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More than a dozen areas in the U.S. have been shaken in recent years by small earthquakes triggered by oil and gas drilling, a government report released Thursday found. The man-made quakes jolted once stable regions in eight states, including parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, according to researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey. Experts said the spike in seismic activity is mainly caused by the oil and gas industry injecting wastewater deep underground, which can activate dormant faults. A few instances stem from hydraulic fracturing, in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped into rock formations to free oil or gas. Many studies have linked the rise in small quakes to the injection of wastewater into disposal wells, but the Geological Survey’s report takes the first comprehensive look at where the man-made quakes are occurring. Oklahoma lately has been rocked by more magnitude 3 quakes than California, the most seismically active of the Lower 48 states, Petersen said. Oklahoma was not on scientists’ radar until recently, when the state experienced a spate of quakes, the largest registering a magnitude 5.6 in 2011. This week, the Oklahoma Geological Survey acknowledged that it is very likely most of the recent shaking is from wastewater disposal. Many faults awakened by drilling have not moved in millions of years, Geological Survey geophysicist William Ellsworth said.
Note: Even this article avoids the obvious. The big change since these quakes started is fracking.
Scientists in China have genetically modified human embryos in a world first. The Chinese group used a genome editing procedure called Crispr to modify an aberrant gene that causes beta-thalassaemia, a life-threatening blood disorder, in faulty IVF embryos obtained from local fertility clinics. The team, led by Junjiu Huang at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, is the first to publish such work, confirming rumours that have been circulating for months that human embryos had been modified in China. The work is described in the journal Protein and Cell. Two prominent journals, Nature and Science, rejected the paper citing ethical objections, Huang said. Last month, researchers writing in Nature called for a global moratorium on the genetic modification of human embryos, citing “grave concerns” over the ethics and safety. They added that any therapeutic benefits were tenuous. Genetic modification of the DNA in human embryos would not only affect the individual but their children and their children’s children and so on down the generations. That could halt the inheritance of genetic diseases that run in families, but it could also pass on unforeseen medical problems that the procedures may cause. One of the main safety concerns with genome editing is the risk of changes being made to healthy genes by accident. These so-called “off-target” edits happened far more than expected in Huang’s study, suggesting that the procedure they used is far from safe.
Note: The negative effects of generically modified foods on health are becoming clear. What will happen if our human gene-pool is similarly tinkered with?
Currently, about 9 percent — or $270 billion — of America’s $3 trillion public pension fund assets are invested in private equity firms. With the financial industry’s standard 2 percent management fee, that quarter-trillion dollars generates roughly $5.4 billion in annual management fees for the private equity industry — and that’s not including additional “performance” fees paid on investment returns. Public officials are overseeing this enormous payout to Wall Street at the very moment many of those same officials are demanding big cuts to retirees’ promised pension benefits. “With billions of public worker and taxpayer dollars put at risk in the highest-cost, most opaque investment schemes ever devised by Wall Street for a decade now, investigations that hold Wall Street profiteers accountable are long, long overdue,” said former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney Ted Siedle. In a 2014 speech, the SEC’s top examiner, Andrew Bowden, sounded the alarm about undisclosed fees in the private equity industry, saying the agency had discovered “violations of law or material weaknesses in controls over 50 percent of the time” at firms it had evaluated. To date, however, the SEC has taken few actions to crack down on the practices, but some states are starting to step up their oversight.
Psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor has made a career studying the science of happiness. "Scientifically, happiness is a choice," Achor says. He explains that research has shown you can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practising simple happiness exercises. Achor says in just 21 days, the exercises can transform a pessimist into an optimist. And within 30 days, those habits change the neuropathways of our brains and turn us into lifelong optimists. These six daily happiness exercises are proven to make anyone, from a 4-year old to an 84-year old, happy, or simply happier, Achor says: 1. Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you're grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don't have to be profound. 2. The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint. 3. The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant. 4. Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you're doing and concentrate on breathing. 5. Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. 6. Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends.
Note: The three-minute video at the link above link has some good ideas on achieving greater happiness. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Despite a decline in military spending since 2010, U.S. defense expenditures are still 45 percent higher than they were before the 9/11 terror attacks put the country on a seemingly permanent war footing. And despite massive regional buildups spurred by conflict in the Ukraine and the Middle East, the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven top-spending countries combined, according to new figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). That’s nearly three times as much as China, and more than seven times as much as Russia. Saudi Arabia is now the fourth-biggest military spender on the globe, which in its case means spending nearly $80 billion last year buying weapons, mostly from the U.S.. As Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper reported for The New York Times over the weekend, the new arms race in the Middle East has resulted in a “boom” for American defense contractors. China, Russia and Saudi Arabia all “substantially increased their military expenditures,” with the Saudis now spending a staggering 10 percent of their GDP on military expenditures. In a supplemental report, SIPRI reports on how the crisis in the Ukraine has led to “a renewed commitment by NATO members to spend at least 2 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on the military.” The U.S. is spending 3.5 percent of its GDP on military expenditures.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Vietnam War saw its share of UFO activity in the 1960s. One close encounter, in 1968, involved the crew of an American patrol boat that reported two glowing circular craft following them. The crew aboard a second patrol boat later reported seeing the UFOs over the first boat and a flash of light, followed by an explosion that completely destroyed the boat. These Vietnam reports included close observation of the unknown aerial craft. Wartime UFO stories are recreated in ... History's "Hangar 1: The UFO Files." The accounts are drawn from tens of thousands of UFO cases in the archives of the Mutual UFO Network, the world's largest UFO investigation group. Former Air Force intelligence officer, Capt. George Filer ... described a typical report that he'd receive: "You'd have an aircraft flying along, doing around 500 knots and a UFO comes alongside and does some barrel rolls around the aircraft and then flies off at three times the speed of one of the fastest jets we have in the Air Force. "I would be told this unofficially. People tell you a lot of things that they don't put in writing or sign their name to. There was always this part of UFOs that, if you got too interested, it could mess up your career. And this is true today even with commercial pilots. I've also heard from people serving in Afghanistan saying they've seen UFOs, and the Iranian news carries UFO reports pretty regularly."
Note: Read an interesting article about a UFO that buzzed the ranch of George W. Bush while he was president. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our UFO Information Center.
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.
L.A. County health officials investigate and confirm an infection outbreak inside one of the county's hospitals once or twice a month. The public rarely finds out which hospital is involved, how many patients were stricken or whether any died. The secrecy surrounding hospital outbreaks runs counter to the push toward more public disclosure in healthcare. In recent years, consumers have benefited from data comparing some health outcomes by hospital, the fees hospitals charge for various procedures and the payments doctors receive from drug and device manufacturers. Keeping outbreaks confidential is a common practice of federal, state and local health investigators across the country. The rationale: It encourages hospitals to be open and quickly report suspected surges of infections. The secrecy can prevent hospitals from learning from one another's mistakes. More than six years ago, a lethal bacteria struck two hospitals in Florida, killing 15 patients. The case was nearly identical to the recent outbreaks at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai medical centers. In each case, a hard-to-clean medical scope transferred the same superbug from patient to patient. Since that 2008 Florida outbreak, investigators have tied the same scopes to scores of patient infections in other states. Most of the outbreaks were not disclosed until months or years later, often only when doctors wrote about them in medical journals.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about healthcare cover-ups from reliable major media sources.
To wage war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bomb both Yemen and Syria. Soon, the Emirates are expected to complete a deal with General Atomics for a fleet of Predator drones to run spying missions in their neighborhood. As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. American defense firms are following the money. Boeing opened an office in Doha, Qatar, in 2011, and Lockheed Martin set up an office there this year. Lockheed created a division in 2013 devoted solely to foreign military sales, and the company’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, has said that Lockheed needs to increase foreign business — with a goal of global arms sales’ becoming 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue. Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association ... said he viewed the increase in arms sales to the region “with a great deal of trepidation, as it is leading to an escalation in the type and number and sophistication in the weaponry in these countries.” Meanwhile, the deal to sell Predator drones to the Emirates is nearing final approval. If the sale goes through, it will be the first time that the drones will go to an American ally outside of NATO.
Note: If you look at history from the viewpoint that most wars are fostered and enflamed by the military-industrial complex, a lot of things make sense. Read a powerful essay by a top US general exposing the war machine titled "War is a Racket." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
A report showing that more than half the $100 million the city of Los Angeles spends each year on homelessness goes to police demonstrates that the city is focused on enforcement rather than getting people off the streets. This city is doing almost nothing to advance housing solutions but continues down the expensive and inhumane process of criminalization that only makes the problem worse," said Becky Dennison of Los Angeles Community Action Network. Almost 15,000 people the LAPD arrested in 2013 were homeless, or 14% of those arrested, according to the report from the city administrative office. Labor costs for the arrests were estimated between $46 million and $80 million. Officer Deon Joseph, a longtime skid row senior lead officer ... said he frequently arrests the same people over and over because of the revolving door for mentally ill people and others between the jails and prisons and skid row. "I do not believe prison is the answer for most people struggling with mental issues," Joseph wrote. "Sadly in today's system we have to wait until they commit a violent crime to get them 'help' in a jail cell. The report ... was commissioned by the City Council’s housing committee, which questioned why the homeless population grew 9% between 2011 and 2013 even as the city contributed millions to the homeless authority.
As the Missouri National Guard prepared to deploy to help quell riots in Ferguson, Missouri ... the guard used highly militarized words such as "enemy forces" and "adversaries" to refer to protesters, according to documents obtained by CNN. The National Guard's language, contained in internal mission briefings obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, is intensifying the concerns of some who objected to the police officers' actions ... after the August 9 shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by city police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in the case. "It's disturbing when you have what amounts to American soldiers viewing American citizens somehow as the enemy," said Antonio French, an alderman in St. Louis. The documents reveal that the Missouri guard was especially concerned that "adversaries" might use phone apps and police scanners to expose operational security. A document titled "Operation Show-Me Protection II," which outlines the Missouri National Guard's mission in Ferguson, listed players on the ground deemed "Friendly Forces" and "Enemy Forces." Among groups characterized as hate groups were ... "General Protesters." In addition to analyzing the threat general protesters could pose to soldiers, the National Guard also briefed its commanders on their intelligence capabilities so they could "deny adversaries the ability to identify Missouri National Guard vulnerabilities," the mission set states.
Note: The Pentagon's systematic militarization of domestic police forces is well-reported. Now we learn that the National Guard is trained to treat protesters like enemy troops. What happens to civil liberties when civil society is viewed by authorities as a battle-front?
In a ghostly reminder of the Bay Area's nuclear heritage, scientists announced Thursday they have captured the first clear images of a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The USS Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. The Navy deliberately sank the contaminated ship in 1951 south of the Farallon Islands. The rediscovery of the USS Independence offers a fascinating glimpse into American military history and raises old questions about the safety of the Farallon Islands Radioactive Waste Dump ... where the federal government dumped nearly 48,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste between 1946 and 1970. The Independence was sunk on Jan. 26, 1951, and came to rest 2,600 feet below the ocean surface. The Navy withheld the location of the wreck for decades, but the U.S. Geological Survey found its likely resting place while mapping the sea floor in 1990. Retired judge and state legislator Quentin Kopp, who many years ago demanded research into the Navy's disposal of radioactive material off Northern California before 1970, said Thursday that the question of whether the waste posed a risk to humans and wildlife was never resolved.
Note: A CNN article and a CBS article fail to mention anything about the Farallon Islands Radioactive Waste Dump and CNN doesn't even mention radioactive material on the ship. Neither mentions the many drums of radioactive material are buried within the ship. Do you think the media is complicit in hiding key information regarding public health? For verifiable information that this happens much more than people think, read this two-page summary.
Kyle Schwartz teaches third grade at Doull Elementary in Denver. In a bid to build trust between her and her students, Schwartz thought up a lesson plan called "I Wish My Teacher Knew." For the activity, Schwartz's third graders jot down a thought for their teacher, sharing something they'd like her to know about them. "I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously," she says. "I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know. "Some notes are heartbreaking like the first #iwishmyteacherknew tweet which read, 'I wish my teacher knew I don't have pencils at home to do my homework.' I care deeply about each and every one of my students and I don't want any of them to have to suffer the consequences of living in poverty." Blown away by her class' honesty, Schwartz shared some of the notes on Twitter using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew, encouraging fellow teachers to employ the same lesson with their own students. "After one student shared that she had no one to play with at recess, the rest of the class chimed in and said, 'we got your back.' The next day during recess, I noticed she was playing with a group of girls. Not only can I support my students, but my students can support each other." Schwartz says she also hopes her lesson can help her connect students and their families with the proper resources they need to live comfortably.
Note: Read another inspiring article on this great idea.
Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity. In the broader of the two studies, researchers ... found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent. The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised. At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. The other new study of exercise and mortality reached a somewhat similar conclusion, [and found that] if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality.
Note: For some great ideas on healthy exercises, see this article by WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks.
It’s been over two years since President Obama promised new transparency and accountability rules when it comes to drone strikes. Virtually no progress has been made. The criteria for who gets added to the unaccountable ‘kill list’ is still shrouded in secrecy – even when the US government is targeting its own citizens. We know because a Texas-born man named Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh recently captured overseas was arraigned in federal court this week. It turns out, as the Times reported, that in 2013 “his government debated whether he should be killed by a drone strike in Pakistan.” The CIA and military were reportedly pushing hard to send drones to kill Al Farekh, but the Justice Department didn’t think there was enough evidence. An important new report released by the Open Society Justice Initiative this week also shows that - despite the Obama administration’s internal requirements for drone strikes that supposedly require a “near certainty” that civilians won’t get killed - the government quite often just disregards its own rules, which has led to the death of dozens of civilians in Yemen in the past two years. Though without Open Society’s study, the public would have no clue, since the Obama administration still steadfastly refuses to officially release any information on drone strikes in Yemen. The administration has said for years it prefers capturing to killing – but the data indicates that they practice the opposite.
Note: The CIA has been aware that drone strikes are ineffective since at least 2009. If drones help terrorists, almost always miss their intended targets, and may be used to target people in the US in the future, what are the real reasons for the US government's drone program?
Weeks before Pacific Gas and Electric Co. released a long-awaited seismic report about the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant last year, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials had already drafted talking points declaring the plant safe from earthquakes, Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday. An internal commission memo showed that the agency was planning to tell the public that “the NRC had reviewed the report, and it had concluded Diablo Canyon was seismically safe” — before even seeing the report. Boxer ... used it to illustrate what she called the commission’s lax attitude toward seismic safety, even in the wake of the 2011 meltdown of three reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Her comments shone new light on a controversy that has simmered since the seismic safety report’s release last fall. PG&E released the report on Sept. 10. That same day, the commission — the federal agency that regulates nuclear plants — formally rejected complaints from one of its own former inspectors at Diablo Canyon, who had argued that the plant should be closed. Several newly discovered faults nearby, he said, could produce more violent shaking than Diablo was designed to withstand. Environmental groups ... accused the commission and PG&E of colluding to release both the report and the rejection of the inspector’s complaint on the same day, generating positive press about Diablo’s safety.
Note: Why would Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials ignore their responsibility to protect the public from the potentially disastrous combination of earthquakes and nuclear power plants?
Whenever Chicago Police commander Jon Burge needed a confession, he would walk into the interrogation room and set down a little black box, his alleged victims would later tell prosecutors. The box had two wires and a crank. Burge ... would attach one wire to the suspect’s handcuffed ankles and the other to his manacled hands. Then [he] would place a plastic bag over the suspect’s head. Finally, he would crank his little black box and listen to the screams of pain as electricity coursed through the suspect’s body. As many as 120 African-American men on Chicago’s South Side ... were allegedly tortured by Burge between 1972 and 1991. On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the establishment of a $5.5 million fund for these victims. Some of the men spent years on Illinois’s death row because of confessions allegedly obtained by Burge under duress. In 2003, Governor George Ryan pardoned four men on death row who claimed to have been tortured by Burge, [whom] the Chicago Police Board voted to fire [in 1993] for his alleged torture activities. [He] was allowed to keep his $4,000 per month pension. In 2002, Cook County appointed [a special prosecutor] to investigate Burge’s conduct. The investigation took four years and cost $7 million, but the 300-page report didn’t recommend bringing any charges against the former cop. The statute of limitations for the alleged crimes had expired, Egan argued.
Note: According to the Chicago Reader, Burge may have learned how to torture prisoners while serving as a soldier in Vietnam. Chicago police maintain hidden interrogation sites where brutal treatment of suspects is used to obtain criminal confessions. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about civil liberties and government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin, told his friends he was ... going to fly a gyrocopter through protected airspace and put it down on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, then try to deliver 535 letters of protest to 535 members of Congress. After 2˝ years of planning, Hughes ... flew straight up the expanse of the National Mall and brought his small craft down right in front of the Capitol, where he was quickly surrounded by police. The incident brought out dozens of reporters and cameras from national media outlets — exactly what Hughes had hoped for. Hughes contacted a Tampa Bay Times reporter last year, saying he wanted to tell someone about his plan and motivation. Hughes is a slender, soft-spoken, pedantic man, with thinning gray hair and hearing aids. He has no criminal record. But he said he needed [this] very dramatic public act of civil disobedience to focus the nation's attention on campaign finance reform. Money, he says, has corrupted the democracy. At the root of Hughes' disdain is the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, in which the court decided campaign contributions were a form of "political speech" and struck down limits on how much corporations and unions could give to political contenders. The decision changed the game. Campaign spending went through the roof. In Hughes' mind, there was a parallel spike in favor-dealing and the government is now practically owned by the rich.
Note: The text of Hughes' letter to congress is available at the article above. Other articles on this on CBS and NBC missed important details about the suicide of his son and his political objective. Did this stunt make more people aware that billionaire oligarchs influence elections with dark money?
The CEO of a credit-card payments company in Seattle said executive pay is "out of whack," so he's cutting his own pay and creating a minimum salary for his workers. Now, he will be earning $70,000 like many of them, and he's OK with it. Dan Price, 30, announced this week that any employee at his company, Gravity Payments, making less than $70,000 annually will receive a $5,000-per-year raise or be paid a minimum of $50,000, whichever is greater. The aim: By December 2017, everyone will earn $70,000 or more. To facilitate this change, Price said his salary will decrease to $70,000 from about $1 million. "My salary wasn't $1 million because I need that much to live, but that's what it would cost to replace me as a CEO," Price told ABC News. Price started the company in 2004 when he was only 19 years old, [when] the cost of living in Seattle was much lower than it is today. When Gravity launched, the company paid $24,000 per year even for senior positions. Today, the company, which pays an average salary of $48,000, has 120 employees. 70 of their paychecks will grow with this plan. "I may have to scale back a little bit, but nothing I’m not willing to do." Price chose the $70,000 figure based on a 2010 Princeton University study that showed happiness, or "life evaluation," is positively impacted up to $70,000 or $75,000 per year; but increases above that figure did not have a significant positive effect on happiness.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
President Barack Obama will remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, the White House announced Tuesday, a key step in his bid to normalize relations between the two countries. The U.S. has long since stopped actively accusing Cuba of supporting terrorism. When Obama and [Cuban President Raul] Castro announced a thaw in relations in December, the U.S. president expressed his willingness to remove Cuba from that list. Removing Cuba from the terror list could pave the way for the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana and other steps. Cuba was designated a state sponsor of terror in 1982 because of what the White House said was its efforts “to promote armed revolution by organizations that used terrorism.” Cuba renounced its direct support for foreign militants years ago. The terror list has been a particularly charged issue for Cuba because of what the government there sees as the U.S. history of supporting exile groups responsible for attacks on the island, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados that killed 73 people aboard. The attack was linked to Cuban exiles with ties to U.S.-backed anti-Castro groups. Both men accused of masterminding the crime took shelter in Florida, where one, Luis Posada Carriles, lives to this day.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.