Coca-Cola has paid €8 million to medical organizations in Spain

The Coca-Cola Company has paid €8 million to dozens of scientific and medical organizations in Spain between 2010 and 2017 according to the beverage giant’s own figures.

But a study published by the European Journal of Public Health (EJPH) finds that “research funded by the company is serving its commercial objectives that in many cases are at odds with efforts to improve population health.”

The biggest beneficiaries of Coca-Cola’s research funds were the Ibero-American Nutrition Foundation (€835,000), the Spanish Heart Foundation (€640,000) and the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (€567,000). Also listed is the SHE Foundation (€363,000), which is headed by the cardiologist Valentín Fuster.

“Nutritional and cardiology organizations received the highest financial support,” says the study, signed by Juan Pablo Rey-Lopez of Sydney University and Carlos Alberto Gonzalez of the Catalan Institute of Oncology.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged governments to raise the price of sugary drinks by at least 20% in a bid to reduce consumption, which is linked to a global epidemic of obesity. And a team from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) estimates that “roughly 180,000 obesity-related deaths worldwide are associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.”

Their research linked sweetened beverages to 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases, and 6,000 cancer deaths. There are 106 grams of sugar in one liter of Coca-Cola Classic.

“Nobody could picture Marlboro sponsoring a gathering of the Spanish Society for Medical Oncology,” notes Carlos Alberto González, an epidemiologist who co-wrote the EJPH study.

Gonzalez and his colleague Rey-Lopez analyzed 20 scientific papers that were sponsored by Coca-Cola, and found that 14 of them “were aligned with marketing strategies used by Coca-Cola (e.g. focusing on physical inactivity as the main cause of obesity).” The other six papers were more neutral in their conclusions.

Sources at The Coca-Cola Company said that the independence of scientific societies and universities “is guaranteed in all partnerships,” and noted that this sponsorship is declared annually as “an exercise in transparency.”

“Coca-Cola is copying the strategies of the tobacco industry,” says Gonzalez, who in 1992 was in charge of coordinating the Spanish contribution to the WHO’s European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study.

Gonzalez and Rey-Lopez mentioned a recently aired email exchange between two former vice-presidents of Coca-Cola Michael Ernest Knowles and Alex Malaspina as evidence of the industry’s efforts to influence scientific organizations. “We have good contacts in some [medical associations] and we should encourage them to address public health matters and ‘suggest’ appropriate topics,” says one message from Knowles to Malaspina.

In Spain, Coca-Cola has given €420,000 to the Spanish Society for Community Nutrition, €400,000 to the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians, €357,000 to the Diabetes Foundation and €350,000 to the Spanish Pediatrics Association.

The funds are typically used to organize symposiums and conduct scientific research. It is a regular practice at food multinationals such as Danone and at some of the beer industry’s largest companies.

“I am an independent scientist. Coca-Cola has never told me what to do,” says Marcela González Gross, a professor at Madrid Polytechnic University, an institution that has received €243,000 from the beverage company. Gonzalez Gross is the main author of the Food Pyramid Study, funded with €13,700 from Coca-Cola.

“Children like to consume different kinds of drinks, especially sweet ones such as juices and sodas. This is because they have a taste preference for sweet foods, and because their energy needs are greater than adults’.

These drinks can be offered in moderation, but should not be the only ones they consume,” reads a guide for parents written by González Gross and available on the Coca-Cola website.

As for Gregorio Varela, president of the Spanish Nutrition Foundation, he does not believe that the €567,000 his organization has received from Coca-Cola is harmful to its image.

The money, he says, was used to finance the scientific study ANIBES, which pools data about food, nutrition and physical activity in Spain. “The subgroup made up of sugary drinks makes up 2.0 % of total energy intake (36 kcal/day out of a total of 1,810 kcal/day),” reads one of the reports.

“A study of this scope could not have been done without support from Coca-Cola,” says Varela, a professor of nutrition at CEU San Pablo University who feels that sweetened drinks “in excessive amounts are no doubt bad for public health, but consumed from time to time, it doesn’t have to be that way.” Varela does not feel the need for a tax on sugary drinks in Spain.

“Coca-Cola Spain offers an alternative with no added sugar in each of its brands, it is reducing the sugar content in its classic varieties, and it has designed new, smaller containers to reduce the sugar intake per consumption unit,” say sources at the company. “In the last 17 years we have managed a 45% reduction in the sugar content per liter in total sales for Coca-Cola Spain. In fact, 38% of sales of Coca-Cola in Spain are for products without added sugar.”

“I don’t think any food is bad for your health unless you consume it in inappropriate amounts. Sugary drinks should be consumed sporadically.

I can drink an horchata, which also has 10% sugar content, or a Coke,” says the biologist Ángel Gil, who teaches at Granada University and presides the Ibero-American Nutrition Foundation.

The foundation manager, Miguel Fernández, notes that the amount they have received from the beverage company is €123,000 lower than listed on the company website (€835,000).

A third of these funds were allotted to a traveling exhibition, Nutricion, impulso vital, meant to encourage healthy habits. Ángel Gil feels that “we should demand that Coca-Cola and Pepsi reduce sugar content,” but he, too, opposes the WHO recommendation of a tax on sugary drinks.

“Scientists who work in public health cannot have conflicts of interest; they cannot receive money from companies that are harming people’s health,” says Rey-Lopez in a telephone interview from Sydney University. This epidemiologist says that obesity is “a socially communicable disease” that is tied to poverty. “A two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola is practically cheaper than a bottle of water.

There are population segments, especially in the lower income bracket, who sit down to meals with a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola on the table. And that is bad for one’s health,” adds Carlos Alberto González. “Partnerships between health professionals and industries that harm public health should be viewed as marketing strategies by the industry to protect its profits.”

Google Project Loon to Deliver Internet Access in Every Part of the World

The Loon Project to provide Internet access in rural and remote areas using helium balloons with a small communication system that works with solar energy, located in the stratosphere at a height of about 20 kilometers, to create a wireless network aerial with LTE technology (3G or 4G) available in most phones achieving coverage of 80 kilometers in diameter. Balloons travel around the earth guided by an algorithm that analyzes wind currents.

Google started the project on June 17, 2013 with a pilot program in New Zealand, where 12 balloons that operated with solar panels were launched into the stratosphere, allowing the propagation of the Internet signal. Later another 30 of 15 meters in diameter were launched to provide Internet connection by broadcasting WiFi signals that are received by means of an antenna the size of a basketball.

Since then, tests have been conducted in Brazil and Australia, in 2014, and several other tests in South Africa between 2014 and 2016. That year, Google Loon signed an agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka and later with that of Indonesia to bring total coverage to the country.

In all these years, the advances have been spectacular. The navigation technology of the balloons has managed to direct them through 10,000 kilometers and leave them at 500 meters from their target; the position, which was reported once a day, now does it several times per hour.

The duration of the balloons has gone from eight days to more than 100 and they have built a self-launching device that inflates, elevates and launches a balloon in less than 30 minutes.

Until now, its most spectacular and necessary use has been at the end of 2017 after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In October 2017, Google received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 30 balloons from Nevada to reestablish communication on the island, which was literally incommunicado and in the dark.

According to the company, in February 2018 more than 200,000 people had access to the Internet using Google’s balloons.

The technological and operational complexity of Loon demands a patience that seems like Google does not have. In June, using its artificial intelligence capabilities, launched in Colombia My Line, a traditional telephone line that can be called from any device regardless of whether it is an analog, a smartphone or even a landline.

Simply dial a certain number from anywhere in the country and say our question aloud, immediately the Google Assistant will interpret our request and respond it out loud. As if we were asking the search engine on our screen.

According to Jeremy Landis, executive director of Cainkade Studio, a company that technologically supports Google in the project, since the launch of My Line in Beta in May 2018, 35,000 calls to Google Assistant have been made via My Line.

The acceptance of a service in which, being in a remote community and without access to many of the things that we take for granted, an unknown voice responds to a question that is important to you remains to be seen. But technology is making its way into communities that are very young and eager to use them.

These have not been the only projects. Another of Google’s attempts to provide universal access was through the purchase of Titan Aeroespace in 2014 to create a fleet of solar-powered drones, capable of flying more than a week while taking pictures of the surface and providing access to Internet to remote places.

The company sold Titan Aeroespace in early 2017 as, according to Jacquelyn Miller, spokesperson for the company: “After testing, Project Loon has proved to be much more technically and economically viable to reach the rural world and remote geography.”

It was the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, who first declared the purchase of Titan Aerospace at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2014.

According to him, “it is vital for the whole of society that the Network reaches all corners.” But in the end it was Google that acquired the company.

Also Microsoft is in it, in mid-2017 the US technology multinational, presented a new project through which plans to take the Internet to remote places making use of radio frequencies.

The project known as Wireless Regional Area Network (WRAN) uses the digital connection of some televisions, the so-called blank spaces of television channels, to receive and distribute signal to the different devices that connect to it.

For its operation, 600 MHz frequencies are required that were used in the US to broadcast the analogue television signal and that nowadays, with the use of digital platforms, are abandoned. According to the company, this frequency has enough power to be used to provide a stable internet connection.

“Microsoft is working with partners around the world to develop technologies and business models that will make Internet access easier for billions of people,” said Paul Garnett, director of Accessible Access Initiatives at Microsoft.

On a smaller scale, as can be read in the article Telemedicine reaches the Amazon jungle , the TUCAN3G pilot program, led by the Spanish foundation Ehas, in consortium with 10 other European and Latin American partners, has been able to demonstrate how to replace the satellite connection Through long distance WiFi, mobile operators can be established and offer telephony and Internet services to isolated rural communities in the Amazon basin in an innovative and profitable way.

In the platform 5 Apps that revolutionize life in the most remote areas , it shows how connectivity and access to the Internet is key in the development of peoples, both in communications and in making possible the provision of such disparate services and products as financial products or solar lamps for payment in installments or the provision of key information for business. The Internet is a resource that contributes decisively to social and economic development.

At this moment, the only form of connection in certain places is via satellite with devices at prices designed for our pocket, but not for the communities that inhabit those areas.

It is appreciated that a company like Google invest in providing universal Internet access, and for the most suspicious, for that you have to be within your business line and make money with it. Without the expected economic profitability, the sustainability of the project would be questioned, and probably would have stopped its astronomical investment in balloons.

British Airways Apologizes for Massive Theft of Customer Data

The president of British Airways, the Alex Cruz has been forced this Friday to apologize on behalf of his company for the theft of sensitive data from customer credit cards suffered by the company.

The theft occurred through a sophisticated computer attack on its website and its mobile application that lasted two weeks. The IAG shares fell around 3% in the Ibex and the London Stock Exchange after learning of the attack and its dimensions.

The airline, belonging to the International Airline Group (IAG), which also includes Iberia, Vueling and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, discovered on Wednesday that the reservations made between August 21 and September 5 had been intercepted thanks to “a attack very sophisticated, malicious and criminal, “and solved.

During that period, some 380,000 card payments were intercepted and the attackers were able to obtain names, surnames, physical and e-mail addresses, card numbers and their expiration dates and security codes, enough data to make purchases or empty accounts. According to a note published by the company, the stolen data does not include travel or passport data.

Cruz said the airline contacted affected customers as soon as it became aware on Thursday and that the company will compensate financially those who suffer losses, but did not say if any had suffered them already. However, in social networks, some affected have complained that the company had not contacted them.

In any case, on a page created on its website and promoted on its social networks, BA recommends that customers contact their banks and issuers of the cards and follow their recommendations.

In addition, he has brought the matter to the attention of the police and other authorities. Even the prime minister, Theresa May, has intervened in the matter, stating that the government “is aware” of the matter and that the National Center for Cybersecurity and the National Agency against Crime “are working to know exactly what has happened.”

“We are deeply sorry,” Cruz said of the problems caused by the attack, unprecedented in the 20 years in which the airline has had an Internet presence.

The manager has not explained exactly how the data were stolen, although he denied that the attackers had overcome the encryption systems of the firm. “There are other methods, very sophisticated, with which criminals get the data,” he said in an interview on the BBC.

It is not the first time this year that the airline is facing the complaints of its users. Last June, it canceled the reservations of more than 2,000 flights that it sold, erroneously, much cheaper than its usual price, an error that it described as “exceptionally rare”.

In addition, in May and July, hundreds of flights from the London airports of Heathrow and Gatwick were canceled due to computer problems of suppliers.

A little more than a year ago in May 2017, 75,000 customers were left on land in a weekend due to a failure of their computer system at Heathrow Airport, the busiest in Europe, due to a supply problem of Energy. At that time, Cruz said he would take measures so that something like that would not happen again.

Facebook Removes 652 False Pages that are Created to Influence World Politics

The facebook eliminated 652 pages, groups and false accounts of two disinformation campaigns linked organized by Russia and Iran aimed at people worldwide the company announced Tuesday. Unlike the operations identified so far, which originated in Russia now there are two countries that harbor hackers and multiple targets according to the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

“We eliminated 652 pages, groups and accounts for non-authentic coordinated behaviors that originated in Iran and directed through multiple Internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, the United Kingdom and United States,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, director of security on his blog cybernetics of the social network.

Just a few days ago Facebook made 32 pages and false profiles disappear in the social network and on Instagram for integrating a “coordinated” effort to disseminate misinformation around critical political and social issues with Donald Trump.

Although it is still unknown where the pirates came from, whose messages reached 290,000 users, Zuckerberg revealed that the boss keeps some parallels with the performance of Russian hackers during the 2016 campaign. That year they created hundreds of false profiles that shared divisive messages about issues related to race, arms control and the environment the objective was to favor Trump.

The episode of the last presidential elections has alert to the technological companies facing the legislative of November.

The secret services have already warned that there are likely to be attempts of interference by Russian hackers again and they are working to uncover any attack four months after the Americans vote.

The revelation of Facebook comes a day after Microsoft announced that it deleted six websites created by the Russian hacker group APT28.

Two of the fake sites mimicked Washington think tanks that have criticized Russia: the Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute, others claimed to be sites related to the US Senate.

The aim of the hackers was to make users believe that they accessed sites known to them but in reality, they were redirected to fake web pages controlled by them and thus could steal their passwords and other data.

United Kingdom wants to Prohibit the Sale of Puppy and kitten

The British government wants to prohibit the sale of Puppy and kitten’s outside of breeders and animal shelters to fight against the “appalling conditions” in which pets are sometimes raised for sale.

According to the Environment Minister, Michael Gove, who launched a consultation on Wednesday, this measure seeks to ensure greater welfare of the animals in their first days of life.

The measure aims to tackle the “appalling” practices of some dog and cat farms, the government said.

The practices include “the early separation of the cubs from their mother, their introduction into new and unknown environments”.

Also read: Technology device monitors pet activity

“All this can contribute to serious health and socialization problems,” according to the Ministry of the Environment.

“People who completely neglect the welfare of pets can not take advantage of this miserable trade,” insisted Gove.

The consultation comes after an intense awareness campaign around the case of Lucy, a battered dog, forced to give birth several times a year on a farm, whose story moved the British.

After this case, a petition was sent to the British Parliament to control more strictly the sale of pet animals, which collected almost 150,000 signatures.