Half of Science Journals' Claims Untrue, TPP Fast Track Votes Bought, Breaking Poverty in Cambodia
June 1, 2015
June 1, 2015
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on a leading medical journal's revelation that up to half of all claims in scientific literature may be untrue, the purchase of U.S. congressional votes to "fast track" the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deterioration of antitrust rules in the U.S. leading to monopolized industries, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the programs being developed to break the poverty cycle for women in Cambodia, Denmark's ambitious plan to rely only on renewable energy by 2050, the Atlanta school that looks like "Hogwarts" and produces incredibly rigorous academic outcomes, 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.
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Special note: Listen to a profound exploration of the big picture of life by Alan Watts. Read an intriguing article questioning the reality of the Boston Marathon bombing. Read one doctor's nightmare experience when she began to question her hospital's policy of vaccinating even seriously ill patients upon admission. Read an excellent article on safe insect repellants.
Quote of the week: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step." ~~ Lao Tsu
What is medicine’s 5 sigma? by Lancet Chief Editor Richard Horton
April 11, 2015, The Lancet (One of the world's top medical journals)
[A] symposium — on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week — touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics. National assessment procedures ... incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct. Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivised to be productive. The conclusion of the symposium was that something must be done. The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously. The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system.
Note: The Lancet is considered by many to be the most prestigious medical journal in the world. If the editor-in-chief of the Lancet is making these comments, who can we trust? Read a powerfully revealing essay by former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell on how the drug companies blatantly manipulate science for profit.
Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill
May 27, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the cash spigot in the hopes of getting it passed. TPP passed another crucial vote ... to give Barack Obama the authority to speed the bill through Congress. The president’s own supporters, senior economists and a host of activists have lobbied against a pact they argue will favor big business but harm US jobs, fail to secure better conditions for workers overseas and undermine free speech. Fast-tracking the TPP, meaning its passage through Congress without having its contents available for debate or amendments, was only possible after lots of corporate money exchanged hands with senators. This chart shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate. Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes. The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters. The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors. Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track.
Who is writing the TPP?
May 11, 2015, Boston Globe
Congress is in an intense debate over trade bills that will shape the course of the US economy for decades. Modern “trade” agreements are often less about trade and more about giant multinational corporations finding new ways to rig the economic system to benefit themselves. The president argues that the TPP is about who will “write the rules” for 40 percent of the world’s economy — the United States or China. But who is writing the TPP? The text has been classified and the public isn’t permitted to see it, but 28 trade advisory committees have been intimately involved in the negotiations. Of the 566 committee members, 480, or 85 percent, are senior corporate executives or representatives from industry lobbying groups. Many of the advisory committees are made up entirely of industry representatives. A rigged process leads to a rigged outcome. By definition, massive trade deals like the TPP override domestic laws written, debated, and passed by Congress. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has testified before Congress that trade negotiations involve “pressure to lower standards” on financial regulations and other public interest laws, and that President Obama has resisted that pressure. But Obama will soon leave office, and he cannot bind a future president. This legislation risks giving a future president a powerful tool to undermine public interest regulations under the guise of promoting commerce.
Note: US senator Elizabeth Warren and US representative Rosa DeLauro wrote the above article, which further clarifies why the Trans-Pacific Partnership may be a pending disaster. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.
What Ever Happened to Antitrust?
May 25, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
The May 20 settlement between the Justice Department and five giant banks reveals the appalling weakness of modern antitrust. The banks had engaged in the biggest price-fixing conspiracy in modern history. It was a "brazen display of collusion" that went on for years, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. But there will be no trial [and] no executive will go to jail. The fines ... will be treated by the banks as costs of doing business. America used to have antitrust laws that permanently stopped corporations from monopolizing markets. No longer. The result has been higher prices for the many, and higher profits for the few. It's a hidden upward redistribution from the majority of Americans to corporate executives and wealthy shareholders. Similar upward distributions are occurring elsewhere in the economy. The four largest food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing. Monsanto alone owns the key genetic traits to more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted by farmers in the United States, and 80 percent of the corn. Big Agribusiness wants to keep it this way. The list goes on, industry after industry, across the economy. Antitrust has been ambushed by the giant companies it was designed to contain. The market is rigged. And unless government unrigs it through bold antitrust action to restore competition, the upward distributions hidden inside the "free market" will become even larger.
Note: The above article was written by former US Secretary of Labor and current professor of public policy at UC Berkeley Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry and the income inequality that this contributes to.
Thousands worldwide march against Monsanto and GMOs
May 23, 2015, MSN News/AFP
From Paris to Ouagadougou, thousands of people took to the streets Saturday to protest against the American biotechnology giant Monsanto and its genetically modified crops and pesticides. The third annual March Against Monsanto was being held in upwards of 400 cities in more than 40 countries. About 2,500 people staged anti-Monsanto protests in the Swiss cities of Basel and Morgues, where the company has its headquarters for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Up to 3,000 protesters ... gathered in Paris, with Monsanto's market-leading herbicide Roundup the main targets of protesters' anger. The controversial product's main ingredient was recently classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the World Health Organization. "Looking for mass suicide? Go for Roundup," read one placard at another French protest in the western city of Rennes. Halfway around the planet in Burkina Faso, around 500 marched against the US giant which introduced GM cotton into the west African country in 2003. Demonstrators demanded a 10-year moratorium on the planting of Monsanto seeds so "independent research can be conducted" into the effects of the technology. Up to 1,000 anti-Monsanto activists gathered in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg as the sun was setting for a minute's silence "in homage to the existing and future victims poisoned by pesticides", according to the organisers. The worldwide March Against Monsanto was begun in 2013 by the Occupy movement.
Note: Monsanto's political clout in the U.S. recently led to what has been popularly termed "the Monsanto protection act." The negative health impacts of Monsanto's RoundUp are well known and this product is considered by the WHO to "probably cause cancer", while the risks and dangers of genetically engineering crops to tolerate such chemicals are becoming increasingly clear.
Court sides with CIA, ‘torture’ reports to stay secret
May 21, 2015, McClatchy News Service
The CIA can keep secret a nearly 7,000-page Senate report on harsh interrogation methods, as well as an internal agency review. The complete 6,963-page report compiled by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [is] exempt from the dictates of the Freedom of Information Act, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg concluded. The Senate committee report, he reasoned, remained a document under congressional control, and Congress made sure to exempt itself from FOIA. “Congress has undoubted authority to keep its records secret, authority rooted in the Constitution, longstanding practice, and current congressional rules,” Boasberg stated. Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, voiced disappointment in the ruling. The Senate committee released a summary of the $40 million report last December, following years of back-and-forth.
In the Same Week, the U.S. and U.K. Hide Their War Crimes by Invoking “National Security
May 21, 2015, The Intercept
Colonel Ian Henderson was a British official dubbed “the Butcher of Bahrain” because of atrocities he repeatedly committed during the 30 years he served as chief security official of that Middle Eastern country. A 2002 Guardian article reported that “during this time his men allegedly detained and tortured thousands of anti-government activists”; his official acts “included the ransacking of villages, sadistic sexual abuse and using power drills to maim prisoners”. Col. Henderson was never punished in any way. For years, human rights groups have fought to obtain ... a 37-year-old diplomatic cable, relating to British responsibility for Henderson’s brutality in Bahrain. Ordinarily, documents more than 30 years old are disclosable. Now, a governmental tribunal ruled ... that most of the diplomatic cable shall remain suppressed. The tribunal’s ruling was at least partially based on “secret evidence ... that the release of such information could jeopardise Britain’s new military base in the country.” This is the core mindset now prevalent in both the U.S. and U.K. for hiding their crimes from their own populations and the rest of the world: disclosure of what we did will embarrass and shame us, cause anger toward us, and thus harm our “national security.” This is exactly the same mentality driving the Obama administration’s years-long effort to suppress photographs showing torture of detainees by the U.S.. Obama insisted that to release the photos “would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in danger.”
NSA Planned to Hijack Google App Store to Hack Smartphones
May 21, 2015, The Intercept
The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals. The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden ... outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were [using, which included] a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing. The agencies ... were also keen to find ways to hijack [app stores] as a way of sending “selective misinformation to the targets’ handsets” as part of so-called “effects” operations that are used to spread propaganda or confuse adversaries. Moreover, the agencies wanted to gain access to companies’ app store servers so they could secretly use them for “harvesting” information about phone users. The revelations are the latest to highlight tactics adopted by the Five Eyes agencies. Last year, The Intercept reported that the NSA ... was shown to have masqueraded as a Facebook server in order to hack into computers.
Johanna Hamilton Goes Back to 1971 to Find Burglars Who Revealed Illegal FBI Spying
May 18, 2015, PBS
1971: A group of ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. What they discovered shocked them. Long before Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance, these activist-burglars exposed COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal surveillance program that involved the intimidation of law-abiding Americans. For forty years the burglars kept their identities secret, but in Johanna Hamilton’s new film 1971, these previously anonymous Americans publicly tell their story for the first time. Hamilton took the time to talk to us about how she approached telling this story: "To me, every aspect of the story was compelling. A group of ordinary people who put everything on the line to protect freedom of speech and hold their government accountable. They were total outsiders who trained themselves for one night of amateur burglary in order to break into an FBI office — on a hunch! They manage to evade capture. The revelations from the break-in helped lead to the Church Committee hearings in Congress, which ended up establishing the first ever set of guidelines governing the FBI’s investigative powers. The Citizens’ Commission risked everything because they suspected the government was conducting illegal surveillance. And they were right. We are in the midst of the same discussion today. Post 9/11 we lost many of the checks and balances that the government normally operates under. Governments should not spy on law-abiding citizens — whether it’s Hoover’s FBI or today’s NSA."
Protest the vaccination schedule
May 25, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
There are intelligent, informed parents who oppose SB277, which removes the personal belief exemption for vaccines. I am a California-born, Stanford-educated technology professional and mother who makes intelligent, science-based decisions about my child’s health. I do vaccinate my child — but the overloaded vaccine schedule forced on us is not a one-size-fits-all. Vaccines have saved millions of lives. That does not mean that we should be forced to give our infants ... 25 doses of vaccines by age 6 months. If the Legislature’s goal is to increase vaccination rates and thus protect the public health, it is much better served by making the schedule more flexible and working with parents, rather than mandating we either dose our kids or be forced to take them out of school. Pharmaceutical companies must offer single vaccines instead of “combo” shots, which can combine four or more vaccines. This will allow us to space out the vaccines and, if our child reacts to one, pinpoint exactly which one caused the reaction so we can avoid it. Families should also be able to hold pharmaceutical companies liable for damages potentially caused by their vaccines. The American Medical Association reserves its physicians rights to decline vaccines based on personal belief. Parents deserve the same right of informed consent for our kids.
Note: Vaccines are a miracle of modern science that may save countless lives. Yet powerful evidence suggests that some vaccines are not safe nor effective. Big Pharma makes billions in profit from vaccines and does not always put public interest first. Who are politicians serving with this legislation?
UN Officials Let Child Sex Abuse Claims Linger
May 26, 2015, ABC News/Associated Press
For months, the U.N.'s top human rights officials knew about allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic. But they didn't follow up because they assumed French authorities were handling it ... even as France pressed the U.N. for more information about the case. The deputy high commissioner for human rights also says that her colleague who first informed French authorities last July did it because he didn't think the recently created U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic would act on the allegations. A year after the U.N. first heard allegations from children as young as 9 that French soldiers had sexually abused them, sometimes in exchange for food, it seems that the only person who has been punished is the U.N. staffer who told French authorities. The Paris prosecutor's office this month, however, blamed the U.N. "hierarchy" for taking more than six months to supply answers to its questions. The U.N. finally handed over written answers on April 29, the Paris prosecutor's office said — the same day that the Guardian newspaper first made the French and U.N. inquiries public. French soldiers had been tasked with protecting civilians in Central African Republic from vicious violence between Christians and Muslims. Thousands of scared people had crammed into a camp for displaced people. Residents have told the AP that soldiers offered cookies, other food or bottles of water in exchange for sodomy or oral sex. It is still not clear where the accused soldiers are now.
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.
Key Articles From Years Past
Lancet Editor Richard Horton Tweets Dark View of Contemporary Medicine
January 27, 2012, Forbes
One brief message at a time, Lancet editor Richard Horton is tweeting his dark view of the contemporary medical establishment. If you have any interest at all in peeking behind the curtain to see what really goes on behind the scenes of top medical organizations then you need to follow Richard Horton’s Twitter feed. In sudden bursts of candor, humor, and cynicism, Horton has been tweeting thoughts that don’t often see the light of day. Here’s his unvarnished opinion of the World Health Organization, for instance: "WHO is no longer a science-based organisation. WHO believes that scientists within the agency should be anonymous bureaucrats." The thread of tweets that prompted this post [is] about an ongoing editorial battle with authors and another highly respected journal. The significance of these remarks is considerable. As Horton remarks at the end, the episode appears to lend evidence to the manipulation of journals by industry: "The mother of all authorship disputes has broken out. When papers get salami sliced and divided between NEJM and us, it gets complicated. And sometimes nasty. And today, even threatening. From Principal Investigator: “Approval [of the drug in question] has already occurred in the US, yet private insurers are slow to place it on their formulary. A major publication is typically how this occurs in the US, and it is important to be in a journal typically recognised by US-based companies. This publication is critical to (company A's) ability to “market” their product. Lancet ... will aid (company Y) quite nicely.”
Note: The Lancet is considered by many to be the most prestigious medical journal in the world. If the editor-in-chief of the Lancet readily admits to for-profit collusion between medical journals, insurers and big pharma, who can we trust for accurate health information? To learn more, read a powerfully revealing essay by former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell on how the drug companies blatantly manipulate science for profit.
Kay Eva - Saving lives in Cambodia
May 17, 2015, Daily Good
Kay Eva was travelling through rural Cambodia ... with a group handing out supplies to those in need when they approached a devastatingly poor family. They were there to deliver powdered milk for the family’s new baby. But the baby was missing. It had been sold the day before for $20 – a desperate act to raise money to feed the rest of the family. The news hit Kay like a punch to the stomach. Horrified, this mother of three knew she had to act. Fast forward 11 years and Kay has launched a thriving charity, Stitches of Hope, which operates a sewing centre to train women and help them find work, a children’s home for under-privileged kids, a community centre and a school. “It wasn’t even about helping with basics like education and health,” Kay says. “Basically, [getting some income] meant they didn’t have to sell their children into sex trafficking, or [to be] cleaners for the wealthy. It enabled women to obtain the skills to get a job. The Stitches of Hope Sewing Centre [is] a permanent institution that teaches women to sew, accommodates and feeds them, pays them a wage to fulfill factory orders, and encourages them to set up their own sewing businesses. In 2008, Stitches of Hope launched a children’s home which today houses 24 children cared for by live-in Cambodian couples. Those entrenched in poverty are too busy surviving the day to ponder how to escape its cruel clutches. With this in mind ... Stitches of Hope launched a community centre and school which now teaches more than 80 children.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Denmark Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy
November 10, 2014, New York Times
Denmark, a tiny country on the northern fringe of Europe, is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It aims to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well. Lest anyone consider such a sweeping transition to be impossible in principle, the Danes beg to differ. They essentially invented the modern wind-power industry, and have pursued it more avidly than any country. They are above 40 percent renewable power on their electric grid, aiming toward 50 percent by 2020. The political consensus here to keep pushing is all but unanimous. The trouble, if it can be called that, is that renewable power sources like wind and solar cost nothing to run, once installed. That is potentially a huge benefit in the long run. But [it] can render conventional power plants, operating on gas or coal or uranium, uneconomical to run. Yet those plants are needed to supply backup power for times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. So the trick now is to get the market redesign right. If Denmark can figure out a proper design for the electric market, it has another big task to meet its 2050 goal: squeezing the fossil fuels out of transportation.
Note: Denmark is consistently setting world records for wind power, which is now cheaper than fossil fuels there.
Hogwarts-inspired middle school in the heart of Atlanta
March 15, 2015, CBS News
Math and history are just some of the subjects at the Ron Clark Academy. The Atlanta middle school teaches everything from eye contact to the value of friendly competition - a method that makes kids want to attend class. "It is a place that's about passion, energy," co-founder Ron Clark said. "I wanted to create a school where you could feel the spirit, wanted kids to walk into this school and say, 'I love coming here.'" The building is a 50,000 square foot warehouse ... transformed into the sort of place J.K. Rowling dreamed up for "Harry Potter." Every classroom has an elaborate theme - there's a dragon and a two-story bungee jump and all 112 kids have to be "slide-certified" - a symbol they've signed on for something different. "I love Hogwarts and 'Harry Potter' and the kids do too and so we wanted to bring that book to life and that feeling to life for these kids," Clark said. But there's a rigor to the magic, a drive to thrive. Clark has 55 rules, a code of conduct that covers shaking hands, maintaining eye contact and answering questions in complete sentences. Clark sets the bar high and holds his kids accountable. For Clark, his aim is for his students to walk into the world without any sense of fear. "I want them to go out into this world and to know, 'I am confident because I have the ability, I can achieve this.' I want kids to leave here and go for it and make an impact," he said. At the Ron Clark Academy, they go for it every day, like no other school in America.
Note: Watch this amazing clip of this most untraditional, yet successful school.
This Strange Metal Might Be the Newest State of Matter
May 12, 2015, Popular Mechanics
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are making a bold claim: an entirely new state of matter. The team, led by Kosmas Prassides, says they've created what's called a Jahn-Teller metal by inserting rubidium, a strange alkali metal element, into buckyballs, a pure carbon structure which has a spherical shape from a series of interlocking polygons (think of the Epcot Center, but in microscopic size.) The researchers created a complex crystalline structure that seemed to conduct, insulate, and magnetize while acting as a metal. It goes far beyond what ordinary matter can do. So what's the big deal? Applying pressure to the compound when it's in the conductor/insulator phase turns it into the weird state of matter, and also makes it superconductive at (relatively) high temperatures. Most superconductors that we know of need to be barely above absolute zero. Understanding and then mastering high-temperature superconductors, which this weird state of matter could help researchers to do, could make all sorts of new things possible in computing, transportation, infrastructure ... sort of everything. Discoveries of superinsulators in 2008 sort of hinted that this state of matter was possible, but confirmation would be a game changer for materials science.
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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