Ukraine War Corruption, Microplastics in Food, Plastic-Eating Mushrooms
Revealing News Articles
February 28, 2023
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on billions in aid and weapons flowing to Ukraine despite indications of widespread corruption, extreme pollution resulting from this war in Ukraine, the contamination of our food supply with microplastics, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the discovery of several plastic-eating mushrooms, a young man who came up with a way to remove microplastics from water using magnets, the women-led farms improving California agriculture, 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: New research finds that infants have more microplastics in their feces than adults. While the mainstream media praises the advancement of genetically modified trees in U.S. forests, many experts and environmental activists are calling for a deeper conversation about the potentially catastrophic environmental and social impacts of genetically modified trees. Read an in-depth article that raises concern about plans for increasing centralization of control over the food supply, and who is behind this “Great Food Reset.”
Quote of the week: Seeding the future when possible extinction stares us in the face; seeding freedom when the freedoms of all beings are being closed for the limitless freedom of the 1% to exploit the earth and people, to manipulate life and our minds: this calls for a quantum leap in our imaginations, our intelligences, our capacity for compassion and love, as well as our courage for creative nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation with a system that is driving us to extinction. ~~ Vandana Shiva
Video of the week: Watch a fascinating interview (starting at 13:00) with Whitney Webb and Iain Davis, who discuss the UN's 2030 "Sustainable Development Goals." In well-researched detail, they reveal who and what is really behind these policies, painting a future where multinational corporations and banks increasingly lead policy agenda, and governments enact these policies under the guise of “sustainability” and “climate change.”
US has spent billions on Ukraine war aid. But is that money landing in corrupt pockets?
February 19, 2023, USA Today
With more than $100 billion in U.S. weaponry and financial aid flowing to Ukraine in less than a year — and more on the way to counter Russia's invasion — concerns about arms falling into terrorists' hands and dollars into corrupt officials' pockets are mounting. The special inspector general who has overseen aid to Afghanistan since 2012, and some House Republicans, warn of the need for closer oversight of the military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The scale of the effort is massive. The $113 billion appropriated by Congress in 2022 approaches the $146 billion spent in 20 years for military and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The Pentagon spent $62.3 billion in 2022 on Ukraine for weapons, ammunition, training, logistics, supplies, salaries and stipends, according to the Joint Strategic Oversight Plan for Ukraine Response report. Inspectors general for several agencies released the report in January. The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development spent $46 billion for activities ranging from border security to funds for basic government services. Other government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, spent another $5 billion. The report noted the difficulty U.S. agencies had accounting for the billions spent. The Pentagon, for example, was "unable to provide end-use monitoring in accordance with DoD policy" in Ukraine. "End-use monitoring" includes tracking serial numbers of weapons and ammunition to ensure they're used as intended.
Note: Watch a concise, 15-min overview that reveals the background of the US-Ukraine-Russia war beyond the official narrative portrayed by Western media. This includes the decades-long US campaign to overthrow governments across Europe via US-funded radical militia groups, as part of efforts to maintain control over other nations and the world's resources. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on war from reliable major media sources.
The toxic legacy of the Ukraine war
February 21, 2023, BBC News
On 6 June, satellite images captured hundreds of craters made by artillery shells and a 40m-wide (131 ft) hole left by a bomb in fields around the village of Dovhenke, in eastern Ukraine. It is just one site left scarred by Russia's invasion of its neighbour. And as the war continues to wreak a devastating humanitarian toll on the people caught up in the fighting, the conflict is leaving a far less obvious, toxic legacy on the land itself. Amongst the pockmarked landscape and burned-out buildings of Dovhenke, heavy metals, fuel and chemical residues from ammunition and missiles have seeped into the soil. Although the full extent of soil contamination in Ukraine is not yet known, there are concerns that the conflict will cause long-lasting damage to the country's agricultural productivity. Ukraine is one of the world's most important producers and exporters of cereals and oilseeds, including corn, wheat, barley and sunflower oil. The widespread pollution caused by the conflict also threatens local wildlife and the health of communities, who are at risk of eating contaminated crops. The latest figures collated in January by the UNEP estimate that 618 industrial or critical infrastructure sites have been damaged or destroyed in the year since the war began. A special taskforce coordinated by the Ecological Inspectorate of Ukraine, is investigating environmental crimes such as attacks on water facilities, chemical factories and nuclear power plants. UNEP warns that this impact assessment could be "a colossal task."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on war from reliable major media sources.
How microplastics are infiltrating the food you eat
January 3, 2023, BBC News
Microplastics have infiltrated every part of the planet. One study estimated that there are around 24.4 trillion fragments of microplastics in the upper regions of the world's oceans. But they aren't just ubiquitous in water – they are spread widely in soils on land too and can even end up in the food we eat. Unwittingly, we may be consuming tiny fragments of plastic with almost every bite we take. In 2022, analysis by the Environmental Working Group, an environmental non-profit, found that sewage sludge has contaminated almost 20 million acres (80,937sq km) of US cropland with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often called "forever chemicals", which are commonly found in plastic products and do not break down under normal environmental conditions. Sludge is commonly used as organic fertiliser in the US and Europe. Due to this practice ... between 31,000 and 42,000 tonnes of microplastics, or 86 trillion to 710 trillion microplastic particles, contaminate European farmland each year. Plastic particles can also contaminate food crops directly. A 2020 study found microplastics and nanoplastics in fruit and vegetables sold by supermarkets and in produce sold by local sellers. Crops absorb nanoplastic particles from surrounding water and soil through tiny cracks in their roots. Chemicals found in plastic have been linked to cancer, heart disease and poor fetal development. High levels of ingested microplastics may also cause cell damage which could lead to inflammation and allergic reactions.
Note: There seems to be no part of the planet that is unaffected by the pervasiveness of microplastics, from being found in human veins, human lungs, flying insects, and in 90% of table salt, to heavily polluting our skies and now spiraling around the globe through Earth’s atmosphere. Read more on simple ways that you can reduce microplastic pollution and consumption in your life, and support the many organizations making a meaningful difference to address this issue.
How pesticides impair our senses
February 15, 2023, BBC News
Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming that prioritises soil and environmental health by minimising synthetic inputs. [Farm manager Tim Parton] switched to using biologically active inputs after experiencing headaches and skin rashes from using pesticides. After sheep dipping, which involves immersing sheep in insecticide and pesticide mixtures to eliminate parasites, lumps would often show up on his arms. "I would be a mess, but if I went to the doctors, they would say 'you've just had a reaction' and would not take it seriously," he says. Since adopting a biological farming method, Parton has not experienced any negative health impacts. He has not had to use any phosphorus and potassium fertilisers on his crops for over 10 years. He says he has observed a big increase in insect and bird species since he stopped using pesticides. Pesticides may be responsible for the loss of smell in honeybees and salmon. Despite global regulations on pesticide use, one study estimates that about 385 million cases of unintentional, acute pesticide poisoning occur among farm workers each year. A 2020 study found that of the estimated 860 million agricultural workers worldwide, 44% are affected by pesticide poisoning annually. Acute health impacts can range from seizures to respiratory depression. Pesticide exposure has been associated with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson's disease. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to sensory deterioration.
Vinyl chloride's invisible threat: Thousands of pounds are released every year in the U.S. as part of "poison plastic” manufacturing
February 20, 2023, CBS News
Vinyl chloride entered the spotlight after the Feb. 3 Ohio train derailment. But the hazardous substance has been around for decades and is everywhere — from buildings and vehicle upholstery to children's toys and kitchen supplies — and factories have been emitting the EPA-designated toxic chemical into the air for years. The train that derailed had the manmade and volatile compound on board, prompting temporary evacuations. But the derailment isn't the first time vinyl chloride has alarmed experts. Experts say that the volatile compound, "used almost exclusively by the plastics industry," has "leached into groundwater from spills, landfills, and industrial sources," and that people who live around plastic manufacturing facilities "may be exposed to vinyl chloride by inhalation of contaminated air." According to the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which "tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment," there are 38 TRI facilities in 15 states — mostly around the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern U.S. — that use vinyl chloride, emitting about half a million pounds of the substance every year. The problem begins at vinyl chloride's origins. It's generated from ethane, which is obtained through fracking natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said ethane production hit a monthly record last year of more than 2.4 million barrels per day. The global PVC market is expected to become a $56.1 billion industry within the next 3 years.
Australia becomes first country to recognise psychedelics as medicines
February 3, 2023, Sydney Morning Herald
Australia has become the first country to recognise psychedelics as medicines, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration took researchers by surprise and approved the psychedelic substances in magic mushrooms and MDMA for use by people with certain mental health conditions. MDMA and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, will be considered schedule 8 drugs - meaning they’re approved for controlled use when prescribed by a psychiatrist - from July this year after the TGA acknowledged there were few other options for patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses. The changes will allow MDMA to be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. They will still be considered prohibited substances ... for all other usages. “Prescribing will be limited to psychiatrists, given their specialised qualifications and expertise to diagnose and treat patients with serious mental health conditions,” a TGA statement published on Friday said. Associate Professor David Caldicott, an emergency department doctor who appeared at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide ... was pleasantly surprised by Friday’s decision. “The conditions for which these drugs might be used [post-traumatic stress disorder and treatment-resistant depression] are currently conditions for which you’re basically destined to a lifetime of drug use. Whereas the MDMA particularly is used to facilitate psychotherapy, only for a few doses,” [said Caldicott].
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs from reliable major media sources.
Society has never produced so much food, yet we live in a world where only the rich get to be healthy
February 15, 2023, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
According to the World Health Organization definition, 1.9 billion adults are considered overweight. Of these, more than 650 million people are classified as obese. In Australia, health authorities suggest being overweight is more dangerous to us than alcohol, and only second in “preventable health risk” to smoking. ABS health data claims 67% of Australian adults are overweight, an increase on 63.4% a decade ago. Last year, Australia’s former conservative government released a “National Obesity Strategy”, concerned Australia was facing health risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers. That government did recognise weight is influenced by complex “social, environmental, and economic factors”, but their framework of encouraging “healthy choices” as a remedy unhelpfully individualises a collective problem. First, shaming individuals into weight loss doesn’t work. 95% of weight loss attempts fail. Two-thirds of dieters regain the weight they lose. Second, the structural giveaway here is an admission that the poorest “experience the greatest burden of disease linked to excess weight”. Our societies have never produced so much food, yet we live in a capitalist perversion where fresh, healthy food – and the time to prepare it – are priced as a luxury, while highly processed items are inexpensive, easy and aggressively mass-marketed. It’s not a failure of collective willpower that’s jeopardising our health, but a diet of bad food that’s culturally familiar, low in nutrition and super available.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Independent Media
Media Ignore Seymour Hersh Bombshell Report of US Destroying Nord Stream II
February 15, 2023, MintPress News
It has now been one week since Seymour Hersh published an in-depth report claiming that the Biden administration deliberately blew up the Nord Stream II gas pipeline without Germany’s consent or even knowledge – an operation that began planning long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Hersh – the journalist who broke the stories of the My Lai Massacre, the CIA spying program and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal – claims that in June, U.S. Navy divers traveled to the Baltic Sea and attached C4 explosive charges to the pipeline. President Biden himself ordered its destruction. All understood ... that, if caught, it would be seen as a flagrant “act of war” against their allies. Despite this, corporate media have overwhelmingly ignored the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s bombshell. A MintPress News study analyzed the 20 most influential publications in the United States, according to analytics company Similar Web, and found only four mentions of the report between them. This lack of interest cannot be explained due to the report’s irrelevance. If the Biden administration really did work closely with the Norwegian government to blow up Nord Stream II, causing billions of dollars worth of immediate damage and plunging an entire region of the world into a freezing winter without sufficient energy, it ranks as one of the worst terrorist attacks in history. The Nord Stream attack was also one of the world’s worst ecological disasters, constituting the largest single leak of methane in history.
US Attempt to Sabotage Mexico's GMO Corn Ban Denounced as '21st-Century Imperialism'
February 15, 2023, Common Dreams
Environmental groups on Tuesday accused the Biden administration of putting the profits of big agribusiness over public health and critical pollinators by attempting to obstruct the Mexican government's ongoing push to ban genetically engineered corn. The U.S. government claims that Mexico's plans, which have also drawn fierce opposition from industry lobbying groups, would run afoul of provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and harm American farmers. The Biden administration has threatened to take legal action under the USMCA if Mexico doesn't reverse course. The USMCA entered into force in 2020 and replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), under which U.S. corn flooded the Mexican market. An estimated 90% of U.S. corn production is genetically modified. But Mexico—the largest destination for U.S. corn exports—reiterated its intention to prohibit GE corn for human consumption by 2024 in its latest decree. Mexico is also aiming to ban imports and use of glyphosate, a cancer-linked chemical that is often sprayed on genetically engineered corn. In February 2021, The Guardian reported that "internal government emails reveal Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with U.S. officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkillers."
Key Articles From Years Past
Whales Will Save Climate — Unless the Military Destroys Them First
December 14, 2021, LA Progressive (A popular Los Angeles Newspaper)
With the Biden administration’s mandate to slash carbon emissions “at least in half by the end of the decade,” the Pentagon has committed to using all-electric vehicles and transitioning to biofuels for all its trucks, ships and aircraft. The plan ignores the Pentagon’s continuing role in the annihilation of whales, in spite of the miraculous role that large cetaceans have played in delaying climate catastrophe and “maintaining healthy marine ecosystems,” according to a report by Whale and Dolphin Conservation. This fact has mostly gone unnoticed. The decimation of populations of whales and dolphins over the last decade - resulting from the year-round, full-spectrum military practices carried out in the oceans ... has fast-tracked us toward a cataclysmic environmental tipping point. The other imminent danger that whales and dolphins face is from the installation of space-war infrastructure, which is taking place currently. This new infrastructure comprises the development of the so-called “smart ocean,” rocket launchpads, missile tracking stations and other components of satellite-based battle. Throughout their lives, whales enable the oceans to sequester a whopping 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. That astonishing amount in a single year is nearly double the 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon that was emitted by the U.S. military in the entire 16-year span between 2001 and 2017. Clearly, key path forward toward a livable planet is to make whale and ocean conservation a top priority.
BlackLight's physics-defying promise: Cheap power from water
July 2, 2008, CNN Money
Imagine being able to convert water into a boundless source of cheap energy. That's what BlackLight Power, a 25-employee firm in Cranbury, N.J., says it can do. The only problem: Most scientists say that company's technology violates the basic laws of physics. Such skepticism doesn't daunt Dr. Randell Mills, a Harvard-trained physician and founder of BlackLight, who recently claimed that he has created a working fuel cell using the world's most pervasive element: the hydrogen found in water. Mills says he has a market-ready product: a fuel cell that produces a chemical reaction to alter hydrogen atoms. The fuel cell releases heat that turns water into steam, which drives electric turbines. The working models in his lab generate 50 kilowatts of electricity - enough to power six or seven houses. But these, Mills says, can be scaled [up] to drive a large, electric power plant. The inventor claims this electricity will cost less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which compares to a national average of 8.9 cents. Mills developed the patented cocktail that enables the reaction - a solid fuel made of hydrogen and a sodium hydride catalyst - only a year ago. (He recently posted instructions on the company's Web site, blacklightpower.com). Now that the device is ready for commercialization, he says, BlackLight is negotiating with several utilities and architecture and engineering firms. The business, Mills says, has attracted $60 million in funding from wealthy individuals, investment firms ... and it is no longer seeking money. BlackLight's board of directors reads like a Who's Who of finance and energy leaders.
Note: For two New York Times articles showing the viability of this amazing technology, click here and here. And for the latest on this exciting technology, click here. For many other exciting major media news articles on new energy inventions, click here.
Plastic-Eating Mushrooms: Species, Benefits, Impact
December 14, 2022, Treehugger
Certain mushroom species have the ability to consume polyurethane, one of the main ingredients in plastic products. Some scientists believe that these natural composters could be the key to cleaning up our planet. Mycoremediation is the natural process that fungi use to degrade or isolate contaminants in the environment. A 2020 study published in Biotechnology Reports found that mycoremediation applied to agricultural wastes like pesticides, herbicides, and cyanotoxins is more cost-effective, eco-friendly, and effective. A project using the mycelium (the vegetative part of the mushroom similar to a plant’s root system) of two common mushrooms made headlines in 2014. Using Pleurotus ostreatus, also known as the oyster mushroom, and Schizophyllum commune, aka the split gill mushroom, the team was able to turn plastic into human-grade food. The mushrooms were cultivated on circular pods made of seaweed-derived gelatin filled with UV-treated plastics. As the fungus digests the plastic, it grows around the edible base pods to create a mycelium-rich snack after just a few months. According to a study by the University of Rajasthan in India, plastic-eating mushrooms can sometimes absorb too much of the pollutant in their mycelium, and therefore cannot be consumed. If more research is performed regarding the safety aspects, however, mycoremediation through mushroom cultivation could perhaps address two of the world’s greatest problems: waste and food scarcity.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
How to fight microplastic pollution with magnets
August 25, 2021, BBC News
Huge amounts of plastic ends up rivers and oceans every year, harming the environment and potentially also human health. But what if we could pull it out of water with the power of magnets? [Chemistry student] Ferreira became determined to find a solution to remove microplastics from water. He started by designing his own spectrometer, a scientific instrument that uses ultraviolet light to measure the density of microplastics in solutions. "I could see there were a lot of microplastics in the water and they weren't just coming from big plastic breaking down in the sea," he says. It was on his local beach that Ferreira came up with a solution that could extract microplastics from water. "I found some oil spill residue with loads of plastic attached to it," he says. "I realised that oil could be used to attract plastic." Ferreira mixed vegetable oil with iron oxide powder to create a magnetic liquid, also known as ferrofluid. He then blended in microplastics from a wide range of everyday items, including plastic bottles, paint and car tyres, and water from the washing machine. After the microplastics attached themselves to the ferrofluid, Ferreira used a magnet to remove the solution and leave behind only water. Following 5,000 tests, Ferreira's method was 87% effective at extracting microplastics from water. Ferreira is currently in the process of designing a device which uses the magnetic extraction method to capture microplastics as water flows past it. The device will be small enough to fit inside waterpipes to continuously extract plastic fragments.
Note: Researchers from Australia are also finding innovative ways to rapidly remove hazardous microplastics from water using magnets. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
‘Filling in the gaps’ for food access: women-run farms rethink California agriculture
February 15, 2023, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
At Radical Family Farms, Leslie Wiser recently planted bitter melons, what she refers to as “one of our most beloved crops”, a staple in many types of Asian cuisine that grows on a vine and is related to zucchini, squash and cucumber. Women like Wiser are increasingly the face of farming in California, and nationally as well. Experts say the growing presence of women in agriculture is having an impact on how the industry operates, especially in the face of generational challenges like pandemics and climate change, with research showing that women-led businesses are more likely to take a community-minded approach to how they operate and fill in gaps during crises. During the pandemic, for example ... women farmers filled the gaps in local communities for food access. Radical Family Farm stepped in to feed food-insecure seniors throughout the Bay Area when it was not safe for them to go to the grocery store or farmers’ market. “A lot of this was driven by the attacks on our Asian elders during the pandemic,” Wiser said. “It’s still happening, with seniors afraid to walk on the streets.” Her long-term goal is to dedicate one-third of the produce from her farm to seniors in the Bay Area. “It is part of my cultural heritage to honor our elders,” she said, adding that her grandparents on both sides took care of her growing up, so delivering “culturally relevant produce” to seniors is meaningful. “Instead of getting bags of potatoes, they can get vegetables, produce and herbs that are familiar to them.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The consciousness of bees
July 29, 2022, Washington Post
We are learning just how smart insects can be. As I show in my new book, "The Mind of a Bee," the latest research indicates that even tiny-brained bees are profoundly intelligent creatures that can memorize not only flowers but also human faces, solve problems by thinking rather than by trial and error, and learn to use tools by observing skilled bees. They even appear to experience basic emotions, or at least something like optimism and pessimism. Bees have a "dance language" by which they can inform others in the hive of the precise location of a rewarding flower patch. The symbolic language involves repeating the motor patterns ("dances") of a knowledgeable bee on the vertical honeycomb. The movements make reference to gravity and the direction of the sun; since it's dark in the hive, bees that want to learn from the dancer need to touch its abdomen with their antennae. Sometimes, such dances are displayed at night, when no foraging takes place: The dancer appears to think about locations visited on the previous day, without an obvious need to do so at the time. The observation that bees are most likely sentient beings has important ethical implications. Many species of bees are threatened by pesticides and wide-scale habitat loss, and that this spells trouble because we need these insects to pollinate our crops. But is the utility of bees the only reason they should be protected? I don't think so. Bees have a rich inner world and unique perception, and, like humans, are able to think, enjoy and suffer.
Note: Watch an amazing, highly educational PBS documentary on the life of bees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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