Spy Lobbyists Oversee Spies, Overweight People Live Longer, Old Skool Cafe Helps Troubled Youth
April 13, 2015
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on how lobbyists for spies are being appointed to government positions to oversee spy programs, solid scientific evidence that overweight people live longer, the connection between fracking and earthquakes in Oklahoma that Big Oil is trying to bury, the DEA's mass surveillance machine, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the Old Skool Cafe helping trouble youth to learn life skills and stay out of gangs, the incredible school in Massachusetts started and run by high school students, the new online platform helping to transparently connect homeless people with the resources they need, 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: Read an article on how scientists have succeeded in transmitting electricity 170 feet through the air. Watch an intriguing documentary on the power of juiced vegetables to heal serious, chronic problems. Read how India, the world's largest democracy, is planning to use drones armed with pepper spray for crowd control during political demonstrations.
Quote of the Week: "If we go within, we will never go without."
Video of the Week: Watch an excellent, three-minute video in which several MDs tell why chicken pox vaccines don't make sense and are causing in adults an increase in shingles, which is more dangerous than chicken pox. This clip was an outtake from the awesome documentary "Bought," of which the first 30 minutes can be watched free.
Lobbyists for Spies Appointed To Oversee Spying
April 9, 2015, The Intercept
After the first revelations of domestic surveillance by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, President Obama defended the spying programs by claiming they were "subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate." But as Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., and other members of Congress have pointed out, there is essentially a "two-tiered" system for oversight, with lawmakers and staff on specialized committees, such as the House and Senate committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security, controlling the flow of information and routinely excluding other Congress members. A large number of lobbyists and consultants [pass] through the revolving door between the intelligence community and the watchdogs who purportedly oversee the intelligence community. Lobbyist influence is a particularly sensitive issue when it comes to intelligence committees, since those committees oversee secret "black budgets" in which money is disbursed with greatly reduced public oversight. The potential for self dealing is significant; former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., was caught accepting bribes to essentially earmark government contracts into a black budget. Lobbyist control over the House and Senate intelligence and homeland security committees may have a profound impact on a range of surveillance issues debated by Congress this year, including the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act and the Patriot Act.
Note: The above article details several examples of industry lobbyists now operating in key government oversight positions within an unaccountable intelligence establishment. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in intelligence agencies.
Why being 'overweight' means you live longer: The way scientists twist the facts
April 10, 2015, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Many medical "facts" are simply not true. By definition, being "overweight" must be bad for your health – or we wouldn't call it overweight. But we do not define overweight as being the weight above which you are damaging your health; it has an exact definition. To be overweight means having a BMI of between 25 and 30. In 2009, a German group did a painstaking meta-analysis of all studies on overweight and obesity that they could find. As with most other researchers, they found that being overweight was good for you. Of course, they didn't phrase it in this way. They said: "The prevailing notion that overweight increases morbidity and mortality, as compared to so-called normal weight, is in need of further specification." In need of further specification? An interesting phrase, but one that hints at the terrible problems researchers have when their findings fail to match prevailing dogma; if the prevailing consensus is "if your BMI is between 25 and 29, it is damaging your health and you should lose weight", then you challenge this at your peril. Despite the fact that study after study has demonstrated quite clearly that "overweight" people live the longest, no one can bring themselves to say: "Sorry, we were wrong. A BMI between 25 and 29 is the healthiest weight of all. For those of you between 20 and 25, I say, eat more, become healthier." Who would dare say such a thing? Not anyone with tenure at a leading university, that's for sure.
Note: Don't miss the entire article to see how scientists severely manipulate the results of their data when it does not fit established norms. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center and concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in science..
Big oil is pressuring scientists not to link fracking to earthquakes in Oklahoma
April 3, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Many Oklahomans can still vividly recall the day they experienced their first earthquake. Ever since 2009/2010, earthquakes in the state have increased exponentially – leading to what are called "seismic swarms". In 2000 there was not a single earthquake, but in 2014 we experienced 585 quakes of magnitude three or larger. For some time now, scientists have wondered whether fracking-related activities, such as wastewater injection, might be the source of increased seismic activity in Oklahoma. In May of last year, the Oklahoma Geological Survey, an affiliate entity of the University of Oklahoma, released a statement in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey, saying that wastewater injection was a "likely contributing factor the increase in earthquakes". Not long after this statement, David Boren, president of the university, summoned the Oklahoma Geological Survey's lead seismologist Austin Holland, who was also one of the authors of the statement, to a meeting with Harold Hamm, CEO of ... one of Oklahoma's largest oil and gas exploration and production companies. Boren facilitated the meeting despite the fact that he also serves as a member of the Continental Resources board of directors. In July 2014, Continental Resources released a presentation positing an alternative theory for the seismic swarms and downplaying the influence of induced seismicity. One can only imagine the pressure this meeting must have brought upon Holland and his team of scientists.
Note: Jason W Murphey, an Oklahoma State Representative, wrote the above. For more on this, read this informative New York Times article titled "As Quakes Rattle Oklahoma, Fingers Point to Oil and Gas Industry." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in science.
Lawmakers pushed to keep troubled defense programs alive
April 5, 2015, Los Angeles Times
Patrick J. O'Reilly was at times "a cheerleader and an advocate" for the Missile Defense Agency during his four years as director. But he broke ranks with his predecessors at the agency by questioning flawed programs. In a series of interviews, O'Reilly said members of Congress whose states or districts benefited from missile defense spending fought doggedly to protect three of the programs long after their shortcomings became obvious. He described how Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) reacted when he outlined his reservations about the Airborne Laser project, envisioned as a fleet of Boeing 747s that would be modified to fire laser beams at enemy missiles. "He'd immediately start talking about, 'How much money do you need?' I was trying to say, 'On the technical merits, it doesn't make sense.'" The project was killed in 2012, after a decade of testing and $5.3 billion in spending. O'Reilly grew skeptical of another missile defense project, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, after he learned that Navy ships would have to be retrofitted ... to accommodate the 40-foot-long rocket. Existing ships could not carry interceptors longer than 22 feet, he said. The project's backers included Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, [and] Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama. O'Reilly said the three senators bristled when he suggested that the Kinetic Energy Interceptor was unworkable. The program nevertheless was discontinued [in 2009]. By then, $1.7 billion had been spent on it.
DEA sued over secret bulk collection of Americans' phone records
April 8, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Human rights campaigners have prepared a federal lawsuit aiming to permanently shut down the bulk collection of billions of US phone records – not, this time, by the National Security Agency, but by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The program ... served as a template for the NSA's gigantic and ongoing bulk surveillance of US phone data after 9/11. The revelation of mass phone-records collection in the so-called "war on drugs" raises new questions about whether the Obama administration or its successors believe US security agencies continue to have legal leeway for warrantless bulk surveillance on American citizens. Starting in 1992, the so-called "USTO" effort operated without judicial approval, despite the US constitution's warrant requirement. Attorney general Eric Holder ended USTO in September 2013 out of fear of scandal following Snowden's disclosures. While Snowden did not expose USTO, several NSA programs he has exposed referenced the DEA as an NSA partner, giving the DEA another secret pathway to massive amounts of US communications records. The warrantless bulk records collection provides prosecutors the ability to enter into evidence incriminating material that could otherwise be thrown out of court, [and] has not stopped the upward growth of domestic narcotics consumption.
Note: In order to deny due process to people accused of crimes, the DEA's Special Operations Division constructs lies about the origins of data obtained from warrantless mass surveillance. Award-winning journalists have presented powerful evidence of direct DEA and CIA involvement in and support of drug running and drug cartels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
Political Smears in U.S. Never Change: the NYT's 1967 Attack on MLK's Anti-War Speech
April 7, 2015, The Intercept
John Oliver's Monday night interview of Edward Snowden ... renewed all the standard attacks in Democratic circles accusing Snowden of being a traitor in cahoots with the Kremlin. What's most striking about this – aside from the utter lack of evidence for any of it – is how identical it is to what Nixon officials said to smear the last generation's greatest whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg. I defy anyone to listen to any Democratic apparatchik insinuate that Snowden is a Russian agent and identify any differences with how Nixon apparatchiks smeared Ellsberg (or, for that matter, how today's warnings from Obama officials about the grave harm coming from leaks differ from the warnings issued by Bush and Nixon officials). The script for smearing never changes. One of the most illustrative examples of this: an April 1967 New York Times editorial harshly chastising Martin Luther King for his anti-war activism. That editorial was published three days after King's speech on the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City, which ... denounced the U.S. government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," as well as the leading exponent of "the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long." The attack of the NYT editors on King for that speech is ... identical to how anti-war advocates in the U.S. are maligned today [by] Washington smear merchants.
Note: The media smear campaign against Dr. Martin Luther King was followed by his government-sponsored assassination, as a 1999 trial in Memphis, TN ultimately revealed. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
National Scandal Over Major Child Abuse Cover-Up in French Schools
April 8, 2015, Newsweek
Global horror over child abuse and its concealment by the Establishment, hitherto focused squarely on the UK, now needs to be widened to France as well. Thousands of children in French schools have been sexually abused by paedophile teachers, an international NGO has claimed, accusing the French education authorities of a decades-long "cover-up". The French education system is set to become the focus of a national scandal after minister for education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was forced to admit last week that 16 teachers were allowed to work in schools last year despite holding previous convictions for paedophilia. Homayra Sellier, founder of Innocence en Danger, an NGO dedicated to child abuse victims, says: "The ministry of education has covered this up for years. The government has never been inclined to listen to these stories." Sellier forecasts thousands of cases will emerge, a concern echoed by another French NGO, Lueur d'Enfance, which works to support and defend the rights of children. Teachers who try to speak out about child abuse at the hands of other teachers are silenced by school directors and local officials, and even threatened with legal action – usually defamation. Others have lost their jobs. As for the teachers the children accuse, they usually stay at the same school, or are quietly transferred to another.
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.
Court Accepts DOJ's 'State Secrets' Claim to Protect Shadowy Neocons: a New Low
March 26, 2015, The Intercept
An anti-Iranian group calling itself "United Against Nuclear Iran" (UANI) ... is very likely a front for some combination of the Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. When launched, NBC described its mission as waging "economic and psychological warfare" against Iran. The group was founded and is run and guided by a roster of ... neocon extremists such as Joe Lieberman, former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and current CNN "analyst") Fran Townsend, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Mossad Director Meir Dagan. In May 2013, UANI launched a "name and shame" campaign designed to publicly identify – and malign – any individuals or entities enabling trade with Iran. One of the accused was the shipping company of Greek billionaire Victor Restis, who ... sued UANI for defamation in a New York federal court. Then something quite extraordinary happened: In September of last year, the U.S. government, which was not a party, formally intervened in the lawsuit, and demanded that the court ... dismiss the lawsuit against UANI before it could even start, on the ground that allowing the case to proceed would damage national security. Why would such a group like this even possess "state secrets"? It would be illegal to give them such material. The U.S. government provide no clue as to what the supposedly endangered "state secrets" are. As a result of the DOJ's protection, UANI cannot be sued. This group of neocon extremists now has a license to defame anyone they want.
Upset by Warren, US banks debate halting some campaign donations
March 27, 2015, CNBC/Reuters
Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest. Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street. Citigroup has decided to withhold donations for now to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power, sources inside the bank told Reuters. The Massachusetts senator's economic populism and take-no-prisoners approach has won her a strong following. Warren, a former Harvard Law professor who joined the Senate Banking Committee after taking office in 2013, has accused big banks and other financial firms of unfair dealings that harm the middle class and help the rich grow richer. In a Dec. 12 speech, she mentioned Citi several times as an example of a bank that had grown too large, saying it should have been broken apart by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In January, Warren angered Wall Street when she successfully blocked the nomination of a banker Antonio Weiss to a top post at the Treasury Department. She argued that as a regulator he would likely be too deferential to his former Wall Street colleagues.
The rise of the working poor and the non-working rich
April 3, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they're lazy. In reality, a large and growing share of the nation's poor work full time – sometimes 60 or more hours a week – yet still don't earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. It's also commonly believed ... that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others. In reality ... their wealth has been handed to them. The rise of these two groups – the working poor and non-working rich – is relatively new. Why are these two groups growing? The ranks of the working poor are growing because wages at the bottom have dropped, adjusted for inflation. The real value of the federal minimum wage is lower today than it was a quarter century ago. In addition, most recipients of public assistance must now work in order to qualify. The new work requirements haven't reduced the number or percentage of Americans in poverty. They've just moved poor people from being unemployed and impoverished to being employed and impoverished. At the same time, the ranks of the non-working rich have been swelling. A study by the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects a total of $59 trillion passed down to heirs between 2007 and 2061. This is ... about to become the major source of income for a new American aristocracy. The tax code encourages all this by favoring unearned income over earned income.
Note: The above article was written by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
Ayahuasca Psychedelic Tested for Depression
April 8, 2015, Scientific American
A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression. Researchers from Brazil last month published results from the first clinical test of a potential therapeutic benefit for ayahuasca, a South American plant-based brew. The work forms part of a renaissance in studying the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic or recreational drugs – research that was largely banned or restricted worldwide half a century ago. Ketamine, which is used medically as an anaesthetic, has shown promise as a fast-acting antidepressant; psilocybin, a hallucinogen found in 'magic mushrooms', can help to alleviate anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer; MDMA (ecstasy) can alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder; and patients who experience debilitating cluster headaches have reported that LSD eases their symptoms. Ayahuasca, a sacramental drink traditionally brewed from the bark of a jungle vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of a shrub (Psychotria viridis) ... has been studied by anthropologists, social scientists and theologians, but clinical research on ayahuasca has been limited to observation of its effects in mice and rats, and in healthy human volunteers, including brain-imaging studies and retrospective surveys of past use. Further trials are under way.
Note: Are the healing potentials of mind altering drugs finally starting to receive honest mainstream attention?
Key Articles From Years Past
School bonds are a Wall Street scam
September 16, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
An exotic bond scheme promoted by Wall Street as a way to build schools ... is really a financial scam. These "capital appreciation bonds" ... were part of AB1388, signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. Unlike conventional bonds that have to be paid off on a regular basis, the bonds approved in AB1388 relaxed regulatory safeguards and allowed them to be paid back 25 to 40 years in the future. The problem is that from the time the bonds are issued until payment is due, interest accrues and compounds at exorbitant rates. This kind of bond has been outlawed by a number of states. Several grand jury investigations warned [California] school officials against these scams. According to a recent San Mateo County grand jury report, the bonds have been issued in California to raise more than $500 billion - but the estimated future repayment of that debt will total more than $2 trillion. School and community college districts issued 98 percent of all capital appreciation bonds. More than 200 California school and community college districts issuing these bonds will end up paying 10 to 20 times more than they borrowed, [and] payment will not be due until after the useful life of the school facilities built with the bond funds. State records show that Piper Jaffray has brokered 165 of such bonds since 2008, earning $31.4 million, and that Goldman Sachs earned $1.6 million on a single deal with the San Diego Unified School District.
Troubled youth kicking it 'old skool' at San Fran bistro
May 16, 2013, CNN News
As a juvenile corrections officer in Southern California, Teresa Goines found it rewarding to work with troubled youth and help them turn their lives around. The hardest part usually came after their release. "They'd be super excited, ready to start a new life," she said. "They'd be put in the exact same environment, though, so they'd reoffend, and they'd come back." The system was essentially setting them up to fail. Finding a well-paying job can be a tough proposition when you have a criminal record, Goines said. She wanted to provide an alternative to gangs, knowing that such groups often give troubled youth a way to make money while providing a sense of family and social support. Eventually, she came up with the idea for the Old Skool Cafe, a 1940s-style restaurant run entirely by young people from difficult circumstances. The bistro is in one of San Francisco's roughest neighborhoods, but inside, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Customers come from all over the city to enjoy the food and entertainment and to support Goines' mission, which provides jobs, career training and a built-in support system to at least 25 at-risk people each year. Giving young people a chance to be seen differently -- and to see themselves differently -- is what the program is all about. It's open to at-risk youth ages 16 to 22, many of whom are referred by social workers or probation officers. Staff members attend workshops on financial literacy, résumé writing and interview skills. They also meet regularly with a life coach who helps them set goals and connects them with resources for housing or medical care.
Note: Don't miss the incredibly inspiring six-minute video on this. Amazing transformation! Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A High School Where the Students Are the Teachers
March 27, 2013, Time Magazine
If high school students took charge of their education with limited supervision, would they learn? A Massachusetts school is finding out. Sam Levin ... started the program in 2010. Frustrated with his public-high-school schedule and realizing that his friends weren't inspired to learn, Levin complained to his mother about how unhappy he and his classmates were, to which she responded: "Why don't you just make your own school?" And so he did. Levin quickly gained the support of his high school guidance counselor, Mike Powell, who remains the program adviser. After getting the O.K. from the school principal and superintendent, the duo were given the green light ... to embark on their experiment in 2010. The curriculum is designed by the students, [who] enroll for an entire semester, and with only a few exceptions ... do not take other classes. Each class has a mix of 10 students, some straight-A students and others who are on the verge of failing their classes. Three to four faculty advisers are available to guide the students and to provide advice. "Giving young people the chance to directly engage in their own learning is rooted in a tremendous amount of research [showing] that is actually how we learn best," says Scott Nine, the executive director of the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA). "When we think about the world our young people live in, the core competencies of autonomy, belongingness and confidence are the building blocks of what we need."
Note: Learn more about this inspiring project in this Huffington Post article.
A Crowdfunding App for the Homeless, HandUp Raises $850,000
July 16, 2014, Wall Street Journal Blog
A startup that's been called "a Kickstarter for the homeless," HandUp Pbc, has raised $850,000 in seed funding, co-founder and Chief Executive Rose Broome told Venture Capital Dispatch. Unlike giving cash to needy people on the streets, HandUp helps donors give money to homeless people who commit to using it to fulfill specific needs like rent, security deposits, food or health bills. Homeless advocates, or case managers who work in shelters, post profiles on HandUp.us on behalf of the homeless, accept donations via HandUp, then ensure the money is spent on what that person said he or she needed. To generate revenue, HandUp asks donors to pay an optional "support fee" of five dollars each time they make a contribution. If a donor doesn't opt-in to pay that fee, the entirety of what they donate goes to the homeless person in need. Most homeless people do not or cannot maintain an online bank account or consistent Internet access. So HandUp's approach helps them get access to online fundraising when they wouldn't otherwise have the option. It also has the effect of helping non-profits and shelters validate that their clients' needs are being met fully, and with transparency for donors. With the seed funding, Ms. Broome says HandUp plans to grow its five-employee team, scale beyond San Francisco to help the homeless, and develop partnerships with shelters and non-profits.
Note: Watch an inspiring three-minute CNN video on this great program.
How Gratitude Beats Materialism
January 8, 2015, Greater Good
Material things are unlikely to boost our happiness in a sustained or meaningful way. In fact, research suggests that materialistic people are less happy than their peers. They experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life, and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. How can we avoid falling into the unhappiness trap of materialism? One answer has been emerging from social science: Cultivate a mindset of gratitude. In the early 1990s, researchers Marsha Richins and Scott Dawson developed the first scale to measure materialism rigorously. People who score high on Drs. Richins and Dawson's scale score lower on just about every major scale that scientists use to measure happiness. Earlier this year, Jo-Ann Tsang of Baylor University and her colleagues surveyed 246 undergraduate students to measure their levels of materialism, life satisfaction and gratitude. Their results ... show that as materialism increased, feelings of gratitude and life satisfaction decreased. The relationship between materialism and gratitude can run in the opposite direction. A 2009 study led by Nathaniel Lambert, now of Brigham Young University, found that inducing gratitude in people caused a decrease in materialism. Dr. Lambert and his colleagues were able to increase gratitude in their participants by instructing them to focus on appreciating the good things they had been given in life, then write about what came to mind.
Note: The complete article presents several approaches to cultivating gratitude in everyday life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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