Arms Deals for Elections Support, Subsidizing Islamic State Militants, Portugal's Drug Problem All But Gone
June 15, 2015
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the arms deals that Hillary Clinton's State Department disproportionately approved for campaign donors, the U.S. weapons indirectly subsidizing Islamic State Militants in Iraq, Canada's use of systematically abusive religious schools against First Nation peoples, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the the Colorado teacher that asked her students to share what they wished she knew and got amazing results, why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes, Portugal's incredible prevention of drug overdose deaths, 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: Explore a powerful article titled "Ex-US Intelligence Officials Confirm: Secret Pentagon Report Proves US Complicity In Creation Of ISIS." Read the autobiography of a once-forgotten genius - Nikola Tesla. Explore a Stanford professor's essay titled "What is Consciousness." Then read an essay be the same title written by Fred Burks, the founder of WantToKnow.info.
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Questions about arms deals for Clinton Foundation donors
May 28, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Federal law designates the secretary of state as “responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales” of arms, military hardware and services to foreign countries. In practice, that meant that [Hillary] Clinton was charged with rejecting or approving weapons deals — and when it came to Clinton Foundation donors, Hillary Clinton’s State Department did a whole lot of approving. While Clinton was secretary of state, her department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors. That figure ... is almost double the value of arms sales to those countries during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term. The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that gave to the Clinton Foundation. That was a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period. American military contractors and their affiliates that donated to the Clinton Foundation — and in some cases, helped finance speaking fees to Bill Clinton — also got in on the action. Those firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of arms deals authorized by the Clinton State Department.
Note: If you can not access this article at the link above, it is also available here. If you look at war and global politics from the point of view of war profiteering, you can see why despite popular opposition to war, it never stops. Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket.
In the Fog of War, the U.S. Has Armed ISIS
June 2, 2015, Reuters
Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles when Islamic State overran the northern city of Mosul in June 2014. Coupled with previous losses of American weapons, the conclusion is simple: The United States is effectively supplying Islamic State with tools of war the militant group cannot otherwise hope to acquire. Losses to Islamic State include at least 40 M1A1 main battle tanks ... 74,000 machine guns, and as many as 52 M198 howitzer mobile gun systems. To help replenish Iraq's motor pool, the U.S. State Department last year approved a sale to Iraq of 1,000 Humvees, along with their armor upgrades, machine guns and grenade launchers. The United States previously donated 250 Mine Resistant Armored Personnel carriers (MRAPs) to Iraq, plus unaccountable amounts of material left behind when American forces departed in 2011. The United States is currently in the process of moving to Iraq 175 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, 55,000 rounds of main tank-gun ammunition, $600 million in howitzers and trucks, $700 million worth of Hellfire missiles and 2,000 AT-4 rockets. The Hellfires and AT-4's, anti-tank weapons, are presumably going to be used to help destroy the American armor in the hands of Islamic State. It's a surreal state of affairs in which American weaponry is being sent into Iraq to destroy American weaponry previously sent into Iraq.
Note: Remember that many in power want perpetual war to keep the profits flowing. Read a verifiable and carefully researched report on the covert origins of ISIS. Explore a powerful article titled "Ex-US Intelligence Officials Confirm: Secret Pentagon Report Proves US Complicity In Creation Of ISIS." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Canada 'cultural genocide' against First Nation
June 3, 2015, BBC News
A study has found rules that required Canadian aboriginals to attend state-funded church schools were responsible for "cultural genocide". The report released on Tuesday found that First Nation children were often physically and sexually abused. "They were stripped of their self-respect and they were stripped of their identity," said Murray Sinclair, one of the study's authors. More than 130 residential schools operated across Canada. The Canadian government forced more than 150,000 First Nation children to attend these schools from the 19th Century until the mid-1990s. The schools sought to integrate the children into mainstream Canadian society, but in doing so rid them of their native culture. The policies have been cited as a major factor in an epidemic of substance abuse on reservations. Students said they were beaten for speaking their native language and were separated from their parents and customs. Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a historic apology in parliament in 2008, acknowledging the physical and sexual abuse that took place in the schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which wrote the report, was created in 2006 as part of a $5bn (£3.3bn) class action settlement between the government, churches and the 90,000 surviving First Nation students. The report issued 94 recommendations including an investigation into missing and murdered aboriginal women and an apology from Pope Francis on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Note: Watch powerful evidence in 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 on sex abuse scandals and violations of basic civil rights.
For Terrorist Fearmongers, It’s Always the Scariest Time Ever
June 2, 2015, The Intercept
For the fearmongers in the West and their allies, it’s always the scariest time ever. In February, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, arguing for renewal of the Patriot Act, warned that “the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist threat to the United States has never been greater.” In January, an anonymous senior aide to U.K. Prime Minister ... argued for a new “snooper” bill by saying that “the terrorist threat has never been greater.” In mid-2014, U.K. Prime Minister Cameron himself raised the threat level to “severe” and announced: “Britain faces the ‘greatest and deepest’ terror threat in the country’s history.” Throughout the Bush years ... officials raised their color-coded terror alerts and issued similar warnings so many times that it became a running joke. Years later, the face of that joke, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, admitted he was pressured to issue warnings for political gain. Here we are 14 years after 9/11, and it’s still always the worst threat ever in all of history. If we always face the greatest threat ever, then one of two things is true: 1) fearmongers serially exaggerate the threat for self-interested reasons, or 2) the threat is always getting more severe, year after year — which might mean we should evaluate the wisdom of “terrorism” policies that constantly make the problem worse. Whatever else is true, the people who should have the least credibility on the planet are [those] who have spent the last 15 years exploiting the terror threat in order to terrorize the American population into doing what they want.
Note: Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.
Major Questions Remain Unanswered in Boston Killing of Alleged ISIS Beheading Plotter
June 10, 2015, The Intercept
Last week in the Boston area, a 26-year-old black Muslim man was shot and killed by agents of the FBI and Boston Police Department. A surveillance video ... was finally released on Monday. It’s virtually impossible to know what happened from this highly touted video, other than the fact that [Usaamah] Rahim appears to have been walking peacefully when he was approached by multiple individuals, wearing no police uniforms, in a threatening, military-style formation. Rahim’s family issued a statement detailing the numerous questions raised by the video. Early reports claimed that there was a third conspirator beyond Rahim and [his nephew and accused co-conspirator David] Wright. The FBI affidavit filed against Wright repeatedly references a “third person” who plotted with Rahim and Wright and met with them. Yet there has been no further mention of this “third person,” and apparently no arrest of him. Why not? Is that third person an FBI informant? Is this yet another case where the director and prime mover of a scary “terror plot” is in fact the FBI itself. What basis exists for the highly inflammatory claim that Rahim was “linked to” or “inspired by” ISIS? He was not only wary of being set up by the FBI, but specifically said he was “preaching AGAINST violence and terrorism.” As AP noted, on social media Rahim “spoke out against the kind of violence Islamic State extremists are fomenting across the Middle East,” and “made none of the violent calls to arms many supporters of armed extremist groups espouse on social media.”
Washington revolving door speeds up as Obama officials head for lobbying jobs
March 7, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Washington has long been notorious for its revolving doors. Politicians, regulators and other officials spin out of one capital building only to return at another as highly paid lobbyists. Leading the pack of former White House staff [now] accepting the corporate shilling is Jay Carney, President Obama’s former White House press secretary, who this week joined Amazon as its head of global corporate affairs. Carney follows David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager and senior White House adviser, who quit the White House in 2013 and joined Uber. Others to have left the Obama administration for the serious cash of the corporate world include Samuel Maruca, who was director of transfer pricing (multinational company taxation) at the Internal Revenue Service, [and] Shara Aranoff, [former] chair of the US International Trade Commission. Bill Allison, senior fellow of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit that campaigns for open government, said the number of senior government officials switching to lobbying roles in big companies poses “a huge problem for transparency". Obama was very clear – he didn’t want people to switch between lobbying and the government, but that’s what is happening. When he took office, Obama signed an order that the White House said: “closes the revolving door that allows government officials to move to and from private sector jobs in ways that give that sector undue influence over government”.
Note: For more on this, see Glenn Greenwald's excellent article.
When It’s O.K. to Pay for a Story
June 9, 2015, New York Times
Last week, WikiLeaks disturbed many journalists with an initiative to crowd-source a $100,000 “bounty” on the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. In traditional newsrooms, the idea of offering a cash incentive for the leaking of confidential documents is anathema. But WikiLeaks ... leaves us no choice but to reconsider this prohibition. The TPP exceeds agreements like Nafta in scope and scale and involves far-reaching foreign policy decisions. Its measures will touch the lives of every citizen in the 12 countries expected to sign the pact. Chapters already leaked suggest that the deal restricts fair use of copyrighted material, expands medical patents and weakens public policies that govern net neutrality. Members of Congress can read the text in a secure room but cannot discuss its contents publicly. Representatives from about 600 private corporations are said to have access to the document. Yet the public is excluded. WikiLeaks has arrived at a flawed solution to a very real problem. We have reached a point in the evolution of global democracy at which secrecy and transparency are grotesquely imbalanced. Right now, the bounty may be the best shot we have at transforming the TPP process from a back-room deal to an open debate. But we need a better system to discourage unjustified secrecy, to protect sources and to encourage public-interest whistle-blowing.
Note: The Trans-Pacific Partnership may be a pending disaster. But we do not know for sure, because its contents remain secret. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.
Media Lessons from Snowden Reporting: LA Times Editors Advocate Prosecution of Sources
June 7, 2015, The Intercept
Two years ago, the first story based on the Snowden archive was published in The Guardian, revealing a program of domestic mass surveillance, which, at least in its original form, ended this week. To commemorate that anniversary, Edward Snowden himself reflected in a New York Times op-ed on the “power of an informed public”. The debate provoked by these disclosures [examined] the role journalism ought to play in a democracy and the proper relationship of journalists to those who wield the greatest political and economic power. Of all the revelations over the last two years, one of the most illuminating and stunning has been the reaction of many in the American media to Edward Snowden as a source. There was plenty of journalistic support for the disclosures. But huge numbers of journalists went on the warpath against transparency. The Los Angeles Times ... believes leaking is criminal and those who do it belong in prison. The LA Times itself constantly publishes illegal leaks, though the ones it publishes usually come from top government officials. Have the LA Times editors called for the criminal prosecution of Leon Panetta, and John Brennan, and the endless number of senior officials who leak not (as Snowden did) to inform the public but in order to propagandize them? Of course not, and therein lies the key media lesson from all of this. These journalists are literally agents of political power.
SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines
June 6, 2015, New York Times
The Navy’s SEAL Team 6 ... best known for killing Osama bin Laden, has been transformed by more than a decade of combat into a global manhunting machine. That role reflects America’s new way of war, in which conflict is distinguished ... by the relentless killing of suspected militants. While fighting grinding wars of attrition in Afghanistan and Iraq, Team 6 ... joined Central Intelligence Agency operatives in an initiative called the Omega Program, which offered greater latitude in hunting adversaries. Team 6 has successfully carried out thousands of dangerous raids that military leaders credit with weakening militant networks, but its activities have also spurred recurring concerns. Afghan villagers and a British commander accused SEALs of indiscriminately killing men in one hamlet; in 2009, team members joined C.I.A. and Afghan paramilitary forces in a raid that left a group of youths dead and inflamed tensions between Afghan and NATO officials. When suspicions have been raised about misconduct, outside oversight has been limited. “This is an area where Congress notoriously doesn’t want to know too much,” said Harold Koh, the State Department’s former top legal adviser. Like the C.I.A.’s campaign of drone strikes, Special Operations missions offer policy makers an alternative to costly wars of occupation. But the bulwark of secrecy around Team 6 makes it impossible to fully assess its record and the consequences of its actions, including civilian casualties or the deep resentment inside the countries where its members operate.
Note: Drone strikes almost always miss their intended targets. Casualties of war whose identities are unknown are frequently mis-reported to be "militants". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about military corruption and high level manipulation of mass media.
NJ court rules for nurse in vaccine-refusal firing
June 5, 2014, Denver Post/Associated Press
A nurse was unfairly denied unemployment benefits after she was fired for refusing a flu shot without claiming a religious or medical exemption, a New Jersey appeals court ruled Thursday. The three-judge panel wrote that the hospital's policy of allowing religious or medical exemptions to the flu shot requirement "unconstitutionally discriminated against" plaintiff June Valent by rejecting her refusal to be vaccinated for secular reasons. Valent was working as a nurse at Hackettstown Community Hospital in 2010 when the hospital's parent company began requiring employees to take the flu vaccine unless they had medical or religious reasons not to. Employees claiming an exemption were required to sign a form and provide documentation. Anyone refusing the vaccine was required to wear a mask while at work. Valent declined the vaccine but didn't state a medical or religious reason, and agreed to wear a mask. She was terminated based on her refusal of the vaccine and disqualified for unemployment benefits by a Department of Labor board of review after several hearings and appeals from both sides. The board concluded that the hospital demonstrated Valent had engaged in work-related misconduct by refusing the flu shot, according to Thursday's ruling. The appellate judges concluded that the hospital violated Valent's right to freedom of expression by endorsing the religious-based exemption while denying her secular choice.
Key Articles From Years Past
Medical marijuana helps stem 6-year-old's seizures
December 10, 2012, CNN News
Before he started taking a liquid, nonpsychoactive form of marijuana, Jayden couldn't walk, eat solid food or take a bath. He has Dravet's syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy. It has triggered seizures so frequent that 44 times he has been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Jayden's doctors prescribed 22 anti-seizure pills a day, which controlled the seizures but left him immobilized due to the side effects. "He's in pain and suffering and crying," said Jayden's father, Jason David. "You can't help him no matter what. What are you supposed to do?" Last year, he had enough. David turned to ... medical marijuana. For the first time since Jayden was 4 months old, the boy went through an entire day without a seizure. Jayden [now] plays at a park, climbing up and down the steps of the jungle gym. He swims at his local pool. His father has begun to wean him off the powerful pharmaceutical pills, which he believes have kept his son from developing properly. The liquid, nonpsychoactive form of marijuana that Jayden takes ensures the boy doesn't get "high." Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana clinic in Oakland, California, helped create the original tincture Jayden took. The center still analyzes and tests the marijuana before David administers it to his son. "Parents don't want to bring their children to something controversial like cannabis," says Harborside's executive director, Steven DeAngelo. "The only thing separating them from help are outdated rules that need to be changed." Those rules are at the federal level, where marijuana remains illegal.
Note: Watch a very touching video on Jayden and his miracle recovery.
Colorado Teacher Shares Heartbreaking Notes From Third Graders
April 16, 2015, ABC News
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.
Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes
June 4, 2013, BBC
For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates. It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life. The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers. It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby's first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls. Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more. The tradition dates back to 1938. In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high - 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed. Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this - the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network. At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women. For some families, the contents of the box would be unaffordable if they were not free of charge.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Why hardly anyone dies from a drug overdose in Portugal
June 5, 2015, Washington Post
Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it -- Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. Whenever we debate similar measures in the U.S. - marijuana decriminalization, for instance - many drug-policy makers predict dire consequences. But in Portugal, the ... prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down. Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union. Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the U.K., all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The E.U. average is 17.3 per million. Perhaps more significantly, the report notes that the use of ... so-called "synthetic" marijuana, "bath salts" and the like is lower in Portugal than in any of the other countries for which reliable data exists. This is arguably a positive development for public health in the sense that many of the designer drugs that people develop to skirt existing drug laws have terrible and often deadly side effects.
Note: Portugal's inspiring approach has contributed to public health outcomes that starkly contrast U.S. trends.
'Sea change' in Catholic sex abuse scandal
June 10, 2015, CNN News
Pope Francis has created a church tribunal to judge bishops who fail to protect children from sexually abusive priests, the Vatican announced Wednesday, a move long sought by abuse victims and their advocates. The new court will be part of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church's chief watchdog. Since 2001, the congregation has judged priests accused of sexual abuse, but there has been no Vatican office with a similar role to judge bishops. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the Pope will appoint a secretary and permanent staff for the tribunal. Longtime critics of the Vatican called Wednesday's move a "sea change" within the Catholic Church. "Priests abuse children, and so do bishops," said Terence McKiernan, president of the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org. "Bishops who offend are inevitable enablers, and the commission's plan must confront that sad fact." Advocates for sexual abuse victims gave the new tribunal qualified approval. "Time will tell whether these moves actually result in holding bishops accountable for cover-ups of crimes," Boston-based church reform group Voice of the Faithful said. "But these steps are the most promising the Vatican has yet taken." The new court was advocated by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who has long pushed the Vatican to discipline bishops who failed to protect children.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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