Anti-GMO Fight Gets Dirty, US Exit Polls Canceled, Top 1% Takes 93% of Income Growth
Revealing News Articles
October 16, 2012
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on the increasingly dirty fight over the anti-GMO Prop. 37 in California, canceling of presidential election exit polls in 19 U.S. states, the taking of almost all income growth by the top 1%, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted. And don't miss the "What you can do" box below the summaries. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Special note: For a guide on how to avoid buying GM foods, click here. For a great report showing that Romney and other top officials who oppose GMO labeling eat mostly organic foods, click here. For a powerful essay by two top elections researchers who show that voting machines sold and controlled by strongly biased corporations could determine the outcome of the upcoming US elections, click here.
Is this the year that the food movement finally enters politics?
October 10, 2012, New York Times
California's Proposition 37, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label, has the potential ... to change the politics of food not just in California but nationally too. Genetically modified foods don’t offer the eater any benefits whatsoever — only a potential, as yet undetermined risk. Monsanto and its allies have fought the labeling of genetically modified food ... vigorously since 1992, when the industry managed to persuade the [F.D.A.] – over the objection of its own scientists – that the new crops were "substantially equivalent" to the old and so did not need to be labeled, much less regulated. The F.D.A. policy was co-written by a lawyer whose former firm worked for Monsanto. More than 60 other countries have seen fit to label genetically modified food, including those in the European Union, Japan, Russia and China. Monsanto and DuPont, the two leading merchants of genetically modified seed, have invested more than $12 million to defeat Prop 37. Americans have been eating genetically engineered food for 18 years, and as supporters of the technology are quick to point out, we don't seem to be dropping like flies. But they miss the point. The fight over labeling G.M. food is not foremost about food safety or environmental harm, legitimate though these questions are. The fight is about the power of Big Food. Monsanto has become the symbol of everything people dislike about industrial agriculture: corporate control of the regulatory process; lack of transparency (for consumers) and lack of choice (for farmers); an intensifying rain of pesticides; and the monopolization of seeds, which is to say, of the genetic resources on which all of humanity depends.
Note: To learn more about the revolving door between Monsanto and the FDA, click here. To read about many suppressed scientific studies which showed the GM foods were often harmful and sometimes even lethal to a variety of lab animals, click here. To watch a powerful video showing clearly how Monsanto has attacked those who will not use their GM seeds, click here.
The case for Prop. 37
October 11, 2012, Los Angeles Times
Proposition 37 ... is rooted in a simple premise: Consumers have the right to know if their food is produced using genetic engineering. It's been standard practice in all member countries of the European Union for years. The latest published research shows that 61 countries have some form of mandatory labeling for foods containing genetically modified crop ingredients. The companies that sell genetically modified seeds and manufactured foods argue that American consumers don't need such detailed labels. They say, "Just trust us." That is a lot to ask. Product labels are the front line of consumer protection. Research and development on genetically engineered products ... are largely done by private sector, not public sector, scientists because companies very aggressively protect their patents. The level of secrecy and the combative nature of the industry fuel public distrust. Unfortunately, consumers cannot look to the federal government to increase their trust. Some government officials in positions that make policy on genetically engineered products may hold biases born of their previous jobs with GMO seed companies. Distrust is amplified by questions over who really benefits from GMO foods. As we saw in the multibillion-dollar tobacco case settlement in 1998, companies cannot always be trusted to put health before profit. Another concern is the skyrocketing price of seed for farmers. Finally, GMO products on the market offer American consumers no clear benefits. Proposition 37 simply requires basic transparency and truthful packaging, and companies would have 18 months to implement it. And it would protect consumers' right to know in a product category central to health.
Note: For a powerful essay showing the harmful effects of genetically modified foods, click here.
TV ad against food labeling initiative Proposition 37 is pulled
October 4, 2012, Los Angeles Times
A television spot opposing Proposition 37, the genetically engineered food labeling initiative, was pulled briefly this week to better identify a think-tank researcher attacking the ballot issue. The controversy came as the opponents of the ballot measure, with $35 million in contributions from the food industry and biochemical firms, expanded a week-old television advertising blitz. [The] No on 37 spot ... featured an academic, identified on screen as "Dr. Henry I. Miller M.D., Stanford University, founding dir. FDA Office of Technology." He is standing in an ornately vaulted campus walkway. Lawyers for the Proposition 37 campaign complained to Stanford's general counsel, noting that the Stanford ID on the screen appeared to violate the university's policy against use of the Stanford name by consultants. What's more, Miller is not a Stanford professor but, rather, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank housed on the Stanford campus, the letter said. Stanford agreed. The university, spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said, "doesn't take any positions on candidates or ballot measures, and we do not allow political filming on campus." The filmmakers also are removing "the campus from the background of the video," she said. Stanford's request to edit the Miller video "is proof positive of the lack of credibility and lack of integrity of the No on 37 campaign," said Yes on 37 spokeswoman Stacy Malkan.
Note: This Henry Miller is the same scientist who, according to Forbes, stated that some people could benefit from the low levels of radiation released by the Fukushima meltdowns, and has argued strongly for the reintroduction of DDT. Do you think he might be a little biased towards big business? For lots more questionable behavior by this supposed expert, click here.
Networks, AP cancel exit polls in 19 states
October 4, 2012, Washington Post
Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year's election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning. The decision by the National Election Pool – a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press – is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country. Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or racial makeups of electorates won't be available as they have been since 1992. The lack of data may hamper election night analyses in some states, and it will almost certainly limit post-election research for years to come. Here is a list of the states that will be excluded from coverage: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Note: How sad that the one poll considered to be the most reliable is being cancelled in 19 states. This opens the door wide to elections manipulation. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the flawed electoral system in the US, click here.
Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth as Rich-Poor Gap Widened in U.S.
October 2, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle/Bloomberg News
The U.S. has gone through two recoveries. The 1.2 million households whose incomes put them in the top 1 percent of the U.S. saw their earnings increase 5.5 percent last year, according to estimates released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Earnings fell 1.7 percent for the 96 million households in the bottom 80 percent -- those that made less than $101,583. The recovery that officially began in mid-2009 hasn't arrived in most Americans' paychecks. In 2010, the top 1 percent of U.S. families captured as much as 93 percent of the nation's income growth, according to a March paper by Emmanuel Saez, a University of California at Berkeley economist who studied Internal Revenue Service data. The earnings gap between rich and poor Americans was the widest in more than four decades in 2011, Census data show, surpassing income inequality previously reported in Uganda and Kazakhstan. The notion that each generation does better than the last -- one aspect of the American Dream -- has been challenged by evidence that average family incomes fell last decade for the first time since World War II. In this recovery it's proved better to own stock than a house. For stockholders ... the value of all outstanding shares has soared $6 trillion to $17 trillion since June 2009, the recession's end. Even after a recent rebound, the value of owner-occupied housing, the chief asset of most middle- income families, has dropped $41 billion in the same period, part of a $5.8 trillion loss in home values since 2006.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent
October 14, 2012, New York Times
In the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. By 1500, Venice's population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink. The story of Venice's rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness. The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish. That ... is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further – ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.
Note: The author of this article, Chrystia Freeland, wrote the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, from which this essay is adapted. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
Heads or Tails, Some CEOs Win the Pay Game
October 4, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek
Most companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index pay their CEOs annual bonuses that are conditional on meeting specific goals. Yet companies often find ways to lower or reset the performance benchmarks to ensure that their CEOs get at least a portion of their bonus. The practice, which has become more frequent since the 2007 economic downturn, risks turning bonus plans into a "meaningless exercise," says Carol Bowie, head of Americas research at ISS Governance. Bonus plans are "not simply a mechanism to deliver pay," she says, "but they should be designed to focus executives on the kinds of operational metrics that are going to deliver value." Companies often justify moving the goal posts as a way to protect executives from events out of their control–bad luck, such as a hurricane or rising fuel costs. Yet CEOs also benefit financially when good luck strikes. Departing from a bonus plan "only works if a board is willing to use it on the upside and the downside," says Blair Jones of Semler Brossy Consulting Group. "If it's only used for the downside, it calls into question the process." Several studies of U.S. CEO pay have confirmed the lopsided practice. One study, from researchers at Claremont Graduate University and Washington University in St. Louis, found that executives lost far less pay for bad luck than they gained for good luck.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.
U.S. sues Wells Fargo in mortgage fraud case
October 9, 2012, MSNBC/Reuters
The U.S. government filed a civil mortgage fraud lawsuit on [October 9] against Wells Fargo & Co, the latest legal volley against big banks for their lending during the housing boom. The complaint, brought by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, seeks damages and civil penalties from Wells Fargo for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured Federal Housing Administration loans. The lawsuit alleges the FHA paid hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance claims on thousands of defaulted mortgages as a result of false certifications by Wells Fargo, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank as measured by assets. "As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Bharara's office has brought similar cases in the past few years, including one against Citigroup Inc unit CitiMortgage Inc, which settled the case for $158.3 million in February, and against Deutsche Bank, which paid $202.3 million in May to resolve its case. The U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn brought the biggest such case, against Bank of America Corp's Countrywide unit, which agreed in February to pay $1 billion to resolve the allegations.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.
Supreme Court denies Chevron $19bn Ecuador appeal
October 9, 2012, BBC News
The US Supreme Court has declined to block a judgement from an Ecuadorean court that a US oil firm pay billions in damages for pollution in the Amazon. Chevron was fighting a ruling that it must pay $18.2bn (£11.4bn) in damages, a sum increased to $19bn in July. It is the latest move in a decades-long legal wrangle between Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, and the people of the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. The decision could affect other oil firms accused of pollution. The case claimed that Texaco contaminated land between 1964 and 1992, and has triggered several other lawsuits in courts within the US and elsewhere. In March 2011 a court in New York issued an injunction that blocked the judgement. But it was overturned in January this year by an appeals court, which said Chevron had challenged the judgement prematurely. The appeals court also said the New York judge could not stop other, foreign courts from enforcing the judgement - something the Ecuadorean plaintiffs are working to do in Canada and Brazil. The judgement originally ordered $8.6bn in environmental damages, but that was more than doubled because the oil company did not apologise publicly.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Kids in solitary confinement: America's official child abuse
October 10, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Thousands of teenagers, some as young as 14 or 15, are routinely subjected by US prisons to [the] psychological torture [of solitary confinement]. One teen who participated in the Human Rights watch report wrote that being in isolation felt like 'a slow death from the inside out'. Molly J said of her time in solitary confinement: "[I felt] doomed, like I was being banished. Like you have the plague or that you are the worst thing on earth. I guess [I wanted to] feel like I was part of the human race – not like some animal." Molly was just 16 years old when she was placed in isolation in an adult jail in Michigan. She described her cell as being "a box": "There was a bed – the slab. It was concrete ... There was a stainless steel toilet/sink combo ... The door was solid, without a food slot or window ... There was no window at all." Molly remained in solitary for several months, locked down alone in her cell for at least 22 hours a day. No other nation in the developed world routinely tortures its children in this manner. And torture is indeed the word brought to mind by a shocking report released today by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Growing Up Locked Down documents, for the first time, the widespread use of solitary confinement on youth under the age of 18 in prisons and jails across the country, and the deep and permanent harm it causes to kids caught up in the adult criminal justice system.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the injustices rampant in prisons, click here.
Women Hurting Women
September 30, 2012, New York Times
It would be nice to think that women who achieve power would want to help women at the bottom. But one continuing global drama underscores that women in power can be every bit as contemptible as men. Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, is mounting a scorched-earth offensive against Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and champion of the economic empowerment of women around the world. Yunus, 72, won a Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work in microfinance, focused on helping women lift their families out of poverty. Yet Sheikh Hasina's government has already driven Yunus from his job as managing director of Grameen Bank. Worse, since last month, her government has tried to seize control of the bank from its 5.5 million small-time shareholders, almost all of them women, who collectively own more than 95 percent of the bank. The government has also started various investigations of Yunus and his finances and taxes, and his supporters fear that he might be arrested on some pretext or another.
Note: To sign a petition to the Bangladeshi PM to stop government intervention in this empowering bank, click here. For excellent information on the amazing Grameen Bank and microlending movement, click here.
Cross in the Closet: Straight Christian Lives a Year as Gay Man
October 11, 2012, ABC News
In his Nashville Christian church, Timothy Kurek was taught the lesson of God's wrath in the Biblical story of "Sodom and Gomorrah," and he believed that homosexuality was a sin. But about four years ago, when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided to him that her parents had disowned her when she came out, Kurek felt that he failed her. He wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called "spiritual espionage." He would live like a gay man for a year. Now 26 and no longer homophobic, Kurek writes about his journey -- one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends -- in his memoir, The Cross in the Closet. Only three people knew the truth, and he needed them to carry out his audacious project: his closest friend, an aunt and Shawn, a gay friend whom Kurek also met at karaoke night. Kind-hearted Shawn, whom Kurek described as "a big black burly teddy bear," became his "pretend boyfriend." But most of all, Shawn was the "first gay person that I let into my heart," said Kurek. "He was totally there for me through emotional turmoil ... I trusted him." Rev. Connie Waters, a protestant minister and LGBT ally from Memphis ... said she was "proud" of him. "The transformation in him was life-changing," she said. "It's what you hope for -- the goal of the Christian walk of faith. It's enough for me that he transformed, but if others learn from him, what an extra blessing that is."
Note: For more on this amazing story, click here.
Heaven Is Real: A Doctor's Experience With the Afterlife
October 8, 2012, Daily Beast/Newsweek
As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death. I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states–is there. It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey. For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real–was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial. "You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever." "You have nothing to fear." "There is nothing you can do wrong."
Note: The author of this stirring account, Dr. Eben Alexander, has been a neurosurgeon for the past 25 years. His engaging book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, click here. For other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Sir Nicholas Winton, the 'British Schindler', meets the Holocaust survivors he helped save
September 4, 2009, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
By virtue of the foresight, humanity and sheer bloody-mindedness of a young British stockbroking clerk called Nicholas Winton, 669 Jewish children were saved from the clutches of the Nazis. On Friday, 22 of them were reunited with their 100-year-old saviour – now Sir Nicholas – who has come to be known as the 'British Schindler'. Between March and August 1939 eight trains carried 669 children to Britain, who otherwise would probably have perished in the death camps. Fifteen thousand Czechoslovakian children died in the war. The ninth train, containing 250 children, was due to leave Prague on 3 September 1939, the day Britain declared war. The Germans never let it leave the station, and most of the children never lived to see 1945. Almost as remarkable as the scheme itself, and a mark of Sir Nicholas's modesty, was that he chose to conceal his achievements for decades. It was only when he wife Greta unearthed a briefcase in the attic contained lists of the children he saved and letters to the parents did he admit his part. He said in 1999: "My wife didn't know about it for 40 years after our marriage, but there are all kinds of things you don't talk about even with your family. "Everything that happened before the war actually didn't feel important in the light of the war itself." He also rejected the comparison with Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,200 Jews in the war, saying unlike the German his actions never put him in danger.
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