Open-Source Voting Machines, Systematic Torture in Egypt, Idaho Town Ousts Hate Group
September 11, 2017
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on San Francisco's step towards using open-source software in its elections instead of relying on proprietary voting machines whose inner workings are shrouded in corporate secrecy, the systematic torture of prisoners in Egypt uncovered by Human Rights Watch, the huge increase in drug abuse in the US that has come along with the shale oil boom, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on one town in Idaho's creative campaign to oust an Aryan Nations hate group from their town, one man's 30 year effort to plant a 1,400 acre forest in India, Oakland schools' successful embrace of healing over punishment to reduce classroom violence and improve education outcomes, 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: In a CBS video physics professor Michio Kaku states "even hurricanes ... could be subject to weather modification." Learn about HAARP, a US military technology which some serious researchers believe has been used to manipulate the weather. Watch a beautiful three-minute video of singer P!nk responding with compassion to her daughter's comment “Mama, I’m the ugliest girl I know.” Watch the trailer to the great new documentary "Secret Ingredients" which features numerous individuals who recovered their health in a dramatic way after cutting out GMOs and pesticides.
Quote of the week: "Never assume the obvious is true" ~~ William Safire
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San Francisco could become first local government to use open-source voting system
September 3, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
San Francisco has taken a tentative step toward deciding on whether it will become the first local government in the country to run its voting machines on open-source software. The notion of shifting away from using proprietary technology sold by private companies to computer code made freely available for anyone to use and modify has been talked about for years. But it’s been getting more attention since the city allocated $300,000 to study the issue. Proponents of open-source voting systems say local governments using them would be able to hold elections with an unprecedented level of control, transparency and security. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has said he would support an open-source voting system, assuming it could pass the state’s certification protocols. Open-source software could allow the city to more fully understand and adjust how votes are tallied. Currently, vendors of electronic voting equipment provide few details about how their machines operate, claiming those details are proprietary. Governments are also beholden to private vendors if they want to make a change to the software running the machines.
Note: How crazy that the technology behind the US electronic voting system is held privately and the government cannot even inspect the technology used. Do you think there is the potential for fraud? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Rights group finds ‘assembly line’ of torture in Egypt
September 6, 2017, Washington Post/Associated Press
An international rights group says Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has given a “green light” to systematic torture inside detention facilities.” Human Rights Watch says el-Sissi, a U.S. ally who was warmly received at the White House earlier this year ... “has effectively given police and National Security officers a green light to use torture whenever they please,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the New York-based group. The allegations, the group said, amount to crimes against humanity. Most of the detainees are alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood group, which rose to power after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt arrested or charged some 60,000 people in the two years after Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader who became Egypt’s first freely elected president, was overthrown following a divisive year in power. Hundreds have gone missing in what appear to be forced disappearances, and hundreds of others have received preliminary death sentences. Based on interviews with 19 Egyptians detained as far back as 2013, the rights group documented abuses ranging from beatings to rape and sodomy. Local rights groups have documented dozens of deaths under torture in police custody. The Interior Ministry ... denied allegations of systemic torture. Citing national security, the government has shut down hundreds of websites, including many operated by independent journalists and rights groups.
Meth, Coke And Oil: A Drug Boom In The Texas Shale Patch
September 7, 2017, Huffington Post/Reuters
While drug use is a problem among industrial workers nationwide, it raises particular concern in the oil patch as U.S. production surges to record levels in what is already one of the nation’s most dangerous sectors - with a fatality rate about three times the average for other industries. Drug use is a significant factor in workplace injuries and crimes involving oilfield workers, according to drug counselors, hospital and police officials and court records in West Texas, the epicenter of the U.S. shale sector. As the shale revolution has spawned waves of hiring here since 2010, law enforcement authorities have tracked a boom in drug trafficking and related crime. In Midland and Ector counties, home to many Permian Basin oil workers, state and local police in 2016 seized more than 95 pounds of methamphetamine - up from less than four pounds in 2010. Despite corporate and regulatory efforts to curb drug abuse, many oilfield workers regularly use stimulants on long shifts of grueling work for relatively high pay. When oil jobs are plentiful, companies desperate for labor sometimes will disregard signs of substance abuse, said three recovering drug addicts who worked in the oilfield. “These oilfield bosses - they party, too,” [oilfield worker] Forsythe said. “As long as you’re getting the job done and not making a scene, they won’t drug test you.”
President Trump is giving police forces weapons of war. This is dangerous
August 31, 2017, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
This week, Donald Trump lifted the ban on certain military-grade weapons and equipment available from the Pentagon to our local police forces across the nation. Before Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2015 limiting the transfer of certain types of military equipment under the Pentagon’s 1033 Program, the Department of Defense transferred more than $5bn in surplus military equipment directly to police agencies. The Pentagon program creates a pipeline that bypasses normal ... procurement processes, enabling police departments to acquire expensive-to-maintain and often unneeded military equipment directly from the Pentagon without the approval or even knowledge of [elected] government officials. Citizens are left to pay the price when these military “toys” are put into the anxious hands of often untrained local law enforcement. Handing our police weapons of war, including but not limited to large-capacity, rapid-fire weapons and ammunition – including .50-calibers – bayonets, grenade launchers, armored vehicles including military tanks, unmanned vehicles (armed drones), explosives and pyrotechnics, and similar explosive devices, makes us less safe. It also drives a wedge between police officers and ... communities. Our nation was built on the principle that there are clear lines between our armed forces and domestic police. Moreover ... law enforcement is subject to civilian authority. This program blurs those lines. Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful.
Note: The above was written by US Congressman Hank Johnson, author of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2017. The Pentagon's 1033 program now being revived led to what the ACLU called an "excessive militarization of American policing". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Don't believe the dangerous myths of 'Drone Warrior'
July 16, 2017, Los Angeles Times
Drone pilots have been quitting the U.S. Air Force in record numbers. They cite a combination of low-class status in the military, overwork and psychological trauma. But a widely publicized new memoir about America’s covert drone war fails to mention the “outflow increases,” as one internal Air Force memo calls it. “Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier’s Inside Account of the Hunt for America’s Most Dangerous Enemies” chronicles the nearly 10 years that Brett Velicovich, a former special operations member, spent using drones to help special forces find and track terrorists. Conveniently, it also puts a hard sell on a program whose ranks the military is struggling to keep full. The book is, at best, a tale of hyper-masculine bravado and, at worst, a piece of military propaganda designed to ease doubts about the drone program and increase recruitment. Velicovich exaggerates the accuracy of the technology, neglecting to mention how often it fails or that such failures have killed an untold number of civilians. For instance, the CIA killed 76 children and 29 adults in its attempts to take out Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, who reportedly is still alive. The film rights to “Drone Warrior” were bought over a year ago, with much fanfare, by Paramount Pictures. This development is predictable. The U.S. military and Hollywood have long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. But there is something particularly unseemly about Hollywood’s enthusiasm for bringing Velicovich’s version of drone warfare to the big screen.
Note: Documents obtained by a crowdfunded investigative journalism project show that US military and intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and television shows. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
A Funeral of 2 Friends: C.I.A. Deaths Rise in Secret Afghan War
September 6, 2017, New York Times
This summer, operatives with the Central Intelligence Agency gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to bury two of their own. Brian Ray Hoke and Nathaniel Patrick Delemarre, elite gunslingers who worked for the C.I.A.’s paramilitary force, were laid to rest after a firefight with Islamic State militants. Their deaths this past October were never acknowledged by the C.I.A., beyond two memorial stars chiseled in a marble wall at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. Today there are at least 18 stars on that wall representing the number of C.I.A. personnel killed in Afghanistan - a tally that has not been previously reported, and one that rivals the number of C.I.A. operatives killed in the wars in Vietnam and Laos nearly a half century ago. The deaths are a reflection of the heavy price the agency has paid in a secret, nearly 16-year-old war, where thousands of C.I.A. operatives have served since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The deaths of Mr. Hoke, 42, and Mr. Delemarre, 47, show how the C.I.A. continues to move from traditional espionage to the front lines, and underscore the pressure the agency faces now that President Trump has pledged to keep the United States in Afghanistan with no end in sight.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
The bad news is that fish are eating lots of plastic. Even worse, they may like it
September 4, 2017, Washington Post
More than 50 species of fish have been found to consume plastic trash at sea. This is bad news, not only for fish but potentially also for humans who rely on fish for sustenance. Fish don’t usually die as a direct result of feeding on the enormous quantities of plastic trash floating in the oceans. But that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful for them. Some negative effects that scientists have discovered when fish consume plastic include reduced activity rates and weakened schooling behavior, as well as compromised liver function. Most distressingly for people, toxic compounds that are associated with plastic transfer to and bioaccumulate in fish tissues. This is troubling because these substances could further bioaccumulate in people who consume fish that have eaten plastic. Plastic trash poses a serious threat to marine animals, but we are still trying to understand why animals eat it. Typically, research has concluded that marine animals visually mistake plastic for food. While this may be true, the full story is probably more complex. For example, colleagues at the University of California at Davis and I showed in a recent study that plastic debris may smell attractive to marine organisms. That’s a problem, because if plastic looks and smells interesting to fish, it will be very hard for them to discern that it is not food.
AI Can Tell if You're Gay: Artificial Intelligence Predicts Sexuality from One Photo with Startling Accuracy
September 8, 2017, Newsweek
Two Stanford University researchers have reported startling accuracy in predicting sexual orientation using computer technology. Dr. Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, whose research will be published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, say that AI can distinguish between the face of a heterosexual man and a homosexual man in 81 percent of cases. For women, the predictive accuracy is 71 percent. The average human is less adept at identifying between straight and gay people purely based on an image: We are only able to guess correctly in 61 percent of cases for men and 54 percent for women. When scientists presented the algorithm with five facial images of a single person, the accuracy increased to 91 percent for men and 83 percent for women. Kosinski and Wang used “deep neural networks” to sample 35,326 facial images of men and women taken from a dating website. The findings advance discussion about the biological factors that may determine one’s sexual orientation. However, Kosinski tells The Economist, the research is not intended to be used to profile or “out” homosexual men and women. Rather, it is designed to demonstrate - or even warn - that technological advances can be used for such means and could pose a threat to our privacy, given that digital information is so easily accessible. The researchers argue the “digitalization of our lives and rapid progress in AI continues to erode the privacy of sexual orientation and other intimate traits.”
Note: Emerging artificial intelligence technologies are currently being developed for use in warfare. According to a United Nations report, misuse of these technologies may threaten human rights. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Years Past
Conspiracy Theories Abound as U.S. Military Closes HAARP
May 22, 2014, NBC News
The U.S. Air Force has notified Congress that it intends to shut down HAARP, a controversial Alaska-based research facility that studies an energetic and active region of the upper atmosphere. HAARP (short for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) has long been the center of wild speculation that the program is designed to control the weather - or worse. In 2010, Venezuelan leader Huge Chavez claimed that HAARP or a program like it triggered the Haiti earthquake. HAARP is a research program designed to analyze the ionosphere, a portion of the upper atmosphere that stretches from about 53 miles (85 kilometers) above the surface of the Earth to 370 miles (600 kilometers) up. The program has been funded by the Air Force, the Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The U.S. military is interested in the ionosphere because this portion of the atmosphere plays a role in transmitting radio signals. HAARP sends radio beams into the ionosphere to study the responses from it. HAARP cost more than $290 million to build. The site was host to numerous projects over the years, including the creation of the first artificially produced aurora in 2005. Conspiracy theorists think HAARP's purpose is far more sinister than meets the eye. The program has been blamed for everything from global warming to natural disasters to mysterious humming noises in the sky.
Note: Recent natural disasters have some researchers wondering if HAARP-like technologies are being used to manipulate the weather. For powerful, reliable information that these technologies are capable of this, see this excellent webpage filled with verifiable information about HAARP and its capabilities.
Scientists think they can control weather with lasers
April 21, 2014, CBS News
Researchers may have found a way to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning. Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona say that a laser beam could activate those large amounts of static electricity and create storms on demand. By surrounding a beam with another beam that will act as an energy reservoir, the central beam will be sustained for greater distances than previously possible. The secondary beam will refuel ... the primary beam. Although lasers can already travel great distances, it behaves differently than usual, collapsing inward on itself when a laser beam becomes intense enough, according to Matthew Mills, a graduate student at the UFC Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers. "The collapse becomes so intense that electrons in the air's oxygen and nitrogen are ripped off creating plasma - basically a soup of electrons," Mills explained. Afterwards, the plasma tries to spread the beam back out - causing an internal struggle between collapsing and spreading - what's known as "filamentation." "Because a filament creates excited electrons in its wake as it moves, it artificially seeds the conditions necessary for rain and lightning to occur," Mills explained. Previous work done by other researchers have led to some type of "electrical event" in clouds. Development of the technology was funded by the Department of Defense and the researchers' findings were published in the journal Nature Photonics.
Note: In another CBS video physics professor Michio Kaku states "even hurricanes ... could be subject to weather modification." Then learn about HAARP, a US military technology which some serious researchers believe has been used to manipulate the weather in big ways.
The Troubled History Of The Supermarket Tomato
July 9, 2011, NPR
Supermarket tomatoes may look delicious — smooth, red and unblemished — but for the most part, they taste like nothing at all. [Barry] Estabrook is the author of a new book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. It lays out why supermarket tomatoes tend to taste so bad - and how they got that way. The tomatoes you see in those supermarkets have been bred for high yields and durability, not flavor. There's an even darker side to the modern commercial tomato, too. Up until recently, workers on many of Florida's vast industrial tomato farms were basically slaves. "People being bought and sold like animals," Estabrook says. "People being shackled in chains. People being beaten for either not working hard enough, fast enough, or being too weak or sick to work. People actually being shot and killed for trying to escape. That sounds like 1850's slavery to me." The situation is beginning to improve, he adds. It began with a group of tomato pickers called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The group had been lobbying since the early 1990s for a plan that included a pay raise and some basic workers' rights. "What they started concentrating on was the end-customers," Estabrook says. "They started, actually, with the Taco Bell restaurant chain." After four years of protests and boycotts, Taco Bell agreed to sign on and support the group's plan. Other chains soon followed, and even the powerful Florida tomato growers' committee came on board.
Note: In 2015, Wal-Mart became the most influential corporation to join the initiative promoted by Coalition of Immokalee Workers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Idaho town that stared down hate – and won
August 31, 2017, Christian Science Monitor
From his self-proclaimed Aryan Nations church, a retired engineer named Richard Butler preached hate to his followers. [The Idaho town of] Coeur d’Alene became code for white supremacists. But what happened here offers an antidote of hope. The community came together, rejecting the vision of Mr. Butler’s small band, and organizing a tenacious effort to drive them out. [Norman] Gissel and others involved in that campaign ... embraced some old-fashioned phrases – freedom, equality, and justice – and decided on a way to challenge the Aryan Nations. When the Aryan Nations marched, the group sponsored counter protests as far away as Spokane to draw the crowds down. For one event, [organizer Tony] Stewart enlisted local businesses and individuals to pledge money to human rights groups for every minute of a planned Aryan Nations march, and then publicly urged Butler to march slowly to raise more money for his opponents. “They marched for 27 minutes and we got $34,000,” Stewart chuckled. It was the group’s violence that finally brought it down ... in 1998. The compound’s guards ... terrorized [an American Indian woman and her son] at gunpoint. The Southern Poverty Law Center pounced on the incident, bringing lawsuits on behalf of the victims. They won a $6.3 million judgment in 2000 against Butler, and two of his bodyguards served prison time for assault. Butler’s compound was seized in the judgment, used as a training exercise by the fire department and burned to the ground.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
One Man Single-Handedly Plants Forest Bigger Than Central Park
October 28, 2014, Huffington Post
In the middle of a braided river tucked in a remote northeastern region of India, one man planted a forest that has now outgrown the size of New York City’s Central Park. As a teenager in the 1970s, Jadav Payeng noticed a rush of snakes washing ashore, dead. Erosion had scrubbed away vegetation from Majuli island sandbars, stripping away grassy cover and ultimately forcing many native species to flee. Floodwaters transformed some parts into barren landscapes. Its shorelines receded with every monsoon rain. The island, Payeng’s birthplace, was rapidly shrinking. Rather than sitting idly by, waiting for strong river waters to destroy his home and push his family inland, Payeng planted trees. He started in 1979, scattering seeds and stabbing the bare earth repeatedly with a stick to forge holes deep enough for the delicate roots of young saplings. The goal was to grow a forest to stave off erosion in the area. But as his trees grew bigger, Payeng says it dawned on him they were going to be increasingly difficult to protect. “The biggest threat was from men. They would have destroyed the forest for economic gain and the animals would be vulnerable again," he said in a documentary about his forest. He quietly continued planting trees on Majuli for 30 years. Today, Payeng’s forest measures 1,400 acres, a remarkable accomplishment that dwarfs Central Park’s 843 acres. Rhinoceroses, deer, tigers, and as many as 115 elephants have moved in to the dense forest.
Note: Watch the award-winning 16-minute documentary about this amazing man at the link above. If one man can do this, imagine what might be achieved if the government put some money and labor into this kind of project.
Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
September 14, 2014, Daily Good
Nelson Mandela’s adage, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends,” captures the profoundly inclusive nature of restorative justice (RJ). The hallmark of RJ is intentionally bringing together people ... who have harmed with people who have been harmed in a carefully prepared face-to-face encounter where everyone listens and speaks with respect and from the heart. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the alarming national trend of punishing and criminalizing our youth instead of educating and nurturing them. Exclusionary discipline policies such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly being used to address even the most minor infractions. Use of suspensions has almost doubled since the 1970’s. A UC Berkeley Law study found [Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth]’s 2007 middle school pilot eliminated violence and expulsions, while reducing school suspension rates by 87 percent. In 2010, the Oakland, Calif. school board passed a resolution adopting RJ as a system-wide alternative to zero-tolerance discipline and as a way of creating stronger and healthier school communities. Young high school students in Oakland with failing grades and multiple incarcerations who were not expected to graduate not only graduate but achieve 3.0-plus GPAs. Today hundreds of Oakland students are ... empowered to engage in restorative processes ... in a safe and respectful space, promoting dialogue, accountability, a deeper sense of community, and healing.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Pollution levels in Bolivia plummet on nationwide car-free day
September 3, 2017, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Air pollution levels have plunged in cities across Bolivia as the country marked a nationwide car-free day in which all non-emergency vehicles were banned from city streets. As Bolivia’s middle-class population has increased over the past 10 years so has the number of cars clogging city streets. The car-free event started 18 years ago in Cochabamba, one of Latin America’s five most polluted cities, and has gradually taken root across the country. By 2011, it had become so popular that Bolivia’s legislature declared a yearly “Day of the Pedestrian and Cyclist in Defence of Mother Earth”. Families love it. Jesus Romero, who lives on the northern edge of Cochabamba, said: “We really enjoy that it is so quiet and peaceful without any cars around, and that’s there’s space in the streets for the kids to play.” Deyanira López, 14, highlighted another benefit. “Our city is very beautiful but you just don’t see it because of all the cars,” she said. Andres Clares, 16, agreed, saying: “I really like walking at least one day without cars. It’s quieter and the air is so much fresher.” In a typically noisy city, the sudden silence is striking. This year the event’s catchphrase is “leave your green footprint in Cochabamba”. Six eco-stations are focused on different themes in coordination with local businesses and charities. “These educate about the air, animals, water, recycling, protected areas and trees,” said Gaviota Borda, head of the municipal department of environmental protection.
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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