Fukushima Disaster Indictments, US Police Walk Free in 96% of Rights Cases, Penguin Befriends Man
March 22, 2016
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the recent criminal indictments of former managers of nuclear power company Tepco for their role in the 2011 Fukushima plant meltdown, the US Justice Department's failure to pursue 96% of the civil rights cases against police referred to it by other agencies, the NSA domestic spying data being shared with an increasingly wide range of government agencies despite having been collected only for the "War on Terror", and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on how Dindim the penguin was rescued from an oil spill and later befriended the man that rescued him, the nonprofit "Road to Recovery" where Israeli volunteers provide transportation to medical services in Israel to ill Palestinians, the heart warming valentine delivered to a victim of workplace homophobia by Canadian officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 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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Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister
March 4, 2016, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Japan's prime minister at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has revealed that the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people. In an interview with The Telegraph ... Naoto Kan described the panic and disarray at the highest levels of the Japanese government as it fought to control multiple meltdowns at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. He said he considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, along with all other areas within 160 miles of the plant, and declaring martial law. Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator. He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser. “We asked him – do you know anything about nuclear issues? And he said no, I majored in economics.” Another member of Mr Kan’s crisis working group, the then Tepco chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, was last week indicted on charges of criminal negligence for his role in the disaster. Mr Kan lost the prime ministership later in 2011. The former leader said that “a lot of the accident was caused before March 11” by the complacency and misjudgment of Tepco, a verdict echoed by the official inquiry, which dubbed the nuclear accident a “man-made disaster”. The criminal investigation which led to last week’s charges against Mr Katsumata and two other Tepco managers found that they had known since June 2009 that the plant was vulnerable.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster.
U.S. police escape federal charges in 96 percent of rights cases
March 13, 2016, Reuters
Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against law enforcement officers in the United States facing allegations of civil rights violations in 96 percent of such cases between 1995 and 2015, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper. The newspaper examined nearly 3 million U.S. Justice Department records related to how the department's 94 U.S. attorney's offices across the country ... handled civil rights cases against officers. The data included cases referred to the Justice Department by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies. Overall, prosecutors turned down 12,703 potential civil rights violations out of 13,233 total complaints. By contrast, prosecutors rejected only about 23 percent of referrals in all other types of criminal cases. The findings could bolster arguments by activists, such as those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, who claim police officers are rarely held criminally responsible for their misconduct. The report comes just days after the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, announced he would not press charges against a white officer who killed an unarmed black teenager inside his own apartment in 2012. The most common reasons that prosecutors cited for declining to bring civil rights cases against officers were weak or insufficient evidence, lack of criminal intent and orders from the Justice Department.
Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism
March 10, 2016, Washington Post
The “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy. The ACLU of Massachusetts blog Privacy SOS explains [that] domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. This basically formalizes what was already happening. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. It certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy.
Justice Department warns local courts about unlawful fines and fees
March 14, 2016, Washington Post
The Justice Department is asking local courts across the country to be wary of how they slap poor defendants with fines and fees. In a letter ... to the chief judges and court administrators in all 50 states, Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, director of the Office for Access to Justice, wrote that illegal enforcement of fines and fees had been receiving increased attention. “Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape,” Gupta and Foster wrote. “Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared ... toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.” The White House and the department convened a summit on the issue in December. The Justice Department alleged in a recent lawsuit that officers in Ferguson, Mo., were violating citizens’ civil rights in part because their policing tactics were meant to generate revenue. The financial penalties - typically for minor misdemeanors, traffic infractions or violations of city code - disproportionately affect the poor, who cannot afford to pay immediately and are then hit with arrest warrants or additional penalties. Some towns [derive] 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from [these] petty fines and fees.
Note: Along with relying on municipal fines and fees that disproportionately impact the poor, some police departments simply steal from people when times get tough. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and income inequality.
Bill Blocking GMO Labels Stalls In Senate, But Battle Is Far From Over
March 16, 2016, NPR
It's been called "perhaps the most contentious issue in the food industry": Should food products be labeled to indicate they contain genetically modified ingredients? Leading Republicans in the Senate tried to answer that question on Wednesday with a clear "no," but failed. The Senate rejected a bill that would have prevented any state from requiring GMO labels on food. The bill, sponsored by Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, would have created a voluntary national labeling standard for foods containing GMOs, but it would have blocked Vermont from implementing its first-in-the-nation mandatory GMO labeling law, currently set to take effect on July 1. The Roberts bill failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward. Among those opposing the Roberts measure was Just Label It, a coalition of businesses and organizations supporting mandatory GMO labels on food. "This is the most hotly debated issue in food right now," says Scott Faber, the group's executive director. "Consumers should have the right to choose," Faber says. "They should have the right to know what's in their food and be trusted to make their own choices." That argument - consumers' right to know - holds sway among many legislators. Earlier this month, during debate on the Roberts bill in the Senate agriculture committee, many lawmakers pointed to polls that show a majority of Americans support labeling genetically modified ingredients in foods.
Note: Read more about why the overwhelming majority of Americans believe GMO foods should require labels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
A Scary New Reason to Avoid Splenda
March 7, 2016, MSN
New research suggests that Splenda - an artificial sweetener recently considered safe - may contribute to serious health problems like cancer. The study, published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, found that mice fed sucralose daily throughout their lives developed leukemia and other blood cancers. In response to the findings, the Center for Science in the Public Interest - a nutrition watchdog group that assesses the safety of food additives - has now formally recommended that consumers avoid the sweetener. That's a big deal, considering that until 2013, they'd rated the additive as "safe." This new evidence was especially powerful because it was funded without special interests in mind, explains Lisa Lefferts, MSPH, senior scientist at the CSPI. "For most food additives, the safety studies are conducted by the manufacturers who have financial incentives," Lefferts says. Even if you discount this new mouse study, you'll still find plenty of reasons to skip out on sucralose. A growing body of research shows that artificial sweeteners may actually cause weight gain, not weight loss. One study found drinking diet soda was linked to increased belly fat; in another, each daily can was associated with a 41% jump in obesity risk. Sucralose has even been shown to mess with your blood sugar and insulin levels, causing spikes and dips that could lead to cravings later on. The bottom line: the scientists at the CSPI firmly believe you should steer clear of sucralose.
Note: Food additive manufacturers use the same deceptive tactics that Big Tobacco was found guilty of. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Rattled by drug price increases, hospitals seek ways to stay on guard
March 13, 2016, Washington Post
Doctors at the University Hospitals of Cleveland see an immediately recognizable symbol pop up alongside certain drugs when they sign in online these days to prescribe medications for patients: $$$$$. The dollar signs, affixed by hospital administrators, carry a not-so-subtle message: Think twice before using this drug. Pick an alternative if possible. The ... approach is just one of the strategies hospitals nationwide are using to try to counter drug costs. The increases often involved brand-name drugs with little or no competition as well as commonly used generics around for decades. Among those tagged were Nitropress and Isuprel, injectable heart medications that are a staple at many hospitals. Their 2015 list prices rose more than 200 percent and 500 percent, respectively. Hospital officials around the United States point to similar experiences, saying their predicament illustrates one dimension of a broken prescription-drug system. A recent Bloomberg Business survey of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices had more than doubled for 60 medications since December 2014 and at least quadrupled for 20. Prices for many other drugs continued to rise at 10 percent or more annually. “The patient doesn’t initially see the price increase,” said Scott Knoer, chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “But it raises the cost for the hospital. Eventually, it catches up and it raises the cost for insurance companies, which is passed on to employers, employees and taxpayers.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
The U.S.’s New Earthquake Capital: Oklahoma
March 14, 2016, Time
Oklahoma used to be a seismic afterthought, a place with so few earthquakes that in the 1990s it was one of three locations where the Soviets were allowed to monitor American nuclear testing. Today, however, Oklahoma is one of the most seismic places on the planet. In 2015, the state had 907 earthquakes that were 3-magnitude or greater compared with just one in 2007. Scientists say the growth in seismicity is directly related to the oil and gas industry, specifically the use of disposal wells that reinject back into the earth salty wastewater that comes up naturally during drilling. An estimated 3 billion barrels of water came out of the ground in 2015, and its reinjection has increased pressure on the state’s fault lines, triggering hundreds of tremors in western and central Oklahoma. The state, meanwhile, has been slow to respond. Critics say officials are too reliant on the industry to take any meaningful steps that would put real pressure on the industry, especially at a time when the price of oil has fallen by 70% since 2014. Many Oklahomans are ... concerned that a big one will hit a populated area like Oklahoma City. Of equal concern are the long-term consequences of disposing billions of barrels of water back underground. Some seismologists say that even if all disposal activity stopped in the state immediately, there could be earthquakes for decades.
Note: It's interesting to note that this entire article for some reason avoids using the term fracking. The fracking industry has tried and failed to prevent the public from understanding the cause of these earthquakes.
U.S., Russia, Security Council Get A Share Of Blame For Syrian Violence In New Report
March 11, 2016, NPR
The fifth year of the Syrian conflict was the worst yet for civilians - and Russia, the U.S., France and Britain are partly to blame. That's according to a new report from 30 aid and human rights groups. Titled "Fuelling the Fire," the report says some 50,000 people have been killed since April 2014 and that nearly a million more have been forced to flee their homes. It also says that as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the U.S., Britain, France and Russia could be doing much more to end the bloodshed. While fixing most of the blame on the Syrian regime and armed opposition groups, as well as violent extremists such as the Islamic State, the report says major world powers are undermining their own calls for peace through the weapons they provide to combatants, their own military strikes and what the report calls inadequate pressure on their allies to stop the killing. Jan Egeland with the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the groups behind the report, said this week in Geneva that despite recent progress in aiding besieged areas, there are still seven places where they can't get aid to trapped people. "It's very clear that the seven areas where we have not reached, are [controlled] — six by the government, one by Islamic State," he said.
Note: The underlying reason for this war and most wars is the huge profits that are made, as clearly revealed by a top US general in his highly revealing book "War is a Racket." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Pentagon to try again at training Syrian rebels
March 18, 2016, Los Angeles Times
President Obama has authorized a limited new plan to train and arm rebel fighters to confront Islamic State militants in Syria, relaunching a Pentagon program that was suspended last fall after a series of embarrassing setbacks. The program is separate from a covert CIA-run training operation. The original plan involved selecting fighters from moderate Syrian rebel groups, taking them to Arab military bases outside Syria, and providing arms, equipment and six weeks of training. They then would [be] sent back to Syria. The first 54 recruits were ambushed in July by Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate. The second class of 71 surrendered much of their U.S.-issued ammunition and trucks to Nusra Front fighters in September in exchange for safe passage through northern Syria. The program initially was envisioned as a $500-million, three-year plan to recruit, train and equip fighters at bases in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Thousands of rebels applied. Many were ... ineligible. In addition, the prospective host countries and many of the fighters disagreed with the U.S. emphasis on fighting Islamic State, saying the training should focus on ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Pentagon shut the program down in less than a year. In its place, the Pentagon began providing communications equipment, weapons and ammunition to rebel commanders. The equipment was dropped into Syria by U.S. aircraft and distributed among the units as they pushed into territory controlled by Islamic State.
Note: Explore powerful evidence that ISIS is aided and was possibly even created by covert US support. Watch this video which shows how the US and its allies stoke war in order to pad the pockets of mega-corporations which profit greatly from arms sales. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Years Past
The ‘Signature Strikes’ Program
May 29, 2013, New York Times
Toward the end of a May 27 article in The Times about President Obama’s speech in which, among other things, he mentioned setting new standards for ordering drone strikes against non-Americans, there was this rather disturbing paragraph: “Even as he set new standards, a debate broke out about what they actually meant and what would actually change. For now, officials said, ‘signature strikes’ targeting groups of unidentified armed men presumed to be extremists will continue in the Pakistani tribal areas.” As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, those two sentences seem to contradict the entire tenor of Mr. Obama’s speech, and of a letter to Congress from Attorney General Eric Holder. Both men seemed to be saying that the administration would stop using unmanned drones to kill targets merely suspected, due to their location or their actions, of a link to Al Qaeda or another terrorist organization. Those strikes have resulted in untold civilian casualties that have poisoned America’s relationship with Yemen and Pakistan. Mr. Obama talked at some length about civilian casualties, and also said that the need to use drone strikes against “forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces” will disappear once American forces withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. But so what to make of that paragraph in the May 27 article? I asked the White House. What I got in response was part of a background briefing given after the president’s speech that repeated the language about how the need for signature strikes will fade.
Note: Drone strikes often miss their intended targets and reportedly create more terrorists than they kill. 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 government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan – and the west stays silent
August 12, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The US government has long maintained, reasonably enough, that a defining tactic of terrorism is to launch a follow-up attack aimed at those who go to the scene of the original attack to rescue the wounded and remove the dead. Yet ... this has become one of the favorite tactics of the very same US government. Attacking rescuers (and arguably worse, bombing funerals of America's drone victims) is now a tactic routinely used by the US in Pakistan. In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that "the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals." Specifically: "at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims." The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings ... Christof Heyns, said that if "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime." There is no doubt that there have been. The frequency with which the US uses this tactic is reflected by this December 2011 report ... on the drone killing of 16-year-old Tariq Khan and his 12-year-old cousin Waheed, just days after the older boy attended a meeting to protest US drones: "[Witnesses] did not provide pictures of the missile strike scene. Virtually none exist, since drones often target people who show up at the scene."
Note: Drone strikes almost always miss their intended targets and reportedly create more terrorists than they kill. 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 government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Penguin travels every year to visit man who rescued him
March 11, 2016, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Ever since a 71-year-old Brazilian man rescued a struggling penguin, he's been receiving regular visits from his feathered friend. Joao Pereira de Souza, a retired bricklayer, lives ... just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. In 2011, he spotted a starving Magellanic penguin drenched in oil on the beach near his house. Naming the penguin Dindim, Pereira de Souza fed him every day until he was strong enough to leave, according to a video from the University of Rio de Janeiro. But the penguin refused to go. Pereira de Souza decided to row a boat out into the water and drop Dindim off to encourage him to swim home. But when he rowed back to shore, he found the penguin waiting for him. "He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared," Pereira de Souza told TV Globo, a Brazilian TV network. Magellanic penguins regularly swim thousands of kilometres a year to breeding spots on the coast of Argentina and Chile. From time to time, penguins show up in warmer Brazilian waters. Many of Pereira de Souza's friends thought that when Dindim finally left, that was it for the human-bird friendship. But a few months later, Dindim returned and found Pereira de Souza. He visits for about four months, a ritual kept for the last five years. "He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February, and every year he becomes more affectionate," Pereira de Souza told TV Globo. De Souza appears to be the only person who can get near Dindim. If others try, he pecks them or waddles away.
Yuval Roth gives Palestinians a lift so they can get medical care in Israel
March 10, 2016, Christian Science Monitor
Yuval Roth woke at the crack of dawn to drive his large, white van from his home on Israel’s Mediterranean coast to Checkpoint 300, the main passageway leading from Palestiniancontrolled Bethlehem to Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. Over the past decade, Roth has made it his daily business to transport Palestinians needing medical treatment from army checkpoints to Israeli hospitals. “These encounters break down barriers,” Roth says. “Everything the Palestinians knew about us, and everything we knew about them, simply disintegrates.” [In 1993] Roth’s brother, Ehud, was kidnapped [and killed] by a Hamas cell in the Gaza Strip. Roth decided to mobilize his pain in the cause of education. He joined ... a nonprofit group comprising bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. He began sharing his personal story with Israeli high school students, alongside a Palestinian counterpart. In late 2005, a Palestinian member of the group asked Roth for a favor: Could Roth drive his sick brother from a checkpoint on the Palestinian-occupied West Bank to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel. Soon, another Palestinian approached Roth, requesting a ride ... for a Palestinian seeking a bone marrow transplant. “Things began to snowball,” Roth says. “I sent out a call for help online, and that’s how a group of volunteers started to form.” In late 2009, [a $10,000] donation forced Roth to register The Road to Recovery as a nonprofit group. Today it has some 400 active Israeli volunteers.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Justin Trudeau Sends Heartfelt Card To Man Who Got Homophobic Note
March 14, 2016, Huffington Post
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard about a gay man receiving a hate-filled Valentine, he sent him a moving message of support. Degas Sikorski, a man from Edmonton, Canada, was working for Party City but had not received a shift in months. When he went into work on Valentine’s Day, he noticed his supervisor had made personalized gifts for everyone on staff. When Sikorski looked at his, the openly gay employee noticed ... something nasty: "FA**** YOU ARE NOT GETTING SHIFTS FOR A REASON," was written in black marker on Sikorski's Valentine. Furious, Sikorski's mother, Shelley, posted a picture of the slur on Facebook. A manager at a local Starbucks saw the post and offered Sikorski a job, so that he could quit Party City. Sikorski accepted. Yet, a new job wasn’t the only love Sikorski received thanks to his mother’s post. Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault eventually saw it as well. He is also openly gay and felt compelled to show his support. "I texted my team ‘Please find a very nice Valentine’s card and bring it to the House,’" Boissonnault told Global News. Boissonnault signed the belated Valentine and got other members of parliament to sign it as well. Trudeau also wrote an inspiring message: “Dear Degas, Know that your friends outnumber the haters by the millions and I’m one of those friends.” A picture of Trudeau signing the card was included in a belated Valentine for Sikorski, which was hand-delivered to him last Saturday by Boissonnault himself.
Note: Don't miss the video of this moving story at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Morocco is producing solar power at night
March 11, 2016, CNN
Springing up on the edge of the Sahara desert are rows of curved mirrors as far as the eye can see. They're part of what could become the biggest solar power plant in the world. Morocco is investing about $2.6 billion on the construction of the Ouarzazate complex, which forms the heart of a $9 billion strategy to harness one of the country's greatest natural resources - sunshine. When completed in 2017, it will cover an area nine times the size of New York's Central Park and generate enough electricity to power about one million households. Morocco has been developing solar and other sources of renewable power for years. It has just set itself the ambitious target of meeting just over half the nation's electricity needs from renewable power by 2030. Morocco is using solar technology that operates very differently from traditional solar panels, which use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. The Ouarzazate complex uses large curved "mirrors" that track the sun like flowers and channel radiation to generate steam inside a network of tubes. The steam drives a central turbine that generates electricity, which flows into the national grid for use by Moroccan homes and businesses. Perhaps most impressive is that the complex can continue to operate after the sun sets. Heat from the system can be stored for hours in tanks filled with molten salts. That allows steam to be generated for hours and keep turning the turbine at night.
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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