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Rampant Gouging in US Medical Care, 2020 Election Meddling, Peaceful Protests Succeed
Revealing News Articles
January 14, 2020

Dear friends,

Gouging in US Medical Care.

Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on rampant gouging in the cost of medical care in the US compared with other countries, statements by US officials that other countries may attempt to use social media or cyber attacks to meddle in the upcoming 2020 elections, the high cost of prison phone calls in the US making it harder for inmates to talk with loved ones while incarcerated, and more.

Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the success of peaceful protests around the world, some ways that 2019 proved to be the best year ever, humpback whale populations rebounding from the brink of extinction, 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,
Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Former White House interpreter and whistleblower

Special note: Read an excellent, well documented essay on the little-known recent WikiLeaks release which includes a  the mountain of evidence that we’ve been lied to about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria last year. The first British astronaut in space, Dr. Helen Sharman, has commented, “Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it.”

Quote of the week: "It is our emotional attachment to certain beliefs that limits us and keeps us from seeing greater realities."

Video of the week: If you are open to having your mind blown by solid evidence humankind is much older than thought, watch this fascinating lecture.

PEERS Annual Report: The PEERS annual report for 2019 is now available on this webpage. Thanks for all your support.


In the U.S., an Angioplasty Costs $32,000. Elsewhere? Maybe $6,400.
December 27, 2019, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/27/upshot/expensive-health-care-world-comparison.html

The International Federation of Health Plans, a group representing the C.E.O.s of health insurers worldwide, publishes a guide every few years on the international cost for common medical services. Its newest report, on 2017 prices, came out this month. Every time, the upshot is vivid and similar: For almost everything on the list, there is a large divergence between the United States and everyone else. Patients and insurance companies in the United States pay higher prices for medications, imaging tests, basic health visits and common operations. Those high prices make health care in the U.S. extremely expensive, and they also finance a robust and politically powerful health care industry, which means lowering prices will always be hard. For a typical angioplasty, a procedure that opens a blocked blood vessel to the heart, the average U.S. price is $32,200, compared with $6,400 in the Netherlands, or $7,400 in Switzerland, the survey finds. A typical M.R.I. scan costs $1,420 in the United States, but around $450 in Britain. An injection of Herceptin, an important breast cancer treatment, costs $211 in the United States, compared with $44 in South Africa. These examples aren’t outliers. Researchers at Harvard conducted an exhaustive study last year of things that make health systems in developed countries different from one another. The clear finding of those researchers was that it’s this huge gap in prices ... that helps explain why the United States is such an expensive place to be sick.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.


More Drugmakers Hike U.S. Prices as New Year Begins
January 1, 2020, US News & World Report/Reuters
https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2020-01-01/more-drugmakers-hike-us...

Drugmakers including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, Gilead Sciences Inc, and Biogen Inc hiked U.S. list prices on more than 50 drugs on Wednesday, bringing total New Year's Day drug price increases to more than 250, according to data analyzed by healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors. Reuters reported on Tuesday that drugmakers including Pfizer Inc, GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Sanofi SA were planning to increase prices on more than 200 drugs in the United States on Jan. 1. More early year price increases could still be announced. Many branded drugmakers have pledged to keep their U.S. list price increases below 10% a year, under pressure from politicians and patients. The United States, which leaves drug pricing to market competition, has higher prices than in other countries where governments directly or indirectly control the costs, making it the world's most lucrative market for manufacturers. Soaring U.S. prescription drug prices are expected to again be a central issue in the presidential election.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma from reliable major media sources.


Cyber attacks and electronic voting errors threaten 2020 outcome, experts warn
January 2, 2020, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/02/elections-2020-cyber-attacks...

Seven top agency officials, including the heads of the FBI and CIA, issued a joint statement predicting Russia, and other countries intend to meddle in the 2020 elections via cyber attacks or social media. “Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions,” the joint statement said. The threat of more cyber attacks, plus disinformation and social media operations to sway public opinion, has prompted the federal government to work closely with officials in all 50 states, the statement said. A Senate intelligence committee report in mid-2019 concluded that Kremlin hackers manipulated election systems in all 50 states, and succeeded in breaching systems in two Florida counties and another state. New questions are being raised about the safety of some electronic voting equipment given problems in 2019 and 2018, respectively, in Pennsylvania and Georgia. A lawsuit was filed last month to block Pennsylvania from certifying electronic voting equipment that Philadelphia has purchased, after the same machines encountered significant problems in November in undercounting votes. The equipment was made by ... ES&S, which boasts about 50% of the national voting machine market and has been cited before for malfunctions. In Georgia in the 2018 elections, for instance, old voting machines made by ES&S were involved in counting votes in a race where reportedly about 80,000 votes were strangely not cast.

Note: There have been serious problems with electronic voting in the US for decades. There is little doubt powerful factions within the US have taken advantage of this. Only now that the Russians are being accused is anyone talking about this. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on elections corruption from reliable major media sources.


The Crisis of Election Security
September 26, 2018, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/magazine/election-security-crisis-midterms.html

As the 2018 elections approach, the American intelligence community is issuing increasingly dire warnings about potential interference from Russia and other countries. D.H.S. has now conducted remote-scanning and on-site assessments of state and county election systems. These [measures] don’t address core vulnerabilities in voting machines or the systems used to program them. And they ignore the fact that many voting machines that elections officials insist are disconnected from the internet — and therefore beyond the reach of hackers — are in fact accessible by way of the modems they use to transmit vote totals on election night. Add to this the fact that states don’t conduct robust postelection audits ... and there’s a good chance we simply won’t know if someone has altered the digital votes in the next election. How did our election system get so vulnerable, and why haven’t officials tried harder to fix it? The answer, ultimately, comes down to politics and money: The voting machines are made by well-connected private companies that wield immense control over their proprietary software, often fighting vigorously in court to prevent anyone from examining it when things go awry. The stakes are high. But the focus on Russia, or any would-be election manipulators, ignores the underlying issue — the myriad vulnerabilities that riddle the system and the ill-considered decisions that got us here.

Note: The major media have severely neglected reporting on elections manipulations that have been going on for many decades. For undeniable evidence of this, see our Elections Information Center.


Many families struggle to pay for phone calls with loved ones in U.S. prisons
December 31, 2019, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/many-families-struggle-pay-phone-calls-loved...

“You have 60 more seconds." "You have 30 more seconds.” The female voice interrupted each time Maria Marshall talked on the phone with her son in prison. But the chance to make contact for three or four minutes a day, a few days a week, came with a cost. Marshall spent $120 in just two weeks in July for her son to call her and other relatives and friends. Many states make millions each year in commission off phone calls that families like Marshall’s struggle to pay for. Inmate calling services are controlled by two main telecommunications companies, but the Federal Communications Commission says it does not have authority to set price caps on intrastate calls, which account for a majority of prisoner phone calls. Some are now pushing for change. U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and five other senators have introduced a bill calling for “just and reasonable charges” for intrastate and interstate calling that would give the FCC authority to address inmate calling rates. “This allows the FCC to regulate and say you can’t have predatory pricing,” Duckworth said. “Cause that’s what’s happening — predatory pricing.” A typical 15-minute prison phone call within Washington costs around $1.65. On the other end of the spectrum, such a call in Kentucky costs around $5.70. Paul Wright, director of the Human Rights Defense Center ... said the system gives prisoners no options. “The alternative is they don’t talk to their family,” Wright, who was incarcerated in Washington from 1987 to 2003, said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Hundreds of Accused Priests, Clergy Members Left Off Catholic Church's Sex Abuse Lists
December 29, 2019, Time/Associated Press
https://time.com/5756420/priests-left-off-catholic-sex-abuse-lists/

Richard J. Poster served time for possessing child pornography, violated his probation by having contact with children, admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school and in 2005 was put on a sex offender registry. And yet the former Catholic priest was only just this month added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse — after The Associated Press asked why he was not included. Victims advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete. An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served. Of the 900 unlisted accused clergy members, more than a tenth had been charged with a sex-related crime — a higher percentage than those named publicly by dioceses and orders, the AP found.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.


60 Minutes investigates the death of Jeffrey Epstein
January 5, 2020, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/did-jeffrey-epstein-kill-himself-60-minutes-investigates...

In July 2019, Jeffrey Epstein, already a convicted sex offender, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors. On August 10, Epstein was found dead in his federal jail cell at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC). The New York City Medical Examiner's Office ruled Epstein's death a suicide by hanging, but a forensic pathologist who observed the four-hour autopsy ... tells 60 Minutes the evidence released so far points more to murder than suicide in his view. Dr. Michael Baden's key reason: the unusual fractures he saw in Epstein's neck."There were fractures of the left, the right thyroid cartilage and the left hyoid bone," Baden said. "I have never seen three fractures like this in a suicidal hanging." The night before his death, Epstein's cellmate was released. According to court documents, "no new cellmate was assigned" before he died, even though he was required to have one. That night, federal prosecutors say, "Epstein was escorted into his cell by Tova Noel at approximately 7:49 p.m." Noel and Michael Thomas, the two guards who were working the overnight shift in Epstein's unit, allegedly didn't check on him again until "shortly after 6:30 a.m." the next morning. "So Epstein's taken off suicide watch, the day before he kills himself, his roommate is removed from the cell. The cameras on his tier are not working. The guards fell asleep. It seems almost impossible to think all of those things could happen in that way," [60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn] Alfonsi said.

Note: Not mentioned is that surveillance video from Epstein's first suicide attempt was "accidentally" erased, as reported on NBC News. A revealing five-minute 60 minutes video is available here or at the link above. More photos and information are available on this CBS News webpage. An even deeper analysis can be found on this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein from reliable major media sources.


MDMA, Or Ecstasy, Shows Promise As A PTSD Treatment
August 14, 2019, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/08/14/746614170/mdma-aka-ecstasy...

MDMA is the main ingredient in club drugs ecstasy or molly. But [Lori] Tipton wasn't taking pills sold on the street to get high at a party. She was trying to treat her post-traumatic stress disorder, with the help of licensed therapists. Two specially-trained psychotherapists ... sat next to Tipton as she recalled some of her deepest traumas, like discovering her mother's body after a murder-suicide. "I was able to find such empathy for myself. I realized how much I was thinking this was my fault," she says. The synthetic psychoactive chemical MDMA is emerging as a promising — if unconventional — treatment for PTSD. Scientists are testing how pharmaceutical-grade MDMA can be used in combination with psychotherapy to help patients who have a severe form of PTSD that has not responded to other treatments. It's not yet available as a treatment for PTSD outside of clinical trials, but the success of early trials has proponents hopeful that the therapy could be available to more people in coming years. They're aiming for approval by the The Food and Drug Administration, which granted breakthrough therapy status to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in 2017. After the Phase 2 trials of MDMA-assisted treatments concluded in 2017, researchers found 54% of the patients who took MDMA had improved to the point that they no longer fit the diagnosis for PTSD (compared to 23% in the control group). A year later, the number who no longer had PTSD had risen to 68% percent.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.


Trump’s lawyer and the Venezuelan president: How Giuliani got involved in back-channel talks with Maduro
December 30, 2019, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyer-and-the-venezuelan-president...

The international call came in September 2018. On one end of the line was Venezuela’s socialist president, the pariah leader of a disintegrating economy whom President Trump’s administration was seeking to isolate. On the other end: the U.S. president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and then-Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.). Both were part of a shadow diplomatic effort, backed in part by private interests, aimed at engineering a negotiated exit to ease President Nicolás Maduro from power and reopen resource-rich Venezuela to business. Sessions had served as emissary in the back-channel effort, visiting Maduro in Caracas that spring. The phone call, which Giuliani joined, was a follow-up to that visit. The phone conversation ... provides another example of how Giuliani used his private role to insert himself into foreign diplomacy, alarming administration officials confused about whose interests he was representing. Giuliani operated a similar campaign this year in Ukraine, where he pressured officials to announce investigations to benefit Trump — an endeavor that led to the president’s impeachment this month. The impeachment inquiry pushed into the spotlight consulting work Giuliani has undertaken around the globe even as he has been representing Trump at no charge. Giuliani’s willingness to talk with Maduro in late 2018 flew in the face of the official policy of the White House, which, under national security adviser John Bolton, was then ... taking a harder line against the Venezuelan government.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.


Inspiring Articles


The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world
May 13, 2019, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change...

In 1986, millions of Filipinos took to the streets of Manila in peaceful protest and prayer in the People Power movement. The Marcos regime folded on the fourth day. In 2003, the people of Georgia ousted Eduard Shevardnadze through the bloodless Rose Revolution, in which protestors stormed the parliament building holding the flowers in their hands. Earlier this year, the presidents of Sudan and Algeria both announced they would step aside after decades in office, thanks to peaceful campaigns of resistance. In each case, civil resistance by ordinary members of the public trumped the political elite to achieve radical change. There are, of course, many ethical reasons to use nonviolent strategies. But compelling research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics. Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that ... it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change. Overall, nonviolent campaigns were twice as likely to succeed as violent campaigns: they led to political change 53% of the time compared to 26% for the violent protests. Of the 25 largest campaigns that they studied, 20 were nonviolent, and 14 of these were outright successes. Overall, the nonviolent campaigns attracted around four times as many participants (200,000) as the average violent campaign (50,000).

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


This Has Been the Best Year Ever
December 28, 2019, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/opinion/sunday/2019-best-year-poverty.html

If you’re depressed by the state of the world, let me toss out an idea: In the long arc of human history, 2019 has been the best year ever. The bad things that you fret about are true. But it’s also true that since modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, 2019 was probably the year in which children were least likely to die, adults were least likely to be illiterate and people were least likely to suffer excruciating and disfiguring diseases. Perhaps the greatest calamity for anyone is to lose a child. That used to be common: Historically, almost half of all humans died in childhood. As recently as 1950, 27 percent of all children still died by age 15. Now that figure has dropped to about 4 percent. The news media and the humanitarian world focus so relentlessly on the bad news that we leave the public believing that every trend is going in the wrong direction. A majority of Americans say in polls that the share of the world population living in poverty is increasing — yet one of the trends of the last 50 years has been a huge reduction in global poverty. The proportion of the world’s population subsisting on about $2 a day or less has dropped by more than 75 percent in less than four decades. Every day for a decade, newspapers could have carried the headline “Another 170,000 Moved Out of Extreme Poverty Yesterday.” Or if one uses a higher threshold, the headline could have been: “The Number of People Living on More Than $10 a Day Increased by 245,000 Yesterday.”

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


A humpback whale population has come back from the brink
October 16, 2019, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/10/16/good-news-humpback-whale...

After being almost wiped out by whaling in the 20th century, a humpback whale population off the coast of South America has come back from the brink of extinction. In the late 1950s there were only 440 western South Atlantic humpbacks left. Protections were put in place in the 1960s. At first they didn't seem to be rebounding, but a study published Wednesday finds that to the surprise of scientists the population is now up to an estimated 25,000 whales. That's almost as many as researchers estimate there were before whaling began in the 1700s. Scientists were thrilled to realize how fast and how well the population has recovered after whaling finally stopped for good in the 1970s. “This is a clear example that if we do the right thing then the population will recover,” said Alexandre Zerbini, a whale expert with the Seattle Marine Mammal Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The scientists estimate the humpbacks are at about 93% of their pre-whaling population. The research was published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. There are 16 populations of humpbacks around the world. Four of them are considered endangered and one is threatened. The global population has been rebounding since whaling was banned in the 1970s. It's estimated there are currently between 120,000 and 150,000 humpbacks.

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


Where Citizens Can Run for Office Without Big Money—and Win
November 4, 2016, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/50-solutions/where-citizens-can-run...

The Maine Clean Elections Act, originally passed in 1996 and strengthened in 2015, gives candidates the option to finance campaigns with taxpayer dollars. Candidates who choose to run a publicly financed campaign don’t need to spend time courting wealthy donors - in fact, they’re prohibited from raising private money. Instead, constituents show their support through $5 contributions to the Maine Clean Elections Fund made on behalf of a candidate. But that money doesn’t go to the candidate - instead, it shows support and helps fund the public-financing program. Once candidates have raised the required number of donations, they receive a flat fee from the state, which can vary depending on the office being sought. During [State representative Joyce] McCreight’s first campaign, in 2014, the state gave her nearly $5,000 once she’d collected 60 contributions. She won, and by the end of her first term, she’d helped to write a bill that makes it easy for low-income people without insurance to get reproductive health [services]. The bill passed, and McCreight expects it to save the state $2.5 million a year. McCreight’s story ... was made possible by a network of activists who came together in 1995 to draft and support the Maine Clean Elections Act. The Clean Elections system has given Maine the most economically diverse legislature in the nation. About 14 percent of Maine legislators are working class: waitresses, cashiers, machinists. Only 2 percent of the U.S. Congress comes from similar backgrounds.

Note: Why is the major media not reporting this important and inspiring news? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


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