Hackers Easily Hack 'Smart' Objects, Pentagon Attacks Journalism's Foundations, Six-Year-Old Orphan on Smile Mission
August 17, 2015
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on how easily hackers can take control of the new computers in 'smart' objects like cars, a Pentagon report that attacks journalism's foundations by comparing wartime reporters to enemy spies, the outrageous ascent of CEO pay in US corporations, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on a six-year-old orphan boy who gives away toys to strangers in order to get people smiling, the process of increasing empathy in everyday life, how to talk to dolphins, 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 about Grammy-winning band Wilco's decision to "pay it forward" by offering their latest album free. This intriguing video says lets redefine a billionaire as one who touches the lives of a billion people. Watch a rich video presentation by Nick Begich focused on the healing applications of intriguing mind control devices, though he also touches on use by the military to control individuals. Read a highly thought-provoking and controversial essay on consciousness and conspiracies written by Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics.
Quote of the week: A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step ~~ Lao Tsu
Video of the week: Check out the great new documentary Moblize exposing the serious dangers of cell phones when held too close to the head for long periods.
Why ‘Smart’ Objects May Be a Dumb Idea
August 10, 2015, New York Times
A safe that tallies the cash that is placed in it. A sniper rifle equipped with advanced computer technology for improved accuracy. A car that lets you stream music from the Internet. All of these innovations sound great, until you learn the risks that this type of connectivity carries. Recently, two security researchers, sitting on a couch and armed only with laptops, remotely took over a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee speeding along the highway ... while a Wired reporter was driving. A hacked car is a high-profile example of what can go wrong with the coming Internet of Things — objects equipped with software and connected to digital networks. The selling point ... is added convenience and better safety. In reality, it is a ... train wreck in privacy and security. That smart safe? Hackers can empty it with a single USB stick while erasing all [evidence] of their crime. That high-tech rifle? Researchers managed to remotely manipulate its target selection without the shooter’s knowing. The Internet of Things is also a privacy nightmare. Databases that already have too much information about us will now be bursting with data on the places we’ve driven, the food we’ve purchased and more. Last week, at Def Con, the annual information security conference, researchers set up an Internet of Things Village to show how they could hack everyday objects like baby monitors, thermostats and security cameras. Connecting everyday objects introduces new risks if done at mass scale. Once a hacker is in - she's in everywhere.
Note: Read how a hacked vehicle may have resulted in journalist Michael Hastings' death in 2013. The networked computerization of everyday objects means that these objects can spy on you, accelerating the disappearance of privacy in the name of convenience. What will happen when the "internet of things" expands to include microchip implants in people?
The Pentagon’s Dangerous Views on the Wartime Press
August 10, 2015, New York Times
The Defense Department earlier this summer released a comprehensive manual outlining its interpretation of the law of war. The 1,176-page document, the first of its kind, includes guidelines on the treatment of journalists covering armed conflicts that would make their work more dangerous, cumbersome and subject to censorship. Journalists, the manual says, are generally regarded as civilians, but may in some instances be deemed “unprivileged belligerents,” a legal term that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war. The manual warns that “Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying.” It says that governments “may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.” Allowing this document to stand as guidance for commanders, government lawyers and officials of other nations would do severe damage to press freedoms. Authoritarian leaders around the world could point to it to show that their despotic treatment of journalists — including Americans — is broadly in line with the standards set by the United States government. The document’s broad assertion that journalists’ work may need to be censored lest it reveal sensitive information to the enemy ... seems to contravene American constitutional and case law, and offers other countries that routinely censor the press a handy reference point.
Note: Read a critical analysis of the Pentagon’s new manual from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 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.
The Outrageous Ascent of CEO Pay
August 9, 2015, Huffington Post
The Securities and Exchange Commission just ruled that large publicly held corporations must disclose the ratios of the pay of their top CEOs to the pay of their median workers. About time. In 1965, CEOs of America's largest corporations were paid, on average, 20 times the pay of average workers. Now, the ratio is over 300 to 1. It turns out the higher the CEO pay, the worse the firm does. Professor Michael J. Cooper of the University of Utah [and colleagues] recently found that companies with the highest-paid CEOs returned about 10 percent less to their shareholders than do their industry peers. So why aren't shareholders hollering about CEO pay? Because corporate law in the United States gives shareholders at most an advisory role. They can holler all they want, but CEOs don't have to listen. Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, received a pay package in 2013 valued at $78.4 million, a sum so stunning that Oracle shareholders rejected it. That made no difference because Ellison controlled the board. In Australia, by contrast, shareholders have the right to force an entire corporate board to stand for re-election if 25 percent or more of a company's shareholders vote against a CEO pay plan two years in a row. Which is why Australian CEOs are paid an average of only 70 times the pay of the typical Australian worker. The new SEC rule requiring disclosure of pay ratios ... isn't perfect. Some corporations could try to game it. But the rule marks an important start.
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.
Facial Recognition Software Moves From Overseas Wars to Local Police
August 12, 2015, New York Times
Facial recognition software, which American military and intelligence agencies used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify potential terrorists, is being eagerly adopted by dozens of police departments around the country. It is being used with few guidelines and with little oversight or public disclosure. Facial recognition ... is among an array of technologies, including StingRay tracking devices and surveillance aircraft with specialized cameras, that were used in overseas wars but have found their way into local law enforcement. The F.B.I. is pushing ahead with its $1 billion Next Generation Identification program, in which the agency will gather data like fingerprints, iris scans and photographs, as well as information collected through facial recognition software. The F.B.I. system will eventually be made accessible to more than 18,000 local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies. But people who are not criminal suspects are included in the database, and the error rate for the software is as high as 20 percent — meaning the authorities could misidentify millions of people. Among the cities that use facial recognition technology are New York and Chicago, which has linked it to 25,000 surveillance cameras. In many ways, though, San Diego County is at the forefront. Here, beat cops, detectives and even school police officers have been using hand-held devices to create a vast database of tens of thousands of photos of people — usually without the person’s consent.
Note: For more along these lines, read about the increasing militarization of police in the U.S. after 9/11, or see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights.
What happens to Americans who film police violence?
August 15, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
18-year-old Michael Brown ... was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson. The final few minutes of Brown’s life had been captured by a small surveillance camera rolling inside a nearby grocery shop. As protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate over Brown’s death, even a year on, so a legion of amateur cameramen and women have begun watching officers closely, posting recordings that undermine the monopoly once held by police on the official version of events. The surge in vigilante recording is being met with aggressive resistance from police. Judges uphold the right of American people to film law enforcement officers under the first amendment of the US constitution. But officers increasingly complain that filming interferes with their duties. An increasing number are taking direct action to prevent recordings – snatching or smashing phones or demanding the handover of footage, sometimes even after it has been livestreamed directly online. For many who capture horrific acts of violence, returning to a normal life becomes impossible. They complain of harassment by police, of threats against their life and of recurring trauma as a result of the death and brutality they have witnessed. Carlos Miller [is] a former journalist who now tracks the issue on his website Photography Is Not A Crime. Already this year, the site has reported on 87 cases in which people were arrested, manhandled or threatened for filming police. The rate of such incidents has increased in recent years, Miller says.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Could Pot Help Veterans With PTSD?
August 2, 2015, Newsweek
Marijuana and the Veterans Affairs Hospital system’s relationship is complicated. On the one hand, 23 states plus the District of Columbia say marijuana is legal for sanctioned medical use, and veterans are clamoring for it for their post-combat symptoms. On the other, marijuana is classified a Schedule I drug. Veterans [have] been stuck in the middle. As many as 20 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Antidepressants like Zoloft and Paxil, along with other heavy-duty pills, have been the traditional mainstays in VA doctors’ arsenals. Non-FDA approved options, marijuana among them, haven’t been options at all. But that has started to change. The Veterans Equal Access Act ... aims to open the entire VA system to judicious prescription of medical cannabis. Prior to its introduction, VA doctors couldn’t even discuss cannabis with their patients, much less prescribe it. Arizona psychiatrist Sue Sisley [has] spent two decades treating patients with PTSD. “All we have now is Zoloft and Paxil. And if you know much about those meds, you know there are many side effects, and they often don’t work. If they are effective, then patients are dealing with these side effects,” Sisley adds. “Vets come home from service, and they just want to reintegrate into their family. And we make them fat and impotent and mired in a bunch of disabling side effects.” When asked why marijuana might be better than other options, Sisley’s quick to answer: “A single plant can provide monotherapy for this whole constellation of symptoms.”
Abdullah al-Senussi execution: This perversion of justice suits Western security services just fine
August 6, 2015, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The secret agreements between our intelligence and Gaddafi’s torturers will now remain safe for good. Gaddafi’s spymaster Abdullah al-Senussi will be shot in Libya before he has a chance to tell us about the cosy relationship he had with our Western security services when he liaised between his boss, the CIA and MI6. The Brits and Americans have not batted an eyelid since Senussi, Gaddafi’s son Saif and a bunch of other regime cohorts were sentenced to death last week without defence counsel or testimony or documents or witnesses. Senussi himself is held responsible for the massacre of more than a thousand of Gaddafi’s political prisoners. But he and his successor, Moussa Koussa ... were among the most loyal of Gaddafi’s henchmen. [His] crimes against humanity [included] the torture of Libyan exiles after their barbaric rendition to Libya with the help of MI6 and other Western agencies. Senussi knew far more about our spying agencies and their dirty tricks than Saif al-Gaddafi – the late Muammar’s son. Maybe that’s why Senussi initially did a runner to Mauritania, which should have handed him over to The Hague. But after receiving a bribe of $200m, Mauritania returned him to Tripoli. Senussi’s international counsel, Ben Emmerson ... told me in 2013 that when Senussi’s lawyers wanted to know if MI6 operatives had interrogated their client while he was in Mauritania – before his illegal rendition to Libya – William Hague, the Foreign Secretary at the time, declined to answer.
Note: The British government is presently being sued by victims of the cooperative arrangement between MI6 and Libyan torturers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and government.
Dupont and the Chemistry of Deception
August 11, 2015, The Intercept
DuPont: “one of the most successful and sustained industrial enterprises in the world,” as its corporate website puts it. Perhaps no product is as responsible for its dominance as Teflon. For more than 60 years C8 was an essential ingredient of Teflon. As part of a 2005 settlement over contamination around a West Virginia plant, a team of three scientists ... were charged with determining if and how the chemical affects people. The science panel found that C8 was “more likely than not” linked to ulcerative colitis - as well as to high cholesterol; pregnancy-induced hypertension; thyroid disease; testicular cancer; and kidney cancer. The scientists’ findings, published in more than three dozen peer-reviewed articles, were striking, because the chemical’s effects were so widespread throughout the body and because even very low exposure levels were associated with health effects. DuPont scientists had closely studied the chemical for decades and through their own research knew about some of the dangers it posed. Yet rather than inform workers, people living near the plant, the general public, or government agencies responsible for regulating chemicals, DuPont repeatedly kept its knowledge secret. Another revelation about C8 makes all of this more disturbing: This deadly chemical that DuPont continued to use well after it knew it was linked to health problems is now practically everywhere. A man-made compound that didn’t exist a century ago, C8 is in the blood of 99.7 percent of Americans.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets
August 9, 2015, New York Times
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories. Health experts say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, [and] convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume. “Coca-Cola’s sales are slipping, and there’s this huge political and public backlash against soda, with every major city trying to do something to curb consumption,” said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer. “This is a direct response.” Coke’s [campaign] is not the only example of corporate-funded research and advocacy to come under fire lately. The American Society for Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have been criticized by public health advocates for forming partnerships with companies such as Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Hershey’s. Dietitians have also faced criticism for taking payments from Coke to present the company’s soda as a healthy snack. A recent analysis of beverage studies ... found that those funded by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies whose authors reported no financial conflicts.
Review: ‘An Open Secret’ Spotlights Child Sexual Abuse in Hollywood
June 11, 2015, New York Times
You may miss a few moments of “An Open Secret,” either while looking away during its unsettling stories or closing your eyes in frustration. The film centers on a handful of young men who say that as child actors they were sexually assaulted by older men in the entertainment industry. Manipulations, cover-ups and exploitations are recounted, and in several cases accountability was weak; some of the culprits, we’re told, still work in Hollywood. The victims and their parents defy the stereotype of hard-driving dream-seekers. They come across as merely trusting, which led them to rely on those who promised successful careers. Such faith was exploited by men who later turned out to be predators. “He just told me it’s normal, like, this goes on all the time, this is what you have to do,” one young man says he was told after being molested by his manager. “Everybody does this.” Shame and fear of reprisals initially led him to stay silent, and may be keeping more victims from speaking out. [Director Amy] Berg connects that manager, Martin Weiss, who pleaded no contest to two counts of child molestation in 2012, to a string of other men in Hollywood who have also been accused or convicted of similar crimes. Further aggressive reporting is needed. This topic deserves a tenacious call for answers. Still, “An Open Secret” is affecting, particularly when the victims recount their experiences in voices that crack with emotion or pause with pain. Even if you do look away, hearing them speak is enough.
Jehovah’s Witnesses face child sexual-abuse investigation in Australia
August 14, 2015, Washington Post
The abuse was meticulously catalogued. From 1950 to 2014, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society amassed 5,000 files detailing sexual abuse of Australian children by 1,006 of its members, who believe that only they - the Jehovah’s Witnesses - proclaim the truth about God. Young girls were assaulted by neighbors. Teenagers were raped by their fathers. Victims were forced to pray with their abusers. When the children reached out for help, the church’s obsession with secrecy and hostility to outsiders kicked in. Victims, ordered to keep quiet, were forced to confront their abusers in person. All complaints were carefully recorded. No one was reported to the authorities. Child abuse was recorded and hidden away. Now, sordid details from the closed world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are being exposed. Two years ago, the Australian government established a royal commission - similar to a presidential commission in the United States - to investigate institutionalized child sexual abuse. The inquiry’s primary target was the Catholic Church, whose record of protecting pedophiles was almost as rampant in Australia as in the United States. To avoid singling out one religion, government officials gave the inquiry wide legal powers to examine any organization that may have covered up abuse. Of the religious and nonreligious groups being investigated, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are exceptional, experts say. The church ... has emerged as the least able or willing to deal with sexual abuse within its ranks.
Note: Read more about Jehovah's Witnesses' institutionalized silencing of abuse victims. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sex abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
Australia's top rabbi resigns after revelations at royal commission
February 16, 2015, Sydney Morning Herald (One of Australia's leading newspapers)
Australia's most senior rabbi has resigned days after revelations at a royal commission that he called the father of three child abuse victims a "lunatic". The senior vice-president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, Rabbi Yoram Ulman, confirmed to Fairfax Media that Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant had stepped down as president of the organisation. This follows calls for Rabbi Kluwgant to resign from all his public positions after appearing at the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Abuse on Friday, the final day of its hearing on Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Sydney's response to child sexual abuse allegations against convicted offenders David Cyprys, David Kramer and Daniel Hayman. Three of [Zephaniah] Waks' children were abused as students of Yeshivah College in Melbourne, including Manny, the founder of Jewish victims support group Tzedek. Asked by the Waks' lawyer, Melinda Richards: "Did you, Rabbi, send a text message to Mr Lawrence saying 'Zephaniah is killing us. Zephaniah is attacking Chabad. He is a lunatic on the fringe. Guilty of neglect of his own children. Where was he when all this was happening?" "I may have said that, yes," he replied. Both Manny and Zephaniah previously told the commission they had relocated overseas following years of intimidation from the ultra-orthodox Chabad community, in response to going public with abuse allegations.
Note: Read more about this disturbing scandal and cover up in Australia's Orthodox Jewish Community. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sex abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
After losing parents, 6-year-old embarks on smile mission
August 7, 2015, CBS News
It is every kid's worst nightmare and six-year-old Jaden Hayes has lived it - twice. First he lost his dad when he was four and then last month his mom died unexpectedly in her sleep. Jaden is understandably heartbroken. "Anybody can die, just anybody," he said. But there's another side to his grief. A side he first made public a few weeks ago when he told his aunt, and now guardian, Barbara DiCola, that he was sick and tired of seeing everyone sad all the time. And he had a plan to fix it. Jaden asked his aunt Barbara to buy a bunch of little toys and bring him to downtown Savannah, Georgia near where he lives, so he could give them away. "I'm trying to make people smile," said Jaden. [He] targets people who aren't already smiling and then turns their day around. He's gone out on four different occasions now and he is always successful. Even if sometimes he doesn't get exactly the reaction he was hoping for. It is just so overwhelming to some people that a six-year-old orphan would give away a toy - expecting nothing in return - except a smile. Of course he is paid handsomely in hugs -- and his aunt says the reactions have done wonders for Jaden. "It's like sheer joy came out of this child," said Barbara. "And the more people that he made smile, the more this light shone." Jaden says that's mostly true. "But I'm still sad my mom died," he said. This is by no means a fix, but in the smiles he's made so far -- nearly 500 at last count -- Jaden has clearly found a purpose. "I'm counting on it to be 33,000," said Jaden.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Can you teach people to have empathy?
June 19, 2015, BBC
Most people ... don't tap into their full empathic potential. The good news is that almost everyone can learn to be more empathic, just like we can learn to ride a bike or drive a car. A good warm up is to do a quick assessment of your empathic abilities. Neuropsychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has devised a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes in which you are shown 36 pairs of eyes and have to choose one of four words that best describes what each person is feeling or thinking. Going a step further, there are three simple but powerful strategies for unleashing the empathic potential that is latent in our neural circuitry: 1. Make a habit of "radical listening" ... to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing at that very moment. Let people have their say, hold back from interrupting and even reflect back what they've told you so they knew you were really listening. 2. Look for the human behind everything ... by developing an awareness of all those individuals hidden behind the surface of our daily lives, on whom we may depend in some way. Who is driving the train? Vacuuming the office floor? Stacking the supermarket shelves? Such mindful awareness ... can spark empathic action on the behalf of others. 3. Become curious about strangers. Having conversations with strangers opens up our empathic minds. We can not only meet fascinating people but also challenge the assumptions and prejudices that we have about others based on their appearance, accents or backgrounds.
Note: Learn about the world's first Empathy Museum, which is launching in the UK in late 2015.
How to Talk to Dolphins: An Interview with Susan Casey
August 8, 2015, Daily Beast
One of the stories that inspired bestselling author Susan Casey’s new book on the intricate world of dolphins, Voices in the Ocean, is almost too beautiful to be believed. A biologist named Maddalena Bearzi was studying a group of dolphins off the coast of Los Angeles when she noticed something strange. The “pod” (group of dolphins) had just landed upon a herd of sardines. They were about to start feeding when one, unexpectedly, darted off. The rest followed, swimming full speed out to sea. When she reached them, three miles offshore, the pod had a formed a circle - in the middle of it, a girl’s floating body. Very near death, the girl had a plastic bag with her identification and a suicide note wrapped around her neck. With the dolphins' help, she was saved. The first dolphins lived on land. It took them 25 million years to adapt to being in the water. Their bodies shrank and their teeth shrank and their brains got big. They did all kinds of shape-shifting evolutionarily. Their brains grew significantly. It’s fascinating because scientists don’t know why. Most scientists’ main guess is that it was due to their changing social behavior. How did the dolphin know the girl was there? That’s the big question. They don’t rely on vision. I suspect it had something to do with frequency and vibration but of course that’s a guess. We don’t know. They tend to treat us the way they would treat other dolphins. By themselves, they’re vulnerable - to sharks, getting lost, all these things. So when you see dolphins together there is constant touching. They know how to help each other.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
SolarCity lighting African schools with solar — free of charge
August 12, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
In much of the developing world, the electrical grid is a rickety, unreliable tangle of wires — if it exists at all. So starting quietly last year, SolarCity created a charity that installs solar arrays, complete with battery packs, at rural schools in developing countries. The GivePower Foundation has lit nearly 1,000 schools so far in Africa and Central America, a number expected to top 1,500 by the end of this year. Each solar and battery system is designed to generate and store enough electricity to light the schools for ... extending class hours. Students and community members can also use the systems to recharge their cell phones, increasingly popular in areas that never had widespread landline phone service. Hayes Barnard, GivePower’s president, says, “In certain parts of the world, there are opportunities to use renewable energy from the get-go. You don’t have to fight the status quo that’s been established around dirty energy.” The foundation aims to light one school for every megawatt of solar power SolarCity installs in the United States (a megawatt is roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 American homes in any given instant). Next up: lighting 200 schools in Nepal, as part of the country’s recovery efforts from this spring’s devastating earthquake. Barnard will participate in that installation project himself. SolarCity recruits its own employees to do much of the installation work abroad, offering the work trips as an incentive for outstanding job performance.
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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