AT&T Spies on Your Calls, Emails, Japan's New Stance on War, Affordable Concierge Medicine
September 21, 2015
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on AT&T’s spying on your phone calls and emails in partnership with the National Security Agency, Japan's passage of wildly unpopular security bills that change that country's stance on war away from pacifism, General Motors' payment of a $900 million settlement to avoid criminal prosecution for knowingly releasing a product responsible for 100+ deaths, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on concierge medicine, which costs patients less while increasing the quality of their care, the remarkable friendship between an elephant and a dog, the ex neo-Nazi that is speaking out about the power of love and forgiveness to heal the damage done by hate, 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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AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic
August 15, 2015, MSN News/New York Times
The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, [and] the company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AT&T ... began turning over emails and phone calls “within days” after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001. In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” according to an internal agency newsletter. In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that ... he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the N.S.A. had installed equipment. Mr. Klein claimed that AT&T was providing the N.S.A. with access to Internet traffic that AT&T transmits for other telecom companies. Such cooperative arrangements, known in the industry as “peering,” mean that communications from customers of other companies could end up on AT&T’s network.
Note: The story of Klein's lawsuit was initially suppressed by the NSA and major media including the L.A. Times. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about questionable intelligence agency practices and the erosion of privacy.
Japan set to pass security bills despite widespread protests
September 17, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Japan is expected to pass controversial security bills ... after days of fraught debates that at times descended into scuffles, tears and tantrums. The controversial laws have seen tens of thousands take to the streets in almost daily rallies for the past few weeks, in a show of public anger on a scale rarely seen in Japan. Opponents argue the new laws – which would allow the tightly restricted military to intervene overseas to defend its allies – violate Japan’s pacifist constitution and could see the country dragged into American wars in far-flung parts of the globe. The changes reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan’s military to fight to protect its allies, which [prime minister Shinzo] Abe argues is necessary because of threats from an increasingly belligerent China and unstable North Korea. Still, there are growing signs the campaign has taken a political toll – opinion polls show the vast majority of the public is against the bills. Protesters, including a Nobel Prize winner, popular musicians and other prominent figures, fear the changes could fundamentally alter Japan’s character as a pacifist nation. Security experts said the bills would also force a re-evaluation of Japan’s place on the world stage.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
GM to pay $900m to avoid criminal inquiry into fault that led to deaths
September 17, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
General Motors has agreed to pay a $900m fine to avoid a criminal investigation into allegations that it deliberately hid information about a fault that led to the deaths of at least 124 people. As part of the settlement with the Department of Justice on Thursday, GM admitted that it “failed to disclose to its US regulator and the public a potentially lethal safety defect” and “further affirmatively misled consumers about the safety of GM cars afflicted by the defect”. The company paid the fine in order to avoid being criminally charged with scheming to conceal the fact that a fault with its ignition switch could lead to engines suddenly turning off and brakes being disabled. America’s largest car maker eventually recalled 2.6m cars to replace the faulty ignition switch. An investigation found that GM engineers and lawyers knew about the defect for more than a decade before the company admitted to any problem and began the recall. GM fired 15 employees following the 2014 internal investigation. Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group, said: “GM killed over a 100 people by knowingly putting a defective ignition switch into over 1 million vehicles. Today thanks to its lobbyists, GM officials walk off scot-free while its customers are six feet under.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Cancer patients may need better prep for chemo side-effects
September 18, 2015, CBC/Reuters
Cancer patients need to be prepared for serious side effects from chemotherapy, and hospitalization is one that happens much more often in the real world than in drug trials, according to a new study. Researchers found that people with advanced lung cancer receiving chemotherapy in real-world settings were almost eight times more likely to be hospitalized during treatment than those participating in clinical trials. What's more, very few clinical trials even report how often participants are hospitalized during the research, the study authors found. "Clinical trials should be routinely reporting their hospitalization rates so we know what to expect," said senior author Dr. Monika Krzyzanowska, a medical oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, Canada. Krzyzanowska and her colleagues write in JAMA Oncology that the number of times a person goes to the hospital with treatment complications is important to the patient and to the hospital. The researchers suggest several possible explanations for the differences in hospitalization rates. First, the patients in highly selective clinical trials are different from real-world patients. In this study, people receiving chemotherapy in real-world settings were also older, on average, than those in clinical trials.
Note: While big pharma profits from hiding the negative effects of their drugs, there is some promising cancer research underway, some of which is being suppressed to keep the cash cow flowing for big pharma.
Alabama officer kept job after proposal to murder black man and hide evidence
August 4, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A police officer in Alabama proposed murdering a black resident and creating bogus evidence to suggest the killing was in self-defence, the Guardian has learned. Officer Troy Middlebrooks kept his job and continues to patrol Alexander City after authorities there paid [Vincent Bias] $35,000 to avoid being publicly sued over the incident. Middlebrooks, a veteran of the US marines, said the man “needs a god damn bullet” and allegedly referred to him as “that nigger”, after becoming frustrated that the man was not punished more harshly over a prior run-in. The payment was made ... after a secret recording of Middlebrooks’s remarks was played to the city’s police chiefs and the mayor. Elected city councillors said they were not consulted. A copy of the recording was obtained by the Guardian. Middlebrooks, 33, made the threatening comments to Bias’s brother-in-law during a May 2013 encounter at his home, which Bias was visiting. Police came to the home after they discovered an unleashed dog. A lawsuit from Bias that the city paid to settle before it reached court stated that ... the officer remarked to Bias’s brother-in-law, who is white, that he was tired of “that nigger” being released from jail. Middlebrooks allegedly said “the police were going to pull [Bias] aside on a routine traffic stop and [Bias] would get killed”.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Karzai calls al-Qaida a 'myth' and denies 9/11 attacks were plotted in Afghanistan
September 10, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, has questioned the existence of al-Qaida, and denied that the 9/11 terror attacks ... were planned in Afghanistan. On the eve of the anniversary of the 2001 attacks, Karzai, who left office last year after 12 years, used an interview with al Jazeera to express his doubt that the terrorist group led by the late Osama bin Laden was responsible for the operation which prompted the invasion of Afghanistan. Karzai ... also claimed in the interview that Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan are “definitely” members of “Pakistani militias”. When asked if he agreed that al-Qaida in Afghanistan had been behind the 9/11 attacks ... Karzai replied: “I can tell you for a fact that the operation was neither conducted from Afghanistan, nor were the Afghan people responsible for that.” A daring and bloody operation involving US special forces and the CIA put Karzai back in Afghanistan in the last weeks of the 2001 war and then into power as a supposed consensus candidate. But Karzai quickly proved himself independent and contrarian. Officials from the US, the UK, Nato and the UN all repeatedly criticised Karzai for failing to crack down on rampant corruption and the booming narcotics trade in Afghanistan. By 2009, according to Robert Gates, the former US defence secretary, Washington was so keen to oust the Afghan president that officials connived in delaying an Afghan presidential election and then tried to manipulate the outcome in a “clumsy and failed putsch”.
Note: By 2000, the Taliban had mostly stopped heroin production in Afghanistan. But once former Unocal employee Hamid Karzai was installed into power by the US, bags of CIA cash helped transform Afghanistan into a narco state.
Seven members of 'terrifyingly depraved' paedophile gang jailed
September 11, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Seven members of a paedophile gang involved in the rape and abuse of babies and young children have been jailed for a total of 78 years ... following an investigation led by the National Crime Agency (NCA). They were convicted of 29 child sex abuse offences, including conspiracy to rape and the multiple rape of a child aged under 13. The gang hid behind a veil of respectability, with careers and families, to habitually target children under the age of five. Police said an “incredible” amount of planning went into gaining access to victims. Ian Glover, senior investigating officer, said: “We’ve encountered grooming where the family have been groomed prior to birth of the baby. They go in that early with the sole intention of abusing that baby once it’s born.” Extensive planning went into enabling the abuse to be screened over the internet to co-conspirators and other paedophiles around the world. Images of abuse relating to the case are believed to have been seen on every continent and police have circulated evidence about other suspected paedophiles to authorities in Europe, South America and Australia. There was no business element to the activities, with no evidence of any payment being received. The NCA said 26 people had been arrested so far in connection with the ongoing investigation. Of those, six were in positions of trust – three teachers, two charity or fundraiser workers and one who was employed by a local authority. More arrests and charges are expected in the UK and abroad.
Note: A major Australian sting operation recently uncovered a similar criminal network. And a college professor exposed a widespread ring of child abuse cults before being silenced for his revelations. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sex abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
'I have become a body without a soul': 13 years detained in Guantánamo
August 28, 2015, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Zaher Hamdoun is a 36-year-old Yemeni man who has been detained in Guantánamo without charge since he was 22, one of 116 prisoners still detained there six years after Obama promised to close the facility. Hamdoun is not among the 52 men approved for transfer from Guantánamo, nor is he in a dwindling group of detainees the government plans to charge. He is in a nebulous middle category of people the Obama administration has determined it is not going to charge but doesn’t know if it is ever going to release. Though the president in 2011 ordered periodic administrative reviews of men in this group ... the reviews didn’t start until a mass hunger strike broke out in 2013. Still today, the majority of men haven’t been reviewed, including Hamdoun. Though he has been a Guantánamo prisoner for almost 14 years without charge, and doesn’t know if he will ever be released, the administration says this is not indefinite detention. [Hamoud writes of his current state]: "I have become a body without a soul. I breathe, eat and drink, but I don’t belong to the world of living creatures. I rather belong to another world, a world that is buried in a grave called Guantánamo. I fall asleep and then wake up to realize that my soul and my thoughts belong to that world I watch on television, or read about in books. That is all I can say about the ordeal."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
How a Botched Translation Landed Emad Hassan in Gitmo
September 11, 2015, Newsweek
It was the spring of 2002. Pakistani authorities burst into the house [Emad Hassan] shared with 14 other foreign students and brought them to a nearby prison. After two months of beatings and interrogation, the Pakistanis handed him over to the U.S. military. They stripped him of his clothes and put him in a diaper. Then they blindfolded him, placed earmuffs over his head and marched him onto a plane. When the aircraft landed, he soon learned he was in the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. For years, the White House has been trying to close Gitmo. As of early September, 52 of the 116 prisoners who remain at the U.S. facility have been cleared to be set free, a tacit admission, critics say, that they should never have been imprisoned. The Pakistani forces who took Hassan from his student housing, his lawyers say, received $5,000 from the U.S. military. This was typical. According to a 2006 analysis ... the vast majority of detainees at Guantánamo Bay were arrested by local groups eager to profit from the counterterrorism gold rush. His lawyers claim much of the U.S. government’s incriminating information comes from a small group of informants at Guantánamo who told interrogators what they wanted to hear. Many sold out their fellow detainees for small rewards. [In 2009] Obama’s task force cleared Hassan for release - a process that requires six federal agencies to agree that a prisoner doesn’t pose a national security threat.
Note: In 2015, Hassan was freed from Gitmo and granted asylum by Oman. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
A Canadian manifesto for the planet and one another
September 15, 2015, The Globe and Mail (One of Canada's leading newspapers)
We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher-wage jobs with fewer work hours. Canada is not this place today – but it can be. Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer suffice. So we need to leap. There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. That applies equally to oil and gas pipelines; fracking in New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia; increased tanker traffic off our coasts; and to Canadian-owned mining projects the world over. Since this leap is beginning late, we need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Moving to a far more localized and ecologically based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone. “Austerity” – which has systematically attacked low-carbon sectors such as education and health care – is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat. One thing is clear: Public scarcity in times of unprecedented private wealth is a manufactured crisis, designed to extinguish our dreams.
Note: The esteemed authors of this essay are Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page. For more, read the complete essay, and see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Years Past
Snowden docs reveal British spies snooped on YouTube and Facebook
January 27, 2014, NBC News
The British government can tap into the cables carrying the world’s web traffic at will and spy on what people are doing on some of the world’s most popular social media sites ... without the knowledge or consent of the companies. Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News detail how British cyber spies demonstrated a pilot program to their U.S. partners in 2012 in which they were able to monitor YouTube in real time and collect addresses from the billions of videos watched daily, as well as some user information, for analysis. At the time the documents were printed, they were also able to spy on Facebook and Twitter. Called “Psychology A New Kind of SIGDEV" (Signals Development), the presentation includes a section that spells out “Broad real-time monitoring of online activity” of YouTube videos, URLs “liked” on Facebook, and Blogspot/Blogger visits. The monitoring program is called “Squeaky Dolphin.” Experts told NBC News the documents show the British had to have been either physically able to tap the cables carrying the world’s web traffic or able to use a third party to gain physical access to the massive stream of data. Representatives of Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, said they ... were unaware the collection had occurred. The NSA does analysis of social media similar to that in the GCHQ demonstration. In 2010 ... GCHQ exploited unencrypted data from Twitter to identify specific users around the world and target them with propaganda.
Note: Read an article diving deeper and showing how online reputations are ruthlessly destroyed by powerful groups. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about questionable intelligence agency practices and the erosion of privacy.
Concierge medicine: Like having a doctor on speed dial
September 6, 2015, Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California's leading newspaper)
When Tamara Houston’s daughter developed a painful eye condition – on a Sunday, during a high school rodeo competition – the Yuba City mom ... picked up her cellphone and called her family’s primary care doctor, who met them two hours later at his Rocklin office. The cost of the weekend emergency visit? Zero, because it was already included in her family’s monthly $200 fee. Houston’s family of four is taking advantage of concierge medicine, a small but growing trend. Under a concierge-style practice, patients pay a monthly or annual fee ... in exchange for longer appointment times, same-day visits and round-the-clock access to their doctor by cellphone, text or email. Some concierge doctors even make house calls. “I would never go back to a regular practice,” said Houston. “This takes all of the bureaucracy out of the equation. I don’t have to deal with co-pays or insurance. And we get to see a doctor who knows us.” Concierge medicine ... has gained more traction in recent years among both physicians and patients. “Mainstream medicine doesn’t allow you to practice good medicine,” said Dr. Chris Campbell, [the Houston family’s primary care doctor]. In his old practice, the constant churn of patients “felt like assembly-line medicine.” Dr. Marcy Zwelling, an internal medicine doctor in Los Alamitos, switched her practice nearly 15 years ago. “We’ve arranged for good, cash prices so patients can get their care and understand the value of what they’re buying,” she said. "It’s huge. And it’s absolutely cheaper.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Tarra and Bella: Elephant loses man's best friend
November 4, 2011, CBS News
The Elephant Sanctuary south of Nashville is more than 2,000 acres of freedom for elephants. But for a resident named Tarra, there's not enough room in Tennessee to escape the bad news she got last week. For nearly a decade, Tarra had been best friends with a dog named Bella, a mutt who wandered onto the sanctuary grounds and into the heart of the gentle giant. They were so close, in fact, that when Bella got injured a few years ago and had to spend three weeks recuperating in the sanctuary office, guess who held vigil the entire time? Twenty-two hundred acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner waiting. Home video of their reunion shows how inseparable they'd become and remained, right to the end. Last week, sanctuary workers found Bella's body. By all indications she'd been attacked by coyotes. Where they found Bella is not where she was attacked. "When I looked around ... there was no signs of an attack here," said director of elephant husbandry, Steve Smith. "And Tarra, on the underside of her trunk, had blood - as if she picked up the body." Steve's theory is Tarra carried Bella possibly a mile or more to bring her home. [The sanctuary's CEO Rob] Atkinson said the elephants are ... spending more time with Tarra and being extra nice - making gestures like giving her a portion of their food. Of course, anyone who's lost a dog knows you can't eat your way out of the grief - as much we might try - but still nice to know at least Tarra's not alone in this. It's also nice to see that compassion is much more than just human.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this sad event at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Ex-White Supremacist Gives Moving Tribute To Black Teen Who Showed You Can't Fight Hate With Hate
January 16, 2014, Huffington Post
Arno Michaelis was once a thriving member of the Neo-Nazi movement. He participated in white supremacist rallies, was a fervent supporter of what he called a Racial Holy War, and was the lead singer in a hate metal band called Centurion. Michaelis says that "single parenthood, love for my daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people I once hated," changed him and guided him toward a life of tolerance, acceptance and peace. Michaelis' story was featured [among our] inspirational stories of people overcoming differences in sexuality, religion, race and nationality to do the right thing. Michaelis was kind of enough to comment on the piece personally, where he revealed that he was actually inspired by another story in the article, about Keshia Thomas, a black teenager who during a 1996 KKK rally saved the life of a white supremacist in danger of being killed by a mob of counter-demonstrators. "It's such an honor to be included among these amazing examples of humanity. Each is an inspiration, but I'm especially moved by Keshia's amazing exhibit of courage. I was on the white supremacist side of an Ann Arbor rally in 1988, and the hate the protesters reflected and amplified back at us was instrumental in justifying the white supremacist dogma that I ran with for the next 7 years. Aggression is fuel to neo-nazis. Keshia struck the most devastating blow to hate possible and I strive to follow her lead." Keshia and Arno's stories prove that a culture of tolerance can have a powerful domino effect.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Solar energy is poised for yet another record year
September 9, 2015, Washington Post
The U.S. solar industry is on course for a new growth record in 2015, according to a new report that finds that solar photovoltaic installations now exceed 20 gigawatts in capacity and could surpass an unprecedented 7 gigawatts this year alone across all segments. A gigawatt is equivalent to 1 billion watts and can power some 164,000 homes. “It’s setting records every quarter,” says Shayle Kann, senior vice president of GTM Research and lead author of the [report's] residential segment. The report comes just weeks after President Obama traveled to Las Vegas — a particularly fast-paced solar market — to sing the industry’s praises and cast solar, and particularly “distributed” solar on rooftops, as an icon of progress and technological innovation. Out of all new electricity installations in the U.S. in the first six months of this year, 40 percent were solar. U.S. solar photovoltaic is at 20 gigawatts of installed capacity now, and may add another 18 gigawatts by the end of next year. The new report also looks towards a tiny market at present that nonetheless contains great potential — solar-plus-storage, in which solar installations are combined directly with batteries in order to preserve energy culled from the sun for use at times of convenience or greater demand. It finds that while only 4 megawatts of solar-plus-storage were deployed last year, by this year that could increase five fold — and by 2020 it could reach 769 megawatts.
We're $8,800 in the red for the year.
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