With over 2.3 million people housed in prisons across the United States, Norway shocks the American criminal justice system with their solution to crime: cap jail terms and encourage rehabilitation.
In the wake of the presidential election, an era of change is expected to blanket the United States. While it is currently uncertain how far President-elect Donald Trump will go with many of his controversial policies, we have a relatively clear idea of how some of the country’s systems may be altered.
The prison system, for example, is expected to continue on the path to privatization. As we have mentioned in the past, privatization solely benefits the corporations that dominate the industry. In the United States, private correctional facilities were a $4.8 billion industry in 2014, with profits of $629 million, according to market research firm IBISWorld.
US prison statistics often appear skewed as the nation’s systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities. However, using the data available, it is estimated that as many as 2.3 million people are housed in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 942 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.
Many of the people serving time in these facilities, particularly federal and juvenile correctional facilities, have been charge with non-violent offences such as drug offenses. As of 2015, the United States had a prison population rate of roughly 700 per 100,000 – the second-highest of 222 countries.
While many support the country’s criminal justice system, other nations have decided to take a slightly different approach. In Norway, the criminal justice system is starkly different and is proven to be very effective at rehabilitating its prisoners. In 2014, Norway’s incarceration rate was just 75 per 100,000 people.
In addition to fewer prisons, the Scandinavian nation also has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at 20%. In comparison, 76.6% of US prisoners are re-arrested within five years – one of the highest recidivism rates in the world.
Norway’s impressive crime and incarceration statistics are attributed to a concept called “restorative justice,” which focuses on rehabilitating prisoners instead of punishing them. As part of this concept, the maximum sentence that can be passed by a court judge is 21-years, whatever the crime. However, if it is believed that a prisoner has not been rehabilitated, the initial sentence can be extended by up to 5 years.
The prisons of Norway became a topic of debate after a number of new sources featured photographs of the ‘luxury’ facilities at Halden Prison. Unlike their US counterparts, the prison does not have bars on the windows; it encourages prisoners to make friendships with guards and have kitchens that are fully equipped with sharp objects. In addition, the 75-acre facility also offers vocational programs including woodworking, assembly workshops, and even a recording studio.
Arne Wilson, prisoner governor at Bastoy prison and clinical psychologist, explained to The Guardian:
“In closed prisons we keep them locked up for some years and then let them back out, not having had any real responsibility for working or cooking. In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is that you lose your freedom. If we treat people like animals when they are in prison they are likely to behave like animals. Here we pay attention to you as human beings.”
For Americans, and many other nations, Norway’s criminal justice system appears to be inadequate. In the majority of nations, prison is, to simply put it, a form of revenge. For this reason, the idea that prisoners are treated with respect and offered opportunity often doesn’t sit right with many Americans. However, the success of Norway’s criminal justice system is plain to see.
“[Revenge]. That word doesn’t get used. Even a right-wing politician will rarely come out and say ‘Our prisons exist for us to get revenge.’ We have to be honest with ourselves, as American, we have a few things we need to fix,” Michael Moore, who’s film ‘Where to Invade Next’ searches the world for answers to some of America’s biggest problems, explains in an interview.
Boyalife scientist, who is building the world’s biggest cloning facility — 14,000-square-meter — in China’s Tianjin, which is set to go into production within the next seven months and aims to clone one million cows by 2020, says he is ready to clone humans and that it’s not science, but the potential for an adverse public reaction that’s stopping the company from going forward with the project.
“The technology is already there. If this is allowed, I don’t think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology. Hampering such a project are ethical issues so we must practice self-restrained to avoid a possible public backlash,” Boyalife Group CEO Xu Xiaochun told AFP.
Cloning differs from genetic modification, but its application to animals would enable the firm to homogenise its output.
“Everything in the supermarket looks good – it’s almost all shiny, good-looking, and uniformly shaped. For animals, we weren’t able to do that in the past. But with our cloning factory, we choose to do so now. Remember, this is a food. We want it to be uniform, very consistent, very premium quality,” Xu added.
Boyalife is also working with Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which is currently developing the duplication of deceased pets and woolly mammoths, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop primate cloning. And this would mean just one step further – from monkeys – to human cloning. Nonetheless, Xu hopes that the general public will edit their views and allow the research to push forward.
“Unfortunately, currently, the only way to have a child is to have it be half its mum, half its dad. Maybe in the future you have three choices instead of one. You either have 50-50, or you have a choice of having the genetics 100 percent from Daddy or 100 percent from Mummy. This is only a choice… We want the public to see that cloning is really not that crazy, that scientists aren’t weird, dressed in lab coats, hiding behind a sealed door doing weird experiments,” he explained.
Sooam founder Hwang Woo-Suk, who created Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog, in 2005, lost his university position, had two major papers retracted, and was accused of crimes ranging from violation of bioethics laws to embezzling research funds.
Shut up USA, that part of the world does not belong to you. It’s not yours to worry about. China and Russia should send their “oceanographic vessels”, i.e. spy crafts, to the waters off the coast of the USA and claim they are conducting “science”. Ya right. Hypocrites.
Also, China get out of Tibet you wannabe big time Imperialists! It’s not yours!
The USS Bowditch was sailing about 100 miles off the port at Subic Bay when the incident happened. The survey ship had stopped to pick up two underwater drones when a Chinese naval ship that had been shadowing the Bowditch put a small boat into the water. The small boast came up alongside and the Chinese crew took one of the drones.
The United States is calling for the return of the drone, which was seized in the South China Sea on Thursday, according to Reuters. A US survey ship was about to retrieve the drone before it was captured.
The US received no answer from the Chinese on the radio when it said the drones American property, according to US defense officials. US oceanographic research vessels are often followed by the Chinese on the assumption they are spying. The Pentagon has not commented officially on the incident.
Air is necessary for life and it aids in healing, but proper breathing can do so much more. Full, free breathing is one of the most powerful keys to enhancing physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.
Breathing effortlessly, a baby lives fully and freely in the now, in the expansiveness of the moment. There is no past to remember, no future to plan for or worry about. Each breath is a process of receiving from the universe and giving back to it.With each inhale, we receive and take life in. With each exhale, we let go and give back. We are in touch with and part of the essential rhythm of life. When we constrict or stop our breath, we lose touch with what is happening in the present moment.
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth. Do-it-anytime breathing exercises remove allow the mind to enter this state while releasing tension, anger, annoyance, fear and exhaustion.
As adults, many people tend to breathe small and shallow, mostly in the chest, with little visible movement. To make matters worse, most people contract and literally stop breathing for short periods during stressful or mentally focused situations. These periods of contraction and breath holding create a low-grade suffocation in the body. Suffocation leads to suffering. The lack of oxygen and increased tension hinders the flow of blood, nutrients, and vital energy.
In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.
“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.
This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.
The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.
When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.
In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.
The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.
“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”
Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.
Former managing director and member of the board of directors of Wall Street investment firm Dillon, Read & Co., as well as former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner in the Dept. of H.U.D. during the Bush 41 administration, Catherine Austin Fitts infamously blew the whistle on bankers, claiming they buy out all the real estate assets with money they stole from their clients. She once even revealed that she discovered one block in San Diego that had lost 20 million dollars in HUD loans made on properties that never existed and did not even have postal street addresses.
Fitts also created the Community Wizard program to help voters see just how much federal money was being spent in each zip code to make way for better control of government spending. Her action was met with a lawsuit. She was investigated 18 times and eventually run out of Washington, DC.
Fitts is also know for her series called Narco Dollars for Beginners, which involves about 17.3 billion dollars (at a rate of 4 billion dollars a week for 4.3 weeks) being stolen from unaudited government spending, of which Fitts blamed it on the narcotics trade.
“One day I was a wealthy entrepreneur with a beautiful home, a successful business and money in the bank. I had been a partner and member of the board of directors of the Wall Street firm of Dillon Read, and an Assistant Secretary of Housing during the Bush Administration. I had been invited to serve as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and, instead, started my own company in Washington, The Hamilton Securities Group. Thanks to our leadership in digital technology, financial software and analytics, Hamilton was doing well and poised for significant financial growth.
The next day I was hunted, living through 18 audits and investigations and a smear campaign directed not just at me but also members of my family, colleagues and friends who helped me. I believe that the smear campaign originated at the highest levels. For more than two years I lived through serious physical harassment and surveillance. This included burglary, stalking, having houseguests followed and dead animals left on the doormat. The hardest part was the necessity of keeping quiet lest it cost me more support or harm my credibility. Most people simply do not believe that such things are possible in America. They are.”
But despite her setbacks, Fitts focused on moving forward, and is now an active voice in economics and the U.S. & world political systems.
After a tumultuous and confusing 2016 U.S. presidential election, a huge topic we can no longer ignore has arisen: how will we escape what we know to gain what we need? The systems are corrupt, the people in power are corrupt, and the public is left brainwashed while a country, and ultimately, the world, suffers as a result.
In an interview, Fitts brought up so many intriguing points, pondering the question of how the government expects people to pay their taxes if the government is no longer viewed as legitimate. The world economy is set up for failure because of a banking system that relies on taking users’ money in order to pay usury each time a transaction occurs. This can ultimately result in citizens being brainwashed into believing they need a global currency that’s managed by the global elite.
For quite some time now, there have been clear warnings that have slipped through the cracks of mainstream media regarding the demise of the dollar. Now, Fitts says that warning is coming to a head, claiming that the economic collapse may be right around the corner.
“The system has the capacity with monetary policy in one sense to keep going forever if the force and military capacity is there to do it, but at some point, you burn through the fat, you burn through the muscle and then you have to change institutions.”
The financial crisis of 2008, in which the government hindered a collapse of systems by working with chiefs of the financial sector by giving them incomprehensible bailouts, then inflating the dollar through quantitative easing, has now, eight years later, reached its limit.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult to get people to continue to pay their taxes when they’re highly confident the money’s not being spent legally and it’s going to the advantage of small parties or things that they don’t understand. And so you can’t move further without institutional overhaul,” said Fitts.
Fitts harps on the danger of groups within the U.S., like ALEC, who are already urging for law changes and constitutional convention that would throw out these institutions.
“If you want to enforce the Constitution or fix things, that’s what you do. The reason you get a Constitutional Convention is you want to tear it up because you’re worried, now that people realize the extent of the corruption, that they’re going to try and enforce.”
We are living in a time where corruption reigns supreme, and the only good side of that is that the smell is so strong, we can no longer ignore it. We are being forced to wake up to the corruption of our government and financial rulers, as well as the elites who are working tirelessly to demolish the middle class. But the more the reality is discussed, the more likely we will get closer to watching the people who put so many down finally be faced with the karma of their crimes.
Scum bag politicians, US minions, pathetic weak sycophants? All of the above.
“It seems people are finally beginning to take Assange’s mistreatment seriously. In fact, the United Nations rejected an appeal by the U.K. recently of a prior ruling, calling it “not admissible,”and demanding that London and Stockholm end the “arbitrary detention”of Assange.”
For the past six years, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been prosecuted and held captive on the grounds of rape allegations, of which are now being revealed as completely concocted by the police. On August 20, 2010, an arrest warrant for Assange was first issued by the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office, but was withdrawn the following day. Eva Finne, the chief prosecutor, announced that she believed the rape accusation held no merit, actually saying: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”
Then, on August 21, 2010, police questioned Assange, informing him of the allegations against, of which he vehemently denied. The rape case was then reopened by Swedish Director of Prosecution Marianne Nye.
Assange’s Swedish residency request was denied in October 2010, but he was ordered to return just one month later to be questioned. Assange countered the order by offering to appear at the Swedish embassy in London. However, Swedish police met his offer by issuing an international arrest warrant.
A British court ruled that Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden, and though Assange appealed that ruling, it was ultimately granted by the High Court in November 2011. By August 2012, Assange was given political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy as a result of human rights being violated if extradited.
Things began to look up for the WikiLeaks founder, however, when earlier this year a United Nations panel found that he was being detained unjustly, and urged for the Swedish extradition requested to immediately be thrown out.
Now, having spent the last four years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, new SMS reports have revealed that Assange may have been framed by Swedish police officials. And as of December 7, 2016, Assange has gone public for the very first time regarding his perspective on the events surrounding the rape allegations he was arrested for back in 2010.
“Six years ago today, on 7 December 2010, I was handcuffed and locked into Wandsworth prison by order of a Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny,” Assange explains in a testimony released on Wednesday. “I had not and still have not been charged with an offence. The claimed grounds for my arrest and extradition without charge were so that Ny could question me. But it was not until six years later – three weeks ago – that I was questioned for the first time. I have decided to release my responses.”
Though Assange was finally questioned in November, he notes that “my Swedish lawyer was excluded from the room in yet another breach of my basic rights.”
The 19-page statement released explores Assange’s version of the events leading up to his prosecution. He even discussed being coerced by the American, Swedish, English, and Australian governments.
Assange notes that the allegations regarding sexual assault came after he started revealing the war crimes of the U.S. government revolving around Chelsea Manning.
“I… could not believe my eyes when five days later I saw a headline in a Swedish tabloid that I was suspected of a crime and arrested in my absence. I immediately made myself available to Swedish authorities to clarify any questions that might exist, even though I had no obligation to do so.”
Assange calls the sexual misconduct in question actually “consensual and enjoyable” sex with a woman known as ‘SW,’ and notes this only happened four or five times. However, the accusations claim the sex with SW occurred while she was asleep. This is considered rape under Swedish law.
The SMS messages recently released say this did not happen. The statement reads:
“Her behaviour towards me on the night in question and in the morning made it clear that she actively and enthusiastically wanted me to have sex with her. This is also shown by text messages ‘SW’ sent to her friends during the course of the evening I was at her home and during that week, which the Swedish police collected from her phone. Although the prosecutor has fought for years to prevent me, the public and the courts from seeing them, my lawyers were permitted to see them at the police station and were able to note down a number of them.”
It seems people are finally beginning to take Assange’s mistreatment seriously. In fact, the United Nations rejected an appeal by the U.K. recently of a prior ruling, calling it “not admissible,”and demanding that London and Stockholm end the “arbitrary detention”of Assange.
If the western world cared for Syria as much as CNN and the BBC appear to, heaven would reign here on Earth. Every waking hour of every day the tears of British, American, and European media publishers cascade over us. Those “White Helmets”, the humanitarian saints, the word wielding White House spokespeople immerse us in their humanity. And their humanity is a sinful joke.
For nearly four years now I’ve watched this sardonic drama unfold. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate turns the dogs of war loose. Morals and ideals are upended like dancing bowling pins. Liars blame truthtellers for the chaos we see, and those of us who embrace a moderate stance get labeled as trolls, traitors, fakes or worse. Proven criminals and elitist warmongers roam everywhere, and somehow we’ve evolved to accept it all. Madness is the only word that comes close to describing American policy these days, but the most maddening thing is the hypocrisy and arrogance. BBC! Every time I see the letters under a headline I cringe.
According to CNN, the Syrian Army is executing the families of Free Syrian Army rebels. With western world leaders up in arms over so-called “Fake News”, the Cable News Network is sourcing an “activist” named Mohammad Basbous, and a suspect media network called the Aleppo Media Center. With its Twitter account suspended, its Facebook broadcasting clear jihadist propaganda, this writer wonders at how CNN even considered this source. The YouTube channel features videos from Aleppo with soundtrack elements reminiscent of the film The Last Samurai. Bleeding children filmed like method actors, distraught mothers whaling, the angelic White Helmets workers salvaging what they can, the AMC channel shows the Al Nusra side of things without apology. Embedded within this propaganda though, the reality of a lie is readily seen. Scant days before the Syrian Army takes over a neighborhood, brave captains of the rebel uprising proclaim one small victory after another in the face of demonic attacks by Assad and Russia. If the Syria coverage were seen in a carnival tent it would be more convincing.
Still some believe the battle for Aleppo, Palmyra, and all of Syria is somehow a noble quest for democracy! But who are these CNN and BBC sources really? On the AMC Facebook pages we find four people associated with the account. Yousef Seddik, Zein Al-Rifai, Hasan Kattan, and the aforementioned CNN source Mohammad Basbous. Maybe if we look at them one at a time we can discern how the most prolific media in the west validates them.
Yousef Seddik broadcasts White Helmets heroism via Twitter to his 329 followers. As an expert in social media I can glean much from this account established back in 2013. First follows are often telling of people not so aware of social media, and Seddik creating this account as a function of the AMC network is brutally clear. Among his initial Twitter pals we find none other than Rima Maktabi, who hosted for two years CNN‘s monthly program Inside the Middle East. She works for Saudi TV Al Arabiya. Seddik’s very first “follow” was in fact Zidane Zenglow, another Al Arabiya correspondent. I could go on but what’s more telling than who someone follows in social media, is who “is” following a subject. Saudis quoting the Koran and how paradise is won by the faithful are Seddik’s first admirers, along with Al Arabiya correspondents following back.
Zein Al-Rifai is the freelance photojournalist who works for AMC. He’s the man who films the dying, dead, destruction and riveting propaganda this network spews out. He follows people like the President of France and the US Secretary of State, along with Saudi ministers, the White Helmets, and first follows indicating his social media was always about the war versus Assad. One early Tweep tweets about all the factions coming together as one now that Aleppo has fallen. I could dig deeper, but let’s move on.
Hassan Kattan is from Aleppo according to his social profiles. This rebel sympathizer began his social media efforts by following France 24 and the Saudi TV stations, and Shaam News Network in Damascus. This AMC operative just tweeted “We want freedom, we want to topple Assad” 8 hours ago. Here is the rough translation of a Facebook posting by him from November 24th:
“I swear our hearts tired blessings of God A lot of pressure and reality hurts. We lost a lot in this period of our friendly and loved us. Personally I hate moments of weakness and hate across her. We still have great confidence that e revolution will win. If we live or we die and that if we meet our God will not be afraid to ask him about what we did with our lives and what we have provided to our cause.!
Finally, if you trace down the network of people behind these CNN and BBC “sources” you always arrive at a dark destination. On the surface of these people and their accounts we find the fake idealism embracing the dead and destroyed in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. Underneath, down the trail of collaborators and friends we find the AK 47s, the trenches and windows with snipers shooting at the real Syrian Army. There is no mistaking the “jihad” in the jihadist, in the revolutionary. I also find it ironic that Syria expert Vanessa Beeley talking with recently rescued citizens from East Aleppo revealed these White Helmet rescuers as phantoms, ghosts no trapped civilians there ever heard tell of.
Looking at the Twitter feed of an Aleppo named Fares Shehabi I find more credible news from freed Aleppo citizens. But CNN did not interview this Syrian official, unless I miss my guess. Shehabi, one of the most respected business and political figures in Syria, will probably end up being prime minister or president one day, so it’s puzzling nobody but Sputnik is talking with him since Reuters mentioned him in 2012.
On a final note, there is a common thread that runs through these “sources” histories. A man named Wadah Khanfar appears frequently. The President of Al Sharq Forum today was once the Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network. His presence in the social networks and media surrounding the AMC people brings to mind the scandal when WikiLeaks documents revealed Khanfar once unduly influencing Al Jazeera’s news coverage of the War in Iraq at the behest of U.S. embassy officials in Qatar. He subsequently resigned, but his role with elitists at the now notorious International Crisis Group as one of the Board of Trustees, is telling for me.
Khanfar is tweeting about executions to his 2.1 million followers too. Next I will follow the breadcrumbs from Aleppo to Kurdistan and the US interests there, as well as how the Davos elites tie in.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
I don’t understand why people glorify the psychopaths who run most Big Pharma companies. Look at what they do when they think no one is watching. Now watch these failures of humanity get community service for their ill gotten filthy lucre.
Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense.
‘We have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,’ says Connecticut attorney general
“Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason,” the federal lawsuit alleges. (Photo: Jamie/flickr/cc)
Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense.
The federal lawsuit (pdf) names generic drug-makers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and concerns two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic used to treat a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication.
It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and labels Heritage as the “principal architect and ringleader” that helped organize a “wide-ranging series of conspiracies” to fix prices.
“The misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their subordinate marketing and sales executives.” George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General
“My office has dedicated significant resources to this investigation for more than two years and has developed compelling evidence of collusion and anticompetitive conduct across many companies that manufacture and market generic drugs in the United States,” said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, who is leading the coalition.
The other plaintiff states are Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
“While the principal architect of the conspiracies addressed in this lawsuit was Heritage Pharmaceuticals, we have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,” Jepsen said. “Ultimately, it was consumers—and, indeed, our healthcare system as a whole—who paid for these actions through artificially high prices for generic drugs.”
A release from Jepsen’s office says “the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their subordinate marketing and sales executives,” who “coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences, and other events, as well as through direct email, phone, and text message communications.”
“While generic competition is supposed to bring prices down, these companies secretly agreed to rig the system to drive prices up at the expense of patients,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a statement.
She said a salesperson for Heritage in Minnesota played a key role in the scheme by organizing dinners among employees of competing drug companies when they visited the state.
“The dinners and meetings led to the exchange of information about the competitors’ business plans and ultimately led to agreements on setting prices and/or allocating the market so as to avoid competing on price,” a statement from Swanson’s office said.
The news comes just one day after it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice has charged two former Heritage executives with conspiring to fix generic prices—”the first fruits of an ongoing and sweeping investigation into generic drug price-fixing by the Department,” according toArs Technica.
As Bloombergreported, guilty pleas and cooperation from the two executives “could lead to charges against executives at other drugmakers.”
Forbespredicts “[t]he antitrust lawsuit and federal investigation will likely bring further political heat to the generic drug sector.”
Indeed, the lawsuit charges: “Over the last several years, however, [the] price dynamic has changed for a large number of generic drugs. Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason, sparking outrage from public officials, payers, and consumers across the country whose costs have doubled, tripled, or in some cases increased up to 1,000 percent or more.”
Thanks to modern medicine, there is now proof that keeping these emotions inside you can have negative effects on your overall health. That’s why we would like to discuss forgiveness.
When it comes to clinical view, forgiveness is a process where a person gives up from the feeling of bitterness and thoughts associated with retribution.
In addition, forgiveness is closely related to the process of developing and nurturing feelings of generosity, empathy and at some point – love to the people who made you suffer.
Truth be told, this process is not simple or easy. Most clinicians agree that in case a patient has deep emotional wounds and traumas, the process of healing will be long. However, it is possible to forgive and overcome these feelings and it is definitely worth it.
About two decades ago, medical science had minimal research reports and studies about the effects of forgiveness on mental and physical health. However, this situation has changed, and there are dozens of studies and scientific papers today.
Forgiveness Enhances The Quality of Your Life
We should begin by saying that the effects of remaining angry, feeling frustrated or being negative all the time about some event from the past is toxic. According to many experts, keeping these negative feelings and emotions leads to chronic anxiety.
As a result of that, the body produces more cortisol and adrenaline which leads to cell damage making you more prone to cancer. So, if you don’t want to forgive, you will feel sick and you will eventually become sick.
While we are talking about cancer, a recent clinical trial which included more than 80 patients dealing with cancer has focused on the feelings of self-acceptance, pessimism and forgiveness after patients took classes in self-forgiveness.
During these classes, they have learned things like expressive writing, reflection techniques etc.
Once the classes were finished, the patients who took them had better results when it comes to acceptance, self-forgiving, pessimism and self-improvement.
Forgiveness is Here to Boost Your Confidence
In case you start thinking about an old event where you felt hurt, mistreated, humiliated or offended you will start feeling unwell right away. Truth is that there are instant physiological and emotional responses in our body that are triggered when we think about these memories.
Some of the most common responses are:
Increased blood pressure
As you can see, these are the common symptoms of anxiety and stress too. A few scientific studies have confirmed that people who often practice forgiveness and compassion to people who have hurt them have reduced stress response.
Another survey has shown that 1.500 adult Americans who forgave others said that they are more satisfied with their lives and feel less stresses and nervous.
It was proven that forgiveness is great for those who have experienced intense emotional abuse too. A group of women were separated into two groups.
The first group was focused on forgiveness while the second group practiced methods like assertiveness, anger validation and building interpersonal skills.
It turned out that the women that were focused on forgiveness have witnessed great improvement in terms of depression, self-esteem, symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, anxiety and quality of life.
On top of that, the effects of forgiveness were present months after the test was finished.
Forgiveness is Good for The Immune System
A scientific study conducted not while ago which included nearly 80 patients suffering from HIV was focused on their thoughts, feelings and behaviors of forgiveness.
Patients who were able to forgive had better amount of immune cancer-eliminating cells.
We should not forget that forgiveness stabilizes blood pressure as well as cardiovagal tone. Scientists have proven that forgiveness has excellent protective effects on the cardiovascular system.
At the same time, anger is bad for the cardiovascular health and causes damage to the heart muscle.
Forgiveness Helps You Sleep Better
Another scientific study has shown that forgiveness of offensive interpersonal conducts is associated with better sleep. On the other hand, if you keep being angry, resentful and bitter, you can expect lower quality of sleep.
This is just a short list of all the health benefits of forgiveness. So, now that you know how useful forgiveness is, it is the right time to make a good plan and truly forgive the person who hurt you.
The process begins with self-forgiveness and continues with others. In case you are not sure how you should forgive, consult an experienced spiritual psychotherapist.
Forget about the past and the unpleasant events that happened back then and move your life forward!
After seeing many of their loved ones kidnapped by a ruthless drug cartel, the people of Totolapan, a small town in Mexico’s Guerrero state decided it was time to fight fire with fire, so they kidnapped the drug boss’ mother.
For years, Totolapan has been under the control of a gang known as “Los Tequillero”, led by Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, better known as “El Tequillero”. Things had gotten considerably worse for the locals in recent months, as the Tequilleros had become involved in a turf war with other gangs, and started abducting people whom they suspected were supporting their rivals. Sick of living under the constant terror of having their loved ones taken from them, the townsfolk decided to fight back.
On Monday, a few dozen masked men appeared in the streets of Totolapan waving rifles and shotguns, and calling for action against El Tequillero. They identified themselves as a “self-defense” force, as Mexican vigilantes usually call themselves, and demanded the release of kidnapping victims taken by the gang.
“We urgently demand the release of the kidnap victims,” one of the masked men said during a recorded statement. “We are a legitimate self-defense force of the people.” And to make sure that their demands are taken seriously by the Tequilleros, they let them know that they have a valuable bargaining chip.
“We have your mother here, Mr. Tequilero. I propose an exchange: I’ll give you your mother if you give me my husband, but I want him safe and sound,” said the wife of Isauro de la Paz Duque, a local construction engineer that was kidnapped by the gang last week, after they had threatened to kill him.
El Tequillero’s mother, who is shown sitting on the floor of an empty room with just a ventilation fan beside her, is just one of two dozen people kidnapped by the vigilantes as suspected members of the drug gang.
The Guerrero state Government recently sent 220 soldiers and policemen to Totolapan to diffuse the situation, as well as a negotiation team. Reports state that several hostages have been released by the self-defense force, but El Tequillero’s mother remains in their custody. Authorities said that they understand the locals’ frustration, but they are going about the situation the wrong way.
“The truth is, they are not really community forces, nor are they police,” Governor Hector Astudillo has said. “They are armed groups that unfortunately carry out acts … that generate more violence and confrontation, rather than help.”
However, the kidnapping of El Tequillero’s mother seems to have had the desired effect, as Mexican news website Debate yesterday reported that the boss agreed to release engineer Isauro de la Paz Duque in exchange for his mother. The swap was overseen by the state Government negotiations team. For the time being, the military and police forces will remain in Totolapan to prevent any retaliations by the Tequilleros.
Located at the foot of the mountains that produce much of Mexico’s opium poppy crops, the are around Totolapan is notorious for drug trafficking, killings and extortion. The town itself is reportedly so dangerous that many of its outlying hamlets have been abandoned by their frightened residents.
Western media and propaganda have supported the incarceration, torture, abuse and horror that these civilians had had to go through says journalist Vanessa Beeley. Columnist Brent Budowsky and Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute join the debate.After liberating eastern Aleppo, government troops are making advances against terrorists that still control several districts of the Syrian city.
In response, the militants have again been targeting civilian areas of western Aleppo. Meanwhile, the mainstream media continue to blame President Assad and Russia for the civilian suffering.
The grim picture of Aleppo’s liberation painted in the mainstream media has prompted crowds to protesters on the streets of European cities. People gathered in the German city of Hamburg as well as Paris calling to stop the slaughter of people in Aleppo.
Also, the lights of the Eiffel Tower have been turned off in solidarity with the civilians of Aleppo.
RT spoke to independent researcher and journalist Vanessa Beeley, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute Daniel McAdams and columnist for ‘The Hill’ Brent Budowsky and heard some very different opinions on the Syrian conflict.
RT: Why so much hysteria in the media? Why is no one talking about defeating terrorists – who are Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria?
Brent Budowsky, columnist for the Hill: Nobody wants to kill and defeat the terrorists more than I do and more than the US, but what is happening in Aleppo is a moral crime against humanity. I agree with what Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Russian government should do everything to stop it, to end it, to support a ceasefire, to end the carnage, the killing and the bombing of innocent civilians. The UN is concerned about it. And I agree with their investigation into possible war crimes. I agree with what the pictures tell us. The bombing of civilians and the massacre of the innocents must stop. My strong advice to President Putin would be to follow John Kerry’s advice and end that carnage and killing right now. So should Assad, so should the Syrian army. It is a joke to treat them as liberators; they are mass-murdering civilians…
RT: Vanessa, what is your reaction to this political view of the events? As a journalist, how do you feel about that?
Vanessa Beeley, journalist: I’ve just returned from three days in East Aleppo, and I would like to 100 percent correct the lies that are being disseminated by the media, think tanks, governments across the West. Particularly your guest who has just uttered complete lies. I’ve spent basically three days in all the various liberated areas of East Aleppo… Many of the testimonies that we received from the civilians that this gentleman has just accused Russia and Syria of bombing, actually told us that they had been incarcerated for the last four years by the various US-backed terrorist militant groups such as Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki whom we know beheaded the 12-year old Palestinian child. We were told stories about civilians who were trying to leave this imprisonment when the Russian and Syrian governments opened the humanitarian corridors. I interviewed one lady, I have her on film, where she tells me that one woman, who had been kept in a condition of starvation and malnutrition by these militant factions – who were stockpiling any humanitarian aid that came in and either selling it at extortionate prices. When this lady went on her knees to beg for food, she was shot in the mouth by the militant factions that have been imprisoning these civilians for the last four and a half years. Your [American] media and propaganda have supported that incarceration, torture, abuse and absolute horror that these civilians had had to go through.
RT: The spokesperson of the US State Department said he hasn’t seen the videos of people celebrating on Aleppo’s streets. He’s in a senior position; he must know what he’s talking about, doesn’t he?
Brent Budowsky: We can witness day by day dead babies by dead babies. You can watch the CNN, the BBC, any other television station. The point is – the killing, the bombings of civilians must stop. The dead children and babies is a moral outrage against humanity.
Vanessa Beeley: Can I ask one question? Where are these sources being able to transmit this information from? Because in East Aleppo there is no 3G, there is no wi-fi, there is no electricity. So I’d like to know how these sources are able to get this information via Skype connection to organizations – I’ll use that term loosely – like CNN, BBC, Channel 4. I would very much like to know how they achieve it and how there’re able to do that in East Aleppo. Unlike the corporate mainstream media, I have been in East Aleppo for the last three days, therefore, I’m giving you eyewitness testimony unlike your mainstream media that has not been there and relies upon spurious activists – like the White Helmets, who are funded by every single nation that has a vested and declared interest in regime change in Syria. That is your reliable source. Or perhaps the ‘Aleppo Media Center’ – French Foreign Office funded…
Daniel McAdams, executive director at Ron Paul Institute: This is a good example of what is wrong with the mainstream media. You have a mainstream media source like this Brent Budowsky who goes on television telling us: “You’ve got to believe the US government.” This is the same media that lie through its teeth about Iraq; that lied through its teeth about Benghazi, about the slaughters that were not happening there. There are no foreign media sources in East Aleppo right now. They are not on the ground. They are all using information that they are getting through rebel sources. That is the truth. So, Budowsky, what you are doing right now is you are putting out fake news. And you know it because there are no sources on the ground. You’re saying, ‘Just believe the US government.’ You’re supposed to be in the media! You’re supposed to be doing independent work…
Go back to 2005 in a document from the US Embassy in Damascus was sent back to Washington outlining exactly how to destabilize and overthrow the Syria government, which is exactly the roadmap they took. Who was really responsible for the carnage in Syria? It is the interventionists in the West and their enablers in the mainstream media that push a regime change policy that destroys countries like Iraq, like Syria, like Libya, like Afghanistan, and so on. They are the real perpetrators of this crime.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Western war architects have learned their lessons in places like Vietnam and the Middle East. Henceforth, they must find an alternative to the costly use of well-trained foot soldiers in favor of jobless brawns and ex-convicts to do the job of changing regimes for them.
The strategy was flawless until they got too greedy and started poking on Russia via Ukraine. Now, they have to deal with Russia that is already at the point of no return as far as the Khazarian bullies are concerned.
Aleppo Freed, Biggest US Defeat Since Vietnam
Aleppo has been liberated after almost four years of a barbarous and cruel occupation by the so-called Syrian opposition. The people of Aleppo are celebrating the fact, no longer will they be subjected to the most brutal, murderous regime imaginable.
What really made Aleppo such a hellhole was not the privations of being a city under siege, nor was it the cruelty and barbarism of the occupying forces – it was the fact that no-one outside Syria was lifting a single finger to help them, they received no aid, no foreign volunteers came to provide medical help, no foreign government did a single thing to alleviate their suffering.
However, the MSM told a very different tale, night after night, the TV news was full of tales of brave aid workers, courageous doctors and all manner of volunteers who were trying to save the people of Aleppo.
They kept telling us that aid convoys were flowing into the city to keep the people from starvation and that ambulances were ferrying the wounded to hospitals in Turkey. All of it was lies, an inversion of reality; the aid convoys were, in reality, supplying the occupying forces with arms and munitions as well as food and other essentials.
The ambulances were also bringing in arms and supplies, the wounded they carried out to be treated in Turkish hospitals were not innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, they were ‘rebel’ fighters injured while fighting against the legitimate Syrian armed forces and their allies.
This use of white trucks belonging to NGOs and aid agencies and clearly marked ambulances belonging to groups like the Red Crescent and Medecins San Frontiers was a cynical ploy to keep the occupying forces supplied without the Syrian and Russian air forces bombing the supply vehicles.
Just imagine the outcry in the western media if a Russian airstrike had taken out a supply convoy, they would have shown us countless scenes of burned out trucks and ambulances while decrying the Russian cruelty in preventing the aid from reaching the poor, innocent people of Aleppo.
No mention would have been made of the real reason for the airstrike, not one syllable uttered about the arms and supplies being ferried to the occupying forces in those ‘aid convoys’.
The suffering of the people of Aleppo has been at the hands of their occupiers, despite the strenuous efforts of the Western media to blame the Assad government and their Russian allies. Back in February, when the liberation of Aleppo began, Sputnik reported:
“As always, the media began effusively writing about the crowds of people fleeing from the fighting and the advance of government forces. The only thing missing in the picture being painted were the images of the residents of the city’s Western neighborhoods, who welcomed the government troops as liberators.”
This fraudulent reporting by the Western media had the desired effect in governmental circles, as Sputnik noted:
“Deeply moved” by the pictures appearing in Western media, “US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately demanded that Russia halt the bombing of civilians.”
But “the truth,” Vernochet noted, “is far more prosaic, because if the city of Aleppo is completely surrounded by government forces, the rebel supply corridor with Turkey will be cut. Specifically, [it is about] two roads, between Mayer-Azaz and Andan-Aleppo, through which the Salafist- Wahhabists receive reinforcements, weapons, and ammunition from the Turkish deep state.”
As towns in Aleppo province have been liberated, the people have been describing the horror they have been living while their towns were held by “opposition”. Women were forced to veil themselves or be lashed and publicly humiliated. Children were murdered, accused of being “spies”.
The civilian population were deprived of medical aid, medicine, water and electricity. Many areas of Aleppo were held in captivity by US-backed “opposition” groups and these groups behaved exactly like ISIS in their cruelty and enforcement of Islamic Law.
People were often accused of crimes they did not commit and then punished via Islamic Law and Quranic doctrine; hands were chopped off, people were immersed in boiling oil, others were set on fire, women were stoned to death, the list of mediaeval tortures and horrific public executions is very long and sickening indeed.
Moussa, whose age no one can determine precisely, does not remember life before the war. After his entire family was murdered before his eyes, he walked alone for a day and a half before he was picked up by the Liwa al Quds militia, who then took him to Neirab Camp, a designated safe zone in Aleppo.
“They’re all dead. We were just walking, and the terrorists started to shoot at us,” Moussa said. “We started running until we got to a checkpoint, and they caught us there. They beat my parents and told me to go.”
Moussa said he witnessed his parents being slaughtered before he left, and then had to find his way out of the danger zone with bullets flying around him.
“I was walking in the street, where there were a lot of bodies, and then the snipers started to shoot at me. I ran behind a wall and got to a place where there were no snipers. Then I met a man who took me to Aleppo.”
In stark contrast to this reality, the Western MSM kept feeding us a steady diet of lies about civilians being killed by the ‘Assad regime’ and murderous airstrikes by the Russians that struck civilian targets such as schools and hospitals. In the last few days, this propaganda has stepped up a notch so that now we are being told that the ‘Assad regime’ is committing genocide in Aleppo, rounding up and massacring civilians with utmost cruelty.
They keep citing highly dubious sources for these reports without ever troubling themselves to verify any of them with actual, legitimate journalists and human rights/aid groups on the ground in Aleppo.
The Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets, an internationally renowned team of first responders, said more than 90 bodies of people presumed to be still alive are under debris and that its volunteer staff reported they could hear the voices of children trapped in the rubble of their houses.
A member of the group in Aleppo told al-Arabiya TV on Monday night that men, women, and children were huddling and crying in the streets and at the gates of empty buildings in the few neighborhoods that remained in the hands of the opposition. He described the situation as hopeless, because precision munitions and indiscriminate barrel bombs had destroyed the city’s medical facilities, ambulances, and fuel supply.
Unconfirmed reports, circulated by opposition media, suggest that mass atrocities have already begun, such as the summary executions of 17 in al-Kalaseh neighborhood, 22 in Bostan al-Kasrand, and the immolation of four women and nine children on al-Firdous Street.
While The Daily Beast could not independently confirm these figures, the United Nations Human Rights Office (UNHRO) said that it had reliable evidence that 82 civilians had been shot dead by pro-regime forces — 11 of them women, 13 of them children. UNHRO spokesman Rupert Colville said at a press conference today, “We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner” of East Aleppo.
We are crying crocodile tears for Lena, queen of Syria’s own fake news. This may be her last video. We can only hope. While Lena is hiding in her cellar, the residents of Aleppo are in the streets celebrating their liberation, as reported by Al-Alam:
Aleppo streets have erupted in celebrations with people waving flags and shooting in the air as reports said the Syrian Army has taken control of the last militant-held areas in eastern part of the city, Alalam reporter reports from the ground.
Maybe Lena is right and it may well be time to hunt down the rats starting with those who aided in the hell the people of Aleppo were subjected to.
Syrian White Helmets
My list begins with the MI6/CIA organization known as the White Helmets, more fakes whose organization has overseen slaughter for almost 3 years, delivering ammunition and poison gas while begging for cash and putting out doctored videos and staged photographs. This group and all associated with it need to be declared terrorists and war criminals.
Created out of militants who invaded Aleppo, the Western-funded White Helmets is a terrorist support group fraudulently masquerading as a humanitarian organization to undermine Syrian government, says independent researcher and journalist Vanessa Beeley.
The propaganda from the rebel-held eastern Aleppo is produced by a number of organizations and individuals who are sponsored by the West, with the White Helmets being the largest among them, Beeley told RT. But the White Helmets are not the heroes that the mainstream media is trying to make of them.
“This organization is a fraudulent shadow-state construct created by NATO to simply propagate the propaganda that will demonize Assad’s government and also demonize Russian legal intervention in Syria,” said the journalist, who recently returned from Syria.
“From all the information that we’ve received they are acting as terrorist support group,” she added, “in the sense of bringing equipment, arms, even funding, into Syria.”
Beeley emphasized that the White Helmets were “formed by a British [consultant] James Le Mesurier, in 2013. They are trained by him. He has a background in private security work, including connection back to Blackwater, which is one of the best known private security firms that was used by the CIA… as an outreach assassination organization.”
“They’re not trained in Syria,” she added. “They’re trained in Gaziantep in Turkey; and then they’re implanted into areas like east Aleppo, areas that are under heavy conflict.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Next on our list is Osama Suleiman AKA Abdel Rami Rahman, cheerleader for ISIS and titular head of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Suleiman has not been to Syria for 15 years, instead he has been living a comfortable existence in a suburb of Coventry, a city in the English Midlands.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is quoted as though it were the most authoritative source of information to be found in Syria. Such “luminaries” as the Huffington Post, VICE, Reuters, CNN, Fox and nearly all of the mainstream media have been caught citing this website verbatim, without so much as questioning the reliability of this singular source.
Only RT, being a Russian outlet and thus being the butt of a lot of the site’s accusations, seemed at least concerned enough about the authenticity of this source to conduct an investigation into discovering how this authority on all things Syrian had came to existence, and its process for deriving its very-“authentic” information.
Abdel Rahman is the “director” of the SOHR, though it is quite uncertain if he actually has anyone to “direct” as nobody else is known to work for/with him. He works from his two-bedroom Coventry home in the UK; this is why you keep seeing the Mainstream media call him a “London-based monitoring group“. It’s quite funny, really, calling this one man a “London-based monitoring group” in the same vein as The Red Cross.
We can all help the revolution by avoiding all Khazarian pharmaceutical drugs, defeat any viral attack and scaremongering, like the Zika virus, easily by knowing how to build our own comprehensive antiviral system. Find more about how we can kill three birds with one stone, right here.
One month after Facebook revealed a seven point plan to eradicate “fake news”, Mark Zuckerberg has made good on his promise to strip Facebook of fake news stories, starting with a tool that allows users to flag anything they consider a hoax, as well as features that tweak Facebook’s news algorithm and provide more restrictions on advertising.
Facebook’s 1.8 billion users will now be able to click the upper right-hand corner of the post to flag content as fake news.
The first problem, however, immediately emerges because as NBC notes, “legitimate news outlets won’t be able to be flagged”, which then begs the question who or what is considered “legitimate news outlets”, does it include the likes of NYTs and the WaPos, which during the runup to the election declared on a daily basis, that Trump has no chance of winning, which have since posted defamatory stories about so-called “Russian propaganda news sites”, admitting subsequently that their source data was incorrect, and which many consider to be the source of “fake news”.
Also, just who makes the determination what is considered “legitimate news outlets.”
In any case, flagged stories – which really means any story that a readers disagrees with – will then be reviewed by Facebook researchers and sent on to third-party fact-checking organizations for further verification — or marked as fake.
Here too, one wonders how much good will checking will take place considering that these “researchers” will be bombarded with tens of thousands of flagged articles daily, until it ultimately become a rote move to simply delete anything flagged as false by enough disgruntled readers, before moving on to the next article, while in the process not touching the narrative spun by the liberal “legitimate news outlets”, the ones who would jump at the opportunity to have dinner with Podesta in hopes of becoming Hillary Clinton’s public relations arm.
“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of News Feed, said in a blog post. So, what Facebook will do, is give the voice to all those others who praise any article they agree with, and slam and flag as “fake news” antyhing they disagree with. At least no book burning will be involved.
The Facebook VP promised that “we’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”
Not only that, but Facebook’s algorithm that decides what gets the most prominence in News Feed, will also be tweaked, one would assume to give more prominence to the abovementioned “legitimate news oulets”… such as WaPo and the NYT.
How will the algo determine if a story is potentially fake? If a story is being read but not shared, Mosseri said that may be a sign it’s misleading. Which in turn means that clickbait articles are about to explode at the expense of deep-though, long-read pieces which the current generation of Facebook readers has no time for.
“We’re going to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it,” he said.
It gets better: the next step in Facebook’s plan to rid the site of fake news involves sending flagged stories to third-party fact-checking organizations, which include Snopes, Politifact, and Factcheck.org, which as the recent election showed, are just as biased as the so-called “fake news” sites, however they cover their partiality under the cloak of being objective, which they conflate with being “factual.”
A group of Facebook researchers will initially have the responsibility of sifting through flagged stories and determining which ones to send to the fact-checking organizations. If it’s determined to be fake, the story will be flagged as disputed and include a link explaining why.
Then the punishment: flagged stories can still be shared, but readers will be warned in advance, and they’ll be more likely to appear lower in News Feed. These stories also won’t be able to be promoted or turned into advertisements.
* * *
Facebook’s bottom-line argument for engaging in soft censorship? Money.
While Facebook hopes these tools will be helpful, they’re also aiming to hit purveyors of fake news where it hurts — the pocketbook.
“Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads,” Mosseri said.
“On the buying side we’ve eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications. On the publisher side, we are analyzing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary,” he said.
As a reminder, the Fake News theme reached a boiling point days after the election, when Zuckerberg said it was “pretty crazy” to think fake news could have influenced the election and warned Facebook “must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth.” Less than two weeks later, with the issue still simmering, Zuckerberg shared a more detailed account of projects he said were already underway to thwart the spread of misinformation.
While the narrative has since shifted to fake news following the disastrous WaPo report on “Russian Propaganda” outlets, which ultimately crushed the credibility of its author, and has been replaced with the “Putin hacked the election” narrative, the quiet push to silence non-compliant voices continues.
Amusingly, the team at Facebook has made it clear they don’t want censorship on the site and that these new tools are just part of the evolving process of combating misinformation. And yet, crowdsourced censorship is precisely what Facebook has just unrolled.
Ultimately, what will end up happening is that One half of Facebook users will flag what they read by one half the media as fake, and vice versa, while millions of users will simply leave the now censorship endorsing social network out of disgust.
A few weeks ago we previewed some of the things we’re working on to address the issue of fake news and hoaxes. We’re committed to doing our part and today we’d like to share some updates we’re testing and starting to roll out.
We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully. We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.
The work falls into the following four areas. These are just some of the first steps we’re taking to improve the experience for people on Facebook. We’ll learn from these tests, and iterate and extend them over time.
Easier Reporting We’re testing several ways to make it easier to report a hoax if you see one on Facebook, which you can do by clicking the upper right hand corner of a post. We’ve relied heavily on our community for help on this issue, and this can help us detect more fake news.
Flagging Stories as Disputed We believe providing more context can help people decide for themselves what to trust and what to share. We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations. If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.
It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.
Once a story is flagged, it can’t be made into an ad and promoted, either.
Informed Sharing We’re always looking to improve News Feed by listening to what the community is telling us. We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way. We’re going to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it.
Disrupting Financial Incentives for Spammers We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated. Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads. So we’re doing several things to reduce the financial incentives. On the buying side we’ve eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications. On the publisher side, we are analyzing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary.
It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful. We’re excited about this progress, but we know there’s more to be done. We’re going to keep working on this problem for as long as it takes to get it right.
Assange emerged on Thursday in an interview with Sean Hannity to dispel all rumors saying Russian officials provided hacked documents to WikiLeaks.
In an interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday, founder Julian Assange officially and definitively declared Russia did not provide hacked documents to WikiLeaks — directly contradicting nebulous intelligence reports from unknown officials with the CIA.
“Our source is not the Russian government,” Assange told Hannity.
“In other words, let me be clear,” Hannity asked, “Russia did not give you the Podesta documents, or anything from the DNC?”
“That’s correct,” Assange replied.
WikiLeaks has been accused by the U.S. government of working in some sort of tandem with Russian state actors during the presidential election to hack Democratic Party organizations and provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton in order to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump.
Recently, and utterly absurdly, the Obama administration went so far as to accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of being personally involved in this putative hacking — and that Trump had been aware of the effort since its supposed inception.
Despite innumerable attempts by Trump, Russian officials, and Putin to denounce those claims as completely invalid, the controversy has continued to rage and has driven a deepening cleft in the intelligence community.
One criticism of WikiLeaks publishing of the documents and emails has been its seeming lopsided disclosing of information only damaging to the Democratic establishment — and seemingly nothing of the same about the Republican Party.
Asked to confirm whether or not WikiLeaks had received hacked information from the Republican National Committee, Assange explained,
“We received about three pages of information to do with the RNC and Trump, and … but it was already public somewhere else.”
Hannity asked for the WikiLeaks founder’s thoughts on claims from the CIA that Russian officials had actively and purposefully influenced the election, Assange said:
“Well, I think it’s very interesting. The key quote … is from James Clapper, on the 17th of November — James Clapper is the DNI, the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies — and so his statement is (this is made to the House Intelligence Committee) ‘as far as the WikiLeaks connection, the evidence is not strong, and we don’t have a good insight into the sequencing of the releases or when the data may have been provided. We don’t have good insight into that.’”
Assange also noted, without being prompted to the topic, that the ongoing effort to ‘flip’ electors away from Trump toward Clinton marks a dangerous precedent, as future administrations could employ the same method to stay in power after being voted out.
“Our publications,” Assange continued, “did make a significant influence during the elections — lots and lots of Americans talked them up, read them, analyzed them, forwarded them to each other. It was the most discussed topic, according to Facebook, throughout October.
“Then you have U.S. intelligence saying they don’t know how we got our stuff or when we got it, and us saying, we didn’t get it from a State. Then, there’s hacking of various systems that has occurred — a leading way to get intelligence: the Israelis do it, the Russians do it, the Chinese do it, the French do it, every year, every election cycle, to understand what policies are. So it’s no surprise at all that there’s record of Russians or others hacking all of these systems.”
In order to clarify definitively the information provided to WikiLeaks did not come from any official State actor, Assange explained the publishing outlet did not want to provide any revealing details, but reiterated he had to in order to maintain the integrity of the leaks and combat distracting criticism.
“Here, in order to prevent a distraction attack against our publications,” Assange asserted, “we’ve had to come out and say, ‘no, it’s not a State party, stop trying to distract in that way, and pay attention to the content of the publications.’”
Hannity said, “So, in other words, when you say State party, it wasn’t another State — like Russia, or some other country?”
Noting WikiLeaks, over the course of 10 years, has never been proven wrong, “not one single time,” Hannity asked whether Assange believes President Obama knows the source for WikiLeaks was not Russia — and is only advancing the narrative for political reasons to damage Trump — he replied:
“Yes. It’s clear, if you look at the statements by James Clapper, you’ll see an earlier statement that U.S. intelligence is not aware of when we received material or how, it’s pretty clear that he must be getting those briefings as well, if the public is getting them. So, there’s a deliberate attempt to conflate … as far as the public is concerned, the only interesting thing that happened is that WikiLeaks published a number of types of different information — the DNC publications, John Podesta’s, and the Clinton emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. So, that’s what’s interesting to the public.”
Discussing the idea the mainstream, corporate press has been manipulating the narrative to blame WikiLeaks for, essentially, the content of published information, Assange said that while that was certainly the case, the mainstream press are now “old media” — and had only played the role of “paper tiger” this election season.
Assange also noted the press had repeatedly lectured the American public on behalf of Clinton — in part, by belittling Trump supporters — which “really turned people off. Because it seemed like those people, who already had a lot of social power, were telling you what to do, and so you wanted to do the opposite.”
But on the topic of the various leaks published by WikiLeaks and others, Assange noted that some of the unknowns — like DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 — bore nearly too many characteristics reminiscent of the Russians. As if they were meant to appear Russian by another entity deeming it important to make the connection.
Perhaps one of the other most noteworthy items in Hannity’s interview had to do with another piece of disinformation — which has unfortunately haunted WikiLeaks for some time.
Asked whether WikiLeaks would have published comparable information if it had concerned Trump rather than Clinton, Assange stated without hesitation, “Absolutely. Yeah, no problem doing that at all.”
So, while Julian Assange remains a political prisoner under asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he felt the need imperative enough to come forward — stepping out of WikiLeaks’ comfort zone to do so — and slay all the absurd U.S. government propaganda touting election interference by Russian State officials.
It wasn’t Russia. It never was. This is a pure attempt by the Democratic establishment to deflect fallout from the publication of legitimately abhorrent information. The Russians Did It is a puerile attempt to conflate good, investigative, and thorough journalism by alternative media outlets and WikiLeaks with a new Red Scare and war on dissent, disguised as a battle against ‘fake news.’
But fake news doesn’t get any less true than the current blame of Russia for all the Democrats’ woes.
The DEA may be trying to implement a CBD ban with a new rule to reclassify non-THC cannabis oil as a schedule 1 drug. But do they have the legal authority?
A CBD ban appears to have been put in place
by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), an agency of the US Government. Two days ago on their website, they posted a notice that they had made a “new rule“, effective Dec. 14th 2016, to classify “marihuana” (their antiquated spelling, not mine) as a schedule 1 drug. What this means is that CBD (cannabidiol) extracts which have trace amounts of, or absolutely no THC, and are therefore non-psychoactive, are now reclassified to be on par with psychoactive or THC-containing cannabis, heroin, LSD and peyote. This latent stunt by the DEA is sure to be met with fierce resistance by a legion of Americans who are well aware of the health benefits of the cannabis plant. Legally speaking, the move is also highly dubious in nature, given that the DEA is by definition part of the executive branch of government (tasked with carrying out laws and enforcing them), not the legislative branch of government (tasked with making laws). Does this new rule carry legal weight? Will it amount to a CBD ban?
Kickback from Kratom?
The timing of this move is interesting, given how recently the DEA tried to reschedule another substance: kratom. It was only around 5 months ago that the DEA tried to reclassify kratom by attempting to place it in the dreaded schedule 1 category. A determined number of Americans fought back and the DEA decided to drop the matter. Some have speculated that the reason may have been to help the DEA’s favorite client, Big Pharma:
“The DEA’s recent statement on kratom underlines the extreme lengths to which they will go to continue to assert that they are in the right, even if only to themselves. The agency filed a notice of intent declaring that they would “temporarily schedule the opioids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are the main active constituents of the plant kratom, into schedule I pursuant to the temporary scheduling provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.” The notice then explained, “This action is based on a finding by the Administrator that the placement of these opioids into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety.”
As is typical of bureaucratic agencies, the notice of intent continued in a similar fashion with its convoluted explanation.
And, of course, three synthetic opioids have been synthesized from the kratom plant, namely MGM-9, MGM-15 and MGM-16. Unsurprisingly, these three synthetics were developed from the kratom alkaloids, Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine – you know, the ones named by the DEA as an “imminent hazard to public safety.”
If these compounds are so dangerous, why on earth would Big Pharma be synthesizing them to make medicine? It just doesn’t seem to add up, but the federal agency continues to go along with their story of supposed danger to society, hoping we’ll all fall for it. It really tells you all you need to know about the DEA and their relationship with Big Pharma though, doesn’t it?”
In other words, the DEA, like the FDA, are allowing Big Pharma to pursue its business model of biopiracy, i.e. find a plant or something from Nature, study its constituents, learn how to extract them, steal them, modify them and patent them, and then destroy people’s ability to get the original. It’s the synthetic agenda.
Text of the New Rule Regarding CBD from the DEA
Here’s the text of the new rule:
After careful consideration of all comments, the DEA is hereby amending 21 CFR 1308.11(d) to include a new subparagraph (58) which creates a new code number in Schedule I as follows:
“(58) Marihuana Extract—7350
“Meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.”
The creation of this new drug code in the DEA regulations for marihuana extracts allows for more appropriate accounting of such materials consistent with treaty provisions. Such marihuana Start Printed Page 90196extracts remain in Schedule I. Entities registered to handle marihuana (under drug code 7360) that also handle marihuana extracts, will need to apply to modify their registrations to add the new drug code 7350 to their existing DEA registrations and procure quotas specifically for drug code 7350 each year.”
What is the Legality of the New DEA Rule? What are the Chances it Will Result in a CBD Ban?
Since this story is breaking, there is still much uncertainty about whether it will lead to a CBD ban or not. For example, this Inquisitr article firmly states that it will lead to a CBD ban:
“The Wednesday decision states that according to the DEA, CBD oil, and any cannabis extract falls under code 7350, a new federal code, and thus carries Schedule 1 status. The ruling is not a change in federal law, but rather a clarification of existing statutes. CBD oil manufacturers have long operated under the theory that since their product was produced from hemp, which contains a lower amount of THC than is illegal under federal guidelines, they were in legal territory at the federal level. The DEA CBD oil decision removes the ambiguity and places CBD firmly under Schedule 1.
The announcement means that CBD oil manufacturers and distributes will have to update their registrations to the new code 7350 by January 13 in the states in which it is legal to produce. It will be illegal to transport the substance over state lines, and the long-term consequences for the CBD oil industry, as well as patients who use it, is unclear.”
However, the Forium Legal Counsel believes the DEA is blowing hot air and acting totally outside of its jurisdiction, urging CBD businesses and consumers not to panic:
“Regarding the legal status of CBD derived from industrial hemp: The 2014 US Farm Bill was an act of congress signed by the president and that is the highest law of the land. The DEA cannot make law and try to redefine a law passed by the US Congress which defined industrial hemp in section 7606 as “Any cannabis sativa L that produces naturally less than .3% THC on a dry weight basis.”
This strange new DEA rule is going against the tide of the recent movement to legalize marijuana or cannabis, as was evidenced in the recent November 2016 elections where California, Maine, Massachusetts and other states voted to make it recreationally or medically legal. You can be sure that many cannabis lawyers, businesses and consumers are going to do their utmost to stop governmental overreach and prevent a CBD ban from occurring.
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Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news siteThe Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone