Companies Use Inflation to Hike Prices, COVID-19 Numbers are Meaningless, Group Wipes Out $6.7 Billion in Medical Debt
Revealing News Articles
September 6, 2022
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on corporations using inflation as a pretense to hike prices, COVID-19 case reporting becoming increasingly irrelevant in understanding the virus, EPA whistleblowers revealing the lack of adequate assessment of health risks posed by new chemicals, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on a nonprofit group that wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt, an all-terrain wheelchair that allowed a man with mobility challenges to visit Machu Picchu, new collections policies at museums like the Smithsonian that support ethical returns and shared ownership, and more. You can also skip to this section now.
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Companies use inflation to hike prices and generate huge profits, report says
May 27, 2022, CBS News
Some of the nation's largest retailers have been using soaring inflation rates as an excuse to raise prices and rake in billions of dollars in additional profit, a corporate watchdog group charged. The new figures comes as companies enjoy their most profitable year since the 1950s. Pre-tax profits last year soared 25% from 2020, far outpacing the increase in consumer prices. The report highlights an ongoing debate about the causes of inflation, with some consumer advocates arguing that corporations are using inflation as a justification for passing on even higher price hikes to consumers. Accountable.US said it examined the financial statements of the nation's top 10 retailers over the past two years — including Lowe's and Target — and found that they collectively increased their profits by $24.6 million for a grand total of $99 billion. The report notes, among other examples, that Lowe's recorded $8.4 billion in profit in its most recent quarter as it touted its "new pricing strategies." TJX, parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods, saw last year's profits soar to $3.3 billion as the CEO spoke about the company's "aggressive" price increases. "It's time corporations finally help shoulder the burden average Americans have taken on throughout the health crisis," [Accountable.US President Kyle] Herrig said. "Corporations can start by stabilizing prices for consumers instead of pursuing even higher profits — on top of finally paying their fair share in taxes."
Note: Just like big Pharma with COVID, the major corporations are profiting hugely from our misery. Here's another revealing report shows major food producing corporations marking up prices while raking in huge profits. You might also explore key excerpts of news articles on corporate corruption from reliable media sources.
Bad news: COVID-19 numbers are pretty meaningless
July 19, 2022, The Hill
In general, we rely on organizations like the CDC to conduct surveillance and monitoring of diseases in the United States. Unfortunately, case reporting, which we are relying on now to understand COVID-19 in the United States is the weakest type of surveillance for an ongoing pandemic. Case counts meant something very early on in the epidemic when each case reliably was associated with a certain risk of severe disease, hospitalization or death. Once there was a substantial number of people with immunity to severe outcomes due to recovery or vaccination those case counts became disconnected from expected outcomes. Test positivity also used to be a reliable measure of the community burden of infection with increased positivity correlating with increased spread of infection and hospitalization. But because now many only seek medical testing to confirm a home-based positive test for employment sick-leave or other purposes, the frequency of those testing positive through medical testing is artificially high. Remember the days of “flatten the curve,” the idea that we had to preserve hospital capacity through efforts to reduce the spread of infection? That curve was the number of hospital admissions due to COVID-19 and reasonably reflected the number of people admitted to hospitals severely ill with COVID-19. Now, however, due to the continued universal screening of all hospital admissions, a majority of reported COVID-19 hospitalizations are not hospitalized “for” COVID-19 but “with” COVID-19.
Note: The author of this article, Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD, MPH, is a clinical professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the the University of Southern California. He is a also a former U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control medical officer. For more along these lines, visit our coronavirus news articles collection from reliable major media sources. Then explore the resources provided in our Coronavirus Information Center.
EPA Whistleblowers Provide New Evidence of Ongoing Failure To Assess Dangerous Chemicals
August 1, 2022, The Intercept
A group of whistleblowers has provided evidence that the Environmental Protection Agency has not adequately assessed the health risks posed by several new chemicals on the grounds that they are corrosive. Those harms include cancer, miscarriage, and neurotoxicity, according to the whistleblowers, who work as health assessors in the division. In some cases … the risks were calculated, found to be significant, and later deleted from official documents. In March 2020, Gallagher, the human health assessor, found that another chemical presented risks to workers. Information [about the hazards] was included in a version of the assessment. But a month later, a manager in the New Chemicals Division created a new assessment [that] explained: “Risks were not evaluated for workers via repeated dermal exposures because dermal exposures are not considered likely due to the corrosivity of the new chemical substance.” According to the whistleblowers, this statement is false. “It is intentionally misleading for EPA to put into a report that we did not calculate risk when we did,” said Martin Phillips, a chemist and human health assessor who works in the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. “It’s lying about what we did. It’s not just that we did the calculations. We did the calculations and found risks, and then they got rid of them and said that we didn’t calculate them. It’s fundamentally inaccurate.”
'The level of sneakiness with Americans hiding money abroad is staggering'
July 22, 2022, Yahoo News
Whether dodging taxes or legal peril, wealthy Americans often succeed in concealing assets from the government by hiding their money in offshore bank accounts. Research from the IRS and a group of economists last year found that the top 1% of earners in the U.S. neglect to report 20% of their income — and that random audits almost never detect offshore accounts. Tax havens like Switzerland or the Cayman Islands have traditionally offered Americans a place to hide their assets because they fiercely guard financial privacy and have minimal to no taxes. Often, they also have laws that inhibit scrutiny from foreign tax officials. Prior to his latest book, [author Patrick Radden] Keefe published "Empire of Pain," which chronicled the billionaire Sackler family's connection to the nation's opioid epidemic. The Sacklers, the notorious family that owned the now bankrupt Purdue Pharma, reportedly have much of their wealth hidden in offshore accounts. An audit commissioned by Purdue showed the family withdrew more than $10 billion from their company during the opioid crisis, CNN reported in October 2020. They began drawing especially large amounts of money from the firm after paying $600 million in a 2007 plea deal with the Justice Department for misleading physicians and consumers about the opioid OxyContin, CNN reported. “The kind of sophistication of the whole industry of financial dissimulation ... such that nobody can put their hands on the money, is really interesting.” Keefe told Yahoo Finance.
Note: A 2015 Guardian newspaper article further describes how the US helps the super-rich hide assets. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Cognitive decline linked to ultraprocessed food, study finds
August 1, 2022, CNN
Eating ultraprocessed foods for more than 20% of your daily calorie intake every day could set you on the road to cognitive decline, a new study revealed. "Fifty-eight percent of the calories consumed by United States citizens ... come from ultraprocessed foods," [Dr. Claudia] Suemoto said. Studies have found they can raise our risk of obesity, heart and circulation problems, diabetes and cancer. In fact, men and women who ate the most ultraprocessed foods had a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared with people who ate the least amount of overly processed food, the study found. "The new results are quite compelling and emphasize the critical role for proper nutrition in preserving and promoting brain health and reducing risk for brain diseases as we get older," said Rudy Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the genetics and aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Tanzi said the key problem with ultraprocessed foods is that they are usually very high in sugar, salt and fat, all of which promote systemic inflammation, perhaps the most major threat to healthy aging in the body and brain. "They also replace eating food that is high in plant fiber that is important for maintaining the health and balance of the trillions of bacteria in your gut microbiome," he added, "which is particularly important for brain health and reducing risk of age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease."
Note: For more information on health and well-being, including major cover-ups that affect your health, visit our Health Information Center and explore key news articles from the major media related to health.
Why is so little known about the 1930s coup attempt against FDR?
January 11, 2022, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
[Very few know about] the 1933 “Wall Street putsch” against newly elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s bold New Deal experiments inflamed the upper class, provoking a backlash from the nation’s most powerful bankers, industrialists and Wall Street brokers. Against the backdrop of charismatic dictators in the world such as Hitler and Mussolini, the sparks of anti-Rooseveltism ignited into full-fledged hatred. Many American intellectuals and business leaders saw nazism and fascism as viable models for the US. There is much evidence that the nation’s wealthiest men – Republicans and Democrats alike – were so threatened by FDR’s policies that they conspired with antigovernment paramilitarism to stage a coup. The final report by the congressional committee tasked with investigating the allegations ... concluded: “There is no question that [fascism] attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.” [US Marine Corps Maj Gen Smedley Darlington] Butler demanded to know why the names of the country’s richest men were removed from the final version of the committee’s report. “Like most committees, it has slaughtered the little and allowed the big to escape,” Butler said.
Reality Winner says she leaked file on Russia election hacking because ‘public was being lied to’
July 25, 2022, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A former intelligence contractor who was imprisoned for leaking a report about Russian interference in the US presidential election that Donald Trump won in 2016 has insisted she acted out of love for a nation that was “being lied to”. The 30-year-old ... decided to leave her National Security Agency contractor’s office at the Fort Gordon army base in Georgia with an intelligence report about Russian attempts to meddle in the election that saw Trump beat Hillary Clinton for the White House. Working for NSA contractor Pluribus International Corporation, Winner printed the document – labeled “TOP SECRET” – that explained how Russian military intelligence officials hacked at least one supplier of voting software and tried to break into more than 100 local election systems before the polls closed in 2016. The Trump administration had her charged under the Espionage Act, which was initially created during the first world war as a means to punish people spying on the US during times of foreign conflict. Winner pleaded guilty ... to be sentenced to five years in prison. Authorities said the sentence was the longest ever handed down by a US federal court to someone convicted of providing government information to the media without permission. Winner said she broke her oath to protect classified material because Americans were being intentionally deceived about Russia’s efforts to sow chaos in the presidential election that vaulted Trump into the Oval Office.
Note: Elections fraud and manipulation is by no means a partisan issue. We are very clear that all major political parties in all countries have at times committed elections abuses for many years, if not centuries. Explore top news articles on election fraud, and visit our Elections Information Center for more information from reliable news sources.
Key Articles From Years Past
Can you hear the Hum? The mystery noise that says a lot about modern life
July 7, 2021, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Maybe you hear it. A low frequency hum, almost a vibration, just on the threshold of human hearing. Maybe it keeps you awake. Maybe it causes you headaches, dizziness, even nosebleeds. If you do hear it, you’re among the roughly 4% of the world’s population affected by “the Hum”, a frequently reported but little understood global phenomenon. The earliest reliable reports of the Hum date from the UK in the mid-1970s. Numerous reports of the Hum have been made across the UK, usually clustered around specific towns or cities: Hythe, Plymouth and, as recently as last month, Swansea. The fact that the Hum seems to have only really emerged as a documented concern in the past half-century suggests it could be a byproduct of technological advances. As much as our innovations have the capacity to nurture and sustain us, they also have the capacity to assail us. It always comes as a small surprise to remember we are constantly beset by high- and low-pitched frequencies, which our brain actively tunes out. Could the Hum be the background thrum of electricity, gas lines or cell towers? One theory even posits ultra-low frequency radio signals used to communicate with submarines in the depths of oceans might be interacting with soft tissue in our skulls that stimulate the auditory nerve – a phenomenon known as the “microwave auditory effect”, which, incidentally, has been studied by the Pentagon for use as a sonic weapon.
Sept. 11 panel considered Pentagon probe
August 5, 2006, NBC/Associated Press
The Sept. 11 commission was so frustrated with repeated misstatements by the Pentagon and FAA about their response to the 2001 terror attacks that it considered an investigation into possible deception, the panel's chairmen say in a new book. Republican Thomas Kean and Democrat Lee Hamilton also say in "Without Precedent" that their panel was too soft in questioning former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and that the 20-month investigation may have suffered for it. The book ... recounts obstacles the authors say were thrown up by the Bush administration, internal disputes over President Bush's use of the attacks as a reason for invading Iraq, and the way the final report avoided questioning whether U.S. policy in the Middle East may have contributed to the attacks. "Fog of war ... could not explain why all of the after-action reports, accident investigations and public testimony by FAA and NORAD officials advanced an account of 9/11 that was untrue," the book states. The questioning of Giuliani was considered by Kean and Hamilton "a low point" in the commission's examination of witnesses during public hearings. "We did not ask tough questions, nor did we get all of the information we needed to put on the public record." In their book, which goes on sale Aug. 15, Kean and Hamilton recap obstacles they say the panel faced in putting out a credible report in a presidential election year, including fights for access to government documents and an effort to reach unanimity.
This group's wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt, and it's just getting started
August 15, 2022, NPR
Soon after giving birth to a daughter two months premature, Terri Logan received a bill from the hospital. She recoiled from the string of numbers separated by commas. Then a few months ago … Logan received some bright yellow envelopes in the mail. They were from a nonprofit group [RIP Medical Debt] telling her it had bought and then forgiven all those past medical bills. The nonprofit has boomed during the pandemic, freeing patients of medical debt, thousands of people at a time. Its novel approach involves buying bundles of delinquent hospital bills — debts incurred by low-income patients like Logan — and then simply erasing the obligation to repay them. It's a model developed by two former debt collectors, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, who built their careers chasing down patients who couldn't afford their bills. RIP buys the debts just like any other collection company would — except instead of trying to profit, they send out notices to consumers saying that their debt has been cleared. A surge in recent donations — from college students to philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who gave $50 million in late 2020 — is fueling RIP's expansion. To date, RIP has purchased $6.7 billion in unpaid debt and relieved 3.6 million people of debt. RIP is one of the only ways patients can get immediate relief from such debt, says Jim Branscome, a major donor. "As a bill collector collecting millions of dollars in medical-associated bills in my career, now all of a sudden I'm reformed: I'm a predatory giver," Ashton said.
Note: To understand the corruption in healthcare that results in expensive medical bills, read this revealing 10-page summary of medical doctor Marcia Angell's book The Truth About Drug Companies. To further explore stories that help create the world we want to live in, check out our inspiring news articles collection and our Inspiration Center.
California man scales Machu Picchu in off-roading wheelchair
January 7, 2022, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
In 2011, [Ropert Kapen] suffered a brain stem stroke that left him paralyzed. Doctors told his family that he had a 1% chance of survival, and that if he lived, he’d likely be in a vegetative state. Kapen beat those odds. His mental faculties were unscathed, and he slowly regained some movement and speech through therapy. Eventually, he was able to communicate, eat, operate a motorized wheelchair and write a book. He had another big dream, too. “Growing up, I fell in love with hiking, being outdoors and the beauty of nature,” he says. That was taken away from him for 10 years, Kapen says, but very recently, a new set of wheels has allowed for his return. It’s called the AdvenChair [which] recently enabled Kapen to visit Machu Picchu. The orange, “all-terrain” wheelchair is human-powered and designed to help people with mobility challenges to venture into the wild. Its wheels, tires, brakes and handlebars are all premium mountain bike parts, and the large tires and suspension system offer a comfortable ride. Thanks to a versatile system of pulleys, bars and straps, teams of one to five people can assist in navigating the AdvenChair over just about any landscape. “It’s rejuvenating to be outside, especially as a person with a disability, because these resources are not exactly the most accessible,” [Isaac] Shannon says. “So when there is a tool that allows a person to be able to experience life in the most average way possible, I think it’s healing, and it’s nice to be out in nature where you’re not around people.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of inspiring news articles, including ones specifically on disabled people who have made their mark in our world.
Human bones, stolen art: Smithsonian tackles its ‘problem’ collections
July 27, 2022, Washington Post
Last month, the Smithsonian approved the return of 29 exquisite bronze sculptures from the Kingdom of Benin that were looted by the British military in 1897. The attack remains one of the most painful in the long history of colonialism and the return of the priceless objects has become a symbol of the global effort to push museums to face their ugly pasts. [Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie] Bunch was referring to a new collections policy that requires Smithsonian museums to collaborate with the communities represented by their holdings and to return or share ownership of items that might have been previously stolen or acquired under duress. It directs them to make their collections publicly accessible and to fully vet future acquisitions to prevent items with questionable provenance from entering the collection. The updated policy does not require its museums to systemically review their collections, said Undersecretary for Museums and Culture Kevin Gover. A complete review would be a powerful gesture, [university professor Tracy] Ireland said, even as she acknowledged the burden on staff and budget that it would cause. “It means they are still in charge of the narrative,” Ireland said. “[A review] is important for source communities who simply do not know what’s in these collections, what’s missing, what has been buried away. Real ethical action puts the power back in the hands of the communities.” While not the first, the Smithsonian’s actions still resonate.
Note: To further explore stories that help create the world we want to live in, check out our inspiring news articles collection.
Meet the Black Musician Unraveling Generations of Hate
July 21, 2020, Yes! Magazine
As a kid growing up in 1960s Chicago, Daryl Davis was shocked when his parents explained that White children were throwing rocks at him during a Cub Scouts parade because he was Black. This ... left a burning question in Davis’ mind: “How can you hate me if you do not know me?” A blues pianist, whose energetic style led him to perform with the likes of Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Davis would commit his life to seeking out answers to that question, often with his music and his Christian faith as equalizers. But a performance ... in 1983 would leave its mark. He had been approached, after a set, by a member of the audience who told him he had never seen a Black man who could play like Jerry Lee Lewis. That began a conversation that would reveal a surprising truth: The man making the comment was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This revelation sparked the beginning of a 30-year journey that for Davis involved sitting down with members of the Klan and other White supremacists, attending their rallies and cross burnings—all in a search for answers. By tackling prejudices head-on, Davis believes he succeeded in persuading more than 200 KKK members and other white supremacists to disavow their allegiances. Many became friends, including Scott Shepherd, a former Grand Dragon of the KKK in Tennessee. The two regularly travel together to help shine a light on white supremacy and address the spread of racism through dialogue and education.
Note: Davis' work reforming white supremacists is the subject of an inspiring documentary. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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