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Pentagon Buying Americans' Location Data, Fraud and Misconduct in Psychiatry, Austin's Tiny Home Village
Revealing News Articles
February 6, 2024

Dear friends,

This week we've summarized key news articles on the Pentagon's purchasing of Americans' private location and web browsing data, mental health apps collecting medical data and selling it to unknown third parties, the prison labor behind many popular food brands, and more.

In our independent media section, don't miss articles on the widespread fraud and misconduct in psychiatry, a botched execution revealing problems with the death penalty in the U.S., and evidence that the Chinese researcher who first mapped COVID-19 was receiving funding from Anthony Fauci's National Institutes of Health. We also include an older news article on how the CIA used Louis Armstrong as a ‘trojan horse’ in Congo.

Our inspiring stories this week include finding community in a tiny home village in Austin, TX, time banks bringing people together to exchange services, Colorado becoming the first U.S. state to employ an incarcerated college professor, and more. You can also skip to this section now.

Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the news source listed at the link provided. If any link fails, see this page. The most important sentences are highlighted. By educating ourselves and spreading the word, we can work together to create a more free and informed society.

With faith in a transforming world,
Mark Bailey and Amber Yang for PEERS and WantToKnow.info

Quote of the week: Study after study has shown that human behavior changes when we know we’re being watched. Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free. ― Edward Snowden

Video of the week: In 2021, US President Biden signed an executive order banning federal contracts with private prison companies. Watch a 10-min investigative video on the corrupt history of the prison-industrial complex, the new source of income for private prison companies, and what the private facilities are now being used for.


The Pentagon Tried to Hide That It Bought Americans’ Data Without a Warrant
January 26, 2024, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/pentagon-data-purchases-wyden-letter/

United States officials fought to conceal details of arrangements between US spy agencies and private companies tracking the whereabouts of Americans. Obtaining location data from US phones normally requires a warrant, but police and intelligence agencies routinely pay companies instead for the data, effectively circumventing the courts. Ron Wyden, the US senator from Oregon, informed the nation’s intelligence chief, Avril Haines, on Thursday that the Pentagon only agreed to release details about the data purchases, which had always been unclassified, after Wyden hindered the Senate's efforts to appoint a new director of the National Security Agency. “The secrecy around data purchases was amplified,” Wyden wrote, “because intelligence agencies have sought to keep the American people in the dark." Pentagon offices known to have purchased location data from these companies include the Defense Intelligence Agency and the NSA, among others. Wyden's letter ... indicates that the NSA is also “buying Americans' domestic internet metadata.” Wyden's disclosure comes amid a fight in the US House of Representatives over efforts to outlaw the purchases. Members of the House Judiciary Committee attached legislation doing so ... to a bill reauthorizing a contentious surveillance program known as Section 702. Biden administration officials and members of the intelligence committee staged a campaign against the privacy-enhancing measures.

Note: Learn more about mission creep in our comprehensive Military-Intelligence Corruption Information Center. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Mental Health App Data Privacy Problem is Getting Worse
January 22, 2024, Yahoo News
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-mental-health-app-data-privacy...

Mental health apps have become increasingly common over the past few years, particularly due to the rise in telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. However, there's a problem: Data privacy is being compromised in the process. In 2023 the Federal Trade Commission ordered the mental health platform BetterHelp, which is owned by Teladoc (TDOC), to pay a $7.8 million fine to consumers for sharing their mental health data for advertising purposes with Facebook (META) and Snapchat (SNAP) after previously promising to keep the information private. Cerebral, a telehealth startup, admitted last year to exposing sensitive patient information to companies like Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Meta, TikTok, and other third-party advertisers. This info included patient names, birth dates, insurance information, and the patient's responses to mental health self-evaluations through the app. Overall, according to the Mozilla Foundation’s Privacy Not Included online buyer’s guide, only two out of the 27 mental health apps available to users met Mozilla's privacy and security standards in 2023. A December 2022 study of 578 mental health apps published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 44% shared data they collected with third parties. A February 2023 report from Duke University found that out of 37 different data brokers that researchers contacted ... firms “were ultimately willing and able to sell the requested mental health data.”

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


Prisoners in the US are part of a hidden workforce linked to hundreds of popular food brands
January 29, 2024, Yahoo News/Associated Press
https://news.yahoo.com/prisoners-us-part-hidden-workforce...

Unmarked trucks packed with prison-raised cattle roll out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where men are sentenced to hard labor and forced to work, for pennies an hour or sometimes nothing at all. They are among America’s most vulnerable laborers. If they refuse to work, some can jeopardize their chances of parole or face punishment like being sent to solitary confinement. The goods ... prisoners produce wind up in the supply chains of a dizzying array of products found in most American kitchens, from Frosted Flakes cereal and Ball Park hot dogs to Gold Medal flour, Coca-Cola and Riceland rice. They are on the shelves of virtually every supermarket in the country, including Kroger, Target, Aldi and Whole Foods. It’s completely legal. Enshrined in the Constitution by the 13th Amendment, slavery and involuntary servitude are banned – except as punishment for a crime. With about 2 million people locked up, U.S. prison labor from all sectors has morphed into a multibillion-dollar empire. Almost all of the country’s state and federal adult prisons have some sort of work program, employing around 800,000 people. Altogether, labor tied specifically to goods and services produced through state prison industries brought in more than $2 billion in 2021. “Slavery has not been abolished,” said Curtis Davis, who spent more than 25 years at [Louisiana's Angola] penitentiary. “It is still operating in present tense,” he said. “Nothing has changed.”

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


New York has paid record $322m to people wrongly incarcerated since 1989
January 17, 2024, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/17/new-york-payouts...

New York has paid out the most of any state in the US to people wrongly incarcerated, according to a new study. High Rise Financial ... analyzed data from the National Registry of Exonerations, a database on exonerated people in each state. New York state has paid out a total of $322m to those wrongfully incarcerated. The state has awarded 237 claims for wrongful imprisonment out of 326 exonerated people. Such payouts cost New York taxpayers $15.97 per person, also the largest per-capita payment out of any state, the study found. Texas, Connecticut, Maryland and Michigan were the other states in the top five that paid out the most to exonerated people. Texas paid out the second highest amount, awarding a total of $155m to 128 people out of 450 people exonerated. The most recent study comes as the amount of exoneration has steadily increased in recent years, according to Maurice Chammah, a journalist with the Marshall Project. Chammah added that getting compensation for a wrong conviction can be tough in some states. In Texas, where lawmakers have paid out large sums to exonerees, legislators have also placed “really harsh limits on accessing that money”. “You sometimes need to be declared actually innocent by a court in a way that is like a very high and difficult barrier to meet,” Chammah said. Overall, Chammah noted that such figures could prompt legislators to pass bills that could limit wrongful incarceration in the first place.

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


Boom, bang! Tales from a cell below the ‘crazy unit’ of a US prison
December 20, 2023, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/dec/20/inside-new-jersey...

I was moved on to unit 1EE on the south compound inside New Jersey State Prison a year ago. On the floor just above me is 2EE, which is known as “the crazy unit”. This unit is where incarcerated men throughout the state are sent when they experience mental health difficulties. Men are stripped down and given “turtle suits”, thin vests that barely keep them covered. There are no pillows, blankets or sheets. In the United States, roughly 40% of people in state prisons and local jails have a history of mental illness, but less than half of those folks receive treatment. Individuals with signs of mental health issues can face additional risks and discipline while inside, including prison misconduct charges, longer solitary confinement periods and barriers to accessing medication. As a juvenile, a kid might try to get out of being locked up by saying they were going to kill themselves, so they could get sent to a psych unit where they might be treated better. They don’t realize that it will put them on the special needs list forever. As an adult, at least in New Jersey State Prison, a person can get labeled special needs for complaining that they can’t sleep. A special needs designation means that you’ll be at the mercy of the mental health department. It can land you in a bad spot. The side-effects of medication they might give you could be crippling. Some guys get hooked on the drugs and never wake up again.

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


Pentagon Suggests There’re No U.S. Troops In Yemen — But Last Month The White House Said There Are
January 26, 2024, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/01/26/us-troops-yemen-pentagon-white-house/

Amid a raft of U.S. strikes targeting Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Pentagon has boots on the ground in the country — a fact the Defense Department has recently refused to acknowledge. “A small number of United States military personnel are deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS,” the White House told Congress ... on December 7. This month, the U.S. began its military campaign against the Houthis for attacking shipping vessels in the Red Sea. As the U.S. began to attack, defense officials suddenly became more reticent about the American military presence in Yemen. In a press briefing on January 17, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder was asked if he could give assurances that the U.S. had no troops on the ground in Yemen. “It’s possible that U.S. forces are spread so widely around the globe that not even the professional tasked with knowing that can keep track of it all,” said Erik Sperling, the executive director of Just Foreign Policy, who worked on Yemen as a Capitol Hill staffer. “But it’s also possible that, given the dramatic expansion in US presence in the region in recent months, he is trying to skirt the question to avoid greater scrutiny.” The U.S. has conducted eight rounds of strikes on Houthi targets in the past month alone. On December 18, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the creation of a U.S.-led coalition to defend ships against Houthi attacks.

Note: Learn more about war failures and lies in our comprehensive Military-Intelligence Corruption Information Center. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption from reliable major media sources.


Key Articles From Independent Media


Scientific Misconduct and Fraud: The Final Nail in Psychiatry’s Antidepressant Coffin
January 17, 2024, Counterpunch
https://www.counterpunch.org/2024/01/17/scientific-misconduct-and-fraud...

Researchers have long known that any single antidepressant drug is little more effective than a placebo in the majority of trials, shown to be less effective than a placebo in some studies, and generally found to be “clinically negligible” with respect to depression remission, while often resulting in severe adverse effects; for example, resulting in a higher percentage of sexual dysfunction than depression remission. However, for nearly twenty years, psychiatry and Big Pharma have told us that while one antidepressant may not work for the majority of patients, in the “real world,” doctors provide patients who have been failed by their initial antidepressant with another antidepressant, and if that fails, still another; and that this real-world treatment is successful for nearly 70% of patients. The problem with this “nearly 70%” story is that the research that has been used to justify it, a 2006 report on the results of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D), has long been disputed by researchers. Moreover, a recent reanalysis of previously undisclosed data reveals that STAR*D, owing to scientific misconduct that dramatically inflated remission rates, may go down in US medical history as one of its most harmful scandals. Even [STAR*D's] fabricated 67% depression remission rate should never have been celebrated. 85% of depressed individuals who go without somatic treatments spontaneously recover within 1 year.

Note: Read more important news articles we've summarized on medical and scientific corruption regarding antidepressants. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.


Behind the Curtain: Finding Counternarratives About Death Row
January 21, 2024, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/01/21/behind-the-curtain-finding...

After poking and prodding [Doyle] Hamm with needles for almost 3 hours, prison officials gave up as Mr. Hamm lay strapped to a gurney in a pool of blood. They called off the execution because they were unsuccessful in gaining IV access to administer the lethal injection. This was a risk Mr. Hamm’s attorney had predicted given Hamm’s advanced cancer and long history of IV drug use. At the time, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn did not provide details to reporters about what happened. “I wouldn’t characterize what we had tonight as a problem,” Dunn said. Hamm’s attorney later released photos and examination notes showing that prison employees had punctured Hamm’s bladder and an artery causing him to urinate blood. The state ... privately agreed to never try to execute Doyle Hamm again. Counternarratives about death row can be found in the 2023 book titled Ghosts Over the Boiler: Voices from Alabama’s Death Row. The book is a collection of writings previously published by Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, or PHADP, the nation’s only nonprofit formed on and operated from death row. The organization ... has a goal to educate the public about capital punishment and the features of inequality that define it, while advocating for an end to the death penalty. All of the featured writers have been convicted of murder, although based on the rate of death row exonerations, some are likely wrongly convicted.

Note: The current system often puts innocent people to death. Over half of all wrongful convictions are the result of government misconduct. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


DOCUMENTS: Chinese Researcher Who Mapped COVID Virus Two Weeks Before China Released Sequence Was on Anthony Fauci’s Payroll
January 19, 2024, The DisInformation Chronicle on Substack
https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/documents-chinese...

A Chinese researcher who first submitted the genetic sequence for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in late December 2019, around two weeks before China disclosed the deadly virus to outside scientists, was on the payroll of Anthony Fauci’s institute at the time, according to a grant awarded to EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit operated by Peter Daszak. The disclosures call into further question what officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) knew about research they were funding in China where the pandemic began. “The grant doesn't work on SARS-CoV-2,” Daszak [said], when the NIH was forced to review the grant in the summer of 2020. “Our organization has not actually published any data on SARS-CoV-2. We work on bat coronaviruses that are out there in the wild and trying to predict what the next one is.” NIH officials refused to respond to multiple requests to explain how much salary they provided to Dr. Lili Ren, a scientist at the Beijing-based Institute of Pathogen Biology, who wrote a letter in support of Daszak’s grant application to Fauci’s NIH institute. Ren first uploaded the COVID virus sequence to the NIH’s GenBank on December 28, 2019—two weeks before scientists celebrated China’s release of the genetic sequence on January 11, 2020. Fauci’s NIH grant also paid for Ren’s expenses, including travel to the United States to meet with Daszak as well as her collaborator Ralph Baric at the University of North Carolina.

Note: The author of Disinformation Chronicle on Substack is Paul Thacker, an American investigative journalist who served as an investigator in the US Senate, focusing on financial ties between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on COVID-19 from reliable major media sources.


Key Articles From Years Past


Louis Armstrong and the spy: how the CIA used him as a ‘trojan horse’ in Congo
September 12, 2021, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/sep/12/louis-armstrong...

Louis Armstrong, his wife and a diplomat from the US embassy were out for dinner in a restaurant in what was still Léopoldville, capital of the newly independent Congo. The [musician] was in the middle of a tour of Africa ... organised and sponsored by the State Department. What Armstrong did not know was that his host that night in November 1960 was not the political attaché as described, but the head of the CIA in Congo. “Armstrong was basically a Trojan horse for the CIA,” said Susan Williams ... author of White Malice, a new book which exposes the astonishing extent of the CIA’s activities across central and west Africa. Armstrong's host, CIA station chief Larry Devlin, and other US intelligence officers posted to Congo used the cover of the musicians’s visit to get access to the strategically important and very wealthy province of Katanga, which had recently seceded. There was much of interest to the CIA in Katanga, ranging from senior officials with whom they could not otherwise meet to crucial mining infrastructure, with 1,500 tons of uranium and vast potential to procure more. The CIA in the Congo, led by Devlin, was trying to kill the Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister, 35-year-old Patrice Lumumba, fearful that he would lead the country into the Soviet camp. A mile or so from where Armstrong and Devlin had dined, the charismatic Lumumba was being held prisoner ... by soldiers loyal to Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, the young military chief with a close working relationship with the CIA, who had effectively seized power some weeks earlier. Within two months of Armstrong’s tour, Lumumba was murdered in Katanga. Devlin later claimed that the CIA was responsible, telling a US Congressional investigation “that the coup of Mobutu … was arranged and supported, and indeed, managed, by the CIA”.

Note: Read how the CIA used modern art and other cultural figures as weapons during the Cold War in our Military-Intelligence Corruption Information Center. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption from reliable major media sources.


Inspiring Articles


Can a Big Village Full of Tiny Homes Ease Homelessness in Austin?
January 8, 2024, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/08/headway/homelessness-tiny-home...

On the outskirts of Austin, Texas, what began as a fringe experiment has quickly become central to the city’s efforts to reduce homelessness. To Justin Tyler Jr., it is home. Mr. Tyler, 41, lives in Community First! Village, which aims to be a model of permanent affordable housing for people who are chronically homeless. In the fall of 2022, he joined nearly 400 residents of the village, moving into one of its typical digs: a 200-square-foot, one-room tiny house furnished with a kitchenette, a bed and a recliner. Eclectic tiny homes are clustered around shared outdoor kitchens, and neat rows of recreational vehicles and manufactured homes line looping cul-de-sacs. There are chicken coops, two vegetable gardens, a convenience store ... art and jewelry studios, a medical clinic and a chapel. In the next few years, Community First is poised to grow to nearly 2,000 homes across three locations, which would make it by far the nation’s largest project of this kind, big enough to permanently house about half of Austin’s chronically homeless population. Many residents have jobs in the village, created to offer residents flexible opportunities to earn some income. Last year, they earned a combined $1.5 million working as gardeners, landscapers, custodians, artists, jewelry makers and more. Ute Dittemer, 66, faced a daily struggle for survival during a decade on the streets before moving into Community First five years ago with her husband. Now she supports herself by painting and molding figures out of clay at the village art house. A few years ago, a clay chess set she made sold for $10,000 at an auction. She used the money to buy her first car.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Banking the Most Valuable Currency: Time
January 12, 2024, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/time-banks-valuable-currency...

A time bank does with time what other banks do with money: It stores and trades it. “Time banking means that for every hour you give to your community, you receive an hour credit,” explains Krista Wyatt, executive director of the DC-based nonprofit TimeBanks.Org, which helps volunteers establish local time banks all over the world. Thousands of time banks with several hundred thousand members have been established in at least 37 countries, including China, Malaysia, Japan, Senegal, Argentina, Brazil and in Europe, with over 3.2 million exchanges. There are probably more than 40,000 members in over 500 time banks in the US. Many time banks are volunteer community projects, but the one in Sebastopol, [CA] is funded by the city. “Every volunteer hour is valued around $29,” Wyatt calculates. “Now think about the thousands of dollars a city saves when hundreds of citizens serve their community for free.” The Sebastopol time bank has banked more than 8,000 hours since its launch in 2016. Five core principles ... guide time banks to this day: First, everyone has something to contribute. Second, valuing volunteering as “work.” Third, reciprocity or a “pay-it-forward” ethos. Fourth, community building, and fifth, mutual accountability and respect. “What captured me is that people are doing things out of their own good heart,” Wyatt says. “Many years ago, a woman ... said to [civil rights lawyer] Edgar Cahn, ‘I have nothing to give.’ Edgar Cahn listened and finally responded, ‘You have love to give.’ And the whole room just went silent.” Every hour of service is valued the same, no matter how much skill and expertise a task takes, whether it’s an hour keeping someone company, helping them file their taxes or repair a roof. Through a simple online platform, every member can offer and request services and then register the hours they served or received. Especially during and since the Covid pandemic, the bank has also been an antidote to the epidemic of loneliness.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Colorado Becomes One of the First to Employ an Incarcerated Professor
January 7, 2024, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/01/07/colorado-becomes-one-of-the-first...

On a late-November afternoon, at the head of a cramped classroom, David Carrillo stood at a small podium and quizzed 17 students on macroeconomic terminology. For the two-hour class, Carrillo, the adjunct professor teaching for Adams State University, mostly kept his hands in his pockets as he lectured students in green uniforms. Like his students at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Carrillo, 49, also wears green. He holds a position that is extremely rare in prison: He’s an incarcerated professor teaching in a prison bachelor’s degree program. A new initiative at Adams State — one of the first of its kind in the country — focuses on employing incarcerated people with graduate degrees as college professors, rather than bringing in instructors from the outside. Most people in Colorado prisons only make 80 cents a day, so it would take them around 17 years to earn the $3,600 that Carrillo gets for a single class. Higher wages help incarcerated individuals build savings to help cover their basic needs when they are released. Poverty can often be a driver of decisions that land people back in prison. Adams State hopes to eventually employ more graduates of their own programs in the future. Currently ... around 100 people in prisons across the country are working towards their MBA through Adams State like Carrillo did. The 36-credit print-based MBA correspondence program costs $350 per credit for a total of $12,600, plus textbooks.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Getting On the Dance Floor Will Shred Pounds in Overweight People, Improve Blood Pressure and Mental Health
January 23, 2024, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/getting-on-dance-floor-will-shred...

Boogying the night away produces meaningful improvements in one's body mass and waist circumference in people who are overweight or obese, a new study found. Dancing was also seen to improve blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, physical fitness, cognitive disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, and mental health—in other words, all the root causes of the non-communicable diseases that kill most people in the West. The researchers believed that dance would be a more ideal form of exercise because it is sustainable—it's a sociable, entertaining way of exercising that participants will enjoy, rather than a drudgery they have to push themselves through. “Dance is effective on fat loss in people overweight and obese and has a significant improvement on body composition and morphology,” said Zhang Yaya, a Ph.D. student at Hunan University, China. To get their results, published in the journal PLoS ONE, the team studied data from 646 participants who were overweight and obese across ten different studies. They found that dance is very effective for improving body composition and showed that more creative dance types had the most pronounced body composition improvement when compared with traditional dance. Improvements were also found in overweight children and patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


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