Facebook Wants to Secretly Watch You, New Evidence of Hacked Elections, Bank Accounts for Underserved Kids
June 12, 2017
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on how facebook wants to secretly watch you through your smartphone camera, new evidence from an NSA report suggesting Russian intelligence operatives hacked a US voting software supplier and spied on election officials, a study finding that consumption of diet soda is associated with both stroke and dementia, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on a social entrepreneur's mission to help underserved kids across the world open bank accounts and begin saving money, the viral video in the Middle East combatting terrorism with a message of peace, how truckers are using their time on the road to stop human trafficking, 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 short video showing the miraculous results of a man with Parkinson's taking medical marijuana for the first time. Explore a fun article on helping you to find your life purpose. Check out a fascinating article by a journalist who decided to try meditating for one month.
Quote of the week: "The problem isn't that we're powerless.The problem is that we have allowed those with agendas in government and the media to convince us that we're powerless. They've confused us, distracted us and made us feel like we barely have the power to get out of bed in the morning. The truth is that every one of us has tremendous untapped strength, intelligence and resources hard-wired into us. The truth is that people can thrive in the worst imaginable circumstances. We can succeed against overwhelming odds if we are committed." ~~ http://georgewashington.blogspot.com
Video of the week: Watch an enlightening and highly informative free documentary titled "The Sacred Plant: Healing Secrets Exposed." If you have limited time, start at 1:10.
Facebook wants to secretly watch you through your smartphone camera
June 9, 2017, International Business Times
Facebook wants to get up close and personal with its users after a patent was revealed detailing a desire to secretly watch users through their webcam or smartphone camera, spying on your mood in order to sell you tailored content or advertisements. The purpose behind the invasive idea is to analyse people through the camera in real time while they browse online and if it recognises you looking happy, bored or sad, it would deliver an advert fitting your emotion. If you were forlorn, for example, it would be able to serve an ad to perk you up, or know what products you had previously looked at online and put them under your nose at just the right time. The social network has filed several patents over the years on emotion-based technology but this, based on 'passive imaging data' is perhaps the most unnerving, considering it would take control of cameras that weren't even switched on by the user. As described by CB Insights: "This patent proposes capturing images of the user through smartphone or laptop cameras, even when the user is not actively using the camera. By visually tracking a user's facial expression, Facebook aims to monitor the user's emotional reactions to different types of content." Other patents listed by Facebook include a text messaging platform to detect a user's mood by measuring how hard and fast they were typing, then augment the message format, such as adding emojis or changing the font size, to match their emotion.
Who Won the Election? NSA Report Suggests Russia Might Have Hacked Voting System
June 5, 2017, Newsweek
Russian military intelligence attempted to cyber-attack a U.S. voting software supplier and more than 100 local election officials in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election, The Intercept reported Monday. According to an NSA document ... Russian military intelligence cyber-attacked a U.S. voting software supplier, using information gained in that attack to “launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations. Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,” the document states. The operation gave the hackers “persistent access” to the targeted computers, allowing them to “survey the victims for items of interest.” But Pamela Smith, president of election integrity watchdog Verified Voting, said the hacking might have kept some Americans from voting. “If someone has access to a state voter database, they can take malicious action by modifying or removing information,” she told The Intercept. “This could affect whether someone has the ability to cast a regular ballot or be required to cast a ‘provisional’ ballot — which ... may mean the voter has to jump through certain hoops such as proving their information to the election official before their eligibility is affirmed.”
Note: Why have those who set up our elections allowed private companies to develop software which can be hacked? For undeniable evidence our voting systems have not been safe for years, read summaries of these major media news articles.
At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard
June 4, 2017, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year. That’s enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over. The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest. Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000. Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling. “Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the ... California Budget & Policy Center. California was sued over prison overcrowding, and to comply with a federal court-imposed population cap, the Brown administration now keeps most lower-level offenders in county jails instead of state prisons. Additionally, voters in 2014 reduced penalties for drug and property crimes and last fall approved the earlier releases.
Note: Could it be that the privatization of prisons is driving up prison costs? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Why Is Diet Soda So Bad For Your Brain?
April 27, 2017, Forbes
A study in the journal Stroke showed a correlation between drinking diet soda and both stroke and dementia: people who drank at least one diet soda a day were three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia as those who avoided the beverages. Previous research had already uncovered a possible link with higher stroke risk. The findings in this study add some support to those results. The link with dementia, however, is new, and at minimum is enough cause for concern that it's worth studying further. Why might diet sodas contribute to these risks? Diet sodas are designed to trick the brain into thinking it’s getting an extra dose of glucose (the brain’s fuel), but eventually the trick is on us because the brain adapts to not receiving the added glucose by overcompensating in other ways (leading to a variety of effects still under investigation). Diet sodas could imbalance the bacterial jungle in our guts - the microbiome - causing unpredictable results. Since there’s a bacterial superhighway from gut to brain, which we know interacts with key neurotransmitters, this theory may eventually tell us more of a much bigger brain story. This study didn’t narrow down the exact types of artificial sweeteners that were consumed, so it’s an open question how one may have affected the brain differently than another. In the meantime, curtailing how much of any artificial sweetener you ingest, along with added sugar, is a reasonable position to take.
Note: Artificial sweeteners have also been connected with blood sugar level spikes, obesity, and diabetes. There is undeniable evidence that aspartame is toxic to the human body. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food industry corruption and health.
Republicans and Democrats Continue to Block Drug Reimportation – After Publicly Endorsing It
June 2, 2017, Rolling Stone
The entire pharmaceutical industry is floated by a protectionist racket. Drugs that are in fact very cheap to make are kept artificially expensive – we have drugs that cost $1,000 a pill here in America that sell for $4 in India, for instance. The means of keeping prices high vary, but include lengthy patents to push production of generics into the future, the barring of foreign competition, and the prohibition of negotiations to lower prices for bulk purchases by both the federal and state governments. Without government intervention, the pharmaceutical industry would be profitable, but it wouldn't be the massive cash factory it is now. In 2015, for instance, the 20 largest drug companies made a collective $124 billion in profits. All the industry needs to protect those sums is the continued cooperation of Congress. So naturally it spends money ... to make sure they always have just enough dependable people in office to block change. Which brings us ... to drug importation. Trump announced early in the race that he was in favor of bringing in cheaper drugs from Canada and made it a big stump theme. The Democrats, meanwhile, put allowing importation of drugs from countries like Canada in their platform last summer. The seeming synergy of the two candidates' positions led to the hope that something might actually be done about the problem, no matter who won. No such luck. Trump's support for drug importation basically went up in smoke from the moment he started filling out his executive appointees.
Panel member quits 'doomed' Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
June 28, 2016, BBC
A key member of the Scottish government's child abuse inquiry has resigned, saying it is "doomed" by government interference. Psychology professor Michael Lamb said there had been "repeated threats" to the independence of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. The major review is scheduled to last four years, but has been criticised by survivors of abuse. The inquiry, which concerns historical allegations of child abuse in Scotland, will examine the extent of abuse of children in care, and identify any systemic failures. It launched a formal call for evidence in March, but has already heard from some seriously ill or very elderly survivors. Mr Lamb - one of three members of the panel, alongside chairwoman Susan O'Brien QC and Glenn Houston - said the project had "noble and worthy goals", but that it was ultimately "doomed". In a letter to Education Secretary John Swinney, he said: "It has become increasingly clear over the last nine months that the panel cannot act independently and that the Scottish government intends to continue interfering in ways large and small, directly and indirectly. Continuing interference threatens to prevent the inquiry from investigating thoroughly and taking robust evidence of the highest quality. The Scottish government has delayed or prevented the appointment of crucial members of staff for prolonged periods of time while its officials have questioned the decisions made by the supposedly independent inquiry."
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 sexual abuse scandal news articles.
Peter Thiel Wants to Inject Himself with Young People's Blood
August 1, 2016, Vanity Fair
Trump delegate and Gawker bankrupter Peter Thiel is no stranger to the idea of increasing his lifespan through science. On Bloomberg TV in 2014, Thiel explained that he was taking human-growth hormone pills as part of his plan to live 120 years. Given Thiel’s obsession with warding off death, it comes as no surprise that the Silicon Valley billionaire is interested in at least one radical way of doing it: injecting himself with a young person’s blood. [In] a year-old interview ... the venture-capitalist [said] that he’s interested in parabiosis, which includes the practice of getting transfusions of blood from a younger person, as a means of improving health and potentially reversing aging. “I'm looking into parabiosis stuff. This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect,” he said. “It’s one of these very odd things where people had done these studies in the 1950s and then it got dropped altogether. I think there are a lot of these things that have been strangely under-explored.” A Thiel Capital employee ... previously expressed interest in the technique to Jesse Karmazin, the founder of Ambrosia LLC, a company that has been looking for volunteers over the age of 35 to receive blood transfusions from individuals under the age of 25. Bercovici notes that Silicon Valley is abound with rumors of wealthy tech elites experimenting with parabiosis, and Gawker ... received a tip in June claiming that Thiel “spends $40,000 per quarter to get an infusion of blood from an 18-year-old.”
Note: One university researcher has found that many in the European royalty until the end of the 18th century practiced selective cannibalism in the belief if would keep them young. Another article goes into greater depth about the practice some elder members of the wealthy elite taking blood infusions from young people to stay young.
China’s ‘Sharing Economy’ Is Booming. But Can It Last?
May 29, 2017, Fortune
Fancy shooting some hoops, but don't have a basketball? Caught in the rain with no umbrella? Smartphone run out of juice? China's rapidly expanding "sharing economy," which already provides car rides and bicycle hire on demand, can help. China's government ... expects the "sharing economy" to grow about 40% this year to 4.83 trillion yuan ($705 billion). By 2020, it should account for around one tenth of GDP, illustrating China's aspiration to become a sharing economy leader on a global scale. At least 1.69 billion yuan ($247 million) in mostly series-A, or early stage, funding was invested in April-May in over two dozen start-ups offering sharing services. Twelve firms renting out power banks - typically compact, mobile battery chargers - secured 1.13 billion yuan, while newer businesses such as basketball and umbrella-sharing took in about 25 million yuan ($3.65 million) combined. While mobile-savvy, convenience-obsessed Chinese welcome the innovations, some critics question whether the demand is real, or sustainable. They say the low-revenue, capital-intensive model means profitability can be elusive. "Young people are embracing renting as a way of life instead of possessing things," said Emma Zhu, investment director at Beijing-based Innoangel fund, who has held off investing in any of these start-ups. "But the sharing model won't work in every situation. In some cases, they're trying to meet genuine demand, while in others they're not."
Note: While some companies in the "sharing economy" may misrepresent their practices, others appear to be getting it right. Read a great article describing 11 "platform cooperatives" which create a real sharing economy.
Trump Administration Starts Returning Copies of C.I.A. Torture Report to Congress
June 2, 2017, New York Times
Senators, spies and a president spent years in a pitched battle over how the history is told of one of the most controversial chapters of America’s campaign against terrorism, the detention and interrogation of prisoners in secret C.I.A. jails. Congressional officials said on Friday that the [Trump] administration had begun returning to Congress copies of a 6,700-page Senate report from 2014 about the C.I.A. program. The move raises the possibility that most of the copies could be locked in Senate vaults indefinitely or even destroyed. The classified report [tells] the story of how ... the C.I.A. began capturing terrorism suspects and interrogating them ... beyond the reach of the American judicial and military legal systems. The central conclusion of the report is that the spy agency’s interrogation methods - including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other kinds of torture - were far more brutal and less effective than the C.I.A. described to policy makers, Congress and the public. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which was run by Democrats when the executive summary was released, sent copies of the entire report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate it into their records — a move that would have made the documents subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The agencies all refused to add the report to their records, and instead kept their copies locked up, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the C.I.A. for access to the full report.
Note: See a revealing New York Times article listing seven key points from this torture report. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
Key Articles From Years Past
7 Key Points From the C.I.A. Torture Report
December 9, 2014, New York Times
The report released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence discloses new details about the C.I.A.’s torture practices. 1. The C.I.A.’s interrogation techniques were more brutal and employed more extensively than the agency portrayed. The report also describes detainees being subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” and death threats. Conditions at one prison, described by a clandestine officer as a “dungeon,” were blamed for the death of a detainee, and the harsh techniques were described as leading to “psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.” 2. The C.I.A. interrogation program was mismanaged and was not subject to adequate oversight. 3. The C.I.A. misled members of Congress and the White House about the effectiveness and extent of its brutal interrogation techniques. 4. Interrogators in the field who tried to stop the brutal techniques were repeatedly overruled by senior C.I.A. officials. 5. The C.I.A. repeatedly underreported the number of people it detained. It also underreported the number of detainees who were subjected to torture. 6. At least 26 detainees were wrongfully held and did not meet the government’s standard for detention. 7. The C.I.A. leaked classified information to journalists, exaggerating the success of interrogation methods in an effort to gain public support.
Note: Efforts to bury this report have been ongoing. 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.
How Jeroo Billimoria Is Turning Poor Kids Into Savers
March 7, 2013, Daily Beast
Jeroo Billimoria is addressing the people at the bottom of the world’s economic pyramid: children in the developing world. “If you want to break poverty, don’t start with the adults. Start with the young people,” she says. Billimoria, 47, is a Mumbai-born serial social entrepreneur whose latest project is ... to bring hundreds of millions of children into the world’s financial system. Billimoria started working with street kids in India 20 years ago, which led her to found ... Child Helpline International, which now operates in 153 countries. “These street kids - 12 to 14 years old - would earn 100 rupees a day ($1.50). And then at the end of the day ... they had nowhere to put the money and feared it would be stolen if they didn’t spend it.” That led to her next effort, Aflatoun, which encourages financial literacy and savings among children. With her latest launch, Child & Youth Finance International ... Billimoria is aiming to scale up such efforts by enlisting banks and governments. “Currently, it is easier for a child to get a credit card than it is to get a savings account,” she says. Products like a simple passbook savings account, or a mobile version thereof ... are difficult to find, even in some of the most heavily banked countries in the world. After consulting with more than two dozen central banks, C&YFI has spelled out child-friendly criteria - no (or very small) minimum deposit, communication in clear language, minimal fees. Then it encourages banks to roll out the products that make sense for them.
Note: For more, read this inspiring article written by Ms. Billimoria.
The anti-terror ad going viral in the Middle East
May 29, 2017, CNN News
A hard-hitting video advertisement of a suicide bomber being challenged by victims of terrorism has gone viral in the Middle East. Kuwaiti telecom company Zain launched the TV ad on Saturday at the start of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar, in an effort to counter terrorism. Since then, the three minute music video has been viewed nearly 2.4 million times on YouTube. The message of the company's ad is unmistakeable. "Worship your God with love, with love not terror," sings Hussain Al Jassmi, an Emirati star famous in the region. "Be tender in your faith, gentle not harsh. Confront your enemy, with peace not war." Ramadan is typically a huge month for TV audiences as families gather to break their dawn-to-dusk fast and watch TV shows together. Advertisers spend a large proportion of their budget during the month. Zain has struck a chord before with its creative ads. Its spot last year carrying a message of peace was viewed 13 million times while its Eid holiday ad, which marked the end of Ramadan, had more than 24 million views. This latest project recreates the aftermath of a bus bombing as the suicide bomber walks through the carnage. The terrorist recites Islamic phrases but he is corrected by those sitting in front of him. The ad also features survivors of previous attacks including a man from the blast at a Kuwaiti mosque in 2015 and a bride from an attack on a wedding in Amman, Jordan, in 2005.
Eyes of the highways: Raising a 'trucker army' for trafficking fight
April 12, 2017, CNN News
There was a time when truck driver Kevin Kimmel knew little about the scourge of human trafficking. That all changed when he pulled into a gas station [and] a "kind of unusual" family recreational vehicle parked nearby caught his eye. Kimmel ... saw what he thought was a "minor female" appear from behind [a] curtain before abruptly disappearing. He immediately [called] the local sheriff. Police cars were soon on the scene. He later saw on the news that the woman he spotted was a 20-year-old sex trafficking victim. She had been lured away from her home in Iowa, held against her will and subjected to ... forced prostitution. Yet without the concern or quick thinking of Kimmel, she may never have been found. Truckers ... are increasingly seen as operating on the front line in the fight against human trafficking. Kimmel, who still drives a truck and speaks about his experiences at anti-trafficking events around the country, says that truckers tend to spend a lot of time in the places that victims pass through given the transient nature of their job. "[Traffickers] are constantly moving these people," he explains. "But when you're moving them, then you come into my world. If we know the signs and are vigilant then we can make a big piece of this problem go away." This is a point echoed by Kendis Paris of anti-trafficking charity Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). Her organization seeks to educate truckers about what to look out for, how to report suspected incidences of trafficking and why it is important to do so.
Note: Learn about the inspiring Truckers Against Trafficking movement and watch the excellent video there.
'Extraordinary' month for Scottish renewable energy
June 5, 2017, BBC
Scotland had "another extraordinary month" for renewable energy in May, according to environmental groups. Wind turbines alone provided enough electricity to supply 95% of Scottish homes. WWF Scotland analysed renewables data, [and] found that in several parts of Scotland, homes fitted with solar PV panels had enough sunshine to generate more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average household. Wind turbines provided 863,495 MWh of electricity to the National Grid during May, an increase of almost 20% compared to May 2016 when wind energy provided 692,896 MWh. Overall the data showed that wind generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of the 31 days in May. Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: "The global energy revolution is unstoppable and continues at pace here in Scotland. "On one day in particular, 15 May, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power 190% of homes or 99% of Scotland's total electricity demand. Month after month, renewables play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions and powering the Scottish economy." Homes with solar PV (photovoltaic) panels generated over 100% of average household electricity needs in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Lerwick. Dr Gardner added: "Thanks to a super sunny month, solar was on sizzling form and could have met more than 100% of household electricity demand in towns and cities across Scotland."
We're $6,900 in the red for the year.
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