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US Ethics Chief Resigns, Widespread US Water Contamination, Montreal's Homeless Beekeepers
July 11, 2017

Dear friends,

US Ethics Chief Resigns

Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on the astonishing resignation of the U.S. government's ethics chief, the widespread contamination of drinking water in the US leaving 1 in 4 Americans without access to water that meets federal safety guidelines, the data request fueling fears that voter rolls may be unlawfully purged, and more.

Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the Montreal program helping homeless men become more sociable and confident through beekeeping, Norway's success in replacing internal-combustion-powered cars with environmentally friendly alternatives, the amazing stem cell research allowing a paraplegic to use his hands again, 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.

With best wishes for a transformed world,
Mark Bailey and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info

Special note: Watch an excellent 8-minute video on breakthrough energy sources which have been suppressed. Read an informative article on a transformative process called holotropic breathwork which has helped millions. Watch a very touching 12-minute video of a young man in search of his true parents. To see how city government defends police who commit sexual crimes, see an article titled "Oakland Police Commanders Who Buried Sex-Crime Scandal Investigation Were Later Promoted" and follow-up articles here and here.

Quote of the week: When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.  ~~  Jimi Hendrix


Government Ethics Chief Resigns, Casting Uncertainty Over Agency
July 6, 2017, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/us/politics/walter-shaub-office-of-government...

Walter M. Shaub Jr., the government’s top ethics watchdog, who has repeatedly gone head-to-head with the Trump administration over conflicts of interest, said on Thursday that he was calling it quits. “There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation,” Mr. Shaub said in an interview on Thursday. “O.G.E.’s recent experiences have made it clear that the ethics program needs to be strengthened.” The intensity of feeling over what is usually an obscure job speaks to the central role ethics have come to play in Mr. Trump’s Washington, where the vast holdings of the president and his cabinet, as well as an influx of advisers from businesses and lobbying firms, have raised a rash of accusations of conflicts of interest. It is the job of the ethics office, a creation of a post-Watergate Congress, to work with a web of ethics officials at each agency to help people entering the government sidestep potential conflicts. Recently, Mr. Shaub and the administration fought over a routine request by the ethics office for copies of waivers issued to White House appointees to work in the Trump administration. The White House eventually released the waivers, which showed that it had granted at least a dozen exemptions for aides to work on policy matters they had handled as lobbyists or to engage with former colleagues in private-sector jobs. Mr. Shaub objected to the fact that many of the waivers were undated and unsigned, and that some approved actions retroactively.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.


America’s Tap Water: Too Much Contamination, Not Enough Reporting, Study Finds
May 4, 2017, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/us/tapwater-drinking-water-study.html

If you live in the United States, there is a nearly one-in-four chance your tap water is either unsafe to drink or has not been properly monitored for contaminants in accordance with federal law, a new study has found. In 2015, nearly 77 million Americans lived in places where the water systems were in some violation of safety regulations, including the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, according to the report released on Tuesday from the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s not only that some tap water has high levels of lead, nitrates, arsenic or other pollutants, said Mae Wu, a senior attorney with the council’s health program. It is that too often, a lack of reporting means residents cannot be sure whether their drinking water is contaminated or not. Marc Edwards, a scientist at Virginia Tech ... played a major role in bringing the crisis to national attention. Mr. Edwards said he agreed with the resources defense council’s conclusion that the government has not done enough to enforce regulations on drinking water safety. “This has been tolerated so long, and it is so ingrained in the E.P.A. culture to look the other way,” he said. “They’re going to need outside pressure to act and enforce existing laws.” The council’s report found that there were around 80,000 reported violations of drinking water safety regulations in 2015. Of those, more than 12,000 were “health-based” violations, or cases that involved actual contamination problems. In addition, the N.R.D.C. said, “Nearly nine in 10 violations were subject to no formal action.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health.


How Trump’s nationwide voter data request could lead to voter suppression
June 30, 2017, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/30/how-trumps-nationwide...

President Trump's Election Integrity Commission is asking all 50 states to turn over all publicly available voter registration data, including highly sensitive information about voters' political affiliation, Social Security numbers, criminal history and military status. The request was initiated by commission co-chair Kris Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas and a fervent believer that voter fraud is widespread despite decades of evidence to the contrary. In Kansas, Kobach championed the use of Crosscheck, a multistate database of voter registration information that authorities use to check whether voters are registered in two states. Kobach has said he's interested in using a similar process to compare state voter roll data to a federal database of legal immigrants. Crosscheck's matching algorithms are highly inaccurate. A recent working paper by researchers at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Microsoft found that Crosscheck's algorithm returns about 200 false positives for every one legitimate instance of double registration it finds. “We're concerned about unlawful voter purging, which has been something that Kris Kobach has been leading the charge,” said Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division. Some of Kobach's voter ID requirements have been struck down in federal court, with one federal judge ruling that they constituted “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”

Note: Learn how 25 states are resisting this request in this Washington Post article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.


Hobby Lobby to pay $3m fine over smuggled Iraqi artifacts, prosecutors say
July 6, 2017, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/06/hobby-lobby-iraq-artifacts-fine

The arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay a $3m fine and forfeit thousands of smuggled ancient Iraqi artifacts that the US government alleges were intentionally mislabeled. Hobby Lobby became a household name when the US supreme court ruled in its favor in the 2014 case Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, which in effect gave certain “closely-held” corporations the same religious rights as individuals. Hobby Lobby had begun acquiring a variety of historical Bibles and other artifacts in 2009 [and] executed an agreement to purchase more than 5,500 artifacts in December 2010 for $1.6m. Packages bore shipping labels that described their contents as “ceramic tiles”. Importing Iraqi cultural property into the US has been restricted since 1990 and banned outright since 2004. In the Hobby Lobby case, a dealer based in the United Arab Emirates shipped ... artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City. Five shipments that were intercepted by federal customs officials bore shipping labels that falsely declared that the artifacts’ country of origin was Turkey. In September 2011, a package containing about 1,000 clay bullae, an ancient form of inscribed identification, was received by Hobby Lobby from an Israeli dealer and accompanied by a false declaration stating that its country of origin was Israel. The illegal sale of historical artifacts is one way in which militant groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State finance their activities.

Note: The rape of ancient Iraqi artifacts during the war is an incredibly important and underreported story. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Fast and Furious hearing rips Holder, DOJ for deception in gun-running scandal
June 7, 2017, Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/07/fast-and-furious-report-slams-holder...

Members of a congressional committee at a public hearing Wednesday blasted former President Barack Obama and his attorney general for allegedly covering up an investigation into the death of a Border Patrol agent killed as a result of a botched government gun-running project known as Operation Fast and Furious. The House Oversight Committee also Wednesday released a scathing, nearly 300-page report that found Holder’s Justice Department tried to hide the facts. Terry died in a gunfight. [His] death exposed Operation Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation in which the federal government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them as they were transported into Mexico. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy. Two of those guns were found at the scene of Terry's killing. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, testified Wednesday in front of the committee, accusing DOJ and ATF officials of obstructing the investigation and working to silence ATF agents who informed the Senate of Fast and Furious. One of those silenced ATF agents, John Dodson, testified Wednesday that he remains “in a state of purgatory” since objecting to Fast and Furious and has been the subject of reprisals. Grassley's and Dodson's testimony reinforced findings of the report, which states that the Justice Department knew before Terry’s death that the ATF was “walking” firearms to Mexico and knew the day after the agent’s death that Fast and Furious guns were involved in the shootout -- despite denying these facts.

Note: The Obama administration invoked executive privilege in an unsuccessful attempt to cover this story up. Whistleblower John Dodson published a book on this scandal in 2013. The ATF tried and failed to silence him, then lied about the whole thing. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Naomi Klein: How power profits from disaster
July 6, 2017, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/06/naomi-klein-how-power-profits...

In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I watched hordes of private military contractors descend on the flooded city to find ways to profit from the disaster, even as thousands of the city’s residents, abandoned by their government, were treated like dangerous criminals just for trying to survive. I started to notice the same tactics in disaster zones around the world. I used the term “shock doctrine” to describe the brutal tactic of using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock – wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes or natural disasters – to push through radical pro-corporate measures. As Lee Fang reported ... “President Donald Trump [appointed] defence contractors and lobbyists to key government positions as he seeks to rapidly expand the military budget and homeland security programmes … At least 15 officials with financial ties to defence contractors have been either nominated or appointed so far.” One noticeable thing about Trump’s contractor appointees is how many of them come from firms that did not even exist before 9/11: L-1 Identity Solutions (specialising in biometrics), the Chertoff Group (founded by George W Bush’s homeland security director Michael Chertoff), Palantir Technologies (a surveillance/big data firm cofounded by PayPal billionaire and Trump backer Peter Thiel), and many more. This creates a disastrous cocktail. Take a group of people who directly profit from ongoing war and then put those same people at the heart of government. Who’s going to make the case for peace?

Note: The above article was extracted from bestselling author Naomi Klein's new book, "No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.


US quietly publishes once-expunged papers on 1953 Iran coup
June 29, 2017, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-quietly-publishes-expunged-papers...

Once expunged from official State Department history, the U.S.-backed 1953 coup in Iran and what led up to it can be glimpsed in documents that the department has quietly published. The operation ultimately pushed the country toward its Islamic Revolution and hostility with the West. The CIA's role in the coup, which toppled Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh and cemented the control of the shah, was well known when the State Department offered its first compendium on the era in 1989. But any trace of American involvement in the putsch had been wiped from the report, causing historians to call it a fraud. The 1,007-page report [released this month] shows U.S. officials discussing a coup up to a year before it took place. The CIA at one point "stockpiled enough arms and demolition material to support a 10,000-man guerrilla organization for six months" and paid out $5.3 million for bribes and other costs, which would be equivalent to $48 million today. One CIA document [states] that "several leading members of these (Iranian) security services are paid agents of this organization." The CIA also described hoping to use "powerfully influential clergy" in Shiite Iran to back the coup. To this day, Iran's clerical leaders portray the U.S. as a hostile foreign power bent on subverting and overthrowing its government. As President Dwight Eisenhower wrote ... in 1953, if knowledge of the coup became public, "We would not only be embarrassed in that region, but our chances to do anything of like nature in the future would almost totally disappear."

Note: The complete collection of State Department documents on this CIA-backed coup is available here. More recently, US policy reportedly fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Mexican journalists, activists targeted with spyware
June 19, 2017, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/report-mexican-journalists-activists...

Mexican journalists, lawyers and activists were targeted by spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group that is sold exclusively to governments. [A] report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said the targets included people, such as prominent journalists Carmen Aristegui and Carlos Loret de Mola, who were investigating alleged government corruption and purported human rights abuses by security forces. The people targeted received messages with links that, if clicked on, opened up their devices to being exploited and spied upon. NSO’s Pegasus spyware allows hackers access to phone calls, messages, cameras and personal data. Other targets included members of the Centro Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a prominent human rights group that has investigated cases such as the disappearance of 43 students whom police allegedly detained and turned over to drug gang killers; the anti-graft group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity; and the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a civil society group working on economic policy and combatting corruption. Aristegui, who exposed a case of possible conflict of interest involving a luxury home acquired from a government contractor ... was aggressively targeted. She received more than two-dozen messages with NSO links claiming to be from “the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, Amber Alerts, colleagues, people in her personal life, her bank, phone company and notifications of kidnappings,” the report said.

Note: If the above link is not working, this Associated Press article is also available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and the erosion of civil liberties.


As Standing Rock Camps Cleared Out, TigerSwan Expanded Surveillance to Array of Progressive Causes
June 21, 2017, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2017/06/21/as-standing-rock-camps-cleared-out-tigerswan...

Leaked documents and public records reveal a troubling fusion of private security, public law enforcement, and corporate money in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline. By the time law enforcement officers began evicting residents of the ... resistance camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on February 22, the brutal North Dakota winter had already driven away most of the pipeline opponents. It would have been a natural time for the private security company in charge of monitoring the pipeline to head home. But internal communications between TigerSwan and its client, pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners, show that the security firm instead reached for ways to stay in business. Indeed, TigerSwan appeared to be looking for new causes, too. The ... firm’s sweeping surveillance of anti-Dakota Access protesters had already spanned five months and expanded into Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois. TigerSwan became particularly interested in Chicago. [Leaked] documents dated between February 19 and February 21 describe TigerSwan’s efforts to monitor an anti-Trump protest organized by the local chapter of the Answer Coalition, an anti-war, anti-racism group. Answer Coalition’s ... John Beacham, who organized the protest TigerSwan described, said that [the NoDAPL movement] was not the event’s primary focus. “They’re trying to make connections where they aren’t. It’s almost like they’re trying to cast conspiracy theories across the entire progressive movement,” he told The Intercept.

Note: The above article is part of an in-depth series, and includes many original source documents. Standing Rock activists were also targeted for investigation by the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Inspiring Articles


'Amazing change' for Montreal homeless men taking part in urban beekeeping program
June 12, 2017, CNBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/accueil-bonneau-bee-homeless-program-1...

Helping homeless people in Montreal reintegrate into society by teaching them to care for bees may seem like an unusual approach, but organizers of the Accueil Bonneau honey program say it's been a real success story. "When they get to be hands on, they see that it's all about being confident and being at peace with the bees," said Geneviève Kieffer Després, director of communications and special projects. Accueil Bonneau, a local group that offers a drop-in day centre and variety of services for homeless men, partnered with Montreal urban beekeeping company Alvéole four years ago. Now the program, whose aim is to teach job skills and encourage social interaction, has 60 hives in seven locations across the city. "The most important thing is that it's not just a job. It's learning to do something you love and getting rewarded for it. That is something we want to teach," she said. The honey harvested from the hives is sold at various locations in the city, the proceeds of which help fund the program and provide a small fee for participants. Kieffer Després says that working with the bees teaches participants, homeless men aged 25 and up, to be calm, gentle and more comfortable with socializing. She recalls one example of a man who started out very shy interacting with the public at one of points of sale and eventually was able to come out of his shell. "We started selling honey at the beginning of October, and by November, he was the guy going up to people telling them, 'come see the stand, come try the honey.' Amazing change."

Note: Don't miss the pictures and video of this incredible program available at the link above.


Half of all new cars in Norway are now electric or hybrid
July 15, 2017, The Independent
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/norway-half-new-cars-electric...

Norway said that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far in 2017, as Norway continues its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries in the world. According to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) ... sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 per cent, for a combined 51.4 per cent. Norway already has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. The milestone is also particularly significant as a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry "This is a milestone on Norway's road to an electric car fleet," Climate and Environment minister Vidar Helgesen [said]. Last year, the government agreed on a proposal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered car starting in 2025. It also aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars to 85 grams per kilometre by 2020 - a goal it has almost achieved: the figure stood at 88 grams in February compared to 133 grams when the decision was taken five years ago. In December, Norway registered its 100,000th electric car. Norway has also become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Strong Progress for Paralyzed Patients After Stem Cell Therapy, Company Says
March 23, 2017, NPR (San Francisco affiliate)
https://ww2.kqed.org/futureofyou/2017/03/23/strong-stem-cell-therapy-results...

A small stem cell trial in which patients with severe spinal injuries appeared to make remarkable progress is still showing excellent results. One of the patients in the trial is 21-year-old Kris Boesen ... whose story we reported on last year. A car crash had left the Bakersfield, California native with three crushed vertebrae, almost no feeling below his neck, and a grim prognosis. Doctors believed he would live the rest of his life as a paraplegic. Enter stem cell therapy. Most treatments for serious spinal injuries concentrate on physical therapy to expand the range of the patient’s remaining motor skills and to limit further injury, not to reverse the actual damage. But last April ... researchers injected Boesen with 10 million stem cells. By July, he had recovered use of his hands to the point where he could use a wheelchair, a computer and a cellphone, and could take care of most of his daily living needs. Boesen is not the only patient to have improved in the trial, according to Asterias Biotherapeutics, which is conducting the research. Six patients who were experiencing various levels of paralysis and were injected with the 10 million stem cell dose. In a Jan. 24 update, the company said five of those patients had improved. On Tuesday, Asterias issued a new update, announcing that the sixth patient in the cohort has experienced a similar improvement. Last week, at 11 months post-injection, the elder Boesen said Kris has continued to improve.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Swiss Re shifts $130 bln investments to track ethical indices
July 6, 2017, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/06/reuters-america-swiss-re-shifts-130-bln...

Swiss Re is switching the entire $130 billion it holds in liquid assets to track ethical indices, the latest move towards principled investments by the insurance industry. The world's second-largest reinsurer ... said taking social and governance (ESG) criteria into account reduced the risk of losses especially for long term investors. "This is not only about doing good, we have done it because it makes economic sense," Swiss Re Chief Investment Officer Guido Fuerer told Reuters. Institutional investors are increasingly looking at how companies perform on environmental, social and governance-related issues, given the potential for poor behaviour to lead to a share price hit. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch Equity and Quant Strategy team last month said ESG-based investing reduced bankruptcy risks for U.S. stocks, while companies with the widest credit default swap spreads are the ones with the weakest ESG credentials, according to research by Hermes Investment Management. "The ultimate point is to put incentives to companies to become more sustainable," said Swiss Re's Fuerer. He said Swiss Re is the first insurer to base its whole portfolio on ethical principles, with portfolio managers being told to use MSCI's environmental, governance and social indices when making investment decisions. MSCI rates companies according to various ethical criteria, with the score combined with market capitalisation weight to create an index. Companies with a more ethical performance have a greater weight in the index.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


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Please note that most of the summarizing of the revealing news articles in the above summary was done by Mark Bailey of WantToKnow.info. Many thanks to Mark for all the time and skill he puts into this. The section below provides several ideas on what you can do to spread the news.

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