.
Another group that may potentially be harmed by excess phytoestrogens is people who have iodine deficiency with hypothyroidism. While the impact of phytoestrogens may vary based on the person’s age, soy isoflavones, in particular, may negatively affect thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism in the absence of sufficient iodine. This is still largely theoretical, however. Small clinical trials haven’t produced a clear association.
Increasing and Decreasing Phytoestrogens in Food
In addition to eating more or fewer of the plant foods that contain phytoestrogens, you can ramp your consumption up or down depending on how those foods are processed.
Fermentation alters the chemical makeup of soy, which can significantly reduce the level of isoflavones. Prolonged cooking, simmering, or soaking can also reduce phytoestrogen content. Steaming causes less phytoestrogen loss than boiling or frying.
And on a different but related note, your gut microbiota play a key role in the bioactivity and bioavailability of phytoestrogens, as they are the entities that decide what to turn phytoestrogens into.
Recipes with Phytoestrogen Foods
Not only will you get plenty of phytonutrients from each of the dishes below, but you’ll also get lots of nutrition overall, like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Ocean’s Savory Oatmeal is super tasty and brimming with nutrition, including phytonutrients from the flax and pumpkin seeds. Crunchy Kale Slaw makes a fun, fresh, and crispy snack, condiment, or side and contains a huge amount of nutrition, including phytonutrients from the kale, cabbage, and tahini. And Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry is an absolutely delicious, phytonutrient-rich meal with its tofu, broccoli, and garlic. It may seem like lots of ingredients and steps, but each of the three sections is pretty simple to create!
A favorite of mine, and perhaps an about-to-be new favorite of yours, this savory oatmeal will leave you feeling satisfied, energized, and nourished. It’s filled with fiber, protein, and phytonutrients, including phytoestrogens in the flax and pumpkin seeds. It’s also a great way to use that Instant Pot! Don’t own an Instant Pot? No problem! Be sure to check out the stovetop directions in the Chef’s Notes.
This crunchy and tasty slaw offers lots of nutrition in exchange for very little time since it requires only a little shredding and zero cooking. Kale, cabbage, and tahini are three plant-based foods that are rich in many nutrients including phytoestrogens. Enjoy this slaw solo as a crunchy snack, as a side dish to your main meal, or as a condiment on top of tacos and wraps.
This phytonutrient-rich recipe may look like lots of steps, but if you break up each component (tofu, sauce, and veggies) into individual sections, it will come together easy-peasy. First, prepare your tofu and place it in the oven. Next, prepare your sauce while the tofu is cooking (it only takes a few minutes!). Finally, make your veggies, also while the tofu is cooking. Once the tofu is ready, your meal will be ready for simple assembling! If you’re wondering, tofu, broccoli, and garlic are the phytonutrient superstars in this dish.
Say Yes to Plant-Based Phytoestrogenic Foods
Phytoestrogens are found in a number of plant foods. Sometimes they mimic estrogen activity in the body, and sometimes they suppress it, which makes for a lot of curious (and confused) scientists. Although there’s long been a question over whether phytoestrogens are bad for you — especially in regards to cancer — the research shows they are, in fact, beneficial in many ways. For most people, whole plant-based foods that may contain phytoestrogens are healthy when consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Tell us in the comments:
Do you eat soy-based foods? If so, which ones are your favorites?
Has this article cleared up any confusion in your mind about soy and other phytoestrogen-containing plant foods? What’s your new understanding?
What foods will you add more of to your diet to get the benefit of phytoestrogens?
The FBI conducted millions of searches of Americans’ electronic data in 2021 without a warrant, according to a new report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The FBI claims it conducted the searches as they sought to curb cyberattacks.
“In the first half of the year, there were a number of large batch queries related to attempts to compromise U.S. critical infrastructure by foreign cyber actors,” according to the report, Bloomberg reported. “These queries, which included approximately 1.9 million query terms related to potential victims — including U.S. persons — accounted for the vast majority of the increase in U.S. person queries conducted by FBI over the prior year.”
The ACLU called the FBI’s warrantless spying an invasion of privacy ‘on an enormous scale.’
The FBI searched emails, texts and other electronic communications of as many as 3.4 million U.S. residents without a warrant over a year, the nation’s top spy chief said in a report.
The “queries” were made between December 2020 and November 2021 by Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel as they looked for signs of threats and terrorists within electronic data legally collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to an annual transparency report issued Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The authority the FBI used in this case was under Section 702 of FISA, which is set to expire at the end of next year unless it’s renewed by Congress.
The report doesn’t say the activity was illegal or even wrong. But the revelation could renew congressional and public debates over the power U.S. agencies have to collect and review intelligence information, especially data concerning individuals. In comparison, fewer than 1.3 million queries involving Americans’ data were conducted between December 2019 and November 2020, according to the 38-page report.
The report sought to provide a justification for the increase in queries during the last year.
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