Massive Organic Foods Fraud, Leaked NSA Tool Used in Global Hack, Over 100,000 Cured of Blindness
May 22, 2017
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on massive shipments of corn and soybeans fraudulently sold as 'USDA organic' in US markets, a Washington Post investigation that a found a major USDA organic dairy farm raising cows in ways that appear to violate USDA regulations, a global "ransomware" hack that attempted to extort money from more than 70,000 organizations by using a leaked NSA hacking tool, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on Nepali ophthalmologist Dr. Sanduk Ruit who has restored the sight of over 100,000 people with a low-cost surgery he pioneered, San Francisco’s Life Learning Academy's incredibly successful program to educate at-risk students, the modification of zoning rules in Atlanta, Georgia to make room for "tiny houses" in residential neighborhoods, 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: Read about a very useful database of studies for cancer patients. For those who have dealt with Alzheimer's, this song will touch your heart. Watch an informative video showing that a major cover-up of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
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The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.
May 12, 2017, Washington Post
A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation. The cargo began as ordinary soybeans. They were fumigated with a pesticide [and] priced like ordinary soybeans. But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch - the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation - boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain. About 21 million pounds of the soybeans have already been distributed to customers. The multimillion-dollar metamorphosis of the soybeans, as well as two other similar grain shipments in the past year examined by The Post, demonstrate weaknesses in the way that the United States ensures that what is sold as “USDA Organic” is really organic. The three shipments, each involving millions of pounds of “organic” corn or soybeans, were large enough to constitute a meaningful proportion of the U.S. supply of those commodities. All three were presented as organic, despite evidence to the contrary. USDA officials say that their system for guarding against fraud is robust. The system suffers from multiple weaknesses: Farmers hire their own inspection companies; most inspections ... lack the element of surprise; and testing for pesticides is the exception rather than the rule.
Note: Sign an online petition to stop an Oregon county from forcing a well-established organic farm to spray their gardens with Monsanto's poisonous Roundup. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the food system and in the corporate world.
Why your ‘organic’ milk may not be organic
May 1, 2017, Washington Post
The High Plains dairy complex reflects the new scale of the U.S. organic industry: It is big. The complex is home to more than 15,000 cows, making it more than 100 times the size of a typical organic herd. It is the main facility of Aurora Organic Dairy, a company that produces enough milk to supply the house brands of Walmart, Costco and other major retailers. But a closer look at Aurora and other large operations highlights critical weaknesses in the unorthodox inspection system that the Agriculture Department uses to ensure that “organic” food is really organic. The critical issue is grazing. Organic dairies are required to allow the cows to graze daily throughout the growing season. The cows are supposed to be grass-fed, not confined to barns and feedlots. But during visits by The Washington Post to Aurora’s High Plains complex across eight days last year, signs of grazing were sparse, at best. During most Post visits the number of cows seen on pasture numbered only in the hundreds. The milk from Aurora also indicates that its cows may not graze as required by organic rules. Testing ... by Virginia Tech scientists shows that on a key indicator of grass-feeding, the Aurora milk matched conventional milk, not organic. The inspectors who visited Aurora’s High Plains dairy and certified it as “USDA Organic” ... conducted the annual audit well after grazing season, [and] would not have seen whether the cows were grazing as required, a breach of USDA inspection policy.
With New Digital Tools, Even Nonexperts Can Wage Cyberattacks
May 13, 2017, New York Times
A decade-old internet scourge called ransomware went mainstream on Friday when cybercriminals seized control of computers around the world, from the delivery giant FedEx in the United States to Britain’s public health system, universities in China and even Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry. Ransomware is nothing new. For years, there have been stories of individuals or companies horrified that they have been locked out of their computers and that the only way back in is to pay a ransom to someone, somewhere who has managed to take control. But computer criminals are discovering that ransomware is the most effective way to make money in the shortest amount of time. Friday’s attacks were a powerful escalation of earlier, much smaller episodes. Hackers exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft servers that was first discovered by the National Security Agency and then leaked online. It allowed the ransomware to spread [to] more than 70,000 organizations. There is even now a concept of “ransomware as a service” - a play on the Silicon Valley jargon “software as a service,” which describes the delivery of software over the internet. Now anyone can visit a web page, generate a ransomware file with the click of a mouse, encrypt someone’s systems and demand a ransom to restore access to the files. If the victim pays, the ransomware provider takes a cut of the payment. Ransomware criminals also have customer service lines that victims can call to get help paying a ransom.
Note: In 2014, it was reported that the NSA was developing tools to make it relatively easy to hack millions of computers at once. Two years later, a large collection of NSA hacking tools was leaked. Now, these tools are being used by criminals against people all over the world. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
Inside the raid on a suspected pedophile's cybersex den
May 12, 2017, CBS News/Associated Press
The suspected pedophile could see people banging on his front door. The Philippines National Bureau of Investigation smashed their way [in]. Children's underwear, toddler shoes, cameras, bondage cuffs, fetish ropes, meth pipes and stacks of hard drives and photo albums cluttered [David Timothy Deakin's] townhouse. In his computer were videos and images of young boys and girls engaged in sex acts. Deakin's arrest ... reveals one of the darkest corners of the internet, where pedophiles in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia pay facilitators on the other side of the world to sexually abuse children, even babies, directing their moves through online livestreaming services. Webcam sex tourism is spreading rapidly. The FBI says ... that at any given moment, 750,000 child predators are online. Almost every case stems from the Philippines, where good English speakers, increased internet connections and widespread international cash transfer systems combine with widespread poverty and easy access to vulnerable kids. There have been as many as three busts a week there this spring. The youngest victim ... was an infant, two months old. Most are under 12. Because it's a newer crime, legal systems grapple with how to prosecute. In the U.S., the buyers are typically charged with possessing, distributing or producing child pornography. In the Philippines, it's a human trafficking crime. Deakin's bust turned out to be one of the largest seizures of its kind in the Philippines.
Note: A recent University of Portsmouth study found that sites with paedophile material account for 83% of all "Dark Web" traffic. 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 sexual abuse scandal news articles.
The brain is the next logical frontier for futurists
May 17, 2017, Financial Times
Your perceptions of the outside world arise through brain activity. Scientists in China have managed to reverse-engineer this process, using brain activity to guess what people are looking at. Their algorithm, which analyses functional MRI brain scans collected while volunteers gaze at digits and letters, is able to furnish uncannily clear depictions of the original images. It has been termed a mind-reading algorithm; a more accurate, though less catchy, description would be a “reconstruction of visual field” algorithm. The algorithm, called the Deep Generative Multiview Model, was highlighted this month by MIT Technology Review as an emerging technology to watch. What is true for the visual cortex is also true for our auditory systems: if you hear a song, the auditory part of your brain whirrs into action. Scientists in the US have developed a programme that can turn the associated firing of neurons back into real sounds. These technologies are turning thoughts into pictures and sounds. In short, science is coming remarkably close to being able to access what is inside our heads. If such algorithms were to find their way into advertising, we may find ourselves digitally stalked not only by images of hotels and consumer goods that we once clicked on, but also by pictures we glanced at or by songs that we streamed. This requires access to brain signals, but who would bet against such a future? Millions of people, by wearing fitness bands, sign up to having their physiological signals charted round the clock.
Note: Software breakthroughs like this have many potential benefits. But these new technologies may also be used for electronic harassment or mind control. And a 2008 US Defense Intelligence Agency report described the brain as the "battlefield of future".
Feds sue UnitedHealth alleging at least $1 billion in false claims
May 17, 2017, Star Tribune (Minneapolis' leading newspaper)
The federal government sued UnitedHealth Group on Tuesday alleging the Minnetonka-based health care company wrongly received from Medicare at least $1 billion in “risk adjustment” payments based on inaccurate data submissions. The federal government’s civil fraud action comes in a whistleblower case first brought by a former UnitedHealth Group employee. Earlier this year, the federal government disclosed it had ongoing investigations about risk adjustment practices at four other carriers including Aetna and a division of Cigna. In Medicare Advantage plans, the government pays health insurers a per-member per-month payment for enrollees. The government says the fees can be increased when health plans submit information about an enrollee’s health that justifies a higher “risk score” for the patient. The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday highlighted UnitedHealth’s program to review charts, calling it a “one-sided revenue-generating program.” The insurer collected “millions of medical records” and employed chart reviewers “in order to mine for diagnoses that the providers themselves did not report to United for their patients,” the lawsuit states. “United used the results of the chart reviews to only increase government payments ... while in bad faith systematically ignoring other information from the chart reviews which would have led to decreased payments.”
Key Articles From Years Past
The $272 billion swindle
May 31, 2014, The Economist
Health care is a tempting target for thieves. Medicaid doles out $415 billion a year; Medicare (a federal scheme for the elderly), nearly $600 billion. Total health spending in America is a massive $2.7 trillion, or 17% of GDP. In 2012 Donald Berwick, a former head of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Andrew Hackbarth of the RAND Corporation, estimated that fraud ... added as much as $98 billion, or roughly 10%, to annual Medicare and Medicaid spending - and up to $272 billion across the entire health system. Federal prosecutors had over 2,000 health-fraud probes open at the end of 2013. A Medicare “strike force”, which was formed in 2007, boasts of seven nationwide “takedowns”. In the latest, on May 13th, 90 people, including 16 doctors, were rounded up in six cities - more than half of them in Miami, the capital city of medical fraud. Punishments have grown tougher: last year the owner of a mental-health clinic got 30 years for false billing. Yet the sheer volume of transactions makes it easier for miscreants to hide: every day, for instance, Medicare’s contractors process 4.5m claims. In this context the $4.3 billion recovered by fraud-busters in 2013, though a record, looks paltry. Some criminals are switching from cocaine trafficking to prescription-drug fraud because the risk-adjusted rewards are higher. This is the medical world’s “dirty secret”, says John Holcomb of the Texas Medical Association. Everyone talks about it in the doctor’s lounge, but few complain.
Today's News Is Brought to You by Big Brother
March 27, 2000, Los Angeles Times
A handful of military personnel from the 4th Psychological Operations Group, based at Fort Bragg, NC, have until recently been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta. [A] Dutch journalist named Abe de Vries came up with this important story ... and remains properly astounded that no mainstream news medium in the US has evinced any interest in it. De Vries ... originally [came] upon the story [following] a military symposium in Arlington, VA that discussed the use of the press in military operations. De Vries saw a good story, picked up the phone, and finally reached Maj. Thomas Collins of the US Army Information Service, who duly confirmed the presence of these Army psy-ops experts at CNN. "Psy-ops personnel, soldiers, and officers," De Vries quoted Collins as telling him, "have been working in CNN's headquarters ... through our program, training with industry. They helped in the production of news." Eason Jordan, who identified himself as CNN's president of news-gathering and international networks, [confirmed] that CNN had hosted a total of five interns from US Army psy-ops. Jordan said the program began ... just before the end of the war against Serbia and only recently terminated. Executives at CNN now describe the Army psy-ops intern tours at CNN as having been insignificant. The commanding officer of the psy-ops group certainly thought them of sufficient significance to mention at that high-level Pentagon powwow in Arlington about propaganda and psychological warfare.
Note: This article strangely has been removed from the Los Angeles Times archives. The link above shows a scanned image of the actual newspaper. The article was first published in the San Jose Mercury News on March 23, 2000, though the article is also strangely not available in their archives. U.S. Congressional testimony in the 1970s revealed that the CIA paid employees of major media networks to influence public opinion. The CIA's Operation Mockingbird revealed blatant efforts by the CIA to manipulate public opinion in the U.S., thus violating its charter.
In 5 Minutes, He Lets the Blind See
November 7, 2015, New York Times
He has restored eyesight to more than 100,000 people, perhaps more than any doctor in history. His patients ... stagger and grope their way to him along mountain trails from remote villages, hoping to go under his scalpel. A day after he operates to remove cataracts, he pulls off the bandages - and, lo! They can see clearly. At first tentatively, then jubilantly, they gaze about. A few hours later, they walk home, radiating an ineffable bliss. Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepali ophthalmologist ... has pioneered a simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs only $25 per patient and is virtually always successful. Indeed, his “Nepal method” is now taught in United States medical schools. In the United States, cataract surgery is typically performed with complex machines. But these are unaffordable in poor countries, so Dr. Ruit [pioneered a] small-incision microsurgery to remove cataracts without sutures. At first, skeptics denounced or mocked his innovations. But then the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a study of a randomized trial finding that Dr. Ruit’s technique had exactly the same outcome (98 percent success at a six-month follow-up) as the Western machines. One difference was that Dr. Ruit’s method was much faster and cheaper. He founded the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, which ... conducts eye surgery on 30,000 patients annually, [as well as] manufactures 450,000 tiny lenses a year for use in cataract surgery, keeping costs to $3 a lens compared to $200 in the West.
Note: Your direct donation to help this man can cure blindness for many people. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
From Addiction to Academy Founder: Dr Teri DeLane Teaches Kids to Trust
May 15, 2017, Daily Good
Founder and principal of San Francisco’s Life Learning Academy, Dr. Teri Delane says that the success of the school that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students can be replicated. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college. The kids that do so well here [have] histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse. The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for. [Life Learning Academy] has it roots in the Delancey Street Foundation, a well-known San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Delane ... has first hand experience of the Delancey Street program - entering the program as an addict herself. Delane incorporated practices of the program that would could be integrated into a school environment: creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards. And woven through it all is Delane’s philosophy. “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life: education, a job, having money and ... learning how to give back,” she said. “I teach that the way you get is by giving. Not by sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past.” All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day.
Tiny houses approved for the City of Atlanta
May 9, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (A leading newspaper of Atlanta, Georgia)
Tiny houses are closer than ever to being a reality in Atlanta. Last week, the Atlanta City Council voted on and approved an amendment to city zoning laws allowing “accessory dwelling units.” Local advocacy group Tiny House Atlanta called it “a great step in the right direction.” The language in the amendment ... carves out space for accessory dwelling units of larger main structures. A tiny house counts as one of these secondary units if it is less than 750 square feet and has its own kitchen. The amendment also allows “accessory dwelling units without off-street parking on parcels without a curbcut or parcels without off-street parking,” making the affected areas more attractive to car-less Atlantans. While the change sets out possibilities for tiny houses that are satellites of existing homes, it does not allow for standalone tiny homes on their own lots. The new language specifically prohibits subdividing accessory units from the primary house. It also says nothing about tiny homes on wheels. Many tiny home owners make their homes into RVs, which subject them to a whole separate set of rules. Still, tiny house advocates said they are happy with the changes. “The sky’s the limit to what’s possible,” Atlanta city councilman Kwanza Hall, the bill’s sponsor, [said]. “It’s just up to us as a community to figure out what we want to do, what we envision in the future, and opening up as many possibilities as we can dream up.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Schools replace punishment with meditation and see drastic results
September 23, 2016, Miami Herald
Students who are misbehaving are usually taken out of class and sent to the principal, who punishes the child by revoking privileges, calling home or sometimes suspending them. But students in some Baltimore schools are sent somewhere different when they are acting out: a designated meditation room where they can calm down and decompress. The Mindful Moment room is equipped with bean bags and dim lighting, and students go through calming exercises with trained staff. At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, teachers and staff can refer students to the room for an emotional “reset” when they are worked up. The student is led through breathing exercises and is encouraged to discuss the emotions that led to an outburst. They work with the adult to come up with a plan to use mindfulness in a similar situation in the future, to prevent an outburst. After about 20 minutes in the room, they rejoin classmates. Students usually show “visible signs of relaxation and emotional de-escalation after guided practices” in the room. The program also includes a “Mindful Moment” twice a day, which leads students in breathing exercises for 15 minutes over the PA system. Students can also participate in yoga classes. It has drastically reduced suspensions, with zero reported in the 2013-14 school year. The program has also been implemented with older students, including those at Patterson High School, [which] has also seen a decrease in suspensions both in the hallways and in class.
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