Glyphosate Banned in EU, Big Pharma Feeds Opioid Crisis, A Step Beyond Organic
November 13, 2017
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on the recent European Union vote to ban Monsanto's RoundUp ingredient glyphosate due to the product's negative health impacts, Big Pharma's big role in feeding the opioid crisis, the "Paradise Papers" leak exposing offshore tax havens used by elites to hide money, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on farming that goes a step beyond organic to produce chicken eggs with very little environmental impact, how intermittent fasting can keep the body young at a cellular level, China's major crackdown on industrial polluters, 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: Watch a hilarious 10-minute TED Talk on dealing with online spammers. Explore a peer-reviewed journal article recently published showing dramatic health improvements in thousands of people who cut genetically modified foods out of their diet. Read excellent information on bills attempting to force vaccinations for all children and what you can do about it. Check out a great interview with the remarkable Larry Brilliant.
Quote of the week: "Have we forgotten that we always have choice over how we perceive the world?" ~~ Peter Russell
From Brussels to Arkansas, a Tough Week for Monsanto
November 9, 2017, New York Times
Opposition from France and Italy doomed a European Union vote on Thursday to reauthorize the world’s most popular weedkiller, glyphosate, a decision that came hours after Arkansas regulators moved to ban an alternative weedkiller for much of 2018. The decisions are a double blow to the agrochemical industry and particularly to the chemicals giant Monsanto. The effort to reauthorize the weedkiller failed to receive a majority even though regulators were seeking only a five-year reauthorization instead of the typical 15, amid controversy and disputes about cancer risk that have made glyphosate’s future in Europe uncertain. Its approval in the region expires in mid-December. In Arkansas, regulators voted on Wednesday to ban the use of another major weedkiller, dicamba ... amid widespread reports of crop damage. Dicamba has been around for decades, but new versions have been developed by Monsanto, BASF and DuPont as an alternative to Roundup. Taken together, the decisions reflect an increasing political resistance to pesticides in Europe and parts of the United States, as well as the specific shortcomings of dicamba. Dicamba has damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops in 25 states. The European Union’s decision followed years of haggling and delay. But glyphosate ... has been plunged into controversy since the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, declared it a probable carcinogen in 2015.
Note: Monsanto was recently banned from the European parliament after shunning important hearings with regulators. This company's use of scientists as industry puppets, its lies to regulators and the public and its massive lobbying campaign have not kept information on the risks and dangers of its products from getting out. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
How big pharma's money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis
October 19, 2017, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Trump’s nominee for drug czar, the US congressman Tom Marino, was forced to withdraw after a report by the Washington Post and CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted his role in forging legislation that hinders the DEA’s ability to move against drug distributors or pharmacies recklessly dispensing the opioid painkillers at the heart of the epidemic, which claims more than 100 lives a day. Marino’s acceptance of substantial donations from those same companies compromised his nomination to head the federal agency charged with tackling the opioid crisis. But for Congress, the process was nothing unusual. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow to lobbyists and politicians on Capitol Hill each year to shape laws and policies that keep drug company profits growing. The impact of so much drug company money coursing through the veins of Congress is often incremental or largely unseen by the American public. But on occasion it has a hugely visible impact. While lobbying shapes medical policy across the board, it has had a profound impact on the opioid epidemic as deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2015. The pharmaceutical industry poured resources into attempting to place blame for the crisis on the millions who have became addicted instead of on the mass prescribing of powerful opioids. Some of the pressure came through industry-funded groups such as the Pain Care Forum, which spent $740m over a decade lobbying in Washington and state legislatures against limits on opioid prescribing.
Note: This excellent article has lots more on the intense level of corruption found in this opioid crisis. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Paradise Papers Shine Light on Where the Elite Hide Their Money
November 5, 2017, New York Times
It’s called the Paradise Papers: the latest in a series of leaks made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shedding light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens. The core of the leak, totaling more than 13.4 million documents, focuses on the Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year old company that caters to blue chip corporations and very wealthy people. As with the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers leak came through ... the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and was then shared with I.C.I.J., a Washington-based group that won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the millions of records of a Panamanian law firm. The release of that trove of documents led to the resignation of one prime minister last year. This week, The New York Times is publishing articles on the Paradise Papers that were reported in cooperation with our I.C.I.J. partners. The predominantly elite clients of Appleby contrast with those of Mossack Fonseca - the company whose leaked records became the Panama Papers - which appeared to be less discriminating in the business it took on. Americans - companies and people - dominate the list of clients. Past disclosures, such as the 2013 “Offshore Leaks” from two offshore incorporators in Singapore and the British Virgin Islands, the 2015 “Swiss Leaks” from a private Swiss bank owned by the British bank HSBC and another leak in 2016 from the Bahamas were dominated by clients not from the United States.
Note: A directory of several New York Times articles detailing specific revelations from the Paradise Papers is available at the link above. In the US, many large companies pay little or no federal taxes, and former tax lobbyists now write the rules on tax dodging. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.
Afghan Opium Production Reaches Record High
October 24, 2017, Voice of America (A US government news source)
Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opium, has harvested a record crop this year that more than doubled last year’s production. Salamt Azimi, the country’s minister for counter-narcotics, told VOA's Pashto service that insecurity kept the government from implementing poppy eradication programs, leading to a 64 percent jump in land dedicated to the lucrative crop to 340,000 hectares. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that opium accounted for some 16 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product last year, including more than two-thirds of the entire agricultural sector. In addition to fueling insecurity, violence and insurgency, the drug production is discouraging private and public investment, a UNODC report said. Afghanistan’s opium production plunged in 2001 after the Taliban-led government banned it. But it jumped back to pre-ban levels - and higher - after the U.S. led invasion of the country late that year. U.S. anti-drug officials say the Taliban provides protection to traffickers in exchange for weapons, funding and other support. A single kilogram of heroin can generate approximately $1.5 million by the time it reaches users, and the U.S. is trying to cope with a rise in addiction to opiates, both prescription drugs and illegally produced drugs like heroin. That leads to opportunities to bribe police, judges and customs officials, feeding Afghanistan’s endemic corruption and scaring off foreign investment.
Note: How is it that under the Taliban opium production was decimated, yet once the US invaded, it has continually set record highs. Could it be that factions of the power elite benefit greatly from this illegal trade? According to a 2016 New York Times article, Afghan government officials closely allied with US military and intelligence officials have been directly involved in the opium trade. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Saad Hariri’s resignation as Prime Minister of Lebanon is not all it seems
November 9, 2017, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
When Saad Hariri’s jet touched down at Riyadh on the evening of 3 November, the first thing he saw was a group of Saudi policemen surrounding the plane. When they came aboard, they confiscated his mobile phone and those of his bodyguards. Thus was Lebanon’s prime minister silenced. It was a dramatic moment in tune with the soap-box drama played out across Saudi Arabia this past week: the house arrest of 11 princes ... and four ministers and scores of other former government lackeys. But back to Hariri. He was in a cabinet meeting in Beirut. Then he received a call, asking him to see King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Hariri ... set off at once. Out of the blue and to the total shock of Lebanese ministers, Hariri, reading from a written text, announced on Saturday on the Arabia television channel ... that he was resigning as prime minister of Lebanon. There were threats against his life, he said – though this was news to the security services in Beirut – and Hezbollah should be disarmed and wherever Iran interfered in the Middle East, there was chaos. These were not words that Hariri had ever used before. They were not, in other words, written by him. The Saudis had ordered the prime minister of Lebanon to resign and to read his own departure out loud from Riyadh. There will be no complaints from Washington or London, whose desire to share in the divvying up of Saudi Aramco (another of the crown prince’s projects) will smother any thoughts of protest or warning.
Note: In 2015, Saudi Arabia began a massive public relations campaign to charm American policy makers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
On YouTube Kids, Startling Videos Slip Past Filters
November 4, 2017, New York Times
Parents and children have flocked to Google-owned YouTube Kids since it was introduced in early 2015. The app’s more than 11 million weekly viewers are drawn in by its seemingly infinite supply of clips, including those from popular shows by Disney and Nickelodeon, and the knowledge that the app is supposed to contain only child-friendly content that has been automatically filtered from the main YouTube site. But the app contains dark corners, too, as videos that are disturbing for children slip past its filters, either by mistake or because bad actors have found ways to fool the YouTube Kids algorithms. In recent months, parents ... have complained that their children have been shown videos with well-known characters in violent or lewd situations and other clips with disturbing imagery, sometimes set to nursery rhymes. Many have taken to Facebook to warn others, and share video screenshots showing moments ranging from a Claymation Spider-Man urinating on Elsa of “Frozen” to Nick Jr. characters in a strip club. While the offending videos are a tiny fraction of YouTube Kids’ universe, they are another example of the potential for abuse on digital media platforms that rely on computer algorithms, rather than humans, to police the content that appears in front of people - in this case, very young people. And they show, at a time when Congress is closely scrutinizing technology giants, how rules that govern at least some of the content on children’s television fail to extend to the digital world.
Note: Read a much more in-depth article on serious problems with kids videos on the Internet. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Tesla Model S range can be hacked to hit 600 miles - but it will cost you
November 8, 2017, International Business Times
A Tesla Model S has been hacked in the Netherlands to allow the electric car to run off a second fuel supply - hydrogen cells. Gas supplier Hulthausen Group claims it has doubled the Tesla Model S's range from about 300 miles per charge to 620 miles. "Project Hesla", as it was dubbed by the company's founder, sourced a second-hand Model S and made the modifications without involvement from Tesla. The hack uses the car's electrical mainframe and adds a second layer of charging via hydrogen cells. But as tempting as increased range is, interested customers face heavy drawbacks. Refueling the hydrogen battery will become tricky as there are only seven public refuelling stations across the UK. The United States has 39 public stations across four states. Price will also be a deterrent. The Tesla Model S starts at £64,700 and can rise all the way to £122,200. The cost of installing the hydrogen power source is about £44,000. If owners really want to go far and fast in their cars, a Model S P100D could end up costing them about £170,000.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy innovation news articles from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Years Past
The N.S.A.’s Chief Chronicler
June 10, 2013, New Yorker
In 1982, long before most Americans ever had to think about warrantless eavesdropping, the journalist James Bamford published “The Puzzle Palace: A Report on N.S.A., America’s Most Secret Agency,” the first book to be written about the National Security Agency. In the book, Bamford describes the agency as “free of legal restrictions” while wielding “technological capabilities for eavesdropping beyond imagination.” He concludes with an ominous warning: “Like an ever-widening sinkhole, N.S.A.’s surveillance technology will continue to expand, quietly pulling in more and more communications and gradually eliminating more and more privacy.” Three decades later, this pronouncement feels uncomfortably prescient: we were warned. Incredibly enough, the Department of Justice, under Jimmy Carter, complied with Bamford’s Freedom of Information Act requests, supplying him with secret documents related to the Church Committee, the Senate group that, in 1975, investigated American intelligence agencies for potential transgression of their mandates. That the government would hand over sensitive information to Bamford predictably infuriated the N.S.A.; Reagan Administration lawyers tried to bully Bamford into ceding his goods, threatening him with the Espionage Act, while the N.S.A. attempted to sequester the documents he’d uncovered. But because he was a lawyer, Bamford knew that he had done nothing wrong.
Note: As a producer for ABC News, Bamford was also the one who obtained startling declassified documents showing that the top Pentagon generals signed off on plans in the early 1960s to blow up a US ship in the Havana harbor or incite violent terrorism in US cities and blame it on Cuba. Strangely, ABC's article "U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba" was the only media report on this incredibly revealing document release. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
To Catch Government Workers With Ties to Child Porn, Call the IRS
September 19, 2012, Forbes
There is a national crisis of federal employees engaged in the child porn industry and a related epidemic at the state level. Two states, Vermont and Maine ... appear to be running state protected child trafficking rings with evidence of cops, judges, lawyers, clergy and government employees covering for each other. This kind of racketeering creates powerful, and extremely profitable, pedophile rings. It is estimated that a criminal willing to molest a child in front of a live webcam can earn $1,000 a night. In Kittery Maine, at the “Danish Health Club,” one bust yielded $6.1 million in “door fees” over a five year period with “prostitutes” earning $12 million. The “door man” was a retired police officer whose wife worked in back. This bust happened because of one hard-working IRS agent, Rod Giguere. An estimated $1.4 billion has been collected by the IRS’s Whistleblower program since 2006. Half of all global child porn is produced in America. Imagine what the IRS Whistleblower program could collect if they focused on child trafficking as Agent Rod Giguere did in Maine. The Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Child Exploitation and Obscenities unit has been, by many accounts, totally disabled under US Attorney General Eric Holder. Mr. Holder even refused to prosecute his own Assistant United States Attorney caught doing child porn on DOJ computers. With so many police, judges, clergy, state and federal employees across America involved in the child porn industry Americans should be able to turn to the IRS’s Whistleblower program.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and sexual abuse scandals.
Hundreds of officers lose licenses over sex misconduct
November 1, 2015, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
In a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens. The number is unquestionably an undercount because it represents only those officers whose licenses to work in law enforcement were revoked, and not all states take such action. California and New York ... offered no records because they have no statewide system to decertify officers for misconduct. And even among states that provided records, some reported no officers removed for sexual misdeeds even though cases were identified via news stories or court records. Victims of sexual violence at the hands of officers know the power their attackers have, and so the trauma can carry an especially crippling fear. Jackie Simmons said she found it too daunting to bring her accusation to another police officer after being raped by a cop in 1998 while visiting Kansas for a wedding. So, like most victims of rape, she never filed a report. Diane Wetendorf, a retired counselor who started a support group in Chicago for victims of officers, said most of the women she counseled never reported their crimes - and many who did regretted it. She saw women whose homes came under surveillance and whose children were intimidated by police. Fellow officers, she said, refused to turn on one another when questioned.
'Secrets of the Vatican' exposes moral crises facing Catholic Church's new pope
February 25, 2014, PBS/Yahoo News
The Roman Catholic Church is enjoying some of its best press in decades. But, says a new documentary by PBS’ "Frontline," “Secrets of the Vatican,” the morally wrenching controversies that threatened to destroy the church's credibility, starting about the time Pope John Paul II died in 2005, have not fully subsided. "Secrets of the Vatican" ... takes an unsparing look at the state of the church Pope Francis inherited from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. “2012 was an annus horribilis for [Benedict],” Antony Thomas, the ... director of the film [said]. A horrible year on many fronts, not just with mounting evidence of financial impropriety at the Vatican bank, but also with incidents of sexual abuse by clergy spreading to more than 20 countries and, further, exposure of church hypocrisy about homosexuality. At the same time, reports emerged from Rome of a “gay mafia” inside the church that included some of its top officials, who were unafraid to wield political power and at the same time live an openly promiscuous gay lifestyle. “There was a lot that came to light, including a man who was, as it were, providing choirboys as rent boys,” Thomas said. "Secrets of the Vatican" also looks at the connection between the church’s requirement that its clergy must remain celibate and the high number of sexual abuse incidents among its ranks. Thomas said the film’s specificity about the nature of sexual abuses was necessary - because it’s still an overwhelming concern.
Note: Watch this incredibly revealing documentary on the PBS website. A primary insight is that Pope Benedict really did not step down from the papacy so much as flee the job. Then watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more, see concise summaries of sexual abuse scandal news articles.
One step beyond organic or free-range: Dutch farmer’s chickens lay carbon-neutral eggs
November 4, 2017, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The fasting diet CAN keep you young: Harvard study explains how plans like the 5:2 protect your cells from aging
November 6, 2017, Daily Mail (One of the UK's most popular newspapers)
Intermittent fasting can keep the body ‘young’ at a cellular level. Researchers at Harvard found that temporarily restricting diet keeps the mitochondria – an important part of the cell to health aging – in homeostasis, which in turn helps to improve lifespan. Last year, Newcastle University research confirmed the crucial role of the mitochondria in human cell aging, and therefore, the aging of our bodies. Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, giving energy to the cell. For this reason, they are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells. The Newcastle University researchers found that without their aged mitochondria, cells appeared younger. Mitochondria exist in two states, and when they are alternating appropriately between these two states, they are in homeostasis. The Harvard researchers found that mitochondria stay in homeostasis better when an organism – in their study, a nematode worm – has an intermittently restricted diet. At the same time, being able to swing as they’re supposed to from on state to the other is key to the longevity-enhancing effects of intermittent fasting. The researchers also found that intermittent fasting helped to coordinate the activities of the mitochondria with peroxisomes, other cell parts that have an antioxidant effect and contribute to longevity. This newfound understanding of how fasting works at a cellular level could be a key to discovering therapies that could be beneficial to extending life expectancies and keeping the body younger.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
China shuts down 40% of factories in sharp pollution crackdown
October 25, 2017, MSN News
Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. 16% of all the deaths in the world, as a matter of fact. And many of these are in China, where in 2015 it was estimated that the dense air pollution contributes to between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths every year. What happens when a regime on the more ... authoritarian [end] of the spectrum decides to take the environment seriously? We’re finding out in China, which has temporarily shut down 40% of its factories in the past year, and charged staff from over 80,000 of them with criminal offences for breaking emission limits. "[B]asically, you're seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections," Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR. "They're instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail." “For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy director of the Communist Party’s office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs. “Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Could banana plants solve India's sanitary pad problem?
March 8, 2017, CNN
Kristin Kagetsu left the United States in 2014 with an idea: to bring sanitary pads to India. The 27-year-old MIT graduate co-founded Saathi Pads - a health care startup that produces biodegradable sanitary pads made of banana fibers. According to a 2011 study ... only 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads during menstruation. Tampons, menstrual cups and reusable pads are practically unheard of, except in elite circles. Affordability is the key factor preventing many women from using sanitary pads. For lower income families, they can be a luxury. Saathi Pads said it plans to sell its product ... online and in urban areas but will distribute them for free in rural areas, or at heavily subsidized rates. The lack of proper feminine hygiene and sanitation facilities can affect women's productivity at work and in school. More than 30% of girls interviewed in northern India dropped out of school after they started menstruation. Kagetsu and her co-founders ... decided to manufacture their own compostable sanitary pads using banana fibers, a byproduct of fruit production. The pads Saathi produces are biodegradable and can be upcycled to compost or biogas after use. The company claims its production process is completely chemical and plastic free. The company's purchase of agri-waste material also helps provide banana growers with additional income.
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