'Ghost Corporations' Funding US Elections, Top Medical Experts Call For Decriminalization of All Drugs, Former Gangster Helps Troubled Youth
March 28, 2016
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on "ghost corporations" illegally providing major funding in the U.S. elections, the USDA muzzling a scientist for his research showing industrial agriculture kills bees, a new report from 22 of the world's top medical experts calls for decriminalizing all drugs as they find the global 'war on drugs' has done more harm than good to public health, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on how former Miami gangster David Lee Windecher turned his life around and now helps other young offenders to do the same, the programs emerging in US prisons that creatively serve inmate needs and reduce recidivism, General Mills' announcement that it will begin voluntarily labeling GMO food products throughout the US, 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: U.S. Citizens can verify their voter registration status at this link. Watch three former US Treasury Secretaries laughing it up about increasing income inequality. While most of the US media has come out strongly in favor of Clinton over Sanders, a recent Bloomberg poll found Sanders with a slight edge over Clinton among voting Democrats. Read an incisive Bill Moyers article on how the U.S. military has changed to embrace mercenaries in a way that raises many questions.
Quote of the week: "A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." ~~ Albert Einstein, 1954
Video of the week: Watch an eye-opening video to see how technology enables anyone's face on video to be made to do almost anything. More on this Stanford University webpage. Then read a Washington Post article on how fake 3-D images can be projected into space above a city. Wild stuff!!
How ‘ghost corporations’ are funding the 2016 election
March 18, 2016, Washington Post
A trust called DE First Holdings was quietly formed in Delaware. A day later, the entity dropped $1 million into a super PAC. The trust, whose owner remains unknown, is part of a growing cadre of mystery outfits financing big-money super PACs. Many were formed just days or weeks before making six- or seven-figure contributions - an arrangement that ... violates a long-standing federal ban on straw donors. But the individuals behind the “ghost corporations” appear to face little risk of reprisal from [the] Federal Election Commission. The 2016 campaign has already seen the highest rate of corporate donations since the Supreme Court unleashed such spending with its 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision. One out of every eight dollars collected by super PACs this election cycle have come from corporate coffers, including millions flowing from opaque and hard-to-trace entities. Such groups, which can accept unlimited donations ... are on track to far exceed the $86 million they gave to super PACs in the entire 2012 presidential cycle. A significant share of the money is coming from newly formed LLCs. Several campaign finance watchdog groups have filed complaints with the FEC against the recent pop-up LLCs, but the chances of the agency’s looking into the cases appear slim. Last month, the agency closed a nearly five-year-old complaint about a limited liability company allegedly used to mask a donor’s identity — unable to even agree whether it merited investigation.
Note: The "Koch Empire" alone plans to spend $889 million on US elections in 2016. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even further
March 24, 2016, Washington Post
A group of 22 medical experts convened by Johns Hopkins University and The Lancet have called today for the decriminalization of all nonviolent drug use and possession. The experts further encourage countries and U.S. states to "move gradually toward regulated drug markets and apply the scientific method to their assessment." Their report comes ahead of a special UN General Assembly Session on drugs to be held next month. In a lengthy review of the state of global drug policy, the Hopkins-Lancet experts conclude that the prohibitionist anti-drug policies of the past 50 years "directly and indirectly contribute to lethal violence, disease, discrimination, forced displacement, injustice and the undermining of people’s right to health. "The goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production and trafficking of illicit drugs is the basis of many of our national drug laws, but these policies are based on ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded," said Commissioner Dr. Chris Beyrer. "The idea that all drug use is necessarily 'abuse' means that immediate and complete abstinence has been seen as the only acceptable approach," commissioner Adeeba Kamarulzaman ... said. But, she added, "continued criminalization of drug use fuels HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis transmission within prisons and the community at large. There is another way. Programmes and policies aimed at reducing harm should be central to future drug policies."
Note: While the war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", and the healing potentials of mind altering drugs are starting to be investigated more openly, there remains powerful evidence that the CIA and US military are directly involved in the drug trade.
War on drugs harmed public health: report
March 24, 2016, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
The war on drugs has failed, fuelling higher rates of infection and harming public health and human rights to such a degree that it's time to decriminalize non-violent minor drug offences, according to a new global report. The authors of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Public Health and International Drug Policy call for minor use, possession and petty use to be decriminalized following measurably worsened human health. "We've had three decades of the war on drugs, we've had decades of zero-tolerance policy," said Dr. Chris Beyrer, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and the senior author of the report published Thursday in The Lancet. "It has had no measurable impact on supply or use, and so as a policy to control substance use it has arguably failed. It has evidently failed." Given that the goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production and trafficking of illicit drugs was to protect societies, the researchers evaluated the health effects and found they were overwhelmingly negative. For a role model, the authors point to Portugal, which decriminalized not only cannabis but also possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. HIV transmission, hepatitis C and incarcerations all decreased, Beyrer said, and there was about a 15 per cent decline in substance use by young people in Portugal.
Note: While the war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", and the healing potentials of mind altering drugs are starting to be investigated more openly, there remains powerful evidence that the CIA and US military are directly involved in the drug trade.
Was a USDA scientist muzzled because of his bee research?
March 3, 2016, Washington Post
A lack of diversity in farming and a related over-reliance on pesticides have triggered a host of negative effects, including the decline of pollinators, such as butterflies and bees. Commercial beekeepers continue to report escalating losses of 42 percent or more, jeopardizing $30 billion in annual revenue and our health. A couple of years ago, [Jonathan] Lundgren - running a government lab, winning awards from both his agency and President Obama - occupied the right position to aid in this crisis. He says he was doing just that when the trouble started. In October, Lundgren filed a whistleblower suit alleging that he was disciplined to suppress his science. Nine additional USDA scientists have been ordered to retract studies and water-down findings, or have faced discipline in retaliation for their work. Three of those scientists, beyond Lundgren, were also working on pollinator-related research. This dynamic of government scientists claiming suppression extends across institutions. Such disputes show how complicated the intersection of government, science and industry can become when billions of dollars are at stake. Bee declines, says Lundgren, are not difficult to understand.
Note: Read an article showing how the USDA is often bought out by corporations. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing science corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal
April 23, 2015, New York Times
The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.” The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, [became] one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain. Major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family ... built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One. Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Uranium is considered a strategic asset. The deal had to be approved by ... United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One ... a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
Note: The State Department also approved $165 Billion in commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors under Clinton's leadership. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Angry Arizona Voters Demand: Why Such Long Lines at Polling Sites?
March 24, 2016, New York Times
Cynthia Perez, a lawyer, stopped by a polling site on her way to work. She found a line so long she could not see the end of it. Days later, angry and baffled [Arizona] voters are still trying to make sense of how democracy is working in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, where officials cut the number of polling places by 70 percent to save money - to 60 from 200 in the last presidential election. That translated to a single polling place for every 108,000 residents in Phoenix, a majority-minority city that had exceptional turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries. Many observers saw Arizona as ... pointing toward potential problems nationally. The presidential election will be the first since the Supreme Court dismantled a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, freeing nine states, including Arizona and parts of seven others, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. Arizona has a long history of discrimination against minorities, preventing American Indians from voting for much of its history because they were considered “wards of the nation,” imposing English literacy tests on prospective voters and printing English-only election materials even as the state’s Spanish-speaking population grew. On Tuesday, calls poured into the office of Arizona’s attorney general ... well into the night, as people heard poll workers tell them to go home, “the election has already been decided,” said a spokesman.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
More high-ranking officers being charged with sex crimes against subordinates
March 19, 2016, Washington Post
The U.S. military has stepped up investigations of high-ranking officers for sexual assault. The Defense Department ... has revamped its policies to prevent sexual assault and to hold perpetrators accountable. During the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 116 officers of all stripes were court-martialed, discharged or received some sort of punishment after they were criminally investigated for sexual assault. That was more than double the number from three years earlier. Of last year’s cases, eight were against senior officers holding a rank equivalent to colonel or Navy captain or higher. While that figure may seem small, it represented a fourfold increase from 2012. Overall, the vast majority of troops investigated for sexual assault are enlisted personnel, who accounted for 94 percent of all cases last year. Enlisted troops outnumber officers by a ratio of 4.6 to 1. Under the military justice system, senior officers are responsible for deciding whether individuals under their command should be prosecuted. Some lawmakers and advocacy groups are pushing to strip commanders of that power and to give it instead to uniformed prosecutors. The Pentagon has resisted such proposals, saying they would undermine command authority. When senior officers themselves are charged with sexual assault, it “makes it appear as if the fox was guarding the henhouse,” said [Don] Christensen, the president of Protect Our Defenders, which has lobbied Congress to change the law.
Note: A 2015 Associated Press article states that: "the true scope of sex-related violence in the military communities is vastly underreported." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
The U.S. Government Is Still Fighting to Bury the Senate Torture Report
March 17, 2016, The Intercept
Government lawyers on Thursday continued their fight to bury the Senate Torture Report, arguing before the D.C. District Court of Appeals that the 6,700-page text could not be released on procedural grounds. When the 500-page executive summary of the report was released more than a year ago, it prompted international outcry and renewed calls for prosecution. The summary describes not only the CIA’s rape and torture of detainees, but also how the agency consistently misrepresented the brutality and effectiveness of the torture program. But many of the most graphic details are in Volume III of the full report, which former Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein has said contains “excruciating” details on “each of the 119 known individuals who were held in CIA custody.” On the same day the executive summary was released, the Intelligence Committee sent copies of the full report to executive branch agencies with instructions ... that they be used “as broadly as appropriate to make sure that this experience is never repeated.” Last year, after succeeding Feinstein as chair, Sen. Richard Burr, R-Ga., requested that the copies distributed to federal agencies be returned to Congress, prompting a legal standoff. In the meantime ... the Justice Department has “refuse[d] to allow executive branch officials to review the full and final study.”
Note: For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
Los Alamos schools have highest vaccine exemption rate
April 1, 2015, Albuquerque Journal (One of New Mexico's leading newspapers)
The tally is in. The major New Mexico school district with the largest percentage of students opting out of vaccinations against contagious diseases is ... in New Mexico’s, and one of the world’s, science centers: Los Alamos. According to a recent report by the state Department of Health, 2.3 percent of students in the Los Alamos Public Schools have exemptions from having to get vaccinations. That’s a higher percentage than in the public schools of our New Age-friendly and alternative thought capitals of Santa Fe and Taos. The statewide average is less than 1 percent. The rating for Los Alamos seems demographically in line with the findings of a 2014 survey by the Health Department of 794 vaccine-exemptor parents – 74 percent were Anglo and 67 percent had at least four years of college. Many people in Los Alamos don’t just have college degrees – they’re scientists, with lots of degrees. Los Alamos National Laboratory in fact has done some heavy research on infectious disease and development of an HIV vaccine. “That’s a curiosity,” said Los Alamos schools superintendent Gene Schmidt of his district’s relatively high rate of vaccination exemptions among what he called “a pretty scientific and literate community.” So what’s the deal with higher education levels correlating with vaccine exemptions, which New Mexico allows for medical reasons certified by a physician or for religious beliefs?
Note: Isn't it fascinating that Los Alamos, where top secret government labs proliferate, is the place where parents don't get their children vaccinated? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Canadian military explored plan to fully integrate forces with U.S.
September 30, 2015, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
CBC News has learned that a Canadian military effort to formally create integrated forces with the United States for expeditionary operations included an even more ambitious option — a plan to fully integrate military forces. The Canadian military efforts were ultimately ... refocused on improving interoperability between the forces. The Canada-U.S. Integrated Forces program was led at the highest levels, with then Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson and the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey (now retired), meeting on "several occasions" to hash out a plan that included an option for "fully integrated forces." CBC News reported that the Canadian military had been working on a plan to create a binational integrated military force with the U.S., under which air, sea, land and special operations forces would be jointly deployed under unified command outside Canada. "The government has neither expressed interest in the concept of Canada-U.S. force integration nor directed exploration of it," [defense ministry spokesman Daniel] Proussalidis told CBC News. But the new information from the Defence Department shows the planning ... happened at the highest levels of both forces. A fully integrated force could be politically dangerous.
Saudi Arabia Continues Hiring Spree of Lobbyists, Retains Former Washington Post Reporter
March 21, 2016, The Intercept
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is adding more American lobbyists to its payroll by hiring BGR Government Affairs. The contract provides BGR with $500,000 annually to assist with U.S. media outreach for the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court, a government entity. The retainer includes the services of Jeffrey Birnbaum, a former Washington Post reporter who once covered the lobbying industry and now works as a lobbyist, as well as Ed Rogers, a former Reagan administration official who now lobbies and writes a column for the Post. The Saudi government has brought on a dizzying array of American public relations experts and lobbyists to help spin reporters and influence policymakers, [including] the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm run by a top fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton campaign, [and] Norm Coleman, the former GOP senator who leads a major Republican Super PAC. The money spent on lobbying has been used to counter growing controversies surrounding the kingdom. When Nimr al-Nimr, a peaceful government critic, was executed in January, the Podesta Group helped the regime shape media coverage ... to smear Nimr as a “terrorist.” Other American consultants working for the Saudi Embassy used social media and other efforts to attack Nimr and justify the execution. The kingdom has relied on its media and lobbying apparatus to combat criticism of its human rights record, including the growing rate of executions and beheadings.
Note: Democracy for sale? Read more about Saudi Arabia's influential charm offensive. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the manipulation of public opinion.
Could you fall in love with this robot?
March 16, 2016, CNBC
Two teams working to develop the most humanlike robots on the planet - often dubbed androids - are Hanson Robotics and Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories. Dr. David Hanson leads the engineers and designers that created Sophia, the team's most advanced android to date. Sophia's lifelike skin is made from patented silicon and she can emulate more than 62 facial expressions. Cameras inside her "eyes," combined with computer algorithms, enable her to "see," follow faces and appear to make eye contact and recognize individuals. A combination of ... voice recognition technology and other tools enable Sophia to process speech, chat and get smarter over time. "Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human," said Hanson. "We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications." Hanson said that one day robots will be indistinguishable from humans. "The artificial intelligence will evolve to the point where they will truly be our friends," he said. Hanson plans to announce pricing and availability of his humanlike robots later this year. "Gemini" is Latin name for "twins" and the root of "Geminoid," a robot created by Hiroshi Ishiguro ... in order to study humans, which he believes are not that different from robots. "We are more autonomous and more intelligent — that's it," he said. His own tests found that 80 percent of people greeted his most human-like androids with a "hello," initially mistaking them for real people.
Note: This is both exciting and scary at the same time. Are we ready for this? Will global elites continue to capture most of the rewards of these technological advancements?
A former gangster morphs into a lawyer who helps troubled kids
March 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor
When David Lee Windecher comes to court, he cuts a striking figure. Once known as “Red,” a notorious North Miami gangster, Windecher has come a long way. The drug dealer and larcenist who had been arrested 13 times by his 20th birthday ... has morphed into one of Atlanta’s hottest young lawyers. Only four years into his law career, [he] uses his own gripping memoir – “The American Dream: HisStory in the Making” – to give troubled kids a road map to putting their adolescent mistakes in the rearview mirror. His message: Too many Americans – prosecutors, citizens, and even gangsters themselves – buy into a myth that youths are a lost cause. Those sentiments were cemented into law in the 1980s and ’90s. “Second chances come hard,” he says. “The problem is that everyone, even the gangsters, looks at the worst, not the potential in other people. But the fact is, you are not a victim of circumstance. You have a choice.” It took watching his brother and two sisters turning to gang life, finding faith in a higher power, and meeting an aspiring FBI agent ... for Windecher to see that there was a way out. He was also shaken by a poem titled “The Monument,” about how God gives each person a unique set of problems to resolve. It says, “no one else may have the blessings that these problems will bring you.” In 2011, Windecher secured an internship with the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, [where] in the juvenile division ... he began to strengthen the county’s diversion programs aimed at keeping first-time offenders out of long-term detention.
5 Prisons Improving Life on the Inside
March 14, 2016, Yes!
For the roughly 2.2 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails, daily life is often violent, degrading, and hopeless. But what if our approach to those behind bars were constructive, rather than destructive? Four-legged companions ... share living quarters with Fulton County Jail inmates as part of the Canine CellMates program in Atlanta. Believing all inmates have a capacity for good is what inspired [Susan Jacobs-Meadows] to found the program at the jail 2 1/2 years ago. More than 100 inmates have participated, and Jacobs-Meadows says it is extremely rare for an inmate to reoffend after completing the program. Since 2009, inmates at Washington’s Stafford Creek Corrections Center ... have planted more than 1.5 million flowers as environmental stewards in the Sustainability in Prisons Project’s Prairie Conservation Nursery Program, [which] also offers the potential for college credit. Solitary confinement at Oregon’s Snake River Correctional Institution used to mean a concrete cell, no bigger than a parking stall. Prisoners spent about 23 hours a day there. [This] often provoked aggressive behavior from prisoners. So guards tried an experiment: Send inmates back to nature or, more accurately, bring nature to them. The Blue Room, implemented in April 2013, immerses inmates in nature for an hour by playing videos of arid deserts, lush forests, and open oceans as they sit in a chair alone, imagining roaming the wide open spaces before them. The room ... has been credited with a reduction in reported incidents of violence.
Note: Read more on these and other creative programs bringing hope and useful skills to prisoners at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
General Mills to label GMOs on products across the country
March 18, 2016, USA Today
General Mills said Friday that it will start labeling its products that contain genetically modified ingredients in response to a law going into effect in Vermont later this year. The maker of Cheerios, Yoplait and Betty Crocker joins Campbell Soup as one of the few major consumer product companies to adopt labeling amid a contentious debate in Congress about whether identifying GMOs - genetically modified organisms - should be voluntary. In a blog post, General Mills argued for a national standard for GMO labeling but said that in the meantime, the company will start labeling certain products that contain GMOs. The decision comes as ... food producers prepare to comply with a Vermont law that will require GMOs to be identified starting July 1. General Mills said that it's more cost effective to adopt the practice across the country in order to keep prices from rising for customers. The labels will start hitting grocery stores over the next several weeks and customers can expect thousands of packages to be updated with new language. General Mills also launched a tool that lets customers search for products that contain GMOs, which includes Betty Crocker frosting, Chex cereal and Nature Valley bars. The fight over GMO labeling has been fraught with the question of whether GMOs are safe to consume. Genetically engineered foods, like corn and soybeans, have been part of the U.S. food supply since the 1990s.
Note: Other major companies are also saying they will start labelling GM foods in the US, as reported in this article in the UK's Guardian. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Chocolate is brain food. Who knew?
March 4, 2016, Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California's leading newspaper)
In the mid 1970s, psychologist Merrill Elias began tracking the cognitive abilities of more than a thousand people. The goal: to observe the relationship between people's blood pressure and brain performance. There was never an inkling that his research would lead to any sort of discovery about chocolate. And yet, 40 years later, it seems to have done just that. The questionnaire gathered all sorts of information about the dietary habits of the participants, [which] revealed an interesting pattern. "We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively," said Elias. "It's significant - it touches a number of cognitive domains." The findings ... come largely thanks to the interest of Georgina Crichton, a nutrition researcher. What's going on? Crichton can't say with absolute certainty. Nor can Elias, who says he expected to observe the opposite effect - that chocolate, given its sugar content, would be correlated with stunted rather than enhanced cognitive abilities. But they have a few ideas. Nutrients called cocoa flavanols, which are found naturally in cocoa, and thus chocolate, seem to have a positive effect on people's brains. Chocolate, like both coffee and tea, also has methylxanthines, plant-produced compounds that enhance various bodily functions. A lot of previous research has shown that there are, or at least could be, immediate cognitive benefits from eating chocolate. But rarely, if ever, have researchers been able to observe the impact of habitual chocolate eating on the brain.
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