Corporate Corruption Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Corporate Corruption Media Articles in Major Media
Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Louis Milione retired from the DEA a second time this summer amid reporting by The Associated Press on potential conflicts caused by his prior consulting for the pharmaceutical industry. Less than three months later, Milione again landed a plum job at Guidepost Solutions, a New York-based firm hired by some of the same companies he had been tasked with regulating when he returned to the DEA in 2021. Milione had spent four years at Guidepost prior to his return, leveraging his extensive experience and contacts from a 21-year DEA career. Milione is the most senior of a slew of DEA officials to have traded their badge and gun for a globe-trotting consulting job. His career stands out for two cycles through the revolving door between government and industry, raising questions about the potential impact on the DEA's mission to police drug companies blamed for tens of thousands of American overdose deaths. Milione's private-sector clientele also included Morris & Dickson Co., the nation's fourth-largest wholesale drug distributor, as it tried to stave off DEA sanctions for disregarding thousands of suspicious, high-volume orders. The DEA allowed the company to continue shipping drugs for nearly four years after a judge recommended its license be revoked for "cavalier disregard" of rules aimed at preventing opioid abuse. It was not until AP began asking questions this spring that the DEA moved to finally strip the Shreveport, Louisiana-based company of its license to distribute highly addictive painkillers.
Leading up to the August Republican presidential primary debate ... An RNC official told Google via email that the debate would be streaming exclusively on the upstart video platform Rumble. The August 23 debate was broadcast on Fox News and streamed on Fox Nation, which requires a subscription, while Rumble was the only one to stream it for free. On the day of and during the debate, however, potential viewers who searched Google for "GOP debate stream" were returned links to YouTube, Fox News, and news articles about the debate, according to screen recordings. Rumble was nowhere on the first page. For Rumble, which is currently in discovery in an antitrust lawsuit against Google in California, this is a case of Google suppressing its competitors in favor of its own product, YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google, and it has regularly been the subject of anticompetitive allegations from rivals, who charge that Google unfairly and illegally favors YouTube in its search algorithm. Google, in fact, is in the middle of a landmark antitrust trial, charged with anticompetitive practices by the Department of Justice. The company would not have been required by antitrust law to promote [Rumble's] link. It would, however, be barred from suppressing the competitor's link from organic results. The fact that Rumble's link did not appear on the first page even though it was the most relevant link the search could return means either the search engine failed at its task or the link was suppressed.
The New York Times tried to block a web crawler that was affiliated with the famous Internet Archive. The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine has long been used to compare webpages as they are updated over time, clearly delineating the differences between two iterations of any given page. Several years ago, the archive added a feature called "Changes" that lets users compare two archived versions of a website from different dates or times on a single display. The tool can be used to uncover changes in news stories that have been made without any accompanying editorial notes, so-called stealth edits. The Times has, in the past, faced public criticisms over some of its stealth edits. In a notorious 2016 incident, the paper revised an article about then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. ... drastically after publication – changing the tone from one of praise to skepticism. More recently, the Times stealth-edited an article that originally listed "death" as one of six ways "you can still cancel your federal student loan debt." Following the edit, the "death" section title was changed to a more opaque heading of "debt won't carry on." A service called NewsDiffs – which provides a similar comparative service but focuses on news outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, and others – has also chronicled a long list of significant examples of articles that have undergone stealth edits, though the service appears to not have been updated in several years.
Note: The manipulation of media coverage for Bernie Sanders' campaign was widespread, as discussed in an WantToKnow.info interview with media activist Tony Brasunas. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
Google fought hard to be the default search engine on smartphones and browsers so it "can manipulate your choices," an expert on human behavior testified for the government at the closely watched antitrust trial. Antonio Rangel, a behavioral economist ... took the stand for the second day and said Google has leaned heavily on default settings to keep users hooked on its search engine and other lucrative services. The Justice Department is arguing ... that the Alphabet unit sought agreements with mobile carriers to win powerful default positions on smartphones to dominate search. The antitrust case – the largest of its kind in more than two decades – will ultimately hinge on whether Google is determined to have taken anticompetitive steps to cut off rivals while building its search behemoth. In testimony on Wednesday, Rangel questioned Google's argument that users could easily switch their default search engine, telling the court that he acquired an Android smartphone and found that it took 10 steps for the owner to switch Google for Microsoft's Bing. "That is considerable choice friction," Rangel said. Justice Department attorneys said Google paid "more than $10 billion per year" to major companies, including smartphone makers Apple and Samsung, browser operators like Mozilla and wireless providers such as AT&T, to secure a 91% share of the search market. The case's outcome won't be determined by a jury. Instead, US District Judge Amit Mehta will reach a determination on the outcome.
For decades, it was the secret behind the magic show of homemaking across the US. Applied to a pan, it could keep a fried egg from sticking to the surface. Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, was ... seeping into the blood and organs of hundreds of millions of people who used products containing the chemical. PFOA is just one of dozens of modern-day chemicals that are found in the bodies of the majority of Americans. Research has also shown that more Americans are facing a growing number of ailments and disorders, from autoimmune disease to developmental disorders such as autism and some cancers. Scientists are increasingly concerned these two truths are linked. Scientists have accumulated enough data to conclude with confidence that humans face significant health risks from exposure to common commercial chemicals, and that regulations designed to protect them are failing. Due to flaws in federal regulation, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is perennially playing catch up. The majority of the 86,000 consumer chemicals registered with the agency have never received vigorous toxicity testing. Kyla Bennett, a former EPA employee [said] that at recent rates of review, it would take thousands of years to assess all 86,000 chemicals currently approved for use. EPA staff ... say the agency's chemical programs remain understaffed, overwhelmed and burdened by still-ineffective regulations and a persistent culture that enables the chemical industry instead of counterbalancing it.
At the heart of America's political and cultural turmoil is a crisis of trust. In the space of a generation, the people's confidence in their leaders and their most important institutions to do the right thing has collapsed. The federal government, big business, the media, education, science and medicine, technology, religious institutions, law enforcement and others have seen a precipitous decline. Since 1979 Gallup has measured trust among the public in the most important American institutions. Its latest survey ... found that across the nine key institutions Gallup has tracked consistently, the proportion of Americans who said they had "a great deal or quite a lot of confidence" averaged out at 26%. That is the lowest figure ever recorded. Some institutions have forfeited more trust than others. In 1979 Gallup found that 51% of Americans had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers. This year the number was 18%. The biggest factor driving mistrust ... is surely the widening cultural gap between the people who have led and thrived in our major institutions and the rest of the population. The past 20 years have seen the rapid emergence of a new elite–expensively educated, versed in progressive nostrums, increasingly distant from and disdainful of the rest of America and its values. This crowd comprises much of the nation's permanent government classes, almost its entire academic establishment, most of the people who control its news and cultural output, and a good deal of its corporate elite.
Note: About half of Americans lost faith in the scientific community after this "new elite" repeatedly misled the public on issues related to the pandemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and media manipulation from reliable sources.
JPMorgan Chase told US authorities it processed more than $1bn for Jeffrey Epstein over 16 years. JPMorgan reported the transactions as suspicious to the US treasury department following Epstein's suicide in 2019, Mimi Liu, a lawyer for the territory, said at a hearing concerning its lawsuit against the largest US bank. Epstein had been a JPMorgan client from 1998 to 2013, when the bank dropped him. The disgraced financier had been awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges at the time of his death. The US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two private islands, is suing JPMorgan for at least $190m and likely much more, saying it ignored red flags that Epstein was running a sex-trafficking operation because he was a lucrative client. Liu mentioned the $1bn amount, which had not been previously disclosed, in arguing that the US district judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan should find before the case goes to trial that the bank participated in Epstein's sex trafficking. She said no reasonable juror could find that JPMorgan was in the dark about its jet-setting client. "JPMorgan was a full service bank for Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking," Liu said. Felicia Ellsworth, a lawyer for JPMorgan, said it was not appropriate for the judge to determine the question of the bank's knowledge before trial because current and former employees have testified that they were unaware of Epstein's sex trafficking. In June, Rakoff preliminarily approved JPMorgan's $290m settlement with women who say Epstein abused them.
A new peer-reviewed study released by a group of scientists in Taiwan has revealed an astonishingly strong link between severe depression, cognitive decline and exposure to the world's most used herbicide, glyphosate. The study was fully published on Aug. 22 in the highly respected Elsevier Journal, Environmental Research. It was met with silence by the manufacturers of glyphosate-based herbicides such as Bayer/Monsanto, who produce the infamous weedkiller Roundup. The study authors stated that they: "Conducted analyses on existing data collected from 1532 adults of the 2013–2014 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to explore the possible relationship between glyphosate exposure and cognitive function, depressive symptoms, disability, and neurological medical conditions." The proportion of individuals with detectable levels of glyphosate was 80.4%. The scientists concluded: "Our study provides important evidence of an association between urinary glyphosate levels and adverse neurological outcomes in a representative cohort of U.S. adult population. "Specifically, we observed lower cognitive function scores, greater odds of severe depressive symptoms, and increased risk of serious hearing difficulty in individuals with higher glyphosate exposure." Some other recent independent studies ... suggest that both glyphosate alone and glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup are neurotoxins.
Note: A 2019 study found that glyphosate increases cancer risk by 41%. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
Carbon credit speculators could lose billions as scientific evidence shows many offsets they have bought have no environmental worth and have become stranded assets. Amid growing evidence that huge numbers of carbon credits do nothing to mitigate global heating and can sometimes be linked to alleged human rights concerns, there is a growing pile of carbon credits ... that are unused in the unregulated voluntary market, according to market analysis. Many of the largest companies in the world have used carbon credits for their sustainability efforts from the unregulated voluntary market, which grew to $2bn (Ł1.6bn) in size in 2021 and saw prices for many carbon credits rise above $20 per offset. The credits are often generated on the basis they are contributing to climate change mitigation such as stopping tropical deforestation, tree planting and creating renewable energy projects. A new study in the journal Science has found that millions of forest carbon credits approved by Verra, the world's leading certifier, are largely worthless and could make global heating worse if used for offsetting. The analysis ... found that 18 big forest offsetting projects had produced millions of carbon credits based on calculations that greatly inflated their conservation impact. The schemes, which generate credits by avoiding hypothetical deforestation, were found not to reduce forest loss or to reduce it by only small amounts, far less than the huge areas they were claiming to protect, rendering the credits largely hot air.
A 2022 investigation by the journal The BMJ declared that FDA oversight of clinical trials, including those for Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, was "grossly inadequate," from not conducting enough inspections to failing to alert scientific journals or the public when violations were flagged. But the issues here are not confined to behind the pharmacy counter. Dr. John Abramson, author of the recent book "Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It," traces the roots of issue back decades. "In 1992, when what turned out to be effective HIV drugs were stuck in the bottleneck of the FDA, they didn't have enough staff to get them through quickly enough. Many people were dying, and it was a real crisis," he explains. "The solution was that the Prescription Drug User Fee Agreement was passed. The drug companies started to pay a user fee with that was due upon application for new drug approval. And now roughly 65% of the FDA budget for overseeing human products comes from the drug and device companies. This comes with rigid timelines, and as I see from the outside, some degree of influence and obligation to the drug companies that derives from this agreement." The numbers here vary – Forbes puts that budget figure as high as 75%. Another similar conflict of interest that concerns Abramson is what he calls "the revolving door that goes between FDA and the drug industry."
Note: Read about Brook Jackson, a researcher for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials, who discovered patient safety concerns, data integrity issues, and other significant issues at her site. When she reported it to the FDA, she was fired the same day. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
The cashless society is effectively already a reality for most of us, but there remains a minority for whom it represents a continuing headache. The government last week told high street banks that they must offer access to cash machines within three miles of customers after the closure of thousands of branches had reduced the number of ATMs. There are also an estimated to be 1.3 million adults in this country who are "unbanked" – ie do not have a bank account. For them, something as mundane as parking a car is increasingly fraught – a quarter of London councils have removed pay and display parking machines in favour of smartphone-centred apps. The shiny, bright future of full computerisation looks very much like a dystopia to someone who either doesn't understand it or have the means to access it. And almost by definition, the people who can't access the digitalised world are seldom visible, because absence is not easy to see. What is apparent is that improved efficiency doesn't necessarily lead to greater wellbeing. Technology doesn't have to be dehumanising, but if it's to avoid that outcome it has to be human-focused, not just consumer-focused, and in particular not just digital-consumer-focused. Cash, like printed air tickets or indeed train tickets, will no doubt one day soon seem as anachronistic as the barter system. In the meantime the transition should focus on ensuring that no one is discounted because they are too old, too poor or too disabled to matter to the gods of efficiency.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office responsible for protecting the public from toxic substances has changed how it defines PFAS for a second time since 2021, a move critics say they fear will exclude thousands of "forever chemicals" from regulation and largely benefit industry. Instead of using a clear definition of what constitutes a PFAS, the agency's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics plans to take a "case-by-case" approach that allows it to be more flexible in determining which chemicals should be subjected to regulations. Among other uses for the compounds, the EPA appears to be excluding some chemicals in pharmaceuticals and pesticides that are generally defined as PFAS, current and former EPA officials say, and the shift comes amid fierce industry opposition to proposed limits on the chemicals. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 15,000 compounds most frequently used to make products water-, stain- and grease-resistant. They have been linked to cancer, birth defects, decreased immunity, high cholesterol, kidney disease and a range of other serious health problems. They are dubbed "forever chemicals" because they do not naturally break down in the environment. Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, a current EPA employee in the toxics office said the chemical's definition has been evolving for several years. "EPA can't get its act together on what PFAS are," they added.
Note: These chemicals have contaminated 41 percent of US tap water. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
In May, the World Health Organization issued an alarming report that declared widely used non-sugar sweeteners like aspartame are likely ineffective for weight loss, and long term consumption may increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mortality in adults. A few months later, WHO declared aspartame, a key ingredient in Diet Coke, to be a "possible carcinogen", then quickly issued a third report that seemed to contradict its previous findings – people could continue consuming the product at levels determined to be safe decades ago. That contradiction stems from beverage industry corruption of the review process by consultants tied to an alleged Coca-Cola front group, the public health advocacy group US Right to Know said in a recent report. It uncovered eight WHO panelists involved with assessing safe levels of aspartame consumption who are beverage industry consultants who currently or previously worked with the alleged Coke front group, International Life Sciences Institute (Ilsi). Aspartame was first approved for use in the US in the early 1980s over the objection of some researchers who warned of potential health risks. In recent years, as evidence of health threats has mounted, industry has ramped up a PR campaign to downplay the issues. Ilsi representatives have sought to shape food policy worldwide. [Gary Ruskin, US Right to Know's executive director], characterized the aspartame controversy as a "masterpiece in how Ilsi worms its way into these regulatory processes".
Note: Explore a comprehensive overview of key scientific studies on aspartame harms, and how they were covered up by the sugar industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the food system and in the corporate world from reliable major media sources.
Progressives are confused and distressed over the choice by many of our allies to devalue decentralization in the technology space, and even to portray it as worse than Big Tech alternatives. In recent months, a number of progressive commentators have attacked the very idea of decentralization, arguing that it's a distraction from other political goals. This has also led to progressives making crypto a favorite target and, bizarrely, taking the positions of big banks, which are notoriously monopolistic. To us, the more pressing concern is legacy tech platforms–and their ongoing capture of user data. Decentralizing technology will prove crucial in ensuring that the world isn't run by a handful of unelected technologists. Crypto is an exception to so much technology because it runs on blockchain and no single person or corporation can control it. We value a world where power is dispersed to the people, where no one is so powerful that they can dictate terms to the rest of us. A blockchain allows everyone to own their own data, to control their own information, and to port that information and data to another system at their discretion. It also allows for people to exchange both data and money in a peer-to-peer manner, without permission from expensive, bureaucratic, and–in many cases–unnecessary intermediaries. Migrants also use crypto to send money to their home countries, and this activity alone will become increasingly important as political and climate migration continues to accelerate.
Note: The US government financially attacked Wikileaks in 2010 after the organization published documentation of US military war crimes. This attack would have ended Wikileaks, but the organization instead embraced bitcoin and survived for several more years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial system corruption from reliable major media sources.
National Institutes of Health scientists raked in more than $325 million in royalties from Chinese and Russian entities – as well as pharmaceutical companies – over more than a decade, according to a new report. Former NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and former National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci were among the thousands of government whitecoats who took the cash between September 2009 and October 2020, the taxpayer watchdog OpenTheBooks.com revealed. Several of those royalties came from companies that in turn received federal contracts and grants, prompting concerns about conflicts of interest. Unredacted documents obtained by the group through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show at least 34 Chinese companies are licensing NIH technologies initially funded by US taxpayers. Some of those licensing fees came from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Chinese government-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, which produced a COVID-19 vaccine. In 2016, the biological products company moved its headquarters next to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where risky "gain-of-function" research funded by the US government may have led to the outbreak of the pandemic. The late Dr. Robert Chanock, the former head of the NIAID's laboratory of infectious diseases, and Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, his successor, were just a few of the virologists on the take from the Wuhan-based company.
In 2016, the American honey industry faced a crisis: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had found high levels of glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer, in honey samples from Iowa. The National Honey Board (NHB), a honey industry-funded agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, did what many businesses under fire have done: They hired a crisis management public relations firm, in this case to downplay the risks of glyphosate in honey. The PR firm, Porter Novelli, later worked with the NHB to deflect concerns about honey containing neonicotinoids. The insect-killing chemicals are tied to the collapse of bee colonies. At the same time, Porter Novelli was working for Bayer, a leading manufacturer of glyphosate and neonicotinoids. The PR firm's work for Bayer included promoting the use of neonicotinoids and opposing regulations that would safeguard honey bees. CropLife America, the pesticide industry lobby group, has also hired Porter Novelli's subsidiary, Paradigm Communications, to "lead the effort to shift how pesticide products were portrayed in search engine results," according to the Intercept. Search terms compiled by CropLife America staff included "neonicotinoid," "pollinators," and "neonics." As other countries responded to the science by banning neonics, in the U.S., "industry dug in, seeking not only to discredit the research but to cast pesticide companies as a solution to the problem." Studies show the insecticides are toxic to the brain and nervous system [of humans].
Note: According to the CDC, about half the U.S. population is exposed to at least one neonic on a regular basis, with children ages 3-5 years old having the highest levels. Merchants of Poison: How Monsanto Sold the World on a Toxic Pesticide is a recent and comprehensive analysis of documents released in litigation against Monsanto that expose years of pesticide industry disinformation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption.
So-called "forever chemicals" have been found in 45% of the nation's tap water, according to a recent government study, but is your tap water affected? If you're wondering whether or not your tap water might contain synthetic chemicals known as PFAS, nonprofit Environmental Working Group created an interactive map using official records and data from public drinking water systems to show where forever chemicals were found to be above and below the advised maximum concentration level, 4 parts per trillion (PPT). EWG notes that while researchers used the highest quality data available, contamination levels are based on a single point in time and may not reflect changes to the water system or treatment efforts. PFAS is an umbrella term for thousands of chemicals that are used to make nonstick pans, food packaging, fire-fighting foams, to-go boxes, furniture, rugs, clothing and more. The chemicals are so ubiquitous it would be nearly impossible for most Americans to rid their home of them. The chemicals are both extremely common and potentially dangerous. Described as "forever chemicals" because they don't degrade naturally in the environment, PFAS have been linked to a variety of health problems, including liver and immune-system damage. Studies of lab animals have found potential links between PFAS chemicals and some cancers, including kidney and testicular, plus issues such as high blood pressure and low birth weight.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved a component of boat fuel made from discarded plastic that the agency's own risk formula determined was so hazardous, everyone exposed to the substance continually over a lifetime would be expected to develop cancer. Current and former EPA scientists said that threat level is unheard of. It is a million times higher than what the agency usually considers acceptable for new chemicals and six times worse than the risk of lung cancer from a lifetime of smoking. Federal law requires the EPA to conduct safety reviews before allowing new chemical products on to the market. If the agency finds that a substance causes unreasonable risk to health or the environment, the EPA is not allowed to approve it without first finding ways to reduce that risk. But the agency did not do that in this case. Instead, the EPA decided its scientists were overstating the risks and gave Chevron the go-ahead to make the new boat fuel ingredient at its refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Though the substance can poison air and contaminate water, EPA officials mandated no remedies other than requiring workers to wear gloves, records show. The EPA division that approves new chemicals usually limits lifetime cancer risk from an air pollutant to one additional case of cancer in a million people. That means that if a million people are continuously exposed over a presumed lifetime of 70 years, there would likely be at least one case of cancer on top of those from other risks people already face.
When the chemical giant 3M agreed in early June to pay up to $12.5bn to settle a lawsuit over PFAS contamination in water systems across the nation, it was hailed by attorneys as "the largest drinking water settlement in American history", and viewed as a significant win for the public in the battle against toxic "forever chemicals". A second June settlement with the PFAS manufacturers DuPont, Chemours and Corteva tallied a hefty $1.1bn. But while the sums are impressive on their face, they represent just a fraction of the estimated $400bn some estimate will be needed to clean and protect the nation's drinking water. Orange county, California, alone put the cost of cleaning its system at $1bn. Because PFAS are so widely used and the scale of their harm is so great ... the industry's final bill could exceed the $200bn paid by big tobacco in the 1990s. PFAS are a class of about 15,000 compounds used to make products across dozens of industries resistant to water, stains and heat. They are called "forever chemicals" because they do not naturally break down, and are linked to cancer, kidney disease, liver conditions, immune disorders, birth defects and other health problems. The chemicals are thought to be contaminating drinking water for over 200 million Americans. Tens of thousands of contaminated private wells are not included in the settlement. The chemicals are also widely used in thousands of consumer products from dental floss to cookware to clothing, and have been found to contaminate food, soil and air.
When I began my journalism career in Chicago in the 1980s, there were still some old crusty working-class guys around the newsroom. Now we're not only a college-dominated profession; we're an elite-college-dominated profession. Only 0.8 percent of college students graduate from the super-elite 12 schools (the Ivy League colleges, plus Stanford, M.I.T., Duke and the University of Chicago). A 2018 study found that more than 50 percent of the staff writers at the beloved New York Times and The Wall Street Journal attended one of the 29 most elite universities in the nation. Members of our class also segregate ourselves into a few booming metro areas. In 2020, Biden won only 500 or so counties, but together they are responsible for 71 percent of the American economy. Trump won over 2,500 counties, responsible for only 29 percent. Like all elites, we use language and mores as tools to recognize one another and exclude others. Using words like "problematic," "cisgender," "Latinx" and "intersectional" is a sure sign that you've got cultural capital. Meanwhile, members of the less-educated classes have to walk on eggshells because they never know when we've changed the usage rules so that something that was sayable five years ago now gets you fired. Does this mean that I think the people in my class are vicious and evil? No. Most of us are earnest, kind and public-spirited. But we take for granted and benefit from systems that have become oppressive.
Note: Watch an excellent interview of journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon discussing how journalism has shifted from being a working class trade that held the powerful accountable to an elite industry that serves the upper class. She articulates that mainstream news has abandoned and divided the working class by creating a culture war around identity and race. Elites shaping the news industry benefit from this political polarization, which hides the tragic reality of income inequality that affect all races across political lines.
Alan Davidson currently leads the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, the agency now crafting recommendations on how federal regulators can hold AI companies accountable. But for years, he worked as Google's chief lobbyist in Washington. NTIA's recommendations will help form the basis of the Biden administration's response to AI and machine learning. "People are warning that there are really serious downsides possible to AI, and I would want a hard-headed regulator to run down those concerns," said Jeff Hauser, the executive director of the Revolving Door Project, a watchdog focused on conflicts of interest in government. "Davidson is not likely, based on his CV, to be detached." Rapid advances in AI present a potential turning point for Silicon Valley's dominant tech firms. Notably, the first company to capture national attention with the launch of a new AI product was not a household name, like Google or Microsoft, but the independent research lab OpenAI, with its splashy launch of ChatGPT. Google reportedly sees the AI products it has in the pipeline as so pivotal to the company's future that Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder lately absorbed with outside projects, has returned to company headquarters to work directly with the team building its flagship AI system. "Google is the biggest player who cares about this issue," [said former Hill aide involved in antitrust policy]. "I cannot imagine Google doesn't view Alan Davidson as an asset to them."
There's a lot of money in AI. Economists are predicting a massive boom in productivity as AI use takes off, buoyed by empirical research showing tools like ChatGPT boost worker output. Demis Hassabis, the founder of DeepMind, sold his company to Google in 2014 only after the latter agreed to an independent ethics board that would govern how Google uses DeepMind's research. ChatGPT maker OpenAI is structured as a nonprofit that owns a for-profit arm. Anthropic, which makes the chatbot Claude, is divesting control over a majority of its board to a trust composed not of shareholders, but independent trustees meant to enforce a focus on safety ahead of profits. Those three companies, plus Microsoft, got together ... to start a new organization meant to self-regulate the AI industry. There are three broad ways the profits reaped by AI companies could make their way to a more general public. The first ... is taxes. The second, considerably less important, is charity. The third is if the companies themselves decide to donate a large share of their profits. This was the key proposal of a landmark 2020 paper called "The Windfall Clause." The idea is simple: The clause is a voluntary but binding commitment that AI firms could make to donate a set percentage of their profits in excess of a certain threshold to a charitable entity. They suggest the thresholds be based on profits as a share of the gross world product (the entire world's economic output).
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Each year for the last 26 years – nearly his entire tenure in the US Congress – Earl Blumenauer has advocated for a law that would utterly transform US agriculture. Nearly every time, though, his proposals have been shut down. Even so, he persists. Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, wants to see a version of US agriculture that centers people, animals and the environment, rather than the large-scale, energy-intensive commodity crop farms that currently receive billions of dollars in subsidies. Blumenauer's newest plan, the Food and Farm Act, was introduced earlier this year, as an alternative to the farm bill – the package of food and agricultural policies passed every five years that is up for renewal this fall. His proposal would redirect billions of dollars away from subsidies for commodity farms towards programs that support small farmers, climate-friendly agriculture and increasing healthy food access. "Most of us don't even know that the public dollars initially designed to protect farmers and keep supply managed to feed a hungry nation in the Great Depression are now reinforcing wealthy agribusiness corporations to grow commodities that are not even meant for human consumption," said Joshua Newell, a policy analyst. Most of the farms excluded from subsidy payments are those using sustainable growing methods that preserve soil and benefit the climate. Blumenauer's bill would ... ensure more funding goes toward sustainable farming practices.
The pesticide companies Bayer and Syngenta have been excoriated in a European parliament hearing after failing to disclose studies on the brain toxicity of their products. European regulators said the companies had breached legal obligations and behaved unethically. The withholding of nine brain toxicity studies from European regulators over the last 20 years was revealed by the Guardian in June, reporting findings from Swedish academics. They discovered that these toxicity studies had been submitted to the US pesticide regulator but not to the EU authorities. Dr Axel Mie, of Stockholm University, who led the research ... told a special hearing in the European parliament on Tuesday: "If a company decides by themselves which studies to disclose and which ones to withhold, it is obvious that the decisions by the [regulatory] authorities become unreliable." He said risk management decisions had been delayed by 18 years in one case. MEPs were scathing about the companies. The Swedish MEP Emma Wiesner, a member of the European parliament's committee on the environment, public health and food safety, said: "The behaviour found in this study is really unacceptable. More than a quarter of the studies [sent to US authorities] were not sent into the European agencies – that is outrageous." Martin HĂ„â€š¤usling, a German MEP and member of the agriculture committee, said: "This is a right old scandal. These [are] clear breaches of existing law and previous law. And yet there are no consequences."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the corporate world and in the food system from reliable major media sources.
The world's 722 biggest companies collectively are making more than $1tn a year in windfall profits on the back of soaring energy prices and rising interest rates. The companies made $1.08tn this way in 2021 and $1.09tn last year, according to analysis of Forbes magazine data by the charities Oxfam and ActionAid. The collective profits were 89% higher than the previous four-year average covering 2017-2020. Windfall profits are defined as those exceeding average profits in the previous four years by more than 10%. Energy companies recorded the highest windfall profits. Of the 45 energy firms on Forbes list of the 2,000 biggest companies, they made on average $237bn a year in windfall profits in 2021 and 2022. Many food and beverage corporations, banks, pharmaceutical companies and retailers also reported a surge in profits during a cost-of-living crisis in which more than a quarter of a billion people in 58 countries experienced acute food insecurity in 2022. Those profits have stoked accusations of "greedflation" – pushing through excessive price increases and driving up inflation. Katy Chakrabortty, Oxfam's head of advocacy, said "A corporate bonanza is supercharging inflation, leaving millions of people in the UK and around the world struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. The windfall profits of 18 food and beverage corporations are more than twice the amount needed to cover the shortfall in life-saving assistance to tens of millions of people."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
A little-known federal agency called BARDA dedicated to countering "health security threats" was responsible for conducting the quality review of every COVID-19 vaccine dose administered in the U.S., Sasha Latypova reported on her Substack. But BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which has a "militarized" purpose according to Latypova, is not subject to the same regulations as typical pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors or regulatory agencies. "The public was told these vaccines are made by Pfizer and Moderna and rigorously approved by the FDA," [said Latypova]. That ... would mean that the "consumer protections we expect from pharmaceutical products, medical devices and even food ... we expect them to be in place." But in fact, countermeasures contracts made available through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests ... and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures show the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and BARDA contracts with the pharmaceutical companies were structured such that these protections weren't required. The contracts also specified that manufacturers and federal agencies were protected by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which shields "covered persons" – such as pharmaceutical companies, or the DOD/BARDA – from liability for injuries sustained from "countermeasures," such as vaccines ... administered during a public health emergency.
Note: Sasha Latypova is a former pharmaceutical industry executive who now specializes in uncovering fraud in pharmaceutical research, development, and manufacturing. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee released a report on how the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) "colluded with Big Tech and 'disinformation' partners to censor Americans." The 36-page report raises three familiar issues: first, government actors worked with third parties to overturn the First Amendment; second, censors prioritized political narratives over truthfulness; and third, an unaccountable bureaucracy hijacked American society. The House Report reveals that CISA, a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, worked with social media platforms to censor posts it considered dis-, mis- or malinformation. Brian Scully, the head of CISA's censorship team, conceded that this process, known as "switchboarding," would "trigger content moderation." Additionally, CISA funded the nonprofit EI-ISAC in 2020 to bolster its censorship operations. In launching the nonprofit, the government boasted that it "leverage[d] DHS CISA's relationship with social media organizations to ensure priority treatment of misinformation reports." The switchboard programs directly contradict sworn testimony from CISA Director Jen Easterly. The report outlines how CISA censored "malinformation – truthful information that, according to the government, may carry the potential to mislead." Dr. Kate Starbird, a member of CISA's "Misinformation & Disinformation" subcommittee, lamented that many Americans seem to "accept malinformation as 'speech' and within democratic norms."
An early magazine advertisement for Merck's breakthrough asthma and allergy medicine, Singulair, featured a happy child, hanging upside-down from a tree. Asthmatic kids could now breathe easier, the text assured, and side effects were "usually mild" and "similar to a sugar pill." When the drug launched in 1998, its label said the drug's distribution in the brain was "minimal," with no mention of psychiatric side effects. Merck's early safety claims later faced intense scrutiny amid reports over two decades that patients, including many children, had died by suicide or experienced neuropsychiatric problems after taking the drug. The FDA in 2020 ordered its most serious warning, known as a "black box," on Singulair's label. And Merck now faces a raft of lawsuits alleging it knew from its early research that the drug could impact the brain and that it minimized the potential for psychiatric problems in statements to regulators. The lawsuits cite the research of Julia Marschallinger, a cell biologist who has studied the drug along with colleagues at the Institute of Molecular Regenerative Medicine in Austria. That team found in 2015 that the drug's distribution into the brain was more significant than its label described. In its original patent for Singulair, Merck cited other applications for the drug, beyond asthma and allergies, including as a treatment for "cerebral spasm," a neurological condition. Lawsuits filed against Merck cite this 1996 patent as evidence of Merck's knowledge of the drug's potential brain impacts.
Note: Read more about Singulair and its dangers to human health, along with the tremendous financial conflicts of interests resulting in the FDA protecting the pharmaceutical industry first, and the health of the people second. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Nicholas England, a healthy 22-year-old from Virginia, shot himself in the head in 2017, less than two weeks after he started taking an allergy medicine that had been linked for years to episodes of depression and suicidal thinking. His parents soon started exploring a lawsuit against Merck, the developer of the blockbuster asthma and allergy drug, Singulair. Nicholas had no history of mental-health problems, they said. The Englands were shocked to learn from legal advisers that they had no case. Like countless other potential plaintiffs, they had run into one of Corporate America's most effective liability shields: the legal doctrine of preemption, the principle that federal law supersedes state law. Armed with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on preemption starting in the 1990s, companies increasingly argue that federally regulated products or services should be immune from lawsuits alleging state-law violations. State laws historically have provided the legal basis for some of the most common lawsuits against U.S. companies alleging injuries, deaths or illnesses caused by negligence or defective products. Pending lawsuits against Merck allege that the company's own early research indicated the drug could impact the brain but that Merck downplayed any risks in statements to regulators. It wasn't until 2020 that the FDA slapped its most serious warning, called a "black box," on the drug's label. By that time, the FDA had received more than 80 reports of suicides in people taking the medicine.
Note: Read more about Singulair and its dangers to human health, along with the tremendous financial conflicts of interests resulting in the FDA protecting the pharmaceutical industry first, and the health of the people second. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
A number of hospitals have been sued for refusing to allow patients dying of COVID to receive treatment with ivermectin. If the hospital lost, it appealed the decision, even if the patient did receive ivermectin and recover, according to attorney Andrew Schlafly in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. "Hospitals wanted to establish precedents for their side, so that next time they could deny treatment by pointing to appellate decisions in their favor," Schlafly writes. They adopted a "strategy of seeking to establish precedents that increased their authority, and to remove any precedents against unlimited power for them." Ivermectin is a long-established safe drug that is widely used to treat parasitic infections. It has also been shown to have antiviral activity. Many physicians have reported successful use in COVID patients, and many though not all studies have shown safety and benefit. Many state appellate courts cite the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) disparagement of ivermectin as a legal basis for hospitals to deny access by dying patients to this drug, long approved by the FDA as safe. Schlafly writes that the FDA has "been able to evade judicial review for too long. The more the FDA avoids submitting to discovery procedures that are commonplace for every other defendant, the bigger the mushrooms can grow in the dark at this federal agency."
Note: Explore a comprehensive look into the benefits and uses of ivermectin, despite establishment media's concerted effort to discredit its efficacy and safety. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
On the morning of 10 June 2013 ... the journalist Glenn Greenwald and film-maker Laura Poitras published on the Guardian site a video revealing the identity of the NSA whistleblower behind one of the most damning leaks in modern history. It began: "My name is Ed Snowden." William Fitzgerald, then a 27-year-old policy employee at Google, knew he wanted to help. Fitzgerald found himself waiting in the lobby of the Hong Kong W Hotel to meet Greenwald and introduce him to Robert Tibbo and Jonathan Man – the men who became Snowden's legal representatives and hid him in the homes of Tibbo's refugee clients. The Snowden files told a ... sinister story, revealing mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA files suggested that some tech firms, including Google, Facebook and Apple, were aware. Google and other tech firms worked to distance themselves from the NSA's efforts. But over time [Google's] culture appeared to shift, reflecting the changing needs of various governments. Google stopped promoting its transparency report to the media, free expression advocates were replaced by more traditional business-focused executives, and then there was Project Maven – the controversial Department of Defense drone project that Google signed on to build artificial intelligence for. Google isn't alone in vying for government contracts – Microsoft, Amazon, IBM have all since made a play for or struck multimillion-dollar deals to build tools of surveillance for various entities including the Pentagon.
In 1998, Jeffrey Epstein purchased Little Saint James in the US Virgin Islands and began trafficking girls as young as 14 into "sexual servitude" at the secluded island. The same year, he opened his first account with JPMorgan Chase, the start of a lucrative partnership for the Wall Street giant that would continue for years after the late financier had been "red flagged" by the bank as a child sex offender. To keep his illicit sex-trafficking scheme running, Epstein needed access to large amounts of cash to pay off recruiters and attempt to silence victims. JPMorgan is alleged to have "pulled the levers" through which Epstein paid his network of enablers, according to a lawsuit filed by the US Virgin Islands (USVI) Attorney General in a US court. The lawsuit claims that JPMorgan concealed wire and cash transactions that were part of a "criminal enterprise" whose currency was vulnerable and desperate women and girls, groomed and recruited over decades by Epstein and his chief lieutenant Ghislaine Maxwell. In separate lawsuits, several survivors of Epstein's abuse sued JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank accusing them of actively enabling his abuse. The sprawling US Virgin Islands legal action is still pending. It has already drawn in some of the world's wealthiest individuals including billionaire JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Tesla CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk, Google's co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. All have denied any involvement in Epstein's offending.
Note: One Nation Under Blackmail is a new book by Whitney Webb, an investigative journalist who explores the deep ties between Jeffrey Epstein and US and Israeli Intelligence criminal networks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's child sex ring from reliable major media sources.
JPMorgan Chase reached a tentative settlement with sexual abuse victims of Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier, after weeks of embarrassing disclosures about the bank's longstanding relationship with him. David Boies, one of the lead lawyers for the victims, said the bank was prepared to pay $290 million to resolve the lawsuit. The proposed deal would settle a lawsuit filed ... on behalf of victims who were sexually abused by Mr. Epstein over a roughly 15-year period when they were teenage girls and young women. The number of victims could potentially rise to more than 100. JPMorgan still faces a related lawsuit by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands. That suit remains the biggest outstanding Epstein-related case after years of lawsuits against Mr. Epstein's estate and Ghislaine Maxwell's conviction in 2021 in Manhattan federal court for helping Mr. Epstein engage in sex trafficking. The lawsuit filed by the victims claimed that JPMorgan ignored repeated warnings that Mr. Epstein had been trafficking teenage girls and young women for sex, even after he registered as a sex offender and pleaded guilty in a 2008 Florida case to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The complaint said the bank had overlooked red flags in Mr. Epstein's activity because it valued him as a wealthy client who had access to dozens of even wealthier people. Legal documents revealed that after designating Mr. Epstein a "high risk client" in 2006, the bank kept him on as a customer.
Note: One Nation Under Blackmail is a new book by Whitney Webb, an investigative journalist who explores the deep ties between Jeffrey Epstein and US and Israeli Intelligence criminal networks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's child sex ring from reliable major media sources.
Instagram, the popular social-media site owned by Platforms, helps connect and promote a vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content, according to investigations by The Wall Street Journal and researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Instagram doesn't merely host these activities. Its algorithms promote them. Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content sellers via recommendation systems that excel at linking those who share niche interests. Certain accounts invite buyers to commission specific acts. Some menus include prices for videos of children harming themselves and "imagery of the minor performing sexual acts with animals." At the right price, children are available for in-person "meet ups." Current and former Meta employees who have worked on Instagram child-safety initiatives estimate the number of accounts that exist primarily to follow such content is in the high hundreds of thousands, if not millions. In 2022, the [National Center for Missing & Exploited Children] received 31.9 million reports of child pornography ... up 47% from two years earlier. Meta accounted for 85% of the child pornography reports filed to the center, including some 5 million from Instagram. Instagram has permitted users to search for terms that its own algorithms know may be associated with illegal material. In such cases, a pop-up screen for users warned that "These results may contain images of child sexual abuse."
In 1953, a paper developed for cigarette maker RJ Reynolds detailed possible cancer-causing agents in tobacco, but the document would remain hidden from public view for decades. In the interim, the industry told the public: "We don't accept the idea that there are harmful agents in tobacco." The chemical industry, it seemed, took note. Just a few years later, DuPont scientists found PFAS enlarged lab rats' livers and likely caused birth defects in workers. Still, the company told its employees the cancer-linked compounds are "about as toxic as table salt". Like the tobacco industry before it, the chemical industry managed to keep PFAS's health risks hidden from the public for decades. A new peer-reviewed study dissecting PFAS producers' public relations strategies provides a smoking gun timeline composed of industry studies and comments from DuPont and 3M officials showing they knew the dangers, but publicly insisted the chemicals were safe. Between 1961 and 2006, the authors identified dozens of instances where DuPont or 3M scientists discovered or acknowledged PFAS toxicity internally, but did not publish the findings or report them to the EPA, as required under federal law. DuPont's chief toxicologist in 1961 found rats' livers enlarged at very low doses of exposure, a health impact recognized as "the most sensitive sign of toxicity." The report recommended PFAS be handled "with extreme care" and that "contact with the skin should be strictly avoided."
Note: These chemicals have contaminated 41 percent of US tap water. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in science and in the corporate world from reliable major media sources.
These blank-looking warehouses are home to an artificial intelligence (AI) company used by the Government to monitor people's posts on social media. Logically has been paid more than Ł1.2 million of taxpayers' money to analyse what the Government terms "disinformation" – false information deliberately seeded online – and "misinformation", which is false information that has been spread inadvertently. It does this by "ingesting" material from more than hundreds of thousands of media sources and "all public posts on major social media platforms", using AI to identify those that are potentially problematic. It has a Ł1.2 million deal with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as another worth up to Ł1.4 million with the Department of Health and Social Care to monitor threats to high-profile individuals within the vaccine service. Other blue-chip clients include US federal agencies, the Indian electoral commission, and TikTok. It also has a "partnership" with Facebook, which appears to grant Logically's fact-checkers huge influence over the content other people see. A joint press release issued in July 2021 suggests that Facebook will limit the reach of certain posts if Logically says they are untrue. "When Logically rates a piece of content as false, Facebook will significantly reduce its distribution so that fewer people see it, apply a warning label to let people know that the content has been rated false, and notify people who try to share it," states the press release.
A study of military veterans has shown the strongest evidence yet that the widespread chemical trichloroethylene (TCE)–used in spot removers, office products and dry-cleaning–is linked to Parkinson's disease. The research focused on service members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1975 and 1985, when levels of TCE in the base's water reached 70 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's limit. After accounting for demographic factors, Camp Lejeune veterans were 70 percent more likely to develop the movement disorder than service members stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, where the water was uncontaminated. The large study, published last week in the journal JAMA Neurology, adds to a handful of smaller, earlier papers that found a link between TCE and Parkinson's. TCE, which can be in liquid or vapor form, has been commonly used since the 1920s, including as an inhaled surgical anesthetic and in several cleaning products. Today, it's primarily used in making refrigerants and degreasing metal equipment. The chemical breaks down slowly and can be detected in the air, water and soil. It's also found in one-third of U.S. drinking water. The Camp Lejeune drinking water was contaminated with TCE and other chemicals from 1953 to 1987, per the study, due to leakage from underground storage tanks, industrial spills, waste disposal sites and a dry-cleaning business.
Note: Internal corporate documents reveal how global chemical giant Syngenta secretly influenced scientific research regarding links between its top-selling weedkiller and Parkinson's disease. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
By March 2017, the fight over the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline had been underway for months. Law enforcement was ... discussing plans with Energy Transfer, the parent company of the Dakota Access pipeline. Throughout much of the uprising against the pipeline, the National Sheriffs' Association talked routinely with TigerSwan, Energy Transfer's lead security firm on the project, working hand in hand to craft pro-pipeline messaging. Documents, released by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board, reveal how TigerSwan and the sheriffs' group worked together to twist the story in the media so that it aligned with the oil company's interests, seeking to pollute the public's perception of the water protectors. The private security firm pushed for the purchase, by Energy Transfer, of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of radios for the cops. TigerSwan also placed an order for a catalog of so-called less-lethal weapons for police use, including tear gas. Off the Record Strategies, the public relations firm working for the National Sheriffs' Association, coordinated with the opposition research firm Delve to track activists' social media pages, arrest records, and funding sources. The companies sought to paint the protesters as violent, professional, billionaire-funded, out-of-state agitators whose camps represented the true ecological disaster, as well as to identify movement infighting that might be exploited.
Note: Read how TigerSwan treated water protectors as terrorists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
With the U.S. supplying billions-of-dollars of munitions to Ukraine and growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, some Pentagon generals are sounding alarms about the dwindling supply of U.S. weapons ... at a time when the cost of replacing them is skyrocketing. A six-month investigation by 60 Minutes found it has less to do with foreign entanglements than domestic ones - what can only be described as price gouging by U.S. defense contractors. It wasn't always like this. The roots of the problem can be traced to 1993, when the Pentagon, looking to cut costs, urged defense companies to merge. Fifty one major contractors consolidated to five giants. The landscape has totally changed. In the '80s, there was intense competition amongst a number of companies. And so the government had choices. They had leverage. We have limited leverage now. The problem was compounded when the Pentagon, in another cost saving move, cut 130,000 employees whose jobs were to negotiate and oversee defense contracts. The Pentagon granted companies unprecedented leeway to monitor themselves. Instead of saving money ... the price of almost everything began to rise. In the competitive environment before the companies consolidated, a shoulder fired stinger missile cost $25,000 in 1991. With Raytheon now the sole supplier, it costs more than $400,000 to replace each missile sent to Ukraine ... even accounting for inflation and some improvements that's a seven-fold increase.
Note: Leading military contractors are hiking up prices of everyday products as well, costing US taxpayers more than $1.3 million in unnecessary markups. Explore how the Pentagon paid arms manufacturer Boeing over $200,000 for four trash cans used in surveillance planes (roughly $51,606 per unit). War profiteering happens on many levels, as articulated in a summary of War is a Racket by General Smedley D. Butler.
A recent Cochrane Evidence Synthesis and Methods article examines internal pharma industry documents, primarily obtained through litigation. The study finds that the pharmaceutical industry employs numerous ghost management strategies to corrupt research, circumvent and undermine regulations, manipulate consumers, and protect its interests. The authors write: "The scientific literature using internal documents confirmed widespread corporate influence in the pharmaceutical sector. While the academic literature used internal documents related to only a handful of products, our research results, based on ghostmanagement categories, demonstrate the extent of corporate influence in every interstice of pharmaceutical markets, particularly in clinical research and clinical practice." Analysis of the articles revealed several common ghost management strategies the pharmaceutical industry utilizes. Ghost management is a system of behind-the-scenes processes by which the industry corrupts researchers, clinicians, and regulatory agencies with gifts and bribes and determines what research will be funded, what scientific journals can publish, and how physicians, etc., will present their product. The present research reveals eight broad categories of ghost management: scientific capture, professional capture, regulatory capture, media capture, market capture, technological capture, civil society capture, and others. Scientific capture was the most commonly analyzed ghost management strategy.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Few people think of the FCC as an environmental cop. It's known for regulating television and radio and overseeing the deployment of communications technology. But the agency also has a broad mandate to ensure that technology doesn't damage the environment. This role is particularly critical now, as the FCC presides over a nationwide buildout for 5G service, which will require 800,000 new "small cell" transmitters, those perched on street poles and rooftops, often near schools, apartments and homes. But even with this massive effort underway, as ProPublica previously reported, the FCC has refused to revise its radiation-exposure limits, which date back to the era of flip phones. In addition, the agency has cut back on the environmental reviews that it requires while also restricting local governments' control over wireless sites. The agency operates on the honor system, delegating much of its responsibility to the industries that it regulates. It allows companies to decide for themselves whether their projects require environmental study. And if the companies break the rules, they're expected to report their own transgression. Few do. In the rare instances in which the FCC investigates, even brazen illegality is often met with a minor fine, a scolding "admonishment" or no action at all. Just 10% of FCC enforcement cases between 2014 and 2016 resulted in a monetary penalty, while 40% ended with a warning and the rest resulted in no action.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Maya Jones* was only 13 when she first walked through the door of Courtney's House, a drop-in centre for victims of child sex trafficking. When she was 12, she had started receiving direct messages on Instagram from a man she didn't know. She decided to meet him in person. Then came his next request: "Can you help me make some money?" According to Frundt, Maya explained that the man asked her to pose naked for photos, and to give him her Instagram password so that he could upload the photos to her profile. Frundt says Maya told her that the man, who was now calling himself a pimp, was using her Instagram profile to advertise her for sex. The internet is used by human traffickers as "digital hunting fields", allowing them access to both customers and potential victims, with children being targeted by traffickers on social media platforms. The biggest of these, Facebook, is owned by Meta, the tech giant whose platforms, which also include Instagram, are used by more than 3 billion people. In 2020, according to a report by US-based not-for-profit the Human Trafficking Institute, Facebook was the platform most used to groom and recruit children by sex traffickers (65%), based on an analysis of 105 federal child sex trafficking cases that year. The HTI analysis ranked Instagram second most prevalent, with Snapchat third. While Meta says it is doing all it can, we have seen evidence that suggests it is failing to report or even detect the full extent of what is happening.
U.S. citizens are being subjected to a relentless onslaught from intrusive technologies that have become embedded in the everyday fabric of our lives, creating unprecedented levels of social and political upheaval. These widely used technologies ... include social media and what Harvard professor Shoshanna Zuboff calls "surveillance capitalism"–the buying and selling of our personal info and even our DNA in the corporate marketplace. But powerful new ones are poised to create another wave of radical change. Under the mantle of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," these include artificial intelligence or AI, the metaverse, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Bodies (in which our physical and health data is added into the mix to be processed by AI), and my personal favorite, police robots. This is a two-pronged effort involving both powerful corporations and government initiatives. These tech-based systems are operating "below the radar" and rarely discussed in the mainstream media. The world's biggest tech companies are now richer and more powerful than most countries. According to an article in PC Week in 2021 discussing Apple's dominance: "By taking the current valuation of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and others, then comparing them to the GDP of countries on a map, we can see just how crazy things have becomeâ€¦ Valued at $2.2 trillion, the Cupertino company is richer than 96% of the world. In fact, only seven countries currently outrank the maker of the iPhone financially."
The US Environmental Protection Agency has in effect ignored a 2020 federal court order prohibiting the use of Monsanto and other producers' toxic dicamba-based herbicides that are destroying millions of acres of cropland, harming endangered species and increasing cancer risks for farmers, new fillings in the lawsuit charge. Instead of permanently yanking the products from the market after the 2020 order, the EPA only required industry to add further application instructions to the herbicides' labels before reapproving the products. A late 2021 EPA investigation found the same problems persist even with new directions added to the label, but the agency still allows Monsanto, BASF and other producers to continue using dicamba. The EPA's pesticide office is included in allegations that career managers are influenced by or have colluded with industry, and in some cases falsified science to make dangerous substances appear less toxic. About one-third of the pesticide office's funding comes from industry fees. The agency in 2016 approved the dicamba-based herbicide developed by Monsanto, which was to be used on genetically modified soybean and cotton crops. The herbicide can damage or kill neighboring crops and plants that are not engineered to be dicamba-resistant. The results are "devastating" and destroying millions of acres as "as never before seen in the history of US agriculture", the plaintiffs said. In some cases, direct dicamba exposure can kill insects, mammals and other animals.
For the past decade, the White House and Congress have relied on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a renowned advisory group, to help shape the federal response to the opioid crisis, whether by convening expert panels or delivering policy recommendations and reports. Yet officials with the National Academies have kept quiet about one thing: their decision to accept roughly $19 million in donations from members of the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, the maker of the drug OxyContin that is notorious for fueling the opioid epidemic. The opioid crisis has led to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths, spawned lawsuits and forced other institutions to publicly distance themselves from Sackler money or to acknowledge potential conflicts of interest from ties to Purdue Pharma. The National Academies has largely avoided such scrutiny as it continues to advise the government on painkillers. Institutions that more publicly examined their use of Sackler donations include Tufts University, which released a review of possible conflicts of interest related to pain research education funded by Purdue Pharma. Concerns noted in the report included a senior Purdue executive's delivering lectures to students each semester. The World Health Organization in 2019 retracted two guidance documents on opioid policy after lawmakers aired concerns about ties to opioid makers, including a Purdue subsidiary, among report authors and funders.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. had ties to Jeffrey Epstein that ran deeper than the bank has acknowledged and extended years beyond when it decided to close the convicted sex offender's accounts. Mary Erdoes, a top lieutenant to Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, made two trips to Epstein's townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side, in 2011 and 2013, when Epstein still was a client of the bank, said the people familiar with the matter. She exchanged dozens of emails with him and discussed sharing with him fees related to a charitable fund the bank was considering launching. John Duffy, who ran JPMorgan's U.S. private bank for the ultrarich, went to Epstein's townhouse for a meeting in April 2013, the people said. One month later, the private bank renewed an authorization allowing Epstein to borrow money against his accounts despite repeated warnings from compliance staffers about his unusual banking practices. Justin Nelson, one of Epstein's bankers at JPMorgan, had about a half-dozen meetings at Epstein's townhouse between 2014 and 2017. He also traveled to Epstein's ranch in New Mexico in 2016. Epstein was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008 and forced to register as a sex offender. The new details show that JPMorgan was treating Epstein like a star client after his first conviction and despite repeated warnings from its own employees. And after JPMorgan closed Epstein's accounts, bankers kept meeting with him for years.
Note: One Nation Under Blackmail is a new book by Whitney Webb, an investigative journalist who explores the deep ties between Jeffrey Epstein and US and Israeli Intelligence criminal networks. Epstein had many concerning associations, including with Noam Chomsky as reported in Webb's most recent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on banking corruption and Jeffrey Epstein's crime ring from reliable major media sources.
Antidepressants raise the risk of suicide while also giving people the means to kill themselves, scientists have warned, after discovering thousands of inquests linked to the drugs. Psychologists at the University of East London (UEL) analysed media reports of nearly 8,000 coroners' inquests in England and Wales between 2003 and 2020, in which antidepressants were mentioned. They found the drugs were linked to 2,718 cases of hanging and 2,329 overdoses, of which 933 people had overdosed on antidepressants themselves. A further 2,083 had been struck by a train, tube, lorry or other vehicle, had jumped or fallen to their death, drowned, shot themselves, or been involved in a fire or electrocution. Study author Dr John Read ... said: "Not only do antidepressants not reduce suicidality, but they also actually increase it for many, and for some they provide the mechanism for killing oneself." The research, ... concluded: "If the goal is to prevent suicide then clearly they are not working for thousands of people." Around one in six of the adult population takes antidepressants each year. In 2018, Prof Read surveyed nearly 1,500 people taking antidepressants and found that 50 per cent reported suicidal thoughts after starting the drugs. Recent studies have also called into question the benefits of antidepressants. Last year, University College London (UCL) concluded that depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance of serotonin and argued that life events were a larger factor.
Note: Antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, yet their significant risks are often withheld from public debate. Furthermore, an in-depth investigation reveals the glaring conflicts of interest and financial ties to corporate drugmakers that are behind many studies marketing clinical antidepressants as safe.
The U.S. has not engaged in a defensive war for nearly 80 years, instead destabilizing governments worldwide in Vietnam, the Korean Peninsula, Iraq, Afghanistan, throughout Africa and across Latin America. Although all weapons of mass destruction in space are technically prohibited by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, it isn't without precedent for major military powers to withdraw from such treaties. In 2019, President Donald Trump diverged from President Barack Obama's promise he would "not weaponize space," and created an official Space Force. Countersurveillance and counter-communications have been central goals of U.S. military space operations since the 1990s, alongside attaining U.S. "full spectrum dominance" of all potential conflict sites – including space. Space infrastructure ... increases the risk of global nuclear war by presenting new opportunities for armament and hostility. The government's ability to militarize this technology is strongly related to investment and development in the private sector through companies such as Boeing, SpaceX and Blue Origin. The commercial arm of the military-industrial complex is extending into space. Along with Blue Origin, SpaceX has collaborated with DOD in developing rapid global military cargo delivery systems, which the DOD hopes will make for global military logistics – delivery of supplies, weapons and even human soldiers anywhere on earth – in under 60 minutes.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption from reliable major media sources.
A MintPress News investigation has found dozens of ex-U.S. State Department officials working in key positions at TikTok. Many more individuals with backgrounds in the FBI, CIA and other departments of the national security state also hold influential posts at the social media giant, affecting the content that over one billion users see. The influx of State Department officials into TikTok's upper ranks is a consequence of "Project Texas," an initiative the company began in 2020 in the hopes of avoiding being banned altogether in the United States. During his time in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo led the charge to shut the platform down, frequently labeling it a "spying app" and a "propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party." It was widely reported that the U.S. government had forced the sale of TikTok to Walmart and then Microsoft. But in late 2020, as Project Texas began, those deals mysteriously fell through, and the rhetoric about the dangers of TikTok from officials evaporated. Project Texas is a $1.5 billion security operation to move the company's data to Austin. In doing so, it announced that it was partnering with tech giant Oracle, a corporation that, as MintPress has reported on, is the CIA in all but name. Evidently, Project Texas also secretly included hiring all manner of U.S. national security state personnel to oversee the company's operations – and not just from the State Department. Virtually every branch of the national security state is present at TikTok.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in intelligence agencies and in the corporate world from reliable major media sources.
Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said on Monday the U.S. Army has awarded a multi-year production contract for Joint-Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) and HELLFIRE missiles, in a deal that could go up to $4.5 billion including follow-on awards. The contract, which will have a total value of $439 million in its first year, is among the first multi-year awards for precision munitions, as the Pentagon looks to build stocks in the hopes of deterring China. In March, President Joe Biden requested $842 billion for the Pentagon and $44 billion for defense-related programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Energy and other agencies. The 2024 budget proposal is $28 billion more than last year's $858 billion. Lockheed added the contract also offers three additional follow-on awards which will start in late 2023, allowing for a total contract value of up to $4.5 billion over the next four years. The JAGM program anticipates a "significant increase" in international demand for the weapon system, Lockheed said.
Note: Many benefit financially from warfare when it comes to provoking proxy wars and furthering U.S. agendas of full-spectrum dominance, as thoroughly explored in the book War is a Racket by the highly decorated general Smedley D. Butler. According to a revealing report, at least 47 members of Congress and their spouses hold between $2 million and $6.7 million worth of stock in Lockheed Martin and other companies that are among the top 100 defense contractors.
In recent months, the Pentagon has moved to provide loans, guarantees, and other financial instruments to technology companies it considers crucial to national security – a step beyond the grants and contracts it normally employs. So when Silicon Valley Bank threatened to fail in March following a bank run, the defense agency advocated for government intervention to insure the investments. The Pentagon had even scrambled to prepare multiple plans to get cash to affected companies if necessary, reporting by Defense One revealed. Their interest in Silicon Valley Bank stems from the Pentagon's brand-new office, the Office of Strategic Capital. The secretary of defense established the OSC in December specifically to counteract the investment power of adversaries like China in U.S. technologies, and to secure separate funding for companies whose products are considered vital to national security. The national security argument for bailout, notably, found an influential friend in the Senate. As the Biden administration intervened to protect Silicon Valley Bank depositors on March 12, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who chairs the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee and also sits on the Banking Committee, issued a press release warning that the bank run posed a national security risk. Warner – the only member of Congress to have publicly tied SVB to national security – has received significant contributions from the financial sector. Since 2012, Warner has received over $21,000 from Silicon Valley Bank's super PAC.
Note: Many tech startups with funds in Silicon Valley Bank were working on projects with defense and national security applications. Explore revealing news articles on the rising concerns of the emerging technologies that the Defense Department is investing in, given their recent request for $17.8 billion to research and develop artificial intelligence, autonomy, directed energy weapons, cybersecurity, 5G technology, and more.
The secret contract was finalized on Nov. 8, 2021, a deal between a company that has acted as a front for the United States government and the American affiliate of a notorious Israeli hacking firm. Under the arrangement, the Israeli firm, NSO Group, gave the U.S. government access to one of its most powerful weapons – a geolocation tool that can covertly track mobile phones around the world without the phone user's knowledge or consent. Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists. The White House placed NSO on a Commerce Department blacklist, declaring the company a national security threat. The secret contract ... violates the Biden administration's public policy, and still appears to be active. The contract, reviewed by The Times, stated that the "United States government" would be the ultimate user of the tool, although it is unclear which government agency authorized the deal and might be using the spyware. Elements of America's expansive national security apparatus in recent years have bought the weapons, deployed them against drug traffickers, and have quietly pushed to consolidate control of them into the hands of the United States and its closest allies. The F.B.I. purchased access in 2019 to NSO's most powerful hacking tool, known as Pegasus, which invades mobile phones and mines their contents.
Note: Read how journalists and activists have been targeted with NSO Group spyware. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
A controversial facial recognition database, used by police departments across the nation, was built in part with 30 billion photos the company scraped from Facebook and other social media users without their permission. The company, Clearview AI, boasts of its potential for identifying rioters at the January 6 attack on the Capitol, saving children being abused or exploited, and helping exonerate people wrongfully accused of crimes. But critics point to privacy violations and wrongful arrests fueled by faulty identifications made by facial recognition, including cases in Detroit and New Orleans, as cause for concern over the technology. Once a photo has been scraped by Clearview AI, biometric face prints are made and cross-referenced in the database, tying the individuals to their social media profiles and other identifying information forever – and people in the photos have little recourse to try to remove themselves. CNN reported Clearview AI last year claimed the company's clients include "more than 3,100 US agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security." BBC reported Miami Police acknowledged they use the technology for all kinds of crimes, from shoplifting to murder. The risk of being included in what is functionally a "perpetual police line-up" applies to everyone, including people who think they have nothing to hide, [said] Matthew Guariglia, a senior policy analyst for the international non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Fund.
Note: Read about the rising concerns of the use of Clearview AI technology in Ukraine, with claims to help reunite families, identify Russian operatives, and fight misinformation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
A US Virgin Islands investigations into the sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's ties to an American bank issued subpoenas to four wealthy business leaders on Friday, extending its reach into the highest echelons of tech, hospitality and finance. The subpoenas issued to the Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Hyatt Hotels chairperson Thomas Pritzker, American-Canadian businessman Mortimer Zuckerman and former CAA talent agency chairperson Michael Ovitz are crafted to gather more information about Epstein's relationship with JPMorgan Chase. The Virgin Islands' lawsuit against JP Morgan, the world's largest bank in terms of assets, alleges that the institution "facilitated and concealed wire and cash transactions that raised suspicion of – and were in fact part of – a criminal enterprise whose currency was the sexual servitude of dozens of women and girls in and beyond the Virgin Islands". "Human trafficking was the principal business of the accounts Epstein maintained at JP Morgan," it said. The disgraced financier ... owned two private islands – Little Saint James, or "Epstein Island", and Great Saint James – in the American territory, and authorities there have secured a $105m settlement from his estate. The demand for any communications and documents related to the bank and Epstein from four of the wealthiest people in the US comes days after it was reported that Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan's chairperson and chief executive, is expected to be deposed in the case.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's child sex trafficking ring from reliable major media sources.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University recently published an article in JAMA that highlights rising concern around the effects of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) on health care. Their work shows that DTC advertising might have direct harm on patients. They studied drug characteristics and total advertising expenditures for the 150 top-selling branded prescription drugs in the United States, finding that total promotional spending by the manufacturer was associated with a significantly lower added clinical benefit for the drug. In fact, companies spent nearly 15% more on DTC advertising for drugs that had demonstrated lower added benefit. Even more troubling, each 1.5% increase in spending was associated with a 10% increase in sales. Simply put, pharmaceutical companies spent more money on DTC advertising when medical research found that the drug was less effective, and this spending directly led to more sales for those inferior drugs. The U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that still allows direct-to-consumer advertising. Aside from increased pressure on providers to prescribe particular drugs which may not be the best option, there are other downsides to DTC. The data show that DTC advertising leads to increased drug costs overall, adding to the already skyrocketing costs of medical care in America. Additionally, DTC advertising tends to reduce use of generic medications, which are often equally effective but significantly cheaper for patients.
Note: This profoundly eye-opening interview of a top cardiologist reveals without doubt how big Pharma has corrupted science and greatly damaged public health. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
The world we live in is slowly poisoning every single one of us. And the chemicals doing the most damage are byproducts of the fossil fuel industry, agribusiness and manufacturing. There doesn't seem to be the appetite at a regulatory or governmental level to stop it. In Australia, 50,000 agricultural, industrial and veterinary chemicals are being used; 1,500 are suspected to interfere with endocrine function, which is essential to the healthy working of our reproductive and hormonal systems. Only a very small number have been tested. Microplastics, which can cause inflammation in the body, is being found in our blood streams and also in the placentas of unborn fetuses. Walking down a major intersection during rush hour can expose you to as much particulate matter as a major bushfire event. Even if chemicals are tested, the testing regimen means that chemicals are only being tested in isolation and not in conjunction with others to see how compounds react. Also, they might be tested for carcinogenic effects ... but the test subjects aren't monitored for other ill-effects, such as endocrine disruption. Some effects take place long after the research has concluded. Some of these chemicals can stay in the body forever. Or affect the way our DNA functions. There’s even an Australian website (not widely enough publicised) called yourfertility.org.au. It has an entire section on chemicals in our environment and what to avoid, stating that “avoiding these chemicals may increase the chance of having a baby”.
Note: The above was written by Isabelle Oderberg, author of Hard to Bear: Investigating the science and silence of miscarriage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
Even as elite American universes such as Harvard have bowed to pressure to divest their multibillion-dollar endowments from fossil fuels, and student activists take recalcitrant holdouts to court, oil and gas companies continue to exert a grip upon campus life, through funded research and the physical presence of oil and gas industry employees in lectures and meetings with faculty. Fossil-fuel firms have purposely sought to "colonize" academia with industry-friendly science, rather than seed overt climate denial, according to Ben Franta, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford who has studied industry's influence over universities. Their research dollars, he said, had effectively discouraged academic endeavors that challenge the core business model of burning oil and gas, instead shifting the focus to favored topics such as capturing carbon emissions from polluting facilities, a still niche technology that would allow industry to continue business as usual. The reach of fossil fuels into academia "never ceases to amaze me", said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Brown University. "You can barely study climate change at elite universities and not be funded by fossil-fuel companies," he added. "They drive all this study into carbon capture, so that influences policy and becomes a part of the Biden administration's agenda. The influence is profound, and the students are right to be wondering what kind of education they are getting here."
Note: Read more on how fossil companies donated $700 million to US universities over 10 years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Over the last decade alone, at least 540 doctors and healthcare practitioners collectively paid the government hundreds of millions of dollars to negotiate their way out of trouble via civil settlements, then continued to practice medicine without restrictions on their licenses despite allegations that included fraud and patient harm, a Reuters investigation found. That figure is the result of the first-ever comprehensive analysis of federal civil settlements and state disciplinary actions. Separately, more than 2,200 hospitals and healthcare companies likewise negotiated civil deals to sidestep prosecution for alleged offenses that included paying bribes, falsifying patients records and billing the government for unnecessary patient care, the Reuters analysis shows. In many of those cases, the physicians, staffers and top brass who purportedly committed those misdeeds were not named publicly by prosecutors or forced to pay settlements themselves. Federal enforcers said they sometimes withhold names of individuals in these situations because of ongoing or planned investigations. The U.S. government collected more than $26.8 billion in healthcare-related civil settlements and judgments from 2013 to 2022, the Reuters analysis found. Victims, meanwhile, received no share of these settlements, which are funneled to a Treasury Department general fund. Consequently, they must pursue their own civil cases in search of restitution for suffering and harm, Reuters found.
During one of his many visits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Siddharth Kara ... met a young woman sifting dirt for traces of cobalt. Priscille told him she had suffered two miscarriages and that her husband, a fellow "artisanal" miner, died of a respiratory disease. It is just one of many devastating personal accounts in Cobalt Red, a detailed exposĂ© into the hidden world of small-scale cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The "quaint" moniker of artisanal mining, Mr. Kara points out, belies a brutal industry where hundreds of thousands of men, women and children dig with bare hands and basic tools in toxic, perilous pits, eking out an existence on the bottom rung of the global supply chain. The miners are the first step in the race for precious metals and minerals by some of the world's most powerful companies. If you own a smartphone, tablet, laptop, e-scooter, [or] electric vehicle ... then it is a system in which you are unwittingly complicit. Around 75 per cent of the world's cobalt is mined in the DRC. The rare, silvery metal is an essential component to every lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Congolese miners ... have experienced life-changing injuries, sexual assault, physical violence, corruption, displacement and abject poverty. Major tech and EV companies extol commitments to human rights, zero-tolerance for child labor, and clean supply chains. Mr. Kara described these statements as "utterly inconsistent" with what's happening on the ground.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
It had been 15 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq when, on March 19, 2018, the celebrated Iraqi novelist and poet Sinan Antoon published a blistering op-ed in The New York Times. He took readers through his observations of the steady deterioration of Iraqi society since the war began, but the most scathing words came toward the end. "No one knows for certain how many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago," Antoon wrote. "Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again. The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a â€blunder,' or even a â€colossal mistake.' It was a crime. Those who perpetrated it are still at large." That the invasion was not just a moral catastrophe but an egregious war crime has been echoed by everyone from United Nations heads to human rights leaders. With the 20th anniversary of the invasion now approaching, the sanitizing of the war's major culprits – or, at the very least, the soft forgetting of their crimes – continues. As the very top decision-makers faded into retirement, the next layer of war pushers, enablers and overseers – the top defense and national security officials and the celebrity generals – went on to profit immensely following their leadership of an illegal war, darting through the revolving door to snag coveted corporate board seats and prestigious university appointments. Many of them remain in these positions with defense industry giants, tech firms and Wall Street investors today.
A young TikTok user has long, wavy hair. She's slim and wants you to know exactly why: she's using Wegovy, a prescription drug originally developed to treat diabetes that's become a popular drug for weight loss. In one clip, she picks up the medication from a pharmacy ... then demonstrates in a following clip how she injects it into her leg. She's what's called a patient influencer. They have no medical training and claim that they're simply sharing their personal experiences with their TikTok and Instagram followers. But in this ... unregulated arena, it's gotten harder to tell when influencing crosses legal and ethical lines. Many patient influencers offer prescription drug advice to their followers without always revealing their relationships with drug companies, according to Erin Willis ... who authored a study about patient influencers. A patient influencer can expect to earn anywhere from "the low hundreds to a few thousand dollars" per social media post. Part of what makes patient influencers effective is that they often push messaging further than what would be allowed on media like TV, where ads are far more closely scrutinized by regulators like the FDA and Federal Trade Commission. Willis calls patient influencing "an interactive form of advertising" that's "difficult to regulate, if it's been regulated at all". Studies find [direct-to-consumer] ads lead to doctors prescribing them more – driving the market for these ads to nearly $7bn last year, industry statistics show.
Note: This controversial marketing tactic is only legal in the United States and New Zealand. Read more about how these tactics are quickly becoming the "wild west of pharma advertising," especially when the FDA's social media guidance hasn't been updated since 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
There's no better way to reach an audience today than through social media – and Big Pharma is well aware of that. The video-sharing platform TikTok, for example, is being flooded with videos of users testifying to wellness through prescription drugs, with hashtags like #adhd (22.3B views), #ozempic (675.1M views) and #wegovy (259.3M views) consistently trending. Now, experts are warning about this misleading tactic by drugmakers, in paying popular social media users to espouse their products under the guise of honest reviews, in a new study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. These so-called patient influencers, or patient "advocates," are social media influencers who use their platform to promote pharmaceutical medications and/or medical devices. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed 26 recent interviews with patient influencers, who had been diagnosed with conditions such as lupus, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, asthma, HIV, celiac disease, chronic migraines and perimenopause. The majority (69%) had previously collaborated with a pharmaceutical company in some way. The Federal Trade Commission mandates that influencers must disclose if they have been paid by using hashtags, such as by adding #ad or #sponsored to related posts, while the Food and Drug Administration has rules and regulations regarding what can be said on social posts. Nevertheless, many consumers fail to decipher a sponsored ad from genuine peer-to-peer advice.
Leaked messages seen by The Telegraph showed that in December 2020, Matt Hancock, the health secretary at the time, suggested that the Government "frighten the pants off everyone" to ensure strict Covid rules were adhered to. Sir Charles Walker, who was a leading member of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative backbenchers, said that he was distressed by the leaked conversations. "What makes me so angry is the evils and the psychological warfare we deployed against young people and the population, all those behavioural psychologists," he [said]. "And there needs to be a reckoning. We need to understand and fully appreciate the damage that those sorts of campaigns did." Sir Charles lamented Parliament going "missing in action" as most MPs waved through dozens of Covid restrictions with little debate. He said: "Those voices that raised concerns were just othered. We were positioned as being anti-lockdown, Right-wing headbangers. And actually wanting to do the right thing isn't Right-wing. "We did terrible things to youngsters. We did terrible things to a large number of people. We need to make sure we never do those things again." Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, blamed a mix of "mission creep" and "expertise creep" for a response dominated by groupthink. "It was wrong in every sense to make younger people scared of a virus that we knew very early on was of very limited risk to them," he [said].
Note: The unethical use of "nudge" tactics to inflate fear among the public prompted 40 psychologists in the UK to write a letter to the Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, saying it was “highly questionable whether a civilised society should knowingly increase the emotional discomfort of its citizens as a means of gaining their compliance." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and media manipulation from reliable sources.
On at least four occasions since 2019, Elon Musk has predicted that his medical device company, Neuralink, would soon start human trials of a revolutionary brain implant to treat intractable conditions such as paralysis and blindness. Yet the company, founded in 2016, didn't seek permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until early 2022 – and the agency rejected the application. Musk has detailed a bold vision for Neuralink: Both disabled and healthy people will pop into neighborhood facilities for speedy surgical insertions of devices with functions ranging from curing obesity, autism, depression or schizophrenia to web-surfing and telepathy. Musk also has said Neuralink would restore full mobility to paralyzed patients. Reuters exclusively reported late last year that the federal government was investigating the company's treatment of its research animals. The probe was launched amid growing employee concern that the company is rushing experiments, causing additional suffering and deaths of pigs, sheep and monkeys. Musk's company ... trails at least one direct rival in the race for FDA approval. Synchron, a competitor making a BCI implant, has won the agency's blessing for human trials. The company first tested its device on four patients in Australia who successfully sent text messages with their minds. Synchron recently raised $75 million, including from funds backed by tech billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants from reliable major media sources.
Caleb Kenyon, a defense attorney in Florida, saw a geofence warrant was when a new client received an alarming email from Google in January 2020. Police were requesting personal data from the client, Zachary McCoy, and Kenyon had just seven days to stop Google from turning it over, the email said. The geofence warrant included a map and GPS coordinates, and instructed Google to provide identifying information for every user whose device was found within the radius of that location at a certain date and time. "It was so bizarre that I just didn't even have a concept for what I was dealing with," he said. Kenyon is not alone. As tech firms build ever more sophisticated means of surveilling people and their devices – technology that law enforcement is eager to take advantage of – the legal community is scrambling to keep up. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) ... recently created the Fourth Amendment Center, named for the constitutional right against unreasonable searches. The center is one of the few resources available for helping attorneys better understand how new technology is being used against their clients. It can be years before the defense community catches wind of the newest surveillance tools. Unlike other search warrants, geofence warrants don't require probable cause or a specific suspect in mind; they gather information on anyone within the vicinity of an alleged crime. Advocates argue this violates the fourth amendment.
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.
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.
On Feb. 3, a train of about 150 freight cars – many carrying several loads of hazardous materials – crashed and exploded in the town of East Palestine, Ohio. The tangled knot of boxcars operated by Norfolk Southern Railway shot out flames reaching 100 feet and sent a massive plume of coal-black smog. Five days later, crews ignited a controlled burn of the toxic chemicals in order to prevent a much bigger explosion, but the situation appears to be worsening. Residents and local news agencies have posted viral videos of streams and creeks cluttered with dead fish and frogs. Reports have also surfaced that fumes sickened and even killed pets. Many are drawing comparisons to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which turned Pripyat, a city of roughly 50,000 people, into a ghost town. "We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open," Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist, told WKBN. On Feb. 8, state officials told residents that they could "safely" return home. "If it's safe and habitable, then why does it hurt?" Nathen Velez, a resident of East Palestine, said to CNN. "Why does it hurt me to breathe?" As more details emerge, the gravity of the situation only seems to worsen. In a letter sent to Norfolk Southern Railway on Feb. 11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that in addition to vinyl chloride, four additional toxic chemicals were on board the train: ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, butyl acrylate and isobutylene.
Note: An on-the-ground report discusses this tragic issue beyond the official narrative: how corporate greed is the underlying cause of the crash, local media outlets owned by private equity firms who have significant stakes in Norfolk Southern, and potential long-term impacts. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Advanced Impact Media Solutions, or Aims, which controls more than 30,000 fake social media profiles, can be used to spread disinformation at scale and at speed. It is sold by "Team Jorge", a unit of disinformation operatives based in Israel. Tal Hanan, who runs the covert group using the pseudonym "Jorge", told undercover reporters that they sold access to their software to unnamed intelligence agencies, political parties and corporate clients. Team Jorge's Aims software ... is much more than a bot-controlling programme. Each avatar ... is given a multifaceted digital backstory. Aims enables the creation of accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Telegram, Gmail, Instagram and YouTube. Some even have Amazon accounts with credit cards, bitcoin wallets and Airbnb accounts. Hanan told the undercover reporters his avatars mimicked human behaviour and their posts were powered by artificial intelligence. [Our reporters] were able to identify a much wider network of 2,000 Aims-linked bots on Facebook and Twitter. We then traced their activity across the internet, identifying their involvement ... in about 20 countries including the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Panama, Senegal, Mexico, Morocco, India, the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Ecuador. The analysis revealed a vast array of bot activity, with Aims' fake social media profiles getting involved in a dispute in California over nuclear power; a #MeToo controversy in Canada ... and an election in Senegal.
Note: The FBI has provided police departments with fake social media profiles to use in law enforcement investigations. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
A study published Monday ... outlines how expansive the market for people's health data has become. After contacting data brokers to ask what kinds of mental health information she could buy, researcher Joanne Kim reported that she ultimately found 11 companies willing to sell bundles of data that included information on what antidepressants people were taking, whether they struggled with insomnia or attention issues, and details on other medical ailments, including Alzheimer's disease or bladder-control difficulties. Some of the data was offered in an aggregate form that would have allowed a buyer to know, for instance, a rough estimate of how many people in an individual Zip code might be depressed. But other brokers offered personally identifiable data featuring names, addresses and incomes, with one data-broker sales representative pointing to lists named "Anxiety Sufferers" and "Consumers With Clinical Depression in the United States." Some even offered a sample spreadsheet. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, restricts how hospitals, doctors' offices and other "covered health entities" share Americans' health data. But the law doesn't protect the same information when it's sent anywhere else, allowing app makers and other companies to legally share or sell the data. Some of the data brokers offered ... opt-out forms. But ... many people probably didn't realize the brokers had collected their information in the first place. Privacy advocates have for years warned about the unregulated data trade, saying the information could be exploited by advertisers or misused for predatory means. The health-data issue has in some ways gotten worse, in large part because of the increasing sophistication with which companies can collect and share people's personal information – including not just in defined lists, but through regularly updated search tools and machine-learning analyses.
The reptilian annual World Economic Forum at Davos, where the masters of the universe meet to congratulate themselves on their benevolent dictatorship, is home to many sinister ideas. This year, one of the creepiest discussions of all was delivered under the guise of progress and productivity. Nita Farahany, a Duke University professor and futurist, gave a presentation at Davos about neurotechnology that is creating "brain transparency." The new technologies, which Farahany says are being deployed in workplaces around the world ... include a variety of wearable sensors that read the brain's electrical impulses and can show how fatigued you are, whether you're focused on the task at hand or if your attention is wandering. According to Farahany, thousands of companies have hooked workers ranging from train drivers to miners up to these devices already, in the name of workplace safety. But what we are really discussing is workplace surveillance. Farahany paints a picture of a near future in which every office worker could be fitted with a small wearable that would constantly record brain activity, creating an omnipotent record of your thoughts, attention and energy that the boss could study at leisure. Farahany acknowledges that there could be drawbacks here: "Done poorly, it could become the most oppressive technology we've ever introduced on a wide scale." All of this raises the question: what exactly is your employer buying when they give you a paycheck? For bosses, the answer is simple: "Everything."
Note: Tune into a fascinating, 17 min. conversation about this issue that raises important questions about the overreliance on technology as a tool of control, under the guise of workplace safety. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
The US government's new mobile app for migrants to apply for asylum at the US-Mexico border is blocking many Black people from being able to file their claims because of facial recognition bias in the tech, immigration advocates say. The app, CBP One, is failing to register many people with darker skin tones, effectively barring them from their right to request entry into the US. People who have made their way to the south-west border from Haiti and African countries, in particular, are falling victim to apparent algorithm bias in the technology that the app relies on. The government announced in early January that the new CBP One mobile app would be the only way migrants arriving at the border can apply for asylum and exemption from Title 42 restrictions. Racial bias in face recognition technology has long been a problem. Increasingly used by law enforcement and government agencies to fill databases with biometric information including fingerprints and iris scans, a 2020 report by Harvard University called it the "least accurate" identifier, especially among darker-skinned women with whom the error rate is higher than 30%. Emmanuella Camille, a staff attorney with the Haitian Bridge Alliance ... said the CBP One app has helped "lighter-skin toned people from other nations" obtain their asylum appointments "but not Haitians" and other Black applicants. Besides the face recognition technology not registering them ... many asylum seekers have outdated cellphones – if they have cellphones at all – that don't support the CBP One app.
Big pharma spends more money on advertising for drugs that have lower health benefits for patients, according to a study published in JAMA on Tuesday, shedding new light on the almost uniquely American practice amid fierce debate over whether direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads should be banned. The proportion of advertising spending allocated to direct-to-consumer ads was an average of 14.3 percentage points higher for drugs with a low added benefit compared to those with a high added benefit, according to the peer-reviewed analysis of the 150 best-selling branded prescription drugs. Manufacturers of the top six best-selling drugs spent the bulk of their promotional budgets–more than 90%–targeting consumers directly rather than clinicians for a range of treatment options for conditions including HIV, multiple sclerosis and numerous cancers. The findings could suggest pharma firms are aiming promotional dollars directly towards consumers ... as part of a "strategy to drive patient demand for drugs that clinicians would be less likely to prescribe," said the study's lead author Michael DiStefano. Just two countries in the world allow drug makers to market prescription medications directly to consumers: the U.S. and New Zealand. Most countries prohibit directly advertising prescription medications to the public, something the WHO says influences both people and, indirectly, the medical professionals treating them, making it "harder to make decisions on evidence based medicine."
The "Twitter files" revealed an FBI operation to monitor and censor social media content. Dozens of FBI employees worked on the identification and removal of material on a wide range of subjects and that Twitter largely carried out their requests. Nor was it just the FBI, apparently. Emails reveal FBI figures like a San Francisco assistant special agent in charge asking Twitter executives to "invite an OGA" (or "Other Government Organization") to an upcoming meeting. A week later, Stacia Cardille, a senior Twitter legal executive, indicated the OGA was the CIA, an agency under strict limits regarding domestic activities. Twitter's own ranks included dozens of ex-FBI agents and executives. The dozens of disclosed emails ... do not include still-undisclosed but apparent government coordination with Facebook and other social media companies. Much of that work apparently was done through the multi-agency Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which operated secretly it seems to censor citizens. This is a First Amendment violation. The Twitter files have substantiated long-standing concerns over "censorship by surrogate" or proxy. As with other amendments like the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches or seizures, the government cannot use private agents to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. Just as a police officer cannot direct a security guard to break into an apartment and conduct a search, the FBI cannot use Twitter to censor Americans.
A war between China and Taiwan will be extremely good for business at America's Frontier Fund ... according to audio from a February 1 event. The remarks occurred at a tech finance symposium hosted at the Manhattan offices of Silicon Valley Bank. "If the China-Taiwan situation happens, some of our investments will 10x, like overnight," [a] person who identified as "Tom" said. "So I don't want to share the name, but the one example I gave was a critical component that ... the total market value is $200 million, but it is a critical component to a $50 billion market cap. That's like a choke point, right. And so if it's only produced in China, for example, and there's a kinetic event in the Pacific, that would 10x overnight, like no question about it. There's a couple of different things like that." AFF is surely not the only venture fund that would see stratospheric returns throughout their portfolio in the case of a destabilizing global crisis, like a "kinetic event in the Pacific" – that is to say, war. Gilman Louie, AFF's co-founder and current CEO, serves as chair of the National Intelligence University, advises Biden through his Intelligence Advisory Board, and was tapped for the State Department's Foreign Affairs Policy Board. Louie previously ran In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm. In other words, AFF stands to massively profit from a geopolitical crisis while its CEO advises the Biden administration on geopolitical crises. AFF was founded last year with support from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Note: While the detection of a Chinese spy balloon drums up significant fear and outrage over hostile foreign "threats," an incisive article reveals how US surveillance of foreign countries is quite common, including their recent expansion of military bases in Southeast Asia to monitor and surveil China. Furthermore, many independent journalists are questioning the war-fueling narrative that China is a threat to national security. Watch an insightful analysis uncovering the deeper story of what's behind the growing tensions between the US and China.
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia rejected Johnson & Johnson â€s use of chapter 11 bankruptcy to freeze roughly 40,000 lawsuits linking its talc products to cancer, blunting a strategy the consumer health giant and a handful of other profitable companies have used to sidestep jury trials. The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday dismissed the chapter 11 case of J&J subsidiary LTL Management LLC, which the company created in 2021 to move the talc injury lawsuits to bankruptcy court and freeze them in place. J&J is now exposed once again to talc-related cancer claims that have cost the company's consumer business $4.5 billion in recent years and are expected to continue for decades. J&J tried to stanch those costs through an emerging corporate restructuring strategy that offered J&J and other companies the protections of bankruptcy, despite their solvent balance sheets and solid credit ratings, and put a total of more than 250,000 injury lawsuits against the businesses on hold. Monday's decision marks the first time a federal appeals court has disapproved of the bankruptcy strategy, known in legal circles as the Texas Two-Step. The court's decision could mark tougher scrutiny of the legal tactic, which would make it harder for big companies to move past potentially costly and time-consuming personal-injury litigation. Bankruptcy allows companies swamped by lawsuits to drive settlements of legal liabilities through a chapter 11 plan and stop litigation from advancing in the civil justice system.
Note: Johnson & Johnson knew that its products caused cancer and lied to the public about it for decades. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
A recent Gallup poll found that a whopping 18 million Americans–including 20 percent of Americans who make less than $24,000 annually–cannot afford at least one of their prescriptions. The status quo is sad and tragic and needs to end. Congress can help by addressing seemingly monopolistic forces in the industry that may be keeping costs high. Congress should start by investigating the potential anti-competitive activities posed by the nation's leading drug wholesalers. The nation's three largest pharmaceutical distributors own an estimated 75 percent of the nation's pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs)–the organizations that are supposed to negotiate good drug contract deals on pharmacies' behalf. If the major companies that sell drugs owning the entities that are supposed to restrain drug prices sounds like a clear conflict of interest, that's because it probably is one. And the fact that these three pharma distributors have already been the subject of nationwide Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission lawsuits for seemingly predatory business activities only compounds this alarming antitrust issue. A growing number of states–including Louisiana, Maryland, and Wisconsin–have begun investigating the role that PSAOs may play in America's drug price-gouging problem and have passed legislation to increase PSAO transparency and oversight. That said, this is a federal issue and requires a federal solution.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
The U.S. government may have awarded roughly $5.4 billion in coronavirus aid to small businesses with potentially ineligible Social Security numbers, offering the latest indication that Washington's haste earlier in the pandemic opened the door for widespread waste, fraud and abuse. The top watchdog overseeing stimulus spending – called the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, or PRAC – offered the estimate in an alert issued Monday and shared early with The Washington Post. It came as House Republicans prepared to hold their first hearing this week to study the roughly $5 trillion in federal stimulus aid approved since spring 2020. The suspected wave of grift targeted two of the government's most generous emergency initiatives: the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, dubbed EIDL. Studying more than 33 million applicants, the PRAC uncovered more than 221,000 ineligible Social Security numbers on requests for small-business aid. That included thousands of cases where the number was "not issued" by the government, for example, or it did not match the correct name and birth information. More than a quarter of those applications, using nearly 70,000 suspect Social Security numbers, were still approved between April 2020 and October 2022 despite the questionable data – and the government loaned those applicants about $5.4 billion, the watchdog found. The full extent of taxpayers' losses remains unknown, even to Washington.
A number of Indigenous communities in the Amazon say that "carbon pirates" have become a threat to their way of life as western companies seek to secure deals in their territories for offsetting projects. Across the world's largest rainforest, Indigenous leaders say they are being approached by carbon offsetting firms promising significant financial benefits from the sale of carbon credits if they establish new projects on their lands, as the $2bn (Ł1.6bn) market booms with net zero commitments from companies in Europe and North America. Proponents of carbon markets, especially those that aim to protect rainforests, say that carbon credits are a good way to fund the new areas and pay Indigenous communities for the stewardship of their lands. The resulting credits could then be used for climate commitments by western companies. Indigenous communities are being taken advantage of in the unregulated sector, with opaque deals for carbon rights that can last up to a century, lengthy contracts written in English, and communities being pushed out of their lands for projects. Examples include Peru's largest ever carbon deal involving an unnamed extractive firm, where the Kichwa community claim they have been forced from their land in Cordillera Azul national park and received nothing from the $87m agreement. Several Indigenous communities spoke of training themselves in carbon market regulation and organising global exchanges to help others avoid falling victim to "carbon pirates".
Note: An excellent investigation reveals that over 90% of rainforest offsets are likely to be "phantom credits" and do not represent real carbon reductions, yet are being used by Disney, Shell, Gucci, Salesforce, the band Pearl Jam, and other large corporations. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on climate change from reliable major media sources.
Television ads for drugs are filled with glowing images of people living their best lives, all thanks to that new med they've been prescribed. But drugs being touted on TV often have little to no benefit compared to other treatments, a new study published online Jan. 13 in JAMA Network Open finds. Fewer than one-third of drugs commonly advertised in the United States are highly rated first-line therapies, based on regulatory reviews from three different health agencies, the researchers said. Further, medications categorized as "low benefit" accounted for nearly $16 billion of the $22 billion in TV ad spending during the six-year study period, the results showed. "Proponents of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising often argue that these ads have high public health value by encouraging uptake of the most therapeutically beneficial therapies. Our study pushes back against this argument," said lead researcher Neeraj Patel. "The U.S. is one of only two high-income countries in the world that widely permits direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs," Patel said. "And there's been a ton of empirical research over the past two decades that has suggested that this type of advertising can be misleading, lead to inappropriate prescribing, and inflate health care costs." In the meantime, people should have frank discussions with their doctor about any drug that's caught their eye on TV, focusing on the real risks and benefits, Patel said.
Note: This profoundly eye-opening interview of a top cardiologist reveals without doubt how big Pharma has corrupted science and greatly damaged public health. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Vaccine-makers sought to shape content moderation actions at Twitter. Stronger, a campaign run by Public Good Projects, a public health nonprofit specializing in large-scale media monitoring programs, regularly communicated with Twitter on regulating content related to the pandemic. The firm worked closely with the San Francisco social media giant to help develop bots to censor vaccine misinformation and, at times, sent direct requests to Twitter with lists of accounts to censor and verify. Internal Twitter emails show regular correspondence between an account manager at Public Good Projects, and various Twitter officials, including Todd O'Boyle, lobbyist with the company who served as a point of contact with the Biden administration. The content moderation requests were sent throughout 2021 and early 2022. The entire campaign ... was entirely funded by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a vaccine industry lobbying group. BIO, which is financed by companies such as Moderna and Pfizer, provided Stronger with $1,275,000 in funding for the effort, which included tools for the public to flag content on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for moderation. Many of the tweets flagged by Stronger contained absolute falsehoods. But others hinged on a gray area of vaccine policy through which there is reasonable debate, such as requests to label or take down content critical of vaccine passports and government mandates to require vaccination.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, the public relations juggernaut Edelman will publish the latest edition of its "trust barometer", an annual survey that purports to measure whether people around the world trust businesses, governments, NGOs and the media. There's just one problem: even as Edelman promotes its brand and pursues clients with stern warnings about the importance of trust, critics charge the company appears reluctant to follow its own advice. The firm's clients have ranged from ExxonMobil to the Saudi government and members of the Sackler family, the former owners of the opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. Successful PR firms do more than simply promote and spin – they actually infuse the public discourse with their clients' perspectives. "These companies are trying not just to manage trust, but to make trust," [media studies professor Melissa] Aronczyk said. "And if they themselves are the owners of that survey, or barometer, or whatever it is, then, of course, they become the proprietors of that kind of value." Edelman's most effective case study might be the firm itself. It has managed to cultivate a reputation for trust even as its business model appears regularly to contradict its advice and its CEO's admonitions. Over the past four years Edelman has signed about $9.6m worth of deals with the government of Saudi Arabia and companies controlled by the regime, while simultaneously urging businesses to stand up for human rights.
A pair of attorneys defending FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried against one of the biggest white-collar prosecutions in decades are veterans of high-profile cases, including ones involving drug lord "El Chapo" and disgraced socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, former federal prosecutors who are now partners in the New York-based boutique firm Cohen & Gresser ... are up against hard-charging Justice Department lawyers who moved quickly to indict Mr. Bankman-Fried after FTX's collapse and secured two of his former top lieutenants as cooperating witnesses. The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office this past month charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with stealing billions of dollars from FTX customers while misleading investors and lenders connected to his crypto-trading firm Alameda Research. He faces charges of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and campaign-finance violations and pleaded not guilty last week. Messrs. Cohen, 59 years old, and Everdell, 48, have already navigated their client through a thorny extradition from the Bahamas, where Mr. Bankman-Fried had been jailed after the Justice Department requested that local police arrest him. The two lawyers worked with local counsel to secure his transfer to U.S. custody while negotiating with federal prosecutors his pretrial release under a $250 million bond. They are now tasked with combing through voluminous and technical discovery, including documents relating to FTX investors, debtors and political campaigns.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Job growth and wages are slowing. This is music to the ears of Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, because the Fed blames inflation on rising wages. The Fed has been increasing interest rates to slow the economy and thereby reduce the bargaining power of workers to get wage gains. But aren't higher wages a good thing? The typical American worker's wage has been stuck in the mud for four decades. Most of the gains from a more productive economy have been going to the top – to executives and investors. The richest 10% of Americans now own more than 90% of the value of shares of stock owned by Americans. Powell's solution to inflation is to clobber workers even further. But if the demand for workers exceeds the supply, isn't the answer to pay workers more? Not according to Powell and the Fed. Their answer is to continue to raise interest rates to slow the economy and put more people out of work, so workers can't get higher wages. The Fed projects that as it continues to increase interest rates, unemployment will rise to 4.6% by the end of 2023 – resulting in more than 1m job losses. The problem isn't that wages are rising. The real problem is that corporations have the power to pass those wage increases – along with record profit margins – on to consumers in the form of higher prices. If corporations had to compete vigorously for consumers, they wouldn't be able to do this. Competitors would charge lower prices and grab those consumers away.
Note: The above was written by former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
The former attorney general for the Virgin Islands, who recently secured a $105 million settlement from the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, was recently fired following months of friction between her and the U.S. territory's governor over the handling of the investigation into the disgraced financier, according to people briefed on the matter. Denise N. George, the former official, was dismissed by Albert Bryan Jr., the governor of the Virgin Islands, on New Year's Eve, four days after her office sued JPMorgan Chase in federal court in Manhattan for its dealings with Mr. Epstein, who died of an apparent suicide in 2019 while in federal custody. The timing of Ms. George's firing fueled media speculation in the Virgin Islands and beyond that the suit against JPMorgan was the immediate cause. In late December, Ms. George's office sued JPMorgan in federal court in Manhattan, claiming that bank was derelict in providing banking services to Mr. Epstein during the time he was charged with sexually abusing teenage girls and young women at Little St. James and elsewhere in the U.S. The lawsuit accused JPMorgan of facilitating and concealing wire and cash transactions that should have raised suspicions that Mr. Epstein was engaging in the sexual trafficking of teen girls and young women. The lawsuit contends the bank essentially turned a "blind eye" to Mr. Epstein's conduct because it was profitable. JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, was Mr. Epstein's primary banker from the late 1990s to 2013.
A Journal article in 2021 cited internal [Facebook] research showing that steps to promote engagement had favored inflammatory material, with publishers and political parties reorienting their posts toward outrage and sensationalism. After the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. said it wanted to scale back how much political content it showed users. [Chief Executive Mark] Zuckerberg and [Meta's] board chose the most drastic, instructing the company to demote posts on "sensitive" topics as much as possible ... an initiative that hasn't previously been reported. Depending on the mix of suppression features deployed, projected Facebook traffic to Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, Newsmax, the Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal would initially fall by as much as 40% to 60% beyond the already enacted reductions. Suppressing civic content didn't appear likely to convince users that Facebook wasn't politically toxic. According to internal research, the percentage of users who said they thought Facebook had a negative effect on politics didn't budge with the changes, staying consistently around 60% in the U.S. Ravi Iyer, a former Meta data-science manager ... said there should be more focus on the way platforms allow certain content to go viral, rather than subjective decisions about what to leave up or take down. “Having employees judge good vs. bad speech often creates more problems than it solves,” he said. “Our goal should be fewer judgment calls.”
The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands alleges in a lawsuit filed this week that JPMorgan Chase "turned a blind eye" to evidence that disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein used the bank to facilitate sex-trafficking activities on Little St. James, the private island he owned in the territory until his 2019 suicide. In a more than 100-page complaint filed by U.S.V.I. Attorney General Denise George in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan on Tuesday, the territory alleges that JPMorgan failed to report Epstein's suspicious activities and provided the financier with services reserved for high-wealth clients after his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution in Palm Beach, Fla. The complaint says the territory's Department of Justice investigation "revealed that JP Morgan knowingly, negligently, and unlawfully provided and pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid and was indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise." It accused the bank of ignoring evidence for "more than a decade because of Epstein's own financial footprint, and because of the deals and clients that Epstein brought and promised to bring to the bank." "These decisions were advocated and approved at the senior levels of JP Morgan," it said. The bank allegedly "facilitated and concealed wire and cash transactions that raised suspicion of – and were in fact part of – a criminal enterprise whose currency was the sexual servitude of dozens of women and girls," according to the complaint.
Note: Just days after filing the lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase, the district attorney of US Virgin Islands was fired. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking ring from reliable major media sources.
Last week, the report Merchants of Poison: How Monsanto Sold the World on a Toxic Pesticide was published by authors Stacy Malkan, Kendra Klein and Anna LappĂ©. [In 2012], pesticide and processed food companies spent $45 million to defeat a ballot initiative to label GMOs (genetically modified foods) in California. This campaign was led by Monsanto, one of the planet's largest producers of GMOs. Monsanto created a PR storm through the mouths of so-called third-party "experts" from across the fields of academia and science. It was later revealed that these allegedly neutral voices were closely tied to Monsanto. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 concluded that glyphosate–the chemical contained within herbicides that most GMO crops have been engineered to resist–is likely a human carcinogen. Thousands sued Monsanto claiming that their exposure of Monsanto's glyphosate-based product, Roundup, caused their cancers. Monsanto employees ghostwrote scientific papers on the safety of glyphosate and strategized how to discredit journalists and scientists raising concerns about the pesticide. Major universities, including University of California Davis and University of Florida, played a significant role in legitimizing and amplifying pesticide industry product-defense efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Cornell University, and the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) ... also provided essential aid and cover for pesticide industry propaganda.
A large number of ex-officers from the FBI, CIA, NSC, and State Department have taken positions at Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The revelation comes amid fears the FBI operated control over Twitter censorship and the Hunter Biden laptop story. The Twitter files have revealed the close relationship with the FBI, how the Bureau regularly demanded accounts and tweets be banned and suspicious contact before the Hunter laptop story was censored. The documents detailed how so many former FBI agents joined Twitter's ranks over the past few years that they created their own private Slack channel. A report by Mint Press' Alan MacLeod identified dozens of Twitter employees, who had previously held positions at the Bureau. He also found that former CIA agents made up some of the top ranks in almost every politically-sensitive department at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. And in another report, MacLeod detailed the extent to which former CIA agents started working at Google. DailyMail.com has now been able to track down nine former CIA agents who are working, or have worked, at Meta, including Aaron Berman, the senior policy manager for misinformation at the company who had previously written the president's daily briefings. Six others have worked for other intelligence agencies before joining the social media giant, many of whom have posted recently about Facebook's efforts to tamp down on so-called 'covert influence operations.'
Note: Explore a deeper analysis on the ex-CIA agents at Facebook and at Google. Additionally, read how Big Tech censors social media on behalf of corporate and government interests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
In response to a 2017 request from the Pentagon, Twitter kept online a network of accounts that the U.S. military used to advance its interests in the Middle East, according to internal company emails that were made public on Tuesday by The Intercept, a nonprofit publication. A counterterrorism division at Twitter knew about the arrangement, but others did not, five people with knowledge of the matter said. The situation was unusual because Twitter normally removes and publicly discloses influence campaigns conducted by governments. The internal documents published by The Intercept were provided by Twitter under its new owner, Elon Musk. Mr. Musk has made an archive of documents available to select journalists to scrutinize the decisions of the company's previous leaders. The situation began in 2017 when an official working with U.S. Central Command requested that Twitter verify some of the military's accounts. The accounts had been flagged by a Twitter system used to automatically detect terrorist content and were not easy to find in searches. The Pentagon asked Twitter to "whitelist" the accounts, which would prevent the automatic tools from flagging them and make them more broadly visible on the platform. Twitter's counterterrorism team complied. While the company regularly disclosed other state-backed influence campaigns in transparency reports, executives ... feared they could violate national security laws by speaking publicly about the takedown of the campaign.
Federal regulators fined Wells Fargo a record $1.7 billion on Tuesday for "widespread mismanagement" over multiple years that harmed over 16 million consumer accounts. Wells Fargo's "illegal activity" included repeatedly misapplying loan payments, wrongfully foreclosing on homes, illegally repossessing vehicles, incorrectly assessing fees and interest and charging surprise overdraft fees. The CFPB ordered Wells Fargo to pay the $1.7 billion civil penalty in addition to more than $2 billion to compensate consumers for a range of "illegal activity." CFPB officials say this is the largest penalty imposed by the agency. The misconduct described by the CFPB echoes previously reported revelations that have emerged about Wells Fargo since 2016 when the bank's fake-accounts scandal created a national firestorm. "Wells Fargo's rinse-repeat cycle of violating the law has harmed millions of American families," Rohit Chopra, the CFPB's director, said in a statement. Chopra noted that the settlement does not provide immunity for individuals at Wells Fargo, and the agency recognizes the $3.7 billion in fines and restitution will not fix the bank's problems. Although Chopra credited Wells Fargo with making some progress, he said it's not clear "they are making rapid enough progress" and said the agency is concerned that the bank's product launches, growth initiatives and profit-boosting efforts have "delayed needed reform."
Note: In 2016, Wells Fargo was caught opening millions of fake accounts in its customers' names. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial system corruption from reliable major media sources.
After ProPublica and the New Yorker published an exposĂ© of hospice fraud, members of Congress have called on the Department of Health and Human Services to "immediately investigate this situation." The ... investigation described how the lucrative design of the Medicare benefit incentivizes many profit-seeking hospices to cut corners on care and target patients who are not actually dying. It chronicled the lack of regulation and the frustrated efforts of whistleblowers to hold end-of-life care conglomerates accountable. And it drew on state and federal data to reveal how, in the absence of oversight, the number of for-profit hospice providers in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada has lately exploded. Hospice began more than 60 years ago as a countercultural charity movement to help patients die with comfort, support and as little pain as possible. After the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan authorized Medicare to cover the service, dying became a big business. In 2000, less than a third of all hospices were for-profit. Today, more than 70% are. Between 2011 and 2019, the number of hospices owned by private equity firms tripled. For profit-seeking providers, hospice is lucrative: Medicare pays a fixed rate per patient a day, regardless of how much help is offered. The aggregate Medicare margins of for-profit providers hover around 20% compared with just 5% for nonprofits. For-profit hospices are more likely than their nonprofit counterparts to have less skilled staff ... and fewer home visits.
Six news outlets across Alabama and Florida [have] financial connections to the consulting firm Matrix LLC. The firm, based in Montgomery, Alabama, has boasted clients including Alabama Power and another major U.S. utility, Florida Power & Light. Last year, Florida Power & Light wrote a bill that was passed by the Florida Legislature and that would have gutted the ability of homeowners to make money off solar panels. One state away, Alabama Power runs and owns a coal-fired power plant that is the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. In Alabama and Florida, Matrix sought to ensure much coverage was secretly driven by the priorities of its clients. Payments flowed as the utilities in Florida and Alabama fought efforts to incorporate more clean energy in electric grids – a fight they are still waging. [Floodlight and NPR investigations reveal] a complex web of financial links, in which the six outlets collectively received, at minimum, $900,000 from Matrix, its clients, and associated entities between 2013 and 2020. Matrix shrewdly took advantage of the near collapse of the local newspaper industry and a concurrent plunge in trust in media in propelling its clients' interests. Matrix founder Joe Perkins has long held an interest in the power of the media. As a doctoral student at the University of Alabama, he wrote his thesis about a specific quandary: How can journalists' choice of sources and anecdotes affect public sentiment?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been accused of bowing to drug industry pressure after releasing new guidelines that doctors say put lives at risk by rowing back on warnings about the dangers of opioid prescribing. The latest CDC guidelines have caused controversy after dropping specific limits on dosages and lengths of prescribing from a key summary of recommendations used by physicians. Dr Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, sees the drug industry's hand behind the change. Kolodny has testified against opioid makers in legal actions over their part in driving the opioid epidemic by pushing sales with false claims about their safety and effectiveness. They include Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, a powerful narcotic pill that kickstarted the US's opioid epidemic alongside the company's marketing strategy to see the drugs widely prescribed. Kolody said ... that the drug industry calculated how much the 2016 CDC guidelines would cost it if doctors followed the recommendations to limit prescribing of high dosage pills. "The highest dosage products have had the highest profit margin. It only costs a few extra pennies to make the higher dosage pill, but retail it's almost double what they get per pill or prescription. So the industry fought very hard to block the release of the 2016 guideline and when that failed they did everything they could to make the guidelines appear controversial. And that worked," he said.
Weeks before he was murdered, Victor Hugo Orcasita presented his wife with a letter describing his last wishes. Orcasita, a union leader, had been pushing for better conditions at his workplace, a mine in northern Colombia owned by a subsidiary of the Alabama-based coal company Drummond. Then the death threats started coming in. The miners’ union was convinced that Drummond was involved in the murders. To make the case that the company was complicit in the killings, the union turned to Terry Collingsworth, a lifelong human rights attorney. In March 2015, the case took a surprising turn. Drummond had returned fire in the legal fight with an unusual accusation. The company charged that Collingsworth – an advocate who recently brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court – had led a "multifaceted criminal campaign" to extort Drummond into paying a costly settlement. This campaign, Drummond alleged, was in fact a racketeering conspiracy as defined by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO. Drummond's charges represent a scorched-earth legal strategy in which corporations are turning the tables on attorneys and advocates who accuse them of wrongdoing. By shifting the spotlight to these attorneys’ conduct, corporations effectively sidestepped the original allegations against them. The true purpose ... is to send attorneys and activists a message: Going toe-to-toe with heavyweight corporations can lead to personal ruin.
The permissible exposure limit for ortho-toluidine is 5 parts per million in air, a threshold based on research conducted in the 1940s and '50s without any consideration of the chemical's ability to cause cancer. Despite ample evidence that far lower levels can dramatically increase a person's cancer risk, the legal limit has remained the same. Paralyzed by industry lawsuits from decades ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has all but given up on trying to set a truly protective threshold for ortho-toluidine and thousands of other chemicals. The agency has only updated standards for three chemicals in the past 25 years; each took more than a decade to complete. David Michaels, OSHA's director throughout the Obama administration, [said] that legal challenges had so tied his hands that he decided to put a disclaimer on the agency's website saying the government's limits were essentially useless: "OSHA recognizes that many of its permissible exposure limits (PELs) are outdated and inadequate for ensuring protection of worker health." The agency has also allowed chemical manufacturers to create their own safety data sheets, which are supposed to provide workers with the exposure limits and other critical information. OSHA does not require the sheets to be accurate or routinely fact-check them. As a result, many fail to mention the risk of cancer and other serious health hazards. Almost one-third of more than 650 sheets for dangerous chemicals contain inaccurate warnings.
In one recent study of health care in 11 high-income countries, the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found that 44% of Americans had out-of-pocket medical expenses that topped $1,000 in the previous year. Just 16% of Germans reported paying that much. The rates were even lower in France, at 10%, and Great Britain, where only 7% reported similar medical expenses. "Many Americans may not understand how affordable health care is for patients in other countries," said Reginald D. Williams II, who oversees international research at the Commonwealth Fund. "Medical debt is a largely U.S. phenomenon. It just doesn't happen in other countries." Germany, like the U.S., has a largely private health care system that relies on private doctors and private insurers. Like Americans, many Germans enroll in a health plan through work, splitting the cost with their employer. But Germany has long done something the U.S. does not: It strictly limits how much patients have to pay out of their own pockets for a trip to the doctor, the hospital or the pharmacy. This regulation occurs through a highly structured system in which insurers negotiate collectively with physician and hospital groups to set prices. American hospitals and other medical providers for decades have fiercely resisted limits on their prices, spending millions to fight government regulation. [Dr. Eckart] Rolshoven's patients pay nothing when they see him. That not only bolsters their health, he said. It helps maintain what Rolshoven called social peace.
Funding for the Department of Defense and related work on nuclear weapons at the Department of Energy will reach more than $850 billion in Fiscal Year 2023, far higher than spending at the height of the Cold War or the peak years of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. While advocates of spending these enormous sums often argue that the money is needed to "support the troops," more than half of the Pentagon's yearly budget goes to private contractors, many of whom are making hefty profits at taxpayer expense while producing flawed products at exorbitant prices. One telling example of how these companies waste taxpayer dollars is how much they pay their top executives. In 2021 ... the CEOs of the top five contractors received compensation ranging from $18 million to $23 million each, including James Taiclet of Lockheed Martin, $18.1 million; David Calhoun of Boeing, $21.1 million; Gregory Hayes of Raytheon, $21.8 million; Phebe Novakovic of General Dynamics, $23.5 million; and Kathy Warden of Northrop Grumman, $19.9 million. Since these firms receive a large share of their revenue from U.S. government contracts, much of this excessive executive compensation is essentially subsidized by the taxpayers. Defense executives wouldn't be able to earn multi-million dollar salaries if their companies weren't grabbing billions in Pentagon contract awards. In addition to campaign contributions, the industry spent over $100 million on lobbying in just the first three quarters of 2022.
Big Tech giants and their oligarchic owners now engage in a new type of censorship, which we have called "censorship by proxy." Censorship by proxy describes restrictions on freedom of information undertaken by private corporations that exceed limits on governmental censorship and serve both corporate and government or third-party interests. Censorship by proxy is not subject to venerable First Amendment proscriptions on government interference with freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Censorship by proxy alerts us to the power of economic entities that are not normally recognized as "gatekeepers." For example, in 2022, the digital financial service PayPal (whose founders include Peter Thiel and Elon Musk) froze the accounts of Consortium News and MintPress News for "unspecified offenses" and "risks" associated with their accounts, a ruling that prevented both independent news outlets from using funds maintained by PayPal. Consortium News and MintPress News have each filed critical news stories and commentary on the foreign policy objectives of the United States and NATO. PayPal issued notices to each news outlet, stating that, in addition to suspending their accounts, it might also seize their assets for "damages." Joe Lauria, editor in chief of Consortium News, said he believed this was a case of "ideological policing." Mnar Adley, head of MintPress News, warned, "The sanctions-regime war is coming home to hit the bank accounts of watchdog journalists."
Trust Lab was founded by a team of well-credentialed Big Tech alumni who came together in 2021 with a mission: Make online content moderation more transparent, accountable, and trustworthy. A year later, the company announced a "strategic partnership" with the CIA's venture capital firm. The quiet October 29 announcement of the partnership is light on details, stating that Trust Lab and In-Q-Tel – which invests in and collaborates with firms it believes will advance the mission of the CIA – will work on "a long-term project that will help identify harmful content and actors in order to safeguard the internet." Key terms like "harmful" and "safeguard" are unexplained, but the press release goes on to say that the company will work toward "pinpointing many types of online harmful content, including toxicity and misinformation." It's difficult to imagine how aligning the startup with the CIA is compatible with [Trust Lab co-founder Tom] Siegel's goal of bringing greater transparency and integrity to internet governance. What would it mean, for instance, to incubate counter-misinformation technology for an agency with a vast history of perpetuating misinformation? Placing the company within the CIA's tech pipeline also raises questions about Trust Lab's view of who or what might be a "harmful" online, a nebulous concept that will no doubt mean something very different to the U.S. intelligence community than it means elsewhere. Trust Lab's murky partnership with In-Q-Tel suggests a step toward greater governmental oversight of online speech.
The Biden administration took a public stand last year against the abuse of spyware to target human rights activists, dissidents and journalists: It blacklisted the most notorious maker of the hacking tools, the Israeli firm NSO Group. But the global industry for commercial spyware – which allows governments to invade mobile phones and vacuum up data – continues to boom. Even the U.S. government is using it. The Drug Enforcement Administration is secretly deploying spyware from a different Israeli firm, according to five people familiar with the agency's operations, in the first confirmed use of commercial spyware by the federal government. The most sophisticated spyware tools – like NSO's Pegasus – have "zero-click" technology, meaning they can stealthily and remotely extract everything from a target's mobile phone, without the user having to click on a malicious link to give Pegasus remote access. They can also turn the mobile phone into a tracking and secret recording device, allowing the phone to spy on its owner. But hacking tools without zero-click capability, which are considerably cheaper, also have a significant market. Commercial spyware has been used by intelligence services and police forces to hack phones used by drug networks and terrorist groups. But it has also been abused by numerous authoritarian regimes and democracies to spy on political opponents and journalists. This has led governments to a sometimes tortured rationale for their use.
Note: Read about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
Newly released documents show an influential group that helps shape US food policy and steers consumers toward nutritional products has financial ties to the world's largest processed food companies and has been controlled by former industry employees who have worked for companies like Monsanto. The documents reveal the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a record of quid pro quos with a range of food giants, owns stock in ultra-processed food companies and has received millions in contributions from producers of pop, candy, and processed foods linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other health problems. The findings are a part of a recently published peer-reviewed study that examined a trove of financial documents and internal communications obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (Foia) request. "It's incredibly influential so if the Academy is corrupt then nutritional policy in the US is going to be corrupt," said Gary Ruskin ... a co-author of the study. The Academy accepted at least $15m from corporate and organizational contributors from 2011-2017, and over $4.5m in additional funding went to the Academy's foundation. Among the highest contributions came from companies such as NestlÄ‚©, PepsiCo, Hershey, Kellogg's, General Mills, Conagra, the National Dairy Council and the baby formula producer Abbott Nutrition. The Academy and its foundation also received food industry fundings via sponsorships, which are in effect quid pro quos.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Twitter owner Elon Musk spoke out on Saturday evening about the so-called "Twitter Files," a long tweet thread posted by journalist Matt Taibbi, who had been provided with details about behind-the-scenes discussions on Twitter's content moderation decision-making, including the call to suppress a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden and his laptop. During a two-hour long Twitter Spaces session, Musk said a second "Twitter Files" drop will again involve Taibbi, along with journalist Bari Weiss, but did not give an exact date for when that would be released. Musk – who claims to have not read the released files himself – said the impetus for the original tweet thread was about what happened in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and "how much government influence was there." Taibbi's first thread reaffirmed how, in the initial hours after the Post story about Hunter Biden went live, Twitter employees grappled with fears that it could have been the result of a Russian hacking operation. It showed employees on several Twitter teams debating over whether to restrict the article under the company's hacked materials policy, weeks before the 2020 election. The emails Taibbi obtained are consistent with what former Twitter site integrity head Yoel Roth told journalist Kara Swisher in an onstage interview last week. Taibbi said the contact from political parties happened more frequently from Democrats, but provided no internal documents to back up his assertion.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption from reliable sources.
The so-called Twitter Files, released ... by the independent journalist Matt Taibbi, set off a firestorm among pundits, media ethicists and lawmakers in both parties. It also offered a window into the fractured modern landscape of news, where a story's reception is often shaped by readers' assumptions about the motivations of both reporters and subjects. Mr. Musk teased the release of internal documents that he said would reveal the story behind Twitter's 2020 decision to restrict posts linking to a report in the New York Post about Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s son, Hunter. Mr. Musk, who has accused tech companies of censorship ... pointed readers to the account of Mr. Taibbi, an iconoclast journalist. Published in the form of a lengthy Twitter thread, Mr. Taibbi’s report included images of email exchanges among Twitter officials deliberating how to handle dissemination of the Post story on their platform. Skeptics of Mr. Taibbi seized on what appeared to be an orchestrated disclosure. “Imagine volunteering to do online PR work for the world’s richest man on a Friday night, in service of nakedly and cynically right-wing narratives, and then pretending you’re speaking truth to power,” the MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan wrote in a Twitter post. Mr. Taibbi clapped back on Saturday, writing: “Looking forward to going through all the tweets complaining about ‘PR for the richest man on earth,’ and seeing how many of them have run stories for anonymous sources at the FBI, CIA, the Pentagon, White House, etc.”
Note: Matt Taibbi is one of the few journalists who reports it as he sees it and is willing to look far beneath the surface. We subscribe to his excellent reports as one very useful source of unraveling the jumble of news that comes our way. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
Researchers at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, have unveiled an artificial intelligence model, named Cicero after the Roman statesman, that demonstrates skills of negotiation, trickery and forethought. More often than not, it wins at Diplomacy, a complex, ruthless strategy game where players forge alliances, craft battle plans and negotiate to conquer a stylized version of Europe. It is the latest evolution in artificial intelligence, which has experienced rapid advancements in recent years that have led to dystopian inventions, from chatbots becoming humanlike, to generated art becoming hyper-realistic, to killer drones. Cicero, released in November, was able to trick humans into thinking it was real, according to Meta, and can invite players to join alliances, craft invasion plans and negotiate peace deals when needed. Its mastery of language surprised some scientists and its creators, who thought this level of sophistication was years away. But experts said its ability to withhold information, think multiple steps ahead of opponents and outsmart human competitors sparks broader concerns. This type of technology could be used to concoct smarter scams that extort people or create more convincing deep fakes. "It is a great example of just how much we can fool other human beings," said Kentaro Toyama, a professor and artificial intelligence expert ... who read the Meta paper. "These things are super scary" and "could be used for evil."
Foreign investment firms, private equity, pension funds and businesses lodged in tax havens own more than 70% of the water industry in England, according to research by the Guardian. The complex web of ownership is revealed as the public and some politicians increasingly call for the industry to be held to account for sewage dumping, leaks and water shortages. Six water companies are under investigation for potentially illegal activities as pressure grows on the industry to put more money into replacing and restoring crumbling infrastructure to protect both the environment and public health. More than three decades after the sector was sold off with a promise to the public they would become individual small shareholders or "H2Owners", control of the water industry has become dominated by overseas investment vehicles, the super-rich, companies in tax havens and pension fund investors. The ownership structure is such that transparency and accountability are limited, according to Dr Kate Bayliss ... at Soas University of London. The Qatar Investment Authority is the third largest shareholder in Severn Trent, with a 4.6% holding, while almost 10% is held by the US investment company BlackRock and its subsidiaries. A subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has a 9.9% stake in Thames Water, while 8.7% is owned by China, the analysis shows. At least 72% of the industry is controlled by firms in 17 countries, while UK firms own 10%. Ownership of 82% of the water industry was traced overall.
Jaron Lanier, the eminent American computer scientist, composer and artist, is no stranger to skepticism around social media. The web is not a free market of information as originally envisioned. It is a gamed system being rampantly abused. [Lanier] helped create modern ideologies – Web 2.0 futurism, digital utopianism, among them. But Lanier is no longer a fan of how the digital utopia is coming along. He's called it "digital Maoism" and accused tech giants like Facebook and Google of being "spy agencies". In his latest thinking Lanier draws attention to Harvard psychologist BF Skinner's theories of "operant conditioning", or behavior controlled by its consequences, otherwise known as behavior modification. In Skinner's studies, lab rats were subjected alternately to electric shocks and treats to achieve a change in response. On social media, he says, we experience something similar. Approval, disapproval or being ignored, such techniques can be manipulated online as part of what is euphemistically called "engagement" and the creation of addictive patterns for individuals and then – by proxy – eventually whole societies. "As we enter an era where nothing means anything because it's all just about power, intermediation and influence, it's very hard to put ideas out and very easy for them to come across not as intended," he said. "I do believe that our survival depends on modifying the internet – to create a structure that is friendlier to human cognition and to the ways people really are."
Note: This was written by Jaron Lanier, who is widely considered to be the "Father of Virtual Reality." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
Among the many surprising assets uncovered in the bankruptcy of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX is a relatively tiny one that could raise big concerns: a stake in one of the country's smallest banks. The bank, Farmington State Bank in Washington State, has a single branch and, until this year, just three employees. It did not offer online banking or even a credit card. The tiny bank's connection to the collapse of FTX is raising new questions about the exchange and its operations. The ties between FTX and Farmington State Bank began in March when Alameda Research, a small trading firm and sister to FTX, invested $11.5 million in the bank's parent company, FBH. At the time, Farmington was the nation's 26th-smallest bank out of 4,800. Its net worth was $5.7 million. FTX is a now bankrupt company that was one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. A judge allowed the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell to continue advising FTX on bankruptcy. It's unclear how FTX was allowed to buy a stake in a U.S.-licensed bank, which would need to be approved by federal regulators. Banking veterans say it's hard to believe that regulators would have knowingly allowed FTX to gain control of a U.S. bank. "The fact that an offshore hedge fund that was basically a crypto firm was buying a stake in a tiny bank for multiples of its stated book value should have raised massive red flags for the F.D.I.C., state regulators and the Federal Reserve," said Camden Fine, a bank industry consultant.
Note: An in-depth investigation by Whitney Webb and Ed Berger further unearths the mysterious connections between FTX and Farmington State Bank. Extending far beyond Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX, they make a case for a deeper criminal network at play, with troubling connections to this bank. Incidentally, the firm Sullivan & Cromwell has old connections with the CIA. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Many of the world's largest asset managers and state pension funds are passively investing in companies that have allegedly engaged in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China, according to a new report. The report, by UK-based group Hong Kong Watch and the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University, found that three major stock indexes provided by MSCI include at least 13 companies that have allegedly used forced labour or been involved in the construction of the surveillance state in China's Xinjiang region. In recent years, China has come under increased scrutiny over what the UN has called "serious human rights violations" against Uyghur Muslims in the region, including systemic discrimination, mass arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence. The report includes a list of major asset managers, including BlackRock, HSBC and Deutsche Bank among others, exposed to index funds that include companies accused of engaging in labour transfers and the construction of repressive infrastructure in the region. It found public pension funds across the UK, Canada and the US and funds in New Zealand and Japan exposed by the investments. "So many people's pensions, retirement funds and savings are invested passively because, as average consumers, we don't have time to investigate each and every investment," said Laura Murphy, one of the report's authors and professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at Sheffield Hallam University.
Note: Read an eye-opening article about the shocking human rights violations happening to the Uyghur people under the auspices of the Chinese government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Google and YouTube are pouring millions into over 100 fact-checking organizations as part of a new Global Fact Check Fund aimed at stomping out misinformation online. On Tuesday, Google and YouTube announced a $13.2 million grant to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the left-leaning nonprofit Poynter Institute. The IFCN previously labeled YouTube as one of the "major conduits" of disinformation and misinformation across the world. In an open letter, the IFCN proposed a partnership with YouTube to curb the issue. The new Global Fact Check Fund is expected to support its network of 135 fact-checking organizations across 65 countries, covering 80 languages. It is the largest grant Google and YouTube have ever shelled out regarding fact-checks. "Helping people to identify misinformation is a global challenge. The Global Fact Check Fund will help fact-checkers to scale existing operations or launch new ones that elevate information, uplift credible sources and reduce the harm of mis- and disinformation around the globe," Google said in Tuesday's press release. Google also noted that fact-checking organizations can use their new funding in a variety of ways, including new technologies, the creation or expansion of their digital footprints, new verification tools, and deeper audience engagement through audio, video or podcast formats. Since 2018, the Google News Initiative has invested nearly $75 million to "strengthen media literacy" and "combat misinformation."
Note: Freedom of expression is being greatly limited with the excuse of battling misinformation, which is often valuable, easily verifiable information the elite don't want us to know. Read this informative article to see how what is labeled as fact is many times just opinion or questionable government policy. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
An offshore company that is trusted by the major web browsers and other tech companies to vouch for the legitimacy of websites has connections to contractors for U.S. intelligence agencies and law enforcement, according to security researchers, documents and interviews. Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari, nonprofit Firefox and others allow the company, TrustCor Systems, to act as what's known as a root certificate authority, a powerful spot in the internet's infrastructure that guarantees websites are not fake, guiding users to them seamlessly. The company's Panamanian registration records show that it has the identical slate of officers, agents and partners as a spyware maker identified this year as an affiliate of Arizona-based Packet Forensics, which ... has sold communication interception services to U.S. government agencies for more than a decade. TrustCor's products include an email service that claims to be end-to-end encrypted, though experts consulted by The Washington Post said they found evidence to undermine that claim. A test version of the email service also included spyware developed by a Panamanian company related to Packet Forensics. A person familiar with Packet Forensics' work confirmed that it had used TrustCor's certificate process and its email service, MsgSafe, to intercept communications and help the U.S. government catch suspected terrorists. The physical address in Toronto given in [TrustCor's] auditor's report, 371 Front St. West, houses a UPS Store mail drop.
Scandals brought down Harvey Weinstein's movie studio and major opioid supplier Mallinckrodt. But their wealthy owners, directors and executives were granted lifetime immunity from related lawsuits in bankruptcy court – an overwhelmingly common tactic in major U.S. Chapter 11 cases, a Reuters review found. Such immunity grants have become a pervasive but little-understood feature of the U.S. bankruptcy system. The releases are now granted by judges in 9 of 10 major Chapter 11 cases. The lawsuit shields, requested by the company or organization in bankruptcy, are called "nondebtor" releases because they are bestowed on people and entities that never have to declare Chapter 11 themselves. The recipients effectively get the benefits of bankruptcy protection without the associated financial or reputational damage. Reuters ... examined 29 U.S. bankruptcies that were preceded by mass tort litigation against companies or other entities, many of which included allegations involving dangerous products or sexual abuse. The review found that about 1.2 million claimants in these cases have signed away their rights to sue related parties or face pressure to approve such releases in ongoing bankruptcy-court negotiations. The 29 bankruptcies included those of 14 Catholic dioceses or religious orders and the Boy Scouts of America amid lawsuits alleging child molestation; [and] the collapse of opioid suppliers Purdue Pharma LP and Mallinckrodt plc over their alleged roles in a deadly addiction epidemic.
BBC reporter Marianna Spring ... created five fake Americans and opened social media accounts for them, part of an attempt to illustrate how disinformation spreads on sites like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok despite efforts to stop it, and how that impacts American politics. Spring worked with the Pew Research Center in the U.S. to set up five archetypes. Besides the very conservative Larry and very liberal Emma, there's Britney, a more populist conservative from Texas; Gabriela, a largely apolitical independent from Miami; and Michael, a Black teacher from Milwaukee who's a moderate Democrat. Emma is a lesbian who follows LGBTQ groups, is an atheist, takes an active interest in women's issues and abortion rights, supports the legalization of marijuana and follows The New York Times and NPR. These "traits" are the bait, essentially, to see how the social media companies' algorithms kick in and what material is sent their way. That's ... left Spring and the BBC vulnerable to charges that the project is ethically suspect in using false information to uncover false information. "By creating these false identities, she violates what I believe is a fairly clear ethical standard in journalism," said Bob Steele, retired ethics expert. "We should not pretend that we are someone other than ourselves, with very few exceptions." For a story last year, the Wall Street Journal created more than 100 automated accounts to see how TikTok steered users in different directions.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
Earlier this year, Kik Messenger user "heyyyydude1" was selling a stash of videos he'd amassed of child sexual abuse. One customer, who said he was a 35-year-old father of two, offered to buy 200 videos for $45. "How do I pay?" he asked. "Cash App," heyyyydude1 responded, sending over his payment details and a code for a Cash App referral fee. With each transaction, and many more disturbing videos sent, the seller was unknowingly providing a pile of evidence to an undercover agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's child exploitation unit. Current and former police, as well as nonprofits working directly with cops to fight child exploitation, say that such crimes are often happening via Cash App, which brings in billions in gross profit every year for Block, Inc., the Jack Dorsey-run payments giant formerly known as Square. They say that whether it's to pay for sex with a minor, to send children funds in return for nude images or to traffic a young adult victim, Cash App is often the payment tool of choice. Though it recently launched a Cash App for Teens feature, the company is conspicuously absent from collaborative efforts to fight abuse, failing to provide any tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), America's national clearing house for sexual abuse material found on tech platforms. Hundreds of pages of court filings describe cases where law enforcement said Cash App was used to either pay for sexualized images or sex with minors and adults.
Since Buzzfeed reported in June that employees of TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance had access to US consumer data, TikTok has been the focus of rare bipartisan calls for regulation and inquiry. Those inquiries became more pressing when in July, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, called Chinese espionage the "greatest long-term threat to our nation's ... economic vitality". TikTok is a relatively new player in the arena of massive global social media platforms but it's already caught the eye of regulators in Europe. New laws around child safety and general internet safety in the UK and the EU have forced the company to become more transparent about the way it operates and the way content spreads on its platform. In the US, moves to rein in the video platform have gained momentum only relatively recently, although there's little debate that the round of regulatory pressure is warranted. With 1 billion users, the platform, which uses an algorithmic feed to push users short-form videos, has had its fair share of run-ins with misinformation, data privacy and concerns about child safety. Experts the Guardian spoke with did not question the cybersecurity threat China posed. However, some said they worried regulators' hyper-focus on TikTok's China connection could distract from other pressing concerns, including TikTok's algorithm and how much user data the company collects, stores and shares. There are currently no federal regulations that protect such information.
Gargantuan profits continue to roll in at Europe's energy giants. London-based Shell reported adjusted earnings of $9.45 billion for the third quarter, its second-highest profit on record. On the same day, Paris-based TotalEnergies reported a profit of $9.9 billion. For both companies, the profits were more than double what they earned in the same period a year ago. Shell and Total, like other energy companies this year, are benefiting from high oil and natural gas prices partly stoked by the war in Ukraine, as Russia squeezes gas flows to Europe. For Shell, the profit was a step down from the record-breaking $11.5 billion it reported for the second quarter, when it received an average of just over $100 a barrel for oil, compared with $93 in the third quarter. Natural gas prices, however, increased in the third quarter. Shell is returning a large chunk of this bounty to shareholders. The company said that it planned to increase its dividend to shareholders for the fourth quarter by 15 percent, to about 29 cents a share. In what may provoke a political storm in Britain, Shell said it had not yet been obliged to pay the "windfall" tax on oil and gas profits enacted earlier this year by the British government. The tax allows companies to deduct capital expenditures.
Note: Once again mega-corporations rake in the cash and stick it to the consumers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Pfizer's plan to as much as quadruple U.S. prices for its COVID-19 vaccine next year is beyond Wall Street's expectations and will spur its revenue for years despite weaker than anticipated demand for the new booster shot so far, analysts said. The drugmaker, which developed and sells the vaccine with Germany's BioNTech, said on Thursday evening that it is targeting a range of $110 to $130 a dose for the vaccine once the United States moves to a commercial market next year. Analysts said the move could lead to price hikes by rivals. The companies have varied the pricing during the pandemic, with wealthy countries paying the most for the shots and the poorest countries the least. Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal said the new pricing range for the vaccine could add around $2.5 billion to $3 billion in annual revenue for Pfizer. "This is much higher than our assumption of $50 per shot," Bansal wrote in a research note. Global vaccine access group the People's Vaccine Alliance, which has pushed for Pfizer to allow cheaper copies of the vaccine to be made, called the proposed price hike "daylight robbery." The price range announced by Pfizer represented a more than 10,000% markup over what experts have estimated it costs the vaccine makers to produce the shots.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
Chemical companies are dodging a federal law designed to track how many PFAS "forever chemicals" their plants are discharging into the environment by exploiting a loophole created in the Trump administration's final months, a new analysis of federal records has found. The Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act put in place requirements that companies discharging over 100lb annually of the dangerous chemicals report the releases to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But during the implementation process, Trump's EPA created an unusual loophole that at least five chemical companies have exploited. PFAS ... accumulate in humans and the environment. A growing body of evidence links them to serious health problems like cancer, birth defects, liver disease and autoimmune disorders. The Trump EPA gave PFAS an unusual exemption under the law that allows companies not to report discharges if the amounts are ... less than 1% of a total mixture. Companies discharging thousands of pounds of PFAS could have gotten their releases under the 1% threshold via several routes. Companies may have added water to PFAS to dilute it to the point that it is below 1%. However, the total amount of PFAS released is still high, and may present a threat once in the environment. Companies may also be using complex mixtures with multiple PFAS. If the companies keep any one PFAS compound below the 1% threshold, then they won't have to report it.
Note: Read more about the risks and dangers of these 'forever chemicals.' For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Every day, farms across the country use a potentially cancer-causing chemical that is in the world's most common weedkillers. And data shows that it's most used in the Midwest and parts of the South. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in many herbicides, has been in use for nearly 50 years. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded in a 2015 report that the chemical "is probably carcinogenic to humans." Glyphosate's main use is in agriculture. Weedkillers containing it are used on nearly half of all planted acres of corn and soybeans in the U.S. They're also used on acres of farmland where wheat, oats, fruits and cotton are grown. Pesticide residue testing from the FDA found glyphosate residues on a wide variety of crops, including oats, soybeans, cranberries, grapes, raisins, oranges, apples, cherries and beans. A 2020 Department of Health and Human Services report notes that the greatest potential exposure is among farm workers and gardeners that use glyphosate-based herbicides and those who live near farms, manufacturing plants ... and hazardous waste disposal sites. For the general public, the report notes that exposure to glyphosate typically comes by touching or eating food or water containing residues. Some studies have found a link between increased cancer rates and higher levels of exposure. Several peer-reviewed studies have also suggested that herbicides containing glyphosate may disrupt hormones and alter the gut microbiome.
Note: Don't miss the interactive map of glyphosate usage available at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
By next year, half of Medicare beneficiaries will have a private Medicare Advantage plan. Most large insurers in the program have been accused in court of fraud. The health system Kaiser Permanente called doctors in during lunch and after work and urged them to add additional illnesses to the medical records of patients they hadn't seen in weeks. Doctors who found enough new diagnoses could earn bottles of Champagne, or a bonus in their paycheck. Anthem, a large insurer now called Elevance Health, paid more to doctors who said their patients were sicker. And executives at UnitedHealth Group, the country's largest insurer, told their workers to mine old medical records for more illnesses. Each of the strategies – which were described by the Justice Department in lawsuits against the companies – led to diagnoses of serious diseases that might have never existed. But the diagnoses had a lucrative side effect: They let the insurers collect more money from the federal government's Medicare Advantage program. A New York Times review of dozens of fraud lawsuits, inspector general audits and investigations by watchdogs shows how major health insurers exploited the program to inflate their profits by billions of dollars. Eight of the 10 biggest Medicare Advantage insurers – representing more than two-thirds of the market – have submitted inflated bills, according to the federal audits. And four of the five largest players – UnitedHealth, Humana, Elevance and Kaiser – have faced federal lawsuits alleging ... fraud.
The main U.S.-based scientific organization at the center of the controversy over the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic has won a new grant from the National Institutes of Health for risky bat coronavirus surveillance research, despite losing a previous award for failing to provide records essential to an investigation into that origin. The grant was awarded September 21 to EcoHealth Alliance, helmed by Peter Daszak, and is titled "Analyzing the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam." The new grant comes despite an open congressional investigation into the organization, which has two other ongoing NIH grants and a third in negotiation. The aim of the new research is to identify areas of potential concern for future pandemic emergence in order to help public health authorities suppress an outbreak before it breaks containment. But the process of performing the research introduces the risk of sparking an outbreak that would not otherwise have occurred, a concern highlighted by The Intercept last year: "Virtually every part of the work of outbreak prediction can result in an accidental infection. Even with the best of intentions, scientists can serve as vectors for the viruses they hunt – and as a result, their work may put everyone else's lives on the line along with their own." "It is disturbing that additional funding continues to be awarded for the same high-risk research that may have caused the current pandemic," said [molecular biologist] Richard Ebright.
Note: Watch an excellent interview in which a former EcoHealth Alliance VP turned whistleblower reveals blatant law-breaking and lies committed by Peter Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
In a cheerfully animated promotional video, a woman narrates Cubic Transportation Systems' vision for the future. Travelers will pay fares using a ticket-free mobile account. Real-time data will be aggregated, linked, and shared. "The more information that is gathered, the more powerful the system becomes," the narrator tells us. "The piece of the puzzle missing ... is you." Over the past decade, Cubic has taken the first steps toward actualizing its vision by snapping up contracts for the development of mobile-based, contactless fare collection systems in eight of America's 10 largest public transit networks. Transit authorities have embraced tap-to-pay technology for its convenience and speed, but privacy advocates are worried that the new fare collection systems pose serious surveillance and security risks. In addition to its transit operation, Cubic is a vast military contractor doing hundreds of millions of dollars in business with the U.S. military and sales to foreign militaries. The company supplies surveillance technologies, training simulators, satellite communications equipment, computing and networking platforms, and other military hardware and software. As Cubic's quiet grip on fare collection takes hold in more cities, the company's ability to process rider data grows with it, creating a sprawling corporate apparatus that has the extraordinary potential to gather up reams of information on the very people it is supposed to serve.
In 2018, senior executives at one of the country's largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line. The executives, led by Providence's chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up. Rev-Up provided Providence's employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients – even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found. If patients did not pay, Providence sent debt collectors to pursue them. More than half the nation's roughly 5,000 hospitals are nonprofits like Providence. They enjoy lucrative tax exemptions; Providence avoids more than $1 billion a year in taxes. In exchange, the Internal Revenue Service requires them to provide services, such as free care for the poor, that benefit the communities in which they operate. But in recent decades, many of the hospitals have become virtually indistinguishable from for-profit companies, adopting an unrelenting focus on the bottom line and straying from their traditional charitable missions. And, as Providence illustrates, some hospital systems have not only reduced their emphasis on providing free care to the poor but also developed elaborate systems to convert needy patients into sources of revenue. The result ... is that thousands of poor patients were saddled with debts that they never should have owed.
Every five years, top officials of the Food and Drug Administration go behind closed doors to negotiate the terms of its core budget – about $3 billion this year. But the F.D.A. is not at the table with members of Congress or with White House officials. Instead, it's in dozens of meetings with representatives of the giant pharmaceutical companies whose products the agency regulates. The negotiations are a piece of the "user fee" program in which drug, device and biotech companies make payments to the agency partly to seek product approvals. The fees ... make up nearly half of the F.D.A.'s budget, financing 6,500 jobs at the agency. The pharmaceutical industry funding alone has become so dominant that last year it accounted for three-quarters – or $1.1 billion – of the agency's drug division budget. Advocates for patients and doctors say the agreements have enabled the industry to weaken the approval process meant to ensure that drugs are safe and effective. "It's kind of like a devil's bargain," said Dr. Joseph Ross, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine who has studied F.D.A. policies, "that I think is not in the best interest of the agency, because it turns this every-five-year cycle into the F.D.A. essentially asking industry, 'What can we do to secure this money?'" Senator Bernie Sanders ... suggested that the pharmaceutical companies' tendency to charge "outrageous" prices was related to their significant role in funding and advancing policy goals of the F.D.A.'s drug division.
Note: A revealing interview of a top cardiologist illuminates the history of how Big Pharma has corrupted science and greatly damaged public health. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of news articles on big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
The push for a "green revolution" in Africa ... has spent $1 billion to date, much of it from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As an annual African farming summit takes place this week in Rwanda, activists, farmers and faith leaders from Seattle to Nairobi are calling on the Gates Foundation and other funders to stop supporting an effort they say has failed to deliver on promises to radically reduce hunger and increase farmer productivity. Critics say the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, founded in 2006 with money from the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, has promoted an industrial model of agriculture that poisons soils with chemicals and encourages farmers to go into debt by buying expensive seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. As a result of that debt, some farmers have had to sell their land or household goods like stoves and TVs, said Celestine Otieno and Anne Maina, both active with organizations in Kenya advocating for ecologically friendly practices. "I think it's the second phase of colonization," Otieno said. A donor-funded evaluation last December ... found "AGRA did not meet its headline goal of increased incomes and food security." Peter Little, director of the global development program at Emory University, puts it another way: "I don't think it's come close to what it promised to do." The criticism ... has clearly stung. This week, AGRA is launching a rebranding that drops the term "green revolution" from the organization's name, to be known from now on by its acronym only.
Note: Read a sobering open letter to Bill Gates written by 50 food sovereignty organizations that reveals how the "Green Revolution" and genetic engineering technologies have done the opposite of reducing hunger and increasing food access. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
The most important economic and political issues facing this country are the extraordinary levels of income and wealth inequality, the rapidly growing concentration of ownership, the long-term decline of the American middle class and the evolution of this country into oligarchy. We know how important these issues are because our ruling class works overtime to prevent them from being seriously discussed. We now have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the last hundred years. Wages ... are lower today than they were almost 50 years ago. When I was a kid growing up, most families were able to be supported by one breadwinner. Now an overwhelming majority of households need two paychecks to survive. Since 1975, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth in America that has gone in exactly the wrong direction. Over the past 47 years, according to the Rand Corporation, $50tn in wealth has been redistributed from the bottom 90% of American society to the top 1%, primarily because a growing percentage of corporate profits has been flowing into the stock portfolios of the wealthy and the powerful. During this terrible pandemic ... some 700 billionaires in America became nearly $2tn richer. Just three Wall Street firms (Blackrock, Vanguard and State Street) control assets of over $20tn and are the major stockholders in 96% of S&P 500 companies. In terms of media, some eight multinational media conglomerates control what we see, hear and read.
Note: The above was written by Sen. Bernie Sanders. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
The biggest thing the federal government now does with businesses is subsidize them. The Clean Air Act of 1970 authorized the government to regulate air pollution. The Inflation Reduction Act, which Joe Biden signed into law ... allocates more than $300bn to energy and climate reform, including $30bn in subsidies for manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbines. Notice the difference? This shift from regulation to subsidy has characterized every recent administration. Today it's politically difficult, if not impossible, for government to demand that corporations (and their shareholders) bear the costs of public goods. Spending by corporations on lobbying increased from $1.44bn in 1999 to $3.77bn in 2021 and is on track to exceed $4bn this year. This tidal wave of corporate money has occurred at the same time large American corporations have globalized ... demanding government subsidies in return for creating jobs and doing their cutting-edge research in America. The question [is] whether the government should subsidize certain industries that generate large social benefits in the form of new technologies. I argued that the government was already engaged in a hidden industrial policy, disguised, for example, as grants to the aerospace and telecom industries by the Department of Defense and to the pharmaceutical industry by the National Institutes of Health. It would be far better to do industrial policy in the open, so that the public could assess what it was paying for and what it was getting in return.
Note: This article was written by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more revealing information on the government sponsoring corporate, financial interests without public input, see concise summaries of news articles on corporate corruption, and corruption in government and the financial industry.
The web browser used within the TikTok app can track every keystroke made by its users, according to new research that is surfacing as the Chinese-owned video app grapples with U.S. lawmakers' concerns over its data practices. The research from Felix Krause, a privacy researcher and former Google engineer, did not show how TikTok used the capability, which is embedded within the in-app browser that pops up when someone clicks an outside link. But Mr. Krause said the development was concerning because it showed TikTok had built in functionality to track users' online habits if it chose to do so. Collecting information on what people type on their phones while visiting outside websites, which can reveal credit card numbers and passwords, is often a feature of malware and other hacking tools. Apps sometimes use in-app browsers to prevent people from visiting malicious sites or to make online browsing easier with the auto-filling of text. But while Facebook and Instagram can use in-app browsers to track data like what sites a person visited ... TikTok goes further by using code that can track each character entered by users. As with many apps, TikTok offers few chances for people to click away from its service. Instead of redirecting to mobile web browsers like Safari or Chrome, an in-app browser appears when users click on ads or links embedded within the profiles of other users. These are often the moments people enter key information like credit card details or passwords.
For decades, mallgoers, slightly confused teenage girls and horny teenage boys have wondered what secret this mysterious Victoria is hiding. The new three-part Hulu docuseries "Victoria's Secret: Angels and Demons" explores these secrets and, well, they are less "she only wears thongs (wink)" and more "wait, was this brand just a lot of pink thongs covering up the very real exploitation of underage girls?" The business was sold to Les Wexner [in 1982]. With Victoria's Secret in about 100 stores across America, Les Wexner hired Jeffrey Epstein as an investment advisor. Then Wexner quite suddenly gave him power of attorney in 1991, the most expensive home in New York City in the mid-'90s and sold Epstein his private jet well below market value. That private jet became known in the press as the Lolita Express, aka the jet where Epstein is accused of taking underage girls to be abused and exploited. Epstein allegedly began describing himself to women he'd meet as a recruiter for Victoria's Secret models in 1993. Wexner claims he cut all ties with Epstein after his first arrest, and he would go on to publicly condemn Epstein after his death in 2019, but the documentary alleges that L Brands directly paid for Epstein's legal defense, which was never publicly reported. There [was] a reported instance where Epstein, while staying in the guest house on Wexner's property, held a woman hostage for 12 hours after he and Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly assaulted her, leading her to call the police for help.
Note: Watch an eye-opening video on the top 10 shocking reveals of this documentary. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's child sex ring from reliable major media sources.
Big Pharma spent more than any other industry to lobby Congress and federal agencies this year, a Reuters analysis shows, but is still on course for a major defeat by failing to stop a bill that allows the government to negotiate prices on select drugs. The $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act to change climate, health, and tax policies cleared its largest hurdle last week when Democratic lawmakers passed it in the Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives is also expected to pass it on Friday, allowing President Joe Biden to sign it into law. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in October found that 83% of Americans, including 95% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans, want the federal Medicare health plan for seniors to negotiate prices. The industry's powerful trade association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), urged senators in a public letter to reject the bill. A Reuters analysis ... shows that the pharmaceutical industry has spent at least $142.6 million on lobbying Congress and federal agencies in the first half of 2022, more than any industry, and at least $16.1 million on campaign contributions during the current mid-term election cycle. Almost two thirds of the money spent on lobbying ... came from PhRMA and its member companies. The bill's provision for drug price negotiations was scaled back in November, allowing Medicare to focus on an annual maximum of 20 of the costliest medicines by 2029, instead of an initial proposal to help reduce prices for 250 treatments.
After an exhaustive historical investigation into the barrels of DDT waste reportedly dumped decades ago near Catalina Island, federal regulators concluded that the toxic pollution in the deep ocean could be far worse ... than what scientists anticipated. In internal memos made public recently, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that acid waste from the nation's largest manufacturer of DDT – a pesticide so powerful it poisoned birds and fish – had not been contained in hundreds of thousands of sealed barrels. Most of the waste, according to newly unearthed information, had been poured directly into the ocean from massive tank barges. Other chemicals – as well as millions of tons of oil drilling waste – had also been dumped decades ago in more than a dozen areas off the Southern California coast. "That's pretty jaw-dropping in terms of the volumes and quantities of various contaminants that were dispersed in the ocean," said John Chesnutt ... who has been leading the EPA's technical team on the investigation. "This also begs the question: So what's in the barrels? There's still so much we don't know." These revelations build on much-needed research into DDT's toxic – and insidious – legacy in California. As many as half a million barrels of DDT waste have not been accounted for in the deep ocean. Women face greater risk of obesity, earlier menstruation and possibly breast cancer if their grandmothers were exposed to DDT during pregnancy, researchers say.
Note: Back in 2020, LA Times wrote an excellent investigative piece on the history and background of this unsettling issue. Consider watching a brief and shocking video of how the US government made the public believe DDT was so safe you could eat it and spray it on children. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
It's estimated that more than 107,000 people in the United States died due to opioid overdoses in 2021. Washington Post journalist Scott Higham notes it's "the equivalent of a 737 Boeing crashing and burning and killing everybody on board every single day." In the new book, American Cartel, Higham and co-author Sari Horwitz make the case that the pharmaceutical industry operated like a drug cartel, with manufacturers at the top; wholesalers in the middle; and pharmacies at the level of "street dealers." The companies collaborated with each other – and with lawyers and lobbyists – to create legislation that protected their industry, even as they competed for market share. "It really is the companies that run the show," Higham says. "People were dying by the thousands while these companies were lobbying members of Congress ... to pass legislation and to lobby members of the Department of Justice and try to slow down the DEA enforcement efforts." Big pharma fought to create legislation that would limit the DEA's ability to go after drug wholesalers. The efforts were effective; more than 100 billion pills were manufactured, distributed and dispensed between 2006 and 2014. Meanwhile, both federal and state DEA agents are frustrated by the ways in which their enforcement efforts have been curtailed. Right now there are 40,000 Americans who are in jail on marijuana charges. And not one executive of a Fortune 500 company involved in the opioid trade has been charged with a crime.
Global capitalism is an incredible machine for extracting fossil fuels from our planet, refining them, shipping them to every corner of the Earth and making staggering amounts of money doing so. Unfortunately the machine is also poisoning us all. But one of its exquisitely evolved functions is to make it almost impossible to turn it off. Oil and gas profits in the most recent quarter were astounding. Exxon Mobil made $18bn in profits in the past three months. Shell and Chevron each made nearly $12bn. Those are all record numbers. A recent study showed that for the past 50 years, the oil industry has made profits of more than $1tn a year, close to $3bn a day. These profits are driven [by] cartels, mega-corporations and the regulatory capture of governments, conspiring to create a market free of both competition and of a price that reflects the actual cost to the world of the product that is being sold. These profits are illusory. They are plagued by an externality large enough to outweigh a trillion dollars a year – the costs that the climate crisis will impose on billions of people who are alive now and many generations to come. The fossil fuel industry as a whole is not just another business, providing a service to meet a demand; it is a predatory drug dealer that works every day to keep the world addicted to its poisonous product, knowing full well that it will eventually prove fatal. It fights to keep the population fooled. It is a problem to be solved.
The US's biggest oil companies pumped out record profits over the last few months as Americans struggled to pay for gasoline, food and other basic necessities. On Friday, ExxonMobil reported an unprecedented $17.85bn (Ł14.77bn) profit for the second quarter, nearly four times as much as the same period a year ago, and Chevron made a record $11.62bn (Ł9.61bn). The sky-high profits were announced one day after the UK's Shell shattered its own profit record. The record profits came after similarly outsized gains in the first quarter when the largest oil companies made close to $100bn in profits. High energy prices are one of the leading factors driving inflation to a four-decade high in the US. Gas prices have fallen slightly in recent weeks but are now averaging $4.25 a gallon across the US, more than $1 a gallon higher than a year ago. Soaring energy prices are being baked into delivery costs, which is driving up the cost of everything from apples to toilet paper. In addition to oil company executives, shareholders also reaped the benefits of high energy prices during the quarter. Since the start of 2022, Exxon and Chevron shares have risen close to 46% and 26%, respectively.
Note: A telling analysis shows a 235% profit jump for big oil funded by us at the gas pumps. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the energy industry from reliable major media sources.
The CEO of the biggest power company in the US had a problem. A Democratic state senator was proposing a law that could cut into Florida Power & Light's (FPL) profits. Landlords would be able to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to their tenants – bypassing FPL and its monopoly on electricity. "I want you to make his life a living hell ... seriously," FPL's CEO Eric Silagy wrote in a 2019 email to two of his vice-presidents about state Senator JosĂ© Javier RodrĂguez, who proposed the legislation. Within minutes, one of them forwarded the directive to the CEO of Matrix, LLC, a powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states. RodrĂguez was ousted from office in the next election. Matrix employees spent heavily on political advertisements for a candidate with the same last name as RodrĂguez, who split the vote. That candidate later admitted he was bribed to run. Hundreds of pages of internal documents – which are only coming to light now because Matrix's founders are locked in an epic feud – detail the firm's secret work to help power companies like FPL protect their profits and fight the transition to cleaner forms of energy. The Matrix saga illustrates the political obstacles policymakers and experts face as they attempt to cut climate pollution from the power sector. Matrix affiliated groups have also worked to advance power companies' interests in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and in front of the Environmental Protection Agency, public records show.
Note: A telling analysis shows a 235% profit jump for big oil funded by us at the gas pumps. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the energy industry from reliable major media sources.
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.
The oil and gas industry has delivered $2.8bn (Ł2.3bn) a day in pure profit for the last 50 years, a new analysis has revealed. The vast total captured by petrostates and fossil fuel companies since 1970 is $52tn, providing the power to "buy every politician, every system" and delay action on the climate crisis, says Prof Aviel Verbruggen, the author of the analysis. The huge profits were inflated by cartels of countries artificially restricting supply. The analysis, based on World Bank data, assesses the "rent" secured by global oil and gas sales, which is the economic term for the unearned profit produced after the total cost of production has been deducted. The study has yet to be published in an academic journal but three experts at University College London, the London School of Economics and the thinktank Carbon Tracker confirmed the analysis as accurate, with one calling the total a "staggering number". It appears to be the first long-term assessment of the sector's total profits, with oil rents providing 86% of the total. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have driven the climate crisis and contributed to worsening extreme weather. Oil companies have known for decades that carbon emissions were dangerously heating the planet. The average annual profit from 1970-2020 was $1tn but [Verbruggen] said he expected this to be twice as high in 2022. The fossil fuel industry also benefits from subsidies of $16bn a day, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, other Biden administration officials and five social media companies have 30 days to respond to subpoenas in a lawsuit alleging collusion to suppress freedom of speech. Discovery requests were served to ask for information and documents from ... NIAID, CDC, ... Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Nina Jankowicz, who led the DHS Disinformation Governance Board until it was disbanded. Also requested were any communications to any social media platform relating to the "Great Barrington Declaration," [which] was published in response to COVID-19 policies that recommended "focused protection," an approach to reaching herd immunity by allowing those at minimal risk of death to live normal lives by building up immunity through natural infection while protecting those at highest risk. A media release from [Missouri Attorney General Eric] Schmitt ... stated information requested was identifying all communications with any social media platform relating to content modulation and/or misinformation. It requests all communications with Mark Zuckerberg from Jan. 1, 2020, to the present. "In May, Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding with social media giants to suppress free speech on topics like COVID-19 and election security," Schmitt said. "Earlier this month, a federal court granted our motion for expedited discovery. We will fight to get to the bottom of this alleged collusion and expose the suppression of freedom of speech by social media giants at the behest of top-ranking government officials.”
Note: For more details, see this informative article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
We urgently need a national debate about guns. But we also urgently need a national debate about the epidemic of mood-altering drugs being prescribed to young Americans. Mass shooters in the United States tend to be young, obsessive, male loners and many have been prescribed psychoactive drugs. For example, Eric Harris, one of the two shooters at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999–which ushered in the current spate of mass shootings–was on the psychotropic drug Luvox. Prescribing information for the antidepressant says, "Close supervision of patients and in particular those at high risk should accompany drug therapy." Jeff Weise, who fatally shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend, and then seven others at the Red Lake Senior High School in Minnesota in 2005, was on the well-known antidepressant Prozac. Two years later, Cho Seung-Hui, who perpetrated the Virginia Tech mass shooting, also was found to be on psychoactive antidepressants. Jeanne Stolzer, associate professor of child and adolescent development at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, observes that "despite the multitude of international drug regulatory warnings on all classifications of psychiatric medications citing adverse reactions such as suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation, violence, and psychosis, not one local, state, or federal commission has investigated the correlation between the mass shootings in America and the use of psychiatric medications."
Note: Although Epoch Times is often deemed as a controversial media platform, this article raises legitimate questions on an important topic seldom discussed. Read a revealing article that investigates the alarming adverse events associated with common mood-altering medications prescribed for those struggling with mental illness. For more on this concerning trend, consider exploring an in-depth article written by an anonymous doctor who reveals the decades of evidence showing how adverse reactions from psychiatric drugs can manifest as both suicides and homicides.
The new documentary-exposĂ© Victoria's Secret: Angels and Demons [reveals] that the multibillion-dollar lingerie chain that marketed its models as the last word in hotness and glamour was a ruthless capitalist enterprise dogged by accusations of harassment, corruption and abuse. We meet old friends from the modern sexual abuse and violence documentary circuit. Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, of course, but also Jean-Luc Brunel, whose predations against the girls and women he met as the head of Karin Models Agency and MC2 Model Management (financed, would you believe, by Epstein) were recently outlined in Sky documentary Scouting for Girls – alongside those of fellow agents John Casablancas, Claude Haddad and GĂ©rald Marie, the last of whom vehemently denies all sexual abuse allegations against him from several women. The new guy in the mix is Leslie Wexner, owner of the eponymous lingerie firm. He became acquainted with Epstein in the 1980s when Wexner needed an entrĂ© into New York society. It was Wexner who sold him the townhouse that would become infamous as the spycam site of his abusive operations, and who sold him the private jet that would become known as the "Lolita Express" as it ferried underage girls wherever Epstein and his fellow predators needed them to go. Wexner gave Epstein power of attorney over his entire estate – worth hundreds of millions of dollars – and didn't revoke it until 2007, well after Epstein's first arrest in 2006.
Note: Watch an eye-opening video on the top 10 shocking reveals of this documentary. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's child sex ring from reliable major media sources.
"It's like a horror movie I'm being forced to watch and I can't close my eyes," one senior FDA official lamented. That particular FDA doctor was referring to two recent developments inside the agency. First, how, with no solid clinical data, the agency authorized COVID vaccines for infants and toddlers, including those who already had COVID. And second, [how] the FDA bypassed its external experts to authorize booster shots for young children. That doctor is hardly alone. At the NIH, doctors and scientists complain to us about low morale and lower staffing: The NIH's Vaccine Research Center has had many of its senior scientists leave over the last year, including the director, deputy director and chief medical officer. The CDC has experienced a similar exodus. "There's been a large amount of turnover. Morale is low," one high level official at the CDC told us. "Things have become so political, so what are we there for?" Another CDC scientist told us: "I used to be proud to tell people I work at the CDC. Now I'm embarrassed." Why are they embarrassed? First, they demanded that young children be masked in schools. On this score, the agencies were wrong. Compelling studies later found schools that masked children had no different rates of transmission. Next came school closures. The agencies were wrong – and catastrophically so. Poor and minority children suffered learning loss with an 11-point drop in math scores alone and a 20% drop in math pass rates. Then they ignored natural immunity. Wrong again.
Note: Why are so few media reporting on this most important news? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Today it's my great pleasure to introduce two Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists, Sari Horwitz and Scott Higham, who are going to discuss their new book, "American Cartel." We're talking about companies that create and fuel the opioid crisis. We've heard this story about the Sacklers and indeed the Sacklers have been identified, and if criminal charges haven't been brought at least they've been vilified in the press. But ... this goes way beyond the Sacklers. This is not just the story of one bad apple. "It's so much bigger than that," [said Horwitz]. "We found, in our two-year investigation ... a constellation of companies that fuel the deadliest epidemic, drug epidemic, in American history. Some of these companies are some of the largest in this country. Some we've heard of. They are household names - Walgreens, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson. We found internal emails from these companies where the people in the companies were laughing at the addicts. They were mocking them. Meanwhile, the drug companies, they are smart. They decide to lure away the best and the brightest if they can from the DEA and the Justice Department to help them as they are selling opioids, and they are very successful. They hired dozens of people from DEA and the Justice Department to work for these companies. So again, these are the people who are trying to protect us, working for the DEA and the Justice Department. They are lured away to the companies who are selling addictive painkillers that are killing people."
More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called "disturbing" and "concerning". The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children. [Lianne] Sheppard co-authored a 2019 analysis of people highly exposed to glyphosate, which concluded there was a "compelling link" between glyphosate and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both the amount and prevalence of glyphosate found in human urine has been rising steadily since the 1990s when Monsanto Co. introduced genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with Roundup, according to research published in 2017. The weedkiller is sprayed directly over genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans, and also over non-genetically engineered crops such as wheat and oats as a desiccant to dry crops out prior to harvest. It is considered the most widely used herbicide in history. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization ... classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs and health from reliable major media sources.
California will begin making its own low-cost insulin in an effort to make the essential diabetes treatment more affordable, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday. "Nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin," the governor said in a video posted on Twitter, "Many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs anywhere from three hundred to five hundred dollars per month for this life-saving drug." With a budget of $100 million, California plans to "contract and make our own insulin at a cheaper price, close to at cost, and to make it available to all," Newsom said. It's unclear exactly how inexpensive California's insulin will be or when the low-cost drugs will be available. Insulin in the U.S. costs almost $100 per unit, on average. That's nearly four times the price in Chile, which has the second-highest prices among the 34 countries analyzed by the nonprofit Rand Corporation, at less than $25 per unit. Currently, four in five Americans in need of insulin have incurred thousands of dollars in credit card debt to pay for the medication, according to a recent survey commissioned by health care organization CharityRx. The average debt among all survey participants was $9,000. California's program will allot $50 million toward the development of cheaper insulin products and $50 million on an in-state insulin manufacturing facility, Newsom said, adding that the facility "will provide new, high-paying jobs and a stronger supply chain for the drugs."
Note: The unethical corruption of big Pharma is so clearly seen in the ridiculously inflated prices of drugs in the US compared to other countries. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
The US Supreme Court let stand an $87 million award against Bayer AG, rejecting the company for the second time in a week as it tries to fend off tens of thousands of claims that its top-selling Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. The justices, making no comment, on Monday left in place a jury's finding in favor of Alva and Alberta Pilliod in a California case. Bayer argued that a federal law precluded the suit and that the $70 million punitive damages award was so large it violated the Constitution. The court last week rejected Bayer's appeal in a case the company was trying to use to scuttle billions of dollars in potential claims. The company's liability could be the full $16 billion it has set aside to resolve the litigation, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Holly Froum. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court ordered the US Environmental Protection Agency to take another look at whether glyphosate - Roundup's active ingredient - is a carcinogen. Studies have linked it to some cancers. The German chemicals giant said it "is fully prepared to manage the litigation risk associated with potential future claims in the US as previously communicated in July 2021, including a voluntary claims program, transition of active ingredients for glyphosate-based products in the US." Bayer inherited the legal mess in 2018 when it acquired Monsanto Co., the herbicide's maker. Bayer has won four of seven Roundup trials so far, with all its losses occurring in California courts. The case is Monsanto v. Pilliod, 21-1272.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
Medicare's drug program could have saved up to $3.6 billion in 2020 by mirroring the pricing strategy of entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban's online pharmacy, according to a new study. Cuban's Cost Plus Drug Co. offers a selection of generic drugs at the cost of manufacturing them plus a flat 15% markup. The direct-to-consumer pharmacy does not accept insurance. The study's authors suggest that Medicare is overpaying for many generic drugs and could save billions a year if it purchased them directly from Cuban's online pharmacy. "The lower prices from a direct-to-consumer model highlight inefficiencies in the existing generic pharmaceutical distribution and reimbursement system, which includes wholesalers, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacies, and insurers," wrote researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in a brief published ... in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Cuban and his pharmacy did not fund or have any involvement in the study. Cost Plus Drug Co. says it engages in price negotiations with drugmakers. Medicare's drug program, Part D, however, prohibits the government from directly negotiating pharmaceutical prices. Researchers compared 2020 Medicare spending for a total of 89 drugs ... to their prices at Cost Plus Drug Co. in February. They estimate that Medicare overpaid for 77 generic drugs, spending $8.1 billion compared with $4.5 billion if the federal agency had purchased at the same prices as Cost Plus Drug Co. charges.
The Supreme Court has rejected Bayer's appeal to shut down thousands of lawsuits claiming that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. The justices on Tuesday left in place a $25-million judgment in favor of Edwin Hardeman, a California man who says he developed cancer from using Roundup for decades to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his San Francisco Bay Area property. Hardeman's lawsuit had served as a test case for thousands of similar lawsuits. The high court's action comes amid a series of court fights over Roundup that have pointed in different directions. On Friday, a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an Environmental Protection Agency finding from 2020 that glyphosate does not pose a serious health risk and is "not likely" to cause cancer in humans. The appellate court ordered the EPA to reexamine its finding. At the same time, Bayer has won four consecutive trials in state court against people who claimed they got cancer from Roundup. The latest verdict in favor of the pharmaceutical company came last week in Oregon. The EPA says on its website that there is "no evidence that glyphosate causes cancer in humans." But in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." The agency said it relied on "limited" evidence of cancer in people and "sufficient" evidence of cancer in study animals.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and other reproductive health organizations [have] been locked in knock-down, drag-out fights between competing factions of their organizations ... which has, more or less, effectively ceased to function. The Sierra Club, Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, the Movement for Black Lives, Human Rights Campaign, Time's Up, the Sunrise Movement, and many other organizations have seen wrenching and debilitating turmoil in the past couple years. In fact, it's hard to find a Washington-based progressive organization that hasn't been in tumult, or isn't currently in tumult. This is a caricature of the left: spend more time in meetings ... fighting with each other than changing the world. It has become nearly all-consuming for some organizations, spreading beyond subcultures of the left and into major liberal institutions. "My last nine months, I was spending 90 to 95 percent of my time on internal strife," [a] former executive director said. [Activist Loretta] Ross, in an essay for the New York Times, ends with a call for grace. "I say to people today, as a survivor of COINTELPRO," she told me, referring to the FBI scheme to infiltrate and disrupt leftist movements by sowing internal dissension, "if you're more wedded to destabilizing an organization than unifying it, part of me is gonna think you're naÄ‚Ĺ»ve, and the other part of me is gonna think you're a plant. And neither one of those is going to look good on you."
Note: Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Matt Litrell, a 22-year-old Amazon employee, was distributing union fliers outside the warehouse where he works this month when the cops showed up. An Amazon manager had called the sheriff's office in Campbellsville, Ky., that afternoon to report that protesters trying to start a union were trespassing on company property. While the officers eventually determined that Litrell wasn't on Amazon's property and left, Litrell plans to add the incident to the illegal-intimidation charge he filed with the National Labor Relations Board in May. Employees at Amazon facilities around the country whose union hopes were buoyed by the labor victory at a warehouse in Staten Island in April say in labor board filings and interviews that the company has been calling police, firing workers and generally cracking down on labor organizing since that historic win. Amazon has been accused of illegally firing workers in Chicago, New York and Ohio, calling the police on workers in Kentucky and New York, and retaliating against workers in New York and Pennsylvania, in what workers say is an escalation of long-running union-busting activities by the company. It's a sign that, even as lawmakers demand Amazon drop its objections to the union win in Staten Island ... the nation's second-largest private employer will continue to put up fierce opposition to any wave of union momentum. Eric Milner, a lawyer representing the Amazon Labor Union, called the company's objections to the election "a frivolous sideshow."
Public health initiatives in the United States are suffering from a crisis of trust. Recent polls show that only a third of the public trusts insurance and pharmaceutical companies, while just 56 percent trust the government health agencies that are meant to regulate these industries. Another survey during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that only around half of Americans have a "great deal" of trust in the CDC, while a mere third have such trust in the Department of Health and Human Services. When the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 were made available to the public free of charge, a national conversation began about "vaccine hesitancy"–the phenomenon of Americans choosing not to be vaccinated even when incentivized and, in some cases, coerced. Americans had watched public health experts lie, misdirect, ignore evidence and yield to professional pressure. Few wanted to be their guinea pigs. Not all the COVID-19 gaslighting was the fault of the media or politicians - much was implemented by experts abusing their apolitical position of trust. The experts ... including Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, insisted on the most asinine and evidence-free preventative measures, including facial coverings, lockdowns and social distancing. Their insulated role as health advisers enabled them to manipulate health policy in ways that benefited only themselves. The most stark example was the corruption of data collection at the Center for Disease Control–a scandal that crashed public trust to a new low.
Facebook prohibits gun sales on its service. But buyers and sellers can violate the rule 10 times before they are kicked off the social network, according to internal guidance obtained by The Washington Post. The policy, which has not previously been reported, is much more lenient than for users who post child pornography, which is illegal, or a terrorist image, which prompts immediate removal from the platform. A separate, five-strikes policy extends even to gun sellers and purchasers who actively call for violence. Facebook's gun policies have long been a source of contention among the company's senior leadership and policymaking teams, who have been torn between the platform's support of free speech and public pressure to curtail weapons sales. Gun sellers have seized on loopholes within Facebook's policy. Journalists have repeatedly uncovered strategies sellers use to evade bans while reaching potential customers in dedicated Facebook groups or on Facebook Marketplace, the company's classified services. One tactic is advertising gun accessories, like holsters or cases, which are permitted for sale on the platform; once a customer contacts the seller, a gun can be sold in Facebook's private messages. After responding to several listings for gun cases, a Post reporter received three private messages with offers to purchase a gun. Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy ... said that banning transactions of a product that was both legal and highly popular would alienate the political right.
The prices of new drugs in the U.S. have climbed for more than a decade, a study published Tuesday finds. According to a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the launch prices of new brand-name drugs increased by nearly 11 percent every year from 2008 through 2021. "These prices are increasing far out of proportion to other health care services," said the lead author, Dr. Benjamin Rome. Rome, and his colleagues observed price increases for all types of drugs, including cancer drugs, non-cancer drugs, pills and injections, he said. "Ultimately," he said, "all health care costs are borne by consumers – either direct out-of-pocket costs, higher premiums or taxes in the case of public health insurance." He added, "Insurance companies can also require prior authorization for expensive new drugs or not cover the drugs at all." The researchers calculated the negotiable sticker prices for new drugs on the market, or the net price. Such prices, which were adjusted for inflation, were calculated in light of rebates many drugmakers offer for the drugs. The researchers limited their scope to drugs sold by public companies; the net price averages included nearly 400 new drugs in total. Median drug prices for a year's supply increased from $2,115 in 2008 to more than $180,000 in 2021. The greatest increases were for cancer drugs and therapies used to treat rare diseases. In 2008, 9 percent of drugs cost $150,000 or more a year, compared to 47 percent in 2021.
Note: For a more detailed and eye-opening analysis, see this article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
The wage gap between chief executives and workers at some of the US companies with the lowest-paid staff grew even wider last year, with CEOs making an average of $10.6m, while the median worker received $23,968. A study of 300 top US companies released by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) on Tuesday found the average gap between CEO and median worker pay jumped to 670-to-1. The ratio was up from 604-to-1 in 2020. Forty-nine firms had ratios above 1,000-to-1. At more than a third of the companies surveyed, IPS found that median worker pay did not keep pace with inflation. The report ... comes amid a wave of unionization efforts among low wage workers and growing scrutiny of the huge share buyback programs many corporations have been using to inflate their share prices. US companies announced plans to buy back more than $300bn of their own shares in the first quarter of the year and Goldman Sachs has estimated that buybacks could top $1tn in 2022. Share-related remuneration makes up the largest portion of senior executive compensation and as buybacks generally boost a company's share price, they also boost executive pay. The biggest buyback firm was home improvement chain Lowe's, which spent $13bn on share repurchases. That money could have given each of its 325,000 employees a $40,000 raise. Instead, median pay at the company fell 7.6% to $22,697. IPS noted that many of the companies in its sample were also the recipients of large federal government contracts.
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.
American hospitals have been living with serious drug shortages for more than a decade. Most days, nearly 300 essential drugs can be in short supply. It's not a matter of supply and demand. The drugs are needed and the ingredients are easy to make. Pharmaceutical companies have stopped producing many life-saving generic drugs because they make too little profit. Yet, year after year, the government stays on the sidelines as companies take drug production offline - and doctors worry the shortages are compromising patient care. Neonatologist Dr. Mitch Goldstein treats the most vulnerable patients. Many ... premature and sick babies have undeveloped digestive systems, so Dr. Goldstein keeps them alive with intravenous nutrients, many of which are in short supply. Antony Gobin heads the pharmacy at Loma Linda Hospital. He told us shortages of basic drugs are a constant worry. "We were dealing with shortages long before COVID," [he said]. "They're all very old, fundamental drugs that every hospital in the country needs and uses." Drug shortages can kill. In 2011, when norepinephrine, an old, low profit drug used to treat septic shock, was in short supply, hundreds of people around the country died. Middlemen, the group purchasing organizations and drug distributors take their cut. The drug manufacturers end up with just a small fraction of what the patient pays. Many have simply stopped making the least profitable drugs.
The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation's oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents. One worker was struck by a 100-ton metal reactor dome. Another was splashed with radioactive water. Another worker drove an excavator into an electrical wire on his first day on the job, knocking out power to 31,000 homes and businesses. All three incidents occurred on the watch of Holtec International. In the nearly three years Holtec has owned Oyster Creek, regulators have documented at least nine violations of federal rules. During the lifetime of America's 133 nuclear reactors, ratepayers paid small fees on their monthly energy bills to fill decommissioning trust funds. Trust funds for the country's 94 operating and 14 nonoperating nuclear reactors now total about $86 billion. After a reactor is dismantled ... some of these trust funds must return any money left over to ratepayers. But others permit cleanup companies to keep any surplus as profit – creating incentives to cut costs at sites that house some of the most dangerous materials on the planet. Even after reactors are shut down, long metal rods containing radioactive pellets – known as spent fuel – are stored steps away, in cooling pools and steel-and-concrete casks. Nuclear safety experts say that an industrial accident or a terrorist attack at any of these sites could result in a radiological release with severe impacts.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on nuclear power from reliable major media sources.
About 20m acres of cropland in the United States may be contaminated from PFAS-tainted sewage sludge that has been used as fertilizer, a new report estimates. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products heat-, water- or stain-resistant. Known as "forever chemicals" because they don't naturally break down, they have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, liver problems, birth defects, immunosuppression and more. Dozens of industries use PFAS in thousands of consumer products, and often discharge the chemicals into the nation's sewer system. The analysis ... is an attempt to understand the scope of cropland contamination stemming from sewage sludge, or biosolids. Regulators don't require sludge to be tested for PFAS or closely track where its spread, and public health advocates warn the practice is poisoning the nation's food supply. Sludge is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that's a mix of human excrement and industrial waste, like PFAS, that's discharged from industry's pipes. EPA records show over 19bn pounds of sludge has been used as fertilizer since 2016 in ... 41 states. It's estimated that 60% of the nation's sludge is spread on cropland or other fields annually. The consequences are evident in the only two states to consistently check sludge and farms for PFAS contamination. In Maine, PFAS-tainted fields have already forced several farms to shut down.
Note: Read more about the toxic "forever chemicals" accumulating in our environment. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
Why have so many smart, well-trained doctors stood by as American healthcare descended into a state of profound dysfunction? The answer lies in the gradual, nearly invisible commercial takeover of the medical "knowledge" that doctors are trained to trust. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan slashed government support of university-based medical research. Following the 1980 passage of the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act, nonprofit institutions and their researchers were allowed to benefit financially from the discoveries made while conducting federally funded research. Over the past few decades, the drug companies have taken over most of our clinical research. In 1991, academic medical centers (AMCs)–hospitals that train doctors and conduct medical research–received 80 percent of the money that industry was spending to fund clinical trials. But by 2004, the percentage of commercially funded clinical trials conducted by AMCs had fallen from 80 to just 26 percent. That ... allowed the commercial funder to own, and thus control, the data from jointly conducted research. Unbeknownst to almost all doctors, peer reviewers are not granted access to the underlying data that serves as the basis for the reported findings. The drug companies own that data and keep it confidential. Reviewers must rely on brief data summaries. Peer reviewers at even the most prestigious medical journals cannot possibly attest to the accuracy and completeness of the articles they review.
As inflation shot to a new peak in March, cost increases exacted a deep toll on the economy. But for many of the US's largest companies and their shareholders it has been a very different story. A Guardian analysis of top corporations' financials and earnings calls reveals most are enjoying profit increases even as they pass on costs to customers, many of whom are struggling to afford gas, food, clothing, housing and other basics. The analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission filings for 100 US corporations found net profits up by a median of 49%, and in one case by as much as 111,000%. Those increases came as companies saddled customers with higher prices and all but ten executed massive stock buyback programs or bumped dividends to enrich investors. In earnings calls, executives detailed how even as demand and profits rose post-vaccine, they passed on most or all inflationary costs to customers via price increases, and some took the opportunity to add more on top. Margins – the share of sales converted into profits – also improved for the majority of the companies. The Guardian's findings are in line with recent US commerce department data that shows corporate profits rose 35% during the last year and are at their highest level since 1950. Inflation, meanwhile, rose to 8.5% year over year in March. The Guardian's data ... objectively shows a massive "transfer of wealth" from consumers, who pay higher prices, to shareholders and investment firms.
Note: Meanwhile global poverty has skyrocketed. Do the billionaires really care? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
An unprecedented spree of policy changes and carveouts aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians from Facebook's censorship systems has earned praise from human rights groups. But a new open letter addressed to Facebook and its social media rivals questions why these companies seem to care far more about some attempts to resist foreign invasion than others. In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Meta Platforms, which owns Facebook and Instagram, rapidly changed its typically strict speech rules in order to exempt a variety of posts that would have otherwise been deleted for violating the company's prohibition against hate speech and violent incitement. The rule change ... included a rare dispensation to call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin, use dehumanizing language against Russian soldiers, and praise the notorious Azov Battalion of the Ukrainian National Guard, previously banned from the platform due to its neo-Nazi ideology. In a statement signed by 31 civil society and human rights groups ... criticism is directed squarely at American internet titans like Facebook. "We call for ... equal and consistent application of policies to uphold the rights of users worldwide," reads the letter. "Once platforms began to take action in Ukraine, they took extraordinary steps that they have been unwilling to take elsewhere. From the Syrian conflict to the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar, other crisis situations have not received the same amount of support."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
Jeff Smith, a partner with the influential consulting firm McKinsey & Company, accepted a highly sensitive assignment in December 2017. The opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma ... sought out Dr. Smith. His team reviewed business plans and evaluated new drugs that Purdue hoped would help move the company beyond the turmoil associated with OxyContin, its addictive painkiller that medical experts say helped to spark the opioid epidemic. But the corporate reorganization was not Dr. Smith's only assignment. He was also helping the Food and Drug Administration overhaul its office that approves new drugs – the same office that would determine the regulatory fate of Purdue's new line of proposed products. A review ... of internal McKinsey documents found that the firm repeatedly allowed employees who served pharmaceutical companies, including opioid makers, to also consult for the F.D.A., the drug industry's primary government regulator. And, the documents show, McKinsey touted that inside access in pitches to private clients. In an email in 2014 to Purdue's chief executive, a McKinsey consultant highlighted the firm's work for the F.D.A. and stressed "who we know and what we know." McKinsey also allowed employees advising Purdue to help shape materials that were intended for government officials and agencies, including a memo in 2018 prepared for Alex M. Azar II. References to the severity of the opioid crisis in a draft version of the memo ... were cut before it was sent to Mr. Azar.
The nation's biggest oil and gas companies have significantly increased stock buybacks and dividends since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, raising questions about whether the firms are using wartime profits to enrich investors instead of curbing Americans' pain at the pump. The report released today by Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and BailoutWatch turns up the heat on the fossil fuel industry ahead of two high-profile congressional hearings this week, when Democrats plan to scrutinize the industry's windfall profits amid rising crude prices sparked by the war in Ukraine. The three groups looked at Securities and Exchange Commission filings and public statements from the 20 largest U.S.-headquartered oil and gas companies. In January and February, seven companies' boards authorized their corporate treasuries to buy back and retire $24.35 billion in stock – a 15 percent increase over all of the buybacks authorized in 2021. Six of those decisions came in February, after fears of Russian aggression against Ukraine lifted stock prices. In total, the 20 companies announced $45.6 billion in stock buybacks since the start of 2021. More than half of the companies boosted their dividends in January and February. Of the 11 companies raising their dividends, nine were increases of more than 15 percent and four were increases of more than 40 percent.
Amazon will block and flag employee posts on a planned internal messaging app that contain keywords pertaining to labor unions, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Intercept. An automatic word monitor would also block a variety of terms that could represent potential critiques of Amazon's working conditions, like "slave labor," "prison," and "plantation," as well as "restrooms" – presumably related to reports of Amazon employees relieving themselves in bottles to meet punishing quotas. In November 2021, Amazon convened a high-level meeting in which top executives discussed plans to create an internal social media program that would let employees recognize co-workers' performance with posts called "Shout-Outs." But company officials also warned of what they called "the dark side of social media" and decided to actively monitor posts in order to ensure a "positive community." At the meeting, [head of worldwide consumer business, Dave] Clark suggested that the program should resemble an online dating app like Bumble, which allows individuals to engage one on one. Following the meeting, an "auto bad word monitor" was devised, constituting a blacklist that would flag and automatically block employees from sending a message that contains any profane or inappropriate keywords. Even some phrases like "This is concerning" will be banned. Managers will have the authority to flag or suppress any Shout-Outs that they find inappropriate.
The situation for India's more than 260 million agricultural workers is dire. Nearly 30 people in the farming sector die by suicide daily, according to the most recent figures available, typically due to overwhelming debt. Indeed in 2020, more than 10,000 people in the agricultural sector ended their own lives, according to government data. India's economic backbone – its farmers and their families – is in collapse. They face crushing pressures: insurmountable debt, environmental degradation, and extreme rates of cancer linked to exposure to pesticides. This strain is compounded by climate change and extreme weather – from ground water depletion to water shortages and crop damage due to rising temperatures – effects which have been tied to increasing suicides in India. Many are subsistence farmers who are drowning in the volatility caused by the Green Revolution which began in the 1960s as a way of industrializing the agriculture sector with high yielding seeds, mechanized tools and pesticides. In some cases, farmers cannot work their land due to illness linked to the revolution's pesticides and fertilizers. They are dealing with deep-rooted battles against multinational corporations. And all the while having to take out loans each year to make the agricultural cycle possible. And then, when farmers are unable to get loans from legitimate banks, illegal moneylenders ... step in, charging exorbitant interest rates and creating an inescapable debt-trap for farmers, in some instances pushing them to suicide.
Note: Watch a compelling talk by food sovereignty advocate Vandana Shiva, who explains how the "Green Revolution" doesn't bring any gain in food security, and has done more harm than good in India. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
As Russia perpetrates war crimes against the people of Ukraine, the fossil fuel industries in Colorado and across the country are licking their collective chops and preparing to cash in on the crisis, likely generating yet another round of record profits in adherence to one of the most famous maxims, often attributed to Winston Churchill, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." The price of gasoline is high right now. Big Oil is exploiting the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its effects on the price of gas to run up record profits. At the end of 2021, BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Chevron all reported the highest profits they've seen since 2014, and every single company attributed those record profits to surging oil prices as post-pandemic demand increased and supply had not yet met that demand. Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pointed out that U.S. oil companies are sitting on over 9,000 federal drilling permits, claiming that these should be tapped before additional leases are granted. The industry balked, arguing that "developing a lease takes years and substantial effort to determine whether the underlying geology holds commercial quantities of oil and/or gas," undermining their own point while they're making it: if it takes so long to produce oil from a new lease, how on earth would issuing new leases have any discernible effect on gas prices today? When record-high prices coincide with record profits, as they almost always do, it is lunacy to ignore the obvious connection between the two.
Note: Explore an alternative viewpoint on the Ukrainian situation from a respected source. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
The lobbying industry had a record year in 2021, taking in $3.7 billion in revenue as companies, associations and other organizations pressed Congress and the Biden administration over trillions of dollars in new pandemic spending and rules affecting health care, travel, tourism and other industries. The revenue figures, compiled in recent weeks from government records by OpenSecrets, show that lobbying spending began steadily growing in 2017. The jump in 2021, when lobbying spending was about 6 percent higher than 2020, came as the government's pandemic interventions and record expenditure took center stage. The surge came as companies and associations aimed to roll back regulations on their industries – many of them pandemic-related – while others vied for a slice of the trillions in new spending. Manufacturers, unions, financial companies and technology firms all spent significantly more in 2021 than in previous years. Thousands of companies and organizations appeared to hire lobbyists for the first time during the pandemic, as more than 3,700 companies and other groups that spent no money lobbying the government in 2019 paid lobbyists last year. The pharmaceutical industry, regularly one of the biggest spenders in Washington, also increased its spending. Its top trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), topped $30 million in spending last year, up 17 percent from the year prior.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters on Thursday, in a temporary change to its hate speech policy. The social media company is also temporarily allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to internal emails to its content moderators. "As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as 'death to the Russian invaders.' We still won't allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians," a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. The calls for the leaders' deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method, one email said, in a recent change to the company's rules on violence and incitement. Last week, Russia said it was banning Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform. Moscow has cracked down on tech companies, including Twitter, which said it is restricted in the country, during its invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special operation." Emails also showed that Meta would allow praise of the right-wing Azov battalion, which is normally prohibited.
Note: Read more about Facebook permitting praise for the neo-Nazi Azov battalion. Intrepid reporter Ben Swann gives a great, balanced view on the biolabs in the Ukraine, including efforts to scrub one particularly incriminating video from the Internet. And explore an alternative viewpoint on the Ukrainian situation from a respected source. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption from reliable sources.
Oil and gas companies and lobby groups in Canada are heavily investing in campaigns to present themselves as defenders of Indigenous interests in the face of high-profile protests against a controversial natural gas pipeline on First Nation land. "I'm being a steward to my land and I'm being a defender," read one of 21 ads targeting British Columbia in November 2021, quoting a Coastal GasLink worker from Nak'azdli Whut'en' First Nation. As the ad conveying Indigenous support for the pipeline appeared on the Facebook and Instagram feeds of people in the Canadian province, 30 Wet'suwet'en Nation members and supporters were being violently evicted from their territory along the pipeline. The fossil fuel groups spent some C$122,000 (US$95,249) on more than 400 targeted Facebook and Instagram ads. The vast majority of the ads, which were shown some 21m times in total, were linked to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the site of intense protest and violent police crackdown in recent years. The construction of the 670km pipeline through unceded Wet'suwet'en territory – land never signed away to the Canadian government – has sparked nationwide protests in recent years. Analysis of Facebook advertisements ... by Eco-Bot.Net, a research project exposing climate crisis misinformation and corporate greenwashing online, has found a steady flow of "Indigenous-washing" ad campaigns from TC Energy, the company behind the pipeline, and associated oil and gas lobby groups.
In September 2019, Ryanair circulated a series of adverts on TV, radio and online which urged customers to fly with "Europe's Lowest Fares, Lowest Emissions Airline. Everybody knows that when you fly Ryanair you enjoy the lowest fares. But do you know you are travelling on the airline with Europe's lowest emissions as well?" The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), the UK's advertising watchdog, banned the campaign several months later after concluding that these claims were misleading. Ryanair is far from the only company to come under fire for making misleading climate claims. Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, there has been a wave of corporate commitments to reduce emissions. But the increase in enthusiasm for climate responsibility has been matched by a rise in concerns that some companies are using advertising and public messaging, with buzzwords such as "carbon neutrality" and "net zero", to try to appear more sustainable than they actually are. This is referred to by some as "greenwashing". Consumers are increasingly seeing through misleading claims and making more complaints about them as a result. Almost 50 complaints are currently pending globally before a court or an advertising standards body, according to a recent report. The ASA plans to release new guidance to ensure adverts don't mislead the public about the environment in 2022. To date, most complaints regarding misleading climate claims are dealt with by watchdogs, rather than taken to court.
"Would you like to sign in with your palm?" That was the question a cheerful Amazon employee posed when greeting me last week at the opening of a Whole Foods Market in Washington's Glover Park neighborhood. For the next 30 minutes, I shopped. Then I simply walked out, no cashier necessary. Whole Foods – or rather Amazon – would bill my account later. More than four years ago, Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13 billion. Now the Amazon-ification of the grocery chain is physically complete. Amazon designed my local grocer to be almost completely run by tracking and robotic tools for the first time. The technology, known as Just Walk Out, consists of hundreds of cameras with a god's-eye view of customers. Sensors are placed under each apple, carton of oatmeal and boule of multigrain bread. Deep-learning software analyzes the shopping activity to detect patterns and increase the accuracy of its charges. The Whole Foods in Glover Park ... has sparked a spirited local debate, with residents sparring on the Nextdoor community app and a neighborhood email list over the store's "dystopian" feeling versus its "impressive technology." Some ... said they had found errors in their bills and complained about the end of produce by the pound. Everything is now offered per item, bundle or box. Some mourned the disappearance of the checkout line, where they perused magazines. Many were suspicious of the tracking tech. "It's like George Orwell's â€1984,'" said Allen Hengst, 72, a retired librarian.
On September 19, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. The bill ... would allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare, a right assumed by the governments of every other major economy. Polls showed support ranging from 80 to an eye-popping 90-plus percent. H.R. 3 was delivered stillborn into Mitch McConnell's Senate in November of 2019. Two years later, when Joe Biden released the massive social-spending and climate-change bill dubbed Build Back Better, H.R. 3's reforms were nowhere to be found. And at every level of government, Pharma's endless river of money continues to flow, the widest, steadiest current of lobbying largesse the capitol has ever known. In 2021, the industry reported spending $124 million on a fleet of 846 lobbyists, roughly two for every member of Congress. Sixty-five percent were former government employees. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are part of a larger coalition that includes the insurance, medical-device, and hospital industries. Its combined resources flow downstream through dozens of lobbying firms, communications shops, and front groups. "If a freshman Democrat so much as signs a letter related to drug prices, the lobby hammers them with phone calls and meeting requests, completely locking up the calendar," says Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works. "The calls come in from ex-Democratic officials and staffers, so they have to take the meetings."
The fallout from a huge leak of Credit Suisse banking data threatened to damage Switzerland's entire financial sector on Monday after the European parliament's main political grouping raised the prospect of adding the country to a money-laundering blacklist. The European People's party (EPP), the largest political grouping of the European parliament, called for the EU to review its relationship with Switzerland and consider whether it should be added to its list of countries associated with a high risk of financial crime. Experts said that such a move would be a disaster for Switzerland's financial sector, which would face the kind of enhanced due diligence applied to transactions linked to rogue nations including Iran, Myanmar, Syria and North Korea. The EPP released the proposal after media outlets including the Guardian, SĂĽddeutsche Zeitung, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), and Le Monde revealed how a massive leak of Credit Suisse data had uncovered apparently widespread failures of due diligence by the bank. The investigation, called Suisse secrets, identified clients of the Swiss bank who had been involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes. The country's addition to the EU high-risk third countries list would mean regulated professions, such as bankers, lawyers and accountants, would be required to conduct enhanced due diligence on any transaction or commercial relationship with a person or company in the country.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial system corruption from reliable major media sources.
The world is spending at least $1.8tn (Ł1.3tn) every year on subsidies driving the annihilation of wildlife and a rise in global heating, according to a new study, prompting warnings that humanity is financing its own extinction. From tax breaks for beef production in the Amazon to financial support for unsustainable groundwater pumping in the Middle East, billions of pounds of government spending and other subsidies are harming the environment, says the first cross-sector assessment for more than a decade. This government support, equivalent to 2% of global GDP, is directly working against the goals of the Paris agreement and draft targets on reversing biodiversity loss, the research on explicit subsidies found, effectively financing water pollution, land subsidence and deforestation with state money. The fossil fuel industry ($620bn), the agricultural sector ($520bn), water ($320bn) and forestry ($155bn) account for the majority of the $1.8tn, according to the report. No estimate for mining, believed to cause billions of dollars of damage to ecosystems every year, could be derived. Lack of transparency between governments and recipients means the true figure is likely to be much higher, as is the implicit cost of harmful subsidies. Last year, an International Monetary Fund report found the fossil fuel industry benefited from subsidies worth $5.9tn in 2020.
One in three people across America have detectable levels of a toxic herbicide linked to cancers, birth defects and hormonal imbalances, a major nationwide survey has found. Human exposure to the herbicide 2,4-D has substantially risen amid expanding use among farmers despite a multitude of health and environmental concerns, according to the first nationally representative study evaluating the footprint of the chemical. Researchers from George Washington university examined the urine samples of 14,395 people (aged six and older) from all walks of life who take part in the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They looked for biomarkers to the pesticide, and compared the exposure levels detected with the use of 2,4-D from 2001 until 2014. As the pesticide grew in popularity among farmers and gardeners, so did evidence of human exposure, rising from a low of 17% in 2001-02 to a high of almost 40% a decade later. Exposure to high levels of 2,4-D, an ingredient of Agent Orange used against civilians during the Vietnam war, has been linked to cancers including leukemia in children, birth defects and reproductive problems among other health issues. The study, published online in Environmental Health, found exposure was not uniform, with several subgroups including children aged six to 11 and women of childbearing age showing substantially higher levels of 2,4-D in their urine. Overall, the amount of 2,4-D applied in agriculture increased 67% between 2012 and 2020.
A foundation representing the vaccine maker BioNTech has been accused of seeking to undermine the World Health Organization's initiative to bring covid vaccine manufacturing to the African continent. The kENUP Foundation, a consultancy hired by BioNTech, has claimed that WHO's hub, which is creating a covid-19 mRNA vaccine that African companies can make, is unlikely to be successful and will infringe on patents, documents obtained by The BMJ have shown. Instead, they show kENUP promoting BioNTech's proposal to ship mRNA factories housed in sea containers from Europe to Africa, initially staffed with BioNTech workers, and a proposed new regulatory pathway to approve the vaccines made in these factories. The novel pathway has been described as paternalistic and unworkable. The move threatens the pan-African venture backed by WHO that seeks to scale up African production of lifesaving vaccines from 1% to 60% by 2040. WHO's technology transfer hub, launched in June 2021 and based in South Africa, uses publicly available information to recreate Moderna's vaccine, to teach companies and scientists across the continent how to use mRNA technology. It will then develop a comparable vaccine, which, if successful in clinical trials and approved by regulators, it will manufacture industrially. In a document sent to South African government officials after a visit to the country on 11-14 August last year, the kENUP Foundation said that the hub's activity should be stopped.
What if I told you that a multinational oil company allegedly polluted the Amazon for almost three decades? And that the oil company has spent even more years refusing to accept liability? Or that a US attorney who agreed to represent thousands of Ecuadorian villagers in a lawsuit against that oil company has lost his law license, income, spent hundreds of days under house arrest in New York, and in 2021 was sentenced to six months in prison? From 1964 to 1990, Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, allegedly spilled more than 16m gallons of crude oil – "80 times more oil than was spilled in BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster", according to Gizmodo – and 18bn gallons of polluted wastewater in the Amazon rainforest. The pollution allegedly contaminated the ground and waterways with toxic chemicals that the plaintiffs – mostly Indigenous people and poor farmers – say has caused cancer, miscarriages, skin conditions and birth defects. In 1993, [attorney] Steven Donziger ... began working on an environmental case on behalf of Ecuadorians. In 2011 ... an Ecuadorian court ruled that Texaco, which had been bought by Chevron at this point, was "responsible for vast contamination." PR advisers for Chevron promised to "demonize" Donziger in the public eye. The oil company "hired private investigators to track Donziger, created a publication" which smeared him, and "put together a legal team of hundreds of lawyers from 60 firms, who have successfully pursued an extraordinary campaign against him."
Pfizer made nearly $37bn (Ł27bn) in sales from its Covid-19 vaccine last year – making it one of the most lucrative products in history – and has forecast another bumper year in 2022, with a big boost coming from its Covid-19 pill Paxlovid. The US drugmaker's overall revenues in 2021 doubled to $81.3bn. The bumper sales prompted accusations from campaigners of "pandemic profiteering". The group Global Justice Now said the annual revenue of $81bn was more than the GDP of most countries. Pharmaceutical companies have been accused of not sharing the recipe for their vaccines, which would enable drugmakers in poorer countries to produce cheaper versions of them. Global Justice Now pointed out that Pfizer's Covid-19 jab was invented by BioNTech, supported by â‚Ź100m (Ł84m) in debt financing from the publicly owned European Investment Bank and a â‚Ź375m grant from the German government. Tim Bierley, a pharma campaigner at the group, said: "The development of mRNA vaccines should have revolutionised the global Covid response. "But we've let Pfizer withhold this essential medical innovation from much of the world, all while ripping off public health systems." According to Reuters, Pfizer has sold the vaccine to African countries at $3 to $10 a shot. It has indicated that a non-profit dose costs just $6.75, or Ł4.98, to produce, but it has reportedly charged the NHS Ł18 a dose for the first 100m jabs bought and Ł22 a dose for the next 89m, totalling Ł3.76bn ... amounting to an eye-watering 299% mark-up.
Note: If big Pharma really cared about public healthy, don't you think they'd be willing to sacrifice some of their huge profits and charge much less for their injections? Unfortunately, it's the old story of the rich get richer and the rest are left behind. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Pfizer Inc wants to intervene in a Texas federal lawsuit seeking information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration used in licensing the company's COVID-19 vaccine, a litigation move that plaintiffs who are suing for the data say is premature. Pfizer's lawyers at DLA Piper told U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman on Jan. 21 it wanted a role in the proceedings to help the FDA avoid "inappropriately" disclosing trade secret and confidential commercial information. On Tuesday night, the group of doctors and scientists who sued last year over public access to the FDA's Pfizer licensing records said in a court filing that the company's bid to jump into the lawsuit was untimely because the plaintiffs have not challenged any redactions to requested records. Earlier this month, the judge ordered a fast-track release of hundreds of thousands of documents, calling the case "of paramount public importance." U.S. government agencies control the release of information under federal public-records laws, but companies can challenge and even sue to block the disclosure of certain details. The FDA earlier drew criticism over its plan to release 500 pages a month in response to the lawsuit from Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency, a production schedule that would take more than 50 years to complete. In its filing, Pfizer said the company supports public disclosure of FDA records "to promote transparency and the public's confidence in the vaccine."
The chief executives of America's largest airlines warned of a "catastrophic disruption" to travel and shipping operations if telecommunication companies roll out their 5G technology as planned Wednesday without limiting the technology near U.S. airports. On Tuesday, AT&T and Verizon both confirmed to CBS News that they have voluntarily agreed to postpone turning on a limited amount of towers around certain airports. "We are frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it to do so in a timely manner," an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement, reiterating that the rest of their 5G launch will continue as planned. The executives, writing to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other U.S. government officials, highlighted the risk of "economic calamity" should Verizon and AT&T proceed with deploying the new technology before the necessary upgrades and changes have been made to aviation equipment. "We are writing with urgency to request that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate two miles of airport runways as defined by the FAA on January 19, 2022," the CEOs said in a Monday letter. "To be blunt, the nation's commerce will grind to a halt," they said. The letter was signed by CEOs of major airlines including American, United, Delta and Southwest, as well as the leaders of shipping giants FedEx and UPS.
After raking in enormous profits from its coronavirus vaccine in 2021, the U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has kicked off the new year by hiking the prices of more than 120 of its drugs, resulting in significantly higher costs for patients amid a deadly pandemic. That's according to a new report released Thursday by Patients for Affordable Drugs (P4AD), which found that pharmaceutical companies have raised the prices of 554 medicines this month alone. Pfizer led the way with 125 price hikes to start 2022, leading P4AD to label the company the industry's "poster child for greed." "Due to sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, which is set to be the best-selling drug of all time, Pfizer shattered profit records in 2021. Projected sales for 2022 are $54.5 billion–more than double the previous record for one-year sales for a prescription drug," the report notes. "To put this into perspective, AbbVie's Humira previously held the spot with $19.8 billion in sales, and Pfizer's best-selling product just prior to the pandemic achieved worldwide revenues of $5.8 billion." "Despite this record revenue in 2021," the report continues, "Pfizer began 2022 with price hikes on seven of its 10 best-selling drugs," including its pneumonia vaccine (up 6.9%), a breast cancer medication (up 6.9%), and a treatment for people with cardiovascular disease (up 6%). "These hikes of 5% or 6% can translate into thousands of dollars in higher costs for patients," P4AD notes.
Note: See also a Forbes article asking why physicians aren't challenging outrageous pricing for medical costs. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
For 33 years and four months [the highly decorated General Smedley] Butler had been a United States Marine. Butler knew what most Americans did not: that in all those years, he and his Marines had destroyed democracies and helped put into power the Hitlers and Mussolinis of Latin America, dictators like the Dominican Republic's Rafael Trujillo and Nicaragua's soon-to-be leader Anastasio Somoza – men who would employ violent repression and their U.S.-created militaries to protect American investments and their own power. He had done so on behalf of moneyed interests like City Bank, J. P. Morgan, and the Wall Street financier Grayson M.P. Murphy. And now a bond salesman, who worked for Murphy, was pitching Butler on a domestic operation that set off the old veteran's alarm bells. The bond salesman was Gerald C. MacGuire. He made his proposal: The Marine would lead half a million veterans in a march on Washington, blending the Croix de Feu's assault on the French legislature with the March on Rome that had put Mussolini's Fascisti in power. They would be financed and armed by some of the most powerful corporations in America – including DuPont, the nation's biggest manufacturer of explosives and synthetic materials. The purpose of the action was to stop Roosevelt's New Deal, the president's program to end the Great Depression, which one of the millionaire du Pont brothers deemed "nothing more or less than the Socialistic doctrine called by another name." Butler recognized this immediately as a coup.
Note: Read a concise summary of the highly decorated US General Butler's important book "War is a Racket." He makes clear that the reason we have so much war has little to do with national security and everything to do with padding the pockets of those in the military-industrial complex. Read more about the fascist plot to take over the US that he uncovered. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption from reliable major media sources.
Facebook finally admitted the truth: The "fact checks" that social media use to police what Americans read and watch are just "opinion." That's thanks to a lawsuit brought by celebrated journalist John Stossel, which has exposed the left's supposed battle against "misinformation" as a farce. Stossel posted a pair of videos that touched the third rail of liberal politics – climate change. Neither questioned whether climate change is real, but each talked about other issues, namely forest management and using technology to adapt. Yet the third party that Facebook contracts to review these pieces, Science Feedback, flagged them as "false," or our favorite, "lacking context." Why? Science Feedback didn't like Stossel's "tone." That is, you can't write anything about climate change unless you say it's the worst disaster in the history of humanity and we must spend trillions to fight it. The Post has faced this same gauntlet too many times. In February 2020, we published a column by Steven W. Mosher asking if COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Lab. This was labeled "false" by Facebook's fact-checkers. Of course, those supposed "independent" scientific reviewers relied on a group of experts who had a vested interest in dismissing that theory – including EcoHealth, which had funded the Wuhan lab. When Twitter "fact checked" and blocked The Post's stories about Hunter Biden's laptop as "hacked materials," what was the basis? Nothing. It wasn't hacked. Guess they didn't like our tone.
A journalist writing for The BMJ has won a British Journalism Award for his series on the financial interests of medical experts advising US and UK governments during the covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the articles written by Paul Thacker, an investigative journalist, the financial disclosures of members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were published for the first time. Thacker's first story looked at two groups critical to the UK government's pandemic response–SAGE and the Vaccine Taskforce. He examined both and found that they did not disclose their members' financial conflicts. Some members were tied to companies with a monetary interest in the government's purchases. Thacker ... filed freedom of information (FoI) requests with multiple government departments and Oxford University. In a second story he wrote about the government's repeated refusal to turn over these data. However, the FoI ... revealed that Thacker's original request was apparently sent to a special government department to handle any reporter considered a "campaigner" or to have "extreme views." Eventually, the government relented and published the financial conflicts for the members of SAGE. In the final story of the series Thacker looked at the panels that the US and UK governments used to authorize vaccines and revealed that ... disclosure policies were inadequate. Some experts evaluating the vaccines had significant industry ties that were not disclosed.
Note: Read the full text of Thacker's article titled, "Covid-19: How independent were the US and British vaccine advisory committees?" and another titled "How the case of the Oxford professor exposes a transparency crisis in government." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Laurie Valeriano first heard about DINP decades ago. "I started to worry about the chemicals that come out of all these plastics," she said. DINP, one of a group of chemicals called phthalates that makes plastic more pliable, was one of them. It was already clear that DINP could cause cancer and interfere with hormonal functioning. In February 2000, Valeriano and her employer, the Washington Toxics Coalition, asked the Environmental Protection Agency to add DINP to the list of chemicals it monitors through a nationwide program called the Toxics Release Inventory. Seven months later ... the EPA announced that it planned to grant the group's request and issued a proposed rule that would add DINP to the toxics inventory. Yet more than 20 years later, the EPA has yet to make good on its promise to add DINP to the list of chemicals. It never finalized the rule. Companies have continued to churn out DINP ... in astounding amounts without disclosing how much individual plants make and emit. In addition to the cancer and hormone disruption that sparked Valeriano's claim 21 years ago, we now know more about how DINP affects the sexual development of children. It decreases sperm motility, increases malformations of the testes and other organs, and makes boys ... more likely to be infertile later in life. In fact, the entire group of phthalates – an estimated half-billion pounds of which are made and used in the U.S. each year – seem to cause a similar constellation of health problems.
The largest oil and gas companies made a combined $174bn in profits in the first nine months of the year as gasoline prices climbed in the US, according to a new report. The bumper profit totals ... show that in the third quarter of 2021 alone, 24 top oil and gas companies made more than $74bn in net income. From January to September, the net income of the group, which includes Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP, was $174bn. Gasoline prices have hit a seven-year high in the US due to the rising cost of oil, with Americans now paying about $3.40 for a gallon of fuel compared with around $2.10 a year ago. The Biden administration has warned the price hikes are hurting low-income people, even as it attempts to implement a climate agenda that would see America move away from fossil fuels, and has released 50m barrels of oil from the national strategic reserve to help dampen costs. But oil and gas companies have shown little willingness so far to ramp up production to help reduce costs and the new report, by the government watchdog group Accountable.US, accuses them of "taking advantage of bloated prices, fleecing American families along the way" amid ongoing fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The analysis of major oil companies' financials shows that 11 of the group gave payouts to shareholders worth more than $36.5bn collectively this year, while a dozen bought back $8bn-worth of stock.
Ministers have agreed [to] a secrecy clause in any dispute with the drugs manufacturer Pfizer over Britain's Covid vaccine supply. Large portions of the government's contracts with the company over the supply of 189m vaccine doses have been redacted and any arbitration proceedings will be kept secret. The revelation comes as Pfizer is accused by a former senior US health official of "war profiteering'' during the pandemic. Tom Frieden, who was director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under Barack Obama, said: "If you're just focusing on maximising your profits and you're a vaccine manufacturer ... you are war profiteering." Zain Rizvi, research director at Public Citizen, a US consumer advocacy organisation which has examined Pfizer's global vaccine contracts, said: "There is a wall of secrecy surrounding these contracts and it's unacceptable, particularly in a public health crisis." Rizvi said the UK needed to explain why it had agreed to secret arbitration proceedings. He said: "It's the only high-income country we have seen that has agreed to this provision. It allows pharmaceutical companies to bypass domestic legal processes." While AstraZeneca agreed to sell its vaccine at cost during the pandemic, Pfizer wanted to secure its profits. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ... will be one of the most lucrative drugs in pharmaceutical history. One biological engineering expert [claims] the Pfizer vaccine costs just 76p to manufacture for each shot. It is reportedly being sold for Ł22 a dose to the UK government.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
This year, Pfizer expects to bring in $36 billion from worldwide sales of its COVID-19 vaccine. That would shatter the previous record in annual sales for a single pharmaceutical product - about $20 billion for the anti-inflammatory drug Humira - and make the Pfizer vaccine the bestselling pharmaceutical product ever. Moderna will deliver fewer doses but is still expecting up to $18 billion in sales for the year for its COVID-19 vaccine. Humira, has been ... churning out tens of billions of dollars a year for multiple years on end. And it's not entirely clear that the mRNA vaccines will do that. Just because Pfizer and Moderna are selling billions of doses now doesn't mean that will last forever. The vaccines could work so well they eliminate the need for further boosters, though it's also possible COVID shots could become routine, like flu shots. The uncertainty puts a premium on maximizing sales now. Any vaccine manufacturer is going to realize that there's a risk that they're going to have a very short lifecycle. Moderna got a lot of government funding, offsetting costs and minimizing risks. But the COVID-19 vaccine is its only product on the market. Pfizer, on the other hand, didn't accept early government investment and took on a lot of those upfront costs itself. But it has dozens of other products in its portfolio that it makes and will continue to make once the pandemic ends.
Paul Marik, MD, one of the most highly published critical care physicians in the world and the Director of the ICU at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, was recently told by Sentara Healthcare that he could no longer administer a range of highly effective COVID-19 treatments to critically ill patients - the same treatments he has successfully used to reduce COVID deaths in the ICU by as much as 50%. The result of the prohibition has been a sharp increase in patient mortality. Because Dr. Marik can no longer stand by while patients needlessly die without proper treatment, he has filed a lawsuit to allow him and his colleagues to administer the combination of FDA-approved drugs and other therapies that has saved thousands of critically ill COVID-19 patients in the last 18 months. The Complaint filed today in the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk, Virginia states that Sentara Healthcare is "preventing terminally ill COVID patients from exercising their right to choose and to receive safe, potentially life-saving treatment determined to be appropriate for them by their attending physician." Under Virginia law, every patient has the right to receive treatment deemed appropriate for them by their attending physician, and terminally ill patients have the right to try investigational medicines that their treating physician recommends. Through its arbitrary prohibition of the COVID-19 treatment protocol ... Sentara is violating the law and unjustly depriving critically ill patients of lifesaving treatment.
Note: Watch a video detailing successes with these treatments and obstruction by authorities of these life-saving treatments. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Lowering prescription drug prices is among the Biden administration's most urgent priorities. But the drug industry is spending big to keep that from happening. A new compromise on Capitol Hill would offer some relief from high prices by gradually allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices similar to private insurers for the first time, while capping out of pocket costs at $2,000 and setting limits on the cost of insulin. The pharmaceutical industry has spent nearly $263 million on lobbying so far this year, employing three lobbyists for every member of Congress, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics. Millions of those dollars are in the form of campaign donations. "They have really endless resources to throw at shaping the outcomes of legislation," said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of OpenSecrets. Congressman Scott Peters, a Democrat, sparked protests outside his San Diego district office when he came out against a plan to cut drug costs for seniors earlier this year. He's received nearly $130,000 from the industry this year. About $100,000 has been donated to Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema this year. Senator Robert Menendez, also a Democrat, has taken nearly $80,000 in 2021. "Bottom line is I'm supporting a price negotiation bill that has been worked out," ... Menendez said when asked what message he's sending by taking money from the pharmaceutical industry.
Note: This article fails to mention that big Pharma spends more than any other sector on lobbying and also is the largest sponsor of advertising in the major media. Do you think the media and Congress are biased by this? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the pharmaceutical industry from reliable major media sources.
In autumn 2020 Pfizer's chairman and chief executive, Albert Bourla, released an open letter to the billions of people around the world who were investing their hopes in a safe and effective covid-19 vaccine to end the pandemic. "As I've said before, we are operating at the speed of science," Bourla wrote, explaining to the public when they could expect a Pfizer vaccine to be authorised in the United States. But, for researchers who were testing Pfizer's vaccine at several sites in Texas during that autumn, speed may have come at the cost of data integrity and patient safety. A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer's pivotal phase III trial. Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding. After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson, emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. Jackson has told The BMJ that, during the two weeks she was employed at Ventavia in September 2020, she repeatedly informed her superiors of poor laboratory management, patient safety concerns, and data integrity issues.
Note: Yet every major media proudly announces "brought to you by Pfizer." Learn about Brianne Dressen, Ph.D., a volunteer for early COVID vaccines clinical trials who ended up with serious adverse effects the evening of the shot and was later hospitalized, yet then the study sponsors did not follow up with her. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Pfizer reported that earnings and sales more than doubled in the past quarter, and it raised its outlook for results the full year, thanks greatly to its Covid-19 vaccine. The company reported adjusted earnings of $7.7 billion, up 133% from a year earlier. Revenue soared to $24.1 billion, up 134%. Both easily cleared results forecast by analysts. The vaccine business alone was responsible for more than 60% of the company's sales, as vaccine revenue rose to $14.6 billion from only $1.7 billion a year earlier. The company said its Covid vaccine sales accounted for $13 billion of that revenue. Revenue outside of its Covid vaccine business was up a far more modest 7%. This year, the Covid vaccine has brought in revenue of $24.3 billion. And Pfizer said it expects a total of $36 billion from the vaccine for all of 2021 – nearly $12 billion more in revenue the final quarter of the year. And it said based on contracts it now has signed it expects revenue $29 billion from the Covid vaccine in 2022. The company said it now expects full-year 2021 revenue of between $81 billion to $82 billion, up $2 billion from its earlier guidance. It also raised its earnings per share outlook by about 3% to 5% above what it had been expected to earn. About 67% of the total US population has had a least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated, according to data tracked by the Mayo Clinic.
Note: Explore hundreds of personal stories of severe vaccine injury and death that are being strongly suppressed by government and the major media. An MD's excellent research reveals that the government knew about and actively suppressed safe, effective, low-price treatments for COVID and targeted physicians who prescribed them. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
The Environmental Protection Agency has withheld information from the public since January 2019 about the dangers posed by more than 1,200 chemicals. By law, companies must give the EPA any evidence they possess that a chemical presents "a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment." Until recently, the agency had been making these reports – known as 8(e) reports, for the section of the Toxic Substances Control Act that requires them – available to the public. But since 2019, the EPA has only posted one of the reports to its public website. During this time, chemical companies have continued to submit the critical studies to the agency, according to two EPA staff members with knowledge of the matter. Since January 2019, the EPA has received at least 1,240 reports documenting the risk of chemicals' serious harms, including eye corrosion, damage to the brain and nervous system, chronic toxicity to honeybees, and cancer in both people and animals. PFAS compounds are among the chemical subjects of these notifications. Not only has the agency kept all but one of these reports from the public, but it has also made them difficult for EPA staff to access, according to the two agency scientists, who are choosing to remain anonymous. The substantial risk reports have not been uploaded to the databases used most often by risk assessors searching for information about chemicals. They have been entered only into an internal database that is difficult to access and search.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Merck is planning to charge Americans 40 times its cost for a Covid drug whose development was subsidized by the American government. Americans are facing not merely expensive drugs but prices that are examples of outright profiteering. In many cases, the medicines we are being gouged on are those that we the public already paid for. These facts show us that pharma-bankrolled Democrats trying to kill drug pricing measures aren't just bought and paid for in this particular skirmish – they are foot soldiers in the pharmaceutical industry's larger multi-decade campaign to seal off and rig America's alleged "free market". A new Public Citizen analysis shows that the 20 top-selling medicines generated almost twice as much pharmaceutical industry revenue in the United States as in every other country combined. For all the pharmaceutical industry's self-congratulatory rhetoric about its own innovations, the federal government uses your tax dollars to fund a lot of that innovation, research and development. A study from the National Academy of Sciences tells that story: the federal government spent $100bn to subsidize the research on every single one of the 200-plus drugs approved for sale in the United States between 2010 and 2016. We now routinely face immoral situations like last week's news that pharmaceutical giant Merck is planning to charge Americans $712 for a Covid drug that cost only $17.74 to produce and whose development was subsidized by the American government.
The popular, once bipartisan idea to hold down Medicare costs is now at the center of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda. Legislation backed by the administration calls for Medicare to mirror other government agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, in being able to negotiate for cheaper medicine through the Part D program. The idea could potentially save the government nearly $500 billion over a decade. The drug pricing proposal could also translate to lower prescription costs across the board. The drug industry, according to its top lobbyist, Stephen Ubl, has made defeating the provision its top priority. Inside the Beltway, the opposition is coming from familiar faces. Many leading Democratic lawmakers and staff have been hired by the drug industry to convince their former colleagues to abandon the drug pricing proposal. Pfizer alone has assembled a lobbying team that includes Dean Aguillen, a former adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Remy Brim, a former health policy adviser to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and over half a dozen aides to senior Senate Democrats. Ann Jablon, former chief of staff to Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. ... currently represents several drug companies as a lobbyist, including Amgen Inc., Astellas Pharma, and Bayer. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade group that represents the largest drug companies in the world, has also gone on a hiring spree of Democratic lobbyists.
Synthetic chemicals called phthalates, found in hundreds of consumer products such as food storage containers, shampoo, makeup, perfume and children's toys, may contribute to some 91,000 to 107,000 premature deaths a year among people ages 55 to 64 in the United States, a new study found. People with the highest levels of phthalates had a greater risk of death from any cause, especially cardiovascular mortality, according to the study published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution. Phthalates are known to interfere with the body's mechanism for hormone production, known as the endocrine system, and they are "linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems," according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Even small hormonal disruptions can cause "significant developmental and biological effects," the NIEHS states. Prior research has connected phthalates with reproductive problems, such as genital malformations and undescended testes in baby boys and lower sperm counts and testosterone levels in adult males. Often called "everywhere chemicals" because they are so common, phthalates are added to consumer products such as PVC plumbing, vinyl flooring, rain- and stain-resistant products, medical tubing, garden hoses, and some children's toys. Other common exposures come from the use of phthalates in food packaging, detergents, clothing, furniture and automotive plastics.
To ward off accusations that it helps terrorists spread propaganda, Facebook has for many years barred users from speaking freely about people and groups it says promote violence. The restrictions appear to trace back to 2012, when ... Facebook added to its Community Standards a ban on "organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity." This modest rule has since ballooned into what's known as the Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, a sweeping set of restrictions on what Facebook's nearly 3 billion users can say about an enormous and ever-growing roster of entities deemed beyond the pale. But as with other attempts to limit personal freedoms in the name of counterterrorism, Facebook's DIO policy has become an unaccountable system that disproportionately punishes certain communities, critics say. It is built atop a blacklist of over 4,000 people and groups, including politicians, writers, charities, hospitals, hundreds of music acts, and long-dead historical figures. A range of legal scholars and civil libertarians have called on the company to publish the list so that users know when they are in danger of having a post deleted or their account suspended for praising someone on it. The company has repeatedly refused to do so, claiming it would endanger employees and permit banned entities to circumvent the policy. The Intercept has reviewed a snapshot of the full DIO list and is today publishing a reproduction of the material in its entirety.
Note: Facebook was found to be the number one platform for political disinformation campaigns in 2019. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption from reliable sources.
A five-day course of molnupiravir, the new medicine being hailed as a "huge advance" in the treatment of Covid-19, costs $17.74 to produce, according to a report issued last week by drug pricing experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and King's College Hospital in London. Merck is charging the U.S. government $712 for the same amount of medicine, or 40 times the price. Like the vast majority of medicines on the market, molnupiravir – which was originally investigated as a possible treatment for Venezuelan equine encephalitis – was developed using government funds. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a division of the Department of Defense, provided more than $10 million of funding in 2013 and 2015 to Emory University, as research done by the nonprofit Knowledge Ecology International has revealed. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, also provided Emory with more than $19 million in additional grants. Yet only Merck and Ridgeback will reap the profits from the new antiviral, which ... could bring in as much as $7 billion by the end of this year. After the announcement of the encouraging clinical trial results on Friday, Merck's stock price climbed. Good government advocates are pointing out that because federal agencies spent at least $29 million on the drug's development, the government has the obligation to ensure that the medicine is affordable.
Twitter has been slammed for fact-checking the obituary of a Seattle mother that attributed her death to blood clots brought on by the COVID-19 vaccine after she was forced to get the shot due to "heavy-handed" state mandates. The online obituary for 37-year-old Jessica Berg Wilson, who died Sept. 7, was marked as "misleading" by the social media giant over the weekend. The fact-check warning was removed by Twitter on Monday morning following the backlash. The tribute ... said the mother of two died from "COVID-19 Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia" – a rare blood disorder that can occur in some cases after the vaccine. Wilson had been "vehemently opposed" to getting the vaccine because she was in good health, but she eventually relented after Washington state made it mandatory for teachers and those wanting to volunteer in schools, her obituary said. "During the last weeks of her life, however, the world turned dark with heavy-handed vaccine mandates. Local and state governments were determined to strip away her right to consult her wisdom and enjoy her freedom." The social media giant fact-checked the obituary after it was shared by Twitter user Kelly Bee alongside a tweet that read: "Jessica Berg Wilson, an â€exceptionally healthy and vibrant 37-year-old young mother with no underlying health conditions,' passed away from COVID Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia. She did not want to get vaccinated."
Note: Learn lots more about this tragedy in this article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles coronavirus vaccines and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
Frances Haugen spent 15 years working for some of the largest social media companies in the world including Google, Pinterest, and until May, Facebook. Haugen quit Facebook on her own accord and left with thousands of pages of internal research and communications that she shared with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 60 Minutes obtained the documents from a Congressional source. On Sunday, in her first interview, Haugen told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley about what she called "systemic" problems with the platform's ranking algorithm that led to the amplification of "angry content" and divisiveness. Evidence of that, she said, is in the company's own internal research. Haugen said Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018 to promote "what it calls meaningful social interactions" through "engagement-based rankings." She explained that content that gets engaged with – such as reactions, comments, and shares – gets wider distribution. "Political parties have been quoted, in Facebook's own research, saying, we know you changed how you pick out the content that goes in the home feed," said Haugen. "And now if we don't publish angry, hateful, polarizing, divisive content, crickets." "We have no independent transparency mechanisms," Haugen [said]. "Facebook ... picks metrics that are in its own benefit. And the consequence is they can say we get 94% of hate speech and then their internal documents say we get 3% to 5% of hate speech. We can't govern that."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and – in 14 cases involving current country leaders – citizens around the world. The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other disclosures hit closer to home for U.S. officials. The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing. The trove, dubbed the Pandora Papers, exceeds the dimensions of the leak that was at the center of the Panama Papers investigation five years ago. That data was drawn from a single law firm, but the new material encompasses records from 14 separate financial-services entities.
Note: Some have suggested that the CIA was responsible for the earlier Panama Papers leak. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
The secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents. Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers. They reveal the King of Jordan secretly amassed Ł70m of UK and US property. They also show how ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved Ł312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office. The couple bought an offshore firm that owned the building. The leak also links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, and shows the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis - facing an election later this week - failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for Ł12m in the south of France. It is the latest in a string of leaks over the past seven years, following the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks. The examination of the files is the largest organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with more than 650 reporters taking part. Some figures are facing allegations of corruption, money laundering and global tax avoidance. But one of the biggest revelations is how prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK. The documents reveal the owners of some of the 95,000 offshore firms behind the purchases.
Note: Read about the Panama Papers leak that previously shed light on the tax havens of the elite. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
YouTube is taking down several video channels associated with high-profile anti-vaccine activists including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who experts say are partially responsible for helping seed the skepticism that's contributed to slowing vaccination rates across the country. As part of a new set of policies aimed at cutting down on anti-vaccine content on the Google-owned site, YouTube will ban any videos that claim that commonly used vaccines approved by health authorities are ineffective or dangerous. Mercola, an alternative medicine entrepreneur, and Kennedy, a lawyer and the son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy who has been a face of the anti-vaccine movement for years, have both said in the past that they are not automatically against all vaccines, but believe information about the risks of vaccines is being suppressed. Facebook banned misinformation on all vaccines seven months ago, though the pages of both Mercola and Kennedy remain up on the social media site. Their Twitter accounts are active, too. In an email, Mercola said he was being censored. Kennedy also said he was being censored. "There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy has advanced either democracy or public health," he said in an email. Social media companies have hired thousands of moderators and used high-tech image- and text-recognition algorithms to try to police misinformation. YouTube has removed over 133,000 videos for broadcasting coronavirus misinformation.
Note: Listen to first hand tragic stories of those who died or were seriously injured by COVID injections. Read one woman's harrowing story of suffering severe side effects from the Pfizer injection only to have her story suppressed even though she supports vaccines in general. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and media corruption from reliable sources.
Facebook knew that teen girls on Instagram reported in large numbers that the app was hurting their body image and mental health. It knew that its content moderation systems suffered from an indefensible double standard in which celebrities were treated far differently than the average user. It knew that a 2018 change to its news feed software, intended to promote "meaningful interactions," ended up promoting outrageous and divisive political content. Facebook knew all of those things because they were findings from its own internal research teams. But it didn't tell anyone. In some cases, its executives even made public statements at odds with the findings. The world's largest social network employs teams of people to study its own ugly underbelly, only to ignore, downplay and suppress the results of their research when it proves awkward or troubling. A pattern has emerged in which findings that implicate core Facebook features or systems, or which would require costly or politically dicey interventions, are reportedly brushed aside by top executives, and come out only when leaked to the media by frustrated employees or former employees. For instance, the New York Times reported in 2018 that Facebook's security team had uncovered evidence of Russian interference ahead of the 2016 U.S. election, but that Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Vice President of Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan had opted to keep it secret for fear of the political fallout.
British people are [asking]: What is the deal with all of these medicine ads in the U.S.? England doesn't allow commercials for prescription drugs. While there are ads for over-the-counter drugs in most of the world, the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow drug companies to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers. Commercials for prescription drugs do not exist in Europe or South America or Asia or Africa or Mexico or Australia, just in the U.S. and New Zealand, which is a much smaller market. It wasn't too long ago that TV in the U.S. was like the rest of the world, completely free of prescription drug ads. The '60s, the '70s, most of the '80s, there are no ads like this. By the '80s, though, ... drug companies started saying, we don't want to advertise our drugs just to doctors and pharmacists anymore. We want to market our drugs directly to consumers. The FDA was worried about how commercials would impact demand for drugs - misuse, overuse, all kinds of things. But there were compelling reasons to go directly to consumers. So in 1981, the first direct-to-consumer ad runs in print in Reader's Digest. The FDA [decided television] commercials need to say, out loud, the major risks of a drug. You just had to include the major risks of a drug, along with places where consumers could get more information about the drug, like a phone number or a website or a recommendation just to talk to your doctor. And this is what really opens the TV ad floodgates.
Note: The pharmaceutical industry provides 75% of television advertising revenue in the US. So how likely are TV stations to carry stories that reveal problems with drugs or corruption in the industry? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Ask questions or post content about COVID-19 that runs counter to the Biden administration's narrative and find yourself censored on social media. That's precisely what data analyst and digital strategist Justin Hart says happened to him. And so last week the Liberty Justice Center, a public-interest law firm, filed a suit on his behalf in California against Facebook, Twitter, President Joe Biden and United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy for violating his First Amendment right to free speech. Hart had his social media most recently locked for merely posting an infographic that illustrated the lack of scientific research behind forcing children to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID. In fact ... study after study repeatedly shows that children are safer than vaccinated adults and that the masks people actually wear don't do much good. The lawsuit contends that the federal government is "colluding with social media companies to monitor, flag, suspend and delete social media posts it deems 'misinformation.'" It can point to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki's July remarks that senior White House staff are "in regular touch" with Big Tech platforms regarding posts about COVID. She also said the surgeon general's office is "flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread." "Why do we think it's acceptable for the government to direct social media companies to censor people on critical issues such as COVID?" Hart asks. The Post has been targeted repeatedly by social media for solid, factual reporting.
Note: Read about another lawsuit alleging collusion between government and big tech companies to censor dissenting views on pandemic policies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
Just two days after the U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan, more than a dozen Democrats with strong ties to the military establishment defied President Joe Biden and voted to add nearly $24 billion to the defense budget for fiscal year 2022. On Wednesday, 14 Democrats joined 28 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee to adopt an amendment from Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., to the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill that would boost Biden's $715 billion spending proposal to $738.9 billion. The move follows the Senate Armed Services Committee's vote to similarly raise the top line to more than $740 billion in its July markup of the bill. Many of the Democrats who voted for the $24 billion increase have close ties to the defense establishment. Their districts are home to job-promoting manufacturing sites and military bases. Many of the Democrats have also received generous campaign donations from contractors. In fact, Federal Election Commission data shows that in the first six months of this year, the 14 Democrats collectively received at least $135,000 from PACs representing the country's top 10 defense vendors: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, L3Harris, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Leidos, Honeywell, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Members of the Sackler family who are at the center of the nation's deadly opioid crisis have won sweeping immunity from opioid lawsuits linked to their privately owned company Purdue Pharma and its OxyContin medication. Federal Judge Robert Drain approved a bankruptcy settlement on Wednesday that grants the Sacklers "global peace" from any liability for the opioid epidemic. "This is a bitter result," Drain said. "I believe that at least some of the Sackler parties have liability for those [opioid OxyContin] claims. ... I would have expected a higher settlement." The complex bankruptcy plan ... grants "releases" from liability for harm caused by OxyContin and other opioids to the Sacklers, hundreds of their associates, as well as their remaining empire of companies and trusts. In return, they have agreed to pay roughly $4.3 billion, while also forfeiting ownership of Purdue Pharma. The Sacklers, who admit no wrongdoing and who by their own reckoning earned more than $10 billion from opioid sales, will remain one of the wealthiest families in the world. Critics of this bankruptcy settlement, meanwhile, said they would challenge Drain's confirmation because of the liability releases for the Sacklers. "This order is insulting to victims of the opioid epidemic who had no voice in these proceedings," said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The Department of Justice urged Drain to reject the settlement. Attorneys general for nine states and the District of Columbia also opposed the plan.
Note: Purdue Pharma spent $1.2 million on lobbying just before making this deal. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Snopes, which has long presented itself as the internet's premier fact-checking resource, has retracted 60 articles after a BuzzFeed News investigation found that the site's co-founder plagiarized from news outlets as part of a strategy intended to scoop up web traffic. "As you can imagine, our staff are gutted and appalled by this," Vinny Green, the Snopes chief operating officer, said. He said the Snopes editorial team was conducting a review to understand just how many articles written by David Mikkelson, the site's co-founder and chief executive, featured content plagiarized from other news sites. As of Friday afternoon, the team had found 60, he said. By Friday morning, dozens of articles had been removed from the site, with pages that formerly featured those articles now showing the word "retracted" and an explanation that "some or all of its content was taken from other sources without proper attribution." Mr. Mikkelson, who owns 50 percent of Snopes Media Group, will continue to be Snopes's chief executive, but his ability to publish articles has been revoked, Mr. Green said. In a statement, Mr. Mikkelson acknowledged he had engaged in "multiple serious copyright violations of content that Snopes didn't have rights to use." From 2015 to 2019 – under the Snopes byline, his own name and another pseudonym – Mr. Mikkelson published dozens of articles that included language that appeared to have been copied directly from The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, the BBC and other news sources.
Note: There are many serious questions about the biases of Snopes and some of their unscrupulous tactics, as is covered in this Forbes article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption from reliable sources.
As Purdue Pharma seeks approval for a controversial bankruptcy settlement, it has retained the services of highly compensated lobbying firms Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and Capitol Hill Consulting Group. At the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy trial that began Thursday, Judge Robert Drain is widely expected to approve a proposed settlement of the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy that would release members of the billionaire Sackler family, the company's owners, from all current and future opioid-related civil claims. In the year and a half leading up to the trial, Purdue spent at least $1.2 million on federal lobbying expenses as it worked toward the settlement, an Intercept review of lobbying records shows. If the settlement is approved, the Sacklers will be making a contribution of $4.28 billion, which will leave them with over $6 billion at minimum in total assets – money that will be effectively untouchable by opioid crisis victims, even though it is Purdue going bankrupt, not the Sacklers. "This whole bankruptcy was the Sacklers trying to buy immunity," said activist Ed Bisch, who lost his son to an OxyContin overdose in 2001 and is a claimant and active opponent of the settlement. "The only question was what would be the price." Among the lobbyists paid by Purdue Pharma – maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin – since it filed for bankruptcy reorganization in September 2019 are politically connected Brownstein Hyatt, which received $480,000, and Capitol Hill Consulting Group, which got $300,000.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
The American Medical Association's new training on pain management arrived in the midst of a burgeoning crisis. It was September 2007, and doctors were prescribing enough opioid painkillers each year for every American adult to have a bottle of the addictive pills. Overdoses were at a historic high and showed no signs of slowing down. Just four months earlier, executives at Purdue Pharma had pleaded guilty to felony charges for misleading regulators and physicians about the dangers of OxyContin. In light of this news, one might have expected the AMA ... to bring attention to the crisis in its newly updated continuing education course on how to treat pain. Instead, the 12-module training suggested that doctors were still too tentative about prescribing narcotics. "The effectiveness of opioid therapy may be undermined by misconceptions about their risks, particularly risks associated with abuse and addiction," read materials from one session. Down in the fine print, the AMA-branded course materials reveal that the training's development and distribution was made possible by an educational grant from Purdue Pharma. By now, the story of how Purdue Pharma sowed the seeds for the overdose crisis is the stuff of history books. But the years of Purdue's involvement with the AMA have been strangely absent from that narrative. Between 2002 and 2018, the AMA and the organization's philanthropic arm, the AMA Foundation, received more than $3 million from Purdue Pharma.
Pension funds, investment firms and Wall Street banks are snapping up family homes in Europe and the United States at a rapid pace as prices rocket higher. At the same time, the soaring cost of home ownership means that growing numbers of younger Americans and Brits renting rather than buying houses as they start families. Some of them may find their next landlord is based on Wall Street or in London's financial district. Analysts argue that this will improve standards in the rental sector. But some tenants who rent from corporate landlords dispute this, alleging substandard services and excessive rent increases. If investors are hoovering up existing properties that would otherwise have been sold to individuals, that could squeeze out first-time buyers. Household incomes in the United States and United Kingdom have not kept pace with rising home values in recent years, a trend made worse by the pandemic, which has sent average house prices in both markets to record highs. Invitation Homes, America's biggest single-family home leasing company with some 81,000 houses, is currently facing two lawsuits brought by tenants in California and Maryland who claim that the company's late rent fees constitute illegal penalties under state laws. Current and former tenants of the company ... painted a picture of an uncaring landlord, slow to make repairs and quick to threaten eviction when rent payments are overdue or withheld because of unresolved maintenance issues.
The cost of vaccinating the world against COVID-19 could be at least five times cheaper if pharmaceutical companies weren't profiteering from their monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines, campaigners from The People's Vaccine Alliance said today. New analysis by the Alliance shows that the firms Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are charging governments as much as $41 billion above the estimated cost of production. Colombia, for example, has potentially overpaid by as much as $375 million for its doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, in comparison to the estimated cost price. Despite a rapid rise in COVID cases and deaths across the developing world, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have sold over 90 percent of their vaccines so far to rich countries, charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production. Neither company have agreed to fully transfer vaccine technology and know-how with any capable producers in developing countries, a move that could increase global supply, drive down prices and save millions of lives. Analysis of production techniques for the leading mRNA type vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna â€•which were only developed thanks to public funding to the tune of $8.3 billionâ€• suggest these vaccines could be made for as little as $1.20 a dose. Yet COVAX, the scheme set up to help countries get access to COVID vaccines, has been paying, on average, nearly five times more.
Strong sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and other medicines helped Pfizer nearly double its second-quarter revenue and boost its profit an impressive 59%, beating Wall Street expectations and leading the drug giant to sharply hike its 2021 sales and profit forecasts. Amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccine became Pfizer's top seller, bringing in nearly half its revenue – $7.84 billion from direct sales and revenue split with its partner, Germany's BioNTech. Pfizer now anticipates revenue from the two-dose vaccine this year to reach $33.5 billion for the 2.1 billion doses it's contracted to provide by year end. That doesn't include a contract struck last week to provide an additional 200 million doses to the U.S. The New York company on Wednesday disclosed that ongoing testing of a booster shot, given six months after the second vaccine dose, showed it raised antibody levels against the more-transmissible Delta variant to 11 times higher in older people and five times higher in younger people, compared to levels after two doses. Pfizer has delivered more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine globally and expects to make 3 billion doses this year, with many more going to low- and middle-income countries from now through year's end. Most doses of all the COVID-19 vaccines produced in Europe and the U.S. so far have gone to wealthy countries.
Note: When public health is at stake, should private companies be making huge profits like this? Read more in this information article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering and coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
Few pause to think that their phones can be transformed into surveillance devices, with someone thousands of miles away silently extracting their messages, photos and location, activating their microphone to record them in real time. Such are the capabilities of Pegasus, the spyware manufactured by NSO Group, the Israeli purveyor of weapons of mass surveillance. The Guardian will be revealing the identities of many innocent people who have been identified as candidates for possible surveillance by NSO clients in a massive leak of data. Without forensics on their devices, we cannot know whether governments successfully targeted these people. But the presence of their names on this list indicates the lengths to which governments may go to spy on critics, rivals and opponents. Journalists across the world were selected as potential targets by these clients prior to a possible hack using NSO surveillance tools. People whose phone numbers appear in the leak ... include lawyers, human rights defenders, religious figures, academics, businesspeople, diplomats, senior government officials and heads of state. One phone that has contained signs of Pegasus activity belonged to our esteemed Mexican colleague Carmen Aristegui, whose number was in the data leak and who was targeted following her exposÄ‚© of a corruption scandal involving her country's former president Enrique PeÄ‚±a Nieto. At least four of her journalist colleagues appear in the leak
Johnson & Johnson is exploring a plan to offload liabilities from widespread Baby Powder litigation into a newly created business that would then seek bankruptcy protection. During settlement discussions, one of the health-care conglomerate's attorneys has told plaintiffs' lawyers that J&J could pursue the bankruptcy plan, which could result in lower payouts for cases that do not settle beforehand. Plaintiffs' lawyers would initially be unable to stop J&J from taking such a step. J&J faces legal actions from tens of thousands of plaintiffs alleging its Baby Powder and other talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. The plaintiffs include women suffering from ovarian cancer and others battling mesothelioma. Should J&J proceed, plaintiffs who have not settled could find themselves in protracted bankruptcy proceedings with a likely much smaller company. Future payouts to plaintiffs would be dependent on how J&J decides to fund the entity housing its talc liabilities. J&J is now considering using Texas's "divisive merger" law, which allows a company to split into at least two entities. For J&J, that could create a new entity housing talc liabilities that would then file for bankruptcy to halt litigation. The maneuver is known among legal experts as a Texas two-step bankruptcy. A 2018 Reuters investigation found J&J knew for decades that asbestos, a known carcinogen, lurked in its Baby Powder and other cosmetic talc products.
Note: Can we trust this company with vaccines? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Last week the hospital bill finally came. The cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth? $37,617.69. The bulk of the charge was for three nights' "room and board" in a semi-private room (containing two beds separated by a curtain) which was $10,350 a night. Our health insurance covers about $31,000 – leaving us with a balance of around $6,000. Although, of course, that doesn't make the ridiculously high prices OK. We're still covering the costs indirectly via our enormous insurance premiums which, we were recently informed by Oxford Health, part of UnitedHealth Group, are going to go up by 16% next year. The UnitedHealth Group's chief executive made over $50m in salary, bonus and stock option compensation in 2019. It's not just the extortionate prices in America's health system that are problematic. It's the lack of transparency. My partner called our insurance company multiple times before the birth to try to find out how much we would expect to pay. We were told on each occasion that we wouldn't have to pay anything. Which was obviously baloney. America's healthcare system isn't just a nightmare to navigate – it's inefficient and inequitable. The US may spend more on healthcare as a share of the economy than any other developed country, but it also has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world and maternal deaths have been increasing since 2000. And Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
A handful of powerful companies control the majority market share of almost 80% of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary Americans, new analysis reveals. A joint investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water Watch found that consumer choice is largely an illusion – despite supermarket shelves and fridges brimming with different brands. In fact, a few powerful transnational companies dominate every link of the food supply chain: from seeds and fertilizers to slaughterhouses and supermarkets to cereals and beers. The size, power and profits of these mega companies have expanded thanks to political lobbying and weak regulation which enabled a wave of unchecked mergers and acquisitions. The size and influence of these mega-companies enables them to largely dictate what America's 2 million farmers grow and how much they are paid, as well as what consumers eat and how much our groceries cost. It also means those who harvest, pack and sell us our food have the least power: at least half of the 10 lowest-paid jobs are in the food industry. Farms and meat processing plants are among the most dangerous and exploitative workplaces in the country. Overall, only 15 cents of every dollar we spend in the supermarket goes to farmers. The rest goes to processing and marketing our food. Less competition among agribusinesses means higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. Just four companies – Walmart, Costco, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize – control 65% of the retail market.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
The cost of vaccinating the world against COVID-19 could be at least five times cheaper if pharmaceutical companies weren't profiteering from their monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines, campaigners from the People's Vaccine Alliance said today. New analysis by the Alliance shows that the firms Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are charging governments as much as $41 billion above the estimated cost of production. Colombia, for example, has potentially overpaid by as much as $375 million for its doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, in comparison to the estimated cost price. Despite a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths across the developing world, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have sold over 90 percent of their vaccines so far to rich countries, charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production. Last week Pfizer/BioNTech announced it would licence a South African company to fill and package 100 million doses for use in Africa, but this is a drop in the ocean of need. Neither company have agreed to fully transfer vaccine technology and know-how with any capable producers in developing countries, a move that could increase global supply, drive down prices and save millions of lives. Analysis of production techniques for the leading mRNA type vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Ă˘â‚Źâ€˘which were only developed thanks to public funding to the tune of $8.3 billionĂ˘â‚Źâ€˘ suggest these vaccines could be made for as little as $1.20 a dose.
A colonoscopy might cost you or your insurer a few hundred dollars – or several thousand, depending on which hospital or insurer you use. Long hidden, such price variations are supposed to be available in stark black and white under a Trump administration price transparency rule that took effect at the start of this year. It requires hospitals to post a range of actual prices – everything from the rates they offer cash-paying customers to costs negotiated with insurers. While imperfect and potentially of limited use right now to the average consumer, the disclosures that are available illustrate the huge differences in prices – nationally, regionally and within the same hospital. Prices are all over the map. In Virginia, for example, the average price of a diagnostic colonoscopy is $2,763, but the range across the state is from $208 to $10,563. Patients can try to find the price information themselves by searching hospital websites, but even locating the correct tab on a hospital's website is tricky. But if you do want to try, here's one tip: "You can Google the hospital name and the words 'price transparency' and see where that takes you," says Caitlin Sheetz, director and head of analytics at the consulting firm ADVI Health. When it comes to compliance, "we're seeing the range of the spectrum," says Jeffrey Leibach, a partner at the consulting firm Guidehouse, which found earlier this year that about 60% of 1,000 hospitals surveyed had posted at least some data, but 30% had reported nothing at all.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
The chairman of a House subcommittee is demanding that executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell, Chevron and other major oil and gas companies testify before Congress about the industry's decades-long effort to wage disinformation campaigns around climate change. Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, said Friday he was prepared to use subpoena power to compel the companies to appear before lawmakers if they don't do so voluntarily. The move comes a day after a secretive video recording was made public in which a senior Exxon lobbyist said the energy giant had fought climate science through "shadow groups" and had targeted influential senators in an effort to weaken President Biden's climate agenda. "The video was appalling," Mr. Khanna said in an interview on Friday. He called it the latest evidence of the fossil fuel industry's efforts to "engage in climate denialism and to manipulate public opinion and to exert undue influence in shaping policy in Congress." Mr. Khanna said the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment, which he chairs, will issue letters next week to top executives at Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and other oil and gas companies and trade groups demanding documents and testimony. One major target of the panel's inquiry are dark money groups that have been funded by fossil fuel companies to disseminate falsehoods about climate science and policy solutions. The hearing is expected to be held in the fall.
Note: Learn more in this Washington Post article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and climate change from reliable major media sources.
Managers and career staff in the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention tampered with the assessments of dozens of chemicals to make them appear safer, according to four scientists who work at the agency. The whistleblowers, whose jobs involve identifying the potential harms posed by new chemicals, provided ... detailed evidence of pressure within the agency to minimize or remove evidence of potential adverse effects of the chemicals, including neurological effects, birth defects, and cancer. Information about hazards was deleted from agency assessments without informing or seeking the consent of the scientists who authored them. Some of these cases led the EPA to withhold critical information from the public about potentially dangerous chemical exposures. In other cases, the removal of the hazard information or the altering of the scientists' conclusions in reports paved the way for the use of chemicals, which otherwise would not have been allowed on the market. William Irwin, [one] of the four whistleblowers, who has worked at the EPA for over 11 years as a toxicologist, was ... moved out of the office after repeatedly resisting pressure to change his assessments to favor industry. Irwin said that while it had seemed obvious that the pressure stemmed from chemical companies, the science adviser in the office made the point irrefutably clear during an argument over one particular chemical assessment.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced Thursday that a group of 130 nations has agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations, part of a broader agreement to overhaul international tax rules. If widely enacted, the GMT would effectively end the practice of global corporations seeking out low-tax jurisdictions like Ireland and the British Virgin Islands to move their headquarters to, even though their customers, operations and executives are located elsewhere. "For decades, the United States has participated in a self-defeating international tax competition, lowering our corporate tax rates only to watch other nations lower theirs in response. The result was a global race to the bottom: Who could lower their corporate rate further and faster? No nation has won this race," said Yellen in a statement on the accord. "Today's agreement by 130 countries representing more than 90 percent of global GDP is a clear sign: the race to the bottom is one step closer to coming to an end," Yellen said. The deal also reportedly includes a framework to eliminate digital services taxes, which targeted the biggest American tech companies. In their place, officials agreed to a new tax plan that would be linked to the places where multinationals are actually doing business, rather than where they are headquartered. The groundwork for adopting a GMT has already been laid by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which released a blueprint ... outlining a two-pillar approach to international taxation.
Note: The most profitable companies sometimes pay no US taxes at all. A recent ProPublica investigation revealed that American billionaires also pay almost nothing in taxes. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Interviews with more than two dozen experts on pesticide regulation – including 14 who worked at the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, or OPP – described a federal environmental agency that is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many former EPA scientists once they leave the agency. The enormous corporate influence has weakened and, in some cases, shut down the meaningful regulation of pesticides in the U.S. and left the country's residents exposed to levels of dangerous chemicals not tolerated in many other nations. This reporting has brought to light several instances in which the overlooking, burying, or scuttling of science has had direct consequences for human health. The alarming discoveries include an EPA report warning about the link between the pesticide glyphosate and cancer that never saw the light of day; the failure to consider evidence that a neonicotinoid pesticide causes brain damage; the refusal to investigate evidence that another pesticide that is an ingredient in Roundup may cause cancer ... and the agency's waiving of the vast majority of toxicity tests at the request of industry. The scientists who have identified these hazards described immense pressure from within the agency to overlook the risks they found. And several said they faced retribution for calling attention to the dangers of pesticides.
ProPublica cracked open the vault on America's biggest tax grifters, revealing how the Midas men dip, dodge and duck, paying pennies on the dollar, if that, while we suckers have to pony up. How rich. "In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world's richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes," ProPublica reported. "He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. "Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row." "Taken together," ProPublica concluded, "it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The I.R.S. records show that the wealthiest can – perfectly legally – pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year." ProPublica shed light on the fact that "the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck." And while the value of those assets grows by the billion, untaxed, these rich folks can borrow against them.
The wealthiest Americans – including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – paid little in federal income taxes at times in recent years despite soaring fortunes, according to Internal Revenue Service data obtained by ProPublica. The information published Tuesday shows how billionaires are able to legally reduce their tax burden, highlighting how the American tax system can hit ordinary wage earners harder than the richest people in the country. That's often because the richest Americans tend to have their wealth tied up in stocks and real estate, allowing them to avoid taxes on unrealized profits. The U.S. tax system focuses on income, not what is known as unrealized gains from unsold stocks, real estate or other assets. The records ... purport to show Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, as having paid $23.7 million in federal income taxes on total income of $125 million from 2014 to 2018, which would indicate a personal income tax rate of 19 percent. ProPublica estimated that Buffett saw his wealth soar by $24.3 billion during that period and so his "true tax rate" was 0.10 percent. Musk, chief executive of Tesla, paid $455 million on $1.52 billion in income during the same period, when his wealth grew by $13.9 billion, accounting for a "true tax rate" of 3.27 percent. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, paid $973 million in taxes on $4.22 billion in income, as his wealth soared by $99 billion, resulting in a 0.98 percent "true tax rate."
Note: Learn about important facts this article leaves out in this excellent piece. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Johnson & Johnson must pay a $2.1 billion award to women who claimed its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos, after the U.S. Supreme Court left intact the largest verdict in the almost decadelong litigation over the iconic product. The top U.S. court without comment on Tuesday refused to consider J&J's objections to a St. Louis jury's 2018 finding that its talc-based powder helped cause ovarian cancer in 20 women. J&J prepared for the appeal's denial by announcing in February it was setting aside almost $4 billion to cover the St. Louis verdict. The company still faces more than 25,000 lawsuits blaming baby powder for causing cancers. J&J pulled the product off U.S. and Canadian shelves last year. Jurors in the St. Louis case awarded each woman $25 million in compensatory damages. The panel then added more than $4 billion in punitive damages, making the award the sixth-largest in U.S. legal history. The original verdict sparked a significant drop in J&J's shares. J&J has lost other cases at trial, with juries across the U.S. ordering it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars. Judges slashed some of those awards while others have been thrown out or are on appeal. J&J has won cases as well. Asbestos, which is often found where talc is mined, is a recognized carcinogen. The women also contended that J&J showed years of deceit about its product and disregard for the health of its customers and argued that warranted the punitive damage award.
For years, the Gates Foundation has been steered by an unusually small board of trustees, made up of Bill, his estranged wife, Melinda, and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The larger the foundation became, the less anyone seemed willing to ask tough questions about its secretive management structure or its penchant for giving money to lucrative pharmaceutical and credit card companies such as Mastercard, despite the fact that giving away billions to wealthy corporations set an unusual and troubling precedent in the philanthropic sector. Billionaires who make their fortunes through corporate practices that undercut workers and deepen inequality – like corporate tax avoidance, insufficient sick pay and the immoral gap in pay between executives and low-paid workers – are not the solution to problems they generate. Asking Bill Gates to fix inequality is like asking an arsonist to hose down your house after he just set it on fire. In April last year, the University of Oxford was reportedly considering offering a Covid-19 vaccine developed by its scientists on a nonexclusive basis. But then, Kaiser Health News reported, "Oxford – urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices." This dealmaking .. seemed to conflict with the Gates Foundation's stated mission to improve global access to medicines, but it's not surprising.
Note: Read more about the Gates Foundation's startling degree of media influence during the pandemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the coronavirus vaccine from reliable major media sources.
Covid-19 vaccines have created at least nine new billionaires after shares in companies producing the shots soared. Topping the list of new billionaires are Moderna CEO StÄ‚©phane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine with Pfizer. Both CEOs are now worth around $4 billion, according to an analysis by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group that includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International. Senior executives from China's CanSino Biologics and early investors in Moderna have also become billionaires on paper as shares skyrocketed. Moderna's share price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has surged 600%. CanSino Biologics' stock is up about 440% over the same period. The company's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in China in February. Activists said the wealth generation highlighted the stark inequality that has resulted from the pandemic. The nine new billionaires are worth a combined $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries. "These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines," Anne Marriott, Oxfam's health policy manager, said. "These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity," she added.
Note: You would hope that with all the suffering going on in our world, big Pharma wouldn't gouge and make huge profits on their vaccines. Sadly, this is far from the truth. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and the coronavirus vaccine from reliable major media sources.
Billions of dollars in Covid aid cushioned financial losses caused by the pandemic at some of the nation's largest hospital chains. But those bailouts also helped sustain the big chains' spending sprees as they expanded even more by scooping up weakened competitors and doctors' practices. More consolidation by several major hospital systems enhanced their market prowess in many regions of the United States, even as rural hospitals and underserved communities were overwhelmed with Covid patients and struggled to stay afloat. The buying spree is likely to prompt further debate and scrutiny of the Provider Relief Fund, a package of $178 billion in congressional aid that drew sharp criticism early on for allocating so much to the wealthiest hospital systems, and that had no limits on mergers and acquisitions. "It was not the intent to be a capital infusion to the largest and most financially stable providers to allow them to simply grow their slice of market share," said Representative Katie Porter. Major employers had warned Congress that bailouts to the health care industry could spur even more consolidation and lead to price-gouging in medical care. Some of the nation's most powerful hospital chains, experts cautioned, would take advantage of the crisis, resulting in even higher prices for medical care. The big well-resourced hospitals had, frankly, a banner year, and they are now in a position to swallow up these smaller, more vulnerable groups.
Covid-19 vaccines have created at least nine new billionaires after shares in companies producing the shots soared. Topping the list of new billionaires are Moderna CEO StĂ©phane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine with Pfizer (PFE). Both CEOs are now worth around $4 billion, according to an analysis by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group that includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International. Senior executives from China's CanSino Biologics and early investors in Moderna have also become billionaires on paper as shares skyrocketed, partly in expectation of profits earned from Covid vaccines, which also bode well for the companies' future prospects. Moderna's share price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has surged 600%. CanSino Biologics' stock is up about 440% over the same period. The company's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in China in February. Activists said the wealth generation highlighted the stark inequality that has resulted from the pandemic. The nine new billionaires are worth a combined $19.3 billion. According to the World Health Organization, 87% of vaccine doses have gone to high- or upper middle-income countries, while low income countries have received just 0.2%. In a paper published Friday, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said that vaccinating 60% of the global population by mid-2022 would cost just $50 billion.
A video showing a mobile device snapping infrared images of an iPhone user is circulating around the internet. In the Tik Tok shared by user Brie Thomason, a digital camera using an infrared lens is seen filming an iPhone user observing their home screen. As the iPhone user stares blatantly at the device, Thomason's digital camera captures the iPhone snapping multiple infrared images every 5-10 seconds. While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple claims this is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji function). According to Apple, this feature was first debuted as the iPhone X's most groundbreaking function; since it is not even discernible at first glance, even though it literally stares you in the face. The company calls this feature: the new TrueDepth IR camera. This camera, housed in the black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a "flood illuminator," infrared (IR) camera, and an infrared emitter. Officials say as an iPhone is used, the latter emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known pattern when a face is detected, enabling the iPhone X to generate a 3D map of a user's face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do this fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data as well. So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking "invisible" photos of you, but not for the reasons you would think.
The pharmaceutical industry is distributing talking points, organizing opposition, and even collecting congressional signatures in an attempt to reverse President Joe Biden's support for worldwide access to generic Covid-19 vaccines. The behind-the-scenes moves ... come as the U.S. last week announced that it would support the World Trade Organization proposal, led by India and South Africa, to temporarily waive enforcement of intellectual property and patent rights on coronavirus vaccines. Without a radical expansion in vaccine manufacturing capacity, many developing countries will not achieve mass vaccination rates until 2023 or 2024. The waiver request, which was unexpectedly endorsed by Biden's administration on May 5, is designed to provide legal immunity for drug firms to copy the formulas of existing vaccines to supply low-cost vaccines to low-income countries. On Wednesday, Jared Michaud, a lobbyist with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group that represents Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and other major drug firms, sent an email laying out the industry's role in coaxing lawmakers to push back against a waiver. One of the documents laid out potential national security concerns and suggested that lawmakers should argue the waiver could empower Russia and China. PhRMA ... spent over $24 million on federal lobbying last year and is one of the biggest corporate players in election spending.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Big Pharma had been easing out of the vaccine business for decades. Ultimately, Operation Warp Speed (OWS)–the U.S. government's Covid-19 relief program–would dole out $22 billion to Big Pharma. The amounts of money were the kinds of sums normally seen in the smaller defense budget line items, but were massive for a public health project–$2.5 billion to Moderna, $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca, half a billion dollars to Johnson & Johnson, and $1.6 billion to a small company called Novavax. Only Pfizer opted out of ponying up to the trough at first–it didn't want to devote resources to coordinating with the US government on its work. In July, Pfizer signed a $1.95 billion deal to sell one hundred million doses of its two-shot vaccine to the United States, enough for fifty million people. By February, the government had ordered three hundred million doses from Moderna, with its first shipment of one hundred million priced at thirty dollars per double-shot dose–cheaper than Pfizer partly because the United States had forked over nearly a billion dollars to Moderna research. Even more money was raining down on company insiders trading on good-news releases. Executives at Moderna and Pfizer cashed in on the vaccine, selling shares timed precisely to clinical trial press releases. Pfizer executives ... earned $14 million from stock sales in 2020. Moderna executives made $287 million from timed stock sales in 2020–and kept going.
Note: Explore hundreds of personal stories of severe vaccine injury and death that are being strongly suppressed by government and the major media. An MD's excellent research reveals that the government knew about and actively suppressed safe, effective, low-price treatments for COVID and targeted physicians who prescribed them. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Facebook's secret internal rules for moderating the term "Zionist" let the social network [to] suppress criticism of Israel amid an ongoing wave of Israeli abuses and violence, according to people who reviewed the policies. The rules appear to have been in place since 2019, seeming to contradict a claim by the company in March that no decision had been made on whether to treat the term "Zionist" as a proxy for "Jew" when determining whether it was deployed as "hate speech." The policies ... govern the use of "Zionist" in posts not only on Facebook but across its subsidiary apps, including Instagram. Both Facebook and Instagram are facing allegations of censorship following the erratic, widespread removal of recent posts from pro-Palestinian users critical of the Israeli government, including those who documented instances of Israeli state violence. Mass violence has gripped Israel and Gaza since last week. Israeli security forces stormed the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's old city. The Palestinian militant group Hamas responded with rocket fire aimed at Israel. Israel, in turn, unleashed massive aerial bombardments and artillery attacks against the occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip. Though none of Facebook and Instagram's content removal has been tied conclusively to the term "Zionist," users and pro-Palestinian advocates were alarmed by disappearing posts and notices of policy violations over the last week.
Note: Read how a U.S. Congresswoman is being slammed for asking legitimate questions about Israel. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
A week ago, the Biden administration announced support for waiving intellectual property protection for Covid-19 vaccines. In response, Bio, a trade association representing biotechnology companies, issued a statement saying, "The United States has unfortunately chosen to set a dangerous precedent with these actions." Efforts to maintain intellectual property rights from life-saving drugs to vaccines have hindered the global response. The Biden administration surprised a lot of observers by coming out in favor of this ... temporary suspension of IP and patent enforcement on certain medications related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Right now, the way that wealthier countries – the U.S. and others – are confronting this crisis for the developing world is through voluntary agreements. There are really two ways to combat this crisis. There's a way to do it in a sense that maximizes profit for the healthcare companies, the pharmaceutical companies. And then there's the more collaborative, nonprofit approach. And early on, pharmaceutical companies were fighting this more collaborative approach. The pharmaceutical companies, in addition, have said they plan to increase prices once the pandemic quote-unquote ends. These companies are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to increase prices.
The Institute for Policy Studies calculated that the average CEO compensation in 2020 was $15.3m, when looking at the 100 companies with the lowest median wage for workers in the S&P 500 index. The median worker pay was $28,187. This means that chief executives saw a 29% pay raise compared to 2019, while workers saw a 2% decrease. For all 100 companies, median worker pay was below $50,000 for 2020. The compensation hike came as companies gave their top leaders hefty bonuses and forgiving performance benchmarks during the pandemic, allowing the top executives to cash in while their low-wage employees were essential workers. Hilton's CEO, Christopher Nassetta, had a compensation package worth $55.9m in 2020, the highest of the executives analyzed in the report, while median pay at the company was $28,608, down from $43,695 in 2019. Since the pandemic affected the company's expected performance, and thus Nassetta's expected compensation, the company's board restructured its stock awards to give its CEO ample pay in 2020, according to the report. Other CEOs were met with friendly treatment from their respective corporate boards. Chipotle's board removed the company's poor financial results from the peak of the shutdown and excluded Covid-related costs when calculating CEO Brian Niccol's compensation. Niccol received $38m last year, which is 2,898 times more than the company's median worker pay of $13,127.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Hospitals are charging up to $650 for a simple, molecular covid test that costs $50 or less to run, according to Medicare claims analyzed for KHN by Hospital Pricing Specialists (HPS). Charges by large health systems range from $20 to $1,419 per test, a new national survey by KFF shows. And some free-standing emergency rooms are charging more than $1,000 per test. The insurance company passes on its higher costs to consumers in higher premiums. Gargantuan volume – 400 million tests and counting, for one type – combined with loose rules on prices have made the service a bonanza for hospitals and clinics. Lab companies have been booking record profits by charging $100 per test. Even in-network prices negotiated and paid by insurance companies often run much more than that. In some cases, hospitals and clinics have supplemented revenue from covid tests with extra charges that go far beyond those for a simple swab. Warren Goldstein was surprised when Austin Emergency Center, in Texas, charged him and his wife $494 upfront for two covid tests. He was shocked when the center billed insurance $1,978 for his test, which he expected would cost $100. His insurer paid $325 for "emergency services" for him, even though there was no emergency. "It seemed like highway robbery," said Goldstein. A World Health Organization cost assessment of running 5,000 covid tests on Roche and Abbott analyzers ... came to $17 and $21 per test, respectively.
The pharmaceutical industry keeps turning up the dial on lobbying, setting massive new spending records in its intensive effort to influence Congress and the Biden administration. Yet this week, President Biden angered drugmakers when he said he supports the waiving of intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. Drug and health product manufacturers, along with their national association, spent a combined $92 million to lobby the federal government from January through March. That puts the industry on track to break its spending record for the second year in a row. Not only that, but its first-quarter spending was more than double what was spent by the second-highest-spending industry, electronics companies. There are currently 1,270 registered lobbyists for pharmaceuticals and health products – more than two lobbyists for every member of Congress. Pfizer, maker of one of the three coronavirus vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States, was the biggest spender of any individual drug company. And last year, as it was developing its vaccine, the federal government agreed to pay the company $1.95 billion for the first 100 million doses it produced. The company reported it had $3.5 billion in revenue from sales of the vaccine so far this year. Pfizer was outflanked on lobbying spending only by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – the national association that represents the interests of drugmakers.
Last year, racing to develop a vaccine in record time, Pfizer made a big decision: Unlike several rival manufacturers, which vowed to forgo profits on their shots during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pfizer planned to profit on its vaccine. On Tuesday, the company announced just how much money the shot is generating. The vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue, Pfizer reported. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer's biggest source of revenue. The company did not disclose the profits it derived from the vaccine, but it reiterated its previous prediction that its profit margins on the vaccine would be in the high 20 percent range. That would translate into roughly $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter. The company's vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world's rich – an outcome, so far at least, at odds with its chief executive's pledge to ensure that poorer countries "have the same access as the rest of the world" to a vaccine that is highly effective at preventing Covid-19. As of mid-April, wealthy countries had secured more than 87 percent of the more than 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines dispensed worldwide, while poor countries had received only 0.2 percent. Pfizer has kept the profitability of its vaccine sales opaque. The United States, for example, is paying $19.50 for each Pfizer dose. Israel agreed to pay Pfizer about $30 per dose.
Note: If Pfizer is truly concerned about global health, why are they reaping such huge profits when other companies were willing to forgo profits. And why are they not helping the economically disadvantaged countries? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
A government study commissioned by Senator Bernie Sanders has revealed that Americans pay two to four times more on prescription medicine compared to other wealthy countries. Analysis released by the Government Acountability Office (GAO) found that US consumers and insurers paid 2.82 times more than in Canada, 4.25 times more than in Australia, and 4.36 times more than in France for 20 brand-named prescription drugs in 2020. France and Australia both operate on a universal, publicly funded healthcare system, which can explain some of the discrepancy in prescription drug prices. Canada, similar to the United States, does not provide prescription drug coverage to all of its residents. But the analysis found that US residents typically paid two to eight times more than Canadians when paying for the same prescription drug. For example, 30 tablets of Xarelto, which treats blood clots, costs $558.33 in the US but just $85.44 in Canada. When purchasing 28 tablets of Epclusa to treat Hepatitis C, an infection that attacks the liver, it costs $36,743 in the US compared to $17,023.63 in Canada, according to the analysis. But Mr Biden's $1.8tn infrastructure plan ultimately left out popular progressive initiatives that would alter the healthcare system in America, including lowering the Medicare eligibility age and allowing the federal government to directly negotiate prescription drug prices. These policy ideas were both left out despite receiving overwhelming approval from the US public.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
The pharmaceutical industry is pouring resources into the growing political fight over generic coronavirus vaccines. Over 100 lobbyists have been mobilized to contact lawmakers and members of the Biden administration, urging them to oppose a proposed temporary waiver on intellectual property rights by the World Trade Organization that would allow generic vaccines to be produced globally. Pharmaceutical lobbyists working against the proposal include Mike McKay, a key fundraiser for House Democrats, now working on retainer for Pfizer, as well as several former staff members to the U.S. Office of Trade Representative, which oversees negotiations with the WTO. Several trade groups funded by pharmaceutical firms have also focused closely on defeating the generic proposal, new disclosures show. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which all receive drug company money, have dispatched dozens of lobbyists to oppose the initiative. The push has been followed by a number of influential voices taking the side of the drug lobby. Last week, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., released a letter demanding that the administration "oppose any and all efforts aimed at waiving intellectual property rights." Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries, and projections show much of the world's population may not be vaccinated until 2023 or 2024.
Note: Has it ever been more clear that big Pharma places profits above health, even when it might cause huge numbers of people to die? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked," the billionaire investor Warren Buffett has famously said. During the crash of 2008, the whole world learned just how dangerously nude Wall Street was. Now it may be happening again – this time not with residential mortgage-backed securities, based on loans for homes, but commercial mortgage-backed securities, or CMBS, based on loans for businesses. John M. Griffin and Alex Priest are, respectively, a prominent professor of finance and a Ph.D. candidate at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. In a study released last November, they sampled almost 40,000 CMBS loans with a market capitalization of $650 billion underwritten from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2019. "Overall," they write, "actual net operating income falls short of underwritten income by 5% or more in 28% of loans." This was just the average, however: Some originators – including an unusual company called Ladder Capital as well as the Swiss bank UBS, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley – were significantly worse, "having more than 35% of their loans exhibiting 5% or greater income overstatement." With almost every lender, including Ladder, the overstatement increased as time went on. These income overstatements might cause defaults under any circumstances. But it has been particularly dangerous in a severe economic downturn like the one caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
While Facebook has long sought to portray itself as a "town square" that allows people from across the world to connect, a deeper look into its apparently military origins and continual military connections reveals that the world's largest social network was always intended to act as a surveillance tool to identify and target domestic dissent. LifeLog was one of several controversial post-9/11 surveillance programs pursued by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that threatened to destroy privacy and civil liberties in the United States. LifeLog sought to .. build a digital record of "everything an individual says, sees, or does." In 2015, [DARPA architect Douglas] Gage told VICE that "Facebook is the real face of pseudo-LifeLog." He tellingly added, "We have ended up providing the same kind of detailed personal information without arousing the kind of opposition that LifeLog provoked." A few months into Facebook's launch, in June 2004, Facebook cofounders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz [had] its first outside investor, Peter Thiel. Thiel, in coordination with the CIA, was actively trying to resurrect controversial DARPA programs. Thiel formally acquired $500,000 worth of Facebook shares and was added its board. Thiel's longstanding symbiotic relationship with Facebook cofounders extends to his company Palantir, as the data that Facebook users make public invariably winds up in Palantir's databases and helps drive the surveillance engine Palantir runs for a handful of US police departments, the military, and the intelligence community.
Note: Consider reading the full article by investigative reporter Whitney Webb to explore the scope of Facebook's military origins and the rise of mass surveillance. Read more about the relationship between the national security state and Google, Facebook, TikTok, and the entertainment industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.
Research Medical's owner, HCA Healthcare Inc., is a profitable, publicly traded network of 185 hospitals. Even in the year of Covid-19, 2020, the company generated $51.5 billion in revenue and increased its pretax earnings by 3.6 percent. That performance helped boost the total compensation HCA's chief executive, Samuel N. Hazen, received last year to $30.4 million, a 13 percent rise from 2019. The total worth of his compensation package equaled 556 times the compensation received by the median employee at HCA – $54,651. The figures highlight the growing CEO pay gap, a problem among many public companies according to some investors and workers and even a few CEOs. In 2019, for example, the average pay ratio among 350 large American companies was 320-to-1, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute. In 1989, the average was 61-to-1. Because [Jamelle] Brown, [an] emergency department worker, makes even less than the median, Hazen got roughly 1,000 times Brown's pay. Brown says he lives with his sister because he doesn't earn enough from his job at Research Medical to pay for his own apartment. HCA isn't alone in paying its chief executive vastly more than what rank-and-file workers earn. Acuity Brands, an industrial technology company, paid its CEO, Neil M. Ashe, $21 million last year, or 2,316 times the median employee's pay. Starbucks ... paid its CEO, Kevin Johnson, $14.7 million last year. That was 1,211 times the pay of its median employee.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Asked about the future of Parkinson's disease in the US, Dr Ray Dorsey says, "We're on the tip of a very, very large iceberg." Dorsey, a neurologist ... believes a Parkinson's epidemic is on the horizon. Parkinson's is already the fastest-growing neurological disorder in the world; in the US, the number of people with Parkinson's has increased 35% the last 10 years, says Dorsey, and "We think over the next 25 years it will double again." Researchers increasingly believe that one factor is environmental exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical compound used in industrial degreasing, dry-cleaning and household products such as some shoe polishes and carpet cleaners. To date, the clearest evidence around the risk of TCE to human health is derived from workers who are exposed to the chemical in the work-place. A 2008 peer-reviewed study in the Annals of Neurology, for example, found that TCE is "a risk factor for parkinsonism." And a 2011 study echoed those results, finding "a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson's in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene (TCE)." While some countries heavily regulate TCE (its use is banned in the EU without special authorization) the EPA estimates that 250m lb of the chemical are still used annually in the US. TCE is currently estimated to be present in about 30% of US groundwater. Using activated carbon filtration devices (like Brita filters) can help reduce TCE in drinking water.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
Just as the Biden administration is pushing to raise taxes on corporations, a new study finds that at least 55 of America's largest firms paid no taxes last year on billions of dollars in profits. The sweeping tax bill passed in 2017 by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump reduced the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. But dozens of Fortune 500 companies were able to further shrink their tax bill – sometimes to zero – thanks to a range of legal deductions and exemptions that have become staples of the tax code. Salesforce, Archer-Daniels-Midland and Consolidated Edison were among those named in the report, which was done by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Twenty-six of the companies listed, including FedEx, Duke Energy and Nike, were able to avoid paying any federal income tax for the last three years even though they reported a combined income of $77 billion. Many also received millions of dollars in tax rebates. Publicly traded corporations are required to file financial reports. The institute used that data along with other information supplied by each company. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief act ... contained a provision that temporarily allowed businesses to use losses in 2020 to offset profits earned in previous years. Tax avoidance strategies include a mix of old standards and new innovations. Companies, for example, saved billions by allowing top executives to buy discounted stock options in the future and then deducting their value as a loss.
In the coming months, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Joe Biden's ambassador to the United Nations, will hear from a growing chorus of developing nations about the foundering efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine globally. The nations, many of which have not even begun vaccinating their populations, are demanding that the U.S. support proposals to temporarily waive certain patent and intellectual property rights so that generic coronavirus vaccines can be produced. The proposals have been fiercely opposed by American drugmakers, including Pfizer. ASG ... represents Pfizer. Many leading figures in Biden's administration, including key White House advisers, State Department leaders, and health care officials have financial stake in or professional ties to vaccine manufacturers, which are now lobbying to prevent policies that would cut into future profits over the vaccine. ASG in particular has unusual amounts of sway in the Biden administration. State Department officials Victoria Nuland, Wendy Sherman, Uzra Zeya, and Molly Montgomery previously worked at ASG, as did Philip Gordon, Vice President Kamala Harris's national security adviser. The pharmaceutical industry, in a bid to shield an expected financial windfall, has pressed the Biden administration not only to oppose the waiver, but also to impose trade-related sanctions on countries that back [a] proposal or move to manufacture coronavirus vaccines without permission from patent holders.
AstraZeneca may have included "outdated information" in touting the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in a U.S. study, federal health officials said Tuesday in an unusual public rift that could further erode confidence in the shot. In an extraordinary rebuke, just hours after AstraZeneca on Monday announced its vaccine worked well in the U.S. study, an independent panel that oversees the study scolded the company for cherry-picking data, according to a senior administration official. The panel wrote to AstraZeneca and U.S. health leaders that it was concerned the company chose to use data that was outdated and potentially misleading instead of the most recent and complete findings. The NIH's Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the incident "really is what you call an unforced error" and that he expects the discrepancy to be straightened out. But that nitty-gritty seldom is seen by the public, something now exposed by the extraordinary microscope being applied to development of the world's COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine is used widely in Britain, across the European continent and in other countries, but its rollout was troubled by inconsistent study reports about its effectiveness, and then last week a scare about blood clots that had some countries temporarily pausing inoculations. Company executives refused repeated requests from reporters to provide a breakdown of the 141 COVID-19 cases it was using to make the case for the shot's effectiveness.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist ... finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan's research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn't the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now? The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting. Some of them, called PFAS, are known as "forever chemicals", because they don't breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage. Swan's book is staggering in its findings. "In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35," Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had. Given everything we know about these chemicals, why isn't more being done? Right now, there is a paltry patchwork of inadequate legislation responding to this threat.
The factory that Pfizer Inc. plans to use to boost production of its covid-19 vaccine for the massive U.S. inoculation effort was cited by federal inspectors last year for repeated quality-control violations. Food and Drug Administration inspectors visited the McPherson, Kansas, plant at the end of 2019 into January 2020, according to an inspection report. They found the drug giant released medications for sale after failing to thoroughly review quality issues that arose in routine testing, the report shows. Additionally, the report says inspectors found bacteria and mold in supposedly sterile areas, an issue seen in previous visits to the facility. And the plant failed to properly sample drug products to ensure they didn't have excessive levels of certain toxins, the inspectors wrote. The FDA sent Pfizer a warning letter, the agency's strongest rebuke, concerning the factory in 2017 after the agency detected issues similar to those it found in 2020. The FDA concluded that Pfizer had addressed the violations in June 2018, a month before it returned to the facility and found more problems. The company plans to supply the U.S. with 200 million doses of its two-shot vaccine regimen by the end of May. The FDA halted all inspections of drugmaking facilities at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, though it has since resumed some domestic visits. Pfizer's plant in Kansas is also authorized to make the Covid-19 treatment remdesivir.
President Joe Biden's administration is being asked to punish Hungary, Colombia, Chile, and other countries for seeking to ramp up the production of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics without express permission from pharmaceutical companies. The sanctions are being urged by the drug industry, which has filed hundreds of pages of documents to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative outlining the alleged threat posed by any effort to challenge "basic intellectual property protections" in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The drug industry has sharply criticized any attempt to share vaccine patents or the technological knowledge needed to manufacture them, despite global need. The strident corporate opposition to any intellectual property flexibility has rankled public health advocates, many of whom note that much of the vaccine technology has been financed by the public sector. The Pfizer vaccine, noted Prabhala, was developed in partnership with the European firm BioNTech, which received $445 million from the German government to help accelerate vaccine development and manufacturing. The U.S. government provided about $1 billion for the research and testing by Moderna to create its coronavirus vaccine. Johnson & Johnson received over $1.45 billion in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for its recently approved Covid-19 vaccine.
A nursing home accused of illegally "dumping" patients onto city streets and into ill-equipped homes in order to take in more lucrative COVID-19 patients will nearly double its nursing staff, allow increased oversight and pay $275,000 in penalties and costs to settle a lawsuit brought by the Los Angeles city attorney's office. City Attorney Mike Feuer on Monday announced the legal agreement with the Lakeview Terrace skilled nursing facility, which he had accused of "sustained" and "intentional" misconduct in failing to adequately tend to some patients, while pushing others out of the 99-bed home. The city alleged in its lawsuit that the facility west of downtown had an incentive to discharge long-term residents in order to make room for COVID-19 patients, who brought Lakeview Terrace much higher reimbursement payments from Medicare. In one instance, the lawsuit said, an 88-year-old man with dementia was transferred from the nursing home in the Westlake neighborhood to a boarding house in Van Nuys, only to be found a day later wandering the streets, profoundly confused. Health care experts have warned that the money skilled nursing facilities are paid under a plan by the federal government to care for people stricken by the coronavirus would lead to patient-dumping by unscrupulous operators. The reimbursement plan pays more than four times more for COVID-19 patients than homes can charge for long-term residents with relatively mild conditions.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Sperm counts have been dropping; infant boys are developing more genital abnormalities; more girls are experiencing early puberty; and adult women appear to be suffering declining egg quality and more miscarriages. It's not just humans. Scientists report genital anomalies in a range of species, including unusually small penises in alligators, otters and minks. In some areas, significant numbers of fish, frogs and turtles have exhibited both male and female organs. Experts say the problem is a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors, which mimic the body's hormones and thus fool our cells. This is a particular problem for fetuses as they sexually differentiate early in pregnancy. Endocrine disruptors can wreak reproductive havoc. These endocrine disruptors are everywhere: plastics, shampoos, cosmetics, cushions, pesticides, canned foods and A.T.M. receipts. They often aren't on labels and can be difficult to avoid. Chemical companies ... lobby against even safety testing of endocrine disruptors, so that we have little idea if products we use each day are damaging our bodies or our children. Still, the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the President's Cancer Panel and the World Health Organization have all warned about endocrine disruptors, and Europe and Canada have moved to regulate them. But in the United States, Congress and the Trump administration seemed to listen more to industry lobbyists than to independent scientists.
In "Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System," [Judge Jed S.] Rakoff reaches far beyond corporate boardrooms to highlight an array of shortcomings within the criminal justice system. His proposed fixes are worthy of consideration but also lay bare a harsh reality: The entrenched interests tolerating the system's inequities and, in some cases, profiting from the status quo pose significant obstacles to reform. Rakoff realized that America's "system of justice is failing its mission" after becoming a federal district court judge a quarter-century ago. What's the nature of this failure? The country imprisons millions of indigent Americans yet routinely allows white-collar criminals to avoid punishment. "To a federal judge," he declares, the government's reluctance to hold executives accountable and instead enter into "cosmetic prosecution agreements" with corporations that are repeatedly violated and unenforced "is disturbing ... in what it says about the DOJ's apparent disregard for equality under the law." Rakoff fittingly cites Pfizer to exemplify his point. The four deferred-prosecution agreements between the pharmaceutical giant and federal authorities from 2002 to 2009 – all devised to prevent future misconduct – failed to stop the company from flouting the law. Through it all, Pfizer's executives went unpunished, and the fines the company paid represented a fraction of its ill-gotten gains.
Note: For a much deeper analysis and discussion of Judge Rakoff's highly revealing book by courageous journalist Matt Taibbi, see this excellent essay. Consider subscribing to Taibbi's excellent work. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the court system and in Big Pharma from reliable major media sources.
Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US 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. The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company's glyphosate-based products. The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Records show alarm starting to grow in the latter part of 2019 after Mexico said it was refusing imports of glyphosate from China. In denying a permit for an import shipment, Mexican officials cited the "precautionary principle", which generally refers to a policy of erring on the side of caution. Industry executives told US government officials that they feared restricting glyphosate would lead to limits on other pesticides and could set a precedent for other countries to do the same. Mexico may also reduce the levels of pesticide residues allowed in food, industry executives warned. "If Mexico extends the precautionary principle" to pesticide residue levels in food, "$20bn in US annual agricultural exports to Mexico will be jeopardized", [CropLife president Chris] Novak wrote to US officials.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
A congressional report found many of the products made by the country's largest commercial baby food manufacturers contain significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury, which can endanger infant neurological development. The report ... from the House Oversight Committee's subcommittee on economic and consumer policy found heavy metals in rice cereals, sweet potato puree, juices and sweet snack puffs made by some of the most trusted names in baby food. Gerber, Beech-Nut, HappyBABY (made by Nurture) and Earth's Best Organic baby foods (made by Hain Celestial Group) complied with the committee's request to submit internal testing documents. Campbell Soup, which sells Plum Organics baby foods, Walmart (its private brand is Parent's Choice) and Sprout Foods declined to cooperate. Although there are no maximum arsenic levels established for baby food ... the FDA has set the maximum allowable levels in bottled water at 10 ppb of inorganic arsenic. Hain ... used many ingredients in its baby foods with as much as 309 ppb of arsenic. Lead levels in baby foods should not exceed 1 ppb. Beech-Nut used ingredients containing as much as 886.9 parts per billion of lead. In addition, Gerber used carrots containing as much as 87 ppb of cadmium and Nurture sold baby foods with as much as 10 ppb of mercury. And even when baby foods tested over companies' internal limits for these heavy metals, they were sold anyway.
Google's YouTube has ratcheted up censorship to a new level by removing two videos from a U.S. Senate committee. They were from a Dec. 8 Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on early treatment of Covid-19. One was a 30-minute summary; the other was the opening statement of critical-care specialist Pierre Kory. Dr. Kory is part of a world-renowned group of physicians who developed a groundbreaking use of corticosteroids to treat hospitalized Covid patients. His testimony at a May Senate hearing helped doctors rethink treatment protocols and saved lives. At the December hearing, he presented evidence regarding the use of ivermectin, a cheap and widely available drug that treats tropical diseases caused by parasites, for prevention and early treatment of Covid-19. He described a just-published study from Argentina in which about 800 health-care workers received ivermectin and 400 didn't. Not one of the 800 contracted Covid-19; 58% of the 400 did. Before being removed from YouTube and other websites, Dr. Kory's opening statement had been viewed by more than eight million people. Unfortunately, government health agencies don't share that interest in early treatment. A year into the pandemic, NIH treatment guidelines for Covid patients are to go home, isolate yourself and do nothing other than monitor your illness. The censors at YouTube have decided for all of us that the American public shouldn't be able to hear what senators heard.
Note: You can access the entire article free of charge on this webpage. Can it be any more blatant that facebook is in cahoots with big Pharma in not wanting cheap, effective treatments for COVID-19? Watch an excellent, eye-opening 14-minute interview with a facebook insider revealing how censorship works. Read about how Silicon Valley is shutting down even live streams by legitimate journalists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
Pfizer expects to sell $15 billion worth of Covid-19 vaccines in 2021. That would make it the second-highest revenue-generating drug anytime, anywhere, according to industry reports. The maker of the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use in advanced markets has released its earning forecasts for 2021 today. Pfizer expects to earn between $59 billion and $61 billion - up from $42 billion it made in 2020. Sales of the vaccine are set to bring in about a fourth of Pfizer's total revenue this year. That would be nearly as much as its three best-selling products combined. The company is expecting profit margins for the vaccine to be between 25% and 30% which means profits from the vaccine could be around $4 billion. All of Pfizer's costs and profits from the vaccine are split evenly with BioNTech, the biotech company that helped develop the treatment. There are is only one drug in the world that sells more - Humira, a prescription medication for arthritis. Pfizer plans on selling 2 billion doses of the vaccine this year, but that demand should subside in coming years so the revenue of Covid-19 vaccine won't be stable, Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla said on an call with analysts and investors. The company expects to continue profiting from it by selling booster doses, including ones required to shield against new variants of the virus, Bourla said. Further, Pfizer is pursuing more avenues to employ the mRNA technology underlying the vaccine, including a flu vaccine and other therapeutic applications.
Note: Read more in this revealing Reuters article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Rep. Katie Porter on Friday published a damning report revealing the devastating effects of Big Pharma mergers and acquisitions on U.S. healthcare, and recommending steps Congress should take to enact "comprehensive, urgent reform" of an integral part of a broken healthcare system. The report, entitled Killer Profits: How Big Pharma Takeovers Destroy Innovation and Harm Patients, begins by noting that "in just 10 years, the number of large, international pharmaceutical companies decreased six-fold, from 60 to only 10." While pharmaceutical executives often attempt to portray such consolidation as a means to increase operational efficiency, the report states that "digging a level deeper 'exposes a troubling industry-wide trend of billions of dollars of corporate resources going toward acquiring other pharmaceutical corporations with patent-protected blockbuster drugs instead of putting those resources toward' discovery of new drugs." Big pharmaceutical companies are not responsible for most major breakthroughs. Rather, innovation is driven in small firms, which are often spun off of taxpayer-funded academic research. These small labs are then purchased by giant firms. Instead of producing lifesaving drugs for diseases with few or no cures, large pharmaceutical companies often focus on small, incremental changes to existing drugs in order to kill off generic threats to their government-granted monopoly patents. Mergers in the pharmaceutical industry have had an overall negative effect on innovation.
Note: The major media, sponsored largely by Big Pharma, completely failed to report on this important study. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
With few exceptions, big businesses are having a very different year from most of the country. Between April and September, one of the most tumultuous economic stretches in modern history, 45 of the 50 most valuable publicly traded U.S. companies turned a profit. Despite their success, at least 27 of the 50 largest firms held layoffs this year, collectively cutting more than 100,000 workers. Corporate leaders are touting their success and casting themselves as leaders on the road to economic recovery. Many of their firms have put Americans out of work and used their profits to increase the wealth of shareholders. 21 big firms that were profitable during the pandemic laid off workers anyway. Berkshire Hathaway raked in profits of $56 billion during the first six months of the pandemic while one of its subsidiary companies laid off more than 13,000 workers. Salesforce, Cisco Systems and PayPal cut staff even after their chief executives vowed not to do so. Companies sent thousands of employees packing while sending billions of dollars to shareholders. Walmart, whose CEO spent the past year championing the idea that businesses "should not just serve shareholders," nonetheless distributed more than $10 billion to its investors during the pandemic while laying off 1,200 corporate office employees. Economists estimate at least 100,000 small businesses permanently closed in the first two months of the pandemic alone.
The sudden death of a prominent anti-vaccination activist has led to a police probe. Brandy Vaughan, 45, was found dead on December 7. On Monday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death. "The decedent has been positively identified and the death is believe [sic] to be a result of natural causes based on an autopsy exam conducted last week," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Public Information Officer Raquel Zick said. "The final cause and manner of death determination are pending toxicology screening which normally takes 4-6 weeks." Vaughan, a former Merck pharmaceutical representative, was an outspoken critic of mandatory vaccinations and pharmaceutical companies. She founded non-profit organization Learn The Risk in a bid to educate people "on the dangers of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines and unnecessary medical treatments." [Vaughan] once worked for Merck pharmaceutical as a sales representative for Vioxx, a painkiller eventually taken off the market."I realized that just because something is on the market doesn't mean it's safe," Vaughan writes. "Much of what we are told by the healthcare industry just simply isn't the truth." In a Facebook post dated December 4 of 2019, Vaughan asks: "Ever wonder why I speak out against Big Pharma and suffer the major consequences? Because I will fight for my son and humanity and I will educate people on pharmaceutical product dangers until my last breath!"
Note: This article fails to mention that the number of deaths due to Vioxx are estimated to be between 40,000 and 500,000. Read also an article titled "Mystery surrounds death of Tanzanian president who defied COVID lockdown." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines and Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Carlos is a Mexican businessman. Two associates accompanied him as he travelled [to] India. There, [he] met Manu Gupta, a businessman active in a variety of sectors. On 25 September 2018 he was arrested in the city of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, along with a Mexican associate and an Indian chemist. The three men were wearing masks and gloves – and were in possession of more than 10kg of fentanyl – an ultra-potent synthetic opioid. The case sheds light on the international networks which Mexican cartels have built up – and the business methods they employ to dominate the lucrative fentanyl market. Fentanyl increasingly displaced heroin on the underground market, causing record numbers of overdoses around the world. In 2018, fentanyl and similar synthetic drugs accounted for nearly half of the 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the US. This year, overdoses have rocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 40 US states reporting an increase in drug mortality rates – particularly from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In theory, sales of precursors are highly regulated. In reality, the extent of the problem is revealed with a simple Google search. Entering keywords for fentanyl precursors quickly leads you to the social network Pinterest, where – nestled between wedding moodboards and home decor inspiration – are posts from Chinese companies offering fentanyl precursors for export – many directed towards Mexico.
Note: Pharmaceutical executives have been caught bribing doctors to prescribe fentanyl-containing painkillers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three federal criminal charges related to the company's role in creating the nation's opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma board chairman Steve Miller pleaded guilty on behalf of the company during a virtual federal court hearing in front of US District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo. The counts include one of dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute. The plea deal announced in October includes the largest penalties ever levied against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, including a criminal fine of $3.544 billion and an additional $2 billion in criminal forfeiture, according to a Department of Justice press release. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2018, just one year of the opioid crisis, and about 70% of those deaths were caused by prescription or illicit opioids like OxyContin. Several civil lawsuits against Purdue Pharma related to the opioid crisis are still ongoing as the company undergoes bankruptcy proceedings. The Plaintiffs' Executive Committee in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation Multi-District Litigation called Purdue Pharma's guilty plea "long overdue." "Their illegal and profit-seeking actions were egregious. It is important to note, however, that they are just one company in one part of the larger opioid supply chain," [the plaintiffs'] attorneys ... said.
Note: The company pays huge fines for the deaths of countless thousands, yet the CEO and others responsible face no legal charges. Where is the deterrent for this egregious behavior? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
The announcement this week that a cheap, easy-to-make coronavirus vaccine appeared to be up to 90 percent effective was greeted with jubilation. But since unveiling the preliminary results, AstraZeneca has acknowledged a key mistake in the vaccine dosage received by some study participants, adding to questions about whether the vaccine's apparently spectacular efficacy will hold up under additional testing. Scientists and industry experts said the error and a series of other irregularities and omissions in the way AstraZeneca initially disclosed the data have eroded their confidence in the reliability of the results. The regimen that appeared to be 90 percent effective was based on participants receiving a half dose of the vaccine followed a month later by a full dose; the less effective version involved a pair of full doses. AstraZeneca disclosed in its initial announcement that fewer than 2,800 participants received the smaller dosing regimen, compared with nearly 8,900 participants who received two full doses. Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. initiative to fast-track coronavirus vaccines, noted another limitation in AstraZeneca's data. On a call with reporters, he suggested that the participants who received the half-strength initial dose had been 55 years old or younger. The fact that the initial half-strength dose wasn't tested in older participants, who are especially vulnerable to Covid-19, could undermine AstraZeneca's case to regulators that the vaccine should be authorized for emergency use.
Note: Learn in this revealing article how vaccine trials are rigged. This article spells out how vaccine makers are above the law and face no consequences for damage from vaccines. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from reliable major media sources.
The chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, sold $5.6 million worth of stock in the pharmaceutical company on Monday. The sale took place on the same day Pfizer announced that its experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective. Bourla's sale of Pfizer stock was part of a trading plan set months in advance. Known as 10b5-1 plans, they essentially put stock trades on autopilot. Executives are supposed to adopt these plans only when they are not in possession of inside information that can affect a company's stock price. On Aug. 19, Bourla implemented his stock-trading plan. The next day, Aug. 20, Pfizer issued a press release ... confirming that Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, were "on track to seek regulatory review" for its vaccine candidate. Daniel Taylor, an expert in insider trading ... told NPR that the close timing between the adoption of Bourla's stock plan and the press release looked "very suspicious." "It's wholly inappropriate for executives at pharmaceutical companies to be implementing or modifying 10b5-1 plans the business day before they announce data or results from drug trials," Taylor said. The stock sales by Pfizer's CEO brought to mind similar concerns with another coronavirus vaccine-maker, Moderna. Multiple executives at Moderna adopted or modified their stock-trading plans just before key announcements about the company's vaccine. Those executives have sold tens of millions of dollars in Moderna stock.
October was a good month for Gilead Sciences, the giant manufacturer of antivirals. On 8 October, the company inked an agreement to supply the European Union with its drug remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19–a deal potentially worth more than $1 billion. Two weeks later, on 22 October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved remdesivir for use against the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. Both decisions baffled scientists who have closely watched the clinical trials of remdesivir unfold. At best, one large, well-designed study found remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recover from COVID-19 in hospitalized patients with severe illness. A few smaller studies found no impact of treatment on the disease whatsoever. Then ... the World Health Organization's (WHO's) Solidarity trial showed that remdesivir does not reduce mortality or the time COVID-19 patients take to recover. Both [the] FDA's decision and the EU deal came about under unusual circumstances that gave the company important advantages. FDA never consulted a group of outside experts that it has at the ready to weigh in on complicated antiviral drug issues. The European Union, meanwhile, decided to settle on the remdesivir pricing exactly 1 week before the disappointing Solidarity trial results came out. Gilead, having donated remdesivir to the trial, was informed of the data on 23 September and knew the trial was a bust.
Note: Remdesivir had never been approved by the FDA for use before Oct. 2020, yet was rushed through the approval process, while Nobel-prize winning drug Ivermectin was all but banned, even though there was minimal evidence of harm. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Purdue Pharma LP agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription opioid OxyContin, in a deal with U.S. prosecutors that effectively sidestepped paying billions of dollars in penalties and stopped short of criminally charging its executives or wealthy Sackler family owners. Prosecutors imposed significant penalties exceeding $8 billion against Purdue, though the lion's share will go largely unpaid. Purdue agreed to pay $225 million toward a $2 billion criminal forfeiture, with the Justice Department foregoing the rest if the company completes a bankruptcy reorganization dissolving itself and shifting assets to a "public benefit company," or similar entity, that steers the $1.775 billion unpaid portion to thousands of U.S. communities suing it over the opioid crisis. A $3.54 billion criminal fine and $2.8 billion civil penalty are likely to receive cents on the dollar as they compete with trillions of dollars of other claims from those communities and other creditors in Purdue's bankruptcy proceedings. Members of the billionaire Sackler family who own Purdue agreed to pay a separate $225 million civil penalty for allegedly causing false claims for OxyContin to be made to government healthcare programs such as Medicare, according to court records. Neither the Sacklers nor any Purdue executives were criminally charged. Purdue reaped more than $30 billion from sales of OxyContin over the years, enriching Sackler family members while funneling illegal kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies.
When Facebook and Twitter moved quickly this week to limit the spread of an unverified political story published by the conservative-leaning New York Post, it led to predictable cries of censorship from the right. But it also illustrated the slippery hold even the largest tech companies have on the flow of information. While Facebook and Twitter have often been slow to combat apparent misinformation ... their response in this case shows how quickly they can move when they want to. For the first time in recent memory, the two social media platforms enforced rules against misinformation on a story from a mainstream media publication. The story in question, which has not been confirmed by other publications, cited unverified emails from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son that were reportedly discovered by President Donald Trump's allies. Facebook used the possibility of false information as the reason to limit the article's reach, which means its algorithm shows it to fewer people, much the way you might not see as many posts from friends you don't interact with often. Twitter, meanwhile, blocked users from tweeting out the link to the story and from sending it in private messages. Though they acted quickly, both companies stumbled on communicating their decision to the public. In part because of this, and in part by the mere act of trying to limit the story, the tech platforms soon became the story.
Note: For more on this important story, read Matt Taibbi's article titled "With the Hunter Biden Expose, Suppression is a Bigger Scandal Than The Actual Story." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
Evidence of what appears to be aggressive animal abuse, practices leading to heightened disease risk and cows being passed off as organic at a Texan auctioneers has been presented to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by undercover welfare investigators. The ... investigation centres on Texan auctioneers, Erath County Dairy Sales (ECDS). Undercover video footage filmed at ECDS between January and March 2020 ... was delivered to the USDA by the US-Brazil based NGO, Strategies for Ethical and Environmental Development (Seed). In one video, the undercover investigator, hired as an animal handler, is told that removing a cowĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘s ear tags, and replacing them with new Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’back tagsĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ that indicate a cow is organic, can triple or quadruple their meat sale value. The investigator said he witnessed the tag switching process. First, a bladed tool was used to remove the ear tags, which are part of the USDAĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘s animal disease traceability framework. These tags were not replaced. Instead, another tag, known as a back tag or sticker, was glued to the cowĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘s back. The stickers indicate the cow is organic and from Texas. A lawyer for California-based NGO, Animal Legal Defense Fund, said she was Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’not too surprisedĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ by the tag switching accusations. Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’We have seen this type of thing before,Ă˘â‚ŹĹĄ said Kelsey Eberly. She fears the practice is Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’more commonĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ than people would expect, mainly Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’because the price premium is so much higherĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ for organic and better welfare meat and dairy.
Animal agriculture industry groups defending factory farms engage in campaigns of surveillance, reputation destruction, and other forms of retaliation against industry critics and animal rights activists, documents obtained through a FOIA request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveal. That the USDA possesses these emails and other documents demonstrates the federal government’s knowledge of, if not participation in, these industry campaigns. These documents detail ongoing monitoring of the social media of news outlets, including The Intercept, which report critically on factory farms. They reveal private surveillance activities aimed at animal rights groups and their members. They include discussions of how to create a climate of intimidation for activists who work against industry abuses, including by photographing the activists and publishing the photos online. And they describe a coordinated ostracization campaign that specifically targets veterinarians who criticize industry practices. One of the industry groups central to these activities is the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which represents factory farms and other animal agriculture companies. The group boasts that one of its prime functions is “Monitoring Activism,” by which they mean: “We identify emerging threats and provide insightful resources on animal rights and other activist groups by attending their events, monitoring traditional and social media and engaging our national network.”
Note: Watch an interview with Dr. Crystal Heath, a veterinarian targeted by Animal Agricultural Alliance for her activism against inhumane factory farming practices. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) got out her marker and scrawled a figure on the whiteboard beside her: $13 million. “Do you know what this number is?” she asked Mark Alles, the former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Celgene, as he testified remotely before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. “Does it ring any bells?” Alles could hardly get his answer out before Porter scribbled more math on the board. That multimillion figure — his total compensation in 2017 — was already 200 times the average income in the United States, the congresswoman pointed out. It got even larger, she said, after Celgene needlessly tripled the cost of a cancer medication, thus securing himself hefty bonuses in return. As of early Thursday, the rapid-fire interrogation had been viewed more than 15 million times on Twitter — the latest in a long list of her viral cross-examinations. These stunning exchanges at congressional hearings have themselves gained plenty of attention beyond Capitol Hill — especially when Porter pulls out what one person on Twitter dubbed “her mighty whiteboard of truth.” It is this kind of clear, insistent inquiry that has made Porter — a consumer protection lawyer ... who studied bankruptcy law under Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — so effective at grilling everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to little-known Trump appointees, all with a dry-erase marker and some simple math. “No one has ever wielded a weapon as terrifying as Katie Porter’s whiteboard,” wrote Molly Wood, a public radio journalist.
The Trump administration has compared Operation Warp Speed's crash program to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to the Manhattan Project. And like the notoriously secretive government project to make the first atomic bomb, the details of Operation Warp Speed's work may take a long time to unravel. One reason is that Operation Warp Speed is issuing billions of dollars' worth of coronavirus vaccine contracts to companies through a nongovernment intermediary, bypassing the regulatory oversight and transparency of traditional federal contracting mechanisms, NPR has learned. Instead of entering into contracts directly with vaccine makers, more than $6 billion in Operation Warp Speed funding has been routed through a defense contract management firm called Advanced Technologies International, Inc. ATI then awarded contracts to companies working on COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, the contracts between the pharmaceutical companies and ATI may not be available through public records requests, and additional documents are exempt from public disclosure for five years. [Robin] Feldman, of UC Hastings, says the administration's comparison of Operation Warp Speed to the Manhattan Project is troubling. "I think that's completely the wrong image," she says. "The right analogy, I think, for Operation Warp Speed is the penicillin effort in World War II. We can do a lot of good together, but we have to make sure pharma companies aren't taking advantage of the crisis."
Note: Read an excellent article showing how most of these contracts are linked to the CIA and DHS and more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Facebook has suspended the accounts of several environmental organizations less than a week after launching an initiative it said would counter a tide of misinformation over climate science on the platform. Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among those blocked from posting or sending messages on Facebook over the weekend. Activists say hundreds of other individual accounts linked to indigenous, climate and social justice groups were also suspended. The suspended people and groups were all involved in a Facebook event from May last year that targeted KKR & Co, a US investment firm that is backing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a 670km-long gas development being built in northern British Columbia, Canada. The suspensions, the day before another online action aimed at KKR & Co, has enraged activists who oppose the pipeline for its climate impact and for cutting through the land of the Wetʼsuwetʼen, a First Nations people. “Videos of extreme violence, alt-right views and calls for violence by militias in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are allowed to persist on Facebook,” said Delee Nikal, a Wet’suwet’en community member. “Yet we are banned.” Many of the accounts have now been restored, but a handful are still blocked. The suspensions came just a few days after the social media giant said it was launching a “climate science information center” to counter ... posts that reject the established science of the climate crisis.
Global banks faced a fresh scandal about dirty money on Monday as they sought to limit the fallout from a cache of leaked documents showing they transferred more than $2 trillion in suspect funds over nearly two decades. Britain-based HSBC Holdings Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc, Germany's Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG, and U.S.-headquartered JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of New York Mellon Corp were among the lenders named in the report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and based on leaked documents. The report was based on 2,100 leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs), covering transactions between 1999 and 2017, filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Banks are required to file an SAR whenever handling funds that cause grounds for suspicion of criminal activity. The reports revealed broader problems with the monitoring system at the heart of global policing of money laundering and other criminal activity. Investors worried about the potential fallout for global banks, many of which have faced hefty fines in the past for lapses in controls and spent billions of dollars to bolster compliance. "It confirms what we already knew: that there are huge amounts of SARs being filed with relatively low numbers of cases brought through to prosecution,” said Etelka Bogardi, a Hong Kong-based financial services partner at Norton Rose Fulbright. "It also brings out the point that managing financial crime risk goes beyond making SARs," Bogardi said.
Note: The original ICIJ report is titled “Global banks defy U.S. crackdowns by serving oligarchs, criminals and terrorists.” Compare with the title of the New York Times article on this, “Banks Suspected Illegal Activity, but Processed Big Transactions Anyway.” A search on this topic shows that headlines of almost all major media have watered this down, likely to not upset the big banks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Netflix’s brilliant new 90-minute docu-drama, The Social Dilemma ... might be the most important watch of recent years. The film, which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January, takes a premise that’s unlikely to set the world alight ... ie that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al aren’t exactly creating a utopia. Its masterstroke is in recruiting the very Silicon Valley insiders that built these platforms to explain their terrifying pitfalls – which they’ve realised belatedly. You don’t get a much clearer statement of social media’s dangers than an ex-Facebook executive’s claim that: “In the shortest time horizon I’m most worried about civil war.” The commonly held belief that social media companies sell users’ data is quickly cast aside – the data is actually used to create a sophisticated psychological profile of you. What they’re selling is their ability to manipulate you, or as one interviewee puts it: “It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception. It’s the only thing for them to make money from: changing what you do, how you think, who you are.” Despite it being public knowledge that Vote Leave and Trump’s 2016 election campaign harvested voters’ Facebook data on a gigantic scale, The Social Dilemma still manages to find fresh and vital tales of how these platforms destabilise modern politics. Russia’s Facebook hack to influence the 2016 US election? “The Russians didn’t hack Facebook. They used the tools that Facebook made for legitimate advertisers,” laments one of the company’s ex-investors.
Last August, NPR profiled a Harvard-led experiment to help low-income families find housing in wealthier neighborhoods. Every quoted expert is connected to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helps fund the project. NPR itself receives funding from Gates. The story ... is one of hundreds NPR has reported about the Gates Foundation or the work it funds, including myriad favorable pieces written from the perspective of Gates or its grantees. And that speaks to a larger trend - and ethical issue - with billionaire philanthropists’ bankrolling the news. As philanthropists increasingly fill in the funding gaps at news organizations ... an underexamined worry is how this will affect the ways newsrooms report on their benefactors. Nowhere does this concern loom larger than with the Gates Foundation. During the pandemic, news outlets have widely looked to Bill Gates as a public health expert on covid - even though Gates has no medical training and is not a public official. PolitiFact and USA Today (run by the Poynter Institute and Gannett, respectively - both of which have received funds from the Gates Foundation) have even used their fact-checking platforms to defend Gates from “false conspiracy theories” and “misinformation,” like the idea that the foundation has financial investments in companies developing covid vaccines and therapies. In fact, the foundation’s website and most recent tax forms clearly show investments in such companies, including Gilead and CureVac.
Note: Watch an excellent 15-minute presentation by courageous journalist Ben Swann on the agenda of facebook fact checkers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
What Americans need to understand about the race to find vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 is that in the U.S., even when companies appear to downshift from maximum greed levels – and it's not at all clear they've done this with coronavirus treatments – the production of pharmaceutical drugs is still a nearly riskless, subsidy-laden scam. Americans reacted in horror five years ago when a self-satisfied shark of an executive named Martin Shkreli, a.k.a. the "Pharma Bro," helped his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raise the price of lifesaving toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Shkreli, who smirked throughout congressional testimony ... was held up as a uniquely smug exemplar of corporate evil. Really, the whole industry is one big Shkreli, and Covid-19 – a highly contagious virus with unique properties that may require generations of vaccinations and booster shots – looms now as the ultimate cash cow for lesser-known Pharma Bros. "The power of the industry combined with fear is driving extraordinary spending," says U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who has been ... warning about pandemic profiteering. "It all suggests rosy times ahead for the pharmaceutical industry." Recent House and Senate emergency-spending bills allocate as much as $20 billion or more for vaccine development, and another $6 billion for manufacturing and distribution. "The public will pay for much research and manufacturing," says Doggett. "Only the profits will be privatized."
For 23 years, Larry Collins worked in a [toll] booth. But one day in mid-March, as confirmed cases of the coronavirus were skyrocketing, Collins’ supervisor called and told him not to come into work the next day. Collins’ job was disappearing, as were the jobs of around 185 other toll collectors at bridges in Northern California, all to be replaced by technology. The drive to replace humans with machinery is accelerating as companies struggle to avoid workplace infections of COVID-19 and to keep operating costs low. The U.S. shed around 40 million jobs at the peak of the pandemic. Some will never return. One group of economists estimates that 42% of the jobs lost are gone forever. This replacement of humans with machines may pick up more speed in coming months as companies move from survival mode to figuring out how to operate while the pandemic drags on. Robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers in manufacturing alone by 2025. “Look at the business model of Google, Facebook, Netflix. They’re not in the business of creating new tasks for humans,” says Daron Acemoglu, an MIT economist. The U.S. government incentivizes companies to automate, he says, by giving tax breaks for buying machinery and software. A business that pays a worker $100 pays $30 in taxes, but a business that spends $100 on equipment pays about $3 in taxes, he notes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered taxes on purchases so much that “you can actually make money buying equipment,” Acemoglu says.
Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies – most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug – have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times. The sudden windfalls highlight the powerful financial incentives for company officials to generate positive headlines in the race for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even if the drugs might never pan out. Some officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have grown concerned about whether companies are trying to inflate their stock prices by exaggerating their roles in Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19. In some cases, company insiders ... appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress. "It is inappropriate for drug company executives to cash in on a crisis," said Ben Wakana, executive director of Patients for Affordable Drugs. "Every day, Americans wake up and make sacrifices during this pandemic. Drug companies see this as a payday."
Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation. Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US. The investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute ... details how police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo. Police foundations are industry groups that provide substantial funds to local departments, yet, as nonprofits, avoid much public scrutiny. The investigation details how firms linked to fossil fuels also sponsor events and galas that celebrate the police, while some have senior staff serving as directors of police foundations. The report portrays the fossil fuel industry as a common enemy in the struggle for racial and environmental justice. “Many powerful companies that drive environmental injustice are also backers of the same police departments that tyrannize the very communities these corporate actors pollute,” it states.
On June 26, a small South San Francisco company called Vaxart made a surprise announcement: A coronavirus vaccine it was working on had been selected by the U.S. government to be part of Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19. The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions – or even billions – of doses to a desperate public. Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members ... are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies – most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug – have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March. Senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress. Some companies are attracting government scrutiny for ... using their associations with Operation Warp Speed as marketing ploys. Vaxart's news release declared: "Vaxart's Covid-19 Vaccine Selected for the U.S. Government's Operation Warp Speed." But Vaxart is not among the companies selected to receive significant financial support from Warp Speed.
Note: MSN strangely removed this article a few days after posting it. A similar article by the New York Times titled "The race for a coronavirus vaccine is making some corporate insiders very rich" is available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Federal charging documents unsealed Tuesday describe how the company, FirstEnergy, spent $60 million to get House Speaker Larry Householder and his favored candidates elected, securing in return a $1.3 billion bailout, paid for by Ohio ratepayers. Householder and Jeff Longstreth, a top aide ... set up Generation Now, a secretive political nonprofit that could raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. “Having secured Householder’s power as Speaker, the Enterprise transitioned quickly to fulfilling its end of the corrupt bargain with Company A — Passing nuclear bailout legislation,” the complaint reads. After Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill ... opponents, allied with natural-gas and environmental interests in the state, got to work trying to repeal it. They cleared an initial hurdle, collecting 1,000 valid signatures from voters. They had until Oct. 21 to gather hundreds of thousands more signatures. FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy Solutions sent $38 million to Generation Now. The campaign spent millions on mailers and ads discouraging Ohioans from signing the petitions. It also hired petition firms to prevent them from working for the repeal side. “For example,” the complaint reads,” in a meeting on July 24, 2019, which was recorded, [lobbyist Neil] Clark stated that he wired about $450,000 today hiring signature collections people to not work.” Some of the petitioners worked as “blockers,” disrupting the other side’s signature gathering efforts by following them around and making possible signers uncomfortable.
Moderna CEO StÄ‚©phane Bancel more than tripled the number of his company shares to be sold through an executive stock plan that was changed just days after the biotech in May announced positive early results for its coronavirus vaccine. Moderna's shares spiked on the May news, rising 30% in just one day. After seeking the executive stock plan change in May, Bancel sold more than 72,000 Moderna shares in the first 16 days of July, generating nearly $4.8 million for the executive. That was more than triple the 22,000 shares he had previously scheduled to sell during the same period through the company's executive trading plan. Another top Moderna executive, President Stephen Hoge, also had his pre-programmed executive trading plan reset around the same time. The change allowed him to sell $1.9 million worth of Moderna stock in the first two weeks of July. The executives' ... sales were made through what are known as 10b5-1 stock plans. These arrangements must be set up or amended at least 30 days before any transactions are executed; they are commonly used at publicly traded companies to help shield executives from potential claims of insider trading. The fact that the plans were changed during the pandemic as news was emerging about the company's closely watched coronavirus vaccine raises new questions about how Moderna executives have pocketed millions of dollars in recent months.
It's a fairly ordinary evening on TikTok, the video-sharing app. Things do not seem so different on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, where a live streaming boom has minted new social media millionaires. Behind the scenes, however, Chinese streamers are subject to an elaborate regime of automated surveillance and censorship. One system can use facial recognition to scan live streamers' broadcasts and guess their age. Another checks whether users' faces match their state ID cards. Another system assigns streamers, who are expected to uphold "public order and good customs", a "safety rating", similar to a "credit score". If the score dips below a certain level, they are punished automatically. Meanwhile, speech and text recognition is used to ferret out sins such as "feudal superstition" [and] defamation of the Communist Party. These methods are laid bare in a little-known document from TikTok and Douyin's parent company, ByteDance, and unearthed by New York City journalist Izzy Niu, which explains how the apps have adapted China's strict internet censorship laws to the unprecedented speed and chaos of live streaming. The document raises difficult questions for TikTok, which faces privacy probes in the US and UK and has already been banned in India. Some of these methods are common in the West, too. Both Facebook and YouTube use AI to police their services, and have massively expanded their censorship during the pandemic.
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma should not be able to make any more political contributions without a judge’s permission, lawyers for its creditors said in a court filing. The issue came up this week after it was reported that the company, which has a long history of influencing policymakers, made contributions to national associations representing state attorneys general and governors. The money was sent after Purdue entered bankruptcy protection last year in an effort to settle thousands of lawsuits accusing it of helping spark an opioid addiction and overdose epidemic that has contributed to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S.. State attorneys general are among those trying to negotiate a nationwide settlement. The committee of creditors that asked for recipients to return the money to Purdue said the contributions represent a conflict. “The Political Contributions — $185,000 in donations to associations whose members include the very public servants with whom the Debtors are attempting to negotiate a consensual resolution of these cases — are precisely the sort of transaction that demand close scrutiny,” they said in a filing. In 2016, an investigation by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that Purdue and other companies in the opioid industry, along with the advocacy groups largely funded by the industry, spent more than $880 million from 2006 through 2015 to influence state and local governments. Those efforts helped fight off restrictions on drug prescriptions.
Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood plasma of COVID-19 survivors for an upper-arm injection that they say could inoculate people against the virus for months. Using technology that's been proven effective in preventing other diseases such as hepatitis A, the injections would be administered to high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home patients, or even at public drive-through sites. But the idea exists only on paper. Federal officials have twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal, and pharmaceutical companies — even acknowledging the likely efficacy of the plan — have declined to design or manufacture the shots. The antibodies in plasma can be concentrated and delivered to patients through a type of drug called immune globulin, or Ig, which can be given through either an IV drip or a shot. Yet for the coronavirus, manufacturers are only developing an intravenous solution of Ig. Intravenous plasma products are traditionally the main economic driver for the industry. The money-making antibodies are also far more diluted in intravenous drugs than in injectable ones, which boosts profit margins. “They charge a fortune off of intravenous drugs in the hospital. They don't want to devote the manufacturing plant to something that won't make oodles of money,” said one infectious disease expert. Researchers also said industry executives have little incentive to produce the immunity shots for the coronavirus, given the possibility that a longer-lasting vaccine could replace it within a year.
Ties between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon are deeper than previously known, according to thousands of previously unreported subcontracts published Wednesday. The subcontracts were obtained through open records requests by accountability nonprofit Tech Inquiry. They show that tech giants including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have secured more than 5,000 agreements with agencies including the Department of Defense, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the FBI. Tech workers in recent years have pressured their employers to drop contracts with law enforcement and the military. Google workers revolted in 2018 after Gizmodo revealed that Google was building artificial intelligence for drone targeting through a subcontract with the Pentagon — after some employees quit in protest, Google agreed not to renew the contract. Employees at Amazon and Microsoft have petitioned both companies to drop their contracts with ICE and the military. Neither company has. The newly-surfaced subcontracts ... show that the companies' connections to the Pentagon run deeper than many employees were previously aware. Tech Inquiry's research was led by Jack Poulson, a former Google researcher. "Often the high-level contract description between tech companies and the military looks very vanilla," Poulson [said]. "But only when you look at the details ... do you see the workings of how the customization from a tech company would actually be involved."
When Oswald Bilotta landed his dream job as a sales representative for Novartis Pharmaceuticals in 1999, he thought he'd be doing good. He had no idea that just over a decade later, he'd be part of a vast federal investigation into kickbacks at Novartis and that he'd be paying cash bribes to doctors while wearing a wire for prosecutors. On July 1, Ozzie Bilotta's years long effort to blow the whistle at Novartis paid off. The Justice Department announced a $678 million settlement with the company over improper inducements it made to doctors to prescribe 10 of the company's drugs, including the anti-hypertension drug Lotrel. The deal represents the biggest whistleblower settlement under the federal anti-kickback law, Bilotta's lawyer said. Bilotta ... could receive a pretax sum of $75 million through the settlement. In the settlement, Novartis admitted to "certain conduct" alleged by the government and will sharply curtail practices exposed by Bilotta that gave doctors incentives to prescribe its drugs. Novartis derived at least $40 million as a result of the conduct, money that was paid by federal health care programs, the government said. "For more than a decade, Novartis spent hundreds of millions of dollars on so-called speaker programs, including speaking fees, exorbitant meals, and top-shelf alcohol that were nothing more than bribes to get doctors across the country to prescribe Novartis's drugs," said Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney for southern New York, whose office prosecuted the case.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Deutsche Bank (DBK.DE) has agreed to pay $150m (Ł119m) over compliance failings in part linked to dealings with Jeffrey Epstein. New York’s Department of Financial Services said in a statement on Tuesday it had imposed the penalty on Deutsche Bank’s New York branch for “significant compliance failures in connection with the Bank’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein,” the accused child sex trafficker who died in police custody last year. The penalty also covers anti-money laundering failings linked to Danske Bank Estonia and Middle Eastern bank FBME. Epstein, who is believed to have been a billionaire, became a client of Deutsche Bank’s in 2013, five years after he pleaded guilty to procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18 in Florida. Despite coverage of the settlement and subsequent allegations against Epstein, investigators found Deutsche Bank failed to properly monitor his account. “Hundreds of transactions totalling millions of dollars” that raised red flags were missed, the New York Department of Financial Services said. These included payments to Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators, settlement payments with victims totalling $7m, payments to Russian models, payments for women’s school tuition and expenses, and payments to “numerous women with Eastern European surnames” that were “consistent with public allegations of prior wrongdoing.” Repeated “suspicious” cash withdrawals by Epstein — totally over $800,000 over four years — also failed to raise concerns.
Note: 60 Minutes Australia has produced an excellent segment on Jeffrey Epstein and his recently arrested sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell. How did Epstein get away with sexually abusing hundreds of teenage girls for decades? The government and multiple police departments knew what was happening, yet key officials in high positions of power protected him. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein and financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Forty lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal coronavirus aid. The lobbyists identified Monday by the watchdog group Public Citizen either worked in the Trump executive branch, served on his campaign, were part of the committee that raised money for inaugural festivities or were part of his presidential transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns. Trump pledged to clamp down on Washington's influence peddling with a “drain the swamp” campaign mantra. But during his administration, the lobbying industry has flourished, a trend that intensified once Congress passed more than $3.6 trillion in coronavirus stimulus. While the money is intended as a lifeline to a nation whose economy has been upended by the pandemic, it also jump-started a familiar lobbying bonanza. Shortly after Trump took office, he issued an executive order prohibiting former administration officials from lobbying the agency or office where they were formerly employed, for a period of five years. Another section of the order forbids lobbying the administration by former political appointees for the remainder of Trump's time in office. Yet five lobbyists who are former administration officials have potentially done just that during the coronavirus lobbying boom. Public Citizen's Craig Holman, who himself is a registered lobbyist, said the group intends to file ethics complaints with the White House. But he's not optimistic that they will lead to anything.
The maker of a drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients says it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and other developed countries. Gilead Sciences announced the price Monday for remdesivir, and said the price would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors. The price was swiftly criticized; a consumer group called it “an outrage” because of the amount taxpayers invested toward the drug's development. In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug; two countries are doing that for around $600 per treatment course. The drug, given through an IV, interferes with the coronavirus’s ability to copy its genetic material. In a U.S. government-led study, remdesivir shortened recovery time by 31% — 11 days on average versus 15 days for those given just usual care. Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price “an outrage.” “Remdesivir should be in the public domain” because the drug received at least $70 million in public funding toward its development, he said. “The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will ‘do the right thing’ because it is a pandemic,” Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert ... said. “The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives. It didn’t.”
Note: The March coronavirus package passed in the U.S. "not only omitted language that would have limited drug makers’ intellectual property rights, it specifically prohibited the federal government from taking any action if it has concerns that the treatments or vaccines developed with public funds are priced too high." While many suffer economically from the virus, big Pharma is raking in big bucks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The Trump administration this month announced that one of its largest pandemic-related contracts would go to a little-known biodefense company named Emergent BioSolutions. The $628 million deal to help manufacture an eventual vaccine cemented Emergent's status as the highest-paid and most important contractor to the HHS office responsible for preparing for public health threats and maintaining the government's stockpile of emergency medical supplies. Emergent has long been the government's sole provider of BioThrax, a vaccine for anthrax poisoning. Emergent's advocacy for biodefense spending over more than a decade was aided by influential allies in Washington and tens of millions of dollars in lobbying campaigns. "It has strategically placed itself to be, let's just say, the company that can't fail," said a former senior government official who worked with Emergent on stockpile operations. The company that would become Emergent began as BioPort Corp., formed in 1998 to buy an aging, state-owned company in Lansing, Mich., that was the only licensed supplier of anthrax vaccine to the Pentagon. The Pentagon ... awarded a $29 million no-bid contract for the anthrax vaccine, BioThrax. Controversy swamped the operation. Hundreds of U.S. troops who received the BioThrax treatment complained of bad reactions, such as headaches and nerve problems. Some troops risked courts-martial by refusing vaccination. Emergent spent nearly $4 million on lobbying last year alone.
Note: To understand the huge influence of lobbying and profits on the development and stockpiling of vaccines, don't miss reading this entire, eye-opening article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and vaccines from reliable major media sources.
Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits regarding claims that its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, the company announced. Monsanto, bought by Bayer in 2018, lost a lawsuit that same year brought by a school groundskeeper who claimed its weedkiller had caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since then, thousands of U.S. lawsuits have been filed against the company. The settlement, however, does not contain an admission of wrongdoing or liability. Bayer will pay $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to settle existing lawsuits and then another $1.25 billion that will cover any potential litigation in the future. Lawsuits allege that Monsanto ignored warnings that its herbicide contained potentially cancer causing chemicals, then concealed the threat to consumers. A jury awarded California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson nearly $290 million in damages in August 2018 after they found Monsanto failed to warn Johnson and other consumers about the risks posed by its weed-killing products. A judge upheld the decision upon appeal, but lowered the damages to $78 million due to what she considered an overreach in punitive damages decided by the jury. And last year, a California jury awarded a husband and wife more than $2 billion in damages in a suit that claimed Roundup caused their illness. German pharmaceuticals and chemical giant Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 just months before Johnson won his suit against the company. Bayer eliminated the Monsanto name, but maintained the brands.
Note: The negative health impacts of Roundup are well known. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
Moderna set off a frenzy on Wall Street earlier this month when it announced positive, preliminary results from its coronavirus vaccine trial. As the hype grew, the young biotech company and its leading investor wasted no time capitalizing on the briefly surging stock price. Even as critics accused Moderna of overhyping the results released on May 18, a series of transactions were executed before its share price fizzled over the next week. The timing of those deals, former SEC officials said, appear to be "highly problematic" and should be investigated for potential illegal market manipulation. Just hours after revealing the promising vaccine results, Moderna (MRNA) sold 17.6 million shares to the public. That share sale, unveiled after the closing bell on May 18, was priced at $76; Moderna traded at just $48 as recently as May 6. The deal instantly raised $1.3 billion. Two of Moderna's top executives also cashed in on the boom at their company, which had suddenly amassed a $29 billion market value despite the fact it has no marketed products. By the time the selling was disclosed to the public via securities filings, Moderna's stock price had crashed back to Earth. The timing of the transactions - coupled with concerns from some medical experts that Moderna overstated the significance of its Phase 1 vaccine trial - should be investigated by authorities. Thomas Gorman, [a] former SEC official, said the agency should "absolutely" be investigating the situation at Moderna.
Note: Why didn't the media report that the Moderna vaccine trial had a 20% serious injury rate in the high dose group? Learn about this and much more in this revealing article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
The drug that buoyed expectations for a coronavirus treatment and drew international attention for Gilead Sciences, remdesivir, started as a reject. To make progress, Gilead needed help from U.S. taxpayers. Lots of help. Three federal health agencies were deeply involved in remdesivir’s development every step of the way, providing tens of millions of dollars of government research support. Federal agencies have not asserted patent rights to Gilead’s drug. That means Gilead will have few constraints other than political pressure when it sets a price. “Without direct public investment and tax subsidies, this drug would apparently have remained in the scrapheap of unsuccessful drugs,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.) ... said earlier this month. Doggett and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) have asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for a detailed financial accounting of federal support for remdesivir’s discovery and development. Watchdog groups ... have documented the large taxpayer-funded contributions toward the drug. Public Citizen estimates public investment at a minimum of $70 million. An independent organization that measures the cost-effectiveness of drugs said Gilead could be justified in charging up to $4,500 for a 10-day course of treatment for a single coronavirus patient. But advocates, citing a study by academic researchers on what it costs to make the drug, have said Gilead could break even by charging $1 per dose.
Note: According to this CNBC article Gilead is charging from $2,000 to $3,120 per patient despite huge subsidies. Gilead is the same company which developed Tamiflu and licensed it to Roche. Aggressive sales of Tamiflu to governments around the world brought profits of over $1 billion yet almost none of the doses sold were ever used, as described in this Reuters article. The study that is being used to tout Remdesivir was conducted by none other than Gilead. Could there be conflict of interest here? For more, see summaries of revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption.
When the Federal Reserve needed Wall Street's help with its pandemic rescue mission, it went straight to Larry Fink. The BlackRock cofounder, chairman, and chief executive officer has become one of the industry's most important government whisperers. The company's new assignment is a much bigger version of one it took on after the 2008 financial crisis, when the Federal Reserve enlisted it to dispose of toxic mortgage securities. This time it will help the Fed prop up the entire corporate bond market by purchasing, on the central bank's behalf, what could become a $750 billion portfolio of debt. One part of the Fed's plan is to buy bond exchange-traded funds. BlackRock itself runs ETFs under the iShares brand, and could end up buying funds it manages. "BlackRock is acting as a fiduciary to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York," says a spokesman for the company. "As such, BlackRock will execute this mandate at the sole discretion of the bank." The arrangement is bringing new attention to the company's scale and ubiquity. "It's impossible to think of BlackRock without thinking of them as a fourth branch of government," says William Birdthistle, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. BlackRock's growth raises questions over how big and useful a company can become before its size poses a risk. And then there are the potential conflicts. One arm of BlackRock knows what the Fed is buying, while other parts of the business participating in credit markets could benefit from that knowledge.
Note: Watch an excellent documentary showing how BlackRock, Vanguard, and several other institutions are the largest shareholders in almost every major corporation you can think of. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry from reliable major media sources.
Big Tech companies are aggressively tamping down on COVID-19 “misinformation” — opinions and ideas contrary to official pronouncements. Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski, former head of biostatistics, epidemiology and research design at Rockefeller University, says YouTube removed a video of him talking about the virus that had racked up more than 1.3 million views. Wittkowski, 65, is a ferocious critic of the nation’s current steps to fight the coronavirus. He has derided social distancing, saying it only prolongs the virus’ existence, and has attacked the current lockdown as mostly unnecessary. Wittkowski, who holds two doctorates in computer science and medical biometry, believes the coronavirus should be allowed to create “herd immunity,” and that short of a vaccine, the pandemic will only end after it has sufficiently spread through the population. “I was just explaining what we had,” Wittkowski told The Post of the video, saying he had no idea why it was removed. “They don’t tell you. They just say it violates our community standards. There’s no explanation for what those standards are or what standards it violated.” In articles and interviews across the web, he has likened COVID-19 to a “bad flu.” That likely made him a target for YouTube. “Anything that goes against [World Health Organization] recommendations would be a violation of our policy,” CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN.
During New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the somber grimace that has filled our screens for weeks was briefly replaced by something resembling a smile. The inspiration ... was a video visit from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life. Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future. This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.
The nursing home industry has been devastated by the coronavirus, with outbreaks killing thousands of elderly residents. But the health crisis presents operators with a potential financial upside. Patients with COVID-19 could be worth more than four times what homes are able to charge for long-term residents with relatively mild health issues. Some patient advocates and industry experts fear the premium pay available for coronavirus patients – and a simultaneous easing of regulations around transfers – could tempt some home operators to move out low-paying residents to bring in more lucrative COVID-19 patients, despite the obvious health risks to residents and staff. "There are probably some unscrupulous operators who would jump at this," said David Grabowski, a professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School. A new Medicare reimbursement system that went into effect last fall pays nursing homes substantially more for new patients – including those released from a hospital – particularly for the first few weeks. Under those guidelines, COVID-19 patients can bring in upward of $800 per day. By contrast, facilities collect as little as $200 per day for long-term patients with dementia. Nursing homes have always had a financial incentive to attract the short-term patients ... Grabowski said. But the health risks for existing residents and staff are so high with COVID-19, Grabowski said, "I'd be a little suspicious of a low-quality nursing home that's jumping to the head of the line for this."
Note: Another excellent article presents more important questions on how this might skew death statistics for the coronavirus. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
YouTube has removed two videos of California doctors ... Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California [which] downplayed the risk of the coronavirus and asserted that stay-at-home measures were unnecessary. Facebook, however, has not removed the doctors' videos. The different reactions of YouTube and Facebook highlight the challenges of moderating high-stakes misinformation as it goes viral, especially when it is considered to be expert opinion. The video removed by YouTube showed a one-hour news conference livestreamed by local media, including NBC and ABC affiliates in Bakersfield. By Wednesday, the video had been seen at least 15 million times. Erickson and Massihi, owners of several urgent care centers in the area, presented data from 5,213 COVID-19 tests. The data, they claimed, showed that the coronavirus was widespread in the community already but had caused few deaths. Their data, they said, supported the need to rethink state stay-at-home measures. Furthermore, Erickson ... claimed that COVID-19 death numbers were inaccurate, citing other unnamed doctors in Wisconsin and California who he said had told him that they were urged to list the disease as a cause of death even if it was unrelated. "The only justification for taking it down was that the two physicians on screen had reached different conclusions from the people currently in charge," said Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Massihi posted a video to his personal Facebook page Tuesday thanking supporters while insisting that their comments were meant only to share their own data, not to drive national or even state policy.
Note: Watch an excellent follow-up interview with Dr. Erickson exposing further deception. Even if these doctors are wrong about some of their conclusions, don't they have a right to express their opinions? Will anyone who disputes the claims of government officials be banned from expressing their opinions on social media? Sadly, this BBC article shows that is already true for the coronavirus on YouTube. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
YouTube has banned any coronavirus-related content that directly contradicts World Health Organization (WHO) advice. The Google-owned service says it will remove anything it deems "medically unsubstantiated". Chief executive Susan Wojcicki said the media giant wanted to stamp out "misinformation on the platform". The move follows YouTube banning conspiracy theories falsely linking Covid-19 to 5G networks. Mrs Wojcicki made the remarks on Wednesday during her first interview since the global coronavirus lockdown began. "So people saying, ‘Take vitamin C, take turmeric, we’ll cure you,’ those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy,” she told CNN. “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy.” Last week, Facebook announced users who had read, watched or shared false Covid-19 information would receive a pop-up alert urging them to visit the WHO's website. Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, meanwhile, stopped users forwarding messages already shared more than four times by the wider community to more than one chat at a time. It comes as some of the UK's largest news publishers, including Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, criticised Google for failing to be transparent about its approach to filtering adverts alongside coronavirus-related content, according to the Financial Times.
Note: So now anything posted by those not deemed to be "experts" will be banned. Whatever happened to free speech? Watch YouTube's CEO spell this out in this video. More excellent, little-known information here in an interview with a respected MD whose video was banned. And how can BBC state links between 5G and Covid-19 are false, when that has yet to be established? Is it just a coincidence this CNBC article states China's 5G networks went online just weeks before the coronavirus outbreak? See also concise summaries of revealing coronavirus news articles.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from a great equalizer. In the same month that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, the American billionaire class's total wealth increased about 10%–or $282 billion more than it was at the beginning of March. They now have a combined net worth of $3.229 trillion. The initial stock market crash may have dented some net worths at first–for instance, that of Jeff Bezos, which dropped down to a mere $105 billion on March 12. But his riches have rebounded: As of April 15, his net worth has increased by $25 billion. These "pandemic profiteers," as a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, calls them, is just one piece of the wealth inequality puzzle in America. In the background is the fact that since 1980, the taxes paid by billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, dropped 79%. "We're reading about benevolent billionaires sharing .0001% of their wealth with their fellow humans in this crisis, but in fact they've been rigging the tax rules to reduce their taxes for decades–money that could have been spent building a better public health infrastructure," says Chuck Collins [of] the Institute for Policy Studies and coauthor of the new report, titled "Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers." Another key finding of the report is that after the 2008 financial crisis, it took less than 30 months for billionaire wealth to return to its pre-meltdown levels. That wealth then quickly exceeded pre-2008 levels. But as of 2019, the middle class in America has not even yet recovered to the level of its 2007 net worth.
Note: This New York Post article shows how 43,000 millionaires in the U.S. will receive a "stimulus" gift averaging $1.6 million each. At the same time, this Reuters article claims that the coronavirus lockdown could plunge half a billion worldwide into poverty. And this BBC article warns of potential massive famines. So who is this lockdown really serving? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Twenty-nine Nobel laureates have condemned alleged "judicial harassment" by Chevron and urged the release of a US environmental lawyer who was put under house arrest for pursuing oil-spill compensation claims on behalf of indigenous tribes in the Amazon. The open letter signed by scientists, authors, environmentalists and human rights activists said the treatment of lawyer Steven Donziger, whose movements have been restricted for more than 250 days, was one of the world's most egregious cases of judicial harassment and defamation. Donziger represents 30,000 indigenous people and small farmers who won a $9.5bn class action lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuadorean courts in 2013, as compensation for the contamination of their land by oil extraction activities. This judgment was one of the largest ever against an oil company, but not a cent of these damages has been paid to the plaintiffs. Donziger, who has been involved with the case for 27 years, has pressed for justice and payment of damages to his clients at increasing personal cost. His reputation, legal credentials and liberty have come under attack. Chevron has lobbied for his removal from bar associations and launched a countersuit accusing him of bribery and fraud, which was upheld by district judge Lewis A Kaplan in 2014. It was later reported that Chevron paid more than a million dollars for one of the key witnesses in the case – an Ecuadorean judge – to come to the United States. That witness later said he lied under oath.
Note: For lots more, read this Mother Jones article titled "How Did a Lawyer Who Took on Big Oil and Won End up Under House Arrest?." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
As millions of jobless Americans line up for food and others risk their lives delivering essential services, the nation's billionaires are making conspicuous donations - $100 million from Amazon's Jeff Bezos for food banks, billions from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for a coronavirus vaccine, thousands of ventilators and N95 masks from Elon Musk, $25 million from the Walton family and its Walmart foundation. The list goes on. Much of this is self-serving rubbish. First off, the amounts involved are tiny relative to the fortunes behind them. Bezos' $100 million amounts to about 11 days of his income. The well-publicized philanthropy also conveniently distracts attention from how several of these billionaires are endangering their workers and, by extension, the public. Bezos still doesn't provide sick leave for Amazon workers unless they test positive. On March 20, four senators sent him a letter expressing concern that the company wasn't doing enough to protect its warehouse workers. [Another] way conspicuous philanthropy is self-serving is by suggesting that government shouldn't demand more from the super-rich, even in a national emergency. As Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal editorial page put it, if we had a wealth tax like Elizabeth Warren proposed, "it's unlikely [Bill Gates] would have the capacity to act this boldly." That's absurd. Warren's tax would have cost Gates about $6 billion a year, roughly his annual income from his $100 billion. The worst fear of the billionaire class is that the government's response to the pandemic will lead to a permanently larger social safety net.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Bill Gates ... just called for a complete and utter shutdown and quarantining of the entire American nation. “Despite urging from public health experts,” Gates wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece, “some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down ... no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown.” He then added that the impacts of the new coronavirus could linger another 18 months or so, until a vaccine was developed. For the peons of America, work isn’t an option. It’s food. It’s survival. The fate of a hard-earned dream shouldn’t rest with a globalist billionaire who’s warning of dire coronavirus consequences to come — all the while making hands-over-fist coronavirus money. It’s a conflict of interest. WHO didn’t announce the coronavirus as a pandemic until the very day after Gates ... made a very large donation to a cause that benefits WHO. In a 2017 piece titled, “Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates,” Politico wrote: “Some billionaires are satisfied with buying themselves an island. Bill Gates got a United Nations health agency. Over the past decade, the world’s richest man has become the World Health Organization’s second-biggest donor, second only to the United States. … This largesse gives him outsized influence over its agenda. … The result, say his critics, is that Gates‘ priorities have become the WHO‘s.”
Very Important Note: To understand how the coronavirus is being used to exert more control over humanity, don't miss this incredibly important video focused on how Bill Gates is using fear around the coronavirus to push through his agenda to vaccinate everyone on the planet and then require a "digital certificate" to ensure they've been vaccinated. For other reliable, verifiable informing demonstrating how Gates' vaccine agenda has already harmed hundreds of thousands of children read this excellent article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
More than a quarter-century ago, Steven Donziger, a young American human rights lawyer, joined the legal effort to force Texaco to clean up the Ecuadoran headwaters of the Amazon rain forest. Between 1972 and 1992, the company dumped toxic waste and spilled billions of gallons of oil-exposed water across 1,700 square miles, an area larger than Rhode Island. In response, a coalition of rural Ecuadorans in the Lago Agrio region sued the US oil giant, and Donziger signed on to help and soon became the lead attorney on the case. In 2013, after a legal campaign that stretched across two continents, the 30,000 indigenous people and small farmers whom Donziger represented in a class-action lawsuit won a $9.5 billion judgment in Ecuadoran courts against Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001. It was one of the largest financial judgments ever against an oil company. Fast-forward to today, and Donziger is under house arrest in New York City, forced to wear an ankle monitor. The lawyer, now 59, is fighting contempt charges. Meanwhile, his clients in Ecuador have received nothing from Chevron. Without that funding, they have no way to cleanse the poisoned soil or treat what they say is an elevated number of cancer cases. In 2010 ... Chevron launched a countersuit in a New York federal court, alleging that Donziger and his allies had committed bribery and fraud in Ecuador to win the case. Meanwhile, residents in the Amazon rain forest live and work on poisoned land.
Before the coronavirus virus crushed the US stock market, the Republican senator Richard Burr apparently used information he gleaned from his role as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee about the ferocity of the coming pandemic to unload 33 stocks held by him and his spouse. They were estimated at being worth between $628,033 and $1.72m. While publicly parroting Trump’s happy talk at the time, Burr confided to several of his political funders that the disease would be comparable to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. When society faces a common threat, exploiting a special advantage is morally repugnant. Call it “Burring”. The coronavirus should have altered business as usual. But last week’s Senate Republican relief package, giving airlines $58bn and billions more to other industries, is pure Burring. Walmart, the largest employer in America, doesn’t give its employees paid sick leave. 88% of Walmart employees report sometimes coming to work when sick. None of the giants of the fast-food industry – McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Duncan Donuts, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Subway – gives their workers paid sick leave, either. Amazon, one of the richest corporations in the world, which paid almost no taxes last year, is offering unpaid time off for workers who are sick. These corporations have made sure they and other companies with more than 500 employees are exempt from the requirement in the House coronavirus bill that employers provide paid sick leave.
Note: Read a New York Times article for further information on how Senator Burr, the head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, after being briefed of impending disaster, unloaded $1 million in investments while telling the public everything was fine. Read an article in The Atlantic showing how the Coronavirus is giving the world's leaders a rich opportunity for a power grab. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Eleven-year-old Allie sways back and forth. She rolls her eyes into her head and collapses onto the bed behind her. After lying there motionless for a moment, she pops back up. "Um, I wasn't really sure what else to add, 'cause all that was requested was to faint while putting my eyes backwards," she says to the camera, thanking a user who goes by "Martin" for the suggestion. Allie's channel is full of skits that she has eagerly filmed at the request of strangers on YouTube. She's learned that her audience particularly enjoys watching her pretend to pass out and hypnotize herself; those kinds of requests come in all the time. For Allie ... the attention is exciting. To the girl's great delight, her dizzy-themed videos randomly blow up sometimes, pulling in thousands of views despite her small following. She refers to her viewers as "fans" and promises to film whatever they'd like to see. That often means unwittingly acting out sexual fetishes for predators, who flock to her content like flies. This didn't happen by accident. YouTube's automated recommendation engine propels sexually implicit videos of children like Allie from obscurity into virality and onto the screens of pedophiles. Executives at the Google-owned company are well aware of this. Over the years, YouTube has claimed repeatedly that keeping children safe on its platform is a top priority. But ... the company has actually continued to amplify such videos into virality and to specifically steer them toward users seeking sexual content and footage of partially clothed kids.
Investment bankers have pressed health care companies on the front lines of fighting the novel coronavirus, including drug firms developing experimental treatments and medical supply firms, to consider ways that they can profit from the crisis. The largest voices in the health care industry stand to gain from billions of dollars in emergency spending on the pandemic, as do the bankers and investors who invest in health care companies. Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices. Executives joked about using the attention on Covid-19 to dodge public pressure on the opioid crisis. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar previously served as president of the U.S. division of drug giant Eli Lilly and on the board of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug lobby group. During a congressional hearing ... Azar rejected the notion that any vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 should be set at an affordable price. "We can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest," said Azar. "The priority is to get vaccines and therapeutics. Price controls won't get us there." The initial $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill passed in early March ... contained a provision that prevents the government from delaying the introduction of any new pharmaceutical to address the crisis over affordability concerns. The legislative text was shaped, according to reports, by industry lobbyists.
As the new Coronavirus spreads illness, death, and catastrophe around the world, virtually no economic sector has been spared from harm. Yet amid the mayhem ... one industry is not only surviving, it is profiting handsomely. "Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity," said Gerald Posner, author of "Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America." The world needs ... treatments and vaccines and, in the U.S., tests. Dozens of companies are now vying to make them. The ability to make money off of pharmaceuticals is already uniquely large in the U.S., which lacks the basic price controls other countries have, giving drug companies more freedom over setting prices for their products than anywhere else in the world. During the current crisis, pharmaceutical makers may have even more leeway than usual because of language industry lobbyists inserted into an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending package, passed last week, to maximize their profits from the pandemic. Initially, some lawmakers had tried to ensure that the federal government would limit how much pharmaceutical companies could reap from vaccines and treatments for the new coronavirus that they developed with the use of public funding. But many Republicans opposed adding language to the bill that would restrict the industry's ability to profit, arguing that it would stifle research and innovation. The final aid package not only omitted language that would have limited drug makers' intellectual property rights, it specifically prohibited the federal government from taking any action if it has concerns that the treatments or vaccines developed with public funds are priced too high.
Note: For glaring examples of how big Pharma and select public officials made money hand over fist during previous virus scares, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the avian and swine flu from reliable major media sources.
Erik Prince, the security contractor with close ties to the Trump administration, has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda. One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of ... one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation. The next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. Both operations were run by Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations. Mr. Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide ... appears to have become interested in using former spies to train Project Veritas operatives in espionage tactics sometime during the 2016 presidential campaign. In 2017, he met with White House and Pentagon officials to pitch a plan to privatize the Afghan war. Mr. Prince invited Project Veritas operatives ... to his family’s Wyoming ranch for training in 2017. [They] shared social media photos of taking target practice with guns at the ranch, including one post ... saying that with the training, Project Veritas will be “the next great intelligence agency.”
Note: Mr. Prince's Blackwater operation got caught systematically defrauding the government. Then Blackwater changed its name to Academi and made over $300 million off the Afghan drug trade. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Before a vaccine to combat the coronavirus pandemic is within view, the Trump administration has already walked back its initial refusal to promise that any remedy would be affordable to the general public. “We can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,” Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary and a former drug industry executive, told Congress. After extraordinary blowback, the administration insisted that in the end, any treatment would indeed be affordable. The federal government, though, under the Clinton administration, traded away one of the key tools it could use to make good on the promise of affordability. Gilead Sciences, a drugmaker known for price gouging, has been working with Chinese health authorities to see if the experimental drug remdesivir can treat coronavirus symptoms. But remdesivir, which was previously tested to treat Ebola virus, was developed through research conducted at the University of Alabama ... with funding from the federal government. That’s how much of the pharmaceutical industry’s research and development is funded. The public puts in the money, and private companies keep whatever profits they can. It wasn’t always that way. Before 1995, drug companies were required to sell drugs funded with public money at a reasonable price. Under the Clinton administration, that changed. In April 1995, the Clinton administration capitulated to pharmaceutical industry pressure and rescinded the longstanding “reasonable pricing” rule.
Note: Read an excellent post by an infectious disease doctor saying he's much more concerned about the fear and panic around the Coronavirus than about the virus itself. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
The percentage of national income that is absorbed by health care has grown over the past half-century, from 5% in 1960 to 18% in 2017, reducing what is available for anything else from 95% in 1960 to 82% today. The costs of health care contribute to the long-term stagnation in wages; to fewer good jobs, especially for less educated workers; and to rising income inequality. American health care is the most expensive in the world, and yet American health is among the worst among rich countries. The U.S. has lower life expectancy than the other wealthy countries but vastly higher expenditures per person. In 2017, the Swiss lived 5.1 years longer than Americans but spent 30% less per person; other countries achieved a similar length of life for still fewer health dollars. How is it possible that Americans pay so much and get so little? The money is certainly going somewhere. What is waste to a patient is income to a provider. The industry is not very good at promoting health, but it excels at promoting wealth among health care providers. Employer-based coverage is a huge barrier to reform. So is the way that the health care industry is protected in Washington by its lobbyists—five for every member of Congress. Our government is complicit in an extortion that is an important contributor to income inequality. Through pharma companies that get rich by addicting people, and through excessive costs that lower wages and eliminate good jobs, the industry that is supposed to improve our health is undermining it.
A Missouri jury’s $265 million award to peach grower Bill Bader in his lawsuit against herbicide providers Bayer and BASF has raised the stakes for the two companies as at least 140 similar cases head to U.S. courts. A jury in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, handed Bader, the state’s largest peach farmer, $15 million in actual and $250 million in punitive damages. He sued the companies saying his 1,000-acre orchard was irreparably harmed by herbicide that they produce, which drifted onto its trees from nearby farms. The three-week trial was the first case in the United States to rule on the use of dicamba-based herbicides alleged to have damaged tens of thousands of acres of U.S. cropland. The herbicide can become a vapor and drift for miles when used in certain weather, farmers have claimed. Bayer faces separate multi-billion-dollar litigation over the Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto, the U.S. firm it took over for $63 billion in 2018. Monsanto made Roundup and dicamba, and Bayer is being sued over both products. Bader Farms, in southern Missouri near the Arkansas border, said it lost many trees when the herbicide containing dicamba was used on nearby soybean and cotton farms and drifted onto its property. The farm said repeated dicamba exposure beginning in 2015 killed or weakened the fruit trees. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency imposed restrictions on the use of dicamba in November 2018 over concerns about potential damage to nearby crops.
The U.S. Department of Education says it is opening an investigation into Yale and Harvard universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign donors. The two Ivy League schools have been singled out in a federal crackdown on institutions of higher learning for allegedly not reporting foreign donations of more than $250,000, as required by law under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act. The Department of Education said Yale failed to disclosed a total of $375 million in foreign money and that it was concerned that Harvard may not have fully complied with reporting requirements. The investigation of Yale and Harvard is part of a larger examination by the DOE, which says its enforcement efforts, since July, have triggered the reporting of approximately $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign money, much of it from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, according to the department. In the case of Yale, the letter from the DOE specifically requested all records from the school related to gifts or contracts from Saudi Arabia, Saudi nationals, China, Huawei Technologies and ZTE. Huawei and ZTE ... were placed on a U.S. sanctions blacklist last year. In February of last year, a Senate report described China's influence on the U.S. education system as "effectively a black hole," because universities were failing to report foreign money.
The criminal justice system has given up all pretense that the crimes of the wealthy are worth taking seriously. In January 2019, white-collar prosecutions fell to their lowest level since researchers started tracking them in 1998. Since 2015, criminal penalties levied by the Justice Department have fallen from $3.6 billion to roughly $110 million. Illicit profits seized by the Securities and Exchange Commission have reportedly dropped by more than half. In 2018, a year when nearly 19,000 people were sentenced in federal court for drug crimes alone, prosecutors convicted just 37 corporate criminals. Tax evasion ... siphons up to 10,000 times more money out of the U.S. economy every year than bank robberies. In 2017, researchers estimated that fraud by America’s largest corporations cost Americans up to $360 billion annually between 1996 and 2004. That’s roughly two decades’ worth of street crime every single year. Over the last four decades, the agencies responsible for investigating elite and white-collar crime ... have seen their enforcement divisions starved into irrelevance. More than a third of the FBI investigators who patrol Wall Street were reassigned between 2001 and 2008. Even though auditing millionaires and billionaires is one of the most cost-effective government activities imaginable—an independent report estimated in 2014 that it yielded up to $4,545 in recovered revenue per hour of staff time—the IRS investigated the returns of just 3 percent of American millionaires in 2017.
Cybercriminal Eric Eoin Marques pleaded guilty in an American court this week. Marques faces up to 30 years in jail for running Freedom Hosting, which temporarily existed beyond reach of the law and ended up being used to host drug markets, money-laundering operations, hacking groups, and millions of images of child abuse. Investigators were somehow able to break the layers of anonymity that Marques had constructed, leading them to locate a crucial server in France. This discovery eventually led them to Marques himself. Marques was the first in a line of famous cybercriminals to be caught despite believing that using the privacy-shielding anonymity network Tor would make them safe behind their keyboards. The case demonstrates that government agencies can trace suspects through networks that were designed to be impenetrable. Marques has blamed the American NSA’s world-class hackers, but the FBI has also been building up its efforts since 2002. And, some observers say, they often withhold key details of their investigations from defendants and judges alike—secrecy that could have wide-ranging cybersecurity implications across the internet. The FBI had found a way to break Tor’s anonymity protections, but the technical details of how it happened remain a mystery. “Perhaps the greatest overarching question related to the investigation of this case is how the government was able to pierce Tor’s veil of anonymity,” Marques’s defense lawyers wrote in a recent filing.
Note: For more on this important case, see this informative article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
Few news outlets covered the detention of [attorney] Steven Donziger, who won a multibillion-dollar judgment in Ecuador against Chevron over the massive contamination in the Lago Agrio region. On August 6, Donziger left a Lower Manhattan courthouse ... with an electronic monitoring device newly affixed to his ankle. As he was arguing the case against Chevron in Ecuador back in 2009, the company expressly said its long-term strategy was to demonize him. Chevron has hired private investigators to track Donziger, created a publication to smear him, and put together a legal team of hundreds of lawyers from 60 firms. As a result, Donziger has been disbarred and his bank accounts have been frozen. He now has a lien on his apartment, faces exorbitant fines, and has been prohibited from earning money. As of August, a court has seized his passport and put him on house arrest. Despite Donzigerďż˝s current predicament, the case against Chevron in Ecuador was a spectacular victory. An Ecuadorian court ruled against Chevron in 2011 and ordered the company to pay $18 billion in compensation, an amount that was later reduced to $9.5 billion. After years of struggling with the health and environmental consequences of oil extraction, the impoverished Amazonian plaintiffs had won a historic judgment from one of the biggest corporations in the world. But ... Chevron immediately made clear that it would not be paying the judgment. Instead, Chevron moved its assets out of the country.
Drug company Hoffmann-La Roche ... bilked U.S. federal and state governments out of $1.5 billion by misrepresenting clinical studies and falsely claiming that its well-known influenza medicine Tamiflu was effective at containing potential pandemics, according to a recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the drugmaker's scheme involved publishing misleading articles falsely stating that Tamiflu reduces complications, severity, hospitalizations, mortality and transmission of influenza. The company then used those articles to aggressively market the drug to the government for pandemic use. Relying on the supposed truthfulness of Roche's claims, federal and state governments spent about $1.5 billion to stockpile Tamiflu to combat influenza pandemics, according to the complaint. The lawsuit brings claims under the False Claims Act, which allows individuals to bring claims on behalf of the government. Whistleblower Dr. Thomas Jefferson, a physician and public health researcher affiliated with the respected global Cochrane Collaboration research network, has researched neuraminidase inhibitors like Tamiflu for more than two decades. He began questioning Tamiflu's efficacy in 2009 and spearheaded efforts to have the company release the underlying clinical study data. When he finally received the data in 2013, Dr. Jefferson analyzed it and concluded that the clinical data does not support Roche's claims about Tamiflu's effectiveness for use in an influenza pandemic.
Note: Though the major media is ignoring this major allegation, it was reported on the website of the highly respected British Medical Journal. Note also that Former U.S. Sect. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made $5 million from the sales of Tamiflu. More details are available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Federal regulators have slapped former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf with a $17.5 million fine for his role in the bank’s sales practices scandal. Stumpf also accepted a lifetime ban from the banking industry. Along with its fine against Stumpf, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced Thursday it is suing five other former Wells Fargo executives for a combined total of $37.5 million. This is the first time regulators have punitively punished individual executives for Wells Fargo’s wrongdoing. The San Francisco-based bank has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and penalties for encouraging employees to open up millions of fake accounts in order to meet unrealistic sales goals. As part of their settlements and lawsuits against these Wells’ executives, regulators seek to ban all of them from ever working in the banking industry again. “The root cause of the sales practices misconduct problem was the Community Bank’s business model, which imposed intentionally unreasonable sales goals and unreasonable pressure on its employees to meet those goals and fostered an atmosphere that perpetuated improper and illegal conduct,” the OCC said in its complaint. “Community Bank management intimidated and badgered employees to meet unattainable sales goals year after year, including by monitoring employees daily or hourly and reporting their sales performance to their managers, subjecting employees to hazing-like abuse, and ... terminating employees for failure to meet the goals.”
Note: Though it's great that someone has finally been fined at Wells Fargo, a small time robber gets locked up in jail for years. Why aren't these people who were the cause of huge white collar crime being jailed? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has diverted over $100 million from safety and maintenance programs to executive compensation at the same time it has caused an average of more than one fire a day for the past six years killing over 100 people. PG&E is the largest privately held public utility in the United States. A new research report shows that 91% of PG&E stocks are held by huge international investment management firms, including BlackRock and Vanguard Group. PG&E is an ideal investment for global capital management firms with monopoly control over five million households paying $16 billion for gas and electric in California. Between 2006 and the end of 2017, PG&E made $13.5 billion in net profits. Over those years, they paid nearly $10 billion in dividends to shareholders, but found little money to maintain safety on their electricity lines. A 2013 Liberty Consulting report showed that 60% of PG&E’s power lines were at risk of failure due to obsolete equipment and 75% of the lines lacked in-line grounding. Between 2008 and 2015, the CPUC found PG&E late on thousands of repair violations. A 2012 report further revealed that PG&E illegally diverted $100 million from safety to executive compensation and bonuses over a 15-year period. In November, 2018, the PG&E caused Camp fire burned 153,336 acres, killing 86 people, and destroying 18,804 homes, business, and structures. PG&E has caused some $50 billion in damages from massive fires started by their failed power lines.
In a squat rig fitted with a 5,000-gallon tank, Peter crisscrosses the expanse of farms and woods near the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania border, the heart of a region that produces close to one-third of America’s natural gas. He hauls a salty substance called “brine,” a naturally occurring waste product that gushes out of America’s oil-and-gas wells to the tune of nearly 1 trillion gallons a year. At most wells, far more brine is produced than oil or gas, as much as 10 times more. It collects in tanks, and like an oil-and-gas garbage man, Peter picks it up and hauls it off to treatment plants or injection wells, where it’s disposed of by being shot back into the earth. Through a grassroots network of Ohio activists, Peter was able to transfer 11 samples of brine to the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, which had them tested in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. The results were striking. Radium ... is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. Four of Peter’s samples registered combined radium levels above 3,500, and one was more than 8,500. Peter’s samples are just a drop in the bucket. Oil fields across the country — from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Permian in Texas — have been found to produce brine that is highly radioactive.
Note: In addition to producing this radioactive waste, fracking employs secret chemical mixtures and poisons drinking water. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle criminal charges and a civil action stemming from its widespread mistreatment of customers in its community bank over a 14-year period, the Justice Department announced on Friday. From 2002 to 2016, employees used fraud to meet impossible sales goals. They opened millions of accounts in customers’ names without their knowledge, signed unwitting account holders up for credit cards and bill payment programs, created fake personal identification numbers, forged signatures and even secretly transferred customers’ money. In court papers, prosecutors described a pressure-cooker environment at the bank, where low-level employees were squeezed tighter and tighter each year by sales goals that senior executives methodically raised, ignoring signs that they were unrealistic. Part of Friday’s deal ... is a deferred prosecution agreement, a pact that could expose the bank to charges if it engages in new criminal activity. During the final five years of abuse, the bank quietly fired thousands of employees for falsifying records in response to customer complaints. The practices covered by the settlement ... are not the only misbehavior the bank has revealed since 2016. The bank has also admitted it charged mortgage customers unnecessary fees and forced auto loan borrowers to buy insurance they did not need. The mortgage and auto loan claims are not part of Friday’s deal. Wells Fargo’s profits last year totaled nearly $20 billion.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
In 2013, the European Union called for a temporary suspension of the most commonly used neonicotinoid-based products on flowering plants, citing the danger posed to bees – an effort that resulted in a permanent ban in 2018. In the U.S., however, industry dug in, seeking not only to discredit the research but to cast pesticide companies as a solution to the problem. Lobbying documents and emails ... show a sophisticated effort over the last decade by the pesticide industry to obstruct any effort to restrict the use of neonicotinoids. Bayer and Syngenta, the largest manufacturers of neonics, and Monsanto, one of the leading producers of seeds pretreated with neonics, cultivated ties with prominent academics ... and other scientists who had once called for a greater focus on the threat posed by pesticides. A study published in peer-reviewed journal PLOS One found that the American landscape has become 48 times more toxic to insects since the 1990s, a shift largely fueled by the rising application of neonics. "Generally, we see the U.S. waiting longer than the EU to take action on a variety of pesticides and other chemicals," said [Willa] Childress ... with Pesticide Action Network North America. Part of the divergence, Childress continued, stems from a regulatory system in the U.S. that assumes chemical products are generally safe until proven hazardous. In contrast, the EU tends to use the "precautionary principle," removing products that may cause harm.
Note: Merchants of Poison: How Monsanto Sold the World on a Toxic Pesticide is a recent and comprehensive analysis of documents released in litigation against Monsanto and their dangerous use of glyphosate. These revealing documents expose years of pesticide industry disinformation, attacks on scientists and journalists, and Monsanto's deep influence on US regulatory agencies to manipulate science and prioritize profits over public health. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in science and in the food system from reliable major media sources.
Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously. His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants. Without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year. The computer code underlying its app ... includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew. And it’s not just law enforcement: Clearview has also licensed the app to at least a handful of companies for security purposes. Because the police upload photos of people they’re trying to identify, Clearview possesses a growing database of individuals who have attracted attention from law enforcement. The company also has the ability to manipulate the results that the police see.
Note: For lots more on this disturbing new technology, read one writer's personal experience with it. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
U.S. insurers and providers spent more than $800 billion in 2017 on administration, or nearly $2,500 per person - more than four times the per-capita administrative costs in Canada's single-payer system, a new study finds. Over one third of all healthcare costs in the U.S. were due to insurance company overhead and provider time spent on billing, versus about 17% spent on administration in Canada, researchers reported in Annals of Internal Medicine. Cutting U.S. administrative costs to the $550 per capita (in 2017 U.S. dollars) level in Canada could save more than $600 billion, the researchers say. "The average American is paying more than $2,000 a year for useless bureaucracy," said lead author Dr. David Himmelstein, a distinguished professor of public health at the City University of New York. "That money could be spent for care if we had a 'Medicare for all program'," Himmelstein said. Why are administrative costs so high in the U.S.? It's because the insurance companies and health care providers are engaged in a tug of war, each trying in its own way to game the system. "Some folks estimate that the U.S. would save $628 billion if administrative costs were as low as they are in Canada," said Jamie Daw, an assistant professor ... at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "That's a staggering amount," Daw said. "It's more than enough to pay for all of Medicaid spending or nearly enough to cover all out-of-pocket and prescription drug spending by Americans."
Note: The study described above is available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
More than 12 million pounds of medically important antibiotics sold in this country are not for use in humans; they're for livestock. And the antibiotics are driving the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the animals that can get passed on to us through food. Yet it's almost impossible to get on the farms to conduct inspections and stop infection outbreaks from spreading, even for public health officials. In 2015, Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist investigated an outbreak of antibiotic resistant salmonella tied to roaster pigs. The salmonella was resistant to antibiotics. Lindquist traced the cause of the outbreak to a slaughterhouse. "We come in and we find the bacteria, essentially everywhere," [said Lindquist]. "So I want to go back to the farms and I wanna sample the pigs at the farm." But to his surprise, Lindquist, who was conducting the investigation, was flatly turned down. Thwarted, he says, by the National Pork Producers Council, the lead lobbying group for the $23 billion pork industry. They sent Lindquist a letter denying him access to the farms. Even federal inspectors have trouble getting on farms. They are not allowed on a farm to look for bacteria that make people sick without the farmer's permission. Farmers started using antibiotics decades ago ... to make animals grow faster with less food. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration told farmers to stop using antibiotics in animals for growth purposes, but ... they are permitted to use them for disease prevention, and there are no reporting requirements.
An explosive leak of tens of thousands of documents from the defunct data firm Cambridge Analytica is set to expose the inner workings of the company that collapsed after the Observer revealed it had misappropriated 87 million Facebook profiles. More than 100,000 documents relating to work in 68 countries that will lay bare the global infrastructure of an operation used to manipulate voters on “an industrial scale” are set to be released over the next months. The documents were revealed to have come from Brittany Kaiser, an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistleblower, and to be the same ones subpoenaed by Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Kaiser ... decided to go public after last month’s election in Britain. “It’s so abundantly clear our electoral systems are wide open to abuse,” she said. “I’m very fearful about what is going to happen in the US election later this year.” Kaiser said the Facebook data scandal was part of a much bigger global operation that worked with governments, intelligence agencies, commercial companies and political campaigns to manipulate and influence people. The unpublished documents contain material that suggests the firm was working for a political party in Ukraine in 2017 even while under investigation as part of Mueller’s inquiry and emails that Kaiser says describe how the firm helped develop a “sophisticated infrastructure of shell companies that were designed to funnel dark money into politics”.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on elections corruption from reliable major media sources.
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.
40 years ago, a worn-out white Gulfstream II jet descended over Fort Lauderdale, Fla., carrying a regal but sickly passenger almost no one was expecting. Aboard were a Republican political operative, a retinue of Iranian military officers ... and Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the newly deposed shah of Iran. The only one waiting to receive the deposed monarch was a senior executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, which had not only lobbied the White House to admit the former shah but had arranged visas for his entourage. Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 4, 1979, vowing revenge for the admission of the shah to the United States, revolutionary Iranian students seized the American Embassy in Tehran and then held more than 50 Americans — and Washington — hostage for 444 days. The shah, Washington’s closest ally in the Persian Gulf, had fled Tehran in January 1979. The shah sought refuge in America. But President Jimmy Carter ... refused him entry for the first 10 months of his exile. Chase Manhattan Bank and its well-connected chairman worked behind the scenes to persuade the Carter administration to admit the shah, one of the bank’s most profitable clients. For Mr. Carter, for the United States and for the Middle East it was an incendiary decision. The ensuing hostage crisis enabled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to consolidate his theocratic rule, started a four-decade conflict between Washington and Tehran ... and helped Ronald Reagan take the White House.
Note: More information is available in this 1991 New York Times article and this article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
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.
400 of America’s largest corporations paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate established under President Trump’s 2017 tax law. The 2017 tax law lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, but in practice large companies often pay far less than that because of deductions, tax breaks and other loopholes. In the first year of the law, the amount corporations paid in federal taxes on their incomes — their “effective rate” — was 11.3 percent on average ... according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. From 2008 to 2015, under the previous tax code, the corporations’ effective rate was about 21 percent. The report also found that 91 corporations in the Fortune 500, many worth billions of dollars, paid no federal taxes last year. The findings come amid an explosion in the federal deficit, which this year rose to almost $1 trillion. Corporate tax revenue fell markedly during the first year of the tax law, from about $300 billion in 2017 to $204 billion in 2018. “When drafting the tax law, lawmakers could have eliminated special breaks and loopholes in the corporate tax to offset the cost of reducing the statutory rate,” the report says. “Instead, the new law introduced many new breaks and loopholes, though it eliminated some old ones.” The 91 profitable Fortune 500 corporations that paid no federal tax in 2018 earned a combined $101 billion last year. As a group, their effective federal tax rate was -5.9 percent.
Note: How is it that 91 of the biggest corporations in the U.S. get away with paying no taxes? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
A whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger to the Guardian that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal. The anonymous whistleblower has posted a video on the social media platform Daily Motion that contains a document dump of hundreds of images of confidential files relating to Project Nightingale. The secret scheme ... involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US. The data is being transferred with full personal details including name and medical history and can be accessed by Google staff. Unlike other similar efforts it has not been made anonymous through a process of ... de-identification. The disclosed documents include highly confidential outlines of Project Nightingale, laying out the four stages or “pillars” of the secret project. By the time the transfer is completed next March, it will have passed the personal data of 50 million or more patients in 21 states to Google, with 10 million or so files already having moved across – with no warning having been given to patients or doctors. Google has entered into similar partnerships on a much smaller scale with clients such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine. But in that case all the data handed over to the search giant was encrypted, with keys being held only on the medical side.
The two sisters live in fear of being recognized. Ten years ago, their father did the unthinkable: He posted explicit photos and videos on the internet of them, just 7 and 11 at the time. Many captured violent assaults in their Midwestern home, including him and another man drugging and raping the 7-year-old. The men are now in prison, but in a cruel consequence of the digital era, their crimes are finding new audiences. This year alone, photos and videos of the sisters were found in over 130 child sexual abuse investigations involving mobile phones, computers and cloud storage accounts. The digital trail of abuse — often stored on Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive — haunts the sisters relentlessly, they say, as does the fear of a predator recognizing them from the images. The scope of the problem is only starting to be understood because the tech industry has been more diligent in recent years in identifying online child sexual abuse material, with a record 45 million photos and videos flagged last year. But the same industry has consistently failed to take aggressive steps to shut it down, an investigation by The New York Times found. Approaches by tech companies are inconsistent, largely unilateral and pursued in secret, often leaving pedophiles and other criminals who traffic in the material with the upper hand. There is no common standard for identifying illegal video content, and many major platforms — including AOL, Snapchat and Yahoo — do not even scan for it.
Note: Listen to a disturbing, yet vitally important New York Times podcast showing this huge problem that few are willing to look at. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
ABC News' Amy Robach, best known as co-anchor of 20/20, claimed that ABC killed her story about convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking of minors three years ago in sensational hot microphone footage leaked Tuesday. In the footage, reportedly taken in August and published online Tuesday by the right-wing activist group Project Veritas, Robach, 46, says: "I've had this story for three years. I've had this interview with [Epstein accuser] Virginia Roberts. We would not put it on the air. First of all I was told, 'Who is Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.'" "Then the palace found out we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us in a million different ways," Robach continues, referring to the British royal that Roberts alleged in a 2015 court filing Epstein trafficked her to when she was 17. "[Roberts] told me everything," Robach says in the clip. "She had pictures. She had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years. We convinced her to come out. We convinced her to talk to us. It was unbelievable what we had. Clinton. Everything." Epstein was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to sex traffic minors in July. He was found dead in his New York prison cell in August. Epstein's death has been ruled suicide by hanging, however, Epstein's family believe he was murdered. A private pathologist hired by the Epstein estate said last week that Epstein's autopsy showed injuries more consistent with "homicidal strangulation" than suicide.
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and his boss NBC News Chairman Andy Lack are still running the show. They remain at the helm despite the explosive reporting in Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill,” which reveals how Oppenheim and Lack not only shut down the investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s predatory and abusive treatment of women, but how NBC News silenced or ignored multiple allegations of sexual misconduct inside the company ― including overlooking the behavior of “Today” show host Matt Lauer for years before finally firing him in 2017. In an article for Vanity Fair in October, Rich McHugh, the NBC producer who worked with Farrow on the Weinstein investigation, called out Oppenheim and Lack’s handling of the story. “They not only personally intervened to shut down our investigation of Weinstein, they even refused to allow me to follow up on our work after Weinstein’s history of sexual assault became front-page news,” he writes. MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes have criticized NBC management on-air. Current and former employees say they want a true independent investigation of what happened at NBC News regarding Lauer, the Weinstein story, and any other incidents of internal sexual misconduct. The Weinstein story wasn’t the only time Oppenheim’s news organization declined to air a story about a powerful man preying on women. NBC famously sat on the “Access Hollywood” tape in which now-President Donald Trump bragged about assaulting women.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
The network of clear streams comprising California’s Strawberry Creek run down the side of a steep, rocky mountain in a national forest two hours east of Los Angeles. Last year Nestlé siphoned 45m gallons of pristine spring water from the creek and bottled it under the Arrowhead Water label. Though it’s on federal land, the Swiss bottled water giant paid the US Forest Service and state practically nothing, and it profited handsomely: Nestlé Waters’ 2018 worldwide sales exceeded $7.8bn. Conservationists say some creek beds in the area are now bone dry and once-gushing springs have been reduced to mere trickles. The Forest Service recently determined Nestlé’s activities left Strawberry Creek “impaired” while “the current water extraction is drying up surface water resources”. Still, a year later, the Forest Service approved a new five-year permit that allows Nestlé to continue using federal land to extract water, a decision critics say defies common sense. At the national level, former agriculture secretary Ann Veneman serves on Nestlé’s board. Former Forest Service special uses leader Gary Earney administered Nestlé’s water permit between 1984 and 2007 and is now one of its most vocal critics. During that time, he witnessed “devastating” Forest Service budget cuts that made it impossible to monitor Nestle’s activities or properly manage the forest. Former San Bernardino national forest supervisor Gene Zimmerman ... left the agency in 2006 to work as a contractor for Nestlé.
Note: Nestlé is one of the companies pushing to transform fresh water into a Wall Street commodity. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota said Monday they were intervening on the side of the Trump administration in an escalating battle with California over fuel economy standards for automobiles. Their decision pits them against leading competitors, including Honda and Ford, who this year reached a deal to follow California’s stricter rules. The Trump administration has proposed a major weakening of federal auto emissions standards set during the Obama administration, prompting California to declare that it will go its own course and keep enforcing the earlier, stricter standards. The automakers siding with the administration, led by the industry group the Association of Global Automakers, say that the federal government, not California, has the ultimate authority to set fuel economy standards. The legal fight between the Trump administration and California over auto pollution rules has swelled into a battle over states’ rights and climate change that is likely to only be resolved once it reaches the Supreme Court. The Obama-era national fuel economy standard requires automakers to build vehicles that achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which would eliminate about six billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution over the lifetime of those vehicles. The Trump administration is planning to roll back the fuel-economy standard to about 37 miles per gallon. Nearly two dozen other states have filed suit against the Trump administration, alongside California, over the emissions rules.
Note: This is proof that the mileage our cars get is not determined by market forces, but rather by government regulation. Average mileage has risen consistently with regulation, not with innovation. For lots more on this, see this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
NBC News just can’t seem to escape the talk of scandal. For weeks, the network has been rebutting allegations by a former correspondent, Ronan Farrow, that it suppressed his reporting on sexual assault allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and covered up harassment and assault accusations against its former star, Matt Lauer. The story has been propelled by Farrow’s best-selling book, “Catch and Kill,” which asserts ... that NBC stopped Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein in mid-2017 after Weinstein threatened to reveal Lauer’s misconduct. Farrow published a blockbuster story about Weinstein in the New Yorker seven weeks later. In an extraordinary segment on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow urged NBC News to undertake an independent investigation of the network’s conduct. “The allegations about the behavior of Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer are gut-wrenching,” said Maddow, MSNBC’s biggest star and the second, after MSNBC host Chris Hayes, to call out her bosses on an NBC-owned platform. Brooke Nevils [is] a “Today” show producer who in Farrow’s book accuses Lauer of raping her. Network officials deny any pattern of harassment complaints or “hush-money” settlements, and say Lauer was fired just hours after Nevils came forward with her accusation in late 2017. But NBC has resisted calls for the kind of independent investigation that other news organizations have undertaken in the wake of harassment scandals.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
The United States government has lost billions of dollars of oil and gas revenue to fossil-fuel companies because of a loophole in a decades-old law. The loophole dates from an effort in 1995 to encourage drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by offering oil companies a temporary break from paying royalties on the oil produced. However, the rule was poorly written, the very politicians who originally championed it have acknowledged, and the temporary reprieve was accidentally made permanent on some wells. As a result, some of the biggest oil companies in the world, including Chevron, Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and others, have avoided paying at least $18 billion in royalties on oil and gas drilled since 1996, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. The companies, which hold government leases to drill in the Gulf, continue to extract oil and gas from those wells while not being required to pay royalties, a right the industry has gone to court to defend. Roughly 22 percent of oil production from federal leases in the Gulf of Mexico was royalty-free in 2018 because of the loophole, the Interior Department said. The report of the windfall to oil companies comes as the Trump administration has moved to further reduce the cost of offshore drilling for the industry, proposing to significantly weaken safety rules put in place after the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Note: A 2013 Washington Post article suggests practices like this are common across major industries. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
When women speak, they shouldn’t be shrill. Clothing must flatter, but short skirts are a no-no. After all, “sexuality scrambles the mind.” Women should look healthy and fit, with a “good haircut” and “manicured nails.” These were just a few pieces of advice that around 30 female executives at Ernst & Young received at a training held in the accounting giant’s gleaming new office in Hoboken, New Jersey, in June 2018. The 55-page presentation, used during the day-and-a-half seminar on leadership and empowerment, was given to HuffPost by an attendee who was appalled by its contents. Full of out-of-touch advice, the presentation focused on how women need to fix themselves to fit into a male-dominated workplace. The training, called Power-Presence-Purpose or PPP ... was billed to participants as advice on how to be successful at EY, according to Jane, a training attendee and former executive director at the firm. Attendees were even told that women’s brains are 6% to 11% smaller than men’s, Jane said. She wasn’t sure why they were told this, nor is it clear from the presentation. Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus, the attendees were told. Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square. The only reason to talk to women about their size of their brains is to make them feel inferior to men, said Bruce McEwen, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University.
Hitting back against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s assertion that billionaires should not exist – and his calls to tax their wealth at much higher rates – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, worth $70bn, took to Fox News to defend his beleaguered class. Billionaires, he argued, should not exist in a “cosmic sense,” but in reality most of them are simply “people who do really good things and kind of help a lot of other people. And you get well compensated for that.” He warned too about the dangers of ceding too much control over their wealth to the government, allegedly bound to stifle innovation and competition. Zuckerberg’s reasoning isn’t unique among the 1%. As common as this argument is, it also happens not to be true. Take the basis of Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune. The internet was developed out of a small Pentagon network intended to allow the military to exchange information during the Cold War. And of the top 88 innovations rated by R & D Magazine as the most important between 1971 and 2006, economists Fred Block and Matthew Keller have found that 77 were the beneficiaries of substantial federal research funding, particularly in early stage development. This isn’t all to say that the private sector hasn’t played a significant role in driving innovation. But the the fortunes built off of each couldn’t exist were it not for the government more often than not taking the first step, funding innovation far riskier than venture capitalists and angel investors can usually stomach.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
One of the most powerful Big Food lobbyists wants to change its image. The Grocery Manufacturers Association ... is planning to change its name to the Consumer Brands Association in 2020, a sign the group is trying to distance itself from past troubles. In the past two years, food companies like Campbell, Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Hershey and Unilever have left the GMA, amid disputes. Among the issues that were fiercely debated were how and when to disclose the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The organization says each of the former members left for individual reasons, but the common thread was a failure by the organization to adapt as consumer sentiments and trends were evolving. “Gone are the days when we could have one face to policymakers and a different one to consumers,” said GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. ″Policymakers have little to no influence on the decisions consumers make,” he said. The organization’s agenda is based on the industry’s realization that it must react to consumers’ demands, rather than fight them, Freeman said. The new name more clearly identifies the companies in its membership: branded names in food, beverage, personal care and household products. GMA wants to fix what it believes is a broken system to help address the country’s recycling crisis. The U.S. does not have uniform recycling laws, which has led to contamination of shipments meant for recycling. Exacerbating this issue, China ... has begun to refuse America’s garbage.
Note: In 2016, the Grocery Manufacturers Association was forced to pay $18 million in damages for violating Washington State law in its opposition to a GMO labeling initiative. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Jada Renee Louis of Newport News, Virginia, died on 22 June 2019 about a week after requiring emergency hospital care for diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication caused by a lack of insulin, and a foot ulcer. She was 24. A type 1 diabetic, Louis, who did not have health insurance coverage, couldn’t afford the cost of her insulin doses and pay her rent. She chose to skip doses in order to pay her rent. Today a vial of insulin – which will last 28 days once opened – costs about $300 in the US. “People are literally dying over $300 like my sister did. People shouldn’t have to choose between medications or shelter. That’s the most outrageous decision for somebody to have to make, yet people are doing it daily,” Jazmine Baldwin, Louis’s sister, [said]. Price gouging of insulin and other barriers to accessing it are symptomatic of America’s broken healthcare system, diabetes advocates argue, and the resulting deaths and struggles of those with diabetes demonstrate the need for systemic reforms. Between 2012 to 2016, the average cost of insulin in the United States nearly doubled to $5,705 per year for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Production costs for a vial of insulin are estimated to cost around $5 while pharmaceutical companies charge as high as $540 per vial and Americans are dying as a result of being unable to afford it in addition to the expensive costs of medical care, and supplies such as syringes and glucose monitors. Some 1.25 million Americans are currently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
About a half a dozen journalists were in a northern California courtroom to cover a third lawsuit alleging that Monsanto’s pesticide glyphosate causes cancer. [Sylvie] Barak told others that she was a freelancer for the BBC. When journalists searched the internet for Barak, they noticed that her LinkedIn account said she worked for FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm that Monsanto and Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, had engaged for consulting. Monsanto has also previously employed shadowy networks of consultants, PR firms, and front groups to spy on and influence reporters. And all of it appears to be part of a pattern at the company of using a variety of tactics to intimidate, mislead and discredit journalists and critics. In the latest example of Monsanto’s efforts to track journalists, The Guardian reported in August on internal documents from the company’s “fusion center,” which worked to discredit reporters and nonprofits via third-party actors. In the California trial, the reporter who first identified Barak as an FTI plant said she ... saw an uptick in Monsanto’s industry partners contacting her as she covered the trial. A guy named Jay Byrne ... contacted her on social media to discuss how GMO criticism was part of a Russian influence campaign; when she Googled Byrne, she learned he is Monsanto’s former director of communications. In a January deposition, a Monsanto representative said that in 2016 the company spent “around $16 or 17 million” on activities to defend glyphosate.
Note: Major lawsuits are now unfolding over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of glyphosate. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
When the Indian government bowed to powerful food companies last year and postponed its decision to put red warning labels on unhealthy packaged food, officials also sought to placate critics of the delay by creating an expert panel to review the proposed labeling system, which would have gone far beyond what other countries have done in the battle to combat soaring obesity rates. But the man chosen to head the three-person committee, Dr. Boindala Sesikeran, a veteran nutritionist and former adviser to Nestle, only further enraged health advocates. That’s because Dr. Sesikeran is a trustee of the International Life Sciences Institute, an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name that has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies around the world. Created four decades ago by a top Coca-Cola executive, the institute now has branches in 17 countries. It is almost entirely funded by Goliaths of the agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical industries. The organization, which championed tobacco interests during the 1980s and 1990s in Europe and the United States, has more recently expanded its activities in Asia and Latin America, regions that provide a growing share of food company profits. It has been especially active in China, India and Brazil, the world’s first, second and sixth most populous nations. In addition to its far-flung offices, ILSI runs a research foundation and an institute focused on health and environmental issues that is largely funded by the chemical industry.
Note: Check out a great article on how lobby groups like this cause the media to become industry lapdogs. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Joi Ito, the director of the Media Lab at MIT, resigned Saturday and the university is calling for an independent investigation following explosive allegations that he and at least one other person at the lab made efforts to make sure Jeffrey Epstein's name was not associated with donations he made or helped solicit. Internal communications and documents obtained by CNN - first reported by the New Yorker - show Epstein was integral to incoming donations from major donors, including $2 million from Bill Gates and at least $5 million from Leon Black, the founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Internal email exchanges show Ito was in direct contact with Epstein about the late financier's donations, which documents show at one point were earmarked for a research scientist. As discussions continued about the funding for the researcher, the Director of Development and Strategy, Peter Cohen, sent an email to an undisclosed recipient, saying "Jeffrey money, needs to be anonymous." Internal communications dating back to 2014 include several references to Epstein being allowed to make small donations anonymously. The communications show that Epstein helped as an intermediary on high-dollar proposals. In October of 2014 Ito sent an email stating, "This is a $2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein." His director of Development and Strategy - Cohen - responds "Great! For gift recording purposes, we will not be mentioning Jeffreys name as the impetus for this gift."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein from reliable major media sources.
Jeffrey Epstein forged deep ties with some of the nation’s elite universities and their scholars, showering them with millions of dollars in donations. The financier’s donations supported important research and helped scientists work toward discoveries, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender. The ensuing fallout ... illuminates enduring questions for academia about the money that fuels research, and how institutions nurture relationships with donors in the race to excel. Epstein gave repeatedly to MIT and Harvard University. At MIT, the president, L. Rafael Reif, apologized to Epstein’s victims in a message to campus. The school accepted about $800,000 of Epstein’s money over 20 years, Reif wrote, with gifts to the MIT Media Lab and to a mechanical engineering professor. “With hindsight,” Reif wrote, “we recognize with shame and distress that we allowed MIT to contribute to the elevation of his reputation, which in turn served to distract from his horrifying acts. No apology can undo that.” The largest gift to Harvard University from Epstein was $6.5 million in 2003, for the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. Martin Nowak, director of that program, said there was only one gift from Epstein in support of his research, and that money was spent by 2007. In 2006, when Epstein was facing sex-crime charges, the Harvard Crimson reported that the school would not return the gift, although some prominent recipients of Epstein’s donations had done so.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein from reliable major media sources.
A judge Monday found Johnson & Johnson responsible for fueling Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, ordering the health-care company to pay $572 million to remedy the devastation wrought by the epidemic on the state and its residents. Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s landmark decision is the first to hold a drugmaker culpable for the fallout of years of liberal opioid dispensing that began in the late 1990s. More than 400,000 people have died of overdoses from painkillers, heroin and illegal fentanyl since 1999. With more than 40 states lined up to pursue similar claims against the pharmaceutical industry, the ruling ... could influence both sides’ strategies in the months and years to come. Plaintiffs’ attorneys around the country cheered the decision, saying they hoped it would be a model for an enormous federal lawsuit brought by nearly 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and others scheduled to begin in Cleveland, Ohio, in October. Johnson & Johnson’s products ... were a small part of the painkillers consumed in Oklahoma. But Hunter painted the company as an industry “kingpin” because two other companies it owned had grown, processed and supplied 60 percent of the ingredients in painkillers sold by most drug companies. “At the root of this crisis was Johnson & Johnson, a company that literally created the poppy that became the source of the opioid crisis,” the state charged. The state also said the health-care giant actively took part in ... an aggressive misinformation campaign.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
In a direct challenge to California regulators and Bay Area environmentalists, the Trump administration Thursday ordered companies to ignore state requirements that businesses warn customers if their products contain glyphosate, a weed killer that has been linked to cancer. The decision flies in the face of three California court rulings against Monsanto, which markets the chemical as Roundup. The agricultural giant faces more than 13,000 suits nationwide by users of Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would no longer approve labels saying glyphosate is known to cause cancer. The state requires companies to warn customers about chemicals known to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. Glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization. Lawyers for sick clients who were awarded tens of millions of dollars after suing Monsanto introduced evidence that glyphosate can cause genetic damage that leads to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They claimed Monsanto ignored that information and published information “ghost written” by staffers denying the toxicity of the chemical. Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith said there was clear evidence that Monsanto, after learning of the dangers, “made efforts to impede, discourage or distort scientific inquiry” by regulators.
Monsanto operated a “fusion center” to monitor and discredit journalists and activists, and targeted a reporter who wrote a critical book on the company, documents reveal. The records reviewed by the Guardian show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller and its links to cancer. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism. The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller. Monsanto planned a series of “actions” to attack a book authored by Gillam prior to its release, including ... directing “industry and farmer customers” on how to post negative reviews. Monsanto paid Google to promote search results for “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” that criticized her work. Monsanto “fusion center” officials wrote a lengthy report about singer Neil Young’s anti-Monsanto advocacy. The internal records don’t offer significant detail on the activities or scope of the fusion center, but ... government fusion centers have increasingly raised privacy concerns surrounding the way law enforcement agencies collect data, surveil citizens and share information.
Three pharmaceutical companies collectively are agreeing to pay California nearly $70 million to settle allegations that they delayed drugs to keep prices high, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. The bulk of the money will come from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and its affiliates for paying to delay a generic narcolepsy drug, Provigil, from entering the market for nearly six years. Teva is paying $69 million, which Becerra says is the largest pay-for-delay settlement received by any state. Such agreements let the developer of brand name drugs keep their monopolies over the drugs after their patents expire, thereby letting them continue to charge consumers higher prices. The drug developer pays the generic manufacturer to keep the cheaper version of the drug from entering the marketplace for an agreed period of time. Such agreements can force consumers and the health care market to pay as much as 90% more than if there were generic alternatives. More than $25 million of the settlement will go to a consumer fund for California residents who purchased Provigil, Nuvigil or Modafinil between 2006 and 2012. The second, $760,000 settlement is with Teva, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Teikoku Pharma USA over keeping a genetic alternative to the pain patch Lidoderm from entering the market for nearly two years. Both settlements bar the companies from pay-for-delay agreements for several years.
Note: They are only barred from pay-for-delay agreements for several years? Shouldn't this practice be illegal? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or “grading”, the company’s Siri voice assistant. Although Apple does not explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world. Apple says the data “is used to help Siri and dictation ... understand you better and recognise what you say”. But the company does not explicitly state that that work is undertaken by humans who listen to the pseudonymised recordings. A whistleblower working for the firm, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears over their job, expressed concerns about this lack of disclosure, particularly given the frequency with which accidental activations pick up extremely sensitive personal information. The whistleblower said: “There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions. These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.” Although Siri is included on most Apple devices, the contractor highlighted the Apple Watch and the company’s HomePod smart speaker as the most frequent sources of mistaken recordings. As well as the discomfort they felt listening to such private information, the contractor said they were motivated to go public about their job because of their fears that such information could be misused.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
Two summers ago, the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority, Andrew Bailey, made news when he announced that LIBOR – the leading benchmark for setting global interest rates – had a “sustainability” issue. The rate is supposed to measure the rate at which banks borrow from each other, but Bailey said it wasn’t based on real borrowing. LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, helps set rates for hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of financial instruments. If Bailey was right, it meant a sizable portion of global economic activity rested on magical thinking. A secondary concern involved manipulation. If banks were inventing numbers to submit to the LIBOR committee, could they not also be manipulating rates to line pockets? The possibility ... seemed to exist that the world’s major investors – including localities and pension funds – were being systematically ripped off. A class of investors and retirement funds including Putnam Bank and the Hawaii Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund did recently bring an antitrust suit alleging just such a scheme. The July 1 complaint is an amended version of a class action suit originally filed earlier this year. The action against JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Barclays, and numerous other banks uses both documentary evidence and data to argue that banks have been purposefully depressing interest rates. The idea would be to lower payouts to investors who are contractually due to receive LIBOR, while lessening costs for LIBOR borrowers.
The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug industry - the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers - found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable communities in America with billions of painkillers. They continued to move their product, and the medical community and government agencies failed to take effective action, even when it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets. This has been broadly known for years, but this past week, the more precise details became public for the first time. The revelatory data comes from the Drug Enforcement Administration and its Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS). “This really shows a relationship between the manufacturers and the distributors: They were all in it together,” said Jim Geldhof, a retired DEA employee. “We’re seeing a lot of internal stuff that basically confirms ... that it was all about greed, and all about money.” The data shows a trend in pill distribution that, according to the lawsuit plaintiffs, can’t be passed off as reasonable therapeutic medical treatment. The industry shipped 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills across the country from 2006 through 2012, the period covered by the ARCOS data released this past week. These pills didn’t flow in a steady stream but were more like a flash flood, spiking from 8.4 billion in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
In May 2008, as the opioid epidemic was raging in America, a representative of the nation’s largest manufacturer of opioid pain pills sent an email to a client at a wholesale drug distributor in Ohio. Victor Borelli, a national account manager for Mallinckrodt, told Steve Cochrane, the vice president of sales for KeySource Medical, to check his inventories and “[i]f you are low, order more. If you are okay, order a little more, Capesce?” Then Borelli joked, “destroy this email ... Is that really possible? Oh Well...” Those email excerpts are quoted in a 144-page plaintiffs’ filing along with thousands of pages of documents unsealed by a judge’s order Friday in a landmark case in Cleveland against many of the largest companies in the drug industry. A Drug Enforcement Administration database released earlier in the week revealed that the companies had inundated the nation with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills from 2006 through 2012. Nearly 2,000 cities, counties and towns are alleging that the companies knowingly flooded their communities with opioids, fueling an epidemic that has killed more than 200,000. The filing by plaintiffs depict some drug company employees as driven by profits and undeterred by the knowledge that their products were wreaking havoc across the country. Plaintiffs in the case argue that the actions of some of America’s biggest and best-known companies - including Mallinckrodt, Cardinal Health, McKesson, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Purdue Pharma - amounted to a civil racketeering enterprise.
What happens when government leaders leave Washington for cushy jobs on corporate boards? Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is just the latest administration official to go through the revolving door after his second tour at the FDA. Gottlieb recently resigned from his spot as the top federal drug regulator to take on a role at Pfizer–the top drug producer in the United States. But Gottlieb's hiring is just the latest in a long line of moves to fortify the industry's influence in Washington. Big Pharma spending on lobbying eclipses every other industry according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Current Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar - Gottlieb's former boss - used to be president of Lilly USA, the U.S. branch of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Trump lauded his appointment by calling Azar a "star for better healthcare and lower drug prices," but during his time there the company raised the brand's insulin prices threefold creating a crisis and drawing public outrage. A study last year found more than 160 former lobbyists serving in the Trump administration - and those industry ties point to an administration that puts the priorities of large corporations over those of the American people. Corporate executives and industry lobbyists cannot be effective regulators of the industries that have made them millions. The revolving door is an age-old problem in Washington but the scope and volume of the conflicts in the current administration ... is unprecedented.
Note: For lots more on the revolving door between government and big Pharma, see the "Revolving Door Project" and read this revealing article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
In the fields of south Texas Mexican women work long hours in dangerous conditions under the ever-present threat of deportation. Many of them are paid on a contract basis, by the box. A box of cilantro will earn a worker $3; experienced farmworkers say they can fill one within an hour, which means a typical 5am to 6pm work day would earn them $39 total. The work can vary from physically uncomfortable and mundane (cilantro, lettuce, beets) to outright painful and dangerous (watermelon, parsley, grapefruit). The few women who work in the fields face even more hardships. Instances of workplace sexual harassment and rape are rampant and are both underreported and under-prosecuted. It is common for women to relent to a supervisor’s advances because she can’t risk losing her job or deportation. Most of these women are supporting children as well. [They] represent a diverse cross-section of lives upturned by drug-related and domestic violence in Mexico. Under new US immigration protocols, these are extraordinarily tense times for immigrants. A report by Human Rights Watch notes that although US law entitles undocumented workers to workplace protections, “the US government’s interest in protecting unauthorized workers from abuse conflicts with its interest in deporting them.” That report was written in 2015, but President Trump’s heightened drive for deportation and border closure has only made things more impossible for undocumented farmworkers attempting to protect their labor rights.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
The average 30-day stay at a California rehab costs families $40,000. It’s expensive and often highly risky. The Russells [checked] their 19-year-old son, Teddy Russell, into Mountain Vista last summer. “During intake, they had trouble with the blood pressure cuff and she said, ‘No, I have no medical training at all,’” said Anne Russell, talking about the counselor at the rehab. Mountain Vista Farm is a state licensed residential detox facility, which in California is not required to have a doctor on site. Anne Russell believes the lack of medical support drastically changed the course of her family’s life. “We trusted them to help him and our son trusted us and it was just a nightmare,” she said. Detox centers must check on patients every 30 minutes for the critical first 72 hours but that didn’t happen. Seven hours after being dropped off at Mountain Vista Farm, Teddy Russell was dead. The state has the power to suspend a rehab facility’s license after a Class A deficiency. Teddy’s death resulted in two of those. But the state didn’t shut this place down. In fact, we’ve learned it rarely shuts any rehab down. Instead the penalty in Teddy’s case was a $700 fine. Public records show Teddy’s story is not unique. 190 people have died at other rehab facilities in California since 2010. We found dozens of deficiencies, from falsifying records, failing to report deaths, and employing unqualified staff to not monitoring patient vitals, like what happened to Teddy.
Note: John Oliver has a hard-hitting video on the serious problems found at many rehab centers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
A northwest Indiana dairy farm has fired four employees seen in a graphic undercover video released Tuesday by an animal welfare organization showing animals being abused. Following an investigation into the abuse, at least three retailers announced Wednesday that they would remove all Fairlife products from their shelves. The Coca Cola Corporation, which distributes the brand, said it was in talks to have sourcing from the farm in question discontinued. The Animal Recovery Mission called it the “largest undercover dairy investigation in history” and said the video documents “systemic and illegal abuse” at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. ARM said an investigator spent three months undercover at the Prairies Edge North Barn after being hired as a calf care employee. The group noted that Fair Oaks Farms North Barn was not targeted, but rather the barn was the first farm to hire the investigator, who had applied to multiple dairy farms in Jasper and Newton Counties in Indiana. “Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing and slamming calves,” ARM said in a statement. “Calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention.” The footage was released on social media (warning: foot