Prison Sentencing by Secret Program, Monsanto's Cancer Cover-Up, Gross National Happiness
November 6, 2017
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on a secret program called COMPAS used by US courts to sentence defendants to prison time according to a secret algorithm, the release of documents showing Monsanto avoided and covered-up research linking its products to cancer and other health problems, a DEA whistleblower outraged by the way Big Pharma and the US Congress worked together to fuel the current opioid epidemic, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on how Bhutan's use of "gross national happiness" to measure success has grown the country's environmental and economic prosperity, new seawater desalination plants providing clean water and power to water-stressed regions, efficient trains in China that run on "virtual rails", 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: Explore an excellent article featuring courageous, Emmy award winning news anchor and reporter Sharyl Attkisson on how media and government manipulate public perception. Don't miss an excellent, thought-provoking essay on Donald Trump and the deeper reasons why he is now the US president and how he is being bent to serve the will of the power elite of our world. Watch an intriguing video detailing what's going on with Tom Delonge and the UFO question. Read a great essay on shifting from fear to love. Watch a 7-minute video of a most powerful love story.
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When an Algorithm Helps Send You to Prison
October 26, 2017, New York Times
Eric Loomis pleaded guilty to attempting to flee an officer, and no contest to operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Neither of his crimes mandates prison time. At Mr. Loomis’s sentencing, the judge cited, among other factors, Mr. Loomis’s high risk of recidivism as predicted by a computer program called COMPAS, a risk assessment algorithm used by the state of Wisconsin. The judge denied probation and prescribed an 11-year sentence. No one knows exactly how COMPAS works; its manufacturer refuses to disclose the proprietary algorithm. We only know the final risk assessment score it spits out, which judges may consider at sentencing. Mr. Loomis challenged the use of an algorithm as a violation of his due process rights. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear his case, meaning a majority of justices effectively condoned the algorithm’s use. Shifting the sentencing responsibility [from judges] to a computer does not necessarily eliminate bias; it delegates and often compounds it. Algorithms like COMPAS simply mimic the data with which we train them. An algorithm that accurately reflects our world also necessarily reflects our biases. A ProPublica study found that COMPAS predicts black defendants will have higher risks of recidivism than they actually do, while white defendants are predicted to have lower rates than they actually do.
Monsanto Faces Blowback Over Cancer Cover-Up
October 24, 2017, Der Speigel (One of Germany's leading newspapers)
Monsanto is under fire because the company's herbicide, Roundup (active ingredient: glyphosate), is suspected of being carcinogenic. The longstanding dispute about glyphosate has been brought to a head by the release of explosive documents. Monsanto's strategies for whitewashing glyphosate have been revealed in internal e-mails, presentations and memos. Even worse, these "Monsanto Papers" suggest that the company doesn't even seem to know whether Roundup is harmless to people's health. "You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen," Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer wrote in one of the emails. "We have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement." The email ... is one of more than 100 documents that a court in the United States ordered Monsanto to provide as evidence after about 2,000 plaintiffs demanded compensation from Monsanto in class-action suits. They claim that Roundup has caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of lymph node cancer. "The Monsanto Papers tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation and the withholding of information," says Michael Baum, a partner in [a] law firm ... bringing one of the US class actions. Monsanto ... also behaved irresponsibly when it comes to the question of Roundup's absorption into the body. Back in 2002, the company's experts discovered that "between 5 and 10 percent" of the substance penetrated the skin of rats. As a consequence, the author of the email wrote: "We decided thus to STOP the study."
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.
A Weed Killer Is Increasingly Showing Up in People's Bodies
October 26, 2017, Time
The latest study to look at the long-term effects of Roundup, a popular weed killer developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, raises questions about the herbicide’s possible contributions to poor health. The study ... tracked people over the age of 50 in southern California from 1993-1996 to 2014-2016, with researchers periodically collecting urine samples. The percentage of people who tested positive for a chemical called glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, shot up by 500% in that time period. The levels of glyphosate also spiked by 1208% during that time. Exactly what that means for human health isn’t quite clear yet. One trial from the UK, in which rats were fed low levels of glyphosate throughout their lives, found that the chemical contributed to ... a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver and contributes to inflammation and scarring of the tissue. [Researcher Paul] Mills says that the levels of glyphosate documented in the people in his study were 100-fold greater than those in the rats. Mills says the findings should make people more aware of what they are ingesting along with their food. While Roundup was developed to eliminate most weeds from genetically modified crops - and thus reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on them - recent studies have found that many weeds are now resistant to Roundup. That means growers are using more Roundup, which could only exacerbate potential negative health effects on people who consume those products.
Note: Glyphosate is the most heavily used agricultural chemical in human history. According to a recent UN report, "the assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress
October 11, 2017, CBS News
In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed - that according to Joe Rannazzisi, one of the most important whistleblowers ever interviewed by 60 Minutes. Rannazzisi ran the DEA's Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. He says the opioid crisis was allowed to spread - aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives. His greatest ire is reserved for the ... middlemen that ship the pain pills from manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson to drug stores all over the country. Rannazzisi accuses the distributors of fueling the opioid epidemic. "This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors' offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs," [said Rannazzisi]. In 2013, Joe Rannazzisi and his DEA investigators were trying to crack down. Then ... with the help of members of Congress, the drug industry began to quietly pave the way for legislation that essentially would strip the DEA of its ... ability to immediately freeze suspicious shipments of prescription narcotics to keep drugs off U.S. streets.
Note: See also this informative Washington Post article for more information on this sad topic. Lots more available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in pharmaceutical industry.
Drug company founder John Kapoor arrested for alleged opioid scheme
October 26, 2017, CBS News
Federal agents arrested the founder of a major drug company in an early-morning raid Thursday on charges stemming from an alleged scheme to get doctors to illegally prescribe a powerful opioid to patients who don't need it. John Kapoor ... is the billionaire founder and former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics. He faces charges including racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and fraud. Kapoor is the most significant pharmaceutical executive to be criminally charged in response to the nationwide opioid crisis. Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January but still serves on its board. The company makes a spray version of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid intended only for cancer patients. Authorities allege Insys marketed the drug as part of a scheme to get non-cancer doctors to prescribe it. Numerous physicians were allegedly paid bribes by the company to push the painkilling drug. Insys made 18,000 payments to doctors in 2016 that totaled more than $2 million. Headache doctors, back pain specialists and even a psychiatrist ... received thousands of dollars to promote the drug last year. Last December, six other Insys executives were indicted on federal charges in Boston in connection with the alleged scheme to bribe doctors to unnecessarily prescribe the painkilling drug.
Critics fault FBI over domestic terrorist threats
October 29, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
The FBI counterterrorism division’s identification of a movement it calls “black identity extremists” is the latest addition to the list of protesters and dissidents the agency puts under the “domestic terrorism” umbrella. But many national security experts say the designation [is] simply a label that allows the FBI to conduct additional surveillance on “basically anyone who’s black and politically active,” said Michael German, who left the FBI in 2004. While the practice of labeling certain protest groups as domestic terrorists is not unique to President Trump’s administration, Hina Shamsi ... at the American Civil Liberties Union, said there’s concern that “abusive and unjustified investigations” by the FBI are rising. The problem, Shamsi said, is partly in the overly broad definition of domestic terrorism in the Patriot Act as a violation of the criminal laws ... intended to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Eighty-four members of Congress cited that intention to intimidate or coerce in a letter to the Justice Department last week that asked whether the department had labeled Dakota Access Pipeline protesters domestic terrorists. The Justice Department did not respond to questions about the letter. The FBI report that focused on black identity extremists ... had interest groups questioning whether the designation has been used to single out members of Black Lives Matter.
Note: The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since 2014, in some cases producing "minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements". For more along these lines, read about Cointelpro, the program used by corrupt intelligence agencies to spy on and attack the U.S. civil rights movement beginning in the 1960's. See also concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of civil liberties.
The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms
October 5, 2017, The Intercept
FBI agents are devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel. The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred. The rescue of these two particular piglets has literally become a federal case - by all appearances, a matter of great importance to the Department of Justice. On the last day of August, a six-car armada of FBI agents in bulletproof vests ... descended upon two small shelters for abandoned farm animals. Subsequent events confirmed that this show of FBI force was designed to intimidate the sanctuaries, which played no role in the rescue. Obviously, the FBI and Smithfield - the nation’s largest industrial farm corporation - don’t really care about the missing piglets. What they care about is the efficacy of a political campaign intent on showing the public how animals are abused at factory farms, and they are determined to intimidate those responsible. Deterring such campaigns ... is, manifestly, the only goal here. What made this piglet rescue particularly intolerable was an article that appeared in the New York Times days after the rescue, which touted the use of virtual reality technology by animal rights activists to allow the public to immerse in the full experience of seeing what takes place in these companies’ farms.
Note: Those who expose at wrongdoing at factory farms are increasingly treated more harshly by US law than the companies perpetrating this wrongdoing. When activist drone footage exposed toxic cesspools around Smithfield Farms in 2014, North Carolina responded with legislation designed to silence whistle-blowers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the food system.
Defense Department: The War On Terror Has Cost $250 Million A Day For 16 Years
October 31, 2017, International Business Times
American taxpayers have spent $1.46 trillion on wars abroad since September 11, 2001. The Department of Defense periodically releases a “cost of war” report. The newly released version ... covers the time from the September 11th terrorist attacks through mid-2017. The Afghanistan War from 2001 to 2014 and Iraq War from 2003 to 2011 account for the bulk of expenses: more than $1.3 trillion. The continuing presence in Afghanistan and aerial anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria since 2014 have cost a combined $120 billion. The report’s costs include only direct war-related expenses. It most notably does not include the expense of veteran’s benefits for troops who serve in these wars or the intelligence community’s expenses related to Global War on Terror. A 2011 paper ... estimated the cost of veterans’ benefits as $600 billion to $1 trillion over the next 40 years. According to the Congressional Research Service, the only war in U.S. history to cost more than the Global War on Terror is World War II, at more than $4.1 trillion in present dollars. Direct war-related expenses from the Vietnam War cost $738 billion in today's dollars.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Gitmo judge sends Marine general lawyer to 21 days confinement for disobeying orders
November 1, 2017, Miami Herald
The USS Cole case judge Wednesday found the Marine general in charge of war court defense teams guilty of contempt for refusing to follow the judge’s orders and sentenced him to 21 days confinement and to pay a $1,000 fine. Air Force Col. Vance Spath also declared “null and void” a decision by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, 50, to release three civilian defense attorneys from the capital terror case. The lawyers resigned last month over ... something so secretive at the terror prison that the public cannot know. Wednesday evening ... Judge Spath issued another order: Directing the three lawyers - Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears - to litigate Friday in the death-penalty case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri remotely from the Washington D.C., area by video feed to Guantánamo. The judge’s dizzying pace of events ... came as the colonel sought to force the civilian, Pentagon-paid attorneys back on the case. Spath, who has declared they had no good cause to quit, had ordered Kammen, Eliades and Spears to come to Guantánamo on Sunday with other war court staff for a pretrial hearing. They refused. Kammen, a veteran capital defense attorney who had represented Nashiri for a decade, said Spath’s order to travel was an “illegal” effort to have three U.S. citizens “provide unethical legal services to keep the façade of justice that is the military commissions running.” Nashiri is accused of orchestrating al Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. warship off Yemen. No trial date has been set.
Note: Nashiri was reportedly tortured by the CIA. Read the 10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Federal government quietly compensates daughter of brainwashing experiments victim
October 26, 2017, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Alison Steel was only 4½ years old when her mother's life changed forever. In 1957, Jean Steel was admitted to Montreal's Allan Memorial Institute. In the months that followed, Steel became the victim of CIA-funded brainwashing experiments conducted by Dr. Ewen Cameron. She was kept in a chemically induced sleep for weeks and subjected to rounds of electroshocks, experimental drugs and tape-recorded messages played non-stop. Steel said her mother was never quite the same. Now, 60 years after Cameron's experiments left her mother damaged for life, Alison Steel has finally won a measure of justice for her family. The federal government quietly reached an out-of-court settlement with Steel earlier this year, paying her $100,000 in exchange for dropping the legal action she launched in September 2015. The settlement with Steel is the latest development in the decades-old saga that began with Cameron's experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute in the '50s and '60s. What patients and their families didn't know was that Cameron's experiments were ... being funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's MK Ultra program. The CIA ... funded mind-control experiments across North America. In 1992, Conservative Justice Minister Kim Campbell decided to compensate dozens of Cameron's former patients. An estimated 70 patients were compensated, but hundreds more who applied were rejected because the government said they hadn't been "de-patterned" enough to warrant compensation.
Gross National Happiness: Bhutan's Unique Measurement
February 21, 2016, NPR
The tiny nation of Bhutan [is] wedged in the Himalayas between China and India. The country has been in the international spotlight mainly for ... its unique approach to calculating economic growth by taking the pulse of its people's gross national happiness. The nation is among one of just a handful of so-called carbon negative countries in the world, meaning it soaks up more carbon than it produces thanks to vast forests. Amidst all this, it's also developing a new economic engine in the form of hydropower while expanding economic and political ties to neighboring India and China. "We need to strengthen our economy, but equally important are other aspects of human development, which include social development, environment sustainability, culture," [said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay]. "And this whole idea of balancing material growth - which is important on the one hand - with social development, this is what the sense of gross national happiness is all about." We're already carbon negative. Our entire country, we generate 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. However, our forests sequester more than 6 million tons. So the idea is to keep that track record - in fact, to add to it. What we're trying to do is raise money to invest in our protected areas. More than half our country is protected as national parks and nature reserves."
Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.
Visit the World's Only Carbon-Negative Country
October 17, 2017, National Geographic
Bhutan is arguably the world’s happiest country. It’s also one of the greenest. That’s no coincidence. In fact, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck developed his signature Gross National Happiness index based on four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance. Other countries have taken note, since the Himalayan kingdom is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. Also noteworthy: This is happening despite increasing tourism. As a travel destination Bhutan remains unique, sandwiched between its heavily industrialized neighbors China and India. The isolated nation only opened up to foreign visits in 1974 and allowed TVs in 1999. Bhutan has built sustainability into its national identity. In fact, the constitution mandates that 60 percent of its landmass be maintained and protected as forest. “The health facilities in Bhutan are free and education up to high school is also free. For those who advance, the education is free until the [college] degree,” a representative of the Bhutan Tourism Council wrote in an email. There are many reasons Bhutan is carbon negative. Aside from its protected forests, it has won world records for planting the most trees per hour, says Erin Levi, the author of the forthcoming Bradt Travel Guide to Bhutan. “The ratio of people to land mass—it's about the same size as Switzerland with just one tenth the population. Its slow path to development—the first road was only built in the 1960s, which also means people were very slow to get cars,” Levi said.
Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.
Seawater desalination will quench the thirst of a parched plane
October 27, 2017, Yahoo News
Roughly forty percent of the world's population - 2.3 billion people - lives in water-stressed areas. Seawater desalination offers the potential for an abundant and steady source of fresh water. Large-scale desalination efforts began in the 1930s, though they relied on [an energy intensive] process known as multi-stage flash distillation (MSF). It wasn't until the late 1950s that the modern, membrane-based reverse osmosis (RO) technology came into existence. Currently, state of the art research is exploring the use of water-channeling proteins called aquaporins (AQPs), which the human body uses to ferry water across cellular membranes, as well as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for incorporation into RO applications. As of 2015, roughly 18,000 desalination plants were in operation worldwide. Today, RO is the most efficient and widely accessible means of desalination at our disposal. Modern RO systems consume around a third of the power required by older MSF plants. These two distillation technologies are not mutually exclusive and have been combined into hybrid MSF/RO systems. Take the soon-to-be-completed Al Khafji desalination plant in the UAE, for example. It will produce 60,000 cubic meters of water per day while drawing power from a grid-connected solar power plant spanning more than 119 hectares and generating up to 45.7MW of power. Not only do these hybrid systems reduce the plant's carbon footprint but up to 40 percent, they drastically reduce fuel costs.
Train Which Runs on Virtual Railway Track Unveiled in China
June 3, 2017, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A train that runs on virtual rails has been unveiled in China. The Autonomous Rapid Transit (Art), which was unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou on 2 June, is around 30metres long and is fitted with sensors that detect the dimensions of the road. This enables the vehicle to follow routes without the need for metal rails. Each vehicle can hold up to 307 passengers, and is said to navigate the streets easier than a bus while being more adaptable than a train. It has a top speed of 70kmph. The technology behind the Art was developed by Chinese railmaker CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive which also designs parts for the country’s high-speed railway. Instead of having steel wheels like a train, Art is fitted with rubber wheels attached to a plastic core which are linked to its especially designed guiding technology. Its creators say that Art is significantly cheaper than a metro service, which costs between 400 to 700millon yuan (£46 to £80million) per km to build. In contrast, Art costs between 15million yuan (£2million). The virtual train was unveiled as engineers across the world attempt to modernise transport infrastructure. In the US, Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk is developing the Hyperloop, which is proposed to run at at top speed of 760mph using pod-like vehicles in a tube with reduced pressure.
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