10 Government Handouts to Rich, Nuclear Plant Buries Earthquake Threat, Brazil's Semco Democratizes Corporate Culture
April 20, 2015
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on government handouts to the rich, the California nuclear power plant that colluded to bury the threat that earthquakes represent to its safety, the removal of Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, the former Chicago police commander that spent decades torturing false confessions out of suspects, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on Brazil's Semco, a company that proves a transparent, democratized corporate culture can benefit everyone, new studies that show the benefits to health and longevity that even moderate exercise confers, how Seattle-based Gravity Payments is paying workers more by paying its CEO much less, and more. You can also skip to this section now.
Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails, see this page. The most important sentences are highlighted. And don't miss the "What you can do" section below the summaries. By educating ourselves and spreading the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: Watch a powerful 80-minute presentation by courageous former Assistant Secretary of HUD under Bush I revealing deep inside information on the black budget and how it is used to forward secret agendas. Read very strange news about the New York City Police Foundation receiving a grant of $1 million from the government of the United Arab Emirates. And read an interesting Mother Jones article on the possibility that Hillary Clinton will take up the UFO/ET issue.
Quote of the Week: "You are the center of your universe. Everyone else is the center of their own universe. And thus we are all equal." ~~ Nassim Haramein of The Resonance Project
Video of the Week: If you are ready to be thoroughly inspired by a man who has been creating a profound new paradigm his whole life in business, education, and much more, don't miss the amazing TedTalk by Ricardo Semler. You won't be disappointed.
The rich get government handouts just like the poor. Here are 10 of them.
April 9, 2015, Washington Post
Many of the non-poor – and, in fact, a lot of the rich – receive benefits from government ... for which we don't make them pee in a cup. We've rounded up some ... examples: 1. The mortgage interest deduction for big houses and second homes. 5 million households in America making more than $200,000 a year get a lot more housing aid than the 20 million households living on less than $20,000. 2. The yacht tax deduction. 3. Rental property. If you're a landlord ... you can deduct many of the expenses you incur renting a home. 4. Fancy business meals. Talking business over an expensive dinner [is] tax deductible. That puts taxpayer spending on food stamps into relief. 5. Investment income is taxed at a much lower rate than regular income. 6.The estate tax. 7. Gambling loss deductions. 8. The Social Security earnings limit. Social Security taxes only apply to income up to $118,500 – anything after that is Social Security tax-free. So the more money you make, the less your effective Social Security tax rate is, making this tax about as regressive as they come. Social Security's own actuaries estimate that eliminating this cap would reduce the program's long-term deficit by about 86 percent. 9. Retirement plans. 10. Tax prep.
Note: For more, read what the Washington Post had to say about our corporate predator state in 2013, and see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
Boxer: Regulators' 'heads should roll' over Diablo nuclear plant
April 15, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
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?
WHO: Long-cleared Roundup ingredient 'probably' causes cancer
March 29, 2015, PBS
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer announced findings that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp line of pesticides, is "probably carcinogenic to humans." The research, published in The Lancet Oncology, relies on studies conducted on the chemical over the last few decades. Use of glyphosate – which the EPA has deemed safe – has soared in the last two decades with the introduction of crops genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Glyphosate is also a main ingredient in a new product called "Enlist Duo" recently introduced by Dow Chemical. Widespread use of the chemical has also come under fire because weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to it. Dow has marketed its new product ... as a new tool for farmers battling herbicide-resistant weeds. But agriculture experts say farmers should look at other ways to manage weeds, like cover-cropping, increased rotation and mechanical removal. This week, environmental groups sent a letter to the EPA renewing their calls for the agency to reconsider its decision to approve Enlist Duo. The groups also called on the EPA to reexamine its findings that glyphosate is safe. Monsanto has come out swinging. In a press release, Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robb Fraley said the company is "outraged". Monsanto has demanded a retraction of the report.
Obama to remove Cuba from state sponsor of terror list
April 14, 2015, Washington Post
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.
Cop accused of brutally torturing black suspects costs Chicago $5.5 million
April 15, 2015, Washington Post
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.
FAA investigating Florida mailman's landing of gyrocopter on U.S. Capitol lawn
April 15, 2015, Tampa Bay Times (One of Florida's leading newspapers)
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 2½ 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?
Big money buys off institutions democracy depends on
April 8, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspapers)
Not long ago I was asked to speak to a religious congregation about widening inequality. Shortly before I began, the head of the congregation asked that I not advocate raising taxes on the wealthy. I had a similar exchange last year with the president of a small college who had invited me to give a lecture that his board of trustees would be attending. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't criticize Wall Street," he said. It seems to be happening all over. A nonprofit group devoted to voting rights decides it won't launch a campaign against big money in politics for fear of alienating wealthy donors. A Washington think tank releases a study on inequality that fails to mention the role big corporations and Wall Street have played ... presumably because the think tank doesn't want to antagonize its corporate and Wall Street donors. A major university shapes research and courses around economic topics of interest to its biggest donors, notably avoiding any mention of the increasing power of large corporations and Wall Street on the economy. It's bad enough that big money is buying off politicians. It's also buying off nonprofits that used to be sources of investigation, information and social change, from criticizing big money. Our democracy is directly threatened when the rich buy off politicians. But no less dangerous is the quieter and more insidious buy-off of institutions democracy depends on to research, investigate, expose and mobilize action against what is occurring.
Note: The above article was written by former U.S. Secretary of Labor and UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
Greater Manchester police 'failed to pursue child abuse gang claims'
October 14, 2014, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Child sex grooming gangs have avoided prosecution due to a failure by one of the country's biggest police forces to pursue claims against them. Greater Manchester police (GMP), the third largest force in England and Wales, has been accused by serving and former detectives of attempting to cover up failings to tackle gangs of Asian men who were abusing young girls. Responding to the claims, GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy [said] that officers had developed a "mindset" that victims in sexual abuse cases were "unreliable" but, while this had since changed, it was still present within the courts. The claims against GMP come just months after a damning report found at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, with "blatant" collective failings by the council and South Yorkshire police blamed for the abuse. Another GMP detective, who has remained anonymous ... revealed there was reluctance by senior officers to investigate sexual abuse claims despite her warnings the problem was spiralling out of control. In a letter seen by ITV News, one serving officer claims there has been a "cover-up" and an internal report commissioned two years ago has been "re-written on nine separate occasions". A statement from the police force said: "Considerable resources are now invested in a number of ongoing investigations and we have already made clear that further arrests will be made.
Note: Explore powerful evidence from a suppressed Discovery Channel documentary showing that child sexual abuse scandals reach to the highest levels of government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals and government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Conventional vs. Grass-fed Beef
May 28, 2014, Huffington Post
Chipotle's ... vision is to change the way people think about and eat fast food. Nothing is more important to us than serving our customers fresh, delicious ingredients that are raised responsibly. Over the years, we have had great success serving the premium beef we call Responsibly Raised, which is produced according to high standards requiring, among other things, that animals be raised without hormones or antibiotics. Sometimes the existing supply of the premium meats we serve is unable to meet our growing demand. This has been the case recently with a portion of the steak we serve, as the size of the total U.S. cattle herd has shrunk to its lowest point in more than 60 years. Returning to grass-based farming systems for cattle is a core component of our long-term vision. Most livestock today spend much of their lives in conditions far from the natural ecosystems in which they evolved. Most cattle spend the latter part of their lives in feedlots, where they are fed grain like corn and soy. There's also evidence suggesting that grass-fed beef is healthier for the people who eat it, and when managed properly, easier on the environment. Over time, we hope that our demand for grass-fed beef will help pave the way for more American ranchers to adopt a grass-fed program. We want to encourage more American ranchers to make the transition to raising cattle entirely on grass.
Note: The above was written by Steve Ells, founder and Co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill. It is great to see a major food company encouraging American farmers to transition out of the unsustainable and extremely unhealthy practice of factory-farming.
Who's in charge here? No one
April 26, 2003, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Semco, Brazil's most famous company ... made its name by standing the conventional corporate rulebook on its head. Semco doesn't have a mission statement, its own rulebook or any written policies. It doesn't have an organisation chart, a human resources department or even, these days, a headquarters. Subordinates choose their managers, decide how much they are paid and when they work. Meetings are voluntary, and two seats at board meetings are open to the first employees who turn up. Salaries are made public, and so is all the company's financial information. Six months is the farthest ahead the group ever looks. Its units each half-year decide how many people they require for the next period. Naturally it doesn't plan which businesses to enter. Instead it 'rambles' into new areas by trial, error and argument. Its current portfolio is an odd mixture of machinery, property, professional services and fledgling hi-tech spin-offs. That's right, Semco is the epitome of managerial incorrectness. Sounds like a recipe for chaos, eh? Yet Semco has surfed Brazil's rough economic and political currents with panache, often growing at between 30 and 40 per cent a year. It turns over $160 million, up from $4m when [company founder Ricardo] Semler joined the family business two decades ago, and it employs 3,000 [people]. $100,000 invested in this barmy firm 20 years ago would now be worth $5m. But conventional control attitudes are deeply programmed. Even now, laments Semler, 'we're only 50 or 60 per cent where we'd like to be'.
The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life
April 15, 2015, New York Times
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.
Gravity Payments CEO Will Live on $70,000 Worker Wage, Thinks His Life Will Be Luxe Enough
April 14, 2015, ABC News
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.
Did This City Bring Down Its Murder Rate by Paying People Not to Kill?
August 2014, Mother Jones
It was a crazy idea, but Richmond, California, wouldn't have signed off on DeVone Boggan's plan if it had been suffering from an abundance of sanity. For years, the Bay Area city had been battling one of the nation's worst homicide rates and spending millions of dollars on anti-crime programs to no avail. Boggan, who'd been working to keep teen offenders out of prison ... wondered: What if we identified the most likely perpetrators and paid them to stay out of trouble? In late 2007, Boggan launched the Office of Neighborhood Safety, an experimental public-private partnership that's introduced the "Richmond model" for rolling back street violence. It has done it with a mix of data mining and mentoring, and by crossing lines that other anti-crime initiatives have only tiptoed around. The program's street team sifts through police records and its own intelligence to determine, with actuarial detachment, the 50 people in Richmond most likely to shoot someone and to be shot themselves. ONS tracks them and approaches the most lethal (and vulnerable) on the list, offering them a spot in a program that includes a stipend to turn their lives around. So far, the results have been promising. In 2007, when Boggan's program began, Richmond was America's ninth most dangerous city, with 47 killings among its 106,000 residents. In 2013, it saw its lowest number of homicides in 33 years, and its homicide rate fell to 15. In exchange for shunning dangerous behavior, ONS fellows receive anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per month.
Note: For more on this amazing crime-reduction program, read this article. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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